Seven of Nine plays a crucial role in the first season of Star Trek: Picard, and is clearly portrayed as someone willing to risk her own safety to protect and advocate for others, specifically the xBs, other former Borg drones. But when we as fans recall her during her Voyager years, our collective memory of the character is often a little clouded. There’s a tendency to remember Seven as rather aloof and arrogant – not someone who’s deeply attached to the rest of the crew. But the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Beyond Seven’s deep emotional connection with Janeway and others, which is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the series, let’s take a look at three of the episodes that most clearly reflect her willingness to go as far as potentially sacrificing herself to save her crew.
The first episode, “One,” takes place shortly after Seven’s introduction to the cast, later in season four. The ship encounters a nebula with vast amounts of subnucleonic radiation. It will take a month for the ship to cross, and will be deadly to the crew unless they’re put into stasis. That leaves only Seven and the Doctor to look after the ship and the sleeping crew.
Chakotay expresses concern about leaving the ship largely in Seven’s hands. He tells Janeway, “Here’s someone who’s butted horns with you since the moment she came on board, who disregards authority and actively disobeys orders when she disagrees with them.” And indeed, it’s stray comments like this peppered throughout the series that in part lead to distorted recollections of Seven’s character among fans. Janeway replies that her “instinct” tells her that Seven “wants to do well by us.” This conversation sets the episode up as something of a trial of Seven’s character.
Once the crew is in stasis, the Doctor’s mobile emitter quickly sufferers the effects of the radiation, leaving Seven largely alone to tend to the ship. We later discover that her Borg technology is also affected by the radiation, as well as many crucial ship systems. Seven begins to hallucinate and has great difficulty distinguishing her hallucinations from reality. And what’s worse, the hallucinations play on her fear of solitude, which has lingered since her being cut off from the Collective and its hive mind.
One of the hallucinations is a Borg drone who tells her that, as a solitary being, she’s alone and weak, and she’s going to die. But despite all of this, Seven keeps the ship going. Ultimately, as the ship continues to fail due to the radiation, she reroutes power from life support to the engines to ensure the ship – along with the crew who are safe in the stasis chambers – makes it clear of the nebula, even if it means she dies in the process herself. In less than one season, Seven has gone from a drone to a character who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her found family.
Next up is the fifth season’s two-parter “Dark Frontier.” In it, Janeway hatches a plan to steal a transwarp coil from a Borg cube. Eventually, the Borg Queen gets involved and tells Seven that wants her to return to the collective, and if she does not, Voyager’s crew will be assimilated. Seven tells no one, knowing they will not allow her to turn herself over.
Once Seven and the away team are aboard the cube , Seven tells Janeway to leave her behind or be assimilated. Once again, Seven puts herself in danger to save the crew.
Later, it is revealed the Borg Queen has a plan to assimilate all of humanity, and wants Seven to help them by sharing her newfou
nd understanding of humanity. Seven vehemently declines, noting how she now identifies with humanity. And when Janeway comes to rescue her, she quickly points out the Queen’s weaknesses.
At one point, the Queen says of her emotional responses, “Human sentiment. Compassion, guilt, empathy. They’re irrelevant.” And Seven replies, “Not to me.” She even takes a risk to try and save a group of aliens whom the Queen plans to assimilate. At every point in this episode where she’s given the choice between compassion and returning to her old Borg ways, she chooses the former.
Finally, let’s take a look at another season five episode, “Think Tank.” In this episode, the ship finds itself being hunted by the Hazari, who have been hired by someone unknown to take them out. The Think Tank, a group of aliens who use their intelligence to solve dilemmas for a price, shows up on the scene and their leader, Kurros, explains his proposal to Janeway. He tells her his group will help Voyager escape the Hazari if they turn over Seven, whom they want to join the Think Tank as a new member.
Janeway leaves the choice up to Seven, who declines, but the Think Tank is persistent. Ultimately, the crew discovers it was the Think Tank who hired the Hazari, all as a ruse to get Seven to join them. Janeway speaks to the Hazari and tells them they’re both being manipulated by Kurros. Together, they devise a plan to outwit the Think Tank, but it involves Seven beaming aboard their ship and allowing them to believe she has agreed to go with them.
The plan involves anticipating the moves that these highly intelligent aliens will make. And there are clearly opportunities for Kurros to call their bluff, or for the plan to go awry. And if that were to happen, Seven would find herself trapped with the very aliens who had worked so hard to get to her, and who would not be quick to let her go. Nonetheless, she takes the risk to protect the crew.
What’s more, both this episode and “Dark Frontier” demonstrate that the warm feelings go both ways. In each case, Janeway and the crew put themselves at risk to protect Seven, just as she does for them. In the former, Janeway and the away team take the immense risk of engaging the Borg again in order to rescue her from the Queen. And in “Think Tank,” Janeway doesn’t even entertain the possibility of ordering Seven to join the aliens, even if it means the crew will assume more risk.
Clearly, Seven’s devotion to her Voyager family runs deep. Despite the way in which viewers sometimes recall her time on that ship, Seven in fact cares enormously about her crew, and demonstrates it on numerous occasions. And this makes a great deal of sense when we look at where Seven is at now, in Picard. Just like she was willing to assume significant risk to protect her crew on Voyager, she’s putting herself in some pretty dangerous situations now to protect and fight for other xBs.