In Star Trek, there is no villain whose motivations are more perplexing than the Borg.
The sometimes-invincible hive of cybernetic organisms have been a part of the Trek narrative since The Next Generation, providing helpful antagonism throughout their tenure, upping the stakes and leading to high drama whenever they threatened to appear.
But the reasoning behind their actions has always been a bit opaque. Why do they ignore intruders on their ships? How could the Borg evolve to a point where an unsolvable puzzle could potentially short out their entire civilization, especially when they seem to have mastered time travel? (Look out, Borg! It’s a misprinted Sudoku!) When their actions are considered altogether the Borg seem lucky to even be alive.
But when we saw u/StrekApol7979‘s amazing Borg theory over at the Daystrom Institute subreddit, we had to share it. Using mostly evidence from the Star Trek shows, the theory explains so much about what the Borg are actually up to, de-mystifying their interactions with humanity, the Alpha Quadrant, and Seven of Nine all at once.
It all starts with Star Trek: Voyager episode “The Omega Directive.” There, Seven of Nine informs Captain Janeway about the Borg’s catastrophic experiments with “the Omega molecule,” ostensibly an atomic structure so perfect that a single molecule can power entire star empires, or produce destruction that could wipe out star systems.
According to the episode, the Omega Molecule occurs naturally, but very rarely. And in order to synthesize it based on its theoretical structure—which the Borg have tried to do—apparently another rare element is needed: “Boronite ore.” From the theory:
I speculate that The Borg Omega Molecule experiment done sometime after The Borg first discovered The Omega Molecule in the Year 2145—which failed to stabilize and subsequently exploded (resulting in the destruction of 29 Borg vessels and 600,000 drones) hurt the Borg. Badly. It may still be slowing them down. It may be why there is still a The Federation.
Consider if the experiment happened within a few light years of The Borg home systems. Depending on the power of the Omega Event it could created a “moat” of damaged and warp-less subspace around the heart of The Borg power base. Now of course the Borg could just slow roll their way through this damaged space but that would significantly complicate and delay their expansion depending where and how much damage was done.
And yet the Borg kept experimenting with Omega (as noted by Seven), so obtaining it is clearly still their goal, and seemingly the only barrier is locating more Boronite ore.
The theory continues by noting that Janeway explains in “The Omega Directive” episode that only Starfleet captains (and presumably higher ranks) are given access to the knowledge that humanity encountered Omega and/or knows how to synthesize it by using Boronite ore. The theory then notes that the Borg would have discovered that humanity had located Boronite ore and Omega when they assimilated their very first Starfleet captain: Jean-Luc Picard himself.
Except humanity has also used up the Boronite ore that they located. But what if the Borg could determine the previous location of that ore and then somehow prevent humanity from using it up. By, say, traveling back in time? Here’s where the Borg’s behavior in First Contact and Enterprise plays in:
They could go get more Boronite Ore from where ever the Star Fleet physicist Ketteract would have gotten it sometime in the late 23rd century when The Federation was first conducting it’s own Omega Molecule research. When The Borg effort failed because of The Enterprise crews opposition, surviving remnants of The Borg attempted to complete the mission upon reactivating during the events of the Enterprise episode: Regeneration.
The whole theory itself is long and takes into account many other events from the Star Trek television shows and movies. It’ll be fun to see if the Borg’s next appearance (wherever that may be) could also line up with this theory! Check it all out here.