The Best of Both Worlds (TNG episode)

From Academic Kids

"The Best of Both Worlds" is a significant and highly regarded two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation written by Michael Piller and directed by Cliff Bole. It first aired on July 1, 1990 as the third season finale and ended with a cliffhanger. It was concluded as the first episode in the fourth season on October 7 of the same year. Many fans regard it as the best episode of the show and the first major sign that the television series had come out of the shadow of its predecessor. It won Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series" and "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series" and was nominated for two others.

The events portrayed in the episode were revisited in "Emissary" (the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Star Trek: First Contact. "The Best of Both Worlds" itself follows up on the Borg threat first indicated by the first season episode "The Neutral Zone" and later confronted in the second season's "Q Who?".

"The Best of Both Worlds" also originated the quote, "I am Locutus of Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.", sometimes used in parodying Bill Gates, Microsoft and other institutions.

The Borg set out to assimilate Earth and dispatch a Borg Cube Ship to perform the task. As the Cube journeys to Earth, it encounters the Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). During the encounter they kidnap Captain Picard to assimilate him. This assimilation allows for better communication with Earth, as well as a greater understanding of humans.

Lt. Commander Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy), an expert on the Borg, develops a plan to destroy the Borg's cube ship, leading to a cliffhanger that leaves in doubt the life of captured Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Missing image
Locutus.jpg
Locutus of Borg

When this attempt fails, Starfleet sends 39 ships to stop the cube at Wolf 359; but as the Borg assimilated Picard, his knowledge of Starfleet weapons and tactics allows the Borg to easily defeat the ships, destroying all 39 vessels, and (as later established in the fourth season episode "The Drumhead"), resulting in the loss of 11,000 lives. The Cube continues to Earth after leaving the Starfleet fleet in tatters. Commander William Riker, now acting as Captain, realizes that he must devise a tactic that Captain Picard, whose knowledge is now possessed by the Borg, would never anticipate. The Enterprise crew manages to board the Borg cube and take Picard back to the Enterprise. Locutus assumes that this was a rescue attempt motivated by the crew's sentimental attachments to Picard, and was tactically worthless. Locutus agrees to remain on the Enterprise to represent the Borg. Little does Locutus realize that the crew's true motive in absconding with Locutus is to use the Borg's interconnected nature against them by having the android science officer, Commander Data connect himself with the Borg drone, exploring the Collective's communications and command structure to search for an advantage. Moments before the Enterprise, locked in battle with the Borg Cube over Earth is certain to be destroyed, Data manages to "put the Borg to sleep" by fooling the self-repairing cyborgs into thinking it was time to regenerate. This false command caused some type of feedback, resulting in the complete destruction of the Borg Cube, and the termination of Locutus/Picard's connection with the Collective.

The episode ends with Riker, having been offered his own command for the third time in the previous episode, electing to remain as First Officer on board the flagship, Shelby leaving to help rebuild the destroyed fleet, and Picard staring out the window of his ready room, pondering the death and destruction that his knowledge helped the Borg to exact, a character thread that would continue into the next episode.

Criticism

One obvious question raised by the events of the episode is why, if one Borg Cube nearly assimilated Earth, and was only narrowly averted through an inventive tactic, and weapons and tactics do not work more than once with the quickly-adaptive cybernetic beings, did the Collective simply not send another Cube, or perhaps a small number of them, to attempt to assimilate it again until six years later in Star Trek: First Contact, in which they again sent only one Cube. (Author Peter David addressed this point partially in his Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Vendetta, in which the Borg attack Earth again just a year after "The Best of Both Worlds", this time with three Cubes.)

Some would also later take umbrage with some of the elements of the film Star Trek: First Contact, feeling that much of it contradicted basic assumptions and premises established in this episode. For example, it was believed until that movie that the machine-like Borg, which externally, were patterned on an ant colony, were utterly emotionless, which is why they are able to be thwarted by new and creative tactics that they were not already familiar with, as when Riker kidnapped Locutus in order for Data to hack into the Collective to put them to sleep and destroy their ship. But Star Trek: First Contact reveals that a Borg Queen, connected to the Collective, yet in possession of emotions, was on the Cube the entire time, having assimilated Picard into Locutus for companionship, and as an emotional being with the knowledge of thousands of races at her disposal, some critics feel she should've have realized the vulnerability of the Collective's linkage system to outside tampering, and anticipated the tactic that Riker used.

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