(written from a Production point of view)
Seven believes that a visiting weapons merchant assaulted her.
Captain Janeway is bargaining with Kovin, a self-interested Entharan trader, about the purchase of an isokinetic cannon. After a demonstration, Janeway is convinced and trades isolinear chips and astrometric database maps. He agrees, and, additionally, offers to help install it for a fee.
Despite misgivings about her attitude, Janeway agrees to have Seven of Nine work on the installation as well since she has been "behaving herself" lately and allows her full access to engineering. Chakotay goes to Seven, who is working in astrometrics, and orders her to engineering. Seven is still sore about her confinement and complains that Janeway only allows her more freedom when her expertise is needed. Chakotay curtly reminds her that she was punished for a reason, and its up to her to earn Janeway's trust back no matter how long it takes.
In engineering, Seven clashes with Kovin as he contradicts several suggests and conclusions from Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres and herself. He looks over her shoulder while working on it, then impatiently pushes Seven out of the way. This is all she will tolerate and deliberately punches him in the jaw. Kovin falls to the ground as Torres and Ensign Ashmore hold her.
The Doctor easily treats Kovin's injury, but he's clearly shocked. Janeway tries to understand why Seven attacked, though he believes he's innocent and Torres was far away. Janeway later talks to Seven alone, already knowing how the conversation will go, and is now unsure how to proceed since traditional disciplinary actions won't work. She tries to ask her to know the difference between having an impulse to attack and acting on it. Seven is unapologetic, but says she'll think about it.
While The Doctor is examining her, Seven gets oddly anxious with instruments coming near her, so he starts to calm her by relating to her problem interacting with others that rarely meet her high standards. However, The Doctor sees higher adrenaline levels and engrammatic activity, and asks her to lie down for more scans. Seven agrees, but then has an acute anxiety attack and moves away. Unfortunately, she can't explain why, but gets flashes of memories of being examined elsewhere. He sedates her and, later, explains to Janeway that he found biogenic amines in her hippocampus, suggesting a memory suppression. Always eager to try out new programming, he proudly recommends a psychiatric treatment which he has recently been developing. Janeway agrees.
Later, The Doctor brings Seven to her cargo bay to use a directed imaging technique to guide her through a regression in order to reconstruct the memories. Slowly, she realizes her fear of being restrained draws her to a memory of Kovin performing a surgery on her, violating her.
After some prodding, Seven recalls her away mission which took place on the Entharan planet. While she and Tom Paris were trying out some of Kovin's disruptors, Seven and Kovin went back to his lab to make modifications. When they got there, Kovin fired the disruptor on her. She awoke, restrained, on an examination table. Kovin and a female assistant examined her, extracted nanoprobes, injected them to another subject, and removed her memory of the incident.
The Doctor believes Seven's story completely, and briefs the crew in the briefing room. The rest of the crew is more hesitant (especially Tuvok), as memories can be unreliable, but The Doctor says he does have some evidence. However, he doesn't have biological evidence of the procedures, suspecting Kovin used her own nanoprobes to fix any damage. Janeway orders The Doctor to find more evidence while she talks to Kovin. He responds somewhat haughtily to questioning, indignantly repeating his cover story. Janeway insists on examining the laboratory, and, when she threatens to involve the authorities, Kovin agrees.
Tuvok questions Kovin on the rifle's overload. Kovin is very angry, and challenges him with the only evidence being Seven's recollection. He then pleads with Tuvok not to make a formal accusation, as even being accused can hurt his reputation. Tuvok says he has no choice but to involve an Entharan magistrate assist in the examination, but Kovin takes Tuvok's word that he will be treated fairly.
Meanwhile, The Doctor wishes to continue treating Seven's psychological injuries. Despite Seven's insistence that she does not want any part of her Human feelings of resentment and violation, The Doctor says she needs to accept that they exist, and she must deal with them. He reminds her that he violated her individuality, acting like a coward to obtain weapons. She then feels anger, which The Doctor sees as progress.
The Doctor, Tuvok and the Entharan magistrate examine Kovin's laboratory in his presence. His guilt seems confirmed when they find regenerating nanoprobes. The magistrate has seen enough, and intends to hold Kovin, but he picks up a weapon and transports away, back to his ship. When Voyager tries to keep him from fleeing, Kovin disables their sensors with a photonic blast. Harry Kim is forced to reinitialize the sensors before they can continue.
They find that Kovin's ship entered warp. Voyager gives chase while Janeway and Tuvok examine the evidence again and discuss the situation. Tuvok believes that their investigation has been impartial, and Janeway admits that her misgivings about Kovin perhaps influenced her judgment. When experiments with nanoprobes show that the probes regenerate when fired on by Kovin's disruptor, the group realizes that now all the evidence backs up Kovin's story. Janeway, Tuvok, and The Doctor realize that Kovin may be innocent, and are forced to report what they've found. Seven believes Kovin is guilty and refuses to listen. When she asks The Doctor to tell them that she was attacked, he admits that her neurology is still a mystery to him, and she could've misinterpreted what really happened with her experiences with the Borg. Seven wants Kovin to be punished, and she will not settle for anything less.
When Voyager catches up with Kovin, they try to convince him that they've found evidence of his innocence. He is convinced that it is a trap, and attacks Voyager. Even though he does damage, eventually his weapons destabilize, and his ship is destroyed. Seven tries to come to terms with a new emotion: remorse.
Meanwhile, The Doctor feels extremely guilty over the part he played in Kovin's death, and asks Captain Janeway to delete the additional subroutines that he's programmed himself with over the years, believing that his desire to expand his programming has caused him to overstep his boundaries and step in where he wasn't required. However the Captain refuses, saying that everyone involved is responsible to some degree.
Voyager continues its journey home, with two of its crew sadder but wiser for their experiences.
- "Captain's log, stardate 51679.4. We've detected the warp signature from Kovin's ship and we're now in pursuit. In the meantime, Tuvok and I have been examining the tools from Kovin's lab."
- "Chief medical officer's log, stardate 51658.2. I've spent the past three days being cross-examined by the Entharan authorities, but the matter is finally resolved."
"I do not feel perfect."
"What do you mean?"
"I am preoccupied by Kovin's death."
"Join the club. It's all I can think about."
"As a Borg, I was responsible for the destruction of countless millions and I felt nothing, but now I regret the destruction of this single being."
"It's called remorse, Seven. It comes into play when you make a mistake, and you feel guilt about what you've done. Another new emotion for you to experience."
"I do not enjoy this remorse any more than I enjoyed anger. Will the feeling subside?"
"Yes. But not quickly."
"I would rather not have to wait."
"I'm afraid you don't have much choice." [Pauses as he watches Seven leave] "But maybe I do."
- - Seven of Nine and The Doctor, in sickbay
"You've made your point, Mr. Kovin. I want the cannon."
- - Captain Janeway, to Kovin
"That guy is worse than a Ferengi!"
- - Tom Paris, on Kovin
- - B'Elanna Torres, to Seven after she punches Kovin in the face
"When I started helping you improve your social skills, I'm fairly certain I didn't include a boxing lesson."
- - The Doctor, to Seven of Nine
Story and script Edit
- This episode had the working title "Mnemonic". 
- Originally, the episode's story – as pitched by Andrew Shepard Price and Mark Gaberman – involved an alien computer dissecting Seven of Nine (similar to the plot of Demon Seed) to create an army of drones that it intended to use for galactic conquest. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Although the story changed considerably from the original pitch, the writing staff of Star Trek: Voyager composed the plot's final version by essentially weaving the initial story idea together with a theme that comments on false memory syndrome. Staff writer Bryan Fuller remarked, "That's kind of what we had to fall back on for this one." Regarding false memories, he commented, "We hear so much about how they can essentially ruin peoples' lives, how well-respected and credited doctors have been completely dethroned, how teachers and parents have been humiliated." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Before co-writing this episode's teleplay and joining Voyager's writing staff, both Bryan Fuller and Lisa Klink had attended the Star Trek Writer's Workshop at the Grand Slam convention in Pasadena, California and had made small contributions to the writing of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They literally wrote every other scene of this episode, sharing the same anxieties as each other over the script. "I initially had my concerns," Fuller explained, "because we were trying to distinguish it from a TV movie about date rape [....] We [...] removed the sexual elements." Fuller believed that the turning point for the story's development was the addition of The Doctor to the plot. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 7 November 1997. 
Cast and characters Edit
- Analyzing The Doctor's actions in this episode, Bryan Fuller remarked, "He's dragging Seven into her frustration, and essentially filling the role of the psychologist who's manipulating the patient–not with malevolence, but because he sincerely thinks that something happened. But he goes about solving the mystery in such a haphazard way that only chaos can ensue." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- In agreement with Bryan Fuller's interpretation of the plot, Robert Picardo remarked on the character arc that his regular role of The Doctor undergoes in this episode: "[He] completely loses his self-confidence in a way I don't think we've seen thus far. It was actually kind of touching [....] It's really quite touching, because it's basically the enthusiasm of someone really trying to help out, and really trying to be more than he's supposed to be, in a crisis situation." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 86) Picardo also described the request that The Doctor makes at the end of this episode as "quite dramatic." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Ethan Phillips (Neelix) does not appear in this episode.
- Director Jesús Salvador Treviño was presented with the difficulty of creating an unusual look for certain sequences of this episode. "For me, the challenge was in conveying the flashback moments," the director explained, "and making them succinct and different enough that we would get a sense of how different this perspective is to [Seven of Nine] and whether it's real or not." To help create the desired effect, Treviño filmed the flashback sequences at eight frames per second, rather than the usual twenty-four frames per second. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 68)
- In one of the flashback scenes, Kovin's assistant is armed with a rifle reused from the earlier fourth season installment "Waking Moments". (Delta Quadrant, p. 226)
- The interior cockpit of Kovin's ship was, evidently, a reuse of the cockpit from the timeship Aeon, which appears in the third season two-parter "Future's End" and "Future's End, Part II".
- Ultimately, Bryan Fuller believed that he and Lisa Klink had successfully differentiated this episode from a television movie about date rape, and that the decision to remove the sexual aspects from the script had been made "wisely". He said, "I think it succeeded [...] and I think it's a solid episode." An element of the episode that Fuller especially liked was that it showed The Doctor was not infallible. "That's the great part of the story, that he screwed up," the writer opined. Nonetheless, Fuller also cited this episode as probably being his least favorite from those he wrote for Voyager's fourth season and related, "I found myself distanced from it. I'm always disappointed in a story when it turns out not to have happened, and it's based on some sort of illusion or memory wackiness." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Contrastingly, Jesús Salvador Treviño liked the vagueness of this episode's conclusion. "I thought that was very daring for the Voyager writers," Treviño remarked. "That was really nice the way they left it totally open-ended. We don't know whether it really did happen or if it didn't; we have our suspicions and the clues are placed either way." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 68)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.2 million homes, and a 7% share. (X) One of the installment's initial audience members was Robert Picardo himself. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 86)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 101)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 43, p. 57)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 227) gives this installment a rating of 5 out of 10.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.9, catalog number VHR 4630, 7 September 1998
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
Links and referencesEdit
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- David Keith Anderson as Ashmore
- Patrick Barnitt as Entharan guard
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Sylvester Foster as Timothy Lang
Stunt double Edit
adrenaline; Amanin; assimilation tubules; astrometric chart; Betazed; bio-ablation pump; blood pressure; Borg; Borg Collective; boxing; brig; centimeter; chemical imbalance; chromoelectric force field; club; combadge; compression rifle; counselor; dermal regenerator; diagnostic bed; disruptor; dizziness; duratanium; electro-dynamic probe; electro-optic implant; emitter matrix; engram; engramatic activity; Entharan; Entharan colony; evasive maneuvers; examination table; Ferengi; field generator; genome; gesture; hairline fracture; headache; hippocampus; Hirogen; isokinetic cannon; isolinear buffer circuit; isolinear processing chip; Jungian; kilometer; Kovin's starship; magistrate; manhunt; metabolic rate; metagenic pulse; medical tricorder; memory center; memory reconstruction; meter; micro-caliper; microsecond; monofilament stimulator; monotanium; nanoprobes; neural pathway; oscillator; photonic emitter; photonic pulse; power cell; power grid; premaxilla; psychiatric subroutine; quip; Raven, USS; recharge cycle; red alert; scattering field; sector; shortness of breath; slide (science); target buoy; terawatt; terawatt powered particle beam rifle; therapist; thermal guidance sensor; thoron; week
- "Retrospect" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Retrospect" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Retrospect" at Wikipedia
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"The Killing Game"