I have given this a lot of thought. Star Trek: Picard really reinforced my belief system. Many of you may scoff at this at first. That just means you may not digest this blog slowly enough. And here is where I might piss a bunch of people off. Seven of Nine, Annika Hansen herself, is destined to be as important to the next phase of Star Trek as Spock was to the last. So here goes…
First of all, let me get the crap talk out of the way. Yes, Seven can be considered attractive by a lot of people. Kudos to Jeri Ryan. She is a beautiful woman based on American cinema standards. But I will not diminish this post by having people think that is the reason I like the character. On a purely human basis, she is a beautiful person from what I have seen in public media. (I admit, social and entertainment media is not a true reflection of a person.) Hormones aside, the concept of Seven of Nine is phenomenal. Here is what is impressive about the concept character.
People may protest the behind-the-curtain politics of introducing the character to Star Trek: Voyager. I am going to look beyond that and focus on the purity of the story. Voyager in itself was ahead of its time. To me, the most memorable characters from the show were the trifecta of female excellence—Janeway, Torres, and Seven. The Enterprise had Kirk, McCoy, and Spock. TNG had Picard, Riker, and Data. But Voyager let Gene Roddenberry’s future vision come to full fruition not by saying, “What if women were the leaders on the ship?”, but by unapologetically stating, “This is what a ship looks like when it is led by consummate professionals. Stop focusing on gender, you backwater simpletons.” (Mind you, Janeway is my favorite captain and Torres, my favorite engineer.)
I could write an entire book on what Voyager did to awaken me to the poor treatment of women in sci-fi over the ages. But I am going to keep it focused on the character Seven of Nine and why I think she is the next pivotal character for the next generation of Trekkies.
The idea that Janeway had the gall and gumption to liberate a single individual from the Federation’s greatest enemy is remarkable in itself. Sure, you might say, the idea was toyed with in The Next Generation. TNG’s “I, Borg” episode whet our appetite for the concept that would later be fully realized in Seven of Nine. But, by the time Seven made her first appearance in Star Trek: Voyager “Scorpion, Part II” writers Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky had fully baked the idea into a scrumptious smorgasbord of epic story potential.
And we saw this potential begin to be realized over the next three seasons of Voyager. We had a distinct person free from the indoctrination of Starfleet’s General Order One experiencing the Federation from a fresh vantage point; an entity who was once aligned with an unstoppable force of nature trying to reconcile her existence with the individualistic humanity that was stolen from her and her family.
What we take for granted as “normal” 24th-century behavior was called into question by a cyborg who had the knowledge of thousands of assimilated species in her noggin. She had a wider perspective than any heretofore main character in Star Trek. Seven years of TV gold was hardly enough to explore the endless tales that could have come from Seven’s lifetime of experiences. But, as we all know, there are too many depressing factors in our reality that declare the end to epic tales before their time has come.
I was left wanting more after Voyager was taken off of the air, especially since I knew there was much more to Seven than TV schedules, politics, and budgets allowed us to see.
“Endgame” Was Not the End
Like thousands of other fans, Voyager’s season finale, “Endgame“, left me with more questions than answers. Sure, I always wondered how the show would end; would the crew get home? That was answered. But there was a lot left unanswered. From a tactical point of view, Seven of Nine would be the greatest find for the Federation since Wolf 359.
I imagined her being conscripted into the Starfleet Science Academy, given an honorary rank of Lieutenant and placed on projects that would grant the Federation limitless technological advances. I pictured her under the continued tutelage and guidance of Admiral Kathryn Janeway, rising in the ranks of Starfleet until she became an iconic force equal to Ambassador Spock.
Apocrypha like Star Trek: Voyager published in novel form by Pocket Books, explored some of these concepts; but without the full commitment of the franchise, as novels are not generally accepted as canon. However, writers like Christie Golden and Kirsten Beyer toyed with the idea of Seven’s potential.
I have a distinct feeling that both of these exceptional writers wanted to push Seven even further but were limited by licensing restrictions and all of that fun. They knew that Seven is the crux to the next phase of Star Trek. One day, I hope to confirm this with them personally.
Then Seven made a wonderful reappearance in…
Star Trek: Picard
Some fans reacted viscerally to the reintroduction of Seven to the Trek-verse. It was thirteen years later. They claimed some of her actions were uncharacteristic for someone who had served aboard a Federation starship, the murder of Bjayzl for one. I, for one, see things much differently based mostly in part to everything we saw onscreen about Annika Hansen. But all I was wondering the entire time was…
“What happened to Seven from the point Voyager returned from the Delta Quadrant (2378) to the time she joined the Fenris Rangers (2386) to the point she helps Jean-Luc Picard rescue Bruce Maddox from the planet Freecloud (2399)?”
Here is my take on what happened based on the onscreen gap from 2378 to 2399, a span of 21 years, and its direct link to the state of the Federation as seen in Star Trek: Picard after the fall of the Romulan Star Empire.
These events would end up making Seven of Nine the leading force in the redevelopment of the Federation and its ideals as she takes action to convince the galaxy that Starfleet is just another collective assimilating species—not with superior technology and firepower—but with arrogant idealism and unrealistic expectations.
Disillusionment—2378 to 2386
- Admiral Janeway sponsors Annika Hansen for Starfleet Academy’s accelerated program, Science Division.
- Seven excels in every avenue of science but it soon put off by Starfleet’s obvious attempt to replicate and weaponize Borg technology based on her implants and modifications to the starship Voyager. She refuses to comply, desiring to be more than a weapons designer for Starfleet. She quits the Academy.
- Starfleet pressures Admiral Janeway to coerce Seven into compliance. Janeway refuses, encouraging Seven to pursue her own course and take time off to plan her own future.
- Seven abandons Starfleet but stays on Earth. She maintains contact with her former Voyager crewmates and provides guidance to Icheb, who has decided to pursue a career in Starfleet.
- Seven is informed by contacts spread throughout Starfleet (mainly ex-Voyagers) that there are certain factions seeking to exploit Borg technology for their own use. Seven suspects that clandestine factions within Starfleet are on the same dark mission.
- By 2386, Icheb had risen to the rank of Lieutenant in Starfleet serving aboard the USS Coleman as a science officer.
- At some point, Seven decides to join the Fenris Rangers, a peacekeeping force operating along the Romulan Neutral Zone.
- Seven works closely Bjayzl who, unbeknownst to Seven, is a black market dealer in Borg parts, also known as “xBs”. Bjayzl infiltrated the Rangers specifically to get close to Seven.
- Seven learns that Icheb has been abducted by black marketeers and launches on a search for him. She finds him as his parts are being harvested and, after killing his tormentors, is forced to end Icheb’s life as an act of mercy.
PAUSE HERE TO THINK: I have pondered long and hard about how Seven’s psychographic profile would have changed over the course of the eight years outlined above. Admittedly, her time on Voyager would have had her disembarking the ship wearing rose-colored glasses. Even though she served on a crew composed of ex-Maquis, she experienced the pinnacle of what it means to serve on a Starfleet vessel. She may have thought that this represented the totality of Starfleet and that Janeway’s adherence to the Prime Directive was the norm. She soon found out that her view of Starfleet may have been clouded by her generally positive experience aboard Voyager.
As we all now know, the directive has been broken, twisted, and modified to suit the needs of Federation expansion over the decades. I think based on the above experiences, Seven may have begun to view Starfleet and the Federation as its own type of Collective; basically “my way or the highway”. In addition, I believe that the Federation would have viewed Seven more as a strategic advantage, a pawn, than an especially talented sentient being. This would have created a moral conundrum for Seven who would relish her individuality, even after returning to the Alpha Quadrant. She would not be rushing to join another collective mentality.
It would not be hard for Seven to find like-minded individuals at this time in Starfleet history. She had already formed intimate relationships with ex-Maquis. Upon returning to the Alpha Quadrant she would meet disillusioned individuals who had participated in the Dominion War, a Klingon Empire more at odds with Starfleet, and the Federation’s reluctance to assist the Romulan Star Empire, whose sun was about to go supernova.
Mind you, I believe Seven’s doubt in the absolute superiority of the Prime Directive and wavering faith in the Federation would be in line with Spock and Picard’s actions at the time.
Fenris Rangers—2386 to 2399
- At the outset of this period of Seven’s personal development, we find her a full-fledged vigilante. She is using her technological and scientific genius to aiding individuals caught in the collapse of the Neutral Zone. I imagine this to be a chaotic period of time as millions of individuals (many of them Romulan) abandon their lives to escape the dying Empire.
- Seven is also seeking revenge for the death of Icheb, whom she viewed as a son. She becomes actively involved in saving xBs or shutting down harvesting labs in a quest to discover who betrayed Icheb.
- Sometime between 2386-2399, Seven learns of Bjayzl’s treachery. She now knows exactly who must pay the price for Icheb’s death.
- The Hobus star goes supernova in 2387. This catastrophic disaster turns the former neutral zone and its surrounding systems into a region of unparalleled disorder and tragedy as millions seek to survive the collision of cultures and the predators move in to take advantage of the chaos. This is the environment wherein Seven must exist.
- Between 2387-2399 Seven would be an active and influential member of the Fenris Rangers and a well-known liberator and mentor for xBs. Her rise in influence would serve two purposes: bringing some semblance of order to that part of the galaxy and hunting for Bjayzl.
- I would assume that many of her former colleagues would provide valuable intel on Starfleet activities in the region, giving her strategic and operational advantages that the Fenris Rangers recognized and rewarded. She could call on Admiral Janeway, Captain Kim, Tuvok, Torres and Paris, or even the Doctor during this time—all officers who could ride their fame as Voyagers into key positions in Starfleet.
- In 2399, Seven found herself in orbit of the planet Vashti assisting La Sirena in battle against a Romulan Bird-of-Prey. She had to abandon her ship, was beamed aboard La Sirena, and came face-to-face with Jean Luc Picard, who was himself on a vigilante mission of his own.
- Seven quickly saw benefit in joining forces with Picard’s ragtag crew knowing it could bring her one step closer to exacting revenge on Bjayzl, which she did in true mama bear fashion.
- By the end of the adventure (as documented in Star Trek: Picard) we find Seven aligned with Jean Luc’s vigilante cell, with him seemingly passing the mantle of saving the galaxy onto her.
PAUSE HERE TO THINK: There is no question that Picard’s faith in Starfleet is wavering when we see him in Star Trek: Picard. Years of faithful duty and service were rewarded with dark, political agendas and disregard of his tenure. He would not have succeeded in his vigilante mission if not for friendships he had acquired over time as his captain (ex.Riker).
This creates a clear similarity between Picard and Seven, not to mention the same attitudinal display as Spock over the years. All three understand that there is a greater moral code than can be encapsulated by even the Prime Directive. All three have taken vigilante action to serve a higher purpose. Regulations served a limited purpose to the greater good, and their decisiveness (with Spock and Seven being on equal footing, in my opinion) leads to out-of-the-box solutions that stomp political correctness and elevate the value of the individual and their rights.
Like Spock, Seven sees Starfleet as a tool for a purpose, not an infallible institution. Likewise with the Prime Directive. Seven knows that every tool has its limits. And tools do not suit every purpose. A hammer does not always get the job done, not when a screwdriver is needed.
Seven of Nine’s greatest achievement was not being liberated from the Borg. That cookie goes to Janeway. Seven’s greatest achievement was preserving her individuality after being thrown to the wolves at Starfleet, whose decisions have often reeked of desperation and fear. (Ex. Factions trying to disrupt the Khitomer Accords; not fully supporting the Vulcan-Romulan Reunification Movement; reluctance to assist with Romulan evacuation.) Seven is as logical as Spock with the added benefit of being a genius-level strategist who can think ten steps ahead.
The Next Phase—2399 and Beyond
The reappearance of Seven and the plight of Picard has, to me, shaking up the value of Starfleet, which begins to look more like the military arm of a paranoid set of species unwilling to play nice with equally dominant empires with a different set of imperfect but respectable values. Just like the Federation.
As I look back historically on the directive and the time of its creation by Roddenberry, it smells more like modified colonialism to me—”our way is the best”; “my way or the highway”; “accept our rules or you can’t get the tech and medical benefits.”
Seven, a person who has the memory of thousands of assimilated species, has probably seen hundreds of iterations of the Federation; she may have even seen species that operated better than the Federation. All of that would play into her decision to not join Starfleet, go vigilante, and be on the search for something better; something more perfect.
I am convinced that, with Data dead, Seven is the next best hope for humanity and the Federation. I think Seven would be the first to say “resisting change is futile”. She will not comply with being the status quo. She is so much more than that, and—if Paramount does it right—Seven could be the character that carries us into the next 50 years of Trek awesomeness.
“Ranging is my job. It’s not saving the galaxy, it’s helping people who have no one else to help them. It’s hopeless, and pointless, and exhausting, and the only thing worse…would be giving up.” There’s so much to unpack from this one quote that I can’t hope to do it in this small post, but it seems to perfectly encapsulate Seven’s (apparently justified) cynicism since the collapse of the Neutral Zone and the murder of her surrogate son.
It also seems to me that Seven’s cynicism parallels Picard’s cynicism in Starfleet when the Federation abandoned the Romulans to the Hobus supernova. Both of them wound up leaving Starfleet when they thought Starfleet abandoned its highest ideals, after all.
But it’s conflicts and drama like this that great stories are made of.
This all makes good sense, until you get to Seven’s means. However noble her ends may be, she tries to get there by simply killing everyone. So, is it within the best Star Trek ideals to say that the ends justify the means? I don’t think this makes the character irredeemable, PIC season 1 might just represent a low swing. But I’ll be disappointed with the storytelling if it’s simply swept under the rug.
Agreed. They need to explain where she was at mentally and emotionally
It’s not the first time we’ve seen Star Trek suggest the idea of the ends justifying the means. (*cough* Section 31 *cough*) And we saw Icheb getting stuffed in the fridge; we *know* why Seven was out for Bjayzl’s blood. And we know Bjayzl was a friggin’ monster because she (and everyone in her crime organization) was *literally harvesting people* for their Borg implants. Not to mention numerous other crimes she more than likely committed as the head of a crime syndicate. How many deaths was Bjayzl directly responsible for over how many years? Hundreds? Thousands? And yet, *no one* was able to stop her from running rampant throughout the former Neutral Zone for at least a decade and a half (if not longer). When Picard says to Seven “you’re taking the law into your own hands,” she replies “what law?” and Picard concedes the point. The story *did* explain where Seven was at mentally and emotionally.
As for the aftermath and whatever consequences follow Seven, especially if any of Bjayzl’s underlings survived and begin looking for revenge, I hope we see some of that in later showings of Star Trek: Picard.
Something else I forgot to mention (or at least didn’t have room for) in my previous post about the ends justifying the means: “In the Pale Moonlight” (DS9, Ep 19, Season 6) is perhaps my favorite episode in the entire Star Trek franchise. Now *there* is a Star Trek story about the ends justifying the means. After watching this episode, did any of us condemn Sisko for his methods in bringing the Romulans into the Dominion War and thus saving the entire Alpha Quadrant? I certainly couldn’t bring myself to do that, especially not with the stakes that high.
Furthermore, it can be legitimately argued that *Section 31* was instrumental in winning the Dominion War. If 31 hadn’t managed to infect the Great Link with the shapeshifter virus, the Female Changeling wouldn’t have been convinced by Odo to surrender. Indeed, Odo wouldn’t have had any leverage to convince her to surrender if the Great Link wasn’t in danger of extinction when the Federation Alliance surrounded Cardassia. If Odo couldn’t offer to cure the Great Link in return for the Dominion surrender at Cardassia, the Female Shapeshifter would not have hesitated to order the Jem’Hadar and Breen to fight to the last man. Not to mention that the extermination of the Cardassians would have continued if the Dominion hadn’t surrendered. So Section 31’s virus, while tantamount to genocide of the Great Link, helped save thousands of Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan lives as well as *billions* of Cardassian lives. Did the ends justify the means there? Or didn’t they?
I totally agree I too have given it deep thought Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 02