Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 6 E 24 S 7 E 1 Descent
Two-part, season-ending-and-beginning sequel to the fifth season episode "I, Borg." Hugh is an abandoned Borg drone rescued from an icy planet. An opportunity to destroy the collective from within is passed up in favor of Hugh's emerging individuality; he is returned to the collective and re-assimilated. OR WAS HE?!
Part I:Data engages in a rather spirited game of poker, but not with his crewmates this time — but with three geniuses from different eras of history, who each had a hand in humanity's advanced space exploration he and his crewmates enjoy today! Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of gravity; Albert Einstein, discoverer of the theory of Relativity; and Dr. Stephen Hawking, pioneer of quantum physics, are his holographic opponents. Sir Isaac seems a little full of himself, as he recounts the (apocryphal; Newton takes great offense to Data pointing this out) tale of the apple falling on his head as the most momentous day in the history of science! Einstein tries to return the group to the game, but math is apparently not his strong suit. Upon Newton's complaints about the uselessness of the game, Data replies that he was curious as to how three of history's greatest minds would interact in this setting. So far, he notes, it has proved to be most illuminating. Einstein believes that Hawking is bluffing, but ever with the consummate poker face, Hawking comes out with four of a kind sevens, as well as a bright smile. Just then, Red Alert is sounded! Data saves and ends the program and reports to the bridge...The strategically-unimportant outpost at Ohniaka III is under attack! Orbiting the planet from which no response has been given since the attack is an unknown ship. It could be another victim, or the attackers; there's too much interference to tell, or if there are any survivors below, so Riker summons Worf and Data to head down to the outpost.Beaming down with another security personnel, they start a room-to-room search while stepping through numerous bodies slumped on consoles or sprawled on the ground, killed with a "forced plasma beam" (perhaps named such to oppose the PHASEd energy Rectification?) which, while used by the Ferengi, seems too brutal an attack for them... Data bypasses a door and opens it to reveal... A BORG!Credits sequence!HOLY CRAP they have RANGED WEAPONS now! Riker dives just in time to avoid another group of forced plasma bolts, while Data, seemingly unseen by the Borg, puts it down with a phaser shot to the gut. One, two, THREE more drones step out from a corner and TAKE COVER as they continue to fire their integral weapons... Suddenly the unknown ship attacks the Enterprise! Several strong beam attacks later, we're back to the outpost. Data takes a few melee hits from a drone, but takes him down with his android strength. No doubt these tactics are strange to the Enterprise crew, but what's even more strange is when a drone EXPRESSES RAGE over the death of a fellow drone!Riker stares nonplussed as the drone stays crouched behind his cover and tactically analyzes his opponents, while the second remaining drone makes the Red Shirt-of-a-different-color live up to her name. Worf takes the drone down, while yet another engages Data in single combat. They grapple, all the while Data BECOMING MORE ANGRY as he orders the drone to stop repeatedly, finally shouting as he chokes the life out of the drone, throws it against the wall with all his might and examines its dead face callously.The covering drone notices the android at his bloody work and analyzes him, saying his rank and name, much to Riker's alarm... How does this drone know us, and how are they NOT MINDLESS AUTOMATONS? And for that matter, Data SNAPPED... What. The remaining drone stands and is beamed away along with the corpses of his compatriots, and the ship moves off... Picard fires some torpedoes but doesn't hit a thing, as suddenly the ship vanishes with a curious effect! Frustrated, Picard orders the ship back to pick up his team.Riker and Worf slowly approach Data, who can only offer the explanation for his actions: "I got angry." Captain's log summary: Data is understandably disturbed by his actions and sudden emotional display at the outpost and asks to be relieved of duty, but this means his incredible mind cannot be put to use explaining the ALLCAPS behavior of the Borg...Riker makes a somewhat racist comparison to Klingons in how the Borg acted, but Worf sincerely takes no offense at this; he saw the behavior too and agrees with Riker's assessment. Riker and Worf also discuss the fact that a Borg referred to itself as 'I' and showed concern for a fallen comrade, calling him by name. Troi points out that the only Borg who ever HAD a name instead of a quantifying designation was Hugh, because they gave it to him... Crusher gives some blatantly obvious foreshadowing, while Picard raises the question of the Borg's showing any interest in assimilation, but no - obviously they were there to kill, and with extreme prejudice. That's not the Borg we know - they would consider that wasteful. Picard surmises that if the Borg have a new objective other than acquiring cultures and technology, they must know what it is. He issues orders to that end...Running an analysis on Data in Engineering, Geordi can find nothing 'physically' wrong with him. They have an existential discussion on the nature of emotion. Geordi offers several examples of how he feels when he's angry, but finds it very difficult to do so without referencing another emotion. Geordi expresses the very justifiable concern that if this is truly an emotion that Data is feeling, that it would certainly be bad if anger was the only one he could feel...HEY, Nechayev's back. You remember, she was the one who attached Captain Edward Jellico to the Enterprise when Picard was captured by the Cardassians? She's now heading up a task force preparing for a Borg invasion, and assigns the Enterprise to a group along with two other ships. She also takes Picard to task for letting Hugh go, and despite his explanations of his need to respect Hugh's rights as an individual, orders him to take advantage of his next opportunity to destroy the Borg. He stiffly responds in the affirmative, and Nechayev, apparently satisfied, walks out.Data is in a counseling session with Troi, and explains that he's tried to evoke an emotional response, even sexual arousal (A Date With Pale Golden Palms?), to no avail. Data, however, is ignoring the emotion that actually happened to him, anger, being afraid (well, as afraid as an android can be) of its negativity. But Troi points out that emotions aren't positive or negative, but it's what we do with those feelings that matters. Data reiterates Geordi's concern that anger and hatred may be the only emotions he's capable of, to which Troi replies that she doesn't believe Data would become a bad human, if he ever approaches humanity. But then Data reveals his own Fridge Horror; when he looks back on his fighting the Borg, he was experiencing another sensation: pleasure. To this Troi has no response, but only looks on, faintly disturbed.Riker's in full Red Alert mode, ordering the Enterprise to the New Berlin colony at maximum warp... but it was a false alarm, third one today; dang Ferengi! Picard, annoyed, orders another copy of the ship recognition protocols to be sent along with the acknowledgment.Picard's watching a lightly-edited clip from "I, Borg," in which Crusher and Geordi realize that Hugh is a great name for the drone because of its similarity to the word "you." Riker comes in with Geordi's report on how the Borg ship escaped the Enterprise's pursuit back at Ohniaka III; an artificially created energy conduit could be anything, and Picard snaps that he doesn't want excuses, he wants ANSWERS! Riker actually GLOWERS, not used to being talked to like this from his friend, even if he is a superior officer, but Picard's feeling unease, even guilt, after what Nechayev said. Hugh was in the ready room; Picard had the perfect opportunity to wipe out the most deadly adversary the Federation had ever known; he had the perfect reason and motive, but when he saw and got to know Hugh, he hesitated, and eventually relented against his foe, because of this one representative who showed such humanity. Riker says it was the moral thing to do, but it may turn out, points out Picard, that it was not the RIGHT thing to do.Geordi comes upon Data in the holodeck with a Borg, trying to duplicate his emotional outburst (complete with characteristically flaccid orders of "stop"), but finds it impossible, despite how 'difficult' he raises the simulation to. He even wants to disable the safety protocols, thinking that it was his being in mortal danger that triggered the response, but Geordi refuses to give his authorization, saying he's not willing to risk his friend and colleague on a theory that may prove to be wrong. As it turns out, Geordi had the right idea, and if he had gone ahead and given his authorization, Data might have been killed by a hologram for nothing. Before the argument goes too far, RED ALERT!This time, the MS 1 Colony IS under attack, and Picard Lampshades the Contrived Coincidence that the Enterprise has been the nearest ship to both Borg attacks so far. This time, the crew wants to be ready, but it seems like the attack is over already, and the Borg ship starts generating its subspace distortion it used to escape last time. The Enterprise gives chase, and is pulled inside the distortion! A brilliant, bright blue corridor is what greets the Enterprise crew, so bright the whole bridge is lit up! Before plans to escape the corridor can be enacted, we return to normal space, but we don't immediately know where we are. What we DO know is that the Borg are aware that we tagged along, and are coming about for the kill. They fire a green bolt at us, and immediately two drones beam onto the bridge. They kill another Red(Yellow)Shirt before Worf takes them both down, but their ship abandons them. This is another new tactic, though a diversionary one... the Borg don't abandon their dead without vaporizing them! But one is still alive...In a holding cell Crusher stabilizes the drone and awakens him under protest; she and Worf get out before he wakes up completely. Picard asks what his designation is; he doesn't HAVE one, but he has a name: Crosis, given to him by the One. The One who will destroy the Federation, says Crosis. Picard is unused to this new individuality and destructive nature exhibited by the Borg, and inquires further about the One, even as Crosis attempts to breach the force field to no avail. Crosis ignores Picard's questions, and instead rattles off the most efficient ways to kill the two species he sees before him. Picard takes another tack, once again assuming the role of Locutus as he did with Hugh and ordering the drone to answer him; Crosis NoSells. Picard orders Crusher to do an autopsy on the killed drone while orders Data to do a Techno Babble to see if Crosis is calling home.When they are alone, Crosis starts talking to Data in a very Just Between You and Me fashion, saying he can be assimilated instead of destroyed. He then starts to exhibit a... disturbing level of control over Data's emotions, grilling him on his newfound feelings. (Behind him, the brig officer fails to hear or notice that Crosis seems to be inciting Data to disaffect...) Data ostensibly remains an ethical being, however, and points out it would be unethical to feel pleasure over another being's death. But the fact remains, he did feel it. Crosis notices his 'conscience' that Dr. Soong gave him didn't seem to be working when he felt that grisly pleasure. Data's fear seems to be growing as he makes an excuse to ask Crosis to step away, but Crosis does not. He realizes that for Data, it was a very potent experience, feeling that surge of pleasure, and knows that Data would do ANYTHING to feel that way again... even kill... Data expresses again his ethical programming, but his resolve seems weaker, a fact Crosis picks up on... He presses further, asking if Data has a friend; Data mentions Geordi. Crosis asks, if it meant Data could feel that pleasure again, would he kill his friend? Both of them exhibit slight SlasherSmiles as Data admits, YES, HE WOULD.Geordi talks about the Transwarp conduits that the Borg use making a traversing vessel up to 20 times faster than emergency warp speed; Picard asks if the tachyon pulse used to open them could be duplicated; suddenly, Worf reports that a shuttlecraft has departed! It's holding Data and Crosis, and now we see what the brig officer's lack of attention has gotten his crew. Attempts to tractor the shuttle fail, as the tractor beam's been disabled and command overrides are not functioning. We also see, yes, the tachyon pulse CAN be duplicated, as the shuttle vanishes into transwarp just like the larger Borg ship... DRAMATIC THREE SHOTTT...Geordi's set up a Techno Babble so we can follow Data and Crosis, and RED ALERT and we've made a transwarp jump of our own! We come out 65 light years away, in ten seconds... WOW. The shuttle's energy signature leads to a planet, and (eventually) a sizable part of the Enterprise crew beam down to organize a search. Our fugitives do have over three hours' head start, after all.Picard and Geordi themselves will be in the search parties, and Crusher is now in command of a skeleton crew on board. Picard gives orders for Crusher to RUN if she's attacked.The search teams gather in the middle of nowhere that is the shuttle's touch-down point, and start spreading out...In an almost Behind the Black scenario, Troi spots a large building in a valley below them; the team start moving towards it, and make their way inside...The first thing they see is a strange claw-like, or torch-like symbol on the floor, and tapestries bearing the same. Picard realizes that a dampening field has been cast over the building, and decides to make their way outside to contact the others. But before they can do much, a horde of Borg descend upon them, surrounding them oppressively. The Red(Yellow)Shirt aims at one, but is taken down by another before a loud, commanding voice suddenly echoes, "STOP!" Picard, Troi and Geordi turn to see...Data? All in black... Troi obviously feels overwhelming hatred as she says, "That's not Data..."The golden imp in black grins devilishly as he says, "You should listen to her, Captain. She's way ahead of you."Picard realizes in horror, "Lore!"And he's not alone; Data, still in his Starfleet uniform stands beside him, and grins to match his brother as he says, "The Sons of Soong have joined together... and together, we will destroy the Federation."DUN DUN DUNNNN!
Part 2:Data has become capable of emotions, due to Lore's reprogramming the emotion chip that he stole to broadcast its effect over distance (this much is obvious, but is not stated until later). Determined to control the situation, Lore demands that he be the one to tell the Enterprise crew what's up, not Data. It now becomes obvious that Lore is in command of these Borg, a splinter faction created when the Enterprise crew sent Hugh back to the collective. And Lore has found his true calling. Without any sense of connection or emotion to his former comrades, Data leads them away to a holding cell...Back on the Enterprise, Crusher is Acting Captain as established in the first part, and she needs to modify the ship's sensors to cut through the EM interference preventing them from helping search for Data. Ensign Taitt, newly assigned to the Enterprise, is given the task, which she rises to swimmingly; Riker calls in just as she brings her modifications online. Unfortunately the mods aren't nearly strong enough to find anyone on Picard's team; all that interference takes time to cut through... or maybe it's something else...Suddenly a Borg ship bears down on them, chasing them away, but Crusher gets several rescue parties back before she has to obey her orders and run. Riker and Worf choose to stay behind as the Borg ship opens fire; the Enterprise returns (ineffective) fire and gets away from the planet. The transporter chief says they left 47 behind.Riker laments to Worf that it'll be a few days before Starfleet can get ships to the planet; until then, they and the rescue parties are on their own...Data leads Geordi, Troi and Picard to a holding cell, and tells them he realizes now that his time has been wasted aboard the Enterprise, that his place is by his brother's side, effecting the bleak future he envisions. As he rips the communicators from their chests, Troi notes she's only felt anger and hatred from Data, to which he replies those are the only ones that matter. Data relieves Geordi of his VISOR, leaving him blinded with his milky white pupils. As he leaves he parrots what Lore said, with a modification: "I am not your puppet anymore."Against orders, Crusher decides to return to the planet, but sends their log entries in a buoy back through the conduit to be safe. Lieutenant Barnaby relieves Taitt at Tactical; they work together to come up with a plan to beam up as many people as they can before the Borg detect them, using the planet as a barrier to detection; that might buy them the crucial seconds. A bit of snarkery and rank-pulling later, and we're on our way...Riker and Worf do their best to find their people...while inside the Temple, Data hands the VISOR to Lore, who jokes around with it; Data is not amused, as he DID pull the appliance off his friend who needs it to see. But Lore needs Geordi's implants, which interface with his brain and are visible when the VISOR is off, to run a horrific experiment, which has resulted in many dead or debilitated Borg; Lore thinks that using humans might protect the Borg from further injury, and Data agrees...Just then, Crosis (remember him?) brings in a drone who has disconnected from him, and seems very fearful, doubtful of the cause; for all the evil we've seen Lore do, we might expect him to kill this wayward drone, but he instead gives a Rousing Speech, which seems to work.Geordi reveals what I mentioned at the beginning of this part; he could see that Lore had indeed modified the emotion chip to broadcast its effect, and the carrier wave that emitted from Lore was as clear as day, so Geordi's visor had to go. For that to work, though, Data's ethical program had to be deactivated, something we saw in the previous part had been done by Crosis. Geordi says that a Techno Babble should reboot the program and bring our Data back, but how to do it is the problem... Suddenly Data comes in and takes Geordi away, and attempts to talk Data down at this point, naturally, fail.Riker and Worf, in searching for the Temple, come across a group of Borg walking around outside. They conceal themselves and let them pass, then survey their surroundings. THEY FOUND IT! But D'OH, the Borg found them! Surrounded, they led themselves be led into a lower entrance, into caves...where they find an angry, embittered Hugh! "Hasn't the crew of the Enterprise caused enough damage already?" he rails, and explain how the heroes broke it by giving Hugh his sense of individuality; it did indeed pass to others, and a splinter faction formed, confused and non-functional without the purity of thought that only their hive mind provided, and sought escape from the collective. They fled to this planet, led by Hugh, and were extremely vulnerable when Lore found them. This allowed him to subjugate them, promising them the control they so needed, and filled their heads with promises of being more perfect beings.After awhile it became clear to everyone that Lore didn't know WHAT he was doing, and driven by his ambition and lack of respect for life, began his insane experiments; he wanted to remove the biological components of the drones and make them perfectly artificial. As Hugh shows Worf and Riker, his efforts were unsuccessful. So, as this was the result of his contact with them, Hugh doesn't particularly welcome the Enterprise's crew.But Riker won't cause any more trouble for Hugh and his faction; he just wants to get his people back. Hugh asks about his friend, Geordi, and learns he's likely being held captive inside the compound; Hugh cannot help upon risk of being discovered, but can show Riker and Worf a way in.And they'd better HURRY! Geordi's on an... an articulation frame of some sort, tied in and unmoving. It lifts and tilts upward, and Data's behind it. He callously mimics Picard's voice, giving Geordi false hope of escape, before saying "Too late!" maliciously, adding that Lore's helped him work on his humor. Geordi doesn't think much of it; Data just shrugs. He uses a beam on Geordi's implants, which turns out to be a local anesthetic... Data's apparently going to use Geordi's head as a pin cushion! He DOES SO, calmly explaining he's going to try replacing Geordi's brain with an artificial one. TRY. He's going off of Lore's plan, which doesn't have a good track record as we saw in the last scene; in effect he's going to lobotomize his best friend.Data callously ignores Geordi's requests to stop, to warn him that Lore is controlling him, but continues with his work, implanting nano-cortical fibers in through Geordi's implants to match the one in his forehead. In the rather strong possibility Geordi doesn't make it, Data says he still has Troi and Picard to go all Mengele on. He actually smiles at this prospect and moves off.Troi pulls a Batman Gambit on a gullible drone, saying Picard's done a runner into the force field and gone into neural shock, threatening it with a You Have Failed Me on Lore's part. The drone lowers the force field; Picard 'revives' instantly and yanks out one of the drone's interface cables, electrocuting it. Troi checks the corridor in preparation for an escape, but it is unfortunately cut short; Data's bringing Geordi back at just that moment, threatening to break his neck if they don't drop the weapon they absconded with.In the confusion Picard managed to steal and hide part of the dead drone's transceiver, and asks Geordi if it could be modified to send out the Techno Babble he mentioned earlier to reset Data. Geordi agrees; though blind, he could still talk Picard through the Techno Babble required to do so...Back on the Enterprise, we're still trying to nail down the location of the Borg ship so we can approach the planet as stealthily as possible so we can beam our people up. We're ready to almost slam into the atmosphere of the planet and start our emergency beamouts for 45 seconds; hope it'll be enough. It almost isn't; the Borg ship attacks while the shields are down, knocking out warp drive. They Enterprise holds her own, though, until they escape again. But they can't outrun the Borg, so Crusher plots a course directly into the sun...Crusher decides to use the invention of the poor murdered Ferengi scientist, metaphasic shielding, to protect them from the sun's radiation, which does work, but for how long...Picard finishes his modifications of the transceiver, and sends out the kedion pulse with the aid of the force field; its effects almost come too late, but Data somehow realizes that what he's doing is WRONG (well, DUH) and stops just before the final act which would lobotomize his friend. He makes an excuse that somehow Geordi should be able to see right through, and goes to see his brother...At first Data mechanically rattles off a status report to Lore, but then starts to mention that he's responsible if the humans die, as they came looking for him; Lore notices this, and with an adjustment under his fingernail, cuts off the flow of emotions; Data immediately gasps as though in deep distress, but then Lore gives them back; this is not the behavior of a brother. "I just hope this helps to clarify things for you."After Data leaves Lore, both clearly disturbed, the latter commiserates with a passing Crosis that he's afraid his brother has lost the faith, that he doesn't want to be a part of the great future he's planned.The metaphasic shielding is falling apart! The Enterprise has to leave the sun's corona soon; once they do, they'll be at the mercy of the Borg. Taitt suggests using a particle beam (sort of reminds one of a certain pilot episode) to cause a solar flare that would destroy the Borg ship; but it must be accurate or it would also destroy the Enterprise! Taitt makes use of an Ironic Echo to put the grumbling Barnaby in his place. Fortunately, it works, and the Enterprise makes its own speed back to the planet.Data comes to retrieve Picard, and brings him to the main chamber. Picard tells him that removing the fibers from Geordi may be possible, but Data still tows his brother's line, that it's for the greater good. Picard probes Data to see if his ethical program is functioning yet, and it seems that it is, that what Lore's told him, is sending to him, is conflicting with what to Data is his "conscience," but he can't express or process that just yet...Lore comes in, with an announcement that Picard is to assist in a very important ceremony...Riker and Worf plot with Hugh to infiltrate the compound; as they move to execute Hugh wishes them luck; Riker glares at Hugh rather resentfully; Hugh looks on somewhat guiltily...The 'ceremony' turns out to be an ultimatum for Data to prove his loyalty to the cause: kill Picard. Data raises his weapon as Picard gazes at Data; finally, he lowers it, saying it would be wrong. Lore decides to murder his own brother in punishment; suddenly, with a Big "NO!", Hugh, Riker and Worf burst in, stopping what would have been a Fratricide and taking out several of Lore's drones. Those aligned with Hugh attack their brethren too, while Lore, seething, runs away. Data, with a very set expression, gives chase...Lore is plotting escape. He tries to tempt Data with memories that the emotion chip also contains, that he'll give Data if they go away together, but when he sees that his offers are having no impact, he tries to cripple Data by taking away his emotions again. Data sells really good, but it turns out to have no effect, as when Lore turns his own weapon on Data, he fires upon his brother, debilitating him; then, regretfully, he deactivates the rogue android, his brother. Lore's last words, as he winds down HAL 9000-style, are "I... love you... brother..." and Data simply replies, "Goodbye, Lore." He regards the now-insensate hunk of polymer and circuits impassively.Data returns to the main chamber, where Riker, Worf and Picard discuss the fact that Geordi and Troi have beamed up, the dampening field having been lifted; he informs Picard dispassionately that Lore must be disassembled, while Riker asked Hugh what made him change his mind about helping them rescue his friends; perhaps his time on the Enterprise had changed him more than he realized, and he is very fond of Geordi, anyway. In reply to his assertion that the Borg here have no leader now, with Lore gone and their being pariahs from the collective, Picard says that they already have a perfect candidate; Hugh! Perhaps in time, Hugh muses, they will learn to work as a group AND as individuals. He wishes them luck, and they depart as friends.During Geordi's recovery, he visits Data (and Spot is also in attendance!), who is contemplating the emotion chip he removed from his brother. It no longer functions, but he may find a way to repair it in the future. He decides that emotions are toxic to him and the emotion chip is better off destroyed, but Geordi talks him down from this action, saying that when he's ready, he will have friends who can help him take those dangerous but exciting next steps towards humanity.And the Adventure Continues into the seventh season...
- And I Must Scream: The Borg drones that Lore tried to turn into completely synthetic lifeforms.
- Artistic License – History: An in-universe example. The person in charge of programming Albert Einstein's holographic counterpart apparently fell for the anecdotal misconception that Einstein was bad at math, which is quite laughable when you consider he was one of history's most influential physicists. In reality, Einstein was actually an exceptional mathematician. This rumor was actually started while he was still alive, and Einstein even commented on the original article himself.Einstein: I never failed in mathematics… Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.
- As Himself: Stephen Hawking is, to date, the only person to appear as himself in a Star Trek production, playing his holographic counterpart.
- Easily Forgiven: Subverted. Data regrets the things he did to Geordi, even considering destroying the emotion chip.
- Evil Me Scares Me: Data is disturbed by the anger he experienced fighting the Borg drone, and in the end, feels so ashamed by his behavior that he contemplates destroying the emotion chip.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Picard and Troi try to trick a Borg drone by making him think Picard injured himself. They almost escape until Data comes back with Geordi.
- Noodle Incident: Geordi discusses Data trying to swim, only to sink to the bottom.
- Orphaned Punchline: How the episode starts, delivered by Stephen Hawking himself.Hawking: ...but then I said, in that frame of reference, the perihelion of Mercury would have precessed in the opposite direction.Einstein: [laughing] Zat is a great story!Data: Quite amusing, Dr. Hawking. You see, Sir Isaac, the joke depends on an understanding of the relativistic curvature of space-time. If two non-inertial reference frames are in relative motion-Newton: Do not patronize me, sir! I invented physics!
- Shoot Your Mate: Lore tries to test Data's loyalty by making him shoot Picard.
- You Are in Command Now: Every remaining main crewmember goes looking for Data, leaving Dr. Crusher in command with a skeleton crew.