I don't understand why Data said Picard will be "an excellent drone" in Star Trek: First Contact.

Picard has already been assimilated, all his knowledge already absorbed by the collective, and he is not young at that moment; his body condition is definitely not in peak quality. If it is about his willingness to sacrifice himself to protect others, I think this is already programmed into each drone's brain. I don't understand what quality Picard possessed at that moment to make him an excellent drone.

  • Because he's used to following chain of command? Because his command reflexes can be used to anticipate Federation ships? Because he looks good in black and chrome?
    – DavidW
    Feb 6 at 3:30
  • "Excellence" would seem to be a detraction from "perfection". I'd be very surprised if the Borg accepted any deviation in the quality of their drones. My guess is Data was just speaking poetically. Putting aside of course the obvious explanation that the writers didn't think this line through very well. Feb 6 at 4:22

I wouldn't take that statement entirely at face value if I were you. Remember that after the Borg Queen was killed, Data told Picard that he was tempted by her offer for a sum total of 0.68 seconds:

DATA: She brought me closer to humanity than I could have thought possible. And for a time I was tempted by her offer.

PICARD: How long a time?

DATA: Zero point six eight seconds, sir. For an android ...that is nearly an eternity.

Star Trek: First Contact script

This suggests that everything he said and did in the earlier scene you're referring to -- including deactivating the Enterprise's self-destruct sequence, and giving the Queen control of the ship -- was all play-acting to convince her he was on her side, until he was ready to make his move against her. As such, there's no real reason to believe that what he said was wholly sincere.

It can reasonably be argued that even if all this is true, it still wouldn't make sense for him to say something that was factually incorrect in that situation. After all, that in itself might have raised the Queen's suspicions. And a case can be made that what he said about Picard making an excellent drone wasn't strictly incorrect, even if he was just play-acting when he said that.

Sure, the Collective had already assimilated Picard once, but that was seven years earlier in-universe. In the intervening period, Starfleet's technology and outlook had changed significantly, due in large part to the threats posed by both the Borg and the Dominion, and no organic on the Enterprise would know more about those changes than the Captain.

Secondly, despite his advanced age, Picard kept himself in decent physical shape, good enough to take down a Klingon in "Sins of the Father". And if the base, raw intelligence of a drone is a factor in it's performance at all, then he certainly doesn't fall short on that front. So, all things considered, he probably would've made a better drone than the average Starfleet officer.

  • I see your point. But even take consider on the knowledge acquired in that seven years and the physical condition, I still think Picard is far from "excellent", he may be "a good drone", but definitely not "an excellent drone". If the statement is just a flattering statement, then I don't understand why didn't the Borg Queen object it. It makes me feel like the "Borg perfection" is not that high level concept.
    – tmtm123
    Feb 6 at 6:47
  • 1
    Being a drone isn't just about their knowledge but also their personality, intelligence, and reasoning are integrated into the collective consciousness. Picard is an excellent tactician and diplomat which would be valuable to the Borg.
    – Geneworm
    Feb 6 at 12:19
  • @tmtm123 - "Excellent" is a subjective term; it might be that the Borg Queen's assessment simply differs from your own on this point, in which case, there'd be nothing to object to from her perspective. And even if that statement was questionable from her perspective, she never struck me as being as fastidious as characters like Seven of Nine or Spock. She was a much more emotional being than those two, and I think her mind was on bigger things at that point in the story, like changing Earth's history and assimilating it's population. Feb 6 at 16:58
  • @tmtm123 Data wasn't trying to compliment or insult Picard. He was just saying "you will be assimilated" in a more menacing way. Feb 6 at 21:04

IMHO opinion Data was insulting Picard. The movie reveals that the Borg Queen had been present on the cube which had assimilated Picard in"The Best of Both Worlds" and had survived somehow.

In the final scene in Enterprise Engineering:

PICARD: Let him go. He's not the one you want.

BORG QUEEN: Are you offering yourself to us?

PICARD: Offering myself? ...That's it. I remember now. It wasn't enough that you assimilate me. I had to give myself freely to the Borg, ...to you.

BORG QUEEN: You flatter yourself. I've overseen the assimilation of countless millions. You were no different.

PICARD: You're lying. You wanted more than just another Borg drone. You wanted a human being with a mind of his own, who could bridge the gulf between humanity and the Borg. You wanted a counterpart, but I resisted. I fought you.

BORG QUEEN: You can't begin to imagine the life you denied yourself.

PICARD: It's not too late. Locutus could still be with you, just in the way you wanted. An equal. Let Data go and I will take my place at your side, willingly without any resistance.

BORG QUEEN: Such a noble creature. A quality we sometimes lack. We will add your distinctiveness to our own. Welcome home, ...Locutus. ...Data, you are free to go.

PICARD: Data, go.

DATA: No. I do not wish to go.

BORG QUEEN: As you can see I have already found an equal. Data! Deactivate the self-destruct sequence.

PICARD: Data! No, don't do it. ...Data, listen to me.

COMPUTER VOICE: Autodestruct sequence deactivated.

BORG QUEEN: Now enter the encryption codes and give me computer control.

PICARD: Data! ...Data.

DATA: He will make an excellent drone.

(Picard is taken by two drones)

So this says that 6 years ago in "The Best of Both Worlds" the Borg Queen offered Picard a chance to be more than a Borg drone, to be the equal and partner of the Borg Queen, and Picard refused and was turned into an ordinary drone.

Now the Borg Queen is trying to turn Data into a partner for her, and Data is pretending to agree to it. So the Borg Queen tells Picard he wasted his chance and Data will take the position which Picard once turned down.

So as Data acts to convince the Borg Queen that he is totally on her side, he naturally insults Picard by saying that Picard would make an excellent drone. An excellent mindless cog in the vast Borg Machine, instead of an excellent equal partner to the Borg Queen in command of the trillions of Borg drones.

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