Star Trek Guide

Agents of SHIELD’s Villains Have The Same Flaw As Star Trek’s Borg

Agents of SHIELD's Chronicoms and Star Trek's Borg share exactly the same design flaw. Throughout the final season of Agents of SHIELD, the team have been locked in a battle across time with the Chronicoms, a race of emotionless alien cyborgs looking to invade Earth after their own planet was destroyed. Possessing time travel technology, the Chronicoms sought to interfere in Earth's history to ensure their occupation of the planet was successful, but SHIELD followed them every step of the way, setting up a dramatic showdown in the final ever episode.

Agents of SHIELD season 7 has been a whistle-stop tour through the history of the show, revisiting past storylines and characters in various historical eras and tying off a few loose ends along the way. As well as paying homage to its own past, Agents of SHIELD's final season has been heavy in references to the wider world of science fiction, and the Chronicoms in particular have lovingly borrowed from the world of movies and TV. Enoch dropped one of Terminator's most famous lines, highlighting the parallels between himself and Arnie's T-800, and "The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D" featured robots very similar to those from Chopping Mall - so much so, the film's director threatened legal action.

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Now it's Star Trek: The Next Generation's turn to receive the Agents of SHIELD tribute treatment. In the series finale, Daisy infiltrates the Chronicom ship where Simmons and Deke are held captive, looking to bust the duo out and bring them back home to the Zephyr. The Chronicom leader, Sibyl, notices Daisy's presence aboard, but admits she did not foresee her arrival because of its insignificance. To drive the point home further, Daisy manages to walk casually past the Chronicom hunters on board without them even casting a glance in her direction. The Chronicoms know she's on board, but the SHIELD team are no longer deemed a threat to the invasion, so they're ignored.

The creepy image of Chronicoms failing to even acknowledge the enemies in their midst is highly reminiscent of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation. When the Borg are introduced in season 2's "Q Who," an Enterprise team transport aboard a Borg ship and are entirely ignored by the drones they encounter there. It's later confirmed that the Borg don't attack invaders if the new guests aren't deemed a threat, and this trait would later become a key aspect of Borg behavior. Starfleet's finest can happily wander around a Borg cube undisturbed so long as they don't start firing weapons or interfering in a way that might upset their cybernetic hosts. Agents of SHIELD presents a similar situation, where the Chronicoms are so assured in their own victory, they fail to consider Daisy's rescue might cause problems.

Both examples highlight a fatal flaw in the programming of science fiction cyborg villains. Unlike the human brain, the cold 1s and 0s of Chronicom and Borg minds will only take the actions they deem necessary - no more, no less. While this can be an advantage in certain situations, underestimating humanity and being unable to think outside of mathematical probability is inevitably the robots' downfall. Whether it be Star Trek's Starfleet or Marvel's SHIELD, humans always manage to come out on top, leaving their metal opponents wondering why they didn't just shoot everyone when the opportunity arose. These exact views are expressed in the Agents of SHIELD finale when Nathaniel Malick angrily protests Sibyl's decision to let Daisy roam freely around the ship.