Since it’s premiere, Star Trek: Discovery has not been a stranger to some major retcons. Within the first two episodes of the series major retcons involving both The Federation and Klingons were present.
And it doesn’t look like the show plans on stopping any retcons any time soon. Star Trek: Discovery’s “Struggle is Pointless” episode hints that the show might be retconning one of the greatest villains in Star Trek history, the Borg.
In “Struggle is Pointless,” Section 31’s leader, Leland, becomes infected with nanites that were injected into the base of his spine via a syringe tool. The nanites allow an AI system called Control to take control of Leland. The nanites used to take over Leland appear extremely similar to the ones seen in Star Trek Voyager.
Control takes Leland over in order to gain access to the Sphere, which is a combination of organic and nonliving matter that is hundreds of thousands of years old. Given the sphere’s long lifespan it’s been able to collect and store massive amounts of data from countless civilizations. Control wants the sphere in order to evolve and grow and make itself better.
The sphere attempted to pass on its knowledge to the crew of Discovery but ended up overloading the ship’s systems. However, it would eventually communicate its peaceful intentions and the upload would be completed. Upon reviewing her mother’s missions logs, Michael Burnham discovers that the sphere was actually placed in Discovery’s path by her mother, who attempted to destroy the sphere in order to keep Control from gaining access to it.
The idea is that Star Trek: Discovery is retconning the Borg to be an actual creation of Section 31 in the form of Control rather than having the Borg come out of the mysterious Delta Quadrant.
If in fact, Star Trek: Discovery is retconning the origin of the Borg, the change in canon would be massive and would turn on its head the supposed first contact between The Borg and the Federation.
That first interaction between the Borg and The Federation came after Q’s actions in Season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the episode titled “Q Who?”, Q wanted to prove that with all their technology and power, The Federation was in fact nowhere near ready to deal with the greater dangers of the Milky Way.
Q does this by transporting the crew to the Delta Quadrant, an unexplored part of space. There the Enterprise would be met by the Borg. Guinan played brilliantly by Whoopi Goldberg shares only but a hint of the Borg’s origins, and it appears quite clear from the encounter that the Borg is unfamiliar with The Federation.
However, not much of the Borg’s origin is known, and it’s quite possible Discovery appears ready to remove the mystery.
It’s understandable that with time, decades in the case of Star Trek, there will be instances where cannon will be bent, to say the least. You cannot make everything perfect. But since the first episode of the show, Discovery has been quite comfortable with using canon as an inspiration to take the Star Trek universe and turn it on its head.
Adding to the speculation that the Control arc could be a Borg origin, Star Trek Discovery actor Alan van Sprang, who plays Leland, discussed the recent arc with StarTrek.com:
“I think it’s very intriguing. When I first read the script I thought, “Oh, is this the making of the Borg? Is that how it happens?” We’re as much in the dark as anybody else, but as soon as I saw that, I thought, “This is like The Borg.” The Next Generation‘s Borg episode just blew my mind [when I watched it originally], let alone when Picard became Locutus. That’s the first thing I thought of, which kind of tickled me to no end. ‘Wow, I’m just going to milk this for all it’s worth.'”
However, many fans appear conflicted about changing the origin of the Borg. Dave Cullen of The Dave Cullen Show expressed his concern about how Star Trek: Discovery bends and breaks canon at a whim.
On the opposite end, Vulture writer Devon Maloney believes if Discovery indeed moves forward with giving the Borg a Federation origin it “would be its smartest choice yet.”
Devon points to a few factors. First, today most people have a greater idea of what Artificial Intelligence is. Maloney also points out that the “Borg’s pursuit of perfection bears an uncanny resemblance to Silicon Valley’s obsession with productivity and efficiency.” He goes on to point out that this new origin in Discovery could also take advantage of the rise of “transhumanism” with the marriage of organic and inorganic.
In fact, Maloney notes that the idea of an “a machine-learning threat-assessment program created by a lawless Space CIA realizes sentient life is the ultimate threat and starts taking matters into its own hands,” is extremely terrifying.”
He even compares this idea to the Planet of the Apes indicating that “it would reveal that the assimilation is coming from inside the house, that even in the vastness of space, of the final frontier, we will always be our own worst enemy.”
What do you think of the possibility of The Borg being a creation of The Federation’s Section 31? Is this a new way to branch out in the franchise? Or is this lazy writing that shows that the creators of Discovery aren’t interested in canon?
Let me know what you think!