Dec 19 2012 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Descent, Part 1”

Holiday rewatch schedule: We’ve got the first part of “Descent” today, and Friday the 21st will be the sixth-season overview. We’ll be skipping both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so “Descent, Part II” will be on Friday the 28th and then “Liaisons” will be on Friday the 4th of January in 2013. After that the Tuesday/Friday schedule will resume as usual.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1“Descent” (Part One)
Written by Jeri Taylor and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 6, Episode 26
Production episode 40276-252
Original air date: June 21, 1993
Stardate: 46982.1

Captain’s Log: Data has created a poker game on the holodeck, where he is playing Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. Albert Einstein, and Dr. Stephen Hawking. After Hawking wins with four sevens, Riker calls red alert, and Data ends the program.

The Enterprise has received a distress call from Ohniaka III, an outpost with no strategic value whatsoever. There’s a ship in orbit matching no known configuration, but it’s taking no action and answering no hails—and there’s interference preventing Data from reading life on the planet.

Riker, Data, Worf, and a security guard named Corelki beam down to find a ton of dead bodies, brutally murdered. They split up (they can do more damage that way): Riker and Data in one direction, Worf and Corelki in the other. Riker and Data find a room with a door that’s jammed. Data clears it, and it opens to reveal a Borg.

And then all hell breaks loose. One Borg fires on Riker, and then several other Borg show up to attack all four members of the away team—at the same time the ship in orbit fires on the Enterprise.

Something’s different, though: the Borg are less meticulous, more emotional. When Riker kills one with a phaser, another gets angry, saying the away team will suffer for his death, and referring to itself with the first-person pronoun “I.” Then one physically attacks Data, and the android gets angry, yells at the Borg to stop it, and throws him violently into the bulkhead.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

After one Borg identifies Data, the Borg suddenly all beam away, the ship breaks orbit, and then disappears into some kind of subspace field just as the Enterprise fires on it. La Forge has no idea what the Borg ship did.

Data asks to be taken off duty. Picard meets with Riker, Worf, Crusher, and Troi to discuss these new, unimproved Borg. Crusher posits that this may be a byproduct of the individuality of Hugh that they placed in the collective in “I, Borg.” Either way, these Borg were vicious, nasty, and showed no interest in assimilating, just killing.

La Forge examines Data, and Data examines himself, and they find nothing. Data also can only really assume that he was angry—he has no frame of reference. He tries to use stimulus to provoke another emotional response—humor, joy, sexual pleasure—and Troi then tries to get him to try anger again, since they know that one works. Data is reluctant to do that, in part because right after he killed the Borg he’s pretty sure he felt pleasure at the act he’d just performed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

Starfleet dispatches Admiral Nechayev takes command of Starfleet operations in the sector. The U.S.S. Gorkon will be her flagship, with the Crazy Horse and the Agamemmnon being under Picard’s command as Task Force 3.

Nechayev then rips Picard a new one for the events of “I, Borg.” Picard defends himself on the grounds of upholding the Federation’s principles; Nechayev counters with concern for the Federation’s security.

The entire sector is antsy. The Enterprise patrols are interrupted three times by false alarms. Picard is snappish and irritable, going back over the security footage of Hugh’s time on the ship. He admits to Riker that, what he did may have been the moral thing to do, it may not have been the right thing.

La Forge finds Data on the holodeck trying to re-create the events on Ohniaka III, including speaking the same words he used then. He then asks La Forge to disengage the safety protocols, because he knows his life isn’t really in danger—if it is, perhaps the anger will be triggered.

Their argument on the subject is interrupted by red alert—an actual Borg ship this time. The Enterprise gives chase, and gets closer, but it goes into that weird subspace energy field before the Enterprise can fire—however, the ship does get caught in its wake, going through what feels like a wormhole before emerging back in normal space. Data doesn’t have time to determine where they are because the Borg ship’s coming around. They beam two Borg on board, who kill Franklin, another security guard, before Worf takes them both out, but the Borg use the distraction to go into another subspace thingie. However, one of the two Borg is still alive, and neither Borg has disintegrated.

They take the Borg to the brig, where Crusher examines and stabilizes him. The Borg identifies himself as Crosus. He says the name was given to him by the One—“the One who will destroy you.” He doesn’t give any other information, though. Picard sends Crusher to do an autopsy on the other one and asks Data to examine Crosus.

Once he’s left alone with Crosus (well, not alone, there’s a Bajoran security guard just sitting there, but he apparently doesn’t notice what’s happening), the Borg tells Data that he, and he alone, can be assimilated. He activates a chip on his arm, and Data starts to feel again, as Crosus pushes him on the subject of how good it felt to kill, and how he’d do anything to feel that way again.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

La Forge has determined that the Borg have transwarp conduits throughout space that are triggered by tachyon emissions. And then Data steals a shuttle, with Crosus in tow, and, having disabled the Enterprise tractor beams, activates one of the conduits. La Forge got a good enough reading to duplicate the tachyon pulse, which, eventually, works. They find the shuttle, and also find a couple of worlds with no life signs, but evidence of a civilization, as well as tons of plasma fire.

The shuttle is on a planet that they can’t scan due to high EM energy in the magnetosphere. Riker, Worf, and four security guards beam to where the shuttle is; it’s been abandoned for about three hours. Tricorders are useless, so they need to scan by eye, and they could be up to fifteen kilometers in any direction.

So they have to beam down several four-person search teams doing low-level searching via shuttle as well as on foot. A skeleton crew is left on board, with Crusher in charge, and strict orders to get the hell outta Dodge if the Borg show up regardless of who might still be on the planet.

One of the on-foot teams includes Picard, La Forge, Troi, and a security guard. They find a structure and then inexplicably don’t contact any of the other teams. La Forge finds a door and they go inside. La Forge’s tricorder can’t even read an energy source from the lights in the room, which means there’s a dampening field. Hundreds of Borg come pouring into the room. When the security guard raises his phaser rifle he is, of course, killed (this one didn’t even get a name), and then Lore steps into the room. He’s obviously the One that Crosus was referring to, and he’s got Data on his side now. Data announces that “the sons of Soong” are teaming up to destroy the Federation. Cue diabolical laughter and fade to black.

To be continued...

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: We are introduced to the mighty mighty Borg transwarp conduits, which will continue to play a role on Voyager when they reach Borg space and, indeed, be what gets them home in “Endgame.” The planet Lore has chosen to headquarter on has remarkably plot-convenient EM disturbances.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi points out to Data (rightly) that there’s no such thing as a negative emotion, but that what makes a feeling positive or negative is what one does with the emotion. She is also the first to realize that Lore is Lore rather than Data in an all-black suit.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data tells La Forge that he’s felt his first emotion, apparently forgetting the “wonderful feeling” he had when Q gave him the gift of laughter in “Déjà Q.”

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: Data uses the holodeck to create the universe’s most awesome poker game, and then uses it to re-create the Ohniaka III base.

I Believe I Said That: “Transmit another copy of Starfleet’s ship-recognition protocols, and tell them to read it this time!”

Picard’s angry order to Worf after the third false alarm in one day.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

Welcome Aboard: Several excellent guests in this one, most of them in the teaser: the great John Neville as a very tetchy Sir Isaac Newton; Jim Norton making his second appearance as a holographic Albert Einstein, having done so previously to consult with the brain-enhanced Barclay in “The Nth Degree”; and Professor Stephen Hawking appearing as himself. In addition, Natalia Nogulich is back as Admiral Nechayev, last seen in “Chain of Command, Part I,” Brian J. Cousins returns as Crosus, having played the phased Romulan in “The Next Phase,” and at the very end Brent Spiner makes his third appearance as Lore, following “Datalore” and “Brothers.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

Trivial Matters: The teaser is full of in-jokes, starting with Hawking’s opening bit involving the perihelion precession of the planet Mercury—which Sir Isaac doesn’t get because that perihelion precession can’t be explained via Newtonian physics, but was explained by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Sir Isaac waxes rhapsodic about the apple falling on his head, which Data had believed to be apocryphal, which annoys Sir Isaac no end. (It will be revealed in the Voyager episode “Death Wish” that Q shook the tree that made the apple fall.) Sir Isaac also grumbles about Einstein’s inability to do simple arithmetic, a play on the urban legend that Einstein failed mathematics as a boy. Finally, when Hawking shows his winning hand after Einstein taunts him, he says, “Wrong again, Albert,” a reference to the number of Einstein’s theories that Hawking himself disproved.

This was the first time Hawking appeared as himself on a work of drama, but far from the last—most recently, he’s appeared on two episodes of The Big Bang Theory (a show on which Wil Wheaton also has a recurring role as himself, and on which LeVar Burton once appeared as himself as well).

While being given a tour of the set, Hawking pointed at the warp core and said, “I’m working on that.” William Shatner would later use that quote as the title for his and Chip Walter’s book on how Star Trek has influenced real-world scientists.

This episode serves as a sequel of sorts to “I, Borg,” as the rogue Borg are believed to be the byproduct of Hugh’s “invasive program” of individuality from that episode. And in the end, we find out it’s also a sequel to “Brothers,” as Lore’s presence makes it clear that Data’s emotional outbursts are related to the emotion chip that Lore stole at the end of that episode.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

The hill that Picard, Troi, La Forge, and the poor, poor unnamed security guard climb before finding Lore’s stronghold is the same hill on which Spock and Leila’s discussion of rainbows and dragons was filmed for the original series’ “This Side of Paradise.” The exterior of Lore’s stronghold was the Brandeis-Bardin Institutue, the same location used for Camp Khitomer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (and was also used in the first five seasons of Power Rangers).

Speaking of Star Trek VI, Nechayev’s flagship is named after the Klingon chancellor from that film, Gorkon (whom your humble rewatcher would use for a Klingon ship name in his Klingon novels), and another starship is named the Crazy Horse, after the person from whom scriptwriter Ron Moore took the “it is a good day to die” Klingon catchphrase.

This and Part 2 were novelized by Diane Carey in a single volume that was released at the same time that Part 2 aired.

Make it So: “All the quantum fluctuations in the universe will not change the cards in your hand.” This really should’ve been a much stronger episode. Much like “Redemption” two years earlier, this has all the right elements: a major issue for one of the main characters, a sequel to an excellent episode that picks up nicely on its themes, and lots of strong action sequences. Plus it has a character reveal at the end—and this one is far stronger than the all-but-irrelevant revelation of Sela.

Yet, just like “Redemption,” “Descent” just feels flat. Everything feels like it’s going through the motions, without any real surprises or tension. The Enterprise doesn’t figure out the transwarp conduits until they need to for the plot, the planet has technobabble nonsense on it that forces an on-the-ground search with tons of people for the express purpose of padding out an episode that didn’t have enough plot and putting Crusher in charge for Part 2. Worse, what could be a wonderful exploration of Data’s evolution—the next step following the dream program activation in “Birthright, Part I”—is instead mind-control by Crosus. And suddenly, everybody gets their very own redshirt, so someone can get killed each time the Borg is engaged—Corelki, Franklin, and another poor bastard who didn’t get named. It’s artificial suspense since we’re given no reason to care about these extras seeing as how the characters themselves don’t seem to give a crap. (One expects better from the guy who wrote “The Bonding.”) To make matters worse, the guard in the brig doesn’t even seem to notice that Data’s being seduced to the Dark Side....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Descent, Part 1

There are moments. The phightin’ physicists poker game in the teaser is a classic (luckily, YouTube allows you to watch the scene without enduring any of the rest of it). Troi’s talk with Data about positive and negative emotions is an excellent one, with really incisive psychological resonances.

But the bit that got me here was Nechayev’s chewing out of Picard. The two of them engage in a debate that will sound very familiar to those of us who’ve lived through the first decade of the 21st century in the U.S.—where do you draw the line between your principles and your need to be secure? At first it seems that the double-fake of Lore being the one in charge of the rogue Borg rather than Hugh seems to cut that notion off at the knees, but as we’ll see in Part 2, it’s a touch more complicated than that....


Warp factor rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido wishes everyone the happiest of holidays.

David Stumme
1. grenadier
RE: Big Bang Theory

Brent Spiner has been on Big Bang, but I don't believe Levar Burton has. At least not according to his IMDB page. And of course Leonard Nimoy has voiced his own action figure there too.

I love how certain episodes of TNG (and Trek in general) get more relevant over time. The conversation about ethics vs security was pre-9/11 after all, and this is not the only time. "The High Ground" and "The Hunted" both come to mind as well.
Keith DeCandido
2. krad
Yes, Burton has, playing himself in one of this season's episodes, "The Habitation Configuration," guest starring on Sheldon's web cast after Sheldon had to remove Wil Wheaton as a guest because Amy (his director) didn't think he was naturalistic on camera.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
"Data tells La Forge that he’s felt his first emotion, apparently forgetting the 'wonderful feeling' he had when Q gave him the gift of laughter in 'Déjà Q.'"

I think he didn't count that because it was externally induced. At the time he said that to Geordi, he thought this was his first genuine emotion -- although it later turned out to be externally induced as well.

I loved the poker game. Lots of nifty physics in-jokes. What's always puzzled me is that the episode credits are shown before the main titles, instead of at the start of Act 1. I used to wonder if the original idea was to end the teaser with the poker game and have the next scene begin Act 1, with the decision being made at the last moment to change it because the teaser didn't have enough of a hook that way. But apparently not; the script has the act break falling exactly where it does in the episode. Memory Alpha speculates that Act 1 was too short to fit all the credits, or so action-heavy that the credits would be a distraction.

By the way, the establishing shot of the Power Rangers command center was a blend of two familiar Trek locations: an image of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute stuck on top of the famous outcropping at Vasquez Rocks. Vasquez was frequently used as a shooting location in the early seasons of Power Rangers.
4. critter42
@1: LeVar Burton has been on two episodes of BBT - one this season and one two seasons ago ("The Toast Derivation") (upon edit I see krad beat me to it :) ).

krad, while I agree with most of your points, I give it more like a 6, maybe because this was by far my favorite cliffhanger since BoBW (ok, yes it's the LAST cliffhanger of the series, but still :) ).
adam miller
5. adamjmil
I remember being bothered by how easily Data was coerced by Lore/Crosus/the chip, etc. Is a little emotion and disabling an ethical subroutine really all it takes to make Data want to kill his friends and destroy the federation?
Joseph Newton
6. crzydroid
I was wondering about the credits in the teaser a little bit too.
Mike Kelmachter
7. MikeKelm
My issue is that in order to create drama, the episode just goes against pretty much everything else including itself. Ship gets a distress call, finds new and improved Borg, Data kills said Borg. Later Data wants to recreate the feeling but can't disable the holodeck safety protocols However, a few scenes later he disables the tractor beams without anyone noticing and steals a shuttle- why can he turn off a tactical system like the tractor beam but not the safety protocols of the holodeck? Oh right- he's evil because the conveniently captured Trojan Borg sends him a numbers station message that turns off his ethical programs (you'd think he'd password protect those). Why Data, who is experiencing emotions for no apparent reason- which suggests he has been tampered with somehow- gets left with the Borg all by himself (except for the hear no evil Bajoran guard) is a really dumb command decision by Picard.

During all of thism the Enterprise chases gets a distress call from a colony and goes after it, knowing they are fighting the new and improved Borg and leave the rest of the task force behind. Ultimately, this leads them downa a transwarp corridor that leads them to the perfect planet for hiding in the 24th century, since it incredibly interferes with all sensors but doesn't affect either cybernetic life forms (Data/Borg) or humans, or for that matter Geordi's visor, which is nothing more than a sensor device. That one never really gets explained either. So Picard decides to send everyone but the Doctor, Lt. Egomaniac and a couple of ensigns who have been out of the Academy for 2.3 seconds down to the surface, including himself. So much for the captain can't be put in a dangerous situation. You'd think someone like Riker or Troi would have pointed out that the last time Picard got captured by the Borg it didn't end well for anyone, so perhaps they should keep him away from them this time. But no, he goes down with Geordi's best friend, the counselor, and the dead man walking, and upon finding the ominous looking structure (which may or may not contain the Green Ranger and the Dragonzord) he walks right on in. Because apparently in the 24th century, when faced with a planet that screws up everything, you want the Captain, the Chief Engineer and the Counselor to walk into the building without any support... Upon which they find Data, the Evil Twin and what appear to be 8 Borg showing up 10 times each (Maybe they ran into Multiple Man... oh wait that's the other sci-fi series with Patrick Stewart) laughing maniacally as they hang out in their secret lair...

To me the episode has a great premise but it just seems too contrived, too forced. There are just too many things that have to happen exactly the right way for this episode to unfold this way, and none of them are typical for Picard and the Enterprise. If evil mastermind Lore had left "breadcrumbs" for the Enterprise to follow which causes Data and his ship to fall into his hands, that would make sense. Or if the Lore Borg just start killing everyone and the Enterprise has no choice but to confront them, that makes sense. But instead they do neither. They simply wait for the Enterprise to be really foolish and chase after their bizzaro ship (who designed this thing, Escher?) and then capture everyone they care about...
8. Scavenger
As I despise "I Borg" and how everyone just goes "Borg are evil...but Hugh is so fluffy and huggable!", I like it getting thrown back into Picard's face.

But, yeah, so much else is a mess. I haven't seen this in years, but, IIRC, Picard, Geordi, and Troi take a break, hang out on the hill having tea and crumpets till 10 minuntes later, Troi turns her head barely to the left and notices the big building of evil.
Lee VanDyke
9. Cloric
The main thing I noticed about this episode was the background music. Was it just my episode on Netflix on my Xbox, or did anyone else notice that the opening titles, and for at least a good 10 minutes into the episode, the best way I can describe it is like somone either stretched out the tape on a reel-to-reel, or placed their finger on a record spinning on a turn-table. It was horribly distracting.
10. Lalo
I just rewatched this a few weeks ago, I forgot about Hugh at that point (which is ridiculous as it was one of my favorite episodes to yell at the screen about during Seven of Nine's rehumanization) so I was like 'wait what's up with this 'I' BS?'

I never quite understood why just because the Borg were disconnected from the Collective they didn't disintegrate? Does the Collective send a vaporize killswitch when they go offline?
Christopher Bennett
11. ChristopherLBennett
@10: I don't think there's any evidence that Borg drones automatically disintegrate on disconnection -- otherwise Picard would've gone poof at the end of "Best of Both Worlds." Evidently it's something that has to be specifically triggered, not an automatic failsafe.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
12. Lisamarie
MikeKelm, your synopsis made me laugh. Although I think I might still give the episode a slightly higher rating, if for no other reason that Data's emotional struggles are interesting (although agreed at how easy it is to persuade him!)

I always thought it was a little weird that they left Crusher on board. I can see that maybe they wanted Troi because she could sense people, but it seems like you'd want, oh, I don't know, your DOCTOR to come with you on a mission like that. Or at least manning the sick bay so they could beam up injuries, while somebody like Picard/Riker was in command onboard the ship. It just kind of seemed like a 'how do we get Crusher in command' plot point.
Keith DeCandido
13. krad
Quoth Scavenger: "I haven't seen this in years, but, IIRC, Picard, Geordi, and Troi take a break, hang out on the hill having tea and crumpets till 10 minuntes later, Troi turns her head barely to the left and notices the big building of evil."

It's not as bad as you're remembering it. As they're climbing up the hill, they all take a pause, and Picard takes the opportunity to make a suggestion to La Forge on how they might narrow the search. While La Forge is shooting the theory down at unnecessary length, Troi decides to climb the rest of the way up the hill, probably to keep her mind from going numb from all the technobabble. So she reaches the top first, and notices the evil building of evil once she gets there.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
adam miller
14. adamjmil
So basically Geordi should have said "Captain, the search grid is irrelevant, as the plot and episode time limit dictate that we need to find the evil building of evil within the next 2 minutes, so let's just keep walking and we'll see it."

oh, and what MikeKelm said :). What do they say about plot holes you can drive a truck through?

Here's a question: how far away would Troi have to be to sense the occupants of the evil building of evil? She can sometimes (as the plot requires of course) sense deception to someone they are talking to on another ship over the viewscreen - which is presumably a considerable distance compared to, say, the width of a continent on the ground. Or does the distance not matter because the ship to ship skype will also transmit the telepathic whatevers the Troi senses?

p.s. even though probably unintentional, i definitely prefer 'evil building of evil' to 'big building of evil'. Sounds so much more eviler :).
Dayne Jon Zachrison
15. DayneZ
Unrelated to the episode, (sorry, I'm behind) I just had a word nerd collision. KRAD, you were quoted in one of my favorite emails that also goes by an acronym, AWAD. Quoth "A Word A Day" to illustrate today's word, xerophyte:
"Saavik's bemused comment when Captain Howe, her former first officer, had sent her a 'get well cactus' was that on Vulcan it was a superfluous xerophyte." Keith R.A. DeCandido; Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War; Simon & Schuster; 2004.
Congratulations on being a nerd on multiple platforms/levels.
Keith DeCandido
16. krad
DayneZ: That wasn't actually one of mine, as such -- I'm credited there because my name's on the cover of Tales of the Dominion War as the editor who put the anthology together. But that actual quote was from "Blood Sacrifice" by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz.

Having said that, it was still pretty cool.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
David Stumme
17. grenadier
Thanks for the corrections about Burton and BBT. Spiner and the action figure jokes apparently stuck with me longer.
18. Susurrin
Yes, Burton has, playing himself in one of this season's episodes, "The Habitation Configuration," guest starring on Sheldon's web cast after Sheldon had to remove Wil Wheaton as a guest because Amy (his director) didn't think he was naturalistic on camera.
That would make his 2nd appearance on Big Bang then. He appeared briefly in an earlier season (I think 4) where Sheldon invited Stewart, Zack, and Kripke over (along with Levar Burton). Levar walks in to see Stewart in a bath towel singing karaoke with the others and immediately turns around and leaves announcing that he was done with Twitter.
19. Gerry__Quinn
Unless Einstein is the biggest fish of all time, raising 2.5 x the pot with the effective nuts is hardly sensible play by Hawking...
Mike S2
20. MikeS2
There are just too many things that have to happen exactly the right way for this episode to unfold this way, and none of them are typical for Picard and the Enterprise.
This. Before reading the rewatches I never really thought about things happening 'because the plot needs them to.' But that having a massive search party go down was so Picard could be in the confrontation (and part 2) was so obvious a child could see it. Beaming down most of the crew including the captain and senior officers in the middle of hostilities, leaving the doctor in charge is so stupid it crashes the episode.

Throw in the convenient, obvious-before-it-happens element that Picard's group will find whatever is going to be found, and most of the tension is blown. Really too bad, California hills are pretty and it was nice to see crowds of extras in uniform doing something outside, it would have been nice if it wasn't part of a series of contrivances to get to the final scene.

Kudos to whoever's been picking the pictures lately, which I think was mentioned at one point was not Keith. Perfect still of the guard apparently on Facebook or Reddit or something; I wonder if they deliberately planned the "I'm totally working" face or if it just happened that the normal background extra pretending to work had that face when you freeze-frame it.
21. RMS
I don't think Troi would have sensed much of anything negative from the Borg or Lore. Isn't it pretty clear by this point in the series that if someone believes their motives are good she won't sense evil? She couldn't sense deception from Ardra in "Devil's Due" either because the con-artist believed so strongly in what she was doing that her feelings were genuine rather than deceptive.
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@21: No, that wasn't the reason Deanna couldn't read Ardra. Her exact words were, "She has an incredibly focused mind. It was virtually impossible to sense any deception. Or anything else, for that matter." The idea was that she was such a skilled con artist/magician that she controlled all her "tells" even on a mental level. It wasn't about belief or emotion, it was about self-discipline and concentration.

And she doesn't sense "good" or "evil," which are abstract moral concepts. She senses emotion, and can certainly tell the difference between, say, kindness and homicidal rage, even if the person feeling the rage thinks it's morally justified.
Keith DeCandido
23. krad
The mighty Chris Lough of picks the pics, and a bang-up job he does, too. I always love it when the entries go live just so I can see which ones he picked......

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
24. RMS
@#22: Then the only reason that explains why she couldn't sense their trap was because they weren't experiencing belligerent or deceptive emotions until they actually started firing on them.

Maybe the Borg also have incredibly focused minds.
25. Ashcom
I must admit, there are several plot holes, but I greatly enjoyed this episode right up until the point when Captain Picard said "everyone, including you and me, must now go down to the surface" at which point any semblance of reality flew out of the window. So, we're at war with the most dangerous enemy in the universe, right, so the best thing to do now is leave the ship under the command of a medical doctor, while the captain and chief engineer go off to do grunt work. Oh, and when we get to the surface, all the command officers will go off with the search parties, leaving a couple of blokes we've never heard of before to command the search. Yep, it's decisions like this that show just why they made me a captain!
26. Heather Dunham
@9. "The main thing I noticed about this episode was the background music. Was it just my episode on Netflix on my Xbox, or did anyone else notice that the opening titles, and for at least a good 10 minutes into the episode, the best way I can describe it is like somone either stretched out the tape on a reel-to-reel, or placed their finger on a record spinning on a turn-table. It was horribly distracting."

I watched this episode today on Netflix Canada -- and had the same unfortunate effect. My 6yo daughter came in the room during the opening credits and said "hey, they changed the music again -- it's going all EEaaEEaaEEaa" It was hilarious...
27. Brandric
I'm sorry, but everyone seems to have missed a HUGE problem in the plot, that simply should NEVER have happened in the ST universe! Admiral Nacheyev orders Picard that if he gets a chance to wipe out all the Borg again, he must do it! So--a single admiral of Starfleet has the authority (not to mention the chutzpa) to orderr the annhilation of an entire species?! Oh, right--humanity if threated by them! That makes it OK! Just like the nazis felt world Jewry threatened humanity, so they were justified in the Holocaust?! No, no, no! The nazis were idiots--there was no real threat there! The Borg, though, they ARE a real threat! Nonsense. Guinan survived (and I'll bet others of her species did too). There are thousands (or more) of human-settled planets. The Borg cannot get them all! And even if they could, wiping out the Borg by Humans, makes the Humans being wiped out by the Borg, two sides of the same coin. We are no better than them!
In any case, would anyone accept the order of an admiral to wipe out all Romulans? Or Vulcans? Or Hortas? Of course not! It would be unethical, completely anathema to the Star Trek Universe! So what makes it OK to suggest it for the Borg? Because they are all the same? But we have seen repeatedly that they are not--and in several episodes after this one (and in the films), we see there are different kinds of Borg, good & bad, independent and collective, leaders and followers--gosh, just as if they were people, like us! That is why the whole idea of Nacheyev blithely ordering their extinction (and Picard agreeing with her!!). is so wrong.
28. Kevin Lindgren
You're right, Brandric. This scene is disturbing and odd, along with a few other moments in the much-lauded season six. Picard's apparent believe in the concept of the afterlife, completely out of character, comes to mind, along with Worf's increasingly strong case on Klingon fundementalism. This era also marks the introduction of the Cardassians, an alien culture which seems designed to be an analog of whatever "Third World" state our media happened to be persecuting at any given time: swarthy, scary, ugly, pockmarked foreigners. Again, disturbing. Apparently, Roddenberry was hardly on to his Heavenly Reward before the writers were eagerly chucking his humanistic atheism and all-cultures-have-value diversity perspectives. This is an egregious example though, that really stands out as something someone should've corrected. I guess none of the fine writers and producers noticed anything wrong.
29. Tuomas*
The review explains the other physics in-jokes in the opening scene, but I think Einstein's “all the quantum fluctuations in the universe will not change the cards in your hand” is also supposed to be such a joke. Einstein was, famously, sceptical of quantum theory (hence his oft-quoted "God doesn't play dice" line), which Hawking obviously supports. I assume the line is supposed to be Einstein's dig towards quantum mechanics in general, and Hawking in particular, that "his" theory won't help him now.

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