Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Descent, Part I”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 6/21/1993
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review Text

Ah, the Borg. The Catch-22 of 1990s-era Star Trek. They were a brilliant invention as a one-off major threat to our protagonists: implacable, technologically superior, and not interested in negotiating to resolve differences. But what do you do with them after exploiting their technical vulnerabilities to defeat them in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"? "I, Borg," well over a year later, answered that by going in a completely new direction — using the Borg not as a visceral threat but as a device for moralizing. (I thought that was a brave narrative choice, and one that demonstrated that the Borg would have to continue to evolve as storytelling devices to avoid becoming a rehash.)

Now we have "Descent, Part I," which attempts to put the Borg back in business as a visceral threat, but in the process changes everything that the Borg once were (and, of course, what made them originally interesting). Instead of a hive mind bent only on assimilation, now the Borg are brutal warriors who have individual identities and names, who attack a Starfleet installation and kill everyone there. The Enterprise arrives to answer the distress call and engages the Borg in a firefight; one Borg vows revenge when his fellow soldier is killed.

This change in behavior is admittedly the point; a big part of "Descent's" story is the crew trying to figure out how and why the Borg have changed so dramatically. Could the reintroduction of the individualized Hugh into the collective have somehow caused this radical shift? (The story is cagey on the point of whether this might be isolated to only a small subset of the Borg, who have a badass-looking new ship design.)

As season cliffhangers go, "Descent" is middling; it's better than "Time's Arrow" but it's certainly no epic like "The Best of Both Worlds" (or even as involving as "Redemption"). By this point, season-ending cliffhangers had become so routine and obligatory that it would've been a radical act if this hadn't been a setup. I guess that's part of the problem here; "Descent" is mostly setup, and doesn't even try to exist as a story that can be truly satisfying on its own. Oh, sure, it's entertaining enough. But do we believe for one second that any of its questions will be answered until season seven?

I guess for now, let's take a look at some of the admittedly interesting story points. Data experiences anger during the initial encounter with the Borg during hand-to-hand combat. He later attempts to recreate the emotional outburst with simulations of the attack. Could Data finally be evolving to experience emotion? (This is one of the story points that is actually addressed before the "to be continued" sign, but in a manner that turns the character point into a plot point.)

I did find interest in the scene where Admiral Nechayev chews out Picard for releasing Hugh in "I, Borg," because it presents the legitimate and pragmatic alternative viewpoint arguing for survival: that the Borg are a threat that must be destroyed, and we couldn't afford to let personal moral conviction get in the way of that. Picard even expresses some hand-wringing over it. It was never a cut-and-dried situation in "I, Borg," but it's nice to see some actual fallout from that decision.

So the Enterprise pursues the Borg ship, which sends an attack boarding party, which results in the capture of a Borg named Crosis (Brian J. Cousins), who talks of a mysterious One who helped bring a focused individuality to these Borg. Crosis might best be remembered for his shtick of reciting the fastest ways of killing various humanoids ("Death is immediate"). His conversations with Data reveal that (1) Data's emotions are actually being sent to him via some sort of signal in an attempt to take control of him (thus robbing the story of character value and turning Data's emotions into a plot point) and (2) a Security Guy in the brig can be standing right there while Crosis seduces Data in a rather alarming exchange of dialogue, but apparently Security Guy won't do anything with such information. Ultimately, Data flees in a shuttle, leading the Enterprise in pursuit.

It's about here where the episode drops all pretentions of trying to continue telling a story and falls prey to Two-Parter Padding Syndrome™. The attempt to track down Data is purely procedural and does little to actually advance the story. Ultimately, Data is tracked to a planet, where much of the senior crew beams down to engage in a search. They set up a command post and look at maps and discuss search strategies and stuff, and you realize that none of this is actually necessary except to pad out the running time before we get the final twist and inevitable "to be continued" card.

The final twist is perhaps one twist too many, and comes out of left field. It turns out that the One pulling all the Borg's strings is ... Lore. And now Data has joined his evil twin in their announced plan of together destroying the Federation — bwahahaha! This is all hook and no motivation, all setup and no payoff, and it cannot fairly be judged within the confines of just the first half. So tune in next season, as they say. As finales goes, "Descent" is mostly fine and reasonably paced, and introduces a number of intriguing elements — but it ends on kind of a head-scratcher. As for its grade, we'll go with Incomplete.

Previous episode: Timescape
Next episode: Descent, Part II

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70 comments on this post

    This was TNG's 2nd best cliffhanger behind of course the eternally classic The Best of Both Worlds. When I originally watched it I would have given it 3.5 stars but because of how it ultimately played out and years of Borg stories since some of the shine has worn off for me all these years later and I'd only give it 3 stars.

    It was effective set-up I thought. Appropriately unsettling atmosphere--the mere shot of the new Borg ship was creepy, vicious Borg no longer being under the control of the emotionless Hive Mind that had previously kept them in check on the loose, false alarms from colonies on edge, the spectre of Crosis Brrrr, Picard using his Locutus persona to no effect. Also the mystery of what was going on with the Borg was intriguing--did it have anything to do with Hugh and where was he in all this.

    I thought it was an exciting hour with some great action. I also liked the crew's jaunt on the alien planet, Beverly in charge, the crew overrun by angry Borg and Lore's reveal. A lot of good set-up. But Part II takes it all down the least interesting path they could. I actually prefer what Voyager tried to do in Unimatrix Zero more than here in Descent--but again like with Descent so much interesting stuff just fizzled and went nowhere with the Borg civil war.

    I had read at the time that in season 7 of TNG they were going to revisit these Borg but apparently that storyline was scrapped.

    Overall though I thought this was a solid season finale.

    I always appreciated the visceral and brutal shoot-out at the starbase in the opening. A nice change for TNG. It was a mostly effective season finale, but it kind of petered out before the cliffhanger.

    Data's attempt to recreate what happened was strangely hilarious. The confused look on his face when he tossed the drone always got a big laugh from me. Anyone else think that particular drone was actually an elderly drone?

    By the way, this was the only episode ever to have its credits in the teaser. I figured it was that they didn't want the credits all over the shoot-out.

    I really enjoy these reviews, Jammer.

    I'm in an interesting position (well, interesting to me! :) ), in that I haven't actually watched these episodes for years and so can't always comment on the particulars. That said, Descent was an episode I very much enjoyed as a child, at least part 1, and was a little surprised to find that people didn't like it. In retrospect, all your criticisms are spot-on; it's very obviously padded, and the realization

    The "emotional" core of the episode is really, and should be about, Data. Data's quest to become human underpins his character, but the problem is that humans aren't actually intrinsically good so much as a mixture of good and bad. Lore's purpose was always to show this up, and Data's quest has always been to find a way to approach humanity without becoming monstrous. Data is stronger and faster and smarter than anyone around him (in certain senses of "smart"), and episodes like this one, or "Brothers" or "The Schizoid Man" focus on the fact that Data is actually entirely, remarkably *dangerous* to everyone around him and essentially unstoppable if he chooses wrongly. Data has a form of free will, but he doesn't have desires in the emotional sense and so he doesn't genuinely has to make a choice between his own selfish impulses and his duties and ethical responsibilities; his choices, when they occur (and they are interesting!) are between different ethical frameworks (c.f. Pen Pals, for example). But these episodes underline how much Data's quest to be more human is, while a source of strength, also his central weakness. His desire to be human is programmed into him, and it is as selfish as Data gets -- which means that it makes sense to me that his immediate response to emotions are actually even more selfish.

    I am not sure whether the fact that Lore is broadcasting only "negative emotions" into Data undermines the story entirely. Certainly, it is a difficult way of looking at the human experience, since humans have a full spectrum of emotions, etc. But I feel as if Data still has a choice in this episode of how to respond to the feelings he has, and he makes the wrong choice (initially), because all his programming and all his accumulated experiences don't prepare him for actual rush of feelings. This mirrors the Borg plotline, in which the intrusion of humanity into the collective is actually destructive -- it makes the Borg, who were a destructive force of nature, into actually *evil*, petty human-like beings. Data and the Borg, then, I think are meant as contrasts to each other; Data is what we would define as "good" and the pre-Hugh, pre-Lore Borg are what we would define as "evil," but neither are close enough to human experience of managing emotions for those terms to be really applicable. Whereas Hugh and Lore introduce individuality and free will to the Borg and emotions to Data, and so create the possibliity of making the choice. Because Lore has stacked the deck, the choices (initially) are all bad he only gives a framework to the Borg for behaving badly, and he only feeds Data emotions designed to make him behave badly -- but that is part 1 of the story. In part 2, there is the possibility for redemption for the Borg and for Data; Data rejects emotions entirely, but Geordi (wisely) tells him not to do so, suggesting that there is hope for Data to be an integrated emotional being and still be moral. Which is what his story in First Contact ends up being -- which, to me, is a satisfying end to Data's arc. Yep. First Contact, the end of Data's story.

    Yah I agree. First Contact is the end of Data's story. I like what they tried with Nemesis, but ultimately it was a rehash on top of a rehash. Insurrection was just an entertaining fluff piece with interesting Data moments.

    I remember being totally blown away by this episode in 1993. But knowing how the two-parter ended -- with a thud -- this is a horribly disappointing season finale.

    It also shows how the series was aging.

    Riker, who basically saved the Federation from the Borg three years earlier, is only a marginal character in the episode. Why wouldn't he have been in the room for Picard's conversation with Nechayev? Riker after season 4 really was like Scotty in TOS -- i.e. the guy who ran the ship when Kirk and Spock were on a planet.

    Also, Picard beaming down really turned a lot of the established practices of TNG on their head. I know Data was important to everybody, but beaming everybody to the planet and leaving Crusher in command? Talk about jumping the shark!

    There's also far too much technobabble, particularly in part two.

    I remember very little of this episode. What I do remember is cussing a bit when it was revealed that the One was Lore. And then thinking "Oh crap!" when Data became evil.

    Based on the tone of the review, I am surprised you ranked it so highly.

    I remember the cliffhanger being especially laughable. In Star Trek, Moore seems to love those glib, theatrical one-liners to close episodes.

    Can't blame him for Taylor's story, though. It's not like he had much to work with.

    Ah, but you gotta love that teaser, though. Stephen Hawking actually making an appearance and making a 'perihelion of Mercury' joke which Newton doesn't understand! Classic.


    I agree that the teaser is the best part of the ep. I love Newton's outraged "How dare you!" when Data dismisses the apple story as apochryphal.

    I never thought about "First Contact" being the end of Data's arc but he definitely regressed afterwards.

    "Generations" - He gets the emotion chip and it overloads his neural network and becomes fused - it can neither be removed nor deactivated so Data's just got to learn to live with having feelings.

    "First Contact" - He can turn the chip on and off at will. Okay - I can buy that he and Geordi figured out a way to do this. The Borg Queen attempts to use Data's emotions to manipulate him much as Lore did but, as William B says, Data proves to be emotionally mature enough to behave true to his morality.

    "Insurrection" - He can now remove the chip if he wants and he never has it installed throughout the entire film. He's intensely curious about the experience of childhood but never bothers to explore it through an emotional context.

    "Nemesis" - The chip is never mentioned and might as well have never existed since Data is STILL talking about his quest to become more than he is but seems content to be less than he was two films ago.

    I don't think that First Contact is literally/canonically the end of Data's arc -- but his rapid regression in the next two films says to me that there is very little, if anything, of value there. I think that Data being offered a form of humanity and being forced to deal with that, and reject it outright, while his emotion chip is active, seems like a fairly good resolution. Data comes closer to human by being able to put aside what he (thinks he) wants for his human connections. Validates Data, validates humanity. He gets the big sacrifice in Nemesis but he does so as emotionless Data and then gets an even further regressed replacement. So.

    We hadn't met her yet here (and really she should never have existed, since her introduction ruined the Borg forever), but shouldn't the Queen have taken exception to Lore commandeering some of her drones and stopped him? She could call upon a force of millions, if not billions, and with the later established transwarp conduits, gootten to wherever she needed to. I just find it absurd that the Queen would tolerate Lore's meddling any more than the Q would tolerate Annorax's timeplay in "Year Of Hell".

    No mention of Steven Hawking as the only person in the whole of Star Trek to play themselves ...

    Really didnt care for this. The worst 2-part season cliffhanger IMO. Times Arrow was far better. Did have some interesting points but overall a mess. 2 stars for me.

    So after rewatching this one again, it wasn't half bad. I used to think the season cliffhangers got steadily worse from BOBW, but 20 years later, I think this is my second favourite. Maybe alot of it was remembering it as much worse than it was, which actually explains alot of the 6th season for me. I think the music (bad) clouded alot of my judgement back then, outside of the music the show itself didn't get bad until season 7.

    One thing I must say here, I am so glad Picard finally got his ass handed to him on the terrible call with Hugh. I said in the comments to that episode that every single death from that point on is Picards fault, and I stand by that.

    @sctoxlan, I noticed that alos about the teaser. Is this really the ONLY episode that does that? Does anyone know why?

    @ Nick P.: I'm pretty sure this was the only Trek episode ever to do the episode credits before the regular opening credits.

    As I always assumed, I think they moved the onscreen credits because they didn't want them playing over the big shoot-out. If they had waited until after the shoot-out, the credits would have run pretty late in the episode.

    Then again, they could have held the arrival at the starbase until after the opening credits sequence.

    More than a mere trivia point, the out-of-place credits were actually unsettling at the time, lending enough atmosphere (despite being metatextual) to boost this episode by at least .5 stars for me. The *reason* for moving the credits -- an opening act that's just one long fight sequence -- added to the unsettling tone.

    Hawking's appearance was nice, but technically he wasn't playing himself. He was playing a holodeck simulation of Stephen Hawking, which involved as much computer 'guesswork' as the imagined Einstein.

    After all, even holo-versions of contemporary people, with vastly more data on file (Leag Brahms), aren't really *them*.

    (ack, typo)

    As for the episode, the weakest link for me is Lore. I could accept Lore's 'evil' elsewhere on a personal level, but I can't understand his Bwahaha motivation here.

    My ratings of season six, where they differ from Jammer's:

    Time's Arrow, Part II: 2 (-0.5)
    Man of the People: 1 (-1)
    Relics: 3.5 (+0.5)
    True Q: 2.5 (-0.5)
    A Fistful of Datas: 2.5 (+0.5)
    The Quality of Life: 3 (+0.5)
    Chain of Command, Part 1: 3 (-0.5)
    Face of the Enemy: 3.5 (+0.5)
    Tapestry: 4 (+0.5)
    Lessons: 3.5 (+0.5)
    The Chase: 3.5 (+0.5)

    Season as a whole: Nothing in this season matches "The Inner Light" or "Darmok," but I think it's a better season than 5 on the whole. Like s5, it starts off with a weak series of episodes, with only "Relics" and "Schisms" being particularly strong, but starting with "The Quality of Life" (my fondness for which is admittedly idiosyncratic) I think the season gets going and doesn't really let up. Season five didn't really reach its turning point until halfway through, so it's nice. "Aquiel," "Birthright Part II" and "Suspicions" are the real losers of the post-TQoL phase of the season; "Starship Mine" and "Descent" are also disappointing, the former because of its low-scale ambitious and the latter because of it's grander ambitions which are met with mixed success. Overall though I think it's a strong string of episodes.

    As with season five, this season's best episodes are *very* heavily Picard-oriented -- "Chain of Command, Part 2" and "Tapestry" being (IMO) the season's two best episodes, and "Lessons" and "The Chase" being other very strong shows. This is also a very good year for Riker, with "Frame of Mind," "Second Chances," "Schisms" and "Chain of Command" being good Riker vehicles. Data doesn't have as many stories as in previous years, and there are no episodes on the level of "The Measure of a Man"/"The Offspring"/"Brothers," but I think "TQoL," "Birthright, Part 1" and the first half or so of "Descent, Part 1" are very good stories for Data. For Worf, I like "Rightful Heir" with caveats and like "Birthright, Part 1" for him, and sort of like "A Fistful of Datas," but then there's "Birthright, Part 2," so. This season contains by a large margin the two best Troi episodes, "Face of the Enemy" and "Second Chances," which help to make up for the annual terrible Troi episode in "Man of the People." The real losers this season are Geordi and Beverly; Geordi, at least, had some decent work in "Relics" though it was really Scotty's show, but "Aquiel" is godawful, and Beverly only really had "Suspicions" which was pretty bad, as well as decent supporting roles in "True Q" and "The Quality of Life."

    I keep returning to this episode in my head for some reason. I talked in the thread for part II about what I think the episode is trying to do, but the episode's failings are numerous: trashing the Borg, playing Lore as a cartoon villain after "Brothers" had redefined him, wasting a reappearance of Hugh, terrible planning by the Enterprise crew, the inappropriateness of choosing *this* as the "Beverly in command" episode (I don't mind having one, but this is not the time). And, most of all, Evil Data is just not convincing, in spite of flashes. And yet, something about this story does appeal to me, and sometimes the stories that don't work, but have flashes of brilliance, are harder to shake than the stories that do work.

    So I want to talk further about what I love about part I. Between the Borg fight in the first act and the capture of Crosis later in the episode, Data is not under any external control; he has been influenced only by the emotions fed to him during the fight with the Borg earlier on, and I think they are no longer a direct influence. On the Data side, then, the question gradually moves from "How does Data feel about his first emotion?" to "What does his emotion say about him?" to "What will Data do to recover the experience?" My favourite dialogue exchange in the episode is this:

    TROI: We've served together for a long time and I think I've come to know you pretty well. I have to believe if you ever reach your goal of becoming human, you won't become a bad one.
    DATA: I wish I were as confident as you, Counsellor.

    The scene ends with Data saying, hesitantly and with some look of shame, that the emotion he felt after killing the Borg was pleasure. Part of what makes that whole scene gripping for me is that the implications run deep. Data is a great person because he is so caring, patient, nurturing, kind and ethical, in addition to his remarkable intellectual and physical skill. But what if the emotions he experienced were all anger, and rage? For one thing, is asks the question of whether people actually control the emotions they feel. If a person is predisposed to feel nothing but anger, does that make them a bad person? I'd say no, because a person cannot entirely help what they feel -- but those feelings will make them much more likely to do bad things, which is probably the intent behind the material in part II. It is tempting to say that when Data has strong emotions they should align with his general personality, but there is no guarantee of that. This episode points out the dark side to Data's entire quest for humanity.

    The other big element I love here is Data's obsession. First of all, Data is a product of Dr. Soong, and in the last line in the episode he refers to himself and Lore as the Sons of Soong. And Soong has many positive traits, but one of his defining features is obsession, pursuing the goal of creating sentient life at all costs. In a very real way, Soong is responsible for the destruction of Omicron Theta, because his insistently going forward led to the creation of Lore and the inability to make the steps to ensure that a) Lore would be "happy" enough not to want to kill everyone, and b) that people would be protected from him if he did go off the rails. Data's obsessive traits are on display over and over again (I just mentioned it while talking about "Phantasms"), and Data's pursuit of emotions once he has a taste of them has this obsession; first trying to find any other emotions he can, and, once Deanna suggests he seek out anger, too, willingness to follow the possibility of finding anger into risking his own life.

    *Data has no brakes*. There is nothing in Data that stops him once he's made a decision. Normally, this is not a problem, because Data rarely/never makes a "wrong" decision; he has his ethical programming, for example. And he will consider new information as it presents itself. But he also has no hesitation once he has made a call, which means he can do things as reckless as lock out the transporter controls in "The Quality of Life" if he thinks it is the only ethically correct things to do, or order the lowering of the Enterprise's shields if he thinks that the odds weigh heavily in favour of that being what Riker wants in "Gambit." And before Data is influenced by Crosis, there are already inklings of what the implication will be for Data. His drive to become more human is so strong that he is willing to risk his own life, even aware of the possibility that he may be a "bad person" when he becomes one. He does hesitate before choosing to commit to seeking out that anger, but once he does so it's unlikely he will turn back until he crosses some kind of line and does damage.

    The other major element of this episode is Picard's hand-wringing over whether he made the right call in "I, Borg." For the show to revisit this is pretty brave, considering that it's a potentially controversial decision. And the episode, for all its flaws in making the Borg less interesting, is actually pretty strong from a Picard point of view -- again, before the last few minutes of the episode (in which Picard makes the crazy decision to search for Data and leave a skeleton crew on the ship). The Borg a) are not destroyed, which makes them a risk; and b) the Borg may even be "worse" now, not in the sense of more dangerous, but in the sense that the Borg themselves may have fallen into chaos and disarray because of Picard's returning Hugh to them. The Borg, with its extreme authoritarian collectivism, reminds me a little of the USSR under Stalin, and the general worst traits of communism the way it was implemented in the USSR, and so the episode's relevance, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, is that once the Soviet Union fell, despite the fact that people now "gained freedom," they lost cohesion, leading in some instances to charismatic thugs taking over in the power vacuum. This is something that Picard could potentially have predicted would be a consequence of introducing individuality into the collective.

    And basically, I think that Picard's crisis is similar to Data's. Data is concerned that he might not be a good person. Picard is concerned that his moral code may not be a good one. Data's becoming more human, more emotional, is parallel to Picard's following through on his principles to the bitter end, and both may end up being destructive.

    Which means: this episode, in its first 2/3 or so, spends time building the strong opposition case to one of the central concerns of the show's two most important characters. Picard is defined by his principles, and they may have been wrong to act on. Data is defined by his quest to be human, and this may be misguided. And the episode genuinely argues both cases well for its first 2/3. Picard has reason to worry that his decision hurt both the Borg and the rest of the universe more than it helped them, despite being "the moral thing." And this 2/3 of the episode points out that no one knows what Data-with-emotions would be like, what those emotions would mean, and already sows the seeds for how Data's obsessive personality will lead him further into scary places.

    Which is why I fixate on the episode so much, a little obsessively ( Data), because then Crosis comes on and Data jumps to "yes I would kill Geordi if I could feel pleasure again!" over the course of a few lines of dialogue. And then Picard makes a terrible command decision. And then in part II, Picard's moral conflict is mostly dropped, and Data spends most of the episode being basically a stiffer Lore until his ethical subroutine is rebooted, at which point he remains confused.

    I think that the episodes ultimately *do* side with Picard's ethics and Data's essential self being good, though the defense is not as strong as the prosecution in the first 2/3 of part I. Data chooses to sacrifice the chance at feeling emotions AND his opportunity to connect with another of his own kind because they are damaging to both his ethics and those he cares about. The Borg are both "better" in that Hugh can take over the mini-collective after the charismatic-thug Lore has been ousted. FURTHER, in Part II, there is an underexploited parallel between the Data story and the Picard story. Data's experiments on Geordi -- an attempt to use Geordi as a tool with which to replace/overtake(/destroy) human life, is similar to the attempt in "I, Borg" to use Hugh as a tool to destroy the Borg. So when Picard says to Data that it is not okay to do something wrong in service of a greater good, he is genuinely backing up his belief that it was right not to treat Hugh as an object or to kill him, even if it would have done a greater good. The spine is there for a story that genuinely works. And this story would be one that does not actually undermine TNG's values, but *tests* them and eventually proves them. That would make it a really great two-parter to kick off the series' final season, and in its own way a good setup for "All Good Things," which similarly "proves" TNG's values. To some degree, I think that the two-parter *does* mostly prove Picard and Data's worth, with caveats, it just does it badly.

    And I think what I wish had happened is this: actually describe, in detail, why Data would believe that creating artificial life was "the greater good." Data says that his quest to become human was misguided, "an evolutionary step in the wrong direction," with only emotions (and only the angry ones) worth keeping from humans. Why? The episode gestures to a reason why Data might believe this, when he tells Geordi that if the procedure works, Geordi's brain capacity would be remarkably improved. What I would have loved is to see Lore genuinely make this argument, and sell it enough that it makes sense Data would believe it: that ultimately, it is better for humans/humanoids to be remade as artificial life forms, who are smarter and stronger and will not die. I don't know that this would be convincing without a lot of tinkering. But we know that Data will continue on a path once he believes something is right, even in the face of his or other people's deaths, as in "The Quality of Life" or "Clues." Data cares about Geordi and Picard, but he was willing to let them die "for small machines" in TQoL, and I think that if Data really could be convinced that his actions were ethical, through Lore's manipulation and perhaps through an emotional distortion, he would proceed with them -- it is just that there has to be much better setup for it. Tie this in with Data's emotions by having Data *feel* the pain of the rejection he has suffered over the years, as Lore has. And hell, have him be angry at Picard and Geordi for reasons that he actually articulates, rather than "I am not your puppet anymore, Picard!" Or, I don't know. It's possible, even probable, that "Data descends into darkness by feeling emotion" and "Data becomes convinced of the superiority of artificial life to the point that becomes dangerous" are not compatible stories, anyway. I would love to see some compelling, convincing way of taking Data further along the path he was going in the first 2/3 of part I, in which his lack of preparation for emotions and obsessive personality lead to him becoming seriously ethically compromised.

    Anyway, it's a mess, but I kind of value this two-parter anyway in a way that is really out of proportion to its overall quality.

    Finally Picard gets raked over the coals for his dumb decision to not annihilate the Borg when he had the chance. That alone makes this a four star episode.
    Nice poker game with the four geniuses. Coiincidently I recently saw Dr Hawkings getting amazed by a David Blain card trick. I also just read that he says black holes don't exist, so it was cool that I arrived at his TNG episode around this same time. I also recall he did a Smallville episode and was part of a Big Bang theory storyline. They say great minds think alike, I guess I should be flattered.
    Lore and the Borg: Picard must love suppling Lore with monsters to manipulate; Crystalline entities and murderous automatons that his bleeding heart won't let him kill. Good thing the old women in the TNG universe don't let sentiment blind them to dangerous natures of these beasts.

    The dumb decision was to send Hugh back, not that he didn't genocide them

    Besides, the paradox approach wouldn't have been very likely to be successful. see also my post in I, Borg

    Not a fan of this episode. Huge waste of Spiner's talents. In this episode, Data's ego is made a main emphasis which doesn't work because it doesn't understand Data. The strength of data is how he perceives things...when you anthropomorphous him and put the focus on him (as opposed to her perceptions), you lose his soul and you get a boring character.

    The borg part was also quite disappointing. I actually agree with Berman in that they are too 2-dimensional. What made them interesting initially was their abstraction for collective group think. When you lose this metaphor and humanize the borg, they lose their soul and become boring as well.

    I read a lot of comments in I Borg that the next Federation death would be on Picard's shoulders for letting Hugh go. Well, Franklin was killed and they took a Borg prisoner. Picard is certainly culpable for Franklin, but so is Crusher. When Picard wants to interrogate the prisoner Crusher gets all judgemental with him. I could have slapped her. Did she learn nothing? Her nagging helped cause the Hugh debacle.

    I'm going to save my review for another day (this is one of those squandered potential episodes), but to reply to "Karaokejoe"...

    I guess only the female crewmembers are capable of "nagging"? Not to be Mr. Thought-Police, I'm just pointing out that it is kind of sexist to only use this word in relation to the women on the crew. (Unless we are discussing Keiko, hehe).

    And that wasn't directed completely at you, by the way. This is more a general observation than anything directly said by anyone.

    I've noticed a undercurrent of misogyny in some of the reviews, both by Jammer and others. Yes, some female characters are written badly, but that's because the writers didn't understand women well and they were being forced by higher-ups to ramp up the sexual titillation.

    There are some reviewers here that seem to revert to a "Ain't that just like a woman" kind of thinking rather than placing the blame where it belongs: at the feet of the writers/producers (and in the cases of Troi and Ezri, the ability of each actress to emote believably).

    Then again, the flip side of this is that writers DO understand the male mind pretty well, which may be the reason why some reviewers react the way they do.

    Of course Keiko is portrayed as bitchy, of course the female characters cry or scream at least three times a season, of course the women are either strangely prudish or super-promiscuous. This is how a lot of men see women, so of course this is going to resonate with many male viewers.

    Well, that and the lingering shots of Deanna's ample boobage.

    This was a great episode right up to the last 10 seconds. OK, so Data had a troubling experience. He started exploring it. Then it became clear that Crosis was controlling him somehow. It was messing him up. He was becoming uncertain. Crosis asked if he would kill his friend to experience emotion again. Data responds that he would. So clearly he's having trouble with his ethical programming. And he escapes in a shuttlecraft (by this point, you would think Picard would invest in some bicycle locks for those things). The crew searches for him and finds Lore. And then Data appears and... gives an incredibly hammy evil villain one-liner. Oy.

    It kinda ruined the fall of Data there. The episode is entitled "Descent". It was interesting seeing Data descend from his normal, ethical self. Seeing him skip a whole bunch of steps and seeing him jump to becoming full Hitler was a bit, well, not quite as fun. Just a silly tacked on ending, trying to create a cool one-liner to create a hook over the summer. I don't know if it was effective back then, but it's certainly not effective now.

    As for season 6 as a whole, I had assumed that TNG would have a slow downward spiral after season 4, but it seems season 6 was still a pretty good show. Kinda strange that the dropoff happened so suddenly between 6 and 7. Everyone just all of a sudden realized they didn't care anymore?

    In any case, season 6, while not having anything quite like Darmok or Inner Light, seemed to have a lot of really good episodes. They didn't necessarily mean all that much, but they were still enjoyable television. At this point in time, the characters are far more comfortable to us, and far more comfortable with each other. We can enjoy them experience weirdness in their lives. And even if this season doesn't say much new about the characters, it does keep showing an ever changing universe and ever changing experiences. In the end, it was exciting to watch.

    A couple trends I noticed:

    - There seemed to be a lot more emphasis on consistency and callbacks than before. For example, they seemed to play up Picard's archaeology interest a lot more this season and I believe namedropped Dr. Galen a few times prior to The Chase. We had plenty of sequel episodes such as Face of the Enemy and Ship in a Bottle. And events in one episode would impact another, a la Birthright and Rightful Heir. I wonder if this was due to the influence of Deep Space Nine, or if DS9's emphasis on consistency and such followed from the same place that TNG got it. Maybe it was due to the increasing familiarity with the internet, and thus more of a need to cater to the obsessive fans. Who knows? But it was nice to see.

    - What wasn't so nice is that Season 6 had a tendency to cut the endings short on their episodes. The drama would build, we'd get the climax, and then... not much. If we're lucky, we would have a quiet conversation between a couple cast members and then an ending. But that's it. Sometimes it worked (like Schisms, where the uncertainty surrounding the aliens was part of the general uneasiness of the episode), but it sometimes felt like the episodes were rushed and simply came up on a cosmic deadline. It doesn't hurt the rest of the episode, but it sometimes feels like there's not enough resolution to what happened.

    - Also, this season had a tendency to take a character completely out of his/her position and focus exclusively on that. Face of the Enemy and Tapestry are generally considered great episodes, but are almost entirely Troi/Picard surrounded by guest stars. And Birthright II and Frame of Mind (even if Riker was interacting with images of the rest of the cast). There are other episodes that are similar in concept, too. While these tend to be pretty interesting episodes, it's a bit sad that we don't have as many ensemble episodes as well.

    Skep: "Everyone just all of a sudden realized they didn't care anymore?"

    Apart from the show feeling its age, the personnel shifted between 6 and 7. Jeri Taylor became executive producer while Piller shepherded DS9 and Berman was preoccupied with the movie and prepping Voyager. All were still involved in TNG, but Taylor's greater influence could explain the perceptible difference.

    No mention of the idiotic moment when Jeordi has no idea how the subspace conduit works, and yet he is able to duplicate the tachyon pulse to activate it after just two tries and mumbling something about, "Okay, how about a low bandwidth pulse?" And VOOM! the conduit opens and the Enterprise can use it. All to keep the ridiculously contrived plot moving.

    Jeordi says that the subspace conduit is "100 times as efficient as our warp drive." You'd think that if it were that easy to open a conduit through subspace that could allow a ship to travel 65 light years in a few seconds, that Jeordi would take a couple notes and release a paper or something... You know, ditch that outdated warp drive crap. Of course, after this episode it is never mentioned again. Stupid.

    "Descent, Part I" is another TNG Season Six episode that never raises to its full potential.

    So, they're bringing the Borg back as the Big Bad. Good, that's what they're supposed to be. But, instead of actually making them intimidating again, they decide to spend most of the episode (the non-padded portions especially) on Data's quest to be Human and for emotions. Um, okay. I thought this was supposed to be about the Borg being uber-badasses again. But, whatever, I'm game. Then, they decide to make Data's emotional/humanity quest nothing but a plot point by having the imprisoned Borg openly and deliberately stimulate his emotions (because this is about the Borg, after all). Good grief people, pick one! As a result, what we end up with are two story ideas that each have merit in their own right but never receive anywhere near an adequate level of development.

    Then, at almost exactly the two-thirds mark in the episode, everything literally grinds to a screeching halt as the padding kicks in. A full one-third of "Descent, Part I" is (Jammer nails it) nothing but padding until the inevitable "to be continued..." card appears. It's just another episode that's stretched almost beyond the breaking point to make it a two-parter (just like "Time's Arrow" and "Birthright").

    Even "Time's Arrow, Part I" was more ambitious than this. For that episode I said - "For an episode that deals with Data's possible death, time travel, soul-consuming aliens from the future, a look into Picard and Guinan's backstory and Mark Twain in a season ending cliffhanger, there's a rather surprising lack of energy and excitement." Almost exact same thing can be said here. For a story involving the return of the Borg as major adversaries, new and much more aggressive Borg, Data experiencing emotions and the return of Lore (who has been gone for almost three seasons), there isn't a surprising lack of energy and excitement - there's a decidedly shocking lack of it! These TNG season finale cliffhangers have gone nowhere but down, down, down since "The Best of Both Worlds." The saddest thing about it, however, is that it didn't have to be that way. VOY proved that with "Scorpion." Of course, "Scorpion" also proved that the Borg could be used as major curbstomp style villains again.

    But despite all of that, the episode is just average/commonplace. It isn't exactly bad; it just never raises above itself. That is until the stuff that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever takes place. So, in the middle of a crisis, with this new and highly aggressive Borg threat to contend with, Picard decides to literally empty the ship down to a skeleton crew so that everyone and his brother can search for Data on the planet's surface. WTF!? Um, no! That makes no god-damn sense. The priority is the Borg threat, not the search for Data! Oh, and he decides to join in the search as well - apparently just for shits and giggles - because the Captain has no place on the bridge in an emergency. The only reason for it is so that he can be taken prisoner in the final seconds and have THE DRAMA that much more increased for the summer break. And, to top it all off, he leaves Crusher in command of the Enterprise. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm a big Beverly Crusher fan. But this makes no fucking sense, period! At this point it hasn't even been established that she's a Bridge Officer or that she likes to pick up a night shift command from time to time. It would make more sense to give command over to Ensign Ricky from Turbolift Control! But, of course, just like everything else in the episode, it's just set-up for Part II. Finally, there's Crosis' "seduction" of Data (where Data flat out admits that he'd kill LaForge) right in front of a security guard. Jesus, that's straight out of TOS: Mudd's Women, where Harry Mudd and the women plot their plans right in front of some other security guards. When a scene reminds me of the second worst episode of TOS, that's really not a good thing.

    Still, all of that is redeemed (somewhat) by the wonderful scene between Picard and Nechayev. It was really nice to see the other side given a full hearing (something I've highly criticized TNG for not doing fairly in the past), even if it's still clear that the writers want us to take Picard's side (why else would Nechayev be written as such an insufferable bitch?). And, I think I agree with Nechayev. Back in my comments on "I, Borg," I said that I would probably have used Hugh to deliver the virus to the Collective and I think I'm still going to hold to that. I'm reminded of this little exchange from "Captain America: The Winter Solider"....

    FURY: The Greatest Generation? You guys did some nasty stuff.
    CAP: Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so that people could be free.

    Destroying the Borg may be a really nasty thing to do. Using Hugh as a carrier for that destruction might be as well. Using him with his individuality intact would be more so. But maybe it should have been done so that the Federation (hell, the entire galaxy!) could be free from the threat of the Borg Collective. Picard's hand-wringing of "the moral thing might not have been the right thing" was very apt (and wonderfully acted by Stewart).

    (I suppose I should comment on the opening scene with Stephen Hawking. Meh, it didn't do anything for me one way or the other. The thing I that struck me the most about it was that I was wondering if they got the same guy to play Einstein that they got back in "The Nth Degree," because he looked very similar.)



    More post-season number crunching. :)

    5 - Time's Arrow, Part II
    4 - Realm of Fear
    1 - Man of the People
    7 - Relics
    6 - Schisms
    8 - True Q
    8 - Rascals
    6 - A Fistful of Datas
    6 - The Quality of Life
    7 - Chain of Command, Part I
    9 - Chain of Command, Part II
    8 - Ship in a Bottle
    1 - Aquiel
    8 - Face of the Enemy
    7 - Tapestry
    3 - Birthright, Part I
    2 - Birthright, Part II
    7 - Starship Mine
    5 - Lessons
    2 - The Chase
    5 - Frame of Mind
    3 - Suspicions
    9 - Rightful Heir
    6 - Second Chances
    7 - Timescape
    5 - Descent, Part I

    Average Season Score: 5.577
    Average Series Score: 5.046
    Final TOS Average Score: 5.150

    Best Episode: Rightful Heir
    Worst Episode: Man of the People

    Season Six could legitimately be given the title "The Tale of Two Seasons". The first half managed an average score of 6.250 - impressive to say the least - and gave us the longest stretch of above-average episodes in all of Trek up to this point (9 - from "Relics" to "Ship in a Bottle"). But, once we were subjected to the abysmal "Aquiel", the season took a nosedive in quality. The second half managed an average score of 5.000. Talk about a step down! If it wasn't for the fact that the single best episode of the season was in that second half, it would be finished below average.

    TNG also continued its shallow slope from the heights of Season Four, but again not by much. Season Six, even with it finishing lower than Season Five, is still damn good entertainment. And, it managed to finally pull TNG out of the depths it dug for itself in Season One and brought the average score up above average for the first time.

    It looks, however, like it's all up to Season Seven to pull TNG ahead of TOS in the final overall score department. But, given how lambasted Season Seven is in many fan circles, that might be a tall order despite the scores being so close here after six years. Can it be done? We'll just have to wait and see.

    " It looks, however, like it's all up to Season Seven to pull TNG ahead of TOS in the final overall score department. "

    I think Q said it best:

    "I wouldn't bet on it, Picard"

    You have the awesome finale, Preemptive Strike, and The Pegasus. And that's all I can think of for wicked standouts off the top of my head.

    I'll take that bet. S7 doesn't have to be good, it has to be average.... which is what S7 does best...

    Lower Decks and Parallels also deserve high marks and those 5 should be enough to counterattack the clunkers.

    ^^ Good point, Robert! ^^

    Hard to remember all the good ones with tripe like Genesis and Masks floating around :D

    This is a safe space right? Can I admit that Genesis is my bad episode guilty pleasure? :)

    Oh no! It's your "Spock's Brain"?

    Well to be fair, Genesis is better than Cost of Living (by far) and the Quark in drag DS9 episode.

    OK, so the bad things up front - yes, it relies on a series of plot points to move forward, and yes, it is clearly setting up for the next series and isn't going to resolve everything neatly. Oh, and a bunch of barely names crewman are sacrificed with an enthusiasm not seen since TOS.

    But for me, that's about it, and there are so many things it does well. The story about Data's emotions is powerful, not least in the initial revelation of his anger while fighting the Borg. His reflections on the subject are by turn revealing (with Troi) and humerous (with Geordi).

    The new, vicious Borg are also an intriguing development. We are left to ponder how much Hugh might have contributed to this - and seeing Picard chewed out over his decision is another strong scene - but this is found out to be a clever misdirection with the final reveal of Lore. Even if it is overplayed, I still think that the final "sons of Soong" line is pretty strong.

    And we have the scientists fantasy poker scene too. Overall, there's a lot more here to like than dislike. 3.5 stars.


    So the series averages 2.56 overall, which puts it 4th out of 6 ahead of series 1 and 2. 5 episodes made it to 3.5 stars (none to 4) and 4 hit 1.5 (nothing lower). So overall it was pretty consistent but never quite spectacular. There were a lot of character feature episodes, and I suppose they live or die on the strength of the writing of that character. Some lived, some died... But others are right, there isn't really a significant fall off in quality through this series.

    @Diamond Dave, I'm glad to see someone else really likes Descent Part 1! :)

    This episode marks the final tipping point, where TNG abandons its roots and becomes Voyager with better casting. Reset button (Data's betrayal is consequence free), pointless cliffhanger, "Gotcha" twist writing, neutered Borg, etc, etc.

    There were a handful of stand out episodes (Pegasus, Preemptive Strike, All Good Things...) after this, but TNG never regained the glory of Seasons 3 & 4.

    That said, I'd give it two stars, simply for the two watchable scenes: Picard being chewed out and the holodeck teaser.

    Hello Everyone

    This episode was okay. Nothing special. But when originally aired, we were hoping for greatness and sometimes ended up looking at episodes with rose-colored glasses. And, we knew this would be leading into the last season, so there was very little chance that any of the characters were going to change/grow much, because they had become set in their ways.

    Now on to my conundrum: I think it's time to take the keys to the car away from Data. In one earlier episode, he locks out the computer from everyone, and hijacks the ship to the planet that Soong was on. He had no control over what he was doing, and put others at risk. In another, he puts the lives of new entities ahead of crewmates he has known and served with for years. His programming just put him on that path, and he couldn't/wouldn't change it. This episode, Data runs off with a Borg and it seems he is being controlled by another, that he doesn't really have any choice. Then, he somehow makes the Enterprise beam down nearly all of their crew to look for him (okay, he didn't do that, that was a facepalm from the writers). With those three things, I believe he cannot be trusted to be in command of, well, anything. If he had been the Captain of a Starship and had any one of these situations happen to him, I believe he'd have been relieved of command, and perhaps drummed out of Starfleet.

    Data is one of my favorites (and was my Mom's favorite :D ), but after this, I just cannot understand him being trusted. At any given moment, he might go from great guy taking care of Spot, to unhinged Android taking over the ship. He has no control over it. His programming will allow him to put the life of an ExoComp over that of a human, or some outside factor takes him over and he is a danger to, well, everyone. The only thing I can think of that comes close is when Geordi is brainwashed into attempting the assassination of a Klingon Governor. Yes, they gave him a second chance, but if it happened again, where his visor helped someone to take control of him, I doubt he'd still be in command of the engine room.

    Have a great day Everyone... RT


    I remember people discussing this very same thing on "Brothers", but I think at the end of the day Data is a double-edged sword. You get this really efficient super capable science officer with the strength of 1000 men and at the same time he's still mechanical, and is subject to the same problems every machine faces (See gun ownership debates).

    I suppose if you consider how many times Data SAVED the Enterprise or crew members when no else could, you'd probably get a count in the higher double digits. Compared to only 2 security breaches it's not so bad, especially considering Geordi's VISOR had just as many and were more deadly.

    Additionally, there are lots of times when the crew was compromised -- maybe the best example is The Game, where, yep, Data is the only one immune to mass brainwashing. Picard, Crusher et al. taken over by an energy being in Lonely Among Us. Troi taken over in Man of the People. Data, Troi and O'Brien taken over in Power Play. (That one affects Data and humanoids equally!) So possession or alien influence is a general risk for the crew.

    The exocomp thing is different -- maybe Data should have been punished, but he wasn't under external influence there. He conscientiously objected to what he believed would be murder. I understand why Picard was okay with that decision.

    Hello fellow Star Trek fans. I actually agree with Jammer on this. This episode where the Borg suddenly has an almost Klingon-type attitude and where Data suddenly experience some emotions such as anger as a good thing until toward the end where the Borg Crosis uses some device on his arm to manipulate Data and then we find out that the Borg have an Klingon-type attitude because of Data's Brother Lore; therefore, making the whole story as a plot point to keep the story going as Jammer said.

    I've would've preferred that both Data and the Borg spontaneously experience these emotions by themselves as a part of character development instead of what the writers did to both of them on this show.

    The only thing that I disagree with Jammer is where most of the crew of the enterprise would beam down on the planet to search for Data. The crew of the Enterprise has put its life at risk all the time for one crew member. The crew rescued Picard who was Locutus from the Borg which is one person for example.

    I actually like Data's emotions being used as a plot point. Don't get me wrong, I want to see him feel and emote just as much as the next Trekkie, but you have to stop and think outside the fandom. Would that ever really happen? Is his goal even realistic or good for his character? We were introduced to him by this need and want to become more human, so whenever the writers try to sneak them in or give him some, it always ends up being backed out of. Data is his quest, and I think we needed this episode 2-parter to remind us of that. (Lore coming back was awesome, btw)

    TNG Season 6:
    "Time's Arrow Part 2"-2
    "Realm of Fear"-3
    "Man of the People"-2
    "True Q"-3
    "A Fistful of Datas"-3
    "The Quality of Life"-3.5
    "Chain of Command Part 1"-3
    "Chain of Command Part 2"-4
    "Ship in a Bottle"-3.5
    "Face of the Enemy"-3.5
    "Birthright Part 1"-3
    "Birthright Part 2"-2
    "Starship Mine"-3
    "The Chase"-3.5
    "Frame of Mind"-4
    "Rightful Heir"-3.5
    "Second Chances"-3.5
    Overall: 3

    Seems like giving robots emotions is always a bad idea in Sci-fi. It almost always seems to end in a massacre, love triangle, or very embarrassingly stupid dialogue.

    Why did the entire ship have to go planet-side to look for one MIA robot? Including the captain? In what alternate universe is Crusher ever qualified to captain the ship? Even if she was, given how dangerous Data can get shouldn't she be prepping sick bay for casualties? What about the Borg threat? Is one robot really more important than that?

    As others stated above, first 2/3rds of the episode was good, but the final third just derailed. Data's admitting to feeling pleasure at killing an enemy was shocking and I wanted to see Data actually descend into evil, not suddenly flip the evil switch and become Lore's puppet.

    I'll agree with what others have said about Bev being too "nagging", because she genuinely is. I know there's a lot of misogyny on some of these boards and that women have been stereotyped as nagging but blame the writers, not the commenters pointing it out. Bev's a terrible female character and just a poor character in general. To be honest even of she were male I'd still hate her character traits. But then again if she were male she'd probably be written better and would either not have those traits or have actual good traits to balance them out and make her actually likeable, or at least tolerable.

    I do love that this episode has the Power Rangers Command Center, well the same building looking close enough to it, even though this episode did air first.

    RIP Stephen Hawking. Shame this episode isn't better. Everyone would be rewatching it as a tribute to you. Fare dee well.

    "a Security Guy in the brig can be standing right there while Crosis seduces Data in a rather alarming exchange of dialogue, but apparently Security Guy won't do anything with such information."

    I've always wondered about that. What was that security guy in the brig doing anyway? He never seemed to pay attention to what was going on in the brig.

    "Data flees in a shuttle, leading the Enterprise in pursuit.

    How the heck did Data manage to get a Borg out of the brig and down to shuttle bay without anyone noticing? You would think a Borg walking around the corridors of the Enterprise would be a hard thing to miss. Maybe Data beamed him directly into the shuttle, who knows? Makes one wonder how effective Worf's security team really is.

    There were a few interesting themes here with the Borg turning into vicious individuals, Data exploring emotions again, and appearing to provide a follow-up to "I Borg" but the ending with the sons of Soong being back together to destroy the Federation totally deserved a MUAHAHAHA! So the ending pegged back the episode's quality for me.

    "Descent" Part I is better than "Birthright" Part I. Both have a lot of setup with Data's character study appearing to be a B-plot thrown in to pad it so that it's a 2-parter. But the Data emotion thing is more a tool here rather than character development. He gets manipulated by some transceiver. It's also an episode that reinforces the Data / Geordi bond, which I like -- one of the better friendships on Trek.

    Found it weird to see the Borg "seducing" Data with the promise of emotion. Where did this come from? Answer to come in Part II, of course. But it perhaps is an extension of the Borg attack on the away team earlier in the episode -- acting as individuals, showing passion. At this stage it appears interesting and potentially more menacing.

    Where the episode started to go south is getting practically the whole crew on the planet to look for Data and leaving Crusher in charge of the Enterprise. This strikes me as foolhardy. And how could Crusher command the Enterprise under anything less than routine circumstances? McCoy never would have been put in charge on Kirk's Enterprise.

    2.5 stars for "Descent, Part I" -- should have been a 3 star episode but for the ending with Lore's diabolical plan (as if he was a James Bond villain). Enjoyed a different version of the Borg here -- still threatening, although more nuanced. Also interesting that Picard gets chewed out for not doing more with Hugh to destroy the Borg and then he rips into Riker -- maybe another moral decision for the captain coming up in Part II.

    Yet again, someone takes a shuttle without the permission of the bridge. Then, yet again, when they try to pull it back, technobabble ensues , and tada!!!, the bridge is unable to pull it back. You think by now they would have set up some better security.

    Also, Worf and his team of security SUCK. They are always allowing this to happen. I mean, Worf got literally outgunned (out phasered) by a ferengi a few episodes ago, I guess I shouldn't expect much from him.

    In what world is Crusher qualified to command a strarship?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?
    It has been mentioned before that there are about 2 thousand crew members on the ship on any given time. Are we really supposed to believe that just because 4 teams beamed down there are now not enough people that we need a skeleton crew?
    Why would Riker not stay behind? He is more than qualified to run the ship?
    But Crusher? The doctor?? Really?

    The only saving grace, as usual, was Brent Spiner.


    A mystery. what are these new post Hugh Borg up to? What is up with Data and his anger? anything that shows Data exploring his humanity is a good episode to me. Although I don't know why Data equates emotion with Humans. There are other creatures with emotions. My poodle Fluffy for example. And I love Lore. Spiner is such a good actor. When we see him switch between emotion and no emotion with Data. Seeing the crew puzzle over the Borg's new technologies and modus operandi was good as well. They had the requisite evil Admiral once again. Although I too don't understand why they didn't use Hugh to destroy.

    Many points for having Professor nStephen Hawking as a guest.
    There are a few intersting bits in here.
    Picard is rightly chewed out for not using Hugh to wipe out the Borg.
    He also quite courageously ,stands up to Admiral misery guts claiming the moral high ground.
    Of course he fails on the pragmagtism test but so did the 4th Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks when he hesitated in destroying the metallic menaces at source.

    So: series 6.
    There were some nice episodes-Relics was fun, Chain of Command was compelling and I liked Riker doubting his sanity.
    Overall though this was ,again ,mostly a collection of mediocre stories at best and often disappointing with touches of Geordi's creepy stalkerness and the overuse of the Klingon story memes.

    We are long past the alleged high points and I must say I must have missed them.

    I remember reading that this episode had to be altered with the announcement of Generations resulting in a bit of a mess. The "descent" of the Enterprise D was supposed to occur here but was ultimately saved for the big screen.

    The highlight of this hour was the Admiral chewing out Picard. The exchange goes as follows:

    NECHAYEV: As I understand, it you found a single Borg at a crash site, brought it aboard the Enterprise, studied it, analysed it, and eventually found a way to send it back to the Borg with a programme that would have destroyed the entire collective once and for all. But instead, you nursed the Borg back to health, treated it like a guest, gave it a name, and then sent it home. Why?

    PICARD: When Hugh was separated from the Borg collective he began to grow and to evolve into something other than an automaton. He became a person. When that happened, I felt I had no choice but to respect his rights as an individual.

    NECHAYEV: Of course you had a choice. You could've taken the opportunity to rid the Federation of a mortal enemy, one that has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, and which may kill even more.

    PICARD: No one is more aware of the danger than I am. But I am also bound by my oath and my conscience to uphold certain principles. And I will not sacrifice them in order to -


    Fucking hubris.

    Your priority is to safeguard the lives of Federation citizens, not to wrestle with your conscience. Now I want to make it clear that if you have a similar opportunity in the future, an opportunity to destroy the Borg, you are under orders to take advantage of it. Is that understood?

    PICARD: Yes, sir.

    Looks like the new Star Trek: Picard is modelled after Decent Part II. Odd that TPTB would chose this two-parter of all TNG episodes to base the new series on.

    Funny, I hated Admiral Bitchayev when I was a kid, but she's totally right. Picard should have obliterated the Borg when he had a chance.

    I like how data used his quest to find emotions as an excuse to consume porn. He should have called Bender if he wanted tips on being a perverted robot. It'd be funny if talking with Troi rekindled his memory of anger. Or introduced new feelings of boredom or despair.

    The stuntmen earned their pay in this one, dressing up in all that makeup and gear and being repeatedly thrown into the wall by Brent Spiner.

    LOL at the "Power Rangers Command Center" comment. Zordon's face appearing and spouting exposition would have made this a wild episode. As for the above comment regarding TNG becoming Voyager at this point, Jeri Tayor's increased influence is surely a factor.

    Personally, I was pretty much done with the Borg after "I, Borg" and was moderately bored even the first time I watched this one. I think I recall feeling a little cheated that I'd basically have to watch it again as the first episode of season 7. I remember being surprised at the on-location shooting but it somehow looking every bit as drab as their awful "planet and cave" set.

    I still enjoyed season 7, though some of the episodes are absolutely horrendous. If you're going to have reduced quality, the way it happened was better: relatively strong episodes mixed in with garbage. The worst is when everything is homogenized to a consistent substandard.

    In retrospect, the problem is obvious: Including the concept phase of Voyager, Paramount was supporting three TV series simultaneously along with a new movie franchise. While theoretically it wouldn't drain too many resources, they were also getting aggressive with licensing at the time, resulting in video games with actor voiceovers and that MainView office automation software commercial that utilized the bridge set and Jonathan Frakes. Just one more way they were overstretching themselves. I think it's no coincidence that the eventually good DS9 took a while to make sense of itself with all this going on. It's actually a little surprising it didn't get cut after its second season or so as a casualty of overextension. But that's how hot Star Trek was at the time.

    "Funny, I hated Admiral Bitchayev when I was a kid, but she's totally right."

    Did it matter, though? Hugh's experience as an individual messed up the cube he was on anyway. Now that you mention it, it's interesting that this plot thread gets picked up a little in Picard. Instead of MC Escher artwork, it's an anti-organic life message that destroys them. The Borg have a fragile psyche?

    Eh, it probably didn't matter. I'll bet the "individuality virus" caused more damage than that stupid geometry puzzle would, anyway.

    I never saw this one until yesterday! What remains to be said about this episode is that the writers used it to pull down much of the world (universe) they had worked so carefully to create.
    (1) the once refreshing Borg, clunky and slow, but wonderfully devoid of anything one could appeal to, were sped up and given voices, but because of this creative decision, they became like every other scummy group of terrorists. (I still remember fondly that original borg operative screwing around with the Enterprise's drive panel, and "diplomatic-prime directive-Picard" saying something like, "Just one minute my good man, you might break that. If you do, I will have to tell the principal").
    That first borg was so edgy, so confident, so cruel, so perfectly evil; BOBW was great, but after that, Borg ruination went unimpeded. As Moe once put it "why Hugh"!
    (2) More egregious was the writers' mishandling of Lore. I just can't talk about it.
    (3) The writers even go after poor Picard, great upholder of the prime directive. Nechayev is compelling, but dresses Picard down as if he'd never done a useful thing in his whole career. Picard's comeback "Yes sir"! is brilliantly delivered and at first interpretable as a dig at her. Later the writers un-do him by making him doubt his earlier decision. Of course most agree he should have sent the execrable Hugh back to destroy the collective....although all along there was never a guarantee that the Data-Geordi algorithm would actually work to screw the Borg up. Nechayev is a Picard-hater on principle, and would have blamed him no matter what the outcome. The scene was great, but there is no denying the writers' penchant for sadism against Picard.

    This is the short list of mutilations perpetrated by the writers on their own characters and concepts. In closing, I can only quote the TOS lone survivor on Sestos 3: "Why did they do it"?

    The music is SO BAD in this episode it actually makes watching it worse. SFDebris even called this out (specifically part 2, but it's all the same) as compared to the brilliant music in Booby Trap. There's no difference in this score between neutral, creepy, action, scary, or emotional scenes, except for a couple of cliché dun-dun-dun moments. Despite that, it's also surprisingly in your face, exactly the kind of thing Rick Berman didn't want. It's just a fail on every level.

    Data's "can you describe how you feel when you're angry" stuff feels like season 1 or season 2 Data. He knows better by now. The way he's being manipulated by Lore with the emotion is kind of...gross. Data's vulnerability in this case, along with Soong's homing device, the Borg Queen's temptations, and similar situations with The Doctor in Voyager and his ethical subroutines (or lack thereof) begs the question, why do they always have to turn eeeeeevul?

    Admiral Nechayev comes across as deliberately obtuse and intransigent. I'm sure Picard's report of the I Borg situation was extremely thorough, but Nechayev stripped away the nuances of the situation to the level of a Fox News soundbite just to posture and beat down Picard. No thanks.

    I did just notice that after the two Borg were beamed onto the bridge as a diversion and were quickly dispatched (Riker: Franklin's dead sir), another security officer comes out of the toilet to the left of the door to the Observation Lounge. Nice. There's some really bad shaky cam moments that are worthy of TOS or the Galaxy Quest show-within-a-show and are quite eye-rolling in their absurdity.

    Similarly, why the hell is the whole senior staff, including Picard (!) beaming down for this silly on-foot search? Because the script wants Picard to be there when Lore reveals himself for dramatic effect and nothing else. There's no in-universe rationale for it whatsoever. Crashing the ship isn't an in-universe reason either, so it's still clumsy. At least they did some actual on-location shooting, rather than just going to Planet Soundstage, but the yellow filter they put over everything was oddly distracting.

    I do really enjoy the teaser in the holodeck. The rest of the episode, not so much.

    It's impressive how after the years passing people started to develop a natural dislike for this episode when in the early years they used to like it.

    The story is good on paper but terribly executed they ruined the Borg, Lore and basically showed us Picard being a complete idiot by giving command to a doctor and leaving the ship with a skeleton crew just to search for a mentality unstable android.

    One the biggest problems with the episode that there is no dark atmospher in it just like how The Best of Both World was or Redemption everything was bright and happy.

    Monsieur Picard deserved that bollocking for his diabolical weak as a kittens piss limp decision regarding Huey boy.....

    I totally agree with Landon. Time's Arrow is far far better, and closer to TBOBW in good than it is close to this in bad. Let's not even talk of Redemption.


    As a sci-fi episode, this is great.

    As an episode within a Star Trek series, it is extremely messy. Data and his nonsense... - not buying it nor did I engage with it. The puppet thinks he's a real boy. Give me a break.

    Then Picard empties out the Federation's flagship (crew complement, what, 800 people?) in order to do "reconnaissance" overflights and patrols on that backwater planet. And HE and all his senior officers go down to said planet to hike up and down its hilly terrain. Yeah. Makes total sense.

    The Borg behaving like drunken Klingons in the closing scenes. And we thought the Voyager was what turned the Borg into a joke!

    It's give this two stars. Barely. And that's after taking a double dose of the generous pill this morning.

    @David No offense but your opinions are worthless. It is obvious that you are just disagreeing with the reviews in order to get attention .

    I think Nechayev is out of character. She always seemed sensible and just. She expressed empathy/understanding/compassion towards the Maquis. She never seemed like the kind of person who would send back a killer virus. The speech just served the storyline and Nechayev didn’t deserve this. She knows Picard and tried to get along. Just as he did. This was out of character.

    watching this episode right after "q who", it is obvious how bad things had gotten by season 6/7... let me count the ways:

    1. music is anti-climatic and just brain-dead
    2. the story is idiotic:
    why would all senior officers beam down into a potentially hostile situation?
    what happened to the security guard in the brig overhearing a homicidal conversation with the prisoner?
    why do a ground search they could search visually from orbit?
    4. the acting is totally phoned-in and sub-par: everyone looks like they are falling asleep
    5. the special effects are also third-rate its ridiculous: some of it looks like cartoon graphics
    6. did i mention the music is horrible and makes me wanna die?

    on the plus side:

    1. the intro was funny and heartwarming, it seems the only thing anyone tried hard with this episode
    2. this episode a huge source of hilarious memes
    3. that borg ship design was pretty weird and cool

    total score:

    -3 stars
    (but if you count the source of memes then i could bring it up to 2 stars)

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