We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technical distinctiveness to our own. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.
– The Borg
I’ve been thinking about the Borg a lot lately. After watching the season 8 finale to the new Doctor Who, which featured the Cybermen, who are essentially the original Borg, they’ve been on my mind. Recently, I got the chance to watch a bit of Star Trek: First Contact, the first (and currently only) feature length movie with the Borg. I came in a half hour late, watched on and off (because I came in late), and had to leave around a half hour early. It was a really good movie, and I’ll look forward to the whole thing when I get the chance to see it full through. But while I was watching it, I realized that the Borg were really terrifying. And that got me thinking: why?
Well, first thing’s first. The Borg are here to assimilate you. There’s not really much you can do about that, but I’ll touch on that a bit later. Anything that’s there to take you away from everything you’ve ever known and turn you into something that you’re not, purely for the service of doing the same to others is scary. Anything that creeps out of the darkness with malicious intent (see above) is scary. There’s a deep seated, almost primal fear about something that you really can’t pin down, or anything that you know you can’t stop.
Back to the original note in that paragraph. One of the most terrifying things about the Borg is that they are nigh unkillable. Taking on their ship for the first time, (in TNG’s season 2 episode “Q Who?“) Captain Picard found that they actually regenerated they’re injuries, meaning that however hard the Enterprise-D hit them, they would always come back and hit harder. Once on the ship, they found that the Borg would quickly adapt to their weapons. They could only kill one or two of the Borg before the entire collective adapted, making their phasers effectively useless. You could keep switching settings (I think there are 16 on a basic handheld phaser), but that would get old pretty fast.
No matter what happens, the Borg would just keep walking. Yes, I have never seen a Borg run. They always walk, like they have all the time in the world. And really, they do. When all of your enemy’s weapons are useless, and you’re able to take whatever they launch at you, make it better, and then throw it back, there’s not really much of a contest. In addition to that, they can teleport around, and get the drop on you pretty easily. Anyone who’s played the game Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force has experienced all of the Borg’s terrors firsthand. Personally, I watched a play-through on Youtube, but’s it pretty close to the real thing. At one point in The Next Generation, (season 3’s The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 and season 4’s The Best of Both Worlds Part 2) the Borg actually assimilated captain Picard.
Plus, I find the Borg to be a lot more interesting than their Cyberman counterparts. During that developments that all happened in the season five episode of The Next Generation, “I, Borg“, the enterprise crew encountered a lone Borg Drone who was separated from the collective. Taking it in to study, they all ended up befriending it, and affectionately naming it Hugh. Over time, the crew began to teach Hugh about humanity, and he started to change. They successfully stopped Starfleet from using Hugh as a bomb, and returned him to the collective. Once Hugh returned to the Borg, a whole new dynamic was introduced. Now, there’s a rogue faction of Borg who can feel emotions and consider themselves separate from the collective, led by Hugh.
Ultimately though, the scariest thing about the Borg is not how they walk, or how they all interact, or even how they ignore you until they see you as a threat. The scariest thing about the Borg is that when they finally catch you, they can turn you into something that you’re not. Once you are assimilated, you are part of the collective, an unthinking drone whose only purpose is to seek out others and condemn them to the same fate. Essentially, the Borg can take away my humanity. To me, that’s the scariest thing off all.