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Growing up, I was never into Star Trek at all. I knew what it was, I had a basic knowledge of what it was about, but I never watched it. I didn't watch a lot of TV shows as a kid—not adult ones. I liked The Animated Adventures of Batman, Doug, Rocko's Modern Life, Rugrats, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps! I would occasionally catch part of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess during their early years, but I was not mentally developed to watch episodic dramas. I was, however, an avid fan of comic books and all geek related things, so by the time I was old enough to appreciate my nerdiness, Star Trek: Voyager was in the fourth or fifth season. I remember seeing a lot of publicity for the character of Seven of Nine (played by the beautifully talented Jeri Ryan.)
It wasn't until this past spring that I finally decided to give Star Trek a proper try. I'd watched part of the first season of The Original Series as well as The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country films, but I wasn't drawn in. I had learned that Nichelle Nichols, Nyota Uhura from TOS would be at Michigan Comic Con in the fall, so I decided to give it another go. Netflix had The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. I did some research, and found out that Seven of Nine—the only Star Trek character that I was familiar with besides Kirk, Spock, and Uhura, was on Voyager. Late one April night, I started the pilot.
I was hooked within the first five minutes. I absolutely loved the moxie of Captain Kathryn Janeway and the lives of her crew—Tom Paris: seeking redemption, Harry Kim: trying to prove his worth, Chakotay: the reluctant First Officer, B'Elanna Torres: the half-Klingon Maquis-turned-engineer; Tuvok: the loyal Vulcan chief of security, Neelix: the lovable hot mess, The Doctor: the sarcastic holographic medical program... I was never a huge fan of Kes (Jennifer Lien), and I was disappointed to learn that Seven would not be appearing until the fourth season. Still, I watched.
Seven of Nine was born Annika Hanssen. Her parents were exploring unknown alien threats in deep space and encountered an insidious race of beings known as the Borg. At the age of six, Annika was captured the Borg while her parents were assimilated. She spent the next few years in a maturation chamber before herself being assimilated into the Collective. A few years later, she and three other Borg drones were stranded temporarily from the Collective. Slowly, their emotions and individuality began to re-emerge, which frightened Seven. A hive-mind was developed between the four drones. Eventually, they were rescued by the Borg and their status quo returned.
She joins the Voyager crew when Janeway severed her connection to the Collective against her will. Her body began to reject her cybernetic enhancements, causing the Doctor to remove them. She initially fought hard against her returning humanity, even going so far as to attempt to send a communication to the Collective, but her plans were thwarted and she was kept on board the ship, Janeway determined to redeem her. Her hair and skin—mostly—grew back and she was given an alcove on the ship to regenerate daily.
The plot started to shift from the same nine characters (she replaced Kes) that had made up the show for the first three seasons to Seven as she struggled with trying to learn how to be human again. Her great storylines as well as Jeri Ryan's great looks and sex appeal (hello, skin tight catsuits!) bolstered ratings, and the show ran a full three more seasons, ending its seven year run in 2001.
Seven became a valued member of the crew, working in the Astrometrics lab. Although her relationship with Janeway was initially chaotic, the two developed a mutual respect, a mother-daughter relationship. Seven also became close with the Doctor as he gave her lessons in human behavior. Through these daily lessons, the Doctor developed feelings for Seven, despite being only a hologram. She also had close relationships with Naomi Wildman, the human/Kitarian daughter of Ensign Samantha Wildman, who played Parrises Squares and Kadis-Kot with Seven and often spent time with her on the Holodeck. Seven eventually admitted that she thought of Naomi as her family on board the ship. Her relationship with B'Elanna Torres was tumultuous at best: initially Torres had no use for Seven, but over the years they developed a decent working relationship, though the two would never be friends.
In the episode "Drone," Seven's nanoprobes are accidentally joined with the Doctor's holoemitter during a during a transporter accident. A Borg with 29th century technology known as One comes from the union, and while Seven tries to help him adapt to life aboard Voyager, but he later dies, after sacrificing himself to save the ship from a Borg Cube.
In the episode "Dark Frontier," Seven begins to hear the collective voice of Borg again and returns to Borg Space, where the Borg Queen reveals that the Borg had a plan to assimilate humanity, and that Seven was deliberately programed with individuality to help bring that plan to fruition through her memories.
In the later seasons a group of Borg children were abandoned by the Collective and rescued by Voyager. Seven took them under her wing and grew close with one in particular, Icheb, who stayed aboard Voyager when the rest of the children decided to leave.
As for romantic endeavors, Seven did initially try to have sex with Harry Kim, after noticing that he exhibited all the signs of attraction to her, though it is never clearly stated whether or not the two did, in fact, copulate. In the final season, it is revealed that Seven has developed feelings for Chakotay through a holodeck program in which the two are dating. In the final episode it is stated that although Seven and Chakotay got married, Seven perished onboard Voyager before it could return to the Alpha Quadrant. After Admiral Janeway traveled back in time and altered the course of events it is unclear whether or not Seven and Chakotay got together or not.
Seven was an interesting study in humanity as seen from the outside. She saw our flaws and weaknesses and inconsistencies that we are unable to see as we're too close to the source. It was fascinating to see her become softer and more vulnerable through her relationships with the ship's crew and how, through those relationships, she discovered so much about herself and the universe in general.
Since Voyager, I have watched all of The Next Generation and most of Deep Space Nine, and although I have deep affections for most of the characters: Jean-Luc Picard, Wesley Crusher, Deanna Troi, Data, Jadzia Dax, and Kira Nerys, the character that I relate to the most is Seven of Nine. She's an alien amongst her own kind; although she looks human, she does not understand humanity, nor does she feel a sense of community with humans. I'm the same way. I feel like an outsider looking in. Humanity perplexes me. Emotions terrify me. Like her, I strive for perfection in everything I do. My main contract with Seven is that my individuality is important to me. I refuse to live a traditional life of marriage and babies; I want something special and unique out of my life. I love what an original, distinctive character she was. Star Trek hadn't done a character like her before, and one hasn't been done since. I am hoping that with the new Jean-Luc Picard-centric series coming out in the next few years, that Seven will at least guest star, if not be a main or recurring character. It would be nice to see what further developments Seven underwent since her return to the Alpha Quadrant. Did she stay with Chakotay? Did she at least meet up with her aunt? Were Starfleet medical personnel able to fully remove her Borg implants? Was she able to live a reasonably normal human life? Is her rehabilitation possible in other Borg drones?
I hate that her character is linked with selling out and sex appeal. The character is undeniably sexy, yes, but she was so much more than that. She's a true feminist icon. She never sat around and waited to be rescued, she handled shit on her own as much as she was able to. She was highly intelligent, too, not a typical big breasted, dumb blonde. In fact, I think it was quite brilliant on the writers' part: by the end of the third season, the ratings were low, so, bring on the hot chick in the tight skinsuit with big breasts, but this is Star Trek, so don't make her an airhead; instead, use that sexism against them and turn her into the ultimate femme fatale: beautiful, dangerous, strong, intelligent, resilient... of course, could be reading too much into it because I really like Seven, but still...
I'm so glad that I finally joined the Star Trek fandom. It's odd to be so passionate about something that I was against for so long, but I am. I am extremely passionate about Star Trek. I've Tweeted Jeri Ryan a few times and gotten a response—she's a lovely woman, and it is obvious that she cares about her fans a lot. I am so hopeful for more Seven of Nine in the future!
A huge thank you to Jeri Ryan for portraying such an amazing character. No one else could have done the role justice!