"The Raven"

Season Four, Episode 6
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller
Story by Harry Doc Kloor and Bryan Fuller
Directed by LeVar Burton 
Main Cast:
Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
Robert Beltran as Chakotay
Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
Ethan Phillips as Neelix
Robert Picardo as The Doctor
Tim Russ as Tuvok
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim


Janeway takes Seven to her holographic da Vinci workshop in a bid to boost her creativity. But Seven experiences a horrifying flashback to when she was a little girl being chased by the Borg just prior to her assimilation. Meanwhile, Voyager is negotiating with the Bomar, a fiercly xenophobic race who are very reluctant to let Voyager through its territory. Seven has another flashback and her Borg implants start functioning again. She is being lured away from Voyager by the Collective. She manages to steal a shuttlecraft and flee Voyager. Tuvok follows her but in unable to stop her. She finds herself drawn to a planet in Bomar space where she encounters the Raven, the ship she and her parents lived on when she was a child. It was on that ship that they were ambushed by the Borg and later assimilated. The Borg partially assimilated the ship and it was the ship that was transmitting the homing signal she mistook for the Collective. As she again relives her assimilation the Bomar, furious at their trespassing on their planet, open fire. Tuvok and Seven are rescued by Voyager which promptly leaves Bomar space.


Hmmm. There was a lot of potential here. And whilst The Raven is an entertaining, engaging offering with some strong moments, I'm not convinced it capitalises on the inherent promise of its premise. Most of it seems surprisingly run-of-the-mill and routine. Seven's gradual luring away from the ship and the reactivation of her Borg implants could have been handled a lot more effectively. Her escape from the ship was quite engaging but has been done much better before (TNG's Brothers comes to mind as a good example). Throughout the episode I felt that things were unfolding in a way that felt rather by-the-numbers. The flashbacks featuring the Borg were genuinely scary, however and the imagery of Borg drones chasing the little girl was very powerful and haunting.

Less so was the sub-plot which features Janeway's negotiations with the Bomar, one of the most pathetic, annoying, aliens-of-the-week we've yet seen on the show. The actors under those ridiculous costumes play it like a pantomime which didn't help matters much either. Yuk.

The twist in the tale is that Seven is not being lured to a Borg ship, but the homing signal she's following leads her to the Raven, the ship belonging to her parents that was attacked by the Borg, leading to their assimilation when she was just a little girl. OK, so the likelihood of Seven discovering the ship was pretty slim (to put it mildly), but the scene where she relates to Tuvok what happened when the Borg attacked and boarded the ship and assimilated her parents was truly heart-wrenching, helped in no part by the brilliant performance of Jeri Ryan. She boosts an unexceptional script and remains captivating throughout. And it's not just because she's one of the most beautiful women currently on TV (and yeah, she is!!) but she's also clearly a very good actress. Just wanted to make that perfectly clear -- her recollection of the moment of Seven's assimilation was truly moving.

Of course, it's somewhat marred by the forced action climax where those irritating idiots the Bomar attack the ship (their reasoning for doing so is very dubious) resulting in a stilted rescued-in-the-nick-of-time climax which more or less undid the power of the scene that preceeded. Why must the writers always force an action quotient into an episode which simply didn't need it? Another prime example is The Gift. It left an unsatisfying taste in the mouth, and marred an exceptionally poignant, pivotal character moment for Seven.

Summing up then; a strong character story that isn't executed with the finesse to properly realise its potential. The Bomar sub-plot was unnecessary and irritating while the misguided action climax undercuts an emotional character scene which is basically the core of the episode. But it's entertaining despite its flaws and nicely bookended with two Janeway/Seven scenes aboard the Holodeck which represent a nice step forward in Seven's exploration of her humanity.

Rating: 6.5

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