Episode

241

Descent

The Borg are acting weird, but they are not the only ones. Their erratic behavior may have rubbed off on Data. He’s showing anger and, seemingly, enjoying it. When the Enterprise pursues the Borg, they find Hugh’s individuality has set them up to be brainwashed by a charismatic figurehead… Lore. Descent and Descent Part II go into this week’s Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Sadly.. w this in depth analysis of TNG we’ve been doing, I realize this episode was the death knell for this show… the bumbling of 2 of the shows best villains and concepts, the Borg and Lore… really foreshadowed the writer’s were running out of steam! … and I don’t mean steam for a steam powered holodeck train heading to Vertiform city!!! But the low quality episodes ahead of us are the real reason this episode is titled “Descent”. Man, this is all just coming to me now… Geordi’s floating robot and surprise parents, Crusher’s horny ghost, Data’s mask fetish…Worf’s brother & Data’s stepmom?!!? Lol- “scary mutation” episode, “oh yeah, Wesley Crusher” episode…. Worf/Troi hookup; time warp Alexander and fake son Picard, and “oh yeah, Ensign Ro”…. we are in for some rough times. Imagine, my head canon. “Best of Both Worlds” saved till S5. S6 Picard convalesces on Earth for 9-10 episodes. Riker is captain of Enterprise!!! When Picard returns Riker feels weird, eventually has to go take over USS Titan… but before he leaves…PROPOSES TO TROI!!!!! S6 finale do Riker/Troi stay? Leave? They leave but come back for last S7 arc series finale and movies of course! Ok… rant OVER…. for now….

    • Roger Birks

      We still get Parallels, The Pegasus, All Good Things, to name three. All among the very best episodes of TNG.

      • Yes…they were good, no doubt. But truly a shame TNG couldn’t get the story arc concept down. Oh well DS9 is my absolute favorite so I am looking forward to the next chapter!!

        • Roger Birks

          That is just how TV was made back in those years. The X Files I believe was the show which changed everything, as far as the sci-fi genre was concerned!

      • Muthsarah

        I’m with you with Pegasus (my #5), but I never shared in the love for the others. All Good Things in particular can be boiled down to four words: Treknobabble problem, Treknobabble solution. Sure, it’s maybe a fitting ending for the show, but is it really a good one?

        Though, contrary to what someone above quipped, Season 7, while weak for TNG, is still far more solid than Season 2. That’s just nuts.

      • 3 out of 26 ain’t bad…ugh…it is bad. Terrible in fact. Oh well, yes, this season really highlights to me how much better DS9 is overall. The rationale of how storytelling was in the 90s is about to fade away imo. I keep having to remind myself as we review TNG S7, DS9 S2 was happening….is that right? or at least DS9 S1 was wrapping up…hmmm, interesting….. was it a subtle message to say, this ship is sinking, go to the next station? lol…

        • Roger Birks

          A lot of the creative talent was being moved over to DS9. This could be a reason for the clear overall drop in quality in Season 7. But a few others played a part, probably. A movie was already confirmed to be happening, the cast and crew knew this all season, and tiredness, a little complacency also, maybe was evident in how things turned out. Still plenty of solid episodes in my opinion. Looking forward to the last round of reviews by Ken and John. The movies – cannot wait to have a listen to those!

  • CmdrR

    OK, I’m gonna make a comment. It’s risky, but if it works… Hey, it works.
    *No thoughts on the muscle armour?
    *Why do they have access to the metaphasic shield program that Geordi was “working on.” Maybe he didn’t tell Picard about his “work” because his program shuts down after 45 seconds??
    *Gotta argue: “Pain!” in ‘Devil in the Dark’ is important and well delivered by Nimoy. By contrast, Marina’s thankless “Pain!” in ‘Mission to Farpoint’ is… well… painful!
    *Searched for hours. My lousy 21st century pron site just doesn’t have ‘lute.’

    • Roger Birks

      Descent has a good story. The execution of it is just underwhelming. The teaser for this episode is so great, by the way, what a start. It is mainly downhill from there. This story needed more than two episodes. Part 1 sets off loads of threads in the story, and no way, can they all play out to a conclusion, in Part 2. Still fun episode, just a lot of missed opportunity too.

    • You actually have to subscribe to LuteCrate to get those two holo-harpists.

  • Steve Sheridan

    As TNG Season 6 concludes, you can find Ken and John’s Mission Log Morals, Meanings and Messages summary for the TNG and TOS series here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FXppzGrZUXU2GF6UmzmC7yy5nTgSt0GinEEsCPdxgCc/edit?usp=sharing

  • Dave Taylor

    A great episode to watch, if you can put aside your Plot Hole radar on hold and it is great to see Lore and Hugh.

    And it was great to see another episode of a strong female in command. Beverly did a kick but job while in command. I think we, (and the writers), forget that even though positions like Beverly and Troi are the “softer” side of Star Fleet, they still had to go through the same basic training and command school as any other officer. Sure, their higher level training would be in their respective disciplines, but they had to earn their command pips.

    • “Plot hole radar”- lol. But, that is something we should not have to do, when TNG gave us such incredible episodes like “The Defector” and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” oh well. It’s just the way the cards fell…. writer’s moving on, no true real grasp of an ending? Not sure. I wonder if anyone involved w “Encounter at Farpoint” thought the series would conclude w “Q”? Hard to believe since they seemed to be in fear of cancellation at the end of each season? Anyway… even w/o grand intergalactic story arcs, I really just wanted more development of characters, in depth, profound evolution. Lore should have been caught somewhere trying to impersonate Data on some starbase or ship at least once during this 7 year run. The Borg could have just been mentioned as active and FEAR would prevail throughout the entire episode…..i.e. Klingon strikeforce decimated by Borg scout craft….oh well…. just a shame TWO magnificent villains went out like this….

      • Dave Taylor

        I initially watched these episodes last week while doing other things. I was not paying too close attention and enjoyed it.

        Then the show was off for a week and I rewatched these episodes paying closer attention and yikes. So many issues.

        My first real head scratcher was, Why is there this nice, well appointed and fully functional multi-room building on a planet that supposedly has no life?? And it went downhill for now.

        I wish I had not rewatched it and gone on in bliss.

        • HAHAHA…I felt like it was a mini Alien: Covenant… android vs android, crew making horrible tactical decisions…!! Why did the Enterprise need to be evacuated to a skeleton crew..uh..it didn’t. Why decapitate the leadership of the Enterprise? hahahaha, just bad choices, repeated..the destruction of the Borg vessel. NON -EVENT! lol
          sigh…we in for a real “Descent” in quality for S7

    • Eryn Mills

      That’s Chief Joseph. There’s ongoing controversy whether Crazy Horse was ever photographed.

      • Oh damnit….

        • Eryn Mills

          It took me a few googles to actually find that photograph properly labeled, don’t worry. 🙂

  • Scrappy

    I think this episode should be appreciated for its continuity. We found out what happened to Hugh, we had a conclusion to Data and Lore’s relationship, and we get the emotion chip which will be used in the movies.

    But I would also like to say; WTF is Lore wearing??!!?
    Did anyone get a good look as that?

  • gizmochimp

    I always find these two episodes kind of grim and tedious. The Borg are no longer scary or interesting, Lore is one-note as always. The only standout to me is Crosis, who is one of my favorite TNG villains. He creeps me out every time I see this episode.

  • Matt Bell

    First thought when Ken & John talk about Picard flying off and leaves the Borg to sort their own problems out: “We call it freedom and we think you’ll like it…a lot!” Those poor, poor cyborgs…
    I know the podcast does discuss “The Apple” but that quote sums up the whole problem with the “off we go to the next mission” mentality.

    Call “Descent” a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. When it comes to one-note moustache twirling villains, Lore is the champ and evil Brent Spiner is always entertaining to watch.
    And at least it was an original way of including the Borg without having our hero ship single handedly defeat yet another cube. What a “voyage” of rinse & repeat THAT would be…

    Finally – did anyone else get the impression that the actors were all really tired and/or bored in part 1? Maybe they were all trying to be super-serious, but they come across as so understated in some scenes that their delivery bordered on the disinterested. 2 particular examples are:

    RIKER: It was more like fighting Klingons – no offense
    WORF: (flatly) None taken

    RIKER (emotionless) Sending Hugh back to the Borg was a very risky, a very dangerous choice, but it was the moral thing to do.

    The blocking is equally underwhelming at times. And what’s with the security guard standing RIGHT THERE as Data is converted to evil by the captured Borg? It’s hardly the biggest problem with the plot, but couldn’t Data have just handed the guy a PADD and sent him on an errand? It’s what the underlings spend half their lives doing anyway, so why not now?

    • Given that it was the last episode of the season…it could just as easily be sheer exhaustion where the cast is concerned. Maybe they were trying to make it read like they’d been on red alert for hours and hours and no one was getting enough rest, but if that was the case, I’d be expecting something more like the “33” episode of Battlestar Galactica. This didn’t read that way.

      My theory: everyone was really tired.

  • Aaron

    I was wondering if there was anymore trivia or behind the scenes facts about the new-fangled Borg ship. Were there any plans to use it more? The reason I’m asking is that the ship was immortalized in the ST:TNG pinball machine, where it is front and center (although they have audio of the Borg taking about being assimilated), but never appeared again on TV or in the movies.

  • Snap

    One thing I noticed when watching the episode is that when looking at the layout of the building from the stage Lore was standing on, the Borg logo is actually upside down as it is on the banners lining the walls.

    I don’t know if it is a mistake, as it hasn’t been so prominently displayed up until that point, or was done intentionally to show that these Borg are different from the overall Collective. It’s like how in the recent Zelda game, the logo of the offshoot Yiga clan is an upside down variant of the logo of the Sheikah.

    • curious about when the Borg logo was first seen “Q-Who”? where exactly? anyone??

  • With all the comments listener’s have left about how poor these episodes were, and how tired and burned out the cast looked and acted in part one,
    I found it interesting that the old VHS cover pics used for these episodes were also terribly lazy and poor choices – with no sign of Data or the Borg on either, but Worf and Riker somehow managed https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5c697d55447d2e000144c9608ae24b9150b2580b86189110c5541989b66bb836.jpg

    • Durakken

      >.> Those images make me think back on TNG and think that there might be a little bit more going on between Warf and Riker… look at how close Warf is up behind Riker in the one on the left… weeeeeeird

  • mc900

    For me the comedy bits are getting to a point where it feels like you’re making fun of TNG. I mean I appreciate it- and it can add a bit of comentary-inisight but it’s starting to feel like it’s going to far and taking over the show at the expense of the show.

    • interesting point. I hear ya, but I don’t think it is intentional. This was just a lemon of an episode. I think it may happen more w the low quality of S7, but let’s see how they do w the good ones….

  • Durakken

    The Borg Emblem could come from a long time ago from when they were first created.

    Why does anyone trust Data at this point?

    Beverly’s drive it into a star ideo is probably one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard with regards to a space ship… and yet so many people in space ships seem to think it is a brilliant idea. The Stargate Universe crew does it too…

    • Snap

      Well, to be fair, they didn’t have much of a choice the first time as the ship decided it needed to refuel and that’s how it was done.

      • Durakken

        Fair enough… at least they had no control and the ship seems designed for that while the Enterprise… not so much.

    • Roger Birks

      It does seem unbelievable.

      Flying very close to a star that is billions of degrees hot…. what shielding, or material, could withstand such high temperatures?

      One has to turn the brain off, a little I think. After all, there is no sound in space! Plenty of that in Star Trek, though!

      • Durakken

        Nyah… A shield that can block the sun is believable. We’re close to being able to do that as it is currently. The issue is that it is still a threat in Star Trek and they shields that haven’t been tested or approved of so it is rather idiotic.

  • When KEN mentioned Goval turning off his tv cause he was afraid of the 411 he was receiving and Lore’s response of ” the only way to lose those
    doubts… to keep you from fear
    and confusion… is for you to
    stay linked with the others.” is an example of just how a cult works – and all I could think of was that is exactly how CNN and the fake “news media” operate – by attempting to brainwash the uneducated masses into believing their lies. Mr. Ray Gun shoots and scores a direct hit.

  • Derwood

    Worst line in Star Trek indeed. Have we forgotten the alternative warp?
    The negative magnetic corridor where the two parallel universes meet?
    The safety valve that keeps eternity from blowing up?

    • is this a reference to Troi’s “I think I found something!” line? I wasn’t paying close attention at that moment…

      • Derwood

        exactly. They were mainly saying Troi’s delivery made it the worst line, but “keeping eternity from blowing up” is pretty stupid no matter you say it.

  • Trivia – This was one of only 5 TNG Episodes to be adapted for Novelization – the others being the series bookends ( the Pilot and Finale ) and both TOS crossovers Unification and Relics . https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/27e8c7a107141a9b5d04582b156a2f16afea9bebc3bcc3b7dc3c910633de2e9d.jpg

  • GristleMcNerd

    You know, I was actually kind of disappointed when I looked up Taitt and found out that she doesn’t show up anywhere in the EU… I kinda liked her

  • David Wright

    Gates McFadden says her lines often exactly with the same tone, with the same, stony expression. She rarely turns her head, stop or speed up her lines, furry her brow, use her hands, or even use much body language. It is fascinating to see her act with Stewart, or play the captain like in this episode.