Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Next Generatio 4x1 "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2"

rating: ****

Memory Alpha summary

Star Trek TNG Episode Guide
"I am thinking of calling it
Picard.  What do you think?"
The most famous story from The Next Generation concludes, featuring the famous Battle of Wolf 359 (to that point and arguably remaining the most famous starship battle of the franchise, depicted again and serving as the basis for Sisko's origin in the Deep Space Nine pilot "Emissary") as Locutus (the assimilated Picard) and the Borg are defeated.

Where the first part focused on Riker's unwillingness to assume his own command, the second part is a full depiction of what it would look like.  Naturally he's completely competent.  He's willing to take advice from anyone, even Guinan, who offers the chilling thought that maybe Picard really is gone for good.  Except that's not good enough for Riker, who quickly undertakes a bold plan to kidnap him back, using the Borg's own passivity against unperceived threats against them.

From there it becomes what even the creators of the episode sometimes fretted as an anticlimactic way to end the epic: inside Data's lab.  Except it's a perfectly Next Generation thing to do, perfectly characterizing the more cerebral aspects of the series and allowing its logic to play out in ways that maybe were never quite pulled off with the same aplomb again.  Picard offering, at a subconscious level, the Borg command that is in effect synonymous with the computer virus of Independence Day (there's really nothing wrong with either means of victory), is a clever way to avoid a merely physical conclusion, thought instead of fought.

Then the episode ends in a way that would later become a trademark of Deep Space Nine, and sometimes featured in Enterprise: with the emotional damage of the preceding events felt.  Next Generation itself would only do it once more, at the end of "Chain of Command."  Both times are brilliantly realized in their complete understatement.  Picard emerges as more and more relatable because of moments like these, as he expresses rare vulnerability in a leading man.

This is how you tell big stories in Star Trek.

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Elizabeth Dennehy
Whoopi Goldberg
Colm Meaney
George Murdock

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