Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 123 (I, Borg)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Think of the one person in this world that you hate the most. Think of the person that you despise beyond any other person on the planet. What would you do if you were driving down the street one day and you saw them just laying there dying? Would you take them to the hospital or would you just leave them there?

When scouting for planets to colonize, the Enterprise comes across a Borg drone. The Borg are a ‘race’ of cybernetic beings that assimilate entire cultures. Guinan, the ship’s bartender, lost most of her people to the Borg. Those that remain are scattered among the galaxy. Captain Picard was himself assimilated and used to fight against the Federation. Both of these people have very strong objections to taking the drone aboard. Picard would just as well leave the drone to die. However, Dr. Crusher can’t bring herself to just run off without doing something.

Against his better judgment, Picard allows the drone to be brought to a holding cell for treatment. Guinan isn’t too happy about it when she finds out. It’s a very dangerous call. Both Picard and Guinan know full well what he’s capable of. The one drone could very easily assimilate (or at least cause the assimilation of) everyone on the ship. However, Picard is a man with a plan. He realizes that once brought back to the collective, the drone could be used as a Trojan horse that would introduce a virus that would spread throughout the Borg’s collective consciousness and cause their ultimate destruction.

The problem comes down to being able to see the forest for the trees in a very literal sense. The Borg don’t see individuals. One drone is the same as any other; any drone is simply part of the collective mind. To use a drone to introduce a virus is like taking a cell out of your body to study and then introduce some disease into your body. However, the drone starts to become self-aware. He goes from having the designation (Third of Five) to having a name (Hugh). Eventually, people start to see Hugh as a person. Even Guinan and Picard are swayed. The drone even goes from referring himself as ‘we’ to referring to himself as ‘I’ in Picard’s presence. Picard allows Hugh the choice of remaining on the Enterprise, but Hugh realizes that the Borg will know that he’s missing. The Enterprise will never be safe as long as Hugh is there. He must return to the Collective.

Choice is a tricky thing. This is the first attempt in the Star Trek universe to actively try to wipe out the Borg in one swoop, although it won’t be the last. Picard is set to destroy the Borg because the Borg are so set on destroying entire civilizations. However, Picard is forced to deal with the ethics when only when he is able to look at Hugh as a person rather than in instrument of the Borg. By trying to wipe out the Borg, we are no worse than they are. Normally, I would have found Dr. Crusher annoying in this episode, but she came across more as someone who was determined to see the drone as a patient. Despite what she may feel about them, Hugh was still a potential patient.

Someone that hasn’t seen the series up to this point won’t really understand much of what’s happened to Picard and Guinan. Not much has been said about Guinan’s race up to this point. We know that she despises the Borg. (The only other race that she holds any ill will towards is the Q, but that’s another set of episodes entirely.) Picard’s assimilation was the subject of the cliffhanger that ended the third season and began the fourth. It was a horrible experience for Picard, who almost didn’t make it back. At the very least, you should watch those two episodes before watching this one.

This won’t be the last time we hear from Hugh. The consequences of the events in this episode will come up again in a later episode titled “Descent”. I had heard that there was supposed to be another episode after that, but that never came to be.

This episode gets four stars. 

No comments :