Star Trek: Prodigy – Season 1 Episode 12

Nov 3, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“Let Sleeping Borg Lie”

Star Trek: Prodigy sees the crew encounter a Borg Cube as they try to figure out how to deal with the weapon aboard the Protostar.

The Borg are one of Star Trek’s most iconic villains. Ever since their introduction in “Q Who” they have been a fan favourite enemy. They’re a hive mind who force others into their collective through assimilation. Part of their menace comes from them representing a complete loss of self for their victims. Individuality is stripped away in favour of a singular mind entirely focused on pursuing the nebulous quality of “perfection”. They’re relentlessly driven, nigh unravelled in power and they exist to take away whatever makes people unique. Any example of individual expression be that music, art, feelings or anything else is deemed irrelevant. The perfect universe for the Borg is one that is all Borg and that is an innately terrifying prospect.


How to get rid of this?

As the franchise continued, they became more diluted as antagonists as more frequent use necessitated them being easier to get away from. The introduction of Seven of Nine in Voyager also disrupted their threat level somewhat through her being a conduit for further exploration of the intricacies of the collective. Mileage will vary on how Voyager handled the Borg but my view is that saturation point was reached and they ceased to be a credible threat. Picard tried to restore some of that in its second season and succeeded in some ways but on the whole, a lot of damage has been done to them in terms of their credibility as antagonists.

Who could have predicted that it would be Prodigy that delivers a Borg story where they come across as a legitimately terrifying threat? Their usage in this episode is relatively simple backed up by a quick summary of what the crew are facing so it’s a very targeted use of the Bog that makes them threatening by focusing on two prominent aspects; their numbers and lack of individuality.

The Protostar crew stumble across a dormant Borg Cube shortly after finding where the Starfleet infecting weapon is housed and decide that the Borg might know how to neutralise it thanks to the knowledge they have ingested from thousands of species. The only major weakness the episode has is the contrivance of a Borg Cube happening to be directly ahead of the Protostar without an automatic alarm being raised by the ship. Considering the size of the galaxy, it’s not a likely encounter. It could be said that contrivances like this are a necessary evil with the running time of the episode and live-action Star Trek has never been above such contrivances. Still, it stands out because of the lack of awareness of what was directly ahead and the ensuing reaction not feeling in step with what they were facing.


This day just keeps getting worse

Willingly entering a Borg Cube is high on the list of bad ideas but the episode justifies it through the desire for particular knowledge and backs it up with a series of warnings from Holo-Janeway as to what the crew are walking into. The early moments on the Borg Cube are an excellent example of creating a tense atmosphere. Ambient sound is used to great effect to contribute to an eerie silence broken by the voices of the characters. It’s very much a haunted house and there’s a palpable sense of inevitability to the silence giving way to urgent terror. Animation allows the Borg to be depicted in ways that would be far more difficult in live-action. The sheer size of the Cube’s interior is impressively rendered combined with its relative size to the Protostar in external shots. Matte paintings and digital trickery showed the internal scale of a Borg Cube in other iterations of the franchise but in animation, the characters appear to be part of the surrounding environment which makes the experience of being inside a Borg Cube more visceral. Other details add to the horror atmosphere such as the eerily lifeless appearance of the Borg Drones and the unnatural green glow of the vinculum.

Outside of the visual horror, a great deal of attention is given to the existential with Zero acting as the point of view character. It becomes clear that accessing the information means directly interfacing with the collective which is unquestionably a bad idea. Zero has experience being part of a hive mind so is best placed to navigate interfacing with the Borg. Initially, it seems mechanical with Zero entering the collective consciousness to ask for information but quickly gets out of hand when they are drawn into the hive mind. In Picard season 2, the idea of assimilation being presented as appealing to the victims of it was introduced and it forms a small part of Zero surrendering to the collective. They remark on the appeal of submitting which implies there is a seductive quality to the process that makes people want to submit. It’s a fascinatingly nefarious detail that the episode doesn’t do a lot with but it sets up the idea of choice and becoming part of the Borg Collective ultimately being a choice even if that choice is something that the assimilated will later regret.

A consistent idea in Borg stories is that the loss of individuality is an unnatural state that is very difficult to maintain. Many episodes deal with drones regaining their individuality after being separated from the collective. A Voyager two-parter introduced the idea of a hidden shrine to individuality that a small percentage of drones would go to while regenerating so it’s clear that Borg drones yearn to be individual and it takes very little for individuality to assert itself. There are other examples of hive minds in Star Trek such as The Great Link. It’s far more stable as the Changelings aren’t confined to the hive mind as they can leave and become individuals whenever they choose while also retaining their sense of self when in The Great Link. Being connected is the preferred state of being for most Changelings but the key is the freedom to leave which isn’t the case for the Borg.


A sticky situation

Zero becomes part of the Borg Collective and threatens the crew. This provides the perfect opportunity to explore their regret over the part they played in Gwyn’s memory loss. It was unquestionably an accident but Zero has major anxiety over their ability to do harm to others that goes back to the Diviner using them as a weapon to torture slaves. Gwyn glimpsing their true form wasn’t intended but Zero struggles with the notion of doing harm to someone they care about. The Borg prey on anxieties in order to break their victims and make assimilation look more appealing. By convincing their victim that they have nothing to tether them to their old life then the prospect of being part of the collective looks more appealing.

Gwyn brings Zero back through a reminder of the powerful connection that has been forged by the crew. She makes the point that the harm done to Gwyn was a byproduct of an act of love and far from a defining trait. Gwyn doesn’t hold it against Zero because she knows that they would never intentionally do harm to her or anyone else so there is nothing to forgive. She also verbalises the idea that there is always a risk of getting hurt when opening up to others which applies to Zero being upset that their true form did harm to Gwyn when they were literally opened up but also applies to Gwyn accepting Zero in her life and ending up getting hurt accidentally in the process. This calls attention to the complex idea of friendships and relationships being difficult and inconsistent because individual decisions and events change them. It’s something the Borg avoids but they also miss out on the variety that comes with the development of these connections. Considering the show is aimed at a young audience this makes for a really intricate lesson that doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulty that comes with maintaining meaningful relationships.

Zero’s freedom comes when they declare that they are already part of a collective made up of the Protostar crew and what they have to offer is infinitely more valuable than the Borg. This comes with acknowledging that they are dangerous and can do harm but can actively choose not to and instead choose to help others. A connection is drawn between Zero and the Protostar as both can cause harm through contact but the important thing is that neither have to. The crew resolve to continue doing good and steer clear of Starfleet until it’s safe. That affirmation is punctuated by a distress call where the crew gleefully spring into action to do some good. It’s an exciting ending to their story that flows naturally from the terror of the Borg encounter.

The real Janeway is still operating without proper context when following the Protostar’s tracks. To her, the Diviner looks like a victim and the working assumption is that those who stole the Protostar did this to him. It’s a reasonable conclusion based on the available evidence and Janeway comes across as a distant yet very real obstacle to the Protostar crew. The horror and confusion Janeway exhibits as the Dauntless finds the outpost that was destroyed in the previous episode was a nice touch. A delicate balance is impressively created between Janeway being antagonistic to the Protostar crew and a well-meaning Starfleet officer. The lesson being imparted is that things aren’t always what they seem and that having all the information is crucial to understanding.


One of us!


An excellent episode that succeeds in making the Borg legitimately threatening and scary while offering meaningful progression for Zero. The early moments on the Cube are an excellent example of creating a tense atmosphere. Ambient sound, unsettling lighting, the eerily lifeless appearance of the drones and other factors contribute to the terror. Attention is given to existential horror when Zero connects to the Borg Collective and is overwhelmed by what they have to offer. The episode doesn’t fully explore the process of making victims submit to assimilation but it does enough to show why it’s difficult for Zero to resist. Gwyn bringing Zero back by appealing to their connection and highlighting that the harm Zero caused her was unquestionably a mistake that she doesn’t blame them for works brilliantly and shows the power of individuality as a contrast to how the Borg operate. Zero connecting to the ship as another thing that has the potential to harm but can be used for good was an impressive touch and the affirmation of the desire to do good being punctuated by the immediate answering of a distress call made for a decisive and exciting ending. The Real Janeway plot continues to strike an impressive balance between Janeway being antagonistic to the Protostar crew and a well-meaning Starfleet officer. The lesson being imparted is that things aren’t always what they seem and that having all the information is crucial to understanding.

  • 8.5/10
    Let Sleeping Borg Lie - 8.5/10


Kneel Before…

  • ambient sound, unsettling lighting, the eerily lifeless appearance of the drones and other factors contributing to the Borg being a legitimately terrifying threat
  • using Zero to lean into the existential terror that the Borg represent
  • Gwyn bringing Zero back by highlighting the strength of their relationship
  • Zero being likened to the Protostar in that both can do harm but also do good
  • affirming that through the distress call
  • the real Janeway plot promoting the lesson of having all the information being crucial to understanding.


Rise Against…

  • the encounter with the Borg Cube being contrived and coincidental


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User Review
9.25/10 (2 votes)

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