Here's a game you can all play at home. What would be your fantasy Trek crew?
It's probably a fair bet that Seven of Nine, played by the delightful Jeri Ryan, would feature on the wish list of most fans. Since she beamed aboard Voyager in Season Four's première episode Scorpion II, the character has captured the imaginations of both writers and viewers, giving the show the Borg boost it so sorely needed. She's been the focus of some excellent instalments and Season Five continues the theme of Seven discovering her humanity.
"I'm enjoying Season Five infinitely more, for a lot of reasons," the actress tells Cult Times. "Season Four was great, there were some wonderful scripts, I had some great stuff to play and I loved it.
"But I have to tell you, since Brannon Braga took the helm [as executive producer, replacing Jeri Taylor], it's an amazing show. There are some really exciting stories that we are getting to play and the writing has reached a new level of intelligence that is very exciting to be a part of. The stories have a very epic, feature-like feel to them."
It's no secret that many of the principal cast of Voyager were disappointed to find that their characters were marginalized in Season Four, as Seven took centre stage. The fifth year redresses the balance, giving each crewmember their own share in the spotlight, and no one is more pleased than Ryan.
"Last year was a very physically and emotionally gruelling year," she reveals. "I had a lot of huge storylines. She was a new character and I had to quickly tie her in with everyone else's storylines, [introduce] her backstory and figure out her place in the crew. I was commuting to Chicago every weekend, so I didn't have my weekends to recuperate, so I was literally sick all season last year.
"By the time the end of the season rolled around, it was all I could do for the first month of hiatus to get out of bed. I was exhausted - I physically hit the wall. I'm not doing the commute any more, I'm in one place, I'm having some free time, I don't have all of the huge emotional turmoil and stresses that I had last year. It's infinitely more enjoyable this year."
Highlights for Seven so far this season have included Drone, in which a transporter incident (naturally) spawns an advanced Borg child, Infinite Regress, in which Seven regresses through the personalities of those she has assimilated, and Bliss, in which she unites with Naomi Wildman to save the ship from being ingested by a vast space creature. While there's been a gentle progression in the character towards becoming an accepted part of the Voyager family, she still has plenty to learn about the human condition.
"I love this character," Ryan enthuses. "I love the challenge, I love the constant discoveries she has. Initially, because I didn't know much about Star Trek, I wasn't sure what to expect of the writing. My initial fear was that they were going to humanize this character overnight, and then she's in bed with him, then him, then him That was something I was not particularly interested in doing.
"I love the way she has developed, that it's steady, but gradual. I love that they are not in a hurry to make her human. She keeps that Borg edge, she keeps that conflict, and she's still the outsider."Richard Houldsworth
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