Star Trek hosts Borg-o-rama in a famous two parter
The Top Ten Best Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes continues with two of the most popular Borg episodes ever, The Best of Worlds pt 1 & 2. Beginning with Q Who, the Enterprise encounters the Borg for the first time when Q slings them across the galaxy. There they learn about these cybernetic weirdos who seem bent on assimilating just about everything into its collective, including our dogs and cats, the jerks. Despite the warning from Q, humanity is still surprised anyway, and lose some big time casualties in the most famous battle never seen. For the first time ever on this show, we get a huge confrontation for all the marbles. They’re so excited, they dust the model.
This episode highlights how much Starfleet hasn’t changed since Q Who. Riker is still stuck in the same place, the same spot in his career, despite getting several offers to captain another ship. Riker’s lack of ambition and risk-taking seems to apply to Starfleet as well, as one of the Admirals confirms that they haven’t done squat since Q Who to prepare for the Borg. They’re just too busy studying clouds or some crap.
Commander Shelby comes off as a big annoyance, but upon second glance, I think she embodies everything Starfleet needs to defeat the Borg. In fact, she is solely responsible for helping the Enterprise break away from the initial encounter, saving the ship, so I guess she’s not so bad after all. Elizabeth Dennehy plays Shelby in these Borg episodes, and she does a good job. Her past experience was in soap operas, and she didn’t know a thing about Star Trek. She didn’t know the lingo and had a hard time with the dialogue, although it doesn’t really show. She does seem a little stiff, but that’s just the character, I think.
You can tell that all-new special effects were developed and used for part one, to catch the audience they needed. The original matte painting that was so great in Q Who is back again, but it was tweaked and re-used for part one. There are whole new exterior shots with the Admiral’s ship and the Enterprise in action. They haul out the twenty-foot model of the Enterprise and buy some new film. It’s a regular special effects bonanza over here.
The cliffhanger was probably the most successful thing they’ve ever done, and even made the press. After this episode, The Next Generation led the way for Star Trek, and the Original Series was not the only thing out there anymore that was amazing. Before this episode, you might say that The Next Generation were tentatively honoring the Original Series, while exploring other avenues of Star Trek lore, but came into its own afterwards. Part one earned a 9.3 rating, while part two earned a 9.2. The Inner Light tied for the best ever rating at 9.3, later on in the series, but this one was first.
Sticking with these episodes though, Star Trek soars back on the air to tremendous fanfare, and everyone learns what happens after Riker orders the Enterprise to fire on the Borg led by Picard. Nothing! Not a damn thing! The Borg take their ball and go home, leaving the Enterprise behind. The crew look for some jumper cables. There was a whole three month wait between episodes, and I didn’t really care that the whole thing was just one big fizzle. No big bang and no battle. I think the fans were happy with part two overall, because we get more drama and even more good dialogue, as in part one.
Riker is still witty, Shelby is still annoying, and Guinan is still giving advice, but they eventually rescue Picard in part two. They use the Borg’s individuality against them, put them to sleep, and defeat them. Yay. We never get to see the battle at Wolf 359, and there are no spectacular new effects for this episode, only rehashes from part one or from Q Who. In the end, Captain Picard looks haunted and can’t drink his tea. THE END. No melodrama here, folks!
Overall, this is some of the best Star Trek ever made. It certainly explores some of the concepts and themes inherently important to Star Trek, like humanity and individuality. These two episodes just spice it up a little and add some drama for good measure. There’s also nothing heavy-handed about The Best of Both Worlds, as both episodes are pretty straightforward and their strengths lie with their characters, not with the effects. The matte paintings and the models are a nice touch though. After these two episodes aired, the Borg would be enter the Star Trek lexicon as the most popular villains ever, for the next twenty years, at least. They would go on to guest-star in other Trek series, and even came aboard a movie, which goes to show you the lasting impact of what was created in these episodes and what originality really means to Star Trek.