(written from a Production point of view)
|"The Best of Both Worlds"|
|TNG, Episode 3x26|
Production number: 40273-174
First aired: 18 June 1990
|←||73rd of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||73rd of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||180th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
|Arc: The Best of Both Worlds (1 of 3)||→|
The Borg begin an invasion of Federation space much sooner than was expected. With the Enterprise unable to affect them, the Borg capture Captain Picard and turn him into one of their own. (Season Finale)
- "Captain's log, Stardate 43989.1. The Enterprise has arrived at Jouret IV in response to a distress signal from one of the Federation's outermost colonies."
Commander Riker, Data, Worf, and Geordi La Forge file into a transporter room. Worf notifies Riker that there has been no contact from the surface of Jouret IV for over twelve hours, nor any signs of life. Immediately after the away team is beamed down by Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien, the team finds not only that the entire colony of New Providence has been completely destroyed but also that the colony's former town-center is now nothing more than a giant crater.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 43992.6. Admiral Hanson and Lieutenant Commander Shelby of Starfleet Tactical have arrived to review the disappearance of New Providence colony. No sign remains of the nine hundred inhabitants."
Entering her quarters with Riker, Shelby reveals she has an uncertain theory about how to search for the Borg, extrapolating a "Borg footprint" from their previous encounter with the Enterprise. Discussion turns to the forthcoming mission and, even though Shelby takes the initiative to select away team members, Riker interjects that not only has he already assigned them to the away team but will be joining the team himself. Shelby lets Riker know, in no uncertain terms, that she wants his job but then apologetically claims she was unaware that he has no intention of leaving the Enterprise. Riker responds that she will be the first to know if he does decide to leave. On his way out of the quarters, Riker tells Shelby the details of that night's poker game.
They, Wesley Crusher, Deanna Troi, Data and Geordi La Forge are later at the game, which results in Riker fooling Wesley – inexperienced at poker – into suspecting that Riker has an impressive hand. By confronting Riker, Shelby wins the game.
Friction mounts between Shelby and Riker after he, attending the mission with Geordi, learns that she and Data beamed down to the colony an hour beforehand. On the planet surface, he authoritatively draws her away. Data confers with Geordi, having mistakenly interpreted Shelby figuratively mentioning "early bird" as a reference to actual birds. Shelby privately tells Riker that her expediency was due to an approaching storm front. Riker reminds her of regulations, of which she takes note. Shelby reports to him that the area's soil contains their Borg footprint, confirming that the colony's decimation was due to the Borg.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 43993.5. With confirmation of the Borg's presence in Federation space, Admiral Hanson has returned to Starbase 324 to discuss strategy with Starfleet Command. Lieutenant Commander Shelby remains on board to continue tactical preparations."
With the Enterprise now in a solitary orbit, Riker notifies Picard of the efforts being made to ready the ship and Starfleet for the impending Borg invasion. When Picard asks for his assessment of Shelby, Riker admits that she knows her stuff but has not earned his full confidence, noting her initiative and taking risks. Humorously, Picard indirectly likens those qualities to a younger Riker. The captain then questions why Riker is still on the Enterprise, since he's been offered command of the Melbourne. Although Riker answers that he has not decided to pursue that commission, Picard lengthily urges him to reconsider.
Later in Ten Forward, Riker discusses his uncertainty with Counselor Troi and, as he considers reasons why he is still aboard the ship, Troi doubts each one. He agrees with Picard that there is a similarity between Shelby and his younger self, and wonders why he seems to have lost attributes she now possesses – such as impatience, ambition and risk-taking. Troi reassures him that, on the contrary, he has matured and thereby gained more than he realizes. Giving him pause for thought, she asks him what he wants.
In Engineering, Shelby and a team that includes Data, Geordi La Forge and Wesley Crusher deduce that a Borg cube's systems are likely interconnected, like the Borg themselves. The team debate their own ship's available technologies but Geordi and Wesley confess to being overly tired. Despite Shelby wanting their work to continue, Riker insists otherwise, due to the team's exhaustion. Eventually, Riker dismisses Shelby.On the next day, most of the ship's senior officers are in the observation lounge while Admiral Hanson remotely notifies them that the USS Lalo recently reported (via a distress call) contact with an alien, "cube-shaped" vessel but subsequently went missing. On Picard's direction, the Enterprise starts to head there at maximum warp. Meanwhile, every other available starship is also en route to assist but are still six days away from their destination. Picard vows that the Enterprise will try to keep the Borg occupied and Hanson then ends his message. While some of the senior officers exit to man their battle stations, Picard questions Geordi about the Enterprise's state of combat readiness but the engineer relates that the situation seems grim.
With the Enterprise continuing at warp, the bridge officers later detect the invading Borg cube, which moves to intercept the Starfleet vessel. Picard instructs that Hanson is contacted with news that the engagement has begun.
With the two ships face-to-face, Picard is personally hailed by the Borg. Data is unsure if the cube is the same ship encountered at J-25 but says their dimensions match. The Borg demand that Picard personally surrenders to them, influencing the bridge officers to realize that the Borg's priorities have changed from an interest exclusively in technology. Picard defiantly refuses and continues to threaten the Borg to withdraw. A skirmish ensues, in which the cube makes an eventually successful attempt to trap the Enterprise in a tractor beam. Whereas the Enterprise's weapons do no damage to the cube, the Borg's use of a cutting beam forces Geordi La Forge to evacuate Engineering. Thanks to Shelby's quick-witted strategy and technical knowledge, the Enterprise breaks away using random phaser hits. On a course set by Picard, the ship speedily departs, pursued by the cube moments later. Geordi arrives on the bridge and Picard supervises the ship's entry into the sensor-blinding Paulson Nebula, a hiding spot into which the cube does not follow.
Riker, Shelby and the engineering team review their escape from the cube's tractor beam, finding that a certain band of phaser frequencies momentarily nullified the cube's power. Geordi and Wesley come up with a plan to fire a concentrated blast of those same frequencies from the main deflector dish. Shelby fears that such a blast would also destroy the Enterprise but Riker proposes that the plan could still work, if some distance was between the ship and its target. Although Riker approves of Shelby suggesting that all phasers are retuned to the same band of frequencies, he repeatedly dismisses her recommending that they separate the vessel's saucer section and use it to divert the Borg. Shelby insists that Captain Picard be given the option of deciding on her proposal, but – after Riker replies that he personally presents all ideas to Picard – she finally desists and exits with Data and Wesley, leaving Riker and Geordi to remark on her stubbornness. They nevertheless agree that she can help the Enterprise crew.
Riker later enters Picard's ready room to find Shelby there, having brought her controversial suggestion to the captain. Picard agrees with an uncomfortable Riker that the right time for Shelby's plan is not yet but dictates that her proposed stratagem should be used as a fall-back. Riker accepts Picard telling him to make the necessary preparations to enact her plan.
Riker and Shelby access a turbolift via the bridge but Riker immediately stalls their journey to the battle bridge. Fuming about her insubordination, he warns Shelby not to bypass his authority again. After he grants her permission to speak freely, she irritatedly emotes that Riker is obstructing her career. Riker mocks her frustration but she then criticizes the cautiousness of his shipboard service, telling him that – if he cannot make the big choices that go with his rank – he should abdicate to someone who can.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 43996.2. The Enterprise remains concealed in the dust cloud. And to my surprise, the Borg have maintained their position, waiting for us to come out of hiding. I have no explanation for their special interest in me or this ship. We continue to prepare our defenses for the inevitable confrontation. But, I must admit, on this night I contemplate the distinct possibility that no defense may be adequate against this enemy."
While touring the Enterprise (after surveying Engineering), Picard visits Ten Forward, where Guinan is puzzled to see that he is awake. He tells her of his tour and, as they converse over the tradition of such a tour, Guinan intuits that Picard is unconfident of the imminent clash with the Borg. He admits as much, anticipating that the conflict may spell the end for his civilization. She assures him that – even in the face of almost certain obliteration – Humanity, like her own people have done, will prevail against the Borg by surviving. Explosions outside the ship's hull and a communication from Worf summon the captain to the bridge.
There, Picard learns that the blasts are due to magnetometric guided charges from the Borg cube. Soon thereafter, the Enterprise speeds out of the nebula under Riker's supervision, as requested by Picard, but is struck by one of the charges. The cube gives chase, soon managing to tractor onto the Enterprise, and Borg begin to materialize on the bridge. Although Worf manages to disable the first with his own phaser, he and Riker are forcefully discarded when they consecutively try to assault a second Borg. A third appears beside Picard and subdues him. He and the two Borg survivors dematerialize from the bridge, leaving the disabled one to self-destruct. Recovering, Riker and Worf find that the Borg are making a quick getaway, so Riker orders pursuit. O'Brien is unable to beam Picard back and, as Riker and Worf are horrified to discover, the cube has set a direct course for Earth.
Picard is escorted to face the cube's interior, where the Borg Collective inform him that he has been chosen to become a liaison between the Borg and Humanity, to expedite the assimilation of Earth into the Collective. Picard refuses to comply, saying that Humans would rather die, but the Borg maintain that his efforts to resist them will not succeed.
La Forge meanwhile informs Riker, on the Enterprise's bridge, that their deflector is nearly weaponized but will require an abundance of power from the warp engines. Riker arranges an away team to retrieve Picard and, on Shelby's advice, he also prioritizes inducing the cube to drop out of warp. Riker plans to lead the away team himself, leaving Shelby to coordinate with Starfleet from the bridge, but she and Troi respectively object that the team could use Shelby's knowledge of the Borg and that protocol dictates that Riker's place is on the bridge. He cuts Shelby off mid-sentence but listens to Troi's objection before reluctantly assigning command of the team to Shelby.
- "First officer's log, Stardate 43998.5. Our pursuit of the Borg continues on a course that will take us to the very core of the Federation. The devastation they could bring is beyond imagination."
After preparing to board the cube, the away team members – Shelby, Worf, Data and Dr. Crusher – are transported over to the Borg craft, armed with newly retuned phasers. They begin their quest for Picard, whom Worf is unable to detect using a tricorder. Dr. Crusher notices a Borg linkup and metaphorically suggests – likening the away team to mosquitoes – that vandalizing the cube's systems could hinder the Borg. In another section of corridor, Data finds more distribution nodes and Worf's tricorder detects Picard's combadge but the communicator is unresponsive, so the team start heading towards it.
In the Enterprise's ready room, Riker strongly advises Admiral Hanson – via the room's desktop monitor – that Earth's protection be prioritized. By way of acknowledgment, the admiral says his fleet will intercept the Borg at Wolf 359. Riker notifies Hanson of the Enterprise's situation, worrisomely implying to a curious Hanson that there has not yet been any sign of Picard.
The away team find Picard's discarded uniform and communicator. Shelby apprises Riker (now on the bridge) of this news, just before he is told – by Wesley and La Forge – that the deflector weapon is ready but will require some rearrangement of the ship's crew, which Troi goes to help with. Riker orders the away team to find a way to disengage the cube from warp and Shelby acknowledges. She oversees the experimental destruction of one of the distribution nodes, requiring the combined phaser power of Data and Worf. The disturbance influences the Borg to become energized but the team manage to shatter two more nodes.
Their sabotage causes the Borg cube to drop out of warp, a development that Wesley reports on the Enterprise's bridge, and enables La Forge to divert power from warp to the weaponized deflector. Riker supervises final preparations for using the weapon.
Meanwhile, the away team manages to phaser several approaching Borg but they soon adapt to the modified frequencies. As the Borg close in on the away team, Beverly notices Picard in the distance and calls out to him, but, as the Captain turns to face his crew, his features reveal the implementation of Borg implants and hardware throughout his body - he has been physically altered into becoming a Borg. Worf plods towards his former captain but a force field blocks his way. On Shelby's command, the team are beamed back to the Enterprise.
They somberly arrive on the bridge and notify Riker that Picard "has been altered by the Borg." Both Shelby and Dr. Crusher are intent on making another recovery attempt but, as the Borg cube re-energizes, Riker insists that they instead use their deflector weapon. Confronted by file info from Picard, now known as "Locutus of Borg," Riker makes the ultimate decision...
"Will...what the hell are you still doing here?"
"You've been offered the Melbourne."
"I've decided not to pursue that commission at this time."
"She's a fine ship, Will."
"Yes, but she's not the Enterprise."
- - Picard and Riker
"Well, I've only got two pair, but I've got to see your last card. I'll call."
- - Shelby, forcing Riker to reveal he was bluffing about having a straight flush
"Mr. Worf, dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Hanson. We have engaged the Borg."
- - Picard
"Captain, you are being hailed."
"Yes, Captain, by name."
"Data, is it the same ship we faced at J-25?"
"Uncertain, Commander, but the dimensions are precisely the same."
"On screen! I am Captain Jean-Luc Pica–"
"Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the Starship Enterprise – Registry: N-C-C-One-Seven-Zero-One-D. You will lower your shields and prepare to transport yourself aboard our vessel. If you do not co-operate, we will destroy your ship."
"You have committed acts of aggression against the United Federation of Planets! If you do not withdraw immediately–"
"You will surrender yourself or we will destroy your ship. Your defensive capabilities are unable to withstand us."
- - Worf, Picard, Riker, Data, and the Borg
"What the hell do they want with you?"
"I thought they weren't interested in Human lifeforms, only our technology."
"Their priorities seem to have changed."
- - Riker, Shelby, and Picard, after the Borg demand that Picard surrender himself
"You disagree with me, fine. You need to take it to the Captain, fine; through me. You do an end run around me again, I'll snap you back so hard you'll think you're a first-year cadet again."
"May I speak frankly, Commander?"
"By all means."
"You're in my way.
"Really? (Unpleasant smile and sarcastic tone) How terrible for you."
- - Riker and Shelby
"When it comes to this ship and this crew, you're damned right I play it safe."
"If you can't make the big decisions, Commander, I suggest you make room for someone who can."
- - Riker and Shelby
"I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the Seventh Hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn't it? Will this be the end of our civilization – a turn of the page?"
"This isn't the end."
"You say that with remarkable assuredness."
"With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe – we survived, as will humanity survive. As long as there is a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium."
- - Picard and Guinan
"Captain Jean-Luc Picard, you lead the strongest ship of the Federation fleet. You speak for your people."
"I have nothing to say to you. And I will resist you with my last ounce of strength!"
"Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours."
"Impossible! My culture is based on freedom and self-determination!"
"Freedom is irrelevant. Self-determination is irrelevant. You must comply."
"We would rather die."
"Death is irrelevant. Your archaic cultures are authority driven. To facilitate our introduction into your societies, it has been decided that a Human voice will speak for us in all communications. You have been chosen to be that voice."
- - The Borg and Picard
"The captain has been altered by the Borg."
"He IS a Borg!
- - Data, Riker, and Worf
"I am Locutus...of Borg. Resistance...is futile. Your life, as it has been...is over. From this time forward...you will service...us."
- - Locutus of Borg, formerly Captain Picard
- - Riker, setting up Part II
Story and Script
- Michael Piller was unsure how this episode's two-parter would end, when he first sat down to write the episode. He began with the need for a season-ending cliffhanger. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) Naturally, the episode was designed to create anticipation for the return of the series in the following season. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- While the Borg had proven popular after their introduction in the second season episode "Q Who", the writers had struggled to bring them back, noting the problem of writing for a race with no personality. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages) In fact, Michael Piller himself had tried throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation's third season to devise a new story about the Borg. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) While several of the writing staff suggested creating a "queen bee" to act as a spokesperson, Michael Piller resisted these proposals. He commented, "To me, there was something special and frightening about the Borg that their lack of character brought. For a show that dwells and specializes in character to be challenged and possibly destroyed by a characterless villain seemed, to me, to be a special kind of threat. But when we started talking about the cliffhanger and the Borg, we really did talk about who was going to be the queen bee." It was Piller who came up with the notion of meeting this requirement by having Picard be assimilated. The writer recalled, "It all just fell into place. I said, 'I've got it. Picard will be the queen bee.'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- In an early draft of the story, however, Data and Picard were combined as one Borg unit. Piller recalled, "Someone said why should they do this, and we didn't have a good answer so we dropped that idea." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- To fill up the rest of the storyline, Piller sought to maintain the Human drama in all the spectacle. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages) As a result, the story's central character shifted, in Piller's opinion, from being Picard to Riker. (Starlog issue #159, p. 42) Piller revealed, "We had no idea it was really a Riker story when we started out. I came up with the idea of having the Shelby character come onboard to challenge Riker. That seemed to play into the Riker emotions and the conflict over whether to take the other job or not, and that builds into the issue of whether or not he was big enough to fill the center chair." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Another reason that Piller had for creating the Shelby subplot was to better explore Riker's motivation for staying aboard the Enterprise, as the series' fans had begun to wonder why Riker had – on a couple of times beforehand – turned down command opportunities (despite the real reason for this being that the series' production team did not want to lose Jonathan Frakes from the cast nor the popular character of Riker from the series). (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Piller had intended this season finale to be his last contribution to The Next Generation, after having agreed to only a one-year contract. His turmoil over leaving the show was reflected in Riker's struggle over leaving the Enterprise for his own command. Piller recounted, "By the end of the season, I was struggling with whether or not to stay or leave. And this came out in the screenplay for 'Best of Both Worlds, Part One', as Riker spoke about those issues." (Mission Overview, TNG Season 3 DVD special features) Piller also commented that he found this mirroring to be "very interesting." (Starlog issue #159, p. 42) Due to having always found it easier to write character exposition than technobabble, writing about Riker's career dilemma came easily to Piller, especially since the character's issue mirrored his own situation. He remembered, "As I was writing this script, I found myself in the position of Riker, who was trying to decide whether he wanted to leave the ship or not. Much of what happened in Part One was about what was going on in my head." Of one scene in particular, Piller recalled, "Riker is talking to Troi about why he hasn't left [....] That was really me speaking through Riker." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages) The writer elaborated, "When [Riker] talked to Troi about 'Why am I still here?' and she's telling him, 'because you're happy,' that was a conversation I had with myself several times during the course of writing that show." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) Piller was finally convinced to stay upon Gene Roddenberry personally urging him to do so. (Mission Overview, TNG Season 3 DVD special features)
- The real reason why Doctor Crusher was included in the away team that attempts to retrieve Picard from the Borg was that actress Gates McFadden had mentioned to Piller that she thought it would be fun to fire a phaser, as her character of Dr. Crusher wasn't usually provided with the opportunity for much phaser action during the series. Piller was happy to accommodate the actress' request. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary) As the episode's text commentary notes, even though it makes logical sense for a medical officer to go on such a mission (as it does involve rescuing a potentially wounded crew member), the situation raises the question of why it is necessary for the chief medical officer to risk her life by partaking in such a dangerous mission. Just before the away team are beamed to the Borg ship, Shelby is even specifically reminded by Riker not to take any unnecessary risks.
- The script describes Admiral Hanson as "fifties, high ranking, hard working" and Shelby as "late twenties, very beautiful, energetic, extremely motivated and ambitious." The script also commonly refers to each of the Borg's distribution nodes as a "conduit box" and includes only one reference to the moniker Locutus (specifically, in his dialogue at the end of the episode), otherwise referring to him as "Picard/Borg".
- All the stardates provided in the episode's log entries were changed between the script and the final version, with two supplemental entries in the script (the final two log entries of the episode) ultimately being given stardates instead.
- Although the script describes the Paulson Nebula as containing "large rocks and clumpy material," none of this debris is shown in the episode's final version. In fact, the resemblance is of the Mutara Nebula.
- Wolf 359 is an actual star that exists in reality. An extremely faint red dwarf, the real Wolf 359 is approximately 7.8 light years from Earth, the fifth nearest star to our sun.
- The final draft script of this episode was submitted on April 6, 1990.
The final draft script includes several moments that did not survive the episode's transition to its final, televised version. These include:
- ...a preface to the scene wherein Riker and Shelby enter the latter's quarters. This edited portion of the scene begins with the pair walking through a corridor, discussing the Borg. Shelby states that the Borg are known to have no interest in power or political corruption, to which an acknowledging Riker adds that the Borg identify what's useful to them before consuming it, or at least trying to. Pausing with Riker outside her quarters, Shelby presents a pertinent question, asking – after the Borg take what they want – what happens to the rest. Responding to Riker's expression, she explains that there must be some evidence, residue, or sign to show that the Borg have been in a particular area.
- ...a continuation of the scene involving Riker and Troi in Ten Forward, immediately after Troi asks Riker what he wants. The deleted section of the scene continues with Riker laughing to himself, influencing Troi to wonder what is amusing him. Remarking that his impetus is "stupid," Riker reveals it is an old song that he heard when he was a kid and that now keeps running through his mind. Reacting to Troi's expression, he begins to sing the words of the song, which is the Jimmy Durante composition "Did You Ever Have the Feelin'?" (as featured in the movies Two Girls and a Sailor, My Stepmother Is an Alien and Scent of a Woman). As he sings, Guinan – moving by with a tray of drinks – reacts as she hears Riker. He eventually stops, realizing that Guinan is looking at him. She tells him that he will start on Friday, with two shows a night and a matinee on Wednesday. Riker comments that he also plays the trombone, to which Guinan nods before walking away.
- ...a moment during Shelby and Riker's argument about the tiredness of the engineering team, between Riker telling Shelby that he thinks the team should "call it a night" and him making that an order. This edited segment of the scene starts with Shelby reacting without eye contact with him, instead continuing to work at a computer. In a restrained voice, she accepts his statement and starts to address anyone who's really tired and wants to leave, but her sentence is interrupted; Wesley and Geordi both agree to keep working. Intending to quickly resume work, Shelby starts to ask what would happen if the team took "the frequency klystron from the existing unit" but, this time, Riker interrupts her. With his voice firm but not loud, he instructs that they will "break here".
- ...a continuation of the scene wherein the Enterprise enters the Paulson Nebula. In the scripted version of the scene, Riker orders the bridge officers to shut down all active sensors, continue running passive scanners only and to set the deflector to output only minimum emissions. Picard comments that they will maintain their position inside the nebula and looks at both Riker and Shelby, adding, "Until we have a better idea."
Sets, Props and Wardrobe
- The surface of Jouret IV was a set built on Paramount Stage 16, its design supervised by production designer Richard James. He used a large painted backdrop to extend the set, adding illusory distant mountains and an artificial sky to the planetscape. The planet's crater was added via the use of a matte painting that was based on a photograph of a meteor crater in Arizona. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Creation of the Borg designs benefited from lessons learned from "Q Who". David Livingston noted, "The set had been a problem, because we didn't have the money to build a complete one, and the Borg had taken a long time. We made a lot of changes on them after they were first put together. The technical part of figuring out how to stick on all this tubing to these guys was a big deal [....] When we got to 'Best of Both Worlds,' we knew what the problems were. We knew we had to build a different kind of set and it worked out really well." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- The Borg costumes seen in this episode were based on designs that Durinda Rice Wood had created for "Q Who". (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary) Wood had left the series by this point, however, so the task of improving the Borg suits for this episode's two-parter fell to Robert Blackman, who had joined the series since the Borg's previous appearance. Despite remaining close to his predecessor's Borg designs for this episode and the next, Blackman would later significantly rework the costumes for subsequent Borg episodes.
- The design of Locutus for this episode and the next, however, was slightly more elaborate than the rest of the Borg suits used here. Michael Westmore recalled how an effective special effect was added to Locutus' helmet, using merely a tiny, cheap laser. "My son Michael, who did all the Borg electronics in the eyes and the head, found this little laser that was only one inch long. We mounted it on Patrick Stewart as Locutus. There's that scene at the end of the first part of 'The Best of Both Worlds' where Patrick turns his head and looks directly into the camera with his laser. We had no idea what was going to happen. Boy, the phone rang! Rick [Berman] saw it and said, 'Oh, my God, what a great effect.' Now that's an effect that could cost thousands of dollars to do if you wanted to say 'This is what I want to do,' and this was done with a little cheap laser." 
- As with the planetscape used for Jouret IV, the Borg interior set was also created by Richard James and built on Stage 16. Having devised the basic look of a Borg ship for "Q Who", James built on those designs for this episode. The Borg interior set, in this case, was built on an area of the stage where the floor could be removed, allowing the production crew to place lights in the basement area so that they could be shone up through the floor grating. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary) The ceiling of this Borg set featured many round yellow lights that were actually covers from swimming pool filters, two of which had also been influential in the design of an ancient Iconian control building seen on the planet Iconia in the second season TNG episode "Contagion". (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary, Star Trek Encyclopedia) The Borg linkup would later appear as part of the electronic "guts" inside a wall panel aboard the Template:ShipClass Enterprise during Star Trek: Enterprise. Also new for the Borg set of this episode was the presence of numerous small, rectangular, black-and-red placards that were intended to represent Borg signs. Most of these placards were detailed with random patterning but a few instead featured the distinctive claw-like emblem of the Borg collective. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- A reworking of a matte painting by Syd Dutton was used for the interior vista of the Borg cube in this episode, as had previously been done in "Q Who". The illustration was used for both the scene wherein the Borg cube contacts the Enterprise and for the later scene in which Picard, not yet Locutus, is brought to face the Borg ship's interior. For the latter scene, a larger interior vista was created with a bluescreen composite, adding Picard and two drones into the shot. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- The set of Shelby's quarters included a pair of paintings on the room's back wall, designed by Rick Sternbach. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Close-up footage of the desktop monitor that Riker utilizes to contact Admiral Hanson reused stock footage that had been filmed early during TNG's first season. Longer shots of Riker using the monitor involved the use of the actual monitor prop, including grey stripes that had later been added to the prop's base but was not present in the stock close-up shots. The differences between the monitor in the two types of shots, in this episode, therefore constitute a continuity error. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- For scenes of Admiral Hanson contacting the Enterprise's senior officers while they are gathered in the observation lounge, footage of actor George Murdock as Hanson was superimposed during post-production. When the senior officers watch footage of the Borg attack against the Enterprise, however, this footage was actually displayed on the screen amid the filming. The differences in these two methods of screen display can be noticed by looking at the observation lounge's table, as the footage that was on the set reflected off the table whereas the superimposed footage obviously didn't. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Like its script, the episode itself was produced in April 1990. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- The fact that this episode was the first cliffhanger in the history of Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Encounter at Farpoint" was later divided into two parts, but was a feature-length episode at first-run) was influential in Paramount opting to be less restrained with this episode's budget than they typically were. Director Cliff Bole noted, "Paramount, at the beginning of the year, had pulled back a little budget-wise [....] They let us go a little bit on the first one because it was the first time we'd done a cliffhanger." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Assistant director Chip Chalmers recalled one memorable moment during filming. "I remember the moment when Patrick, dressed in a Borg outfit, first walks up to the viewscreen and says, 'I am Locutus of Borg.' He came on to the set – everybody was wowed with what they had done to Patrick – and we got everyone settled down and did one rehearsal. All he had to do was walk up to the camera. He did so and towered over everyone. It was just so creepy and so spooky, and he said, 'I am Locutus of Borg. Have you considered buying a Pontiac?' And everyone was on the floor. That's the kind of thing that makes it wonderful to work on the show; those people have a wonderful sense of humor." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Guest star Elizabeth Dennehy found this episode to be the hardest of its two-parter, experiencing difficulty in playing an authority figure on a series with which she was entirely unfamiliar. The actress noted, "I didn't know anything about the show and I had to look like I knew, because I was in charge. I was a commander and the hardest thing in the world to do was making that dialogue sound like I spoke that way all the time. It was impossible. It's so easy to remember and memorize lines when they make logical sense or when you get blocked and you say when I move over here, I say this. But this was just memorizing timetables. It was just 2x2 is 4. I didn't know what a manipulation effect in the Borg ship's subspace meant. That's not English! It was like learning a foreign language by phonetics. It was just grueling and my first day was the hardest of all. It was a scene in the big conference room where I'm talking to them about what the Borg do, and they're like tongue twisters. LeVar and Brent have the hardest stuff to learn. I don't know how they do it [....] But, geez, those lines. I yelled at Michael Piller when I first met him. The day he visited the set I had to say, 'Separate the saucer section, assign a skeleton crew,' and I asked him, 'Can you lay off the alliteration a little, Michael... please.' He laughed. It was hard." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- On the day when the teaser scene was filmed, the production staff gathered for a group photograph of virtually everyone involved in the making of the series. This was the last crew photograph to feature the inclusion of Gene Roddenberry, prior to his death in 1991. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- A close-up shot of the Borg linkup was filmed by a second unit crew, weeks after principal photography for the third season had ended. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- According to an estimate made by associate producer Peter Lauritson on August 21, 1991, this episode probably had eighty visual effects shots. (New Life and New Civilizations, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
- This episode was one of a mere few that required all-new shots of the Enterprise's exterior to be created, rather than reusing stock footage that had originally been filmed for "Encounter at Farpoint". (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- For two establishing shots (using the same clip) of Admiral Hanson's transport ship flying alongside the Enterprise, recycled footage of the Excelsior-class model was recomposited with the Enterprise model; the clip had previously been used in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", for which it was utilized to represent the USS Hood. Although the clip had originally been filmed by Industrial Light & Magic, its new composite was done at The Post Group, overseen by visual effects supervisor Robert Legato. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Similarly, the images of the Paulson Nebula were recycled images of the Mutara Nebula from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This stock footage was enhanced for the episode, by photographing the Enterprise model on a stage that was filled with smoke, helping to create the illusion that the ship was in the cloudy nebula. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- Shots of the Borg cube involved reusing a three-quarters filming miniature from "Q Who". (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg text commentary)
- This episode is notable for the musical score composed by Ron Jones, as it uses a synthetic chorus to provide a five-note leitmotif for the Borg and a dramatic cliffhanger cue for the ending when Riker chooses to fire on Picard/Locutus. According to Jones, the producers were uncomfortable with the choir concept, though he felt the extremity of the Borg threat allowed for the musical style. He related, "Let's be serious. This isn't another episode of Wagon Train, this was the end of Mankind as we know it. This is not just 'Well, somebody's going to blow us out of the sky, but we'll be smart and figure it out.' I wanted it to be like 'Goodbye,' like an epitaph for humanity." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 23, No. 2/3, p. 125)
- Some parts of the score seem to build upon musical themes used by Ron Jones in earlier episodes. The dramatic underscoring music that is heard during the activation of the auto-destruct sequence by Picard and Riker in the episode "Where Silence Has Lease" is featured even more profoundly in "The Best of Both Worlds".
- Ron Jones also happened to have scored the first episode to ever feature the Borg, "Q Who", as well as the episode that foreshadowed their threat, "The Neutral Zone".
- A soundtrack album containing music from this episode (as well as from the second part of its two-parter) was subsequently released.
- For the 100th episode of Family Guy, "Stewie Kills Lois", Jones composed a similar cliffhanger cue for executive producers Seth MacFarlane and David A. Goodman, who are both big Trekkies.
- This episode is essentially a sequel to "Q Who", in particular a scene at that episode's conclusion wherein Picard realizes – during a private conversation with Guinan – that the Borg "will be coming."
- This episode begins the first two-parter in Star Trek since TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I" and "The Menagerie, Part II" in 1966.
- This was also the first end-of-season cliffhanger in the history of Star Trek's production.
- The Borg would be used to provide end-of-season cliffhangers for Star Trek on three further occasions: TNG: "Descent", VOY: "Scorpion" and VOY: "Unimatrix Zero". They would also appear in the feature-length premiere of DS9 ("Emissary") and the feature-length finale of VOY ("Endgame") and make their big screen debut in Star Trek: First Contact, which loosely continues the storyline from this episode. They would even make a controversial appearance in ENT: "Regeneration", which takes place after the events of First Contact and begins a paradox of the Borg threatening the Federation.
- This episode marks the first use of the Borg's now-famous line: "Resistance is futile." Another phrase, "strength is irrelevant", also becomes a commonly used Borg phrase with the subject "strength" being replaced in each use (for example: "freedom", "self-determination", "death").
- While the Borg will later prove to have typically unimaginative naming conventions (i.e. Third of Five, Seven of Nine, etc.), the name chosen for Picard's alter-ego is quite appropriate. His function is to speak for the Borg, and "Locutus" is Latin for "he who has spoken."
- Though the Borg's first appearance was in "Q Who", this is the first episode in any Star Trek series where the Borg assimilate a person.
- This episode also includes the first time that Dr. Crusher personally encounters the Borg, due to her absence in the second season of the series. At one point, the script of this episode specifically states that "Beverly wasn't around for the Borg last year."
- Although she is not seen on-screen in this episode, it is established in Star Trek: First Contact that the Borg Queen was aboard the cube.
- Despite Data apparently misunderstanding the phrase "early bird" in this episode, he has heard it once before: he is present when, in TNG: "The Arsenal of Freedom", a Minosian Peddler uses the saying.
- This is the first of two episodes that establish Earth as being in Sector 001, the other episode being the following installment.
- George Murdock (Admiral Hanson) previously appeared in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as "God".
- Brannon Braga joined the writing team of TNG shortly after this episode was first aired. On November 15, 2002, he recalled the environment at the time: "The feeling back then was very exciting because... 'Best of Both Worlds, Part I' – the big Borg, Picard-gets-assimilated cliffhanger – had just aired. In fact, it was the first episode of Star Trek I'd really sat down and watched. And it was a turning point for The Next Generation, which was climbing its way up the ratings, getting better and better, but that was the defining moment, where it got a lot of people excited and the show really took off. So I came in right at that point, when that show had just aired and they were preparing Part II." (Chronicles from the Final Frontier, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
- After the episode's airing, rumors circulated among fans that Patrick Stewart's contract talks with Paramount had stalled, and that Picard would be killed off, with Riker becoming Captain while Shelby would become his first officer. This culminated in an unprecedented level of interest in the next season opener, with Paramount running ads and radio spots specifically for the episode. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- This episode was featured in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Viewers Choice Marathon.
- Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode (combined with Part II) #2 on their list of "The Top 10 Episodes" to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. 
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.
- When asked about the show's enduring popularity, Piller commented, "I think it's because we saw a side of Picard and a side of Riker that we had not seen before, plus of course, the depiction of "an undefeatable" enemy like the Borg. Plus it had a scope because it was a two hour story." (AOL chat, 1997)
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode and the concluding part of its two-parter as being, together, one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- TV Guide ranked this episode #36 on their list of the Top 100 Episodes. 
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 37, catalog number VHR 2564, 17 February 1992.
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Borg Box: 5 December 1994
- In feature-length form:
- As part of the UK VHS release Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Full Length TV Movies: Volume 2, catalog number VHR 4102, 16 January 1995
- UK collectors' edition VHS: 9 December 1996
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 3.8, catalog number VHR 4751, 2 October 2000.
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection.
- In feature-length form, as part of the Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete TV Movies DVD collection.
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg DVD collection.
- As part of The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Special guest star
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Christopher Doyle as Borg drone
- Eben Ham as operations division ensign
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Michael Moorehead as civilian
- Randy Pflug as Jones
- Keith Rayve as Borg drone
- Lynn Salvatori as Borg drone
- Adrian Tafoya as Borg drone
- Unknown performers as
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for Wil Wheaton
Avifauna; Borg; chromium; cutting beam; Earl Grey tea; Earth; Federation; intercept course; Jouret IV; Lalo, USS; magnesium; magnetometric guided charge; Melbourne, USS; mosquito; Nelson, Horatio; plasma phaser; Sector 001; Sentinel Minor IV; Starbase 157; Starbase 324; tricorder; vermicular lifeform; Victory, HMS; Zeta Alpha II
- Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield, Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (1997)
- Van Hise, James, Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation (1992)
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"The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"
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