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!
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…
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!
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.
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.