Does anyone else agree that The Borg are a lot less menacing now, than they were in "Q Who?" or "The Best of Both Worlds"?

The Borg worked as one mind. No emotion, just a cold and scary enemy. They adapted, and didn't take any shit from anyone. You will be assimilated. Period.

"The Best of Both Worlds" went deeper into what The Borg were all about. Picard was kidnapped and assimilated. Locutus was not a leader, but simply a figurehead to represent the Borg during Earth's attempted assimilation. If Earth had been assimilated, Picard would have became "Just Another Drone." Riker had to whip out some bad-ass technique to defeat them. They adapted, but screwed up because they didn't anticipate Riker's actions. The only way to defeat The Borg was by creative strategy, not head-butting battle.

Then, "Star Trek: First Contact" comes along. A great movie, with the exception of the Borg Queen. She is an individual - totally against what the Borg were originally portrayed as. She has emotion, is evil, and embodies a weakness in the Borg. (Destroy the Queen, and fuck up some Borg! - Stupid.) The Borg were a hell of an enemy as a single collective, but here comes this gimpy drone to lead them all. She got screwed because she trusted Data a bit too much. (If it were the REAL Borg, trust, emotion, collaboration....would have all been irrelevant.)

And now, there's Unimatrix Zero. This episode of Voyager was painful for me to watch. A Borg Soap Opera! "We go to this beautiful place when we regenerate, but we assimilate and kill when we're awake." And of course, Janeway rushes in to negotiate with the Borg Queen. (Negotiation is irrelevant, dammit!)

*Sigh*, I'll miss the good ol' days when The Borg were a real enemy. "The Best of Both Worlds" was a suspenseful episode - genuinely scary in some parts. Now? Borg drones fight with themselves in an identity crisis, and attend Group Therapy in Unimatrix Zero.

But hey, We'll always have Paris.

My problem with the Borg is that, initially, they were meant to unite the Federation, Romulan and Klingon empires. They were this immensly powerful race of cyborgs, and the crew of the USS Enterprise couldn't reason with them in one episode. Not only did it take the benevolance of Q to save Jean-Luc Picard and friends, but they even scared Guinan. Anyway, big bad enemy is unstoppable. A few short years after the Borg destroyed the armada at Wolf 359, three cubes are being pummeled by the Federation, and the Borg resort to time travel! And a race with no individuals has a queen? They are not an insect hive, but a collective consciousness! A once nearly-omnipotent race resorts to plot tricks??? At least they made a reference to this happening in the next piece of cr... I mean movie. Oh wait, it was Star Treks II through IV that made sense. Oh well maybe something will actually happen in the Star Trek universe that has an iota of consistency.

I agree that the Borg aren't as scary as they used to be, and if I didn't have such terrible memories of being frightened by those damn scary Borg as a child, I'd want the old Borg back too. Understand, though, that what the Star Trek writers have done to the Borg, they've done to every villanous race that they've ever created. Here's the formula:

1. First, create an enemy species/empire. Make it powerful, incomprehensible, and foreign. Not only that, but evil badasses. For example
  • The Borg- they're incomprehensible because the whole concept of a hive-mind is one that's almost impossible for us to conceive of. Also, as a collective, they represent the Soviets, so that the entire Cold War indoctrination regimen can be recalled against them.
  • The Dominion- Appeal to our paranoia; They could be anybody...
2. Spend a couple of episodes, over one or more seasons, having said enemy establish its power and fearsomeness. You can also do this by providing background information. For example
  • The Borg- undefeatable, scary with those goddamn nanoprobes hidiously disconfiguring their victims. Wholescale slaughter- Wolf 359.
  • The Cardassians- Smooth and sinister Nazi style concentration camp backstory provided at the beginning of Deep Space Nine.
3. And then- deconstruct! Take an individual from the offending alien species and present him or her as vulnerable and cuddly, or at least heroic and noble. For example In fact, this patten is often manefested in micro- form in one or a short series of episodes. Star Trek has always been preachy, and its overstated message tells us not to hate, because the enemy is just like us. However, naturally, its also fun to be scared shitless, and fun to triumph and blow things up and not feel bad about it. Hence, screenwriters constantly churning out new enemies for us to hate and fear.



Chiisuta makes the perfectly reasonable comment that the above progression may be unavoidable: "the less we know about an enemy, the scarier his is. but it would be impossible for the next gen kids to keep running into the borg and not learn anything about them. the more you learn, the less frightening they are. of course we discovered weaknesses. this is especially true of science fiction."
The thing that initially made the Borg frightening, at least for me, was the fact that they were so adaptable. You couldn't (easily) defeat them with brute force, so you needed to come up with tricks, find loopholes, and try to somehow outsmart them. The problem is that the same trick would never work twice.

Unfortunately, the writers of the various series (The Next Generation and Voyager in particular) decided they didn't need to invest their creative energy into conceiving new tricks, and instead used the same one over and over, one the Borg incomprehensibly weren't able to grasp.

Just about every seemingly hopeless confrontation was overcome by a small team of courageous Federation officers beaming aboard a Borg ship and doing something nasty to its insides. This was possible because the Borg never attacked or even tried to detain intruders on their ships unless they posed a direct threat. WHY they indulged in this uncharacteristically pacifistic behaviour is a mystery, especially considering how often it foiled their evil plots. Perhaps they held onto the hope that THIS TIME, the visitors were bringing them some fantastic technological gift which they, in spite of their massive consciousness and collected knowledge from just about every species around, hadn't thought of yet.

A more minor element in the series that ruined the Borg's scare factor was how comically clumsy they all were. The point of melding humanoids and robots, at least as far as I can see, was to produce a superior being to either one of these. You'd think, then, that they could make soldiers that didn't walk as though they had a large steel rod up their colon, and had SOME kind of ranged weapon. Alas.

Whilst I would agree that the Borg were more apparently vulnerable whenever they were encountered by Voyager, the most recently broadcast Borg episode of Star Trek was Regeneration and was, in my opinion, a classic Borg episode.

Regeneration was an episode of Enterprise and I feel that it captured the feeling of earlier Borg encounters with the only-just-able-to-survive story.

The outline of the episode is that humans at a polar research facility discover the frozen corpses of several cyborgs whilst exploring the area. These corpses are those of Borg who were in the Borg craft which crashed in the film Star Trek VIII: First Contact. These Borg regenerate themselves and assimilate the humans at the facility and their ship, and leave earth to contact their own people. Enterprise is informed of this and finds the ship when they receive a distress call from a Tarkalean ship being attacked by the now-Borg vessel.

Enterprise rescues the occupants of the damaged ship but they have already started to turn into Borg and inject nanoprobes into Doctor Phlox in order to assimilate him also.

What occurs after this is a classic encounter with the Borg in which part of Enterprise is assimilated and they only just manage to get out of the situation alive.

Whilst a slight continuity error exists (the Borg were apparently first encountered by the Enterprise-D), this is explained by reference to the events of Star Trek VIII: First Contact. I feel that the episode was executed very well and had the tension of early "The Next Generation" encounters with the Borg.

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