I’ve always loved the way Guinan was portrayed in the early days of The Next Generation. Was she a special creature with super powers? A shape-shifter? Did she have power rivaling that of Q? Or maybe even...a Time Lord? Sadly towards the end of the show and then in the film Generations, the mysterious qualities of her character and alien species were drastically reduced.
Happily, in the new issue #4 of IDW’s miniseries comic Star Trek: TNG/Doctor Who crossover, some of that awesome Guinan mystery is back.
Spoilers ahead for IDW’s Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #4
Since most of the previous issue was dominated by a flashback featuring the Fourth Doctor hanging out with Captain Kirk in the 23rd century, this issue picks back up in the 24th century with the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory being introduced to the enigmatic Guinan. She corroborates the Doctor’s theories about the timeline having been altered and explains to Picard that both her and the Doctor are aware of these kinds of changes. It’s a nice callback to the extra-temporal awareness of reality that Guinan last displayed in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”
They chat for a bit about universes being combined and the horror of both the Cybermen and the Borg. Soon they’re interrupted by breaking news: the Borg and Cyberman fleet has changed course away from Earth and is now headed towards a planet called Cogen V.
The Enterprise rushes to the scene and sends a landing party consisting of Riker, Worf, Data, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory. Guinan assures Picard that the Doctor can be legitimately helpful, so everyone is fairly cool with him being in the landing party. Amy and Rory are really impressed with “beaming down” and Amy wonders why the Doctor doesn’t have a transporter on the TARDIS. Once on the planet, chaos ensues as flying drones shoot at everyone. Riker and Data knock a few out with phasers while the Doctor disables one with his sonic screwdriver. Oddly, these drone robots aren’t of Cyberman or Borg origin and further, there are tons of dead Cybermen and Borg all over the place. Everyone decides it’s best to take a few bodies up to the ship for study to figure out what’s going on. The Doctor takes the disabled flying robot with him, too.
Back on the ship, Troi chats to Amy and Rory about what they all are doing with the Doctor. Amy and Rory reveal they feel like he needs them as much as they need him. (To me this felt like the comic was set some time shortly after Amy and Rory have seen the Doctor “die” in season 6.) Troi chatting with Amy and Rory makes the reader really feel like the Enterprise crew is warming to the idea of these weirdos hanging around.
The confusion on Cogen V is sorted out quickly and the big news is shocking: the Cyberman have turned on the Borg. Both the blast patterns on the dead Borg drones and some recorded footage (from one of the other robots the Doctor recovered) confirms it. It’s Cybermen versus Borg now, with the Borg seemingly on the run back to the Delta quadrant. (DELEEEETE!) Picard immediately takes an unsympathetic stance, declaring the Cybermen as a possibly welcome solution to the Borg problem. The Doctor is emphatic that it’s the other way around, that the Borg aren’t near as bad as the Cybermen and that Starfleet should maybe consider teaming up with the Borg. Everything gets more tense when a Borg ship shows up and wants to talk to “Locutus.” Not understanding Picard’s history, the Doctor is all for this idea and looks quizzically at Picard, hoping he’ll take on whatever this Locutus persona might be and get cracking on an alliance.
Of course, Picard folds his arms. Locutus doesn’t live here, Doctor. There will be no alliance with the Borg!
To be continued....
I know comic books like this need to have some action and phaser blasts to keep things exciting, but I could have honestly stood to have an entire issue of Guinan talking with the Doctor in Ten Forward. As I mentioned, I really enjoy this aspect of Guinan’s character and pairing her with a character like the Doctor makes a lot of sense. I suddenly found myself wishing Whoopi Goldberg was hanging around during “The End of Time” episodes at the end of Tennant era Doctor Who. I mean, even her hat is totally Gallifrey chic.
Sadly, the conversation had to be cut short to actually get to some plot stuff, which I have to say I actually didn’t see coming. Why the Cybermen have turned on the Borg is actually not clear to me. Up until this point, I’ve found this miniseries to be highly entertaining, though a little bit slow. This twist was an interesting one, however, and I’m happy to see it play out for the next half of the series.
I appreciated some of the side character stuff in this one, too. Troi doing her emotional check-in with Amy and Rory was great and felt like something that would happen if this were taking place on television. Having the Doctor talk to someone like Guinan practically writes itself, but having Troi talk to more “normal” people like Amy and Rory is harder, and the issue pulled it off well. I found myself wondering if Troi would have been a good marriage counselor for those two. Once again, this dialogue-centric character stuff was way more interesting than any phaser blasts or dead Borg.
In my last review, I worried the Doctor, Amy, and Rory made the TNG crew seem boring. In this one, I felt the more empathic (literally!) Star Trek characters were reaching out to the Doctor Who people in an effort to truly connect. This had a nice effect of making everyone seem more like they all belonged together.
And luckily, some of the rote action plot stuff actually led to serious character issues, such as Picard’s history with the Borg and the Doctor’s insensitivity to that. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that conversation goes down in the next issue. (Maybe Rory can swap stories with Picard about that one time he was a plastic robot and had a hand that turned into gun!)
Assimilation2# 4 is on comic stands this week with #5 coming next month.
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com and loved it when Whoopi put up her claws.