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-223: "I, Borg"
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I, Borg

(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 223)
  • written by René Echevarria
  • directed by Robert Lederman
  • music by Jay Chattaway
  • 45 minutes

I, Borg

One of the biggest criticisms of the Star Trek franchise is that, often the more we see any one alien species across a number of episodes, that species will act more and more human each time. Here, this "anthropomorphizing" is turned on the Borg, arguably the least likely of all Star Trek's recurring aliens to succumb to this phenomenon. But we get an expert job here in this tale, written by the man who debuted by creating Data's daughter and pulling our heart-strings as he anthropomorphized her. It seems this idea became one of René Echevarria's signature strengths.

The early scene in which Picard looks at the unconscious Borg in the cell is one of the most critical for me. One of the biggest and most irrefutable reasons for aliens to continue to act alien and not human, is in their brain chemistry and brain structure. In the case of the Borg, this extends to include "electronic" parts of themselves, how those parts are programmed, and of course the continued influence from the unified Borg collective. In this scene, the Starfleet crew layout their plan for essentially changing the Borg's "brain chemistry", which is critical for me to believe the changes that Hugh is going to go through. His connection to the rest of the hive mind is already cut off at this point, but that's not quite enough for me go on the entire journey with him. We have to wonder how far Geordi ever got with replacing his brain chips and programming. They never actually say on screen, but THAT part of it would seal the deal for me. I'd be there all the way.

This story sees some really great performances from Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, LeVar Burton, and guest star Jonathan Del Arco. It's a nice multi-faceted drama bringing out a lot of great character moments for many of the cast. Gates McFadden is also quite good with her character simply by insisting on doing her usual thing, and quite strongly and rightly too. Troi is sadly upstaged once more by Guinan.

Picard's final decision in the end is seen to be based on an assumption, unproven here, that I really just can't buy though. How is Hugh's new found individuality any greater or different than that of any other individual that comes into contact with the Borg and gets assimilated? Do they give him any kind of protection against the usual technology that the Borg have for totally suppressing individuality? Have they given him alternate chips and programming?

I would find the events of the next Borg adventure far more plausible had Geordi and Data given Hugh the geometric "virus" that they come up with here. And the virus might have been less distasteful if scripted to disable the Borg's aggressiveness without wiping them out. You'd think some of the research Commander Shelby's team reportedly were working on during "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been drawn upon as well. Instead, what we get here simply feels like the biggest "anthropomorphizing fantasy" of all time. Although I don't fault this episode on its own, this does mark the end of the facelessness that made the Borg's hive mind so effectively alien. And thus a great adversary was lost, and a great idea diminished.

This Next Generation Season Five story is available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Five (1991-1992):

Features 26 episodes @ 45 minutes each, including both parts of "Unification".
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for more information:

DVD Canada

7-disc DVD set

DVD Canada


DVD Extras include:

  • Mission Overview: Year Five
  • Production & Visual Effects
  • Memorable Missions: Year Five
  • A Tribute to Gene Roddenberry
  • "Intergalactic Guest Stars" clip
  • "Alien Speak" alien writings and speech
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
Nov. 19, 2013.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
Nov. 19, 2013.
Blu-ray U.K.

NEW for
Nov. 18, 2013.

Blu-ray features add:

  • 4 Audio Commentaries:
    • "Cause and Effect" by writer Brannon Braga and moderator Seth MacFarlane.
    • "The First Duty" by writers Ronald D. Moore and
      Naren Shankar.
    • "I, Borg" by writer René Echevarria and scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "The Inner Light" by co-writer Morgan Gendel and the Okudas.
  • Two-part documentary "Requiem: A Remembrance of ST:TNG" (HD, 59 min. total) with 1981 interview clips of the late Gene Roddenberry, plus Patrick Stewart (Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Marina Sirtis (Troi), Michael Dorn (Worf), writers Moore, Braga, and Shankar, and executive producer Rick Berman.
  • In Conversation: The Music of ST:TNG (HD, 65 min.) with composers Ron Jones, Dennis McCarthy, and Jay Chattaway, and host Jeff Bond.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Gag Reel (HD)
  • Episodic Promos
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.

Article & reviews written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review article: "Time's Arrow"

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