Fri
Feb 10 2012 3:30pm
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)“The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 3, Episode 26
Production episode 40273-174
Original air date: June 18, 1990
Stardate: 43989.1

Captain’s Log: The New Providence colony on Jouret IV is one of the Federation’s outermost colonies. The Enterprise responds to a distress signal from the world, but arrive to discover no life signs, no communications, and no colony. Every indication is that the colony was destroyed by the Borg, as it matches the damage done to the Neutral Zone outposts and to the planets in System J25.

The ship is soon joined by Admiral J.P. Hanson and the head of Borg Tactical, Lt. Commander Shelby. Shelby is a bright, ambitious young officer, whom Hanson credits with cutting through the crap at Borg Tactical and getting them on track — having said that, they’re still months away from being properly ready to defend themselves against the Borg. New weapons designs are still on the drawing board. They thought they’d have more time given the distance from their first encounter, but the Borg appear to be faster than expected.

Shelby wishes to inspect the colony, but it’s night there, so they schedule an away team for dawn. Riker invites Hanson to the weekly poker game, but he declines, suggesting Shelby go instead.

As Riker shows Shelby to her quarters, she tells him that she’s going to convince Picard that she’s the right person for the job. When Riker quizzically asks which job, she blithely says, “Yours, of course!”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

It turns out that Riker has been offered the captaincy of the Melbourne, but hasn’t yet accepted it. Hanson tells Picard that, after turning down the commands of both the Drake and the Aries, Riker really needs to accept this post. Riker himself tells Picard that he does not wish to pursue that posting at this time, which disappoints both Shelby (who wants his job) and Picard (who wants him to think of his career). Riker declares that the Enterprise needs him, especially now, and Picard counters that Starfleet needs good captains, especially now, and pointedly tells him that the ship will manage just fine without him, thanks.

Shelby beams down with Data an hour early when she sees a weather front coming in, concerned that it would taint the soil samples. However, she did so without informing Riker, who is rather pissed when he and La Forge beam down on time to find her and Data already present. However, she does confirm that New Providence was destroyed by the Borg. Hanson returns to Starfleet Command, the entire fleet goes on yellow alert, and everyone is quaking in their boots.

Riker is unsure why he is remaining on board the Enterprise, and has a bit of a crisis of faith that Troi talks him through. Meanwhile, Shelby, Data, La Forge, and Wes have been unable to come up with ways to improve their weapons and shielding efficiency. The best they can do is change shield nutation and re-tuning the phasers to a higher EM frequency.

Hanson reports that the Lalo encountered a cube-shaped ship, and then was not heard from again. The Enterprise heads to their coordinates, and meets a Borg ship on the way. They get their butts kicked, but when the Borg hits them with a tractor beam, a random rotation of phaser frequencies enables them to eventually destroy the beam’s source long enough to make a run for it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

What’s odd is that the Borg hailed Picard by name. Where they previously were interested only in technology, now they’re interested in Picard specifically.

Picard takes the ship into the Paulson Nebula to hide and make repairs — the Borg cut open the hull at the engineering section, costing nineteen crew members their lives — and the Borg continue to pursue them in the nebula, meaning they won’t hurt anyone else.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

The phaser frequency that destroyed the tractor beam had a system-wide effect on the Borg ship, albeit only for a moment. If they hit the Borg with something huge at that frequency, it might take them out: the deflector dish can put out that kind of power, so they start modifying it to fire. Shelby recommends that all phasers, even the hand units, be re-tuned to that frequency.

Shelby also recommends they separate the saucer, give the Borg two targets. Riker thinks that’s a bad idea, as they might need the saucer’s power, but Shelby goes over his head to take the plan to Picard. The captain agrees with Riker that it’s a bad idea, but that they should hold it in reserve as a backup plan. (Riker has a few terse words to a wholly unrepentent Shelby about doing an end run around him, and she tells him that if he can’t make the big decisions, he needs to make way for someone who will. Shelby did ask for permision to speak freely before telling him this, which is the only reason why Riker didn’t throw her in the brig, though the look on his face indicates that it’s a near thing.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

Eventually the Enterprise starts getting hit with charged particles while inside the nebula and is unable to remain inside it. They leave at warp 9, the Borg cube pursuing. Three drones beam on board — the first is shot and killed by Worf, but the next two are immune to phaser fire, having adapted to the new frequency already — and kidnap Picard before buggering off.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

Now the Enterprise has no captain and is pursuing the Borg instead of the other way around. Worf reports that the Borg are now on course for Sector 001: Earth. Hanson’s leading a fleet that will intercept them at Wolf 359.

On the cube, the Borg inform Picard that they will be adding the Federation’s biological and technological distinctiveness to their own, as part of their eternal quest to improve themselves. Because archaic cultures are authority driven, they have chosen Picard to speak for them in all communications. Every argument Picard makes is countered with the Borg dismissing his words as “irrelevant.” Even “We would rather die” is met with: “Death is irrelevant.” They’re fun conversationalists, aren’t they?

The Enterprise is pounding away at warp 9.6 just to keep up with the Borg, which they can only do for another two hours and forty minutes. In order to fire the super-duper deflector dish, they need to bring the Borg cube out of warp, since they need the power from the warp engines to make the weapon work. Riker plans to lead an away team to bring Picard back and take the ship out of warp. Shelby thinks she should lead the team, but Riker slaps her down. Then Troi points out — as Riker has historically pointed out both to Picard and to his previous CO, Captain DeSoto — that it’s inappropriate for the captain (which Riker is as long as Picard’s missing) to lead the away team, especially in a time of war.

To his credit, Riker immediately assigns Shelby to lead the team, which includes Worf, Data, and Crusher. As with the last time, the Borg ignore the team when they first beam over. Crusher and Data notice distribution nodes, which allow them to work collectively. There’s too many of them to take out, but Crusher suggests they approach it from the mosquito’s perspective: bite them in a tender spot, they might pause to scratch.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

They don’t find Picard (though they find his uniform and combadge), and they’re running out of time, so they start firing on the nodes. Sure enough, the Borg drop out of warp. Several drones go after the away team, and are destroyed by the modified phasers — for a bit. Just as the Borg adapt, Crusher sees Picard —

— but with half his face and his body now covered in Borg technology. With the now-immune-to-phaser-fire drones bearing down on them, Shelby has to order a beam-out.

Picard is alive, but there isn’t time to get him back. They only have a few minutes before the Borg go back into warp, so they have to take their shot now.

And then the Borg hail the Enterprise. They all see Picard covered in Borg technology, speaking in a low, mechanical monotone.

“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service us.”

Riker’s response: “Mr. Worf — fire.”

And fade to black.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: The Borg are apparently vulnerable to higher EM frequencies. Of course, this being the Borg, this is for very small values of “vulnerable.”

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi whups Riker upside the head when he starts worrying about his sudden loss of ambition. I particularly like when he says, “Maybe I’m too comfortable,” and Troi rightly dismisses the phrase as meaningless, pointing out that Riker’s happier than she’s ever known him to be.

She later gives Riker a similar whup when he tries to lead the away team himself.

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data is confused by the phrase “the early bird gets the worm,” even though he was right there when the Minos weapons advertisement used the same phrase in “The Arsenal of Freedom.”

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf gets to shoot plenty of Borg, and he nicely cuts through the crap at the end. Shelby’s all mealy mouthed about him being “altered,” but Worf just comes out and says it: “He is a Borg!”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

The Boy!?: Wes joins the poker game for the first time, and gets his ass handed to him by both Shelby and Riker, as Riker bluffs him into folding with three of a kind, only to discover that Riker has nothing, and Shelby only has two pair, so he would’ve won. Dumb kid....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: “Data was available, I took him, we came.” Yes, Shelby really said that. Wah-HEY!

Syntheholics Anonymous: Picard and Guinan talk on the eve of the battle with the Borg, citing a couple of human historical precedents: Nelson touring the Victory on the eve of Trafalgar (Nelson died, but the battle was won, an obvious bit of foreshadowing), and Picard musing if Emperor Honorius knew that, when the Visigoths were coming over the hill, that the Roman Empire was about to fall. Guinan also assures Picard that, even if they lose against the Borg, as long as some of the human race survives, they will prevail — just as Guinan’s own people did when the Borg destroyed her homeworld.

I Believe I Said That: “Resistance is futile.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

A phrase that will live in infamy.

Welcome Aboard: Elizabeth Dennehy, daughter of Brian, kicks ass and takes names as Shelby, while George Murdock — last seen in the franchise as “God” in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, but who will always be Lieutenant Scanlon of Internal Affairs on Barney Miller to me — mostly comes across the tiresome stereotypical old-white-guy admiral. Both of them will be back at the top of next season for Part 2.

Trivial Matters: This episode serves as the sequel to the Borg’s first appearance in “Q Who,” firmly establishing them as recurring villains.

It’s only the second two-parter in Trek history (after “The Menagerie” — while “Encounter at Farpoint” was split into two parts for rerunning purposes, it was originally aired as a single two-hour episode), and the first to span seasons, and also the first (though far from the last) season-ending cliffhanger. Trek will use the Borg for a season-spanning cliffhanger three more times: once more on TNG with “Descent,” and twice on Voyager: “Scorpion” and “Unimatrix Zero.”

Michael Piller was coming to the end of a one-year contract when he wrote this episode, and Riker’s dilemma about staying or going mirrored his own conflicted feelings about whether or not to stay on as co-executive producer of the show. He also wrote Part 1 while having no idea how it would be resolved in Part 2. (Of course, if he didn’t re-up his contract, it would be someone else’s problem...)

Riker won’t be offered another command for another decade or so, finally accepting the Titan some time prior to Star Trek Nemesis.

This episode sees Crusher both on an away team (which was rare) and firing a weapon (which had only happened once before, in “Conspiracy”). This was apparently due to Gates McFadden requesting that the good doctor actually see some action for a change.

Wolf 359 is an actual star, a red dwarf about 7.8 light-years from Earth.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Best of Both Worlds” (Part 1)

The Paulson Nebula was created using footage of the Mutara Nebula from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Your humble rewatcher showed this episode from the engineers’ perspective (including giving names to the nineteen who died when the hull was breached) in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers story Many Splendors (collected in the anthology What’s Past). The story included a line from one of La Forge’s engineers complaining about Shelby being on board as a Borg “expert”: “Never mind that we’re the only ones who actually saw the damn things, but hey, she’s the expert.”

While Shelby won’t appear again on screen after this two-parter, she appears quite a bit in the tie-in fiction, most notably in Peter David’s New Frontier novel series, which starts with her as first officer of the U.S.S. Excalibur under Captain Mackenzie Calhoun, and eventually sees her being promoted to captain and later admiral. In that series, she’s given the full name of Elizabeth Paula Shelby. She also appears in David’s novels Vendetta and Triangle: Imzadi II and his short story “Pain Management” in Tales from the Captain’s Table, my novel Q & A, David Mack’s Destiny: Mere Mortals, and The Return by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Ronald D. Moore also threw in a reference to a Captain Shelby that was meant to be a nod to this character in the Deep Space Nine episode “You Are Cordially Invited...” but since that took place at the same time as her time as first officer on the Excalibur in New Frontier, David (with Moore’s blessing) established that as being a different person named Shelby in Starfleet.

Shelby’s time at Borg Tactical prior to this episode was chronicled in “All that Glisters...” by Loren L. Coleman in the New Frontier anthology No Limits. (Shelby also appears in the stories “Making a Difference” by Mary Scott-Wiecek and “A Little Getaway” by David in that anthology.)

David’s Vendetta has the Borg attempting to use a Ferengi as their spokesperson in much the same manner as Picard in this episode; the Borg renamed him Vastator.

Make it So: “We have engaged the Borg.” Twenty years later, it’s easy to forget just what a big deal this episode was. I still clearly remember sitting in my living room with my then-fiancée and several of my closest friends in June 1990 to watch the season finale that we’d been anticipating — well, since “Q Who” a year and a half earlier, to be honest.

Keep in mind: in 1990, the season-ending cliffhanger was extremely rare. It wasn’t completely unheard of — notably, the British series Blake’s 7 had a nearly identical cliffhanger to end its second season (devastating foe, fate of lead in doubt, second-banana character giving the order to fire before fading to black) — but still, it wasn’t anywhere near as commonplace as it’s become in the two decades since.

On top of that, there were vague rumors (remember, this is basically pre-internet, so vague was all we had) that Sir Patrick Stewart wouldn’t be back for the fourth season. So this cliffhanger was pretty much genuine, because there was a distinct possibility that Locutus’s speech would be the last time we’d see Picard.

So when Riker said, “Mr. Worf — fire,” and they faded to a “TO BE CONTINUED...” card, we all screamed. Seriously, we did. We were stunned.

Because of all this, I was worried about rewatching this episode in full again. I’d watched bits of it in recent times for research for various bits of Trek fiction, most notably Many Splendors. But I hadn’t watched it in full in ages.

I needn’t have worried. No, the ending didn’t have anything like the impact it did on that fateful summer day in 1990, but the episode remained powerful, suspenseful, dramatic, and intense. Normally when I do this, I take notes as I watch the episode, but I had to constantly pause it so my notes could catch up to where I was because the episode had my absolute full attention.

There’s not a false note to be found — one can even say that literally, as Ron Jones’s score here is magnificent, from the two-note fanfare when the Borg cube first appears on the Enterprise screen to the brilliant use of the classic theme as a leitmotif when the away team find Picard on the Borg ship. Shelby’s presence shakes things up nicely, everyone gets a moment in the sun, and they top it all off with a simply brutal ending that we all had to wait three months for a follow-up to. (Luckily, you guys only have to wait a week.)

The lasting image from this episode is Picard as Locutus intoning the Borg mantra in a mechanical monotone — and Stewart more than sells it — but this episode really belongs to William T. Riker. Jonathan Frakes does a fine job with Riker’s indecision, his frustration with his own stalled ambition in the wake of Shelby plowing through the Enterprise like a freight train — and very much like Riker himself when he first reported on board. In an episode fraught with tension and action, it’s Riker’s personal conflict that reminds us — as Star Trek at its best always does — of the human struggle.

Television in general and Star Trek in particular would dip into the season-ending cliffhanger so often going forward that it almost became expected. There are a few that would approach the level of intensity of this one, but it has yet to be surpassed. Just a stellar piece of work.

 

Warp factor rating: 10


Keith R.A. DeCandido has never written the Borg, despite the metric buttload of Star Trek fiction he’s written. Go fig’. He did get to write Shelby, though, in Q & A. Go to his web site and order his fiction, especially his newest novels Unicorn Precinct, SCPD: The Case of the Claw, and Guilt in Innocence: A Tale of the Scattered Earth. You’ll be glad you did.

67 comments
L Matthews
1. L Matthews
Seriously. We screamed, too. The creepiest thing to me was that red laser beam coming off of Picard right into camera, blinding us all.

That summer was the longest three months of my life.
L Matthews
2. Lsana
If there has ever been a more effective TV cliffhanger, I couldn't tell you what it is. There have been others, perhaps, that did the set up as well, but I felt that Best of Both Worlds managed the payoff as well come next season. No cliffhanger copout here.
Benji Cat
3. benjicat
This is probably my favorite episode of TNG but I've always been curious, what does the episode title, The Best of Both Worlds, refer to? Who, or what, is the best of both worlds? Is it Picard, as the best of the human world, and Locutus, as the best of the Borg world? That doesn't quite scan to me. Not sure what else it might be though.
L Matthews
4. Raphael DellaRatta
I have been reading every "episode" of Rewatch diligently to get to this point. Well worth the wait. You have highlighted what made the episode so powerful for me -- the tension is everywhere: from the Ready Room to the elevators to the poker table. Riker's conflict is extremely well-handled. And I remember realizing about 3/4 in there was no way this was getting tied up in one episode. Finally, what made the next season's resolution so satisfying is that -- and I said this to my self and friends when it finally aired -- "They Did It Themselves." No Q or other handy deus ex machina, no time travel to undo things. These events happened and that final scene in the Ready Room with JLP reflecting on his complicity in the attacks.... The show was never better than this season finale and premiere.
L Matthews
5. gibson99
Watching this episode again recently, I was struck by how much of an outright jerk Shelby was. I mean I get it that she's ambitious, but she's almost amoral about it.

One thing that always bothered me about all the pressure on Riker to be promoted - has Starfleet never heard of the Peter Principle? Maybe someone who wants to stay 2nd-in-command really fits best there.

Keith I agree with everything in your "Make it so" section, particularly the remarks about Frakes. The vulnerable badass character he's done throughout the show really shines here.
L Matthews
6. Raphael DellaRatta
Re: the episode's title. I took it to mean a few different things. First and foremost, in irony w/r/t the assimilation of JLP, but I also considered it applied to Riker, who had the best of both worlds as XO -- able to command fairly frequently, but still having a "safety net" to fall back on. Finally, I thought it also applicable to Shelby, who had status and recognition for her work at Starfleet Tactical which she could parlay into field command.
L Matthews
7. Jeff R.
Starfleet _has_ heard of the Peter Principle: "up or out" policies are the military's answer to it; you can't rise to the level of your incompetence and spend decades doing submediocre work; you rise up another level to where you're totally over your head and then get quickly retired. Of course, it should be more strictly enforeced, even on long out-of-contact missions: if you're still an Ensign after seven years of service, you really don't belong in the military at all, Mr. Kim...
Chin Bawambi
8. bawambi
This episode is usually on perma DVR but I just had to replace mine - D'oh! Every scene in this episode is spot on in mood, acting and plot. I'd give this episode an 11.
Scot Taylor
9. flapdragon
This episode sees Crusher both on an away team (which was rare) and firing a weapon (which had never happened before).

Sorry, not quite. She laid the phaser smackdown on an alien-infected admiral in the first-season ep "Conspiracy," later telling Picard that he'd have to set his phaser to kill, not stun, to take down other infected hosts.
Chin Bawambi
10. bawambi
BTW, where did you get that awesome pic of Shelby - she looks positively deranged.
Paul Weimer
11. PrinceJvstin
Yeah, I screamed too, at the ending of this episode.
Scot Taylor
12. flapdragon
bawambi, I think that's a still from the poker match.
Sam Mickel
13. Samadai
My dad, brother and I watched these every Saturday night when they came out. We had the same reaction, we all jumped up out of our seats and screamed when the "to be continued" flashed on the screen.
We had a party the night of part 2 to watch how it all worked out. One of the absolute best episodes of television ever.
L Matthews
14. Seryddwr
Hooray - made it!

I had to wait for the BBC to broadcast part 2, which was about a zillion years after part 1. But what a part 1... Agree that this is Jonathan Frakes' episode. Only in 'Frame of Mind' does he play better.

The Ten Forward scene between Picard and Guinan is delightful, as are the scenes in the nebula. It's Master and Commander in space, folks! Fully deserving of a 10.
Chris Lough
15. TorChris
@bawambi & flapdragon: That is indeed from the poker game. The episode offered a lot of Shelby's various emotional states to choose from, but her overly energetic invasion of the poker game seemed like the best scene to pull from since it's so effective in conveying the various dynamics she'll have with the assembled crewmembers over the course of this episode.

TL:DR: This seemed like Shelby at her most quintessential in the first part: An annoying invader.
rob mcCathy
16. roblewmac
saved the show for me. Up till that point I watched without much intrest. But the borg were machines they did'nt need to be reasoned with or turned into noble savages like the klingons were and they surely would not turn into gobs of light. and Capturing Picard rather than killing him was a good idea too. They can find more ways around death than a foe that knows their secrets.
L Matthews
17. JoeNotCharles
Hah! I was flipping through the channels today and found TNG on, which was surprising since I don't see it endlessly syndicated at all anymore (at least not on channels I get). And it was this episode! Which of course I had to sit down and watch, making me late for lunch.

Which is what reminded me of this excellent rewatch series, which I haven't checked in on in a while, so I decided to see how far you'd gotten because I was impatient to see what you had to say about it...

You're right, definitely a 10!

The one thing I dislike about it is that Riker does such a good job of being in command that I really feel the right thing for him to do, in-character, is to move on and accept a new command after this. But of course out-of-character considerations prevent that.

(Ok, I also dislike the references to the holes in the Neutral Zone - it contradicts the Borg never having been near human space at all before. But this rewatch has already explained what the behind-the-scenes reason for that was.)
L Matthews
18. Scavenger
The Camera swing around on Riker for "Mr. Worf, fire!" is in my opinion one of the greatest directorial/drama moments in Trek.
Keith DeCandido
19. krad
bawambi: If I gave the episode an 11, it would turn into a lizard........

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith DeCandido
20. krad
flapdragon: Thanks for the reminder. The text has been edited accordingly....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
L Matthews
21. Christopher L. Bennett
It's not easy to find things to criticize about this one, but one thing in the teaser has always bugged the heck out of me: when they beam down, O'Brien says they're in the center of town, but then we see they're on the edge of a huge crater and there's nothing behind them but barren terrain. How can that be? They'd have to be on the outskirts of where the town was. (For that matter, wouldn't they have been able to scan the landing site from orbit and see the huge honkin' crater where the town should be? This is the same lack of advance scanning that led Kirk to beam a landing party into empty space in "And the Children Shall Lead.")

Also, the downside of the cliffhanger working so well is that they felt compelled to do it every year thereafter. It got pretty ridiculous the way something huge and galaxy-shaking always happened every time the stardates rolled around to __000 again.

@3: I've always taken "The Best of Both Worlds" to refer (perhaps ironically) to the Borg's view of what they represent, the perfect fusion of organics and technology. But I suppose it could also refer to Riker's situation, being at a comfortable middle ground between commanding and being commanded.

@7: That's not really fair to Harry Kim, since there wasn't really any room for advancement aboard a ship stranded kiloparsecs from any other Starfleet posting (this actually came up in season 7's "Nightingale"). Although it was a bit arbitrary of the writers to promote Tuvok (and re-promote Tom) but not Harry.
L Matthews
22. pittbaster
Just loved this one, like most everyone else. The only cliffhanger I've seen since that has rocked me that way is the BSG one where the four cylons figure it out and starbuck pops back into the scene. Though that technically might have been a "half-season."

“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will service us.” One of Stewart's best-delivered lines in the entire run of the show (and he had some doozies).
john mullen
23. johntheirishmongol
While this is the best of ST:TNG, the one flaw is that Riker would not turn down a promotion. That's your job, you step up and do it. Also, you don't really get a choice. You get your orders and you follow them. I would have had more respect for the show if it had rotated the cast in accordance with regular military policy.
L Matthews
24. Jeff R.
@21: I tend to read those choices as actively vindictive on the part of Janeway.

Also, while 4 years isn't 7 years, it's almost as bad, really, and Mayweather doesn't have any of those excuses...
L Matthews
25. Zenspinner
More screamers here. I think we actually nipped home to watch it with all our friends inbetween the wedding of two of them, and the reception (with the just-married friends) and we all screamed. Very long day. I don't remember the wedding nearly as vividly as the episode. :)
Bruce Wilson
26. Aesculapius
I've mostly been posting in the Partrick Rothfuss re-read but I've been keeping an eye on this re-watch too; great work!

I wanted to make my first post here because, like many other posters, I also clearly remember watching this for the first time with friends - not only was the whole episode just great TNG, played out at full-tilt, but the cliff-hanger was truly jaw-dropping and I don't think anything else on Trek has really come close since. This really was the point at which TNG *properly* grew up and moved right out from order the shadow of the original series. I haven't watched BobW for quite a few years now; maybe it's time to go back and re-live it now...?

As others have mentioned, the references and meaning within the title are varied and many, with resonances for a number of characters; in that respect, I think all the comments above are valid. Overall, though, I'd agree that this is mostly Riker's episode and "The Best of Both Worlds" would seem, to me, to refer to the fact that he eventually gets to be Captain and yet also stays on the Enterprise yet the irony is that this is brought about in the last way that he would have wished for it to happen.
L Matthews
27. Chessara
Count me in the group that screamed at the TV all those years ago!!!!!!

Amazing episode, and what an agonizing wait those 3 months were! And I had no inkling of the rumors the Sir Patrick Stewart might not return! But the wait was richly rewarded!

It was so shocking to see Locutus of Borg. @1: I agree, it was very creepy to see that red light...and Riker saying Fire!

I had not re-watched this one in almost 15 years and I must admit that I vaguely remembered it...yeah it had to do with the Borg and Picard gets captured and it's always in the Top Ten of Best TNG....but my oh my!! Thoroughly enjoyed it and remembered why it's in the top ten!

One thing I had never noticed and made me laugh out loud is when Geordi is evacuating Engineering...talk about a totally unnecessary and badly done "roll under the closing door" thing...he could have just ducked, you know :P

One thing that has me puzzled is when/where exactly did Riker show that drive/ambition in the beginning? He never struck me at all like Shelby, he was always pretty laid back IMHO.
L Matthews
28. Nita999
I will never forget the experience of watching this when it first aired. My friends and family sat captivated and motionless through the episode, only to leap up and scream at the TV when Riker gave the order to fire. I remember the pre-internet summer spent feverishly discussing possible outcomes and scouring fan magazines and periodicals ( yes, on microfilm at the library!) trying to predict the ending. Not only was this one of the most compelling Trek episodes ever done, I think this has a place in TV history for being an amazing story and cliffhanger. It felt like a feature film with the dramatic score and camera techniques. It seemed like everyone on the crew felt that, and stepped up their acting and energy too. My favorite moments, aside from Locutus, are when the Borg cube appears on the viewscreen with dramatic vocals added to the score, and when a single tear runs down Picard's cheek during assimilation. (My next favorite bit is in part 2 when Beverly's hair has magically grown an inch in the time it take Riker to give his order....)
Brandon Daggerhart
29. BDaggerhart
I was nine when this episode came out, and I remember literally begging my mother to tell me that Picard would come back - and she wouldn't do it. Heartless old anti-spoiler woman, she was! :)
L Matthews
30. Ginomo
@20. krad: Literally LOL'ed at that comment. Way to link the best and worst episodes of Star Trek.

Count me in as another one who watched this when it first aired years ago. I was 10 and was spending the summer with my Dad who was a huge Trekkie. He'd recorded all the episodes since Farpoint on VHS. After I watched this one with him I went back and watched all his old tapes. And a love affair with Trek was born...
L Matthews
31. Mike S.
I just now got a chance to watch this episode again. I usually try to beat the rewatch, by watching the episode the night before, but computer problems this week (and I use my computer to watch DVDs, in lieu of a regular DVD player) forced me to be late on "Transfigurations" and this one. Of course, this one was worth the wait.

As someone who didn't watch this show when it first came out (I saw it in reruns, which meant I only had to wait a day for the conclusion - probably why I only consider this saga as a whole to be #4 on my all time TNG list - still not bad), I want to ask all of you: How did you think this was going to end back in the summer of 1990? I understand that even Michael Piller, this episode's writer, had no idea. Would love to hear some of the wild ideas that fans were throwing around at that time.

American TV shows had season-ending cliffhangers prior to this, but they were basically restricted to the prime-time soaps. "Dallas" first made it popular with J.R.'s shooting, which IMO, is the only cliffhanger in TV history that rivals this one (the resolution to it was the most watched TV event of all-time, though it's since been surpassed by the MASH finale, and several recent Super Bowls). By the mid-80s, the resolution to some of these plots were so silly (the Moldolvian Massacre on "Dynasty", Bobby in the shower on "Dallas"), that the cliffhanger basically fell out of favor, until this episode aired. Now, it's a staple, because with the advent of internet message boards, speculating about a show usually means good ratings for the premiere. But, I don't think they've done it as well as this one since.

Great recap, Keith. You touched all the bases on this one, and I don't disagree with a single thing you said. I must add that, if you watched this episode on the Season 3 boxed set DVD, the menu for this episode is WAAAY cool (I believe they did it again for part 2). Really has nothing to do with the episode itself. I just thought it added to the creepiness this time around.
j p
32. sps49
This is the episode that got me watching Star Trek again- not that the show hadn't improved already, I just wasn't watching- and it is an excellent episode with some serious issues that require keeping the MST3K mantra in mind.

Riker refusing a (third!) command? Starfleet may not be strictly Up-or-Out devotees, but there are still problems beyond those addressed in-show. If Riker is any good, he and Starfleet would be better served if he had is own command. Remaining in place denies hot runners like Shelby their opportunities to show their mettle. If Riker thinks he can't hack being the Old Man, he should be shuffled off to a less demanding post- after all, the 1st Officer is also a spare Captain in case something bad happens (as happens here). If he doesn't want to be in command, if he isn't ready, he shouldn''t be posted one heartbeat away from that position. And if it's jus that he likes chillin' on the Enterprise, tough cookies. He shouldn't be allowed to squat in a prime post like a dog in a manger.

I also don't like Earth being Sector 001. 7/8 of your directions have at least one negative xyz value; that's just asking for transposition errors. Did the Tellarites argue to make their homeworld Sector 001? Did the Vulcans not recommend using the Milky Way's axis as, say, THE x-axis? Sometimes I regret that this stuff occurs to me while watching.

The Borg adaptability is too much. They are vastly powerful, yes. Huge resources, yes. But magic adaptability? There should be limits on how fast they can adapt, and how far they can adapt. Changing shields to match different phaser frequencies? Shields should be able to do that anyway; if it is a new ability then the hardware behind the shields needs to be rebuilt or modified. Simply writing "oh, they adapted to our BFG" ignores how difficult some attacks are to defend against.

On the plus side is a +1- this episode was tightly written, action packed, and suspenseful. This memorable episode made Star Trek watchable again.

And another Charlie Brown "AAAAAAAAUUUUUGH!" from me at the end.
L Matthews
33. ronnyc
Amazing episode. I remember watching it for the first time as well when it originallly aired. That cliff hanger will stick in my mind forever. We talked about it all summer and couldn't wait for the next season to start. Now the cliff hangers are pretty much a cliche for me, but that one was just awesome.
L Matthews
34. BeatleJWOL
@32: "an excellent episode with some serious issues that require keeping the MST3K mantra in mind"

I am always amazed, and painfully so, at the instances of episodes and/or films(?) that are generally (maybe? who knows with Trekkies?) regarded as "THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER WITH STAR TREK IN THE TITLE" that can STILL have holes poked in them that are large enough to float a Dyson Sphere through...

Bellesario's Maxim is equally applicable, I feel...
L Matthews
35. Tommy1592
Shelby’s all mealy mouthed about him being “altered,” but Worf just comes out and says it: “He is a Borg!”

It was actually Data who beats around the bush about Picard. Shelby pipes in after Worf, saying they can go back with more people, and she can get Pocard back.

I have to say, I'm loving this rewatch!
L Matthews
36. tigeraid
Until Battlestar Galactica came along, no TV cliffhanger affected me as much as this did when I originally watched it. I was screaming at the TV.

Also the scene where they come upon the carnage at Wolf 359, was the first time the audience has really seen multiple starships all together on screen, both in battle and in wreckage.

Also, it introduced a hilarious tv trope, with "To Be Continued..." getting a bombastic, BA-BA-BA! BA-BA-BA! BAAAA BAAAAAAA BAAAAAAAA kinda soundtrack. Family Guy used it to perfect effect in their own cliffhanger years later that made me laugh my ass off.
Sara H
37. LadyBelaine
I not only screamed, I wept. I actually thought that Picard was going to be off the show and the introduction of the utterly horrible Cmdr. Shelby was all part of some evil masterplan to promote Riker... and I really loathed Shelby. She is almost amoral about her ambition.

One thing that has always bugged me about ST (and I say this as a white chick) is how amazingly WASPY Starfleet always is. They may throw in a token Vulcan here and there, but it's almost always human, almost always white human, almost always white human male, and almost always white human male with Anglo-Saxon derivation. Even Cmdr. Shelby is a white WASPY woman - couldn't she be Cmdr. Mira Gorsingh or Cmdr. Luz Santiago or something? The human race in the 23rd century will not be so tilted toward the European/Western Axis.

Anyway, even reading this recap gave me a frisson of the thrill and terror I experienced when I watched this and it rocked my little sixteen year old world.
L Matthews
38. Brian Eberhardt
I agree that this was Jonathan Frakes episode to shine, and he did a spectacular job.
Natalie S
39. Tisin
@31 Mike From what I recall, my dad posited that perhaps the guy from Transfigurations could come back and heal Picard.

But as a nine-year-old the episode blew my mind. Also adding to the tension, was that since the show was syndicated there was a chance that no station in our Canadian city would pick it up again so we'd never know.
L Matthews
40. ChrisG
I agree with all the positive things that have been said. I too watched it on first run with a bunch of friends, and we all screamed as well. I remember that summer imagining all the interesting things they could do with it. And even given that, the second half paid off.

Not only was this (imho) the best cliffhanger ever, but it's easy to forget how deeply this episode in particular penetrated the popular culture at the time. Even my parents watched (and loved) it completely on their own, which -- take my word for it -- was shocking. "Resistance is futile" really had an impact, I think.

"He is a borg." The notes of desolation in Dorn's voice when he says this were pitch perfect.

This is one of the handful of episodes in which I enjoyed watching Riker, with the slight exception of the "I just want to know when there's a change in my orders line."

And yes, the creepy laser. What a great touch.

Fantastic.
Christopher Turkel
41. Applekey
Simply put: A timeless classic. The high water mark for TNG.
L Matthews
42. AG
In a word, awesome.

I posit, that this episode and the conclusion effectivly launched the series to follow TNG. For better or worse! That might be overstating it, but I think you can't underestimate the impact of this episode.

Anybody know why Shelby never came back on screen?
L Matthews
43. Sanagi
When the literary concept of the foil comes up, I always think of Lt.Cmdr Shelby.
Paul Howard
44. DrakBibliophile
When I think of the flaws of Star Trek NG, Riker turning down the Captain's Chair (even once) is one of the first on my list.

Still this was a great episode, but I'm not sure the second part was as good.
Justin Devlin
45. EnsignJayburd
@1 L Matthews said:
That summer was the longest three months of my life.
Same here. I live in New England and 1990 was the very first time in my life that the summer couldn't end soon enough. I was 22 and it was a pretty damned good summer, too - concerts, parties on the lake, etc. Lots of etc., actually. But I also had this TNG calendar my brother had given me for Christmas '89 and I was ticking off the days between the June finale and the September season 4 premier. In the box for the date that Part II finally aired (I think it was Saturday, 9/29 for me) I had written,
Mr. Worf,
FIRE!
L Matthews
46. Idran
@21: If I remember correctly, that was because the writers really hated Garrett Wang; he was kind of a pothead slacker on set from what I've heard, doing the Beltran thing with barely putting in any effort, and the only reason he wasn't killed off in Scorpion was because he got #50 in People's 50 sexiest people that year, leading to Jennifer Lien getting cut instead to make room for Jeri Ryan.
L Matthews
47. Idran
Oh, I forgot to include this:

@32: Sectors aren't a coordinate system, they're a catalogue system of areas of space 20 lightyears to a side. Possibly one dating back to the Coalition rather than the Federation.
Justin Devlin
48. EnsignJayburd
@31 Mike S: for me this episode was indeed the best and most suspenseful season ending cliffhanger of any series of Trek or any other show for that matter. The only other one that comes close is the mind blowing fake-out ending of the third season of LOST. The only reason it didn't have me ticking the days off the calendar (besides the fact that I had become a family man with less time on my hands) is that LOST was designed to be a serial and it had a cliffhanger at the end of virtually every episode. TNG was episodic television and every show had a resolution at the end of the hour. In fact that "To Be Continued..." that popped up on the screen completely took me by surprise.

I didn't really have any theories over the summer about what might happen (that I remember, anyway). All I remember is that I would occasionally say, "I'm worried about Jean-Luc!" to friends and relations, often eliciting nonplussed stares...
L Matthews
49. John R. Ellis
I've always considered this a three-parter. After all, Family is the episode where we have a rare case of a Star Trek character dealing with lasting after-effects from a previous story.

Such a brilliant trilogy of episodes.
Keith DeCandido
50. krad
John: Right there with you. I always viewed "Family" as the the third part of the trilogy, as it were. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
L Matthews
51. JMH
I don't remember screaming.
But I do remember throwing the TV remote at the TV. And it being the only time in the universe I wouldn't've gotten in trouble for it.
My mom might have thrown a pillow.

That lazer still haunts my dreams.
Nate Shouse
53. MnemonicNate
Ah, you can't touch this one! Such a solid, incredible episode. "From this time forward, you will service...us." WHOO! Stellar show. So good, in fact, they borrowed the 'borg' theme from this episode for the teaser trailer of 'First Contact.'

One question: is this the cube that we saw in "Q-Who"?
Alan Courchene
54. Majicou
I may have screamed at this episode, but if so, it wasn't in the frustrated, I-can't-believe-I-have-to-wait-all-summer way I've since come to know. I was genuinely terrified by this episode at the age of eight. The Borg were creepy enough, and to see Our Hero Captain Picard transformed into one was beyond scary to me. I'd long had a "thing" about familiar characters transformed into bizarre, uncanny-valley imitations of themselves (see also The Motion Picture), and here was the purest distillation of that anxiety. As I recall, I "sat out" season four because of it.

Since then, though, I've come to love this episode for all the reasons KRAD mentioned.
L Matthews
55. euphbass
While it's very good, I wouldn't class this as the best thing ever, as most people seem to do. But then, while I did see it when it first aired, or on a re-run sometimes not long after, I don't actually remember it, so I'm judging it purely on watching it now. And as such, it's not perfect. There are small plot holes: why didn't they separate the saucer section earlier, to protect the civilians? Why plough headlong after the Borg when they just wiped out an entire fleet? These are not tactical decisions from a trained crew. Why wait until the very last second before beaming out during a fight on the Borg ship? Perhaps that was just the quality of television at that time. But I can't help thinking how much tighter it could have been.
L Matthews
56. De
The summer of 1990 was pretty brutal in terms of anticipation. I have to hand it to the marketing folks at Paramount who put together a nice little fakeout in the form of ABC's piece about TNG on Primetime Live about a week or so before Season 4 started.

The piece was a quick overview of the series with some new footage interwoven into it. That new footage came from "Future Imperfect" and I was a bit upset to find Riker still having 4 pips on his collar. Obviously that meant Picard was gone, right? (No, the different commbadges were not a dead giveaway—the main cast went to two-piece uniforms just a season before.)

Needless to say, waiting out that week was sheer hell for my younger self.
L Matthews
57. Mike Kelm
I get Riker's choice to not take a promotion prior to Best of Both Worlds... the Drake sounds like it was an older light cruiser (which promptly got blown up by the kill-o-death 3000), then the Aries, which even Picard described as an insignificant ship in an obscure corner of the galaxy. There is some question over whether or not the Melbourne that was destroyed at Wolf 359 is the Excelsior-class ship that couldn't chase down the Enterprise when the Bynars took it, or a newer Nebula class ship, but since they offered him the command and then the Borg thing happened, he never really got a chance to decide. Given those were his choices, I understand remaining the first officer of the flagship of starfleet where exciting stuff was happening all the time. He chose to take the job he enjoyed over the higher paying (yes I know there is supposively no money in the federation) but less glamorous job. But after being the hero of Wolf 359, he certainly wouldn't be stuck having to command some out of the way ship in the middle of nowhere- I'd think he'd have his choice of ships, crews and missions.

I understand that this is television and you therefore can't just start sending characters off and screwing up the production, but realistically that's when he would have/should have left. Riker is an explorer, but he's also a believer in Starfleet and the Federation. I just can't imagine him saying that after suffering a huge loss in life and knowing there is this really evil race out there that I'm not going to step up.

One thing which I wish paramount would have done would have been to spin off a show based around Riker. While DS9 ended up being the strongest of the Trek shows due to its writing and character and story arcs (imo) I remember thinking that it would make much more sense for Riker to be Star Trekkin across the universe rather than Spencer for Hire hanging out at the rest stop next to the interstellar Chunnel.
Adam Whitehead
58. Werthead
I had to wait for the BBC to broadcast part 2, which was about a zillion years after part 1.
I believe this was on a rerun. For the original screening this wasn't the case, fortunately. The BBC only had the rights to show Seasons 1-3, after which Sky would take over first-run showings of the series. When this was announced, some TREK fans forewarned of the Borg two-parter wrote anxiously to the BBC asking whether they'd really just leave their viewers on a cliffhanger (and back in 1990 the number of people in the UK who had Sky was infitesimal). The BBC, Sky and Paramount reached a deal agreeing to let the BBC extend their contract so they could show BBW Part 2 a week after Part 1, thereby saving UK SF fans from tremendous frustration (especially as it was several years before the BBC was able to show the rest of the series).
L Matthews
59. don3comp
I agree with a reviewer who, a few months after this episode aired, wrote that it shows "why the new series is superior to the feature films in every way." In fact, one of my issues with the TNG movies (except "First Contact") is that any of the two-parters (after "Farpoint") would have been better, or at least as good (a concern expressed by Brent Spiner before "Generations" was filmed).

I do remember this, though: since a season had not ended on a cliffhanger before, we were mad at being left, well, hanging! (Later, when I watched both BOBW episodes back-to-back with my college buddies, one of my roommates pointed out that "I had to wait all bleeping summer to find out what happens!")
L Matthews
60. Chamomiles Davis
I had watched TNG on and off since it debuted (I wasn't quite sure in which direction they were going at first), but this was the episode that made me a die-hard fan from then on.

And yes, I too freaked the hell out when Riker said, "Mr. Worf - fire." Great way to bridge the summer between high school and college!
NICKOLAS POLISKEY
61. jlpsquared
I didn't scream, but I do remember just staring at the blue "to be continued" with my jaw dropped, I am sure drool came out! I was 10, and generally I hated the idea of the upcoming school year, but this was the first (and so far only) summer of my life that I could not wait until summer was OVER.

Even at 10 I had heard the rumour about Stewart not returning. I remember moralizing in my mind all summer long how I would be able to handle Picards death. I still think "the survivors" was a superior episode, but that one moment "to be continued" will always be my most memorable, stunning, devastating single moment of television.

One quick note, a previous poster mentioned Battlestar Galactica, and I must concur. Although it never hit me quite the same way this episode did, the BSG episode "Kobols last gleaming, Part2" is the only episode in TV history that has come close. I highly recomend this show and this episode for any ST fan that has yet to discover the glory of the new BSG.
Ben McCardell
62. Thistlefizz
I hated Lt. Cmdr. Shelby. Not because Elizabeth Dennehy did a bad job with the part (her performance was wonderful) or because the character was written badly (she wasn't). Rather, I hated her because she's exactly the self-serving, step-on-whoever-I-have-to-on-my-way-to-the-top type of person that really irritates me.

The part that got to me more than any other is when she beams down to the planet early without informing or getting Riker's permission. Riker calls her out on it and she says something to the effect of, "I didn't think it would matter if the Borg assimilated two more people." Well, maybe it wouldn't have mattered if she got assimilated, but it would be a pretty big deal if Data got assimilated. I always thought Riker should have called her out on that point, and it's frustrating that he never did.
NICKOLAS POLISKEY
63. jlpsquared
@62.

I like your review, and I agree Shelby was needlessly antogonistic (although that certainly exists in the real world), I must be devils advocate, just on that scene. After watching this episode 1000 times, I am starting to wonder what choice she had. If she had waited the dust storm would have destroyed any evidence, and Riker would have been pissed. If she had called Riker, he would have been pissed because he woke her up (although that would have been the best route).

The point I am trying to make is that Riker didn't like her the moment she got on board, and she really didn't have any good choices in that situation, she had to act, and she did. if the Borg did show up, Data would have called for a beam out and they would have left. I think Riker was way out of bounds on that scene, IMHO.
L Matthews
64. lvsxy808
Aside from all the wonderful and quite correct things people have already said, one of my favourite things from this episode is a moment without dialogue. They are in the middle of the extended battle scene against the cube (itself a rarity for Trek at the time) when Riker says to Shelby, "They have the ability to analyze and adapt, Commander."

And Shelby just gives him such a dirty look, as if to say, "Yes, I f'ing know that, asshole. I'm the f'ing expert here, remember?" It's another brilliant moment in creating Shelby's character, and it was completely unscripted, all down to the actress.
Phil Parsons
66. Yakko
@62Thistlefizz - Actually Shelby says "if we ran into the Borg here two extra bodies wouldn't have made a hell of a difference now would they?" Shelby's point is that if the Borg were there the entire crew would be dead anyway. At this point in the story none of the characters or the audience have any idea that the Borg would assimilate Data or anyone else. As far as we know they only want technology - Shelby says as much a few scenes later when the Borg ship hails Picard by name.
L Matthews
67. Ellis K.
I'm going to go against the crowd, here at this late date: I never particularly bought the idea of Picard being assimilated by the Borg, participating in the attack at Wolf 359 as a member of the collective, and then making a total recovery and returning as Captain of the Enterprise. There are things from which a person cannot fully (or even mostly) recover, and if the Borg are to be respected as such powerfully evil beings, then assimilation has to be one of those things. I mean, get real: people have a problem with Riker turning down a command, but simply gloss over Picard's recovery from assimilation? One is at least internally consistent. The entire reason that the Borg are such a devastatingly frightful enemy is that assimilation is, literally, a fate worse than death. Oh, except now, it's something you can fully recover from, no big deal. Well, that's the "best of both worlds,", I suppose--a horrific, worse than death fate that you can also fully recover from. How convenient--and how lazy. Those "screams" episode one engendered, it turns out, were not fully earned. They could only be earned if Picard was, at least to a degree, irreparably harmed by being assimilated. Sorry, but there it is.
L Matthews
68. Sam1
I fail to understand all the comments criticizing the believability of having Riker continue to be a first officer on the flagship of the Federation. Lots of people seem to complain when Star Trek has episodes that seem too close to 20th-century Earth in all sorts of ways, but for some reason people want Star Trek to behave just like the structure of the U.S. military nowadays?

Remember, this future century is a time supposedly without money, where people supposedly don't base their lives on acquiring things or power or whatever. You get to find your own way to improve yourself as a person. Starfleet is nominally hierarchical, but you rarely see people "pulling rank" in any strict discipline sense -- and you even have a number of episodes where those in command almost seem apologetic about having to order people around when it would be against the desires of those in lower ranks.

So, I just never had the sense that Starfleet was anything like the 20th-century military, except with similar-sounding ranks. People can work their way up if they're suited for command or if they want the duties, but if they don't... well, they're like Picard in "Tapestry," where at his age he's still a junior lieutenant. Nobody seems to mind -- they only think it weird when he starts telling people all of a sudden that he wants to get promoted after basically just doing his job for all of those years.

Riker and Picard seem to work together, and they're on the freakin' Federation flagship. Why wouldn't Riker want to stay, and why wouldn't Starfleet want at least two people on board the flagship with serious command abilities? The Enterprise seems more likely than anyone else to encounter situations where either Picard or Riker get temporarily disabled, kidnapped, whatever -- and wouldn't Starfleet want to keep somebody REALLY good in the second chair?

Heck, I never really understood why they couldn't just promote Picard to admiral at some point and keep him on in command of the flagship; Riker could have been promoted and handled the daily command and administrative tasks he already does. Or, why couldn't they promote a (qualified) Riker to captain and keep him on board the ship along with Captain Picard? There are protocols to handle people with the same rank and who's in command even today... could we really not imagine a future where Riker could just be another captain on the ship, but with Picard in actual command?

Anyhow, regardless, I always found the ambition displayed by a few officers (and those who give advice to Riker) to just be a few people who frankly had attitudes that seem out of place compared to most of the rest of the Star Trek universe, where nobody else seems to ever complain about not getting promoted over 7-year periods, and everyone's just expected to find their own destiny and work toward self-development, rather than accumulating hierarchical power just because they're getting older.
L Matthews
69. JohnC
krad - nice look-back - I'll disagree with you on Murdock's performance as the admiral. With all the evil Admirals that infest Star Fleet, it's nice to know there is at least one who is amiable, genuine, and who appears to have the best interests in mind for those who are under his command. While I agree that Frakes' Riker shines in this episode, it still is not explained to my satisfaction why Riker wants to stay on the Enterprise. His entire persona screams "ambition" (of the service-oriented type, not the self-glorification that Shelby is obsessed with) yet he muddles around whining to Troi trying to figure it out for himself. Doesn't seem like he ever does - so neither can I. I'm a bit surprised there are as many comments as there are that downplay the intensity of this episode. I think it was masterful, because somehow, against all odds in a television series that you know is going to be renewed for the following season, the episode managed to generate real tension and angst in me as a viewer. I really feared fo 24th century earth, and I felt a pang of outrage and sorrow when looking out at that vista of burning starships left by the Borg. This is first rate television. To quote Nigel Tufnel- this one goes up to 11.

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