Was V’Ger a Borg?

The crew confronts V'Ger
THIS? JAMES TIBERIUS KIRK was afraid of THIS? (Picture: Copyright Paramount Pictures, who have Star Trek going for them and that's about it until the inevitable Transformers "reboot.")

Recently on Twitter, @TheNeedsOfMany brought to light that according to the “Shatnerverse,” everyone’s favorite octogenarian ham has put out into Star Trek lore that the Borg were actually responsible for V’Ger.

If you don’t recall V’Ger, it was the somewhat lame recycled plot device from The Changeling the antagonist from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Though if you’re reading this blog and you don’t know Star Trek intimately enough to know V’Ger, I’m going to need help remembering how or why you know me. Except for Agent Bun, who may have just learned that Star Trek movies existed.

Anyway, as happens from time to time, it sent me to the Blogoratory!

Honest Thought

So I really did give it an honest thought and I just don’t see how V’Ger could be considered a Borg. The Borg were a meld of organic being and machine, who started as a wonderful illustration about the dangers of a homogeneous dissent–free society, the theoretical antithesis of the Federation, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a diverse society where nobody dissented. (Um…wait a minute…)

Anyway, the Borg are clearly established as the Evil Robocops of the Universe. I’m discounting a lot of the bullcrap they foisted on us in First Contact, V’Ger, on the other hand, was an emotionless machine seeking the ability to evolve and feel emotions. It was able to communicate telepathically with Spock (because they had to have a reason for Nimoy to be in the movie), and Spock came to realize the gift that emotions were.

So on to my reasonings.

Argument A: It’s Shatner

Arguably, Bill Shatner actually knows less about Star Trek than I do. He’s not going to go into the obsessive detail level and reason out why/how something works as a plot point or not.

For Pete’s sake, the guy wrote TekWar. And as much as I might love it, he also helped birth Star Trek V. Not the strongest track record in writing history.

Now I love Shatner as much as the next guy. Possibly more, because he’s done something that everyone else on that show never could (save Nimoy): have a decades-long, meaningful career afterward. (Also, a true pioneer for toupeé technology.) But it’s Shatner.

Argument B: V’Ger Is Purely Machine

Throughout the entire film, V’Ger is purely machine. Granted, it’s a gigantic machine with enormous power output and the willingness to vaporize people in ill-fitting leisure suit uniforms at whim. But it’s still a machine.

Argument C: V’Ger Arguably Becomes a Borg at the End…

Decker Gets Animated
I have yet to find one person describe this film as magical or compelling. Roddenberry got to call it "the end of his career as a movie producer" though. (This picture is also copyright Paramount. I guess. If they want to own up to it.)

But not really. The Borg are purely corporeal beings basically connected over a galaxy-spanning mesh network.

At the end of the film (spoiler!) V’Ger is much more than that.

What, exactly, is open to interpretation. But it involved a poorly-lit set, a half-naked bald chick and hand-animated sparkles.

I’d say a valid interpretation is that it’s a climactic burst of Roddenberry’s ego.

Argument D: Not Everything Needs to Tie Together!

True!

One of the reasons I became so much more selective about what Star Wars “Expanded Universe” titles I read is because the authors became positively obsessed with tying everything in with some other event, whether in another book or one of the films. If the extensive literature is to be believed, every person in the Star Wars galaxy was, at one point or another, “just off camera” in at least one of the films, if not all. They even tied in those poorly–imagined antagonists, the Yuuzhan Vong, to the timeline as far back as Anakin’s childhood.

(For this fan, when Lucas hit the “reset” button with the prequels it was a major relief. Boba Fett’s a bad guy again, not just a stupid anti-hero!)

It makes me want to shake them violently and remind them that their story should be able to stand on its own merit. One of the more egregious examples of needless tie-in was the Star Wars book “Death Star,” which actually did stand on its own until the very end, when they felt the need to have the protagonists be at the Battle of Yavin but “just off-camera.” It was forced, it didn’t flow and it actually detracted from the book. Just have them get away “just before” or something.

And this trap-laden path has captured Star Trek writers before. I remember a particularly egregious episode of Star Trek: Voyager (ironic, right?) wherein they had Tuvok on the crew of the Excelsior during the events of Star Trek VI because George Takei needed a paycheck, and there was some weirdness that killed someone. Only problem is, the character they show dying is in the final shot of Star Trek VI. You can’t see him on the Pan & Scan edition, but in the full aspect ratio…there he is, not just alive but smiling. Just a great example of how this after-the-fact referencing can get you into trouble if you don’t do it right.

Anyway, I know I went a little off-topic there, but the overall point that it ties into is that as a mature Star Wars fan, I’ve learned one important lesson: if it’s in a book and not on film, it’s not official and can be disregarded. Sometimes for the sake of your own sanity, it has to be.

In Closing

Probably about three people have even stuck with this blog up to this point, so I want you to give yourselves a moment to appreciate that accomplishment.

And remember, V’Ger is not Borg. Never was, never will be. That is all.

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23 thoughts on “Was V’Ger a Borg?

  1. Great post!

    I agree with most of what you said, even the part about how V’Ger is not Borg. After all, it isn’t. I mean, it is a very cool idea within the context of the book (and I won’t give more details so not to spoil it for those who haven’t read The Return), but the bottom line is that V’Ger is just a machine. And I could sit here and point out why I think the theory works, but it doesn’t really matter since The Return isn’t even “canon”.

    Also, I’ve got to point out that I love The Motion Picture. Oh, it’s nowhere near the excellence of The Wrath of Khan or The Undiscovered Country, but it’s certainly better than Generations or First Contact.

    And while I would never consider TMP “magical”, I find it fascinating and high in entertainment value. The FX can get a bit monotanous after a while, but TMP has arguably the most spectacular shots of the Enterprise 1701.

    Plus, Spock’s realization that he can’t rid himself of human emotion, and must embrace that part of himself, is a great lead-in to his character development in future movies. Though sadly it takes until The Undiscovered Country to really see that development.

    I’m just glad that all the books aren’t considered “canon”. That would be a nightmare. 🙂

    1. Thanks – you deserve the credit for planting the seeds for it, though. Nerd stuff is often transplanted from Twitter to here. 🙂

      As far as your comment that “it’s certainly better than Generations or First Contact.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s just that the frustrating thing to me is that I can see a great movie hiding in there, trying its hardest to come out. I just think it got lost somewhere in Uhura’s afro and gave up.

  2. I didn’t realize Shatner said V’Ger was a Borg (or created by them). That seems like a ridiculous argument to me. I will also add, in response to TheNeedsofMany, that TMP *was* magical, not as a film but for what it meant to Trekkers like me. It was extremely important that the film was made (even without the hindsight that it would spawn three good sequels and two so-bad-they’re-great sequels). Add to this importance the fact that I was a kid, and you have some real magic on your hands.

    Nevertheless, Shatner is god, and therefore I’m a deeply religious man.

    I’m finished here. 🙂

    1. ” two so-bad-they’re-great sequels”

      Yeah, we all talk about Star Trek IV and forget that Nimoy also delivered us Star Trek III with Ears Dude in the bar.

      Ears Dude haunts my dreams and always will. And I think I just got an idea for my next Improbable Match-Ups blog.

    2. That is true. I’ve actually only been a Trekkie for a year now, so I’m kinda spoiled by the sheer amount of Star Trek available. I can’t imagine what it was like to have that dry spell, and then to hear that TMP was being made.

      1. Frylock is the one most responsible for me becoming a near-Trekkie. I’ve got enough midichlorians in my blood to keep from going completely “that way,” though I can speak the language well enough. :-p

        As a point of fact, the first Trek movie I saw in the theatre was actually with Frylock, and it was…Star Trek V. And I STILL became a big Star Trek fan!

        1. My experience was similar: I watched STXI (thanks to my tech&society class in college) and became Trek-curious. But of course, I didn’t become a Trekkie until I saw TOS 🙂 And I’m just a bit more than near-Trekkie, I think. There’s a happy medium in between just loving the shows and then wearing a Starfleet uniform everywhere LOL

  3. I can’t recall where I heard it first (probably from Ewok Hater), but V’ger as the orignator of the borg (together with that guy from 7th Heaven) made sense to me. V’ger isn’t borg, but her offspring are (is??).

    And don’t forget the lovely 7 of 9 comes to us on what ship? VOYAGER! (See? It all fits!)

    How do you propose the borg came to be?

    1. I don’t speak for J’onn, but as a Trek fan I’m more than happy to answer your question. 🙂 Because it hasn’t been answered in canon, we don’t know how the Borg came to be. There are a near-infinite number of logical explanations, but the point is that V’Ger is not a convenient one for the reasons J’onn stated. Another reason is that we have that (incredibly stupid concept of) the Borg queen (which kills the basic idea behind the Borg). If she were the product of the late Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins (I almost wrote Gary Collins — kill me), and a living computer, I’d be scratching my head saying, “Huh? How do you go from being a light beam composed of a computer, human male, and deltan female floating among other dimensions into some humanoid woman with artificial implants intended to enhance her base humanoid form and trying taking over our dimension?” That’s hardly convenient. You might as well say Noonian Singh created the Borg. It’s unnecessary to force the issue, and this smacks of exactly that. There’s nothing wrong with them being separate concepts, and without a canon-based connection, why force it?

  4. Argument E: V’Ger is the creator of the Borg because V’Ger turned itself into, what it perceived itself, a God. V’Ger created something that was in it’s likeness, but was really bad at it. I mean really bad at it, and the Borg are the product of V’Ger playing God. So, if V’Ger is the genesis of Borg technically, V’Ger is Borg.

    That stemmed from a conversation with Kesseljunkie. Full disclosure: I am not full-on Trek, just Trek-curious, and I only experimented a little in high school and college.

    1. This argument does have its origin in our conversation, but you took it a step too far. V’Ger could be the starting point of the Borg, but that doesn’t make *it* a Borg anymore than if I build a snowman and it makes me a snowman. It may be in my likeness (and what a treat it would be for all to see), but just because I create something doesn’t mean I am that same thing.

      I was merely suggesting that V’Ger as Borg god would be a plausible starting point, not that Borg were some sort of evolutionary after-point.

      I’d say I’m beyond Trek-curious at this point, but I definitely consider it more of a private matter.

          1. It’s when all the Trekkies gather to lobby for Metric Time. They get pelted by batteries and then go into their holes for six more weeks of winter.

            Usually ends up with Seth Green making a Robot Chicken special about it.

  5. my personal theory is that when decker, alia and the vger planet ship left, at some point in their travels or when they arrived back at vgers home planet of the synthetics, the vgee was corrupted by a virus of unknown origin via the synthetics or during its travel back. this virul corruption somehow killed decker and maybe merged his genetic makeup with the vger core. thats why borg assimilate bipeds. any film that goes into the origina of the borg should be tied to vger, in my opinion.

    1. That’s an interesting take. I kinda like it. Personally, I’d be down with a “reboot” of the Borg since they got played out pretty hard post-TNG and the “thrill” of them went away (at least for me). They should have been used sparingly and I thought they overdid it by a stretch.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. No problem. All fun for me. I love the Borg and Star Trek but wish the folks in charge would take some bolder moves with the films sorta like the comic books who delve into all kinds of deep sci-fi. With my theory the center of the Borg homeworld is Vger. The same Voyager probe is still sitting in the center either dormant or operating on some level and as a God like figure to all Borg. And this concept is nothing new and in the last, maybe 20, years we have seen a lot of synthetic vs. organic vs. techno-organic video games and films; I-Robot, Tron2, Mass Effect, Halo, Battle Star Galactica reboot, Transformers, etc. I’m even anticipating an era in Hollywood where they will attempt crossovers like Predator vs. Aliens and have The Borg vs. Aliens, Transformers vs. Borg, etc. As silly as it seems those concepts are heavy on the net. Just google something like The Borg vs. Dead Space 3 and a load of stuff appears. People are discussing the various matchups and crossovers on a daily basis and I like seeing attempts or risks taken and the Star Trek franchise has tons of them.

  6. What if the Borg colective is the result of the very first attemps and fails of V’ger to fuse with sentient biped beings on a early development instance of its self awareness ?

    1. I think that’s a valid alt-universe interpretation, sure. It would be a neat way to tie it all together, so that humans made Borg in a sense. Neat Frankenstein’s Monster spin on it.

      Thanks for commenting! Sorry it took so long to respond. Firing up posts again soon, just been really busy!

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