Who Is Locutus Of Borg In Star Trek?
We go through the history and impact of Picard's darker, Borg-assimilated counterpart - Locutus of Borg.
While in one sense Locutus of Borg lived and died only in the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” the villain’s influence stays with Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) throughout the hero’s life. Locutus is who Picard becomes in the game-changing TNG story after he’s assimilated by the Borg, and along with inflicting the Trek hero with lasting psychological trauma the experience leads to disastrous consequences for Starfleet itself. Locutus’ legacy has been felt acutely as recently as the revival series Star Trek: Picard.
When the crew of the Enterprise-D first encounter the Borg in the Season 2 TNG episode “Q Who,” the bizarre species is one seemingly without individuals. The Borg are on a violent quest to achieve perfection by assimilating other species’ biological and technological advances into their own hive mind. The heroes are surprised in “The Best of Both Worlds” to learn that creating an individual, Locutus, is central to their plan to assimilate Earth and the United Federation of Planets.
When the Borg invade the Federation, Picard is initially confused but grateful that the single Borg Cube is initially focused on the Enterprise-D. The Borg, we learn, have decided that assimilating Earth is challenging enough of a task that they need a representative with a face that will be familiar to Earth’s people. It is decided that — unlike Borg Drones, who are not individuals and are given only numerical designations like Jeri Ryan‘s Seven of Nine — Picard will be captured and assimilated as “Locutus of Borg,” in order to act as the Collective’s representative.
As Locutus, with his will stripped away from him, Picard is forced to contribute to thousands of deaths at the Battle of Wolf 359, where 39 Starfleet ships intercept the Borg Cube in hopes of stopping its progress. With Picard’s knowledge of Starfleet helping it, the Cube destroys all 39 ships, and either kills or assimilates close to 11,000 Starfleet personnel.
Although Locutus helps the Borg win Wolf 359, he proves to be the weakness that the Riker (Jonathan Frakes) led Enterprise uses to defeat the Borg. Data (Brent Spiner) and Worf (Michael Dorn) are dispatched to rescue Picard from the Borg Cube, and back on the Enterprise Data and Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) are able to reach their friend within Locutus. In part thanks to a cryptic clue from Picard, Data is able to use Picard’s connection to the Borg Collective to order the Cube to enter its rest mode, halting its advance toward Earth.
After the Borg are defeated, Crusher removes the surgical implants from Picard, but the specter of Locutus lives on in a few ways, both good and bad. On the less pleasant side of things, it soon becomes clear that the experience has shook Picard like never before. In “Family” — the episode immediately following “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2” — sensing something is wrong with Jean-Luc, his older brother Robert (Jeremy Kemp) goads him into a fight, after which Jean-Luc breaks down in tears, admitting to how helpless he was against the Borg.
That trauma surfaces in ugly ways in 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, when Picard’s hunger for vengeance on the Borg pushes him to make mistakes. Thankfully the Enterprise-E’s surprise guest Lily (Alfre Woodard) is able to talk sense into him.
While no one on the Enterprise crew seems to trust Picard any less because of his transformation into Locutus, the rest of the Federation doesn’t necessarily feel the same. As remembered my Memory Alpha, Picard’s time as Locutus is used against him in an inquiry later in Season 4 in “The Drumhead” and in the series premiere of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) — whose wife dies in the Battle of Wolf 359 — makes it clear to Picard that he’d like to tear the Enterprise captain’s head off. As recently as the Season 3 premiere of Star Trek: Picard, in fact, Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick) refers to the titular hero as a “former ex-Borg” with disgust.
One positive aspect of Picard’s time as Locutus is that it gives him insight that helps him in future confrontations with the Borg. For example in First Contact, a lingering connection with the Borg allows him to find a weak spot in the Borg Cube that helps the gathered defense fleet destroy it. It also lends him insights in the weaknesses of the Borg Queen (Alice Krige).
His time as Locutus also gives Picard a connection to other former Borg, such as Jonathan Del Arco’s Hugh — who Picard first meets in the TNG episode “I, Borg” — and Seven of Nine. This is particularly helpful in the first season of Star Trek: Picard, when even former Borg drones still recognize him as Locutus.
With Picard’s consciousness transferred from his old body into an artificial one at the end of Star Trek: Picard‘s first season, any lingering connection to the Borg was presumably lost. But if nothing else his memories of being part of the Borg will stay with him until the end of his story in the franchise.