Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard Reveals a Surprising Way to Defeat the Borg

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 8 of Star Trek: Picard, “Broken Pieces,” now streaming on CBS All Access.

Given Jean-Luc Picard's own traumatic experiences with them, the Borg have appeared quite prominently throughout the first season of Star Trek: Picard. The Romulans had been working on a dormant Borg Cube towards something dubbed the Romulan Reclamation Project, harvesting cybernetic parts from the Borg drones liberated and revived from the Cube. Among the drones seen in recovery is a Romulan woman who was later identified as the aunt of Narissa and Rizzo, two Romulan operatives for the Zhat Vash.

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While the Romulan Star Empire had employed the Tal Shiar as its own secret police force, the Zhat Vash was even more clandestine -- and lethal -- than their counterparts. The biggest visible objective for the faction has been the eradication of all artificial intelligence and synthetic life throughout the galaxy, infiltrating even the highest levels of Starfleet Command as part of their ongoing mission. A vision of an apocalypse of organic life by the synthetics had led the Zhat Vash to accelerate their plans, engineering synthetics to ravage the United Federation populace on Mars, with several high-ranking members of the faction driven mad by the vision, including Narissa and Rizzo's aunt. And the Romulan's madness may have exposed an interesting new vulnerability for the Borg Collective.

Following her vision, Narissa and Rizzo's aunt had seemingly been assimilated into the Borg Collective, evidenced by cybernetic implants throughout her body. Even after she was reclaimed by the combined efforts of the Romulans and reformed Borg drones, the woman's madness persisted. It's eventually revealed that the Zhat Vash agent was inadvertently responsible for the Borg Cube growing severely damaged and dormant for its acquisition by the Romulan Reclamation Project. The Rizzo Auntie's despair had literally torn the Cube and its drones asunder in a surprising reversal of previously conceived notions about assimilated Borg.

First introduced at the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2, the Borg were virtually unstoppable. On two separate occasions, a single Borg Cube laid waste to entire Starfleet armadas without so much as slowing down. The Borg were capable of time-travel, transporting themselves past a starship's raised shields and could modulate their own individual forcefields to go resistant to different frequencies of phaser beams. Simply put, the Borg were quickly established as the ultimate enemy and, whenever they appeared, it was all hands on deck.

The idea of a single drone comprising the entire Collective from within isn't entirely a new one. The Next Generation introduced drones regaining their sense of individuality and self-awareness, a concept furthered in Star Trek: Voyager with the introduction of Seven of Nine. The Next Generation's most visible reformed drone -- outside of Picard himself -- Hugh and Seven's return is no small coincidence, as they seek to undo the damage and trauma the Borg had wrought. This recalls the idea of the Collective facing its own internal division, with Aunt Rizzo's emotional outburst similarly rendered an entire Cube and its drones inactive.

It appears the greatest way to defeat the Borg is from within; the Collective's superior technology has long made conventional assaults largely ineffective and costly. The idea that an emotional individual could upend an entire Cube's activities all by herself is a surprising development but it does carry on the season's concept of apocalyptic visions carrying their own destructive sense of madness and speaks to the deep telepathic powers that Romulans are inherently capable of. For all their formidable combat strength, one well-paced Trojan may be enough to bring the Collective to its knees.

Star Trek: Picard stars Patrick Stewart, Alison Pill, Michelle Hurd, Evan Evagora, Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrera, and Harry Treadaway. New episodes of the series premiere every Thursday on CBS All Access.