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Star Trek TNG - Season 5 - Episode 23

Star Trek TNG - 5x23 - I, Borg

Originally Aired: 1992-5-11

The Enterprise rescues a critically injured Borg. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.52

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 15 27 8 3 4 8 7 30 29 48 41

- At one point Hugh says "Do I have a name?" before he starts officially using the word "I."


Remarkable Scenes
- Picard's initial reaction to bringing a Borg on board.
- Picard conspiring to eliminate the entire Borg Collective.
- Picard, on the Borg: "They declared war on our way of life."
- Picard fencing with Guinan.
- Geordi talking with the Borg.
- Geordi having second thoughts about the plan.
- Guinan changing her mind about Hugh.
- Picard: "It's not a person damn it, it's a Borg!"
- Picard's scene with Hugh.
- The look in Hugh's eye as he transported when he returned to the Borg.

My Review
This episode is a fan favorite, though I found it all a bit naive. The opening logic of this episode ultimately prevails, the Borg must be destroyed. Can they be saved? Sure. But does it save more lives just to wipe them out? Yep. So do so. That's certainly the attitude most Borg episodes take. This episode is just far too high on its own morals. It makes sense to humanize a recovered Borg if you intend to keep it on the ship, like in the case of Picard, or later on Voyager with Seven of Nine, but to humanize Hugh then return him to the Collective? Idiotic. I would have explained to Hugh the benefit of the invasive program and asked him to sacrifice himself. Because "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Sherlock on 2006-10-13 at 12:18pm:
    I just watched this episode again for the first time in years and found it better than I remember. I thought the plot centered on the same sort of argument that "The Measure of a Man" used. Do they have the right to sacrifice Hugh for the betterment of society, just as they wondered in MoaM if Data had the right to be sacrificed for the betterment of society. In that episode, Picard said that we (humans) would be judged on how we treated this new species, meaning androids. But here he lets his emotions get in the way, and doesn't care how humans will be judged.
    The dialogue between Hugh and Picard is brilliant. I love how Picard tries to verbally force Hugh to 'help him assimliate the ship' and Hugh says 'I will not.'
    This is my favorite use of the Borg other than the movie "First Contact."
    I also think that Guinan is utilized well in this episode. I loved her fencing with Picard!
  • From Shashank Mayya on 2007-08-16 at 11:19pm:
    At the start of the episode, when they get the distress signal from the moon, Riker oders Dr. Crusher to meet him at the transporter room with a medical away team. In the next sequence, we only see Riker, Worf and Dr. Crusher beaming on the moon's surface. It appears that Dr. Crusher choose to ignore Rikers orders or maybe Worf persuaded her that he could perform medical duties as good as any of her staff?
  • From DSOmo on 2007-10-03 at 3:21am:
    - When recruiting an individual to write the "invasive" program that will destroy the Borg, Picard chooses Geordi. Wouldn't Data have been a better choice? Of course, if Data wrote the program, he would be the one to do the research with the Borg, and he wouldn't get all emotional and give the Borg a name.
    - The invasive program will NOT work! The Borg will not just "fall down" because they are thinking so hard about the picture that was created. What if one of the Borg tried to find the square root of two - a number for which there is no final solution because the digits after the decimal point appear to stretch on forever - will the entire Borg consciousness crash? Of course not! If the Borg have the ability to recognize this sort of unproductive loop, then they can recognize when they can't fully analyze a picture.
    - Picard wonders if Hugh's newfound independence might be the most invasive program of all. Haven't the Borg felt this concept of self-identity before? Every time an individual is assimilated, isn't their independence and self-identity felt by the Borg?
    - Just before beaming Hugh back to the surface, Picard tells Geordi that the Enterprise will hang close to the sun to obscure their presence from the Borg's sensors. Why is he telling Geordi this in front of Hugh? Once Hugh is back into the Borg consciousness, they'll know exactly where the Enterprise is located.
    - In this episode, Dr. Crusher balks at sending Hugh back with the invasion program. She "champions his cause." She asks for clarification on the term "total system failure," trying to make the point that they are contemplating destroying an entire race. Isn't this the same person who was shooting large phaser holes in the chests of the Borg during "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2"? Isn't she the same one who suggested using the nanites to invade the Borg ship and destroy them? What's the difference between using nanites and using a computer virus?
    - In "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2" the crew couldn't isolate Picard from all subspace signals, because Picard would die if they cut him off from the Borg collective consciousness. So why didn't Hugh die when they isolated him from the signals?
    - In "Q Who," the crew finds a world with great rips in the surface. Worf comments, "It is as though some great force just scooped all the machine elements off the face of the planet." A short time later, Q identifies the Borg as the ultimate users, seeking only new technologies to improve themselves. Q says they are interested only in the technology on the Enterprise. Then in "The Best Of Both Worlds, Part 1," the activities of the Borg change a little. Now they also assimilate people. By the time "I Borg" comes along, assimilation is the main activity of the Borg.
  • From djb on 2008-04-21 at 1:08am:
    The only thing that bothered me about this episode is how much of a bleeding heart Crusher was. She gets all broken up about the idea of using this drone to attempt to destroy an entire "race". The Borg are not a "race" or a "species". In effect, the best analogy would be that they are all diseased with an aggressive, incurable, malicious illness, for which the only way to prevent it from spreading is to euthanize those infected with it. When you think of the greatest good for the greatest number, attempting to destroy the Borg by any means possible is the only acceptable course of action. Crusher should know this and stop acting like they're committing genocide: in fact, they're attempting to prevent genocide! (Or, more specifically, geno-assimilation). It's kind of in line with Crusher's character to have reservations about it, but still, come on, Beverly! You're a commander, with, hopefully, the kind of discernment necessary to make these kind of decisions!

    This is reflective of a tendency I find too much in Trek humans: putting themselves at too much risk to save a life, even an enemy's.

    Anyway, not a bad episode aside from that.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-08-25 at 2:51pm:
    I think this episode is pretty strong. Although I agree in part with our host's feelings that this one is "naive," I think it does present a real conundrum, though the idea of asking Hugh to sacrifice himself seems a good alternative. This is the kind of thing Trek explores so well, and this episode is a gem, especially coming as it does in the midst of a string of less-than memorable installments. "Imaginary Friend, "Cost of Living," and "Perfect Mate" are all among the worst of the series, so this one couldn't come at a better time.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-26 at 12:00am:
    I enjoyed this episode from beginning to end, even when rewatching it.
    - When I first saw the "invasive program", I thought just like DSOmo, that it didn't make sense. But it does make sense if you think of it as a computer virus. The Borg may be easily able to handle any unsolveable problems. But the Enterprise crew has found a bug in the Borg software, then crafted a very specific input, that would never occur by chance, which exploits the bug and causes the Borg software to operate in ways it was never intended to. Just like a real-life computer virus.
    - Nevertheless, I found it impossible to believe that they could really be absolutely sure the virus would destroy the entire Borg Collective. Is the ultimate menace really so vulnerable and so easy to understand? I prefer to think they meant, "if it works perfectly, it will destroy the Borg Collective."
    - I also, like DSOmo, thought it was odd that independence could be so disruptive to the Borg, since assimilating independence seems to be their primary purpose. But it is likely that the assimilation procedure destroys all independence before the new Borg is actually attached to the collective. For a Borg to develop independence after assimilation may be a totally different situation.
    - DSOmo complains that Dr. Crusher was willing to kill Borg, yet balks at extermining them all. Destroying an enemy in battle is not the same as total genocide. Not even close.
    - In response to the review, the fact that the wisdom of Picard's decision is debatable is part of the strength of this episode. You may not agree with the idealistic Federation philosophy, but it is a reasonable and consistent philosophy. There are many people in real life who would put morality above expedience. The episode makes you think about what you believe is best. However, I will say I found Picard's decision easier to accept if you assume that the computer virus scheme is far from certain to destroy the Borg Collective, and the "spark of independence" scheme had a reasonable shot at success.
  • From McCoy on 2018-01-03 at 8:20am:
    Well, if I had a trauma, Troi would be the last person I wanted to see...:) She's the most irritating character ever created.
    I'm in minority too. Didn't liked it. Aside of the sf problems - first, it's ethically ambivalent forcing someone to live another life and suffer (see Voyager episode with war memorial - which I find far more "moral" than "Inner Light" however), second - what exactly the aliens wanted to achieve? Picard is just ONE person, so when he dies, no one will remember anything (program was destroyed). Creating one-use probe to teach one random person (maybe klingon drunker for example) about our civilization is... well... stupid?

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