When it comes to The Next Generation or Star Trek in general, this is a big one. This is one of those episodes that has been extremely hyped by Star Trek or TNG lovers, and when there is so much hype, well that’s when people are usually left most disappointed. Even with all the hype coming into this episode, I still found it to be a pretty great story and series of episodes. Now, I did not find it as amazing as Yesterday’s Enterprise, but really that’s going to be a tough one to beat.
The Best of Both Worlds is most famous for featuring the Borg collective and not only because of that, but also because it featured the assimilation of Captain Picard into that collective. It is such an iconic moment when we see Picard emerge as Locutus, fully assimilated, and ready to take the Enterprise down. It adds so much more to it as we watch the Admiral as well as the crew of the Enterprise hype up great Picard is/was and how much he knows about Starfleet. Picard/Locutus doesn’t really have to be sold as a threat to us, but it certainly doesn’t hurt adding those layers.
Now I believe what really made this episode great and took it to something above what was just the Borg attacking and the cool idea of Picard as a Borg was the focus on the Enterprise’s first officer, Riker. From the start of the episode we are reminded of how many times Riker has turned down the chance to be the Captain of his own ship. It seemed to be the huge elephant in the room. They always seemed to use the excuse of ‘I could lead another ship, but those ships aren’t the Enterprise.’ There are only so many times you could go to that well. It’s clear to anybody and everybody watching that Riker has been ready to lead his own ship for a long time. The fact that two entire episodes focus on that fact turns this into something greater than your average episode.
I haven’t watched too many episodes that followed the Best of the Both Worlds, but I assume that since Picard remains Captain and Riker remains First Officer, after all this ‘lead your own ship’ talk, things just go back to normal. That seems to be a bit of a disappointment, and I’m very interested in seeing what are some of the reasons for things remaining the same after all this talk of change.
Another things I liked about the Riker story was that he had the young female Starfleet member gunning for his spot. She was ambitious and made no bones about it, she wanted to move up and take Riker’s spot. Riker had gotten too comfortable and it was now her time. I liked how uncomfortable and angry she made Riker, almost lighting a fire under him. Again, it’s a bit of a disappointment to think about how things will be reset in the episodes that will follow. That is one of my only complaints when it comes to Star Trek; how things don’t really carry on from episode to episode.
One of the reasons that The Wrath of Khan or First Contact is so great is that it has continuity. The Wrath of Khan features the return of Khan after fifteen years, both real time and in the show. The time between the Best of Both Worlds and First Contact is nowhere near that but it does feature some continuity as we see the Borg return and Picard still feeling the effects of the assimilation. I know that Riker will go on to lead his own ship, but I just can’t understand why it took him so long. Overall though, there’s a lot to like in this double episode and now I only regret not catching it when it was played in theaters as a one-night event.