Episode of the Week: 4x01 "The Best of Both Worlds Part II"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    [​IMG]
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    And now the conclusion.

    The first few moments of Part II was going to be the most telling. How things play out will decide whether or not those who worked on TNG will stay, or go. With the firing of the deflector array, the answer becomes clear.

    Worf: The Borg ship is undamaged.​

    Everyone is back, we're still here and we've got a story to finish. Michael Pillar chose to come back and write for TNG and continue this episode where it left off. Not an easy task considering that we're working off of a cliff hanger that amazed all those who watched it, so living up to expectations was probably more of a strain than part I was. While Part II is regarded as the weaker of the two episodes, it's still an amazing ride. In fact, I regard Part II to be the more important than part I given how this is the episode where everything changes. Literally.

    So after the Borg resume their course to Earth, Riker and the senior staff have a meeting with admiral Hanson in the briefing room. Turns out that attempting to stop the Borg wasn't much of a waste after all since Hanson was able to gather 40 Starfleet ships at Wolf 359 to prepare an all out attack on the Borg cube when it arrives. The thought of the Klingons sending warships makes him so optimistic that he considers calling the Romulans for help (maybe mentioning that the Borg were the ones who attacked their outposts might help?). On the subject of Picard beign assimilated, Hanson gives a very nice history on how he knew Picard as a freshman and how, despite being assimilated and now assisting the Borg, believes that Picard would never assist them willingly, even enforcing that point on the crew. It's a nice little scene and it shows that despite knowing that if their attack works it would destroy Picard, they know that stopping the Borg is the highest priority. And like so many hiccups, we end this scene with Riker and Worf in the turbolift discussing tactics in fighting an assimilated Picard.

    Worf: The Borg have neither honor nor courage. That is our greatest advantage.​

    That's great Worf. Last time we saw you on the Borg Cube, you walked right into one of their forcefields that completely knocked you on your rear. Unless honor and courage gives you some tangible advantage over the Borg, you might want to broaden your perspective.

    After a nice scene with Guinan telling Riker how to cope with his new responsibilities and dealing with Picard, we finally come to what is rightfully regarded as the 9/11 of the Star Trek franchise. The battle (or in this case the aftermath) of Wolf 359. It's a very morbid scene showing dozens of destroyed Federation ships that are still burning and sparkling with electrical charges, giving the impression that the battle was quick and devastating. Shelby calls out the names of the ships she can recognize, including the Melbourne. The ship that Riker was offered the captain's chair to.

    With the Borg not far away Riker sets up a daring plan to capture Locutus, use him again the Borg and hopefully bring Picard back. What follows is a pretty spectacular action sequence that we haven't seen in Star Trek up up to this point. The Saucer Section separates and we see both ships fight against the Borg! Plus Data and Worf sneak onto the Borg ship, capture Picard and beam back onto the Enterprise. The new HD version of this episode even sports some nicely done improvements like actually seeing the shuttlecraft power down.

    With Locutus onboard and Data dissecting him, the Borg become aware of what is happening and halt their approach to Earth to destroy the Enterprise. What follows is what many consider to be a victory via technobabble, and in some ways it's true. Personally, I think the method of defeating the Borg the way it's done here is appropriate. It comes after they've exhausted all their options and the solution is brought to them in a vague manner to which the crew have to figure out what it means. And sure, the Borg sleeping themselves to death is kind of silly, but the episode was obviously running out of time and no Star Trek show would ever a three-parter. So the Borg are destroyed, Picard is no longer a part of their collective and the Enterprise is seen safely orbiting the Earth.

    We than cut to the weakest part of the two-parter. This freaking ready room scene. Never mind the fact that Picard seems to have recovered WAY too quickly to be back in uniform and at his desk, but everyone is taking the complete destruciton of Wolf 359 like it was something that can easily be replaced. The way Shelby says with a satisfied smile that the fleet should be back up within the year just feels wrong. All those thousands of dead men women and children? They can be replaced, no problem! It's also the last scene of Shelby in all of Star Trek, and it's not even a good one. After complimenting Riker in saying how in saving Starfleet that he could get any command he wants, he pretty much tells her that his career is his own darn business and that's that. About the only thing that makes this scene work is Picard's sudden quiet realization on how the Borg, thanks to him came so close to destroying the Earth that he now looks over. Earth may have been saved, but things are about to change.

    CONCLUSION: A great follow up to a classic episode. Best of Both Worlds introduced TNG to a story that would have real lasting effects on the franchise as a whole. In "Q Who", Picard and the crew of the Enterprise saw first hand how dangerous the unknown can be and how ill-equipped they were to deal with it. In "The Best of Both Worlds", the entire Federation experienced the same thing and stood what looked like mere feet away from losing it all. As SFDebris put it, the Federation had just narrowly defeated an enemy that wanted their ships, their technology, their knowledge and even their very souls. And to make premise worse, the Borg believed they were doing you a favor.

    P.S. Looks like I've finally caught up with trek core so I'm going to hold out before I put up the banner and stinger. Not a bad episode to end the year, no? Happy New Years everyone!
     
  2. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked the way the Borg were killed but I wish it were explained a bit better. It wouldn't have worked in the episode to have them just come up with some new super-weapon to blow them up, so capturing a Borg and hacking into their collective consciousness was much more interesting. I just wish that they had to do something else clever while they were asleep to make them go boom.
     
  3. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Borg conveniently self-destructing always felt like a cheat. The episode needed that cathartic moment when our heroes see the chink in their enemies' armor and ram the spear home to slay the dragon. Without it, the climax isn't entirely satisfying.
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I think the climax works, although it isn't as satisfying as anything in Part I.

    What I really love, though, is that the series addressed some of the fallout from this episode in "Family," but that doesn't come until next week...
     
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This was a major letdown back in the day after waiting three months to see it. It isn't a terrible episode but it is quite a few notches below the quality of part one.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^Exactly. The episode doesn't really pay off that 3 months of cliffhanger. The tepid teaser is a signpost of what's to come. To quote Marvin Martian, "Where's the kaboom? There was supposed be be an Earth-shattering kaboom!" but what we got was a Tinkerbell beam which looked magical instead of dangerous.

    I also started rolling my eyes that the Borg smashed up 40 starships like nothing but keep failing to blow the Enterprise to kingdom come. If they can so easily crush a fleet, why do they make such a lame-ass effort where the Enterprise is concerned? You really see the writer's hands in this one, where the action basically points out "they live because they're the heroes and the enemy conveniently lets them." Bleh.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  7. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    It was a pretty unenviable position to be in. In some ways Piller had gone 'too far' with Part 1 because he wasn't sure he'd hang around to write the conclusion, but that's what makes BOBW one of Trek's most satisfying double-handers: it's bold where it needs to be bold. Perhaps inevitably then, the conclusion does somewhat disappoint, particularly in terms of setting up the Borg to be the big bad and then having to find a way to weaken them so an advantage can be found and the Enterprise emerge victorious.

    But where Part 2 is successful is in maintaining the momentum of Part 1. The game-changing events of the first half were ultimately brushed aside in favor of the status quo, we all know that. As they had to be, really, for the sake of the show going forward. But at least this episode doesn't try to pretend that it just hits a complete reset button or ties everything up in a neat happy bow. I like how the ending of the episode at least implies that whatever else is gonna happen in the show from here on in, Picard has been affected by his experience here. He'll have these scars for the rest of his life. It's a downbeat ending, and a very powerful and appropriate one.

    Together, they work reasonably well in unison, if somewhat at odds with each other at times (the compilation volume of both episodes as a single episode arguably weakens the whole). But seperately, they each work brilliant to achieve the goals they set out to, while maintaining the strengths of the other. As part of the wider series, alas they raised the bar to a point where TNG had little hope of reaching it again, less alone much of the franchise that followed (although DS9 did try!). Even today, THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Parts 1 & 2 collectively remain The Next Generation's very pinnacle. Their impact in my viewpoint undiminished even by repeated viewings.
     
  8. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Borg self-destructing made sense to me. After all, they were conquered and faced being "reverse engineered" so to speak if they were allowed their ship to be captured. Scuttling their ship was a natural reaction.

    Though Piller had to come up with a solution to a problem he created without ever thinking he would have to solve, using the Borg's strength (their interconnected, united voice) against them was a really good idea. It seems less like a contrivance and more like a payoff.
     
  9. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's not what the episode implies:

    You make them sleep when they don't need to, they malfunction and go boom.
     
  10. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    I feel that despite all that has happened, TNG still tries to play out in an episodic kind of way. The reaction to the Borg invasion is significantly subdued in the end, and despite the next episode "Family" delving into Picard's recovery, it still tries to wipe the slate clean and get back to the way things were.

    The concept of assimilating actual cast members (heck, even guest stars) would unfortunately share a worser fate than Picard turning into Locutus, in that they'll have every Borg component, except the parts that cost you an eye or a limb. The way Locutus' mechanical arm is simply fitted over his existing arm kind of cheats the whole concept of him losing his humanity. It shouldn't be as easy as taking it off like a glove. Anyone think it would have played better if Picard had actually lost his whole arm and had it replaced with a mechanical one?

    [​IMG]

    I know this would ring all sorts of "Star Wars" similarities, but the way the concept art looks, it seems that his right hand would have a different shade of white to it rather than being just like a regular hand the way it was with Luke.

    Still, I do give props to the art department for making Picard look more and more borgified as the episode progressed.First seeing the borg implants restricted to one side of his face to covering almost half of his face after Wolf 359.
     
  11. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's ambiguous, but activating a self-destruct sequence sounds intentional, otherwise that's a pretty specific malfunction.
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It never smacked of intentionality to me.
     
  13. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The explanation that a malfunction causes self destruct only makes sense with the knowledge that there are thousands of cubes out there. As of BoBW2 there was only one cube. Perhaps the writers always intended there to be thousands of Borg cubes somewhere out there and that's certainly implied by the established intention to assimilate the population of Earth. But that does not jive with the way the episode left the audience with the impression that the Borg threat was gone permanently.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I never got the impression that the destruction of the one ship was the end of the Borg.
     
  15. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think it would've been cool if he lost his arm and they just had Patrick Stewart wear a black glove for the rest of the series. And possibly an eyepatch.
     
  16. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The way the Cube was taken out made sense to me. The best way of stopping a computer's main functions (if you can't outright destroy it) is to put it in Sleep Mode/Hibernate. It keeps the thing at minimal power but it can't DO anything.

    The self-destruct was caused by the Borg putting all their power into regenerating when they didn't need to. It sent a massive power surge through systems that didn't need it, causing them to all overload simultaneously with no way to stop it. It's like filling a balloon with more air than it can handle.

    I do wish we'd actually see the Borg Cube take damage that actually mattered. That way, when Voyager shows us Aliens who can outright destroy the Borg folks wouldn't be so stunned that it was possible.
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    This is how it played to me at the time. I agree that use of the word activate makes it seem like a failsafe mechanism going off to prevent capture. Sleep rendered the cube helpless, and unable to defend itself, so auto-destruct in order to avoid capture, say activated by a watchdog timer, is a reasonable supposition as to why the cube exploded.

    Of course, it's only Shelby's estimate of why it's occurring, whatever she means by it. Plus, she didn't qualify it as either "unintentionally activated" or "intentionally activated," so it could be reasonable to conclude that she can't tell which, in which case neither can we, really.

    However, I still have to say, in further agreement with jimbotron, that the specificity of the malfunction, among all the others that hypothetically could have been activated, makes it seemingly unlikely that it was randomly activated.

    Later on, in Voyager, we see the Queen ordering cubes to destroy themselves when they malfunction, which fits with intentional scuttling.

    Of course, you gotta wonder why the cube exploding—for whatever reason—didn't take the Earth out with it. Maybe the Queen wanted the cube scuttled without destroying Earth.

    I agree that the climax was less than satisfying. I'm not going to list all the problems I had with it, some of which echo remarks already made, except to say that seeing Picard back in uniform, even with his band-aids, was one of them. His recovery should have taken quite a few episodes, if not half the season.
     
  18. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Crusher said that it would be easy to remove all the Borg tech implants. The real problem was cutting off his connection to the Collective without killing him.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Because the Earth has a surface area of 196.9 million square miles and the Cube is maybe 2 cubic miles volume maximum and blew itself to tinier bits thousands of miles above it.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Well, alright, maybe it's not an issue to other people. I always felt that a warp core breach in low orbit around a planet should do some damage. :shrug:

    Granted, we don't know there's anything like that happening here. But if a warp core breach could hurt a planet and a Borg cube is orders of magnitude more powerful than a starship, then I'd expect a big boom, is what I'm saying. A big, earth-shattering kaboom. :mallory:

    I may be misremembering, but wasn't the cube in low orbit when it exploded? Or had it moved back out to intercept the Ent-D?