So tonight I rewatched TBOBW on the special edition blu ray. Honestly, it's not as amazing as I remember it being. Part 1 is good. Lots of drama, tension, and action. Picard's fears about the impending battle, the conflict between Riker and Shelby, Riker pondering about his future in Starfleet....this was all great! The buildup to the Borg appearing was paced well and effective. Part 2 is what really brings it down for me though. I'm not just going to criticize the 'sleep' solution. For a conflict of this scale with such huge ramifications for the future, it seemed like not an awful lot happened. Where were the Klingons, Romulans, and the other superpowers? Why was there only a single Borg cube? This felt like a conflict between the Enterprise and the Borg, rather thana conflict between the the Federation, it's allies, and the Borg. The stakes never felt very high to me. Once Picard was saved the tension just dissolved. I can understand if this episode was a real shocker the first time around, especially if you had just watched part 1 and had months to wait before part 2. But in retrospective, is this episode really as good as you remembered?
Yes, they are better
than I remember. I think it was skillful what Riker did to get Picard. You think he's just trying to save Picard, but they are trying to gain access to the Borg to make them less effective. It uses their brains. It gives them the technology to reverse assimilation. Too much of Star Trek (especially now) is just having the bigger weapon or the perfect torpedo or phaser. Sometimes the plot just resolves itself without ever thinking too hard about why our heroes survived. It's bland and boring for this Star Trek fan, unlike Best of Both Worlds
. The second half is perfect TNG. It exposes the flaws of having one, collective mind. The Borg created their own demise by having Picard as a representative and linked to the hive mind. In the first half, the Borg use all of Picard's knowledge to put us on the edge of assimilation. In the second half, we turn the tables. We use the conduit that is in Picard to find a way to end the conflict. That's fantastic, and something I couldn't think of in a million years.
Part one builds the action. I feel the tension in part two when they have no answer for the Borg. To see the graves of all those Starfleet officers and ships at Wolf 359, that's in the second half. You don't feel for all those officers? It was a dark place to take Trek, a real risk, especially TNG. I found myself asking, "How will they get out of this? Will we be at war for the rest of the run of the show?"
We see the "What would you do?" scene with Guinan and Riker. The writers are able to tackle moving on from having Picard without firing Patrick Stewart. And it's part of Riker's story that he's thrust into command because of losing Picard, getting what he always wanted, and if he was Shelby, he might revel in the promotion a little. But he doesn't. Picard is gone, and he has to think differently than Picard. His "unorthodox" strategy saves Earth as we know it because it is something Picard would never do, risk one man for the sake of the entire
Federation. It is bad strategy. But he is the key to ending this conflict. They tied both getting Picard back on the ship and ending the conflict. Think about it--how else would you have done it? Picard is over there, do we kill him? That was the cliffhanger. Does Picard have to lead an assault on-board the Enterprise and we capture him? This is just a masterful piece of writing when you think about it a little. It's original, unlike a lot of Trek now that is just standard "blow them up" fare.