Character Growth

No character in the Star trek universe  undergoes as drastic a change as Seven of Nine. While most of the characters not wearing red shirts in Star Trek grow, and many of them grow a lot, none of them change as much as she does.  In sticking with my theme, this piece was originally going to be about Captain Janeway and the changes she underwent in their trip through the delta quadrant,  but the more I thought about it the more I realized most of of the choices Janeway has to make are shaped by and in fact lived through Seven of Nine.

It could be said that Data probably follows a very similar path, in transforming from a machine to human.  It could even be said that Seven of Nine completes the transformation that was started by Data and that she actually is more successful, managing to become fully human.   I want do a bit of comparison between Seven of Nine and Data because there is something very important there.  Data, from the beginning of season one wanted to  be more human, without actually becoming human.  That is a very important point because although there was a lot of story about Data’s growth, it was something that he choose to do.  He was, as Commander Riker said in the first episode, Pinocchio with a goal the whole time of becoming a “Real Boy.”  Seven of Nine on the other hand has no such goals.  Her transformation from Borg Drone to human citizen was almost entirely out of her control.  Although as the series  progresses she does take steps on her own to be more human, when she joined the Voyager crew, the choice was forced upon her.  As much as Data, struggles with being human because he wants to fit it, Seven of Nine struggles to be human, because (at least in the beginning) she has no choice.

This make Seven of Nine’s character unique among Star Trek characters because she is not looking for change, in fact she fights against it.  All she wants is what she has known all of her life, the collective.  Even in the end, when they have an opportunity to finally return home, Seven of Nine fears this because she has never known earth, or the federation.   Again she has the choice of staying if Borg space, or returning to Earth with the crew she has come to be a part of almost forced upon her.

From the moment Seven of Nine came in contact with Voyager, Captain Janeway began forcing changes on Seven of Nine. Again I will point to the episode The Gift.  These changes were going to be painful, both physically and mentally.  They were going to be dangerous, both to the crew of the Voyager and to Seven of Nine as well.  I have commented before about what the Borg meant to the members of the federation, but in short the Borg represent the end of life as we know it.  To get a better understanding of this I suggest watching, Star Trek The Next Generation The best of Both Worlds parts 1 and 2.  But there was danger to Seven of Nine as well, here was a risk to having the Borg “taken out of her.”  Every time they removed another Borg implant, she was in danger.  In danger because what was removed might be keeping her alive, and in danger of loosing who she was.  Seven of Nine often fought against these changes being made.  In “The Gift” 7 of 9 suggests that Janeway herself is no better than the Borg if Janeway is going to force these changes on her.

Many may argue with me on this point, but in my humble opinion, change is the essence of a good story, and change that involves the growth of a character is the essence of what makes good story a great story.  The more painful and unavoidable that change is the more interesting it will be for the reader.   The changes that happen to Seven of Nine are painful, they are unavoidable, and in many ways they are dangerous.  Her struggle is both physically and mentally until they get what I consider the climax of that story in Dark Frontier.  Up until this point everything she does, there is a question.  Will she turn against us?  Will she still want to return to the Borg?  With this story many of those questions are answered, and while the crew of Voyager at that point is out of danger of her betraying them, Seven of Nine will never be out of danger from the Borg, and her struggle becomes one of how do I survive now that I have made the choice to follow the path laid out before me.

This, again in my opinion, is the ultimate in character growth.  The one thing that your character wants, has been struggling all though the story up to this point to get, is finally given to them, and instead of taking it they realize that they don’t want it any more, and it becomes a question of how to they reconcile who they have become with who they thought they were.  How your character answers that question, will define them forever.  Will they do as well as Seven of Nine?

One final note, because my kids would never forgive me if I didn’t bring this up. On the day that my seventh son was born, (the one in the middle below) one of his older brothers remarked, “If we have two more kids, you will be Seven of Nine.” We now do, and yes his siblings call him that. Yes, I am raising geeks.

Jeff Hite is primarily a Husband and father, during the day he works as an IT professional, and in his spare time when he is not spending way too much time watching and teaching his kids to love Star Trek, he is the managing editor of Pirate’s Cove.
A special thanks to Memory Alpha and sfdebris for helping me keep my facts straight and in depth analyses of the characters.

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