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Old April 22 2010, 04:34 PM   #1
GeorgeKirk
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Explanation for the Borg's many changes

The real-world reasons behind the Borg's transition from invincible, coldly logical "ultimate users" interested only in consuming technology to more easily-beatable moustache-twirling bionic villains whose sole purpose is to assimilate living beings are well known (hint: bad writing, mostly) but what about an in-universe explanation? I'm sure lots of people have taken a stab at this, and here's my attempt:

The Borg is/are a single mind. Originally, that mind's sole purpose was the acquisition of new technology.That was all it did: acquire new technology, then use that technology to acquire even more technology. The life-forms it encountered were beneath notice, not because the Borg were arrogant, but because they were no threat to the Borg and had nothing to do with Borg's directive to acquire technology. The Borg ignored the life-forms they destroyed for the same reason we ignore dust mites. At some point, however, the Borg's great complex uni-mind developed a schizoid personality. Maybe it was the result of a computer virus planted by a society they attacked, I don't know. This schiziod personality was the Queen. Unlike the coldly logical Borg mind, the Queen personality had many of the flaws common to humanoid minds. She craved power for its own sake. She could be overconfident, petty, vicious, and greedy. She arrogantly believed herself to be perfect.

Over time the Queen personality began to gain more influence over the Borg uni-mind. The first manifestation of this came in the form of a change in their prime directive: suddenly, they sought to assimilate other life-forms in addition to their technology. When the Borg returned to Federation space six years after their first invasion, the Queen's personality had completely taken over the Borg, to the point that she could accurately be seen as the personification of the Collective. Where the "old" Borg would have simply returned to Federation space in overwhelming numbers and stamped out any resistance, under the Queen's influence they arrogantly sent only a single cube, with a convoluted "backup plan" of traveling back in time to assimilate Earth in the past if their initial assault failed. By now, the Borg's purpose had changed so that assimilation of life-forms was their main interest. Instead of simply scooping all the technology off a planet with tractor beams, as they had done in the past,they now assimilated the planets. Whereas the old Borg uni-mind wanted only to consume technology, the Queen wanted to hold territory, to conquer and rule. The Queen's lust to consume life-forms, coupled with her desire to conquer new territory, led the Borg to pick a disastrous fight with Species 8472, something the "old" Borg never would have done. Interestingly, as the Queen grew more powerful, the Borg grew weaker and more easily defeatable. Perhaps the Queen's arrogance and overconfidence dampened the Borg's ability to adapt to new forms of attack. Of course, the Queen made no distinction between the Borg as they existed before and after she came into being. She pretended, as many power-mad kings and dictators have, that she was the sole author of the Borg's victories, even the ones that happened in the distant past.

Now, I'm sure there's a line in a Voyager episode somewhere that completely blows this theory to bits. But I think it fits the broad strokes of what we know about the Borg, and how they changed between "Q-Who" and "Endgame". What do y'all think?
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Old April 22 2010, 04:42 PM   #2
Finn
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

^Except the Borg had a queen before TNG. Plus we saw hundreds of Borg cubes swarm a planet being assilimated, with the queen present.
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Old April 22 2010, 04:58 PM   #3
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

Finn wrote: View Post
^Except the Borg had a queen before TNG. Plus we saw hundreds of Borg cubes swarm a planet being assilimated, with the queen present.
Like I said, I'm sure there's some detail in a VOY episode somewhere that contradicts this. But I think we have to realize there are two fundamentally different approaches to this "problem." We can simply disregard everything we saw in the Borg's earliest TNG appearances and pretend that they were always as VOY depicted them (which was apparently what the writers of that show did) or we can try to come up with something that explains all of it, more or less.

That being said, I don't have a problem saying that the Queen personality may have come into existence before TNG, but because the Collective is so huge, it took a long time for her influence to work its way out from wherever it started.
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Old April 22 2010, 06:15 PM   #4
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

Why not ignore what VOY did instead of TNG? That would make more sense IMO.
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Old April 22 2010, 06:51 PM   #5
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

I'll admit, I like that explaination. I'm not a great keeper of minutae detail, so there may be canonical evidence to dispute it, but I'm fine with it.

In my own mind, I just kinda said that they are constantly assimilating new species, so there must be some influence from the new information they gain, and this may be one of the ways that that new info has been processed into the collective and dealt with.
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Old April 22 2010, 08:17 PM   #6
Robert D. Robot
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

I like your proposed explanation. While I do not know every detail regarding the Borg that was brought up in the series and movies, we all know that there are inconsistencies that developed over time in the Trek Universe that would allow for overlooking some "facts" in order to integrate a good theory. I think your proposal seems well-thought out and I do like it!
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Old April 22 2010, 09:54 PM   #7
captcalhoun
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

read the novels "Greater Than the Sum" and the Destiny trilogy.
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Old April 22 2010, 11:32 PM   #8
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

sbk1234 wrote: View Post
In my own mind, I just kinda said that they are constantly assimilating new species, so there must be some influence from the new information they gain, and this may be one of the ways that that new info has been processed into the collective and dealt with.
This is a very logical and reasonable explanation. Was it ever established that the Borg assimilated any of the major races prior to the TNG crew's first encounter with them? The reason I ask is this; perhaps, when they first assimilated species like the Klingons or Romulans some of their more aggressive character traits were imparted to the Borg. This, in turn, modified their behavior and they evolved to what we saw later.
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Old April 23 2010, 04:57 AM   #9
purplebic
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

The writers could have argued that the cube at J25 needed repairs (thus materiel) more than it needed drones.

I also remember Q telling his son quite angrily not to provoke the borg. Normally Q takes a lot of pleasure out of provoking different species, this could be indicative of actions from another Q which might have caused a fundamental shift in the Borg's philosophy in turn having repercussions on the entire galaxy.

All we can do is speculate though because if all paramount wants to do is prequels the Borg storyline will never evolve to the point where we see how they began (and end) their existence.
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Old April 23 2010, 10:16 AM   #10
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

The simplest explanation:

The borg's organization and objective were always as seen in 'First Contact'.
But Starfleet/The federation had only limited information about the collective at first and gradually learned.
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Old April 23 2010, 11:49 AM   #11
Mytran
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

I like the explanation of this thread - it mirrors the development of the writers over time.
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Old April 23 2010, 03:44 PM   #12
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

I criticized the Destiny trilogy somewhere here for making the Borg less cool, and people rightly showed me the long inexorable decline. I don't care for postulated in-universe explanations. Why did the producers make them more "personal"? I think it was a huge loss.

Huge impersonal forces often buffet us about, like Ahab's whale. There's a great scene early in the movie of "Grapes of Wrath," where a lackey on a bulldozer explains to a farmer about to be plowed under that it's holding companies and banks -- the economy, really -- that're screwing him over. "Well, who DO we shoot, then?" says the stymied sharecropper.

That was the Borg -- they didn't hate us, they were just doing what they were doing. We are in the way. GREAT villain that got softened into, yes, a mustache-chewing, creepy-yet-sexy Queen, villain of the week. Oh well.
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Old April 23 2010, 06:03 PM   #13
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

GK, I like it. Yeah, it's probably full of holes, but it works for me.
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Old April 23 2010, 09:39 PM   #14
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

Could Hugh's return to the collective had some effect as well? Going by GK's theory of the Borg queen, could she have become more aggressive in their core "programming" to help compensate for the newly acquired individuality, in order to keep them loyal, so to say?
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Old April 24 2010, 01:01 AM   #15
Luther Sloan
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Re: Explanation for the Borg's many changes

I never had a problem with the Borg becoming more individualistic with the Borg Queen. For me, keeping something the same is boring. Besides, change is the natural order of things.

Personally, my beef with the Borg at one time was their human appearance. I mean, come on. How come the Borg all looked exactly like humans even though they were not from the Alpha Quadrant?

Well, over time I came up with an explanation. In fact, I now believe the Borg repopulated their ranks with humans that where taken by the aliens who traveled to the Delta Quadrant (rumored in the Voyager episode "37s").
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