WHY WE LIKE IT: So many spoilable moments! But the Enterprise-D takes the cake.
WHY WE DON'T: USS Pulaski?! Just trolling us now. But seriously, Shawww, noooooo!!!
REVIEW: After watching this episode, I remember telling everyone I know not avoid social media before watching because there were so many cool things and important plot points (in particular, the last one) that could be spoiled and ruin the fun. Somehow, this is the shortest episode of the season, crammed full of nostalgic goodness (and evilness). The episode has a great look too - the hall of blossom petals, Jack's smokey room, the upsetting elevator scene, our flying through fireworks...
The big reveal, of course, is that the Borg are the ACTUAL big bad of the season (uhm, again), and while I do decry the use the Changelings as glorified cronies/red herrings, connecting Jack Crusher to the Collective makes sense given the all the clues. The vines in his visions represent connections he desperately wants to make - he finds them purposeful, PERFECT - which is collective thought, but they also show up on the faces of the assimilated. Having the Borg modify Picard with a biological transmitter misdiagnosed as irumodic syndrome answers we've had about his "hearing" the Borg in First Contact, and passed on, they make Jack a transmitter able to project his mind into others. But not everyone. The chilling realization is that through the Changelings (whose sympathies are foolishly with the Borg, but they have collective thought as well and reason to hate Starfleet), code has been introduced in Starfleet transporters which has modified everyone under 25 (whose brains are still growing) to become assimilated once Jack is plugged into the Borg consciousness. I'm not convinced this would give you "vein-face" as if infected with nano-probes, but it's an easy visual tell when the shit hits the fan. Jack at least goes to the Borg Cube armed - he's not a willing participant - but there's nothing he can do against the Borg Queen (happily voiced by Alice Krige) lurking in the shadows of an empty ship. She calls him Vox - "The Voice" - which is by the way what Trek novelist Peter David called Locutus' Romulan equivalent in the book Vendetta.
One complaint I do have (and in a way, I can't believe I'm making it) is that Season 2 doesn't seem to have happened. I can forgive Beverley for saying the Borg haven't been heard from in over a decade; she's been out of the loop. But that no one even mentions the Borg who are nominally allied to the Federation and led by the Jurati Queen, or that these concepts don't figure or even get a passing mention, is just strange. But thanks, production team, I will totally tell people to skip Season 2 now. They might wonder where much of the cast of Season 1 have gone, but I don't think it's a big deal.
Back to business. Where was I? Oh yes, the fan and things foul and abominable hitting it. The trap is sprung on Frontier Day, as we knew it would, with most of Starfleet's ships assembled in one place. They spontaneous drones kill Admiral Shelby (appropriate for a Borg episode) aboard the Enterprise-F (which deserves to be destroyed for looking like Voyager and having a horrendous "bridge" backdrop). Under Changeling/Borg direction, Starfleet has just been downloading the worst software patches. Not just the transporter code, but as part of the Geordi-derided "computer integration" of all ships, the Fleet Formations app is launched. This lets an A.I. control the ships so they work as one - no captain in his right mind would have agreed to this (see also events in Lower Decks) - and the formations tend to look like the Terran Empire insignia from the Mirror Universe. Not a good sign (and potentially confusing if it was done as an Easter Egg on purpose). I won't miss Shelby, but Shaw is also killed by the drone ensigns and THAT is a tragedy. Dude turned out to be very entertaining and he'll be missed. He does offer Seven his ship and his respect (by calling her by her name) in his last moments. She and Raffi are left alone to take back the ship while the true TNGers escape the Titan in a shuttle.
It's back to the Museum where Geordi unveils a restored Enterprise-D and nostalgia hits full bore. It's the old saucer from Generations, with a spare engine section from another vessel, and it happens to be fully functional, unlike the rest of his exhibits. And though it can be flown with a skeleton crew, it's has the vintage property of not being linked to the now-Borg network! I don't think I got emotional until I heard Majel Barrett's voice as the computer. It's been a long time. These moments also include some joke - just WHAT did Worf do to the Enterprise-E? Picard's rather slight carpet joke - but it's mostly great to see the TNG bridge rebuilt with such attention to detail. Picard gets to call Riker Number One, say "Make it so", and more importantly "Engage". And is it or is that the strongest Patrick Stewart's voice has been, on that last word? Did they loop it? The Borg are about to be reminded of a certain thorn in their side...
LESSON: It feels good to go home.
REWATCHABILITY - High: In terms of excitement, the high point of the season.
To be honest this was my only real gripe with season three, but it's a massive plot hole/continuity conflict that really someone in the production should have picked up.