31st Mar2009

gotcha borg band-aid sucka!?

by jerad.formby


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People love to complain about Enterprise. Enterprise is definitely the new Voyager. Complaints began as early as the concept was finally released in April of 2001. Trekkies were slamming their fists into their palms and saying thinks like, “what? Well they better do this… they better do that…”

Very few of the fans I’ve spoken to actually thought it was a good idea. Most hated the concept from the word “prequel.” They needed more 24th century stuff. They wanted that or they wanted to go waaaaay forward with it. They thought backward was pointless. Backward didn’t impact any of the politics or relationships that they cared about. I knew that was the point though. You can only get your Cardassian/Romulan/Klingon political dynamics on for so long before suddenly those politics have overshadowed the frickin point of the show –people in space under pressure!

If the past had anything on TNG, it was bringing back the “under pressure” element to the Nth degree. These guys were gonna be the first Humans out there. They would live and work on the only starship in a big, black, uncharted void. That sounds like a very scary dammed show to me. So I welcomed Enterprise with opened arms.

And they delivered on the spooky. The Vulcan charts were only part reliable, the Vulcans themselves weren’t who we thought they were, and frickin Reed and Tucker trapped in a Shuttlepod for an entire ep??? Nice stuff. Not one hundred percent every time, but definitely coming together. Definitely working. But then they did the unthinkable in the second season. Space wasn’t scary enough so they decided to dust off a fan favorite just for grins. It wasn’t for grins really though; it was because Enterprise was blowing away down the ratings tunnel and they had to try something, they had to try anything. They needed Star Trek’s greatest band-aid. Star Trek’s personal emergency hypospray. Star Trek’s EMH. They needed the Borg.

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The Borg were the most chilling thing to ever happen for our Next Generation allies. An unspeakable horror because they were unresponsive to the way Next Gen characters liked to handle things: by chatting. Most crises in Jean Luc’s career were solved with his assertive diplomatic skills. Now, for the first time, he had an enemy that wasn’t interested in speaking. They weren’t even interested in the usual pranks that make a good enemy. The Borg, when they were first introduced, was the TNG crews’ worst nightmare.

That simple Borg formula of “Resistance is Futile” became akin to an espresso beverage for Star Trek fans. They loved being scared and for the first time since tiny bugs crawled in people’s ears, Star Trek was scary for the first time.

Amazingly however, the Next Generation didn’t revisit the Borg all that often. They didn’t have to. They could rock a story from week to week without relying on everyone’s favorite cyber-menace.

When they did revisit them, however, they did alter them a little bit from what we’d seen before. I’m all for a little growth. “The Best of Both Worlds” introduced the idea of the “spokesperson” for worlds to be assimilated. I’m down with that. The concept of “I Borg” and creating an individual from the monster is both a logical progression and a very Next Generation story. I really hate “Decent” but not so much for the new Borg being controlled by someone but because that “someone” is Data’s evil twin brother –one of the worst concepts in the Star Trek flow.

The reason that “Decent” works for me is the same reason the Daleks in Doctor Who work for me. They are established to be one way. They continue to be that way. If you meet Daleks that aren’t behaving the right way, there is an interesting story being told about a particular sect or group of them. That’s what happens in “Decent.” We are paid off for Hugh and we see an alteration of one particular group of the Borg. It doesn’t change anything about the whole concept of the Borg, just a handful of strangely individualistic ones.

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The Next Generation ratings were so high when it ended that its final episode commanded money from advertisers akin to that years’ super bowl. When the crew of the Enterprise D went out, they didn’t go out with the Borg either. They didn’t have to resort to bringing back that old crowd favorite.

First Contact was a box-office smash. The formula for success was combining time travel (Star Trek IV) with everyone’s favorite seemingly faceless enemy. This is where my problems with the Borg begin.

Firstly, the Borg are supposedly only interested in technology. They aren’t supposed to be capable of vendetta –or most certainly singling out a single race for assimilation. They are like a great big man eating shark that moseys through space, finds tech it wants, goes there, takes it, and takes whatever biological life it thinks will help it. There is no plan. That’s what was so freakin’ scary about them. In the end, the Borg should have been treated more and more like a spreading virus or disease, not a space faring race with its own aspirations and goals.

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It’s as if I had a cold that wanted to infect one specific person. We all know my cold wants to infect all of you in whatever order it can.

So our big bank Star Trek action movie introduced us to a new layer of the Borg –apparently they really wanted our species very badly. They wanted us more than anybody else in point of fact. Do you realize how much they wanted us? This seemingly viral and incomprehensible monster? They wanted us so badly that they opened up a time vortex in an effort to assimilate us in the past.

How did we get so special??? Jeez Louise, apparently we really burned their butt that one time at the “Best of Both Worlds.” I guess the Borg don’t like being defeated, not even once. In fact, should the Borg be defeated, they will mutate. They will transform into an entirely new enemy. They will become a Lokai to their original Bela.

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Q told us lots of scary things when we first saw the Borg. One of them was: “It’s not interested in you, only your technology.” So now the Borg decide that our technology isn’t worth assimilation, they would rather take us out before we invent anything cool –before we invent warp drive even. This concept goes against everything I loved about those bio-menace-bas*@#ds!

The Borg in this movie weren’t part of any weird sect. I could have accepted that. They were no abnormal Borg hiccup that might have explained this strangely uncharacteristic approach –heck no! It was their characteristic the whole time, didn’t you know? Hey, not only was the Borg’s true nature the exact opposite of what we all new and came to love… it turns out that there was someone running the show too!

The Borg Queen. I want my money back. It’s like Rob Zombie taking the teeth out of Micheal Myers.

I see why they did it. I could see why they wanted Picard to have a face he could talk against. They were trying to rub a touch of “Wraith of Khan” on a species that had no Khan. So they just changed it. Just flippin’ changed it to something a little more comprehensible. The Borg had to become an enemy with a face that can be punched and defeated.

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That just tells me that they might have considered just doing the whole plot with the Romulans. I think traveling back in time to kick someone’s backside is a perfectly Romulan thing to do – guess that’s what’s up this May, check your calendar.

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As Voyager’s ratings were ailing, the talk among many Star Trek fans was “omigod! They’re in the delta quadrant! That means the Borg are gonna show up soon!” I was already over the Borg by the time Janeway got there. First Contact had done everything to deflate Trek’s greatest enemy. And yup. There she is, the Borg Queen… now way more interested in Annika then she should be. The Borg became more important to Voyager than any of its crew members. Week to week the menace was encountered and defeated and yawn.

The series finale was Borg and time travel. I hope you can all read that’s the formula that makes me want to punch my own face.

So once Voyager went off the air, a very bold new Star Trek series was created. You know what it was and I know each of you have your own ideas about what you’d have liked to see. So imagine your NX-01 as primitive as you want. The tech as bulky as you want. Imagine your own crew members (I’m going to be calling John Archer “Jack” in my scenes, cause it’s way cooler than just going with “John” –ain’t that right, Jim Kirk?). I also call dibs on Atomic Bombs.

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You are the proud owner of a new Star Trek series. Thank you for taking this time to read these instructions before engaging in any Star Trek writing, Star Trek character creation, or Star Trek ship design.

As you probably already know, your Star Trek heralds from a long and cherished history. It has been time tested and its fan base goes on and on indefinitely. What you do with your Star Trek series is entirely up to you, but please take the time to consider that your Star Trek series will most likely need a first aid kit.

There are times when your Star Trek will stumble, your Star Trek will bleed, and your Star Trek might even catch the unthinkable: decline in viewership. This is why you are implored to consider building one of these first aid kits just for this sort of emergency.

Around the second season, you may have to hop into that kit and nurse your Star Trek back to health. You’ll have to rub some Borg on it. Even if it’s just a reference… how ever much you want to apply.

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Also, keep in mind that your multi-million dollar ride complex in Las Vegas just might need a little Borg too in case it starts limping.

Rick Berman and Brannon Braga certainly did. The worst part? It didn’t even work.

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And now we have to have Star Trek invented by new people.

Maybe it just takes more than a band-aid.

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  • son of worf

    I think Enterprise had great potential, but Berman & Braga kept retreating into something that was familiar to them. The first season had some good stuff, but, it always felt too familiar. This was supposed to be a retro series that would have tied in with TOS. They made too much out of the Temporal Cold War and bringing back the Ferengi & Borg in Season 2 was a sign of the beginning of the end.
    Three years ago I was a sci fi convention in Towson MD. They had a discussion room on how to save Trek. This was way before we were hearing that they were making a new movie based on TOS. Even though Enterprise had problems I still watched it from start to finish. I thought the fourth season was the best. It repaired the damage don by the previous seasons. However, I didn’t like the series Finale. It wasn’t a bad expisode, but, it was a horrible send off to the cast of enterprise. Also, I had a problem with after 10 years, nobody has been promoted? Mayweather & Hoshi are still ensigns? Reed should have been a full commander by now.
    I remember when they said ratings were down in season 2, Berman/Braga’s solution was the Xindi conflict. I didn’t mind the Xindi conflict, but, this was not going to save Enterprise. If they used the material for the fourth season during the third season, I’m convinced Enterprise would have had a longer run. Maybe even, the traditional seven year.
    I hope the this new movie is good and breathes some new life into the franchise and brings fans back who left. Also, theres a talk of Bryan Fuller trying to reboot Star Trek for the small screen. Good show as always guys. Live long and prosper.

  • VegasAndorian

    Damn, J-rad, I just got a great image for this post. Pic of you standing in front of the borg display right by the ride navigator stand at the Experience. You’re holding a hammer. Caption reads: “In case of poor ratings, break glass.”

  • zancho

    Are you my mommy?

  • Annika

    Was totally excited about this website!
    …Until I came across this post.
    Voyager gets no love!
    So many awesome qualities about this series, yet people b!tch and moan about the borg presence.
    Get over it!!!
    Bah! 🙁

  • jerad.formby

    Hey Annika!

    Voyager gets love. It’s the Borg that can’t get love.