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Star Trek TNG - Season 6 - Episode 26

Star Trek TNG - 6x26 - Descent, Part I

Originally Aired: 1993-6-21

The Borg return to do battle with the Federation. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 5.67

Rate episode?

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# Votes: 24 2 2 4 10 13 10 23 20 17 12


- Stephen Hawking asked to have a scene in an episode whilst on a visit to the set. Obviously, he was granted one.
- This is the first episode to mention that the Borg use transwarp conduits. They appear to be already laid down structures. They enter a conduit and ride it like a railroad. They get increased speed by traveling through it, similar to a wormhole. They travel at at least 20 times faster than the maximum warp of the Enterprise. They travel 65 light years in a mere few seconds. Notably, the Enterprise is able to enter one of these conduits at will with a deflector tweak, though at considerable risk and no way of locating conduits without some kind of point of reference, such as witnessing another ship enter and exit one.
- This is the first episode in which we see the emblem of the Borg.

Remarkable Scenes
- Data's poker game with great historical scientists.
- Data getting angry.
- Data describing feeling angry by mimicking Geordi's hand motions.
- Admiral Nechayev laying into Picard for not wiping out the Borg Collective with Hugh.
- Data's conversation with Troi about emotion.
- Data trying to recreate his anger by killing a holographic Borg over and over again.
- The captured Borg listing the ways to instantly kill each species he sees.

My Review
This episode is a little retarded. Unlike DS9's season finale, this one is jam packed with action. Unfortunately, this episode mixes too many unrelated concepts together in a very unwieldly manner. Borg, Data, Lore, Hugh, sorry, I didn't like it. Most of all, I disliked the Borg in this episode. They were completely out of character. Of course we're given a fine explanation for this, it doesn't make the episode any more enjoyable. One nice detail is Dr. Crusher being placed in command of the ship, setting her up for some more rare nice screen time.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-05-21 at 10:34pm:
    What is that visor thing that data wears when he plays poker?

    Data said "perhaps i have evolved to the point where emotions are in my grasp". That is not possible, seeing as how individuals cannot evolve. Only populations of organisms can evolve over time, according to the laws of natural selection.

    As usual, when Picard announced that admiral ____ had arrived, I already began to visualize some power tripping bitch. I will say it once more, there are NO good admirals in starfleet

    Geordi said "they shouldn't be able to move faster than you or I". That is incorrect grammar. He should've said "faster than you or me".

    Lore is ever-so-cocky. I love it every time.
  • From Mark on 2007-09-06 at 11:42am:
    Before the Borg beam aboard the enterprise's bridge, Franklin is standing around just waiting to die (just standing in the doorway like a sore thumb). He has his hand on his phaser anticipating the Borg move though no one else shows signs of expectation.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-10-03 at 2:53pm:
    As I'm reaching the end of the series, I'm realiing that for whatever reason I remember the first five seasons much better than the last two. In fact, I have very little recollection of this episode at all. I haven't yet watched the second part, but I have to say that I like it a lot.

    Although Data-malfunctions-or-gets-taken-over-and turns-on-the-crew plots are starting to get tired, this one is strong. Lore is a good character and deserves to be brought back here, and it seems natural that he'd be attracted to the borg. The Hugh storyline gets brought up again, which is also a good idea, and any excuse to bring back Admiral Necheyev is fine with me. She is such a power-tripping bitch and you want to hate her, but I find myself agreeing with her over Picard's handling of Hugh. The moral thing here was not necessarily the right thing. I think Picard should have fell back on Vulcan philosophy and reasoned that the good of the many (the human race and all the others the borg wish to assimilate) outweighed the good of the one (Hugh).

    The only thing taking away from this episode for me that this new incarnation of the borg is not nearly as scary as the original.
  • From djb on 2008-12-17 at 9:16pm:
    I was somewhat disappointed with this episode. The idea of bringing Hugh back was cool, and it's always good to see Lore. But this episode was flawed. First, too many redshirt deaths. I mean, the ONE non-regular on the away team dies? Come on!

    Also, what are the chances that out of the dozens of search teams, it should be the one comprising our principals (and the disposable redshirt) that discover the compound? Dumb.

    The data/emotion storyline was good. Nice laying groundwork for Generations. I also like what Troi had to say to Data about emotions, and how it later backfired.

    In response to Pete Miller's comments:

    Data is not referring to biological evolution, of which androids are incapable. He is referring to personal evolution, or personal growth (where the word "evolution" is used more loosely), which is something all humans are capable of as individuals, and something which Data is programmed to attempt. He speculates that he has personally evolved or grown to the point to where some kind of emotional programming was able to kick in. Now, perhaps one could take issue with his use of the word "evolve," but that if anything is a scriptwriter's error more than anything else.

    The phrase "they shouldn't be able to move faster than you or I" is indeed correct. I didn't know this myself until recently. It is short for "faster than you or I could." It only sounds incorrect because "than" sounds like a preposition, in which case the following pronouns would be oblique (becoming "me" or "him"), but in this case it is a conjunction, and the pronouns following remain nominative. This is getting kind of specific, I know, but just thought I'd set the record straight. Wikipedia has a good article on it.

    All in all, I tend to agree with our illustrious webmaster's rating of 4. Maybe a bonus point for good continuity.
  • From J Reffin on 2009-08-06 at 10:54am:
    To be fair to Picard, I don't think the Vulcan approach quite works as the plan had been to send Hugh back with a program that would wipe out the Borg Collective i.e. an act of genocide today to rid the Federation of an (apparently) implacable enemy that might (or might not) attack again at some undetermined point in the future.

    On the subject of admirals, I have to agree with other comments here - perhaps an example of the Peter Principle at work ?
  • From Rob on 2009-09-08 at 12:43pm:
    While I agree that, as a rule, Starfleet Admirals are generally miserable old farts, I can't go along with the criticism of Admiral Nechayev in this episode for one reason: she's right. Sending Hugh back to the Borg without a virus or some means of destroying the Collective was Picard's biggest mistake as a captain. Whether or not it was the inhumane or immoral thing to do, Picard's job is to safeguard the Federation and it's citizens. If the price for doing that is destroying your greatest enemy (who the Federation is at war with...just because there hadn't been any Borg episodes or encounters for a while doesn't mean that there was peace between the Federation and the Borg), then it's well worth it. Nechayev was just making sure that if Picard had any more attacks of morality, he knew what he was supposed to do. I have no problem with that.
  • From John on 2011-02-03 at 11:32pm:
    The Borg *snore*

    Even the appearance of Lore can't save this episode. Or the next one. The one after that is pretty bad too.

    Just do yourself a favor and skip right to season 7, episode 4: Gambit, Part I
  • From Axel on 2015-03-17 at 9:19pm:
    You can agree with Nechayev about infecting the Borg, but doing so would've been completely out of character for Picard. I do like that he wrestles with the problem in hindsight during this episode, though. Still, we've seen a lot of admirals at Starfleet who don't share Picard's interpretation of what the organization stands for.

    The biggest flaw in this episode to me is having Picard beam down and be part of a search team while Crusher takes command of the ship. Don't get me wrong; it's great to see her take command and finally get some use for the character outside of sickbay. But wouldn't it make more sense for the ship's doctor to be ready to handle wounded members of the search parties in case they encounter dozens of hostile Borg? The whole scenario is a potential triage and yet they keep the doctor in orbit to run the ship while the captain ends up being taken hostage.
  • From Mike on 2017-04-18 at 1:33am:
    "...I made four attempts to induce sexual desire by exposing myself to erotic imagery."

    How the hell did the TNG writers get the precise details of my evening ritual? Is there no such thing as privacy in this world?

    Anyway, I disagree with many reviews here. The main purpose of Starfleet isn't to safeguard the Federation. That's one of its jobs, but its primary mission is to seek out new life. It's in the opening narration, for crying out loud. What Picard and his crew encountered in TNG: I, Borg may have initially been part of the Collective, and therefore a mortal enemy of the Federation. But it became a sentient, individual life form. The crew also had good reason to believe that Hugh's individual awareness might destabilize the Collective, thus serving their purpose anyway. Nechayev, as usual, plays the role of someone who sees Starfleet purely as a defense force, and to hell with its scientific aims. But that's not what Starfleet is. Does that sometimes mean you make a decision that lets an enemy live to fight another day? Yes. Such is the nature of the Federation. This is touched on too in DS9 with Section 31's infecting of the Changelings. Oh yeah...spoiler alert.

    I like the continuity with TNG: I, Borg. But involving Lore took it a little too far. They should've focused on the Borg and how this affected them. Lore has always struck me as a little too villainous. They explain his emotions and his behavior, but it still just doesn't seem believable.

    Data, in this two-parter, seemed at first to be purely at the mercy of the emotion chip. But, having never experienced emotions and being so desperate to do so, I did find that part to be believable. Ultimately, he has to reconcile what he's doing with what he was originally programmed to be.

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