Truth OR Myth – The Borg Conundrum

Hello and Welcome to Truth OR Myth, in today’s episode we’re taking look at what I’ve Termed the Borg Conundrum in attempt to better understand the Federations Ultimate Enemy.

Originally the Biggest Threat to the Federation, eventually becoming another enemy of the week to be defeated, no one could argue how wonderfully different the Borg were in Star Trek. But since the best of both worlds aired, the fan base would continue to ask one question and that question would become a Conundrum that would never, could never be answered.

So what exactly is the Borg Conundrum? Well in all the videos I’ve made about the Borg or where the Borg are mentioned there invariably was at least a few people to comment on the Borgs strategy to assimilate the Federation. That being of course only sending 1 cube each time…

(CBS) “Q-Who” – TNG S2X16

When originally set up in the episode “Q-Who” in season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borg were shown to be unemotional, computer-like beings with extraordinary abilities such as the ability to adapt to almost any weapon type and their ability to quickly repair their ships by simply thinking.

This made them an almost impossible foe to defeat. After all, how do you negotiate with a computer? How do you destroy a foe when your weapons have very little effect that they can easily repair or when your weapons simply have no effect at all?

The answer? You cant? At least not directly… So then your left with only one option, out-thinking them. And the Federations mind was really the Borgs Achilles heel.

So when the Borg attacked in the “Best of Both Worlds“, it was riveting and very believable. Due to their hive mind, they were overconfident and as a result, the Enterprises crew were able to stop them, but only after huge loses and excellent strategies. It was a high point in the Next Generation, but the question then becomes where do you go from there?

It’s not an easy question to answer. In essence, the writers and powers that be had written themselves into a corner when it came to the Borg. They had created the ultimate foe, but at the same time made themselves a foe that in its current configuration could really be used again.

I mean imagine if every season the Borg sent a Cube to fight the Enterprise-D’s valiant crew… Out thinking them would get really boring and obvious really quickly. So instead they decided to use the Borg in other ways.

(CBS) “Best Of Both Worlds” – TNG S3X26/S4X01

I, Borg was a great example of how to use the Borg and still be dramatic. Let’s see what happens if a Borg drone is disconnected and begins to regain it’s humanity so to speak. It was an excellent episode and painted a new slightly different face on the Borg.

On the other end of the Spectrum was the 2 Parter Decent, that saw (once again) disconnected Borg regaining their so-called humanity only to fall under the spell of Data’s brother Lore who is using the emotion chip he stole from Doctor Soong to manipulate Data into helping him. Though an interesting well-written story where Spiner’s acting was again superb, it simply didn’t hit the depth that Both Worlds and I Borg had by any stretch.

I remember countless discussions with friends about where Star Trek could or would take the Borg Next. We all agreed the only option was for the Borg to attack the Federation again with some sort of twist. And that’s exactly what happened with First Contact.

First Contact was an excellent movie again hitting the high that the “Best of Both Worlds” had and the time travel twist again made you fear the Borgs abilities almost as much as Both Worlds had. But again there was a simple problem that Star Trek could NEVER explain away.

If the Borg really wanted to assimilate the Federation as was obvious by them travelling through time to do it, why not simply send 2 Cubes or 5 cubes or 20 cubes and get the job done?

This is a Conundrum that can NEVER be answered.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9 never really approached the Borg Conundrum, instead opting for creating its own unique ultimate enemy that was based more in reality than the Borg. The Dominion had some superior tech, and abilities but were nowhere near that of the Borg, the writers had learned their lesson.

(CBS) Voyager Encounters The Borg For The First Time – “Blood Fever” – VOY S3X16

But when the USS Voyager would end up lost in the Delta Quadrant it was quickly realized that there would be no way around having a Borg story or two, after all, we already were told that the Delta Quadrant were where the Borg were from.

But how could one little ship, alone, beat the Borg in their own space. Again the answer was clear, give the Borg their own superior enemy and that, of course, would species 8472. But the one thing they didn’t realize was by doing that, they immediately made the Borg weaker.

The Borgs Castration though had actually started in “First Contact” with the addition of the Borg Queen. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great character, but everyone had to adjust what they knew about the Borg, that they were a collective, one mind that operated in sync with one another. To a collective controlled by an emotional, very human acting entity, that meant the Borg were more vulnerable than had previously been portrayed.

By pitting Janeway against the flawed Borg Queen, instead of Janeway against the Entire Collective, it became easier and easier to defeat them.

They could have made the Borg Queen more like Data, just an unfeeling control for the Hive Mind, but that doesn’t make for exciting drama does it.

(CBS) “Scorpion” – VOY S3X26/S4X01

So when we get our first real taste of Voyager in Borg Space we see 20 Cubes and think OMG how is Voyager going to get through this and quickly realize it was a fake out, we were punked and the Borg are at the mercy of someone else. And luckily Janeway and her crew come up with the solution that they can then use to negotiate with the nonnegotiable Borg.

It’s a neat package that doesn’t make sense or fit with what we’ve seen of the Borg in the Next Generation series proper.

I actually really enjoy the 2 Parter Scorpion but not because of the Borg per se, but because of the Character depth, it gives Janeway. But that’s for another video. But at the end of the 2 Parter we the audience are left with the impression that this is just the beginning of a season or 2 arc of stories that will involve Voyager trapped in Borg Space struggling to survive. It gave me hope for Voyager to finally really step outside the box.

Imagine Voyager exploring planets devastated by the Borg, or discovering the Borg origins, or teaming up with let’s say a partially assimilated Romulan Scout Ship that the Icheb Virus disconnected them from the collective… the story possibilities were endless…

But no, sadly Kes flings them beyond Borg Space in the Next episode and to me, that was that.

But again that wasn’t that. The writers hot on a spark of an idea… Female Versus Female… The Great Janeway fighting her arch Nemesis the Borg Queen. And it really didn’t work as every time it happened, it made the Borg one step closer to being a bad guy of the weak.

(CBS) ” Unimatrix Zero” – VOY S6X26/S7X01

To me, “Unimatrix Zero” was an absolute failure. Here we had a Borg Queen set on revenge against those drones that have a dream world they interacted in while regenerating. It made no sense what so ever, why should she even care? It not like anything they’re doing was affecting the real world and doesn’t every drone have their memories in some form? If not, it kind of takes the power away from that Picard assimilated tear scene in the Best of Both Worlds.

Not only that but they added a Borg Tactical Cube for Voyager to actually last fairly long against and the sudden ability of the Federation to have officers assimilated yet retain their individuality, at least for a time. It was just a horrible thought out story.

But in my opinion, the worst moment for the Borg came in “EndGame“. A Janeway from the future intends to help Voyager get home early by using a transwarp hub hidden in a nebula. That’s all great storytelling to me. But the problem I have was it’s ending.

Right next to Earth is a Borg transwarp conduit, what? So all this time the Borg could have just shown up right on Earths doorstep yet didn’t? How does that make ANY sense at all?

That in itself just makes the Borg Conundrum more ridiculous. The Borg could have sent 20 tactical cubes now at any time right on top of Earth and have the Federation assimilated by lunch, but they don’t…

Now a lot of people that have responded to the commenters that point out this Conundrum use the excuse that the Borg really don’t want to assimilate the Federation that they merely want Starfleet to continue to develop technology that they can then assimilate into their collective. And this would be a great explanation, that is if “First Contact” didn’t disprove that theory.

See there was no way the Borg could have known that their Cube would be destroyed, or that the Enterprise E would be trapped in their temporal wake and end up stopping them in the past… A Past that would have seen them succeed if that had been successful in stopping “First Contact“. So that theory doesn’t make sense at all…

Others have said it’s simply because the Borg are overconfident given their computer like nature. But again the existence of the Borg Queen takes that away completely since she’s obviously emoting and at times angry and vengeful and is also shown in control of the Entire Borg Collective. Her not sending a fleet to assimilate the Federation once she was defeated a second time just doesn’t fit with the personality they’ve shown her to have in Star Trek: Voyager.

(Paramount) The Battle of sector 001 – “Star Trek: First Contact”

The truth we all know is that it didn’t happen because there was no way it could story-wise without a great sacrifice that would see the Borg Collective destroyed completely. And for those 2 people who are going to say Janeway destroyed the Borg in Endgame, I make the following point. First Picard destroyed the Borg Queen in “First Contact” and that did nothing but have the Borg pop a new one out of the Freezer and what Janeway did was simply destroy a Transwarp hub and a Unimatrix, both things the Borg could recover from fairly easy so I wouldn’t bother making that comment.

But destroying the Borg would not be a good move for Star Trek, you’d then lose the ability to use the Borg again in any future iteration of the show and we all know that would never happen or be allowed to happen by the powers that be. But then what do you do with them? How do you explain away their sudden lack of use of the obvious? And the truth is you cant.

There is no logical reason, at least not one I’ve heard to date, to explain away the Borg Conundrum.

Most Star Trek fans such as myself have a soft spot in their hearts for these cooky cybermen, and rightfully so, they were a brilliant story invention that has yet to be topped in the Star Trek Universe. But when you step back, look at their appearances with an unbiased dispassionate eye there is simply no way that they wouldn’t have right out attacked the Federation with as many Ships as it would take to assimilate them. It just doesn’t and never will make any sense at all…

Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth. What do you think of the Borg Conundrum? Do you have an explanation that could make this Conundrum go away or at least to ease the pain of my hurting brain? Well, leave your comments below.  Also, don’t forget to like the video and subscribe to channel hitting that little bell icon so you won’t miss a single video we release…

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Thanks again for watching and remember, Resistance is futile…

Watch episode 73