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From Enemy to Hero: The History of Jeri Ryan & Seven of Nine

When we first met her she was the enemy. By the end, she was key to Voyager’s return to the Alpha Quadrant.

Seven of Nine was certainly the most disruptive crew member on Captain Janeway’s ship – Voyager had to construct a special regeneration alcove for her instead of typical quarters – but when you got to know her, you realized it was worth it. And it’s a thrill that Jeri Ryan, the woman who brought Seven of Nine to life, will be joining us on Star Trek: The Cruise IV.

It’s no secret that Voyager had some bumps getting out of spacedock. Kate Mulgrew wasn’t even cast as the captain until a few days in. A very interesting character, Kes the Ocampan, found herself tagging along with chef and morale officer Neelix as the Federation ship (with significant Maquis complement) sailed through the Delta Quadrant. Despite actress Jennifer Lien’s best efforts, the role never quite snapped into place. (Was she a child or an adult? And what exactly was her relationship with Neelix? Your answer to the first question will significantly change how you interpret the second!) By the end of the third season, it was time to make a change. Enter Seven of Nine.

We’d seen borg drones with individual personalities before ⁠— namely Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco, also joining us on Star Trek: The Cruise IV!) ⁠— but Seven of Nine, born Annika Hansen, was born human, and assimilated off a Starfleet science vessel as a child. When Captain Janeway met and worked with Seven of Nine as a liaison to the rest of the Borg Collective in their joint effort to defeat Species 8472, Janeway knew there was still someone inside worth saving.

From this point on, Jeri Ryan had an acting challenge most would kill (or at least assimilate) for. She had four full seasons to explore the slow resuscitation of her human side. She got to play part-Spock, part-Frankenstein’s monster, and to do it in the sexiest sci-fi cat suit in television history. (Just how many times was she on the cover of TV Guide? We’d need an M5 computer to calculate that.)

Something else to consider, she had to be a baritone-voiced badass, but got to slip in a lot of deadpan comedy. Just take her signature phrase: “My designation is Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. [Beat.] But you may call me Seven of Nine.” It’s perhaps the most absurd line of dialogue ever. She pulls it off. (Also, insisting to refer to Naomi Wildman only by her full name, with that booming stentorian tone, cracks me up every time.) These deep voice moments are Jeri Ryan’s version of Leonard Nimoy’s raised eyebrow.

There wasn’t a Star Trek fan in the galaxy who ever thought we’d see Seven of Nine again after Voyager went off the air. That’s why her surprise appearance in the Star Trek: Picard trailer sent us all into warp core breach. By the time Star Trek: The Cruise IV sails next March, we’ll already be into the new series. To have her and Jonathan Del Arco and Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis and Brent Spiner aboard will make this the first Picard series chat after the show debuts. It’s just another dimension to this already fascinating character.

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Comments

  1. Luis F. Theaux, Sr. says

    Absolutely, one of my favorite “Star Trek” characters, ever! Not just because she is the most gorgeous of all “Star Trek” characters? She knocked it out of the park, playing the “7 of 9” role! In every episode? They were all fantastic but “Seven”? Always stood out! She’s as much a great actor, as she is a great beauty! A fan!

  2. Dan says

    Beautiful woman and fairly good actress. Character is only interesting to discuss if an enhanced human being ,hence superior, is an ethical thing to create. However, Asimov based character of Data and Greek gods based character of Q ( interacting with humans and judging them)are much more interesting.

    • Trekdriver says

      That’s a bit hard for me to agree with. The way she was able to evolve from a Borg Drone into such an important and likeable addition to Voyager, took some acting talent. In fact as I remember the only other character to evolve so much in a series would be Walter White into Heisenberg. Another well done feat of acting ability.

  3. Steven Schlussel. says

    Seven of Nine became the focal point of the show as soon as she joined Voyager. Her journey to humanity had a similar attraction to that of Spock as he learned to accept his human side. They were the characters that changed the most in the course of their series, which is what made both characters so compelling.

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