‘I, BORG’ (TNG)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
This ‘Star Trek’ episode from Season 5 of ‘TNG’ is one of my favourites. It features a single Borg drone and it provides an interesting and unusual insight on the Borg collective as well as the individuals in it.
It’s been a while since ‘The Best of Both Worlds’. In this episode, the Enterprise discovers a Borg survivor on a desolate planet. Picard, unhappy with the discovery, allows the drone to come on board.
Once restoring it to full health, the crew intend to use the Borg drone as a weapon to destroy the collective. But as Geordi and Beverly get to know the Borg drone, there seems to be a lot more to him.
This Borg drone is a young boy who gets confused. Beverly and Geordi name him ‘Hugh’. Soon Hugh gains a sense of individuality and he is not a mindless drone. It becomes a hard choice what to do next.
The guest cast includes Jonathan Del Arco as Hugh the Borg. I like the layers of innocence brought to Hugh as a Borg. He could easily turn out to be the bad guy but in the end he doesn’t which is intriguing.
Whoopi Goldberg guest stars as Guinan the bartender. Guinan isn’t happy when she hears the news about a Borg drone being aboard the Enterprise. She also isn’t comfortable with talking to Hugh either.
But eventually Guinan does talk to Hugh when he’s in his cell in the brig. I liked that scene between Guinan and Hugh, as it explores both their characters. Guinan realises Hugh isn’t who he seems either.
This eventually leads to Guinan talking with Picard about Hugh and asking him whether he’s doing the right thing in sending him back to destroy the Borg collective. Picard refuses to talk with the Borg drone.
It was good that we had a follow-up to Picard’s previous trauma with the Borg in this episode. Despite being mended, Picard still has a grudge against the Borg in what they did to him with assimilating him.
Eventually, Picard is persuaded by Guinan to talk to Hugh. Picard has Hugh transported to his ready room where he talks to him. Picard assumes his previous identity as Locutus in order to talk with Hugh.
But as Picard soon discovers for himself, Hugh has gained himself an identity and is now referring to himself as ‘I’ instead of ‘We’. This is something that Hugh has been gradually developing in the episode.
This is a really good ‘TNG’ episode since it takes a side-step with examining a single Borg drone and what he’s like as an individual. I liked how the story breaks down certain pieces of the Borg’s character.
The story makes the Borg less as mindless monsters and as more interesting characters. The Borg are individuals that are linked together by a single minded collective and can’t have thoughts of their own.
But Hugh’s alone without the Borg and through his interaction with the Enterprise crew, he seeks his identity and individuality. Hugh wants to be like Geordi who he makes friends with during the episode.
It becomes a struggle for the Enterprise crew on what to do with Hugh now that he’s an individual. They consider returning him to where they found him on the desolate planet with his memories intact.
They also consider the possibility that Hugh may want to remain on the Enterprise and not return to the Borg at all. Picard and Geordi offer this choice to Hugh as they see him in the captain’s ready room.
Hugh considers the choice he’s been given. He says he would ‘choose to stay with Geordi’ but decides to return to the Borg, considering it would be dangerous as the Borg would very soon follow after him.
This leads to the Enterprise crew eventually taking Hugh back down to the desolate planet where they found him for the Borg to pick him up. I didn’t think we would see Hugh the Borg again after this story.
‘I Borg’ is a fantastic episode from the ‘TNG’ series. It’s one of my favourites and I’m very pleased with how it depicted the Borg in a different way compared to the standard mindless villain type we’ve seen.
I’m sure this episode was well-received upon original transmission and rightly so. Jonathan Del Arco is brilliant as Hugh and I enjoyed the interaction he had with Geordi, Beverly, Guinan and Picard in this.
‘I, Borg’ (TNG) rating – 10/10
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