Fans of Star Trek: Discovery are increasingly wondering if the show might be leading us on a new exploration of the origin of the Borg. But other fans just don’t think that’s happening at all. Here’s a look at the theory that’s gaining traction, with spoilers through Season 2 Episode 11, “Perpetual Infinity.”
Could the AI from the Future Become the Borg?
The Borg origin theory supposes that the AI that came from the future and infiltrated Control might be the predecessor to the Borg. Some fans argue that because the AI’s ultimate goal is to destroy biological life, while the Borg’s goal is to assimilate, the two species are incompatible and the theory is wrong. But others say that if the AI can learn from its mistakes, then it might change its mind about destroying all biological life.
Here are some of the connections fans are drawing to the Borg in Discovery.
On recent episodes of Discovery, some scenes and plot developments have caused viewers to draw parallels to the Borg. For example, on Episode 10 when the AI took over Section 31’s ship, Captain Leland was stabbed in the eye — a visual that reminded some of the Borg. But that particular scene was minor compared to Lt. Commander Airiam, who showed that the Federation has already made huge strides in combining humans with technology. Airiam is a cyborg. She was injured so badly that many of her body parts were replaced with computer technology. But when the AI took over her mind, she had to be killed.
This leaves some fans wondering: is part of the AI still in Airiam? Could it ultimately use the knowledge of how her body was “melded” with technology to create the idea that assimilation is good?
Other fans point to Leland’s hand in the promo for Season 2 Episode 11 that looks very “veiny.” This reminds them of the Borg.
Here’s the full promo:
When you watch the assimilation process by the Borg, you can understand why people are picking up on similarities from the eye stab and the veiny hands:
Now that Episode 11 has aired, the comparisons are almost impossible to miss. The Control AI took over Leland’s entirely, essentially assimilating him. At one point, you could even see silver computer-like implants coming out of his face. Some have said that what was really happening was that his internal body was being taken over and turned into a robot with just skin on top. Here’s a photo shared on Reddit of what was happening:
Well, that reminds me quite a bit of the Borg Queen. If you recall, she was mostly skin on top of a robot body too, although very different:
But that’s not where the similarities end with Leland. Weapon fire didn’t “phase” him, just like the Borg. Green nanites were shown injected into his neck like the Borg and he had grey blood like the Borg. And let’s not forget when he said “Struggle is pointless,” which is pretty much just an early version of “Resistance is futile.”
As for the “different missions,” that could be explained easily enough. Maybe Control is defeated and realizes the only chance it has at ultimate superiority and defeating biologicals is by assimilating biologicals’ intelligence. Or maybe it can’t get all the Sphere’s data, so realizes it just needed to assimilate biologicals in order to obtain basically the same data.
Of course, Discovery would have to do some pretty smart manipulation and some time traveling to make it fit with the canon we have so far regarding Star Trek and The Borg.
Here’s a Review of the Borg’s Canon Origin History on Star Trek
On Star Trek: Voyager, we learned that the Borg have been around for more than 900 years. Seven of Nine said that they were in existence before humanity was industrialized. However, Seven also said that the earliest Borg history is fragmented and little information from those earliest days has survived. Guinan, however, has said on The Next Generation that the Borg existed for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Borg Queen was first introduced in First Contact and then played a significant role on Voyager. In the movie, the Borg went back in time to 2063 to stop Zefram Cochrane’s first contact and erase Starfleet from existence. Enterprise-E also goes back in time and restores the timeline.
In First Contact, the Borg Queen said that the Borg were once “flawed and weak” like humanity, but gradually evolved into a partially synthetic species as they sought to evolve and improve themselves.
It’s worth pointing out again that Guinan’s timeline and Voyager’s seem to contradict. On Voyager, an alien Gedrin said that around 1482 (about 900 years earlier), the Borg were just a minor nuisance in the Delta Quadrant and had just assimilated a few colonies at that point.
Meanwhile on Enterprise, some Borg were discovered in the episode Regeneration.
These 24th Century drones were from First Contact and had been frozen in the Arctic. They were able to send a message to the Delta Quadrant during the 22nd Century, which explained why the Borg were already on their way to the Federation when Q first “introduced” Picard and the Enterprise to the Borg. Although that was technically the first time humanity and Starfleet knew the Borg to be the threat they were, it wasn’t the first time chronologically that humans had ever encountered the Borg.
In summary, what we do know is that the Borg seem to have originated in the Delta Quadrant. We don’t know exactly how long ago they were formed, but they were only a minor nuisance 900 years before Voyager. They started out as a weak, human-like species that evolved over time.
How Could a ‘Discovery’ Borg Origin Story Fit with Canon?
So how could this fan theory actually fit with canon?
The idea is that time travel and the spore drive would come into play. The spore drive is the only technology that could possibly send a proto-Borg all the way to the Delta Quadrant. We also have a time-traveling suit in the form of the Red Angel. Perhaps the AI uses both technologies to travel to the Delta Quadrant, hundreds of years in the past.
We’ll assume, for the sake of this theory, that the Federation is ultimately successful in stopping the AI from its goal of destroying all biological life. Perhaps the AI learns that because biological life almost killed it, now it needs to assimilate biological life to ensure its own survival. Before it’s sent into the Delta Quadrants’ past, it develops a desire to assimilate the intellect of the species that almost killed it, so it can survive better next time.
Over the years, the AI’s actual origin is lost and its knowledge of humanity is also somehow lost. When it finally does meet humanity again, this triggers a curiosity that explains why the Borg just can’t leave humanity alone. This theory would explain the Borg’s obsession with assimilation and its obsession with humanity, but it requires some extensive time travel to make it work.
Some fans love the theory, but others think it would cheapen the idea of the Borg. However, since Discovery is a prequel, they have to be careful about introducing a brand new enemy that might possibly disturb canon. So the producers might prefer to work with already-known enemies and explore how they came about.
Still another sign fans point to when they say the Borg can’t originate from Discovery is that the Borg refer to humans as Species 5618 by the Borg, which might indicate that we were not even close to the first species the Borg discovered. But others argue that there’s no reason to assume these designations are in chronological order. Or maybe the proto-Borg AI bases its first set of designations on designations within the probe that Discovery found in An Obol for Charon.
There’s also that pesky detail of the Borg trying to stop humanity from achieving warp technology at all. If the Borg originated from Discovery, they’d be eliminating their own creation with their plan in First Contact. So they absolutely must forget their origin for this theory to work.
In summary, tt seems that the best way a Borg origin story would work in Discovery is if this proto-Borg is very different from the Borg we see later and the Borg lost their own history of how they began. This would explain why Starfleet records didn’t reveal a previous encounter with a species similar to the Borg when they first appear on the scene in The Next Generation.
You can join the author’s email list for updates on Star Trek and other scifi shows. Choose the scifi and fantasy TV option when you sign up.