Ah, the Borg. The scariest of the various enemy alien races that Next Generation ever came up with. But they had to appear somewhere first, and Jimmy and Tom got to that very episode.
And Q is along for the ride.
To prove a point, Q propels the Enterprise thousands of lightyears away…directly into the path of the Borg!
jimmy: Off the top of my head, I never would have placed the Borg showing up midway through season 2. Though it makes sense thinking about their subsequent appearances in the series.
tomk: They don’t really appear more than maybe six or seven times.
jimmy: And all insignificant appearances as well.
tomk: Well duh.
jimmy: I also watched with the audio commentary and, they said that part of the impetus for the creation of the Borg was that each week the crew encounters a problem, figures it out, puts another notch in their belt and moves on to the next adventure. They wanted to do something different and have them come away from the end of the episode having completely lost.
tomk: They got that much done. Q was right.
jimmy: So Guinan knew about Q, and the Borg, you think she might have mentioned there were unstoppable assimilation machines out there.
tomk: Or that Picard and the others would have listened to her when she warned them.
jimmy: Yeah. “Captain’s log: Guinan said to get the hell out of here or we’re all going to die. I value her counsel. But, I think I’ll stick around and see if I can find a good malt shop.”
tomk: “Maybe I’ll send an away team into the mystery cube of doom while we’re here.”
jimmy: “Nothing could possiblie go wrong.”
tomk: “Captain’s Log, supplemental: Everything went wrong.”
They didn’t really get into the assimilation of people though. It seemed to be more geared towards tech. And the nursery was either written with something different in mind, or Riker completely misinterpreted it.
tomk: Well, the alternative is the Borg were assimilating babies. That might be too dark for this universe.
jimmy: Dark or not, I don’t think they were having kids.
tomk: Well, did they even show a female Borg prior to 7 of 9?
jimmy: Pretty sure there were females in this one. But I guess it’s hard to tell when they don’t look like this:
tomk: Well, I will say the Borg look less impressive on my plasma TV then they probably did on my early 90s TV.
jimmy: No doubt.
tomk: How was your blu-ray?
jimmy: And more like a late 80’s TV.
Blu-ray held up. Pretty sure they redid the shot of the Borg cube putting itself back together using CGI, so I was curious how that looked originally.
tomk: Well, I was thinking more of the cube’s interior.
Then again, it’s still Star Trek, and it still isn’t a very dark universe.
jimmy: I think they redid that with CGI too.
Most of the effects were redone or touched up for the remaster.
There was something in one of the documentaries about them adding layers and Borg drones, etc, to the matte painting of the inside of the ship.
You seem to be more knowledgeable this time around.
jimmy: Only about that one shot since they discussed it. 🙂
And everyone loves to talk about how they did the Borg cutting the piece out of the saucer section.
tomk: They carved the ship up like a roast!
jimmy: Cutting a single spherical section out of the middle is exactly how I cut my roasts!
tomk: You and Riker apparently.
jimmy: I know the episode ends with them going to the nearest star base, for repairs I assume. I’ll also assume that everything is in working order by the next episode. But…how long would it take to actually repair that damage? The Enterprise was probably out of commission for months.
tomk: Long enough for that ensign the show forgot about halfway through the episode to spill hot chocolate on the rest of the command crew.
jimmy: Lol. That whole…”subplot”?…or whatever it was seemed unnecessary.
tomk: You didn’t recognize the ensign?
jimmy: I guess not.
tomk: She had three boobs in Total Recall.
jimmy: If that was the case here, I would have recognized her.
tomk: Showing off boobs like that doesn’t really happen on Star Trek. You either get something low cut like Troi or skintight like 7.
jimmy: New Trek is dropping F-bombs, so it might only be a matter of time.
tomk: Maybe that’s why some people swear Discovery is so good.
jimmy: Perhaps. Though Picard dropped a few too. I’m sure they are trying to be edgy, but it just seems unnecessary.
tomk: You would have preferred Picard drop an F-bomb when hot chocolate splashes his uniform without apparently burning him?
jimmy: It would make more sense than just some random usage.
tomk: Well, this was a Maurice Hurley written episode with all his strengths (continuity) and weaknesses (odd pacing in places).
jimmy: I didn’t find the pacing too bad. Though there was one shot that just lingered on Geordi and made me think the same thing, until the Borg transported in in the background.
tomk: I mean how that ensign was set up as something important with the hot chocolate and nerves and stuff, but then she just disappeared halfway through the episode.
jimmy: I wouldn’t call that pacing but just poor writing.
tomk: Poor writing.
jimmy: Like how Guinan is looking out the window at the Borg cube and Picard tells her to go look at her view screen, in another room, to look at the Borg Cube.
tomk: Poor as poor can be.
Or how that bartender apparently can just call the bridge at any time.
Or that Q kinda fears her.
jimmy: We’ve discussed the random crew having access to calling the bridge before.
tomk: Picard only wants no kids there.
jimmy: Fear leads to hate, hate leads to…some kinda weird Kung-fu crane hands.
tomk: Does Guinan have her own Q powers?
jimmy: Perhaps. Or can at least combat them. I’m either case…she wasn’t much help.
tomk: She’s mysterious!
Like the Sphinx in Mystery Men!
jimmy: He would have been more useful.
tomk: He could have told Picard that if you do not master your arrogance then your arrogance will be your master.
tomk: And then suggest Picard should maybe wear some watermelons on his feet. Sphinx won’t remember advising that later.
jimmy: He may not be more useful than that new Ensign.
tomk: Yes, well, the Mystery Men weren’t the best of superheroes.
jimmy: So they wouldn’t have helped defeat the Borg?
tomk: Well, the Bowler probably would have knocked a lot of them over, the Spleen might have hit them with a knock-out gas, and I am sure the Blue Raja’s precise aim with knives and forks would have severed many important connections on the drone exteriors.
jimmy: More than Worf managed…after he killed that first one.
tomk: At least this time he wasn’t the one that got sent flying like a ragdoll.
jimmy: No. He sent some random schmo in to accomplish that.
tomk: That’s delegating. That’s important, a sure sign of leadership. It’s why Picard has Riker run away missions.
jimmy: More like Riker won’t let Picard run away missions.
tomk: Sure. Riker won’t. That’s just what Picard wants him to think.
jimmy: I didn’t see Worf delegating the potential suicide mission onto the Borg Cube.
tomk: Well, Riker selected him.
jimmy: True. Though beaming over there seemed quite risky.
tomk: Guinan told them that, but none of those people seemed inclined to listen to anyone who knew better. Not Guinan, not Q, not Scooby Doo, not anyone.
jimmy: They only needed Guinan to explain the Borg, not to give them advice.
tomk: Her advice amounted to “ Get the hell out of here!”
jimmy: And good advice it was.
tomk: For all that they listened…
jimmy: If they had, it wouldn’t have been much of a show.
tomk: What if they ran and couldn’t get away regardless?
jimmy: That would work too.
tomk: But noooo. They gotta go where no one has ever gone before…the Borg nursery.
jimmy: Damn writers strike!
That said, getting a look inside the cube was a key component to their development.
tomk: And it was a payoff to a plot point chances are no one remembered when this episode aired: the disappearances of the bases along the neutral zone that almost started problems with the Romulans.
jimmy: Yes. I was going to mention that. Though, if they were two years away at maximum warp, and the Borg had been as close as the neutral zone…something doesn’t add up.
tomk: The Borg can move faster than Starfleet and go all over the place?
jimmy: More that if the Borg made it to the neutral zone they would have continued on and invaded. Not retreated as if after a sneak attack.
tomk: It could have been a scouting mission.
jimmy: That scooped up entire cities?
Probably not a full city.
jimmy: Still. Also another opportunity for Guinan to mention something.
tomk: Guinan wasn’t in season one.
jimmy: I know, but you think it would have come up at some point.
tomk: She’s not really part of the crew.
She just kinda hangs out in the lounge all day if we even see her.
jimmy: Fine. I suppose next you’ll tell me Pulaski was busy in sick bay and why we never saw her in this one?
tomk: You wanted to see Pulaski?
jimmy: Well, no. She would have only chastised Worf for not phasering that’s second Borg well enough.
tomk: I’m sure Worf will make up for that for future Borg encounters.
jimmy: So great.
tomk: This time? Q saves the day.
jimmy: I would hope so, seeing it’s his fault.
tomk: But he kinda helped. Starfleet knows the Borg exist now.
jimmy: That’s good. Because Guinan sure didn’t plan on bringing them up.
tomk: She’s mysterious.
jimmy: I like Guinan, but this episode doesn’t paint her in a very good light. There’s mysterious, and there’s neglecting to tell your “boss” about the civilization ending cyborgs lurking just past the neutral zone.
tomk: Well, now that they know the Borg exist, so surely the next episode will be all about preparing to fight this new threat and not something completely unrelated that may feel like a letdown after the introduction of such major and iconic Trek villains.
jimmy: You would think that wouldn’t you…
tomk: Not really. They probably told the Romulus between episodes and then had some issues involving the holodeck when the Ferengi flew by.
jimmy: That holodeck is more trouble than it’s worth.
tomk: True. How do you feel about this episode?
jimmy: I know I picked on Guinan a bit, and the parts with the Ensign were a complete waste, but I liked it. Maybe my view is somewhat rose colored as I like the Borg and know what’s to come. But it’s a good introduction to them. And Q flinging the Enterprise into (very arguably) uncharted space explains why they haven’t shown up before. And their look doesn’t really change much going forward, like, say the Klingons from TOS to TNG.
tomk: The Borg are a much more effective mystery.
jimmy: Now I just want to jump right to “Best of Both Worlds”…but good things come and all that…
tomk: Yes. We still have a season and a quarter or so to go first.
tomk: But as with “Measure of a Man,” well, the next one probably won’t be that good.
jimmy: You’ve sold me! Engage!