Borg, ya keeping score? Newsflash: You won big time. There’s no more denying it. Let’s be honest, it’s not even a reasonable argument anymore. No matter how much the Federation – or its Starfleet defensive arm pretends – the whole of the fabled UFP were fully assimilated by the cybernetic baddies a long time ago. And just when Trekkers thought it was safe to go back into the space slipstream and not encounter em, Star Trek: Picard releases a trailer full of cyborg clues, portents and former Borg Drones, soon to be Jean-Luc Picard’s new crew on CBS All Access.
Face it: Resistance isn’t simply futile, it’s antimatter to Star Trek.
Q Gave Starfleet A Borg Gift
Starfleet worried only about Klingons and Romulans, once upon a time. Yeah, there were Organians, Gorns, Orions, Tellarites and even rabid Tribbles. However, the anger managing Vulcan cousins and honor bound warriors gave the most challenge for the United Federation of Planets.
All that changed when the mischievous Q came a knocking on Picard’s starship bulkheads.
Mon Capitaine! My woefully hair challenged human, I give you now the infamous Borg!
Q wasn’t so pedestrian in introducing the dread cybernetic race to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his stalwart crew, however, the super powered entity is responsible for the Federation first tangling with them. In the memorable 2nd season TNG episode, Q-Who, Picard rebuffs the temperamental alien (John DeLancie) after he requests officially joining up into the ranks of his crew.
Wasn’t Picard just playing it a wee bit safe or even foolish? In fact, didn’t he have the professional obligation to contact Starfleet first before he turned down Q?
Here’s an imagined, yet more than plausible subspace report to Starfleet:
From: JL-Picard To: Starfleet.
Q, that notorious, randy super being, has requested joining my crew. Though I have grave trepidation owing to his more than duplicit interactions with humanity up till now, I feel it’s not a mere Captain’s call to judge this potentially galaxy shaking opportunity. Therefore, I request formal guidance and final judgement on letting Q explore with Enterprise.
Just imagine: Q may have actually behaved. His well practiced chicanery reigned in for awhile – for whatever ulterior motive. He may have shown Picard the galaxy’s mysteries, as he promised while interviewed in Guinan’s Ten Forward.
Instead, he lived up to his temperamental and galaxy grating reputation by casting Enterprise into Borg space. Q is connective tissue. He serves as linchpin, instrumental in seeing Picard assimilated into Locutus, in Ben Sisko’s beloved wife Jennifer perishing in Wolf 359, and Seven of Nine joining Captain Janeway’s crew on the Starship Voyager.
And now, apparently, with the new Picard show, Jean-Luc harkens back to Locutus for a Borg Band of Brothers.
After their introduction, the Borg return in the 2 part cliffhanger, The Best of Both Worlds.
The tale sees the 1701-D the only Starship capable of going toe to toe with the assimilating cyborgs. The carnage of Wolf 359 – a veritable bloodbath of Starships – is just one of the memorable highlights. Riker goes through career uncertainty, Guinan offers guidance to both him and Picard, and a young, aggressive Starfleet Commander named Shelby fancies herself the new Number One to Captain Picard – she has to see to it Cmdr Riker gets lost.
Often selected as the best TNG episode of all – and one of the very best Treks ever – TBOBW underscores just what an incredibly nimble storytelling device Gene Roddenberry’s creative canvas can be.
The ultimate plot element sees Picard transformed into Borg spokesman, Locutus. He has no choice but to comply, like some ghoulish, though intelligent zombie, as he stridently opposes his Starfleet comrades. And though we understand his dilemma, there seems almost a delight in his treacherous actions. In interactions with his crew, he oozes robotic relish in every creepy over modulated digitally augmented vocal intonation.
Other Borg tales would follow: I, Borg – with Hugh Borg and Descent, which features Data’s evil twin brother, Lore, coming back to be a kind of android David Koresh or Charles Manson to a bunch of dispirited Borg.
Deep Space Nine
Only DS9’s pilot, Emissary, show any Borg. However, their dark impact casts a suffocating shadow over Ben Sisko throughout DS9’s run.
The pilot shows part of the legendary Wolf 359 battle – complete with Locutus helping to direct Borg forces to victory. We see Sisko, as second in command of a starship, valiantly trying to save his wife from the ship’s crumbling inferno. He can’t save her, and years pass away, as he raises his son, Jake.
When he’s appointed to Deep Space Nine as the Starfleet liaison to the Bajoran people for possible entry into the Federation, Sisko is a changed man. Called onto Enterprise to have a meeting with Captain Picard, Sisko barely observes civilities or demands of Starfleet professionalism as he verbally spars with the former Borg drone he blames for his wife’s destruction.
It’s a hauntingly powerful scene and it reminds us once again, the Borg’s invasion into our space and our lives keeps on taking a great toll.
When Q tossed Picard’s Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant, he plopped it into Borg home base. The cyborg turf nearly claimed the starship, until Q snapped them home in a flash.
Captain Janeway’s Voyager warps far away in the Delta Quadrant. She can’t call upon Q for help getting home, at least not right away. Thankfully, the Borg are nowhere in sight for several seasons.
But luck tends to run out.
By the time they’re encountered, the Federation starship has a bigger enemy to face: Species 8479 – enormous telepathic lifeforms who make the Borg look a bit sweet by comparison. But when the enemy of your enemy comes a calling, Kathryn Janeway decides to make a deal.
The episode, Scorpion, lets us see that Borg may not be the most powerful race around. In the end, she not only defeats Species 8479, she gets a new super powered crew member in the process – Seven of Nine.
During the series run, Seven (Jeri Ryan) comes closer to her lost humanity, and even gets romantic with former Maquis and second in command, the Native American Chakotay.
Voyager’s final episode, Endgame, chosen by many fans as the franchise’s very best finale, bristles with sci-fi energy. Full of engaging acting, bolstered by dazzling FX, the time tripping tale features Janeway, Seven of Nine and a future Admiral Janeway in a kind of warrior trio combating the Borg leader herself – the seductive, merciless, Borg Queen. Actress Alice Krige reprises her feature film role from First Contact and though questions remain about our Voyager crew at the close, it’s a deliciously satisfying romp.
Though a prequel to Kirk’s original mission, Captain Archer (Scott Backula) too faced the ever resourceful Borg.
Star Trek: First Contact, the 1996 feature film, saw Captain Picard and crew time travelling back to humanity’s first alien contact – with the Vulcans. The Borg desperately want to prevent the meeting – so humanity will be less technically savvy – a perfect, vulnerable state for assimilation.
Through a time warp, several Borg drones survive after Enterprise delivers them a crushing defeat. Frozen decades in the snow, a team retrieves them (in Capt. Archer’s time) and they defrost. Reminiscent of the 50’s sci-fi classic, The Thing, the drones soon try to assimilate anything in sight – including Archer’s Enterprise.
The character most impacted by the Borg is Dr. Phlox. After being injected with assimilating nanoprobes, the starship physician must expose himself to intense, near lethal radiation. It’s a hard to watch scene and credit to actor John Billingsley as Phlox, who brings a compelling pathos to the nightmarish scenario.
Watch Your Future’s End – Over And Over
Can we predict the Borg’s technology focused future? Where does it end – or will it ever?
Jean-Luc Picard’s new CBS All Access adventures may be the proper venue to see the tech obsessed zombie’s next chapter. Is Locutus coming back to torture Picard? Who’s the young girl he seems obsessed over? Nobody can say for sure – especially at this early juncture. So, it’s a simple equation. Don’t resist. It’s been proven it’s futile. We’ll all be watching Star Trek: Picard to find out – The Beginning. The End. The One Who Is Many.