The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Child's Play"

by David E. Sluss

13 March 2000

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: A pretty good outing, though with a little more thought, this episode could have been a real classic.


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE OF THE WEEK: Okay, I'm one of the biggest bitchers around regarding Voyager's continuity, so let me say that I appreciate the effort that was put into this Children of the Borg "mini-arc." However...

BABY (NOT) ON BOARD OF THE WEEK: I give up; where the **** is that damned Borg infant from "Collective?"

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Neelix asks Achump whether Naomi considers her mother irrelevant. Certainly not; Ensign Wildman is apparently performing a vital ship's function on Voyager's little-seen red-light deck...

BLINKY LIGHTS OF THE WEEK: Janeway declares Achump's science project to be spectacular. But it looked like a metronome with Christmas lights wrapped around it, and Achump never even demonstrated it. So how could Janeway declare it "best in show?"

EUNUCH OF THE WEEK: The Borg Collective. Voyager's really done a number on the Borg over the years, with episodes that make them seem no more dangerous or competent than the Kazon or the other trash of the Delta Quadrant we've run across. This episode is no different. First we have the Borg taking potshots at the pissant Brunali homeworld every couple of years rather than assimilating it wholesale. Whatever happened to the Borg assimilating whole species, or their concern about members of assimilated species who've escaped, expressed, for instance by Hugh in TNG's "I, Borg" with respect to Guinan's race? And they keep coming back for what new technology exactly? The Brunali's fertilizer and irrigation systems? They seem to have missed the only decent tech the Brunali have, namely the genetic engineering stuff, even though that has to have been around for years in order for Achump to have been created. Borg credibility takes another nosedive at the end, when they ignorantly tractor in a shuttle onto which a torpedo has just been beamed. What, they don't have sensors? The Borg need to change their motto: "Resistance is fruitful."

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The whole timeline with regard to the Brunali's victimization by the Borg, Achump's birth, and his assimilation doesn't seem to hold up. First, Achump appears to be no younger than sixteen. While we have to allow for Alexander-Naomi Syndrome with respect to Star Trek's alien species, it seems as though he is old enough to have been engineered and born more than nine years ago, i.e. before the Borg first attacked the Brunali! Now, before anyone claims that the genetic modifications could have been done after Achump was born, the evidence suggests that it wasn't. The mother's line(s) about how Achump was born for this, and the fact that an innocent child rather than a fully-informed, consenting adult volunteer wasn't used, indicate to me that Achump was altered in uetero. One might argue, I suppose, that the maturation tank aged the kid significantly, but that isn't documented, and there's no indication that the other children aged unnaturally; Mazola, for instance, claimed to be eight in "Ashes to Ashes" and doesn't seem any older than that. Another glitch is that Achump's father claims that the child was assimilated four years ago, and Seven buys this story until other evidence turns up. Yet earlier in this very episode, Seven says Achump spent only "months" in an assimilation chamber. Shouldn't that have been the tip-off immediately that the father's story didn't play, or did she think the Borg plunked the kid down in front of the TV for three years?

OLD ACQUAINTANCE FORGOTTEN OF THE WEEK: Seven's comment that she never saw her father again after being assimilated is either a continuity glitch or a white lie on Seven's part, since she was introduced to My Father the Drone by the Borg Queen in "Dark Frontier."

OLD ACQUAINTANCE FORGOTTEN OF THE WEEK RUNNERUP: The Borg girl Mazola frets that she hopes Voyager doesn't find her parents. It occurs to me that Voyager can't be trying very hard, since they are travelling away from Norcadian space, which they encountered in "Tsunkatse." Unless Voyager's gone back to flying in circles like it was in the first couple of seasons, it's getting less and less likely that her parents will turn up.

MORAL OF THE WEEK: "Blow shit up and get the hell out of Dodge before considering any tough issues." Really, the biggest weakness of this episode is the fact that the morality of the Brunali's actions is never really considered in any serious way. Janeway immediately condemns what Achump's parents did without even considering that, as loathsome as it sounds, it really does seem to be the only thing the Brunali can do about the Borg. She also ignores the fact that Starfleet wanted to do essentially the same thing to the Borg in TNG's "I, Borg": that is, infect an "innocent," Hugh, then arrange to have him assimilated and infect other Borg. Captain Picard didn't go through with it, and he was chastised for not doing so (TNG's "Descent"). But, fine, let's just assume that what Achump's parents did is categorically horrible. Voyager interfered with the plan and with the parents, and then took off, never considering that the Brunali could have other biological weapon kids; indeed, they'd have to, or the plan is pretty much futile. And while we're on that subject...

POOR PLANNING OF THE WEEK: The Brunali's scheme, for all its (potential) controversy, just isn't very sound. First, it's not clear whether this was a one shot deal being done by one pair of zealots, or whether there is an orchestrated effort on the part of the Brunali to wipe out the Borg one ship at a time. If it's the former, then the parents are nuts or they need to start screwing like rabbits if they're going to have any effect on the Borg. If it's the latter, it would have been nice to see an indication of it, even though that would have tapped into issues that the writers clearly didn't want to address. Second, each kid is apparently designed to wipe out only one ship, which is hardly a drop in the bucket. Third, the bioagent doesn't seem to be fast-acting, given that Achump's cube in "Collective" apparently didn't go wonky until years after he was captured; so the infected cube, after grabbing Achump or some other kid, can still drop by the homeworld, wreak havoc, and steal the latest porta-johns from the Brunali, before being wiped out. So what good does it do?

Previous: "Ashes to Ashes"
Next: "Good Shepherd"
NEXT WEEK: Three of Voyager's worst crew members accompany Janeway on a shuttle mission. Boy, there's a great idea...



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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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