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FINEFROCK I, Borg! Zarqawi Dead, or Pedacaris Alive
Great 'Trek' Lessons

by Steve Finefrock - Hollywood Forum
[scriptwriter] 6/12/06

Hugh sounds like "you" and so that first-person pronoun becomes the humanizing moniker for Geordi's new friend, a Borg found wounded on an isolated moon. Taken aboard the Starship Enterprise, Hugh causes great anxiety, raising the pucker factor for all who've fought the collective monster cube of computerized humanoids -- especially Captain Picard, who was captured in a season-ending cliffhanger, and rescued from his helpless implant-modificatons, at the next season's premiere.

The theme of the Borg is the notion of individuals subsumed into a collective 'hive' mentality, as if each were a mere cell in a larger brain, interconnected by radio-links akin to brain-cell neural strings. Fortuitously, cable-TV broadcast the masterly episode, "I, Borg" the day after Zarqawi's death raised hopes among the living, and dashed expectations among the brain-dead of the left. The parallels thus jumped out of the screen, as Picard finally meets this 'thing' that is part of the monstrous space-marauding cube which once controlled his own mind, leaving him nearly paralyzed with the lingering, nightmarish memories. Picard is ready to send "the Borg" back to its cube, infected with a virus designed to destroy the Borg collective consciousness, when other concepts override his decision.


Founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to "Bring the Potomac to the Palisades" on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation's capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters.[go to Finefrock index]

Pedacaris Alive, or Raisuli Dead

Hollywood, or Hotel Whiskey as the Forum has labeled Hollywood [abbreviated in an e-mail as "HW" by a Navy friend, thus phonetically pronounced as "Hotel Whiskey"], gives us some red-state red-meat on occasions past and present. And future in greater amounts once the conservative cabal grows enough in that all-liberal hotel lobby to take charge of our cultural combat fate. Once it put "James Bond" in Arab cloth, astride an Arabian steed, coming to the rescue of Mrs. Pedacaris on a lonely, dangerous Mediterranean beach. Sean Connery had kidnapped her in a fictional account of a real-life event, as Raisuli the desert bandit, with "Murphy Brown" playing the captured mother with two children. "The Wind and the Lion" was a rousing look at supposedly honor-rich Arab culture, as Raisuli appears fortuitously on a distant dune, just as Pedacaris' would-be rescuers are instead about to execute her and her brood, when -- A SHOT RINGS OUT. And one bandit is dead by a musket ball fired from four hundred yards, then Raisuli rides to her rescue, sword gleaming in the desert sun, and beheads the remaining brigand with a single swoop of his curved blade.

Great film that one. Pedacaris is surprised at being rescued by her kidnaper, and he is curious about the reason she tried to escape as a 'guest' in his castle. You were going to kill us, she insists. "Raisuli does not kill women and children" he protests, almost with a tear in his eye, his honor blemished and pride wounded. And thus we were exposed to what is supposedly Arab honor. But not these days. Thru this film adventure, the greatest portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt ever put on the silver screen is achieved by Brian Keith, who declares gruffly what is his Jefferson-like policy toward these new Barbary pirates: Pedacaris Alive, or Raisuli Dead. Sounds a bit like Dubya declaring "dead or alive" -- before his recent retraction of that bad-attitude.

Each Hotel Whiskey room described -- "I, Borg" in Star Trek: The Next Generation and "TWATL" on the big screen, want to humanize an enemy. Before "Lion" is done, we've emotionally hugged and wet-kissed Raisuli, as TR himself reads a friendly letter from his Arab adversary. And Hugh is soon met by Picard, who plays his role as Locutus, which Hugh's memory banks instantly recognize; Picard's interrogatories assault Hugh, as if he were still a Borg, revealing Hugh to have become an individual, who does not want his new, and only, friend Geordi to be absorbed into the collective hive. Picard/Locutus forces the matter, instructing Hugh that he will assist the process to deprive his friend of individuality. His response: "I will not" help the assault on Geordi's individual humanity. Hugh's use of "I" -- an individual, personal pronoun -- turns the story.

The Coin Drop

And thus, Picard realizes that this "enemy" is an individual, worthy of respect. Thus, the 'god' of the writing world, the episode's author, makes sure that this doubt turns out OK. Hugh actually agrees to return to his hive, absent the planted computer virus, for Picard and his officers have concluded that the mere mental "infection" of individuality will perhaps be absorbed by the rest of the hive, and doom the Borg. A future episode plays this out, but the Zarqawi lesson is this: IT'S ONLY A TV SHOW.

As Picard's coin-drop realization goes 'clunk's in his head, we know he will change direction. And since the series must continue, that his decision will allow the Enterprise to continue its mission. But embracing the real-world, current-day Borg with such affection will GET US KILLED. TR had it right, in real life as opposed to reel life of TV and movies, when he said there was one way to resolve a challenge to American citizens' safety: KILL 'EM. Unless, of course, that Mrs. Pedacaris were returned unharmed -- nevermind the diplomatic personnel murdered during her kidnapping by Raisuli's thugs.

For Dubya, and the United States, there is no god with a keyboard to make it turn out in the final act with satisfying resolution. Hugging Hugh, and saluting Raisuli, will get us killed. The so-called honor that Hotel Whiskey proffered onto us in "TWATL" is a rare experience today. In the film, it was a nice detour from reality. In today's reality, Zarqawi was a key Borg, a vital Borg.

The Collective Continues

But the mindset, collective-style community that is Al Quaeda and its affiliates lives on. We need them dead, and our own Pedacaris citizens alive. Connery's character beheaded an attacking brigand; future Zarqawis will continue to behead disarmed and innocent citizens, for merely being Americans, or Westerners, or collaborators. There are no Raisulis among this clan of killers. The Borg still lives, and no Picard can divine the correct solution that allows us to humanize our enemy. There is no "Hugh" among this Borg, or a Raisuli either.

Locutus lives, and plots to absorb us or kill us. There is a lot to do, still -- by Marines and their associates. But also by us, citizens of this nation, who are the only "Enterprise" in the world, on a many-decades mission to go where few have gone before: FIX BROKEN THINGS. The "I, Borg" episode was masterly storytelling, deserving of a smile by Sophocles and Shakespeare. And while it is fiction, it reflects Hotel Whiskey thinking: 'UNDERSTAND' OUR ENEMY.

Admire his courage, grasp his motivation. To this I say: sure enuf, we can "understand" Locutus. But I ask Locutus to return the favor: understand why we plan to kill you. There is no magic virus to convert this Borg into our friendly chums. They are not mere adversaries, for a TR to write with friendly regard. There is no reason for Dubya to write Osama a friendly tete-a-tete missive. If we know Osama's address, we'll send a five-hundred pound letter via laser-guided beam aimed by a Marine. And that is what " the shores of Tripoli" mean in the Marine Hymn: those shores were where Pedacaris was held hostage, and where Jefferson send the Marines in the prior century's intrusion on American freedom of the seas.

American foreign policy has no god, no writer who can construct a convenient and compassionate and diplomatically comfortable final act. Zarqawi is dead. One more down, thousands more to go. Until our work is done.

And Pedacaris can travel the oceans and highways in complete safety.

copyright 2006 Steve Finefrock





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