Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 6.26/ 7.1 Descent (June 21, 1993 (1) and September 20, 1993 (2))
Redshirt Status: 3/23/57 (we will give it to season 6)
Notable Guest Stars:
Steven Hawking (Himself) – Steven Hawking is a well-known physicist. He plays himself in the opening scene.
Natalija Nogulich (Admiral Alynna Nechayev) – This is not the first nor the last time we will see Nogulich as she continues to play the role Admiral Nechayev on various episodes of both TNG and Deep Space Nine. She had a reoccurring role on The Pretender and appeared on West Wing as Isreali ambassador Shira Galit.
John Neville (Isaac Newton) – Neville was a popular theatre actor. He also had a recurring role as the “Well-manicured Man” on the X-files, Mr. Laurence in Little Women (1994) and the Admiral in the Fifth Element (1997). Also, he is the grandfather of actor Joe Dinicol who may be known from Arrow. Neville died in 2001.
Jim Norton (Albert Einstein) – Norton played Einstein in an earlier episode of Star trek, The Nth Degree.
Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh) – Del Arco appeared before as Hugh, and he will appear as the character again in Picard. He is also known for being Dr. Morales in The Closer. When not acting he is a political activist with a particular interest in furthering equality for the LBTQA+ community and the environment. He will appear as different characters on Voyager and the Star Trek associated video games.
Richard Gilbert Hill (Bosus)- Gilbert-Hill has worked on several TV shows, including one I would watch with my grandmother called The Guardian which stars Simon Baker. It’s a very good show, you should watch it. He also periodically does write scripts, and even has a credit on Highlander.
Brian J. Cousins (Crosis) – Cousins is a reoccurring Star Trek Alum, who first appeared as Parem, a Romulan military officer in the TNG episode The Next Phase. He will return in an episode of Enterprise.
This is actually a pretty interesting episode. It brings forth two questions to answer over the course of the two-parter.Read more: The Rewatch 230: Descent
The first is Data’s ability to handle emotions. Its been a long used plot point that Data wants to be as human as possible and its usually emotion that keeps him from fulfilling that goal. In this episode, Data begins to experiment with that. Granted, its with the help of his brother Lore, who is never up to good.
The second plot question is what happened to Hugh, the borg that they set free to go back to the collective and infest with independence. Well, we find out in this episode. Hugh and the others are holding up on a far-off planet where they are following Lore. Having grown up with the hive mind, the affected Borg do not settle well into independence. Lore takes advantage of this and steps in to help lead them. Some break away after realizing that Lore is also using them for experimentation.
As you may figure, Lore is why we can’t have nice things. In this episode he is able to share emotions with his brother through a radio signal. The only issue is that he only shares anger. Data so enthralled with the idea of emotion goes with it, acting extremely out of character and rebelling in a very teenager fashion (as much as a 40ish year-old android can). The anger and hate fill him up and it takes a lot of work from Geordi and Picard to get through it all and activate his programing that lets him have morality.
This episode is very important in the story of Data, and I think anyone who is a Data fan should include this two parter in their must-sees. Because at the end of the day there is a difference between Data and his older brother – Data has a conscious, and Lore does not.
In the second part, we really deal with the borg and how being left to their own devices they were vulnerable, and Lore took advantage. He created a cult of Borg, and it took a lot for any of them to leave.
I think its notable that several key players in this episode were not happy with the end result. Brent Spiner and various production staff have all had complaints about the limits they had to really get into the themes of the episode and make it reach its full potential.
- Written by (1) Ronald D. Moore on the story by Jeri Taylor and (2) Rene Exhevarria.
- Directed by Alexander Singer
- This Two-parter includes the final Season premiere of TNG, as it starts the seventh and last season of the show.
- There is a novelization of this episode, along with four other episodes.
- This episode closes a few plot threads, but it also dangles one open which will be brought up in the 1994 film Generations: The emotion chip.
- The building that Lore & his borg companions live is the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. Previously this building had been used to be the setting of the Khitomir Accords in Star Trek VI.
- Stephen Hawking is the only person to have a cameo as himself in the franchise. The scene in which he appears contains several jokes about his theories on physics and how they interact with Einstein’s and Newton’s. He had requested to appear on the show, being a big fan of it. He even wrote the forward on a book on the Physics of Star Trek.
- One of the ships that the admiral mentions is a homage to Chancellor Gorkon. This was the first ship to be named after a nonhuman in the series. Discovery would continue this tradition so in the show’s chronology this was far from the first.
- There were a lot of issues with the set being too hot for those in costume.
- This is a great Data episode. Brent Spiner always gets to test his limits as an actor when it comes to Lore episodes because he has his usual Data, and the more emotional and angry Lore.
- It’s nice to see Beverly show her command skills. In a later episode Deanna asks her about being a Bridge Officer. I kind of wonder what made her decide to become one. I don’t think they will discuss that, but I will see when I get to the episode and see it again.
I’m always a little bit uncomfortable when people are in such a defense mode that they want to destroy everything upon finding it. It always makes me wonder if they have lost their ability to see the nuances of life. In this episode the Admiral basically dresses down Picard for letting Hugh live. Given what the Federation and Starfleet stand for, I think it was a reasonable thing for him to do. But then I’ve always been averse to outright destruction. I’ve also never been in a survival situation before either.
Screencap via CygnusX1.net