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"I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. We've made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no farther! And I will make them PAY for what they've done!"
Star Trek: First Contact is the eighth movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1996.The most popular Next Generation villain, the Borg, make another attempt to assimilate Earth. The newly-commissioned USS Enterprise-E scrambles to confront them, only to learn that the Borg have decided to use Time Travel to stop Earth's First Contact with aliens and Take Over the World, thus preventing The Federation from ever existing. Arriving above Earth in the year 2063, the Borg aim to stop Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive, from making his historic flight.Captain Picard is having none of that. An away team (led by Riker, Troi, and Geordi) immediately beams down to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, discovering in the process that the man their history paints as a visionary luminary was really a cynical drunk who just wanted to get rich. Regardless, they work to restore the damage the Borg caused and make sure that first contact goes as planned.Meanwhile, as if the remaining crew didn't have enough problems, they soon discover the Borg have invaded the Enterprise and are slowly assimilating it. Picard, who was assimilated by the Borg in the TNG two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds", is a little unstable, and becomes moreso as the plot progresses. His third-in-command, Data, isn't of much use either, as he's been captured and brainwashed by the Borg Queen.Spoilers below
Adorkable: Cochrane attempting to do the Vulcan salute.
After the End: The crew travels back in time to the mid-21st century, when civilization is in ruins after a nuclear war (the Enterprise itself comes from centuries further ahead, After-the-After the End, and Zefram Cochrane's warp-drive experiment is about to give Earth a huge push in the right direction).
Alas, Poor Villain: Data, and to a lesser degree, Picard, are a little sorry that the Borg Queen is dead in the end.
Earth (and, by proxy, the Alpha Quadrant) has already been conquered in alt-A.D. 2374.
By the end of the movie, much of the interior of the Enterprise-E resembles a Borg Cube. Picard's madness is more understandable when you recall that he's now lost three ships, this one practically new.
Anywhere but Their Lips: Picard gives Lily a peck on the cheek. The way Lily reacted, she wanted something more intimate.
Apocalypse How: It's set shortly after a major nuclear exchange has caused a human die-back on Earthnote killing 600 million out of the projected world population of 8-10 billion(6-7.5%). Naturally the Borg want to escalate it to engineered human extinction or Assimilation.
Batman Gambit: Data's attempts at lying earlier in the movie are really really REALLY poor. This turns out to be a ploy to trick the Borg Queen into thinking he's a terrible liar, so when he later lies convincingly about his change of allegiance, the Borg Queen fails to realize he's playing her.
Become a Real Boy: The Borg Queen attempts to win Data over by giving him the gift of organic skin and the ability to experience tactile sensations as a human would, something that the movie sets up earlier on that he can't do.
Been There, Shaped History: Played straight and averted. The only change that the crew really does is that Riker and Geordi take the flight with Cochrane instead of Lily. However, Picard instructs his crew while abandoning the Enterprise to take their lifepods to Gravett Island (an isolated isle in the South Pacific) and as for the rest of the crew already in Bozeman, to find a "quiet corner of North America and stay out of history's way." The crew also only stick around in the background to watch first contact (who wouldn't?) before making a quiet exit, stage left.
The Borg take a level in gross for their trip to the big screen. Especially the Queen, who is introduced as a disembodied head attached to a snakelike robotic spine before she's fitted onto her largely mechanical body. Also, assimilation in general. There is entire montage of footage in the film showing the Borg quickly assimilating the ship and crew, ending with the fresh drones being escorted in with their skin in patches, turning white with gray blood vessels; the sickbay converted to an assimilation chamber with crew hooked up to strange medical equipment; and seeing the attachment of the Borg prostheses. Bonus horror points: the score for the entire scene is "Smorgasborg."
Data, as more and more of his artificial skin is replaced with organic flesh takes on a ghoulish appearance as if sewn together from several corpses. Appropriate, since the only source of flesh the Borg would have is what their new drones don't need... Even worse is after the climax, seeing Data after all of the organic flesh has been burned off his body and you can see the exposed circuitry underneath.
Broken Faceplate: Picard takes a blow to the head while wearing a Starfleet space suit, causing the visor to crack. Fortunately for him, it still holds.
Broken Pedestal: Cochrane. Unusually for this trope, the crew doesn't seem to mind. Cochrane slowly coming around is a lighter inversion of Picard falling from the "more evolved" sense of responsibility and morality he tells Lily humans have in the 24th century.
Cochrane is without a doubt one of the brightest minds of his time. He's also a heavy drinker and thinks first contact is best celebrated with whiskey and dancing. In the Novelization, based on the original script, it's revealed that Cochrane is bipolar and was fitted with a cerebral implant to administer the proper medication, but since he couldn't get refills for it after World War III, he took to self-medicating with alcohol.
Reg Barclay, Enterprise's own resident Bunny-Ears Lawyer, also has a small cameo as part of the engineering team helping to fix the damaged Phoenix. In between showing Geordi the makeshift plasma conduit he managed to rig together out of bits of spare junk, he also geeks out over meeting Cochrane.
Can't Hold His Liquor: Troi gets royally plastered trying to get information with Cochrane. Then again, if you spent most of your life drinking Synthehol, what chance would you have against Post-Apocalyptic moonshine?!
Troi:(slurring, stumbling over tables) I'm just trying to blend in! Riker: You're blended, all right.
Moby-Dick is a major theme in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, though from a villainous angle, with Khan quoting Ahab, "To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!" Picard quotes from the exact same scene, from the narrator's perspective.
One of the ships in the Fleet vs. the Borg was the Bozeman from "Cause and Effect."
When the Borg Queen asks Data when the last time he had sexual intercourse was, his answer (including Data's comment that's he's "fully functional" and "programmed in multiple techniques") dates back to TNG's second episode "The Naked Now." (On a side note, this means that he never had sex with Jenna D'Sora in the episode "In Theory.")
The holonovel Picard runs in order to access a Tommy Gun is The Big Goodbye. This callback is especially apt as the plot of that episode is not only the first ever Holodeck malfunction, but also features a character being maimed with a holographic gun. In this case, the safeties were deliberately turned off to achieve the same effect.
Worf's "Perhaps today is a good day to die!'' is a call-back to a few Klingon episodes.
Riker calls the Defiant a "tough little ship"; Thomas Riker had said the exact same thing to Sisko.
Data rapidly encrypts the Enterprise systems, just like he did in the TNG episode "Brothers".
The Cameo: Robert Picardo as the Enterprise-E EMH and Ethan Phillips along with producer Brannon Braga in the holodeck club scene, with Phillips being the one stopping the drones and being disrupted by Borg laser scanners. Dwight Schultz as recurring character Reginald Barclay also appears. Michael Zaslow, who played Star Trek's first ever Red Shirt, appears as Eddie the bartender. The Millennium Falcon can (just barely) be seen zipping around the battle with the Borg cube. And as noted above, the Bozeman from "Cause and Effect" is also shown as part of the assembled fleet.
Cargo Ship: Lampooned in-universe by Troi. Picard reaches out and touches the Phoenix, because he was never allowed to do so seeing it at a museum, and Data tries to understand why touching it would mean anything, which makes for an interesting conversation for Troi to walk in on...
Troi: (amused) Would you three like to be alone for a while?
Catapult Nightmare: Averted and then played straight during Picard's Dream Within a Dream. When he falsely wakes up from his first nightmare he simply opens his eyes while sitting in his desk chair; when he wakes up for real, he jumps up from his bed (although what wakes him up is a distress call, so there's somewhat more logic to it).
Chekhov's Lecture: Picard's plan in the battle on Deck 16 is to rupture one of the coolant tanks by the warp core, flooding Engineering with the corrosive materials inside and destroying the Collective the Borg have established there. This plan is repelled by the Borg before Picard's team even gets inside Engineering, but breaking one of the coolant tanks is how Data finally defeats the Borg in the climax of the film.
China Takes Over the World: The Eastern Coalition or ECON, one of the factions in the Third World War (and who Cochrane originally thinks the Borg's attack comes from) is said to be a version of this in the Star Trek Expanded Universe, although it's not detailed in the film itself.
City Planet: Earth has become this under Borg rule in an alternate timeline. Oddly enough the population consists of only 9 billion Borg even though the planet's entire surface seems to have been completely urbanized and technified. Presumably, the rest of the space is taken up by automated factories or other automated urbanization. Possibly justifiedat the end of 2012, the world population was only 7 billion, and realistically, without significant advances in farming and food production, the world cannot support much more than about 9 or 10 billion. A significant amount of humans were most likely rendered unable to be assimilated by use of nuclear weaponry. 9 billion may be a high number.
The moon hiding the Enterprise-E from the approaching Vulcan ship is probably a nod to The Wrath of Khan, where the Enterprise hid from the Reliant by circling around Regula on its opposite side.
When Picard shatters the glass case in the Ready Room and the starship models fall to the ground he takes a long look at the Enterprise-D, destroyed in the previous film. Heavily implied in the movie, the novelization confirms that he was wondering if he was upset over losing another Enterprise or if he was actually lost in revenge.
Continuity Overlap: The film premiered during Season 5 of DS9 and Season 3 of VOY, and had to acknowledge developments elsewhere in the franchise:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Worf had joined the cast of DS9 the previous year, so the film had to bring him back into the TNG-corner of the 24th century. Having the Defiant as part of the Starfleet armada both solves this and is a nod to the ship's origins as an anti-Borg project.
Star Trek: Voyager: The Enterprise-E is equipped with the newly developed Emergency Medical Hologram.
The new and improved USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E makes her glorious debut in this film. The television version, 1701-D, had been destroyed in the previous film for no other reason than to introduce a more cinematic version in this one. This was a practical motivation as much as stylistic, since the old ship's sets were built for TV and the level of detail shown on film meant they had to make them Darker and Edgier just to hide the lower quality.
The USS Defiant was introduced on Deep Space Nine as being a prototype starship specifically designed to fight the Borg. Apparently it was a running fight from where the fleet engaged the cube to when it came in orbit around Earth. This is the only time the ship got to fulfill its purpose, and despite its size, it took a hit from a Borg weapon and returned fire.
Several other background starships from the opening battle, most notably the Akira-class◊, have gotten surprising amounts of love from the fans. Canonically the ships were designed and built after the devastating defeat at Wolf 359 from the episode "Best of Both Worlds," already forming a major backstory to this film, and were meant to be more battle-hardy than previous Starfleet ships.
One of the starships fighting the Borg was the Millennium Falcon in a sub-blink-and-you-miss-it cameo courtesy of ILM who worked on special effects for the film.
Crapsack World: By all accounts, Earth of 2063 is a pretty miserable Scavenger World in which everyone is suffering from radiation poisoning to one degree or another, and things like murder are commonplace. Not surprising, considering it's the aftermath of World War III.
Cruel and Unusual Death: The Borg Queen is killed by Data dragging her into a cloud of plasma coolant engulfing main engineering, liquifying her organic components as she screams in agony. Even that is not enough, however. After Picard uses the ventilation system to clear out the gas, her robotic brain and upper spine are still helplessly writhing on the floor. Picard snaps that in two to finally kill her, which is probably a mercy.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Starfleet fares better against the Borg than at Wolf 359, but the battle still goes very badly. Listening to the subspace transmissions of the damage and request for help convince Picard to take the Enterprise into battle. Picard's crew don't do so well against the Borg inside the ship either; they manage to assimilate half the ship in a matter of hours and only stop momentarily to use the Deflector Dish as an interstellar communication device so they can contact the other Borg.
Darker and Edgier: TNG was sometimes criticized for lacking in action and character drama, which admittedly was because Gene Roddenberry wanted a series that spent more time on ideas rather than violence and characters who argue all the time. This movie is a rock-em action flick with some serious interpersonal conflict (Picard and Worf especially), with a literally darker color palette in both the new uniforms and the sets even before Borg assimilation. This was the first Star Trek film to receive the PG-13 ratingnote Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country only averted it by changing the color of Klingon blood.
Deal with the Devil: Subverted. "0.68 seconds, sir."note "For an android, that is nearly an eternity."
Troi: TIME?! This is no time to argue about time! We don't have the time! (hic) What was I saying?
Did the Earth Move for You, Too?: When the Borg Queen blows lightly on Data's new skin, causing goosebumps, Data gasps at his first organic sensual experience. She invokes the trope, asking, "Was it good for you, too?"
Die Hard on an X: Picard's storyline in last third of the movie is pretty much Die Hard on the Enterprise. Picard is the last (fully) human crewmember on the ship that has been taken over by the Borg and feels obliged to rescue Data. While all the Jeffries tube crawling has taken place already earlier in the movie, it should be noted that in this last segment Picard even sports a very John McClane-like wife-beater...
Distressed Dude: Data is captured early on by the Borg and held in engineering.
Picard's hate for the Borg in his "The line must be drawn here" speech is like a person's hate for a rapist. Many actors and producers have said Picard's trauma after assimilation was modeled on a rape victim, while the Body Horror of assimilation was specifically designed to evoke a sexual assault.
It's also a Cold War reference, containment and domino effect, it's why the United States fought in Vietnam, This Far, No Farther! Older pulp sci-fi often represented Communism as Borg-like, since that's what communism was supposed to be on paper. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need; working for the common good, everyone is equal, the end of class strata, the loss of individuality.
The interactions between Picard, Data, and the Borg Queen come across as a jilted girlfriend wanting to show her ex how he could never measure up to her new boyfriend, and prove that she's totally winning the break-up.
Epic Tracking Shot: The movies start almost inside Picard's eye and then pulls back to show the humongous Borg complex he was in, All Just a Dream, or rather a traumatic memory.
Evil Overlooker: The poster does this in a pretty interesting manner. Data and Picard are wary of an approaching army of Borg drones underneath them, but the Borg Queen, the film's Big Bad, is hovering over them both.
Eye Scream: To Picard. In the freaking opening sequences, no less! Later on, assimilated Enterprise crew appear to have had one of their eyes gouged out and replaced with some kind of interface circuitry prior the the installation of an eyepiece.
Facepalm: After Drunk Cochrane restores power to the jukebox and starts drunkenly dancing again, Riker dances slightly too... and then Troi passes out, which Riker promptly responds to with a facepalm.
Failed a Spot Check: When discussing why the Borg stopped on Deck 11, the crewmember names several departments including Deflector Control, before dismisses it as not being a vital system. In "Best of Both Worlds," the crew of the Enterprise-D were capable of turning the deflector dish into an anti-Borg cannon. Thanks to Locutus, it didn't work, but the idea that that system could be turned into a weapon probably should have been considered by the crew. This becomes particularly baffling when you remember that the deflector dish is the only thing allowing the ship to travel at Warp without being destroyed by space dust. Considering at this point the Borg also controlled engineering, how did they know they weren't intending to head back to the Delta Quadrant after sabotaging First Contact?
Fake Defector: Data is seduced by the Borg Queen with the promise of becoming more human by having human skin grafted onto his body and serving as her consort. He pretends to join them by deactivating the Enterprise's self-destruct and firing at the Phoenix, before killing the Borg Queen and defeating the Borg single-handedly. Data notes that he actually considered the offer for 0.68 seconds — for an android like him, that is almost an eternity.
Fan Disservice: What's left of the Borg Queen after her flesh melts off.
Fashions Never Change: Averted. Picard tells the computer to replicate mid-21st century clothing for the away team before beaming down.
Fate Worse Than Death: Picard expresses this conviction about being turned into a Borg drone. While the strike team is preparing after the Borg are found to have infiltrated the Enterprise, he tells his men that when they encounter assimilated crew members they shouldn't hesitate to kill them, because they'll be doing them a favor.
Future Imperfect: Only applies in the crew's hero worship of Cochrane. Otherwise — like many other Time Travel Tropes in this film — averted. Picard simply asks the computer to make them some period costume and then they fit right in.
The Future Will Be Better: Not from the perspective of the viewers, but from that of the people living in the wreck of late twenty-first century Earth.
Get Out: Picard says this to Lily when she confronts him about his lust for revenge against the Borg.
"So (poke) don't (poke) go criticizing (poke) my counseling (poke) techniques!"
Go Look at the Distraction: The Federation sends the Enterprise to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone during the initial Borg attack. In truth, they didn't want Picard within light-years of the Borg.
Gunship Rescue: During the space battle between the Federation fleet and the Borg cube, the Defiant (captained by Lt. Commander Worf) is almost destroyed and prepares to ram itself into the cube, before the Enterprise shows up to position itself between the Borg and Worf's ship.
Helmsman: "Sir, there's another starship coming in. It's the Enterprise!".
Historical Hero Upgrade: In-Universe example. Cochrane in the future is seen as a great visionary. In reality though, he was a drunken man who was just trying to get rich.
Hive Queen: The Borg Queen, who claims to somehow be the Collective rather than simply control it (don't worry, the characters don't quite get it, either). Presumably the "Queen" is simply a personification of the Collective, assembled whenever one is deemed necessary for one-on-one interaction. Especially considering the number of times she has come back from the dead. Ever since her debut in First Contact, whether her existence is a good or bad idea has been a matter of great debate. Note that she never actually refers to herself as a Queen, or even the leader of the Borg. The other characters do.
Horde of Alien Locusts: The Borg exist only to assimilate everything into their collective to bring them closer to "perfection" and expand indefinately. Like a swarm of insects, they can't be bargained with.
Humans Are Special: Why are the Borg going to such extreme lengths to assimilate Earth? Because once Earth rolls over, the rest of the Federation will be a piece of cake and assimilating Earth in the past saves them even more trouble by preventing the Federation from even existing. Makes sense considering the Federation only exists because humans worked so hard to unite the other races and encourage trade and development between them as opposed to the apparent "every species for itself" approach of before, leading to massive developments in technology and resistance.
I Am the Trope: The Borg Queen is the Borg. Data himself isn't quite sure what this means.
Data, being made of metal and all. Rule of Funny also plays a small part, as well.
Averted with the Borg, fortunately for Picard. This started a long fan debate over why Starfleet doesn't issue firearms, which ignores the fact that Picard's submachine gun worked because it was unexpected, not necessarily because it's a Weaksauce Weakness (it successfully killed two drones, but the number of drones that get sacrificed before the Borg adapt is usually about three).
As Geordi goes on and on about Cochrane's impact upon human history, Cochrane tells him he has to take a leak, but it's just an excuse to go off and drink in private.
A subtle one, but the Vulcan Cochrane decides to serenade with a loud rendition of Roy Orbison's "Ooby Doobie" takes a very quick gulp of his drink.
Info Dump: Actually handles this very well, getting out all the information the non-Trek fans need in a few lines after the Enterprise travels back in time. Particularly impressive when they have to describe an up-to-now entirely unseen time period (Earth in the 2060s).
Instant Expert: Data learns deception. He goes from unconvincingly lying about "mimicking the behavior of humans" when his arm flesh gets slashed, to convincing Queenie that he had sided with her and would betray humanity to the Borg.
On the other hand, Data is shown numerous times during the run of TNG that he's a very good actor, so he might simply be putting these skills on display.
Ironic Echo: Data repeats the Borg's famous line "Resistance is futile" right before he reveals he was playing the Borg Queen and releases the gas which will destroy them.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: When the Borg deliver the line, it's generally "Resistance is few-tile." Towards the end it instead gets spoken as "Resistance is feudal."
After the Borg adapt to their phasers, Picard lures a couple of drones into the Holodeck and shoots them with a Tommy gun. This has led to fan speculation that Borg shields suck against kinetic attacks, which is semi-verified in noncanonical novels. It's reflected in the visual effect of the Borg adapting to weapons fire. The series had what looked like an actual shield pop up and the phaser shot doing no damage. Starting with this movie the phaser blast seems to be dissipated into the full body of the drone, which suggests that it isn't a personal shield but the actual body armor of the drone allowing it to absorb energy. This makes projectile weapons logical.
Melee attacks weave in and out. On the one hand, Worf is inhumanly strong and Data is outright superhumanly strong and both do alright in physical combat but still ended up taking hits. The one human Red Shirt that attempts to Phaser-butt a drone gets his ass handed to him in short order. Another officer balks at the idea of hand-to-hand combat, clearly aware that such an attempt would fail horribly. Unless you can shut down the drone in one hit, you have no real chance in a prolonged fight; they're super-strong zombies with assimilation tubes, and if they grab you, you join them.
Limb-Sensation Fascination: Data is captured by the Borg and then has patches of organic matter actual skin grafted onto his exterior and integrated into his systems by the Borg Queen. Notably, when he tries to escape, one of the patches is cut, allowing Data to experience pain for the first time; the experience confuses and fascinates him so much that he agrees to allow the Borg to graft more of it onto him.
Macgyvering: On the hull of the Enterprise-E. Once Worf runs out of phaser ammo (the Borg shrug off each modulation), he resorts to using his Mek'leth sword. He lops off a Borg's arm, but his adversary doesn't even blink and swipes at his leg, causing Worf's spacesuit to decompress. When we next cut to Worf, he has tied the Borg's severed cables to his breached suit, sealing it shut.
Magical Negro: Downplayed with Lily. Though she's a fairly well-rounded character, and she has her fair share of vulnerable moments over the course of the film, she's the one who ultimately sees through Picard's bull and gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech about his self-destructive desire for revenge against the Borg.
Meaningful Name: The Phoenix, the first warp-drive ship, can be seen as having risen from the ashes of World War III.
Mercy Kill: Picard shoots a crewmember as he is being assimilated by the Borg.
Mundanisation: Averted. This is one of the few time-travel stories that involves people from the far future going back to the near future, rather than the present day or past. Another Star Trek example is the Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense".
Moby Schtick: "Captain Ahab has to fight his whale!" Picard is dumbfounded by this accusation, then denies it, and then finally — and resignedly — agrees that she's right.
My God, What Have I Done?: Picard's reaction after Lily's quoting of Moby-Dick and his Unstoppable Rage smashing his model ships (Enterprise-D and -C for extra pathos, if you're an astute observer) makes him realize he's throwing the crew's lives away because of his own vendetta against the Borg.
The Borg leitmotif uses the "blaster beam", also used for V'Ger's leitmotif in Star Trek The Motion Picture, which helps fuel the Epileptic Trees that the Borg was the race of machines V'Ger was said to have encountered.
The trailer depicts Picard's "The line must be drawn HERE!" speech as a Badass Boast, instead of the Roaring Rampage of Revenge / Sanity Slippage on Picard's part. Additionally, the trailer also features Data's sneering "Resistance is futile" retort, but makes it seem as if Data had been fully subverted by the Borg, instead of being a Pre-Mortem One-Liner aimed at the Borg Queen. And more importantly, the trailers made it look like the Borg were mounting a full-scale invasion against the Federation, instead of only attacking Earth.
The original teaser did not feature any new ship footage and was comprised entirely of stock footage from TNG episodes and Star Trek: Generations. This seemed to suggest that the new Enterprise would be the same model as the old ship. It also featured a shot of Voyager fighting a Borg cube.
Nice Hat: Cochrane's cap. An interviewer from Disney Adventures! asked James Cromwell where they could get one, but his daughter already had dibs on it.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Well done, Starfleet, take the one Captain with the most experience dealing with the Borg out of the fleet assembled to fight them. Nor consider at least relieving him temporarily of command if you're that worried he'll be a risk, as he only has the most powerful and advanced ship in your entire armada at his disposal. Because when the fate of Earth is at stake, you want this man and the crowning achievement of shipbuilding he commands to be studying... comets. Its not like if Picard showed up, he'd managed to Curb Stomp the Borg cube in less than 2 minutes... oh wait... he does. Well, I'm sure the families of all those good men and women lost before the Enterprise-E got there don't blame you for that very intelligent decision, Admiral Hayes.
Also remember that they were afraid that Picard would take this extremely personally (which he does), go into a roaring rampage of revenge (he does), and nearly screw everything up for everyone. The only reason why the Borg didn't win was because Lily managed to snap Picard out of his crazy revenge mode. Both sides have points.
Also worth considering that the Enterprise-E was fresh to the fight, whereas the rest of the armada and the Borg Cube itself had been battling eachother for hours. Picard's arrival turned the tide of the fight, but only because the Borg Cube had already been worn down by Starfleet.
Nightmare Sequence: The film opens with Picard finding himself inside a Borg cube and part of the collective hive mind, before he's experimented on and his eyes are almost pierced by a needle. There's a fakeout where it seems like he's woken up, but then a Borg implant bursts out of his cheek! and then he wakes up for real.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: There are more than a few similarities between the character of Zefram Cochrane and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Both were men who were elevated to near-mythic status posthumously, seen as legends and visionaries with "a dream" — and both were lecherous, with substance abuse problems, and primarily motivated by money (not to mention extremely tall). The filmmakers claim they didn't base Cochrane on Roddenberry, but the similarities are there. One commentary noted that the scene where a star-struck Reg Barclay meets Cochrane was like a star-struck Trek fan meeting Roddenberry. And both, in different senses, created the world of Star Trek.
The Borg Queen tries to convince Data that they are not so dissimilar when they try to assimilate him.
Data: You must be aware that I am programmed to evolve — to better myself. Borg Queen: We, too, are on a quest to better ourselves, bringing us closer to perfection.
Picard introduces Lily to the better future of the twenty-fourth century in their conversations, but then she points out that his hatred of the Borg is making him not act like a member of the perfect future society he's describing.
When the engineers on the ship are ambushed by Borg, Picard briefly hears the Collective's voice.
The Oner: The opening shot which pulls back from Picard's eye to show the Borg cube's interior.
Only in It for the Money: In the Star Trek universe, Federation scientists and engineers such as Geordi LaForge revere Zefram Cochrane for inventing the warp drive, which allowed the Federation to form. The Cochrane that Geordi meets in this film breaks the pedestal somewhat: he invented the warp drive to get rich and had no idea what would happen because of it.
Worf the Proud Warrior Race Guyis saying Picard's plan is too dangerous. Picard calls him a coward when he should know full well how deadly an insult that is to a Klingon: this is the same Picard whom in the series is the only person Worf trusts enough to confide in about Klingon problems and is trusted enough by the Klingon government to arbitrate a succession dispute. So both Picard chewing out Worf this way and Worf's "If you were any other man" statement are significant.
Earlier, with Picard's berserk rage as he machine-guns the Borg on the holodeck, then tries to smash their dead bodies, showing how far he's fallen from the compassionate and philosophic leader he aims to be.
Our Founder: When informed that he's standing in the exact same spot as his future statue, Cochrane goes a little bit nuts. (See Refusal of the Call below.)
Palette Swap: The Starfleet uniforms seen here are an inversion of the uniforms worn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, being predominantly black with grey shoulders and colored shirts, unlike DS9/Voyager's uniforms which had gray shirts and colored shoulders. The DS9 crew would shortly switch to these uniforms for the rest of the series, whereas Voyager's crew, stuck in the Delta Quadrant, stuck with their uniforms till the end, though subsequent episodes involving the Federation at home featured these uniforms.
Percussive Maintenance: Averted. Cochrane attempts to fix a warning light on the Phoenix by hitting the console. It doesn't work, and he ultimately tells Riker and Geordi to ignore it.
Production Foreshadowing: Crusher states that in the 22nd Century, the Borg are still in the Delta Quadrant. Within the film, this is just exposition. But when it was released, it was a reminder that as Star Trek: Voyager was set in the Delta Quadrant, sooner or later the ship would hit Borg space — something which came to pass several months later.
Psychic Link: Picard can hear the Borg speak through him. This is implied to be a lingering effect of his time as Locutus. (He can also hear Data pleading for help, though this could be a feint by the Queen.)
Refusal of the Call: Cochrane, when he got overwhelmed with his role in history. He gets over it eventually.
Cochrane: "I don't want to be a statue!"
Remember the New Guy: Captain Picard remembers the Borg Queen when she's first introduced. Could be justified by the fact he was a Borg for a while, but that doesn't explain why he doesn't mention this vital piece of information about a dangerous enemy onscreen, and Data seemingly knows nothing about her despite the fact that he presumably would have read any report Picard made after the incident. They attempt to Handwave this by implying that Picard had forgotten about her until they're reintroduced in the film.
This movie shows Zefram Cochrane as the man who not only created warp drive, but also conducted the first warp flight and made first contact with an extraterrestrial species shortly afterward. In the TOS episode "Metamorphosis", where the character originated, he was simply said to be the inventor of warp drive. No more, no less. Cochrane was also called "Cochrane of Alpha Centauri" in "Metamorphosis". However, fanon had long since decided he was a human who just moved to Alpha Centauri after inventing warp drive, under the assumption that he was the inventor of warp drive for humans (where other races may have had it much earlier), and because of the unlikelihood that humans colonized Alpha Centauri prior to faster-than-light travel. Cochrane also looks much older than he should, according to dates given in "Metamorphosis." The semi-official explanation for this is that he is younger than he looks because of radiation poisoning.
Combined with Remember the New Guy is how the film fits the Borg Queen into "The Best of Both Worlds".
Retool: Due to a higher budget than the show, the Borg underwent a dramatic change in appearance, instead of pale guys in armored suits it looked like they were almost rotting out from the inside. Great change too, as befits the Rule of Scary. This actually fits in with the original concept of the Borg as a race that simply replaces biological parts with mechanical ones as they wear out.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: The Enterprise can see the timeline created by the Borg's interference, but since they're in the wake of the time disturbance caused by the Borg Sphere, they're unaffected. It's strongly implied that they'd vanish from existence had they not gone through the time aperture themselves.
Robots Enslaving Robots: The Borg trying to make Data join them. They wanted him to choose to join them of his own free will, though. With a very tempting benefits package, too.
Robots Think Faster: Data says that he was considering accepting the Borg Queen's offer for 0.68 second. Picard smiles because that's just the span of a fleeting thought for a human, but Data says that "for an android, that is nearly an eternity".
Rule of Symbolism: The three release clamps for the deflector dish (upon which the Borg are building a transmitter) are colored red, blue, and gold. You can guess which console Lt. Hawk is stuck with when he gets tackled and assimilated.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: An interesting use of the trope because, unusually, the historical event in question lies in our (the viewers') future, and we don't know exactly what it is until the end of the film. Lampshaded by Seven of Nine in the Voyager episode "Relativity."
Lt. Ducane: So, in a way, the Federation owes its existence to the Borg? Seven:You're welcome.
Songs of Solace: After being told he will not be part of the fleet to defend Earth, Picard spends his time in his office listening to opera with the volume turned up so loud that objects on his desk vibrate.
Tired of Running: Subverted because it showcases Picard's obsession to destroy the Borg.
"We've made too many compromises already. Too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!"
The only one in the whole series: "You're all... astronauts, on... some kinda star trek!" This points further to Cochrane being an expy of Roddenberry.
Naturally, the phrase "first contact" is also used a few times. However, this is to be expected; the phrase is a very common science fiction term describing when two intelligent races meet for the first time. In fact, there was an episode of The Next Generation that is also titled "First Contact," though the plots are very different.
Too Dumb to Live: LaForge heads down to Earth and leaves someone else in charge of engineering. That character crawls into the Jefferies tubes in order to try to solve a seemingly minor problem. He hears sounds of the Borg and asks a female ensign still in Engineering if she's the one making the noise. He asks if someone else is there and then is seized by the Borg and screams. The female ensign, hearing this, decides to enter the Jefferies tubes herself to see if she can find out what is going on. She is promptly seized by the Borg.
Trash the Set: The Defiant's bridge is shot to hell by the time the Borg Cube reaches Earth. Not surprising given the tough little ship lasted for the duration of the entire running battle. It was likely due to one of the reasons why the Enterprise-D was destroyed in the preceding film (because the sets had been built for a lower resolution - i.e. television, not film). The darkened lightening, smoke, and damage isn't just meant to show the beating the Defiant has taken; it's also meant to hide flaws or features that would have shown up on the big screen.
Try Not to Die: Lily asks this of Picard before he embarks onto the deflector dish.
Two Lines, No Waiting: For most of the film, there are three storylines going; Riker convincing Cochrane to make his flight, Picard fighting the Borg and Data's interrogation by the Borg Queen. Since Picard didn't voice his suspicion that the Borg are aboard the Enterprise before returning to the ship with Data (upon which they lost all communications), Riker, Troi, LaForge and the rest of the engineers on the surface never actually realize what's happening aboard the Enterprise.
Unexplained Recovery: Well there is one, it just makes no sense. When Picard protests she should have been destroyed along with the cube back in the series, she merely replies "You think in such three dimensional terms. How small you've become."
She turns up again in Voyager, more than once, which suggests that the "Queen" personality is simply downloaded into a specially-prepared drone body whenever there is need.
Villainesses Want Heroes: The Borg Queen wanted Picard to willingly submit to the Borg and be her... "consort". When that didn't work out, she goes for the same approach with Data, seducing him with the promise of making him more human and her physical charms.
Virtual Danger Denial: A woman from the mid 21st century exposed to holodeck technology for the first time. She is surprised when Picard's holographic Tommy Gun has very real (and very lethal) effects on the two Borg that follow them in.
Walking Spoiler: The Vulcans being the race to make first contact with Humanity has become so well-known to science fiction fans, that it's actually more surprising to realise upon later viewings that this fact is kept intentionally vague right until the last five minutes of the film.
Warts and All: Zefram Cochrane was the genius who gave the human race warp drive, thus taking the first step in the founding of The Federation. Star Trek: First Contact revealed that he was a cowardly, womanizing drunk whose motivation for building the first warp ship was "dollar signs, and lots of them".
Riker: Someone once said "Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment." Cochrane: That's rhetorical nonsense. Who said that? Riker: (grins) You did, ten years from now.
An in-universe one is "April fourth..." "The day before First Contact!" - but being a Title Drop it's not really one to the viewers.
Picard's reaction to Hawk's summation of the ship's environmental problems: " 39.1 degrees Celsius. . . like a Borg ship.
Picard makes a deal with the Borg Queen to let Data go in exchange for him. The Queen releases his restraints and Picard tells him to leave.
Data:No. I do not wish to go.
What Happened to the Mouse?: When Data seizes control of the main computer and fires a trio of quantum torpedoes at the Phoenix, beyond their deliberately missing the ship, shouldn't that be a worrying amount of ordnance sailing off into the unknown?.
The obvious assumption is that he was smart enough to program them to detonate once they were clear of anything they could damage, or that the torpedoes are programmed to do so anyway if they travel a certain distance without hitting anything.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Lily bashes Picard for his callous treatment of the crew and for killing Ensign Lynch (who got turned into a Borg) during the "The line must be drawn here!" scene.
What the Hell, Hero?: Picard's crew are visibly hesitant to follow his increasingly judgment-impaired orders, and Worf has a particularly venomous response when Picard calls him a coward for refusing to obey an order that's outright suicidal. Then Lily gives Picard a big one for his willingness to sacrifice his crew to get revenge on the Borg instead of doing the necessary thing. Picard finally wises up and orders the evacuation and destruction of his ship, like he should have earlier.
What Year Is This?: Averted, as the ship's sensors identify the approximate time period from orbit from the level of pollution in the atmosphere and then narrow it down to a specific date. Data also mentions taking astrometric readings, presumably comparing the stars where they are to where they should be in their present.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Averted by Lt. Hawk regarding simply shooting the Borg deflector dish modifications instead of manually detaching them. Picard responds with Made of Explodiumtechnobabble. It's also consistent; when they finally detach the dish, Worf then hits it once and it ignites into a giant fireball. The writers (Ron Moore and Brannon Braga) state on the commentary that their original intention was to blow up the dish in this manner. Then the Trek technical advisers stated that they couldn't shoot the dish because it would blow up the ship. And this was clearly shown in an episode of Deep Space Nine where the Jem'Hadar rammed one of their fighters in the USS Odyssey's deflector dish... causing it to explode violently.
Woman Scorned: The Borg Queen, oh so much. It's revealed that part of the plot was revenge against Picard for rejecting his place in the Collective. When Picard offers to be her consort once again, she accepts, and when Data refuses to leave, she practically giggles that she has a new consort, and Picard is no longer needed. Except as a new Borg drone, that is.
The World Is Just Awesome: After their short warp flight, an awed Cochrane comments how small Earth looks, finally starting to realize what he had just accomplished. Also when Picard shows Lily the Earth below her through a force field window.
You Look Familiar: Cromwell was previously seen in two roles on Next Generation. He was the Angosian Prime Minister in "The Hunted" and a Yridian information dealer named Jaglom Shrek in both parts of "Birthright"
You're Insane!: Data does point out that the Queen's assurance of her perfection is a symptom of "a delusional mind."