Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 5 Episode 23

I, Borg

Aired Unknown May 11, 1992 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (14)

Write A Review
out of 10
224 votes
  • Picard now has one of the largest (indirect) kill count for a protagonast in any show I can think off.

    The Borg are not a race or a species, at best they are a culture and humans have been destroying cultures for a variety of reasons for a long time.

    I think we can generally agree that destroying any culture like say that of some benign indigenous peoples for primarily economic or xenophobic reasons is very immoral/unethical.

    Nazism, white supremacist, Jihadi, militaristic imperial Japan are all cultures or at least sub cultures -yet destroying these cultures is moral/ethical/good.

    The dude who got down voted to hell is quite right about the ridiculous undertones in this episode.

    Now I can't think of an enemy that Picard can't deal or negotiate (on some level) with . .it's BS and super annoying.

    The implication of their behavior is that our intrepid heroes would actually try to negotiate and reason with a zombie apocalypse at the expense of millions; if not billions of lives -after all said zombies never asked to be zombies nor do they have control over their actions.

    All of the good introspection does not belong in this episode and definitely not attached to the Borg, DS9 got it right with the Cardassians -an enemy that is quite different but with at least some common values/principles which one can use to 'humanize' their view of them.

    If someone's sole purpose in life is to kill you at all cost, WTF do you think negotiating or empathizing with said person will accomplish?

    This story has psudo depth, saying it has some profound message is like saying someone is intelligent solely because he has a English RP accent. . .the person may in fact be intelligent but you reveal yourself as a moron.
  • Superb piece of television that challenges the viewer

    This fabulous ensemble piece takes advantage of the rich characters the show has developed and their history with the Borg. The structure of the episode is beautifully designed, giving the adolescent alien a series of individual, intimate scenes with several of our beloved crewmembers and building the tension by having him work his way up the TNG character food chain with each successive meeting. What makes this episode work so well is that each scene (gem after gem) isn't really about the Borg at all; the injured alien is there to simply hold a figurative mirror, allowing each character he encounters to discover more about his or herself as they interact. Because of the lofty status and morality of Guinan and Picard, it's especially meaningful to see them confront their own prejudices - and consider that they might be wrong. Wonderfully written and featuring amazing acting, "I, Borg" is a superb piece of television that raises some powerful questions and asks us to examine our own feelings about the Federation's greatest enemy.
  • Wonderfully told yet terribly flawed. What should have been one of the better episodes of TNG turned into a bit if an unfortunate disappointment.

    First, the good. As another reviewer put it, the episode has a wonderful "human touch". As each of the characters begin to understand Hugh's individuality, they begin to understand something more about their own. All of this is excellent. The crew of the Enterprise's interactions with Hugh are beautiful. The morals learned are great. The acting was great, Jonathan Del Arco did a wonderful job as Hugh. Based on this there really is no reason that this episode should have been anything less than a 10/10. Sadly it is,

    Now on to the bad. You know, when you're writing a science fiction show and you create an alien race, like the Borg, it's generally a good idea to remember how you created them (how they work, how they functioned, etc.). Apparently the writers of this episode all got mass amnesia because if there was a fact about the Borg to get wrong, they got it wrong. Here are perhaps the two most glaring errors/flaws:

    1. If a Borg becomes separated from his/her ship, they are not automatically disconnected from the collective, unless they are purposefully unconnected from the collective like 7 of 9 in Voyager, or if the Borg is damaged and can't receive the signals (Consider Star Trek: First Contact in which a group of Borg beam to the Enterprise after their ship is destroyed. They are all still connected to the collective). Hugh clearly wasn't connected to the collective. I'm willing to look pass this a flaw to an extent because the exact science of the Borg wasn't made clear (or at least clearer) until Voyager. And there is a lot we don't know, so it is conceivable that there is a logical reason Hugh was disconnected from the collective. What it boils down to is that the reason needed to be explained. 2. This is the biggest one that ultimately almost single-handedly derails the entire episode. Didn't we just a season before see this episode called "The Best of Both Worlds" in which a lone Borg became separated from the collective? I speak of course of Captain Picard. What happened to him once he was separated from the Collective? As I recall Dr. Crusher operated on him, removing all of his implants, returning him to his human form. See the problem yet? No one so much as even suggests this for Hugh. They all know that Hugh is not Borg but some other race trapped beneath the implants. We go through this wonderful discovery of the self and of the individual, only to arrive at the end, to see that the moral choice that was made by the crew was in fact the wrong one. The moral thing to do would to have been to remove Hugh's implants, returning him to his natural state. The decision not to, to not even consider this as a possibility, makes no sense at all. Also consider that once Picard was returned to his natural human state no Borg came after him so that can't be a counter argument. As I mentioned, this mistake is particularly harmful because it makes the ending of the episode make virtually no sense at all.

    This is still a recommendable episode. It is certainly a good one. It's just a pity that the writers didn't pay a little more attention to what they were doing. Remove the mistakes and you have a great episode. With them, it's an 8/10 at the highest.
  • One of my top ten episodes. A frighteningly apt story in today's war on terror.

    Star Trek: The Next Generation was never afraid to tackle various issues and was often very thought provoking.
    This episode deals with prisoners of war, genocide, acts of terrorism and personal demons and prejudices.

    The different reactions to Hugh are diverse to say the least; Beverley wants to help as a Doctor, Geordi is intrigued as an Engineer, Jean-Luc is cautious as a strategist and Guinan is fearful as a victim.

    Star Trek often tells tales as timeless allegories and this one s no exception. The concept of taking an individual, brainwashing him and sending him into a place to cause mass destruction is something we are all too aware of in today's society. Isn't it weird how in this case, we can see the other side of the story because the 'brainwashers' are supposed to be the heroes?!

    Apart from the obvious ethics the story throws into the air, the episode is told brilliantly. I know some fans are not keen on this episode because they say it makes the Borg less frightening, but I think thy are missing the point. It shows that in war, no one is truly innocent and any lengths will be gone to in order to win.
  • Picard sends an away team to investigate a wreckage of a small craft. When the away team reaches the wreckage site, they discover a young Borg. The young Borg is injured Dr Krusher insists on saving the individual Borg’s life.

    Picard sends an away team to investigate a wreckage of a small craft. When the away team reaches the wreckage site, they discover a young Borg. The young Borg is injured Dr Krusher insists on saving the individual Borg’s life. Picard recommends leaving the Borg alone but Dr. Krusher insists on saving its life. The young Borg is beamed aboard the “Enterprise” to a detention cell. The young Borg regains consciousness. It is starved. Geordi feeds It energy. It begins to call itself “Hugh”. How is that for assimilating? And to think Picard suggested Krusher to leave it alone.
  • Hugh are you, Hugh - Hugh, Hugh - Hugh!!!

    This is the episode that begins the Borg civil war. Its well made, logical in its execution and an ok Borg episode. It doesnt have any action however. That comes strictly in the form of interactions between the crew and the Borg. The screenplay and script is all very convincing and you will find it hard to not empathize with the child-like Borg.

    The way each of the crew deal with their feelings is a good source of interplay providing a vital measure of emotion conflict, otherwise there would be little to the story except expositional narration.

    That said, the cycle of absolutes demonstrated by Picard holds the thrill of the journey from the start to end of the episode. The poignant scene played out by Picard and the Borg in the ready-room is one of the best one-on-one scenes of the entire show.

    What makes this episode PIVOTAL is that it essentially marks the beginning of the end for the Borg. For this reason it should not be missed!
  • Idiotic. It is sad that the liberal leanings of the Star Trek braintrust turn Borgs into tribbles.

    Utterly out of character. TNG betrays itself and the cannon by instructing us that anyone or anything can be reasoned with if we just give them a hug: terrorists, Kim John Il, terminators, even polio. The libs that run the show just can't accept that there might, in fact be a force out there that can't be reasoned with. If we just send Madeline Albright and conduct enough diplomacy, even Borgs can join the Federation! I guess the ST Powers That Be can't even accept their own creation, the Borg, as something you can't reason with, due to their worldview and the implications that reason and diplomacy and appeasement sometimes just don't work.

    Reminds me of the classicly stupid, "Lord, if only I could have talked with Hitler all this might have been avoided" statement by U.S. Senator William Borah.

    This whole "we're no better than them" nonsense also burns me. No, if they defeat/terminate you and you cease to exist, they are better than you. Self defense trumps your silly ideals. A race that goes to its grave with the smug consolation that "we were better than them" are useful idiots. Ideals, that of a country or the Federation, are not a suicide pact. They should have sent that Hugh back to the Borg with the Mother of All Trojans and given the Borg one big, fat, permanent blue screen of death. Oh noes, but that would be mean. Let's just risk all of humanity, all of the universe, so we can feel all warm and fuzzy about how compassionate we are. The Borg are not a race any more than HIV is. Send in the cure via Hugh. Kirk would have.

    A terrible, preachy, idiotic episode that undoes everything we know about the Borg, since for the PTBs, the Borg can't possibly exist in the "we can all get along - even Klingons and Borg! - Federation.
  • In some ways, the best Borg episode. Utopia isn't easily achieved.

    Another reviewer criticizes this episode for being overly politically correct. In general this criticism has some traction with TNG; the Federation was portrayed as ridiculously utopian at times.

    But this criticism is misplaced when aimed at "I Borg". This episode isn't about Polyannish liberalism (in fact, the one character who expresses such sentiment, Beverly, is not taken seriously), but rather about decent people struggling with a serious moral dilemma. First Geordi, then Guinan, and finally Picard are forced to choose between Machiavellian pragmatism (and prejudice) and their fundamental decency. Maybe they made the wrong decision (up to the viewer) - but it's one that that is completely understandable and consistent with these characters.

    This episode is chock-full of classic sequences. Picard and Guinan fencing, Geordi and Guinan in Ten Forward, Picard telling Geordi to "unattach" himself [compare that to the "cuttlefish" speech in "Silicon Avatar"], Guinan's encounter with Hugh, her encounter with Picard, and finally Picard's climactic confrontation of Hugh (and his own demons). Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg give standout performances (when did Goldberg NOT elevate an episode to a higher level), but Levar Burton also deserves serious props. And the script is a superb one.
  • Great moral dilemma, even though I don't agree with the decision.

    Star Trek moral episodes make you think. Does that mean the viewer must agree with the writers? Absolutely not.

    Personally, I think the crew made the wrong decision. I think Guinan's clever analogy during fencing, and Picard's lab rat speech were spot on. Suppose an innocent person was rigged with the detonator to an explosive device capable of destroying an entire country, which they were powerless to stop, and it was set to go off after X amount of heartbeats. The bomb itself can't be diffused, and the clock is ticking. The only way to stop the murder of millions is to kill one innocent person. The choice is easy. In this case, the Borg cannot be reasoned with because they are not good or evil. They have no morals. The havoc they wreak upon the universe is curiosity-based, as we see from 3 of 5 before he becomes Hugh. He doesn't even know a race of people might not want to be assimilated, as the collective has never given the matter any thought. While I don't deny that Hugh, once he became an individual, was quite a sympathetic one, the Borg are a destructive race which take out entire civilizations. They must be stopped. That said, the episode was brilliantly acted and the script nearly flawless. The combination of these factors made Hugh not just Geordi's friend, but the friend of the viewer. Once it became clear that the plan was not going to be utilized, I found myself wishing that Hugh would stay on board and undergo the same type of surgery which was able to turn Locutus back into Picard. I think another reviewer took the words right out of my mouth in singling out the fencing scene, Picard and Guinan in his quarters, and the exceptional ready room scene in which Picard tried to provoke Hugh into becoming Borg again in order to justify his feelings. There were some great subtleties too, like Hugh's transition from tight security, to cautious surveillance, to complete freedom. Also, the changes in his voice and facial expressions as he became more individual were quite moving. In the beginning, he was a computer. By the end, he was a person. The only thing I found very unrealistic about this episode was that anyone, even Beverly, would feel any sympathy for an injured Borg. Doctor or not, the Borg are like a virus and the entire crew knows that. It would have been just as easy to get 3 of 5 aboard the ship without the initial doctor dilemma. All they would have had to do is think of their plan to destroy the Borg via their injured comrade from the start. Additionally, beginning the story with no compassion from any crew member would have made an already powerful story even more powerful.
  • Excellent Borg episode, with a decidedly "human" touch.

    The best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes seem to be focused more on issues of the "human condition" and less on science fiction. Here, we get a wonderful dilemma - should the opportunity to take out the borg entirely be taken? Is that genocide of a sentient race, or the removal of a virus? Cases for both sides could surely be made. I think the episode makes the right choice with Picard's character however. See "Silicon Avatar," in which Picard argues for the right for the Crystalline Entity to live. He is a preserver of life, not a "hunter." Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan does an amazing job in acting prejudiced at first towards "Hugh" (and rightfully so - her people were wiped out by the Borg). Some of the best interactions in the series are between Picard and Guinan, and this episode is certainly an example of this.

    Geordi and Hugh's relationship in a way mirrors Geordi and Data. He's able to see the humanity of Hugh; very open-minded. And Hugh's transition from borg drone to individual is very touching. Kudos to the guest star for acting it wonderfully.

    Definitely one of the best of the season.
  • Dr. Crusher encourages everyone to have a moral dilemma. Go Beverley!

    Finding a crashed Borg Scout vessel with 4 dead and 1 injured Borg on board, the crew of the Enterprise pick up the mess after Dr. Crusher's starfleet programming takes over and she begins to repair the damage to the surviving Drone.

    Bringing the Borg "3rd of 5" on board, and silencing it's link to the collective, Geordi and Beverley try to learn a little more about what makes the Borg tick, and in the process devise a way to destroy the Collective once and for all. (Mwahahaha.)

    Unfortunately for those involved, the Drone develops an individual personality, what with being reduced to an individual and all, is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that he has no recollecting of his life before he was assimilated, so presumably "Hugh" (as he has been named), must have been assimilated as a baby or something.

    Geordi shares his angst with Guinan, who tells him to grow up. Then she goes to see Hugh and gets some angst of her own, so she goes to Picard to spread the love. The captain has a meeting with Hugh and realises that this individual is no longer a part of the collective (well, you know, you severed his link to the collective, go figure) and has second thoughts about using him to deliver Geordi's computer virus to the Borg.

    Hugh nonetheless decides to return to the crash site when more Borg come along to collect the debris, and the captain suspects that his sense of individuality will be just as devestating to the Borg. Cue a future two parter...
  • The crew finds a crashed Borg Cube with one survivor. Initially the plan is to let the Borg return to the collective with an idea of an impossible shape and destroy many Borg forces. But soon the Borg develops his own identity raising a moral dilemma.

    I love the conflicts seen in each character that comes into contact with Hugh. At first it is easy to dehumanize, but soon Geordi and other members of the crew become more attached to him. Picard\'s struggle to reconcile his experiences with the Borg with the fact that Hugh has developed an identity is very thought provoking. One of the great recurring themes in this series—friendship—is very apparent hear as the once straight forward plan has become impossible to execute due to the bonds developed over a short period of time.
  • This is one of my favorites.

    OK I'll admit it, I love Patrick Stewart and any episode he gets to show off his acting ability gets top marks from me.

    This is one of my favorite for that reason alone. The scenes between Picard and Guinan and between Picard and Hughe are two of my favorites of the entire series.

    The only problem I have with the episode is the major problem I have with the entire star trek franchise. Its built on a need to cop-out on occasion. There are some things that just can't happen no matter how much you'd like them too.

    So if I forget the ending, this will go down as one of my favorite Star Trek:TNG episodes.
  • The crew of the Enterprise discovers an injured Borg on the surface of a snow-swept planet and brings him on board. After rendering the Borg virtually impotent of his connection to the Collective, the Enterprise crew now find themselves at odds with one a

    I saw “I, Borg” when it first aired in 1992. Admittedly, I didn’t think much of the episode. I felt as if the creators had “wimped out” the Borg with the introduction of Hugh. But upon seeing the episode again, I have come to realize how strong of a story we are truly being presented with. The crew are presented with the option of constructing something akin to a “personality virus” within Hugh, with the intent of sending him back to the Borg in the hopes of wiping out the entire collective in one fell, swoop.

    There is a lot of great (and subtle) character interaction as each crewmember wrestles with their own sense of morality over the prominent question of – What to do with Hugh? Geordi, as usual, doesn’t have a lot to offer aside from a few “Golly, shucks” moments. But it’s interesting to see Guinan’s hatred of the Borg rising up within her, only to be challenged later, when she actually interacts with Hugh. More importantly, we see more of Captain Picard coping with his own experiences with the Borg, when he was the Borg liaison known as Locutus. Throughout most of the episode, Picard refuses to even visit the capture Borg, and sees it no more as a tool with which he may possibly commit genocide against the entire Borg culture. He swears that his decision is based on practicality and has little to do with his own intimate connections to the Borg. But upon facing Hugh, even Picard begins to realize that he still has a lot of mental baggage left over from his days as Locutus. But still, as a Starfleet Captain, Picard is required to make the tough choices. As you watch the crew wrestling with the moral quandary, it is almost impossible not to hear Spock’s legendary words from Star Trek II echoing throughout your brain, “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the Hugh” (as it were). But in fact, it is Hugh who absolves them from making the difficult choices. He volunteers to return to the Collective, despite having knowledge that they will likely erase all of his new memories and emotions.

    For fans of deep character development and for Borg lovers everywhere, I give this episode a high recommendation.