AAR – STtNG – the Best of Both Worlds
NCC-1701D USS Enterprise Galaxy-class o Capt Jean Luc Picard/Act Capt (Cmdr) William Riker o Regular crew of heroes
Federation Fleet of 40 various vessels o Adm JP Hanson o ~11,000 Starfleet Personnel o List of the ships (external link to Memory Alpha)
1 Borg Cube o Locutus of Borg o Unknown Qty of Borg
A few years or so (stardates are a bit wonk Q Who happens 42761.3 (2365AD) and this ep is 43989.1 (2366)) after they first encounter the Borg (s2e16 – Q Who), we get the first real Borger King Whopper, I mean invasion into Trekspace. (Though this was apparently retconned a dozen times in later stories with more Borg, cause Space Mecha Nazis are largely unsympathetic 'cept for Hue and we later humanize Klingons, Cardiasians, Romulans, and Ferengi… so we need a Space Nazi we can always nuke with impunity.) I mean, Q started all this (cause he's essentially a godlike fratboy who can't clean up after himself and constantly thinks his pranks are justified) and now the Federation has to clean up the mess.
We see some traditional career-screw-your-fellows-to-advancing with LtCmdr Shelby and the crew of the Enterprise (who continues to insist they are NOT military but use military ranks, perform military duties, hold military structure, claim to have the best military weapons and tactics in the galaxy… etc cetera) fresh off their military drills in season 2 with the haven't-fought-a-battle-in-forever Zakdorn strategists… I mean… seriously Trek. Get in the pool or get your tan on the patio, but this one foot in the water crap drives me nuts. I mean this is the equivalence of up-gunning the national oceanographic society. Be military or don't, but as the show continues to prove the universe still has battles to fight. Thank god for the Romulans and the Klingons. I love TNG, especially mid-season 3 onward, but some of this wishy-washy shit kills me. I think it has to do with either Rodenberry or alternating directors with minimal cohesive vision until Ron Moore starts leaning in more (we all saw he had a hardon for great MilFic in BSG). I recently crushed nearly all TNG in a few weeks and you can see the inconsistences a little clearer between episodes and sub-themes about how the crew feels about certain topics. The stronger episodes apparently had Ron Moore and Frakes at the helm.
Actual conflict comes when the Enterprise engages the Cube and has to divert to a nebula to hide from their sensors. This only works for a short while and Picard is lost during the Borg boarding action. Star Fleet needs to work on its anti-boarding reaction drills. Firing from cover, stacking, and any kind of armor and tactics seem like a lost art. (We do see some of this in Season 6 Descent which surprised me).
Like how do the security officers not at least have some sort of body armor? There's no way those nylon pajamas (love it when Data is asked in the 1800s if he's crawled out of bed), protect against ANYTHING. Like is every planet climate controlled? (the 1st TOS Pilot actually accounted for this better… again, I love TNG but man… there are some serious holes you can drive a shuttlecraft thru).
Picard gets turned into an enemy agent, but not by choice and we get Locutus of Borg. This gives the already OP Borg the inside scoop on how the Federation operates. Borg are already great at adapting, but now they have a significant Intel insight. They procced to Earth, but stop at Wolf 359 to smack the shit out of the Federation fleet under the command of Admiral Hanson. The Federation gets its collective arse handed to them by the Borg collective. Nearly 40 capital ships and 11k personnel are lost. We later learn Benjamin Cisco was there and held a grudge against Picard for at least 3 years. Something I was surprised we didn't see more often as many would struggle NOT to see Jean Luc as a collaborator or in the least someone who should have sacrificed himself before becoming capitulatant. Emotions run high when you have deal with friends and family dying at the hands of one of your own officers.
This really drives me nuts at this point and I hope Federation SOP changes. We learn in the first ep of DS9 that Cisco's family was aboard during the battle. No one stopped to off-board the families from any of these ships! What insanity is that, taking all those people into a hot combat zone? Were they confident that they could defeat the Borg? I do hope SOP's shifted later to dump the baggage before known engagements. I doubt it, as there were other skirmishes with the Cardassians and others where no attempt was made to transfer civilians off ship.
Eventually, the crew rescues Picard/Locutus and attempts to de-Borgify him. During the process enough of Picard leaks out to aid the floundering Federation, by suggesting they put everyone to sleep. Not quite a logic bomb, but the result is the same narrowly saving the Federation from complete annihilation.
One would hope there would have been some significant shifts in Federation footing, but as far as tNG goes, I don't think we actually ever see it. I've been told DS9 is a change in footing. While I watched tNG faithfully as a kid and love it for the nature of exploration, it struggles at time with it's military/not-military oscillations.
On a side note, the following episode is a very touching exploration of Picard and his PTSD from the Borg experience.