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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S6 E19: "Child's Play"

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Icheb's parents get a second chance with him.
Just when Icheb's absolute engineering brilliance has been discovered, his parents get in contact with Voyager, and are eager to get him home...

Contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The Brunali! See Tyke Bomb.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Icheb.
  • Armor-Piercing Question.
    • Subverted. Janeway attempts this on Seven, accusing her of letting her own unresolved feelings for her parents cloud her judgement. Instead of being rattled, Seven just rolls with it, freely acknowledges the similarity, and but shoots back that by all outward appearances, the Brunali are just as unfit to raise children as the Hansens. Janeway, tellingly, doesn't really have a retort for this, and passes the burden of decision onto Icheb.
    • Played straight when Icheb comes to the Doctor with extreme anxiety at the idea of leaving Voyager to live with a biological family he has no memory of. The Doctor pontificates about how much he can learn from a family and how much they can give to him that he couldn't get from the Voyager crew and that it's nothing to feel nervous about.
      Icheb: How would your programming respond if you were asked to live with strangers?
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  • Big Brother Instinct: Icheb makes it clear that he feels this for the other Borglings.
  • Bioluminescence is Cool: Janeway seems to like Mezoti's glowing ant colony.
  • Call to Agriculture: Thanks to the attack by the Borg on the Brunali homeworld, this is what Icheb has to look forward to, a prospect he doesn't exactly find appealing.
  • Child Prodigy: The ex-drones, naturally. Azan and Rebi clone potatoes (only because Seven wouldn't let them clone Naomi), Mezoti likes bugs and makes a very pleasing-looking habitat for them, while Icheb makes a whole new sensor array for detecting wormholes! And he also works on extending the range of Astrometrics sensors! Naomi's no slouch, either, making a model of Ktaris with programmed weather graphics that impress the senior officers and Jim "Reviewboy" Wright.
    Not to put too fine a point on this, but when I was Naomi's age I was making pies out of mud in the back yard. At the age I am now, I feel mighty if I can get my VCR to stop blinking 12:00. And Naomi's mastered planetary weather patterns at the age of . . . lemme think, when was "Deadlock"? . . . the age of four?
    No wonder the twins want to clone her. Smart, pretty, hair longer than an average DELTA BLUES review . . .
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  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: We still don't see Ensign Wildman, so when the Doctor asks Icheb if Naomi's mother is irrelevant to her, our first thought is, 'she's definitely irrelevant to the show, all right.' Jim "Reviewboy" Wright points this out during the Science Fair.
    A tentative hand in the corner is raised. A certain review boy asks, "You know, this is a big day for Naomi. Where's Momma Wildman?" before Janeway's curt nod sends Security into action, chasing the troublemaker out of the room.
  • Dull Surprise: Icheb's parents greet their long-lost son with less emotion than a Vulcan. Compared to how animated they are at other times throughout the episode (such as their argument about whether or not to feed him back to the Borg), it's the first sign that something's up.
  • Foregone Conclusion: When Icheb beams off the ship at around 15 minutes remaining, you know something will happen to bring him back to Voyager.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • With a Borg transwarp conduit less than a light-year away from the Brunali, guess who shows up near the end.
    • Leucon shows Icheb a genetic resequencing gizmo that they use to help grow crops. It turns out that they don't just use it on plants.
    • Leucon also tells Icheb that he may have an aptitude for genetics. It doesn't take him long to start showing it.
    • Seven is worried that Icheb might get re-assimilated by the Borg, which very nearly happens in the climax.
  • Freudian Excuse: A justified example. Seven has perhaps the best reason possible for wanting Icheb away from a planet so close to a Borg transwarp conduit. While her past makes her overly judgemental, it also means she can recognize just how neglectful the Brunali are.
    Seven: Anyone who values their own goals over the safety of their children is irresponsible.
    Janeway: Are we talking about Icheb's parents, or yours?
    Seven: Both.
    Janeway: It's not like you to admit to something like that.
    Seven: It would be naive for me to claim objectivity in this case. But I'm not prepared to return Icheb to parents who may be as careless as my own.
  • From a Certain Point of View
    Seven: I'd like the data you've collected on Icheb's species so I can prepare him for re-assimilation.
    Janeway: Maybe we could refer to it as getting reacquainted with his family.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: On the Voyager crew's side, consigning one's own child to a Fate Worse than Death is crossing a serious line, which is how Janeway and Seven react when Icheb's parents are revealed to have turned him into a Tyke Bomb against the Borg. On the Brunali's side, their tech level is borderline archaic except for their genetic sequencing and their planet is very close to a Borg transwarp conduit, and the Borg prioritize young and able lifeforms for assimilation, so applying a pathogen to children like Icheb and feeding them to the Borg is their only realistic means of survival. While the show naturally sides with Voyager's point of view, the Brunali's dire situation is understandable.
    Leucon: We don't have particle weapons or powerful starships at our disposal. We're forced to use the only resource we have.
    Seven: Your children?
    Yifay: No. Our genetic expertise.
    Janeway: (with dawning realization) Icheb's not bait. He's a weapon. The first Cube that captured him was infected by a pathogen. Icheb was the carrier, wasn't he?
    Leucon: Every time we try to rebuild, begin to make progress, the Borg come and take it away from us.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Voyager warps away after blowing up part of the Borg sphere.
  • Mama Bear: Seven has become quite attached to Icheb, and doesn't like the prospect of giving him up to his real parents.
    • When she finds that Leucon lied about how and when Icheb was assimilated, she wants to go down and ream the truth out of him. Janeway throttles her back a bit, but when she finds out about the Tyke Bombs, she goes ballistic as is justified (though channels it into fuel for the upcoming battle).
    • Despite Janeway's doubts about Seven's suspicions, the minute they learn Icheb is being used as a carrier for the virus, Janeway orders him rescued no matter the odds, even if it risks getting Voyager assimilated in the process. No one raises an objection.
  • My Species, Right or Wrong: Icheb is not indignant about his being used as a Tyke Bomb, because the Brunali need to do all they can to fight the Borg.
  • Properly Paranoid: Seven is horrified when she sees the flippant attitude Icheb's family has toward staying near Borg territory, which seemingly places them in unjustifiable danger instead of settling elsewhere. At first it looks like Seven is just projecting her frustration at her own criminally-neglectful parents, but it turns out that Icheb's parents are risking his health through more than sheer neglect.
  • The Reveal: Icheb was the source of the pathogen that disabled his Borg Cube back in "Collective".
  • Stating the Simple Solution: The Brunali point out that due to their limited resources the only strategy they have to combat the Borg is to genetically engineer Icheb into a Tyke Bomb to keep Borg Cubes from repeatedly harvesting their population for drones. Early in the episode, Seven points out the fact that they can simply move to another planet. When presented with this option, Icheb's father angrily insists that the Brunali love their home and will defend it no matter what, even though potentially settling on a planet not right outside of a Borg conduit would spare them the inhumanity of turning their children into living weapons.
  • Through His Stomach: Icheb starts to warm up to his parents after a bite of Mom's home cooking.
  • Tyke Bomb: It's not made clear if it's all of them, but the Brunali genetically engineer their children to infect and destroy Borg cubes, sending them out alone on baited transports. Icheb was one such child.
  • Wham Line: "[Icheb] was on a ship last time." Since Leucon explicitly said that Icheb was assimilated on the planet, this is the first clue that his story is a lie.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Janeway chews Seven out for being excessively blunt and accusatory with Icheb's parents.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Icheb wonders if it's his destiny to only be a weapon. Mama Seven explains that he may choose to fight the Borg, but it will be his choice.