Sunday, April 28, 2013

TWITrek Character Insight No. 48: Locutus of Borg

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, to celebrate the theatrical release of The Best of Both Worlds in a special event on Thursday, our subject is Locutus of Borg from TNG.

From the moment that the Borg were introduced in TNG by the Q character during season 2, fans and writers alike were fascinated with this potential super-nemesis for the Federation. This led to Best of Both Worlds, a crowning achievement in the first two-part season cliffhanger episode that straddles the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4.

The show writers wanted the Borg to have a spokesman. Initially they believed some hybrid assimilation of Picard and Data would be the best story, but this was too complex. In addition, the writers were instructed to have an out for Patrick Stewart in view of the ongoing tough negotiations on whether he would return for a fourth season of the show. However, we all know that negotiation ended well considering the ending to Best of Both Worlds.

Thus, we end up with the captain himself losing his humanity and becoming the symbol of the Borg. Locutus is latin for "having spoken," which makes a fitting name for a Borg spokesman.

When Picard is assimilated, his familiarity with the human race does not end up helping the process of assimilating the whole race as expected by the Borg. His intimate knowledge of Starfleet ships does allow the Borg to destroy much of the fleet at the battle of Wolf 359, and this carries over into DS9 because Sisko's wife was killed in this battle by the Locutus-led Borg.

His link to the Borg has unintended foul consequences for the Borg, though, as Riker boldly leads a rescue mission and gets the captain back, then uses the link to Starfleet's advantage. Remnants of the Borg link and Locutus remain with Picard for the rest of his life, and it brings more depth to his character as he learns to deal with the advantage and the curse of the residual link to the Borg.

The Borg did end up starring in arguably the best TNG movie of all, but this two-part episode feels more epic and dramatic than even that movie. It will be interesting to see how it looks on the remastered version for the big screen.

Our notable quote this week comes from Best of Both Worlds: "I am Locutus - of Borg. Resistance - is futile. Your life, as it has been - is over. From this time forward, you will service - us"

Patrick Stewart played Locutus, and he only appeared in the heavy suit and make-up for this character six times total in all of Star Trek.

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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