This is an unusual episode, even aside from the fact that it's the only Trek episode ever to have the credits appear in the opening teaser (and, with Stephen Hawking's cameo, the only Trek episode to include somebody playing himself.) The first act, which only takes about three minutes (shorter than the teaser that precedes it), might lead the viewer to believe this another Borg battle show, like "Best of Both Worlds", but this action is only used as a catalyst to get into the true, more character driven, plot. In the A story, Data attempts to explore his emotions that is, if "explore" can be used to describe him getting a fix and then doing whatever nightmarish things it takes to recapture the magic of that high. This dark road is paved with four stellar scenes, each featuring Brent Spiner teamed up with one other actor. With just dialogue, Spiner ratchets up the tension minute by minute.
The B story is a sequel to "I, Borg" and features Captain Picard struggling with the fallout of that fifth season episode. Picard's leadership has traditionally been built on two attributes. Firstly, he's not afraid to give someone a tongue lashing to set them straight (whether it's to Riker in "Legacy," Worf in "Reunion," Wesley in "The First Duty," Troi in "The Chase," or Beverly in "Suspicions.") Secondly, once he commits to a decision, he doesn't second guess himself. This episode turns these characteristics on their head; Picard, in his own ready room, gets dressed down by his superior, and as the scenes progress he begins to wonder if he indeed made a bad decision. Stewart handles this role reversal brilliantly, and Picard's own "descent" serves as a wonderful counterpoint to Data's.
As the episode works its way to its surprising conclusion, it raises many questions but gives us few answers. As it closes, we're left wondering: "How are they going to get out of this one?"