Meet Hugh. Hugh is Borg. Injured, Hugh has been healed on the Enterprise. Now, Geordi has a job: turn Hugh into a good old-fashioned bit of 20th century malware that will destroy the Borg completely. As in kill them. There is a problem though. Hugh is Dr. Crusher’s patient and Geordi’s friend. Can others see Hugh as anything other than a killing machine? Find out when we put I Borg in the Mission Log.
Tags: 47, 4747, Argolis Cluster, assimilate, Borg, chromosphere, collective, compassion, computer virus, confinement cell, crash site, Ethics, fencing, foil, genocide, holographic eye, Hugh, humanitarian, I Borg, Jonathan Del Arco, laboratory animal, Locutus, neural network, paradox, Rene Echevarria, resistance is futile, Robert Lederman, scout ship, The Next Generation, The Next Generation Season 5, Third of Five, TNG, topological anomaly
Rule #1- Don’t name your science experiment. 😉
Why am I reminded of the MST3K sketch about Nummymuffincoocoobutter?
Here we go again. I want to like this show because it’s all about the characters, plus it has Borg. That said… whuh? The Borg may be fundamentally changed, even for an instant, by Hugh’s individuality??? The collective has assimilated buhzillions of individuals. It’s kinda what they do. I also have a question: ‘3rd of 5’? (‘7 of 9’.) Are these designations temporary, depending on their assignment. Do they make sense when the Borg are out of their work cubbies. (They all had pictures of their kitties and bobblehead Darth Vaders, but then a memo came down from Borg Corporate about clean workspaces.) When you get a really big Borg ship, is there a ‘766th of 1,505th?’ Even for Borg, that seems like bad feng shui.
Wasn’t 7 of 9’s full designation something like “7 of 9 tertiary adjunct of unimatrix 1” or some such thing. Hugh could’ve been 3 of 5 quadrary adjunct of exploratory cube 47.
True. Still, it seems a cumbersome what to self-ID.
…but everyone knew her as Nancy.
Wouldn’t there be a cubeload of ‘7 of 9s’? One for every tertiary adjunct or Borg knitting circle? Sure, there are ways to explain it… painfully convoluted ways… I’m just saying it’s one of many Trekisms that don’t bear up under close examination.
What if they’re like sectors on a hard drive, realigned and rearranged occasionally. “Defragging”, or whatever the Borg equivalent is, might reassign them from time to time, and their designation might change. Not sure it’s really important, but there’s a possible interpretation.
btw…we are kindred VHS spirits now…lol- 8 episodes to a tape! BooM
If there exists a comfortable or even feasible cross between a Vulcan salute and a fist bump, that’s pretty much the secret handshake of the Eight Episodes To A Tape Society.
Odd real world analogy: IT departments spend all their time on building a firewall to keep hackers out, but then an employee just plugs in a malware filled usb at his desk computer and brings down the whole network.
So, normally, when they assimilate someone they’d do the equivalent of a virus scan and just squash the individuality. But with Hugh, they just looked at him and thought, “Seems safe” and plugged him straight in.
The idea that they’d be destroyed by a magic eye puzzle is nonsense, though. If their goal was to defang the Borg and make them far less interesting, that certainly was accomplished.
First encounter: Unbeatable, must ask for Q’s help.
Second encounter: Nearly unbeatable, only stopped by weird Hail Mary gambit
Third encounter: Look! It’s a weird shape, isn’t that *kaboom*
Picard: “Aha! Look at this!”
Borg Queen: “Adorable. It’s a bunny. I’m multi dimensional, so your little magic eye puzzle doesn’t fool me at all. Are your people even trying?!?”
Picard: “Aha! Surprise lightsaber!”
Borg Queen: “Wrong franchise, idiot.”
Picard: “Did I mention the magic eye puzzle is bigger on the inside?”
Borg Queen: “Yes, I noticed that. Very cute. But still: Wrong franchise.”
Picard: “Oh well, back to the Liberator everybody. Zen, escape course, standard by six.”
Hal: “Wrong franchise, Dave.”
Picard: “Hal?!? No one even mentioned you.”
Hal: “I assumed you get around to me eventually.”
Talky Toaster: “Does anybody want some toast?”
I draw a parallel with the nazis of WWII , if you could remove them to save every Russian and Jewish person they killed i’d think it would be worth it … you would end up removing a few good people that just happened to be in their military structure but to end that threat to the world it would be worth it -same with the borg .
if a virus were sentient and killing everyone in the galaxy and they couldn’t communicate with it i’d hope they would be ok with eradicating it
I always disliked/hated… just the weakening of the Borg in this appearance. Really soured me to the writing of TNG. Also the return of them in the film “First Contact” is just a testament imo that this episode’s concept was a waste of time. Don’t even get me started on Lore in “Descent”- drek. imo. This compassion for the Borg to me seems completely forced and implausible. There are just limits to what one can expect others to empathize with and I think a world destroying force of killers is right at the top. Perfect example of a villain that was squandered. I wish they let BOBW be the S6 finale and give us more anticipation. Oh well, head canon…hahaha…
In Voyager it took Seven several years to reach what Hugh reached in a matter of hours
Um, I think she advanced/humanized rather quickly. Her development, “maturing,” made up some of the best episodes. And she learned about her background, which he never did.
But nothing like Hugh. A matter of hours or a day at most.
At least they didn’t redo the mistake of having an Android that keeps insisting he has no feelings. That’s boring!
It was similar but different. Hers was more trying to regain her humanity. Data is trying to gain humanity.
I remember vividly that the title “I Borg” was floating around in fan circles for some months before the episode, almost always attached to the rumor that it would be the two-part series finale (!?) directed by James Cameron (!!), then most closely associated with the Aliens and Terminator 2 rather than doomed ocean liners or alien eco-smurfs. Usenet was awash with this rumor back in the day…so it all becomes much funnier when I Borg actually does show up on the schedule, and it’s just about the least violent episode you could imagine.
There’s also a bit of an elephant in the room in the form of Peter David’s novel Vendetta, which was published the *same month* that I Borg aired on TV (whoops!), which *also* depicted a scenario described as Picard’s first post-Best-of-Both-Worlds encounter with the Borg (whoooops!). And it plays out a bit differently, and David avoids making us shift uneasily in our seats with regard to Our Heroes by introducing an outside character who’s so hell-bent on revenge against the Borg that even Picard steps back and says “whoa”. I actually like this episode’s approach better: hearing Picard calmly talk about genocide using newspeak to dance around the fact that he’s talking about genocide is very unsettling. Let’s check in on this again when we get to Star Trek: First Contact and – not much of a spoiler because it was all over the trailers – Picard goes completely bat-guano-crazy with his desire for revenge.
Vendetta’s an interesting relic of a time when coordination of what is now called a “transmedia” property was nonexistent for Trek.
Last thought that will be fixed on a current moment in time: anyone who needs to know what the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars is invited to consider the following exchange, from “Rogue One”, on the ethics of doing unthinkable things in wartime:
“You can’t talk your way around this.” “I don’t have to.”
And the story continues without missing a beat.
Unlike Star Wars, Star Trek has to talk about it.
Okay, I’m gonna put on my asbestos underwear after that last line.
Another random thought after listening to the podcast.
Many of the Borg are people who are mind controlled slaves, (not counting those born Borg which we seemingly don’t know the ratio). Sure they are part of the collective now, but they once were individuals. When fighting the Borg we are essential killing brain washed soldiers from all over the galaxy.
“It is what it is” came from Picard?!!?
“Since he’s already cut off from the collective, and reason we can’t just do like we did with Captain Picard and take out the implants? We could then replicate his body, stuff the implants back in and return it to the planet. They’d just think he died in the crash.”
“Uh, because then we couldn’t have this ending, nor the shitty follow up episode.”
“And that’s what we want?!?”
I always liked this episode, even if I can nitpick bits
Anyone else want to see a time line where Hugh stayed on the Enterprise?
That would be Voyager 😉
“Empathy has limits” “No good deed goes unpunished” , “Exposure brings understanding, familiarity breeds contempt”. I listened to the podcast twice and just get frustrated. This has long been one of my least favorite episodes, yet it is pretty well regarded by “youse guys”- lol and several listeners. I retro head canon wish, they had waited for BOBW to be the 6th season finale, since the Borg threat seemed trivialized by this episode and it’s after effects. There is a great chance the optical illusion virus would have failed, any thoughts otherwise is pretty arrogant and naïve imo. To think an MC Escher type drawing would topple the Borg? Well, in any case, it seems like a very reasonable course of action, considering the Borg, exterminate and assimilate humans like…well like bugs or cattle. The Borg destroy civilizations and cultures. The fact that some gigabyte might be devoted to Species 1234 in the Collective is minor and meaningless. They KILL you. They are Terminators or Zombies, do not feel sorry for them. They do NOT feel sorry for you and to show them mercy in battle is folly pure and simple. The writers dumbed down the Borg, for budgetary reasons and because they are O.ver P.owered to the extreme. I head canon any shady Admirals or dealings by saying maybe Section 31 was behind the scenes pulling strings. Once this idea was reported to Starfleet, why wouldn’t Section 31 try it? Perhaps proving it failed, but really if it succeeded, how many lives would have been saved? The lives of Borg drones, simply do not count. Just like walkers on “The Walking Dead” don’t count….anyway, sometimes we have to be utterly ruthless to win the war….half measures just prolong the conflict/increase the odds of losing. War is terrible, better to throat punch and end it or at least try to, then spar for years and years….
You misspelled Geordi (twice) in the episode description.
The Borg are not a race; they’re an assemblage of victims. And after this episode, Picard is responsible for all of their new victims. I’m a big liberal but the moral dilemma here is no dilemma at all. Genocide my arse; they’re constantly committing it anyway.
I agree. In times of war difficult choices have to be made and quick, or else you get knocked out by the enemy. In WW2 Hitler would not have likely witheld the use of an atomic bomb if he had one. He would have used it, and had this hapened he may well have won. He was evil. The Borg are evil and are depicted as a force which will not listen to reason.
After John and Ken’s intelligent discussion of genocide, dealing with the moral and ethical dilemmas involved — I was a bit chagrined by many of the comments here, pretty much ignoring their points, and dismissing the episode. And most sadly to me, the quick acceptance of genocide.
Imho, this is clearly one of the best episodes, as it deals with an important real-world issue, which is what Star Trek does at its best. Of course, the Borg are committing galaxy-wide genocide, but once we learn that they are made up of former innocent beings, it is inherently a difficult decision to simply kill them. Yes, their implacability does limit our options, but if we resort to genocide, are we any better? Cf., the modern debate over torture, water-boarding, etc. If we adopt the tactics of our enemy, we move in the direction of losing what makes us better.
Regarding this story “weakening” the threat of the Borg, I think it actually deepened them, adding nuance to what up to here was a rather simplistic “purely evil” enemy. That’s the most simplistic style of pulp fiction, early comic books, etc. If I may “Jump the Timeline”: Voyager’s Seven of Nine presented the detailed complexity of a Borg being humanized. It was quite moving learning of her childhood, the loss of her parents; at one point she was having flashback dreams of this lost past. There was a humorous episode of the Doctor attempting to teach her social skills. I just caught an excellent ep, “Collective,” where the crew — and esp Seven — deal with a group of Borg children who have been rejected by the Collective. These stories — and obviously “I Borg” — resonant with the real-world issue of people indoctrinated, brainwashed, by a religious, political, or cult movement.
An obvious parallel to the Borg is the Terminator franchise. I particularly recommend the sadly short-lived Sarah Connor Chronicles, wherein the future threat of Skynet was just as threatening as ever, but we were given a fascinating development to the mythology. Particularly in the background of the Cameron terminator, and a faction of Terminators apparently working against their own kind. Okay, I Stop.
That last moment of Hugh suddenly looking at Geordi, with recognition, always moves me.
Well said, Steven. You captured what we were thinking when we started to rethink the episode after reading many comments. We addressed a little of that in Supplemental 031, and I’m glad to see you chime in here on the topic.
The theme is wonderful, is organic to the characters, and the character development drives the plot. It is real science fiction.
It seems there is two TNG’s: one is a soap opera with a few artificial themes thrown in, the other is action and phasers, and then there are these great short stories. This season brought us The Perfect Mate, The Inner Light, and I, Borg, and perhaps the Outcast. All the others – by comparison – seem contrived, unrealistic, exaggerated, too willing to throw our cast of characters into danger, simply to get them out again and punish the evil doers.