It was 29 years ago this week that The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1 aired for the first time and for Star Trek, nothing was ever the same.
“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been is over. From this time forward… you will service us.”
When Locutus said those words toward the end of the third season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it likely sent a collective chill down the spine of everyone who was watching.
It was a powerful moment, and not just because of what was happening on screen. By the time “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1” had finished airing, nothing was ever going to be the same for The Next Generation or Star Trek in general.
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It’s important to remember that while The Next Generation was popular, it wasn’t as popular as many people thought it should be. Most of this was due to a lackluster first two seasons that featured some bad scripts and a cast that was still trying to figure things out.
That all changed with the third season. Michael Piller joined the show as executive producer and the changes were apparent from the first episode of that season. New uniforms made their debut and Gene Roddenberry gave his blessing for elements of The Original Series to be incorporated into the show.
The result was what many consider one of the best seasons of The Next Generation during its seven year run. It included such classics as “Sins of the Father,” “Tin Man,” “Sarek,” and, of course, “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”
But the episode where it all came together and the series as a whole never looked back was “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1.” It served as the cliffhanger season finale for the series and had all of Trek Nation talking all summer long.
Seeing Riker say “Fire” as Locutus looks on from the Borg cube freaked just about everyone out who was watching. I mean, we all knew they weren’t going to kill Picard, but you needed a phaser to cut the tension on that bridge and in living roooms across the country.
Then there was the Borg themselves. Star Trek had never seen an enemy like them before. It turned out the glimpse we got of them in “Q Who?” barely scratched the surface of what they were capable of. It should come as no surprise then that the Borg would go on to be featured in what many consider the best of the Next Generation films, Star Trek: First Contact.
By the time “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2” aired that September, the two-parter had already achieved a legendary status among Star Trek fans. The complete episode is now considered one of the best Star Trek episodes in the history of the franchise and even one of the best television episodes ever.
In many ways, Star Trek has been chasing this classic episode for almost 30 years. Star Trek after this was never quite the same, and in a good way. The stories were deeper, the characterization better and there was more of a sense of continuity in the series as a whole.
And there was also a sense that the producers were willing to take risks, with the character and what Star Trek could be. It’s doubtful Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would have happened if it wasn’t for the reaction to “The Best of Both Worlds” by the fans.
Next year will mark 30 years since “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1” made its debut. We’ll likely talk about it again then, but for now turn on Netflix of pop in the Blu-ray and enjoy the episode of Star Trek that changed everything.