(...)Then they assimilated Picard into Locutus. In a way, that was okay, although they were no longer just out for our technology, because they were still monsters who wanted to eat us. Only now, their method of eating us was almost literal -- they wanted to take us, harm us, rob us of ourselves, make us their slaves.
Then came Hugh, and we learned that a Borg separated from the Collective could become an individual. Then came the Borg Queen, and suddenly the Borg were no longer monsters who wanted to eat you -- now they had a personality in the form of the Queen. Now they were characters, not just monsters, and so they now had a psychology. That meant we could now categorize them, analyze them. Understand them. On top of that, VOY was giving us technobabble explaining how the Collective and its assimilation technology functioned, and showing us Borg ships that were incapacitated or that could be harmed -- showing situations where the Borg were no longer decidedly more powerful than Our Heroes in all situations.
And I think that's the problem. People are watching the wrong type of show for that. Star Trek is character-based sci-fi, not mindless-scare-you-silly horror. I'll buy that people may not like the way the Borg have been characterized. I don't understand people that don't like the very fact that the Borg were characterized at all. Because as I said characterization is exactly what Star Trek has always been about with everything only with a sci-fi twist.
My opinion on this is that there is a good case that some of the post-BOBW Borg, including their early appearances in VOY, did make the Borg more frightening. Assimilation and enslavement are certainly scary concepts, but with Hugh and the others, we find out that the individual doesn't die during assimilation--in a way, that would be too merciful. Instead the individual is repressed, a prisoner in his/her/its' own mind, suffering the constant trauma of not only the imprisonment, but of watching him/her/itself act out the Collective's will, or becoming subsumed and become dependant on the Hive Mind, as Annika Hansen did. And the idea that individuals can come back--however scarred--from assimilation makes then all the more tragic to fight, because every Borg drone you kill is, in a way, a hostage, as much of a victim as anybody else. There is a potential future, a potential person, being snuffed out here--not a high likelyhood, granted, but ethically still a kind of enforced murder. I also thought it was interesting that, in their expansion into fluidic space, or quest for the Omega Particle, the Borg kept its threatening uniformity while shrugging off our usual associations of such society with stagnation and entropy: the Borg are not a dead-end, but are also moving forward, with goals of their own, which suddenly demands that we reconsider the Borg model of doing things beyond automatic dismissal. In particular, I think they failed to play up the idea of the Borg as an uncanny version of the Federation, where both are expansionary, Other-hungry group entities comitted to 'bettering themselves'; the Borg are both the antithesis of and eerily similar to the Federation.
The Queen, I grant, was a problem. I wouldn't have minded a figurehead, since they'd already tried that with Locutus, and I also would have bought that the Queen's personality was a chimera designed to lure Data into the Collective, programmed from the gestalt memory of millions, with multiple copies as suit the local species. It's when it became undeniable that the Borg was ruled by an individual and not just a central hub that the concept seriously undermined the Borg's credibility. A blow which was repeated each time they were handily defeated by one little starship. The producers of VOY went a long way towards crafting a Borg culture... but instead of usign that structure as a potential weapon for our heroes, fell back on easy tech solutions or personality flaws, like an other villain.
And as for the most recent instalments... as I've said before, far from making the Borg more frightening, they made the Borg appear dumb and silly; really, Resistance
and Before Dishonour
went as far to make the Borg less credible as a foe than VOY ever did. And that's a shaky foundation to build more Borg stories on. With any luck, these stories will feature actual Borg, the uncaring and unstoppable, and not the stupidity-plagued, revenge-driven examples we've seen of late.
Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman