‘THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS’ (TNG)
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‘The Best of Both Worlds’ is a two-part story, where the first episode is the season finale for Season 3 of ‘TNG’, ending it on a cliff-hanger, and the second episode is the season opener for Season 4, resolving the cliff-hanger. This is one of my favourite ‘Star Trek’ TV stories and one of the best made.
This ‘Star Trek’ features the return of the Borg. They have got to be one of the best set of ‘Star Trek’ monsters ever created. They made their first appearance in ‘Q Who’ and make a big impression in this famous two-parter. The cliff-hanger ending for ‘Part I’ definitely gave me nightmares afterwards.
In ‘Part I’, the Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Federation colony. They arrive to discover that the colony has been completely destroyed, with all of its settlements and people gone. The Federation soon suspect the Borg are responsible for this and have now come to attack their space.
The Enterprise and the Federation have prepared for the Borg to come and invade their space for a long time. But they’re not ready yet as it seems the Borg are still a powerful enemy. But the Enterprise is determined to stop the Borg as they’re destroying various planets in Federation space.
The Enterprise meets up with George Murdock as Admiral Hanson of Starfleet Command. He’s accompanied by Elizabeth Dennehy as Lt. Commander Shelby, who is an expert on the Borg and can help the Enterprise crew with finding a way to defeat the Borg in their invasion of Federation space.
Shelby is also keen to win Riker over and get his job as first officer aboard the Enterprise, since she assumed he was leaving. There is a lot of competition between Riker and Shelby in the first episode, as Shelby’s attempts to impress both Picard and Riker get interfered with by Riker disagreeing with her.
The story also explores Riker’s indecision about leaving the Enterprise, since he’s offered the command of another starship. Picard encourages Riker to take that command. Riker feels he doesn’t want to leave as he talks to Deanna Troi in Ten Forward. Will Riker remain on the Enterprise or not?
Very soon, the Enteprise comes into contact with a Borg cube in space. The first episode of this story is pretty exciting to watch and one that I remember vividly. I was thrilled when the Enterprise discovers the Borg cube and Picard commands to notify Starfleet that they ‘have engaged the Borg’.
It soon transpires that the Borg want Picard aboard their ship. Picard demands that they withdraw from Federation space, but their cold logic makes them determined to capture Picard at all costs. The Enterprise crew attempt to do all they can to prevent Picard from being kidnapped by the Borg.
After managing to escape the Borg ship by having the frequency of the Enterprise’s phasers random changing to prevent them adapting to attack, our heroes set off to hide in a nebula from the Borg. It was tense when the Enterprise hid inside a nebula and the Borg were waiting for them to come out.
Whilst inside the nebula, Geordi and Wesley develop a technique suggested by Shelby to modify the Enterprise’s deflector dish to fire a massive energy discharge. This will be capable of destroying the Borg ship. This all seems too good to be true as the Enterprise may a way to defeat the Borg entirely.
Whoopi Goldbery guest stars as Guinan the bartender. I really like that scene between Guinan and Picard in the first episode, where they talk about how history will depict them and whether the Borg will be defeated. This is a touching scene as Guinan gives Picard some encouraging words of wisdom.
Soon the Borg flush the Enterprise out from the nebula. The Enterprise zooms off out of the nebula, hoping to evade the Borg catching up. But it doesn’t work, as the Enterprise gets boarded and the Borg take Picard with them aboard their cube vessel. The Enterprise crew must rescue their captain.
They also have to try and stop the Borg from reaching Earth, since they have Picard and intend to use him as a human voice to speak on their behalf. Knowing this seemed to an impossible battle, I was apprehensive about when Picard was taken by the Borg and brought to their ship to meet them.
This story also features the Borg’s famous catchphrase which is “Resistance is futile!” This is a catchphrase that I find very easy to remember and is repeated often in many TV shows and movies. Even ‘Doctor Who’s counterpart monsters, the Cybermen, have said the catchphrase once or twice.
Soon, Shelby takes her away team of Worf, Data and Beverly to the Borg ship to rescue Picard. They also attempt to slow the Borg ship down to get the Enterprise to use the deflector dish. But they’re too late to rescue Picard, since he’s been horribly assimilated and has now become Locutus of Borg.
The Enterprise crew are horrified when they see Picard as Locutus speaking to them on screen and issuing the Borg’s demands. Despite Riker’s orders to open fire, I wanted to know what would happen in the next episode as it ended on a cliff-hanger. I got sleepless nights after I watched ‘Part I’.
In ‘Part II’, the Enterprise crew have to rescue Picard and find a way to ‘de-Borgify’ him whilst also having to stop the Borg from reaching and invading the Earth. This is by no means easy, since Riker is promoted to captain of the starship Enterprise and has to make some difficult decisions on the way.
There are also some casualties and losses, as Federation starships get destroyed during the Battle of Wolf 359. The Enterprise turns up to see the destruction caused by the Borg and they mourn for the loss of Federation life. It demonstrates how cold and ruthless the Borg are in getting what they want.
I like that scene between Riker and Guinan when she comes to visit him in the captain’s ready room. Guinan gives Riker some words of wisdom about letting Picard go in order to outwit and defeat the Borg. It is something that Riker finds difficult to come to terms with as the Enterprise’s new captain.
The Enterprise soon manages to catch up with the Borg cube with Picard as Locutus on board. The rescue mission to get Picard off the Borg cube is given to Data and Worf who travel in a shuttlecraft to get to the saucer section. They receive help from the Enterprise when it gets divided in two parts.
The saucer section separates from the engine drive. Shelby commands the saucer section to attack the Borg cube with phaser fire whilst Riker commands the battle bridge of the engine section to fire photon torpedoes. It’s rare that we get to see the battle bridge return to ‘TNG’ since its first season.
Data and Worf manage to rescue Picard from the Borg cube and get him back to the Enterprise. But once they have Picard back, they have the difficult task of attempting to reach into mind and break his link from the Borg collective. Data has the idea of reaching the machine part of Picard as Locutus.
I didn’t know how the Borg were going to get defeated in this two-part story. The Borg seemed to be unstoppable and they also seemed to be a more terrifying opponent than the Klingons and the Romulans. I recall how anxious I was in watching this tale back in 2005, thinking it was to be the end.
But when Data gets to links up with Picard using a connection, he manages to find the answer. Picard helps him too, as Data puts the Borg ‘to sleep’ during their regeneration cycle. This stops the Borg from attacking Earth and to shut down completely. This was such a relief when watching the story.
The story also features Colm Meaney as transporter chief Miles O’Brien. O’Brien gets to have a larger role in this story. As well as helping out in the transporter room, O’Brien helps Data with a very risky procedure to get through Picard in Borg-form to defeat their enemy as well as freeing him.
Eventually, the Borg cube blows up in space and the Federation is safe. Luckily Picard survives as well, which made me happy and relieved. However, this Borg experience has left some scarring on Picard. It affects who he is, making him a changed man which will get explored for the next episode.
‘The Best of Both Worlds’ is great two-part story in the ‘Star Trek’ series and in ‘The Next Generation’. This is one of my favourite ‘Star Trek’ stories with the terrifying Borg and is one that I’ll always remember. Even to this day, I still get some thrills of excitement from watching this TV story.
On Disc 7 of the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3’ DVD, there are four Mission Logs, which are behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of Season 3 of ‘TNG’. These include ‘Mission Overview’; ‘Selected Crew Analysis’ and two ‘Departmental Briefing’ documentaries including ‘Production’ and ‘Memorable Missions’.
‘The Best of Both Worlds’ (TNG) rating – 10/10
‘Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 3’ DVD rating – 8/10
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