Star Trek’s Best Movie Makes No Sense

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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Star Trek: First Contact was reassuring to franchise fans because it proved that The Next Generation was capable of creating great films after the tepid yawn that was Star Trek: Generations. What made First Contact’s plot so notable was that the Borg traveled back in time to assimilate Earth in the past, forcing Captain Picard and crew to follow them into the past in order to save the future as they know it. All of this makes for a fun action-adventure film, but one thing fans never talk about is how the Borg’s plan makes no sense because they are screwing themselves out of assimilating centuries of Federation technology.

The Borg In First Contact

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To understand what we mean, it’s important to review the Borg’s whole deal: these Star Trek aliens operate as a Collective driven by a hive mind that arguably only has one weakness, and that’s an inability to innovate new ideas and technology. They compensate for this by assimilating other aliens, ships, and worlds into the Collective, adding (as they would say) others’ “biological and technological distinctiveness” to the Hive. Long before First Contact, the Borg’s assimilation practices made them one of the scariest races in the galaxy, and their ability to adapt to any attacks made them functionally invincible to many of their victims.

Conquering The Planet

With that primer out of the way, let’s return to the core issue: that the Borg’s plan to travel through time and assimilate Earth centuries in the past makes no sense. To be fair, it’s not “Plan A,” as the Borg seemingly planned for a powerful Borg Cube to be enough to overcome Starfleet and ultimately attack Earth in the present day. It’s only when Captain Picard takes charge of the fleet and uses his Borg experience to help destroy the Cube that an escaping Borg vessel travels back in time and assimilates Earth.

Assimilation Without Technology


Basically, if this had been any other alien race attacking Earth in Star Trek: First Contact, it would make sense to travel back in time to defeat a foe before they were ever strong enough to fight back. We know from the Strange New Worlds episode “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” for example, that Romulans have regularly tried to attack Starfleet by making incursions into the past. But because the Borg are driven by the need to assimilate the technology of other cultures, the kind of attack is insanely shortsighted.

Time Travel Doesn’t Fit The Borg’s Primary Motivation

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As Star Trek: First Contact illustrates, the Borg attack on Earth’s past is crazy because the planet at this time didn’t have any kind of technology (heck, they were a pre-warp drive planet until the very end) the Borg would need. The Federation of the future, however, is great at developing new technology for the Borg to effectively steal via assimilation. They do this so regularly that some fans have speculated the Borg mostly attack Starfleet with no real intention of wiping them out; instead, the theory goes they deliberately send a small force (one Cube at a time) to hurt Starfleet, force them to develop new technology, and then assimilate the tech at a later time.

A Pre-FTL Earth

Speaking of Starfleet tech, the other issue with the Borg plan in Star Trek: First Contact is that assimilating Earth in the past would keep centuries of Starfleet technology from ever being created. It would wipe out the Federation before it is created, and again, any other enemy race would see this as a win. But this action would create a kind of paradox where the Borg who traveled back in time and had assimilated so much from Starfleet would create a future where none of the Collective would be able to assimilate Starfleet vessels for their juicy, juicy tech.

The Borg Are Acting On Emotion

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Ironically enough, the only possible motivation for the Borg to travel to the past and assimilate Earth in Star Trek: First Contact is petty spite: Starfleet just unexpectedly destroyed a Borg Cube, and traveling to the past to destroy the Federation before it is even born is a way of permanently putting Picard and the rest of humanity in their place. We’d expect such spite from a Romulan or Cardassian, but certainly not from the Borg, a race that has always been driven by logic even cooler and less emotional than a Vulcan.

The Borg Queen Also Makes No Sense

Wrapping up, our chief issue with the Borg in Star Trek: First Contact is that they make what seems to be an emotional decision to attack Earth three centuries in the past, robbing themselves out of all the past, present, and future “technological distinctiveness” they could ever steal from Starfleet. Of course, that makes about as much sense as the Borg Queen in the first place. It seems the writers may have had two words for any audiences that didn’t want to completely turn off their brains before watching this Star Trek action film: “assimilate this!”