S01E01. First Contact Transcript

Josh Woodward (singing) 0:01
Let’s pretend it’s the end, of this whole ugly story
We vanquished the foe and we triumphed in glory
There’s nothing but rainbows and blue skies ahead
Hallelujah, amen, it’s the end

We threw off the yoke, and we broke all the shackles
We tore down the walls, and we burned down the castle
The oppressors all scattered, and naked, they fled
Hallelujah, amen, it’s the end

Lucy Arnold 0:46
Welcome to Before the Future Came. We’re looking at the ideals of Star Trek as we voyage from one episode or film to the next, following a breadcrumb trail of motifs. This month we’re talking about the movie First Contact, which premiered in 1996. First Contact is the first fully Next Generation movie following Generations which paired captains Picard and Kirk. I’m Lucy, and Captain, I believe I am feeling anxiety.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:18
I’m Gregory, an unstable element in a critical situation.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:22
And I’m Melissa, an imperfect being created by an imperfect being.

Lucy Arnold 1:28
The way this podcast is going to work is that we’re going to discuss one work each time: a movie, a TV show episode, or maybe even a licensed novel or video game. We’ll talk about the ideals we see in them plus just stuff we find cool. Our title comes from the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery “Context is for Kings” where Captain Lorca mentions what things were like “Before the future came, and hunger and need and want disappeared.” We’re going to explore what it means to have these stories about a world purportedly without hunger, need, and want. At the end of each episode, we’ll find out what we’re discussing next time. We’ll take turns picking, and each time it’ll be a work that somehow relates to what we discussed this time. The connection will be something that shows up in both things, but not something as big as a main character. So we wouldn’t use Geordi LaForge or the USS Voyager as a connection, but we might pick something that also has Q in it, or the planet Risa, or a plotline about investigating a mysterious distress signal. Since this is the first episode we’re releasing, we’re starting fresh, so we’re picking to work about a historic first. Today we’re watching First Contact. Gregory picked it, so they’re going to give us a summary of the film in their own words.

Gregory Avery-Weir 2:46
All right. Captain’s log. Stardate 50893.5. The Borg Collective, a group of conquering cyborg zombies with a hive mind are attacking Earth with a single incredibly powerful cube ship. The newly constructed Enterprise E is sidelined because it’s captain, Jean-Luc Picard, was abducted six years ago during the last Borg invasion and turned into Locutus, an admiral and mouthpiece for the collective. He’s better now. But Starfleet thinks his judgment will be distorted by his past… And they’re right.

Gregory Avery-Weir 3:21
After the Borg win one battle, he disobeyed orders and rushes to Earth to help in the final defense. They arrive and rescue Lieutenant Commander Worf on loan from Deep Space Nine. Picard just declares he’s taking command of the fleet? And has them shoot the cube’s weak point, which it has and he knows about because of the Borg voices in his head. The Cube launches a sphere as it explodes.

Gregory Avery-Weir 3:42
While the crew is teasing Worf, the sphere makes a time portal and the Enterprise is caught in its wake. The crew sees the Earth suddenly ruined and covered in Borg, so they decide to follow the sphere and prevent them from changing history.

Gregory Avery-Weir 3:56
Stardate April 4, 2063. In a crappy town in northern Montana, we meet a drunk Doctor Zefram Cochrane and his right hand Lily Sloane preparing for a test flight the next day. The town has attacked from space for a bit before the Enterprise arrives and blows up the sphere. The crew realizes that the Borg came here to stop conference test flight of the Phoenix Earth’s first ship with a warp drive, which is supposed to lead to first contact. Picard beams down to investigate with ship’s doctor Beverly Crusher and the android Data. Sloane shoots at them thinking they’re behind the attack and Data, who’s bulletproof, confronts her. She faints from radiation poisoning from the damaged Phoenix. Crusher takes Sloane to sickbay while the chief engineer, Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge (who now has robot contact lenses instead of his gold visor) beams down to help fix the Phoenix with an ominous comment about it being weirdly warm on the Enterprise.

Gregory Avery-Weir 4:52
It turns out that some Borg from the sphere escaped the Enterprise and have set up shop on Deck 16 in central engineering. The movie divides into two plot lines. Crusher, Data, Picard, Worf, and Sloane do action movie stuff to stop the Borg from taking over the Enterprise, while the other characters stay on Earth to try and make the warp test happen. Data is captured in a failed raid on engineering. Sloane, who slipped away from sickbay during an evacuation, takes a fleeing Picard hostage. Data meets the Borg Queen who is a sexy Goth lady. Picard shows Sloane the Earth from space and wins her trust. The Queen graph skin onto Data’s arm and then blows on it sexily which seems to make him come.

Melissa Avery-Weir 5:35
It really does.

Gregory Avery-Weir 5:36
Yeah, it’s… it seems to be what happens in the film. First Officer Commander William Riker finds ship’s counselor Commander Deanna Troi drunk with Cochrane at the town bar. With LaForge, they tell him the truth, explaining that his warp test will be detected and lead to first contact with aliens, and to paradise on earth within 50 years.

Gregory Avery-Weir 5:59
Picard and Sloane lure some Borg into a film noir holodeck simulation, where Picard kills a bunch of them with a tommy gun while screaming. Picard pulls a thumb drive from a corpse and finds out the Borg are trying to turn the deflector dish into a beacon to summon old timey Borg to Earth. As the Enterprise crew members fixing the Phoenix just casually wander around town talking about advanced technology, LaForge psychs Cochrane out with tales of the future. So he runs off to the woods to get drunk at which point Riker shoots him.

Gregory Avery-Weir 6:28
Picard, Worf, and Lieutenant Hawk go on a spacewalk to detach the deflector dish. I haven’t mentioned Lieutenant Hawk yet because he has big “gonna get assimilated” energy. Anyway, they get attacked by space-Borg and he gets assimilated into a zombie and attacks them and gets killed, but they managed to jettison the dish. Data is getting more and more gross human skin of unknown origin grafted onto his body.

Lucy Arnold 6:48
You thought it was gross?

Gregory Avery-Weir 6:50
If, for human skin, yes, it is gross. It’s got weird ragged edges and stuff.

Melissa Avery-Weir 6:55
And whose is it?

Lucy Arnold 6:56
I mean, it’s Brett Spiner’s skin. I just think it’s kind of mean to call it gross.

Gregory Avery-Weir 7:02
Data is getting more and more gross human skin of unknown origin grafted onto his body. He tries to escape, but he gets cut and the pain overwhelms him, so he fucks the Borg Queen instead.

Gregory Avery-Weir 7:15
Cochrane prepares for launch with Riker and LaForge as copilots. Cochrane finally explains that he’s in it for the money. He plays some rock music and they launch. werfen Picard argue about whether to blow up the whole ship. Sloane yells at Picard and calls him Ahab and he realizes he’s motivated by revenge, so he sets the auto destruct sequence. The current uses boring telepathy to call out to Picard Zelda-style. So he sends the rest of the crew off on escape pods and goes to Engineering. He has a reunion with the Borg Queen and finds out Data—who’s now a Frankenstein—is her new boyfriend. Data turns off the auto-destruct to pretend to be a traitor so he can miss the Phoenix with some torpedoes and kill all the Borg with some comic book acid that got mentioned earlier. Picard survives by climbing on some cables. The Phoenix goes to warp and Cochrane is hit by the Overview Effect by seeing Earth a distance, turning him noble. Everyone goes back to Montana and the alien ship shows up. Turns out it’s Vulcans!

Gregory Avery-Weir 8:08
Sloane is the only one to see the Enterprise time travel back to the future as Cochrane introduces the Vulcans to a terrible song by Roy Orbison.

Melissa Avery-Weir 8:17

Gregory Avery-Weir 8:18
That was a long one. They’re not all going to be that long. This is a complicated movie.

Lucy Arnold 8:24
Very hard on boys Roy Orbison and Brent Spiner there, though. Geez.

Gregory Avery-Weir 8:28
I don’t… It’s weird pink skin that’s like… grafted onto his body and they do weird ragged things to the edges of it with makeup.

Melissa Avery-Weir 8:37

Lucy Arnold 8:39
To be fair, he’s got weird makeup android skin and that is Brent Spiner skin juxtaposed with it, so.

Gregory Avery-Weir 8:49
It’s also probably not entirely his skin for most of the shots. It’s probably fake skin for the arm part.

Lucy Arnold 8:57
I feel like that face… the face is him. Like, that is his face.

Gregory Avery-Weir 9:04
I believe that. Him with a whole lot of stuff to make him look pink and gross on it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 9:09
I think Brent Spiner did great. Top notch acting by Brent Spiner.

Gregory Avery-Weir 9:14
Yeah, absolutely.

Lucy Arnold 9:15
I think he did. He absolutely did.

Gregory Avery-Weir 9:18
He is kind of the heart of this movie, weirdly.

Lucy Arnold 9:22
I also would say Roy Orbison is perfectly fine.

Gregory Avery-Weir 9:29
Roy Orbison is fine, I don’t like that song. “Ookie Bookie” or whatever it’s called.

Melissa Avery-Weir 9:34
I have no comment on that.

Lucy Arnold 9:36
Yeah, I’m pretty woman is a much better song.

Gregory Avery-Weir 9:38
It’s, its lyrics are “Ooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby.” So it’s rough. It’s um, there’s a verse but it’s pretty much just that.

Melissa Avery-Weir 9:53
So we have each brought a topic for discussion, sort of in this main segment here and mine is the film’s tension between exceptionalism and sort of the value of a collective. So there’s a lot of, there’s a lot happening here with the importance of individuals and particular societies and the superiority of those over sort of broad collectives.

Melissa Avery-Weir 10:18
So I guess let’s first talk about what exceptionalism is. Which is the idea that an individual, or a nation, or a moment in time, or something like that—or species—is pivotal or crucial to some event or events of the future, or destiny or something like that.

Gregory Avery-Weir 10:38
So only Zefram Cochrane can—

Melissa Avery-Weir 10:40

Gregory Avery-Weir 10:41
—trigger first contact.

Melissa Avery-Weir 10:41
Only Zefram Cochrane can do it. Only this Phoenix ship can do it. And it usually implies that that thing is superior in some way. Like, when we talk in the present day, like American Exceptionalism is very much a term that is sort of about American ideas on, on, that our nation is best, and it’s a special butterfly, and it will never die because we have these qualities about us.

Melissa Avery-Weir 11:10
We’re also very steeped in this idea that history is a series of individuals doing important things, instead of systems interacting and changing, that have multiple causes to make things happen. And one of the ways this really kind of manifests in our society is we talk about like, rich and famous people doing a lot of things. Like we talk about Musk—

Gregory Avery-Weir 11:36
Yeah, we say that Elon Musk made a spaceship.

Melissa Avery-Weir 11:41
Right? We say he made a spaceship. We sau he’s making Teslas. It’s like, no, he doesn’t. He has an entire corporation of people.

Lucy Arnold 11:50
If 2023 is taught us anything, it is that Elon Musk has made nothing.

Gregory Avery-Weir 11:55
Elon Musk has, apparently, single-handedly destroyed Twitter. But that seems to be his only real individual accomplishment.

Lucy Arnold 12:02
Great, great job.

Melissa Avery-Weir 12:04
But even then, he’s not pressing the buttons. There are engineers pushing code, right? So this stuff is often very tied up and ideas of class and privilege and race and these sorts of things that make our society… troubling. So this movie in particular, I think, has some places where it struggles to balance, like, the broad value of humanity as a collective. Like, Picard talks about how there’s no need for money in the future, or wealth, because everyone’s basic needs are taken care of, and humans collectively work for the betterment of humanity. And there’s what, 150 planets in the Federation, 8000 light years of space (even though that’s not quite how this volume works). Like, there’s these collectives, but we still have to have Cochrane, we still have to have Lily, we still have to have this first contact. This moment has to happen. There’s no other way that the collective could get there.

Gregory Avery-Weir 13:08
Yeah. And even with the Borg we get this this like, introduction, this is the first appearance of the Borg Queen, which previously with this, the Borg had been a collective. There was no one in charge of the Borg. And when like, there’s an episode where Lore like, takes control some Borg and it’s considered like, outré, and you know, even even the humans are like, “How could you do this to the Borg?” And then suddenly, because we need someone to blow on Data’s arm in a sexy way, we got the Borg Queen. So you know, it’s, it’s really for someone to deliver dialog, right?

Melissa Avery-Weir 13:41

Lucy Arnold 13:42
They do retcon it. They say that Locutus didn’t know the Borg Queen, and that Picard no longer being Locutus had forgotten her, I guess?

Melissa Avery-Weir 13:53
Yeah. And like, yeah, that idea that, like even the Borg need a singular entity to provide direction and purpose, which is the point of the Borg Queen. Like, the Borg don’t have a democracy. They didn’t go for an oligarchy. They went for a monarch. Like, they’re like, “We need you, this one person.” Why did they go that route? When they have all the advantages of near instantaneous communication, et cetera, et cetera, there’s all these things in place that the Borg could stay something like a collective and decide upon direction, and yet they can’t.

Melissa Avery-Weir 14:35
And so, like, Picard having to be present for this entire thing at all? They came all the way across the damn universe! Like, they were at the Neutral Zone and they scooted all the way to Earth. Just because Picard’s information, Picard’s knowledge, which, honestly, not the most crucial, really. Like, I get why he wanted to be there, but like…

Lucy Arnold 14:59
I mean, it turned out to be crucial, but it was pretty suss. I mean…

Melissa Avery-Weir 15:02
It was pretty suss. It’s like, “I have to be the one to be there.” It all sort of feeds into this, this problem that I think Star Trek at large has—this tension, less of a problem, more of a tension—between, you know, that acknowledgement that the Federation is a collective of worlds and societies. But also, we need these specialists performing colonialism to make it happen, to push the technology, to get the workers where they’re going to do the thing, right? Like, there has to be this is hyperfocus on those moments and those people. You see in every time travel episode and movie. And really, I mean, part of it is that it’s television so there must be a cast that you can shoot about.

Melissa Avery-Weir 15:50
You need the characters, but like, yeah, there’s, for most of the series is… the Federation headquarters is on Earth, and most of the people in Starfleet are human. And you just kind of, that’s just kind of the way things are. And things are centralized in a way that’s kind of contrary to what the characters say about what the Federation is.

Melissa Avery-Weir 16:13

Lucy Arnold 16:14
I think it is like, in some ways, it’s because you know, it’s narrative, right? And that’s, you know, that’s what people say is that humans are storytelling animals. And so it’s, I think some people would argue it’s sort of our inclination to make characters, right? When we imagine history, we’re imagining it as a story and so there’s characters, but I would point out that there is a juxtaposition to that, and that would be sort of the Asimovian vision, like of psychohistory, you know, like in the Foundation series, where you still have characters, but Asimov is so, particularly, like, I think makes it clear that those individual people are not that important to history, right? It’s just they’re the lens through which reviewing those events and, and Star Trek, despite having I think lots of Asimovian influence, doesn’t make that move, you know, to be able to imagine, like, the sweeps of human movement without being able to imagine those sort of individualized experiences as being crucially important.

Gregory Avery-Weir 17:19
And the film kind of tries, reaches towards that with Zefram Cochrane, who is like… They’re like, Hey, it’s the hero Zefram Cochrane, who’s essential to the birth of the Federation.” And he’s like, “I’m not. I’m just some guy who wants some money,” but then he sees the Earth from space and turns into future hero Zefram Cochrane, basically.

Lucy Arnold 17:40
Never meet your heroes, right?

Gregory Avery-Weir 17:42

Lucy Arnold 17:44
Because they will be drunk and try to grope you at the bar.

Melissa Avery-Weir 17:47
Apparently… Oh, poor Troi. Also—

Gregory Avery-Weir 17:50
Drunk Troi is pretty cute.

Melissa Avery-Weir 17:52
Drunk Troi is a bad actor. But…

Gregory Avery-Weir 17:54
Yes, but it’s a it’s a fun comic moment. Like, it’s not believable. But it’s cute.

Lucy Arnold 18:02
I mean, it’s believable. She’s hot as fuck.

Gregory Avery-Weir 18:06
But she’s not acting realistically, I think.

Melissa Avery-Weir 18:08

Gregory Avery-Weir 18:09
She’s acting in a comedic way.

Lucy Arnold 18:11
I’ll just have to take myself out of any conversations around Marina Sirtis’ acting. I mean, she’s perfect. I have no notes.

Melissa Avery-Weir 18:20
I think, one last note I want to make that, about this film, and kind of where it sits in the Star Trek space is that before this movie came out, when the Borg had no queen, and were purely a collective, that the link between being a hive mind and being quote unquote, mindless, and being genocidal consumers of the universe, felt very interestingly and neatly packaged. There was collectivism, yes, but not that far, right? But here with the introduction of the Borg Queen, that whole thing just breaks down. Because now you have just another despot on a, with a big tin can that can eat people. And here we are, again, with another villain, but a woman, right? So I think… Like, I’m not gonna say the Borg Queen is a bad idea. There are interesting things they do with Borg Queen, presenting stuff we have not seen—the three of us on this call—that they do with the Borg Queen that I almost almost dipped into but, but I don’t… I do think that it complicates this idea of, of the spectrum of collectiveness that Star Trek has, has set before in its, in its various lines. So anyway, Star Trek struggles with this. I think we’re gonna see this theme come up a decent amount, where they get these lofty speeches about the future of humanity, but who’s delivering them is the guy running the most elite Starfleet starship. Because he is the best captain ever. So.

Gregory Avery-Weir 20:12
Yeah, I brought a topic that kind of explores a different axis of exceptionalism, which is… This, this film’s and Star Trek in general’s sort of preoccupation with destiny when it comes to time travel.

Gregory Avery-Weir 20:27
Every… basically every Star Trek time travel plot, including this one, has: something has happened to time travel, something has happened to time, to history. And so when we time travel, we need to try and set things back the way they were, right? This is coming from like, speaking of… Asimov? Yeah, speaking of Asimov, Sound of Tthunder No, that’s Roy Bradbury.

Lucy Arnold 20:51
Ray Bradbury.

Gregory Avery-Weir 20:52
Which is, like, the, one of the quintessential time travel stories, which is about a family who goes on a, on a temporal field trip, a tourist trip to the dinosaur times, and someone steps on a butterfly and completely changes history and leaves themselves as different. And this is regarded as horrific. And like, I totally believe that you go back in time in, in First Contact, and if you don’t stop the Borg, the Borg take over. But the point at which the story goes, “and also we need to make sure that this first contact event happens,” is sort of saying, it’s implying that we need things to happen the way they always have, because our world is the best of all possible worlds. And Star Trek continually is like, if you change history, it will be worse. Like, everything turned out the way it was supposed to be. And that’s, that’s good.

Gregory Avery-Weir 21:54
And this film really, really wants things to happen exactly the same way, right? Like, if Zefram Cochrane has died, we’re lost. If, you know if, if first contact doesn’t happen now, today, then something will be different and it will be… right? Like, they could say, “We’ll save Zefram Cochrane’s life and then leave. And Zefram Cochrane will fix his ship. You know, maybe we leave some supplies or fix anything that’s they can’t fix with their level of technology. And then they’ll do the warp test next week, they’ll miss the Vulcans showing up. But like, eventually, someone will notice that they’ve got warp travel and history will still happen, right? It’ll happen differently.”

Gregory Avery-Weir 22:38
But I mean, I understand the personal motivations for this. Like, Picard wants to be able to go back home and visit his brother, in a grape, in a vineyard, right? They, Worf wants to get back to Deep Space Nine and if, if time shifts so that Deep Space Nine doesn’t exist anymore, Worf, Worf won’t be able to go back and and mack on Trill. So that’s that. That’s weird.

Melissa Avery-Weir 23:10
It’s weird. They’re… the averting a genocide is pretty quickly not the primary…

Gregory Avery-Weir 23:18
Yeah. Like, as soon as they blow up the sphere.

Melissa Avery-Weir 23:21
That is not the primary thrust of the story.

Lucy Arnold 23:23

Melissa Avery-Weir 23:25
Yeah, it becomes about this sort of secondary goal, which, like you said, I get like, if someone were like, “Hey, let’s do something before, you know, that will potentially wash away the future.” I’d have some, I’d have some thoughts and be like, well, you know. But hopefully… you would think that for Starfleet and their mission and the things these people are trained for, that once they fix the genocide part, they’d go back to tiptoeing around time travel concerns. And instead, they’re so fixated.

Lucy Arnold 24:07
I mean, I, they had actually had a call back to the episode with Mark Twain, you know, “the reports of my assassination had been greatly exaggerated.” And if you recall, they’re not big tiptoers around the time travel.

Melissa Avery-Weir 24:19
This is true.

Lucy Arnold 24:20
So that is actually not out of character for any of these people.

Melissa Avery-Weir 24:23
You’re right, you’re right.

Gregory Avery-Weir 24:25
I’m struck by the fact that we have. basically—and I’m skipping an entire season of Picard here—we have basically only three alternate, tight parallel timelines in Star Trek, right, that are long running. We’ve got the core timeline. We’ve got the, the Mirror Universe that shows up in “Mirror, Mirror” and a bunch of other stuff that’s like, “what if humans were evil?” and so that’s clearly worse. And then we’ve got the JJ Abrams universe, which is essentially inaugurated by the planet Vulcan being destroyed at the start of of the movie. And then there’s three movies in that and everything else takes place in this quote unquote prime timeline. Strange New Worlds might be an alternate timeline, we’ll have to see. It’s doing timey wimey stuff.

Gregory Avery-Weir 25:13
But like, Star Trek is saying, “if a, if a timeline is important enough to be differing from ours, it is either disastrous, or the 100% correct one.”

Melissa Avery-Weir 25:26
Yeah. Or you get the the particular disasters like Enterprise C, in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, right? Like, you get those sorts of sorts of things. Yeah, and it’s, there’s not a critical… There’s no discussion in-universe among the characters, who are ostensibly enlightened people. There is no meta discussion about what is happening on that front.

Gregory Avery-Weir 26:00
About like, maybe we should be okay with time not changing?

Melissa Avery-Weir 26:03
Maybe there’s so many factors here, we should let it shake out.

Gregory Avery-Weir 26:08
Yeah, and it’s weirdly not personally motivated. Because when they destroy the Enterprise, they’re like, “It’s totally fine for us to just live in secret, and not just live in this time and not go back to our homes. But it’s horrible to think of our future never happening.”

Lucy Arnold 26:25
They definitely… Now you’re making me realize, I mean, they never take a Marty McFly approach to tweaking out the past to be, like, better, you know, like, maybe you can have a cool dad instead of a dorky dad, you know, like, maybe on a larger scale, right?

Gregory Avery-Weir 26:46
You could warn people about the Borg, for example, and make it so that you never get turned into Locutus. Or you could—You know, there’s all sorts of things you could do. You could say, you could just leave a note for Tasha Yar not to get sucked into that puddle and die. Like, there’s all sorts of things you could do.

Melissa Avery-Weir 27:03

Gregory Avery-Weir 27:04
Yeah, you get… The Borg Queen kind of sums it up when she, she’s crowing her victory just before she gets killed. She’s like, “Watch your futures end.” It’s like, the future is still gonna happen. There’s still going to be a future. And at that point, there are, the Borg have kind of failed to…

Gregory Avery-Weir 27:26
The Borg are probably going to fail to summon more Borg here. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it’s iffy.

Melissa Avery-Weir 27:32
They’d have to build something because the deflector—

Gregory Avery-Weir 27:34
Yeah, they have to take over the—I mean, they’ve got control the ship at that point, so maybe they do it, but like, the future is clearly the future of the Federation as written. And that’s, that’s weird.

Melissa Avery-Weir 27:46
A timeline that things gravitate towards, but requires an immense amount of work to make happen. Yeah, it’s weird.

Lucy Arnold 27:57
Yeah, I guess speaking of versions and possible versions of the future, the thing I’m interested in talking about was something that caught my interest early in the movie. And that is the sort of sub-theme or maybe motif that you might have noticed about fantasy, visions, that reoccurs throughout the movie in a lot of really interesting ways. It first caught my attention at the beginning of the movie, the song that Picard is listening to is Berlioz, who is well known for the symphony fantastic. Which, the plot of that is about this sort of fantastic version of the world, sort of a creepy version, fantasy version. And then another musical connector is at the end because the the rock song that Gregory alluded to, in their summary, it was Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”, which is also about that that sort of idea about a fantasy, a fantastic. What is it? “I like to dream. Yes, yes. Right between the sound machine on the cloud of sound I drift in the night. Any place it goes is right. Goes far, flies near to the stars away from here.” That’s the “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf.

Gregory Avery-Weir 29:15
And the whole episode opens with a dream sequence.

Lucy Arnold 29:17
Yeah, it does. Picard having this sort of—and he’s, his memory… It’s, I think it’s really, it leaves us sort of unclear whether he is having nightmares or memories of his time as Locutus too, right? I don’t think the film particularly clears that up for us.

Melissa Avery-Weir 29:31
Seems like—

Gregory Avery-Weir 29:31
He wakes up once and then finds that he’s infested with the Borg and then wakes up again. Which he always he seems to sleep sitting up? He sleeps in recliners and office chairs?I don’t know. Or D bonds or something.

Melissa Avery-Weir 29:44
It’s the most 90s television shit. Just people just perfectly propped up when they sleep.

Lucy Arnold 29:52
And I’ll talk about it more in a minute, but the whole holodeck sequence, too with “The Big Good-Bye” is another example of that sort of fantasy within a fantasy. And then if you’ve noticed, you’ll actually see lots of scenes where there were reflections of things. One of the very early scenes is Picard, and he’s looking in out of a window, and you can actually see Picard, and then Riker behind him. So there’s this constant idea of reflections and versions of things, which I was interested in.

Lucy Arnold 30:20
So, so what I thought is, maybe a useful way to think about this is with a really academic concept called figured worlds. And I actually broke out my dissertation for this shit, y’all, so. Yeah, it’s got to be useful for something. So part of it—and I guess I’ll say this first, because part of it—and this really goes back to something that Lissa was talking about, is that tension between the collective and between… I don’t know, something more individualistic in the movie, you know? I think that’s a real tension. And this is kind of a way that was helpful to me to sort of resolve it. To think about, is this film saying, like, collectivism is not good? Or is it saying something else?

Melissa Avery-Weir 31:06

Lucy Arnold 31:07
And I think it’s tricky with the Borg in particular, because of the Borg Collective. So I want to talk a little bit about this concept of figured worlds. And I’m first gonna give you a definition from Dorothy Holland, this book came out in 1998, only two years after Star Trek: First Contact. Yeah, so her book with her co-writers about figured worlds and I can give the citation in the show notes. But her definition is they construe the social worlds or figured worlds as collective spaces in which humans believe these spaces are socially constructed through shared beliefs. So it’s about this idea that we construct worlds, right, through language through interactions with each other. And they’re real, right? They’re real, because we do can co-construct them with each other.

Lucy Arnold 31:56
The examples in her book, one of the big ones that I always remember, it’s about AA. She tells the story, when you get involved in—

Gregory Avery-Weir 32:04
Alcholics Anonymous?

Lucy Arnold 32:04
Yeah, Alcoholics Anonymous. When you get involved in AA, you learn to talk the stories of AA. So everybody, like, when somebody begins when AA, they might tell a story that doesn’t sort of match the story. But the longer you’re there, the closer your story matches the kinds of stories people tell in AA. So that’s one of her examples among others. She’s got lots of examples in the book. This is a sociology approach.

Lucy Arnold 32:31
And there’s another key term that I want to talk about, too, which she calls improvisation, which is… Improvisation is when you understand the rules of the social world, but you have to in order to do something maybe that you need or want to do you improvise around those roles. The example that she gives, that’s lodged in my brain is of a low caste woman in Nepal, who the researchers want to interview. They’re in Nepal. They’re doing an interview with her. She arrives at the home of high caste people, the researchers are there staying with these high caste people. And they’ve invited her over for the interview. But she can’t enter the home of the high caste people through the front door, and they’re not there to let her in. So she ends up scaling the wall outside of the building and in tearing through the second floor balcony in order to attend her interview. The sociologists with Dorothy Holland. And that’s improvisation, right? When you don’t change, particularly, the social rules. But maybe you invent some new way of being within those rules and structures.

Lucy Arnold 33:34
And it’s really useful for talking about agency. And I thought this “The Big Good-Bye” actually provides a little mini example, right, because the holodeck, the world of the holodeck and this sort of, I don’t know… What would that be, the 1920s?

Gregory Avery-Weir 33:48
’20s? Probably, yeah.

Lucy Arnold 33:51
Like sort of gangster ’20s. That’s from these books that Picard likes. So we see this world, and it’s a social world where people know how to act. And even the Borg apparently understand how the world works, because Picard says, “Just act like this: smile, let’s dance,” right? Like as though that’s enough, right, to convince the Borg that they’re a part of this world. Successfully, I’ll note, in the movie. Right. And then in an example of improvisation, Picard uses the machine gun and I’m watching that and I’m like, “Why would this work? Why? Why would it work?” But it does. It’s an improvisation that Picard engages in in the social world and this figured world of “The Big Good-Bye”.

Gregory Avery-Weir 34:38
I think the, the the in-universe explanation, I think, is that projectile weapons tend to work against the Borg, like, melee attacks and, like, projectiles work. And so because the holodeck safety constraints are off, the bullets are able to work and they work better than a phaser because the Borg can’t adapt their personal shields to just some metal showing up.

Lucy Arnold 35:01
Yeah, they definitely did give the reason why it would work. But…

Gregory Avery-Weir 35:06
Conceptually, it’s like, why would this gun work? And not this other thing?

Lucy Arnold 35:09

Melissa Avery-Weir 35:10
It felt… It was one of those things that did feel very contrived in the film. There are various parts of this movie that were like, “Oh, this feels like a movie for a broader audience.” Like, “we need to explain how this works.” This whole holo—

Gregory Avery-Weir 35:23
All the action movie lines.

Melissa Avery-Weir 35:25

Gregory Avery-Weir 35:26
“Assimilate this.”

Melissa Avery-Weir 35:26
And this holodeck thing felt like, “Hey, we should have a holodeck show up in this movie. So let’s do this and conveniently, the constraints will be off and oh, we’ll switch chapters partway through and…” Like, anyway, yeah, that whole, that whole stretch was, was odd.

Lucy Arnold 35:42
You’re welcome to all fans of First Contact. I’ve redeemed the scene personally, all by myself, because it’s actually a part of the larger project of this film, which is about conveying these figured worlds. And I do feel like it offers in some ways a little bit of redemption of the Zefram Cochrane storyline, too. Because it actually reminded me a lot, the interactions that Geordi LaForge and Riker were having with him… There’s a episode of a podcast called Invisibilia, where they talk about belief and the power of belief, which I think ties in to figured world as well. If you believe in something, you really have an influence, like, you impact other people. And you know, they believe in him hard enough, you know? Geodi went to Zefram Cochrane High School. I told him about the statue, right? And even quote his own line back at him. I love that part when he, Riker says that, and he said, “Who said that?” And he said, “You did 10 years from now,” right? So.

Gregory Avery-Weir 36:40
Yeah, the line is, “Don’t try to be a great man. Just be a man and let history make its own judgments.” And Cochrane says, “That’s rhetorical nonsense.”

Lucy Arnold 36:49
Well, he says, “Who said that?” Oh, yeah, no, you’re right. He says, “rhetorical nonsense” first.

Gregory Avery-Weir 36:52
“That’s rhetorical nonsense. Who said that?” And it turns out it’s him.

Lucy Arnold 36:55
“You did.” So I think, though, that’s like this, that’s what it is, though, right? Like they have called into being this kind of social world, right? Where they go to space, where they’re able to do these things and be a part of this universe. Which I think, you know, Lissa really aptly pointed out the ways in which it falls apart in this film. But also, the film, I think, really holds on to that as well, right? This is the kind this is the world, right? This is the world that we are a part of. And that figured world of Star Trek, I thought, was really strong in this film, and the people’s belief in it, right? And belief in it as a possibility was so important. And I think that’s why we have so much about fantasy and visions, and like, what is real and what is not real in the film?

Lucy Arnold 37:45
Because I feel like it’s saying, I think it’s really a strong argument for agency, but agency within collectivity, right? That because, because figured worlds don’t operate… It’s not an individual, right? If you go to an AA meeting, it’s not like, you know, you individually are doing AA. You’re part of a group of people who are doing AA. Her other example is romance novels. Or in the movie, “The Big Good-Bye”, everybody’s dancing. Everybody’s got a weird nose, right, or a machine gun, like it’s a part of the world that you’re experiencing. And so I feel like this film is saying, if we all believe hard enough, right, in this version of the future, in this version of what it is to be a person, then it’s going to be real, right? And I found that, I don’t know, I like that. I like that sense of agency as a collective that it offers to us. That’s outside of what the Borg offer. It’s a real sense of collective group agency.

Gregory Avery-Weir 38:47
There’s there’s an interesting line that I’ve got bolded in my notes that I think backs up what what you’re saying, which is kind of at Picard’s, one of Picard’s lowest points. This is when he’s out on a spacewalk. It’s before he’s gotten that really cool speech from Sloane where he realizes he’s out for revenge. And he’s walking with, with Worf and Hawk on the hull of the Enterprise. And Worf is seasick, or spacesick. And Picard says, “Try not to look at the stars. Keep your eyes on the hull.” And at that moment, the whole screen rotates 180 degrees so that they no longer have their heads pointed down, but have their heads pointed up and are walking on firm ground. And like, that’s a moment where like Picard is saying, “don’t believe in visions; don’t imagine; don’t look at—” He literally says, “Try not to look at the stars,” which is saying: don’t have a fantastical imagination. Just look at the material problem in front of you. Keep your eyes on the hull, keep your feet on the hull. And I mean, on one level he’s just saying, “Don’t look down.” But on another level, like, this is Picard at his, the movie portraying him at basically is low point, saying don’t believe in anything. And then when he comes to believe in things like friendship and, and saving people, is when he’s able to overcome and defeat the Borg.

Melissa Avery-Weir 40:09

Lucy Arnold 40:10
I love that.

Melissa Avery-Weir 40:11
Yeah. And when we, when we look at the collective vision of the Borg, their vision is to be perfect? Become perfect? They actually quite unclear whether they are perfect yet or working on getting there, right? Like that’s a—

Gregory Avery-Weir 40:27
I think they’re pursuing perfection. There’s. there’s a line by Data where he says, “Believing one to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind,” which is a reference to Lore his brother Lore, who thought he was a perfect android. And so Data has experience with an artificial or semi-artificial life form, claiming to be perfect.

Melissa Avery-Weir 40:46
Right. And there’s, there’s, there’s a brutal simplicity to a drive for perfection that falls apart every time, like, that’s, that is what falls apart about the Borg. That is perhaps why they had to have a queen, they had to break their own idea of a collective in order to have an individual stand out. And what the Federation etc.—what everyone who isn’t a Borg—has as a collective imagination is so much richer and more complex? Whereas one would think, you know, if someone were to say, “We will bring you into the whole. You will become part of us. Aren’t we a great collective?” In my tone of voice, as a sentence, not automatically a terrible thing, but we like, we like collective thoughts in certain ways. But when it becomes that sort of flattened and distilled and unimaginative—they have no idea what they think perfection looks like, except partially cyborg, partially organic.

Gregory Avery-Weir 41:51
They’re hegemonic. They are all, everyone should be one normal. Which is weird cyborg zombies.

Lucy Arnold 41:58
That’s what really pleased to be about the film was the nuance in dealing with the idea of collective action or collectivity? Because, you know, I was really concerned about that. Like, one of the few things I remembered about it was that there were Borg in it. And I was like, oh, no, what’s, what are they…? You know, because in a way, that’s kind of like saying, “Oh, let’s not do a communism,” you know. “We don’t, you know, want to be like that.” But this film wasn’t saying that at all, right? It was saying, like a sort of monarchal? monarchcal? Monarchical?

Lucy Arnold 42:29
Monarchical? Monarchist?

Lucy Arnold 42:32
A hierarchical, I’ll say that. A hierarchical authoritarian version of collectivism, of lockstep is not acceptable. But a collectivism that is born from, like, a shared imagination and vision of the future is, is worth striving for. And—

Melissa Avery-Weir 42:51

Lucy Arnold 42:52
I love that. That’s one thing I love about Star Trek. With the main topics covered, it’s time for a quick lightning round of the interesting things we spotted.

Melissa Avery-Weir 43:02
So, one of the interesting things I spotted—and there are a bunch—like, there are all sorts of really cool little cute things here for Star Trek fans. But from a sort of a, an interesting thing I spotted was we talked about it a little bit was the, how loosey goosey they are about contamination of the timeline. As much as it’s like, “We have to have the Federation. There has to be this first contact, whatever.” But imagine like… I would say maybe earlier Star Trek and their fixation on preserving knowledge. Don’t touch anything. Don’t leave your fingerprints behind. But here we—

Gregory Avery-Weir 43:42
We’ve got the temporal prime directive. Stepping on butterflies.

Melissa Avery-Weir 43:46
And instead we have Geordi stepping on to the, onto the, this, this missile—I guess that was the Phoenix he was walking on, and—

Gregory Avery-Weir 43:54
Yeah it’s a real missile silo, missile silo that the Phoenix is in.

Melissa Avery-Weir 43:57
And he stands on it dramatically and he’s like, “You will be looking in this direction and reaching for the stars” and the statue, this 20 meter statue we’re gonna? It’s an unreasonably tall statue. Like, they’re just giving away the farm. They’re quoting him, things he’s going to say. Which, now of course, he’s going to say them and he’ll be quoting them quoting him.

Lucy Arnold 44:18
Guys, we should build this high school.

Gregory Avery-Weir 44:23
They’re fixing part of the Phoenix with 24th century technology. Barclay shows up in a, in a brief cameo and is like, “Should I repair this coil with such and such casing?” And it’s like the correct answer is no. Because then you’d be giving them our technology.

Melissa Avery-Weir 44:40
And I, I thought, I just thought it was funny and weird. Like it felt, inconsistent with some of the—I will say, stated philosophy, because as Lucy mentioned, these people are messy as hell when it comes to the timeline in, in reality, right?

Lucy Arnold 44:56
Oh, yeah, like just go rewatch that Mark Twain two-parter you’ll be like, oh, these are some messy bitches.

Melissa Avery-Weir 45:02

Gregory Avery-Weir 45:03
There’s, there’s the implication maybe that like, the universe itself tends to restore things back towards the Star Trek timeline. Because like, surely there’s a record in the history books somewhere of who went with Cochrane on that flight. And I mean, Lily will, Sloane, Lily Sloane will play along, right? Because she knows everything, because presumably she was one of the co-pilots. There’s another seat there. Who was supposed to be in that seat and did they tell that person? Maybe they died. But like, then how do you explain that.

Melissa Avery-Weir 45:34
Right. And this, this makes me want to dust off my memory on the Guardian of Forever, who I feel like might have some degree of control over these things in terms of nudging, but I don’t remember enough.

Gregory Avery-Weir 45:46
Yeah, by the time of Discovery and the far future, the Guardian of Forever is a renegade for the temporal accords.

Melissa Avery-Weir 45:54

Gregory Avery-Weir 45:54
So the Guardianof Forever is is willing to change the timeline when it is forbidden elsewhere.

Lucy Arnold 46:00
I think they probably just recorded that third person as “Number One”.

Gregory Avery-Weir 46:07
And it’s just like yeah, “Number one did it.”

Lucy Arnold 46:08
—was there. And—

Gregory Avery-Weir 46:09
Some guy with a beard.

Lucy Arnold 46:10
He’s a great number one, I mean, honestly, I mean, he killed it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 46:15
He is well-practiced. He’s been number one on the Enterprise for a decade. Can the man get another job, please? But anyway, so yes, I enjoyed and was constantly… It had my little, the little part of my Star Trek brain that wants to pull a very gentle CinemaSins. If you’re like, “Ah-ah-ha.”

Gregory Avery-Weir 46:36
Yeah, do nitpicking stuff.

Melissa Avery-Weir 46:37
Yeah, I was like, “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.”

Gregory Avery-Weir 46:38
I own all the nitpickers guide to Star Trek books that explain all the mistakes that they made in every single episode.

Melissa Avery-Weir 46:45
So much, much like with the prime directive, you know, with regards to warp civilizations and keeping them from falling off the faces of their own Earths, they’re not so great with time stuff.

Gregory Avery-Weir 46:57
We talked about some other bits of Star Trek and I was struck watching this how weirdly in conversation this film is with other Star Trek works and other sci-fi in general.

Gregory Avery-Weir 47:10
So like, first, this almost feels like the start of the Star Trek shared universe. Previously, you had, like, characters would sometimes come over from other shows and you’d, like, a previous series would send off the next one. So like, Picard appears in the first episode of DS9. Deep Space Nine is where Voyager sets off from. But this one, like, pulls in the holographic doctor, the emergency medical hologram, for a scene, for a cameo. And, and you know, Worf is stopping in. And you even get like… There’s, there’s a quick mention of of the Leo constellation from Cochrane and that’s where Wolf 359 is which is the previous fight with the Borg is, like, in the Leo constellation. And like you get a cameo from Neelix’s actor. So the maitre d of “The Big Good-Bye” film noir restaurant club is played by the actor who plays Neelix. Which is strange because if you watch Voyager, you watch that scene like, “That’s Neelix. That’s Neelix right there.” And it’s, it’s so disruptive.

Lucy Arnold 48:21
Seems like a great morale officer.

Gregory Avery-Weir 48:24
Yeah, we get we get references other franchises. Star Wars, the opening space battle feels very Star Wars-y, and they, the Industrial Light and Magic is the special effects firm that did the special effects and you can see this Millennium Falcon in the background in one or two shots. Just real, real small. The kind of climbing through the Jefferies tube and a lot of the Borg Queen stuff is very clearly Alien inspired. The, they look very Geiger-esque and that, like, climbing and passageways and getting jumped scared and, and finding people who you maybe have to mercy kill and so on. That’s very Alien.

Melissa Avery-Weir 49:03
Also, that Borg —ueen? Very damp. Very damp.

Gregory Avery-Weir 49:07
Yes. Everything is moist in a way that everything in Alien is. The, the Nostromo in Alien is dripping water everywhere. And you kind of get that with with the Borg stuff.

Lucy Arnold 49:19
I thought this slow motion stuff when they were outside reminded me of things like 2001.

Gregory Avery-Weir 49:26
Yes, yeah, the hull stuff is absolutely 2001 inspired. They do the tricks with with going upside down and right side up, and you even can catch some “Thus Spake Zarathustra”-like motif that “boom, boom, boom, boom, ba-boom.” That motif shows up in that music. It plays when they are first coming out. And then it later plays in the Borg Queen confrontation. But they’re, they’re very clearly doing—and there, there are 2001 references, like, on the props and stuff. And it’s, it’s, it’s aping the scene from 2001 where—

Lucy Arnold 50:04
Ha, aping the scene.

Gregory Avery-Weir 50:07
Yeah, not the ape scene, but the scene where the astronaut has to go out in space and like, dismantle Hal, is very similar to when they’re, they’re dismantling the deflector dish and someone’s trying to stop them.

Lucy Arnold 50:19
I think there’s nothing scarier than, like, that slow motion outside, in space horror. Like, that’s horror.

Gregory Avery-Weir 50:26
Like getting knocked off into the, into space and just like, “Oh, I guess I’m gonna die out here.” Yeah, so I don’t know, it’s it is weird how… Star Trek usually feels so self-contained. And this film does not feel self-contained. This film feels like it’s got connections to all sorts of stuff that even later, you know, even even the now that Star Trek is treated as a capital S capital U shared universe. Like, Lower Decks, I guess, does a whole lot of that referencing but very little of the other shows do.

Lucy Arnold 51:04
Yeah, that’s true.

Melissa Avery-Weir 51:06
Something that is maybe worth noting and may be part of that is that like, Ronald Moore—I don’t know if he goes by Ronald Moore or Ron Moore—but like Ronald Moore is one of the writers on this. And he worked on ultimately, like, Battlestar Galactica. He worked on multiple Sar Treks. He worked on, like, he did Helix, which is a show you have referenced recently, Greg. He worked on all sorts of things. And so I would imagine that like, he can’t write anything that isn’t pulling from his experience, right, of touching all these other films and shows and stuff like that. So, so yeah, that’s, that’s probably part of it.

Lucy Arnold 51:51
For my… I know, y’all thought that I was gonna want to talk about bondage and I did want to talk about bondage, because—

Gregory Avery-Weir 51:58
We can still talk about bondage.

Lucy Arnold 51:59
When I first saw Data on the board with his hands, you know, restrained? I was like, “Okay, we’re, we’re doing a thing.”And then you get Picard, like half-unclothed and some bondage later, like, we’re really leaning in on the bondage. However, I do have a better thing to talk about. And that’s misogyny.

Gregory Avery-Weir 52:24
Misogyny is better than bondage. You’ve heard it here first. Dr. Arnold.

Lucy Arnold 52:31
I think it’s worth talking about. I think the saving grace of this film is Alfre Woodard, because if she were not rocking it is Lily, this would be terrible. I think Crusher and Troi are criminally underused. I think this is a constant complaint in the movies anyway, like, they’re just there. And I think, I think it sucks hard. But I think the thing that really made it real for me, was the revelation of the Borg Queen’s motivation is to find a boyfriend? I’m sorry, but—

Melissa Avery-Weir 53:05

Lucy Arnold 53:05
Come on, could you be power hungry or something? But you’re looking for a boyfriend. It’s exhausting. I mean.

Gregory Avery-Weir 53:14
Yeah, they frame it in some flowery language. But yeah.

Lucy Arnold 53:17
She says specifically, that was the whole goal with Locutus.

Gregory Avery-Weir 53:21
A “counterpart” is that the word she uses?

Lucy Arnold 53:24
She says counterpart. Actually, she—

Melissa Avery-Weir 53:25
Her other half.

Lucy Arnold 53:26
She actually has speaking of allusions, she does an allusion to Macbeth, when she says something about a partner. Because Lady Macbeth reading a letter from Macbeth, it reads, “To my dearest partner in greatness.” And I think there’s a clear reverberation of Lady Macbeth in her character, which, frankly, is even more misogynist.

Lucy Arnold 53:47
So, I mean, I just, I wanted her, I wanted her to be a villain, you know? With motivations toward villainy to, you know, assimilate shit or something. And for it to be this just banal, like… My mind was blown, honestly, in that part at the end. And that also—and I loved, I love the sensual stuff, like, the blowing on Data’s arm. I fucking love that part. I hated how she was like, “Was that good for you?” Like, fuck off. Like, because it’s like, it is sexy, right? Like, it’s sexy. Why are you making it, like…

Gregory Avery-Weir 54:28
Performatively sexy?

Lucy Arnold 54:29
Like, yeah, I just, I hated it. I hate, like, I did not… Her character… Her character is irksome. I think primarily it’s because of that motivation. I think the revelation of her motivation was bad. And then when juxtaposed with the extreme poor use of Troi and Crusher, I think it’s bad. I think the character of Lily is very strong, and Woodard is an excellent performer. So that is helpful.

Gregory Avery-Weir 55:00
Something that I was struck by when writing the summary is that… So Lily is kind of how she is referred to almost universally in the, in the movie. Her name is Lily Sloane. And Cochrane gets called Cochrane or Dr. Cochrane. Most of the other people get referred to that as surnames, but Lily and Jean-Luc call each other Lily and Jean-Luc. And, and like, it’s weird that like, like, this woman is presumably also a doctor or maybe a grad student, right? It’s, it’s, she’s, she is the, the, the right hand of Zefram Cochrane, who designed a warp ship. And like she’s the one who’s on-site to evaluate the damage and so on. And yet kind of her role is just to be, like, the, the person who doesn’t know anything, I mean, it might also be some misogynoir here because like, she is a Black woman who is cast as like this, this strong, like physically strong character, who’s able to do the action movie stuff. And then also like, is able to give a good talking to, to the white dude who’s gotten carried away. And I love the character. But I think that she’s… also reflects this weird, like, trouble giving women roles that aren’t, that are just the woman being cool.

Lucy Arnold 56:25
If she had been a less powerful, I think, performer, I think it would have been even much worse. I think she brought a lot to the table that maybe the scripts did not. A lot of nuance.

Gregory Avery-Weir 56:39
She obliterates Jean-Luc Picard, with five words. The, there’s this whole Captain Ahab, Moby Dick thing where she’s like, “You’re like Ahab.” And he can just quote off the dome random lines from Moby Dick. And she’s like, “What? I haven’t read it.” But he, she, she goads him; he goes into a fit. He breaks display case. And, like, the scenes over. He’s like, “Get out of my sight.” And then she, like, wanders over touches the ships and is like, “You broke your little ships.” And he like, just shatters as a person. And reforms into like, “Oh, oh, you’re right. I am, I am just a, like, I have monstrous motivations towards the revenge.” It’s a great, great exchange.

Melissa Avery-Weir 57:29
So something that I loved about Lily, that might also play into the misogyny of the film is the way that this woman screamed like I do when there’s a bug in my house. When she saw—that was the best. I felt it in my soul!

Gregory Avery-Weir 57:44
She’s afraid of the Borg. The Borg and scary and she’s afraid of them! She’s also scared… When the door opens to show Earth. There’s two different moments in this, in this of people getting the Overlook Effect where you see the Earth from space and suddenly have a vision of your own insignificance. This happens twice in the film. And she, but she’s like, scared of falling out into space. Picard touches the screen and Sloane, like, screams and screams and recoils back from the force shield going bzzt.

Melissa Avery-Weir 58:15
So on the one hand, why does she have to scream at things but also, 1,000% relatable.

Gregory Avery-Weir 58:23
She’s having human responses. She’s having real responses to these scary things.

Melissa Avery-Weir 58:27

Lucy Arnold 58:29
I also just want to add, and maybe I should have said this earlier, but also about the Borg Queen. The fact that Data tricked her like that?

Gregory Avery-Weir 58:42
Yeah, he tricked the person who gives you telepathy and hooks your brain into hers so that she can understand everything you’re thinking?

Lucy Arnold 58:49
Yeah, like, I mean, they did acknowledge that he is legitimately tempted. And I appreciate that for the you know, 0.86 seconds that he is legitimately tempted. But—

Gregory Avery-Weir 59:03
0.68 seconds. Thank you. “For an android, that is nearly an eternity.”

Lucy Arnold 59:07

Melissa Avery-Weir 59:07
Is that the length of his orgasm?

Lucy Arnold 59:09
No, that was much longer.

Melissa Avery-Weir 59:12
It felt longer.

Lucy Arnold 59:14
But it was… I do feel like it’s extremely reductive, you know, for her to be tricked in that way. And for her to, you know, the solidarity of Picard and Data. I don’t know, it was just the whole thing. Yuck.

Melissa Avery-Weir 59:29
Especially like if you zoom out and are a Star Trek nerd about it, the Borg Queen has existed for hundreds of years. Hundreds of years, reincarnated when needed. Protected—

Gregory Avery-Weir 59:42
“You think in such three dimensional terms. How small you become.”

Melissa Avery-Weir 59:47
You learn in Picard, I think, that the Borg Queen can sense the collective through other branches of time. Like, and Data. Data is, like, the—

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:00:03
The android who learns to lie during this movie.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:00:05
—is like, “assimilate this!|” Like, what?

Lucy Arnold 1:00:10
He said, “Resistance is futile.”

Lucy Arnold 1:00:13
“Resistance is futile,” the other one was—

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:00:14
“Assimilate this,” was Worf. Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:00:16

Lucy Arnold 1:00:17
That was completely fine. I have no notes.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:00:20
I think it was corny as shit.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:00:22

Lucy Arnold 1:00:23
I love Worf. So in addition to the deep stuff, we’re also big Star Trek fans. So let’s head to Ten Forward to talk about the stuff we geeked out about. I’m gonna start with Levar Burton’s face, because when I saw it for the first time, I made a little “eee!” Because I was so excited. I had totally forgotten that he didn’t have his visor anymore in this film. You know, he were the visor all through the series. And he has the, I guess, the devices on his eyes now and they actually are cooler than regular eyes because he can, like, see heat and stuff.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:01:09
So, so quick question. Do we think those are robot eyes? Or do we think that he has contact lenses in-universe?

Lucy Arnold 1:01:19
I believe them to be robot eyes. But—

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:01:21
Okay. That’s that’s how I read it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:01:22
I thought they were implants or eyes, yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:01:23
Yeah. And he… There’s an episode… There’s at least one episode where he takes the visor off. There are several episodes where he takes a visor off. And his his eyes are normally or “normally”, his birth eyes are milky white. Yeah, so yeah.

Lucy Arnold 1:01:42
Anyway, I think Levar Burton is wonderful. Longtime Reading Rainbow fan here and lifelong reader because of Levar Burton, who I continue to adore today in 2023. So shout out for getting to see his beautiful face and his, him getting to be Geordi without having to wear the visor, which my understanding was really uncomfortable for him. So, yeah, I was just super thrilled.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:02:09
He tried to get them to do that for Generations, the previous movie, and it didn’t end up working out. So I’m glad he was able to do it here.

Lucy Arnold 1:02:17
Yeah, I love it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:02:19
My brief fan thing is that Data is still out here, 10-plus years into working on the Enterprise, still asking basic-ass questions about why humans do things. “Why did you touch the Phoenix?” “Oh, because it makes it more real.” It’s like, oh, puts his hand on it. How many…? How long…? Stay you, Data, asking dumb-ass questions.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:02:46
We didn’t, we didn’t even talk about the touch metaphor or motif running through this. Data is like, “Oh, it’s human to touch” and then he gets skin put on him. When he ends up saving everyone, his skin gets burned off. And so he’s giving that up and all that.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:03:01
What I would love to find out is that all this time, anything after… Let’s say second season of Next Gen, because Data was a serving, like, officer before the Enterprise, right? After second season, Next Gen. I want each of these questions he asks that are really, really basic things about how humans experience the world? I want him to actually be collecting survey data. I want it to be the fifth time he’s asked a different person and his collating responses instead of… so many years after knowing these people who keep models in their office and on their desk, and who have, they probably have fidget cubes. And my man plays instruments.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:03:05
He’s met Sisko who is constantly fondling a baseball.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:03:15
And asking, “Why do you touch things?” Like, come on, man.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:03:52
I mean, Data’s… Data fucks!

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:03:58
Data fucks! Why did you touch it?

Lucy Arnold 1:04:01
He’s fully functional but that’s not the same thing as fucking.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:04:04
Well, he found out.

Lucy Arnold 1:04:05
And I think we all know that.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:04:06
I don’t know that Yar can have sex with someone and not fuck. So I’m pretty sure Data also fucked there.

Lucy Arnold 1:04:14
I’m pretty sure that Yar fucks. I’m not sure the Data fucks. Now maybe Data fucked the Borg Queen.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:04:21
Definitely that happened.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:04:21
Definitely that happened. Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:04:24
Well, she fucked him. It’s unclear how it went the other way.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:04:29

Lucy Arnold 1:04:32
I, as someone who struggles to recognize and name emotions, I deeply relate to Data in this movie when he was like, “Oh, anxiety. This sucks!” It does!

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:04:49
And then the dream of just being able to just turn it off.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:04:54
He did have to nod his head a certain way to turn off the emotion chip. Sometimes Star Trek is so 1960s. It’s delightful.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:05:08
That, the way that the deflector dish has this, just this big cable that finally has to be cut, in order to stop it from sending its thing is, is interesting. But all the, the, the, like, prop and costume work and stuff in this movie I really, really like. This was one of the last Star Trek movies before there was heavy, heavy use of CGI, I feel like? I feel like Insurrection probably had a lot more CG in it. And everything here is, like, really manual and cool and chunky. There’s a scene where they’re like, We need to get into engineering, we’re going to do the the manual release, and they like open up a panel get a lever and they pull it and it, like, breaks off because the door is Borg-locked somehow. And it’s like that… A) that wouldn’t happen, right? If someone’s broken a lock, it doesn’t make it so that the handle is weaker. But also like yeah, that is what happens, right? You pull the handle and nothing happens. It’s just not connected anymore.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:06:10
The, the Borg outfits are very, like, chunky and physical to the extent that like you can recognize, like, which museum’s store they got the various kitbash parts from. Like, there’s one real prominent thing in the spacewalk scene where the Borg has like a shimmery eye that clearly just has a like a holographic sticker on it. It’s just one of those stickers that like you put on your notebook. If, when you were a kid.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:06:37

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:06:38
That’s like, cool and shimmery and rainbow. It’s just there. But like, all of the, the Borg outfits having chunky parts to them. The costumes are, are all like quilted fabric-y. All the people in Montana, the, you know, Cochrane’s group, which—that town looks post-apocalyptic to me. But I don’t think it is. Like, it’s post-apocalypse and says post-World War III. But like, I don’t think this is a survivalist encampment. I think that, I think Cochrane has got funding from somewhere, right? Like, Cochrane’s doing a research project.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:07:18

Lucy Arnold 1:07:20
You mentioned the quilted outfits. I just wanted to give a little teeny shout out to Picard’s grandpa vest because I was very charmed by it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:07:29
Oh, I want to point out LaForge’s boots. When he steps up on that ship to be like, here, here’s what you look like as a statue? His boots are the most practical shoe wear that has ever been in the Star Trek show in 75 years.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:07:47
I hadn’t seen them. Are they like, New Balance-ass boots?

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:07:49
No, they’re like big and thick and chunky and they like the lace up and they look like fucking boots that someone who works and is doing labor would wear. It’s the most—they’re not shiny ship boots. They’re not, like, fancy footwear. Like, their clothing is way too clean to be fitting into this post-apocalyptic dustbowl setting, but his boots? On point, 100%. I wanna see Geordi in those boots all the time. It’s great.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:08:15
And all the all the Montanans are in, like, warm clothing and like, layers of wool and knit, like, naturalistic fabrics contrasted to the quilted nature of of the, the outfits that the, the Enterprise crew are wearing. There’s carpeting in the Enterprise E that’s really… It’s noticeable in the weird action scene which has, like, Doom sound effects going off and its bad slow motion the, the, when Data gets kidnapped. Like, you see the carpet scorched and like, and then like, the Borg slowly, Borg stuff slowly taking over, like, starts to replace some of that warm textile stuff with the with the black gleaming metal.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:09:02
The we mentioned the Phoenix is in an actual missile silo. Like, literally that, the Phoenix prop, the Phoenix prop is sitting on top of a decommissioned nuclear warhead. They are in a missile silo for real and, and that’s cool.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:09:23
The, the chunkiest bit—my favorite little bit of, of prop work in the film are the, the controls to release the deflector dish. Which might be a reference to the controls for the Genesis device from Wrath of Khan, which has a similar, like, metal pops up and then you have to push it back in and do controls. But like, in order to to make this deflector dish release, you have to, like, do a bunch of keypad stuff and, like, enter some codes and then you grab this, like, big chunky handle and pull this ,this like, metal disc out and then, like, rotate it 45 degrees and ka-chunk, put it back into a different slot. And that like releases the pins or whatever that hold the deflector dish on. And like, that bit of prop work is like, they built that. There’s a real heavy metal, there’s probably one and not three. But like, there’s a real metal thing that the actors are moving, ka-chunk, to make that happen. And like, for a film which is very flashy and interested in like time travel and history, and illusions and dreams and having like, the, everything very grounded physically is really cool. Does anyone have any other stuff that didn’t get pulled up?

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:10:43
I have one little thing. Since I’ve been on a Data kick. I have in my notes, that Data is, is kidnapped at 36 minutes into the movie. And we can… I will only say that, that initial credit sequence was almost three minutes long of just names flying by the screen. So subtract that off or whatever. Thirty-six minutes, Data is kidnapped. Nobody asks about his ass until one hour, 24 minutes and 30 seconds.

Lucy Arnold 1:11:18
Everybody’s like, “he’s fine.”

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:11:20
Is that, he, he, no one cares about him until he does his Zelda telepathy into Picard’s head and is like, “Come find me.”

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:11:27
No one cares. He’s out here getting his arm blown on. As far as my notes have. No one’s worried about Data particularly.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:11:36
Yeah, I don’t—no one is like, “Oh, Data died. That’s bad.”

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:11:39
Yeah. No one’s worried that the person with the encryption keys is caught by the Borg.

Lucy Arnold 1:11:43
I know we talked about it early on, but Brent Spiner really is very good. Like that scene when he gets hurt for the first time. Like, I thought his performance was just really strong. Like, his…

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:11:55

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:11:56
He’s like this cool, badass. He’s like, “I’m bulletproof. I showed it earlier in the film.'” And then like, it just looks like he gets… I mean the cuts decently bad but it’s just like a graze. Like he dodges the swing of a Borg claw or something. And it just like, clearly is just catches him in sharp pain.

Lucy Arnold 1:12:13
It’s, it’s a great moment. Well performed.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:12:17
And him trying to rip the skin off is… Ugh.

Lucy Arnold 1:12:20

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:12:21

Lucy Arnold 1:12:23
I’ll just shout out probably my tiny little favorite thing in the whole thing is, in the very beginning, when Worf shows up on the Defiant and is trying to do a thing and Picard is all like, “No, I’m here to fuck up your plan and one more time.” Always, always on Next Generation, Worf comes up with a plan and Picard says no. That’s not what we’re doing. Every single time and so they have to put it in the movie. Worf has a plan. Uh, no.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:13:00

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:13:03
I guess my one little note is that the Vulcan ships… I think this is a reveal, right? In the, in the movie that the first contact of Earth was from Vulcans? I think it’s treated as such. Like, they don’t say Vulcans. They’re like, aliens show up. They’re not, like, “aliens from a planet called Vulcan”. And so like when the Vulcan step out, I feel like it’s the first time in the film, at least, we get we get like, “Oh, it’s Spock’s people.”

Lucy Arnold 1:13:31
I just, I feel like that was already part of the historical record, but I’m not sure.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:13:38
Yeah, I’m not sure.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:13:40
I mean, for all I know, I read it in a Star Trek book, right? Like—

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:13:42

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:13:43
Now I don’t know. Damn.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:13:44
That that ship, their ship is cool. And like, is both Vulcan in feel. It’s triangular, but it also kind of looks like a flying saucer, which is neat. And then like, the, I think… So there’s, there’s a very gorgeous shot when the door opens and like, the, there’s this door that has a horizontal split in it and the top and the bottom—the top goes up and slides into the ship and the bottom goes out and turns into a ramp. And I think that’s a stop motion shot that it looks like a stop motion shot they do. Where, like, they’ve got presumably green screen trees behind it, because the trees are, like, blowing in the wind. And then they like… The, the way that that pulls out look stop motion to me and not, not mechanical. But it’s just like that, that’s a cool ship.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:14:35

Lucy Arnold 1:14:38
I’m ready. I’m so excited.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:14:40
Oh, the reveal. Right, so at the end of each episode, we pick the thing we’re watching based on a connection from this episode. And I, I picked it. It’s me.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:14:59
So this episode had time travel and a particular kind of time trave that is later called the “pogo paradox”.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:15:10

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:15:11
Because the pogo paradox is a causality loop where interference to prevent an event triggers the event.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:15:20
Oh no.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:15:21
So that, that term is mentioned in Voyager season five episode 24 called “Relativity”.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:15:32
Hell yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:15:34
So hopefully it will be good. It seems to be a well-liked episode. I don’t remember it very much.

Lucy Arnold 1:15:41
I nothing about it.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:15:44
You’ll remember it when you when you start watching it, for sure. It is a Seven of Nine episode.

Lucy Arnold 1:15:51
I love Seven!

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:15:53
That’s also not the first time they do that in Voyager. One of my favorite episodes of Voyager is the one where they… try to… They accidentally destroy a planet by phasering a power conduit and the whole episode never happens.

Lucy Arnold 1:16:09
Oh, Voyager… Like, most of Voyager did not happen. Like, they did like temporal loop a bunch. You remember the one about the ship? It’s the, it’s one of the ships is not right?

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:16:27
“The ship’s not right” is also the premise for a lot of episodes of Star Trek. We’ve spent the last month saving our thoughts on this movie for the pod and it’s gonna be so hard not talking about all of Voyager’s time travel stuff for the next time.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:16:42
Oh, my god. So yes, it is, it can be found Paramount+, any of the places where you can find Voyager to be watched.

Lucy Arnold 1:16:52
So next time, we’ll be discussing “Relativity” from Voyager season five on Before the Future Came. You can find links and show notes at beforethefuture.space. If you have questions or comments comment there or write us at onscreen@beforethefuture.space.

Melissa Avery-Weir 1:17:13
I am Melissa Avery-Weir and you can find me at irrsinn.net or on Mastodon as melissa@irrsinn.life.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:17:22
I’m Gregory Avery-Weir. And you can find my website and blog at ludusnovus.net. Or you can find me on co host at cohost.org/gaw.

Lucy Arnold 1:17:33
And I’m Lucy and I blog at intertextualities.com Our music is let’s pretend by Josh Woodward used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Thank you for listening.

Gregory Avery-Weir 1:17:48
I think that turned out well.

Josh Woodward (singing) 1:17:51
I’m sure we’ll all live happily ever after
Surrounded by butterflies, children and laughter
It’s a fairytale story, so let’s just pretend
Hallelujah, amen, it’s the end
Happily ever after, the end

Transcribed by https://otter.ai