The Best of Both Worlds (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
|"The Best of Both Worlds"|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
Blu-ray release cover
|Episode no.||Season 3 episode 26, Season 4 episode 1|
|Directed by||Cliff Bole|
|Written by||Michael Piller|
|Featured music||Ron Jones|
|Cinematography by||Marvin Rush|
|Production code||174 & 175|
|Original air date|
"The Best of Both Worlds" is the 26th episode of the third season and the first episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It comprises the 74th and 75th episodes of the series overall. The first part was originally aired on June 18, 1990, and the second on September 24, 1990 in broadcast syndication television.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this two part episode, the Enterprise must battle the Borg who are intent on conquering Earth, with a captured and assimilated Captain Picard as their emissary. Part 1 was the finale to season three, while Part 2 was the premiere of season four. It is considered one of the most popular TNG episodes.
In April 2013, "The Best of Both Worlds" was re-released as a single feature in 1080p (1.33:1 ratio), edited together as a single film on Blu-ray disc. In this version, the short summary of Part I at the start of Part II is removed and there is no second opening credits montage. The 90-minute single also has some special features and audio commentary available for the episode. One reviewer said it was better than some of the Star Trek theatrical films.
The Starship Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Federation colony and arrives to discover the colony gone. The Federation suspect the Borg—cybernetic humanoids that assimilate individuals into their hive mind.
Starfleet Admiral Hanson arrives on Enterprise with Lt. Commander Shelby, an expert on the Borg, who assists the crew in determining the cause of the colony's disappearance. Hanson informs Captain Picard that Commander Riker has been offered the command of a starship and suggests that Riker take the position, having turned it down twice previously. Although there is tension between Riker and the ambitious Shelby—who wants to take over his position of first officer—they confirm that the colony was assimilated by the Borg. Hanson advises Picard that another Federation vessel encountered a strange "cube-like" vessel before sending a distress call that ended abruptly. Enterprise moves to intercept and confronts a Borg cube.
The Borg demand that Picard surrender himself, which he refuses. Although initially deterred by Enterprise's shield modulation, the Borg lock the vessel in a tractor beam and begin cutting open the hull. Shelby suggests randomly changing the frequency of the ship's phasers to prevent the Borg from adapting to the attack, which frees the vessel. The Enterprise escapes to a nebula, where Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Ensign Wesley Crusher adapt a technique suggested by Shelby to modify the deflector dish to fire a massive energy discharge capable of destroying the Borg cube. The Borg flush Enterprise from the nebula, board the ship, and abduct Picard. The Borg Cube moves at high warp speed towards Earth, with Enterprise in pursuit.
Riker, now in command of the ship, prepares to join an away team to transport to the cube to rescue Picard, but Counselor Troi reminds him his place is now on the bridge. Shelby leads the away team onto the Borg cube, where they are ignored by the Borg drones. The team locate Picard's uniform and communicator and then destroy power nodes inside the cube, forcing it out of warp. As the team prepares to transport to Enterprise, they see an assimilated Picard. The Borg contact Enterprise, with Picard stating that he is "Locutus of Borg" and to prepare for assimilation. Riker orders Worf to fire the deflector dish.
The deflector dish discharge has no effect on the Borg cube; Locutus reveals that the Borg had prepared for the attack using Picard's knowledge. The Borg cube continues at warp speed towards Earth, with the crippled Enterprise unable to follow. Upon reporting their failure to Hanson, Riker is promoted to Captain and makes Shelby his first officer. The crew learns that a fleet of starships is massing at Wolf 359 to stop the Borg. Enterprise arrives at Wolf 359 to find that the fleet has been destroyed.
The Enterprise follows the cube's warp trail and offers to negotiate with Locutus. The request is denied, but the communication reveals Locutus's location within the cube. The Enterprise locates the Borg cube, and separates into saucer and stardrive sections. Although Shelby suggested attacking with the stardrive section, Riker does the reverse and orders the saucer section to fire an antimatter spread near the cube, disrupting its sensors and allowing a shuttlecraft piloted by Lieutenant Commander Data and Lt. Worf to pass the Borg shields and beam aboard the Borg cube. They kidnap Locutus, although the Borg ignore this and continue to Earth.
Data and Dr. Crusher create a neural link with Locutus to gain access to the Borg's collective consciousness. Data attempts to use the link to disable the Borg's weapons and defensive systems, but cannot, as they are protected by security protocols. Picard breaks free from Borg control and mutters, "sleep". Dr. Crusher comments that Picard must be exhausted from this ordeal, but Data realizes that Picard is suggesting accessing the Borg regeneration subroutines, which are less protected than key systems like weapons or power. Data issues a command to the Borg to enter sleep mode, causing their weapons and shields to deactivate. A feedback loop builds in the Borg cube, which destroys the vessel. Dr. Crusher and Data remove the Borg implants and augmentations from Picard.
The Enterprise is repaired in an orbital shipyard, and Riker, although offered command of his own ship, insists on remaining as first officer. Shelby is reassigned to a task force dedicated to rebuilding the fleet. Picard recovers, but is still disturbed by his ordeal.
The writer of both episodes, Michael Piller, considers it to be a Riker-centric episode as he related the character's quandary over whether or not to leave the Enterprise to his own experiences as an executive producer on Star Trek. This was because Piller felt ready to move onto other things, but he was convinced to stay by Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman.
During the writing process on the episodes, Piller worked with Ronald D. Moore, who wrote the following episode "Family". The two writers considered "Family" to be the final installment of "The Best of Both Worlds" as a trilogy. Initially there was no plan to have an episode reflecting on the ongoing effects on Picard after the traumatic events of the two-parter, but after Piller raised the issue with Roddenberry and Berman, it was agreed to be added as long as it included a science fiction story. Instead, Moore and Piller agreed to have three family stories contained in the episode which would resonate off each other.
The musical score was composed and conducted by Ron Jones and eventually released as an album in 1991. Jones composed similar cliffhanger music for the 100th episode of Family Guy, "Stewie Kills Lois" as Seth MacFarlane and David A. Goodman had wanted to use the actual music, but couldn't get the rights from Paramount.
Broadcast and release
Part I was originally broadcast on syndicated television starting on June 18, 1990, then Part II was broadcast starting on September 24, 1990. The time delay over the summer combined with the cliffhanger style at the end of Part I "To be continued... ", and its resolution at the start of the next season is noted in television history. Many watchers note the frustration of having to wait to see the conclusion. Riker's line "Mr. Worf - Fire" was described by TheWrap as one of the greatest cliffhangers in television history.
The two episodes, prepped for Blu-ray optical video disc release and to promote the release of the third season Blu-ray, were combined with interviews and outtakes and shown as a one-night only event in movie theaters across the US and Canada on the night of April 25, 2013.
A review of the Blu-Ray release noted that it was a "better-than-average Star Trek adventure" noting the difficulties faced by Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes) as well as the featurette and extras.
"The Best of Both Worlds" has also been released on DVD, such as in the 14-episode collection, "Star Trek Fan Collective - Borg." in 2006, and on VHS tapes as well.
The storyline appeared in TV Guide's "100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History" (July 1, 1996), ranked number 50. The episode was also ranked #70 on "The 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time". Part I was ranked 8th on the top 10 Star Trek episodes for the magazine's celebration of the franchise's 30th anniversary.
In 2008, Empire magazine rated Star Trek: The Next Generation 37th on their list of "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" and cited "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" as the show's best episode. The episode was ranked #36 on TV Guide's list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time". The two-episode arc ranked second in Entertainment Weekly's list of top 10 Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. Starlog magazine listed the two part episodes as number three and four on their top 25 episodes of The Next Generation.
In 2011, this episode was noted by Forbes as one of the top ten episodes of the franchise that explores the implications of advanced technology. Io9 ranked it as the second best episode of all Star Trek episodes up to 2011.
In 2015, WhatCulture ranked this the number one best episode of all time in the Star Trek science fiction universe. They describe it as the "ultimate combination of drama, action and character" in a Star Trek episode.
In 2016, Wired ranked Commander Elizabeth Shelby, a guest character featured in Parts I and II as the 56th most important character of Starfleet within the Star Trek science fiction universe including both films and television series but not expanded universe canon.
In 2016, Radio Times rated the scene presenting Picard as Locutus as the second greatest scene in all Star Trek, behind only Spock and Kirk's final scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which would still make it the highest rated scene from the television shows.
In 2017, Den of Geek ranked Elizabeth Dennehy's role as Lt. Commander Shelby, in Star Trek: The Next Generation famed "The Best of Both Worlds" (Part I & II) as one of the top ten guest star roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation. They remark that Elizabeth Dennehy does a great job of holding her own with the rest of the cast and portraying a capable officer.
In one ranking in 2017 of the 25 greatest episodes of all Star Trek series prior to Star Trek: Discovery, "The Best of Both Worlds" (Part I & II) was ranked as the second best.
In 2018, CBR ranked "The Best of Both Worlds" pair as the second best episodic saga of Star Trek overall. In December 2018, Screen Rant ranked "The Best of Both Worlds" (Part I & II) as one of the top ten episodes of all Star Trek. In 2018, Entertainment Weekly ranked "The Best of Both Worlds" as one of the top ten moments of Jean-Luc Picard.
In 2019, Screen Rant ranked "The Best of Both Worlds" (Part I & II) the fourth best episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They also ranked it the sixth most important episode to watch in preparation for the series Star Trek: Picard. They describe the two-parter as, "..one of the finest stories in all of science fiction," noting it as a powerful use of the show's "cybernetic hive race". They point out these aliens would be used again later in the franchise, including with Captain Picard.
The Nerdist suggested this episode as the second in a Borg-themed story arc of this TV show. They propose a story arc with the Enterprise 1701-D confronting the Borg, that would include "Q Who?", "The Best of Both Worlds" (Parts I & II), "I, Borg", and "Descent".
In 2020, Space.com recommended watching this episode as background for Star Trek: Picard. Also, Games Radar recommended watching this episode before that series. In 2020, SyFy Wire listed this episode in their guide "Best of Borg Worlds" as one of seven essential Borg-themed episodes to watch as background before Star Trek: Picard.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "The Best of Both Worlds"|
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" on IMDb
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" on IMDb
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" at TV.com
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" at TV.com
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" at StarTrek.com
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" at StarTrek.com
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" rewatch by Keith R.A. DeCandido
- "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" rewatch by Keith R.A. DeCandido