Is there a better season finale cliffhanger than the Next Generation ending to season three? Captain Picard is turned into a Borg and he’s on their side now, and Riker orders Worf to fire a superweapon without a second thought. I think there’s a good chance even moderate Star Trek fans remember how this one ended.
Jimmy and Tom had some thoughts on the first part. Why can’t the chats have cliffhangers of their own?
“The Best of Both Worlds Part 1”
The Borg return!
jimmy: It’s been just over 30 years and it still holds up.
tomk: That ending is memorable enough to have been parodied by Family Guy…but I can’t find a quality video clip to show you.
jimmy: This I assume (not great quality):
tomk: That was the best one I found.
jimmy: The music was top notch in this one, even outside of the classic “To Be Continued…”
tomk: It was. I know they do a lot of season finale cliffhangers in the future, but they never topped this one. Mostly because there was just enough uncertainty at the end where you might legitimately think they’d kill off Picard.
jimmy: We’ve discussed how crappy my memory is, but I do remember this. It was 1990, before the rise of the internet and you could only get little tidbits of information from the odd magazine or the occasional story on Entertainment Tonight. Not like today where you often know every minute detail in real time. There were rumors going around at that time that Patrick Stewart might want to leave for reasons. The majority of the show also spent it’s time pruning Riker for command and even sending along a potential new first officer. It would not have been surprising at all to see Picard killed off and Riker continuing as Captain.
tomk: That would be a good assumption. They really set up Shelby as Female Riker, and had Stewart actually left the show, she would have been a fine replacement.
Instead, I don’t think we ever saw her again after Part 2…
jimmy: No spoilers!
tomk: OK, fine. We don’t know if Picard lives or not 30 years later.
But yeah, it was a stressful summer of 1990.
And even if Picard wasn’t killed off, how do they get him back? Would he ever be the same? How do they defeat the Borg?
Or to step back, did their weapon do any damage?
tomk: Worf was hitting the fire button. Of course it did. He’s MVP.
jimmy: That’s true. Frakes excelled in this one though. He absolutely nailed that final shot.
tomk: No hesitation. No uncertainty. He just orders the shot.
jimmy: It also was a culmination of the entire episode with numerous questions about him being able to step out from Picard’s shadow and lead. He wasn’t even sure himself. Then when he’s thrust into it, takes over with no hesitation or uncertainty, like you said. Once Troi told him he wasn’t allowed to go on away missions anymore.
tomk: So…the reason he really didn’t step up was he didn’t want to give up going places that might be dangerous…
jimmy: Also, lots of away mission ladies to meet.
tomk: Methinks Shelby might have less interest in that last part. Or she does. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
jimmy: She doesn’t seem to require sleep, so she might be more into Data.
tomk: Data does like blondes.
jimmy: Everybody wins!
tomk: Well, only if Data sees no harm in engaging in a relationship with a superior officer.
jimmy: He outranked Tasha right?
tomk: They might have been equal in rank.
jimmy: That’s what I thought first, but she was a lieutenant and he lieutenant commander. Not that I know much about the rank structure.
tomk: He probably outranked her. And they were under the influence of something that should have never affected Data.
jimmy: Data being affected or not probably wouldn’t have been a factor…
tomk: Or it might have been a HUGE factor…like how well endowed Data might have been depending on how weird Dr. Soong was.
jimmy: Maybe we should get back to “Best of Both Worlds”…
Those lousy Borg!
jimmy: Who were more of a presence than appearing much in this episode. Less than I would have thought.
tomk: It actually makes them scarier.
We know they are out there, and then when they show up after all that prep work…it didn’t do a dang bit of good.
jimmy: They thought they had more time. (Not that that would have made much difference either.)
tomk: The Borg never give anyone enough time.
Those lousy Borg!
jimmy: They gave that first settlement enough time to move the center of town.
tomk: They’ll assimilate anything. Even the geographic center of towns.
I just thought it was funny that Riker asks O’Brien to verify the coordinates they beamed down to and he says they “should be in the middle of town”…which should mean they’re in the middle of that crater? The area they are in seems untouched and undeveloped. More, edge of or outskirts of town.
tomk: It’s why they sent O’Brien to DS9: his geography sucks.
jimmy: Probably not a big call for transporters on a space station.
tomk: He’s too busy fixing stuff the Cardassians broke.
jimmy: Lousy Cardassians!
tomk: The Borg at least repair everything.
The Borg also learn. They know who Picard is.
jimmy: As cool as it is, it does seem a bit silly that an unstoppable species that takes anything it wants by force would need an emissary.
tomk: Maybe the Borg Queen we haven’t met yet is lonely.
jimmy: Maybe. Regardless, Picard’s capture and transformation is awesome, unexpected and heartbreaking.
tomk: It’s a testament to Stewart’s portrayal of the character that he is.
jimmy: He act good.
tomk: He’s right up there with the best actors like Meryl Streep and Spongebob Squarepants.
jimmy: One lives in a pineapple under the sea. The other is Spongebob.
tomk: He lives large.
jimmy: I noticed he was one of the few (only?) Borg not to have at least one eye covered.
tomk: Two eyes makes for better personal connections. It’s why the most hated X-Man is Cyclops.
jimmy: We’ve finally figured that out!
And you try not to cover up the face of your main character, especially in uncomfortable prosthetics.
tomk: Also, he may not be all Borg yet.
jimmy: Is there a between Borg and not Borg?
tomk: Mostly it involves grafting more parts on.
Or becoming tennis player Bjorn Borg.
jimmy: But he’s already got that freaking cool laser beam on his head.
tomk: That’s only good for slide show presentations.
tomk: “As you can see on this slide, you will be assimilated, and therefore, resistance is futile.”
jimmy: “Very good. Thank you, Locutus. Next up we have…Gary from waste disposal. Again. Sigh. Go ahead, Gary.”
tomk: Gary keeps complaining that half the stuff on the end of one hand doesn’t seem to actually do anything but wiggle back and forth.
jimmy: Yeah, some of those prosthetics don’t seem very practical/useful.
tomk: They’re mostly intimidating. God knows a cube isn’t the most aerodynamic shape. Good thing space is a vacuum.
jimmy: That cube is hella intimidating.
tomk: It helps that the cube is not a naturally-occurring shape. Something like that shouldn’t even be able to fly. It doesn’t have an obvious front or back end. It’s just a lot of metal attached all over the place to itself.
jimmy: Not naturally occurring?
tomk: That’s a watermelon. Those are fragile.
jimmy: It’s slow but funny.
Like Wesley’s poker game.
tomk: Or a Borg marathon.
Seriously, Wes, you gotta call in that scenario!
tomk: See what happens when the newest music you have is Riker’s jazz? You don’t have access to the wisdom of Kenny Rogers.
jimmy: Haha, very true.
tomk: And God knows the Borg don’t appreciate good music.
jimmy: Or do they?
tomk: I don’t hear them playing the bone on the cube.
jimmy: It’s a big cube.
tomk: They work as one. Individuality is frowned upon.
So either they all play or none of them do.
jimmy: Maybe they all play between assimilations.
tomk: You need many instruments to make a band.
jimmy: Perhaps that’s what those long, seemingly useless arm appendages are concealing. Miscellaneous music instruments.
tomk: That’s as good an explanation as any.
You get a prize.
jimmy: Is it a freaking laser beam for my head?
tomk: No. It’s a jet ski.
tomk: With room for the Moose, the Ms. and the Beaver…or Cousin Minka, Malin Ackerman, and maybe a bottle of fine wine.
jimmy: All sound better than being assimilated.
tomk: About that…
Jet skis are irrelevant. Watson is the real Locutus. Resistance is ridiculous.
jimmy: Watson can’t be Locutus. I like Locutus. Another of the few Trek action figures I had.
tomk: The Borg are not supposed to be cuddly.
tomk: OK, that Borg can be cuddly.
jimmy: So we’ve got Picard assimilated. Riker turning down another command only to essentially become the Captain of the Enterprise. Shelby gunning for Riker’s job. Starfleet being nowhere ready for the Borg. Riker telling Worf to open a can of Klingon whoop-ass. Wesley sucking at poker. Have we missed anything?
tomk: That Admiral was God in Star Trek V?
jimmy: He really got demoted after this Borg debacle.
tomk: Or the Borg are gonna get smoted Old Testament style.
jimmy: They don’t call him Locust-us for nothing.
tomk: Kirk did ask why God needed a starship.
jimmy: Same reason he needs your money, I guess.
tomk: That’s one cutting edge remark you just made there, Richard Dawkins.
jimmy: Sure. I’ll take it. 🙂
tomk: Well, this episode certainly holds up. Picard looked doomed and there didn’t seem to be any way to save him, but starting the next episode with a giant cube explosion would probably be anticlimactic.
jimmy: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4 Episode 1:
Open on the Enterprise. A giant tachyon burst erupts from the deflector dish. Borg cube explodes into a million pieces.
Cut to interior Enterprise. All but Data let out a raucous cheer.
Troi: “With Picard dead, looks like you’re the new Captain. Congrats Will Riker.”
Riker: “Thanks. He was a great man. I’ll do my best to live up to his legacy.”
Riker: “So. Poker in my quarters tonight at 5?”
Riker sits in the Captain’s chair and tugs down on his tunic. The rest of the crew go back about their business. Data wonders how they’re gonna fill the next 40 minutes.
tomk: They would have found something. Worf probably sadly said, “Captain Picard.”
jimmy: Yes, he probably would have. Shall we see if my script is anywhere close to the real thing?
tomk: We could. You know, if you really want to.
jimmy: I could be persuaded.
tomk: Would you do it for a Jimmy Snack?
jimmy: Oh boy oh boy oh boy!
tomk: Here you go. One Jimmy Snack.
tomk: Well, I guess we better see what happens when Picard is vaporized.