Star Trek: The Next Generation, quite famously, struggled throughout its first two seasons. Whether it was the massive pressure to compete with the original series, Gene Roddenberry's desire to remove all conflict between humans, or the... space Irish, there was a lot to overcome. However, in the midst of a second season which would be cut short due to an ongoing writer's strike, there were two episodes which, notably, are considered two of the most important stories in the recorded history of all Star Trek. One of them is "Measure of a Man," wherein Data's rights are questioned in a brilliant allegory about how even seemingly-utopian societies can easily slip back into the barbarism of slavery.
The other episode is "Q, Who." And if the title doesn't immediately ring a bell, the thing about it which matters most is who it first introduced: the Borg.
Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi and Cardassians; virtually all the alien races that the Federation has come into conflict with can be reasoned with -- because they think like us. They all have hierarchies yet still possess an interest in personal freedoms, in social moors, in a complex series of structures which make up civilization.
The Borg don't care about any of those things. At least they didn't at first. By now, the Borg have appeared across so many Star Trek franchises that their intentions, which makes them distinct from all other species in Star Trek history has become somewhat muddied. But in the beginning all that mattered to them was scavenging, assimilating what they needed, and discarding the rest. Only one collective mind possesses the Borg. If you mess with the Borg, you will lose. If you accidentally meet the Borg in the vacuum of space, you will lose. And, worst of all, if a Borg sneezes and it hits you, boom, you're now a Borg, too. They aren't just a hive mind, they're a disease that can infect you and take away everything that you ever were or could be.
And that makes the Borg pretty darn scary! Scary enough for them to be prominently featured on a podcast about horror? You better believe it.
On today's episode of Every Day Horror's 13 Days of Halloween podcast, I'm joined by Benjamin R. Harrison and Adam Pranica, the co-hosts of The Greatest Generation: a Star Trek podcast by two guys a little embarrassed to have a Star Trek podcast. We talk about the Borg's "Conspiracy" origins and the insect politics that helped inspire our assimilating drone friends. And we talk about assimilation, why the old fashioned way is maybe more terrifying than the Star Trek: First Contact approach. We talk about Jean-Luc Picard and his Borg-shaped trauma. And, of course, we talk about Riker, that little baby Bog he didn't save, and what might have been if that wee child had been raised by one Riker, William T.
On tomorrow's episode we begin a two-day mini-series dedicated to the 21st century zombie movies that helped shape how we still see zombies today. Starting tomorrow, 13 Days of Halloween will be joined by film critic Bob Chipman and music critic Todd Nathanson to rage-ape our way through the Danny Boyle and Alex Garland classic, 28 Days Later.