The Borg were of course introduced in Season 2 of The Next Generation in the episode “Q Who” which is still to this day one of my favourite episodes, what’s not to like? the Borg and Q in one episode!
The origins of the Borg
Little is known about the origins of the Borg and this has led to much speculation in the Trek community, here are my thoughts.
There are some who believe that the Borg were somehow related to the V’Ger probe which returned to Earth in Star Trek: the motion picture and this is a storyline which was used in the Star Trek: Legacy video game.
I personally don’t subscribe to this theory as i don’t believe that V’Ger’s “character” matches the Borg in any way, despite destroying starships and killing people i do not believe that V’Ger’s goals were ultimately evil or destructive, it was more of a curious child.
It is my opinion that the Borg were once a humanoid species who for whatever reason began the process of augmenting their bodies with technology.
It may be the case that at some point in time it became advantageous for them to link their minds together, pehaps to solve some crisis on their planet, pehaps an environmental disaster or similar.
Over time i think the Borg then began to assimilate other species in order to boost their numbers, maybe they had lost the ability to reproduce themselves (perhaps because of the environmental disaster i speculated about above).
The introduction of the Borg
The Borg were introduced because the federation needed a new enemy, in The Next Generation the new threat were of course were meant to be the Ferengi and obviously the writers discovered very quickly that the Ferengi were just not threatening.
After the Ferengi the writers did experiment with a new enemy, the neural parasites we saw in “Conspiracy”, it was the inention that these creatures would return in subsequent seasons but this of course never happened which i think was probably the correct decision.
The first time i saw the Borg i knew that these guys were special, they were just so different from any other alien race we’d seen before, i loved everything about them; their look, their relentlessness and the awesome score they created which just sounded scary.
At the end of “Q Who” we were given the impression that the Borg would definitively return later, after watching that episode for the first time i had no doubt that they would return and i couldn’t wait to see them again.
When we talk about the Borg we of course have to talk about assimilation.
The first time we saw anyone be assimilated was of course during “The best of both worlds” when Picard was transformed into Locutus.
The thought of being assimilated by the Borg and having all of your individuality erased is a terrifying thought and left deep emotional scars as we saw in the episode “Family” when Picard returns home to Earth and later on in “First Contact” where we see Picard’s deep hatred of the Borg.
When it comes to assimilation we were never given any details of the process, during the Next Generation episodes we assumed that implants were physically implanted into those being assimilated, it wasn’t until “First Contact” that we saw that the assimilation process was actually being carried out by Nanoprobes injected into the victim.
The nanoprobes were i think a great concept, perfect for the insidious Borg, just one quick injection from a Borg drone began the assimilation process with larger implants such as arm extensions being added physically later.
The Borg queen
A controversial addition to the Borg was the introduction of the Borg queen in “First Contact”, i say controversial because many fans (myself included) thought that having an individual within the collective took something away from the Borg, for me it made them less “faceless”.
The writers believed that the Borg needed an individual with whom the crew could interact and i can see why they did this, the movies are often written in a very different way to the series in order to maximise the audience.
However despite some of my reservations i thought that Alice Krige gave a great performance as the Borg queen, i think she made the queen seem very “seductive” and indeed she did mange to seduce Data (at least to the eyes of the viewer).
Despite the destruction of the queen at the end of the movie the queen did of course return several times in Star Trek: Voyager, some people have wondered how this is possible, i think that like bees or ants the Borg can “nominate” a drone to become the next queen although of course no hint at this is ever given in any episode, it’s just my opinion.
The Borg in Voyager
The Borg appeared a number of times in The Next Generation and were conspicuously absent in DS9 where the enemy was (in the end) the Dominion.
Of course the series in which they appeared the most was Star Trek: Voyager.
It was during the course of Voyager that the Delta quadrant was established as the native region of the galaxy for the Borg, i don’t think that there exact location was ever given before Voyager.
There are so many good Borg episodes in Voyager and we discover so much more about the Borg themselves, the fact that humans (Seven’s parents) knew of the existence of the Borg long before the Enterprise encountered them.
This inconsistency was never explained, how could two scientists know of the Borg and yet their research was unknown to the Federation? Maybe the Hansen’s were very secretive and never told any other scientists of their research and relied on tales told by aliens to get their initial information?
Seven of Nine
The Borg with whom almost all Trek fans will be familiar with is of course Seven of nine who was introduced as a main character at the beginning of season 4.
Many fans did not like the character but personally i did, i think that by the end of Season 3 a new character was needed to replace Kes (who was a terrible character with almost no personality and was clearly going nowhere). I think the writers also wanted to introduce some sex appeal into the show and well, Jeri Ryan certainly did that.
Once of the great things (particularly in the early episodes) was watching Seven struggle without the collective, because she had been assimilated at such a young age (age 6) she had no memory of a life other than that as a Borg drone.
We had seen people recovered from the collective before (Picard being the obvious one) but nobody had ever been recovered after such a long time and this gave the writers scope to write many episodes based around Seven which of course they did.
Despite her early struggles Seven did develop some very interesting relationships with the crew, especially with Janeway who took responsibility for rescuing Seven from the collective and helped here to explore her humanity. The greatest relationship Seven developed was in my opinion the one with the Doctor, I thought these two made a great double act and i enjoyed all of the episodes which focused on these two characters, it was a great shame that the writers eventually decided to pair Seven up with Chakotay rather than with the Dr.
Those of you who have listened to the Podcast will know that i am a huge Borg fan and the fact that i have written this short article proves that.
I think that without the Borg we would have missed out on one of the coolest, most interesting and threatening species the Federation have ever encountered.
The status of the collective after the end of Voyager is unknown and i do sincerely hope that we will see the Borg again either in a movie or (when it happens) in a new TV series.
Resistance is futile!