For over 30 years, the cybernetic humanoids called the Borg have been Star Trek‘s most popular villains. But the season two finale of Star Trek: Picard just made some massive changes to this race, perhaps for all of time. Read on to see what has happened to the galaxy’s most dangerous hive mind, and what their future in the Star Trek universe might be.
A Brief History of the Borg Collective
Ever since the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Q Who” aired in 1989, the Borg have been the biggest threat to the Federation, and the entire Alpha Quadrant. The Borg Collective, for those unaware of Star Trek’s cybernetic race of conquerors, is a hive mind that has existed for centuries. And has assimilated most of the distant Delta Quadrant. This is the area of space, some 70 years away from Earth, where the USS Voyager found themselves stranded for seven years.
Resistance Is Futile
Via their very advanced technology, assimilated from thousands of species across the galaxy, the Borg met almost no match wherever they went. To paraphrase their motto, “resistance was futile.” But in the Federation, they found their most persistent adversary. Despite coming close to assimilating Earth several times (TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds,” Star Trek: First Contact), Starfleet always stopped them.
The Borg’s Endgame
The biggest blow to the collective came when Captain Janeway of Voyager disabled their transwarp hubs, isolating the Borg from the Alpha Quadrant. This occurred in the Star Trek: Voyager series finale, “Endgame.” These hubs allowed them to go much further distances than traditional warp drive. Without these hubs, it effectively blocked them from invading Federation space.
A New Queen
But the biggest change to the Borg just happened on Star Trek: Picard. After the Borg Queen from an alternate 2400 goes back in time to the 21st Century, she takes over the consciousness of human scientist Agnes Jurati (also from the year 2400). After a mental tug of war between both minds, the Borg Queen sublimates Jurati’s consciousness. But ultimately Jurati’s stronger personality surfaces, and asserts itself.
Jurati and the Borg Queen would eventually share a body, and create a new Borg Collective. One that would not forcefully assimilate people, and would embrace the distinctiveness and individuality of its members. A hive mind still, but one which embraced its individual minds within. Assimilations wouldn’t come from attacks, but voluntarily to those found injured or dying in space.
Guardians at the Gate
What we learn in the Picard season two finale is that this secondary Borg collective grew over 400 years. In the year 2400 Agnes is still the Borg Queen. The new Borg Queen created a Collective that would not forcefully assimilate people and would embrace the distinctiveness and individuality of its members. When they join with Starfleet to stop a destructive spatial anomaly, they formally request membership in the Federation. When a mysterious transwarp conduit forms in space, from an unknown (enemy?) alien species, the volunteer to act as “guardians at the gate.”
The Collective Evolves
This fundamentally changes the Borg as we know them. We presume that the traditional Borg Collective is presumably still out there (albeit harmed by their experiences with Voyager.) But this new Borg has embraced individuality in a successful way. Trek fans will remember something similar that happened once before.
In the TNG episode “I Borg,” the drone nicknamed Hugh by the Enterprise crew developed a sense of individuality. When he returned to the collective, that sense of self spread like a virus. Many other Borg drones were liberated. Once lost, they fell under the sway of the android Lore. Ultimately, these freed Borg were few, and didn’t evolve into something greater.
“Adding Biological and Technological Distinctiveness”
Jurati’s Borg Collective is clearly different. The Collective has had 400 years to grow and evolve, and we see in the year 2400 they have clearly become strong. Their vessel has traditional Borg elements, but is also much more organic. It’s not shaped like a cube or a sphere. It shows they have evolved their thinking. So what is the future of this new Borg? Well, we might see it play out in the final season of Picard. They are clearly protecting the Alpha Quadrant from a greater threat. That threat might be what brings the TNG crew back together.
A Future in the Federation
But the future of the Borg might be more fascinating to witness on Star Trek: Discovery. The past two seasons of Discovery have taken viewers into a distant future. One over 800 years from where we are in the Picard timeline. Did the Borg fully integrate into the Federation? What became of this new iteration of Starfleet’s most deadly enemy? So far, we haven’t seen the Borg at all in Discovery’s future. The show could have simply waited for Picard to deal with the Borg before they made any big reveals about the Collective on a different series.
But now that they have, we hope the franchise explores how the Federation’s lethal enemy evolved into perhaps its greatest member. Once, the Klingons were Starfleet’s biggest threat. Decades later, Worf was on the bridge of the Enterprise. Let’s see a similar, hopeful evolution to this cybernetic race. Because Star Trek isn’t about stagnation. It’s always about learning and growing, and building on the past to get to a better future. Let’s hope we see this happen for the Borg.