Star Trek 230: I, Borg

230. I, Borg

FORMULA: The Best of Both Worlds Part 2 + The Masterpiece Society

WHY WE LIKE IT: Hugh is sweet...

WHY WE DON'T: ...but his story emasculates the Borg.

REVIEW: After The Best of Both Worlds, the show's creators were faced with the nigh impossible task of bringing back the Borg. You want to bring them back because they're popular and want to reuse expensive costumes, etc., but each time they turn up, it's the damned apocalypse. So what do you do? You start weakening them.

I, Borg is a step in that direction, but a good one. Fact is, the Borg are a hard-to-use force of nature, so giving them a human face in Hugh was at least interesting. It's the usual Trek dogma about individuals having the right to follow their own pursuits no matter what the "state" says, but it's not really about Hugh or his (somewhat homoerotic) friendship with Geordi. It's about Picard. This is in many ways a precursor to First Contact.

Picard is already on the path to revenge and willing to do anything to destroy the Borg for what they've done (to him). The optical virus is a really interesting way to do that, and you want Picard to succeed too (so shut up, Beverly). When he meets the individualized Hugh and starts talking as Locutus, it's a chilling moment because you inevitably start thinking that maybe he's remained in contact with the Collective all along. Is this a build-up to this year's finale? Is Picard still Borg? Have we been lied to for two years? It's really creepy and effective.

The moral center of the story, however, is Guinan who, through her relationships with Geordi and Picard makes some interesting points on both sides of the issue. The fencing trick is a good gambit, but forcing Picard to meet Hugh, previously kept at arm's length, is the big scene. So do they do the right thing? I'm sure Starfleet wouldn't think so. But it's the right thing for these characters. They wouldn't condone genocide, and we're with them on that point.

LESSON: Individuality good, teamwork bad! (Borg spin doctors have manipulated my words.)

REWATCHABILITY - High: A moral tale with some fine character moments, especially for Picard, and a must for understanding his character in relation to the Borg.

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