Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 5/11/1992
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Robert Lederman
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The Enterprise encounters a small Borg scout ship crashed on the surface of a planet with a sole adolescent male survivor in critical condition. After considering the options, Picard has the survivor beamed aboard the Enterprise rather than leaving him to die. Then a daring plan is hatched: The Enterprise could perhaps use this Borg as a Trojan horse carrying a destructive computer virus (*); when the hive returns to retrieve this drone (as they typically do), the virus could eventually spread through and destroy the entire Borg collective.
Perhaps not everyone will agree, but in my opinion "I, Borg" was, at the time, the correct turning point in TNG's Borg saga. Granted, it would mostly become a moot footnote by the time First Contact would roll around, essentially undoing the ideas put forth here (and in the season six/seven bridge, "Descent"). But at this point, going on two years since we last saw them on the verge of assimilating/destroying Earth in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II," the idea of taking the Borg, the previously big, scary, action-movie-spectacle-generating interstellar locusts that they were, and bringing the question of their nature into a smaller, more intimate and introspective situation (albeit with questions put forth here that are definitely big ones) — well, I think that's the right choice. A new spin on the material was appropriate at this stage in the game.
This is a different take on the Borg, and a very well executed one that considers the question of Who We Are just as much as it ponders Who They Might Be. The central issue becomes not whether we can use this Borg drone — which gets the nickname "Hugh" — to destroy the rest of the collective, but whether we should, and what responsibilities we have as human beings as we make this decision. (Conveniently, the story leaves out any mention of this course of action being discussed with higher-ranking people at Starfleet Command or the Federation government. Which is just as well — this is a story that is and should be about Picard and the Enterprise — but whatever their chosen course of action, you'd think the rest of humanity would've wanted a say.)
In true TNG tradition, this is a morality play — though it's worth pointing out that there's a legitimate point of view that can argue that humanity also has a moral imperative to protect itself from a race of amoral cybernetic beings bent only on turning us into them. But when the crew no longer sees the Borg as a swarm of locusts but instead as this individual named Hugh who appears to have feelings, the moral waters get murkier. And increasingly so as Hugh becomes more and more individualized the longer he's separated from the collective. The idea of negotiating with the Borg once was assumed to be impossible, but in spending time with Hugh the story challenges this belief.
There are some fascinating dialogue scenes where people have their longstanding beliefs thrown into question. Guinan is initially chief among the skeptics ("You have a Borg named Hugh?"), but she visits Hugh in the brig and gradually realizes she has doubts of her own — and this translates into a thoughtful scene between Picard and Guinan that considers the moral implications of this potentially genocidal plan. One thing I'll say is that this story shows people's ability to actually listen and rethink their previous conclusions — something that often seems hopelessly optimistic (and, yes, possibly naive) when you look at the world we live in today.
Picard finally realizes what he must do when he has a fascinating one-on-one conversation with Hugh where Picard plays the part of Locutus. It's an interesting bit of staging and acting; Picard essentially plays the part of the Borg collective in order to see if there's the possibility that Hugh has himself become a free thinker willing to go against that hive mentality. And therein lies the genius of this story: Even without a computer virus, Hugh might still wield a widespread influence if returned to the collective, because that sense of individuality might itself be the Trojan horse.
Is Picard and the Enterprise crew foolish not to use this opportunity to destroy the Borg? I could see the argument, but I'm glad this episode doesn't argue it. Trek is, after all, built on a philosophy of optimism and individual responsibility, and the way the story ends here is the only way the writers can practice what they preach. Besides, what better way to beat the Borg collective than by having it assimilate the sense of the individual self into its hive mind? Perhaps then it is we who are assimilating them.
* The computer virus designed here strikes me as an unlikely way to cripple an entire race of cyborgs. It's essentially a paradoxical 3D image that cannot exist in real space; Data says this paradox would spread though the collective and cause a massive system failure because of unending calculations and analysis. This strikes me as a very fancy TNG version of the old TOS cliché of Kirk Outsmarting The Computer With Circular Logic; wouldn't it be more likely that the Borg, with all their knowledge, would simply conclude the paradox is a paradox and then purge it from their system?
Previous episode: Imaginary Friend
Next episode: The Next Phase
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175 comments on this post
Wed, May 11, 2011, 2:53am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 11, 2011, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 11, 2011, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
"It's not a person, damn it, it's a Borg!"
"If you are going to use this person to destroy his race, you should at least look him in the eye once before you do it. Because I am not sure he IS still a Borg."
Wed, May 11, 2011, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
He added a layer of willful-denial to the scene. It was obvious Picard knew that if he went to the Borg he would end up changing his mind, so he avoided going.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 19, 2011, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 20, 2011, 5:14am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 21, 2011, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
I sometimes think we are so evolved as a society we forget that we didn't always run the earth. The only reason humanity exists at all is because we were smart enough to kill off the lions and the bears (and possibly the Neandertals), and had we NOT killed them as ruthlessly as possible, we would not all be here on the internet instead of scavenging for food on the African Plains between lion sightings.
The borg ARE the new lion on the African plain. There is no Morality argument here, they die or we do. Every death (human or not) from that point on is Picards fault, DIRECTLY.
I love that because hugh seems nice, the borg are not evil??????? I am sure some of the nazis were deligtful conversationalists, but if you were a jew in Poland, you get the hell out!
again, I do love this episode, but disagree with the finale.
Sun, May 22, 2011, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 22, 2011, 10:23am (UTC -5)
I think you are moralizing where there does not need to be a moralization. We are not talking about exterminating a bunch of people who are following a weird preacher, we are talking about a group of organisms whose sole purpose is to destroy you and your way of life. The only way you become a monster by destroying them is if you yourself tell yourself you are. But I am not. I am trying to survive.
There is no moralizing if your dead. And I don't think you are a better person than me either if you are dead. I think you are frankly dumber, if you would willingly let survive the race trying to destroy you.
Tue, May 24, 2011, 10:53am (UTC -5)
I guess this is a point that belongs more in "Descent" then here, but since you bring it up: I've always wondered why Hugh's individuality was so special to the collective. Presumably everyone they assimilate comes in with a sense of individuality, not only Hugh. Or is the point that they didn't expect it in Hugh and so didn't purge it when they took him back? (Hmm... random thought about First Contact/Voyager that just came up: could Hugh's individuality be the source that sparked the Borg's creation of their Queen? Was the Queen's origin ever addressed? I don't remember.)
Wed, May 25, 2011, 10:55am (UTC -5)
the federation are allowing their opponents to survive... but that does not mean they cannot become stronger... and really who knows what the consequences of destroying the borg will be to the whole galaxy, maybe their destruction (before their time) would create an imbalance (similar to destroying any species on Earth)
although i do think that your logic was pursued in DS9 with the dominion, unleashing the virus.
Wed, May 25, 2011, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
You are arguing a distinction without a difference ( a logical fallacy). You are correct in the absolute technical sense that Lions still exist, but I meant the lions as an analogy of being at the top of the Earths food chain, and with humans taking over that rule through absolute ruthless intellegence.
Although Lions still exist, they used to be at the absolute top on almost every continent. There is only one reason they are no longer, the Roman Empire (mostly).
Further, Lions were not focused on our destruction, the brog were. If the Jews in 1944 had a virus that would kill every German, I would hope they would have the sense not to be as "sophisticated" as posters here.
Wed, May 25, 2011, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
A better analogy might be, what if you had the opportunity in 1944 to blow up the leaders of the Nazi party (so not all Germans), would that be an acceptable choice to make? Or hey, lets make it even more topical, murdering Bin Laden (not in self defense or during combat, but actually going there with the intent to murder him), is that an acceptable choice to make? I don't know. I can sort of see why many people would say "yes", but it also makes me very uncomfortable. At what point is it justified to violate the principles you're fighting for to, seemingly, defend those same principles?
Sun, May 29, 2011, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
What makes these different choices all the more tragic is that when Odo contronted Sisko with the Federation sanctioning of genocide, Sisko becomes an apologist for their actions. I don't see Picard making that choice.
Wed, Jun 1, 2011, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Alas, this one just doesn't do it for me. (Visitor and Inner Light definitely do).
It is the forgone conclusion of the whole thing. You know Picard is going to turn around and not go through with the plan. Geordie develops an instant bro-mance with Hugh, and the actual scene where Hugh gets his name is stomach turning.
On top of that, I just didn't like the performance of the actor playing Hugh. It would have felt more at home in The Original Series. (in fact Hugh looked like one of the recurring red-shirts from TOS, as he has that same distinctive facial structure).
I bought this on VHS thinking it would be a great episode, and was disappointed. The Next Phase was on the same tap, which I found a lot more enjoyable (if lightweight).
Tue, Jul 12, 2011, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
It was not ''Is it wrong or right to kill an entire race of beings?''
It was ''Is it wrong or right to use this ONE being (Hugh) as the tool to achieve that goal''
Noone ever seemed to beat up over the possibility of possibly wiping all Borg out of existence, the dilemma was if it was ok to use HUGH to do that...because, what WAS Hugh? Individual entity - or collective piece? If the latter, you can really more easily ignore any whispers of conscience about wiping out all Borg by using Hugh...if the former, those whispers of doubt get murkier - and louder.
Tue, Jul 12, 2011, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
Just thought I would comment again, since your scenario just occurred, we killed Bin Laden, and yes, I was one of those "mindless children" dancing in the street. He is my countries enemy and I am quite happy dancing on his grave, I am having 0 problem moralizing his death.
I consider myself a "true" liberal, I do not believe life is the only thing in and of itself, I believe in making the world a better place, for those who follow the rules. I am pro-choice, pro-death-penalty, pro-killing civilizations' enemies. I have 0 problem killing or torturing anyone who has sympathy for the Bin Ladens in the world. is the US partly responsible for the creation of Bin Ladens, yes, sure why not, I just don't give a shit. I live in America, and as much as some here sympathize with the Bin Ladens, he is certainy not YOUR friend, he would kill you just as quick as he would me.
Thu, Aug 25, 2011, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
It is possible to condone the execution of Bin Laden (which I, for example do as you do) without rejoicing in it. Such bloodsport is a little terrifying : when global politics and deep-rooted terrorism is reduced to lines like "he is certainly not YOUR friend," I start to worry--I don't envy you having "0 problem moralizing his death" because it is that very problem which gives our species dignity and had the problem occurred to Bin Laden himself, perhaps a lot less people would be dead today.
Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Really? You really don't rejoice over the death of Bin Laden? Have we really come to such a sanitized point in human existance we cannot rejoice the death of civilizations enemies? I really think I was born 100 years too late. Victory over your enemies is a primal emotion, and a healthy one, what you call a "problem" I call the struggle for survival. It is Darwinian, scientific, and correct. I have no problem with people dying who are trying to make the world a worse place.
Death is not the worst thing on earth. I really regret that liberalism as a concept can justify the deaths of pre-born children at the drop of a hat, but the death of civilizations greatest enemy must be a time for "reflection". F-THAT.
Fri, Sep 9, 2011, 6:46am (UTC -5)
Nick, you must understand that there are multiple perspectives in the world and yours is not the only one. I'm not suggesting that you are wrong for having the emotional response to Bin Laden's death that you have/had; I'm merely suggesting that there are others out there who have a more muted response, and that does not make either side wrong. I will point out, however, that just because "liberals" support the right of a woman to cause the "death of pre-born children", as you put it, does not mean liberals support throwing "I just had an abortion!" parties to celebrate the decision.
Ultimately, I agree with Fanner. I believe the true debate in this episode was not "let's not kill the Borg"; it was "is it right to use Hugh to kill the Borg?"
To use already-used analogies, most of us would not have questioned putting a bomb under the car of one of Bin Laden's couriers that would have unbeknownst exploded when he returned to his compound, killing Bin Laden and his supporters there. But what if Bin Laden was found hiding in the USA, would we still be alright hiding the bomb on an unsuspecting and innocent US Post worker, knowing he too would be killed? It's not a perfect analogy, but I think it makes the point.
I also agree with the previous commenter in questioning why Hugh is unique in that everyone that is assimilated had individuality. I also conclde that that it's because Hugh is already a drone and his individuality won't be purged from him (as evident in Descent).
To the computer virus discussion; the crew never get to impliment the 'virus', so perhaps the borg would NOT have been confounded by the shape. We'll never know, but just because LaForge and Data say it should work doesn't mean it actually would.
Ultimately, good episode; perhaps 3.5 stars due to some of the more pedantic moments, but ultimately good.
Fri, Sep 9, 2011, 11:41am (UTC -5)
All I am saying is that you can rejoice your enemies death and still be a functional intellectual and yes LIBERAL person. I think modern times have become very sanitized (for lack of a better term) and that we should feel bad about emotions. But that is why I brought up Darwin, survival of the fittest. It is death that moves evolution forward. We are so stigmatized by death as a people we cannot move past it. I am glad America celebrated the death of Hitler. i am glad that people celebrated the death of Bin Laden.
Obviously you are correct that people have different viewpoints. But Bin Laden sure didn't care. Hitler didn't care about your viewpoint. Bin Laden wanted YOU dead. and ME. He is my enemy, and I would like him dead before he can kill me or my children. There is nothing Jingoistic or anti-liberal about celebrating the death of your enemies. If being glad about the death of my enemies means I can't be a liberal, than count me out.
Thu, Sep 15, 2011, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
The attempt to equate pro-choice with pro-abortion is one of my biggest pet peeves.
If not for the stigma and the profound shortage of availability of abortion, abortions after the first trimester would be essentially unheard of.
Thu, Oct 20, 2011, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
I actually thought this episode had wider ramifications than it did, canonically speaking anyway - I had always connected Hugh with the Unimatrix Zero plotline from Voyager, but apparently the two were never tied together.
TH - a better analogy I think would be, is it ok to place a bomb under the car of a random Muslim to kill a known terrorist, because you know they'll be in the same place later. This is a completely relevant issue today whenever you turn on the news and hear about "collateral damage" from another drone strike over in the Middle East.
Is our moral compass really going to be What Would Hitler Do?
Fri, Oct 28, 2011, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
>The attempt to equate pro-choice with pro-abortion is one of my biggest pet peeves.
I don't really understand your point. I mean, if you're trying to say that someone can be pro-choice but still be anti-abortion (i.e. "I don't believe in abortion but I support your right to have one if you do?")
I think my point was mostly skipped over and I think it was an important one: I think there are very few people in America (liberal or otherwise) who would prefer Bin Laden to be alive now. I simply think that people can be satisfied or relieved or happy that he has been killed without being CELEBRATORY, holding parties, making banners or signs or shouting about it etc. In the same way I don't personally think that if someone is executed in capital punishment, it is not appropriate to throw a post-execution party with dancing, cake and cocktails.
That's my personal opinion. I don't claim to tell anyone else how to feel, and if you feel it is worth celebrating, that is fine.
I did not mean to suggest to Nick that I believe everyone who celebrated was a red-neck yokel. I understand that celebrators included liberals and conservatives, urban and country dwellers alike. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's also nothing wrong with simply being relieved and at peace knowing that he is dead, without a raucous celebration.
Wed, Nov 16, 2011, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
"I am quite liberal, BTW, I did not mean to imply otherwise"
Since these comments have already veered into some strange land of politics, let me just jokingly add that, as far as I know, what in USA passes for "liberalism" would in Europe probably be viewed as pretty hardcore rightwing philosophy. And vice-versa, of course, European ideas of social democracy seem like marxist horror stories to some in the US. :)
Mon, Jan 16, 2012, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Maybe part of the problem for me is that I'm coming into this having recently watched all of Voyager and seen a lot of borg fish out of water stories that just don't wash with this one. Obviously this predates all of them, and therefore cannot be judged in the same context.
That being said I still hated it. More than anything it is one of the most sentimental treatments I've ever seen TNG. The idea may have contained a valid moral question "Can you blame an individual for the crimes of the group that they are part of?" or something like that. I just don't think it is relevant to this context.
This is the borg we're talking about! I find the whole notion of borg as a lost puppy to be ridiculous. It totally negates the entire borg mythos. They are not individuals. That's the whole point. And don't even get me started on Picard's nonsense at the end about infecting the borg with "singularity". Puke. Star Trek can be so much better than this wet blanket stinker.
Thu, Mar 15, 2012, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Instead, the episode takes a somewhat soft-headed position that, because this one poor Borg was lonely and kind of cute, we should let him go without using him to attempt to destroy the Borg collective.
Does anyone on the Enterprise remember what happened at Wolf 359? Or how close the Borg was to assimilating all of Earth? Sure, Hugh is kind of endearing. But the Borg are not, and would kill or assimilate every last person in the Alpha Quardrant if giving the chance. The moral debate isn't that difficult, and clearly favors using Hugh to annihilate the Borg, if possible.
Setting aside my own moral views, the episode unrealistically portrays startling changes of heart by Picard and Guinan. The Borg tortured and mutilated Picard; would a Borg who said "I am lonely" really change his thinking so quickly? Similarly, the Borg essentially destroyed Guinan's entire race; imagine an alien species had destroyed humanity and then think of how quickly you would warm up to that species. It would probably take more than one conversation.
This episode too easily portrays the crew taking an "enlightened" view of the Borg. It presumably reflects the worldview of the comfortable Hollywood screenwriters who wrote it. The unyielding perspective that Picard and Guinan take at the episode's start is the less naive, more reasonable point of view.
The Borg are hell-bent on total assimilation of all non-Borg species; they have far superior weapons; in their collective mind-set, they will not negotiate or compromise. By failing to take the opportunity to introduce a virus into the Borg collective, the Enterprise crew has endangered all life in the Federation. This is a grave error. The supposed moral of this episode rings false.
Fri, Mar 16, 2012, 8:50am (UTC -5)
Sisco feels about the events of that day on the Enterprise. I remember when I first watched Emmisary, the first episode of DS9, at first I thought , hey Sisco, don't be so mad at Picard, he couldn't control his actions, but then I remembered I'borg, and realized he is actually probably pissed that Picard could have ended the borg threat right then and there, but didn't. I would be pretty pissy with Picard TOO.
you are totally right, it is the left wing screenwriters who loved this script, because it made them feel better, but I still say that every single person who was killed directly or indirectly by a borg every day after this episode can blame Captian Picard.
Fri, Mar 16, 2012, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Folks, Star Trek is defined in great part by its idealism. I find it truly remarkable that a man like Picard can be tortured and raped by a species, find the personal courage to both move past his experience (mostly) and set aside his own personal feelings of anger to make a moral choice, and THEN be hissed at by various admirals, Ben Sisko and a number of commenters on this site for being so courageous.
@ Nick P. Please don't sully this argument with our modern conceptions of right and left wing. All people should be able to agree about basic moral choices like "killing is wrong" without categorising them in partisan camps.
@ nytwin81 :
"because this one poor Borg was lonely and kind of cute, we should let him go without using him to attempt to destroy the Borg collective. "
The fact that Hugh was "lonely and...cute" has nothing to do with anything aside from offering an emotional portal to discover if the crew's preconceptions were justified.
" would a Borg who said "I am lonely" really change his thinking so quickly? "
The fact that he is lonely does not garner sympathy in the way you imply. It's not as though they feel sorry for him and so decide against using him like a bomb--the fact that he expresses loneliness means he is no longer Borg. If the drone had remained a drone and his individuality never resurfaced, the argument would be different and the crew's (admittedly ridiculous) plan to destroy the collective would be afoot.
Regarding René Echevarria, I'd look up his other work before boxing into some Hollywood stereotype. The first episode to contradict that assessment which comes to mind is "Children of Time."
Remember what Guinan and Picard discussed back in BOBW part I; will humanity survive, or do we "turn the page"? For us to matter, to justify our fragile existence, we must live by those qualities which define us, even unto our own extinction. That is nobility and it is to be honoured, admired, respected and above all emulated, not ridiculed.
Fri, Mar 16, 2012, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
I certainly agree with killing there a BIG grey area, but what people arguing how great this episode fail to realize, is that killing to SAVE YOUR SPECIES, has no grey area.
Go to the BSG episode board and see the discussion there. If you have the chance to eliminate the threat that is killing you (borg, cylons) and you do NOT take that chance, you are not fit for survival, I don't care how morally superior Picard or Adama are to me, I will be ALIVE, and they will be DEAD. It is that simple, no grey area.
Fri, Mar 16, 2012, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
I am on that board. As soon as you draw a line in the sand about where the grey areas end, you've set a precedent for evil actions. There is a reason why in every great scifi series (DS9's Dominion, VOY's Borg, BSG's Cylons), an enemy which seemed once shrouded in implacability, defeatable only through extreme genocidal methods, is eventually revealed to possess the same motivations and fears as ourselves (or the protagonists), and thus can be defeated through negotiation, adaptation or merely the destruction of its ideological leader.
The Taliban has declared war on our way of life, but it is neither necessary nor morally justified to wipe every last member of the organisation out to "win"--we must, probably, destroy its leaders, but we must also 1) give every attempt to coëxist, coöperate and educated the others and 2) most importantly, question whether there's any validity to their claims against us and whether we can hope to better ourselves in that questioning. That is Trekkian idealism, but it is not simple nor unrealistic.
You make it seem as though, in the real world, nonnegotiable threats to a society or species are successfully met only with genocide. When exactly has that been the case? War, death, certainly. But genocide? The "real world" has more evidence to offer the benefits of negotiating and educating.
A good drama doesn't defend the grey areas only when there is little to risk in defending them. A good drama knows that to mean something, to mean anything worthwhile, those principles must be worth a sacrifice, even the ultimate one. Turn the page.
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 4:53am (UTC -5)
@ Nick, saying you would kill any enemy to survive could be considered wrong, because how do you decide who is the enemy? What gives you that right to decide? Nothing, you could then turn your ideals against innocent people. It is just easy to say you would kill to survive when you have such an obvious enemy like terrorists...
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Compared with most sci-fi series, hell, most television shows, any incarnation of trek is "great."
I don't think (and I've said this in numerous posts) that DS9 was a bad series or even mediocre. For the most part, there were a lot of good things going on. I take issues with the show's identity as a series and the means by which it attempts to justify that identity in much the same way others take issue with VOY's purposeful abandonment of plot continuity and its non-existent attempts to justify it. Neither of these shortcomings makes the series poor. They were both great. The question of which is greater, it seems, depends upon how one feels about TNG. There are elements in that show which clearly sow the seeds for the other series and whether one found them distasteful,brilliant, pregnant or superfluous, I think, informs one's feelings about the DS9 and VOY.
Sun, May 6, 2012, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
The best thing about this episode is definitely the fact that Picard and Guinan are wrong about something and are willing to admit it, which is much better character development than always being right or being stubbornly neutral in the face of common sense. This is my favorite Guinan appearance for that reason.
Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 10:18am (UTC -5)
But it still suffers from predictability and some overly simplified moralizing.
As can be seen by some of the comments above, these kinds of issues can provoke some varied and even extreme responses. I think the episode does well to raise them but then too neatly resolves the outcomes.
Still, some very good material. Picard-Guinan and Picard-Hugh are particularly potent scenes.
3.5 for me.
Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 12:53am (UTC -5)
To add my own two-cents worth to the Nick P/Elliot/nytwin81 thread, despite the implacable nature of the Borg, I believe that it isn't necessary to perpetrate a genocice-scale atrocity to overcome such a foe. In fact, ST-Generations and ST-Voyager made it easy for Humanity to do so by introducing and expanding upon the concept of the Borg Queen.
The idea is simple: cut off the head and the body will die. In this case, remove enough of the Borg's command infrastructure (including the Queen) and all of the "units" that make up the collective will revert to their individual selves. As originally presented in "Q Who" and "The Best of Both Worlds", every Borg played a part in the collective and gave it guidance. That concept would have made it much more difficult to deal with the Borg, as it would require the Federation to destroy (i.e. kill) most or all of the collective in order to "change its mind". A genocide no matter how you slice it.
But even assuming that we are dealing with a pre-Queen Borg, there is still an "out" short of genocide to remove the threat they present. The game "Squad Leader" taught me that you don't have to kill your opponent to achieve your aims; you simply need to break their will to resist. The perfect way to do that with the Borg (in fact, the only way) is to disrupt each individuals' link to the collective, as presented in this episode. I'm sure that the Federation could have figured out a way to do that. Then you can deal with a "them" as apposed to an "it", hopefully with diplomacy and negotiation as opposed to the end of a phaser.
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
That only changed because they met the drone and had their heart-strings pulled. So they were really saying, "We won't kill this person in front of us for the self-defense of trillions of lives including ours and our families'." That may be an argument worth having, but it's pretty shaky and built on nothing but sentiment.
I still enjoy the episode, though. I disagree with their decision, but it's in character for them to make it. It's that Trekkian optimism that peaked in TNG, that says you can take whatever rarified, righteous, moral stand you like, and things will work out okay anyway. I prefer DS9's (or Farscape's) more realistic take, but the TNG viewpoint is a nice fantasy to indulge in.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 5:16am (UTC -5)
One thing: before Geordi beamed down with Hugh, it was said that there was no danger, as the Borg only assimilate cultures, not just individuals. Yet, Annika's parents were assimilated as individuals.
Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
You have the best response I have seen yet in this (old) thread. I completely agree. Gene would have loved this episode. And I have said, it is charming and nice to watch. But it is not reality. And I am bothered by some posters on this board who think the rational answer to a hive mind trying to destroy your species is to try to "work somethin' out". The only correct answer as far as Evolution is concerned, and myself, is to eliminate the threat.
Sun, May 19, 2013, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
yeah, don't destroy the borg when you have a chance, let them live, the poor things, even if they will come back to bite your sorry ar...
if a vulcan was there, he would have seen how illogical it would have been not to take the chance: you spare their species, and how many other species will then be wiped away by the borg thanks to you in the next few centuries? and possibly yours too!
their "justification", the hope that hugh's individuality will change them, is one of the most stupid things you can come out with!
they constantly assimilate individuals, never been a problem, has it?
they could have tried, the borg would have survived because they are... well, the borg, and everyone's a winner.
there is a line between compassion and stupidity, and they crossed it.
by several kilo-parsecs ffs!
not a bad episode though.
at least is not filled with damn kids like too many episodes in season five.
Sun, Jun 9, 2013, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 23, 2013, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
As for this episode, I enjoyed it and agree with Jammer's rating for it. I find it interesting that later, Starfleet orders Picard to TAKE ADVANTAGE of an opportunity to destroy the Borg, if it should occur again. So the brass apparently, once again, disagreed with Picard's decision - it's amazing Picard is keeping his job.
Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
First off: it is not true that "no one" has qualms about destroying the entire Borg Collective, though it's true that this is not the central concern for most of the episode. Beverly immediately expresses reservations about destroying the Borg, and her arguments are immediately dismissed. This is mostly for good reasons; Beverly's arguments are fairly weak, though I don't think she's entirely wrong. Beverly says that the Borg have not declared war on the Federation, which is a fairly disingenuous argument. But when she says that even in war there are rules, I find myself nodding in agreement. Beverly as the voice of life and humanism favours non-violence even in extreme situations, and her voice is important but ultimately rejected for sensible reasons. The Borg are a threat and they do need to consider them.
So then after this, the question eventually becomes whether it is right to send Hugh back to destroy the entire Borg Collective. But Picard even discusses the implications of Hugh finding some semblance of individuality at the episode's end, though the episode perhaps doesn't dwell on this point long enough to make it obvious. In the comment thread for "The Measure of a Man," I mentioned that the reason Guinan's argument to Picard about slavery hits Picard and changes the whole tenor of the trial is that the scope has suddenly changed. One loss of life, one loss of freedom, is tragic, but individuals die in tragic accidents all the time. What is devastating is the realization that one loss of life or freedom implies others. Whether Data himself is a person or not is very important. But it's much, much more important to consider that whether or not Data is a person could potentially determine whether thousands upon thousands of Datas will be considered persons. It is the same with Hugh, there. If Hugh is a person, then all it takes for the rest of the Borg to become people is a few days' separation from the Collective.
The initial conception of Third of Five which is presented in the conference room conversation at the episode's beginning is that "it" is essentially an arm or a leg (or, more likely, a single cell) of the Borg Collective, which is a malicious individual, a single entity which is out to destroy the Federation and which we have already seen cannot be reasoned with. It is still true that "the Borg collective" is dangerous and devastating and unreasonable, but the realization in this episode is that the individual "cells" are potentially persons too, and can, in fact, change from being instruments of the destructive whole to persons who can, and in Hugh's case do, choose to recognize others' desire to remain separate from the Collective and even act altruistically to protect them.
TNG is a series which aired as the Cold War was winding down. The Borg Collective is many things, but on one level it is a symbol of the horror of collectivism brought to its absolute extreme. It's the USSR times a billion, and it's frightening also partly because it's an exaggeration of the healthier, consensual collectivism that the Federation represents. "Third of Five's" inability to recognize why humans would not wish to be assimilated is partly because he's been living a life separated from the humans he knows are meant to be assimilated, and has no conception of the fact that humans do not wish to be assimilated and what individual wishes even mean. He's a citizen of a state with sealed borders and constant propaganda, who is unable to think for himself. (I'm not saying that this accurately describes citizens of the USSR, but it does get at some of what US writers' perceptions were likely to be.) Separated from the constant stream of thousands of voices into his head, he can see clearly what the Federation citizens are and want, and wants to act on their behalf. And conversely, seeing him separated from the collective, the Enterprise crew can see that he is a person not unlike them, perhaps with different values (he misses the thousands of voices which he has grown up with, and it's not even wrong for him to value that as long as he doesn't impose this on others) but able to care for others and to refuse to participate in hurting them. Both sides of a war in which communication barriers have prevented them from talking to each other, with the solitary exception of Picard having brought back his experience of Locutus, are able to see each other now; the crew sees that single elements of the Borg collective can be, if left on their own, thinking, feeling individuals, and Hugh sees that the enemy is more than just foolish beings who refuse the Borg's status as obvious benefactors. The recognition that one's enemy is not fundamentally, irretrievably "evil" changes the game and suddenly the question becomes not how to destroy them but how to reach them.
There is also, I think, an important parallel the episode gestures at that often goes missed. Picard/Locutus and Third of Five/Hugh are more connected than is discussed. Picard is an individual the Borg took into their Collective in an attempt to communicate with, and to overtake, the human race; Picard was taken by the Borg and nearly used to overtake everything Picard held dear. Third of Five is a Borg the Enterprise crew found and was planning on using to destroy the entire Borg Collective. The Borg fired first and nearly succeeded in destroying the human race; they are also out assimilating other species, too. But the plan to use Hugh as a gateway through which the entire Borg can be destroyed is eerily similar to the use of Picard/Locutus as a method for destroying humanity (or its freedom, at least). This adds another chilling level to the Picard-Hugh scene, probably the episode's strongest, in which Picard instantly seizes onto the idea of using his Locutus persona to test Hugh to see how strong his beliefs in indivdiuality are, and, effectively, in which Picard-as-Locutus tries to act the part of the Borg Collective, trying to convince Hugh that he is not an individual by laying on the Borg propaganda, in an effort to attempt to prove, for Picard, that Hugh is not a person, and thus it is okay to destroy him. Picard is not just pretending to be Locutus, but in this scene he even acts as Locutus might for a moment -- attempting to crush Hugh's newfound individuality so that Hugh can be used as a tool to further Picard's ideological aims. It adds another layer to Picard's recognition, when Hugh uses "I" and refuses to act against Geordi, that using Hugh would be no different from being the Borg. Not only would they be behaving as the Borg, but Picard specifically would be both being like Locutus himself, *and* would effectively doing to Hugh what the Borg did to Picard, crushing his individuality in an attempt to use him to destroy his species. Is it any wonder Picard could not go through with it?
The Enterprise crew can't do that yet. There is only some hope. Picard thinks that maybe Hugh's sense of individuality will spread to the rest of the Collective. I think the reason that they believe this may happen with Hugh as opposed to others who are assimilated, is that when others are assimilated into the Collective, the Borg work to suppress or remove that person's individual will before they join the Collective. Individual will is something primitive cultures have that needs to be removed along with nonfunctional limbs. But Hugh returns to the Collective as a ready-made Borg drone; they would not process him as an outsider who needs to be brainwashed as part of their processing. His individuality might sneak through. Actually, Voyager does follow up on this episode, though not directly (i.e. the Borg are not influenced by Hugh himself); Seven's arc follows Hugh's in this episode in certain ways, though the more we learn about her the more we understand why she clung more strongly to the Borg as surrogate family than Hugh did, and while I'm not a big fan of "Unimatrix Zero," the idea of Borg whispering to each other in sleep, their only respite from the Collective, reminds me very much of people sharing secrets in a totalitarian world, united only in their hopes for a different world, which seems to me a lot of what Hugh's return to the Collective might represent.
Besides Picard (and Beverly), I've barely even talked about the characters here. Geordi is well positioned to be Hugh's guide to humanity, because Geordi is, after all, a bit of a cyborg (I wish Hugh had asked to see Geordi's "eyepiece" after Geordi asked to see Hugh's), who loves technology like no one else and already is best friends with an artificial being. He's also a bit of an everyman character and someone who makes sense as a guy who has some initial prejudices about the Borg which nevertheless aren't that strong; he neither has Beverly's instantaneous humanism nor Picard or Guinan's personal feelings about the Borg. Guinan is very well used here in one of her best roles; Guinan is very rarely allowed to be wrong or even questionable, and to see her immediately getting on Picard's case about even considering treating the Borg like a human being both increases the stakes and gives voice to the Borg's victims. Hugh himself is occasionally too cute, but his development over the course of the episode, step by step, is done very well, and his last moment looking at Geordi as he heads back to lose himself again (or so he thinks) is heartwrenching.
Anyway. Yeah. One of the series' best, though not quite at the level of "Darmok" and "The Inner Light": 4 stars.
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
I think some of you are taking the ethical dilemma a tad too literally. As previously mentioned, the Borg represent any nation we are currently "enemies" with (USSR, Iran, North Korea, doesn't matter--using the Borg makes this story transcend current events). I would not condone the destruction of another nation in any circumstances, even supposed "self-defense". Killing another individual may be acceptable in certain specific circumstances, but mass murder to "prevent" a threat which may or may not occur? No thank you.
@Nick P.: I think "Emissary" makes it pretty clear that Sisko blames Picard for the death of his wife, not for his actions in "I Borg". Blaming Picard for all future deaths the Borg cause is simply ridiculous. There is no guarantee that the virus would have been effective in destroying the entire collective (it could have affected only one vessel, or had no effect whatsoever). On the other hand, if the virus did wipe out the collective, then Picard would be definitely responsible for genocide (and for using an innocent individual to commit that genocide). As we later learn, most Borg drones are former individuals who are doing the collective's bidding against their will. There’s a word for that: slaves. So yes, I completely agree with Picard’s choice in this episode, regardless of the consequences. And being able to make such a decision (as opposed to following the "Survival of the fittest" rule) is what makes humanity, in my opinion, superior than other species. To quote Adama from BSG, "It's not enough to survive; one must be worthy of surviving.
@William B: Wow. You said everything I wanted to say, but better.
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 1:49am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
@William B: Wow. You said everything I wanted to say, but better.
I agree...he's like the Guinan of this site, only with eyebrows.
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 10:50am (UTC -5)
In any case, Picard's decision is ridiculous: ""Besides, what better way to beat the Borg collective than by having it assimilate the sense of the individual self into its hive mind?" ---> Every being the Borg assimilate comes with a sense of self and individuality. The Borg obviously have very very easy ways to do away with that. There is nothing that suggests even remotely plausibly that it won't happen again here the second "Hughes" is reconnected to the Hive.
Stupid, contrived and forced.
Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
I just made a brief remark to your comment on "The Outcast" (TNG) previously today.
I'm afraid you're just not getting it. At all.
In both cases, that one and this, the episode is holding up that slightly twisted, distorted mirror I spoke of. In that case, you missed the mirror entirely. In this one, you seem to bee too busy counting the little cracks in the glass to try to identify and consider the blurred, deformed images it shows.
No, VOY didn't do this better than TNG.
I also read your comment on "In Theory" (TNG). And while I fully appreciate what you say there about Data's nature vs the Doctor's, I notice that you describe the Vulcans and "especially the Klingons" as societies which are "just incompatible with us and remain incomprehensible to humans". But they are everything but. Both Vulcans and Klingons (and Romulans, and Cardassians, and Ferengi) take a couple of traits typical of human nature, elevate them to the third potency, and throw them right back at us. Again, they're all mirrors, there's nothing incomprehensible about any of them. If you want truly incomprehensible, you'll have to have a look at what is Solaris (I strongly recommend the novel).
Star Trek deals mostly in reflections. Even a species as potentially alien as the Founders turns out to be driven by absolutely human feelings and considerations - of fear, suspicion and protection. So my advice to you, as you view Star Trek and especially TNG, is really quite simple: try to find the mirrors.
As to the phrase by Picard that you criticize... Wow. Wow, man. That phrase represents not only one of the core ideas of this episode, but, if you extend it, of the very Federation itself. What was the reasoning behind the latest expansion of the European Union some years ago, to include various Eastern European and even former Soviet Union countries, if not variations of the theme?
Mirrors, Jons. Think mirrors.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 5:51am (UTC -5)
First, Picard already showed on his own self that it's perfectly possible to separate an assimilated individual from the borg. Yet no such attempt is made on Hugh. It doesn't seem that much has changed about the Borg since then, why not at least try it?
Similar problems arise about the notion that the borg would track Hugh down by any means. Picard has been back on the Enterprise for a while but no Borg vessel even tried to reach him. Somehow Hugh doesn't even seem to know Picard isn't Locutus anymore. Clearly the communication inside the collective isn't nearly as good as they believe.
The notion that a simple paradox would shut down the collective is rather stupid as well. Even assuming it would affect one vessel, most of the borg are on a different end of the galaxy. If they can't even communicate Locutus's capture in this long of a time, how will the virus ever spread beyond the vessel?
What they should have done is removed Highs implants or at least tracking device and integrated him into the Federation. He could have given them information about the borg and it would have been much more likely to help than either sending him back or trying to infect the borg.
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Overall a great episode though.
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 7:27pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)
A human being could live under any of the aforementioned regimes, and still retain most of their humanity and hope of a better tomorrow. For all their evil, those regimes left _most_ people alone, provided they toed the line. You can still fall in love in the Soviet Union, raise a family, pursue a career, and do most of the things that make us human. Your life isn't going to be a lot of fun if you end up on the wrong side of Stalin's paranoia, but dying in the gulags beats the hell out of becoming a Borg Drone. Hell, even Nazi Germany doesn't compare, not even if you're an Untermensch.
"My culture is based on freedom and self-determination." Guess what? Even under the most oppressive of human regimes (ancient Sparta perhaps?) there was still a little bit of room for self-determination. Even the Dominion's puppet races seem to retain a fair amount of self-determination, so long as they toe the line for the Founders.
The best you can say about the Borg is that they're a force of nature, with all the premeditation of a replicating virus that destroys its host cell. The worst you can say about them is that they're pure evil, cold and calculating.
Either way, we're plainly justified in exterminating them with extreme prejudice. Given the chance, I could do so with the same level of guilt that I have after washing my hands, i.e., none at all. The Star Trek ethos rings hollow here, and the contrast with DS9 is astounding, where we're willing to commit genocide "merely" to retain our freedom, rather than simply to survive.
Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
So let's assume Picard's reasoning is fine with both of the first two. So now he has to figure out what to do with Hugh. He can't just send him back, his individuality would be destroyed the moment he reconnects with the Borg. But (at least according to this episode) the Borg will never stop hunting for Hugh. So they ask Hugh what he wants. And he makes a noble sacrifice to lose his individuality again in order to save his new friends.
That's problem one. Hugh is emotionally a child. And he's making this wonderful choice? Choosing a fate worse than death? That's rather convenient that thei newfound friend would destroy himself for our heros. Glad Picard doesn't have to figure out how to keep Hugh without causing the complete destruction of the Federation. Makes life a whole lot easier, huh?
Second problem. So Picard is risking his career and risking the entire Federation by avoiding his plan to destroy the Borg. And all because he can't sacrifice Hugh. But... he ends up sacrificing Hugh anyway. And maybe his conscience can't force Hugh to do it. But couldn't he ask Hugh? After all, Hugh's dead anyway. And Hugh is killing himself to keep the Borg from assimilating Geordi. So why doesn't Picard ask Hugh if he wants to be a suicide bomber? Not that I'm saying Hugh would say yes, but Picard could have at least talked about it. Instead, he just hoped that the individuality plan would do something.
Actually, make that a third problem. Everyone acted like the silly virus plan was 100% guaranteed. And Picard assumed Hugh's individuality would be a virus too. Isn't that a bit arrogant? How do they know it would be perfect? Well, I guess the answer is that there was no time for uncertainties in the episode, but it was still a bit upsetting.
And that brings us to a fourth problem, that nobody argued with Picard when he decided to switch plans. Again, I think the problem is a lack of time in the episode with everything else going on. Picard and Guinan both expressed reservations against using Hugh as a weapon, and they have the most reason to want to destroy the Borg. I guess that means there's no reason for, say, Riker or Worf to object to Picard's change in plan. Although, frankly, they should be objecting. Someone needs to.
So now to discuss the fifth problem... Frankly, I'm not sure what they were going for with the moral implications of all of this. For one, by having only Beverly object to the original plan (even Troi was promoting it!), the producers appear to be agreeing with the sentiment that the Borg must be destroyed. And frankly, any other answer would be stupid. At this time in the Star Trek mythos (pre-Voyager's Scorpion), the Borg were explicitly uncommunicatable. There was no talking with them, no reasoning with them. They were a force of nature, and would not stop until the Federation was destroyed. "You can't outrun them; you can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone. They are relentless!" Pacifism against such an enemy is in itself immoral, because you are dooming everyone else to die to placate your own conscience. Pacifists may have a problem thinking that way because there are no clear analogies to real life (even Nazis or jihadists are still human), especially none that threatens our entire existence. Viruses and bacteria are close, but there's a huge difference between a microscopic organism and a human cyborg.
Yet consider a drowning person as an analogy. When someone is drowning, they are, essentially, irrational. It can be very difficult to talk calmly with such a person and to provide advice, particularly if the advice is counterintuitive to their irrational minds. So suppose a lifeguard must rescue such a person without the aid of a floatation device. It's easy to do if the person doesn't panic and goes limp and lets the lifeguard do all the work. But it's more likely that the drowning person would grab on to the lifeguard in such a way that would hamper said guard's ability to swim. In other words, its more likely that the drowning person would kill the lifeguard. In such a situation, the lifeguard is trained to do everything in their power to get the person of of him or her. Yes, a lifeguard will fight off a drowning man to save his or her own life, even if it means the drowning person must die. This is how they are trained, and there is no controversy, no concern over such training. There's no moral handwringing there, and in that case it's allowing an innocent person to die simply because panic has overtaken their brain. So if a normal society, even a pacifistic society, is ok with killing a temporary irrational person to save themselves, why would anyone object to destroying (or at least containing) a perpetually irrational society in order to save themselves?
(Yes, the analogy isn't perfect. But it's the closest I could come up with.)
So like I said, based on what we know of the Borg at this time, there is no reason not to try to destroy them. And yet, the episode ends with Picard not destroying them, and it is presented as the moral choice. So what is the message here? Is it that the original choice was wrong? Or just that it's wrong to use an innocent as an unwitting suicide bomber? That last one is certainly debatable, and perhaps is the right choice. But the episode doesn't make it explicit, and it appears that some people here think that the meaning of the episode is the former one. And if it is the latter, the episode didn't really debate it any, didn't really focus on it. It was more a question of if Picard would really go along with it. It seemed to say Picard's (and Guinan's) prejudices were wrong, even though their "prejudice" was exactly what the Borg were like. Hugh's existence was an anomaly; it's hard to fault Picard or Guinan for not immediately falling for an individual Borg.
So really, was there a message with this episode?
I'm tempted to say no, or at least not a hard one. I've listed a bunch of problems, but frankly I think this episode might crack my top 5 for the season. While some of the Hugh/Geordie scenes were pretty bad (especially the naming), the episode itself was pretty intense. And, frankly, it was about the only possible follow up to BOBW (at least for an episode; First Contact provided the action packed follow up that would only work as a movie). You can't have the Borg invade; it's unlikely that the Federation could pull another rabbit out of its hat. So why not have a way to change the Borg and actually investigate what one is like when alone? And still weigh some moral decisions and get to see Picard's reaction to them?
So who cares if the message is a bit muddled? It was a very enjoyable 43 minutes, which was all I was looking for.
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Yes, genocide is always wrong, even if it's your only hope for survival and you do it out of desperation. Your fear and desperation may mitigate your moral culpability, and good may come from your survival, but the genocidal act is objectively evil.
But the fact remains that exterminating the Borg is not genocide. Once again TNG's attempts to preach their morality have rung false due to bad science, sophomoric use of English, and shallow philosophy.
DS9, as usual, got it right. Section 31 was attempting to commit bona fide genocide, and that's why the story was so hard-hitting: they were actually dealing with the moral implications in a sci-fi setting with good science (a synthetic virus infecting a species), good English (look up genocide, they did), and deep philosophy (desperation, remorse, risk and sacrifice, action and rectification).
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
At the end of the day it comes down to a larger scale version of the common criminal that decides to try and kill you. Your choice is to fight back or die; nearly everybody will opt for the former. You didn't decide someone was going to die that day, you just decided it wasn't going to be you.
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 10:07am (UTC -5)
What you consider "sophomoric" use of English could be considered "forward-thinking" by others. If the Borg are not a species or race because of the lack of genetic links, they are still a group. Although they may lack a "nation" in the strictest sense, we might allow the use of 1940s "nation" to refer to their ship. Thus the early legal uses of the term COULD allow the extermination of the Borg to be considered the extermination of a "national group", and thus genocide.
According to wikipedia, the latest 'legal' interpretation of the word comes from Dovid Katz:
"Genocide is the mass murder of as many people as possible on the basis of born national, ethnic, racial or religious identity as such; with intent to eliminate the targeted group entirely and internationally; without allowing the victims any option to change views, beliefs or allegiances to save themselves; and with large-scale accomplished fulfillment of the goal."
When I look at that definition, I see two things:
1. The absence of any reference to the danger such a group may pose
2. The use of the word "born", which does not apply to the Borg but which their assimilation process seems to be a worthy sci-fi counterpart for.
We can argue about the semantics forever I suppose, and it doesn't really matter that much unless one insists (as you seem to) that "genocide is always wrong". But in my view, this is missing the main issue (see below).
Tim (and many others earlier),
I'm a bit in awe that so many people seem to change the story of this episode. To me, it seemed pretty clear that everyone on board was in favor of extermination except Crusher; her dissent can be seen as a writer's trick to make sure the others' favor is highlighted ("I just want to make sure we understand what we're saying here", or whatever she says early in the episode). This is very much reinforced by the Picard-Guinan fencing scene.
This answer doesn't change just because Third of Five gets a name and/or is 'cute'. It changes because Hugh successfully demonstrates to Picard that he is a person capable of making choices. This has two huge implications that change the QUESTION, not the answer.
1. A single Borg can be reasoned with, and more importantly, can be persuaded to coexist peacefully with others.
2. A single Borg like Hugh is closer to a person than to "the Borg", and should be treated as such.
Thus the answer only changes because the question changes. It's no longer a matter of extermination. It's a matter of deceiving a person into being an unwitting, sacrificial tool of extermination. It's a matter of exterminating a group from which an individual has demonstrably shown his ability to alter his views to peaceful ones. This is the act which Picard (rightfully, in my opinion) finds immoral.
So no, it's not a question about "fight back or die". It's a question about means vs ends, and reevaluating a situation when new facts (Hugh's 'humanity') come to light.
Sat, Oct 25, 2014, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
For "Hugh" to have developed so much individuality and impressed people so much in two days felt like the writers were really abandoning their original ideas for versions that were less interesting and believable and that even they didn't have much confidence in. His friendship with Geordi generally felt underdeveloped, more told than shown.
@ Plain Simple, I agree that it didn't make sense why Hugh's individuality would have effects any different from that of anyone else that had been assimilated.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 1:56am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Too much of a good thing is never a good thing, in retrospect. I'm so glad DS9 left the Borg as a one-off flashback in the pilot episode.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 11:31am (UTC -5)
The Borg arc could have happened over a period of episodes or even 2 shows and ended with a really well scripted finale. But, no... they quickly realized that the Borg was a cash-cow and means to pull fans in front of the TV. To that end, they simply kept having them make appearances for no other reason. And Voyager took what was left of the corpse and burned it.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 11:48am (UTC -5)
That's a great idea if it is made into an arc that stays true to that idea and doesn't meddle with it.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 11:58am (UTC -5)
You either destroy this menace, or you allow millions of people to die, including your own race. Why anyone thinks there is a grey area there is beyond me. Perhaps they need to join the real world.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
In my opinion, DLPB (and others making similar claims about Picard's naivete) are mistaken. DLPB correctly points out all of the pieces of the problem, but seems to miss what I think is the logical flow:
1. Borg are presented as mindless killing machine (earlier episodes)
2. 3of5 is found
3. Picard, based on the info of point(1), decides to exterminate (as he should)
4. 3of5 demonstrates that point(1) is INCORRECT. This is a writer's decision. If there is anything to complain about, it should occur here. This has nothing to do with Picard being naïve or foolish. It has everything to do with the writers 'watering down' the Borg concept. As of this point, the Borg is closer to a mind-enslaved race, from which sympathetic individuals are demonstrably able to be 'saved'. Also as of this point, the extermination would involve sacrificing an unknowing, sympathetic individual.
5. Picard, based on the info of point(4), decides against extermination (as he should... MAYBE)
Point(5) is arguable. My claim with this post is that the question is difficult, not simple. Further, this difficulty comes from the writers changing the concept of the Borg, not from some sort of deluded sense of moral superiority on the part of Picard.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
TNG is written, on the whole, by hippy-dippy liberal types. The fact Hugh exists in the first place, and this fake dilemma came up, is because it satisfied their idea of the world: That there is redemption and hope in everything. The original Borg message had nothing to do with this - it was about an utterly ruthless and unchanging menace. But the writers who wrote this episode retconned that because it went against their liberal ideals.
The writers don't realize they are making Picard look naive, because they are simply using him for their own mouth-piece. THEY are naive.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
But see, the writers here don't force their views via Picard. Instead they force their views by changing the rules of the Borg by introducing 3of5. You yourself say it - it's the existence of Hugh that is the sign of the writers' opinions. Picard the character can't ignore in-universe facts that the writers force into his view. Again, all I'm saying here is that, once the writers 'retcon' the concept of the Borg, as you put it, Picard's decision can no longer be the simple one you would like to see. But that's the fault of the retconning, not the fault of Picard's decision-making.
A better example of what you're claiming to dislike about TNG (writers' liberal/idealistic tendencies coloring Picard's decision-making) would probably be the Crystalline Entity episode, which to be honest I don't remember very well.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
I guess you missed seasons 1-2, and 7.
DS9 is consistently better from the finale of season 1 through the end.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
I found DS9 entertaining, as I did TNG. DS9 was, in parts, grittier. But that's it.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
But Hugh does not prove #1 is false. The Borg, even during this episode, are STILL relentless conquerors unable to communicate with the Federation. Hugh simply proves that this is not a permanent state for the Borg; they can stop becoming "mindless killing machines" if certain conditions are applied (namely, unplugging their wifi router). But just because one Borg changed his state does not change the fact that the rest of them are still in that state. I think you agree with me on this point. The Borg CAN be saved, but there does not appear to be a real option to do that.
And because of that, one still must be relentless against the Borg as a whole, regardless of what Hugh represents. This is because the Borg themselves are still relentless. Hugh means that there may be other alternatives to complete genocide of the Borg, but it doesn't necessarily take genocide off the table if you place self-preservation of your species as priority #1. And given the disparity of strength between the Borg and the Federation, desperation may still mean that genocide is needed even if there is potential for the Borg to become humanized.
Moving to Godwin, suppose you went back in time to 1940s. You told everyone there how, in your time, Germany is a peaceful, open, tolerant nation friendly to all of its neighbors. That may be true. It proves that the Germans are not inherently irredeemable, just as Hugh proves that the Borg are not inherently irredeemable. But it doesn't change the fact that the Nazis are here, now, spreading death and destruction, and must be stopped here and now. And must be stopped at all cost. The Allies would not take the time to ponder how to save Germany before worrying about how to defeat Germany.
So yeah, if goal #1 is preserve your species and goal #2 is don't commit genocide, genocide doesn't come off the table until #1 is secure. Hugh's individuality doesn't confirm that goal #1 is secure.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
We're all saying basically the same things at this point, I think. Allow me some defense of my 'logic'; really of my lazy oversimplifications.
My point(1) used the word "machine" in the singular for a reason. My claim is that previous episodes presented the Borg as a single entity, from which individuals cannot be 'saved' or reasoned with ever (not just at present). This isn't entirely true, since they do 'save' Picard after all. But I still maintain there is a difference; Locutus offers no reasoning and no 'real' individuality until after he considers himself Picard again.
So, if point(1) is 'strengthened' in this sense, I still stand by what I'm saying. Point(4) contradicts the 'eternal singularity' of the Borg entity. At least, I think this is the writers' intent. Thus we have the key scene where Picard almost cannot believe Hugh's behavior. This says to me that, prior to that conversation, Picard believed the 'strengthened' point(1), and was astounded to find Hugh contradicting this.
All that said, you are correct that this does not change the present state of the Borg threat. And for that reason, Picard's choice may still be viewed as wrong. But I deny the claim that Picard's choice, after the writers reinvent the possibilities of future communication with the Borg, is easy.
The Nazi Germany example is also difficult. The Allies knew they had to stop Nazi Germany, but 'at all costs' is questionable. If another time traveler handed the 1940 Allies a magic button that would immediately eradicate all Germans from existence, is the choice to use said button easy?
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 5:43am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
And you are an individual who can only resort to childish ad hominem attacks because you aren't intelligent or reasonable enough to debate properly. Also, this is a political sci-fi, infused at the ground roots with progressive liberalism because of its writers. Wake up. To avoid talk of politics in regard to Trek (or most shows) is to miss the point of such shows entirely.
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 12:15am (UTC -5)
First, the good. 1.) OMG, I absolutely LOVE that they decided to have Picard go so dark for most of the episode. For a character that has consistently, and very consciously, been written to be a rather high-minded intellectual and moralist to suddenly foster such a somber and dark plan of action is stunning. And, I think it's totally in keeping with his character development as shown up until now. This man was viciously brutalized by the Borg. For him to just shrug it off and not think how to destroy his oppressors would be foolish. 2.) The moral ambiguity. It's the mark of a truly well-written piece of fiction that even years after you first encounter it you're still debating it in your own head. That's what I'm doing with "I, Borg." After countless viewings over these many years, I'm still not sure which side of the debate I ultimately side with. Was it right or not to use Hugh as a weapon against the Collective? I honestly don't know. The Collective is an implacable enemy of humanity and the Federation and needs to be resisted at all costs. But, once Hugh regains his sense of individuality, things aren't quite so clear-cut. 3.) The fact that what we have here, essentially, is a rather remarkable defense of individual liberty as opposed to collectivism. 4.) The world-building (shocking, I know). Up until now it would have been perfectly plausible for viewers to assume that the entire Borg Collective was on that one ship from "The Best of Both Worlds" (which is possibly the same ship from "Q Who"). Now there's no doubt whatsoever that there are more Borg out there to contend with.
So what's wrong with the episode? Well, it's the same problem I have with "Ethics" - they made Crusher way too adamant in her position. What's all this talk about "his people" and "his race" and "his species"? The Borg are not his people! The Borg are not his species or his race! The Borg brutalized and subjugated his people, race and species. For crying out loud, the Borg have no species! Hugh himself had to have been assimilated. That's why up until Hugh shows signs of individualism, I'm firmly in the camp of "use him as a weapon." Besides, Crusher such didn't seem to have any problems with killing Borg in "The Best of Both Worlds," did she? It all makes the counter-argument (which I think the writers kind of want us to side with) look rather weak and simple-minded. Even Guinan falls victim to this "his people" rubbish in the otherwise remarkably good scene between her and Picard in his quarters.
I suppose if someone were to put a gun to head and make me choose (a "your money or your life" type situation) I'd probably say go ahead and use Hugh as the weapon even with his individuality. That's because what Riker and Troi say in the Conference Lounge at the beginning of the episode is exactly right. There are indeed no civilians among the Borg and there is a state of war going on since the Borg have attacked at every opportunity. When up against such an unstoppable and unrelenting foe, maybe moral compromises need to be made. When faced with a choice between life and death - I'll choose life. But, put that gun to my head tomorrow and I'll probably say something different since I'm still debating with myself.
And that, for me at least, is the greatest strength of "I, Borg" - the fact that it's a moral conundrum that isn't easily solved for us. It's not like "The Masterpiece Society" where I can easily say that Picard is in the wrong with his Prime Directive nonsense at the end. And it's not like ENT: "Damage" where I can say that Archer was right to steal the warp coil. It's a lot like Section 31 over on DS9 - another instance where I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about them.
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 8:07am (UTC -5)
For what it's worth, if you watch Voyager's Survival Instinct and how fast they regain their memories (all but Seven, assimilated as a child) I think that Hugh likely was assimilated as a baby or grew up in a maturation chamber. I am fairly certain he was raised by the Borg.
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 10:26am (UTC -5)
You can argue about the moral necessities and justifications of genocide until you're blue in the face, but what this episode boils down to is whether once Hugh has shown his individuality there is any moral compass to using him as an instrument of that genocide. What the episode lacks is offering Hugh that choice as an outcome of his free will - were he to freely and willingly offer to transmit the 'virus' would that then be acceptable?
But as a character piece this is up among the best. For Picard and Guinan, the high points of humanity and rationality in the show, to be so relentlessly against the Borg is rooted within their personal experiences. And yet that humanity and rationality also comes into play as their ideas change when confronted with the facts of Hugh. Up to now, the Borg could not be negotiated with - here, now, perhaps there is a way.
"You gave him a name?" indeed. 4 stars.
Wed, Jan 6, 2016, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
There are many great thoughts on the page above this note of mine, though I must admit that what I'm about to type might have been mentioned above, because I eventually got kind of a 'eye-glaze' while reading them.
You might be able to take a handful and help them out of the collective like they did with Picard, but the rest will be attempting to kill you before you get very far. I believe that, in this scenario, they might have felt badly about it, but they would have put the plan in motion. Period.
And now for something completely different...
I usually dislike comparing TNG to other series that hadn't aired yet, because some things changed later, and I like to view them on their own merit. But... if this had been DS9, and they had decided to let Hugh go 'home', at some point in time Garak would have walked by with a pad and said "Hello Hugh. Would you please take a look at this, before you go, and give me your assesment on what it is?" Then he would have told them later why it HAD to be done (it actually sounds like something Ro might do, under the right circumstances. Of course, she'd have to be on the episode first...)
Have a good one... RT
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
not to mention the borg character is not interesting, and for those who have lost alot (or come close to losing alot) namely picard and guinan, people change their mind easily as to how they percieve 'Hugh' and what they think of him and subsequently his role in genocide.
how about this instead. picard agrees to analyse the borg member in the hopes of finding weaknesses and exploits for any future encounters with the borg, and through doing this realises there might be a way to eradicate the borg altogether. his crew have their various battles with the morality of that situation, especially since the borg is behaving differently and cooperating since his capture, (although i don't think he needs a name or to be particuarly fond of geordi and i also don't think he requires a paradigm shift in borg ideology as just because he has been disconnected for a few days, it hardly brings back all his individuality. now picard realises that it is not what the federation stands for to destroy entire cultures and peoples and argues this case to the higher ups, which SHOULD feature in the episode in order that the final say IS to do something about the Borg and if that means a virus then goddamnit picard you're orders are clear. picard doesn't like the way this sits on his conscience but, like the best episodes of trek, he does not pussy out and find a magical way to get out of the situation, no, instead he carries out the orders at the protests of some of his crew (noted doctor) and that's that. the plan fails anyway perhaps simply delaying the borg a small amount of time but eventually the borg overcome the virus considering how ridiculously superior in terms of technology they are and subsequently the borg can still turn up and do whatever they want.
I am also a die hard voyager fan and believe the best representation of borg individuality and the troubles therein was undoubtedly 7 of 9, who by the way, got to keep the name 7, instead of getting a crap name like hugh, seeing as that was her chosen name, and there's nothing wrong with a number being your name if it's how you identify as an individual among many.
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
-A plan that fails due to technobabble
-A captain who ignores Federation ethics over the moral objections of the crew
-The rendering of the "enemy" of the episode more generic
-Is a diehard Voyager fan
Yep, it all checks out.
Thu, Oct 13, 2016, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 17, 2016, 3:58am (UTC -5)
I mean it makes sense to equate one fictional genocide with another but cmon. Every single time.
Sat, Oct 22, 2016, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
By referencing www.ppu.org.uk/learn/texts/doc_geneva_con.html it can be seen that the Federation is violating at least seven of Hugh's rights as a prisoner of war.
I thought that the Federation were suppsed to be better than this.
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 10:09am (UTC -5)
But as a number of people have already pointed out, the Borg are NOT a "race"... and that's where this episode (and others) get it wrong with regard to the Borg. It does irk me whenever they call the Borg a "race". They are an amalgam of beings that were stolen from their original species. In truth, most of the Borg shouldn't look like augmented humans... in fact most of them (and yes, obviously, they hadn't figured this out yet...) should look like Delta quadrant species... Kazon, Voth, Ocampa, Vidiian... species that were unfortunate enough to live near whatever it was that initiated "The Borg".
7 of 9 was a human, not a Borg... a human in need of de-programming... and that's at least one thing that Voyager got right...
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Anybody else think it would be interesting to watch a TV show that was the beginning of the Borg? Obviously we know how it would turn out, but it could be some fun sci-fi.
Sat, Oct 29, 2016, 4:25am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 7, 2017, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 9, 2017, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 9:55am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Injecting the borg with a brief instant of Hugh's individuality, as a substitute 'virus', is just... an utterly ridiculous notion, and a line they didn't need to throw in. Literally every single individual the Borg have ever assimilated shared the same 'experience' of individuality, so that notion has been plenty shared amongst the Borg, and is evidently consistently rejected (or at least, suppressed and pushed into Unimatrix Zero).
And like others have pointed out, the Borg are *not* a race. I'm really surprised Beverley even said such a silly thing. The Borg are a twisted collection of unwilling victims from multiple races, whose identities are stolen from them and whose minds and bodies are repurposed against their will. Mourn them if you will, even spare them if you must-- but don't mischaracterize the notion of eliminating the Borg threat as some sort of 'genocide'. With the Borg gone, there's no loss of 'continuation of species'-- because all the people they would have used to 'continue' themselves are still alive and go on living, just much happier in their unique lives of personal choice and freedom among their families and friends and home planets.
Granted, if the Borg would keep to themselves and just live out the lives they've already assimilated (no new conquests), I'd be open to hearing arguments about leaving them alone. But we (and Starfleet) know they won't do that; the Borg at all times are a collective of conquerors; every missed opportunity to cripple the Borg is an extra allowance of time and resources enabling the Borg to move forward with their next assimilation of innocent and terrified people.
I'm personally curious of what Hugh would have thought if they let him decide whether or not to knowingly introduce the virus to the Borg. For all we know, he would have been game; he already didn't want to return to or assist the collective, and he was already sacrificing his life for them by returning; maybe he would have been happy to save future lives by delivering the virus.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 10:55pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 8, 2017, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 2:15am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 8:41am (UTC -5)
I have not been a huge fan of the Guinan character, but this episode really used her well and brought her to the fore. I was especially impressed by the fencing scene. "You just felt sorry for me and look where it got you!"
Interesting to read some of the early comments regarding survival trumping morality... reminded me of Ayn Rand's writings, in which she directly equates the concept of survival with morality. "You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island—it is on a desert island that he would need it most. Let him try to claim, when there are no victims to pay for it, that a rock is a house, that sand is clothing, that food will drop into his mouth without cause or effort, that he will collect a harvest tomorrow by devouring his stock seed today—and reality will wipe him out, as he deserves; reality will show him that life is a value to be bought and that thinking is the only coin noble enough to buy it." ST-TNG's reality is that the Borg is a race which will destroy homo sapiens. Is it not moral to remove the threat? A very good question, worthy of debate.
Finally - there was an episode of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica which centred on the morality of introducing a virus to the Cylon race by the use of some captured Cylons, thereby dispensing with the Cylon threat forever. The moral issue there was more about the validity of using biological weapons, but the end result was the same, although due to the act of one individual. I wonder how much BSG was influenced by this Star Trek episode.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
In BOBW the Borg "interdependency" was described as their achilles heel. It was stated that if one jumped off a cliff so too would all of them, which is how Data defeated them.
I infer from this that there is a distinction to be made between being "assimilated" by the Borg and *being* a borg. The assimilation process purges individuality and makes you a borg. Once you are a borg, you are, by definition, *all* borg hence the use of "we" rather than "I".
The point being, when Hugh rejoined the collective, he was not "assimilated" - rather he became the borg (and the borg became him) once more. So his individuality became part of the collective. To the extent Hugh was now an individual, so too was the collective and all Borg within it.
Of course I agree with others that there is something a little too easy about this, and indeed, the whole computer virus plan. It defies belief that the borg could have such an obvious weakness. Yet to be fair, the way in which Data defeated the Borg in BOBW was itself unbelievable. Heck it was even stated that subsystems like defence and power were protected by firewalls but the borg did not bother protecting their regeneration subsystem? Ridiculous.
I know this isn't the point of the episode and we are meant to presume that the virus would succeed but come on!
In any event I do agree with Picard's ethical decision. Funny enough it reminds me of the movie "It Comes at Night" which I just saw. Without providing a spoiler that movie, in my view, poses a similar ethical dilemma at the end which poses the very real question of whether or not survival can really be enough if it compromises our humanity. By the end of that movie, suffice it to say, I came to the conclusion that sometimes survival isn't the be all end all.
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
I'm torn on the writers having brought the borg back into the mix here It'd had been 2 years with no Borg. Bobw pretty much got everything you could ask for from the Borg in those two hours. Bobw left the audience with idea that that cube was the entire hive--end of Borg. Tng was doing well and really didn't need them to boost the show. And in hindsight bringing the Borg back really only gave us two to three good shows--scorpion Descent part I, Dark frontier. First contact gave us an emotional seductive Queen whose destruction destroyed all those a Borg which didn't work for me. Descent II didn't do anything with those Borg worthwhile ultimately. Unimatrix Zero would have been more interesting if we actually saw that story actually lead to the downfall of the Borg and been a larger storylinr for Voyagers final season. And Endgame was a disaster with the emotional queen arguing with the collective and destroyed by a neurolytic pathogen by a future janeway came bavk with. Very anticlimactic
Maybe leaving them be would have been better after BOBW. But I won't lie when I saw that the Borg would be returning in the 1992 weekly trailer I was giddy. I was curious what kind of story they would tell. I Borg wasn't wholly satisfying. For me the Borg shouldn't be just a one regular episode kind of thing.
I also think the change of heart about using the virus was hard to fathom. I could understand if they were dealing with hypotheticals but this very crew barely lived through an attack by the Borg. They don't have to imagine such a situation and the events in BOBW actually happened not some alternate universe or reality they experienced. They remember how they nearly were destroyed and Earth assimilated. The Borg aren't too be taken lightly so them not going through with virus struck me as too idealistic. And they chose to abandon the virus before the idea popped into their head about letting hugh's individuality affect them
The rest of the episode was kind of routine as it chronicled the study of Hugh and Geordie befriending high
Actually the best part was what will the Borg be like next time the crew encountered them
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
@William B on
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 10:55pm (UTC -5) Nailed it
Up to that point the Borg were described and portrayed as a "race" that assimilated technology more than people where the Borg were born and raised as such. BOBW addeded a new angle, I Borg another and then eventually the vampire tubes and nanoprobes were introduced and . . . Well . . . You know the rest is history
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
The best scene for me -- and there are many good ones -- is Picard acting as Locutus and testing Hugh. Picard did this so well with the perfect Borg responses to Hugh's responses. That right there is great writing, acting. It makes Picard recant on his genocidal plan (which I'm not sure would work anyway). Guinan's comment to Picard not being able to live with himself again if he didn't talk to Hugh before sending him off to destroy the Borg was pretty powerful too.
Initially, I'm on board with Picard's plan and Crusher's doctor thing gets in the way. I think he was approaching the problem very rationally -- never mind his experience in BoBW. The buildup of the friendship and humanizing of Hugh was well done -- it never seemed outlandish. Before they beamed away, Hugh nodded to Geordi, which was a nice moment.
Guinan's role is important here too as she's "converted". Her race was basically destroyed by the Borg. So the episode does its trick of making one think of being "high-principled" humans and not lowering oneself to the level of the enemy.
Of course, the individuality of Hugh gets wiped out in the Borg collective and presumably Hugh is 3rd of 5 again. But it would be naive to think the paradoxical 3D image would destroy the Borg.
Voyager's episode "Drone" is another take on this idea of humanizing a Borg and that too worked very well.
4 stars for "I Borg" -- after "Q Who" and BoBw, this is a very clever way of using the Borg in an episode that is all about what makes Trek Trek -- dealing with a complex moral issue "the right way" -- and the Enterprise crew can have a clear conscience. No genocidal action is taken and whatever the Borg do next will have to be dealt with by whomever.
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
The fact that Admiral Nechayev chews Picard out over this in 'Descent' shows that at least some of the writers thought that Picard's decision in the episode was the wrong one.
one star from me.
Sat, Jan 6, 2018, 1:13am (UTC -5)
I really wanted to like this episode (and did like a lot of things about it), but to give up such an incredible opportunity to destroy such a powerful enemy seems ridiculous. I think Guinan was right during the fencing scene when she took advantage of Picard's sympathy to defeat him. In this situation you cannot let such sympathy take away this rare chance. Like many Trekkies, I am also attracted to the idealism of the Trek universe but has Wolf 359 been forgotten so quickly? In that case, ONE Borg cube decimated dozens of starships and came insanely close to assimilating people on Earth. So many cultures had been destroyed by the Borg--didn't the Enterprise have a duty to attempt to stop the future destruction of billions and trillions of lives? I mean, I suppose this episode opened up a sliver of possibility for future negotiation, but the very tiny possibility of that happening versus the very high probability of the Borg wiping out the Federation makes Picard's decision inexcusable.
Btw, I don't remember 7 of 9 having anywhere near as easy a time becoming comfortable with being an individual as Hugh.....
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
The logical thing to do is to understand that the Borg is a terrible threat which the Federation can't beat. Instead of feeling guilty about genocide (which I CAN understand), they had to meet the Borg with unremitting, uncompromising determination, the same traits which the Borg always show.
Instead, they choose the pansy option which will not only lead to future attacks on Earth which nearly assimilate mankind, but thousands of species in the Delta Quadrant will continue to be destroyed. Species 8472 will become aware of our Galaxy's existence.
The funny thing is, Janeway and her crew will later be blamed for ending the 8472 war, but Picard is the reason the Borg even still exist in the first place. Genocide waa committed by the Borg, not Picard, but some of the blood is on his hands.
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
To me, this episode, while very watchable, ignored the most interesting question. Oh sure, well and fine to liberate locutus from the hive, but the rest of them are just a hive-mind, now and forever..
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
The episode was well executed-Stewart is great here showing the residual trauma that reappears in First Contact.
However it is the beginning of the rot that sets in with the concept of the Borg.
Hugh,the friendly Borg.
Hmm-what about Dennis, the amiable Dalek or Cyril ,the helpful Cyberman?
The Borg are not evil or wicked and ,as mentioned above, the Borg drones are all victims of the Borg collective but they are supposed to be an implacable enemy.
Of course Picard should have used 'Hugh' to attempt to wipe out the entire species. It could never have worked -even the TNG writers knew you could not keep a good villain down although they had difficulties knowing what makes a good villain eg The Ferengi.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
That said, from the first time I saw this as a kid until now, I've always found Dr. Crusher to insufferably written in this episode.
Then again, I always disliked the character for her treatment of everyone like children and/or her "Mom"ing of everyone else.
Wed, Apr 24, 2019, 4:36am (UTC -5)
1. Hugh says that the Borg assimilate cultures, not individuals, but we see them assimilate plenty of individuals at other times. The Borg assimilated crewmembers in both Star Trek: First Contact and in Voyager (Seven of Nine and her parents). Geordi should have been picked up by the Borg rescue team; with his VISOR implant, the work had already been started for them.
2. The crew discusses their plan to hide in the sun's photosphere RIGHT IN FRONT OF HUGH, KNOWING that he's about to be re-integrated into the collective and have his memories shared, not to mention his memories of his time on the Enterprise. Shouldn't a juicy starship have been too big a prize to pass up? Or, maybe because it was only a scout ship, they didn't have the resources readily available?
Still, better than Star Trek: Discovery (I know, I know...cheap shot).
Thu, Apr 25, 2019, 8:31am (UTC -5)
9/10 for iconic Borg story of Hugh.
I found it a bit ridiculous that they wouldn't use Hugh. In fact why not enlist him as a double agent then? I guess it goes against all POW conventions. Is it the equivalent to sending a POW back with the Ebola virus hiding on his person? I didn't get the impression that the endless loop they would put the Borg in would kill them all but maybe that was the premise and I glossed over that in my perceptions while watching the episode.
Once again, wouldn't the Federation have a strategy for dealing with the Borg including what they would do if one were captured? I found Guinan's flipping of perspective okay but the captain's jarring and suspect. I was hoping they would go through with their plan but Hugh would survive...something tells me we see him again but my memory of watching these episodes from 30 years ago (with a few in reruns say 15-20 years ago) is not perfect....
Crusher was annoying in her protestations as they seemed so cookie cutter for her. Damn it Jean Luc, I 'm a doctor not a doctor at war! ("Are we even at war?")
Mon, Oct 7, 2019, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
Guinan, internally: Is he fucking *hitting* on me?
Sun, Dec 1, 2019, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
I do realize that some Borg are born within the collective rather than assimilated, via maturation chambers (are they clones? Is there a default biological species they use when they create their own young?) But I would compare those children to the children born inside a cult. They are still victims and being exploited by captors.
While I would still question the ethics of sending a virus to kill ALL Borg, it's not because I view them as a species. Its because I view many of them as innocents. They are all individual beings who are victims of a system which robs them of their individuality. No single Borg has committed any crime under it's own will because it is not allowed it's own will.
And it always bugged me that Star Trek never acknowledged this elephant in the room. Whenever they tried to put the Borg into any sort of context, it was always "They are a species" or "Who are we to judge their way of life". Well are they to impose their way of life on the countless people they have turned into mindless drones? THAT'S WHAT THE BORG ARE, NOT A SPECIES. A CULT!
In the end I'm not saying Picard made the wrong choice. I agree that it would be unethical to kill all Borg if an alternate option is available. All I'm saying is they keep trying to frame it in the wrong way. They needed to acknowledge that the Borg contained thousands (possibly millions or billions) of KIDNAPPED SLAVES.
They needed to at least entertain the idea that these people needed help.
Sun, Dec 1, 2019, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
I agree to a point, but three things.
1. I do think the episode presents the main choices as annihilation of the Borg or not annihilating them. It's a dramatic conceit that these are the choices, but I think the episode is clear that those are mostly the choices.
2. They do suggest that Hugh might bring the concept of individuality back to the Borg, which is addressing the possibility of offering help to the "kidnapped slaves" therein.
3. Trek seems at times to suggest all Borg are forcibly assimilated from other cultures, but Q Who laid out that there are Borg birthing chambers, so there are some Borg, at least, who are not from other species but are "only Borg." Hugh might be one of those. They need help too, but it might be that there is no species for them to return to, but will have to construct a more individualistic society from the ground up.
I think the episode is great, but definitely it presents some simplified arguments, to scale for a single episode about a species which looms over the series but only intermittently appears.
Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
My thought was if, for example, the Borg assimilated an entire planet or species, some of the ladies would be with child. The maturation chambers would then be used to bring up the children.
Oh, and they'd assimilate children as well, down to the wee bairns.
I don't figure they'd bother with making their own babies, unless they were stranded without enough drones, or something...
Tue, Dec 3, 2019, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
Just watched this again and it reminded me this is a true masterclass of Trek.
Maybe something the newer series will fail to match, but that doesn't mean they aren't still fun.
Sun, Apr 26, 2020, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
The opening scene was really a hoot. Troi, Picard and Riker are shown 'just sitting around' watching solar flares, while everybody else on the ship is busy surveying six solar systems.
Picard is little more than a lounge lizard. I was compelled to ask out loud: "DON'T ANY OF THESE PEOPLE DO ANYTHING?"
Second off: why "third of five" but later "seven of nine"? Hey guys: do Borg use ordinal numbers or cardinal numbers in naming themselves? Please tell us poor souls, oh wonder linguists of Trek.
Inconsistencies abound within the ideological slurry the writers serve up. Let's give medical care to the poor injured cyborg.
The episode is ingenious insofar as it gets us to ask ourselves if we are in our right minds to help this poor dumb kid. Can we actually be objectively interested with his so-called 'civilization' after Wolf 359? And after the earlier Borg cutting beam incident (in Q Who) which sliced out a circle of the Enterprise saucer section the size of eight houses in Levitown? Oh...and what about the razed colony at the beginning of BOBW pt. 1; etc. etc. etc. and the destruction of countless other worlds, some of which we assume were sensitive, creative and genuinely filled with millions of good beings just minding their own business (like Guinan's group).
Is it right to feel the need to make nicey nicey after all that? Is it logical for us to be humane to Hugh after all that his collective has done to of those innocent people?
Of course we, as god-fearing mortals, will work to save the life of the individual who is found unconscious, and not met with as a cog within a virtually unbeatable killer-cube that has annihilated so much independent life.
I really disliked Beverly's tone...it's ok to phaser them to ashes inside the killer-cube; but once injured and lying on the ground we must repair them, and treat them as one of the gang. If this had been done in our own world history, Nineveh would never have fallen and we would still be paying tribute to the bloody Assyrians.
Yet somehow, she's right. That is the conundrum confronting our species. I don't like this episode at all.
Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -5)
I noticed that Guinan addresses the captain as "Picard" in this one; she may collect glasses in Ten Forward but there's no-one in the ship that she doesn't converse on equal terms with. I liked that. And the scene when she confronts "Hugh" is phenomenal.
I quite liked the idea behind the "virus" intended to infect the Borg collective consciousness. It's not really plausible, but at least it's ingenious - much better than just the abstract notion of a computer virus. It reminded me of an old sci-fi horror film from the '70s - either Demon Seed or Colossus, I forget which - in which someone tries to stop the despotic computer by making it calculate an insoluble mathematical problem. As I recall the computer insists on having the culprit shot in view of one of its cameras. But I digress.
There are some problems with this episode, of course. Perhaps most conspicuously - would the Borg really care much about one missing drone? Why? It's a society with massive redundancy and resiliency built in, so why would they go looking for Third of Five if he hadn't been found at the crash site?
Picard takes pains to hide from the approaching Borg cube's sensors in the chromosphere of a star, yet he's sending abundant knowledge of their existence back with "Hugh". Not only that, but Geordi is literally standing around when they turn up. Surely the Borg have some way to analyse and draw conclusions from information like that.
Even so - one of the best of the fifth series so far.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
"Some of Picard's justification for his intention reminds me of comments made by Dubya and Rumsfeld during the laughable "War on Terror"; not a good look."
I don't think this comparison really works. With Dubya it was a case of military and moral bluster not even related to the real perpetrators of the attack. In the case of Guinan it's a mortal enemy that literally annihilated her *planet*, and in Picard's case almost that but also pillaged him as a person on every level. This is not sabre rattling hawkishness, it's a legitimate hard line against a 100% clear and present threat.
"would the Borg really care much about one missing drone? Why? It's a society with massive redundancy and resiliency built in, so why would they go looking for Third of Five if he hadn't been found at the crash site?"
In previous episodes the Borg seem to meticulously self-destruct the dead drones so that (presumably) their technology couldn't have scavenged. I assume the Borg are well aware that if another race were to duplicate their technology it would be a big problem for them. The one exception was Locutus, and my best guess is that they let Locutus stay on the Enterprise thinking he could collect data while in the meantime the Enterprise could never get anything useful out of him before Earth fell. But yeah, despite Voyager's idea that the Borg are totally fine with anyone at all reverse engineering their tech, on TNG it seems pretty clear they won't allow this.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Well it's not like the Borg don't know about the Federation; they certainly have Earth's address.
But that raises a really glaring issue: isn't the presence of a Borg ship (presumably) on the Federation's doorstep kind of a big deal? Is this a full on cube like the one from BOBW? Aren't they worried the ship might decide to saunter over to earth?
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Of course Voyager messed all this up what with the "collective" becoming a bunch of expendable henchmen for a bloodthirsty queen.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
I could have sworn it was a TNG movie that did that.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 5:38am (UTC -5)
First Contact opened the door. Voyager drunkenly lurched through it head first.
The irony is I liked the Queen's portrayal in the movie. I even kind of sort of get where they were going with the concept because when you think about it logically, a true collective consciousness would be a chaotic mess. If the analogy is an ant colony or something then you definitely need a Queen.
But this was also the end of the Borg being remotely scary or interesting. I remember watching BOBW and getting goosebumps when the Collective told JLP that death was "irrelevent". Now that was real menace.
Then I think of the Borg Queen in STV with her "curse you humans I'll assimilate you next time!" who was about as menacing as Gargamel or Skeletor, and about as effective.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 7:43am (UTC -5)
"The irony is I liked the Queen's portrayal in the movie. I even kind of sort of get where they were going with the concept because when you think about it logically, a true collective consciousness would be a chaotic mess. If the analogy is an ant colony or something then you definitely need a Queen."
Not really. The Queen isn't telling the ants what to do. Often the queen is so big it can't even move. She just poops out new ants.
I can imagine a collective mind. They somewhat messed with that through Locutus already. The queen is a storytelling device. It is easier for a species that perceives reality from an individual perspective to understand a different species through an individual. Then there was the whole sexqueen stuff...
Was it as good for you, when she blew on his little meatpart... *eyeroll*
But this was also the end of the Borg being remotely scary or interesting. I remember watching BOBW and getting goosebumps when the Collective told JLP that death was "irrelevent". Now that was real menace."
I thought so, too. Before it was an unstoppable force more like a storm. Now it is just a pale perv party.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Depends on whether the collective consciousness knows it is a collective consciousness. If it doesn't, and believes there are separate individuals with conflicting wills, then it's a chaotic mess. If it does, it simply operates as a harmonious unitary organism.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Either the idea of the collective is itself a fraud or is there something inherently totalitarian in any collective will? I am getting shades of 1984, a machine built by beings with the sole purpose of crushing those same beings including those that made it!
But you can see how the Queen is an antidote to that logical contradiction on some level.
Personally, I prefer the angle adopted in Voyager's Unity, an underappreciated episode that explored the seductiveness of collective consciousness, why individuals would not *want* to leave, and would also seek to bring as many others into the fold as possible.
They kind of sort of scratched the surface with the seduction angle in First Contact with the Borg bondage queen but ya umm, kind of a fail on that one.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
About the individuals being absorbed against their will. I always thought of it as a process that to quote Picard erased the individuality somehow. A drone is just a platform in that sense.
Oh yeah a collective that absorbs individuals against their will and turns them into a thing. Doesn't get more totalitarian than that.
Yeah the whole "I want to go back" was a little underdeveloped. Their is really no smart explanation for it. You could say that all individuals search for purpose. For some it is hedonism or being a degree of eremite, for many others it is about being part of something bigger. Building a better future and so on. The Borg Collective is in a way the ultimate bigger purpose. Or being inside of the collective is just sweetened like some long endless opium rush.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
If we're really just plucking ideas from out of a shared idea-space, I don't know what it means to have an individual will: just like two identical radios picking up different stations doesn't make them different from each other.
Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
"If we're really just plucking ideas from out of a shared idea-space, I don't know what it means to have an individual will"
That would pose the question how ideas came into existence and how this lead to these extremely complex societal structures we have now plus the societal structures often differ widely, sometimes from city to city, house to house.
I believe in Freud's structural model. it, ego, super ego. Sure you can say that these three things are just an illusion but why would nature invent such a thing. What purpose would the false impression of individuality have for us as a species.
The collective takes it, ego and super ego away and replaces it with a single minded purpose.
Tue, Oct 27, 2020, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 1:30am (UTC -5)
I could maybe buy Bevs’ arguments if she had considered some of the arguments that they SHOULD do this thing. She’s so cluelessly Pollyanna that I would have thought she had personally never encountered the Borg.
It’s ridiculous to think that a drawing could destroy the Borg. It’s even more ridiculous how certain Data and Geordi are that the plan would work.
Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 1:35am (UTC -5)
And btw, Worf’s recommendation to kill the drone, make it look like an accident then run was quite eye popping.
Fri, Jun 25, 2021, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
It says a lot that so many people think Dr Crusher has no credible argument, or that Picard is responsible for any deaths the Borg then cause. By that logic, any ship that doesn't attack Borg on sight, ram their ships if necessary, and kill as many Borg as possible, is "responsible" for every death those Borg cause from then on. Anyone who doesn't inject themselves with the most lethal viruses they can find, and immediately allow themselves to be assimilated, in order to kill as many Borg as possible, is responsible for any harm cause by the Borg they didn't kill in a suicide attack. Ridiculous.
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 6:50am (UTC -5)
Possibly also useful to include the factor of atavism in the discussion....such as: I may be an individual, but I, in body and in mind, express elements of innumerable predecessors to various degrees. The specific contributions are generally unknown, particularly when it comes to the features and inclinations inherited from remote ancestors.
The implication is that each individual expresses a collective assembly ...this collectivity is the individual's genetic inheritance.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 4:01am (UTC -5)
- Guinan’s best role yet: from uncharacteristic but understandable harshness to doubter about what they propose to do with Hugh (“Before you send him away as a weapon, look him in the eyes, or you will find it hard to live with yourself “)
- Picard playing Locutus to see how far Hugh has become an individual
- Hugh’s gradual evolution away from the hive mind, done in a convincing and realistic manner
- Guinan’s fencing ploy to make her point about compassion versus weakness
- Hugh learning what “friendship” is, and making friends with Geordi (the moment at the end where Hugh, about to be reabsorbed, glances across at Geordi… what a superb 3-second scene!)
- the dawning realisation that sending a Borg back to the hive with a sense of individuality would be better - and certainly more moral - than creating a virus to destroy the Borg
Then of course is the ethical question running through the whole episode: if you have a single element of a killing machine - but one that is vulnerable - can you then use that element to destroy the entire collective? And if you do, have you become as bad as them? Cleverly, the writers don’t answer that 100% - the Borg, if individualised, are effectively destroyed as a species; who would then look after and teach the millions of individual Borg how to be people? Look how long and how difficult it was with Seven of Nine! and she was just one…
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 4:21am (UTC -5)
“ If we're really just plucking ideas from out of a shared idea-space, I don't know what it means to have an individual will: just like two identical radios picking up different stations doesn't make them different from each other.”
Except, we are not born identical! I didn’t get taught how to be laid-back and introvert compared to my sister who was ALWAYS more energetic and extrovert. We were different from each other from the earliest days.
We make choices from the “idea-space”, and that’s our free will, even though we may only use it for a minority of the time. Yes, we are moulded by genetics, parents, education, friends, enemies, culture, but through all of that, at any moment, there is an opportunity for change; the fact we either ignore, don’t see it, or choose (freely) not to act on it, doesn’t take away that the moment is there and we could take that “other path in the woods “.
The Borg never have any such moments. Not single Borg, I mean.
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 31, 2021, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
In a way it worked because of what happens in Decent, but only on a smaller scale. As Jammer mentions a lot of good work on this was undone.
You could also argue that if it had of hit big across the whole collective, what kind of damage it would do. All these Borg ships suddenly conking out because the entire crew has suddenly regained individuality.
I have often wondered what would happen if the entire collective failed. You have all these worlds and civilisations that have been altered... How would you even reverse all that?
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 10:33pm (UTC -5)
Instead of a new, self-confident group of individuals looking upon each other as friends, these affected Borg become rudderless. All collapses and Lore steps in as autocrat.
When "I, Borg" is viewed in parallel to "Descent," the message is sent that not everyone is up to the challenge of individuality. It is not so easily learned, and if learned, it is not so easily sustained.
Mon, Mar 7, 2022, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
If we look at the Borg literally, rather than an analogy of some real life political situation, then up until Hugh, the Federation had no idea that they were capable of exhibiting individuality. Every single Borg drone was a weapon. There were no civilians vs. soldiers. That's why I find it unhelpful to compare the Borg to human conflicts. No country on Earth has a fully weaponized population, which is why we have conventions that forbid genocide. I'm surprised the episode did not actually use the word genocide to describe what they were trying to do because that's exactly what the plan was. In the BSG series, the choice to commit genocide was entirely different: the Cylons already genocided most of humanity and the remaining humans were fighting for their lives.
Then Hugh begins to exhibit individuality and free will, which demonstrates that the Borg is not just the sum of its parts, but is compromised of controlled individuals who, if disconnected from the hive, would be in various potential states of self-awareness. I don't think this is a "feel good" or sentimental notion at all, but a real one. If the Borg represent utter conformity, collectivism, and the end of individuality, with no compromise or variability, then the Borg is just one giant enemy spread out over the galaxy and it should be treated as one enemy. But if it turns out that each of its pieces could be broken off and turned back into free-thinking individuals who could have opinions against the Borg, then that changes the game entirely and genocide is no longer an option.
Consider that if the Enterprise successfully delivered its virus, it would have wiped out Seven of Nine whom we later come to appreciate. She in turn would not add her unique individuality and wisdom to the Federation. She would not become a bounty hunter / freedom fighter as we now see in Picard. And she is just ONE former drone -- who, by the way, was assimilated at 6 years old, but still managed to be turned into a full fledged individual later.
I think it's VOY, not TNG, that makes this issue more morally inconsistent. TNG has the excuse of black-and-white hating the Borg because until Hugh appeared, the collective were merely seen as a destructive force of nature. But in VOY, we are given several examples of drones regaining individuality: Seven, and her former unimatrix members all regaining freedom. Yet in future episodes, Janeway indiscriminately blows up entire Borg ships, and her future self even annihilates likely billions of POTENTIAL individuals in order to get VOY home while crippling the Borg. To me, VOY never properly grappled with the morals of killing so many drones even after KNOWING those drones were individuals being controlled by a hive mind. It was just "Borg bad", until they met Borg individuals they arbitrarily cared about, like in "Drone". Mind you, Janeway had to make some tough tactical choices, but I just mean... there were never any moral consequences. We never saw her trying to reconcile all the individuals she killed in self-defense. Compare that to Seven, who frequently struggled with her past involvement in assimilating millions. If INDIVIDUALS are victims of the Borg, even as drones, then why does the matter not cut both ways?
"I, Borg" is morally consistent with what the Federation is supposed to be about: an enlightened respect for the individual. They treat the Borg as one single enemy until they see evidence that there are sentient individuals at stake. Then they give Hugh the choice. This is also why they don't ask Hugh if he wanted to deliver the virus. His choice would not just affect him, but countless millions of Borg individuals who could also potentially be freed.
To me, the Borg represent a complex foe that the Federation has insufficient advancement to handle properly. If the Federation could free individuals without destroying entire Borg ships, they would. But they can't. If it comes down to pure self-defense, the Federation will have to kill possibly millions of drones. But in terms of the Federation moral code, it doesn't have the means to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to the Borg. It's as Guinan said in "Q Who": "One day you might be able to develop a relationship with them, but for now you're just raw material to them."
As a side note... I have no idea why the Borg didn't just send multiple cubes to assimilate Earth via Wolf 359. Guinan said that the Borg swarmed through the El Aurian system until there was nothing left. Individual Borg ships have transwarp. So why not send an armada? Earth would've been easily assimilated. Then later in VOY the Queen acts like humanity is so difficult to assimilate. They even had to time travel in First Contact to try and stop humans. Yet they always just send one ship. Anyway...
Now, flash forward to the 25th century in Picard (spoiler alert....)
And you have the Borg Queen showing up from the future wanting to possibly join the Federation. The ultimate test of the Federation charter is about to happen.
Mon, Mar 7, 2022, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
How do you save millions of individuals that you can't get to? That you can't un-brainwash? While their collective is simultaneously trying to destroy you? If you're strong enough, you can prevent them from destroying you while you free their people. If you're too weak, then all you can care about is self-defense.
I think that's why Picard makes the choice that he does in "I, Borg". It's one thing to defend yourself from the collective, it's another to go and genocide it when Hugh has just showed you a small, novel glimpse of the implications of doing so.
Mon, Mar 7, 2022, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
"I think it's VOY, not TNG, that makes this issue more morally inconsistent. TNG has the excuse of black-and-white hating the Borg because until Hugh appeared, the collective were merely seen as a destructive force of nature. But in VOY, we are given several examples of drones regaining individuality: Seven, and her former unimatrix members all regaining freedom. Yet in future episodes, Janeway indiscriminately blows up entire Borg ships, and her future self even annihilates likely billions of POTENTIAL individuals in order to get VOY home while crippling the Borg."
Actually it's even a bit worse than this. In TNG the Borg are basically torturers who kidnap and lock away in a basement the mind of the individual, taking it over with a machine running the body, more or less. After he was assimilated, Picard was buried under there somewhere but was not in any intelligible sense 'part of' the Borg collective, as in, contributing his own distinctiveness as they put it. But when Seven of Nine is 'rescued' from the Borg, we hear on many occasions how she liked being a Borg, appreciated their sense of order, and misses many aspects of their collective. In fact she is never shy to berate the humans for their inefficiency compared to the Borg. So after hearing all of this not only do we know it's kind of easy to rescue individuals from the Borg (meaning they're not unsalvageable weapons) but on top of it the claim that they're imprisoned slaves is not really true either, since apparently it's possible to find the collective endearing.
So on the one hand Seven creates an even more credible case for rescuing drones rather than annihilating the collective, but then undermines that by making it sound like the drones are more complicit than it was first suggested. Some of them actually like it and are, for lack of a better term, actively cooperating. So both of these elements mire an otherwise straightforward situation involving rescuing unwilling weapons. It seems like some of them will resent you for it and at least for quite a while will prefer to go back to being weapons, or at least will argue in defense of the Borg. So does that mean they're enemy combatants after all rather than mindless slaves? Who knows. Voyager definitely blows stuff up real good, either way.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 2:06am (UTC -5)
Disagree with. One thing I really don't get about this episode should be obvious but somehow nobody on board the Enterprise thinks to do this. WHY do they not try to save this poor assimilated person and disconnect him from the hive?! They seriously just did this with Picard. But here is a Borg that they find and they fix him up and send him back to the hell that is being a Borg drone. Does nobody else see how truly odd this is?
Mon, May 16, 2022, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Could Beverley Crusher BE any more of an imbecile!?!?! She is the poster girl for why female leaders (and, for that matter, pussified, effeminate soyboys) are a bad, a TERRIBLE, goddamn idea. Her position makes absolutely ZERO sense. Just...ZERO. ALL her arguments are wrong. Every. Single. One.
The Borg has no civilians. The Borg has no civilian life. The Borg's entire purpose of existence is expansion through total eradication of the other(s). The Borg doesn't experience compassion. The Borg doesn't acknowledge or recognize or appreciate compassion. Or concession. Or compromise. The Borg cannot be stopped. The Borg cannot be defeated. The Borg cannot even be contained. The Borg is much more powerful than the Federation.
How retarded do you have to be to not say, given half a chance to blow them six ways to another dimension, YES, LET'S DO IT RIGHT MOTHERF... NOW!!!
Like, really, what the eff is wrong with that woman!?!?!?!?
Mon, May 16, 2022, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 16, 2022, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 17, 2022, 6:33am (UTC -5)
Tue, May 17, 2022, 7:18am (UTC -5)
Of course Picard made a godawful judgment call here, with the very real potential to directly imperil the survival of every life form in the entire galaxy. Inexcusable, period, and he, as fortyseven says above, should definitely have incurred severe repercussions for failing to seize a chance to neutralize an implacable and otherwise invincible enemy.
That said, Crusher is still an irredeemable dimwit. The excuse that she is but "voicing her personal view to a peer in the full knowledge that she is not burdened with the command decision" is not good enough. She does have decision-making authority in certain contexts and for her to formulate such utterly nonsensical, illogical, and self-destructive notions plus forcefully argue for them, should serve to disqualify her from holding any but the lowliest offices.
Basically, what we have here is the "Oh look, we have a cuddly little Borg here who has become such an enlightened little sweetheart so there's hope yet; he'll go back to the Collective and persuade them of the error of their ways; and they'll become enlightened and tolerant and democratic and liberal; because our enmities are the result of misunderstanding and ignorance, and learning about each other makes us all oh-so open-minded and inclusive; and we CAN all get along; and we'll sit around a campfire giving each other foot-rubs and counting the colors of the rainbow; group hug, everyone; yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay" routine. 🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️🤦♂️
What's really sad and distressing is that there are plenty of people in real life who believe that garbage. Sad.
Tue, May 17, 2022, 8:01am (UTC -5)
The episode has at it's core the question, is it ever justified to commit genocide. That's why they picked the Borg because they are the or one of the biggest threats. If you are willing to commit genocide in this situation, how many other situations are there where genocide would be acceptable. How big does the threat have to be to justify wiping out every last one of your enemies if given the chance.
Oh and don't bother calling out Michael. Is he hurtful to this forum? Yes. Many women who by accident read one of his posts will never return to this forum. But calling him out won't do any good. Being called a sexist or whatever is probably something he enjoys. A man who is secure in his own skin and in his relationship with women doesn't write the stuff he writes.
Tue, May 17, 2022, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 17, 2022, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Are we sure about this? In my mind, the Borg fulfill the criteria for race, species or even nation. Just because they hijack other species and incorporate these species into themselves, doesn't mean there's not an original "thing" doing the hijacking. And surely this "thing" can be genocided.
Tue, May 17, 2022, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
"Are we sure about this? In my mind, the Borg fulfill the criteria for race, species or even nation. Just because they hijack other species and incorporate these species into themselves, doesn't mean there's not an original "thing" doing the hijacking. And surely this "thing" can be genocided."
Even if that's true it wouldn't make much sense to consider that 'thing' as being more than a single lifeform. So while technically genocide could mean a population of any size (even 1) it ceases to have much meaning if you think of the collective as being a single organism. At that point it's just you vs "it".
To me the only argument I could believe in favor of not destroying the Borg is indeed made in this episode: what if the drones can all be saved? At that point they're POW's or something who happen to be robotically controlled. If they did need to be killed to stop the Borg then according to this logic it should be viewed as highly unfortunate to have to kill 'innocent' drones. However after I, Borg this conceit is dropped, certainly on VOY where no one ever bemoans being unable to save the drones. So while this episode makes a valid argument IMO the Trek canon that follows dismisses it in favor of seeing them as a menace. At that point I don't see how the word "genocide" is applicable any more than it would be to stopping any collection of killer robots.
Tue, May 17, 2022, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
It makes sense not to condemn Hugh because he is no longer a part of that apparatus. He is something other than Borg. Using him to kill the "it" means sacrificing an innocent individual. Unless Hugh agrees to be the harbinger of death, Picard’s use of Hugh would be immoral. Some might say it's a small price to pay to kill the Borg. But that's not really the point of the episode.
Wed, May 18, 2022, 12:51am (UTC -5)
The episode tackles this whole genocide theme in a very smart way. First, we have this unstoppable enemy, any defense, even total destruction seems reasonable. So it starts from a point where most of the audience probably thinks:"Let's murder them all. Maybe genocide is a good thing!" but then bit by bit we find out that a drone, after being unhooked, starts to become an individual again, which means that maybe you could save them all. They are not Zombies, because Zombies are dead. Drones are hostages. In the end the crew has to make the decision to kill endless trillions of innocent hostages and balance that against all future harm the Borg will certainly do. Furthermore, as IIsat mentions, is it ever ok to turn an innocent person into a suicide bomber. It's interesting how many people are on board with forcing innocent to commit suicide bombings and genocide. It's a smart episode.
PS: I kind of ignore Voyager here because there the Borg became your run of the mill super villain. Don't know if that ever happened but was there a scene where the Borg queen said:"Oh Janeway, we are not so different, you and me."
Fri, May 20, 2022, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 29, 2022, 2:48am (UTC -5)
"A lot of people seem waaay too comfortable advocating genocide. Humanity has been at war countless times, but we don't accept genocide as a moral choice, even if it means our enemies continue killing us. Trek has amply demonstrated the Borg are redeemable"
The main flaw here is you're forgetting or unaware that at this point in Trek broadcast history, there were exactly two prior interactions with the Borg, being "Q Who" and "The Best of Both Worlds". The Borg were explicitly grown as babies on the cubes with cybernetic implants.
Picard was an unusual case in that he was an individual that was assimilated. They Borg explicitly assimilated technology, not people.
This changed, arguably starting with this episode.
You say Trek amply demonstrated the Borg are "redeemable" (actually a human centered viewpoint) but that's because the show wrote more stories. They could have made them worse than Nazis.
In the context of this episode, pretty much all of these people are ultimately behaving quite irrationally. Earth had a freaking cube about to destroy it from orbit after waltzing through every defense starfleet could muster. By every indication, the Federation survived by seconds after massive losses and absolutely no indication whatsoever the Borg are any more redeemable than a million nuclear missiles fired at Earth.
I can buy the crew being unwilling to outright destroy the Borg, as it certainly would seem a form of genocide. But note that at this point, the idea of "genocide" is misleading and human centric. They didn't know if drones were anything more than philosophical zombies.
In the broadcast continuity, Worf's initial reaction is exactly correct-- hide the evidence they discovered the crash and run.
Thu, Nov 10, 2022, 2:51am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 25, 2023, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Like I said, I’m onboard with the plot of trying to determine if it’s morally “right”use Hugh as a weapon ( is he an individual or a cog in a machine-like organism bent on assimilation?) but I would have preferred a more logical way to get us there.
Thu, Mar 9, 2023, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
At the beginning they encounter a Borg scout ship (which they had never seen before) in or near their territory.
Why don't they contact starfleet? Why don't they consider this may be probing their defenses or even part of a new incursion?
Then the episode systematically distorts the situation to create the moral dilemma.
There is no indication starfleet developed new defenses since BOBW. Worf's alarmed behavior strongly suggests the opposite.
By midway through, suddenly Geordi and Data can create an attack with 100% certainty it will work. Because I guess the Borg use standard USB connectors.
That's just light years too much of a leap for me to buy the moral quandary.
Besides that, it also defanged the Borg too quickly. (Though they were re-fanged for this purpose in First Contact.). The BOBW Borg still had story potential as essentially a cube of Terminators.
Sun, Apr 2, 2023, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
I like your observation. The Borg got de-fanged and re-fanged repeatedly to serve whatever purpose the writers of the various productions wanted.
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