Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Descent, Part II”

2 stars.

Air date: 9/20/1993
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review Text

If "Descent, Part I" was an entertaining but inconclusive setup episode that ended on a head-scratcher, then "Descent, Part II" is like watching a balloon slowly deflate for 44 minutes. It's not horrible — especially not in theory — but boy were we hoping for something better than this.

The episode opens with Lore explaining in lengthy fashion how he became the leader to these lost Borg and how he "helped" Data realize the "truth" about the great quest of definitive purpose ahead of them. Lore believes in the superiority of those like himself — artificial lifeforms that have no biological makeup — and he hopes to remake the Borg in that image (which has resulted in failed experimentation and brain-damaged Borg). But there's still no useful rationale for why (to say nothing of how) he wants to conquer the Federation, other than to justify the lame line that capped part one and artificially inflated the stakes.

There's something interesting in the idea that sending Hugh back to his ship caused these Borg to fall into individualized, unworkable chaos, as well as the notion that they would be willing to turn to anyone — even an egomaniac like Lore — just to quell the disorder. But all of that has already happened well before "Descent" begins, and we now get everything told to us in exposition, and I have a hard time actually picturing it. The complexity of such a task becomes a lot more prosaic when we hear Hugh (who is part of a rival Borg faction that has sided against Lore) gloss over it. Lore clearly must have done something to bring the Borg back from chaos, but the story offers no details. It just kind of happened.

As for Data, "Descent II" turns him into a puppet of his programming. There is no characterization of any interest here, because it's all a form of mind-control that Lore has instituted. Thus, Data's defection has zero character consequence. If Lore had actually been able to find a way to make a case that Data could believe in (not that I can picture one), that might have been more interesting. But instead this is just a matter of an ethical "off" switch being flipped to make Data an automaton. His thirst for the emotions Lore feeds him comes across as a half-baked analogue for drug addiction. Really, the whole would-be arc is vaporware.

Meanwhile, the idea that so many members of the crew are on the surface of the planet makes no sense at all. (More than 70 just to search for Data? Why?) This leaves a skeleton crew aboard the Enterprise, with Crusher in command, which serves no purpose but to put a character in command of the ship who normally never would be. The bridge sequences where the Enterprise engages the Borg are easily the weakest part of the episode — jam-packed with who-cares technobabble and who-cares temporary placeholder bridge characters, utterly devoid of tension or danger, and featuring a resolution that makes you shrug. (Not to mention, it employs the shield technology from "Suspicions," of all episodes. My, how Borg engagements have fallen, even from part one of this story.)

"Descent II" is a disappointment because there's clearly some underlying ideas here about actions having consequences (Hugh returning to the collective), and the susceptibility of the vulnerable being exploited by a charismatic savior who promises them greatness. Unfortunately, it's all half-formed and compromised, and executed with an almost stunning lack of urgency when you consider this is the kickoff episode to the final season of a sci-fi television giant. The most interesting character nugget comes at the end, when Data retrieves the emotion chip from his deactivated brother, hinting that one day he might install it. Too bad we now all know how that worked out.

Previous episode: Descent, Part I
Next episode: Liaisons

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87 comments on this post

    Even though this episode is mediocre, it did lay some important elements that would be used in both Star Trek: Generations (the emotion chip) and Star Trek Insurrection (the ethical subroutine).

    Yes this is a 2-star episode It is okay but to me it is the epitome of mediocrity and felt like it was just lumbering through the motions. Part I promised epic things that Part II never delivered on--Lore/Borg attacking the Federation(we never even saw Nechayev or the rest of the fleet once in the hour) for example.

    I did enjoy seeing Hugh again and Crusher in charge. I even appreciated the continuity callback to the metaphasic shielding and it being employed here in a reasonable manner but the engagements were underwhelming and I was disappointed we never saw the interior of the new Borg ship.

    I actually preferred VOY's Unimatrix Part II more even though it was similiarly disappointing in really exploiting the story idea and actually fundamentally altering the Borg and maybe even bringing them down once and for all.

    This was an awful episode that soured "I, Borg" (Hugh should have been completely cleared of all individuality, period, and the last we should have ever seen of him was his poignant glance toward Geordi at the end of that show). It also eviscerated the once-menacing Borg into mechanized Lost Boys. But considering STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT showed the collective much as their old selves anyway, at least it seems that many Powers-That-Be chalked this two-parter up to a misfire (thankfully, this was indeed only a small sect of the Borg as a whole). Lore was at his worst here; we were never provided with a satisfactory explanation of why he was involved with the Borg in the first place and what prompted his quest to "save" them other than "I can use them to destroy the Federation, bwahahaha." Some of the scenes between Lore and Data were nice but because we all knew Data would be back to normal by the end, I agree with Jammer that it would have been more interesting if Data had been given the ability to make a true choice to join Lore instead of being totally under the control of him. *1/2 stars for me.

    I also think that Jammer was being too generous with 2 stars, but the review was otherwise spot-on.

    As pointed out, there's lots of interesting issues that could have been examined. I would've found it interesting if they could have compared and contrasted Lore wanting to make the Borg more machine with Federation members wanting to make them more 'human.' Surely some Borg would've been happy staying more-or-less as they are.

    These issues would be more timely if they were addressed in a new version of Star Trek. Are the Borg any more attached to their implants than consumers are to their smart-phones?

    Data is lucky that he got the best of Lore in their private confrontation. Imagine what would have happened if Lore had gotten the drop on him...

    Based on every one of Lore's appearances on the show prior to "Descent, Part I", I imagine Lore would switch clothes with the unconscious Data, then strut out into the hall, walk up to Captain Picard, and say "I have deactivated Lore. We must disassemble him so he no longer poses any threat!" And of course Picard, knowing Lore's tricks, would surely not immediately say "It's good to have you back, Data" and then merrily deactivate the unconscious android in the next room.

    Oh wait, he really did say that!

    I would give this episode at least 2 1/2 stars. I do agree with you Jammer with some of the problems that plague both parts of the Decent story like such as Picard sending down almost all the crew of the Enterprise just to look for one crew member not making sense and the part Where Dr. Crusher took command of the Enterprise was the boring part of the story. However, I did enjoy the conflict between Data and his problems with having human emotions, especially with his evil twin brother Lore goading him on. I also enjoyed the return of the borg Hugh as he added a bit of depth to the story on how he changed since his last appearance from the episode "I, Borg" from the fifth season and how he changed some of the borg from where they have only their own thoughts instead of one mind, which lets us know that the borg do have some chinks in their armor per se. I aslo don't think that this episodes make the borg look weak at all, although the story line probably could have done better without Data's bother Lore causing the problems. "Decent" of course is not as powerful as "The Best of Both Worlds", but it's better to me than any borg episodes from Star Trek Voyager.

    I actually enjoyed the scenes on the bridge (as contrived as the situation was), it was one of the few times where Crusher had interesting things to do. Other than that, this episode was of course a disappointment.

    @Nic -- McFadden wasn't bad, but the other actors playing bridge officers were TERRIBLE.

    Also, the writers really misfired on the grouping of characters in this episode. Having Hugh interact with Riker and Worf -- when he interacted with everybody BUT Riker and Worf in "I Borg" -- was a weird decision. At a minimum, Worf and Geordi could have flip-flopped roles. Riker and Geordi interacting with Hugh would have been more interesting. Lore could have made Data experiment on Picard, instead.

    Or, Worf, Riker and Troi could have been the group held prisoner (maybe Data would have experimented on Riker or Troi?) and Picard and Geordi could have interacted more with Hugh. That would have been far more interesting that Picard technobabbling his way through the most implausible way to get out of the holding cell.

    It's funny how metaphasic shielding from "Suspicions" is used here, because the antagonistic bridge officer is played by James Horan, who played the lizard alien who tried to steal the metaphasic technology in the aforementioned episode.

    (Note: James Horan would go on to play 'Future Guy' in Star Trek: Enterprise.)

    Good tidbit, Patrick. Horan is on a commercial currently playing a cowboy.

    This episode was when "feminism-trek" really started taking hold. I mean, sure, I guess it is cool they wanted the females to do more on the show, but they BOTH had to go to command school? Picard would really leave Beverly as the command officer when the likelihood of going into battle with the borg is actually quite high? What a Joke.

    I have studied a little military history, and i really cannot recall an incident when a ship captain willingly left a doctor in charge of his ship.

    And of course there are people that defend the writers, but that is horse-crap, the only reason it happened is because someone on staff (probably Jeri Taylor) thought it would be cool if Crusher was in command of the Enterprise while being attacked by Borg.

    Finally, and this is a MAJOR problem with the final 2 seasons and all the movies, the producers seem to have completely forgotten that Picard should almost always stay on the enterprise for 3 reasons..

    1. He has a 1st officer whose JOB is to do that stuff, since he has to, you know, command the ship.
    2.He has 1000 other people to go if Riker cannot.
    3. The episode are just BETTER when Picard stays on the bridge, at least for me. When Riker or someone is planet-side, I always feel more comfortable have the smart old man up their on the ship making decisions.

    Think of the episode "Q Who", if it was made in the seventh season, Picard would have beamed over, by himself, and killed 12 borg without a phaser. But in season 2 (an unjustly criticized season), Riker and a team go over, with Picard on the bridge, and it FEELS like that is the way it is supposed to be. Picard is actually MORE involved when he is controlling things from the bridge.

    @Nick P: I almost totally agree. With a caveat.

    If 'Q Who' had happened AFTER season 7 then you're totally right. Picard would have beamed over to the Borg ship in a dune buggy, violated the Prime Directive and killed 12 Borg.

    But in season 7, it's more likely that he, Data and Troi would have beamed over, met Sigmund Freud, taken a holodeck train to Ipsilanti, evolved into dinosaurs and met an alien posing as Geordi's mom.

    Season 7 is just so bad. It continues the trend of Picard leaving the ship, but it does it in really sedate ways. It's good that Picard isn't yet Rambo-Luc Picard -- which is out of character -- but it sure is boring.

    If I recall correctly, neither Gates McFadden nor Marina Sirtis had signed on for the seventh season at the time that Descent Part I wrapped, but the rest of the cast had. The setup at the cliffhanger gives the opportunity to write them out (if they wouldn't even return for part II) with an FX shot of the Borg destroying the Enterprise or her bridge.

    It's still ham-handed, but there is some logic behind it.

    I've heard Descent Part I was written as an "escape hatch" in case the show was not renewed for a seventh season. Most of the crew had evacuated the ship to form search parties so that they could crash the ship (with Crusher in the chair) and start the movies with an emotional Data and an Enterprise E. That's why it was called "Descent." The ship was supposed to crash.

    @Paul, "taken a holodeck train to Ipsilanti"

    I love that line! I will have to remember that one.

    I talked about this a little way back when (on part one), I'm going to propose a reading of the "Descent" two-parter that makes it somewhat work, but the implications of which are disturbing. To start with: I have fond memories of this episode from childhood, and I think some of that might be what makes me willing to look a little generously at it, even though it is (at best) a mess and at worst terrible. Here's what I think this two-parter does, however, and how, in theory if not in execution, it does something very interesting with Data.

    Data is introduced to us as a Pinocchio figure pretty explicitly -- he might turn into a real boy, if he's good enough. Data values humanity, and his love for humanity makes humanity shine all the brighter, because Data himself is just so awesome. He's super-strong, super-smart, and super-ethical; his one obvious significant flaw is his lack of understanding of human emotion, and he wants to make that correction. In essence, Data is as close to perfect as can get. And then we meet Lore, and "Datalore," goofy though it frequently is, makes Data genuinely interesting by suggesting that the core assumptions about the character may be wrong. To wit: if Data gets emotions, becomes more human, he might become a monster, like Lore. The episode emphasizes his crew's discomfort with Data's being a machine, which they have not really been able to internalize; and it turns out that Data's being sufficiently machinelike is also the thing that distinguishes him from Lore, who immediately turns his physical and intellectual powers for destruction because of his emotions, which lead him to the very worst of humanity.

    The next Lore episode, "Brothers," actually pushes even further, subtly. The episode is the closest, most in-depth look at the whole Soong-Lore-Data family that we ever get, though certain other episodes (including this season's underrated "Inheritance") go there as well. Once again, we get a reminder of how stone-cold scary Data can be if he for a moment is not oriented toward the good of the ship, which, like "Datalore" (and a few other crucial episodes, like "The Schizoid Man" or "Clues," which I won't talk about here), make it clear that we should be worried about Data's strength and skill, should he ever stray. But more than that, Data's ethical subroutines are completely suppressed/surpassed. Soong activates Data as a machine, and Data goes to him, absolutely and completely under Soong's control. The episode has Soong call Data to him to announce that he's prepared a new emotion chip for Data that will make him more human, but in order to get him there he exerts total control over Data by reducing Data to a good machine. Soong is a complicated figure (like Gepetto is, for that matter), not wholly good or wholly bad, certainly, but I want to focus on his dark side a bit here. Essentially, when he wants Data to be human-like to flatter his ego as parent/creator, Soong pushes Data to being human, but when he wants Data to be a machine so that he can control him, he pushes Data into being a machine. And Data, when it comes right down to it, is fairly helpless. Data has total power over the Enterprise crew, but he is almost powerless within the family dynamic of the episode -- totally manipulated by Soong, who does not at all listen to Data's genuine, correct warnings about Lore, and even anticipating Lore's betrayal Data is unable to stop him.

    Somehow, Data is a figure that we love and admire because he seems to have the best qualities of machine and human without any of their worst: he has the total rationality and skill and strength and incorruptibility of a machine along with the free will, self-determination, creativity and complex inner life that a human has. For the most part, Data is treated as a person who happens to be also a machine. But, in a way that "Brothers" somewhat foreshadows, "Descent" inverts this. When offered emotions, Data seizes them and becomes the worst type of human -- willing to hurt other people for his own selfish desire for pleasure, and because of his own overwhelming anger.

    And at the very same time, Lore also makes him the worst kind of machine. It's hard to imagine "our" Data acting the way he does in this episode. I'd say that up until the scene with Crosis in part 1, where Crosis convinces Data to go off with him and kill Geordi if he can feel a blush of pleasure again, Data acts totally recognizably Data, and then after that he's transformed in a way that distorts him. It's tempting to write this off as a bad story dramatically, because the Data we see in most of part 2 is not really recognizably Data. But the explanation given is that Lore has deactivated Data's ethical subroutines and is feeding him "negative emotions." And somehow, the chilling implication of that is this: all you have to do to Data is flip a certain switch off, and he becomes evil. (They do the same thing with The Doctor in "Equinox.") This makes Data the worst kind of *machine* -- one whose whole identity is dependent only on a series of circuits, and modify those circuits and Data becomes something else.

    Now, I don't entirely believe that the Data we see in this episode is just Data + negative emotions - ethical subroutine, and that is a failure of execution that probably ultimately torpedoes the episode. But maybe it doesn't. Back in "The Quality of Life," when given the opportunity, Data was willing to let Geordi and Picard both die when his pet project of the Exocomps were threatened. As I talked about there, I actually pretty much agree with Data's choice, but the choice depends at least a little bit on the fact that Data's emotional connection to La Forge and Picard is weak enough that when given a more important task he is willing to let them die. Geordi is Data's best friend, and he is very close to Geordi, but on some level that connection is simply not as strong as the emotions that he's being fed by Lore, and when given a new purpose that he believes, in the moment, to be worthwhile enough -- i.e. carrying out Lore's plan of creating a new race of artificial life forms -- he is willing to run over Geordi for this Greater Good. Without his ethical subroutine in place, Data cannot distinguish between the Greater Good that Lore tells him about and actual goodness.

    I still don't like the idea that all you have to do is flip a switch and give him emotions he's completely unprepared for and you change Data so radically, because I want to see Data as a person, whose identity is based on more than just his programming. But of course, on some deep level, Data is just his programming, and change that, you change Data. Meanwhile, a Data who is akin to a human is totally unprepared for his emotional wants, needs, and whims, and is carried along by them in a way that he never has before by anything else. Data's obsessive personality has always been on display, but in general he had no emotions to drive him to the degree that he would neglect his duty or hurt someone else. Now he does, and he's a monster. This episode flips Data from having the best of humanity and best of technology to the worst of both.

    Now, does Data's being so easily manipulated by appealing to his machine status, turning off his ethical programming, mean that thinking of him as a person is entirely wrong? I don't think so. I think that Data is more easily manipulated technologically than most humans are, but as Picard said back in "Datalore," humans are machines of a different sort. For all humans' free will and self-determination, it is still possible to manipulate and control them, with drugs (e.g. the truth serum given to Picard in "Chain of Command") or brainwashing (c.f. La Forge in "The Mind's Eye," Picard as Locutus, or everyone in "The Game") or memory wipe ("Conundrum"), etc. I wouldn't go as far as to say that free will is an illusion, but humans are partly physical beings and affecting our body and brain affects who we are in a dramatic way. It is unpleasant to think about it (I still have trouble thinking about brain chemistry), and it is existentially unsatisfying that our identities are so dependent on the physical reality of our brains.

    I think the closest parallel in Trekdom to what happens here, besides the Doctor's ethical subroutine being flipped off (and besides First Contact, which, more on that in a bit), is Odo in "Behind the Lines," a story which is superior in almost every respect to this one. There, as here, the outsider character who has deep affection for, and even love for, his friends, is tempted by something that they cannot offer him. Odo gets fulfillment from the Link in a way that is simply impossible from his solid friends, and I am almost sure that were it not for the depth of his love for Kira he would have turned his back on the solids entirely at that point; the experience of the Link, and of being fully understood by someone, was so new to him that his ethics mostly flew out the window. Data's experiencing emotions, as well as his kinship with his brother, who is so much more like him than anyone else in the universe, changes Data. The drug parallel is clunky, to say the least, but there is a real parallel to drugs. The reason that drugs can rewire some people so much, when people let them, is that they can give people a kind of experience and pleasure that goes beyond anything else that they experience in their life, to the point where their whole worldview changes and what had seemed to matter before no longer did.

    Anyway, I love every Data scene in "Part 1" before the Crosis scene, at which Data is manipulated to the point where he's no longer recognizably Data, and he's not really Data again until his ethical subroutine kicks back in. I think it'd be one thing if the show spent time developing exactly what Data thought about his situation; I would love to see what form his anger at Picard/La Forge/Troi would take, beyond "I'm not your puppet anymore, Picard." (Certainly, Data is treated pretty frequently as a convenience by the rest of the crew, and I think it'd be interesting to see that expressed more clearly.) And then I find myself touched by the last Data/Lore scene, Data deactivating Lore and knowing once again that he's alone in the universe.

    And then I really, really like the last Data/Geordi scene, in which Data prepares to fire at his emotion chip and Geordi stops him. Now sober again, Data is able to see how his brief experience with emotion (and oneness with his brother) nearly led him to kill Geordi, and he cannot let that happen again. Data's first (well, second, after "Deja Q") encounter with emotion overwhelmed everything else he valued. Troi had predicted that if Data truly became a human, he wouldn't be a bad one, but his first brush with being a real human proved that wrong. He cannot let that happen, and he nearly destroys the chip, dooming himself never to achieve the thing he wants the most, because to achieve it means he will become a monster and lose Geordi. And then Geordi stops him. As has been pointed out by others (see, e.g., the SFDebris review), Geordi's stopping Data from destroying the chip is an inversion of Geordi refusing to deactivate the safeties so that Data could pursue his anger-at-Borg experiment at the risk to his own life. Knowing how deeply important emotions, and the possibility of becoming human, means to Data, Geordi is willing to take the risk that someday Data will turn on him again, rather than let Data destroy himself. Both Data and Geordi make huge sacrifices in this scene, in a way that I find very moving.

    I do think that "Inheritance" and First Contact pick up some of the things I like about this story the most and take them to new places which manage to deal with the themes in a more consistent and interesting way. "Inheritance" has Data once again recognize his alone-ness in the universe, and make a self-sacrificing choice because (in his emotionless, or low-emotional, way) he cares more about someone else than himself. And in First Contact, the Borg Queen makes him an offer he feels like he can't refuse, but he does. In First Contact, the possibility that Data might really betray Picard and all of humanity when offered the chance at real humanity and pleasure is floated, but dismissed -- but our experience with this episode is what allows the possibility to remain, that Data's goodness is entirely dependent on *not* being emotional. I think First Contact is the last great Data story for that reason -- because it finds a way for Data to manage to be a decent person while being emotional.

    In any case, while I (again) have big problems with the way "Descent" was written, I'm sort of glad the story went there. (Sort of how I am glad that Deep Space Nine went to "Behind the Lines," even though IMO the episodes following BtL dealt with Odo's betrayal unsatisfactorily.) It makes both Data's machine-status and the possibility of his humanity frightening and unsettling in a way that throws his whole arc into a new light. And given that First Contact eventually revisits this and shows that, given the chance to process the emotions in a holistic manner, Data's good nature prevails, the episode's subversion of Data's goodness does not ultimately damage his story.

    Episode ratings: well, I actually pretty much agree with Jammer about the quality of both episodes when all is said and done, although I think I value things about them much more than he does (which ironically makes me more upset that they weren't handled better), so I would still say 2.5* to part 1, and 2* to part 2. I will however say that the early Data scenes in part 1, before the scene with Crosis in his cell, are a 3.5* for me.

    Probably lots I could bash here but to tell you the truth, I enjoyed it. Even Hugh bashed Picard for sending him back rather than destroying him. I'll find out later what you all are griping about with this episode. I'm not really rigid with my expectations of a Star Trek episode. First and foremost, it just has to entertain me. Having Hugh point his finger and say 'Look what you did!', that's entertainmentfor me. Even though he helped them in the end, he still thought Picard did a bad thing. Should he and his motley crew eventually get it together and become a productive community, in the end it was still a bad decision that some good came out off.
    So the emotion chip turned Lore into a cheesy villain. Big deal, it wasn't made for him anyway. That was the side effects for taking wha was made for Data.
    Wow, petty squabbling and one upmanship among the Enterprise underlings. That's what career defining moments are made of. This episode revisited the meta something or other shield of the late great Ferengi scientist, Dr. Whatzisname. Nice continuity going on here.
    3.5 stars for me

    Ok now that I've read the gripes, I don't know why people are reducing the situation to Picard almost emptying the ship to look for Data. I think Picard was finally making sense considering that the murderous, individualized Borg were a partof the equation. Why would he send a skeleton crew when Data ran off with a Borg presumably to join his companions. Seems like a red alert, all hands situation to me.
    As for Lore's motivation, already easily explained as side effects of the chip not meant for him. Even Dr Soong said that he didn't know what it would do to Lore.

    I think you're right that this episode was disappointing. When Lore disappeared in the episode "Brothers" we were all excited for an episode of "Lore's Revenge" All we got was this.

    A souless episode. We had borg characters not being borg like. We had androids being emotional and petty. We had bridge officers not being bridge officers.

    The first part was a bad episode and this was the natural extension. Data SHOULD NOT have emotions. Makes him too anthropomorphic and changes the focus from his perceptions (which is great) to his ego (boring). That's why Lore is such a weak character. Borg lose their collective identy and just regalar thug aliens would not metaphorical value.

    The incident with metaphysic shielding is a little confusing. The Borg ships stop and wait and the Enterprise stops, not taking advantage of the opportunity to put some distance between them.

    Didn't like the "Innocent girl-mean man" dynamic at play with the junior officers.

    I agree with the reasons for your two star review of this one, Jammer, but I'd give it one extra star. First, half a star for putting Crusher in temporary command. I happen to really like Beverly and liked seeing her in a completely new placement. I'd also award the episode an additional half-star for the continuity element of using the Ferengi scientist's new shield technology from a few episodes before. These days we take it for granted that series follow long story arcs rather than being episodic. I felt like TNG was taking baby steps at this point into pioneering non-episodic TV.

    It's true that Hugh the Borg's appearance is also a representation of continuty, but one that I wasn't as pleased to see. To me, of all the new "villain" races that TNG intrduced, the Borg was the only one that was actually frightening. I think that, to those of us who value liberty and individuality, the concept of losing those things entirely by being forcibly assimilated into a collective is far more frightening than merely being vaporized by some hostile alien race. When the Borg were transformed into a non-hive mind, they ceased being nearly so scary or so effective. I actually like Hugh as a character, and I get that the show is trying to make us understand that we don't have to hate all Borg, but I don't like the change in Borg society that Hugh represents.

    As for Lore in this episode, I kept thinking of the stereotype of the older brother who terrorizes and bullies his younger sibling. (Yes I know Data is techncially not actually much younger.) His telling Data that he loves him right before being deactivated was a nice touch...He's manipulative to the very last. I also kept expecting Data to contact that commander from "Measure of a Man" who wanted to disassemble him and say, "Remember me? Well, I've got a duplicate android for you -- and you are welcome to take this one apart."

    @ Peter: Haha, I love the idea of Data calling Dr. Maddox over to pick up Lore. Dr. Maddox would be so grateful! It would have been too comical a way to end the episode, but oh well.

    I guess I'm one of the few who really liked Descent I AND II. I can concede that they are both flawed episodes, but they were interesting to watch. I didn't mind the presence of Hugh, or the change in Data, plus the dynamic between him and Lore and him and Geordi was interesting. I also liked the way Beverly commands a ship, although when the question is posed to Picard "Who will stay behind to command?", the OBVIOUS choice is Captain Picard, not the freaking CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER (who should be sending some of her medical staff with the teams instead). I scratched my head when the possibility of Picard staying behind isn't even *considered*. (But this episode involved a mistake that Picard made, so he had to fix it in person, I guess.

    It was also interesting to see a multi-away-team deployment - like, they can DO that? Neato. But just as it's easier to pretend most of the time that the ship can't separate and doesn't have a battle bridge, It's also simpler most of the time to pretend the ship isn't a compliment of just over a thousand, except as an abstract reference during times of all-encompassing danger.

    I laughed at how Troi had to make herself useful somehow. "I'll watch the door". And then she bungles the attempted escape. (Or was that an intentional bungle, just so Picard could retrieve the transceiver thingy from the downed Borg? That wasn't made clear).

    I also didn't mind the bridge officers bantering, even if the dialogue was very "OF COURSE the Lieutenant is a dick, and the Ensign is a chirpy fresh-out-the-Academy uber-genius, who talks WAY too damn much." [I guess all the other bridge officers there are mutes? Ehh, they hardly ever talk anyway]. But at least the Ensign character progressed in her scenes from being nervous and unsure of herself to being confident and bold, which is slightly more than one can say for entire seasons of certain TNG character's arcs.... And some of the banter between her and Lt. AngularFace McTallGuy was cute enough, esp. the reversed "I'll just have to make sure my calculations are accurate, ".

    I actually starting thinking of some fanfiction story for the grumpy Lieutenant and uppity Ensign, but that would be too likely to descend into a cheesy "characters in conflict for no real reason realize [because...plot] that they're totally IN LURVE with each other" kind of storyline that infests most romantic comedies.

    Well, they certainly didn't start this season off with a bang, did they?

    So the major plot-line of Part I, the Borg being uber-badasses again, is dropped almost instantly in favor of... .... a look into the psychology of cults in 1990s America? TNG has given us some head-scratchers of ideas before (a dog being the killer, an evil little girl with glowing red eyes, a celebration of euthanasia under the guise of cultural diversity and the entirety of "Up the Long Ladder" to name just a few), but this stands in a league of its own. You start your final season, with the Borg and Lore as the main antagonists (with the threat of the Federation's destruction) and you instead do this?! Look, I'm sorry but - WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?!?! This is what all that build up and padding in Part I was for? This?! Talk about a misfire!

    You know what, though? The saddest thing about "Descent, Part II" is that it actually does have potential. But then again, so did TOS: "The Way to Eden" and look where that ended up! The idea of examining the phenomenon of cults could have made for an intriguing episode. But two things had to be done. 1.) Don't make it the season premier episode! 2.) Have it involve a "race" other than the Borg. Even having Lore be the cult leader could work under those guidelines. DS9 actually did a rather nice job with this very concept in "Covenant". But they were smart enough to follow those two rules - "Covenant" takes place in the middle of Season Seven and involves Dukat manipulating a group of Bajorans, a race the audience had come to care about. I don't care about the Borg, certainly not in this fashion. For instance - the scene where Lore manipulates a Borg who doesn't want to follow him any more - was I supposed to find that disturbing? Because I didn't. The Borg should not be used this way. They're supposed to be the Big Bad and I thought that was what these two episodes where trying to make them again. Geez, a lot of people talk about how VOY neutered the Borg as villains but if you want to see where that all started look no further than right here! How the mighty have fallen!

    "Descent, Part II" goes beyond even this failing, however, because the examination of the Lore-Borg cult isn't even given top priority. We have four (yes, FOUR) different story-lines all competing for screentime - the cult, Data's betrayal/redemption, an escape plotline for Picard/LaForge/Troi and Crusher in command of the Enterprise. As a result, not only does the cult plot suffer, they all do. None of them get adequate time to be worthy of all that much. The cult story goes nowhere until its inevitable tidy conclusion. Data's story is so weak that it's basically resolved by technobabble (and I'm usually a defender of technobabble). The escape plot is painfully cliched - they actually had the Borg guard fall for the old "help, my cellmate is sick" ploy! The Crusher in command story is (as Jammer wonderfully points out) "easily the weakest part of the episode." It serves no purpose other than to further weaken the Borg. What's the solution to the Borg threat? We're going to hit them with the sun! Stepping back for a moment - I guess that would be an effective way to stop the Borg, but (again) oh how the mighty have fallen. Then, throw into this amalgamation a fifth subplot involving Hugh, which apparently is only there to highlight both the cult story (by showing us that Lore is - for some odd reason - lobotomizing drones) and the escape plot (by having Hugh help Riker and Worf and then saving Picard). Was this only put in because of all the references to "I, Borg" in Part I? Because, it was pointless. I take it back: this is easily the weakest part of the episode. I actually cared more about Crusher and her who-cares bridge crew than I did about Hugh and his who-cares "resistance movement".

    Given the fact that the next time we see the Borg on the small screen they're used as little more than an allegory for society readjusting itself to life in post-Communist eastern Europe, I say thank God that "Star Trek: First Contact" and "Scorpion" came along and actually made them formidable again.


    After having enjoyed Part 1, it's sad to say that Part 2 fails to live up to the premise established earlier. This feels like nothing less than a series of disjointed cameo scenes that fail to gel into a satisfactory whole - the promised pay off never really arrives and the aggressive Borg get tossed out of the window when they were a genuinely interesting element.

    As noted above, we get vague references to cults (through Lore's messiah complex) and addiction (through Data's desire for emotion) that also never really get followed up. Hugh feels like a bolt on that cannot be properly explored in the time available. And the concluding Borg fist fight is a rather strange thing to behold. 2 stars.

    Yeah, this one just didn't live up to its promise. And I am not sure why. Lore promising to make the Borg fully artificial life-forms is a great callback to Soong and his own failures, Spiner does great job as always and I don't have problem with the Borg not being the ultimate threat they were-we are talking here about just a bunch of drones and a small ship. I still don't think it's terrible, it doesn't really do anything outright wrong, it's just very mediocre.

    One minor goof in this episode - when the Enterprise is in the sun's corona, we can see that about half the windows on the ship are lit up (which is about the usual amount). In reality, if you were that close to the sun, the light would be blinding, which would require closing all shutters/blinds on the windows of the ship. Of course, we can assume that some rooms are not occupied (such as crew quarters where the crewman is on duty elsewhere), but I still think that for safety reasons (such as, oh, I don't know, avoiding blindness), Crusher would have closed all blinds on the windows before entering the corona, or at least done so as soon as realistically possible!

    I was disappointed that at no point during this two-parter did the robotic duo engage in some maniacal laughter. You can't set out to destroy the whole federation without some good old fashioned cackling. No wonder the plan didn't succeed.

    That reset button is sure getting more and more use as TNG drags on. No consequences, back to same old same old next week guys. Geordi isn't the least bit traumatized by his best friend almost killing him in a horrific fashion. Why is it Data gets to work through his problems but most human characters don't? Even if Geordi understood that Data wasn't in control of his actions and regretted them as much as he was capable, he'd still need time to recover and come to terms with the fact his friend was so easily made to cheerfully torture him, that maybe his friend really was just a very convincing machine after all. Geordi will be having nightmares for months but instead it's HIM who's comforting Data, rather than Data apologizing to him. I feel the last scene would have been more meaningful if it had let Geordi be shaken by events too, shown their relationship won't ever be exactly the same even if both try to act like it will.

    These comments are significantly more interesting than the episode.

    Just like last seasons two part “Times Arrow”, part one isn’t bad but part two is a let down. Nice to see Hugh. That’s about all I can say.

    I enjoyed the subtleties of the conversation Hugh has about how the Borg were persuaded to "listen to any voice". To which Warf responds, "Even if that voice insists on controlling you?" It's a good reminder that if you are going through a hard time in life to not let that vulnerability become the beginning of the end. I put that right up there with Picards "4 lights". It has gotten me through some very difficult times, and I am positive it will continue to do so.

    Part II is a bit weaker than Part I -- there's a lot of moving parts/subplots here, but the idea of a megalomaniac (Lore) emerging as a savior to a people in utter chaos (individualized Borg after Hugh's arrival) is a reasonable analogy to Hitler's fascism (although that's not explored here, it's just given). Plenty of mechanical "problem solving" make this overall not very intellectually stimulating but it's still decent fun.

    This episode had plenty of situations which should feel more intense and dramatic but they just fizzle out. Lore wants Data to phaser Picard. Data refuses. Lore then threatens to phaser Data but Hugh's insurgency arrives just in time. The Borg ship pursues Crusher into the sun and waits there -- but she uses the special shielding from "Suspicions" and it works - surprise! Of course it would. And then the stand-in tactical officer creates a solar flare...

    The scenes with Crusher in command -- since when did she become a competent commander? No signs of hesitation etc. This was hard to believe. And then there are the 2 wooden stand-in bridge officers...those scenes were borderline painful to watch.

    Got a kick out of Geordi proposes a technobabble pulse to disrupt the transceiver that was causing Data to be under Lore's influence. Best part of that was when Troi goes: "I think it's worth a try." Like what else is there to do??

    Even Lore's experimentation on the Borg that went wrong (reminded of Hitler/Jews) didn't have much impact -- of course we don't feel for the Borg. Hugh's being disappointed at running into Riker/Worf again wasn't really that big of a deal since he helps in the insurgence. And of course, Geordi will be back to normal despite getting stuff drilled into his brain etc. Shouldn't he be a basket case?

    2.5 stars for "Descent, Part II" -- could have done without the Crusher commanding the Enterprise subplot and focused more on how Lore became leader of the individualized Borg (maybe through a flashback?) . Too many moving parts and some things strained credibility (Lore manipulating Data's emotions with a switch under his fingernail, Picard subduing a Borg and stealing a transceiver, special shielding/solar flare creation working perfectly, Geordi surviving -- a bit much). Might be a decent start to the final season if you just want mindless action.

    Lots of silly things in this episode, but I don't think anyone has mentioned Troi being able to sense emotions in data. One would think that the betazoid telepathy would have some biological basis, but apparently they can just sense emotions, period.

    Didn't really like what they did to Data here. Just a simple switch and he'll go from being sane Data to 100% psycho data, thinking nothing of scrambling the brains of his best friend? There's a lot that could have been explored there. If Data has an
    "ethics program" and it can be turned off, then they should have done something like tried reasoning him through ethics as a workaround, without the "crutch" of his ethics program. It would have been a great place for some ethical philosophy, trying to argue morality to someone who has had all moral intuition completely removed.

    Ridiculous episdoe, we're hit over the head with all the feminism.

    Crusher left as acting captain...yes, beam everyone of any importance onto the surface and leave a doctor to run the ship.

    Then there's the random ensign she basically makes her first officer--of course it has to be a woman. And oh look, bonus points, it's a "person of colour".

    Then there is the attack on men, specifically white males. Make the lieutenant look foolish, and have the woman of colour give all the good ideas...

    You're right, Jer Jer. It's almost as if the Star Trek writers had some sort of philosophical agenda...

    @ CHrome: Be quite he shall never now who is behind it... Space Paninis and...

    @ JerJer

    That's a really dumb complaint.

    I never even thought of this scene in those terms. We've seen plenty of strong capable intelligent women in Trek before this (Uhura, Number One, Captain Garrett, Key'lehr, Dr. Pulaski, Commander Shelby, etc) and no one questioned their capabilities because they were characters anyone could emulate.

    Has anyone involved gone in producing this gone out in public standing on a soapbox about the casting of this episode? No ... you can't even criticize them for virtue signaling.

    I don't like obvious agendas being disguised as storytelling, but that's not what this was.


    I usually like the Lore Data episodes. This may have been the weakest of them but it still had some gems.

    Riker is such an asshole. The hostility from him when anyone criticizes him. Hugh had valid complaints. And these new Borg need help. Why is Riker so emotional and defensive? I do not see how he is right for command at all. (My father pointed out that many tall men get command when they shouldn't. I have witnessed it myself - and the man crushes other men have on tall men. Yes I believe there have been studies on that?). But this is extreme.

    I thought it was interesting what happens when only so called negative emotions are felt. I think there may be something here. Is it the shear volume or height of emotion? Was Lore giving Data the equivalent of endorphins with the negative emotions? So turn off the ethical part of the brain (or brainwash with the whole greater good crap) and feed lots of negative emotions and voila...murderous leaders...

    Maybe I'm being pedantic here, but Lore's Borgetable garden doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Ira Graves and Noonian Soong were human scientists who both managed to carry off a perfect-fidelity mind-transfer on their very first attempt. Later on Bashir, not a cybernetics expert but just a highly gifted human doctor, failed after a fashion but far less spectacularly than Lore did. (I'm pretty sure that a failure of that sort would count as a success in Lore's book.)

    How do two super-intelligent androids (one of whom had been on the receiving end of Graves's mind-transfer) with access to Borg magi-tech manage to burn though half-a-dozen living subjects without once even doing at least as well as Bashir? (Or the EMH-1? Or that evil guy in Deep Space Nine who stole Bashir's body. Or that evil guy in Voyager who stole Kes's body. Or that other evil guy in Voyager who stole Tom's body. Or...) And why are they mucking around with creepy nanostuff anyway when they have transporter magic at their disposal? Maybe Lore really is just totally insane.

    Sounds like this episode will be one of the planks setting up the backstory in the forthcoming 'Star Trek: Picard' series.

    Well, we are off to a predicatably dreadful start to this ,by now, lumbering SF dinosaur of a show.
    No one should care about any of it frankly.
    Spiner trots out his sardonic evil twin brother routine for the hundredth time and ,once again ,we have more evidence that Star Fleet really ought to remove Data from active service.
    Given how easily he is subborned both he as well as his brother should have been dismantled at the end of this story.

    Yep,the emotion chip is set up for its re appearance in the equally appalling Generations but that is hardly a consolation for this tedium.

    3 wormholes from me.

    It always amuses me how in the last scene, Data is apparently ready to fire a phaser on kill at his emotion chip, sitting on his desk, with his cat lying a few feet away. It's like nobody has even gotten a basic primer on firearm safety.

    Where this episode fails is returning Lore to the mustache-twirling "muahaha" cartoon villain he started as. It's a total regression from his hostile, unstable, yet vulnerable--and ultimately relatable--performance in "Brothers". As a result, he has little impact as an antagonist as there is no reason for the audience to consider his position. He's just the "bad guy of the week". These Borg really suck. Picard sucks, too. He just stands there and does nothing as he waits for the Deus Ex Machina to happen. I never noticed the fading pupil effect when Lore deactivates.

    Along with the Borg, this episode marks the death of Data. Besides being already irredeemable after this, he just gets worse and worse from this point on, from being taken over yet again in Masks, to becoming a psychotic clown in the movies. I'm pretty sure I was laughing at the end of Nemesis.

    Why do they always fly toward the Borg ship when trying to evade it? That said, Crusher is still an upgrade from Janeway. I like how no one noticed the guy who tried to steal the metaphasic shields took off his makeup, became a bridge officer, and had a suspicious level of knowledge of the technology. Then he probably shacked up with the cute ensign after their argumentative flirting. Maybe that's why Crusher kicked him. Sorry, hon, he's just not into MILFs, but I've got great news: there's a certain Space Candle in your future, you lucky girl.

    Regarding the comment above about the sun's light being blinding when that close, it'd be well beyond that. Things would be igniting, the ship included if we're being realistic. Remember in physics class using a concave mirror to focus the sun's light to burn things? Imagine that but times a billion or trillion or whatever.

    Contrary to jammers report, i liked the bridge scences and the 2 place holder bridge crew i liked.

    I thought the tatical officer was decent strong character and the science officer charming, it even said it was her first time on the bridge and i liked how her character gave it 100%.

    I thought it whole rival borg section and the very little Hugh character building dull.

    Lore was great as usual and i dread to think how this episode would of dragged on without him.

    I watched both parts last night; comments here apply to the whole thing.

    I really enjoyed it for the first 20 minutes or so, as a pretty dramatic TNG story from the classic mould seemed to be unfolding. But then it starts to sag, quite badly.

    TNG episodes have a certain rhythm, it seems to me. This story would make a very good single episode with a few fixes to the script but it's overstretched. I watched it on my PC in a browser and found myself checking the news and weather on a second screen, from time to time.

    Still - there's a lot to like. Data going creepily emotional, and a bit sinister in front of Deanna. Very nicely done. Brent Spiner is superb in these villainous, creepy roles; in that respect it's unfortunate that he's best known for playing an emotionless, mild-mannered android.

    But Beverley assuming the mantle of Starship captain? No. It's just nonsense to give her that much responsibility. There must be someone sufficiently senior with adequate tactical / command experience to do a better job, especially considering she decides to plunge the Enterprise into serious danger.

    But I really liked the solar flare weapon, and the way it ties in with that earlier story about the Ferengi physicist's "metaphasic shield" discovery.

    Also - there's far too much sonic screwdrivery in this episode; convenient technobollocks nonsense. The field that stops the sensors working properly. The "phased cadient pulse" that supposedly causes Data to reboot (pretty non-invasively, it must be said - he doesn't even notice), summoned up by sliding a bit of Borg wearable tech up against a force field. Like the trick with Geordi's visor that turns it a sort of unconsciousness bomb in "Starship Mine". Far too easy.

    The allegory of the drug pusher and his captive addict that we see briefly between Data and Lore is really well done - very dark. I also noted the colours of the flag in the hall where Lore lords it over his captives like a Bond villain. Intended to evoke the Third Reich, I think. A nice little touch.

    I must say, Hugh's complaints over what Picard and friends have done to the Borg seem a little rich when you consider the many crimes of his own friends, but I was pleased to see that old "Hugh" story revisited. And this is really a criticism of that one as well as this one but it's far fetched to think that the entire Borg species, with all their fault tolerance and redundant duplicated systems could be overcome by a single corrupt drone.

    Anyway - overall I feel that this was an opportunity lost. There was a lot of potential in this, but it wasn't realised. It reminded me of the TNG cinema films, and for me that's not really a good thing on the whole.

    Regarding the Bridge Crew:

    In the 24th century after years of training at the academy, bridge officers will act like a bunch of surly teenagers. And anyone can be captain for the day!

    What an embarrassment. 1 and half Stars.

    Woefully underwhelming after part 1s set up- and lores use was criminally squandered here. But bloody hell folks on this thread- it still beats the tar(Finnegan) out of any sodding Voyager....

    For some reason I always thought of this as a very good episode. It isn't. It isn't terrible but it just seems very contrived.

    The biggest problem? Lore just isn't a very interesting character.

    I actually think this was kind of horrible, perfunctory and absurd.

    Perfunctory: practically the entire crew beams down to search for Data, entirely so that the CMO could be in charge of the ship? I'm perfectly happy to see Bevs have to take command and the callback to the sun screen was nice, but good lord, could they not come up with a more plausible reason?

    I would rather another random disease had swept the ship than this rationale. Good grief, it's a hostile situation with Borg in some form.

    And while the Beverly in command plot played out ok, the rest of the plot was pretty much Lore talking.

    It was pretty lame to have a season cliffhanger with very little payoff.

    It would have been cool if Data have Lore to Maddox. That could easily set up a variety of new stories.

    Perhaps a story where Lore is not a complete mustache twirler.

    @Bob (a different one)

    Almost agree, but only good.

    Beverly's bridge duty felt a little (ok much) bit constructed. But it was nice to see something new. It is entertaining when the characters has to play a contrast. Like Worf beeing a midwife. The idea of letting Crusher and the lower decks take over the bridge was fine.

    I also never really liked the Lore episodes. I can understand that the idea of letting Data be alternate (Lore) and playing with the contrast was tempting. Also using Brent Spiner's acting quality. The problem is that it becomes a little bit of show off for him. Like Picardo in VOY. It gets to much.

    The actor who played Lore did a great job. They should have used him in more TNG episodes.

    The crazy part is you can practically see the resemblance with Dr. Soong. They hit it out of the park with that casting.

    The thing I hate about plots like this is that it makes it impossible to imagine a scenario where Starfleet would allow Data to be a Lt. Commander on their flagship because he's too susceptible to being re-programmed/remote controlled. It's a gaping security hole.

    To be fair who wasn't remote controlled at some point. Geordie alone probably half a dozen times. I would argue that it is harder to reprogram, remote control or copy Data than anybody else.

    Ya in Data's defence:

    Night Terrors
    The Game

    Am I forgetting any other episodes where the crew goes nuts / gets taken over by hostile aliens?

    And in most of them Data saves the day.

    @Jason R - there's also Power Play but in that case Data is among those taken over by the hostile aliens. Oh and Clues where the aliens take over Deanna. Oh and that 1st season one where Picard is possessed - Lonely Among Us.

    Genesis - the crew reverts to its primitive genetic predecessors but Data’s fine and cures them.

    @Jason R., let's add Clues, and Cause and Effect to that list. And even in The Naked Now, it is only Data who can replace the chips in time to save the day.

    I remember in one of Phil Farrand's Nitpicker's Guides, he posed the rhetorical question, Who would be comfortable serving on a ship with Data after the events in Brothers? Surely the same question applies to the events in The Schizoid Man, Masks, Datalore and Descent. Not only Data, but Troi and O'Brien get in on it in Power Play. In Voyager, there's sweet Kes' behavior when taken over by Tiernan in Warlord, and in DS9 the whole impersonation campaign during the Dominion War. TOS is not to be left out; Turnabout Intruder, Enemy Within, heck, Amok Time skirts the edge of the same trope. I'm sure I'm leaving out a few more examples.

    Seriously, in a universe in which people can either be convincingly impersonated or can completely lose their free will every few weeks so that they (or someone thought to be them) can do things utterly out of their normal character as everyone around them knows it, how would anyone ever trust anyone else? How would a starship or any community function without that basic level of trust?

    I realize sometimes we just have to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the story. Each story can be fun on its own, but sometimes Trek overuses this particular device.

    To tell you the truth, I have always secretly (and I now reveal this secret to the Jammer community) wanted to see an episode in which a regular character seems to have been taken over by some malevolent entity and is thus considered not morally culpable for his or her actions under that evil influence, and at the end we, the viewers (but not the other characters), find out at that the "possessed" character was only pretending to have been taken over, in order to get away with something they had always really wanted to do, but hadn't been willing to sacrifice their career for. "Oh, it wasn't really me that assassinated my commanding officer and hijacked the ship to Risa for extended shore leave. You can't give me a reprimand for that."

    It's not surprising that they use this story device so often. It was used very effectively and impactful in the most iconic Trek movie Wrath of Khan. I always suspect that TV shows, especially comedy, have a few "We couldn't come up with an original idea in time" tried concepts. For Trek those are alien control and especially in TNG Holodeck stories.

    Trish, I think one way it is unrealistic is that characters seem too gullible about these things in the first place. In a universe in which these things are far from unheard of, you would expect people to be far more suspicious. But the characters act like they are in our universe when you pretty much can rely on the person being the person they look like and neither a shapeshifter nor under alien control.

    I quite like in DS9 how innocent people often got accused of being shapeshifters - this is not even paranoia: it's a realistic recognition that anyone could indeed be a shapeshifter.

    Yup like I said, Time's Arrow is far and away a much much much much better story than this dreck.

    I have a thought

    Is it ever found out what happens to Lore's main rom memory after he is "deactivated?"

    A keddion pulse? A keddion pulse.

    This here is why I think TNG has started to date even outside of the irredeemably 80s first season. In the later season, technobabble really started to creep in big time. Nonsense mumbo jumbo lines were delivered completely straight and now watching it, I just can't take it seriously.

    Keddion whatsit is a particularly bad example. There are no established rules about what keddion is or why it would reboot Data's ethical programme. Data has turned evil and the resolution to this conflict is not for Data to make any sort of choice, but for him to be fixed with a keddion pulse, a thing which is completely random and has no meaning beyond it doing what the script requires to get the episode to its end.

    @Glom Voyager was where it got to be its worst. In early TNG even throwaway technobabble lines usually referred to some kind of concept rooted in science. Like the stellar core fragment in The Masterpiece Society or Q's suggestion to change the "gravitational constant" of the universe in Q Less. Somebody gave some thought to this in reference to real science.

    By Voyager it was all "let's remodulate the neurogenic phase variance of the chiropractic glutons to bring down their shields"!

    A pretty awful pair of episodes that contained seeds of good ideas, but like with Fatal Attraction , throws them out of the window in the unholy name of “audience feedback “ (anyone see the original ending of that movie, replacing the utterly laughable “in the bath with a knife “ scene with something more subtle and believable?).

    Seeing the Borg reduced to Nuremberg puppets following Adolf Hi- - sorry, Lore - was just silly. I laughed more than anything. TNG? How are the mighty fallen…

    Crammed with unlikely coincidences, technobabble, and character assassination (Crusher as competent temporary captain? Oh please…), Descent is a largely forgettable, lame misstep in the Trek franchise.

    One more thing… on the bridge a Lieutenant announced that he’d launched a “boo-ey”. What in tarnation is a boo-ey?

    I always wondered about that boo-ey thing. Just how do you think "buoyant" is pronounced? I guess it's a US thing. Perhaps they didn't want to create the impression that Crusher was sending out a literal boy.

    Yes, in the US we say "boo-ey" but "boy-ant." At least here in the Northeast. And we say "Root 66" but internet "rowter." Plus we say tomayto, not tomahto, "erb," not "herb". Don't even get me started on how you Brits say "jalapeno." It is not a hard j! ;)


    "Yes, in the US we say "boo-ey" but "boy-ant." At least here in the Northeast. And we say "Root 66" but internet "rowter." Plus we say tomayto, not tomahto, "erb," not "herb". Don't even get me started on how you Brits say "jalapeno." It is not a hard j!"

    I know it's not! If some Brits say jalapeno as in 'jalopy', then they are ... cough ... ignorant. Most people I know say "halapeno".

    @ Tidd

    Excellent! I lived in London for 7 years and heard many "jalopy" jalapenos, even from some chefs.

    My son loves to say "aluminium" (aloo-minium) and won't say "aluminum." I keep telling him he isn't British but he doesn't care. I said "aluminum" while dining at restaurant in India once (I was the only American amongst Brits and Indians), and everyone was laughing so hard at me when I said "aluminum".

    Have thoughts on the route/router pronunciation issue.

    I would like to suggest that the pronunciation of the wood-cutting tool i e. the router, as 'rawter' in the US occurred because more persons of German extraction emmigrated to the US than to Britain over the last few centuries.

    Routers (rawters) cut grooves into wood...conceptually speaking they clear out material. The Old German/Middle High German word for "a clearing" or "one who makes a clearing in a forest" is 'reuter' (>roiter). Allowing for linguistic alteration this may have led to the prevalent pronunciation being rawter in the US today. Besides, English pronounces several ou- words in the same way, e.g., round, pound, found. The computer tech device is pronounced rawter on analogy with wood-cutting tool. Strangely, the word for router in German seems to be fräsmaschine.

    Route (as in Root 66) I dare say comes from French and has the final 'e' and if rules of pronunciation are adhered to, should be root (rute) with long -e.

    Routes are like paths cleared in a forest to be sure, but they are conceptually more akin to connections between places, giving access to all points along a line.

    Therefore Brits may be entirely correct in pronouncing the word "router" (whether the computer tech device or the wood-grooving tool) as 'rooter', particularly if they view the device as making route connections (paths) by simply linking points. It may be that Americans view the computer tech device more like the wood-grooving tool...clearing out and cutting pathways more physically, as Americans did when cutting down vast North American forests.

    Correction: if rules of pronunciation are adhered to, should be root (rute) with long *-u.*

    The episode was ridiculous, on many levels, but let's take a moment to ponder Ensign Babe over there! She can take me to the stars any day of the week, kno'm'sayin'!! Hubba-hubba!!

    This is one of the episodes of TNG which used a doll house version of the bridge and little toy figures at navigation and ops when filming from behind toward the viewscreen. It can be seen when the Enterprise is flying toward a bright yellow star while trying to destroy the big Borg vessel.

    It is really very charming. Brings to mind Gumby to a certain extent.

    This remains a favorite, I must say. I can see where Jammer is coming from with regard to the padding of the runtime and the passive security guard, so it may not achieve greatness, but there is a lot to enjoy.

    1. the phaser fights in part 1 are the best TNG ever did, on par with DS9 action sequences

    2. While Data getting emotions is a plot contrivance, how the characters react to it, esp Geordi, Troi, and Data himself leads to some really nice conversations.

    3. Geordi's character arc-Upon further reflection, I think there's actually a sublime symmetry between Geordi's inability to explain emotions to Data, and his perfect ability to understand Data's behavior and that he's not responsible for the attempted lobotomy. As a point in the "LaForge gets along best with machines" storyline, this is one of the most interesting moments in their friendship, both in Geordi's willingness to listen to Data's request for authorization, his arguing against it, and his forgiveness of Data.

    4. Lore as a cult leader demanding sacrifice is suitably disturbing. I actually get Louise Fletcher vibes from Spiner in these scenes in how he's able to just ooze charisma and insincerity at the same time.

    5. Beverly's story is a high point for her character. We know it's not what Picard wanted, and perhaps unwise, but we see her acting in character, and finding ways to stick around to finish the rescue. Not only that, but she also takes time to encourage Taitt. Really, the Crusher plot feels almost like a preview of Good Shepherd or Learning Curve, and it's better written and acted than either of those were. If you like Beverly as "Space Mom"- and I do- this is top shelf stuff.

    There are problems beyond the padding of the runtime of course- as others have noted, the lack of a reunion between Geordi and Hugh is a massive missed opportunity, one that now has apparently been closed for good.

    What else can I say? A strong episode for Crusher and Geordi, neither of whom had much to do for the rest of the series, top-notch action for the show, and some earnest and often funny character moments. Also it introduces transwarp conduits into Trek lore, so some decent world building too.

    It just isn't believable that the Borg would have failed so completely at/as individuals and still being able to work together and then embracing Lore so much, the change in goals in some sense really doesn't feel that big yet still feels unbelievable and so it's annoying that the characters keep saying it's such a big change and even more so when Hugh claims it's a big change for the worse and doesn't get challenged against that.

    Also annoying and unbelievable that Lore and his allies could just deactive Data's ethics and feeling emotions would be so pleasurable and overpowering for Data, that Picard could somehow reactivate the ethics and but that wouldn't get Data to realize what he was doing was wrong (but then he very soon after does).

    By the way, random and not particularly important but it is weird that Piller's executive producer credit wasn't at least in the last season moved to the end along with Berman's, I am pretty influenced by the other spinoffs (including Deep Space Nine which by this point had already had its first season) to seeing Berman and the one (or two) other executives listed at the end of an episode.

    This one can join the ranks of episodes I don't like anymore. Most of it is honestly silly, especially Lore's speeches and putting a doctor in command of the flagship when the Borg are around. The one saving grace is seeing Hugh, as Del Arco does an amazing job in his line delivery, telling so much while doing so little. If the writers had someone made him the star of the episode and left Lore in the background it would have been far, far better. Even Data's part in this is uncustomarily boring. It's one thing to say he's hooked on drugs, and had his moral subroutine turned off. But (a) wouldn't he be able to check instantly to see if it's off if someone told him so? And (b) wouldn't his intellect otherwise be unaffected? But it seems like he wasn't merely drinking the angry juice but was also unable to comprehend basic English for the majority of the episode. Like, how did he get from "feed me emotions" to "I agree with creating an android master race and eliminating organics"? Where is the reasoning that could lead to that? But the writing is so obsessed with Lore as cult leader that they don't stop to think about who Data actually is and what it would take to get him to get on board for real with all of this. He wasn't even being deceived! Apparently Lore was going to do exactly what he said.

    In concept, the episode's premise works. It's the delivery that's lacking.

    Hypothetically, if they were going to make an episode where Data feels emotions for the first time, an experience that is completely alien to him, then he makes terrible decisions as a result leading to a personal crisis, then that could have been interesting.

    But it wasn't interesting, for a number of reasons.

    One of the main reasons that it doesn't work, the one that bugs me the most, is Data himself. He doesn't behave like Data with a character conflict. Instead he acts like Lore Jr.

    We are lead to believe that the hold Lore has over him is a result of two things. One is that he disabled Data's ethical subroutine, so Data effectively doesn't have a conscience. Second is Lore has setup the emotion chip to remotely transmit emotions to Data. So Lore can make Data feel any emotion at any time, and Data effectively gets addicted to it. Lore is controlling Data by giving him his fix.

    That is an interesting concept, but is not reflected in Data's behavior at all. He doesn't act like someone who is coerced into bad behavior by his fix. He doesn't act like someone who is just a simple conscience away from behaving normally. He is acting like a carbon copy of his bombastic Lex Luthor-esk villain brother Lore.

    Apparently those two factors (the emotional manipulation and the lack of conscience) were enough to turn Data into a completely different character. Its no longer a matter of Data acting against his nature, and instead of him just having a completely different nature that we've never seen before.

    This episode does not reflect Data's own character or his decisions. He is so blatantly NOT behaving like Data (and just behaving like Lore) that it makes you wonder what purpose Data is really serving in the story other than to provide the most superficial drama and a reason for Lore to be there. He is so clearly malfunctioning that you know he wont be held accountable for what he's doing and will be reset by the end of the episode, so it's not really an effective personal conflict for Data.

    It also doesn't help that Brent Spiner felt like he was asleep at the wheel through most of the episode. Also, Trek never quite mastered having two characters played by the same actor in the same shot using split screen. It never felt natural, the interactions were always awkwardly timed, and they never seemed to be looking at each other. They always pulled it off better with excessive closeups and body doubles (Like they employed in "Brothers")

    Data in this episode makes me think of The Simpsons line: “Somebody set this thing to evil!”

    this episode would have been better as a cartoon, that's the level we are at here.....

    though i do have to say i kind of liked the space battle scenes a bit better, and it was cute with the two sparing bridge officers who obviously are a couple in major heat lol

    (but its not enough to save this episode unfortunately)

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