153 – Descent, Part 2

Grade: B-

Descent, Part II (1993) on IMDb


In this part 2 episode, Captain Picard, Geordi LaForge and Counselor Troi have been captured by Lore and the Borg. He has also somehow convinced Data to join him, and they plan to destroy the Federation.


Well, it’s pretty common in this series for the second half of a two-part story to be quite a letdown. This episode is definitely faithful to this pattern. I have to rate this lower because it just didn’t live up to the expectations set by Part 1.

But before I get to that, it was definitely interesting to see Hugh again, and to hear him talking about his experience with Lore. Hearing him say that at first, there was hope for change, but then some of the Borg realized Lore was evil really reminded me again of a certain person who was elected in Germany in 1932. I don’t know if the references were intentional, but they were definitely there.

There were also some very strong character moments in this episode, and I tend to prefer this kind of storyline. There are some really great scenes in this episode – Dr. Crusher being in command of the Enterprise, Lore and his “counseling” with one of the Borg, Data and his scenes with Geordi, etc. And I really liked Ensign Taitt on the Bridge. She definitely showed a bit of weakness, which was to be expected, but she also showed strength when under pressure. Certainly we won’t see her again in this series, and that’s a shame. She really seemed like a great character.

The acting and character moments were great in this episode, but I have to rate the other areas a bit lower. The storyline seemed to have a couple too many convenient plot devices that distracted me from the story. The way this episode ends was a bit predictable and off-putting. As soon as you see Hugh in the back of the compound, you know exactly what’s going to happen. I hoped for a less predictable ending.

But one other issue I had with this storyline was that it was too convenient that Lore kept Data loyal to him through some kind of mind-control power that kept Data’s ethical programming from working properly. I didn’t like this for a couple of reasons. First of all, it made it too easy for LaForge to forgive Data for torturing him. It also made it too easy for everyone to excuse Data’s actions. We’ve seen this before when Picard was part of the Borg Collective. Of course he was being controlled. He wouldn’t have destroyed all those ships at Wolf 359. The first time the writers used this was fine. The second time, it was old. And it really cheapened some powerful character development that could have taken place if Data’s actions were not simply because Lore was controlling him.

Another reason I didn’t like this was because we already saw in Part 1 that the Borg that was being held captive on the Enterprise was somehow able to talk Data into ignoring his ethical programming. Remember, he actually got Data to say that he would kill Geordi in order to feel pleasure again. This wasn’t because of some mind-controlling power that the Borg had over him. It was simply because he capitalized on how Data felt at the time he killed the other Borg warrior. So why did Lore have to resort to some crazy technical means to control Data’s actions? The other Borg didn’t have to do that. Lore shouldn’t have had to do that either.

The only reasons I can think of are because the writer: 1) wanted some way to make sure we all could forgive Data at the end of the episode, and 2) needed some way to get LaForge, Picard and Troi to escape their cell. To me, this just isn’t very good writing. I would have preferred to have seen Data make some of these decisions for some other reason. And maybe we would have seen LaForge have to slowly forgive Data over the course of an entire season rather than just in the last five minutes of this one.

There’s another nit-picky item that I really can’t forgive this writer for. In the episode Suspicions, Dr. Crusher tests metaphasic shields and proves that they can work. Then here in this episode, Lt. Barnaby is reluctant to even try the shields, but he goes along with it anyway because Crusher orders him to. She doesn’t seem to have any idea what anyone is talking about, but again, she’s the one who tested these herself. In my opinion, this is a mistake, so I dropped the rating a bit.

Of Note

I recognized Lt Barnaby’s voice, and then I looked up his info on IMDB. It turns out that he’s the same actor who played Dr Jo’Brill in the episode Suspicions.