The Rewatch 151: The Best of Both Words ( 1 and 2)

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 3.26 The Best of Both Words 1 (6/18/1990) 4.01 The Best of Both Worlds 2 (9/24/1990 )
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 11/11.5/33 (season 3) 0/0/33 (season 4)

Notable Guest Stars:

Elizabeth Dennehy (Lt. Commander Shelby) She appeared on several TV shows, including the soap opera Guiding Light. She is also the daughter of Brian Dennehy.
George Murdock (Admiral Hanson).
He appeared previously in Star Trek V as ‘God’.

Review:

“The Best of Both Worlds” seems to be generally considered the point where TNG went from good to great as far as a program went.  Indeed the episode puts a lot of information into two episodes and sets up a story arc for the rest of the series.  It also has the Borg (without Q this time.  He’s remarkably silent right now). It showcases the acting skills of the cast, as well as stretching some of the characters comfort zones.

I’ve decided to review both episodes as a single entity rather then two separate posts.  It is a season finale and opener and you can view it as one piece on bluray. I am streaming this however, so I have to deal with switching to the next episode.

This episode is a good mix of the whole crew (including O’Brien) but it is, as one of the producers stated, a Riker episode.  It explores Riker’s command presence and how he interacts with his suborinates.  It also spends time figuring out why Riker hasn’t left to get his own ship at this point. 

Lt.Commander Shelby is an ambitious young woman who happens to be Starfleet’s Borg expert.  She has been attempting to develop ways to fight the Borg, and has managed at least figure out how to track where they have been.  She’s a bit headstrong but she knows what she’s doing.  I’m always a fan of seeing competent officers, particularly women as this show is still struggling with female characters.

Part One is essientially part strategy against the borg development and part Riker characterization development.  He’s been offered another commission (it seems like one a year at this point) and doesn’t want it, happy to be on Enterprise.  Picard is dismayed, knowing that Riker could handle captaincy.  Which honestly -everyone is probably wondering why Riker doesn’t take the promotions.  Although I find it weird that Picard was not notified one of his officers was offered a commission on another ship.  I have to admit that the scene with Troi and Riker is the only scene in this episode where I go “huh?”  I don’t know if Troi is going into therapist mode but she seems oddly detached, especially when Riker references how he gave up their relationship to make his way to Captain. She doesn’t seem surprised at all however that he wants to stay.

Shelby meanwhile has taken the news of Riker’s offer to mean she is auditioning to be his replacement.  Her eagerness to show her competency puts her against Riker a little when it comes to the hierarchy of the ship. Which sometimes I get, and sometimes I find her choices to just be plain rude.  Like when she goes around him to Picard and tells Riker that he’s hiding behind a great man.

Basically Episode 1 is Riker dealing with command decisions, and how well people follow them.  With a side of borg drama.  Not that the borg drama is unimportant.  It is very important, but I feel the development of Riker’s command precense is a bigger portion of the first episode.

The second part is more Riker as Captain and rescuing Picard whose now a borg.  Part two is about the consequences of what happened in episode one and might be more important as far as the franchise goes because the aftereffects will affect the cannon universe.

So the main points to gather from part two (without too many spoilers)

  • Klingons were at Wolf 359 and fought the borg. This is probably the only time we really hear about them fighting the borg (I could be wrong.)
  • Wesley Crusher came up with the idea of a chip to change the interface of the phasers to kept it changing to fight the borg.  This shows up in Star Trek First Contact, as well as Voyager.
  • This episode really shows the relationship between Picard and Riker and their command style.  Also, Riker’s insecurities in himself as well as his confidence in his command decisions.  Picard at the end sounds like a proud Dad when he comments on Riker’s strategies.
  • This episode is important to know in regards to Seven of Nine in regards to the medical ability to deborg someone.

The episodes are good at using all the charactesr, which I have to admit is not always TNG’s strong point.  Particularly their female characters.  In this episode both Deanna and Beverly get to show their talents as officers. 

As for crewmember death, there were 11 crew death with 8 missing, so I’m going with 11 and being optimistic that the other 8 are just injured and survived.  I’m not going to include the thousands of deaths at Worf 359 since they are on other ships.  But holy cow, 40 ships is a lot of people.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Michael Piller
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • This episode is super important to the rest of the Trek Franchise.  It not only sets up the Borg as an active enemy, but it sets up Picard dealing with ongoing PTSD from his time as a Borg.
  • Wikipedia notes that this episode may be one of the first cliff hanger episodes in television history.  I can’t confirm that information though, but it makes sense.
  • Part one won an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.
  • Many online outlets believe this is a must-see episode before viewing Picard.  Considering how much this effects Picard’s story I would agree even without seeing the newer show.
  • This episode has major implications for the universe in which TNG exists.  The events of the battle at Wolf 359 that the Enterprise missed would be shown in the series premiere of Deep Space Nine and hold a major role in the backstory of Benjamin Sisko.
  • The score for this episode was composed by Ron Jones and was released as an album at one point.  He also wrote music inpisred by this score for the television series Family Guy.
  • Locutus is latin for “he who has spoken” according to Memory Alpha.
  • Wolf 359 is a real star, located 7.8 light years away from us.  It is not believed to have planets in reality, but Star Trek gave it a system.
  • They made a group photograph of the crew after the filming of part one, and it was the last photo Gene Roddenberry was included in.  His health declined and he died in October 1991, a little more then a year after part two aired.
  • Part 2 marks TNG as being longer in time then its predecessor.   

Pros:

  •  This episode shows that Starfleet is working on the Borg issue. Sometimes it seems like the Enterprise’s adventures have no effect on Starfleet or the universe in which they exist.  This episode begins to show that is not true and starts to develop a deeper continuity within the universe.
  • They give us a better definition of how the universe is mapped out by Starfleet.
  • There are some Imzadi moments in this episode.  Even the best part being Riker and Troi being at odds because she used his own argumenet to get him off the away team.
  • Riker really gets to show his command style, and how it differs from Picard.  Its clear that Riker takes a lot from what he’s learned from Picard, but he also a good strategist so he is able to get around what Picard knows.

Cons:

  • While I enjoy Shelby and wish we had seen her more, I wasn’t a big fan of the amount of insubordination she committed.  Some of it was justified, but several times she was just rude. She does seem to respect him a bit more in episode 2.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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