In which the Borg spread, Picard hunts his whale, and the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
The Enterprise is in 2063, trying to save the timeline from a Borg incursion that stops humanity from becoming spaceborne. The Borg stopped the flight and are now attempting to call home via the deflector dish. Meanwhile, Zefram Cochrane is not so much the hero that everyone learned about in school as he is a drunk with a dream. He’s run away from his destiny, and Geordi and Riker go to track him down.
Picard and Worf are gearing up for an excursion onto the hull, magnetic boots and all. And yet there’s still nobody bringing a sword. You can’t tell me they can’t replicate Worf a bat’leth at the very least, or get Lt. Hawk a polearm. Regardless, the three of them march out onto the hull. Worf was never a fan of zero-G combat training, and they also have a ways to go because they couldn’t make entry on the right deck.
Data is trying to whistle in the darkness, and get into one of those delightful philosophical discussions. Early on in this blog, I talked about humanism and transhumanism – the Borg are a cautionary tale about embracing a fundamental change to the substance of self, among other things. Data has the opportunity to escape and tries to do it, but during the fight, he encounters pain, and also self-delusion. Ultimately, he can’t make himself divest himself of his new flesh. The Borg points out the choice Data isn’t making, and then they bang.
Out on the hull, the trio have made it to the dish to see the Borg building their (its? her?) beacon. They can’t shoot it from here, because if the dish is hit it will take out half the ship. One hopes, desperately, that this is either the result of time travel residue or that there’s a way to purge them if this is normal for in-flight operations. Otherwise, the deflector dish becomes a giant flashing vulnerable point in every ship, and it’s no wonder we never see them in any alien ship design.
Zef is on the run from the repair crew and refuses to go back, so Riker stuns him, just enough to drop him, not enough to knock him out. He’s definitely not ready to be part of history.
The Deflector Dish is held in place with three magnetic locks, and the Borg see the attempt to release it as a potential threat. The assault could have used more coordination, so that the Borg attention was split, but I imagine time was a factor. They have to do some manual rerouting to get the panels working, and Worf throws away his phaser once the Borg adapt despit eit being an arm-length chunk of metal. Picard knows better, and uses it to vent-blast one of the Borg into space, but I guess Worf heard me, because he brought a sword. The Borg rips a hole in his suit during the fight, though, and Lt. Hawk gets stopped before he can unlock his section of the dish. Picard goes for a desperate move and floats over the dish, and the vent that should have pushed him into space, and manages to unlock the last maglock moments before the beacon goes online. The detached beacom is still connected to power for a few moments more, until Picard severs it, and Worf detonates it at a safe distance. The Borg, however, have a backup plan.
One hour to launch, Cochrane is working through his hangover and ready to give it a shot, if only because Riker’s not giving him any other choice. In truth, he’s worried about living up to their conception of him, because he cares less about the future than about the money he’d make. But of course, he wasn’t trying to make money by scamming or scrounging or conquering – he did it by science!, so it looks like Riker’s not buying the selfish angle. Not completely. Also, he quotes Cochrane-plus-ten-years at him.
The remaining crew are fighting a losing battle now that the Borg are advancing again, and the command staff all advocate self-destruct to get rid of the Borg. This plan has its own problems (namely, that the Borg could beam down to Earth and begin the assimilation the old-fashioned way) but Picard’s objections aren’t reasonable. They’re personal. Everyone on the crew is stunned, but follows his orders because he’s Picard, and also the captain, but Lily doesn’t have that problem. She can see that it’s about revenge, even though Picard claims that revenge is as extinct as money. Eventually, he does get around to seeing the parallel, and orders evacuation. Again, it’s kind of important that the Borg don’t get down to planetside.
Picard, Crusher, and Worf begin the destruct sequence, intercut with Cochrane and Riker’s pre-flight checklist. They do mute the countdown, the whole crew is heading down to an isolated island, and Picard and Worf hug it out. But while Jean-Luc says goodbye to his ship, Data’s voice whispers to him through the Borg link. Cochrane thinks he forgot something just before they lift off – Steppenwolf.
Picard gives Lily final orders to deliver to Riker, but he’s staying to rescue Data. Do you think he feels more alone now than he did when he was playing John McCleane? Or the other time it was just him and Data against a ship full of monsters?
The Borg queen meets up with Picard, still calling him Locutus, and it seems that she was around back when Picard was in the collective. Even though that ship was destroyed, the Borg continues, and now Data appears to be with them. But the Queen seems like she prefers to have Picard… willingly. As an individual within the collective. Now it’s Jean-Luc doing the seduction. She accepts his offer, but Data refuses to go, and deactivates the destruct sequence, and takes back control of the ship. Why she waited this long to give that order is anyone’s guess, but evidently the Borg has a sense of drama. And now that they have control of the ship, the fragile nuclear missile-turned warp ship is in a lot of trouble.
As they charge up the warp field, the Enterprise moves into position. Riker’s not worried, despite the lack of contact with the ship. Data fires the torpedos, and the Borg holds off on assimilating Picard long enough for him to watch the end of the future. But Data missed, and punches a hole in the warp plasma coolant, just like the plan. Now it’s time for a daring escape – for Picard, and for Cochrane from the confines of relativity. The Borg tries to pull Picard down into the coolant, but Data pulls her down to her death, killing all the drones with her.
Less than a minute at Warp 1 isn’t far enough to bring them to the nearest planet, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. Back aboard the Enterprise, Picard vents engineering and finds what’s left of the Borg in smoking ruins, and breaks the still-wiggling Queen. Depending on how much of the pulse got out, that may be the end of the Borg Queen’s influence on the timeline. Data is fine, but he admits to having been tempted to join her from most of a second.
In the end, they’ve saved the timeline, and down in Bozeman, Montana, an alien ship descends from the clouds with an interesting three-part symmetry. On April 5th, humans make first contact with Vulcans, and Zefram Cochrane is there to greet them in peace. Oh, also, Vulcans have either studied English or have universal translators.
Just some final cleanup left to do – they were able to mask their presence and departure from the Vulcans using the moon, repair the ship, and duplicate the Borg time-travel field, which ought to come in very handy in… future.