‘Descent’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

‘Descent’ is a two-part story where the first episode is the season finale for Season 6 of ‘TNG’, ending on a cliff-hanger, and the second episode is the season opener for Season 7, resolving the cliff-hanger. This is the last time that this will occur between seasons since Season 7 happens to be the final season.

This two-part story focuses on Data, but it also features the Borg as the main monsters. The Borg that feature in this story though are rogue drones completely removed from their zombie-like counterparts in the Borg collective. These Borg are very aggressive, emotional and fight like Klingons during a battle.

This is a great two-part story featuring Data as well as the group of rogue Borg drones that experience emotion. I do wonder what a group of emotional rogue Cybermen from ‘Doctor Who’ would be like. It would be pretty exciting to see. I must find time to write a story like that for my own ‘Doctor Who’ series.

The first episode of ‘Descent’ begins with a special guest appearance of Professor Stephen Hawking as himself, along with John Neville as Sir Issac Newton and Jim Norton as Albert Einstein. Jim Norton also played Albert Einstein from ‘The Nth Degree’ and is well-known as Bishop Brennan in ‘Father Ted’.

In the first episode’s first scene, Data is playing a game of poke with Stephen Hawking, Sir Issac Newton and Albert Einstein. It was a pretty amusing scene to watch and it turns out Hawking was a ‘Star Trek’ fan too. Personally, I wish David Warner played Sir Issac from ‘Circular Time: Summer’ in ‘Doctor Who’.

Anyway, the Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Starfleet outpost where they find the crew dead. They also find some Borg drones. The Enterprise away team, including Riker; Worf and Data, are astounded by how the Borg are behaving and fighting them, since they would usually assimilate them.

These Borg drones that aren’t part of the collective refer to themselves by name and call themselves ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. The Enterprise crew eventually deduce that this has something to do with releasing Hugh, the Borg drone that the Enterprise found in ‘I, Borg’. It certainly seems to be the case in the tale.

Whilst solving the mystery of the aggressive-like Borg, Data has his problems since he experienced rage when killing a Borg drone. Data is puzzled by how all of this came to be, especially as not only did he experience rage and anger when killing the Borg, but also experienced pleasure which disturbs him.

The guest cast in this episode also includes Natalija Nogulich as Admiral Nechayev, who comes aboard the Enterprise to instruct Picard when taking charge of the rogue Borg situation. Nechayev is mean to Picard when she reprimands him for not destroying the Borg in ‘I, Borg’ when he had that opportunity.

The episode also features Brian Cousins as the Borg drone called Crosis, who’s defiant towards Picard when he’s captured and put in a brig cell after an attack on the Enterprise bridge. Data also gets seduced and manipulated by the drone Crosis who encourages him to steal an Enterprise shuttlecraft.

When the Enterprise crew discover that Data has gone with the Borg prisoner in an Enterprise shuttlecraft, they naturally go after him. It seems the Borg have a way of travelling from one star system into another almost instantaneously via the use of vortex conduits. It’s so unusual for the Borg.

Once the Enterprise crew manage to find a way to open one of the vortex conduits and enter into it, they track Data in the shuttlecraft to an alien planet. An away team finds no trace of Data or the Borg drone Crosis. Very soon, the Enterprise crew begin to search all over the planet with many away teams.

Picard leads one away team with Geordi and Deanna accompanying him whilst Riker leads another with Worf accompanying him. Dr. Beverly Crusher is left behind aboard the Enterprise to command the ship with a skeleton crew. Picard; Deanna and Geordi with a security officer soon find this building.

The building contains the Borg inside and their leader happens to look like Data. But it’s not Data as Deanna Troi discovers. It’s actually Data’s brother, Lore, who was last seen in the Season 4 episode, ‘Brothers’. Data has also joined his brother Lore, and it seems it is their intent to destroy the Federation.

Brent Spiner excels in this two-part story, not only as Data but also as his evil twin brother Lore. Lore was last seen escaping after he had killed Dr. Soong, Data’s father. It seems that Lore is now in charge of the rogue Borg drones and of Data too. Lore also seems to have given Data some negative emotions.

In ‘Part II’ of this Data/Borg two-parter, Picard, Geordi and Deanna get taken prisoner by Data, Lore and the rogue Borg drones. They learn what happened when Hugh the Borg returned to the collective and how things went out of control with the drones separating from the collective before Lore took over.

Picard, Geordi and Deanna also try to persuade Data to bring him back to his old self. But Data seems to despise Picard and the others through his anger since he’s being manipulated by his brother Lore. Deanna even senses Data’s anger and is really shocked he doesn’t want to experience other emotions.

Lore controls Data through the emotion chip that was meant for him by his father, Dr Soong. It was interesting to see the relationship between Data and Lore in this episode compared to previous times. Lore seems to be trying to connect with Data, but Data starts to have doubts regarding Lore’s agenda.

In the second episode, Geordi experiences torture by Data through his blindness when he’s forced to take off his visor and is given painful injections and implants. Geordi however suggests a way of breaking Lore’s control over Data and he has Picard and Deanna helping him so as to achieve this aim.

Lore controls the rogue Borg drones that work for him and gives them their emotions, which Picard considers to be corrupting the Borg. It seems a tough task for Picard and the others to save Data and prevent Lore from succeeding in his evil schemes. How they will succeed will have to be clever indeed.

Meanwhile, Beverly Crusher in command of the Enterprise tries to find a way of getting everyone off the alien planet whilst the rogue Borg in their ships attack them. Riker and Worf, who elect to remain on the alien planet whilst the other away team parties try to beam back to the ship, make discoveries.

This second episode features the return of Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh from ‘I, Borg’. Hugh isn’t happy to see Riker and Worf when his Borg drones find them. He shares what happened from his point of view and how Lore managed to control the Borg drones, but his group now feel dissatisfied about him.

Despite Hugh’s disdain for Riker, Worf and the Enterprise crew when they come to the alien planet to find Data, he soon helps them save their friends. This is especially when Hugh shows concern for Geordi. I like that connection made, even though there isn’t a scene between Geordi and Hugh in this.

I like how Beverly gets to command the Enterprise whilst Picard and the others are away and she handles the position of command very well. She has crewmembers like Alex Datcher as Ensign Taitt and James Horan as Lt. Barnaby helping her and even uses the shielding technology from ‘Ethics’ here.

It was an interesting brother relationship between Data and Lore that ends quite shockingly on a sad note. It was also interesting and tense when Data makes a hard choice on whether to kill Picard or not under Lore’s supervision. Thankfully Data doesn’t and Lore is almost about to shoot Data as a sacrifice.

After Data manages to outwit Lore who almost shoots him with a phase, he begins to deactivate his brother, knowing that he will never experience emotion without him. Lore’s final words to Data are “I…love…you…brother.” Quite a peculiar way to show that love, isn’t it Lore? Anyway, he’s gone now. 🙂

The Enterprise soon leave the alien planet with Hugh left in charge of the rogue Borg drones. What has become of those rogue Borg drones is left unanswered, but it was intriguing and exciting to see when they have Hugh as their new leader. I only hope things have got better for the rogue Borg drones.

‘Descent’ is a great sequel to many ‘TNG’ episodes in the series including ‘Brothers’ and ‘I, Borg’. There are some interesting revelations about Lore and how he controls the rogue Borg drones and his brother Data. It also brings the story arc of the trilogy between Lore and Data to a satisfying conclusion.

The story ends with Data about to destroy the emotion chip from his father Dr. Soong, considering what he’d done to Geordi and he values his friendship to him. Geordi stops him from doing this, since he knows Data wanted emotions all his life. Maybe this will be resolved in ‘Star Trek: Generations’. 😀

On Disc 7 of the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 6’ DVD, there are seven Mission Logs, which are behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of Season 6 of ‘TNG’. These include ‘Mission Overview’; ‘Bold New Directions’; two ‘Departmental Briefing’ documentaries including ‘Production’ and ‘Profile Dan Curry’; ‘Special Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data’; ‘Select Historical Data’ and ‘Inside the Starfleet Archives: Set and Props’. There are also two trailers for ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ and the ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ collector’s edition.

‘Descent’ (TNG) rating – 9/10

‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 6’ DVD rating – 9/10

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