Although we are done with STNG and are now in the Delta Quadrant with Voyager, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and catch up on the episodes you missed. You can find the rest here!
Can a Borg Drone regain it’s individuality? Should it be allowed to or will this only pose a greater threat to the Federation? These questions and more are addressed in the episode that originally aired on May 22,1992. This is I Borg.
Stardate 45854.2 I Borg
The crew of the Enterprise discover an injured Borg who may be able to regain his individuality. Picard and Guinan must fight their preconceptions and impulse to eliminate the being to allow him a chance to become a person again.
After responding to a distress signal, Riker and his away team find a lone Borg on the planet. Although Picard is willing to let the Borg drone die on the planet, Doctor Crusher insists to be allowed to rescue to fallen soldier. He reluctantly agrees and brings the Borg survivor on board so that Crusher may tend to its wounds.
As she begins her work on the Borg, Picard asks LaForge to look at options in infecting this drone in order to send a virus back to the hive. Although he claims to be fully recovered from his experience, Picard wants to use this Borg as a Trojan Horse and destroy the entire Borg people with a single drone. He does not see the Borg as people but as a single being that deserves nothing light of death. As he discusses his plans with his Senior staff, Picard is alerted that the drone has regained consciousness.
On Crusher’s request, Geordi and Worf install a conduit to allow the Borg to feed. Identifying himself as ‘3 of 5‘, the drone insists that they will be assimilated and resistance is futile. LaForge uses his food as a means to get cooperation with the Drone. In order to find the subroutines to the collective, LaForge feels he must begin training the Borg to listen to him. With the help of Dr. Crusher, they begin the process. As they work together, they begin conversing with ‘3 of 5’ to get his cooperation. The drone soon learns Crusher and LaForges names. The drone asks for a name and, with the drones input, they settle on Hugh. Hugh begins to learn at an accelerated rate. Hugh indicates that it is quiet aboard the Enterprise and that on a Borg ship there are thousands of voices. It seems our Borg is lonely.
Geordi begins to have a difficult time with his mission to turn Hugh into a trojan horse virus. Although he goes to Guinan for advice, she indicates that the Borg will eventually show up and, even with Hugh becoming human, the Borg won’t care. Guinan goes to talk to Hugh and soon learns that the drone is, indeed, becoming human again. She hates that she feels for this drone and it frustrates her to see him as a person.
Soon a Borg vessel is detected heading toward the Enterprise and will intercept their ship in just under a day. With a time limit on his head, Geordi continues his mission. He soon makes a breakthrough on the virus and informs Picard that it can be implemented in a short time. He also begins to make headway with Hugh as the Drone is starting to identify himself as an individual.
After talking with Guinan, Picard reluctantly agrees to meet Hugh and have a conversation with him. Hugh immediately recognized Picard as Locutus and Picard uses his status to communicate with Hugh. In his conversation with Hugh, Picard learns that this drone has indeed surpassed his programming as a Borg. In his fear that Locutus wants to assimilate the crew, Hugh identifies himself by stating ‘I am Hugh’. Picard realizes his mistake and can no longer allow himself to use Hugh as a way to kill the Borg.
With the Borg vessel returning, they give Hugh a chance to return to the collective or stay on the Enterprise. Hugh, knowing that the Borg will stop at nothing to reclaim him and this may cause the deaths of his friends, Hugh chooses to return to the collective. Ultimately he sacrifices himself in order to allow his friends on the Enterprise to live.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a cool entry to the series as it portrays a Borg Drone in a completely new light. Is there any humanity left in a drone and, if so, can it be recovered? We really get a chance to explore this thought process from the perspectives of key crew members. LaForge, in working with Hugh, begins to see more of a person than a drone. Crusher sees a patient in need. But where the matter really hammers home is with the two people who have been affected the most by the Borg.
Guinan and Picard make an astounding journey from hating the drone to realizing that Hugh is, indeed, more than just a Borg Drone. Guinan has lost nearly all of her people and her rage toward the Borg is born from the loneliness that this has caused. Hugh inadvertently confronts this loneliness and she soon realizes that her hatred isn’t toward this single Drone but toward the collective as a whole. This shakes her to the core and, in a reversal of roles, goes to Picard for reassurance in her feelings. It is there that we find out that Picard himself has avoided meeting with the Drone so that he doesn’t develop feelings for the individual as he wants to hate this Borg.
When Picard encounters Hugh it is from the persona of Hugh’s leader Locutus. As Locutus, Picard tries with all of his might to sway this drone into assimilating the crew. For a moment you almost get a sense that Picard wants Hugh to attack him so that Picard would have an excuse to kill the Borg Drone on his ship. When it becomes apparent that Hugh is indeed an individual once again, Picard realizes that his hatred too is toward the entire collective and he is seeing them as a single entity. He has forgotten that the drones that have been assimilated have a chance to be human again as he was able to.
While this event does not completely change either Guinan nor Picard’s view of the Borg as a whole, it does allow them to regain some of their compassion in this fight against the collective.
We also see some great moments from LaForge and Crusher. Crusher once again only sees her duty as a Doctor and, to her credit, refuses to kill the drone as she saw a chance to save a person. Geordi initially has no issues implanting a virus into the Borg Drone but when Hugh emerges it becomes exceedingly more difficult. He finally lets Picard know his misgivings fully ready to have to defend his position. It is a nice moment for this character and really shows him as more than just a lonely engineer.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
The actor who played Hugh, Jonathan Del Arco, did an amazing job remaining a drone but all the while exhibiting subtle but meaningful emotions. Del Arco would later appear in Voyager as Fantome and even end up on other series such as The Closer and Major Crimes.
This is not the last we will see of Hugh as he will return along with the return of another popular character.
We see that Picard and Guinan fence on occasion and that they have prior to this episode off-screen.
This idea of a Borg regaining their individuality would later be revisited in Star Trek Voyager with the character 7 of 9. In time, she would become one of the most recognizable characters of that series.
We are introduced to the concept of the Borg Scout ship, implying all of the Borg ships at this time are in cube form.
The title I Borg is derived from the Issac Asimov book of short stories entitled I, Robot and also a short story by author Eando Binder. The latter deals with a Robot gaining sentience and realizing the prejudice against it as an automatonic being.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Next Phase
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Late To The Game 4/18/2020 (Originally published 10/10/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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