Would the Hugh Virus Have Done Anything?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Emperor Norton, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    If Picard had gone ahead and sent Hugh back with the virus to infect the Borg, would it have resulted in anything? Certainly Starfleet thought so. The Borg are expansive and ancient. They have survived for centuries. It seems that something like that would have been a hit, but something the Borg could overcome beyond the scope of the Federation understanding of them. Then again, the Changeling virus was devastating to that species, and it had also survived, expanded, and overcome for eons.
     
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  2. Finngle Bells

    Finngle Bells Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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    It is also unlikely it was the first such attempt, especially if they existed for centuries. It is highly probable that other powers tried the same thing including ones that had long ago been assimilated...
     
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  3. Paradise City

    Paradise City Commodore Commodore

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    If my reading of Voyager is right, Picard's earlier attempt to destroy the borg with Hugh would've just felled just one cube. So this attempt would've been a damp squib.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Given that Hugh's "virus" of individuality was very effective against at least one Borg cube, that implies that the original virus would've been equally effective. I think the original intention of "Descent" was that Hugh had, in fact, turned the entire Borg Collective into individuals; it was only later retconned that the Collective survived in its original form, implying that he'd only infected a finite part of its population. I guess the Queen kept her antivirus software up to date after all.
     
  5. matthunter

    matthunter Admiral Admiral

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    I think the Federation constantly underestimated how unlike individuals the Borg were in their thinking. Witness the Queen's willingness to destroy entire cubes because a single drone aboard was a member of Unimatrix Zero... The virus might have crippled a few ships but sooner or later the Collective would simply cut off any infected vessels.
     
  6. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    I do have the pet theory that the Borg go through phases of expansion and near extinction, but so long as just one drone survives they can and do expand out again. It would explain why the Vaadwaur only mentioned them as in a handful of systems by the 15th century, while Guinan called them extremely ancient. And why the Borg's memory of the past is so fragmentary. They keep going through apocalypse level events, which they survive by the fittest, becoming even better. It would also explain the Queen; the last survivor of the previous iteration of the Borg, forced to become an individual while all Borg.

    "We are McAffee. The terms of service have been updated. Resistance is futile".
     
  7. socialjiism

    socialjiism Ensign Newbie

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    It's a pretty creative virus, kind of like the solution in "I, Mudd" from TOS. However the whole individuality spreading to the collective never made sense to me, since they already assimilate individuals with individual experience, I mean Picard for example. "You will be assimilated" which is said in the very episode. Love the episode, one of my favorites but that never made sense.

    And did Descent imply all of the Borg were affected or just his ship. I assume the later but I remember the episode being very vague, perhaps because the writers weren't sure if the Borg would return?
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The thing is, the nature of the Borg has changed over time. Originally, in "Q Who," we were shown that Borg drones were incubated from infancy. Q said the Borg were only interested in acquiring technology, not individuals. When they assimilated Picard, that was presented as a change in their methodology, a novel adaptation and an exception to the usual rule. Hugh in "I, Borg" was not a victim of assimiliation; he was a pure drone who had never had any other identity, which is why he was such a blank slate and could so easily be taught a new way. The assumption throughout TNG was that all drones were like that, complete blank slates grown as Borg from conception. That's why the Borg in "Descent" were so directionless. They'd been given individuality through Hugh's influence, but they had no prior identities to return to, so they didn't know who they were or what they should do with their lives, and that left them vulnerable to cult-leader Lore.

    But then First Contact came along and reinterpreted the Borg into space zombies, infecting members of the Enterprise crew and turning them into more of themselves. This was partly to give it more of a horror-movie feel, but it was also motivated by the situation: Only a few Borg had beamed over to the ship before their sphere was destroyed, so they had to assimilate the crew to replenish their numbers. But the makers of Voyager overlooked that, accidentally or intentionally, and carried forward with the assumption that all Borg drones were assimilated, the exact opposite of TNG's assumption. "I, Borg" and "Descent" only seem inconsistent if you filter them through Voyager's assumptions. At the time they were written, those assumptions didn't yet exist.

    The way I accounted for the discrepancy in my TNG novel Greater Than the Sum is that the Borg had both incubated, blank-slate drones like Hugh and assimilated drones like Seven, but they tended to favor using the incubated drones in cubes operating in the farther reaches of the galaxy (e.g. Federation space) because they were less likely to go rogue if they lost contact with the Collective, having no former identities or memories that could reawaken. Whereas in the core of their territory in the Delta Quadrant, the parts that Voyager passed through, the drone population consisted primarily of assimilated drones because the war with Species 8472 had depleted their drone supply and they'd needed to replenish it through mass assimilation.


    I'd thought it was ambiguous, but I checked the transcript, and there is a line at the end where Hugh says "we can't go back to the Borg Collective." That does indicate that his individualized population of drones is just a part of the whole and that the rest of the Collective still exists. So I guess I was wrong about that part.
     
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  9. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings Premium Member

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    It would've worked if the writers needed it to work.
     
  10. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    We can use the conventions of how Star Trek narratives unfold as a basis for how this would unfold. How the fiction works as an animal; that sort of thing.
     
  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    On the one hand I think Our Heroes underestimate the collective. On the other, I feel like the Borg are so overbearing that it's hard to blame Our Heroes for grasping at any threads of hope they might have available to them.

    "This silly picture will almost certainly have no impact on the Borg whatsoever...on the other hand, it may just cause a total system failure."
    "...Well hell, we have nothing better to do and no other ideas right now..."
     
  12. King Bob!

    King Bob! The King of Kings Premium Member

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    Data says it will work. I'm putting my money on Data.
     
  13. JesterFace

    JesterFace Fleet Captain Commodore

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    It made sense in the way that the individuals the Borg assimilate are known to be individuals and the individuality is wiped out. When they came to rescue Hugh, the Borg didn't know he was an individual, just another drone, so Hugh didn't go through the usual "assimilation channels" and could spread individuality to the collective. Basically Hugh was the first individual ever to get inside the hive mind.

    I've always seen the situation as Picard described it, when Hugh is plugged back in to the collective, individuality would spread through the entire collective, not just one ship. The Borg is basically one beign. And Picard knew what he was talking about, he had been a Borg.
     
  14. Finngle Bells

    Finngle Bells Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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    I really really really really doubt Hugh was the first if the Borg were truly ancient as Guinan claimed, or at least out there in the 15th Century.

    It is more than probable that the Borg encountered powers with ideals, technology and cultural diversity similar to that of the Federation time to time in all those centuries... At least a few of them probably are inside Borg Space by the time of Voyager's return home.
     
  15. socialjiism

    socialjiism Ensign Newbie

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    Yeah but in "Best Of Both Worlds" their plan is to assimilate all of humanity and everyone else too, including the Klingons, so what you say makes no sense. "I, Borg" acts like their modus operandi has always been to assimilate, I mean Hugh even says "we assimilate species, then we know everything about them, then we know everything about them", and even if what you said were true, they still assimilated Picard, an individual. So the idea is just a rushed and kinda lame attempt to put a good spin on the idea of using Hugh to destroy the Borg. That being said I like "I Borg and "Descent", both are very good episodes.

    Ah, fair enough.


    Then why didn't Picard affect the Borg cube in BOBW?

    Also on a side note, I just find it interesting Hugh was to appear in All Good things in early drafts, I do wish they had kept the BOBW timeline in it.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Of course it doesn't make complete sense, because there was some inconsistency in how they approached the idea. After all, Maurice Hurley created the Borg, but he was gone by the time the later Borg episodes were written. The concept of the Borg was constantly evolving and changing, as is often the case in a series that's the creation of many minds. We tend to look back on it as a unified whole, filtered through our later understanding, but a lot about the concept was in flux throughout TNG. As I said, the original idea in "Q Who" was that drones were incubated and had no identity or species other than Borg. Yes, BOBW did nominally introduce the concept of assimilating individuals, but "I, Borg" and "Descent" did not use that idea except in the context of its effect on Picard -- it's obvious from both stories that the drones were intended to be pure drones with no history, no identity, no prior personality. As I said, that's why they were so susceptible to influence, whether by Geordi in Hugh's case or by Lore in the others'. They were blank slates. They had no prior lives to remember. Again, the ideas were in flux and evolved gradually. Just because the idea of assimilation was introduced in BOBW, that doesn't mean it instantly became the exclusive, default origin for drones. The idea post-BOBW may have been that some drones were assimilated, but it was not until Voyager that it became the default assumption that all drones were assimilated. Maybe the idea in TNG was that only "first-generation" drones were assimilated and that subsequent generations of the same population were incubated from birth.

    Really, it never made much sense for VGR to assume that 100 percent of drones were assimilated, given that "Q Who" had shown us incubators right off the bat. Granted, you can tell more interesting stories about assimilated drones rediscovering their identity than you can about blank slates, so I can see why the concept evolved in that direction, but it still doesn't mean that it follows for every drone ever to be assimilated. Indeed, they could've potentially done something interesting with the contrast between assimilated and "native-born" drones.


    Because Picard was an individual with a pre-existing personality, so the assimilation process would've included steps to suppress that personality. Hugh was a blank-slate incubated drone, so the Collective wouldn't have used the same protocols that they'd use for an unwilling assimilatee. The assumption would've been that he could just be plugged back into the interface and go back to being an interchangeable part.
     
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  17. socialjiism

    socialjiism Ensign Newbie

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    I know the writers constantly contradicted themselves, as is true in all fiction, but that doesn't explain it in any case. If they are assimilating individuals on a regular basis and as their MO, which "I, Borg" says, and they did before the episode, then the plan literally makes no sense and is just an attempt to put a positive (lame) spin on it. I like where they went with it in Descent though, which a lot of people don't like for some reason, but I think is solid.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Hmm, okay; I looked over the "I, Borg" transcript, and Hugh does talk specifically about Geordi being assimilated and given tech like Hugh has. So the idea of individual assimilation was there, I grant.

    But, again, I think the key was that Hugh's individuality was something they wouldn't see coming. It wouldn't be a non-Borg's individuality being suppressed by the assimilation process; it'd be the experience of a Borg drone who learned on his own to be an individual for the first time, and who decided he preferred it. So it would come from within, from a specifically Borg-ish place, and that would make it different. Although I concede that that is kind of a stretch, and I can see why you find it inconsistent.
     
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  19. socialjiism

    socialjiism Ensign Newbie

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    They wouldn't see it coming despite assimilating individuals all the time, thereby "the sense and knowledge of individuality being spread throughout the collective"?

    First Contact and Voyager didn't really change much in that regard (the Borg Queen's a different matter), BOBW stated their MO was now to assimilate all civilizations and make them "one with the Borg", and I Borg and Descent act as if this MO is common knowledge of the Borg, so to me, it still makes no sense, but it sorta worked anyway. I like all three episodes, esp I Borg, so I'm not judging them based on this,
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, like I said, if it arises from within a pure drone with no prior personality, then that might make it different than a pre-existing identity that comes from outside the Collective and is suppressed. I think that ideas that come from within ourselves can have more transformative power than ideas that come to us from outside. Or, to look at it another way, think of it as an autoimmune disorder rather than an infection, an attack from within rather than without.


    Yeah, but the difference is that the TNG episodes only talked about it while the later stuff showed it. Theory vs. practice. In TNG, there was never any indication that Hugh or the "Descent" drones or any drones other than Locutus had any prior identities. Yes, they talked in the abstract about assimilating humans and so forth, but they didn't show it except with Picard. Voyager actually showed it and used it on a regular basis. The basic concept was the same, but the way it was handled was completely opposite. When Hugh was severed from the Collective, all he wanted was to return to it. He'd never known anything else. The whole story of "Descent" depended on the fact that the drones had no identity except as drones and thus were easy marks for Lore. But when drones in VGR were severed from the Collective, they usually remembered their former lives and identities, with Seven being the exception because she'd been assimilated so young.


    This has nothing to do with judging. Pointing out a difference between two things does not require picking a winner and a loser. The point is merely to understand the difference. In this case, I think it's interesting to track how the concept of the Borg evolved over the course of the franchise. Understanding the change in how the writers approached it at different times helps explain why some episodes' approach seems incompatible with others'.