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Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 3 E 26 S 4 E 1 The Best Of Both Worlds
Series:Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 3, Episode 26 and Season 4, Episode 1
Title:"The Best of Both Worlds"
Previous: Transfigurations
Next: Family
Recapper: Rms Oceanic

Part One

The Enterprise responds to a colony's distress call, finding a hole in the ground when they arrive (an inverted Colony Drop?). They identify that this hole is identical to holes made near the Romulan Neutral Zone and the Star System J-25, so it appears that the Borg has finally taken an active interest in the Federation and has begun an invasion. In response to this, Admiral Hanson assigns Lieutenant-Commander Shelby, leader of a dedicated anti-Borg taskforce, to the Enterprise, recommending to Picard that he assign her as First Officer as Riker has been offered command of the USS Melbourne.

Shelby rubs Riker up the wrong way as they analyse the remains of the colony and try to devise anti-Borg tactics. She acts boldly, sometimes circumventing the chain of command to enact her ideas. It doesn't help that everyone seems to go to her for suggestions, even though it was Riker that was actually aboard a Borg vessel. And worst of all, she beats his bluff in a poker game. Commenting on her style to Picard, Picard muses that this reminds him of how Riker was before the beard, and recommends to Riker that he take the position on the Melbourne. Riker talks with Troi about this, considering whether he's become too comfortable, too "safe" aboard the Enterprise.

Eventually the Borg Cube is sighted nearby and the Enterprise intercepts it, hoping to keep it occupied while Starfleet assembles The Cavalry. The Borg surprise everyone by contradicting Q's previous statements and addressing Picard by name, demanding that he surrender himself. The Cube is unaffected by everything the Enterprise throws at it, so the ship flees into a nearby nebula that looks suspiciously like the Mutara Nebula. Inside the nebula, a plan is devised to modify the Deflector Array into a Wave Motion Gun. During this latest brainstorming session Riker and Shelby clash yet again, and Shelby spells it out for Riker: What's happening with the Borg is far more important than his own insecurities, and she's not going to let him stop her trying her best.

Picard tours the ship as it makes repairs and preparations, eventually discussing with Guinan about how this could be considered a pivotal moment in Federation history. Then the ship shakes; the Borg are deploying space depth charges to flush out the Enterprise. Flushed out they are, and after some Borg beam aboard and swat Worf aside, they capture Picard and bring him aboard the cube, which now heads directly for Earth with the Enterprise in pursuit. Aboard the cube, Picard refuses to say anything but the Borg have ways of making him talk...

Riker prepares a boarding party to rescue Picard and knock the cube out of warp, as the jury-rigged deflector can only be fired at sublight. He plans to lead that away team, but Troi points out that since he is now in command, his place is on the bridge, so he has to defer to Shelby yet again. Aboard the cube, the drones decide the party is not their problem until they shoot the Upside Down Warp Pyramid Thingy, which kicks the hornet's nest. Modified phasers keep the drones at bay until they see Picard. Yay! Wait...why is he dressed in black with metal on his face?

A forcefield means the party can't reach Picard, so they beam back to the Enterprise. The deflector array is ready to fire, but Picard is still on the cube, and it won't stay out of warp for long. Before we can dwell on this, the Enterprise is hailed.

Fortunately Riker decides to undergo some Character Development and get over his self-doubt with three short words...

Part Two

After charging it for three months, the Enterprise fires its Wave Motion Gun at the cube...and it has no effect. The Borg have used Picard's knowledge of it to adapt.

Locutus of Borg: The knowledge and experience of the human Picard is now part of us. It has prepared us for all possible courses of action. Your resistance is hopeless... Number One.

The cube then continues on its course for Earth. After all, it's not like they'd want to assimilate the most powerful ship in the fleet or anything. Enterprise contacts Admiral Hanson, who agrees with Riker's decision and grants him a field promotion to Captain. He's assembling a fleet to intercept the cube at Wolf 359, and Riker orders that the Enterprise rendezvous with them as soon as possible.

Back on the Borg Cube, Picard/Locutus undergoes further Borg modification, being fitted with a mechanical arm and additional cybernetic implants.

On the Enterprise, Riker speaks with Worf and Shelby how they should stop the Borg since they are now familiar with Starfleet's strategies. During his conversation, he's informed by Data that Starfleet has engaged the Borg at Wolf 359. Riker returns to the bridge, receiving a hail from Hanson, who says the battle is not going well, but his ship is destroyed mid-transmission.

The Enterprise speeds to Wolf 359, hoping they can still help. After much consideration, Riker appoints Shelby as his first officer, and asks his fellow officers to continue devising any anti-Borg strategies.

Later, Riker muses in what is now his ready room about the situation, when Guinan comes in. He's proved that he can still be bold and make the big choices, but he's still living in Picard's shadow, comparing his own style with what Picard would do. Guinan calls him out on this: Despite her own friendship with Picard, she urges him to forge his own path. It's his ship, his room, his chair, and so he should be able to make his own decisions. With this pep talk over, Riker finally takes his seat in the Ready Room, but not before The Enterprise arrives at Wolf 359 to discover it's become a Derelict Graveyard. Picard's knowledge of Starfleet technology and tactics allowed the Borg to wipe out the fleet, and even The Sisko couldn't prevent it. Among the lost ships was the Melbourne, the ship Riker was offered command of.

The Enterprise catches up to the cube once again and hails them. Riker attempts to offer terms of negotiation, but Locutus suspects that this is a deception. He is correct, as the saucer and stardrive seperate and engage the cube. The real deception, however, is that Worf and Data sneak aboard the cube during the fight, capture Locutus and bring him aboard the Enterprise. Despite attempts to reach Picard, he's still firmly part of the Borg Collective and decides to taunt Riker with his own self-doubt. Riker doesn't fall for it, so they opt for a new plan: Data will engage in a little Hollywood Hacking, using Locutus' connection to the Borg to access the cube's systems.

The cube has now reached Earth, so the Enterprise engages in a Last Stand battle. Data attempts to disable the Borg's weapons and power systems, but they're too heavily protected. Riker dips into the fountain of Character Development one more time and orders Wesley to ram the Cube to save the Earth. However Data's influence has revealed that Picard was in there somewhere, as he now suggests "sleep." Data orders the cube's drones to begin a regeneration cycle, and it shuts down. A feedback loop is created, and the cube overloads and is destroyed.

Picard is now fully freed from the Collective, and Doctor Crusher is able to remove all the Borg implants without any problems. Riker announces he'll have to decide what he's going to do, but by the next episode he'll trip over the Reset Button and lose a pip in the process. Shelby is already leaving, joining a taskforce to rebuild and expand the lost fleet. After this harrowing experience, Picard looks out his office window and drinks some tea. Meanwhile, offscreen, the newly-widowed First Officer of the USS Saratoga starts thinking about building a new ship so this never happens again...

Tropes:

  • Adaptive Ability: The Borg, as usual. Shelby is briefly able to overcome it by having Data use his Super Speed to randomly cycle the ship's phaser frequencies faster than the Borg can adapt to them.
  • Affectionate Parody: The first half of Family Guy episode "Stewie Kills Lois" ends with a Wham Line along with the music, cut to black and credits typeface of this episode's cliffhanger.
  • Batman Gambit: Captain Riker plays this during his go at the Borg Cube to capture Locutus. It pays off: The smug expression he wears right before the commercial break after hearing that Worf and Data got him could aptly be titled "Riker Wins".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Battle of Wolf 359. 40-odd starships against the Borg cube, and the result is 39 destroyed starships and not a scratch on the Borg.
    • As the Cube enters the Solar System, we see three small ships move in to intercept, and all are destroyed effortlessly.
  • Derelict Graveyard: Wolf 359, by the time Enterprise arrives.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Riker as he faces Locutus.
    Locutus: We will proceed to Earth and if you attempt to intervene, we will destroy you.
    Riker: Then take your best shot, Locutus, because we are about to intervene.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Locutus seems to think the Borg are helping others in assimilating them.
    Locutus: Worf, Klingon species, a warrior race. You, too, will be assimilated.
    Worf: The Klingon empire will never yield.
    Locutus: Why do you resist? We only wish to raise quality of life for all species.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Battle of Wolf 359. Some of it was seen later in the Deep Space Nine pilot "Emissary".
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas:
    Shelby: Tell me, Commander, is serving aboard the Enterprise as extraordinary an experience as I've heard?
    Riker: Every bit of it.
    Shelby: (grinning) Good, Because I intend to convince Captain Picard that I'm the right choice for the job.
    Riker: Job? Which job?
    Shelby: Yours, of course...
    (Riker glares at her)
    Shelby: I'm sorry... I heard you were leaving.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Admiral Hanson views having to fight Locutus as this. He refuses to believe Jean-Luc Picard would voluntarily help the Borg and doesn't really comprehend that they have gained his knowledge against his will.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Hanson mentions that Picard was the first and only freshman cadet to ever win the Starfleet Academy Marathon, and that he passed four upperclassmen on the final hill to do it. It was "the damndest thing I ever saw", and that was when he decided he needed to get to know Picard better.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Data attempts to invoke this trope in connecting to the Borg via Locutus, with Troi standing by to confirm whether he's reached him. Subverted in that Picard doesn't willpower his way out. Instead it requires surgery and technobabble to free him. He does, however, manage to force out a hint on how to defeat the Borg.
  • Indy Hat Roll: LaForge debuts his Epic Geordi Maneuver to escape the damaged Engineering.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Deconstructed. Hanson comments that Riker's repeatedly declined command opportunities really don't reflect well on him.
  • Lost Aesop: The whole episode has Riker learning he has to be his own man if he wants to become a captain, which he does, succeeding in both saving Picard and beating the Borg, but after this episode, he goes back to being a Commander and second-in-command of the Enterprise, not having his own command again until Star Trek: Nemesis. And it's even worse when you consider the Expanded Universe which had Shelby becoming a captain before him. Particularly egregious given that Riker had been formally promoted, not merely made an "Acting Captain"...and it had already been established that there's no rule against a ship's captain and first officer simultaneously holding the rank of Captain.
  • Mind Rape: Picard's assimilation.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Wolf 359 has been called "Starfleet's 9/11". Picard's character also changed as a result.
  • Permission to Speak Freely: Shelby to Riker in Part 1.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The Locutus twist was created because Patrick Stewart was considering leaving the show.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Riker gets one by Shelby in Part 1.
    Riker: You disagree with me, fine. You need to take it to the Captain, fine; through me. You do an end run around me again, I'll snap you back so hard you'll think you're a first-year cadet again.
    Riker: By all means.
    Shelby: You're in my way.
    Riker: Really? How terrible for you!
    Shelby: All you know how to do is play it safe. I suppose that's why someone like you sits in the shadow of a great man for as long as you have, passing up one command after another.
    Riker: When it comes to this ship and this crew, you're damned right I play it safe.
    Shelby: If you can't make the big decisions, Commander, I suggest you make room for someone who can.
  • Single Tear: Picard when he is assimilated.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Borg's control net couldn't be subverted to shut down their weapons or power systems, but it could be made to send them all to sleep.
    • Earlier in the episode, Shelby surmises from their use of different phaser frequencies that the Borg are vulnerable to higher frequencies. But Picard's assimilation ensures that they are able to take steps against it, rendering the deflector weapon useless.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Enterprise's makeshift deflector weapon.
  • Wham Episode
  • Wham Line: Full of them:
    • First, upon encountering the Borg:
    Picard: Mr. Worf, dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson. We have engaged the Borg.
    [...]
    Borg: Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the starship Enterprise registry NCC-1701-D, you will lower your shields and transport yourself aboard our vessel. If you do not comply, we will destroy your ship.
    • After the Borg abduct Picard:
    Worf: Sir, the coordinates they have set, they are on a direct course to Sector 001...the Terran System!
    Riker: Earth.
    Data: We were unable to retrieve him. The Captain has been altered by the Borg.
    Riker: Altered?
    Worf: He IS a Borg!
    • The end of Part I:
    Riker: Mr. Worf, fire!
    • The beginning of Part II:
    Locutus: The knowledge and experience of the human Picard is part of us now. It has prepared us for all possible courses of action. Your resistance is hopeless... Number One.
    • Arriving at Wolf 359:
    Shelby (looking at the wrecks of destroyed starships at Wolf 359): The Tolstoy...the Kyushu...the Melbourne.note .
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Admiral Hanson mentions that the Klingons are sending a fleet to help Starfleet, but we never hear anything more of it.
    • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Unity" does show flashbacks of a Borg Cube fighting Klingon ships.
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: One of her most noteworthy, when she tells Riker that as captain, he has to stop comparing himself to Picard.
Star Trek The Next Generation S 3 E 25 TransfigurationsRecap/Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek The Next Generation S 4 E 2 Family

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