Instead of avoiding or completely indulging in nostalgia, the creators of Star Trek often channel it, using references and reboots to re-up the characters audiences know and love. Picard season 2 has its own fun, calling characters aboard the U.S.S. Sulu, or (in an episode to come) doing their own homage to one of the lighter Trek films. This season also marks the return of the Borg Queen.
[Ed. note: This piece contains some light spoilers for the end of Picard season 2 episode 1.]
Among the more controversial figures in Trek lore, the Borg Queen first appeared as the antagonist in Star Trek: First Contact, commanding the Borg who took over Earth. Many fans objected to her role because, well, she had never been mentioned before by the well-established Borg race, and the idea of a single queen sort of undermined the terror of the hive mind that made the Borg so unstoppable. Nevertheless, the Borg Queen assimilated another day, returning for episodes of Voyager and Lower Decks.
In season 2 of Picard she’s back once again. In the final moments of the season opener, “The Star Gazer,” the Queen boards the ship that Picard is on with his crew. “We wish … for peace,” she metes out in the usual mechanical tone, “but first … we require […] power.” Then she releases her tendrils, assimilating some 90% of the ships in Starfleet and stunning crew members.
No one is less pleased about this than Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), whose traumatic history with the Borg has defined much of her arc in Picard and Deep Space Nine, and left her with Borg tech permanently in her skull.
“I think this sort of stunned, furious disbelief that, you know, she’s hearing from Picard, who’s shared something of her experience [being assimilated, …] to hear him say Oh you know what, maybe it’s not so bad” Ryan tells Polygon. “It’s just an unbelievable thing for her to be wrapping your head around that this is actually what they’re contemplating.”
And yet, when co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman sat down and found storylines that paired together, he found Seven’s wasn’t with the Borg Queen at all. With a season focused on connection and intimacy (or lack thereof), Goldsman found inspiration in how the Borg Queen existed as “quite binary; she’s either connected to all or totally disconnected.” To answer that, the writers found Agnes Jurati to be the most logical and interesting companion for her.
In the three episodes screened to critics, Seven barely ended up interacting with the Borg Queen.
“Seven is working on her relationship with Raffi,” Goldsman says. “Although there are clearly feelings and encounters that are driven by feelings with Seven and the Borg Queen, and Picard in the Borg Queen — we know those stories. We’ve told those stories. We could retell them with a sort of darker, more graphic grammar because we’re streaming. But otherwise, it’s the same story.
“So the hope here is to let Seven deal with some real-time relationship issues.”
Star Trek: Picard season 2 is now airing on Paramount Plus. New episodes drop every Thursday.