S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

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dnaphil
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S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by dnaphil »

I selected this pair of episodes because it is one of the most important Picard stories in the series.

This 2-part episode also brings back the Borg, who we will encounter a few more times in this series, but have a much larger role in Voyager.
This episode has a lot going on in it. I will touch on some of the things that stand out to me.

First, Riker's promotion. We learn that Riker has turned down the Captain's chair a few times. For obvious reasons, to keep the show together, Riker has to remain the First Officer. From the writer's perspective, they have to explain that in the show, as Riker has not found a commission he wants, or he is holding out for the Enterprise. Even Riker is not sure what has happened, as his ambitions have slowed down.

This is made worse by the arrival of Commander Shelby. Shelby is a younger Riker, and he knows it. It enhances the struggle about him taking the captain's chair. At one point Shelby calls Riker out for not being able to make the hard command decisions. Riker calls Shelby out for being brash and impulsive.

I use to not like Shelby, but upon rewatch, I think that is misplaced. My dislike for her was largely being protective of Riker as a show character, and not looking at Riker or Shelby as people in a universe. Shelby is smart and on the fast track. She makes some mistakes, like jumping the chain of command, but that is her youth over experience. In the end, I think Shelby was a perfect foil for Riker, and she made a great first officer.

Picard being transformed by the Borg is a terrifying moment. For Picard, it is an assault both physically and mentally. When asked at the end of the episode what he remembers, and he says everything, you know that the damage done to him was far more than just implants.

Locutus/Picard's involvement at Wolf 359 was a massive blow to the Federation and to Starfleet. But we will see in the future, that there were other profound consequences of that engagement. But that will wait for another series.

I really like how the Borg were defeated. In true Star Trek style, the solution was not in blowing things up, but rather it was science. In this case, Data and Picard's hack of the Borg network. That is something I have always loved about Star Trek, it highlights that science, logic, diplomacy can overcome even the hardest problems.

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode.
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pksullivan
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Re: S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by pksullivan »

As I said in Slack, these two episodes together are, for me, the best TNG movie. The writing is excellent, it's got a great Trek problem and solution, and the stakes are both intensely personal (saving Picard) and super high (earth is in danger, especially when we see the wreckage at Wolf-359).

The use of Lt. Commander Shelby as a guest character really ups the tension here - she's of the Kirk/Riker cowboy school of command and could very easily slide into the first officer role if Riker leaves or Picard dies. We see Riker has grown up, matured, and is no longer tenured faculty at the Kirk/Riker cowboy school of command; he's become more like Picard - looking for the peaceful solution first and only resorting to violence when it's absolutely necessary.

This episode is also a rarity in Star Trek, as the things they invent and the science they hack stay relevant through the Star Trek canon.
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RobAbrazado
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Re: S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by RobAbrazado »

I absolutely love this episode. This is an example of something I encounter from time to time where I have trouble ranking a piece of a series, because a lot of what I love about it comes from what has come before. Like...there's no question that this is the episode from which I feel the most emotional impact upon rewatching (and I have rewatched it plenty), but that impact is because of what has come before. I get worked up (and choked up!) watching this two-parter every time, but it's largely because I know Picard by now. And Riker. And the Borg (and the Borg's relationship to both the Federation in general and the Enterprise in particular). Even knowing Guinan aready. Even knowing Q, and Q isn't even in this episode! But to me this is a capstone to a lot of great blocks that have already been put in place. I know in hindsight that we're still kind of in the sweet spot of TNG, so there's still good stuff to come, but totally honestly...if the series had just ended on this, I would have been fine. A ton of emotional payoff is contained in this episode (effectively a TNG movie, as PK said elsewhere), and while there are certainly adventures yet to come, I experienced so much catharsis with this story, I would have been happy to let it lie.

Touching on something Phil said, I didn't like Shelby initially, and I still don't even now. :lol: It's possible that Shelby and young Riker shared some characteristic brashness or impulsiveness, and maybe I'm jumping to conclusions never having seen "young Riker" in action, but I feel like an important difference between the two is that even when brash, Riker still acts with respect and honor. He may be headstrong, but he's not rebellious. Sure, Riker saw fit to argue with his captain's orders when he thought the captain's (or crew's) safety was at stake...stuff like that. Shelby, though, undermines and circumvents Riker because she thinks he's in her way. I do agree she wound up being a good first officer for Riker when it came to that, but the way she didn't respect his position and feelings when they first met...rankles me.

Speaking of Shelby as first officer, though, lemme just pause and give a big shout out to Troi! Finally a chance to highlight Troi's role as not just a counselor but also a "counsel" to the captain, though in this instance, it's Riker instead of Picard. After Picard is taken and Riker assumes command of the Enterprise, Riker's planning an away mission to launch the rescue mission to bring Picard back. Shelby is kinda like, "So, uh...you're gonna do that, huh? You are gonna lead that team? You sure? Hint hint?" And it's Deanna Troi who has to stand up right in his face (in front of the whole bridge!) and be like, "Listen, man...you're in charge now. You gotta lead everyone and not rush off." And the undercurrent there is "You'd say the same thing to Picard." GOD I love that moment. Go Troi.

Also...the scene with Guinan visiting Riker in the ready room...just...chef kiss.

Brief poker corner: The scene where Shelby (and also apparently Wesley Crusher?!) join the poker game is definitely the first -- and possibly the only -- good poker scene in TNG. I have no nits to pick. :D The mechanics of the scene are solid, and the symbolism of the scene is on point.
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JimLikesGames
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Re: S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by JimLikesGames »

I don't have much to add because everyone here already has the correct opinion(s) of this masterpiece of SF television, right down to viewing Shelby differently through modern eyes. In hindsight, the drama round Patrick Stewart's possibly leaving the show added real-life tension around the character of Shelby that was very much in play at the time.

There's a very good reason this is such a great inflection point to jumpstart a Trek RPG campaign from. It's super-obvious where things could have gone wrong clearing space for a new flagship crew. It's certainly where I would (and did) start any new Star Trek RPG set in TNG era.

Anyway, this is the second-best TNG episode if you count them both as one. Spoiler, the best episode is a 2-parter as well.
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Jared Rascher
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Re: S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by Jared Rascher »

I have nothing more to add to the analysis, except to note the cringy comment by the Admiral about "an old man's fantasies" when talking about Shelby.
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Re: S3E26 - S4E1 - Best of Both Worlds (Part 1 and 2)

Post by RobAbrazado »

Jared Rascher wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:51 pm I have nothing more to add to the analysis, except to note the cringy comment by the Admiral about "an old man's fantasies" when talking about Shelby.
Yupppppp I forgot about that. :cry:
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