Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Ash Freeman3
Salvage Bin: The Borg Queen
Star Trek: First Contact is the best theatrical Star Trek: The Next Generation movie ever made– unfortunately that isn’t exactly a high bar to reach, if this and the other films are any indication. First Contact is riddled with controversy once you stop paying attention to the admittedly entertaining Big Dumb Action Movie veneer. Plot holes, inconsistent characterization, and continuity errors with the television series are among the most common complaints. They’re totally valid complaints, but there’s one in particular that stands out which would have a lasting effect on the portrayal of one of Trek’s greatest villain species for the rest of the franchise’s run.
All her fault (?)
The Borg Queen is thought by some to have ruined what made the Borg unique in the first place, but what exactly did the character do to have them believe that happened?
“I am the beginning. The end. The one who is many. I am the Borg.”
The reason for the Queen even existing was due to the writers having trouble making the Borg into an antagonist who could be clearly defeated at the end of the movie. Via Memory Alpha:
“The appearance of the Borg Queen in First Contact was a controversial one in the Trek universe. Though the Borg provided for a threatening and intriguing alien enemy, their lack of a single villain presented a challenge for the writers. To counter this, and to expand some on the original notion of the Borg as an insect-hive type of race, they created the Queen as a focal point for their story.”
This is possibly the largest offense to people who dislike the Borg Queen. This not only makes her the de facto leader of the Borg, but was also the single guiding force of the entire collective’s hive-mind, making it seem as if the Borg Drones are merely an extension of her will instead of a collective. This is thought to reduce the horror aspect of the Borg by making assimilation more like being drafted into a mook army instead of being forcibly abducted and surgically altered to become one of thousands that will single-mindedly do the same thing to countless others.
Combine this with the in-story retcon that the Borg Queen always existed through Picard’s flashback-dream-thingy, and the Borg’s (and by default, the Queen’s) later alleged over-exposure on Star Trek: Voyager, and you have a recipe for the worst thing that ever happened to the Borg…or at least a scapegoat for such a thing.
What’s wrong with the Borg Queen anyway?
You can’t fix something that was never broken in the first place, but let’s try and break it down as to why the Borg Queen isn’t that unique, not that much of a problem, and was basically inevitable anyway.
Except that one time.
It’s been done already
Read the following from Memory Alpha and see if it sounds familiar:
“The character of Locutus was created as a result of the writing staff of Star Trek: The Next Generation feeling it necessary for the Borg to have a spokesman, which the writing staffers referred to as a “queen bee.” (Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)“
Truth is, Locutus served many, if not all of the same functions of the Borg Queen. Since Picard was rescued from the Borg, he couldn’t be used in that capacity again, so the Borg Queen was created basically as a replacement. How she goes off the rails where Locutus didn’t for some fans likely boils down to one of two (or both) things:
1.) Locutus was Picard, so the audience has more of an emotional investment in his character, whereas the Borg Queen is more of the same, just with detachable lady-parts.
2.) The retcon that the Borg Queen always existed is stupid and retroactively ruined the Borg.
Both are understandable, and especially the latter point. Personally I like to retcon the retcon and say that the Borg Queen is the Borg’s attempt to create a Locutus from scratch, seeing as their near victory against the Federation was due not only to Picard’s knowledge of Starfleet Security protocols, but also his tactical abilities.
Being a collective, the Borg don’t understand humanity, so they exaggerated what they knew of humanity when creating the Borg Queen. Unfortunately they made her out to be illogical at times, overly emotional, and slightly obsessed with procreation with Data for some reason. When put that way, they probably did too good of a job at making her like a human.
“You/Me is my OTP!”
Also? The Borg Collective was first defeated in The Best of Both Worlds Parts 1 and 2 by taking out their then current “queen”, who went on to survive without them until a suitable replacement could be made. If I didn’t mention the episode by name, I could have been describing a few episodes of Voyager, honestly. If anything ruined the Borg Queen, it was going back to the well one time too many.
“You don’t understand. We mean you no harm. We seek peaceful coexistence!”
Remember that TNG episode Conspiracy? It’s hard not to if you recall the ending (Trek needs more exploding aliens). What isn’t commonly known is that the “Bluegill” insect parasites were originally meant to be what ended up becoming the Borg. Between budget cuts, the 1988 Writers’ Strike, and the then poor reception of Conspiracy of the time, the original plan to have insectoid aliens had to be scrapped, leading to the creation of the Borg as a replacement. While this all worked out for the best (if you like the Borg), it’s telling how much the original intentions for the parasites influenced the Borg. Had they remained insects, the idea of a “hive-queen” wouldn’t even have been blinked at, let alone caused controversy. Deciding to stick with this social structure for the Borg means that a queen would have come sooner or later, probably sooner since Locutus debuted in their second appearance. Oh, and one more thing…
“She’s just fanservice!”
Doesn’t mean she can’t be a good character. Even Deanna Troi had her moments.
So can the Borg Queen be salvaged?
As stated before, the Borg Queen isn’t broken. She may have been awkwardly shoehorned into the Borg’s backstory, but the need for her has always been around, in one form or another.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments, and tell us about other things you want to see Scrapped or Salvaged!