Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Best of Both Worlds, Part I"

****

Air date: 6/18/1990
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

I suspect — or at least hope — that for everybody, there are those precious few hours in front of a television or at the movies that stand apart from all the rest as the most obviously memorable. They're the ones that live on in the imagination as truly thrilling experiences. They stick with you and you remember them fondly, and then you put in the DVD so many years later ... and it works about as well as it ever did. Certainly, it works as well as you could possibly expect given the passage of so much time and the fact that not only has television changed, but so have you.

Those particular TV episodes vary from person to person, and whether or not you were at a place to enjoy a particular episode in that way probably has as much to do with you as the show. But for me, at age 14, it was "The Best of Both Worlds." I suspect that I'm not the only one who feels this way about this particular show. But at that age ... well, what can I say? It was awesome. And it was captivating. It was Trek with a visceral edge we had rarely seen the likes of before.

The Borg. After the scene in "Q Who" where they sliced a hole through the Enterprise and then revealed themselves as an implacable pack of locusts who could not be reasoned with and possibly not defeated, here was finally the episode where they had finally reached Federation space. The Enterprise answers a colony's distress call and arrives to find the entire colony has been scooped off the surface of the planet. Evidence it was the Borg is confirmed in the wreckage. "We're not ready," Admiral Hanson (George Murdock) says ominously. Here is an episode of Trek with a uniquely palpable sense of danger, foreboding, and a feeling of being outmatched. There is no talking your way out of a confrontation with the Borg. They are coming, and they aren't stopping. How can we possibly defeat them?

In the background, we've got some solid character work. Riker has been offered another promotion to captain, but he's balking again. In the meantime, an ambitious hotshot, Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy), is posted to the Enterprise to help work on a way to defeat the Borg. Riker hasn't left yet, but Shelby already has her eye on his job. Michael Piller's script skillfully weaves the issue of Riker's and Shelby's careers in between the action involving the Borg, which the Enterprise engages when they turn out to be the closest ship to intercept them. Shelby's ambition is bold, as in the moment after she saves everyone's asses with quick thinking and then stands above Data and Wesley; Picard subtly "relieves" her and retakes command. In another scene, she goes over Riker's head and takes her idea about separating the saucer straight to Picard. When Riker busts her on it, she tells him bluntly, "You're in my way." This is ballsy character conflict rarely seen on TNG.

And there's a haunting, quiet discussion as well, with contemplations of The End, in which Picard and Guinan wax philosophic in the face of possibly inevitable decimation. Picard's contemplation of the end of humanity's role in history is the epitome of grace under pressure, as he reflects upon it in a larger context of history: "Will this be the end of our civilization? Turn the page." Hints that would later add to the speculative fire abound. Guinan: "Nelson never returned from Trafalgar." Picard: "No, but the battle was won." Will this conflict, even if victorious, see the end of Picard? And Guinan's testament to the human spirit offers reassurance: "As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail." It's brilliant writing.

The new development in the Borg is that they want Picard specifically. When he refuses to surrender, they attack the Enterprise and kidnap him and set course for Earth, resulting in a pursuit where the Enterprise away team attempts to rescue Picard from the Borg cube.

As a production, the episode delivers; it features some of Trek's best-looking and best-executed ship pursuit scenes (including a venture into a nebula). It has an unforgettable score by Ron Jones (including the Borg theme) that is easily the most memorable single score in the entire post-TOS canon. And there's action on the Borg ship that is somehow made more frightening by the zombie-like slow-motion of the Borg drones that zero in on the away team. And who can forget that chilling moment when Picard is revealed as Locutus of Borg? Great stuff.

At the time, the ending cliffhanger was nothing short of a total coup. Season-ending cliffhangers were rare compared to today (where they are now frequently perfunctory and obligatory; we can thank the success of this episode). The cut to black in this episode prompted double-take whiplash. "Mr. Worf — fire." That's how the season ends? It was such a shock that the line to this day is still my benchmark for all cliffhangers. (As in, "That season-ender was no Mr.-Worf-fire.")

Previous episode: Transfigurations
Next episode: The Best of Both Worlds, Part II

Season Index

30 comments on this review

mouse - Sat, Sep 8, 2007 - 6:15am (USA Central)
I distinctly remember having to wait for months (longer than the norm at the time for some reason) for the resolution to this. Locutus of Borg will never not haunt me.
Lark - Fri, Sep 21, 2007 - 12:08pm (USA Central)
TNG got stronger with each season until about the fifth, really, when they started leveling out and winding down - but I think three was the best, between "Booby Trap" (Picard is a skilled and savvy pilot, I loved it!), Deja Q (Q, "What do I have to do to prove myself to you people?!" Worf, "Die."), and Yesterday's Enterprise (There are not enough words). Of course, the best was the season cliffhanger (almost makes you forget Season Two's insulting mistep into stupidity), Guinan guiding Riker, Shelby giving him ambition and grief, the mystery, the terror - yes, I knew there was no way Captain Picard would die, yes I knew Patrick Stuart was returning for the next season - but oh. my. freakin'. GAWD. Locutus...
Graham Pilato - Tue, Nov 6, 2007 - 4:20pm (USA Central)
Well, this is the best season of TNG, hands down. I'll agree with anyone who mentions how wonderful the 4th and 6th seasons were too, but this one is just stuffed with awesome episodes and so, so much growth in the Star Trek universe. I think anyone who doesn't give the episodes Sins of the Father, The Defector, The Most Toys, Sarek, Yesterday's Enterprise, and Booby Trap full marks is missing out on the fact that this where TV Trek grew up in the 80s. The main characters and their cultures are deepened forever and the worth of the show to fans and the culture as a whole alike was massively greatened.
Oh, and I love Who Watches the Watchers. It's a little simplistic, but boy is it a beautiful illustration of the prime directive's necessity and the fascinating philosophy behind it. It's the best prime directive story, in my mind in all of Trek, still.
And no one needs to expound further on The Best of Both Worlds. It seems a little slow to me, actually, in terms of reconciling it with the pace of today, but it's still one of the world's greatest season cliffhanger/resolution two-parters... made even greater by the quality of the 4th season to come that builds on its momentum (especially Family).
Jammer - Tue, Nov 27, 2007 - 9:57am (USA Central)
Culture note. "The Best of Both Worlds" continues to be a landmark and a continued in-joke. A few weeks ago "Family Guy" did a satire of cliffhangers.

Ron Jones is a composer on "Family Guy," and the cliffhanger made a direct reference to "Best of Both Worlds," right down to the end credits and the Ron Jones score that was directly recycled.

Funny stuff.
Dan - Sat, Jan 12, 2008 - 4:07pm (USA Central)
Great episode. Sent shivers down my spine the first time I saw it.

Any ETA on Season 4 reviews?
Stefan - Fri, Jan 18, 2008 - 7:50pm (USA Central)
As The Comic Book Guy would say:

Best Episode Ever!

The Borg are the best Star Trek villains ever, even with the soap opera style episodes on Voyager.
David - Fri, Mar 28, 2008 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
I agree about The Survivors being a 4-star episode. I thought the mystery was really strong. I had no idea what was going on until the end. I loved the surreal image of a lone tract of land with a house in the middle of a wasteland. John Anderson and Anne Haney did a great job in bringing the Uxbridges to life and therefore made the tragedy really work so well.

TNG didn't have a lot of battles but I thought the engagements between the marauder and Enterprise were exciting and well done.

I'm surprised Jammer gave The Bonding 2 stars. I really liked that episode and would give it 3.5 stars. It had so many good character moments--Beverly/Wes talking about Jack's death, Worf/Jeremy, Picard/Troi in the turbolift, Riker/Worf, Data/Riker in Ten Forward discusing how familiarity affects a person's level of grief and how the writers incorporated Yar into that discussion was nice. I thought Picard's speech was quite good at the end. Troi was put to great effect and I enjoyed the way the episode ended with the ceremony.

Hey, Jammer you're not alone. I enjoyed "A Matter of Perspective" too.

The Best of Both Worlds--

I loved it when I was 13 and I love it as much now always making sure I would catch it whenever it was on in reruns over the years and I always knew when I happened upon it because of the instantly recognizable teaser with the establishing shot of the Enterprise entering orbit of Jouret IV overlaid with Picard’s log followed by the away team beaming down to New Providence colony to learn the fate of its inhabitants only to discover in a shocking visual- the colony was gone all that was left was a massive crater. What an ominous note to launch the episode on.

This episode is rightfully hailed as one of the best of Trek and I certainly wouldn’t dispute that. This watershed moment in tv history was one of those fortunate instances where writer Michael Piller was able to come up with a storyline that resonated on every level with the viewer. I think a large part of its appeal of course is depicting a near Armageddon by taking it as far as he could allowing the audience to believe the worst case scenario could happen. He conceived in my opinion the ideal portrayal of a doomsday-level event and thankfully its presentation came across perfectly incorporating all the necessary and desired elements one would hope to see in such a dire situation. That of course includes a worthy enemy capable of upping the stakes to epic proportions.

And its popularity is also owed in no small part to the presence of the Borg, who fans had been hoping to see ever since “Q Who?” ominously hinted at an inevitable confrontation.

The Borg are just one of those instances of writers catching lightning in a bottle by creating an alien race that catches on like wildfire with the fans and that captures their imagination. I mean how many races have that kind of impact after only one brief appearance. Sure they might not be the first cybernetic race in science fiction but Hurley must be applauded for doing something original with them making them such a fascinating group with quite intriguing characteristics and unique behavior. They weren’t quite like anything I personally had seen before.

Also making BoBW just that more effective, Piller knew full well that the audience would be clamoring for the Borg right away but he wisely didn’t cave into that pressure choosing instead to wisely postpone the confrontation with the Borg for just a while longer to allow our anticipation of the encounter to build as we patiently waited through the crew’s careful and sensible investigation into the destruction of New Providence colony then subsequently their preparations for engagement once confirmation of the Borg as the mysterious attackers was determined.

This allowed for some nice scenes showing the characters possibly for the last time before all hell breaks loose--the crew playing poker and Riker contemplating his future. Seeing Riker ponder why he can’t seem to move on and take a command given how driven he was was particularly strong. I’ve certainly been there myself. We also get an effective scene showing the crew fatigued struggling to devise countermeasures culminating with the first of several power struggles with Riker and Shelby.

And you really can't overstate what a crucial role atmosphere played in this episode. Scenes like Riker informing Picard all ships are on yellow alert or the one where the admiral is briefing the senior staff on a possible contact exemplifies this perfectly. Everyone knows the Borg are out there somewhere in Federation space they are just waiting to hear about it. I loved the presentation of Hanson informing the crew of the first sighting--“At nineteen hundred hours yesterday, the USS Lalo departed Zeta Alpha Two on a freight run to Sentinel Minor Four. At twenty-two hundred hours and twelve minutes, a distress signal was received at Starbase one five seven. The Lalo reported contact with an alien vessel…described as cube-shaped. The distress signal ended abruptly. She has not been heard from since.” Unsettling moment that was.

The delayed gratification was well worth it when the moment finally arrived signaled by that unforgettable score that accompanies the dreaded moment of visual contact between the Borg and the Enterprise with the sight of the Borg vessel barely visible soon filling the screen revealing the chilling sight of the cube in all its intimidating glory. Wow, what a powerfully effecting image. At that moment it conveyed to me perfectly the sensation one would experience confronting evil incarnate as the cube itself pierced right through me.

This episode also made me appreciate TNG’s approach to using battlescenes sparingly. For it is in moments like these where we see the Enterprise throwing everything it has in its arsenal (from phasers to a whole spread of photon torpedoes to high energy bursts from the deflector dish to Borg beams slicing into the engineering section to Geordi having to evacuate and seal it off) at the Borg cube that makes it all the more special. I know it isn’t as impressive as what can be done these days with FX but for me at that time I got a real kick out of it and even all these years later I think it still is pretty cool. The fact the Enterprise was fighting instead of talking also further reinforced the gravity of the situation.

Basically every scene in this episode is a favorite but I particularly like the one where in a brief moment of reprieve inside the dust cloud(a simply beautiful visual with the Enterprise all lit up), Picard and Guinan gather in a deserted Ten-Forward to discuss the situation they find themselves in. The historical allusions were quite fitting and the frank assessment was sobering.

I also love how Guinan always shows up in earth-shattering moments dispensing some interesting words of wisdom. Here her pep talk to Picard is interesting and perfectly Guinan in that it is both reassuring and optimistic in one way in that she gives some hope that whatever happens humanity will survive in some form but troubling in that she can't promise him he’ll prevail and that any rebuilding of the human race would be difficult. I’m sure at that moment Picard would have loved nothing more than to hear from such a wise soul that everything will be alright but in typical Guinan fashion she is pragmatic knowing from personal experience the worst might be before them.

I also really loved the scene where the Borg escort Picard to the central chamber of the cube revealing in a great matte shot the endless rows upon rows upon rows of Borg. We were used to seeing adversaries who had a hierarchy and leaders to negotiate with; individuals with understandable motives and a hope always existed for reconciliation because they always had a similar working frame of reference for the universe they co-existed within. But now the Federation was facing for all intents and purposes a force of nature devoid of any malice or pride directed at their victims, with seemingly no apparent weaknesses, no burden from morality, possessing superior technology.

I loved the give and take in that scene--“Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.”

And then there is that shocking moment when despite facing this overwhelming threat Picard tells the Hive Mind that humans would rather die but then the Borg reveals that within their society death, a fundamental part of humanity, doesn’t exist. Piller’s decision to add the disturbing element of assimilation to the Borg mythology is so brilliant and terrifying. The idea that the Borg would even deny death as a release from the horrors of assimilation is just a downright disturbing prospect to consider and Stewart's reaction says it all.

The presentation of Picard’s reveal of having been assimilated was highly effective providing the most impact with the profile before turning to show half of his face and head were implanted with technology as the laser attachment filled the screen. It hit me like a ton of bricks and the actors did a great job in conveying their stunned reactions and sense of loss whether Shelby’s initial look of horror or Worf’s “He is a Borg” or Beverly thinking of recovering him to Wesley holding his head down.

This was a punch to the gut because by this point in the series I had developed a real attachment to Picard and given how it seemed at the time that the assimilation process was irreversible, I truly believed the man I knew was gone forever. And finally the cliffhanger ending was perfect. I wasn’t happy having to wait until the fall. It was a long summer. I was pretty young then and the ending held so many possibilities. I had no awareness of Usenet and didn't participate in any speculation or generating scenarios. I just anxiously awaited the premiere.

One can debate whether the Borg over the years became a pale shadow of themselves but here they were at their zenith. They were an unstoppable lethal juggernaut who acted with impunity.

And I’ll always have fond memories of this episode because it made me a Michael Piller fan. This is perfection.

Unicron - Fri, Apr 25, 2008 - 10:54pm (USA Central)
I agree with much of what's been said. Jammer, thanks for the reviews. :) I really wish we'd seen more use of the Romulans in the later series, because this season really showed their potential. The warbird is a gorgeous ship too.

And of course the Borg made their first appearance, with BOBW setting a new trend for cliffhangers. TNG was a bit shaky in the first two seasons, but at this stage it really started to shine. It found its footing. This season also contains my all-time TNG favorite (though several others come close), Yesterday's Enterprise. I've always been a history buff, so it was nice to see a "what if" sort of ep superbly done.

Unicron, TrekBBS
Dimitris Kiminas - Sat, Apr 26, 2008 - 3:28am (USA Central)
Right, the Romulan warbird of the TNG series is of excellent design. I felt very sad that it was ignored in the Nemesis movie. The new design Romulan warbirds introduced in Nemesis were far inferior according to my opinion... :(
Unicron - Sat, Apr 26, 2008 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
Yep. :) The warbird showed that, despite being isolated, the Empire was still keeping an eye on its rivals. It was nice to see warbirds used well in a few eps, as well as on DS9 and VOY. I'll admit, "The Neutral Zone" isn't a particularly well written ep, but the first appearance of the TNG Romulans at the end does improve it a bit for me. The Romulan theme was cool too.
Dan - Thu, Jun 19, 2008 - 8:58am (USA Central)
The season that TNG came of age.
Dan L - Sun, Jul 27, 2008 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
Re: BBW Pt. 1: "And there's a haunting, quiet discussion as well, with contemplations of The End, in which Picard and Guinan wax philosophic in the face of possibly inevitable decimation. Picard's contemplation of the end of humanity's role in history is the epitome of grace under pressure, as he reflects upon it in a larger context of history: "Will this be the end of our civilization? Turn the page." Hints that would later add to the speculative fire abound. Guinan: "Nelson never returned from Trafalgar." Picard: "No, but the battle was won." Will this conflict, even if victorious, see the end of Picard? And Guinan's testament to the human spirit offers reassurance: "As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail." It's brilliant writing.

It damn well is. This scene is as well-written as the scene in Henry V (the speech presaging the Battle of Agincourt) by a certain famous playwright. It is utterly inspiring in its ability to bring to the fore feelings that some people thought they had buried and destroyed: that no matter how bad things may seem, they will get better.
Whenever I am concerned about how I will handle a difficult event (such as the Bar Exam I am taking Tuesday and Wednesday),I watch this scene - not to "remind" myself that I will "prevail" - but to remind myself of what Guinan implicitly laid bare: that diligence, hard work and decency are ultimately what will cause all who possess those qualities to "survive" - to have made a difference in the affairs of humanity; and that, even when we are sweating the large stuff, and even when we thus can't "put things into perspective," the will to live somehow makes even the "large stuff" not irrelevant, but conquerable; there's always a chance of prevailing even in the worst-case scenario and that fighting the battle is itself a form of victory-of prevailing. I watch these scene when I am at my worst, as a "good luck charm," and just when I need inspiration, and regardless of the result of the "particular" battle, the scene -and recognition of what it says - is what allows me to keep on fighting, even when nothing else does.
robgnow - Fri, Aug 1, 2008 - 6:11pm (USA Central)
There are exactly 3 episodes of any TV that actually 'haunt' me... in that my reaction to them is the same each and everytime I see them. And, in fact, if I just remember them (say, when speaking to someone else about them) that I still can conjure up those same emotions. The Best Of Both Worlds, Part I is one of them. Easily the greatest cliffhanger and well as among the top ST (any series) episodes EVER. I'd easily give it a 5/5. (The others are ER when Carter gets stabbed along with Lucy and 'The Body' from BTVS).
PM - Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - 9:25am (USA Central)
Season 3 is the best of TNG in my opinion. The leap in quality from season 2 is staggering, and it has the best ratio of good individual episodes of any Star Trek season. Season 4 also makes a good case but there's no replacing the epic sweep of this one.
lvsxy808 - Sat, Oct 17, 2009 - 12:40am (USA Central)
to David - March 28, 2008: Thank you for such an insightful essay.

I too have always been fascinated by "The Best of Both Worlds," and I, like Jammer, consider it to be one of those defining moments of television viewing that stays with you.

I love the complexity of the writing, how the themes complement each other. At first glance, the title seems to refer to how the Borg are cyborgs, using biological and technological distinctiveness to improve themselves. But what it's really about is how the Enterprise crew reacts to it.

Riker spends the episode torn between wanting a captaincy of his own, and not wanting to leave the Enterprise. In part 2, he gets the best of both worlds - he becomes captain of the Enterprise, but only at the cost of losing and possibly having to kill his friend and mentor.

And if Riker had taken command of the Melbourne, like everyone told him to, it would have meant the end of humanity. The Melbourne was destroyed at Wolf 359, and I don't think Riker taking command a matter of weeks before would have changed that.

No - it was Riker being in command of the Enterprise, of a crew he knows and trusts and understands, that saved humanity.

What I also always love about this episode is Shelby, especially Elizabeth Dennehy's performance of her. The moments that aren't scripted, like when she tells Riker, "If I may be allowed to continue with Mr Data, who does not require sleep," only to be shut down by her. Oh, the sass she puts into that walk away... I love it.

And later, during that unusually extended battle scene on the bridge, when Riker tells her, "They have the ability to analyze and adapt, Commander," and the dirty look she gives him, saying loud and clear without a word, "I know that, you asshole. I'm the Borg expert here, remember?" Brilliant.
Phil - Sun, Jul 25, 2010 - 6:36am (USA Central)
I had faithfully watched "TNG" since its premiere in the fall of 1987. I remember feeling like the show was finding its way during the second season. This may seem ludicrous in hindsight but remember that all I had for comparison was the first season. Dreck like "The Outrageous Okana" seemed about par while shows like "The Measure of a Man" and "Q Who" showed real progress. However through both of those seasons it all felt a bit like filler. "Trek Lite" designed to kill time between the adventures of the REAL Enterprise crew that would come to the movie theater every two or three years.

Then, in the summer of 1989 between "TNG's" second and third season, came "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier".

After that disappointment I approached Season Three with many more expectations than I had the previous two. Not only did I not know if Kirk and Co. would ever appear in another film - I didn't even know if I WANTED them to. Now I was looking to "TNG" to become the source of primo Starfleet stories.

Third season was my road to Damascus and by the time I heard Riker say "Mr. Worf.... fire!" the scales had definitely fallen from my eyes.

When "The Undiscovered Country" was released in late 1991, I had a very different standard for quality storytelling in the "Trek" universe.
Josh B - Fri, Oct 29, 2010 - 7:46pm (USA Central)
An interesting note: I read that Ron Jones was fired by Rick Berman for scores like this that were too 'bold' or 'bombastic'. That's a WTF moment, methinks.
Sam - Wed, Feb 16, 2011 - 6:59am (USA Central)
David's review of 'Best Of Both Worlds' is one of the finest and most accurate pieces of criticism I've ever run across. I still come back to this page to read it.
stviateur - Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - 2:53pm (USA Central)
There was much to like about Best of Both Worlds but like Yesterday's Enterprise, political correctness kept it from being perfect as well as the presence of such annoying characters as Shelby, Wesley, and Guinan...ugh! And seeing Picard as a Borg this time around is a good deal less shocking when I know he's going to be back to normal as if nothing as extreme as being reengineered ever took place. By all rights, no one should be able to survive an attempt to being de-Borged.
Fanner - Mon, Jul 11, 2011 - 9:44pm (USA Central)
I tend to be much less impressed with Part TWO of BOBW which opened Season Four of TNG, than most people, but this episode, Part ONE still holds up under age beautifully (watched it the other day) unlike many other early series TNG episodes.

If television can be an artform, then it is a masterpiece.

As a kid, I remember literally jumping up and down on my bed during the last scene then feeling mind-numbingly blown away by the very end of the episode.

Part of what made it so awesome had nothing to do with the actors or dialogue. That score. That SCORE! And that ''To be continued'' flashing across the screen.

At the time (well, I still do, lol) I had a much older brother, a career man, took himself VERY seriously...first time I saw him that summer the first thing out of his mouth was ''Oh my GOD!!! Did you SEE it??? Do you think they're gonna kill the captain???!!!''

That is, in itself, a nice memory created by this one hour of television.

Another thing that added to the sincere summer suspense was...remember...back then we didn't have the instant access to information we do today, and even if Stewart WAS under contract beyond the third season, the studio could still have fired him. There was also talk (though much had disapated by late season three) that Stewart was very unpopular as the captain and questions of just how long the already much accomlished Stewart intended to do Trek. There were rumors that some young hollywood hotshot like Rob Lowe was secretly already in talks to be more ''Kirk-Like.''

The point, is that all of the above factors made it possible for REAL doubt to exist all summer long as to whether the captain was going to die or not. Tremendous episode and one of the best hours of tv of any genre ever.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Tue, Sep 6, 2011 - 6:34am (USA Central)
As I am currently rewatching TNG on DVD, I made a curious discovery.
Usually I switched back and forth between all Star Trek Series, watching some TNG, then some DS9, then some ENT,... This time, I decided to stick to TNG for some time and started watching TNG from season 1 to 3 without switching to the other Trek incarnations (apart from the occasional TOS episode now and then...) and thus I am deprived of the eye candy of the latter - especially Voyager and ENT. And doing so I noticed again just how great, how well done TNG was - even and especially in those "middling episodes", as you call them.
Yes, some of them are not highlights of TV history, not even Trek history - but in TNG many of them still have likable aspects, quiet little scenes. I mean, I prefer most "middling episodes" of TNG over 84,5% of ENTs second season any day! And how often had we to endure VOY scenes like: Bad alien of the week is incredibly stubborn, followed by a series of: "Direct hit at..." "Shields down to ...%" And so on. TNG would often show some people in a little room, e.g. the captain's ready room or some crew quarter.

Even less than stellar episodes like "Menage á Troi" had their moments. (Besides: I still think that the character of Lwaxana Troi was quite lovely in TNG but got seriously (and somewhat retroactively) damaged in DS9. But the TNG Lwaxana episodes were just fine: She was in the better parts of "Haven", had her moments in "Manhunt", delivers well in "Menage a Troi" and even brings some tender sentimentality in 4th seasons "Half a Life". Then Lwaxana episodes became downright depressing - but at least in TNG Majel Barret and Marina Sirtis had some believable chemistry!

And when you can find little gems in the most mediocre shows of TNG, how great were the highlights. I still get thrilled by "Yesterdays Enterprise". Or "Sarek" - what an episode! I still can't watch it with dry eyes! The concert scene! The confrontation of Sarek by Picard! Picards mind meld breakdown! Brilliant!
And of course "Best of both worlds". Each and every scene a highlight. What a show for Patrick Stewart AND easily the best Riker installment of the entire series. Talk about REAL character drama WITHOUT bringing in stupid, unknown relatives! ;o)

TNG might look aged compared to newer shows but its core is still landmark TV!
Rosario - Sun, Nov 4, 2012 - 1:57pm (USA Central)
memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Best_of_Both_Worlds_(episode)

Assistant director Chip Chalmers recalled one memorable moment during filming. "I remember the moment when Patrick, dressed in a Borg outfit, first walks up to the viewscreen and says, 'I am Locutus of Borg.' He came on to the set – everybody was wowed with what they had done to Patrick – and we got everyone settled down and did one rehearsal. All he had to do was walk up to the camera. He did so and towered over everyone. It was just so creepy and so spooky, and he said, 'I am Locutus of Borg. Have you considered buying a Pontiac?' And everyone was on the floor. That's the kind of thing that makes it wonderful to work on the show; those people have a wonderful sense of humor." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
xaaos - Mon, Dec 3, 2012 - 3:59pm (USA Central)
"Mr. Worf, fire!"

God, I love Star Trek! xD
mitty - Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - 9:16pm (USA Central)
Much of TNG for me at least was a unique experience, in that I was spoiled on just about the entire series. Every episode was new and I had virtually no clue what was going to happen next. The first time I saw BOBW Part 1 I had no idea the Borg were even returning, and then to have to suffer from that cliffhanger... brilliant, brilliant Television.

The only TV moment that even comes close for me is the Doctor Who episode "Blink" (which I was also unspoiled on). My only complaint with that, is that you can only ever watch it for the first time once. If you could pay money to forget having watched something like that and then watch it for the first time again, would be truly magical.
William B - Thu, Jun 13, 2013 - 7:28am (USA Central)
I didn't comment on every episode this season (there is still time, I guess), but I wanted to do what I did for s1-2 after rewatching them and give my ratings for each episode, where they differ from Jammer's. In parentheses are the difference between my rating and Jammer's.

Evolution: 2.5 (-0.5)
The Ensigns of Command: 3 (+0.5)
Who Watches the Watchers?: 3.5 (+1)
The Price: 2 (-0.5)
The Vengeance Factor: 1.5 (-0.5)
A Matter of Perspective: 2.5 (-0.5) -- I wrote 3 I think in that comment, but I've changed my mind since
The Offspring: 3.5 (+0.5)
Sins of the Father: 4 (+0.5)
The Most Toys: 3.5 (+0.5)
Transfigurations: 2 (-0.5)

The only significant point of disagreement then seems to be Who Watches the Watchers?.

This really is an extraordinary season -- I think it really is possibly the best in all Trek. There are several weak episodes -- The Bonding, The Price, The Vengeance Factor, Allegiance, Captain's Holiday, Menage a Troi, and Transfigurations -- but all of them except for Captain's Holiday and Menage a Troi are at least trying to say something, and those episodes, Captain's Holiday in particular, have some worthwhile characterization. While I think CH and MaT are pretty bad, they are not really offensively awful the way at least one and usually several episodes from every other season are -- there is nothing here to compare with, say, season 2's Okona, The Royale, Manhunt, Up the Long Ladder, and Shades of Grey. Meanwhile, the season highlights -- The Survivors, Who Watches the Watchers, The Enemy, The Defector, Deja Q, Yesterday's Enterprise, The Offspring, Sins of the Father, The Most Toys, Sarek, and The Best of Both Worlds -- are great, and not only that are hugely *varied* in tone and subject. Deja Q is the series' best comedy, The Offspring is a family melodrama (I am using melodrama in its non-pejorative sense), The Enemy and The Defector are cold war political intrigue dramas, Who Watches the Watchers the series' definitive Prime Directive story, and so on -- and those aren't even selected as the best, but merely some of the most different (from each other) episodes. The whole cast, except unfortunately Troi (despite good supporting work in Tin Man, Hollow Pursuits and others) and Wesley (though Evolution, while a bit unsatisfying, isn't bad), get good to great vehicles -- Booby Trap and The Enemy are probably the high water mark for Geordi stories, Crusher has The High Ground, Data has great work in The Offspring and The Most Toys in addition to the good material in The Ensigns of Command, Tasha is brought back to be redeemed as a character in Yesterday's Enterprise, and it is fair to say that The Best of Both Worlds and Sins of the Father are among the choices for *the* definitive show for Riker and Worf respectively (and both, especially BOBW, also have other things on their mind). And of course, there's Picard -- who despite the lousiness of some stories for him (Captain's Holiday, Allegiance) continues coming into his own as the show's rock-solid centre, so much so that the possibility of losing him at the season's brilliant cliffhanger is exactly as devastating as it should be.

The show's universe expands here -- the Romulans become a great threat, Klingon society gains the complexity hinted at in previous episodes, Q becomes (literally) humanized, Barclay brings a touch of imperfection to the cast without creating artificial conflict. Also, the new uniforms just do look better, no? Fortunately, season four, while containing fewer definitive episodes, is almost as good, if I remember correctly....
Mark Thompson - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 5:10am (USA Central)
The weakness of seasons 1 and 2 TNG and the jump in quality onwards makes me wonder why the hell they cancelled star trek enterprise.
Patrick D - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 10:36am (USA Central)
@Mark Thompson

Enterprise, even in its fourth season, was no TNG.
Paul - Wed, Oct 30, 2013 - 1:33pm (USA Central)
@Mark Thompson: I'll take a stab at that question: Ratings.

Enterprise just wasn't doing very well. It certainly got better as a series in seasons 3 and 4, but the public was kind of tired of Star Trek -- certainly of Star Trek circa 2005.

You might argue that the style/approach to Trek that was perfected in TNG seasons 3-4 was pretty played out by season 4 of Enterprise in 2005.
SkepticalMI - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - 9:14pm (USA Central)
Terrible episode! Look at all its problems...

- Riker asks O'Brien if the coordinates are correct, and Miles tells him that he's in the center of town. But they are CLEARLY on the outskirts of town. Duh!

- Why does Picard wait until his shields are down before opening fire on the Borg?

- Sirtis still needs to learn how to act. She's sitting in a bar with her ex who she's still friends with, and he's clearly looking for advice. And she's still emotionally distant and acting like its an uninterested academic exercise. Seriously, open up a little!

- Why does the Borg have a drawer for clothes?

OK, yeah, I'm kidding. Of course it's awesome. There's really not much to say; everyone already knows the episode so well. David's review above is particularly excellent. The only thing I will add is that the atmosphere is so intense. We feel the looming doom of the Borg, and even a bit of denial. The leadup to the dramatic moment where Picard informed Starfleet that they engaged the Borg was an ingenious approach, allowing the tension and the worry to build BEFORE the threat appeared. There's also a heightened sense of duty from everyone once the Borg appear. Every single character was perfectly directed and perfectly acted once the cube arrived. And it was a hell of a ride.

Actually, there is one serious nitpick. The theme of Shelby taking risks vs Riker playing it safe was too much telling and not enough showing. We saw Shelby be brash and energetic and not quite observant of protocol, but not really risk-taking too much. But really, even the greatest of art still has tiny flaws in them. It doesn't detract from the greatness of the episode; I only bring it up because everything in this episode is just so well put together that this tiny flaw is about the only noticeable real problem.

***

As for Season 3 as a whole, looking back, its amazing how good it actually was. Even the filler episodes were a cut above the previous seasons. Forgettable episodes were still pretty good, or at least still had some good and interesting points. Menage a Troi is, in my opinion, the only actual bad episode of the season. Characters were full characters that were actually likeable, unlike the stuck up flat screens from Season 1 or the inconsistent characters of Season 2. Meanwhile, the highs were insanely high. Defector, Deja Q, Yesterday's Enterprise, Sins of the Father, and Best of Both Worlds, all in one season? And besides these classics, there's shows like The Most Toys, which don't seem to have the high popularity due to the lack of Klingons or Qs or famous guest stars or special effects, but are still riveting and haunting. To put it bluntly, there were more excellent episodes in this seaason than there were merely adequate ones. That's impressive.

It also helps that the themes of the season were so rich. What do we give up our lives for? What do we fight for? How do we deal with death? With soldiers after a war? With terrorism? With sociopaths? There's a ton of good real sci-fi here: using unique situations to explore human situations. Even better, they weren't so bloody arrogant like before. There are not exactly clear-cut answers to many of these questions. We see the characters struggling with these issues much like we would. Put simply, I like these people. I like this future. And I like watching them.

There was also outright pride in humanity and a richness of the overall culture of the universe. "As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail." Picard is downright noble now, in any universe. "If the cause is just and honorable, they are prepared to give their lives." "Let history never forget the name Enterprise." "Who will make the first gesture of trust? The answer is, I will." "You admit the truth, and yet you expect him to accept punishment? What does this say of an empire who holds honor so dear?" I so love his speeches...

Amazing season. Whether or not it's the best season of all of Star Trek is irrelevent. It is the most improved and most important. By taking such a great leap forward in quality, it managed to keep Trek on the air for another 15 years.
mephyve - Tue, Mar 18, 2014 - 8:29am (USA Central)
Wow, this was a good time in my life, when I was getting the TNG feeds on satellite, commercial free and about a week before the airdate. I was taping them on VHS and taking them to the local comic shop to watch with my friends. Needless to say, when I got this episode I was flying to the shop.
This was the episode that took TNG to the next level. The Borg, the unbeatable enemy, heads to earth and there is no way to stop it. Then there was the biggest cliff hanger since who shot J.R.
The assimilation of Picard, didn't see it coming, how where they going to get out of this one?
This was like watching a big screen production for free. It was the episode that gave me a greater sense of pride and privilege to know that I saw it first.

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