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
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91 comments on this post
Sat, Sep 8, 2007, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 21, 2007, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 6, 2007, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
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).
Tue, Nov 27, 2007, 9:57am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Jan 12, 2008, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Any ETA on Season 4 reviews?
Fri, Jan 18, 2008, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
Best Episode Ever!
The Borg are the best Star Trek villains ever, even with the soap opera style episodes on Voyager.
Fri, Mar 28, 2008, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Apr 25, 2008, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Apr 26, 2008, 3:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 26, 2008, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 19, 2008, 8:58am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 27, 2008, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Aug 1, 2008, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 14, 2009, 9:25am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 17, 2009, 12:40am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jul 25, 2010, 6:36am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Oct 29, 2010, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 16, 2011, 6:59am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 23, 2011, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 11, 2011, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Sep 6, 2011, 6:34am (UTC -5)
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!
Sun, Nov 4, 2012, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
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)
Mon, Dec 3, 2012, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
God, I love Star Trek! xD
Thu, Dec 20, 2012, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 7:28am (UTC -5)
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....
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 5:10am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Enterprise, even in its fourth season, was no TNG.
Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
- 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.
Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 8:29am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 5, 2015, 12:23am (UTC -5)
The big part...a stunning episode. The perfect way to cap off the season that sustained the Star Trek franchise so it could become what it is today. The Borg are a frightening enemy, more than they would be later in Voyager (maybe it was overexposure). What more can I say that hasn't been said already? Just that Jammer and David's reviews of this episode are what ultimately convinced me to put Season 3 of this show on my Christmas list, and I'm very glad I did.
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 4:24am (UTC -5)
So, what's my problem? In one word - Shelby. Remember back in Season One, when the show's First Officer was a supremely arrogant and pompous asshole? Well, thankfully, by this point, the powers that be seem to have realized that having Riker be that way was a colossal mistake. However, now we have a new character introduced (who just might become the show's new First Officer) who is a supremely arrogant and pompous asshole. But, you see, this time it's a woman instead of a man, so that, apparently, makes it okay. Seriously, I could really do without the Shelby character. She's the only piece of this puzzle which keeps it from being absolutely 10-out-of-10 perfect. I can appreciate that they were trying to bring some interpersonal conflict into the show, like Jammer points out. However, like so often happens in TNG, that conflict has to come from an outsider character; it simply can't come from one of our main cast. This concept would work so much better if it was, say, Worf who was getting in Riker's face. Instead of having Worf chomping at the bit to become First Officer, have him upset with Riker over what he sees as Riker's far-too-play-it-safe attitude about the Enterprise's defenses against the Borg.
Also, there is a problem with the scene between Picard and Guinan in Ten Forward. Actually, this problem isn't with this episode, but with a future two-part episode, "Time's Arrow." The scene between Picard and Guinan is perfect. Picard waxing historical about the Battle of Trafalgar and the Sack of Rome is beautiful. (However, the history buff in me can't let this slide :) - the Emperor Honorius didn't witness the Fall of Rome, only the first sack of the city in 800 years. The Fall of Rome didn't come until 66 years later during the reign of Emperor Romulus Augustulus.) However, despite the scene being perfect, "Time's Arrow" wounds it, in my opinion. Guinan says here that "this isn't the end." It makes her look wise and extremely calm in the face of impeding doom. But, viewed through the lens of "Time's Arrow," she isn't. She just knows with 100% certainty that the Borg won't prevail because Picard hasn't yet traveled back in time to meet her in the 19th century.
If it wasn't for the one error with Shelby, I would gladly say that "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" is easily the best of TNG. However, as it sits....
Okay, now that I've come to the end of Season Three, I might as well give my rankings for everything up until now.
"THE ORIGINAL SERIES" SEASON ONE:
The Man Trap 4
Charlie X 5
Where No Man Has Gone Before 4
The Naked Time 7
The Enemy Within 1
Mudd's Women 0
What Are Little Girls Made Of? 8
Dagger of the Mind 8
The Corbomite Maneuver 4
The Menagerie, Part I 5
The Menagerie, Part II 4
The Conscience of the King 10
Balance of Terror 9
Shore Leave 7
The Galileo Seven 7
The Squire of Gothos 5
Tomorrow is Yesterday 6
Court Martial 2
The Return of the Archons 3
Space Seed 9
A Taste of Armageddon 2
This Side of Paradise 4
The Devil in the Dark 8
Errand of Mercy 5
The Alternative Factor 0
The City on the Edge of Forever 8
Operation -- Annihilate! 7
Average Season Score: 5.276
Best Episode: The Conscience of the King
Worst Episode: Mudd's Women
"THE ORIGINAL SERIES" SEASON TWO:
Amok Time 9
Who Mourns for Adonais? 7
The Changeling 7
Mirror, Mirror 10
The Apple 1
The Doomsday Machine 9
I, Mudd 8
Journey to Babel 10
Friday's Child 4
The Dealdy Years 5
Wolf in the Fold 5
The Trouble with Tribbles 10
The Gamesters of Triskelion 2
A Piece of the Action 3
The Immunity Syndrome 5
A Private Little War 6
Return to Tomorrow 6
Patterns of Force 7
By Any Other Name 4
The Omega Glory 1
The Ultimate Computer 5
Bread and Circuses 8
Assignment: Earth 2
Average Season Score: 5.731
Average Series Score: 5.491
Best Episode: Journey to Babel
Worst Episode: The Apple
"THE ORIGINAL SERIES" SEASON THREE:
Spock's Brain 1
The Enterprise Incident 9
The Paradise Syndrome 7
And the Children Shall Lead 0
Is There in Truth No Beauty? 6
Spectre of the Gun 2
Day of the Dove 7
For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky 4
The Tholian Web 7
Plato's Stepchildren 3
Wink of an Eye 6
The Empath 6
Elaan of Troyius 2
Whom Gods Destroy 5
Let That Be Your Last Battlefield 4
The Mark of Gideon 0
That Which Survives 4
The Lights of Zetar 5
Requiem for Methuselah 5
The Way to Eden 1
The Cloud Minders 7
The Savage Curtain 5
All Our Yesterdays 8
Turnabout Intruder 3
Average Season Score: 4.458
Average Series Score: 5.177
Best Episode: The Enterprise Incident
Worst Episode: The Mark of Gideon
The Cage 3
Final Average Series Score: 5.150
1.) Journey to Babel
2.) The Trouble with Tribbles
3.) Mirror, Mirror
4.) The Conscience of the King
5.) Amok Time
6.) Balance of Terror
7.) The Enterprise Incident
8.) Space Seed
9.) The Doomsday Machine
10.) Bread and Circuses
71.) Assignment: Earth
72.) The Enemy Within
73.) The Omega Glory
74.) The Way to Eden
75.) Spock's Brain
76.) The Apple
77.) And the Children Shall Lead
78.) The Alternative Factor
79.) Mudd's Women
80.) The Mark of Gideon
"THE NEXT GENERATION" SEASON ONE:
Encounter at Farpoint 3
The Naked Now 4
Code of Honor 0
The Last Outpost 0
Where No One Has Gone Before 4
Lonely Among Us 2
The Battle 4
Hide and Q 3
The Big Goodbye 4
Angel One 0
Too Short a Season 1
When the Bough Breaks 2
Home Soil 3
Coming of Age 3
Heart of Glory 4
The Arsenal of Freedom 3
Skin of Evil 5
We'll Always Have Paris 5
The Neutral Zone 0
Average Season Score: 2.720
TOS after one season: 5.276
Best Episode: Conspiracy
Worst Episode: Angel One (Damn, that's hard to decide, with FIVE 0s in this season.)
"THE NEXT GENERATION" SEASON TWO:
The Child 2
Where Silence Has Lease 6
Elementary, Dear Data 8
The Outrageous Okana 0
Loud as a Whisper 3
The Schizoid Man 1
Unnatural Selection 7
A Matter of Honor 3
The Measure of a Man 9
The Dauphin 5
The Royale 2
Time Squared 5
The Icarus Factor 5
Pen Pals 3
Q Who? 10
Samaritan Snare 3
Up the Long Ladder 0
The Emissary 8
Peak Performance 3
Shades of Grey 0
Average Season Score: 4.318
Average Series Score: 3.468
TOS after two seasons: 5.491
Best Episode: Q Who?
Worst Episode: Shades of Grey
"THE NEXT GENERATION" SEASON THREE:
The Ensigns of Command 7
The Survivors 4
Who Watches the Watchers? 1
The Bonding 6
Booby Trap 6
The Enemy 8
The Price 1
The Vengeance Factor 4
The Defector 10
The Hunted 5
The High Ground 6
Deja Q 7
A Matter of Perspective 7
Yesterday's Enterprise 8
The Offspring 9
Sins of the Father 8
Captain's Holiday 5
Tin Man 4
Hollow Pursuits 7
The Most Toys 9
Menage à Troi 0
The Best of Both Worlds, Part I 9
Average Season Score: 5.846 (The best single season yet.)
Average Series Score: 4.315
TOS after three seasons: 5.177
Final TOS Score: 5.150
Best Episode: The Defector
Worst Episode: Menage à Troi
Mon, Sep 7, 2015, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
18 months of Borg anticipation finally pays off. The episode begins with a nice sense of dread and slowly ratchets up the intensity to the blazing conclusion - the exposure of the full depth of Borg indifference to humanity ("death is irrelevant") to the revelation of Picard as Locutus ("He IS a Borg") to Locutus addressing the Enterprise ("Your life, as it has been, is over") to the final "Mr Worf... fire" is as good as you'd ever want to see.
Perhaps the most chilling scene is where Guinan relates that "As long as there's a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail." Maybe - but extermination is at hand...
We've also got a great character study in here too, as Riker wrestles with his career ambitions and Shelby's piss and vinegar style shakes things up on the Enterprise. Great theme, great effects (nice to see the Mutara nebula re-purposed). What's not to like? 4 stars.
I scored this season overall 2.69, virtually a half-point improvement over Season 2. Indeed, but for a less than stellar first 9 episode average, the rest of the season average 2.9 and that says it all.
It's simple enough to see that this is where the series really hit its stride. The writing, characters, acting, FX are all coming together. There's enough back story now to get some really chewy material through. Even Wesley has stopped being so annoying.
When it really hits its straps - as with Yesterday's Enterprise and The Best of Both Worlds - we are looking at something that transcends sci-fi and provides genuinely arresting television.
Sun, Oct 25, 2015, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
Riker's "Mr. Worf - fire" was as perfectly effective as the same command barked by Kerr Avon at the conclusion of the second season of Blake's 7.
AVON Stand by to fire.
VILA Avon, this is stupid!
AVON When did that ever stop us?
Thu, Aug 4, 2016, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 18, 2016, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 19, 2017, 10:33pm (UTC -5)
"The Ensigns of Command"-3
"Who Watches the Watchers"-3.5
"The Booby Trap"-3
"The Vengeance Factor"-2
"The High Ground"-3
"A Matter of Perspective"-3
"Sins of the Father"-3.5
"The Most Toys"-3.5
"Ménage à Troi"-1
"The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1"-4
Sat, Jun 10, 2017, 2:39am (UTC -5)
Impressive. Even they didn't know that.
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 12:31am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
The episode brings a great deal of foreshadowing of the Borg threat and the score when Picard says "We have engaged the Borg" does send shivers up the spine. This is the best of TNG and among the best of all Trek.
As for Shelby, she was great. This is another aspect of the show that goes beyond the boundaries -- she's abrasive, talented and makes the cozy Trek officer uncomfortable. But Riker's character dealt with her well -- quite an episode for No. 1 here with all he's got to deal with.
There's the classic scene with Picard/Guinan -- usually get those when it's a serious episode such as "Yesterday's Enterprise". Some great ideological thinking come from their conversations -- just so well written.
And of course, the Borg are the greatest villain in all of Trek -- no matter the series. It's interesting to see how future episodes and series adapt the Borg to different situations but there's no denying the sense of helplessness the Enterprise face.
Picard turning into Locutus is about as classic as TNG gets -- interesting that the Borg have come up with this plan rather than just assimilating the human race, but that makes BoBW the story that it is.
4 stars for BoBW Part I -- not every episode can aspire to push everything to the max like it's done here from the writing, the music, the plot, the production. Probably as close to a perfect TNG episode as there can be.
Tue, Nov 21, 2017, 1:37am (UTC -5)
... nope, not even that.
it was a long summer.
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
The direction is taught and the tension relentless.
I entirely agree with Jammer on this episode .
I really feel this is a transcendent instalment.
It is a shame that the Borg subsequently had their teeth pulled too easily really but Best of Both Worlds part 1 is the zenith of TNG.
So : that is season 3.
My verdict on the season:
95% mediocre, forgettable ,flawed missable tedium and 5% great.
Those ratios are about to improve though.
Thu, Dec 28, 2017, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Yes indeed. I was a bit older than you (24), but is was excruciating to wait out that summer. When I'd run into other fans, we'd talk and talk about the episode, and what might happen next. I must have watched it at least ten times that summer, before the finale. And we all thought it was completely unfair we had to wait that long. :)
Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 10:29am (UTC -5)
"Captain's log, Stardate 43989.1. The Enterprise has arrived at Jouret IV in response to a distress signal from one of the Federation's outermost colonies."
Ok, yes, there was a distress call, but the music sounds more like "Captaibn's log. The Enterprise is about to be ripped to pieces and there's no time to abandon ship". In other words, over the top. Had it been subtle foreboding building up to a climax when Picard is taken or something, that's one thing. But really? The whole episode?
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Really? For there not to be a problem, one must not notice the score? That sounds like something Rick Berman with his sonic wallpaper approach would say.
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
The score sets the mood for the scene. A great score enhances your viewing without you being consciously aware why it's being enhanced.
Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Beyond that I do enjoy the Borg and this episode.
Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
And what an episode for Riker's character. Being bombarded from all sides -- questions from Picard about why he's not taking another captain's chair, the pissing match he gets into with Shelby in the turbo-lift, being forced into taking command of the Enterprise and firing on Picard/Locutus.
Frakes puts in one of his best performances -- really like his little acknowledgements to Geordi and others about Shelby "she's a real head of steam". I think this is RIker's best episode.
BoBW benefits hugely from a stellar guest performance from Dennehy -- normally TOS guest actors suck but her performance delivered everything it needed to.
Nothing held back in BoBW Part I. Everything is spot on about this episode from the writing, plot and to the score.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 3:12am (UTC -5)
Resistance is futile.
Your life, as it has been, is over.
From this time forward, you will service us."
Creepy, creepy stuff. This is by far the best episode in the series.
Sun, Apr 7, 2019, 11:45am (UTC -5)
The Borg, assimilation, resistance is futile , Locutus are truly classic TNG and have spread in our culture beyond Star Trek fans. Someone in my hood recently labelled an ugly new house shaped like a block as the Borg. This episode went beyond villain of the week.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 8:32am (UTC -5)
The real stand out part of the production (beyond the splendid VFX) is the score, which is utterly extraordinary. It's surely the very best of the entire run of Trek (with perhaps the exception of Star Trek 2 and 3).
I can't see this episode being nearly as effective without the score, which really viscerally captures the mystery, doom and excitement befitting of what is a potential extinction-level event for humanity.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Given the powerful soundtrack to BOBW I, I really think it is one of the 2 hours of perfect Trek ever made (the other being "The Doomsday Machine" which is similar in certain ways as the Enterprise deals with a threat to its own existence).
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 9, 2019, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
I’ll weigh in on Shelby since opinions seem split. I thought she was a great character who added an important layer to the episode and ratcheted up the pressure on Riker. As much as I loved the show, the smooth interactions between all crew members and their cheery averageness became stultifying at times. Shelby joined Jellico, Barclay, and Ro In adding some refreshing variety to the personalities found at Starfleet.
She also did something that I wish the show had done more of: she threw light on a (debatable) flaw in one of the main characters. We are used to believing Riker is a perfect officer and Picard is a perfect captain and so forth. But through Shelby’s eyes, we can question this for the first time. Is Shelby right that he prefers sheltering in Picard’s shadow? Is he angry with her mostly because she was actually wrong to beam down to the planet early - or because her brashness threatens him and reminds him of what he’s lost with age? Is it because he isn’t used to sharing the bridge with an equal?
I would have preferred for the show to continue showing Riker’s internal struggles and flaws in later episodes, or - just as good - that he take a captaincy position so Shelby could replace him as first officer. But the show, like Riker, gravitated toward keeping the status quo.
Thu, Nov 7, 2019, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
So well done.
I loved Shelby. She was perfect for the occasion. I loved the juxtaposition of her comment to Riker about not being able to "make the big decisions," and that spine-chilling ending with Riker making the biggest of big decisions:
"Mr Worf, fire!"
So many wonderful moments and not enough time to do them justice. Kudos to all players. Oh, my!
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
HOT SHOT! Yeah!!!!!!! We just need them hot shotses-gals to show Riker how it is DONE!!! Watch these two eps and apply sense.....if you run head long into hell you'll get blown out of the universe. I would loved to have seen a scene with Shelby and a borg and better yet, the borg queen (tho' she had not been thought of to this date).....none of that you will be assimilated ...that borg would have torn her crappy head off and stick down her open neck!
Maybe I can return and complain at a later date.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 14, 2020, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Some “TREK” fan claimed that the Borg believed the Federation and Humanity was different from any past target. But he dismissed that and insisted that the Borg needed Picard to learn everything about the Federation and Starfleet.
One, how did the Borg come to the conclusion that there was something unique about Humanity and the Federation that made them difficult to be assimilated? I
And two, why assimilate only ONE MAN of a crew of 1,000-6,000 individuals to gather information about the Federation? The Borg could have easily assimilated the entire Enterprise crew, their families and information from the ship’s computer in order to gain information about the Federation. In fact, the Borg had learned much about Humanity due to its first encounter with the Enterprise-D in Season Two’s “Q Who?”.
The more I think about “The Best of Both Worlds” the less it makes sense to me.
Mon, May 25, 2020, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
The old man done been in her no-no place and promised her Riker's job for it. Sound familiar?
If you pay attention you will seeeeeeee her mess up big time. She does not ask for permission to leave the ship on her "I got it sll and I'm ahead of you" and the idiots that follow her did not have the sense to tell on her. She had no authority on the Enterprise........BUT the old man that put her on the ship told her to run hog wild and show Picard how hot she was to get Riker's job. AND PICARD WAS A STUPID IDIOT IN THIS EP.
Fri, Oct 9, 2020, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Other than that, a great story. I remember watching the first-run broadcast and feeling a sense of constant nervousness like when I was a kid and saw any Dr. Who with the Dalelks. Sadly, I never got that feeling with Voyager's Borg episodes. Seems like the writers created an enemy that was too powerful and they didn't know how to deal with it other than to dumb down the threat. But to reminisce about what an impact the Borg first had when we watched this two-parter in the 90s....
Sat, Mar 20, 2021, 5:40am (UTC -5)
The Ensigns of Command: 7/10
The Survivors: 9/10
Who Watches the Watchers?: 6/10
The Bonding: 6/10
Booby Trap: 7/10
The Enemy: 8/10
The Price: 3/10
The Vengeance Factor: 5/10
The Defector: 9/10
The Hunted: 6/10
The High Ground: 6/10
Deja Q: 8/10
A Matter of Perspective: 6/10
Yesterday's Enterprise: 10/10
The Offspring: 9/10
Sins of the Father: 9/10
Captain's Holliday: 4/10
Tin Man: 5/10
Hollow Pursuits: 7/10
The Most Toys: 8/10
Menage a Trois: 3/10
The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1: 10/10
Average final score: 6.7
TNG's first consistently good season. A lot of classics and very good episodes with a thankfully low ratio of weak episodes. Easy to see why this is called the coming of age season
Sun, Apr 25, 2021, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 27, 2021, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 27, 2021, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
Hopefully this doesn't happen, but if one day you find your dreams and hopes have come short of expectation, and if someone comes along and pushes you out of the way as they take what you always wanted, years before you ever even could have, please come back and let me know you greeted them warmly and were happy about it.
Riker's impatience with Shelby doesn't just come out of nowhere here.
Thu, May 27, 2021, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 28, 2021, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 28, 2021, 6:02am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 28, 2021, 6:29am (UTC -5)
TNG really had the whole stuck up career woman trope down.
Fri, May 28, 2021, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 28, 2021, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
"When is someone going to address the existence of the pool on the Borg cube?"
When you have Borg children to take care of, you'll understand.
Sun, May 30, 2021, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 2:44am (UTC -5)
This is the WOW episode, and it has everything: a poker game, friction between Riker and Shelvey, Riker turning down yet another commission, and all set against the awaited confrontation with the Borg - who are like a combination of the Daleks (relentless conquest and destruction) and the Cybermen (assimilation into a collective whole). And surely, the best cliffhanger ending to a series in all of Star Trek?
Just one niggle: Stewart as an Englishman would naturally talk to Guinan about Nelson at Trafalgar.. but Picard as a Frenchman? Hardly!
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
At the risk of too much psychobabble, I personally think that Riker's push-pull with command is related to daddy issues, and the Riker/Picard material is related to Picard as mentor/father, whom Riker (Part 2 spoilers) has to both face down and also save. Riker is talented, but he's quite young and has to some degree substituted his ambition for other aspects of his life. I think The Icarus Factor and other episodes suggest that part of Riker's ambitious, meteoric rise in Starfleet is partly the result of searching for something to compensate for his difficult, motherless upbringing in the rugged, harsh environment of Alaska and his difficult father. Until Riker actually works through this stuff he's not going to be a great captain IMO. Arguably he is working towards it (and what he actually wants) in this two parter and maybe also in eps like "Second Chances" and "The Pegasus," though it's often more in subtext than text.
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 6:16am (UTC -5)
"If Riker's heart is not actually in it, he's not going to be a good captain"
Nor until he learns to stop leering at every attractive female that crosses his line of vision!
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 1:22am (UTC -5)
Then Riker says "senior officers to the bridge", again without tapping his combadge. Are they mindreaders?
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 4, 2023, 1:36am (UTC -5)
As it is, the sudden conflict with her interferes with some of the continuity that had been built up to that point. It's a high stakes and an epic episode, but the randomness of Shelby keeps it from being the defacto "best" episode of Tng for me.
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
We as the audience are invested in Riker because we've been following him for the better part of three years. Now here comes young hothead Shelby who makes no secret of the fact that she's gunning for Riker's job. The tension b/t the two characters gradually ramps up through the episode through a series of incidents big and small, like when Shelby takes the away team down without notifying Riker or goes directly to Picard with her plan to separate the ship. It escalates further when Riker calls her out in the turbolift, and later when Riker prepares to take an away team to the cube only to be reminded that Shelby is better suited to lead the team given Picard's absence.
What's interesting to me is how well balanced the conflict is between the two. Riker is the more seasoned and experienced of the two, but more cautious and reluctant to leave the Enterprise and take on captain responsibilities, as illustrated when he confides in Troi. Shelby is an aggressive go-getter with impressive tactical knowledge but not enough experience and zero personal diplomacy skills. Both score "points" against each other throughout the episode. Each character is perfectly balanced, with the weaknesses of one being compensated for by the strengths of the other, and neither is portrayed as strictly right or wrong - you can empathize with both of them to an extent. This strengthens the overall message of TNG that we are stronger when we put aside our differences and work together for the greater good.
And the conflict is kept very professional and restrained, which in my view only makes it stronger and showcases how we as adults would like to resolve conflict instead of resorting to name-calling, swearing, backstabbings, manipulation, etc. After Shelby suggests her saucer sep plan and leaves the room, Riker and La Forge have this gem of an exchange when talking about her:
Riker: "She gets a full head of steam, doesn't she?"
La Forge: "She's a formidable presence, to say the least. But I'm convinced she can help us here, Commander."
Riker: "I am too. Don't worry about it. I can handle Shelby."
That brief exchange illustrated everything I love about the TNG characters. No name-calling, no cheap insults, no sexist remarks, nothing like that. Riker and La Forge don't see eye to eye with her, but even behind her back, they remain respectful, recognize her strengths, and focus on working with her to take on the greater Borg threat. Then they go right back to work.
At the end of part one, after enduring Shelby chewing him out earlier in the ep for being unwilling to make the hard decision, Riker makes the call to fire on the Borg cube with Picard still on it. And then Shelby is the one who chokes, insisting on going back to the cube and asking Worf to consult with Starfleet before Riker shoots her down with "There's no time". When Riker gives the infamous "Mr. Worf fire" command, it's not just an epic cliffhanger moment, it's the culmination of his character arc. He finally makes the tough command decision and sticks with it.
Part two wraps up the Riker-Shelby conflict very satisfactorily with their discussion in Engineering during repairs. Riker praises Shelby for leading the away team to the cube and giving them their shot, which helps restore her dignity after she choked in front of everyone in the closing minutes of part one. The two of them hash out their differences very frankly and professionally before working together within the chain of command pretty seamlessly for the rest of the episode to stop the Borg. They recognize each others' strengths and weaknesses and act like professionals even though they don't particularly like each other. And at the end of the episode, they part with mutual respect, each having learned something from the other.
The more-or-less professional conduct between the Starfleet characters on TNG, I feel, played a major role in attracting people to TNG and keeping them there, and giving people something to aspire to. Such was the case for me. As an adult, I want to resolve conflicts like the TNG characters and I am very blessed to work in a place where my boss and co-workers act polite and professional 99% of the time. And nothing epitomizes that more for me that the Riker-Shelby plot in BoBW.
Now... fast forward to what passes for entertainment today and you get nowhere like the nuanced, balanced conflict on TV/movies today. Nowhere is this truer than with men-women interactions. Show me a conflict between a male and female character on any show/movie made within the last six years and I guarantee that the woman will win 99% of them with zero effort and act extremely unpleasant and unsympathetic while doing so, while the male will be depicted as obnoxious, unsympathetic, sexist, wimpy, incompetent or some combination thereof. It's the most annoying cliche of modern media. Look no further than the Star Wars sequel trilogy - Rey has essentially zero flaws to overcome and does everything with practically zero effort while Finn is a bumbling sidekick reduced to comic relief. Or look to what passes for Trek now where Michael Burnham does pretty much everything all by herself and has no meaningful character conflict beyond "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" and everyone blindly worships her.
And don't get me started on how every other episode of STD gets stopped dead in its tracks so at least one character can have a good cry and/or whine about their feelings. Ugh. Give me a break. When classic Trek characters had internal conflict, it was usually restrained, lean, and mean, which was to the show's benefit. So when a character really broke down (like Kirk choking up at Spock's funeral, or Worf charging onto Duras's ship when Kheleyr was killed), *it meant something*. When it happens too often, it loses its punch.
It's sad that a thirty-year old TV episode has better, more well-rounded characterization than most of today's junk. I miss shows where the characters acted like adults and were written by adults. But at least we will always have TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT to be a light to the rest of the world.
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
This is a perfect storm of conflicting information and priorities. The more I think about it the more Shelby's attitude and actions make perfect sense, not just because she's a 'go-getter' but because she's campaigning for a huge job that's frankly a stretch for her. And Riker's attitude also makes perfect sense since her actions are just one more pushy pressure trying to get him off the Enterprise before he's ready. Agreed, this is a *really* nice sub-plot.
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
It is like they took Season 1 Troi as the template and made every character just like her.
Look at Renee Picard - an astronaut on the eve of the greatest space mission in human history to put the Apollo program to shame and all we get is non stop drama about her fucking depression and anxiety. Because no hero is complete without a DSM Diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder.
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Terrific post. That's the kind of post I come to this website hoping to read!
As I've said before BoBW is a Riker episode, and the Shelby character really brings out the best in him. But like you say, and I completely agree, the Riker/Shelby parts are so well written and it is but one reason BoBW is, for me, the pinnacle of Trek. Yes, it is model for what we can aspire to.
I also completely agree that nu-Trek could never handle male-female conflict as is done here. I keep coming back to doing things with class and intelligence -- something nu-Trek has utterly failed at.
Classic Trek will always be like soul food. Not every episode needs to be a winner but at least we don't get mired in woke garbage and excessive and arbitrary emotionalism.
What's interesting is in going through BSG now (which was made between classic Trek's end and nu-Trek's emergence) -- we have flawed characters but the conflicts and emotions are sort of organic to the story and not just arranged for the sake of a supposedly meaningful moment.
Fri, Feb 3, 2023, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Nothing inherently wrong with that - after all those writers were trying to tell different types of stories. And they did it well. The character conflicts from said shows drew people in and made for compelling drama because it felt grounded and realistic, and people could easily picture themselves in the place of Adama or Starbuck, Walter White, Jack Shephard, Kate Austen etc. or at least see things from different characters’ POV. (FYI my favorite character on Lost is Ben Linus hands down)
Unfortunately Hollywood took the wrong lessons from the success of those shows. Rather than creating compelling characters with human flaws, throwing them together and letting the story flow from there, they started creating over-conflicted characters purely for the sake of creating over-conflicted characters without thinking about what made them compelling in the first place. Combine “conflict for its own sake” with the worst excesses of identity politics, and you get what passes for entertainment today. Character conflict for its own sake does not make a compelling story - what matters is what you do with it, how well it is executed, and the universal point you are trying to make with it.
Take Lost for example - in broad terms without spoiling it, I would say the overall goal of the character interactions/conflicts in that show were ultimately about each of the characters growing during their time on the island and accepting their respective destinies. And the success of Breaking Bad was in part because everyone who watched it felt that given the right set of circumstances, any one no matter how good could end up going down the same destructive path Walter White chose. And people still debate about it to this day. And as I summed up in my earlier post the point of the character conflict on TNG 99% of the time was to illustrate that we were better off resolving our differences peacefully and working together for a greater good.
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