The evil of the Borg originally was that they/it was a hive mind pursuing perfection and assimilating everything because that was the proper thing to do. They didn't hate those they assimilated. Sort of like Moby Dick - impersonal, but dangerous. (Roddenberry is actually ambivalent about the Borg in the last interviews. Had to make them scary for tv, but thought some gestalt/group consciousness might be our next step, into SORG-dom (social organism).
The author of Destiny really changes the character of the Borg. Perhaps the damage was already done in First Contact. Nevertheless, in this trilogy, the Borg drones are slaves, not fully integrated, really. And, the mind/spirit guiding the whole thing is more "evil" by intent, rather than as a consequence of pursuing perfection.
Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that Destiny
and Greater Than the Sum
both establish -- and so does Before Dishonor
, for that mater -- that while a portion of an individual drone's pre-assimilation personality remains intact, most of that individual's consciousness is re-shaped and altered by the assimilation process. You become, in essence, the victim of mind control and
then your mind-controlled mind is linked to the others via the Collective. So the full integration thing is still intact.
The second thing to keep in mind is that, well, Mack didn't actually make the decision to make the Borg, in your words, "slaves, not fully integrated." Nor did he make the decision to make them "more 'evil' by intent, rather than as a consequence of pursuing perfection." The decision to reveal that Borg drones are actually slaves was made in "The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I & II" and in Star Trek: First Contact
. The decision to make the Borg more evil by intent came from First Contact
and VOY, as did the Borg's worship of the Omega Molecule. And I don't think that the Borg in Destiny
are not pursuing perfection; they are. It's just that Mack made explicit what the writers of First Contact
and VOY had made im
plicit: That the Borg Collective defined "perfection" as the possession of unlimited power.
Another example is emotion. The Borg were originally described in "Q Who?" as being creatures devoid of passion, acting only rationally in their own self-interest. It was never personal, as you note. What FC and VOY did, though, was reveal that the Borg do
have emotion and that, for them, it is
personal: The Borg take pleasure in assimilating new life-forms ("Dark Frontier"). The Queen can develop emotional attachments to certain drones ("Endgame"). The Borg experience religious impulses, such as the worship of the Omega Molecule ("The Omega Directive").
And the Queen feels lonely (First Contact
What Mack has done in Destiny
is take those elements of the Borg that VOY and First Contact
established that contradicted what "Q Who?" had established and put them in a new context. Instead of seeking to ignore them or minimize them, Mack has taken them and put them into a new context that speaks directly to the larger themes of life, death, and community. We discover that all of these aspects of the Borg -- the desire for power, the constant desire to consume and assimilate, the feelings of emotion -- are all the result of the Borg originating from a desperately lonely, miserable creature that was in a great deal of pain, facing both the loss of its entire civilization and its own imminent demise, who could not accept her fate. Instead of allowing herself to die and to have lived by a moral code, she made the choice to lash out at the universe, desperately seeking to live, constantly driven by her own fear of death, violating everyone else's rights in the process, and eternally driven by an inconsolable sense of loss and loneliness and pain. Like Hegel's Master, who sought recognition for his achievements from his Slave but who could never truly receive genuine recognition because
his Slave could never give him anything but, Sedin seeks companionship, but is condemned to eternal loneliness because the Queen, her avatar, leaves no one's minds intact.
In short, where the VOY writers -- and, let's be frank here, it's mostly the work of Brannon Braga, who wrote the Borg Queen sections of First Contact
and wrote or co-wrote the majority of Borg episodes of VOY -- where Braga took an interesting, if impersonal, antagonist and turned them into very traditional, emotional villains, Mack takes those Braga elements and places them in a much deeper, much more philosophical context that owes more to Hegel or Camus than it does to Snidley Whiplash (who is, frankly, the Braga Borg's true antecedent).