On Earth, work continues on the Phoenix as Cochrane grows ever more uncomfortable with the hero worship with which the Starfleet crew greets him. He reaches a breaking point following an encounter with a typically overenthusiastic Barclay, after which a well-meaning LaForge tells him about a statue that will one day be erected on the very spot he happens to be standing. Cochrane excuses himself and flees into the woods, where Riker and LaForge follow and ultimately stun him. In engineering, the Borg graft more organic flesh on to Data, who breaks free of his restraints when presented with an opportunity. Before he can escape or breach a coolant tank, a drone slashes at Data’s new skin, drawing blood. The pain stuns the android, who is further confused when he finds himself unable to simply rip the flesh from his arm as the Queen suggests. She takes advantage of the intensity of the moment to seduce Data.
Elsewhere, Picard at last reunites with his crew. With the neural processor in hand, they realize that the Borg are planning to convert the main deflector into an interplexing beacon. If successful, this would allow them to contact their counterparts in the twenty-first century for reinforcements.
With no other choice, Picard, Worf, and helmsman Lieutenant Hawk don EV suits and walk across the ships hull toward the deflector. Upon arriving, they find several drones hard at work. Unable to simply open fire for fear of severely damaging the ship, the three set about manually releasing the dish. The Borg, naturally, notice. With Worf injured and Hawk nowhere to be seen, it falls to Picard to release the dish. He nearly succeeds when a newly assimilated Hawk interrupts and nearly kills him. He is saved thanks to a timely intervention by Worf, who wastes no time destroying the deflector after Picard jettisons it. Sensing these events, the Borg Queen announces to Data that her plans have changed.
The two return to the bridge, where they find the situation has grown even more dire. The Borg have continued to advance, and the phasers are now all but useless. Crusher and Worf are appalled when Picard gives the order to fight hand to hand against the nigh-unstoppable Borg if needs be, instead suggesting abandoning them and activating the self-destruct. Picard balks, and when Worf tries to argue, the two nearly come to blows. As Crusher begins to coordinate the defense, Lily follows Picard into the observation lounge and calls him out. The two argue, Lily bluntly saying that staying to fight is suicide while Picard explains his “unique perspective” on the Borg. Despite his denials, Lily instantly knows the drive for revenge when she sees it. She compares him to Captain Ahab, the literary parallel finally getting through to Picard who returns to the bridge and gives the evacuation order.
Meanwhile, in Montana, repairs to the Phoenix have been completed and the ship is now being prepared for launch with Cochrane, Riker, and LaForge aboard. There’s a bit of last minute panic, as Cochrane believes he’s forgotten something that he can’t launch without. Just as Riker is about to give the order to abort, Cochrane finds it – evidence of his excellent taste in music. With Steppenwolf playing, the Phoenix launches and Cochrane – who earlier claimed to dislike flying – marvels at the experience as they prepare to engage the warp drive.
With the self-destruct set for fifteen minutes, Picard apologizes to Worf and the crew heads for the escape pods. Before he can leave, Picard fleetingly hears the voices of the Collective in his mind – Data’s among them. He heads to engineering, where he confronts the Borg Queen, offering himself in exchange for Data’s release. There’s just one problem – Data doesn’t want to go. He then enters the encryption code and targets the Phoenix with a spread of quantum torpedoes. The Queen gloats and Picard watches in horror as the torpedoes approach their target. However, the warheads miss and the Phoenix jumps to warp. Data reveals his deception and breaks a coolant tank. Picard scrambles to climb to safety with the Queen – quite literally – hot on his heels. She grabs his ankle, preventing his escape until Data emerges from the plasma and pulls her into it. As the Queen dies, the drones throughout the ship follow suit.
With the Borg defeated, the Phoenix completes her flight and returns to Earth. Picard and the rest of the Enterprise’s senior staff join the crowd of onlookers in Bozeman as an alien ship lands. Awestruck, Cochrane welcomes her crew – a trio of Vulcans – to Earth. Picard and Lily say their farewells and the former returns to the Enterprise. Satisfied that the future they know is waiting for them, they recreate the Borg temporal vortex and head for home.