The Inverse Interview
'Lower Decks' finally resolves a huge Star Trek villain mystery [Exclusive]
“It was a very different feel for the character.”
There is only one Borg Queen. Or are there several? First introduced in the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, the enigmatic leader of the Borg seemed to transcend time and space. She also represents a paradox: A single person speaking for an entire hivemind collective.
Played first by Alice Krige, there are now three Borg Queens in total. Susanna Thompson took on the role in several episodes of Voyager; and in Picard Season 2, another Borg Queen will be played by Annie Wersching.
But who is the “real” Borg Queen? In a recent surprising (and hilarious) cameo in Lower Decks, the answer seems to be that the original Borg Queen is still the canonical one — at least during Starfleet training simulations!
To get to the bottom of this classic Star Trek mystery, we spoke to the Borg Queen herself. Here’s what Alice Krige had to say about her surprise return to the Star Trek canon and why she thinks her character is always there, even when you don’t see her.
In Lower Decks, Season 2, Episode 8, “I, Excretus,” Boimler (Jack Quaid) finds himself in a holographic drill where he has to do everything he can to “resit the Borg.” After obsessively running the drill over and over, Boimler meets a holographic recreation of the Borg Queen. Cue an Easter egg from First Contact.
The Borg Queen blows gently on Boimler’s skin, referencing something similar she did to Data when his android skin was briefly grafted with human skin. It’s a hilarious scene, and all-to-brief, but there’s a degree of Trekkie legitimacy brought to it because it really is the voice of Alice Krige.
The original Borg Queen tells Inverse she never expected to return to Star Trek, especially not like this.
“They just, they just called and asked if I would do it. It was great fun,” Krige says, revealing she recorded most of her dialogue in her husband’s closet. “It has the best sound in the house. It’s so full of clothing, plenty of insulation.”
This isn’t the first time since First Contact that Krige has returned to her famous Star Trek role. When the Borg Queen initially crashed the Voyager party for the episode “Dark Frontier,” she was not played by Krige, but instead by Susanna Thompson (perhaps more famous for her role as Lenara Kahn in the DS9 episode “Rejoined.) But when it was time for Voyager’s big finale, Krige was asked once again to don her Borg leather. This put her in the unique position of being one of the few Star Trek villains (Q is another) who have tangoed with both Captain Picard and Captain Janeway.
Krige says that when she returned for Voyager, she realized she’d based much of her performance on the Borg Queen’s attempts to seduce Next Generation’s leading men.
“There's sexual energy that she kind of manipulated both Data and Picard,” Krige says. “Well, she didn't manipulate either of them, but she thought she was. So I had to decide how to play that in Voyager because instead of two men this was two women [Janeway and Seven of Nine.]”
This led Krige to a quick phone call with “the producers” of Voyager, in which it was decided the Borg Queen was “Omnisexual,” which meant, yes, she would probably have some kind of flirtation with Janeway or Seven, too, if she wanted to.
“After that, I thought great. I just went and had a great time because they're two wonderful actresses,” Krige tells Inverse. “It was a very different feel for the character because it was a very different sort of energetic exchange.”
It’s been exactly 20 years since Krige last played the Borg Queen in Voyager, and because she perished in that episode and we also saw Picard take her out in First Contact, fans have wondered for years just how many copies of the Borg Queen there are, or if the Queens are actually different characters.
With Annie Wersching’s Borg Queen coming to Picard Season 2 and Alice Krige’s delightful return to Lower Decks, could there ever be a meeting of all these Borg Queens? How does she keep coming back? Alice Krige isn’t sure, but she wouldn’t rule out a live-action return.
“She manifests in many different ways, or maybe she doesn't?” Krige says playfully. “Even if she’s not there, it doesn't mean she's not there. She’s so mysterious and endlessly interesting. Who knows how she shows up?”
Lower Decks is streaming now on Paramount+.