Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Best of Both Worlds, Part II”

4 stars.

Air date: 9/24/1990
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review Text

The Enterprise's plan to destroy the Borg ship with a specially directed frequency of energy from the ship's main deflector dish fails when it turns out Picard's knowledge of the clever plan has been passed to the Borg and has allowed them to prepare a defense against it. "Your resistance is hopeless, Number One," says Locutus. The Borg proceed on their course to Earth as the Enterprise sits helplessly awaiting repair.

The episode's biggest plot conceit, obviously, is that the Borg don't destroy the Enterprise or assimilate its crew right then and there. Not being a threat, the rationale is that the Borg decide to simply ignore the non-threat and proceed to Earth. But come on. Obviously, the real reason is that it's the only way to permit the story to move forward. Granting the constraint that Picard and the Borg and the Enterprise must all survive the legendary "Mr. Worf, fire" setup, part two proves surprisingly effective as the solution to what seemed like an unsolvable problem. It's not an exercise in rock-solid logic, but it is an exercise in compelling TV.

The tension that was evident in the first part of the story does not for an instant wane here. The Borg are still headed for Sector 001, Starfleet is still woefully unprepared for the battle, and Picard is still in the clutches of the Borg. In an intriguing scene with harrowing implications, we see Picard being further transformed into Locutus; a streaking tear reveals that beneath Locutus still exists Picard, in torment. Aboard the Enterprise, Picard's absence fuels a solid character story for Riker, who must assume the role of captain under the worst possible circumstances and simultaneously step into Picard's shoes (and out of his shadow) for his crew while squaring off against Picard as the enemy. Guinan, who offered words of wisdom to Picard in part one, now bluntly tells Riker that he must let Picard go in order to do his job.

Meanwhile, the Borg march toward Earth. Starfleet's desperate stand at Wolf 359 ups the ante on the foreboding, and when the Enterprise subsequently arrives upon the debris of the wiped-out fleet, it's a particularly striking scene.

The secret to this story's success is its careful balance of elements and that it never loses sight of the fact that this is a TNG show, even amid the chaos. In addition to showing how the crew reacts and plans for this looming threat, Michael Piller's script keeps the story humming along on all cylinders; the details follow on the Borg ship, at Starfleet's desperate stand, and as Riker must hatch a daring plan to retrieve Picard from the Borg. This leads to some of TNG's most memorable action, in which Picard is retrieved but not rescued (the crew has his body but has not freed his mind). The show then shuttles into pure TNG problem-solving mode, in which the crew must figure out how to save Picard and stop the Borg, which might be one and the same.

Given that the story must resolve itself and Picard must survive, the solution is a clever one that allows the Borg to be defeated but without the brute force that part one had assured us was not possible. I find it highly unlikely that the access to the Borg's "sleep" system would not be under higher security, and even more unlikely that a self-destruct fail-safe would automatically ensue after that. But what the hell — the execution of the plot and the struggle and Picard's angst depicted in Data's hacking scenes bring it home as drama.

The show wisely keeps Ron Jones as the composer, bringing a musical continuity to this two-parter in a way that is more crucial than in virtually any other multi-part Trek on record.

Previous episode: The Best of Both Worlds, Part I
Next episode: Family

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

79 comments on this post

    As an addendum with no real connection to your reviews:

    In England, Best of Both Worlds part 2 was shown the week after Part 1 on BBC2 the first time around, as if it were part of the same season. Then there was a gap, and Season 4 started (with Family).

    Once Sky started airing TNG, things went to their 'proper' order.

    I wouldnt give BOBW2 4 stars, it doesnt even compare to part 1 as far as I'm concerned. Nothing could, but its basically one big long plot contrivance to get them out of an impossible situation, and its all to easy.

    It's nice to see Jammer give BoBW II 4 stars because I think it is a four star episode too. Both parts rank as my favorite two hours of not just TNG but Trek.

    I've never understood those that say the second half is a let-down. I find it as riveting as Part I. I had no clue what would happen from scene to scene and I had no idea how things would ultimately end up and that included whether Picard would survive.

    What impressed me is the fact Michael Piller wrote this months later with very little idea how he was going to resolve up Part I yet he effectively took advantage of the seeds were laid in the first hour that were there to exploit even though they weren't included with Part II in my mind since Piller had gone on record saying he planned on leaving TNG after season three.

    For instance, it might have been just me but I never suspected, even for a second, that they would keep Picard alive by having the weapon fail to work due to Picard's knowledge that was assimilated by the Collective mind. In hindsight, I really should have. Yet it was all nicely set-up and Piller wisely seized upon what presented itself to get the crew out of a corner in the most brilliantly simplistic and ingenuous way.

    Some writers plan ahead and intentionally go out of their way to put in place plot points in hour one that they know they’ll use to get out of a seemingly impossible situation in Part II but I never got that feeling here. This allowed for us in the audience to wonder a little longer about the fate of Picard as well as allowing the story, of course, to continue but it plausibly played off of the Borg’s pre-established MO making the hopes of a victory all the more unlikely given that the deflector was their ace in the hole—their best and only countermeasure to the Borg.

    Jammer mentions the "tear scene". I agree it is such a simple scene but so powerful. It also worked so well because it continues to show how alien the Borg are. In Part I, Picard said that humans would rather die than be assimilated and here we see why and it helps to further provide insight into the alien nature of the Borg that is so appealing to legions of fans as well as showing the nightmare of assimilation.

    They aren't doing this as punishment or torture but that is the net effect nonetheless. They see it as nothing more than a normal part of how they exist and they can’t even begin to understand the mental torture they are inflicting upon him as they leave Picard as not much more than a neutered silent observer passively watching as he is compelled to assist the Borg in the systematic deconstructing of his humanity.

    This scene is so powerful because it doesn’t use graphic violence or conventional torture but is just as unnerving. The Borg cube is the equivalent of a 24th century house of horrors where unspeakable acts are committed.

    And I like that these two episodes serve up a heap of fatalism. You've got Guinan talking about officers considering suicide, the end of the human civilization, Riker fully prepared to use the Enterprise in a suicide strike against the cube when all else has failed and the sight of a starship graveyard resulting in the loss of 11000 lives as we later learn.

    Nothing comes close to the dramatic impact of this scene until years later with DS9 and the Dominion War.

    Shelby begins naming off the destroyed ships and the crew takes a moment to absorb this and think of the lives lost in a solemn moment. I thought the touch of listing the [i]Melbourne[/i] as one of the ships destroyed since it added a touch of tragic irony for Riker.

    Patrick Stewart gave a chilling performance as Locutus and his two best scenes included his confrontation with Riker right before the battle and his interaction with Worf in sickbay which was an intriguing look into the Borg mindset.

    I also thought the episode did a superb job in generating real suspense and tension especially in the rescue of Locutus from the cube and in the final act as they reached Earth.

    The battle between the cube and the separated Enterprise was well choreographed and an awesome sight to behold with the anti-matter sequence and shots of reactions on the battle bridge, the shuttlecraft and the cube.

    The music was also just as effective as in Part I as Jammer mentions. I thought the score immediately following the destruction of the cube did a really nice job in capturing the sense of light breaking through the darkness and the final notes as the episode closes to be quite haunting.

    Michael Piller really milked everything he could have had out of the Borg and this near-apocalypse scenario he crafted. In fact, it was with BoBW that I really became a great fan of his and continued following his work over the year like The Dead Zone.

    Glad to see you back at it. I've been anxiously for you to resume TNG.

    I meant to add: I generally agree that BoBW2 was a let down after the build up. But what choice did they have? The script was deliberately written as a "Now get out of THAT!" by a writer at the end of his contract (Piller).

    It was indicitive of what was to follow in every subsiquent Trek seires (and most of TV-land).

    Instead of writing a two episode arc, the writers wrote a cliffhanger with no thought on how to wrap it up. Then they had to write themselves out of the corner they had just painted themselves into (To mix metaphors... badly)

    Just wanted to say thanks Jammer for the reviews. I usually agree with them, although I think your critical analysis far exceeds my own.

    I three am a long-time lurker; made heavy use of your site last year when while I was trying to sift out re-runs of VOY that were worth catching on Spike TV. While I don't know I've really changed my mind about acknowledging the show, I'm glad to finally say that I've at least seen its more 'viewable' installments.

    And now to stick my foot in my mouth: Based on what reviews of yours I've read, I think you'd probably really enjoy Babylon 5 as another 'epic' sci-fi series. I'm NOT suggesting you review it; just think you'd find it rewarding as a series that fires on a lot of the same cylinders as DS9 and BSG, with its serialized format, complex characters and heavy emphasis on politics/mythology. And that's the last I'll say on that subject (aside from that if you ever did Netflix it, you'd probably want to skip 1st season).

    Curious to know what you think about the direction of the new movie, what with recasting Kirk/Spock and all...


    I must say Jammer, even though "Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" was certainly one of the best episodes of TNG (second only to "Yesterday's Enterprise" in my book) - I do not believe part 2 deserves 4 stars. The ending was too contrived - resetting the Borg and violated the premise (which was set up before) that the Borg cannot be defeated technologically. I would have also liked to have had Captain Picard removed from his rank for a while and perhaps have a Starfleet Intel debrief episode prior to "Brothers." Alas, proabaly the best TNG season show-for-show.

    This was on TV the other day, and something bothered me that I hadn't noticed before.

    I understand Admiral Hanson died at Wolf 359. But some part of Starfleet had to survive after that. Why didn't the Enterprise hear anything from Starfleet headquarters -- or from the 40 ships the Klingons were said to be sending.

    I suppose Riker could have talked to Starfleet off camera. But the fact that the only thing we see of Starfleet (other than the Enterprise) in the second half of the episode are two shuttle-type ships from Mars? It's really weird.

    If nothing else, shouldn't someone on Earth have been hailing the Enterprise when it entered the Terran system? If not Starfleet, than the Federation Council?

    Also, the Borg self-destructing because of a malfunction was a little too easy. It would have been more believable if the Enterprise had destroyed the ship after a malfunction, IMO.

    Quibbles aside, this was a great episode, even if it wasn't as good as part 1.

    I caught this edited for feature length on a theater screen last night at one of those one-night-only Fathom Events where they cross promote the Blu ray release. "Wow" is the only single word that comes to mind. This two-parter should have been the template for the TNG movies. While, we all know it was not to be, this was the first time in over a decade I came back from a Star Trek theatrical event smiling ear-to-ear instead of depressed (see: Nemesis and Trek 2009). There was a big applause from the packed audience in the auditorium as the credits rolled. And as I was leaving I saw a 11 or 12 year old kid say to his parents "thanks for taking me". The seed had been planted for another generation!

    As for Jammer's 4-star rating for "part II", I say RIGHT ON! It's amazing how organic part II is to part I. It was wise to keep Cliff Bole, Michael Piller and Ron Jones to wrap this up. And you're absolutely right, this is compelling television. If there are plot holes, I was too wrapped up in the ride to notice. Seeing the series edited as a feature length movie, I don't think a first time viewer could have believed that part II was not planned alongside part I from the start.

    One of the smartest things was not trying to destroy the Borg through conventional means. We don't see the Battle of Wolf 359 which would have been the television equivalent to a hand-job to the audience (we see it in the DS9 pilot instead). Instead, we simply seeing the aftermath; it's a dramatic punch to the gut. That is a stroke of storytelling genius on Piller's part which amps up the dramatic stakes a 1000-fold.

    Part II has so many great moments I can scarcely name them all but my favorites are:

    *Guinan's speech to Riker about there only being one captain of the Enterprise ("It's the only way to beat him; the only way to save him.")

    *The look on Wesley's face when Riker orders him to set a collision course with the Borg ship as a last ditch effort.

    *"Then take your best shot, Locutus because we are about to intervene."

    *"Sleep, Data, sleep."

    Part II is a classic episode in and of itself. Four stars indeed.

    I also saw this in the theatres and I was so disgusted they decided to show the documentary before the show. I took my girlfriend who has only heard my hype and had no idea what a Star Trek was and the entire two parter was spoiled for her before it even started. Every single part was spoiled. What a crock.

    As for the show, I agree with Patrick in that it was well done! The remastering was excellent and the episode doesnt seem all that dated for being 25 years old.

    It was mentioned in the documentary that Micheal Miller quit the show without writing a second part. I had read years ago that there were a lot of head games being played between the writers, producers, actors and the media as to not ruin the ending of this two parter. They wanted people to believe this could be the end of Picard. So I actually think everything was planned out from the beginning to the end.

    While arguably the ending was too easy, it was consistent with what we know about individual drones, how they could self destruct if they suffered the "malfunction" of being injured or separated from the collective. Also, when the larger collective saw that the unauthorized sleep command had been issued, they may have triggered the destruction of the cube.

    I didn't know there was actually any controversy about the conclusion until I discovered the internet; I always thought it was just as good as part I and not a let-down in any way.

    The way the episode escaped from part I's cliffhanger is clever and logical. The Borg learn and adapt. They have the ability to make themselves immune from many different types of energy attacks. They work by linking all their brains together in the collective. So it's quite logical to assume Picard's brain would now be part of the collective. And quite logical that they would have noticed the big plan to defeat them first. Not sure how many fans guessed that back when it first aired, but it makes perfect sense in retrospect.

    Likewise, the final resolution to both the Borg and Picard plots was also clever and logical. The Borg had already been established as beyond the weaponry of Starfleet. Thus, it would have been unbelievable if a brute force, technological solution were to be found. Maybe an entire fleet defeating the Borg could have worked, but special effects hadn't advanced far enough to show that battle yet. Instead, Wolf 359 acted as a punch in the gut and made our dread even more real. So brute force couldn't work. A deus ex machina would feel cheap, even if it did work in Q Who. So it had to be a clever non-traditional route would need to occur. But special tactics like the Picard maneuver might still feel like a let-down. And it doesn't explain how to get Picard back. So why not link the two together?

    We still got the cool maneuver and special tactics. We got a call-back to Peak Performance, which showed Riker can be pretty innovative when pushed into a corner. And that's what we saw. We start with taking advantage of the Borg's inhumanity by appearing to mimic a plan hatched when Picard was around. The Borg never considered the possibility of a bluff; their machine-like thought process immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion. We then see an awesome fireworks display, which were some pretty impressive effects for that time. But all of this proves to be a distraction for the real ploy; kidnapping Locutus. The whole scene felt smoothless and came with a nice bout of action. Very well directed scene.

    And so Locutus is used to hack into the Borg collective. But even that is too easy. So instead, we meet Picard half-way. Data's hacking serves to wake Picard up enough to give advice on how to get the Borg to go to sleep. And so the Earth is saved. And, conveniently, Picard is back. I don't think anyone saw that coming. But looking back on it, it's hard to see any other way it could have gone.

    If I had to make one little change, it would be to not have the sleep pattern cause a self destruct. Instead, I would have had Data warn Riker that he doesn't know how long this will last. And so Riker gets a chance to blow up a defenseless ship. It would have made the mini-argument between Shelby and Riker (about whether to stop the Borg's self destruct sequence) make more sense, and also would have been a nice conclusion to the Riker sub-plot of part I. Riker still has the gumption to take risks when the need arises (as proven by the kidnapping of Locutus), but also understands when to call. Shelby might try to get Data to keep them in sleep mode as long as possible in order to study them, while Riker understands that they are completely out of options if the Borg do wake up. So he orders their destruction. But it's a minor point.

    Another minor point, which I thought was quite impressive, was that Riker essentially failed his first moments as the designated captain of the Enterprise. I'm referring to his staff meeting, where he made two rookie mistakes. The first was to immediately undermine his new first officer by dissing her at the same time as promoting her. "Reluctantly"? You don't say that when promoting someone! You need to have full faith in your first officer and you need to ensure your other officers know that you have full faith in her. And yet Riker gives the most lukewarm promotion ever. Ouch. Next, he ends the meeting with some serious self-depreciation while trying to raise the troops' morale. No no no no no. Yes, the situation looks hopeless, and everyone feels that we're all doomed. But you don't reveal you feel the same way! That leads to breakdown of morale and increase in despair. Even if everyone suspects that you don't have a clue how to survive, you need to act at least somewhat confident. I may not be a starship captain, but I know that those were two mistakes.

    And yet, it makes sense. This is Riker's first command, and has had no time to prepare for it. He's also stressed, probably tired, grieving, and to be blunt has a whole lot on his mind at the moment. It is perfectly reasonable that his first staff meeting would be a bit... unrehearsed. And it ends up reinforcing the next scene, which shows that Guinan needed to give him a kick in the rear to get things moving. Nicely done.

    It also helps to keep that sense of dread going. There's a nice scene in Dune that mirrors this scene; a staff meeting with war looming on the horizon and a sense of things slipping out of control for the Duke of Arrakis. Frank Herbert was able to use words to explain subtle signs on the faces and actions of the staff members showed that the sense of dread was wearing on them, and the staff meeting just seemed to dissolve rather than have a crisp, clear purpose. And I think this staff scene on the Enterprise showed the same thing.

    4 stars for me.

    Locutus throws the guard across the room, and Beverly doesn't bother to stop and tend to him. She is busy monitoring Picard's vitals, but she could at least page sickbay for someone to come tend to him. Even minutes later she's still preoccupied and oblivious while a patient continues to lie unconscious on the floor. Lovely.

    Riker: "Based on our latest communication, we can assume that the Borg survived the fleet's attack."
    Me: "Understatement of the year, dude."

    I think this is one of the few Trek second parts that ever came close to surpassing the potential set by the first part; the closest competitors immediately coming to mind are VOY's "Scorpion Part II" and DS9's "Time to Stand". Trek cliffhangers usually nail part 1 and falter on part 2, to varying degrees. In general, though, setting up a good cliffhanger is relatively easy compared to actually resolving it in a satisfying manner.

    Classic episode, and boy does Ron Jones' soundtrack make this two parter. BoBW would not have been nearly as thrilling without his soundtrack to match.

    Speaking of good Trek cliffhangers, I can't believe I forgot to mention DS9's "In Purgatory's Shadow". Now THAT was one which really sent chills down my spine at the end.

    I might be alone in this, but I really wanted to see the continuing adventures of Captain Riker and First Officer Shelby. I know Patrick Stewart gave TNG some much-needed gravitas and losing him might have caused ratings to plummet; nevertheless, I loved the Riker/Shelby dynamic and I would have liked seeing Picard, if not killed, then kicked upstairs to the admiralty after the events of this episode. They could have given us a couple of "Admiral Picard" stories every year where he has specific orders for the Enterprise, or Enterprise has to shuttle him around to vitally important diplomatic conferences. They could have even made Picard's stories at Starfleet Command an ongoing plot thread; I would have enjoyed seeing just how Starfleet Command works. This also would have eliminated all the "why is Riker still just a first officer" debate that hovered over the show for the rest of its run and also throughout the movies.

    We still could have gotten great Picard episodes like "Darmok" or "The Inner Light"--after all, you would think Starfleet would occasionally send admirals to make important first contacts, and "Inner Light" didn't depend upon Enterprise's presence at all.

    Alas, it was not to be.

    The Borg changed everything Brian, the Borg changed everything.
    As soon as one Cube orbitted Earth (one century after V'ger!) after smashing a fleet, they knew their idealistic bullshit had to end.
    After the stories of parasites infiltrating Starfleet at the highest levels got out, starfleet had to tighten it's security measures.
    After the ROmulans resurfaced with a fleet of warbirds comparable to starfleets finest, and destablized the Klingon empire, Roddenberryism had to end.
    They're through the looking glass people....

    A lot of people say that "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" isn't as good as "Part I." I have to agree with them, though probably not for the same reasons.

    What is on display here is just as good as "Part I." What brings it down for me is what isn't here. I simply cannot believe that we don't see any of the Battle of Wolf 359! The closest we get is a short snippet of the admiral on the view-screen during the battle with his flagship getting hammered around him. This is a monumental turning point in the history of the Federation and yet we have to wait until the first episode of DS9 to finally see some it. I hate to bust out the Pearl Harbor or 9/11 comparisons, but nothing else of equal significance comes to mind. Up until now (for almost a century in the Trek universe) the Federation has enjoyed such an idyllic and peaceful existence that it almost breaks the suspension of disbelief. Sure, they've had problems recently with the Romulans (and in the larger, and later, storyline, the Cardassians) but this is a whole new ball game. Starfleet just got the ever living hell kicked out of it. Earth itself was within a hair's width of being assimilated. Even if the writers weren't planning very far ahead from this episode, they simply had to realize that this was a game changing event. They knew enough to see that the events of "Sins of the Father" would require some serialized storytelling on their part. Could they possibly have been so blind that they couldn't see that a Trek version of Pearl Harbor wouldn't require the same? Apparently they did since we aren't treated to any scenes depicting the battle itself. Granted, we get that amazingly good scene of the Enterprise coming upon the wreckage, but come on! It could have been so much more.

    I also cannot believe that we get no idea of what is happening on Earth during all of this. The barbarians are quite literally at the gates and yet we spend all our time with the Enterprise and the Borg ship. What is happening with the general public? What is Starfleet Command doing? The government of the U.F.P.? We get nothing. This story almost screams for scenes like that, to show how the larger picture is unfolding. When the Borg blast through the Mars Defense Perimeter, we should see admirals start panicking. (As an aside, Earth sure seems to always be rather undefended in Trek, doesn't it? V'Ger attacks and the Enterprise is the only ship in range. The Whale Probe shows up and one ship goes out to meet it. The Borg invade and three tiny ships from Mars stand against it. And it only gets worse from here in future episodes.) When the Cube appears in Earth orbit, we should see literal panic in the streets. But again, we have to wait for a DS9 episode to get even a hint at what is happening on Earth at this time - the episode "Homefront" establishes that a State of Emergency was declared. Well, that's at least something, I guess.

    This story really needed to be more than two episodes long. I realize that it was something of miracle for it to be two episodes long, given that this is only Trek's second two-parter. And I'm not saying it should have been a six- or ten-parter like we eventually got in the last seasons of DS9. Still, it needed to be at least three episodes. The first part ends Season Three and sets up the turmoil. Then Season Four opens with its own two-parter, giving enough time to show the drama and action on the Enterprise and give us the needed scenes at Starfleet Command, the U.F.P. government and Earth in general.

    All of that aside, however, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" is a very worthy follow-up to "Part I."


    Ah, after all that build up has there ever been a more crushing let-down that when the Enterprise's deflector beam completely fails to do anything?!

    Despite the fact that this has some excellent action scenes and some wonderful character insight, I can't help feeling that it actually dragged a little in getting to its conclusion. I guess inevitably given budgets and everything else we see this play out from the Enterprise perspective, and yet that makes the episode feel kind of small - it's a subject that perhaps needed a grander stage to play out. 3 stars.

    These two episodes always bothered me for the very contrived solution. Quite frankly, the enterprise should have been destroyed. The cube waltzed through 40 ships like they weren't there, but the enterprise miraculously is largely unscathed?

    It bothers me how many TNG loyalists refer back to this as how awesome the ship is, but it shouldn't have happened. The enterprise should be gone, and most if not all of those on board dead.

    Actually, knowing what we know now, I think its more likely the Borg Queen (which we don't know about here) detected the anomaly and also detected intruders on board. In order to maintain some secrecy about their intent and abilities, she then sets the self destruct. She may have even believed Picard would be a casualty. Or she wanted to keep him alive. Just thoughts.

    This episode is let-down for me, but re-watching it it's not nearly as disappointing as I remember. The fact that the Borg don't take out the Enterprise is a complete plot contrivance. But I wonder though if Picard had some sort of subconscious effect on the collective to keep them from destroying the ship. And since the Enterprise in no way was a threat they could assimilate the flagship of the Federation after the fall of Earth.

    Also, I *assumed* that the Borg feedback loop was due to the entire cube shutting down all at once. Surely an entire Borg cube wouldn't sleep all at the same time since they would be completely vulnerable.

    Like many others, I don't feel the 2nd part of this episode was as strong as the first. Everything just seemed too easy - the fact that they were able to so easily find Picard on a ship the size of a Borg cube was almost laughable. And why did the Borg only send 1 cube to earth? Wouldn't it make more sense to send at least 2, for redundancy? I do have to strongly disagree with someone else's comment that the battle of Wolf 359 should have been shown. Since the Enterprise wasn't there, there would be little point in showing the battle. From what point of view would we be seeing it? The aftermath of the battle was my favourite part of the episode - a very chilling scene (probably equivalent to seeing the twin towers destroyed). Realistically, though, I think at least a few ships should have survived the battle. I also found it absurd that at the end, they suggested that the entire fleet of 40 ships would be replaced within *a year*. That's 1 ship every 9 days! I think the figure would be more like 5 years, at least, since additional ship yards would likely have to be built to speed things up.

    Solid solid solid.

    Unsung: The closing scene of Picard, alone in his ready room, his headwounds bandaged, turning to peer out his window at the Earth below [fade].

    Really beautifully done.

    It's funny - Guinan did more actual counselling in her one scene with Riker than Troi did in all seven seasons.

    I'm going through this series for the first time on Netflix. This is my first time commenting here. I'm glad I found this site. I love reading the comments and reviews after I watch an episode.

    I just got through watching this one. Wow. Now I understand why Best of Both Worlds was always so highly regarded in the realm of television.

    I have to say that both parts had me riveted. My only complaint about part 2 was how goofy Locutus seemed, walking around the sick bay, poking at people and telling them they'll be assimilated until they get annoyed and Beverly turns him off.

    I find this two-parter to be the most hyped episode in the history of sci-fi to be honest with you. I think it's a good 8/10, but people go on like it's The Inner Light or All Good Things. It is not. I can understand that it's exciting with the Borg and all, and people get sucked in to the idea of Picard becoming one. Ooooo, how will he be rescued?

    But, come on, does anyone else here realize what they did to the Borg? They turned it from a savage killer into battle of the week, and it started right here. The very idea that Picard would be savable after this ordeal is just ridiculous. We were told originally that once you were assimilated, that was it. And, even if that were not the case (it was), it breaks all suspension of disbelief to accept they'd ever manage to find him and retrieve him from that deadly Borg ship. That alone knocks a mark off for me.

    But the entire thing was designed to play on people's love and fear of the Borg. It's got a lot of fizz, but no pop. It's got drama (actually melodrama), but it's all artificial and phony. There might have been a real tension there if there were any chance that Picard could be lost forever, but we all knew that the main cast was protected from death on TNG.

    I'd have to watch it again, but those things stood out to me - along with that awful Shelby character with her silly hair-do. I didn't take her seriously as an opponent for Riker, because she was poorly written and the acting was over the top. It was like she'd just come from some hair salon job and walked right onto the set to say her lines.

    I'll have to watch this again soon, then I'll probably be able to give this some pros and some more cons.

    *over hyped.

    Additionally, I thought the next episode, Family, was far better.

    { There might have been a real tension there if there were any chance that Picard could be lost forever, but we all knew that the main cast was protected from death on TNG. }

    But we didn't know that at the time.

    They ended the episode as they did because even they didn't know if Picard would survive. Even Patrick Stewart didn't know!

    { I've never understood those that say the second half is a let-down. }

    I think because now people see it and say "Oh geez the reset button, by the end of the episode everything is like it was at the beginning".

    To me, is one of the few times the Magic Reset Button of most plots works so well - you don't know that it's going to. At least, we didn't when it first aired. It was believable that Riker would take over and Shelby would be the new first officer and that they'd have to sacrifice Picard to save the day.

    But we didn't know that at the time.
    Yes, we did.

    "We were told originally that once you were assimilated, that was it"

    To my knowledge BOBW was the first time we were introduced to even the concept of "assimilation". In fact in Q Who we were told explicitly that the Borg were not interested in life forms, but technology. So no idea where you are getting that from.

    And calling BOBW a "battle of the week" is a bit silly when the cube literally wipes out the entire Federation fleet. What would be a worthy battle in your view, the Federation being completely destroyed? There were budgetary constraints you know. Even in a feature film I doubt they could have shown a full scale battle between a 39 ship fleet and a borg cube back then, not in the pre cgi days to be sure. I think for the time, what we got was amazing. I didn't need to see the fleet being destroyed - watching the ship graveyard scene was just great and maybe more impactful.

    That said I agree this episode was hyped to an extreme level. The ending of BOBW part 1 is the stuff of parody, what with the over the top music and melodrama. But you know what, it was AWESOME. For me it was the greatest TV I had ever watched. Pure magic.

    They didn't need to show the actual battle, it was way better just showing the aftermath IMO.

    I also think this worked really well when they did it later on with Kor's last stand on DS9. Sometimes it's better to let your imagination fill in the blanks. It's why movies like the original Halloween work so well and even hold up today. The killer doesn't need to be shown in every scene, put a few scenes in there and let the audience think about it: Could he appear? Is he behind the curtain? Maybe he's someplace else this time??

    No doubt for me - a terrific conclusion making BoBW the best of TNG. Looking at various rankings of the best TNG episodes BoBW is usually ranked No. 1. I can see why - the gravity of the plot, the tactics, the menace of Star Trek's No. 1 enemy approaching Earth -- all great stuff.

    The best episode of TNG wouldn't be what it is without a special message from Guinan (to Riker in this case). Just seems to set the framework for what must be done (like in "Yesterday's Enterprise").

    Shelby continues to be a quality addition to this 2-parter. Good that she acts like a professional under Riker after being quite abrasive in Part I.

    The tactics (saucer separation / shuttle to get Picard back & then Data working on accessing the Borg networks) all seemed logical and well-conceived to me. No excessive suspension of disbelief required. Pretty riveting when Riker is asking Data for his progress while planning to ram the Enterprise into the cube.

    I have a small preference for Part I but Part II is easily a 4-star episode and on its own one of the best TNG episodes. Many scenes are awesome like the Borg cube passing Saturn and bearing toward Earth, the destruction of the Federation ships at Wolf-359. Truly classic TNG here.

    The first officer of any ship really has a great incentive to wish their Captain dead don't they?
    Makes you understand why Riker never wanted his own command - just waiting for Picard to frickin die so he gets the flagship.

    I also like how, when Riker is choosing a first officer, he says sorry to Worf (L) and Data (LC) but just ignores Crusher (Com) Geordi (LC) and Troi (LC).

    @ JohnTY,

    Normally a captain dying or being promoted would result in a new captain assigned to the ship, so that's not a conflict of interest for the XO like it was in Mirror, Mirror. In Riker's case you're probably right that he would take Picard's place permanently if anything happened, which in S5-7 may have been a plausible reason to want to remain XO on the Enterprise. Prior to that I think he actually wanted to remain under Picard's guidance rather than jump ahead to command and lose that mentorship.

    As for who could be his XO, Troi wasn't authorized to command a starship even though in Disaster she temporarily had command due to her rank. Crusher would never have agreed to take the post even if it was offered. Geordi is the only one who had commanded before and would have possibly wanted to, so maybe he could have been included in the discussion, but I guess it was meant to be obvious that he'd be better placed in engineering. Data and Worf were the two only senior officers qualified as XO who would have vied for the position if given a chance.

    Also, am I correct in thinking that Data was in fact recognized as the ship's "second officer" who would automatically be in command if anything ever happened to both Picard and Riker? There didn't seem to be any question about it in the Gambit 2-parter - while Worf grumbled about Data's decisions, it seemed like he was just disagreeing rather than implying that he should have been chosen instead.

    There's no question that Data would be in command under normal circumstances if Picard and Riker were incapacitated. But I think the idea is that Riker's field promotion in this episode was more official, since the idea is that they are going to fight a major battle and also that Picard has been treated as entirely lost. So there's more expectation that Riker will have to appoint an official XO, rather than having the chain of command basically kept as was. You would think that would be true in Gambit as well (where Picard was apparently dead), but I think the idea in Gambit is that it's treated as Riker leading the ship on a (low stakes compared with the Borg threat) mission before the command structure is finalized; Riker doesn't get a field promotion, for instance. Presumably eventually either Riker would be officially promoted to captain, and he'd choose Data or whoever to be his XO, or a new captain would be assigned, but maybe the urgency of investigating Picard's death allowed them some leave before a full restructuring would take place.

    Why would Riker want Picard dead, he's got to have the best job on the ship! He gets to go on all the cool away missions, let Picard make the hard decisions, and basically command everyone else.

    Also, and to further answer JonnTY's question, none of those three mentioned are Bridge Officers, they're just senior staff. Troi eventually does take the Bridge Officers' test though. (See "Thine Own Self")

    So you're saying that if Riker picked Worf as his XO it would be totally fine that he is out-ranked by several other officers on the ship, or otherwise promoted 2 clear ranks to full Commander, simply because he's a Bridge Officer?

    Anyway, it's obvious the ranks in Trek don't always make perfect sense, my point was just that it looked like a snub. Just say you considered all of them as potential XOs due to their command experience and then make your justification about maintaining the status quo as a result of the present crisis.

    And the fact that it's silly that Riker automatically gets command upon Picard's death ala Mirror, Mirror rules.

    Ultimately I don't expect these minor details to stack up perfectly every time. Just enjoy pointing them out :)


    That's not what I’m saying at all:

    “A bridge officer was an officer whose station or main duties took place on the bridge of a starship. For a bridge officer to be eligible to take command, the Bridge Officer's Test had to be passed. If a non-bridge officer and a bridge officer held the same rank, the bridge officer was considered the ranking officer. (VOY: "Displaced")“ - Memory Alpha

    That should answer your question, and William B answered your other question fairly well.

    Sorry, so explain what would happen if he'd picked Worf as his first officer?

    Worf would no doubt say something about honor, Data would mull over anti-android bias, and Shelby would request a transfer.

    I've always thought a cooler ending for this episode would've played out like this:

    After the away team confirms the Borg are sleeping, cut to the bridge. Worf announces the arrival of 5 Klingon warships and they are being hailed. Klingon captain announces they regret not arriving sooner but are there to assist the Enterprise. Riker thanks them and tells them to standby. Then we get the bit about not knowing what destroying the Borg cube might do to Picard, but Riker says they have to take that risk. He has the away team beam back, then opens a channel to the Klingon ships and gives the order for all ships to fire all weapons on the Borg vessel, destroying it. Way more badass and satisfying.

    Still, this two parter is awesome and I love it anyway.

    And thanks for the reviews Jammer, I've been doing a rewatch of TNG and this site is great for getting opinions on episodes.

    The tightness of the direction in this second part assist in glossing over the plot holes but the wrap up doesn't bear close inspection.
    Patrick Stewart carries it off very well and his 'Almost Human' comment nicely indicates the deep psychological scars that are explored further in the next episode ( and in First Contact).

    The trouble is that the Borg would likely sweep up the federation without breaking a sweat so having them so easily defeated just does not seem convincing no matter how much technobabble is chucked at the problem.

    Still-it gets the job done.

    I'm kind of surprised that "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" is also given four stars as with Part I.

    This is not a bad episode but there a few things that undermine it. Most specifically, the miraculous recovery of Picard at the end. He's back in his ready room, back on duty with only a Band-Aid on his head. It was that simple to undo what was done to him? Really?

    The captain of Starfleet's flagship was captured and assimilated by a malevolent, hostile foe and was used to help destroy a Federation fleet and kill thousands of people. I'm sorry but in reality Picard would back on Earth for an extended period of time by order of Starfleet. He would be thoroughly examined and debriefed. Starfleet would be justified in not trusting him to command a Starship or having any security clearance. The first few episodes of season four should have focused around this while Riker continued to command the Enterprise. It also would have been a great opportunity to see more of Commander Shelby. It's a shame we never saw the return of her character.

    I've been thinking about the title of this episode for a while even though I haven't seen it lately. My main question has been - what does the title refer to?

    For years my main assumption was that it was a reference to the Borg. In a show about both humanity and science, the Borg represent what should be the culmination of both - the best of technology and biological life. As a hybrid you'd think they'd be some kind of admirably advanced bio-mechanical being. And yet they're the stuff of nightmares instead, employing both (as Q put it in Q Who) as the ultimate user. I can see the title as being an ironic statement that technology, if used strictly for the purposes of becoming powerful, can lead to the biological life forms using it becoming as lifeless and inert as it is. This is a theme science fiction writers have employed before, which is that technology can corrupt us, perhaps akin to the One Ring, and that if we pursue technology for its own sake we risk becoming its slave rather than its master. Frank Herbert certainly focused on that aspect, specifying that by turning our thinking over to machines it would permit other men with machines to enslave us. All of this might lead us to conclude that a significant theme of the episode is that when advancing in both culture and technology we'd best be sure that it's society that technology serves and not the other way around. This episode, to me, solidifies Trek as being fundamentally about people and human life, and that the technological future is a means of exploring that. Even the term "best" here is telling, because the Borg (as we would later have it explained to us) seek perfection through technological improvement, so straight away we can see a contrast between biological life - which is messy - and perfection, which we should properly see as being contrary to life. So maybe this is even a warning about humanity trying to perfect itself too much, and in the wrong ways.

    Now I'll venture into another interpretation of the title, which is really the focus of the story anyhow: Riker's story. Here we get character building from three seasons coming to a head. We get the themes shown to us in the pilot, in early S1 woman-chasing episodes, in Hide and Q, The Icarus Factor, and even Peak Performance, and they're all wrapped up in the confrontation between Riker and Shelby. He's not as brash and impulsive as he used to be, and seems to have settled in as Picard's #1 over and above becoming a Captain. In this episode Riker is yet again offered his own command, thus bringing up the old issue of what used to be his career ambitions, and also the role Picard plays for him as mentor. Riker's reason for staying on this ship - aside from Troi, which was evident in the Icarus Factor - is Picard, and in BoBW the plot hinges on his anchor to the Enterprise being taken away. Shelby shoves in his face that he's too slow, in her way, and not as cavalier as an up-and-comer like her. Between both parts of this episode I believe we're shown that Riker finally comes to terms with the changes he's gone through and recognizes that his previous vision of himself is a shibboleth to be released. He doesn't have anything to prove to anyone any more, and the competition with his father - apparently finally ended as of The Icarus Factor - should no longer a reason for him to sacrifice his happiness for his career. What Riker finds is what Troi points out to him later on in S7 in an episode that's frankly redundant with this one (Second Chances), which is that he may have lost some of his edge in the sense of being like Captain Kirk, but he's gained in wisdom and is actually a better officer for it. And the biggest takeaway is that being more mature doesn't mean he's any worse at making quick and imaginative decisions. Riker doesn't need to measure up to his dad, or Shelby, or even take his own command, to know he feels good about his position and his capabilities. He'd rather serve under Picard than be the best at any of those, and that's a humbling realization and yet one that probably feels good to accept. So the title is Riker's story, in that he has become the best of both worlds between superb excellence and forming connections that last. He's the best of what he was coming into the series, and with what Picard has taught him, and instead of losing something instead he's gained, although it takes him a lot of time to see this. He's right where he wants to be, a subordinate but still on an important ship with people he cares about. The best of all possible places for him to be. You can even tell by the end that Shelby thinks twice about frowning on his choices when she sees that it didn't reduce his capabilities but instead increased his contentment.

    Two deep meanings not being enough, I believe there's a third, and one that hearkens back to Peak Performance. Riker may have wanted to serve under Picard more than anything, but what of Picard himself? In this series he's the very face of the Federation, the exemplar of Starfleet values and of 24th century culture. Picard could certainly be seen as among the best humanity has to offer, which leaves Riker in a tough spot in terms of shining on his own merits. And yet we've seen that he has different strengths than Picard does, both in his interpersonal skills (where Picard was initially portrayed in the pilot as not being good with people and actually disliking interpersonal interaction) and in his spontaneous creativity. He's not just a musician but a jazz musician, specializing in improvisation, where Picard's strength tends to lie in preparation and study. And yet it's clearly Picard's show, and Riker (as a show character) is overshadowed by him over the course of the series. So what happens when this exemplar - this best man - is assimilated by the Borg? He's not just captured, but his best attributes turned to their device; his planning, his knowledge, all of that to be used against Riker and the Federation. And so now we get a reminder that Riker isn't just a good officer, or even a great one, but THE BEST, as Picard puts it in Peak Performance. We might have forgotten he said that, since this is often the Picard show, but when Picard answers Kolrami's "Your Commander Riker is very good" with "He's the best!" we shouldn't understate what this means coming from someone distinguished like Picard. I think he really means it, and not just "the best, myself excluded". I think Picard really recognizes a greatness in Riker, part of which is the greatness of not needing to match talent with ambition, and not needing to temper the exciting parts of life (sexual desire, excitement, fun, humor) with also being an advanced ethical person. In a way Riker really does embody the 24th century better than Picard does, but either way they're both great men. When the Borg assimilate Picard, both from the tenor of the screen direction and from what we know of these men, the episode begins with a 'Riker vs Picard' standoff, where Riker's creativity and skill is now being pitted against Picard's knowledge and study. It's a completely plausible sort of "what-if" story that a comic book might tell about two heroes fighting each other who normally are on the same side. And so this third meaning of the title, then, is about how we're seeing an episode about a squaring off of the best person in each world: Riker, from the Federation, and Picard, as representative of the Borg. But the amazing thing is that this episode, part 2, doesn't devolve into Riker trying to beat Picard and be better; on the contrary, he decides to rescue Picard at the risk of the Enterprise. This is a complete 180 of his previous track record of being competitive with his father figure, as now he would rather bring him back in and save him rather than beat him. The 'best of' competition is eschewed in favor of love, basically, and although Locutus/Picard tells him it's incorrect strategy (which it would be, at winning) it ends up helping Riker disarm the Borg because it's through understanding them - though getting closer, rather than pushing away the competition - that Data can finally learn about the sleep command. Some see this as a cop-out ending, but I see the opposite: by ceasing to oppose with force one can cause 'the enemy' to sleep. There is a deep message here about how the use of violence can be the very thing that creates enemies in the first place; violence begets violence. Taking a more peaceful approach might well create options not evident before, such as to simply cause the 'enemy' to lay down arms and cease hostilities. Understanding is the only way to peace, and Riker really does 'beat' Picard here because he knows that winning is about more than overpowering the enemy, and that really is a creative, improvisational approach to an imminent attack on Earth. Within context of the episode, peace would of course not work with the Borg, but I take the theme as presented to be about the real world.

    So there you have it! Hope someone can glean some enjoyment out of the episode on account of these ideas, as to be honest I have a feeling they're all intentional. I find it hard to believe that these lines of analysis are a total coincidence, and so I have to conclude that the choice of title is brilliant, as is the episode itself. On a dramatic level it's unclear to me to place this episode higher than Inner Light or maybe Chain of Command, but as a piece of thematic writing I'd say it's the best TNG ever produced.

    @Peter, excellent analysis. I'd add a fourth interpretation:

    Locutus of Borg, as an asset, is the best of both worlds: he has the clarity, intellect, ideology and resources of the Borg, and also the individual knowledge and insight of a Federation individual. We know, on some level, that something in Picard has been lost or suppressed, but basically his use to the Borg is that he is able to combine the Borg with his detailed knowledge and psychological insight into the Federation. This implies that the Borg is missing something, which they hope to supplement with their assimilation of first Picard and then Earth, and which they believe Locutus will supply them. This is part of why Riker's move to rescue Picard to use against the Borg is perfect, because this gets flipped: recently rescued Picard is also the best of both worlds, a brave, brilliant Starfleet officer, some of the best of what humanity has to offer; and also someone with the technical knowledge and experience of the Borg, enough to be able to use against them in exact symmetry with what the Borg used against them. So the title can also refer to Picard/Locutus whose usefulness to both powers is because of his hybrid nature, and because his essence is Federation rather than Borg, when the brainwashing can be cut through, he ultimately saves the Federation even more than he saved the Borg before by his in between state.

    This is maybe part of why it matters that Riker declares "I don't think so" about learning from the Borg cube at the episode's end. Riker's move was to mirror the Borg's action, but in an unexpected, improvisational way. If he stopped to learn more about the Borg vulnerabilities, it might give an opportunity for the Borg to pull a similar reverasal again.

    I'll add that I think there's a Star Wars (or, I guess, Hero's Journey generally) element to the way Riker must defeat his corrupted father figure, and that his choice is ultimately to "defeat" him by saving him. And I think it's remarkable that this only happens after Guinan tells him to let Picard go. He both follows and defies her advice. He rescues his father figure, but only does so by fully rejecting his teachings and striking out on his own -- thus, being both a good "son" and his own man.

    One more thing: Riker did lose to Picard, in The Measure of a Man. And what distinguishes that, I think, from this (or the incomplete game in Peak Performance) is that the battle was partly a moral one. Obviously that both Picard and Riker believed Data should be a person influences the outcome; Riker was relieved to lose. But in a contest of showmanship and argument-as-battle, Riker was winning, and the way Picard won was with a much farther vision than occurred to Riker, similar to in Hide and Q. It is this greater, farther moral vision that distinguishes Picard enough for Riker to want to learn from him, even though he is tactically the superior officer (and, indeed, no moral slouch either).

    Just one last thing: regarding my Star Wars point, and Riker's being both good "son" and his own man: I think part of growing up is realizing that one's parents are flawed, and also (eventually) being in a position of actually saving them, rather than the other way around. Riker's initial move to destroy Locutus is tactically understandable, but (metaphorically!) it also is a somewhat childlike response to a parent being wrong: it is necessary to rebel and even destroy one's parent's authority in order to be one's own person. "Father is being tyrannical, so I must run away." What Riker does instead is more like finding a way to save one's parent from making a terrible mistake, to realize that one has the power as an adult to step in and help: "dad is wrong, but he's hurting, and I'm old enough now to be able to help him see the light." Played out on a galactic stage with incredible stakes.

    Thanks both Peter G. and William B. for the great comments on the title. I'm inclined to think (based on what was going in the writing room) that the Riker story is the big ticket item from this story and that Riker both staying on the Enterprise and having his own command is the best of both worlds for him.

    There might even be yet another explanation for the title, as early drafts of the story were about the Borg taking Picard and Data and combining them into the ultimate drone. Thank goodness that never happened, but it could be an artifact title from the first version of the story all the same.

    @ William,

    I can see that too. Good addition. The only caveat I would put on interpreting the title in that way is that Picard's POV isn't focused on in the episode, so it's a tough sell to suppose that his identity as Locutus is what's being explored by the main action of the episode. That being said, as a piece of head canon I think it's a fine line of analysis, and in any case plays doubly into the Riker themes, especially in light of saving versus defeating the dark father.

    @ Chrome,

    The only issue with 'best of both worlds' referring to Riker both being on the Enterprise and being in command of it is that in that scenario it's not the best for him at all. Starfleet all but told him that he'd inherit the Enterprise, and yet he wants this so much less than losing Picard that he's willing to give up his command - even possibly the Enterprise itself - to get Picard back. If we're going to go based on Riker's own view of what's the best for him then I have to surmise that his ideal scenario is actually being #1 on the Enterprise vs its commanded. The main reason he's there in the first place is Picard. Being on the Enterprise without Picard isn't a win and therefore isn't the best of anything. And that's what I think we see clearly in part 2, which is that Riker gets what everyone thought would be his greatest desire and instead it's the worst thing ever. Just goes to show how much his attitude has changed, that losing one person would be more relevant to him than having his previous life's ambitions realized. The 'best of both worlds' for Riker seems to me to be a compromise between his career and his personal connections, and the best scenario for him is serving under Picard, with Troi nearby, while still having an important role to play.

    @Peter G.

    "Being on the Enterprise without Picard isn't a win and therefore isn't the best of anything. And that's what I think we see clearly in part 2, which is that Riker gets what everyone thought would be his greatest desire and instead it's the worst thing ever. Just goes to show how much his attitude has changed, that losing one person would be more relevant to him than having his previous life's ambitions realized."

    That's probably right, and having Riker as the captain of the Enterprise might be more of a theoretical "Best" than actual best in-universe, especially with later shows like "The Pegasus" showing that Riker still had some unresolved issues in his career path. However, we need to remember that BoBW part one was conceived without the writers knowing what the ending would be. Stewart's contract was up for negotiation and part two may well have concluded with Riker being captain of the Enterprise, the best possible outcome of Picard's departure.

    There's also a more recent interview with RDM, describing this episode as having a personal connection with Michael Piller, who was running the writing staff for this season:

    "Michael had a very personal connection to that particular story. The episode starts with Riker getting an offer to go command another ship. That's at the heart of it. Michael said very overtly that he was in a very similar place. He was the number two guy on the show, and he was debating whether or not to leave Star Trek and go and run his own show or if he wanted to remain second in command of the Enterprise, as it were. So he was Riker, and he wrote the story from that perspective."

    The Moore interview is here, if you're interested:

    Though I will note, nothing specific is said about the title, so I want to stress that any of the fine examples given by you folks seems valid enough to me.

    @ Chrome,

    Very good point about the cliffhanger. I also read that they were, themselves, dangling off that cliff wondering how they were going to solve their own situation. So clearly a lot of how these themes gelled ended up being a result of thinking long and hard over the summer, and perhaps being inspired along the way. However what's important to me here is that the final decisions they made about how to resolve it really brought home the themes introduced in part 1. In terms of tension level, or even terror level 1, I think part 2 could never compete with their cliffhanger. But on the other hand, part 2 so completely ties in the TNG general themes about Riker that I think it actually reaches further than part 1 in effectively making the total 2-parter such a significant contribution. Both parts didn't have to be equally edge-of-your-seat for them to each do their job as a combined unit, and I have to strenuously disagree with anyone who thinks that part 2 failed to live up to part 1.

    Also, I wasn't aware of the Stewart contract issue, and that makes what they did very interesting because it means there was a cliffhanger in place for the cast and crew as well to say nothing of writing contributions. Can you imagine the state of story contributions and guest writers in a situation where they don't even know who the star of the show will be? For Stewart to go off and do other career things at that time would have been quite as jarring as being assimilated; losing your moral focus of the show because he's absorbed, literally, into some other project where they use all of his skills (including those learned on TNG) for their own production, to service them. It's kind of scary when you think of it like that!

    I'm watching this borderline back-to back with Peak Performance almost at random, and it strikes me again how much importance Peak Performance has here. In that one Riker stood against Picard as a wargame *to train against the Borg*. Riker had the far inferior ship, almost useless, against again Picard in a nigh-invincible ship out to beat himl Ring any bells? Best of Both Worlds is the wargame brought back with a vengeance. And Riker ended up basically winning that one with trickery. This time he wins it with trickery, yes, but mostly love for his captain. The least expected tactics of them all from jazz player Riker - not to try to win at all, but to learn to understand your enemy. Brilliant plan in the end. Kolrami would never have thought of that, and it's what the Federation is supposed to be all about

    I rewatched THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, having not seen it in about a decade. I was surprised at how well it holds up. Aside from some cheap Borg cube sets, and some static FX shots, this remains an excellent, iconic two-parter. More importantly, it manages to feel special; this two parter was a big, bombastic event in a series which generally played things with upmarket sophistication.

    The success of BOBW, though, seems to have had a wholly negative effect on Trek. Voyager would constantly try to recapture the high-stakes bombast of BOBW, as would ENTERPRISE and TNG itself, with its subsequent two-parters, only one of which managed to match BOBWs quality (REDEMPTION 1 and 2). You also see BOBW all over DISCOVERY, each of DISCOVERY's episodes a high-stakes race against time to save the Federation from destruction from an alien, existential threat.

    And let's be honest: BOBW is stupid. It's pulpy, generic goodies vs baddies stuff. But within certain limited genre conventions - much like WRATH OF KHAN - it manages to be smartly written, tense, feature good character work, and packed with iconic moments. It also does something which only TNG and Nick Meyers do well; it manages to feel nautical. With all its talk of fleets, armadas, Nelson, the HMS Victory and flagships, BOBW really makes the Federation feel like a grand ole 19th century navy. Patrick Stewart's awesome voice only adds to the charm.

    Some commenters above mention that this is fundamentally a Riker episode; that's so very true. I'd never noticed this before. Peter G above also mentions PEAK PERFORMANCE, another excellent episode, and Riker's various clever tactics. This was one thing which stood out for me as well; Riker's a fabulous tactician and con artist (the episode makes a point to show Riker bluffing at poker), always coming at you at odd angles. He's also shockingly pragmatic. Without wasting a beat, he orders the death of Picard and a suicidal crash between Borg cube and Enterprise.

    It also occurs to me that Riker is a fat dude, and I think this makes him interesting. He's a kind of chubby, content, happy dude who has everything he wants right there in the Enterprise. He has friends, the most famous ship in the fleet, holodecks, a constant line of babes, lots of bad food and giant quarters (rewatching TNG, I've noticed how charming Riker is; he brightens up every scene he's in). With Riker, you sense a career driven guy who's realized that, hey, after a certain point, aspirations are just but additional stress. Riker's content with his belly and his lazy life on his well carpeted floating hotel. And occasionally he saves all of humanity.


    A great summary of Riker ... funny how inconsistent writing sometimes can (inadvertantly) turn a boring character into an interesting one.

    @ Trent,

    I like your write-up, but have to wonder at this bit:

    "It also occurs to me that Riker is a fat dude, and I think this makes him interesting."

    Is that, uh, metaphorical? Or do you literally mean he had put on weight? He definitely had by the time of Nemesis, but as far as I know in the main stretch of TNG he was in outstanding physical shape and was into martial arts.

    Yeah, I mean Riker is literally chubby. Even in BOBW...

    ...he is pretty round (his weight fluctuates a lot and probably peaks in Season 7). But given that most heroes are stick-thin and perfectly chiselled, I like the idea of a Commander who's a sex symbol (within the show) and who's also comfortable enough to let his gut grow.

    Sorry to say I found this episode to be quite overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great episode but the way a lot of people were talking about it I was expecting something extraordinary. For those who havn’t seen this episode yet, don’t go into it with the expectations I had. Most likely you will see a fantastic episode, but not your favorite of the series.

    BOBW solidified Next Gen's status forever and helped set the stage for the even more sophisticated, epic storytelling of DS9.

    Just watched Part II last night, and yes, it holds up so well after all these years.

    Why don't they make Guinan the ships councillor? She's far more competent than Troi at it.

    Just flush Troi out the airlock.

    Riker wouldn’t have been so ‘chubby’ if Picard hadn’t always been yelling at him to make it dough.

    As we're discussing elsewhere the similarities between V'Ger and the Borg, I just finished a watch of ST: TMP and there was a moment in it where it really felt like BoBW pt 2. V'Ger is moving towards Earth, apparently cannot be reasoned with, carrying with it the demand of merging with the Creator (i.e. assimilating the Creator into itself), and finally hits orbit. The report is given that V'Ger has nullified Earth's defenses and that it's now prepared to attack Earth. The crew at this point realize that a new tactic is required, and they try to merge with the attacker through the vessel it uses to speak to them (Locutus/Alia). Uncanny similarities, so much so that I wonder whether it was intentional or whether they were unconsciously borrowing from TMP.

    The endings are, of course, different as night and day, where in BoBW being put to sleep destroys the Borg, almost implying that their desire to assimilate was like a nightmare, and that their existence vanishes when their relentless drive is halted momentarily; whereas in V'Ger's case merging with its opposite caused it to be more alive and to cease its violent approach. But we might well suggest a similarity in V'Ger's conversion of everything it encountered into mere data, holographically represented in V'Ger, and with the Borg who likewise convert a life form's consciousness and technology into data. Both of them seem to tell a similar story, which is that mere intellectual avarice - the search for information without wisdom - leads to a destructive result, and that the Federation's ethos is needed, which is to temper technology with wisdom.


    Part two of these sort of dual episodes always is slightly less for me. I think it's because I enjoy the suspense and build up usually found in the first of a pair of episodes.

    It was good to see Riker pull off some successful tactics as he is always in the shadow of Picard. Of course Data saves the day. Is it believable that the borg would leave their sleep controls open? not any less than the fact they let people beam aboard. Maybe it is a prioritization method.

    It's a rare two parter where part 2 is as good as part 1, but Best of Both Worlds manages it.

    Ingenious resolution, every aspect well done, just as in part 1. Moving and well acted. A winner.

    Riker rises to the occasion; they all do.

    As to the title of the ep - I thought it was about how The Enterprise had to use both Independent (individual) effort and Team (collective) Effort - to win the day against a foe that could only use one of those methods.

    The Enterprise had to be Borg-like in managing to continue even after "its head was cut off," so to speak (i.e., Picard was taken from them). They had to work together to quickly mend the great big hole.

    But they also had to be able to tap into their individual talents and abilities - notice the emphasis on separation: Riker had to let go of Picard. The saucer had to separate. The shuttle craft had to leave the mother ship.

    The Borg couldn't "just let go" of Picard. They can't separate in any way. Not really. So they lose.

    So The Enterprise had the Best of Both Worlds - the World in which individuality is most prized, and the World in which teamwork is most prized. They had both abilities, and they had them in spades. Excellent individual talents, excellent ability to work together and sacrifice for the team. They valued separation; they valued togetherness.

    They defeated The Borg.

    Boom! Just fantastic.

    I'm grateful for Stef's comment above, because I well remember watching this two-parter in the UK when it was first shown, then talking about it at work the next day. A colleague and I agreed that it was considerably stronger than any of the Star Trek films. But I had no memory of which of the two parts we were discussing, or of there being a long gap between the first and second parts. Mystery solved, in the UK they were shown on the same night.

    Very strong on action and tension. Perhaps the plot isn't as interesting or involved as some TNG stories. But it's gripping, certainly.

    One thing that slightly takes the shine off. For me one of the principles of the Borg idea is that they have huge redundancy built in to everything. But they are dependent on the link with Picard, only a short time after they've assimilated him. "Cutting him off would be like asking one of us to disconnect an arm or a foot", Beverley says. "If one of them jumps off a cliff, they all jump off", Riker assumes. What then of the numerous Borg operatives phasered to death earlier in both episodes?

    I assume the two parts were filmed at the same time, despite being parts of two different series - can't see any continuity problems.

    @ James G,

    "I assume the two parts were filmed at the same time, despite being parts of two different series - can't see any continuity problems."

    No, there was a summer between them, during which Pillar had no idea how conclude the episode! (until he did)

    I think "The Best of Both Worlds - Parts 1 & 2" is overrated. It's entertaining, but it lacks a great deal of logic in its portrayal of the Borg.

    I am doing my own rewatch of TNG, having not seen it since I was a young child, and I think BoBW stands as the episode in which TNG replaces TOS as the bedrock of Star Trek. Before this, there may never have been any other Star Trek shows or movies, and if there were, they could have been set at any time period, but after this, it nailed the 24th century as the true home of Star Trek.

    With that said, I would have written part II and resolved the problem differently. When the Enterprise fires its secret weapon, it would have worked, or at least started to. It would have began ripping slowly through the cube. The Borg's response would have been retreat. Instead of using Picard's knowledge of the plan to completely defend against it, we say they were unable to, but knowing it would destroy them they were prepared to run away. The Enterprise would still be unable to give chase, but it resolves the problem of why not just destroy/assimilate the Enterprise?

    Next, the battle of Wolf 359 would still be a crushing Borg victory; however, the cube wouldn't be seemingly impervious, rather it would take yet more damage, and when we see it approaching Earth it would be very clearly damaged. I think this would lessen the bump between this battle and First Contact. I much prefer the idea that the Borg are merely incredibly strong, than entirely invulnerable here.

    So then, when the Enterprise goes to rescue Picard, it makes sense they are more vulnerable and less able to manhandle the Enterprise and the shuttle could fly in through a damaged section. Then later, the "sleep" command doesn't put the cube into autodestruct; rather, it allows an away team to beam aboard. Guided by Picard's knowledge they could plant explosives on a key system, like a warp core or something and get away while Picard and Data keep them asleep and prevent them from deactivating the bombs.

    There's probably some other plot hole this would create, or I didn't think of, and it's only small minutia that keeps this from being perfect, and even still, in its current state, it's the peak of Star Trek so far. I'd say it's also peak Borg. Later Borg are ruined by the humanity of the Queen.

    @ Jonathan Hardy,

    While your ideas for pt 2 are not at all illogical, where it loses out is in the meta-story department, an oft forgotten part of good scripting (of which TNG excelled). The essence of Riker vs Picard is that Riker had to go up against everything the Enterprise ever had going for it, knowing he *could not* beat Picard on the terms Picard would normally employ. Anything Picard would have ever come up with was had to be off the table, or else this narrative fails and it becomes a technobabble deux ex machina about who wins when. Only when everything Picard ever thought or came up with was scrubbed as compromised, and Riker gave up on being #1 and truly became the Captain, could he win. So I believe the deflector weapon had to utterly fail for this arc to be realized properly. There is no 'halfway' for knowing you really are your own man, and he had to come all the way in knowing Shelby was no threat to him, and that he could rise to the top if he chose to (the "his own command" arc). It has to be completely his choice that he both overcomes Picard and yet chooses to remain under him. If he can succeed using Picard's own tactic then he can't know he had it all inside himself.

    While I wanted to see what happened at Wolf 359, the Enterprise at a far-off distance really made it far scarier. It really upped the stakes, IMHO.

    The self destruct wuz obviously a plot device to absolve any guilt about whacking out a defenceless ship, thereby adhering to the dangleberry credo... Well, I'd consider myself a pacifist- but shit dang man! Look what they done to monsuier- serious physical n mental violations- one could call that shit techno rape....

    Stupid storyline, waste of time. Really wish they had gotten back to more important storylines like revisiting the drunk Irish people from Up the Down Ladder.

    Ok seriously - what more needs to be said about one of the best two-parters in the history of network TV? It laid the groundwork for so much great stuff and whatever holes I could find in the storytelling are lost in just simply enjoying the episode.

    This made Justice, Shades of Grey, all of the just ridiculously awful episodes worth it.

    I feel that Part II comes very close to matching Part I in suspense and attention to detail, right up until the last 5 minutes when simply a bit more care in exposition and pacing would have made a big difference. For example, assuming that the feedback loop malfunction was caused by Data constantly sending a "sleep" message to the collective and the Cube constantly attempting to counteract it, I'd have liked an additional 10-second scene with Data where he says something like, "Captain, the Cube has recognized the malfunction and is attempting to reawaken the collective -- however I have been able to embed a continual loop containing the sleep function into the Cube's neutral network." Then we have Shelby and Worf on the Cube where after Worf says that the collective's power readings are "wildly fluctuating," Shelby explains that what's happening is like turning a switch on and off simultaneously, over and over. And maybe you start to see sparks flying from the Borg cranial implants.

    Although I'm not one for excessive exposition, in this case the audience had no idea what the connection was between the seemingly "normal" regeneration cycle and the Cube's sudden Death Star like explosion. And just like in Star Wars part of the success of the Death Star scene was that the audience understood what the weakness was and how it was being exploited, here too that would have made a big difference for an episode that until that moment was operating at a very high level.

    The second thing is that, after the Cube explodes, there are basically no reaction shots and no pause to let it set in. Compounding that, one nanosecond later, Beverly is noting that Picard's DNA is already "returning to normal." Uh, what?

    Much better would be lingering for a few seconds on the crew's umspoken reactions to the news of the explosiom, maybe with the Enterprise being rocked a bit, while Picard collapsing to the floor. Then it's some indeterminate time later that Picard awakens in sick bay, bandaged, and we get confirmation that his DNA is returning to normal.

    I'm not saying that it has to be rewritten in the way i want it, but that it would maybe take an additional 20 seconds (which could be cut elsewhere in the episode) to improve the comprehension of the Cube's explosion and also imply more of a delay in things getting back to normal, which you want considering how much the crew and the audience have endured.

    Regardless, Part Ii is still very nearly 4 stars. It's epic stuff.

    I had to roll my eyes when the Enterprise literally flew past Saturn...chances are 99.999999999% that doing so was going out of their way.

    Guinan knew that Picard would survive since the 24th-century events of Time's Arrow hadn't happened yet, so I can see why it was easy for her to "let go" of Picard.

    The Borg queen was a stupid idea. I liked it better when the Borg was simply a collective intelligence. The queen thing seemed to be a way to simplify the concept for the writers.

    Did the voice of the Borg change? I seem to remember it being lower and more menacing when I watch this (repeatedly) years ago.

    I'm in the camp that thinks Part 2 was not as great as Part 1. But not enough to lose any stars.


    The Borg started off as a mysterious, implacable enemy which over the years became reduced to just another alien in funny costumes by the time Voyager encountered them every third episode. But in "Q Who" and "BoBW" they were at their peak fearsomeness.

    Was "Sector 001" a Borg designation or a Federation designation?

    Both parties used it.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index