The greatest threat to the galaxy has returned to the Star Trek universe! The struggle is pointless, it’s time to submit to Control and wear some black leather and talk like a robot, just like the Borg. But wait—is the rogue A.I. on Star Trek: Discovery really going to turn into the Borg? At this point, the show has not made this connection explicit, but nearly every fan and critic who has been writing about the show across the internet has breathlessly mentioned the return of the Borg. So what’s the deal? Is Discovery doing a Borg homage or is Control a real-deal Borg origin story?
Here are five reasons why Control is totally the Borg, plus three reasons why it totally isn’t.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery, season 2, episode 11, “Perpetual Infinity.”
1. Control talks like the Borg
In “Perpetual Infinity” Control refers to itself in the plural using, referring to “our mission.” In The Next Generation and Voyager, the Borg always say “we” and “our.” The idea of Control existing as a collective intelligence that thinks like this seems to predict the Borg Collective itself. Plus, the Borg’s biggest and baddest catchphrase, “Resistance is futile,” is neatly paraphrased when Control tells Leland that “struggle is pointless.”
2. Control looks like the Borg.
In the same scene in which Control says “struggle is pointless,” Leland is injected with what looks like a ton of little nanoprobes. Visually this is nearly identical to the nanoprobe injections we see in Star Trek: First Contact and throughout Star Trek: Voyager. In First Contact, Picard even has a nightmare in which one of these nanoprobes is jumping out of his skin. Later, in that same movie, when Picard phasers a crew member who has been injected with the nanoprobes, the veiny effect on that guy’s skin looks exactly like what is happening to Leland in “Perpetual Infinity”.
3. This explains why most Borg look human.
One aspect of the Borg that never really made sense is that most of the drones look like human cyborgs, even though they live 60,000 light years away from humans. In fact, in “Q Who?” Riker and Data find little Borg babies on the Borg ship, who appear, for the most part, to be human. Obviously, Star Trek canon has played fast and loose with “aliens” who look human—most notably with Guinan’s species, the El-Aurians. So are all the Borg that look human prior to the Borg meeting humans just El-Aurians? Maybe. But if Discovery is telling a Borg origin story, establishing Leland as the earliest Borg Drone could set the precedent for their human appearance.
Plus, Star Trek canon has tried to do this before. Before Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled in 2005, writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens had pitched a story that would have explained the origin of the Borg Queen. In their pitch, Alice Krige (the actress who portrayed the Borg Queen in First Contact) would have appeared as a Starfleet Officer who was assimilated by the Borg. This could be similar to what Discovery is doing with Leland.
4. The Borg and Control share an obsession with data/technology.
In The Next Generation, the Borg are initially interested only in the technology the Enterprise has to offer. This checks with Control in Discovery, too. So far, it doesn’t really care about organic life and is only interested in obtaining the Sphere data to achieve ultimate self-awareness. If Control never gets the Sphere data, it’s possible that this objective could morph into an obsession to add all existing technology to its database. In other words, when the Borg say: “We will add your technological distinctiveness to our own,” maybe they’re still just searching for that last scrap of Sphere data.
5. A Borg-Control connection could set up events for the upcoming Picard series.
Though Discovery could simply hint at a Borg connection, rather than tell an explicit origin story, there’s one compelling real-world reason it could happen: Picard. Discovery producer and showrunner Alex Kurtzman has already promised the Picard show will be beaming into our eyeballs in December. Other than being the Captain of the Enterprise-D, Picard’s biggest claim to fame is easily the fact that he was assimilated by the Borg and nearly destroyed all of humanity as “Locutus.” What if there’s a connection between this Control storyline and what is happening with the Picard show? And, even if there’s not a huge connection, it seems possible that Picard could reference events in Discovery, especially if it turns out there is a big link between the Borg and Control.
But then again, maybe all this Borg stuff is a little too neat. Here are three equally compelling reasons that Control is totally not the Borg, and just a random A.I. that is messing up everyone’s life.
1. It just won’t work without some rowdy retconning.
In order for Control to become the Borg, it has to travel back in time several hundred years. Star Trek: Voyager established that the Borg had been around since the 14th century. Plus according to Trek canon, the Borg originate in the Delta Quadrant, which is really, really far away for conventional starships, even in Picard and Janeway’s time. Famously, Voyager was stuck in the Delta Quadrant and ran into the Borg a lot. So Control has to not only be sent back in time several centuries, but also moved halfway across the galaxy.
Sure. This is all doable because Discovery has the Spore Drive. So it’s possible they could jump Control to the Delta Quadrant, thinking they are leaving it alone, and then it evolves into the Borg. But if Discovery jumps to the Delta Quadrant with Control, the Borg will already be there, because in the current timeline that’s where they live. Bottom line: you need both the Spore Drive and the wonky time travel from this season to get Control in the right place and the right time to become patient zero for the Borg. That seems like a lot of retcon. Even for Discovery.
2. Starfleet doesn’t know about the Borg in the future.
When Q Brings the Enterprise-D to the J-25 system in the TNG episode “Q Who?” Picard is like, the Borg whaaat? This is the year 2365, which is 108 years in Discovery’s future. In theory, this is literally the first time anyone in Starfleet has heard about the Borg. Of course Guinan, who is like a gillion years old, knows about the Borg because they destroyed her homeworld. This is where things get tricky. In Star Trek Generations, Guinan is an El-Aurian refugee and is rescued by the Enterprise-B in 2293. Which is weird. Did the El-Aurians just not tell anyone in Starfleet about who exactly destroyed their home planet? Now, 2293 is only 36 years in Discovery’s future, meaning, if Control does become the Borg at this point in time, there needs to be a good reason why Starfleet doesn’t put two and two together, twice.
There’s a wrinkle here of course. In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Dark Frontier,” it’s made 100 percent clear that people in the Federation, specifically Seven of Nine’s parents, had heard rumors of the Borg in 2356, roughly ten years before The Next Generation. The point? People in Star Trek seem to have canonical amnesia about the Borg.
3. Those aren’t Borg ships in Spock’s vision.
This one is easy. The ships in Spock’s apocalyptic vision aren’t Borg cubes, spheres, or even that funky hodgepodge Borg ship from “Descent.” Instead, the ships look more like something like the Vorlon cruisers in Babylon 5. As of this writing, Babylon 5 ships totally aren’t part of Star Trek canon, even in the strangest corners of the minds of Benny Russell, conspiracy theorists, or the author of this article.
Star Trek: Discovery season 2 has just three episodes left to wrap up all this Control business…and for someone on screen to maybe say the word “Borg.”