Memory Alpha

Q Who (episode)

  • View history
  • 1.2 Act One
  • 1.3 Act Two
  • 1.4 Act Three
  • 1.5 Act Four
  • 1.6 Act Five
  • 2 Log entries
  • 3 Memorable quotes
  • 4.1 Production history
  • 4.2 Story and script
  • 4.3 The Borg
  • 4.4 Cast and characters
  • 4.5 Special and visual effects
  • 4.7 Continuity
  • 4.8 Reception
  • 4.9 Apocrypha
  • 4.10 Awards
  • 4.11 Video and DVD releases
  • 5.1 Starring
  • 5.2 Also starring
  • 5.3 Guest stars
  • 5.4 And special guest star
  • 5.5 Uncredited co-stars
  • 5.6 Stand-ins
  • 5.7 References
  • 5.8 Unused production references
  • 5.9 Sources
  • 5.10 External links

Summary [ ]

Gomez and Picard

" Yes, Ensign. It's all over me. "

New ensign Sonya Gomez orders a hot chocolate from a replicator in engineering . While doing so, La Forge passes, and the two converse, La Forge noting Gomez' polite manners toward the replicator, saying "please" and "thank you". Gomez wonders why not, and explains she does this as the replicator is listed under "intelligent circuitry". After all, she notes that working with so much artificial intelligence can be dehumanizing and she combats this with using simple courtesy. As the two walk to main engineering, La Forge urges the talkative and enthusiastic Gomez to relax. After arriving, he notes to her that she is carrying food or drink in the premises of engineering, which is forbidden. As she turns around to go finish it elsewhere, she spills some all over Picard 's uniform . La Forge tells Picard that Gomez just transferred to the Enterprise from Starbase 173 and accepts responsibility for what just happened. Picard, though not entirely unvexed, welcomes Gomez to the ship.

Picard excuses himself to change his uniform. He walks to the nearest turbolift to get to his quarters. However, when the doors open again, he finds that the turbolift did not make it to his quarters, but is inside a shuttlecraft far away from the USS Enterprise -D . He quickly realizes that he has been kidnapped by Q . Picard reminds Q about their agreement from a year earlier , when Q agreed never to trouble Picard's ship again; Q points out that they are nowhere near the Enterprise . Q is, however, kind enough to clean Picard's uniform with his abilities.

Act One [ ]

Guinan senses something strange

" Is there anything unusual happening? "

In Ten Forward , La Forge and Gomez arrive and talk some more at a table. Meanwhile, Guinan is tending to her regular duties. While talking to Martinez , she pauses and wanders around the room for a moment, before making contact with the bridge . Commander Riker answers and wonders what she wants. Guinan wonders if everything is fine with the bridge, since she felt something she only encountered long ago, but merely brushes it off and tells Riker to forget she called. Later, La Forge notices something is up with Guinan, and wonders if she's OK. She merely responds, " I don't know. " La Forge decides to leave and check on engineering. Gomez gets up from her seat and joins him.

Meanwhile, in the shuttlecraft, Picard tries to make contact with Enterprise . However, Q tells him there is no point, since at the current distance, no one on the Enterprise would think to look where they are. Picard attempts to communicate anyway. Q explains that they have business to discuss, but Picard will not discuss anything with him, stating that keeping him prisoner will not convince him to listen to what Q has to say. Q merely says that he will, eventually.

Q and Picard

" Do we stay out here years? Decades? "

Counselor Troi walks onto the bridge and wonders where Captain Picard is. When she hears he is in his quarters, she decides to contact him, but there is no response. Riker asks the ship's computer, but according to it, Picard is nowhere to be found. Furthermore, Lieutenant Worf reports that a shuttlecraft is missing from the shuttlebay . With the captain missing, Riker orders Wesley to bring the ship to a full stop. They hail the shuttle on all frequencies, but there is no response. In fact, there is no trace of a shuttle anywhere in the sector.

While the Enterprise continues to search for Picard and the missing shuttlecraft, Picard demands Q to return him to the ship. Eventually, he agrees to give Q's request a full hearing and, a second later, they're back on the Enterprise in Ten Forward, and the shuttle is back in place. Worf reports that the shuttlecraft has returned, and the computer tells the crew that Picard is in Ten Forward, allowing Riker to conclude that Q has returned.

Act Two [ ]

Guinan reacting on Q

" I knew it was you! "

Guinan immediately confronts Q, revealing to Picard that she and Q know each other, and not at all in a friendly way. Q calms down and expresses his desire to join the Enterprise crew, after being cast out from the Q Continuum . Skeptical, Picard refuses his request, especially after he put the crew on trial for the crimes of Humanity and asked Riker to join the Continuum . Q argues that they need him since they are not prepared for what awaits them. Picard claims that they are ready to confront the unknown, and Guinan adds that the Humans' ability to adapt is their great advantage.

Guinan warns Picard and Riker to head back

" What can you tell us? " " Only that if I were you, I'd start back now. "

Q, in rebuttal, seeks to test how prepared they are, and casually tosses the Enterprise seven thousand light years into uncharted space, to give them "a preview of things to come" upon which he disappears. Guinan advises Picard to return to Federation space immediately, but he decides to explore the nearby System J-25 first.

First view of Borg cube

" Protect yourself, captain, or they'll destroy you. "

A survey of the only class M planet in the system reveals that while there was once an industrialized civilization there, it has been ripped away from the planet , "identical to what happened to the outposts along the Neutral Zone ." A cube-shaped ship then approaches the Enterprise , and scans of the ship show nothing. Picard asks Guinan for her advice, and she reveals that the ship belongs to the Borg – a cybernetic race who were responsible for the near-extinction of her people a hundred years ago . " Protect yourself, Captain, " she advises, " or they'll destroy you. "

The Borg proceed to transport one of their own into engineering , as if the Enterprise 's shields were useless. La Forge spots the intruder standing next to the warp core and requests security to report there immediately.

Act Three [ ]

Borg drone in Enterprise-D engineering

The first Borg ever seen, attempting to access the ship's computer

Picard and Worf arrive with a security team and see the Borg apparently making a survey of the ship. Q appears for a brief moment and warns Picard that it's not interested in Human lifeforms, only the ship's technology. Before leaving, he advises the captain not to allow it to interfere with the operations of the Enterprise . When the Borg attempts to do so, Picard orders Worf to stop it. A security officer tries to drag it away, only to be hurled clear across the room.

Worf then tries to stun it with his phaser , to no avail, and is forced to increase the phaser to full power. They successfully destroy the Borg, but almost instantly another is beamed aboard in its place. Worf again attempts to destroy it, but shields form around it, protecting the Borg. It tampers with the same engineering console, then turns and removes some components from the dead Borg before it is beamed back to the cube and the corpse disappears.

Picard holds a conference, in which Guinan further details what the Borg are, and how they destroyed her people. She advises them that the Borg do not negotiate with people, at which point they hail the Enterprise . Picard tries to reason with them, but the Borg voice completely ignores him and simply informs the crew that they will not be able to defend themselves against the Borg ship, threatening to "punish" them if they attempt to do so. Troi tells Picard that every Borg is part of the same mind, and that they have no distinct leader.

Enterprise fires at Borg cube

" They still have us! "

The Borg lock onto the Enterprise with a tractor beam that also drains their shields while preventing the ship from moving. The Borg then use a cutting beam to slice a section out of the Enterprise hull on the saucer section , and all eighteen crewmembers in that section are "vaporized" {assisimilated into the Borg}. Picard orders Worf to use whatever force is necessary to sever the Borg's beam, and they are ultimately successful after three phaser attacks, which blast several craters into the surface of the Borg ship.

Q shows up at another crew meeting in the observation lounge , telling them that the Borg are not concerned with the crew nor the Federation, only the Enterprise and how they can use her technology and identified it as something they can consume. Picard asks him to reveal that this is just another illusion, only for Q to respond that the situation is perfectly real, as everything else, before vanishing. With the ship temporarily immobilized by the damage, Picard decides to send over an away team consisting of Riker, Worf, and Data in an attempt to learn more about the Borg, over Guinan's strong objections.

Act Four [ ]

Enterprise-D away team inside Borg cube, 2365

" Our readings were incorrect. The Borg crew survived. "

The away team discover the ship to be full of Borg, most of whom are in stasis in regeneration alcoves . The few active Borg take no notice of the team, or are ignoring them. The away team then finds what they believe to be a Borg nursery , where the Borg are born as biological lifeforms , and, immediately after birth, they begin growing artificial, cybernetic implants . What Riker finds astounding is that the Borg have developed the technology to link artificial intelligence directly into the humanoid brain.

Data notices that the Borg seem to be using their collective mental focus to repair the ship, which is why the team has not been noticed or attacked. Alarmed, Picard has them beamed back to the bridge, and says " Let's get the hell out of here ". They start leaving at warp 8, but the Borg follow with ease. Q appears on the bridge, warning the crew that the Borg will not stop until they have them in their grasp. He even says to Picard, " You should have stayed where you belonged. "

Act Five [ ]

Borg Shield neutralizer

" You can't outrun them. You can't destroy them. They are relentless. "

They increase to maximum warp, but the Borg are still gaining. Riker orders them to arm photon torpedoes and Picard gives the order to fire, but the torpedoes have no effect. The Borg ship, after getting within firing range, fires a shield-draining missile twice and the Enterprise , now with very low shields, fires torpedoes again, with the same result.

Q then makes the Borg threat perfectly clear to Picard: " You can't outrun them; you can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains; they regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone… They are relentless. "

The Borg fire twice more and the Enterprise loses both shields and warp drive . The cube re-engages their tractor beam and holds the Enterprise . Riker orders Worf to prepare to launch another spread of photon torpedoes, but Data warns that at close range, without the protection of their shields, it is highly likely that a photon detonation will destroy the Enterprise . Picard nods in approval as Riker orders Worf to prepare to fire.

Q prepares to leave the crew to their fate, as Picard implores him to end the confrontation. Q asks the captain why he should now terminate this encounter between the Enterprise and the Borg. Picard responds by pointing out that if they are destroyed, Q will not be able to gloat. He admits that they are frightened, and that Q has, for the moment, shown them to be inadequate. " You want me to say, 'I need you'? I NEED YOU! " Picard exclaims. With a snap of his fingers, Q flings the Enterprise away from the Borg ship and back into the same spot in Federation space they originally were.

Q appears besides Picard in Riker's chair, but instead of gloating, he looks thoughtful and even somewhat impressed. " Another man, " he muses, " would have been humiliated to say those words "', even to the point of sacrificing himself and his entire ship rather than admit he needed help. Picard tells Q he understands the point out of what they have been through, but feels the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of his crew. Q is unapologetic, telling him that if Humanity wants to explore the galaxy, then it promises a universe of wonders, but they must also be willing to confront dangers they have never imagined. He then disappears, to be replaced by a startled Riker. The Enterprise sets course for the nearest starbase , which is Starbase 83 .

Picard and Guinan (2365)

" They will be coming. "

Reflecting upon events in Ten Forward while playing three-dimensional chess with Picard, Guinan says that the encounter with the Borg happened before it should have. She believes that at some point, perhaps, it might be possible for the Federation to establish some kind of communication between them and the Borg, but for the time being, they are just raw material to be consumed. Guinan begins, " Since they are aware of your existence… " … " they will be coming ," Picard continues. Guinan ominously warns, " You can bet on it ." Picard comments that perhaps Q did the right thing, for the wrong reasons, to shake Humanity out of its complacency for whatever lies ahead.

Log entries [ ]

  • First officer's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
  • Captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), 2365

Memorable quotes [ ]

"Are we going to stay out here for years? Decades? I'm ageless, Picard; you're not."

"Guinan? Is that your name now?"

"Ah, the redoubtable Commander Riker! And Microbrain ! Growl for me; let me know you still care!"

"Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy filled with wonders you cannot possibly imagine. And terrors to freeze your soul!"

" To learn about you is, frankly, provocative. But you're next of kin to chaos. "

"You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far: the Romulans, the Klingons. They're nothing compared to what's waiting."

"Oh, the arrogance. They don't have a clue as to what's out here." "But they will learn, adapt. That is their greatest advantage."

"Why?" "Why? Why, to give you a taste of your future, a preview of things to come. Con permiso, Capitán? The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It's now time to see if you can dance."

" Interesting, isn't it? Not a he , not a she , not like anything you've ever seen before. An enhanced humanoid. "

"We mean you no harm. Do you understand me? " " 'Understand' you? You're nothing to him. "

" He might try to take over the ship. I wouldn't let him! "

" The Borg are the ultimate user. They're unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They're not interested in political conquest, wealth, or power as you know it. They're simply interested in your ship, its technology. They've identified it as something they can consume. "

" Eighteen of our people have died. Please, tell us this is one of your illusions. " " Oh, no. This is as real as your so-called life gets. "

" We have analyzed your defensive capabilities as being unable to withstand us. If you defend yourselves, you will be punished. "

" Admit it, Picard. You're out of your league. You should have stayed where you belong ! "

" Q… end this. " " Moi? What makes you think I'm either inclined or capable to terminate this encounter? " " If we all die here, now, you will not be able to gloat. You wanted to frighten us? We're frightened. You wanted to show us we were inadequate? For the moment, I grant that. You wanted me to say, 'I need you'? I NEED YOU! "

" That was a difficult admission. Another man would have been humiliated to say those words. Another man would have rather died than ask for help. " " I understand what you've done here, Q, but I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of my crew. " " If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid. "

Background information [ ]

Production history [ ].

  • Revised final draft script: 24 February 1989 [1]
  • Filming begins: 27 February 1989 ("Lost and Found", Star Trek Magazine  issue 147 )
  • First day of filming the Borg: 2 March 1989 ("Lost and Found", Star Trek Magazine  issue 147 )
  • Storyboards, by Dan Curry , for visual effects shots of the Enterprise battling a Borg cube: 16 March 1989
  • Premiere airdate: 8 May 1989
  • First UK airdate: 7 August 1991

Story and script [ ]

Rob Bowman and Patrick Stewart

Director Rob Bowman instructing Patrick Stewart

  • Initially conceived by writer Maurice Hurley as a race of insectoids , Hurley had originally planned the Season 1 episode " The Neutral Zone " to be the first part in a trilogy that would introduce an entirely new threat to the Federation, introducing a plot point that Federation and Romulan starbases along the Romulan Neutral Zone had been mysteriously wiped out. This was intended to lead into a series of episodes that would have introduced the Borg as a main villain in the wake of the Ferengi 's failure to meet with audience expectations of a major Starfleet antagonist. Unfortunately, the Writer's Guild strike of 1988 prevented this from coming to fruition. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., pp. 60 & 86); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages , p. 169) Hurley finally got to proceed with his planned sequel with "Q Who", although only one passing reference was made of the strange destruction of outposts referred to in "The Neutral Zone", by Data stating, " It is identical to what happened to the outposts along the Neutral Zone. "

Tim Trella, Borg drone makeup review

Reviewing the final Borg makeup and costume design

  • This is the only Q episode that Maurice Hurley wrote. Melinda M. Snodgrass commented, " Maurice Hurley always thought Q was here to teach us a lesson, to guide and instruct us. " ( The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years , p. 107)
  • In the revised final draft of the script, in the scene in the observation lounge where Riker confronts Q about how he exposed the Enterprise to the Borg, which led to the deaths of eighteen crewmembers, his temper flares and he moves to assault Q, who warns Riker to stop, or he would kill him. In the final aired version, Q merely dismisses Riker's comments with an "Oh, please." [2]

The Borg [ ]

David Fisher and Rick Sternbach Borg drone sketches

Preliminary Borg concept by David Fisher and Rick Sternbach

Borg concept art 2

Detail sketch by Rick Sternbach

Tim Trella, Borg (behind the scenes)

A Borg stuntman's ( Tim Trella ) costume being adjusted between takes

  • Budget constraints kept the Borg from being depicted as insectoids as Maurice Hurley had originally intended, though the hive concept survived to become the overwhelming group mind known as the Collective. In addition, the Borg's unique, cube-shaped ship, and their eerie appearance – reminiscent of both the biomechanism designs of H.R. Giger and the cybernetic, laser-eyed Lord Dread from the 1987 syndicated series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future – all contributed to the Borg ascending to the height of Star Trek villainy, exactly as intended. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission , p. 90)
  • Costume designer Durinda Rice Wood recalled, " I was tired by the streamlined, stainless-steel concept of 'scary'… With the Borg, the idea was that the drones lived for centuries, and that their body parts would wear out and be replaced with mechanical body parts. I wanted to show that they didn't wear out uniformly, so some of them had eye patches, and some had fake legs or arms. " ( Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 , p. 104)
  • Makeup designer Michael Westmore remarked that the Borg were given a zombie -like pallor " so that viewers would know they were seeing a creature that couldn't be reasoned or negotiated with… the life has been leached out of them. " ( Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 , p. 105)
  • The Borg's name was derived from " cyborg ", meaning cybernetic organism. The Borg were intended to provide the series with what the Ferengi had failed to deliver – a deadly, remorseless enemy that could not be reasoned with or defeated. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission , p. 90)
  • Precisely because of their powerful nature, the Borg would appear in only five further episodes through the run of The Next Generation . Their infrequent appearance was due to the writers' difficulties in finding ways to defeat the Borg, as well as due to cost. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., p. 202)) However, just as Khan returned to battle Kirk in the second Star Trek film , the Borg would also make the transition to the big screen in the second The Next Generation feature .
  • The graphics displayed on monitors in the Borg " slots " were referred to as "Borg Spaghetti" by the production staff . ( citation needed • edit )
  • The Borg Collective voice heard in the episode was synthesized from the voices of Maurice Hurley, director Rob Bowman and Bowman's assistant. Sound design and processing was done by Francois Blaignan using Symbolic Sound's Kyma system. ( Star Trek: Communicator  issue 147 , p. 32)
  • While it is not explicitly stated in this episode, the overall ambition of the Borg seems to be the acquisition of technology, not the assimilation of other species as in later episodes. While " The Best of Both Worlds ", the next episode to feature the Borg, dealt with this changed premise by stating in dialogue that their objectives had changed, subsequent Borg episodes would ignore it entirely.
  • The later episodes ENT : " Regeneration ", VOY : " The Raven " and VOY : " Dark Frontier " suggest that not only was Earth Starfleet previously aware of the existence of the Borg, Federation scientists actually pursued them – even if they were considered mere rumor. (This ultimately led to the assimilation of Seven of Nine years before the events of Season 1 of TNG in the fictional history of the series.)

Cast and characters [ ]

  • This episode featured the first of two appearances of Sonya Gomez , who was initially intended to be a recurring character, but dropped after " Samaritan Snare ". ( Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion  (2nd ed., p. 86)) She later became the lead character in the non-canon Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series of novels. Gomez would eventually return 32 years later in the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 finale " First First Contact " where she is now captain of the USS Archimedes .
  • Diana Muldaur ( Katherine Pulaski ) does not appear in this episode.

Special and visual effects [ ]

Borg (concept art 3)

Storyboards for the Enterprise -D's confrontation with the Borg cube

USS Enterprise-D assaulted by a Borg cube

Visual effects shot from the episode

  • The complexity and cost of The Next Generation 's visual effects sequences demanded detailed planning before a single frame was shot. As the visual effects supervisor for the first episode to feature the Borg, Dan Curry created these storyboards as a blueprint of the Enterprise -D's first engagement with a Borg cube . The frames from the completed episode show how closely the visual effects team followed the storyboards. ( Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission , p. 90)
  • Two sound effects are introduced in this episode and used for the rest of the series: 1) the "click/snap" effect when the main view screen is magnified; and 2) the "trigger" effect when the ship's weapons are fired.
  • Ron Jones happened to compose the score for this first episode to feature the Borg before doing the music to " The Best of Both Worlds " and " The Best of Both Worlds, Part II " and after scoring " The Neutral Zone ", which hinted at their existence from the start.

Continuity [ ]

  • This episode marks the only time Guinan's office is seen.
  • This episode refers to events of previous episodes, Q's trial (" Encounter at Farpoint "), his return when Riker temporarily became a Q (" Hide And Q "), and the mysterious destruction of Romulan Neutral Zone outposts (" The Neutral Zone ").
  • The conflict between Q and Guinan , revealed in this episode but never fully explained, is revisited (with the tables turned) a year later in " Deja Q ".
  • It is later portrayed that, due to the events shown in Star Trek: First Contact , ENT : " Regeneration ", and VOY : " The Raven ", and VOY : " Infinite Regress " the Borg already knew of Earth 's existence and were on their way. In VOY : " Death Wish ", Q would say that without his own actions in "Q Who", the Federation would have been assimilated. In "First Contact", when the remains of the Borg sphere crash landed on Earth, it became frozen in the Arctic Circle in 2063 . During the events of "Regeneration", which are set in 2153 , scientists discover the wreckage and are assimilated. Despite the Enterprise NX-01 destroying the rest of the Borg, they are able to send a signal out into the Delta Quadrant , where it takes 213 years to reach the Borg, leading them to send a Borg cube towards Earth in 2366. Then, the events of "Q Who" take place in the fictional history of the series, delaying the invasion of Earth. In " Dark Frontier ", it is portrayed that the Federation was aware of an entity known as "The Borg" 12 years prior to this episode but dismissed such as a thing as mere "rumors or sensor ghosts". Furthermore, the Borg assimilated the Hansens, citizens of the Federation, in 2350 .
  • Q states the Enterprise crew was exonerated of the crimes of Humanity, but years later tells Picard "the jury is still out on that" (" All Good Things... ").
  • Since Q propelled the Enterprise out of the tractor beam it was held in from the Borg ship, it is unclear if the Borg immediately set a pursuit of the Enterprise which led to their invasion of Federation space a year later in "The Best of Both Worlds." In that episode, Riker postulates whether or not it is the same Borg ship they faced at System J-25, to which Data can neither confirm nor deny.
  • LD : " First First Contact " portrays Sonya Gomez having achieved the captaincy of her own command, the USS Archimedes , by 2381 . When an ensign on her crew experiences a somewhat embarrassing incident in front of her, Gomez assures her that she's done " way worse in front of much more intimidating captains ", referring to the hot chocolate incident with Picard.

Reception [ ]

  • The book Star Trek 101 (p. 72), by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block , lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: The Next Generation .
  • Director Rob Bowman later recalled, " That was a very abstract, almost avant-garde episode with Q and what he was trying to prove with the Enterprise , telling Picard to be aware because there are some bad-asses out there that you're not prepared for no matter what you think. This is just a lesson to you to keep your eyes and ears open because there are things out there that you don't understand, and here's an example. For television, it's big stuff, but in order to make big stuff, there's a lot of investment by everybody involved, and it all came together wonderfully. " ("Rob Bowman – Director of a Dozen", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine  issue 10 , p. 19)
  • A mission report for this episode by Will Murray was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine  issue 9 , pp. 15-18.

Apocrypha [ ]

  • It is revealed in the novel Greater than the Sum that the eighteen crewmembers who disappeared during the Borg's slicing of the Enterprise -D's hull were actually assimilated.
  • This episode won two Emmy Awards . Only four other episodes of Trek have won this many. It won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

Video and DVD releases [ ]

  • Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video ): Volume 21 , catalog number VHR 2504, 2 September 1991
  • As part of the UK VHS collections Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum and Star Trek: The Next Generation - Borg Box : 5 December 1994
  • As part of the US VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum : 8 September 1998
  • UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment ): Volume 2.6, catalog number VHR 4742, 21 June 1999
  • As part of the TNG Season 2 DVD collection
  • As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Borg and Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q collections
  • As part of the TNG Season 2 Blu-ray collection

Links and references [ ]

Starring [ ].

  • Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
  • Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr. William Riker

Also starring [ ]

  • LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
  • Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
  • Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
  • Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
  • Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher

Guest stars [ ]

  • John de Lancie as Q
  • Lycia Naff as Ensign Sonya Gomez
  • Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien

And special guest star [ ]

  • Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan

Uncredited co-stars [ ]

  • Majel Barrett as the USS Enterprise -D computer voice
  • Rob Bowman as the Voice of the Borg
  • Michael Braveheart as Martinez
  • Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
  • Mary Donatelli as Borg drone
  • David Fisher as Borg drone
  • Maurice Hurley as the Voice of the Borg
  • Sam Klatman as Borg infant
  • Lincoln Simonds as security officer
  • Tim Trella as Borg drone
  • Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
  • Rob Bowman's assistant as the Voice of the Borg
  • Security officer
  • Six Borg drones

Stand-ins [ ]

  • James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
  • Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
  • Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
  • Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
  • Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
  • Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
  • Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton and John de Lancie

References [ ]

2165 ; 2265 ; ability ; advice ; adversary ; agreement ; alert status ; antimatter ; area ; argument ; arrogance ; artificial implant ; artificial intelligence ; artificial life ; assignment ; assumption ; attitude ; away team ; bay two ; beard ; bed ; biological lifeform ; birth ; bloody nose ; blue alert ; Borg ; Borg cube ( unnamed ); Borg drone ; Borg history ; Borg missile ; Borg nursery ; brain ; bridge ; calculation ; casualty ; casualty list ; century ; choice ; circuit ; civilization ; class M ; collective mind ; command center ; compartment ; computer ; " con permiso "; conference ; contact ; control station ; coordinates ; cortical array ; courtesy ; creature ; crewman ; crime ; cutting beam ; damage ; damage report ; dance ; day ; decade ; deck ; definition ; departure ; desire ; detonation ; discussion ; disruption ; El-Aurian ; El-Aurian cities ; El-Aurian system ; effect ; engine core ; engineering section ; Enterprise -D shuttlecraft 06 ; entity ; event ; existence ; exonerate ; Farpoint Mission ; Federation ; feeling ; first impression ; foolishness ; force field ; French language ; frequency ; food dispenser ; fuel ; Galaxy -class decks ; graduate ; guide ; hailing frequency ; hall ; harm ; heading ; heart ; home ; homeless ; hot chocolate ; hour ; hull integrity ; Human ; Humanity ; humanoid ; illusion ; imagination ; imp ; indigent ; information ; input ; intelligent circuitry ; intercept course ; intruder ; J-25 system ; J-25 system sector ; juggernaut ; kidnapping ; Klingons ; laser beam ; leader ; lesson ; light year ; life sign ; life support ; lifeform ; living quarters ; location ; locator beam ; machine ; main computer ; maturation chamber ; maximum warp ; meeting ; methodical ; microbrain ; Milky Way Galaxy ; mind ; mission ; mistake ; mister ; month ; " motor mouth "; name ; nosebleed ; number one ; " offer ; officers' quarters ; opinion ; orchestra ; organic life ; " out of your league "; percent ; phaser ; photon torpedo ; power ; prisoner ; probability ; " put it out of your head "; Q Continuum ; range ; Ranuos VI ; relationship ; renting ; roast ; Romulans ; Romulan Neutral Zone ; saucer section ; scout ; search ; search pattern ; second ; section ; section 27 ; section 28 ; section 29 ; Sector 30 ; Sector 31 ; sensor ; series ; shield ; shipmate ; sixth planet of System J-25 ; sixth planet of System J-25 cities ; slot ; soul ; Spanish language ; specialty ; speed ; spherical pattern ; " stand by "; star ; Starbase 83 ; Starbase 173 ; Starbase 185 ; Starfleet Academy ; Starfleet Charter ; Starfleet uniform ; stasis ; status ; status board ; stubborn ; success ; surface ; system of roads ; " take it to heart "; target ; technology ; " thesis ; thing ; third power ; thousand ; threat ; three-dimensional chess ; time ; tractor beam ; transporter ; transporter chief ; transporter room 3 ; treasure ; tricorder ; Type 7 shuttlecraft ; unnamed sector ; viewscreen ; visit ; wall ; warp engine ; weapon ; word ; work ; year ; yellow alert

Unused production references [ ]

Grand Unification theory ; supersymmetry

Sources [ ]

  • Reeves-Stevens, Judith and Garfield , Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (1997)
  • Van Hise, James , Trek: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation (1992)

External links [ ]

  • " Q Who? " at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • " Q Who " at Wikipedia
  • " Q Who " at MissionLogPodcast.com , a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
  • "Q Who?" script  at Star Trek Minutiae
  • " Q Who " at the Internet Movie Database

Q Who? Stardate: 42761.3 Original Airdate: 8 May, 1989

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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E16 "Q Who"

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The one where the Enterprise-D makes first contact with... the Borg .

Original air date: May 8, 1989

Overeager young Ensign Sonya Gomez, a recent Academy graduate just assigned to the Enterprise, is carrying on a rambling conversation with Lt. La Forge in Engineering. When La Forge tells her that she ought to take her mug of hot chocolate away from the delicate machinery, Gomez turns around and spills all over Captain Picard himself , mortifying her.

On his way to change his uniform, Picard exits a turbolift without looking and finds himself aboard a shuttlecraft piloted by Q. Picard angrily reminds Q of his promise after their last encounter to never trouble the Enterprise again, and Q says he always keeps his word: The shuttlecraft is in the middle of nowhere . Picard tries to wait Q out, but Q has all the time in the universe, so Picard relents and agrees to hear his proposal.

Meanwhile, La Forge is in Ten-Forward trying to give Gomez a pep talk to ease her nerves. He notices that Guinan seems disturbed. She admits that she's been having a very dire premonition but can't put her finger on it. La Forge and Gomez return to Engineering to see if anything is amiss.

Q and Picard teleport to Ten-Forward, where Q immediately reacts with shock that Guinan is aboard. The pair have a history, and they square off, but Picard talks them down as Riker and Worf arrive. Q admits that he's been kicked out of the Q collective. He's bored and wants to join the crew of the Enterprise . Picard balks at the idea, but Q warns him that the Federation has no idea what lies in store for them. Picard confidently states that the Federation can handle any issues that may arise without Q.

Q decides to put that boast to the test. With a snap, he propels the ship 7,000 light years away, into an unknown part of space. They're 2.5 years away from the nearest starbase at maximum warp! Guinan recognizes this part of space and warns Picard to get the hell outta there. But Picard decides to go exploring first , and they come across an uninhabited M-class planet with great rends in the surface where the cities once were. It's exactly what happened to the outposts in the Neutral Zone in the Season 1 finale.

Suddenly the Enterprise is confronted with a completely new ship: a giant cube of metal, oddly genericized in its design. There's no bridge, engineering section, living quarters, or even life signs. Guinan identifies the ship as the source of her concern: the Borg. They nearly wiped her people out a few centuries ago, and they'll do it to the Federation if given the chance. Indeed, Borg scouts soon appear in Engineering and examine the Enterprise 's technology before beaming away. The Borg ship announces that the Enterprise has no hope of winning a fight.

The Borg ship begins tractoring the Enterprise in. Picard orders a volley with everything they've got, targeting the tractor beam. The Borg slice a chunk out of the Enterprise , killing 18 crew, but its transport beam gets destroyed. In a conference, Q warns Picard that the Borg are an existential threat to the Federation itself, interesting in nothing beyond consuming their technology.

Picard decides to send an away team into the Borg ship. Troi has sensed that they are a collective Hive Mind , and the away team confirms this. Each individual Borg behaves like an automaton when not plugged directly into the ship, ignoring the away team. After discovering a nursery where newborn children are augmented with Borg implants, the team realize that the Borg are rapidly repairing their ship. The away team beams away, and Picard orders a full retreat.

But the Borg follow hot on their heels. Picard orders another salvo, but the battle is entirely lopsided this time, and the Enterprise quickly finds itself at the Borg's mercy. Riker prepares to give the order to fire a photon torpedo at close range, likely annihilating the Enterprise . Q appears just in time to remind Picard of his claim that he could handle any threat.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc : Geordi's relationship with Gomez, whether professional or personal, never developed, and she appeared only briefly in one other episode.
  • Adaptive Ability : A Borg drone is shot dead by Worf. The one that comes to retrieve it has a personal shield to absorb phaser fire. Similarly, the Cube takes quite a lot of damage from the Enterprise's weapons during their first engagement. In the rematch, a volley of torpedoes does absolutely nothing.
  • Picard admits that the chance to study Q would actually be quite intriguing.
  • Q's descriptions of the Borg. Unlike humanity, he seems to genuinely admire them: Q : Interesting, isn't it? Not a he, not a she, not like anything you've ever seen before. An enhanced humanoid.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg : Picard during his Patrick Stewart Speech at the end.
  • Armed with Canon : Episode writer (and by this point, showrunner) Maurice Hurley had gone under the pseudonym "C.J. Holland" for the previous Q episode, " Hide and Q ," after Gene Roddenberry heavily rewrote his original draft for that episode while adding in a ton of Humans Are Special . By contrast, this episode seems dedicated to establishing that 24th century humans are actually nowhere near the pinnacle of civilization that they may have imagined themselves to be, and even introduces the klutzy Sonya Gomez as if to reinforce that point.
  • Armor-Piercing Response : When Riker snaps at Q for his actions resulting in the Enterprise being sent halfway across the galaxy and indirectly getting 18 crewmembers killed, all Q can say is just a coldly delivered "Oh, please .", which firmly establishes how much he does not care about what he has done.
  • Badass Fingersnap : This marks the first time Q uses his powers by snapping his fingers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones : Q describes Guinan in terms that aren't that different from himself. When he raises his hand to vanish her, she brings up her own hands in a defensive posture, implying that she is in some way capable of thwarting Q.
  • Beware the Silly Ones : As always, Q is a Large Ham prone to wisecracking, but he's also a godlike being with a twisted sense of morality.
  • Bittersweet Ending : The Enterprise escapes and is safe, for now. But the Borg know the Federation exists, and they will be coming. 18 crewmen are dead from this incident. And the once confident crew, especially Picard, are shaken to their core.
  • Blatant Lies : Q: Sir, do you mock me? Picard: Not at all; that's the last thing I would do.
  • Brig Ball Bouncing : A version done by Q as he is waiting for Picard to agree to listen to him in the shuttle craft.
  • Characterisation Click Moment : In the first season, Q was wacky, over-the-top and slightly comical. The scene where he coldly dismisses the deaths of eighteen crewmembers added a whole new dimension to the character. And it was all down to John de Lancie changing what was in the script.
  • Chair Reveal : Q spins around in a chair, revealing that he's sitting there, for his first and last meetings.
  • Cold Ham : Q switches to this from his usual Large Ham persona for most of the episode to a chilling effect. Q: Con permiso, Capitan. The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It's now time to see if you can dance .
  • Companion Cube : Gomez makes a point to be polite to the ship's computer, which La Forge finds silly.
  • Creator Cameo : Writer (and showrunner) Maurice Hurley and director Rob Bowman provide two of the voices that go into the Borg's message to the Enterprise .
  • Cryptic Background Reference : Guinan and Q have met before, Guinan goes into a defensive position with oddly specific hand gestures and Q shows annoyance at her presence but otherwise restrained in confronting her. This is not explained at all in the episode, though Guinan is an El Aurian with abstractly defined qualities. Star Trek: Picard 30 years later provided a little more information, but is hardly conclusive note  El Aurians apparently made a treaty with the Q Continuum millennia prior, but the details are left just as vague
  • Cruel to Be Kind : This is the first of several instances where Q's actions could be argued to be benevolent, but his methods make it seem like he's just sadistically toying with the ship. Here he warns Picard of an impending existential threat to the Federation, but in the process of learning the lesson, Picard loses 18 members of his crew and is reduced to begging for mercy.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl : Sonya Gomez establishes herself as this by running into Picard and spilling her hot chocolate on him. First impressions, indeed.
  • Dark and Troubled Past : This episode establishes that Guinan's people were massacred by the Borg in the distant past.
  • David Versus Goliath : The Enterprise versus a Borg cube. Picard and crew get a few good shots in at first, due to the Borg being unfamiliar with their weaponry... and then the Borg become immune to it.
  • Deadpan Snarker : Q, of course, is an endless stream of sarcastic comments and witty remarks as the Enterprise rebuffs his attempts to join them, and then during the struggle with the Borg.
  • Death Glare : After the Borg take a sample out of the saucer section, Worf informs Picard that 18 people were in that section, and are now missing. Picard turns to the viewscreen and gives the cube an absolutely murderous glare. Without saying a word, his expression clearly communicates that he would like nothing better than to blow that ship to pieces. It almost comes as a relief when he calls a conference, instead.
  • Delegation Relay : When the first Borg drone beams into Engineering, Picard orders Worf to deal with it. Worf then orders a Red Shirt to deal with it; said Red Shirt gets knocked on his ass.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu : Picard continues his policy of being completely irreverent to Q and his power, but in the end, he's forced to beg Q for help.
  • The Dreaded : Q's description of what lies waiting for humanity as they continue out into the galaxy. The Borg are his immediate example. The Dominion shows up later. Q: You judge yourselves against the pitiful "adversaries" you've encountered so far... The Romulans , the Klingons ; they're nothing compared to what's waiting. Picard ! You are about to move into areas of the Galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine . And terrors to freeze your soul . I offer myself as a guide , only to be rejected out-of-hand.
  • The Borg's shield-draining weapon is never used again after this episode, though Borg tractor beams would pick up similar properties.
  • This version of the Borg was conceived as a unique race that breed within their own species and are only interested in consuming outsiders' technology. For this reason, they threaten the Enterprise with "punishment" rather than assimilation, and the away team discovers a "nursery" of baby Borgs. * This would be explained that the Borg may assimilate babies, then put them in "maturation chambers" to rapidly age them. Later episodes would establish that they are more of a technological virus that propagates itself by assimilating civilizations to add to its collective.
  • The Borg continue to "scoop up" technological elements from a planet and just leave them, suggesting that they are entirely space-based as a civilization; while "Best of Both Worlds" would continue this conceit, later works (most prominently starting with First Contact ) would instead begin to suggest that the Borg do in fact perform surface assimilation and will assimilate and build up technology on planets.
  • Naturally, at this point the Borg appear to be a complete Hive Mind with absolutely no form of centralized decision-making. The idea of the Borg Queen would be nearly a decade off.
  • Borg use of nanotechnology isn't referenced at all in this episode; at the time the episode was written, nanotech wasn't even widely known about as a concept. Their regeneration and whatnot simply "happens" somehow.
  • The Borg threaten the Enterprise to not resist them, but their famous catchphrase "Resistance is futile" is not used. It shows up in their next appearance.
  • After the away team beams on-board the cube, Riker initially assumes that they haven't been attacked because the Borg don't consider them a threat, but Data later clarifies that the Borg are actually focusing on repairing the damage their ship took in the firefight with the Enterprise , implying that they just saw the repairs as the more immediate priority and otherwise would probably have attacked the away team as soon as they beamed in. In their future appearances, the Borg never attack intruders until they actively become a threat.
  • The Borg's Voice of the Legion sounds different in this episode and has a less prominent echo effect.
  • Ensign Newbie : Sonya Gomez, who is just so eager to be out exploring the galaxy aboard the Enterprise .
  • When the Borg hail the Enterprise , Picard starts introducing himself, only to be bluntly interrupted by their Voice of the Legion , who tell the heroes "If you defend yourselves, you will be punished."
  • Ensign Gomez's first scene established her as an accident-prone Ensign Newbie with a nervous Motor Mouth .
  • Evil Gloating : Cited by Picard; if the Borg kill them, then Q won't be able to gloat about it afterwards. Q, to his credit, respects Picard for being able to swallow his pride and doesn't do much.
  • Evil Learns of Outside Context : Up until this point, the Borg were situated billions of miles from any Federation starbase. When Q takes the Enterprise into the deepest reaches of space, he alerts the assimilating race to the existence of both Earth and the Federation, and the Borg immediately begin heading for them with a vengeance.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap! : Guinan and Picard's conversation at the end of the episode. Guinan : Perhaps when you're ready, it might be possible to establish a relationship with [the Borg]. But for now, for right now, you're just raw material to them. And, since they're aware of your existence... Picard : They will be coming.
  • Final Boss Preview : The early encounter with the Borg, which the Enterprise was completely unprepared for.
  • Gratuitous Spanish : Q. Con permiso , of course.
  • Gut Feeling : Guinan gets a funny feeling after Picard disappears from the Enterprise , but suggests that It's Probably Nothing . Of course, it's not nothing.
  • Hard Truth Aesop : The main plot is instigated when Picard tells Q that they are doing just fine and don't need his help. Q sends them into the path of the Borg, who are really not that far away (and previous episodes have been hinting at odd incidents reported along the Neutral Zone) as a demonstration of how outmatched they really are at what is coming. Picard is reduced to begging Q to save them, and muses at the end of the episode that Q did them a favor in letting them get kicked around as a warning . Picard: I understand what you've done here, Q, but I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of my crew. Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous , with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it's not for the timid.
  • Hollywood Hacking : The Borg do this on the Enterprise's computer by jamming an electronic arm into a display screen. Apparently, Starfleet computers are designed to be accessible that way .
  • Hyperspeed Escape : The Enterprise jumps to warp when the Borg cube starts regenerating. Defied when the Borg catch up to them and knock them out of warp.
  • Hypocritical Humor : Q describes Guinan as a troublemaker who brings chaos wherever she goes. Picard even lampshades the irony of his claim.
  • I Have Many Names : When Picard refers to Guinan by name, Q reveals that the appellation is new.
  • Idiot Ball : All there in his Captain's Log — "Despite Guinan's warnings, I have decided to explore this sector of space a bit before heading back."
  • Picard ignores Guinan's advice to start back immediately and decides to explore the sector first, which causes 18 Enterprise crew members to be killed and the ship to almost be destroyed. They also ignore her advice not to beam an Away Team to the ship. All of this is after directly asking Guinan to monitor the bridge screen because "we might need your input."
  • Arrogant as he is, Q's warnings are also ignored until Picard has to literally beg for his help.
  • Implacable Man : The Borg. Q: They will follow this ship until you exhaust your fuel. They will wear down your defenses. Then you will be theirs. [...] You can't outrun them; you can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming . Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone. They are relentless!
  • Incoming Ham : After kidnapping Picard, Q interrupts him without looking at him, then turns and mugs for the camera. Picard: Crewmember, what is going o— Q: Welcome, Captain Picard, to Shuttlecraft 6!
  • When Gomez returns to the ST universe in Lower Decks , she's become the Captain of her own ship, the Archimedes ; judging by the name, it's a science-focused vessel
  • It Only Works Once : The Enterprise crew is able to dispatch one Borg with their phasers. When another comes on, it quickly adapts a personal force field to repel the phasers, making them useless.
  • Jerkass Has a Point : Picard questions if Q's lesson could have been learned without the death of 18 members of his crew. Q responds that the galaxy isn't a safe place, and if Picard can't accept that people will die from the dangers note  Subtly reminding Picard that all the deaths that happened are because Picard taunted Q and ignored Guinan , then he should go back home.
  • The Juggernaut : Riker describes the Borg this way while aboard the Borg Cube when he sees how intricate their collective consciousness is.
  • Kick the Dog : Q simply does not care that eighteen crew members of the Enterprise are dead or worse to the Borg's machinations. To him, it's all to teach Picard a lesson in humility and the growing risks of interstellar travel, never mind a firm threat of the Borg that would come again soon enough.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em : Picard decides in the end to confirm Q's insistence that they need him rather than be cut up like a pork chop by the Borg.
  • Loophole Abuse : Picard reminds Q of their agreement that he would never trouble his ship again. Q joyfully points out that they're nowhere near his ship.
  • Motor Mouth : Sonya Gomez admits to this, especially when she's excited. She eventually gets better about it .
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling : Guinan can feel that something bad is about to happen at the beginning of the episode, though she isn't sure what— however, when Q makes his appearance, she declares "I knew it was you," suggesting that she was actually more suspicious than she let on.
  • Noodle Incident : Whatever "dealings" Q and Guinan had 200 years earlier.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis : This is why the Borg are absolutely terrifying. When Picard first tries to address the collective, they bluntly interrupt him before forcibly taking a piece of the Enterprise .
  • Once the Borg cube adapts to the Enterprise 's weapons, a volley of photon torpedoes doesn't even scratch it.
  • Similarly, the first drone that is shot in Engineering falls to the floor dead. The second one that appears has a defense shield that absorbs phaser fire.
  • No, You : Q describes Guinan as an imp that trouble follows wherever she goes. Picard is not impressed. Picard : You're speaking of yourself, Q.
  • Sonya Gomez's reaction to spilling hot chocolate on Picard.
  • Just before Q snaps his fingers to propel the Enterprise into Borg territory, Guinan flat out panics ; she most likely anticipated what Q was about to do.
  • Ominous Cube : Given all the streamlined Shiny-Looking Spaceships in this series, the strictly utilitarian form of the Borg Cube is quite jarring.
  • Overall, this episode is the one time we see Q get genuinely angry and it's bone chilling. In particular, when Q explains the nature of the Borg to the senior staff, he's quiet, calm, and very direct, which is at odds with his Large Ham trickster persona. It's part of what makes his 'oh, please' line so memorable.
  • Similarly, Q shows genuine fear when he sees Guinan and immediately warns Picard that she is dangerous. Considering that he's a nigh-omnipotent Reality Warper , the sudden terror makes it clear that there's a lot more to Guinan than we originally knew.
  • Outside-Context Problem : The Borg, perhaps the greatest example of this Trope in the Trek 'Verse, are introduced here. The situation is deliberately set up by Q to prove to Picard just how unprepared the Federation is for something like them. Q : You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far. The Romulans. The Klingons. They're nothing compared to what's waiting.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech : One of the most brilliant of the series, when Picard tells Q he needs him.
  • Resistance Is Futile : That particular catchphrase won't appear until "The Best of Both Worlds," but in this episode, they tell the Enterprise "If you defend yourselves, you will be punished."
  • Rhyming Title : One of the few rhyming episode titles within the Star Trek franchise, along with "True Q."
  • Riddle for the Ages : Upon meeting Guinan aboard the Enterprise for the first time, Q expresses what appears to be genuine alarm and unease, calling her a 'creature' whose danger Picard does not and cannot understand. When he threatens to remove her from the ship, raising his hands to work his 'magic', Guinan similarly raises her hands in what appears to be a defensive posture, implying that she has some ability to combat or thwart Q's powers. Unfortunately, Picard manages to defuse the situation before it comes to blows, and the viewer is left to wonder whether or not Guinan possesses such powers against the Q or not.
  • Run or Die : When Riker informs Picard that the Borg cube is healing itself at an alarming rate, running like hell looks like the only possible chance the Enterprise crew has to survive the encounter. It is defied when the Borg are shown to be capable of running just a little faster and slowing the Enterprise down.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here : When the away team reports that the Borg are using their combined efforts to repair the cube, Picard orders them beamed back immediately and orders the Enterprise to get the hell out of there at Warp 8. It's not fast enough.
  • Secret Test of Character : Q ultimately reveals that his warping the Enterprise into Borg space was this. He already knew that the ship, and even the entire Federation, wasn't ready for the Borg and their power—he was more interested to see whether or not Picard would be humble enough to admit he was wrong and explicitly ask for Q's help. Once the captain does so, Q instantly teleports the Enterprise to safety and commends Picard for his choice, saying that most men would have rather died holding onto their pride than own up to such a mistake.
  • Self-Recovery Surprise : It's not a good sign for our heroes when the damaged cube starts repairing itself, and can still chase them down at warp.
  • To The Great Escape —Q passes the time on the shuttle by throwing a ball against the wall.
  • The title is a shout out to Doctor Who — particularly fitting as this is the episode that introduces the Borg, which are also somewhat influenced by the Cybermen from that show. The title of this episode in French is even « Docteur Q »;».
  • Shut Up, Kirk! : When Riker chews Q out for exposing them to the Borg and costing the lives of 18 shipmates, Q shuts him up with "Oh, please!" At the end of the episode, when Picard asks whether the entire affair and the casualties involved were really necessary, Q responds "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
  • Smug Super : Even when trying to get Picard to take him on as a member of the crew, Q can't help but throw shade on the Puny Earthlings . See the quote under Surrounded by Idiots .
  • Surrounded by Idiots : Q's real opinion of the Enterprise crew, explicitly stated when he tries to get Picard to let him join. (Which is a strange thing to do during a job interview.) Q: This ship is already home for the indigent, the unwanted, the unworthy ; why not for a homeless entity? [...] And if necessary, though I can't imagine why, I will renounce my powers, and become as weak and as incompetent as all of you .
  • Tempting Fate : Picard does this one too many times, and he winds up with 18 crewmen dead. You should've listened to Guinan, Jean-Luc.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything : Slightly averted when Picard orders Worf to neutralize the invader and Worf immediately delegates it to an ensign. However, the ensign is quickly batted away and Worf has to do it anyway.
  • This Is Reality : After 18 crewmen die, Picard asks if this is just another illusion. Q responds, "This is as real as your so-called life gets."
  • The Unreveal : We never find out how Q and Guinan know each other, and why even the omnipotent Q seems wary of her; not even Star Trek: Picard , released almost 30 years later (and featuring both characters, though mostly at different times) ever answered the question.
  • Tranquil Fury : Picard's reaction to Worf's report that 18 crew members have been killed by the Borg. He is clearly seething but he remains collected and never raises his voice.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight : The away team is surprised that the Borg ignore their presence aboard the cube, before realizing that they're focused on repairing their ship. Though later episodes would state that it's in the Borg's nature to ignore intruders till they actively threaten them.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare : After the Borg cube appears, this is Guinan's default expression for the rest of the episode. Not that you can really blame her.
  • Villain Has a Point : Q's reason for all of this is purely egotistical, but he's right about the Federation not being prepared for the danger that awaits.
  • Voice of the Legion : The Borg's method of communicating.
  • We Have Become Complacent : The point that Q was trying to get across by introducing the Enterprise to the Borg, and a statement which Picard ultimately admits is not without merit.
  • We'll See About That : Picard tells Q that his help is not required. Q declares that "We'll just have to see how ready you are," snaps his fingers, and sends the Enterprise to its encounter with the Borg.
  • Wham Episode : The Borg are introduced in full—making this one of the most important episodes of the series and franchise as a whole.
  • Wham Line : After the Borg's first attack kills eighteen crew members, Riker chews Q out for his reckless actions and fully blames him for their deaths. Up until this point, Q was a prankster and fun, if rude, Large Ham , using his powers largely to mess with the Enterprise for amusement. But upon hearing Riker's condemnation, he drops his cheerful persona with a single line: "Oh, please. " Those two words reveal that Q doesn't care about individuals, but the larger picture. Q's remaining appearances would continue to straddle that line between Trickster Mentor and genuinely terrifying foe.
  • Wham Shot : While Riker, Data and Worf explore the Borg cube, the camera pans out to reveal hundreds, if not thousands, of Borg drones in their alcoves.
  • Who's Laughing Now? : As the Borg cube is closing in on the Enterprise , Q returns to mock Picard. Q: Where's your stubbornness now, Picard, your arrogance? Do you still profess to be prepared for what awaits you?
  • The Worf Effect : A brawny human security officer tries to take down the Borg scout and gets tossed on his ass. Unusually for this trope, Worf himself remains unscathed.
  • "You!" Exclamation : Q's reaction to seeing Guinan on the Enterprise .
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E15 "Pen Pals"
  • Recap/Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E17 "Samaritan Snare"

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Q Who?”

4 stars.

Air date: 5/8/1989 Written by Maurice Hurley Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Review Text

Ah, at last, here's the most absolutely necessary episode of TNG 's second season. Q forces Picard to hear his request to join the Enterprise crew as a guide. In a wonderful dialog scene that gets to the heart of the human drive for learning by personal experience, Picard refuses on the grounds that Q's presence would defeat the purpose of exploration. (That, and no one likes Q anyway.) To prove his point with a twist of the knife, Q hurls the Enterprise into an unexplored part of the galaxy (two years away from the nearest Federation outpost), bringing the Enterprise into contact with a cybernetic alien species called the Borg. (The episode also implies that the Borg were responsible for the destroyed colonies along the Romulan Neutral Zone.)

The best aspect of "Q Who" is its ability to mix the intellectual with the visceral. In other words, it's the best kind of TNG action show, and should stand as a lesson to sci-fi shows that are action-oriented: Your action works only if it grows from a point of emotion, in this case genuine scariness. The Borg are scary precisely because they cannot be reasoned with and because their technology is vastly superior to the Enterprise 's — and those two avenues are the basis by which nearly all TNG stories are typically solved. The Borg have often been described simply as "implacable," and I agree that that's the best adjective for them. They are an implacable foe, and we learn that very quickly by their behavior in this episode.

The industrial-cube design of the Borg vessel is brilliant in its simplicity: Here's a society that has no regard for style or aesthetics but simply raw function. When they communicate, it's with terse directives; they epitomize the laconic. The episode puts good use to Guinan by revealing that not only has she had past dealings with Q, but that her people's world was destroyed by the Borg, essentially turning them into nomads.

Because this is an episode of TNG , the crew is still genuinely curious about the Borg, as are we. An away team beams over to the Borg ship and we get a chance to see their hive-like society, with imaginative visuals and production design. The "Borg nursery" is an intriguingly chilling detail. Such ominous concepts are all the more interesting to ponder when considering the presence of the young and naïve, evidenced here by the cute and plucky Ensign Sonya Gomez (Lycia Naff), whose infectious drive to do her part as a member of the Enterprise crew is met here only with danger. If the show had truly wanted to punch us in the stomach with its dark ambitions, it would've had Gomez die.

The episode plays by its rules. The Borg are a superior and implacable enemy, period, and the only way out is through Q, to whom Picard makes an urgent plea for help when there are no other options. Q sums it up nicely when he says, "It's not safe out here." Indeed, and it's nice to be reminded of that by an episode that is equally as visceral as it is curious, and all but promises that the Borg will be coming for us. If ever an episode deserved to be saved for a season finale in a season that didn't have an adequate (or even tolerable) finale, it's this one.

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Comment Section

135 comments on this post, john campbell.

Regarding "Q Who?": I love how Picard attempts to get on his moral high horse about the crewmen who were killed, and Q basically tells him to stop being such a big baby.

I love Q episodes. I've always wondered why they never included Q into any of the feature films. His dialoge writes itself and hes a fantastic charactor.

Latex Zebra

This episode gives me chills. Even now, the intro of the Borg was well worthy.

awesome episode

Now if only the Borg had stayed like this, or at least evolved into something different than what was done with them in Voyager. Wheeling and dealing, bribing and coercing, cunning and untrustworthy etc. None of those adjectives should apply to a race of cybernetic zombies who seek perfection through the assimilation of other species. You're either pursued and assimilated (or escape) or you're ignored as too primitive. No deals!

The Borg should have just ignored Enterprise, since it is way too "primitive" compared to their technology. What would be their gain by assimilating them? Just a waste of time! The episode is awesome, possibly the best of this season. But having watched Voyager and First Contact movie, Borg in this episode look less frightening and simple, wearing too much plastic.

The dialog in this episode really sells it. Picard's reasoning for not accepting Q is pitch perfect ("Learning about you is frankly provocative. But you're next of kin to chaos."). The dialog on the bridge at the end is great, too. The episode is also probably the best use of Guinan in the entire series (next to "Yesterday's Enterprise"). Also, I think this is the first episode where Q becomes focused on Picard (as opposed to Riker in "Hide and Q" and just general mayhem in "Farpoint"). I think the scene in Ten Forward is where Q changes his focus that then carries through to the end of the series. In that way, this episode does far more than put the Borg storyline in motion. Also, it's interesting that TNG -- which wasn't much into continuing storylines up until this point -- drops hints about the Borg for the next season and a half ("Peak Performance", "Evolution").

The claim that Q "brought contact with the Borg much sooner than it should have been", which Guinan alludes here, would seem to run counter to the notion that the Borg are responsible for he destruction in the Neutral Zone...the Neutral Zone isn't remote.

Wonderful episode. As xaaos said, it's probably this season's best. It is funny now, my first reaction to it was negative. I wasn't very conviced by the episode and when Ginan started talking about the evil aliens that destroyed her world I was ready for yet another disposable alien of the week. But...the BORG, the B-O-R-G! They were just awesome and I didn't mind their suits, sure they'd get better but it's still light-years ahead of most early TNG designs (The Ferengi, anyone?) And, of course, Q is great. He always is :)

One of the best things about making the introduction to the Borg happen in a Q episode is that it allows an "out" fully consistent with the TNG universe and the episode's own rules which do nothing to diminish the threat the Borg pose. There is no way the Enterprise could escape the Borg in this episode, full stop. Essentially, Q tells Picard (and the audience) that the only way to get out of being destroyed by the Borg is to ask for Q's help, which runs *hard* counter to Picard's wishes and to our desire to see the Enterprise triumph. We also get the clear indication that since Q won't get them into the next mess, he will not get them out of it.

This episode is just plain genius. Ron Jones' score is haunting and memorable. And beyond the introduction to the Borg, we get a cryptic backstory for both Q and Guinan whose dealings were 2 centuries ago (the 22nd century). Just think of it: we could have had an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise with a clever story showing Q and Guinan's "dealings". (I think they were husband and wife at some point...) It could have been epic and mythic during the Manny Coto years. No, instead we get the Ferengi and the Borg shoehorned in instead...*puke*

Chuck AzEee!

Arguably the funniest episode of TNG I have ever seen. Just plain hilarious, so funny it seemed at times the cast was trying to hold their composure during most of the scenes.

I'm sorry about my previous review which was meant for Deja Q.

Chuck... Let's pretend your comment suits either episode. :) Now that I think about it, mixing Q with the Borg is a fundamentally flawed idea, contrary to what William B suggests. Taking Q at his word, he believes Homo sapiens (and presumably allied species) to be a "grievously savage child race" worthy of extermination... unless we solve his puzzles and play his games. Yet the Borg, which Q is clearly aware of, have escaped his judgment. Why? Maybe Q is lying about his attitude toward humanity. Or maybe, in the fullness of time, the Borg will meet the same judgment, but not this century (and, apparently, not in centuries past). Or maybe Q's indictment was for all non-transcendental beings, not Earthlings alone, and Q lumps humans and the Borg in the same category. Or maybe Q is a huge hypocrite who applies a double standard. Which is what it looks like when the writers ignore their previous premise for the sake of introducing the new Big Bad.

@Grumpy The Borg are like a force of nature. What good is it for Q to put them on trial. It would like trying to prosecute locusts. There would be no entertainment value in that. The Dominion, on the other hand would be interesting. I'd love to have seen the Female Changeling try to intimidate Judge Q and fail miserably.

The more obvious possibility (which I overlooked earlier) is suggested by Q's admiration for the Borg in this episode. He has judged them; they meet his approval.

I think it's a bit more complicated -- it's stated several times that the Q Continuum is *interested* in humanity, e.g. their interest in giving Riker Q powers to test him out, Amanda Rogers' parents taking such an interest in humans they decided to turn human, etc. Either Picard or Riker in "Hide and Q" theorize that the Q Continuum is actually worried about what will happen when humanity increase in power. The Borg assimilate but it stands to reason that the Q Continuum don't see in the Borg the human capacity for growth that make the Q Continuum interested in humanity and _possibly_ concerned about it in its future. As far as Q himself, we know that he doesn't have the right to toy with whole races (like the Callamarain in Deja Q) and the Q Continuum punishes him for doing so. It would not surprise me if he couldn't wipe out the Borg if the Q Continuum has no interest in doing so, without severe punishment or expulsion. Q himself at least does seem to *want* humanity and Picard to pass the tests he puts in front of them (made explicit in All Good Things). He doesn't interfere enough to save humanity from the Borg, but he gives them a head's up which is mostly what allows them the mild level of preparedness they have by TBOBW. I don't want to overstate Q's helpfulness -- he does that trickster figure thing of giving enough information to inflame the thoughts of Picard et al. to get to the character growth they need, but he does so at a price and refuses to hold to human moral standards or respect for life.

To bring Voyager into this for a second, "Death Wish" even suggests that Quinn is responsible for Riker's existence and thus for Riker's saving humanity from the Borg; and the idea that humanity can expand in creative ways but the Borg can simply assimilate other tech comes up in "Scorpion." I don't know if my suggestion about the Continuum being interested and concerned about humanity because it has greater possibility to expand than other species (like the Borg) is text exactly, but I think it is consistent. This still leaves open the question, which comes up so often in Trekdom, of why humanity is so awesome, as opposed to the Vulcans/Klingons/Romulans/Cardassians/Bajorans/Betazoids/whatever. I like Grumpy's idea that maybe Q was lumping all these races in with humans, but All Good Things suggests that it's Earth in particular that is in jeopardy.

"...All Good Things suggests that it's Earth in particular that is in jeopardy." An anomaly in the Romulan Neutral Zone that disrupts all life isn't going to affect Earth alone. However, I'm not so sure there was ever any threat at all... Q doesn't evolve from judge to trickster, I'm now convinced. He was *never* a judge; the trial was a sham. It was his way of tormenting humanity. The most exquisite torment Roddenberry conceived for his evolved humans is to accuse them of not evolving enough. This is especially hurtful to Picard, ever the mouthpiece for Roddenberry's humanism. Q's needling in "All Good Things..." brings it full circle: his examples of *not* trying to change and grow -- Riker's career and Data's quest -- are precisely how most humans would try to better themselves. In other words, Q is neither judge nor teacher. He is, as Picard observes, "next of kin to chaos," and his only motivation is to screw with people. The screwing takes the form of a thorough humbling in "Q Who?" and (barring events outside his control in "Deja Q") that's all he ever did in one form or another. No wonder Picard hated him. Fair to bring Voyager into it, William B, especially the contrast with the Borg in "Scorpion." In that sense, perhaps "Endgame" should be read as extending the theme of "All Good Things..." but in a way that was muddled by its crappiness.

@Grumpy, good point about the anomaly starting in the Neutral Zone -- I was just flashing back to Q showing Picard the amino acids not forming on Earth, but of course it would basically destroy life in most of the Alpha/Beta quadrants. I agree about Q as trickster, though I think he actually is a bit of a teacher and a judge in some ways too -- he's ... a bit of everything. I do think humanity (and other races) would have been destroyed had Picard not resolved the dilemma, but then again I think Q always suspected (knew?) Picard would win, so.... "The most exquisite torment Roddenberry conceived for his evolved humans is to accuse them of not evolving enough. This is especially hurtful to Picard, ever the mouthpiece for Roddenberry's humanism. Q's needling in "All Good Things..." brings it full circle: his examples of *not* trying to change and grow -- Riker's career and Data's quest -- are precisely how most humans would try to better themselves." Agreed -- I would go further and say that that is what the show is arguing too. Picard needs to use his personal connections as resources to solve the mystery; if he hadn't worried about Commander Riker's career future!Riker wouldn't be the admiral ready to save him despite an unstable political situation based on Picard's role in getting him to admiralty (though we also know that future didn't end up coming to pass), for example.

I really wish the Q - Guinan story had been built up a bit more... seems like it would have been interesting, plus the poses they struck when they saw each other, would have helped us to learn a bit more about Guinan's species.

Frank Wallace

A great episode. But for me, the problem is that each time the Borg were used afterwards, except for Best of Both Worlds, they got less and less worthwhile. Voyager just totally destroyed most of what was interesting and good about the Borg as a villain and as a species. First Contact as well established some real stupidity with the Borg Sex Queen.

Can anyone answer why Guinan seems to be the only crewmember not wearing a communicator badge (combadge)?

@dipads: She's not a crewmember. And like other civilians on the ship (Alexander?) she doesn't wear a com badge.

This episode is obviously brilliant, but it's also incredibly ambitious. There are moments here where I forget that I'm watching TV and not a movie. The dialogue is poetic at times. The lighting choices gives it an air of intimacy and intrigue. The acting is superb. The drama is very real. And since I'm a musician, I have to call out Ron Jones here for special acclaim. Whenever I consider what was lost when he was removed before season 5, I think of this episode. The music is inventive and communicates the feelings of the characters clearly and without taking attention away from them. Just the variety of tools he uses from his original instrumentation to stark dissonance .... it's very impressive. And at the end - for total contrast - once the Enterprise is safe, he introduces a sweeping theme (the "They will be coming" theme) that at once is reassuring but suggestive and hauntingly beautiful. To me, it suggests that the crew has entered a new paradigm now that they've encountered the Borg. Hear it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxklAsl2v2I Just watch a few fifth season episodes where the music is mostly wallpaper, and hop back to this episode. It was a serious loss for the series to have that change in values about what the music could bring the show. What an episode.

Ian, finally, someone like me with regards to trek music. Despite everyone saying how TNG got better as it went along, I find season 5-7 almost unwatchable because of the scoring. If you watch the borg episode from the season 6 and this one back to back, the season 6 one cannot even compare. whether it is acting or affects, but most importantly the music. Trek lost something huge in Jones (or at least the era).

SkepticalMI

"Oh please" With those two words, and years before the words Deep Space 9 were ever uttered, Gene Roddenberry's magical utopia finally and thankfully died. I'm not one of those people who think that morally gray storylines, edgy stories, and corrupt societies automatically make stories better; quite the opposite in fact. I like the broad optimism of Star Trek. I like the moral decency of Picard. It's a strong and necessary part of Trek, and one I agree with completely. But there's a difference between a generally positive look to the future and a silly perfectionist world that Roddenberry envisioned for TNG. That just reeks of smug superiority, as if he knew better than the rest of us how to live. It made for insufferable speeches and boring stories. It's difficult to write for Superman; not impossible, but difficult. And if done incorrectly, it reeks of arrogance and a holier-than-thou attitude. I don't want to hear about how much smarter and better Gene Roddenberry is. I want to see wondrous sci fi stories set in a fun space opera universe. Optimism is fine, perfection isn't. Think about it. What was the theme of this episode, once you get past the awesome music and the fun Q antics and the bizarre and incredible presence of the Borg? Q humbling Picard. Picard, who represents all that is right with humanity, "evolved" past all frailties and irrationalities and failures of us simple modern day humans, thought he was ready for anything. Thought the Enterprise was the pinnacle of existence. And Q simply proved him wrong. And Picard admitted it. He was smug. He was arrogant. He needed to be humbled. "Perhaps what we needed was a kick in our own complacency, to prepare us for what lies ahead" It is, in fact, the exact opposite of the first two Q episodes. In both of them, it ends with Picard proving Q wrong (first about humanity in general, then about Riker). And in both of them, Q acts very much like Trelane by the end of the episode, essentially a whiny petulant child. It's all part of the greatness of humanity in that we're even better than an omnipresent being with an IQ of 2,005. But Q here, being smarter than Picard and more importantly being right works so much better. Of course, he's still a complete jerk about the whole thing. He's certainly not llikable. But by providing a more than adequate foil for Picard, a foil that he can at best tolerate but never defeat, works so much better. Sure, it regresses a bit after this, but Tapestry and True Q have Q right back in the mode he was in here. A mode he is perfect for. And a mode that sets up All Good Things very very well. In any case, the first two Q episodes were emblematic of Roddenberry's view of humanity, which is completely rewritten with this episode. And it doesn't go too far in cutting down the utopia either (Like DS9 arguably did). Despite being wrong, Picard's still the hero. And he's still the hero by the end of the episode, and he's still the best that humanity has to offer. He is absolutely right to be concerned and angry about the death of 18 people. But Q is absolutely right that, in the grand scheme of things, 18 people is nothing. It is to Picard, because he's responsible for them. But Q's actions here may have saved all of humanity by preparing the Federation for the Borg. So in that perspective, the death of 18 people may have led to a greater good. And so Picard doesn't press the point. He doesn't let his pride get in the way. He begs for his life from Q. And he recognizes the value of what Q did. He recognizes his mistakes and moves on. Just like Trek. And so we can still maintain the optimism of the Trek world, we can still maintain hope in the future. We just need to understand that it's "good", not "perfect". It's Spider-Man instead of Superman. And this action by Q was all that was needed to get TNG to that point, and thus allowing the series to shine. And even if my thematic interpretation is way off base, this is the best episode of the series so far, hands down. An absolute joy to watch from beginning to end.

@SkepticalMI, brilliant analysis. I think you're right, and this is what makes this episode change the series for the better. This episode is the thing that allows both "The Best of Both Worlds" and "All Good Things" (among others) because both episodes rely on the possibility that humans might not survive; in BOBW that they are not strong enough, in AGT that Picard himself is not good enough. There is real humility in both stories, and that humility begins here.

Thanks for the kind words William. And I enjoy your analyses as well; even if I don't agree with you it's usually a unique insight into the episodes. One other minor thing I noticed. In Q Who, Tapestry, and All Good Things, Q is generally fond of Picard and is trying to help him out, albeit in his own alien way that is difficult for Picard to accept. And indeed, Picard is very opposed to Q throughout the episode(s), but ends up at least understanding Q at the end. It's probably the best portrayal of Q. It's also the portrayal in QPid, but I guess it didn't really work out in that one...

This is for me the first truly great TNG episode so far. For the first time, the Enterprise is confronted with a threat that's genuinely scary. The Borg will become the most iconic of any Star Trek antagonist, save perhaps for the Klingons. They're scary in a way that the silly all-powerful beings or self-reproducing crystals of earlier episodes were not (not to mention tarpit monsters). As SkepticalMI stated, I agree that this is a watershed moment, or at least, since I haven't watched the rest of the series yet, it's the first time that the Enterprise crew gets its own smugness rubbed in its face. I think this is especially welcome after all the arrogance displayed in the previous episode, Pen Pals. The Enterprise is vulnerable, not invincible. It's the first time that we see it being defeated. Picard has to beg Q. I think that this is much better than in previous episodes when the Federation super heroes were shown defeating Q, who is supposed to be an all-powerful being after all. They also don't get their 18 crew members back. That hurts. I also love the brilliant acting by John de Lancie. My only criticism is when Guinan is shown as potentially having magical powers like Q. That seemed to come out of nowhere.

Tom, my criticism is related to the same issue you have, but from a different angle. I thought it was quite intriguing that they set Guinan up to have a lot more to her than meets the eye; my disappointment is that they dropped this thread and never went back to flesh it out (other than showing she could perceive alternate timelines to a degree).

Dave B in MN

We all know it's a great episode, so I'll have to echo what others have said and praise Ron Jones again for such a wonderful musical score. He's a part of the reason I love earlier TNG (before Season 6) so much.

SkepticalMI, I love your analysis, particularly the part about the "broad optimism" of Trek. I don't think the "magical utopia" ever truly died, especially in TNG. Case in point: Picard not destroying the collective when presented with the opportunity. I guess the writers didn't have the courage to let him go through with it. A pity, because that's as close as TNG could have come to a "In The Pale Moonlight" moment, discounting alternate (Yesterday's Enterprise) timelines and such. The Borg were hands down the scariest Trek villains. One could have lived under Dominion Rule, with hope of a better tomorrow. Not so in the Borg Collective. I can watch this episode and BoBW two decades after the fact and still get chills up my spine. Can't say that any of the Dominion episodes invoke that sort of response.

Can't help but think that if this were BSG, Gomez would have been blown into space/machine-gunned by Cylons/nuked/met some other grisly end early on in the encounter with the Borg. Great episode, best use of Q since "Hide and Q" and still sends chills down my spine on repeat viewings despite the relatively cheap effects and costumes by today's standards. I guess that goes to say there's only so much CGI can do and in the end, it all depends on good writers. If I ever run a TV show, I would splurge extra money to get the best writers possible even if it meant below average effects. Just look at Doctor Who, or even the original Star Trek. This is the one episode that can end with our heroes on the NCC-1701-D getting their ass handed to them and it still comes off as awesome. TNG solves problems usually with some variance of negotiation and technology. The Borg won't negotiate - they just want your ship and won't listen to you - and their tech is light years ahead of Starfleet's, knocking out their main advantage. And no matter what ingenious solution you come up with, the Borg will just adapt and keep on coming. At the root, I think that's what made the Borg so scary this time around. Best line goes to Q: "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it's not for the timid." (I had that quote in mind during the closing scene of VOY's lame "Friendship One".)

No you didn't. You watched sfdebris' review of "Friendship One" and came here to tout it as your own opinion. I think it's great to bring in other reviewer's opinions here for debate, but plagiarising is a step too far.

Was always amused in this episode when Picard orders Worf to "locate the exact source of that tractor beam, lock on phasers" and it takes Worf 4 shots to actually even come close to remotely hitting it =D

I'm sorry, but I can't jump on the bandwagon for this episode. Now, it certainly doesn't suck, but some of the editing/pacing of this episode is really choppy. Primarily where it concerns Guinan. Guinan, for some reason, gives only bits and pieces of information about the Borg at any one time. You'd think that as someone whose race has been hit by Borg, she'd be a little more aggressive about telling the Enterprise to get out of there. But no, instead she sits down in a conference with the officers, then a battle happens, and then another conference with Guinan where she (and Q) finally explain what the Borg are. It makes sense for Q to hide things, but Guinan really should just get it all out there. Other than that, this episode is good. The Borg are interesting, Q is Q, and the annoying girl in engineering isn't that bad.

FlyingSquirrel

[unconvincing rationalization] Guinan isn't more concerned because she knows that the events of "Time's Arrow II" have not yet occurred from Picard's point of view, and therefore Picard and the Enterprise will survive their encounter with the Borg for their future to intersect with her past. [/unconvincing rationalization]

Sonya Gomez should have died. Too much makeup and not enough acting skills. Rest of episode was great.

This was the first episode I showed my wife, followed up with The Best of Both Worlds 1 & 2 to see if she like TNG. Unfortunately, she didn't really like them and actually though TBOBW1 was boring (!!!!) I think a lot of how much these 3 episodes impact the viewer depends on how much the crew has grown on you. In her case, she never followed Picard and co so you might not really care what happens to them in these dire circumstances. Oh well, at least she liked DS9's "The Visitor" so there's some hope.

Sonya is fine and she doesn't have to much make up she is beautiful. And she is a fine actress.

I always cut Sonya Gomez some slack because she is walking around with that third breast.(Cookie for you if you know what I am talking about).

Haha, I know what you're talking about. What kind of cookie do I get?

Diamond Dave

A classic episode by any criteria. The introduction of the Borg as a new existential threat is extremely well handled - especially compared to the introduction of the Romulans earlier on in the series. As a harbinger of doom this is also nicely done - we now know the Borg are out there, know they are coming, but know it will be a while before they arrive. The seriousness of the threat is nailed home by having the crew fail to overcome the problem - and Picard forced to beg to Q to get them out of trouble subverts our expectations of the series. Elsewhere, the back story for Guinan gives sudden and unexpected depth to that character. The score, as noted above, is excellent. The character design - while it will be still improved in the future - is right there, and the Borg cube design is genius. These are not beings who care about form - just brutal, efficient functionality. You also have to wonder why Gomez was introduced and not the first to be assimilated - perhaps a further clever twist on our expectations? A worthy 4 stars.

Three brief comments: 1) yes, brilliant score! 2) Sonya dying would have been too predictable and I think it was smart to not kill her. 3) great shot when the away team is on the Borg cube and it pans out so show layer upon layer of Borg chambers. Seems The Matrix would borrow this idea. Great wow factor.

grumpy_otter

@Del_Duio If your wife is anything like me, show her "The Host" and "Lessons" and see if that piques her interest. You chose some very hard sci-fi episodes to get her started, so go for the romantic side. If not, try "Data's Day" to see if she likes humor. (And really--you married a non-Trekker? Wasn't that risky? ;-)

Now, to all you people up above me writing words and words and lines and lines and paragraphs and paragraphs to try and analyze Q's motives and what it all means-- THANK YOU! And that includes Jammer, of course. The best part of this site is that the original reviews are never the end. Lots of smart and insightful people come and say smart and insightful things. I just love it. The first comment on this episode was 6 years ago and still we talk! Yay! I've been sick for a couple of days, so have been forced to do nothing--I am not too unhappy since I just started rewatching some TNG and coming here to comment. My tummy is sick but my brain is happy. Thank you to all who contribute here. And now my input. Q is a psychopathic toddler squatting over an anthill with a magnifying glass, and not half as interesting.

I'm sure the vaguely mischievous among us would love to teach a few cocky people a lesson and if we had powers, all the better. Would we murder several innocent work colleagues of that person to prove a point... Perhaps not. I actually think Picard is a little arrogant at the start and Q, being Q, is bang on by teaching them a lesson. Picard: Yeah we're awesome. Q: Shit gets real out here. Picard: Bring it... Q: *Rolls eyes* The fact that Picard realises this at the end is smart writing as well. I never tire of this episode and even among the likes of Breaking Bad, Walking Dead or Game of Thrones this is quality, timeless TV.

Ian, finally, someone like me with regards to trek music. Despite everyone saying how TNG got better as it went along, I find season 5-7 almost unwatchable because of the scoring. If you watch the borg episode from the season 6 and this one back to back, the season 6 one cannot even compare. whether it is acting or affects, but most importantly the music. Trek lost something huge in Jones (or at least the era).--Nick P. Sir, I totally agree with you.

nothingoriginal55

A goid episode...the first scene is horrible...i could do without the sonya gomez character...but the borg were wicked.

Just watching this for the first time in awhile. I think the teaser with Ensign Sonya Gomez is actually relevant to the meeting with the Borg. Sonya is incredibly eager to be out on the Enterprise exploring the unknown. The crew of the Enterprise, as representatives of humanity, are also eager to explore the unknown. Q points out the pitfalls of sprinting blindly into something new. This can apply as much to Sonya's over-enthusiasm on the Enterprise as it does to the crew exploring space. Another fine touch for what is a great episode.

This is a classic episode and deserves full marks for good reason, a true original that open the doors to many other stories down the line. Most people don't read the novels post TNG/DS9/VOY, but I like the take on the Borg, except for Voyager novel with Janeway's stupid death. Q is actually trying to help humanity in this initial encounter, giving the Enterprise a clear first contact with the Borg, not in our own backyard, but in the Delta Quadrant itself. It's semantics, but it could have been the key factor for why the Borg invasion did not occur earlier in Season 2/3 and it gave people like Commander Shelby a chance to prepare along with others in Starfleet, I wonder what Section 31 would have done at the last moment if the Enterprise didn't stop the cube in BoBw-2 (probably throw out a planet killer to take on the cube or launch a protomatter bomb). Also to address an interesting discussion from years back on this blog, the novels explained a reason why Q do not judge theBorg in the same way they do other species. In the Novel series Canon, Destiny Series, the Borg originated from a species called the Caeliar, who have mastered the control of Omega molecules, the very essence of what created the universe itself. Basically, we're talking God-Like equivalent species, so the Q Continuum would not have oversight over another advanced civilization's messes, they got their screw ups and others have their problems. The Q, specifically De Lancie's Q and maybe even Graham Q from Voy Death Wish, though are guiding mankind on a path and destiny towards some kind of future, potentially to the same state of evolutionary advancement, so their interest only intersect up to a certain point as teachers. Even the novels don't explain everything, there's a lot of guesswork in Star Trek and we can argue for eternity or into "Forever" without a clear answer as to the Borg or what Q intent was.

It seems I am in extreme minority about some of the characters of Star Trek. For me, Q was one of the most annoying characters, no only in Star Trek universe, but about any single piece of television or mainstream movies I have ever seen. If I will ever re-watch Star Trek from start to finish, I will make sure to skip ANY episode with Q or Lwaxana Troi. What I hate most about Star Trek is god-like, omnipotent, invulnerable characters, who you can't seemingly oppose in any way. And for the necessity of plot to go through, you have to invent either Deus Ex Machina, or some unbelievable piece of influential speech which affects such characters, when in reality, with IQ of Q and his disregard of most life forms (especially petty humans... why is he interested in us so much anyway?), it would be impossible for any minor humanoid to influence or change his mind in any way. Like there's no way that earth-worm will do anything to convince me to not use it for fishing purposes when I can. I loath Q with passion and any episode he is in, is zero for me

As I recall the body count / "red shirts" factor in TNG at this point was extremely low, so the death of 18 crew members at once, even off-screen, came as a big shock to the characters and audience alike. Previous to this, the lack of death of Starfleet personnel on TNG (especially of the gruesome variety) was almost comically opposite the TOS cliche (with only a few exceptions, like "Conspiracy"). I assume this was Roddenberry's utopian influence again. This episode brought the season 1 and 2 redshirt average up to typical Trek standards in a single show. They upped the ante again in The Best of Both Worlds with the battle of Wolf 359, but by then, they had to so we'd feel the same kind of gut punch. Incidentally, I saw the Enterprise D cross-section model (the one the Borg carve out) at the Star Trek exhibit in Seattle, it was impressively detailed. I got the chills all over again. No sign of the 18 crew members though :(

What a great episode. Q's deflation of the egos of those smugly arrogant pompous 24th century humans was long overdue but very satisfying. The episode was well paced and John de Lancie's acting was top notch. There were some low points-Whoopi Goldberg's super powered magic posing with Q in ten forward was just dead silly-what ,so Guinan is another god like creature is she? The eager-to- please ensign really ought to have been killed or assimilated to justify her presence. These are minor points though-this episode shines like a beacon in the first two seasons and the Borg really are scary for their first outing.

Great episode and the foreboding of doom that comes in BOBW is one of the things that made TNG great. The Borg are truly a scary adversary and their relentlessness is well thought out / created. However, I'm not a fan of Q. To have an alien with the power to do whatever he wants gives a convenient solution when needed. He does prove to be an interesting character though. The episode makes a great point about the smugness/arrogance of Picard and the Enterprise and the encounter with the Borg does instill some humility in the crew which is much-needed. For this purpose, Q's role is useful. Great Trek episodes sometimes get the added boost from a great soundtrack - this episode gets that added benefit. I'll have to watch this one a few more times and see how it measures up with some of the great TOS soundtracks. The early part of the episode with "Selena" Gomez was wasteful - an annoying ensign who had no bearing on the rest of the episode other than being annoying. Could have done without that. How about some more background on Q/Guinan to kick off the episode? Didn't realize she had some power to fend off Q... This is one of the very important TNG episodes - the Borg are a terrific creation. Seeing the baby getting implants was...interesting. I give this a strong 3.5 stars out of 4. Almost perfect episode.

@ Rahul, Not that it adds anything to the episode, but I believe Gomez spilling the coffee on Picard while being eager to please is meant to be representative of the human race bungling through space, optimistically unaware that they're about to get burned by their own enthusiasm. Q's point, which Picard seems to not even compute by the end, is that humanity *actually isn't* prepared for everything that's out there, and that being too aggressive in expansion can have serious risks. It is probably factually the case that any number of things in the galaxy could wipe out the Federation, and that their positive attitude can't overcome all odds. It's counterfactual since Q showed them the Borg here, but imagining that he hadn't, maybe the real first contact would have been when a Borg ship happened by Earth one day. The Borg may have been alerted to the Federation's presence earlier than it should have because of Q, but the Federation was made aware of them sooner too. Maybe the net effect was that Q saved the Federation, who knows.

A question I have is so what if the Borg became aware of the Federation? Why would that even matter to the Borg? Consider that throughout TNG and later Voyager we learn that the galaxy is teeming with life. There are Federations and empires big and small. What made the Federation such a tempting target? I also found the plot detail about the destroyed Romulan and Federation bases curious. If the Borg already assimilated a Federation base, wouldn't that mean they already knew about earth and the Federation before Q Who?

@ Peter G., Yes, I can see your point about Gomez and spilling coffee on Picard -- I guess I didn't make that connection with it being sort of a microcosm of the broader theme of this terrific episode. However, Picard doesn't react like the Borg did toward the Enterprise (fortunately for Gomez!) I just thought the Gomez part dragged on too long and the Guinan/Q/Borg backstory could have used that airtime. No doubt introducing Q into TNG gives the writers the ability to create some interesting situations for Picard & Co., given Q's incredible powers. But I still think the best episodes come about where there is no "waving of a magic wand" and it's just dealing with the situation in the "normal" paradigm of Trek sci-fi.

@ Jason R., I think the question of why the Borg were interested in the Federation is a decent one, but perhaps one best left to the imagination rather than somehow to be found in series lore. I could suggest a few scenarios, with the proviso that they are all products of my imagination and have no basis in fact: -The Federation was in some way more advanced than most races out there, and had something or other the Borg wanted to assimilate. (this would be later contradicted in Voyager, but for the purposes of "Q Who" that's not really relevant. I think Voyager jumped the shark big-time in making any kind of sense of what the Borg do in the Delta Quadrant, which should properly have been a massive warzone and interstellar graveyard). -The Borg had access to some weird information, maybe even from the future, telling them the Federation would eventually be a threat to them. -The Borg remembered the probe they repaired which went back to Earth (V'Ger) and when they came in contact with the Enterprise realized that for some reason the probe didn't destroy the Earth, and wanted to know why. Note that this is real fan-fiction stuff, since the Borg being the race that repaired the probe is two steps separated from canon, since it was only an idea Gene had that never materialized. -Maybe Q whisking the Enterprise away is what made the Borg antsy, since how could they possibly know it was Q that rescued them at the end? They probably thought that in scanning the ship they failed to note some crazy advanced gadget that could hurl the Enteprise across the galaxy. No kidding they wanted to ransack Earth to find it! If this is the right answer then Q actually instigated the confrontation, which maybe made the Federation take a bit more seriously developing weapons of war like the Defiant. I think (in hindsight) we could say that while losing 39 ships sucks, without those advances (and the Defiant) the Federation wouldn't have beaten the Dominion. Yeah, that's all I got for now. As to your second question, it is undoubtedly a plot hole. "The Neutral Zone" made is clear the Borg had already learned about them, but that point was utterly forgotten. I think back then the "Conspiracy" aliens were meant to be the threat that took out some colonies, and once they decided to switch it to a cyborg race they scrapped whatever continuity had come before and started over. @ Rahul, I agree with you that the Gomez parts don't amount to much more than being tedious, despite the attempt to show the episode message though them. But about Q and the magic wand ending, I think the main takeaway to me is that Picard was forced into a situation where he had to admit he was helpless and they needed Q. The issue of Q himself isn't so much the point but rather that up until that point in the series the crew was pretty darn cocky and needed to be put in their place. For an atheistic Starfleet captain to be reduced to basically saying "God help us!" is a statement to the effect that no matter how advanced your technology is, there's always a bigger fish as Qui-Gon said, so don't let the size of your phasors make you think you're all that. The quality of the race should be in its enlightenment, not in its technology, and that theme bookends the series in the pilot and the finale. "Q Who" seems to underline that theme by showing them that they still have a lot of learning to do.

Peter along your point I always thought of humans as the Mary Sue of the galaxy, prancing around titans and Gods and always somehow coming out winners. I was watching Peak Performance yesterday and the part where Data notes the Zackdorn were renowned in the galaxy as master strategists for FIVE THOUSAND years. So basically they were intergalactic celebrities at a time when earth was still marvelling the wonder of agrigulture and written language. And yet these guys are just some aliens that belongs to a Federation run by humans from Earth... Even in Encounter at Farpoint (and certainly in subsequent episodes like Hide and Q) we get this sense that the Gods themselves must be weary of mighty mankind. Q Who is the first episode to my mind that really takes seriously the idea that man is not the centre of the universe. Even previous episodes (like EAF) which SAY this never quite SHOW it or convince us that the story really believes it. Part of this is just due to the conventions of TV at the time and maybe part of it is due to Rodenberry's influence? I can't rightly say.

@ Jason R., It's definitely a premise in Trek that there is some sort of manifest destiny for the humans/Federation. They're not just another of infinite random species. There is something definitively American about that premise, I think.

Daniel Blumentritt

I'm surprised how many people love the "Oh please" line. Q just was an accessory to the murder of 18 people. No different than throwing them on a rail-line in front a moving train you know can't stop. But they are offscreen nobodies so it's ok b/c he made Picard say he was wrong. What? { I was watching Peak Performance yesterday and the part where Data notes the Zackdorn were renowned in the galaxy as master strategists for FIVE THOUSAND years. So basically they were intergalactic celebrities at a time when earth was still marvelling the wonder of agrigulture and written language. And yet these guys are just some aliens that belongs to a Federation run by humans from Earth... } It's really Worf who shines there. First he (possibly correctly) calls out the Zakdorns by saying that maybe they are just coasting on reputation - a reputation which has kept people from challenging them. Then it's his genius that saves the day, not the humans'

Startrekwatcher

4 stars! A true gem. Classic science fiction featuring fascinating ideas and concepts that stimulate the imagination When the Enterprise was catapulted 2000 light years. I could viscerally feel the sense of isolation. It also felt that the crew had genuinely been thrown into the Unknown--in a way Voyager, who was in a similiar situation, didn't do nearly as well as was done here. There was a genuine sense of awe and wonder to the proceedings The Borg were another fantastic idea featured. The idea of a race which functioned as a whole with no emotion and no leader characterized as a force of nature with none of the common human motives--a truly alien race--something we should have seen more of and I was hoping for when Voyager was first announced would be set in the unexplored Demta Quadrant. And the Borg's superior knowledge and technology that overpowered the Enterprise--a true genuine terrifying threat . I loved their alien design and the background actors used for the Borg did a really great job looking truly androgynous. The Borg cube design was so iconic and atypical. I loved the Borg nursery I loved the neat idea of literally thinking their ship fixed and seeing it repairing itself. Q could be hit or miss but here he was out to good use. Q would definitely lash out when his request to become a part of the crew is rejected by Picard. I also enjoyed the introduction of a secret mysterious history between Q and Guinan. It was an intriguing added wrinkle that made the story all that great. A willingness by Mauruce Hurley to go that extra mile and is a clever story detail and shows Maurice's skills as a writer and was one of TNG's best writers. By the same token bringing Guinan in as a consultant and revealing her species history with the Borg was a smart way to provide information on the Borg. And the episode further adds to Guinan's mysterious abilities from her defensive stance when it appears Q is about to act against her or her gut instinct something amiss when Picard first disappears The episode also featured some of the most sophisticated and descriptive dialog--pretty much everything out of Q's mouth throughout the episode I loved to pieces seeing some action and battle sequences on TNG. And the carving up of the enterprise. I also loved when the first Borg beamed to Engineering and began accessing the ship systems--Picard approaches the Borg but his requests fall on deaf ears, the drone continues his probing with that cold stare. I much preferred this depiction of the Borg with each drone a true threat with the collective intelligence visible in their stare rather than post First Contact with the drones behaving like mindless servants acting on commands from a Borg Queen, lumbering around. I also preferred the idea here that the Borg were an actual species with offspring that they augment with technology and that the Collective is a composer of "born" Borg as well as assimilated species The music was great especially the music accompanying the first pan out from the away team aboard the cube to the massive interior of the borg vessel. And you can't beat the Picard/Guinan conversation in the final scene with the realization that now that the Borg are aware of the Federation then the Borg will be coming. Terrifying

PS. And I don t know how many remember the trailer back that aired in 1997 ahead of Voyager's fourth season for Scorpion part two II that talked about how that episode would elevate sci-fi to an art form--well that promo VoiceOver would better apply to THIS episode

That ending. After seeing it nearly ten times, it still gives me the creeps. Guinan putting it out there, almost shy. "Since they are aware of your existence..." Picard's hesitation in moving the pawn, the sudden realisation of an awful truth. "...they will be coming." "You can bet on it." Picard taking it in for a moment and seamingly hiding nervousness standing up from of his seat. Oh yeah, space will never be the same again.

"If the show had truly wanted to punch us in the stomach with its dark ambitions, it would've had Gomez die." More like if the show had truly wanted to be trite, cliche and predictable. What is the American audience's need for everything to follow the exact same predictable lines? That said, this is the amazing and breathtakingly scary introduction to the greatest sci-fi enemy of all time.

I hate the way they wrote Guinan. "What can you tell us?" "Only that if I were you I'd start back now." Actually there's a whole lot else she could tell them, and maybe if the writers had let them, they would have started back now. btw, what is Riker doing in that scene? He's leaning so steeply over the bar and looking unwaveringly into her eyes. Is he trying to seduce her? LOL!

Sarjenka's Little Brother

Another one I haven't seen in forever. ON FIRE. I liked even better than I remembered. Excellent direction. Q at his best. Great script and lines for Q and Picard. Yeah, the Sonya Gomez thing could have been better, but still, a Next Gen classic. The episode that introduces the Borg has to be!

Peter Swinkels

Nice episode. Not much to add.

By now TNG had at least a couple of top-notch eps under its belt, and its average was improving rapidly. Still, this is probably the most important of them. And BTW look how far we've come since the Ferengi were introduced as the new bad guys in season one, and proceeded to caper about like disturbed chimpanzees. Yes, the whole Borg thing was reduced to banality by Voyager and its familiarity breeds boredom, yea even unto the point of a Borg Brady Bunch, but that only strengthens the solemnity and impact of this debut performance. Speaking of the score, I particularly liked the moments where complete silence was employed whilst contemplating the Borg Cube (which BTW has to rank as one of the most audacious and iconic spacecraft deaigns since Disovery in 2001). So much has been said, I can't find much to add, except that if there is one little moment that doesn t work for me, it,s when Guinan faces off against Q, with her fingers poised like cats claws. It looked really corny. I half expected lightning to suddenly shoot out of her fingers. Were we supposed to believe that she has some powers which would have serioualy threatened Q? It's implied here, but I don't remember it being taken up again; at least not in 'wizard battle' sort of way. But it's a minor thing, and I admit that Guinan is capable of periodically annoying me a little.

When this episode aired STTNG became untouchable. You can like TOS for introducing the Trekverse. You can prefer DS9, Voyager, Babylon5 etc, but you won't find a series that can match the scifi greatness that STTNG reached beginning with this episode. Dr. Who introduced a species more terrifying than the Borg called Weeping Angels. That first episode for me is probably the single greatest scifi horror writing for a tv show. But as far as scifi series go, STTNG has never been matched after The Borg came on the scene.

Star Trek: TNG

Great episode! I finally understood... Geordi's seducer skills :-D SONYA: Hot chocolate, please. GEORDI: We don't ordinarily say please to food dispensers around here. SONYA: Who gives a shit! COMPUTER: *ptooey!* your coffee is ready, Geordi GEORDI: not-thanx a lot, computer. []-) Poor Geordi. My clumsiness with girls is not so "spectacular" :-P

Bobbington Mc Bob

So Guinan might have crane style Q-Fu master skills eh? I don't recall that ever being revisited. Makes you wonder ... if she has Q's powers, why doesn't she use them? Maybe on the ship she adheres to some kind of rule that means she cannot interfere with lesser species ... possibly the most important one she has. They could call it something like a 'First Instruction'. Or an Alpha Law. A Principal Principle. A Pr ... ok you get it.

Episode contains not just one of my favorite Star Trek quotes, but one of my favorite quotes in all of TV/film/literature: Q: "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it's not for the timid." I've used this line or variations of it in a number of instances. Often as self-motivation. Whenever I get into a rut where things seem harder than usual, or life feels particularly unfair, I like to use this quote as a reminder that life as an adult isn't always fair. It's not easy. It's not safe. And it's not supposed to be. Q is being brash in his normally abrasive way, but he isn't just being a jerk. He poetically acknowledges the Life IS, as Q says, "Wondrous!" And there are many great treasures out there in the world to be found and explored and enjoyed in life. But it is not for the timid. There will be setbacks in life. There will be pitfalls. There will be completely unfair times where you are going along happily minding your own business--and then suddenly, out of nowhere, Q/Life will just throw you into a dangerous encounter you weren't ready for, for absolutely no reason. But that is how the world goes sometimes. And if you can't handle a little bloody nose from time to time and you only want to stay where it's safe, you will never be able to experience or enjoy all the great treasures that can only be experienced if you come out from underneath the covers and expose yourself to the potential for being hurt. This is peak Trek for me....a great episode with a fun and engaging story, thought-provoking characters, and it culminates with a line that provides an immutable rule of thumb for life itself--struggle and sacrifice are necessary parts of the journey of existence, but the rewards are worth it.

^^ Brian S, that's also one of my all-time favourite Trek quotes and one I often think about in modern contexts, whenever there's a demand for government to "do something" about accidents, natural disasters, etc. There's also an old TOS novel called "The Disinherited" that was one of my favourites as a kid. There's a scene where Kirk gives a similar speech to some colonists who've just been brutally attacked: --- "We should move somplace safer!" "There is no safe place." The last statement came not from any of the colonists but from Kirk. "Nowhere is safe," he said again, more quietly but with no less conviction. One of the colonists - a short, belligerent-looking man - stepped forward. "Starfleet is supposed to make it safe!" he said. "Starfleet makes it safer," said Kirk. "But to live is to face hazards every day. If you want utter safety, climb into a sensory deprivation capsule and live your life cut off from humanity - and even then, a building could fall on you or a groundquake could open up under you and swallow you. Or an undetected blood clot could cause you to drop dead on the spot, with no warning, at any time. The only safety in life is death." --- Trek taught me a lot of life lessons as a kid. This kind of message was one of them. The future is unknown, life is uncertain, and all you can do is put your best foot forward, keep your chin up and roll with the punches.

9/10 This was a good intro to the Borg. I usually don't enjoy Q episodes but this one wasn't so bad. A couple of nitpicks: Picard telling the Borg to stop using the computers like he is addressing a naughty child. Seriously a being beams into your ship and you let them have access? wouldn't they have tactics and policies for encountering new life forms and what activities would not be allowed? second nitpick was about Riker and his response to the first Borg attack. He seemed a little too cavalier in commenting on them slicing open the Saucer section.

Man, the Borg were cool at this point in the Trek canon. The foreboding from Q and at the end between Picard/Guinan (did Q do them a service?) bring that genuine feeling of dread -- even after seeing everything that VOY would do with the Borg. "Q Who" stands the test of time. The naivety of Picard & co. upon seeing the first Borg drone examining their systems in engineering is shocking in retrospect knowing what we know of the Borg now. But it is entirely in keeping with the innocent, green, and somewhat smug nature the crew had at this point in their adventures. It takes forever for Worf to use deadly force with his phaser on the 1st Borg drone invader. A couple of nitpicks jumped out at me though: Just prior to the first Borg beaming aboard the Enterprise into engineering where Geordi first spots him, Riker had ordered the shields to be raised. So are the Borg able to transport thru shields? Also, the ship reaches warp 9.65 even with force fields holding its hull integrity after the Borg cut out a section of the saucer. Technically, I don't think this should be possible but we can suspend disbelief. The story would have still worked if the ship could only reach full impulse, for example. They're still totally overmatched and would have to beg Q to save them. I still feel the "Selena" Gomez parts are a bit of a drawback on the episode but as has been discussed before -- she is a microcosm (innocence, curiosity, eagerness, complacency) of the Enterprise. I think it's been said by some others that she should have been 1 of the 18 to die -- I agree that that would be more impactful. Now we just kind of wonder what becomes of her. The first two acts of this episode are ordinary at best, but once it gets going it's riveting. A top-10 TNG episode.

@Rahul "Also, the ship reaches warp 9.65 even with force fields holding its hull integrity after the Borg cut out a section of the saucer. Technically, I don't think this should be possible but we can suspend disbelief." Why not? From what I understand, warp doesn't propel the ship any faster it just changes the space around it. So it's really no different from impulse in terms of whatever forces would be acting on it. And since there is no friction in space a hull breach shouldn't make any difference unless it affects the integrity of the structure connecting the engines.

@Michael I think you still need considerable propulsion forces to accelerate the ship and then create the warp subspace field which then shifts space/time around it. My thinking is the inertial dampers might not or should not work if hull integrity is relying on force fields during the propulsion. So I guess I should correct myself and say that the acceleration/propulsion should be iffy with force fields holding the hull together. But I get what you're saying about hull integrity not being affected by being at warp -- it's just getting to warp [or full impulse] that I'd take issue with.

"Makes you wonder ... if she has Q's powers, why doesn't she use them?" I got the sense that maybe Guinan is somehow capable of thwarting Q (at least if he does something directly to her, she can't seem to stop him from sending the ship vast distances away), but doesn't have any active powers similar to his. But yeah it was weird how they introduced that and then never developed it.

"Maybe on the ship she adheres to some kind of rule that means she cannot interfere with lesser species" Q's description of Guinan was reminiscent of Kevin Uxbridge's description of himself. Another Douwd?

Wait... If the "history" between Picard and Guinan is that she's a Dauwd and he knows it then that would explain how Picard caught on so fast in "The Survivors". Oy.

Watching and commenting --Ensign Sonja, Q -- everyone wants to serve on The Enterprise. --I like the Guinan connection stuff. --"You're not prepared for what awaits you," says Q. OH. Oh, oh, oh. I'd forgotten what this was all about. Oh, oh, oh, oh. --Oh, oh, oh, oh - the Cube. Lord. So very disturbing. "They're called The Borg. Protect yourself, Captain, or they'll destroy you," says Guinan. --Nicely done. So eerie. Love Whoopi. --The Borg is truly the best ST enemy ever. Nothing they came up with on Voyager or DS9 or Enterprise really compares. They all had some good stuff. But wow. --Q saves the day and they're back where they started. --The introduction of The Borg. A classic. -Really got lost in the story on this one - a good thing. I've got little comment on parallels being drawn or this week's theme - though The Borg is certainly a fantastical and wonderful culmination of all the "what is life, are androids alive, individual identity vs the need for community" stuff we've seen all Season. So we've been prepped, yet we are not prepared. And here we are now: Face to face with this abomination, this unholy, absolutely literal combination of the biological and mechanical, the individual and the collective. Only all has been subverted, distorted - the biological made secondary to the mechanical, the individual made slave to the collective. Hang on humanity, and buckle up Trekeroonies: We're in for a bumpy ride.

@Springy I agree that the Borg probably the most implacable foe of the TNG era, and for the most part, they're the most difficult villain for Federation values to handle. They work similarly to Federation in that they're comprised of a unique mixture of different intelligent species. Yet unlike the Federation, they don't grow by learning from others - they grow by conquering and acquiring. The Borg's really a society that works in complete antithesis to the Trek mantra, with humanism being thrown out the window in favor of authoritarian and single-minded purpose. That the Borg even work so well as a society might be hinted at in Trek as early as TOS's "Patterns of Force" where Nazism was chosen as a form of government because it ostensibly was the most efficient way for a torn people to unite and be productive. I think this week's theme is supposed to be indictment of the series as we knew it to this point. Prior to this episode, Gene's TNG ideals baked into season 1 gave us the impression that the Enterprise could do *anything*, that humanity's flaws had largely been surpassed, and they may be on their way to transcending existence, similar to the Q. 'Q Who" puts the brakes on that naïve idealism to a degree. Sure, humanity has accomplished much and is very powerful in the 24th century, but without accepting help from even scoundrels like Q who in some ways know the universe better, humanity may be overwhelmed by the very forces it looks to explore.

As far as I can tell, Sonya Gomez is a stand-in for humanity here, where in our great excitement to get out on the flagship and do cool stuff we're actually a clutz who will spill hot chocolate and look like a fool. And yet, while this stupid-looking portrayal initially looks un-Starfleet, we later realize that the opposite is much worse: that everyone should act the same as each other, effiicient and organized. So Sonya's clutzy silliness is actually our greatest feature: individual differentiation and foibles, compared to "perfection at all costs". Another thing I think this episode touches on is the need for Starfleet to stop pretending it's on a purely peaceful mission. We don't hear word about it all the time, but Starfleet obviously begins making defensive plans for the Borg immediately after this and ramping up its military capabilities to some extent. SPOILERS Although it wasn't in the heads of the creators this early in the franchise, obviously it was very important for Starfleet to have been ready for the Borg because otherwise they would have been totally hammered by the Dominion later on.

Thanks @Chrome and @Peter G for your thinky thoughts. When it comes to Sonja, agree she's a stand in for humanity, as Picard is. I think her first encounter with Picard somewhat parallels Picard's with the Borg. She thought she was totally prepared, but she wasn't. She screws up her first encounter, Geordi (sorta) comes to the rescue, etc. I think there's some suggestion, too, that like Geordi with Sonja, Q doesn't randomly choose Picard for his little visits. There's a bunch of references to experience vs first time . . . Q knows Guinan, it's Guinan's first time to call the bridge and such. I always wonder about the ep title, though I'm not sure where to go with this one. There's no question mark in Q Who, but tacklin and identifying the unknown is a big part of the ep. "Who" as a last name makes me think of the Whos in Whoville, thinking they're the whole Universe when they're really just a speck. But if they were going for that, you'd think there'd be another reference or two, sneaking in. Other thoughts but a five year old is tugging at me. Onward to the next ep.

I thought about the title a bit the other day. I came up with two possible ideas: 1) It's some kind of reference to Dr. Who, except instead of a doctor helping humanity it's Q-Who. This may be a bit of a stretch since I'm not sure how on the radar for Americans Dr. Who was in the late 80's. 2) It's some kind of play on the phrase "yoo-hoo", as in trying to get someone's attention playfully. In this case, it would be saying 'yoo-hoo' to the Borg as if to pique their interest in a Q-esque sort of playful way that turns into a nightmare for the Enterprise. Or maybe it's even Q saying 'yoo-hoo' to Picard, as if to say "we beings that are far beyond you are out here and you're not ready". I dunno if either of these holds water.

Peter it could also refer to the question "who is q?" Mischievous prankster? Vengeful entity? Guardian and guide to humanity? It plays into Q's claim to want to join the crew, which is the setup for his little demonstration. A total role reversal, but one that is a disguise for something more interesting. And let's be frank - Q's role fundamentally changes in this episode. After Q Who he is a very different character from what we knew before (I'll just ignore Q Pid here) One thing though that is weird about the continuity that always bugged me is that Q Who takes place *before* Deja Q yet the crew asks him if he has been kicked out by the continuum again?! Totally weird. This episode feels like it should be after Q Pid. Indeed imagine how cool it would have been if throwing the Enterprise into Borg space was him paying his debt to Picard? Now that would have been neat. Again I am just going to edit Q Pid 9ut of my head canon on this.

Sorry that should say after Deja Q.

I think Peter’s answer #2 is the correct reading as it plays into the running gag of a Q pun title. Q is tapping humanity on the shoulder and letting it know there’s more to space exploration than it thinks. Jason wrote: “One thing though that is weird about the continuity that always bugged me is that Q Who takes place *before* Deja Q yet the crew asks him if he has been kicked out by the continuum again?! Totally weird.” Yes, this was a bit confusing and read as a straight chain of events it feels like a plot hole. I suppose the correct way to interpret Deja Q is that offscreen Q was toying with species like those light beings which got him in even more serious trouble. And in that case, we could just say the events of Hide and Q put him on probation.

I guess at that point it's worth asking what Q was actually doing with the Calamarain and other races that got him in trouble. We as viewers can look back on pretty much any Q episode and see a lesson for humanity in it, and assuming the Continuum isn't a bunch of clowns they would draw a distinction between torment for torment's sake versus a hard lesson. Or would they? On the basis of pure speculation, maybe what Q gets into trouble over is looking like he's randomly tormenting sprecies, when in fact he's giving them hard lessons that of course they object to. Or maybe humanity is the only species where his penchant for mayhem ends up turned into something helpful. It seems hard to reconcile our head canons of "Q was doing it all along to guide us" (which was the impression I got, even from the pilot) with what we learn in Deja Q about how he's out of control. The only way I can see to reconcile these two is that the Continuum maybe doesn't like it when he helps species in this manner.

Title- , with Peter#2, wouldn't it be Q-hoo? Or double pun, somehow? Not that I've got any better idea. ON Q'S HELPFULNESS: I think he's like the parent who decides to help a kid learn to swim by throwing him into the deep-end. But he's an impatient, sub-optimal parent with a sadistic streak: Sure, really wants to teach the kid a lesson, and sure he really is watching closely and he's not going to let the kid drown. But he deliberately picks this drastic method, and even taunts the kid and even lets him go down a third time. Why? Because he's got issues, and he genuinely enjoys watching the kid struggle. He takes glee in it, and his immaturity and lack of empathy means he has no patience or motivation for using kinder but slower methods. There's some Q in Kyle Riker.

If I had to create a reasonable timeline of Q's character... I assume, prior to S1, Q (only DeLancie Q will be referred to as Q here) was already on thin ice with the Q Continuum. Presumably, he's been mucking with races and shirking his Q duties (Quties?) or whatever. However, at Encounter at Farpoint, I assume he was under the direction of the QC, at least to some extent. They had become interested in humanity recently (conveniently ignoring Quinn being involved in humanity and Amanda's parents becoming human and the fact that the QC had become uber boring with nothing new under the sun, but there just ain't no way to close all the plotholes), and so sent Q to test them. Maybe they weren't THAT interested, and thus thought this was a "minor" job that they could trust the delinQuent person to do as a way of Q getting back into the QC's good graces. But Q had a lot of freedom in this job, and I'd say he did it poorly, mainly due to his dismissive attitude toward humans (which coincides with his role as a "tormentor"). It seemed Q made up the Farpoint Station test on the spot, and even afterwards lamented that it was too easy (indeed, compared to the temporal paradox in AGT, that plot did seem kinda beneath the Q...). I think it's safe to that, at this time, Q didn't care at all about humanity. ("'At this time'? How little do you mortals understand time. Must you be so linear, Skeptical?" Shut up Q! The idea of an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient being having a story arc over 7 years is already kinda dumb, but it happened so we have to use linear time to deal with it!) But, perhaps because he was bested, it did spark an interest. I wouldn't say he fell in love with humans at this point; perhaps he was just frustrated and wanted a second round. So Hide and Q happened, where he again tested humanity, or Riker in this case. I imagine this was NOT at the behest of the QC, and they may not have known about it at first. But he also made a bet with Picard about the outcome of his test, and he lost that one too. But when the time came, he refused to honor his side of the bargain (leave humanity alone forever), and IIRC it was the QC that forcefully removed him. I imagine, at some point around here, the QC started coming down in judgement against Q. Like I said, he was on thin ice beforehand, but the ice is now cracking. Maybe it was botching the first trial of humanity, maybe it was intervening with humanity a second time in unauthorized ways despite humanity still being "on trial" (particularly with a bet that the Q would avoid humanity forever, which the QC had no intention of holding up), or perhaps it had nothing to do with humanity at all. Either way, Q was kicked out of the QC, and perhaps it wasn't the first time. He was presumably a troublemaker for quite a while. So I don't think it's a mistake in the script here. Guinan correctly noted that Q was in trouble again. But in any case, Q is starting to show his interest in humanity now. But enough to help them? I don't think so. He's bored, listless, and decides to go hang out with the strange people that bested him twice and he's not sure why. Perhaps, at this point, he's now curious about them. But Picard outright rejects him. And rejects him by saying they don't need him. "In your own paltry, limited way, you have no idea how far you still have to go." That quote from AGT was even more true in S2 of TNG. And maybe now Q is just frustrated. Humans obviously have some potential, they outsmarted him twice. But Picard was just so overly arrogant and smug. Q knew the QC was interested in seeing just where humanity would go, but thanks to their arrogance at this point they weren't going to go anywhere. You can't learn something if you already think you know everything. And while Q is not an agent of the QC anymore, he can't help but be annoyed at the smugness going on here and wanted to push Picard down a peg or so. So no, I DON'T think that QWho is part of the grand scheme of Q, or that it was his subtle way of pushing humanity along. I do think it worked out in that way, that Picard and company did learn their lesson. And I do think Q was happy they learned their lesson, but not necessarily to prepare them for AGT or whatever, or even to prepare them for BoBW. He was just happy that HIS point, that humanity was still kinda dumb, was proven for once. It's not until later, perhaps after the events of Deja Q, that Q actually becomes humanity's advocate. He treated Picard with kid gloves during True Q when humanity was tangentially in the way of QC business (being willing to take Picard's advice on how to approach Amanda, etc), and he helped Picard out in Tapestry (my personal theory is that it was less about Picard learning his lesson regarding the stabbing, and more about subtly expanding Picard's understanding of cause and effect in preparation for AGT, and of course he acted as Picard's aide in AGT. It wasn't there from the beginning, but Q sort of grew attached to humanity throughout the course of TNG, rather than just having different ways of showing it. Or, in TLDR format: EF: Q completely dismissive of humanity, but on QC business HQ: Q wounded and angry at humanity for beating him, not on QC business QW: Q curious about yet frustrated at humanity, not on QC business DQ: Q coming to acceptance of humanity, gaining empathy with humanity TQ: Q chummy with humanity while on QC business Tapestry: Q secretly prepping humanity for the upcoming QC trial AGT: Q secretly aiding humanity while on QC business

I agree this was great fun to watch with a high entertainment value. There are however a number of discordant points. The introduction of Sonia Gomez was amusing but played no subsequent part in the story. I really don't think her presence was allegorical; it's not the Trek way, their social messages are pretty 'in-yourface' rather than allusive allegories more appropriate to a Tudor period portrait. It might have carried more punch if she'd been one of the 18 lost in the incident, but actually I saw she was engaged for three stories and dropped after two. Guinan's prior relationship with Q was hinted at but sadly, never picked up which makes you wonder why the scene was there at all. Her odd defensive stance makes it seem more like a Harry potter type battle. Even more strange, Guinan knew all about the Borg but despite her close relationship with Picard, never saw fit to mention them or give the Federation a heads-up on them! If Q hadn't taken the trouble, The Fed would have had no warning of them at all. Two years journey sounds a lot, but to a collective bent upon adding new species to their flock, it's nothing. If we could send a ship to the next star on a four years round journey, there would have been no shortage of volunteers and it would have been long accomplished. Q always seems to me overall a beneficial entity, but the attitude of the Enterprise (and later Voyager) is quite unbelievable. Despite his incredible powers, he is always treated with undisguised contempt. Is that wise? Quite apart from the benefits he could confer (and which are almost always pointlessly spurned by the needy beneficiaries), he is one of the few beings (like the Dawd) with the power to annihilate at will. Remember what Kevin did to the Husnock? Presumably Q could do the same, so why not take the trouble to show a little respect? (It's pretty worrying to discover that teenage Q are no better than human teenagers....bye bye, world?) The trouble with beings with virtually infinite power is what to do with them. In trek, they never seem to have wisdom appropriate, despite the fact they presumably have a several billion years head start on us. There seem to be few other Organians...

George Monet

I want to like this episode because it is a lot of fun but the constant plot holes keeping throwing me out. Such as Guinan telling Picard he should leave the space without warning Picard about the Borg specifically. Or Picard's blase response to the threat the Borg pose to the ship. They had a perfect chance to blowup the Borg cube and pick over the pieces and instead they shoot the ship a couple of times (despite having already seen that the Borg had the ability to perfectly adapt to the Federation's phasers) and then decide to hang around and let the Borg repair the ship. This also makes one wonder just how weak the Borg cube is without its shielding as three phaser hits destroy 20% of the Borg cube whereas the Enterprise has been hit by more and only taken minor structural damage. Nothing anyone does in this episode actually makes any sense. Picard sees that the Borg are apparently technologically superior but also apparently inferior in materials and tactics. Deanna says there is a communal mind but never mentions how that is a weakness they could take advantage of by creating dissent within the collective mind or making use of group think that would prevent the Borg from considering alternatives. The lack of shielding on the Borg cube before they had scanned the Enterprise or learned of its defensive capabilities was a grave tactical error which calls the threat of the Borg into question. Suppose Q had sent over Klingons or Romulans instead. They would have immediately destroyed the Cube while its shields were down and then taken home the technology to study as a prize. Or what if Picard had ordered the away team to place a bomb inside the cube as a backup plan in case the Borg cube wasn't actually disabled. Instead the Borg leave themselves completely vulnerable and only survive destruction because Picard makes just as many grievous tactical errors as the Borg.

George my hypothesis is that in an initial encounter the Borg do not bother making a full defence. Their priority is to assess the potential of the other ship, not to destroy it. In effect, they just stand there and let the other ship do its worst. If that results in the destruction of a cube, that's an acceptable outcome for them - lesson learned. For them a single ship is expendable. As for beaming over bombs to the borg ship - has a Federation captain ever done such a thing in a first contact scenario? Not exactly the Trek ethos... Regarding Guinan, her failure to provide a more urgent warning is strange. The best explanation I can come up with is much like my original point - once they were there, they needed to learn their lesson. That wouldn't happen if they were convinced to hightail it and run at the outset.

Andy's Friend

@George Monet You have to look at it from the perspective of classic storytelling, and forget about such silly modern notions as 'plot holes'. Take for example Picard's initial assertion that Starfleet is prepared for whatever is out there. This is admittedly out of character for Picard and outright silly. But it is nothing but an instance of Classical hamartia, the hero's 'tragic flaw', moving the plot forward and leading to catharsis as he is humbled by Q and learns his lesson: "I need you!" We know Picard to be better than this. And therein lies the greatness of this episode. Facing Q and letting his animosity toward that entity get the better of him, Picard, our hero, errs. And it costs him eighteen of his crew to learn that. In other words, his over-confident initial stance is not a 'plot hole', it is a time-honoured plot device. Star Trek is rife with such classic storytelling devices, which we must know to recognise in order to fully appreciate many of the stories told. Star Trek, more often than not, is not about 'realism': it is about archetypes, classic tropes, and ancient lessons. This was understood thirty years ago when this episode aired. The problem is that viewers these days have an exaggerated appetite for realism, all while they seem to have forgotten all about classic dramaturgy and apparently only know how to shout 'plot hole!'

"Take for example Picard's initial assertion that Starfleet is prepared for whatever is out there. This is admittedly out of character for Picard and outright silly." You are misquoting Picard. What he says is: "How can we be prepared for that which we do not know? But I do know we are ready to encounter it." Picard never claimed to be *prepared*; he claimed they were *ready*. In this context, giving Picard the full benefit of the doubt, I'd say that readiness suggests that whatever the dangers, mankind belongs out there, that the project of exploration is worthy and wise. It is a rebuke of Q's original assertion from EAF that mankind had gone too far and should retreat. It is not an assertion of infallibility or a denial of certain risk, but simply the claim that exploration, whatever its risk, is worthwhile. The encounter with the Borg in Q Who us the first time that assertion of readiness ever came into real question, possibly in the entire Trek canon. The Borg can't be reasoned with and they can't be tricked or defeated through conventional means. They cannot be overcome by the usual magical plot contrivances of a 45 minute episode. They are utterly implacable . As I see it, until Q Who mankind was the Mary Sue of the galaxy even when encountering seemingly superior beings (like Q). Q Who was the first splash of cold water on that notion. Until, sigh, Voyager.......

You're quite right, Jason, but let's not split hairs: you remember the episode as well as I do, and what matters is not the above, but *how* Picard delivers this line: PICARD: Absolutely. That's why we are out here. That is what causes Q's response: Picard's nonchalant 'absolute' certainty. For it is (to be blunt) sheer nonsense: Starfleet could of course never be 'ready to encounter' all things, and Picard should have known this. So in the end, while I appreciate the difference between being 'prepared' and being 'ready' that you mention, it is largely academic, and beside the point. Other than that, you are obviously right.

I really get a good chuckle out of reading plot hole being used as shorthand for "I didn't like it" or "I would've written it differently". Guinan not describing the Borg in detail isn't a plot hole. It's not even clear what she knows except that the Borg are conquerors (and we don't even know that at this point in the series). Telling him to leave now or face terrible consequences is about all that needs to be said.

Jeffrey Jakucyk

I never thought too much about the Q/Guinan thing until reading through all the discussion here. I think FlyingSquirrel has a good point that she knows they'll get through it since the events of Time's Arrow are several years off. Hence her rather casual attitude towards the situation. She also seems to agree that humans need a bit of a kick in their complacency, as Picard would say later. As to her powers and what they might mean, again, I didn't think much of it, but this quote popped into my mind. "They're called The Borg. Protect yourself, Captain, or they'll destroy you." The choice of "protect YOURSELF," and "or they'll destroy YOU," is very telling dialog. She's not concerned for her own well-being, because she has the power to escape. She's acting like an observer more than a participant, not unlike her time in 19th century San Francisco. Now, that does raise the question, if she's so powerful and unconcerned, then what of the rest of her species that was wiped out or assimilated? Why couldn't they elude the Borg? Maybe she's a more evolved individual, or what she says of her history isn't entirely true, or she's learned how to protect herself in the last few centuries, or something else. Either way, the backstory here is quite intriguing.

I wonder about The Borg became the Borg. At some point one of their scientists said "Right, I've got cracking idea. We'll all link our thoughts together and be really efficient. Only downside is we lose all traces of individuality. Apart from this Queen thing but don't worry about that." Did the whole planet say "Yep, in!" I can't help but think the first race The Borg assimilated against it's will was it's own.

Latex Zebra - I wouldn't be so sure it would be against their will. The desire to be joined to others is the motivation for a lot of what we do. Work, sex, communication, our social life. You might as well say you could never understand why someone would get married. I would also hope that to an advanced scientist the notion of individuality would be seen as archaic myth.

Jillyenator

Guinan is supposed to be on season 2 of ST: Picard. Maybe we'll learn about her past dealings with Q and what the frak was up with their standoff. Although heck, if Guinan doesn't move in linear time, she could appear on Discovery. Q too. But since Guinan is so closely associated with Jean-Luc, it makes more organic sense to have her there, and less like fan service. Again, Q too. Re: The Neutral Zone colonies that were 'scooped off' (both Federation and Romulan), we just have to accept that the Borg knew about at least two Alpha Quadrant powers, and didn't consider their assimilation a priority until Q tossed them into the DQ and then whisked them away. I'm okay with this. One could say it's Early Installment Weirdness, but then would have to add Late Installment Weirdness into the mix because of First Contact's events, Seven's family debacle in Voyager, and "Regeneration" in Enterprise, all of which are earlier in the timeline than The Neutral Zone. So I'm going with 'Not worth a full scale invasion' until Q made it appear the Federation had something very advanced the Borg wanted. Remember that the Borg had no interest in the Kazon. (But really, who did?) I always find that interesting. Why detract from perfection, as Seven would say? I assume they'd be uninterested in the Packleds too. So...maybe the best defense against the Borg is to be entirely unremarkable.

Picard is really tempted to take on Q because how much they could learn from him. But they just don’t much like Q, so, nope. One of the great episodes, to be sure, but— Prime Directive? One episode of many that shows Starfleet’s hypocrisy. No, no, we can’t give technology to primitive races, because it will screw them up. There is a lot of sense to that. But when the shoe is on the other foot? “Hello, godlike figure, tell us EVERYTHING!!!!”

Very intresting to watch this "first" Borg contact. I would be very intresting to know how much of the Borg conset that was settled at this stage and what developed. It was really frigtning, Guinans warning that had almost no effect on Picard. Well as an audiance we can only be happy that he did not listen otherwis we wouldn't have hat so many Borg encounters. Q then? I find him as irritating as Picard does. I must admit that his accting is excellent and mostly funny but to me his character really doesn't have a place in star trek.

I can't stand watching Great Gazoo episodes. Woops, sorry, wrong show. I can't stand watching Q episodes. This one is as good as it gets because it introduces the Borg and it finally feels like we're starting to hit our stride. Soon we'll be in all the good episodes when Klingon episodes and time travel episodes were fun and interesting and not tedious. Also, Ensign Gomez is a goddamn smokeshow. The little hint of rasp to her voice makes me want to have private holodeck time. Too bad they made her a joke. I cannot stand how the writers of this show can't seem to give us a character who is nuanced. Instead we end up with Gomez babbling inanely and spilling coffee on her captain or Lt. Barclay who suffers from so much nervousness I'm pretty sure he has a routine built to transport the diarrhea out of his pants every time he makes eye contact with a superior officer. Imagine giving this actress a character who is new on the Enterprise and who has flaws and strengths that aren't shown to us in such an over-the-top fashion. Show us that she's someone who deserves to be on the FLAGSHIP of Starfleet don't give us some terrible trope of the airheaded chick who won't shut up. Yeah, I'm mad, I could listen to her talk all day and just wish the actress had been given this character. I can't remember her story maybe she's redeemed later.

Bob (a different one)

Crobert said: "Ensign Gomez is a goddamn smokeshow" FYI: Lycia Naff (Sonya Gomez) played a very memorable character in Total Recall (1990).

{{ I cannot stand how the writers of this show can't seem to give us a character who is nuanced. }} I think they finally got it right with Ro.

EmpressHoshiSato

Q's speech near the end is pure gold.

Yes, a truly great episode. The Borg are the most imaginatively chilling and genuinely scary aliens that Star Trek ever created. Anyone not even slightly frightened by this first encounter would have to be a bit dead inside. Q’s dialogue with Picard is unwaveringly good, and Guinan’s role is brilliant support to the development of the story. The best touch is the introduction of the neurotically driven ensign Sonia Gomez who initially provides a comic touch (you think the episode is going somewhere else), then is absorbed into the crew in a most un-Borglike way. There’s little more to add. 4 stars.

I just want to add - in addition to all the others who commented - that the musical score is stupendous. @Lado I also can’t stand either Q or Troi’s mother. However, the dialogue given to John de Lancie is usually top notch, and his acting is equally so. And in this episode he really shines. Having said that, we didn’t actually need Q for an encounter with the Borg, though it’s difficult to imagine how the ship would have escaped without him. I noticed that there is no mention of assimilation in this episode - the Borg are regarded as a separate species rather than a collective of absorbed species as we clearly got by the time of BOBW, and later in Voyager’s Seven Of Nine. I agree with the reviewers who pointed out that Q destroys the smugly arrogant perfection of the Roddenberry universe so even though he is an un-Treklike imp, he does fulfill a very useful role. Less mysterious and nebulous compared to the Traveller perhaps, but a good counterbalance to the “humanity has eliminated all negative traits” thing which gets SO irritating!

"I noticed that there is no mention of assimilation in this episode - the Borg are regarded as a separate species rather than a collective of absorbed species as we clearly got by the time of BOBW, and later in Voyager’s Seven Of Nine." That's a great point and one that must be remembered going into BOBW. The crew had no idea assimilation was a thing at first, nor did they know that the assimilated individual's knowledge and experiences would be folded into the Borg collective consciousness. That makes Locutus' statement "The knowledge and experience of the human Picard is part of us now. It has prepared us for all possible courses of action. Your resistance is hopeless, Number One." all the more chilling since for all they knew, the Borg had only taken Picard's body, not his mind.

This is truly a spectacular introduction to a terrifying threat. It was ultimately a deus ex machina, but an entirely justifiable one considering it was set up by a well established deus to begin with. And that resolution also serves quite well to make the the potential Borg threat even more terrifying. It's clear that Q won't be around to save their ass next time. @Daniel Blumentritt Q's "oh please" line isn't loved as much as it makes it clear that despite Q's prior shenanigans, this encounter is quite bloody real. And Q was absolutely right, the Enterprise and Starfleet at large ARE smug and arrogant. In a broader sense, Q likely was giving Starfleet a heads up, because, as referenced in this very episode, the Borg have already staged incursions deep in/near the Federation.

It was weird how much development they put into Sonya Gomez then dropped her after one more episode. I always wondered about that considering she's given all the hallmarks of a new regular or at least recurring character. She's almost like a proto-Barclay. It could be that they didn't have anything for her to do at the time. Other than being very pretty and rambling to Geordi, she's only barely helping him. Watch later in the episode and she's just standing around staring at the warp core. It's possible the character was in some way a casualty of the 1989 writer strike. I really liked Guinan wandering around looking worried, and didn't blatantly lay out her worries. For whatever reason, she holds her cards quite close and reveals very little. I also liked the use of Troi here when she comes to the bridge and asks where Picard is. For some reason (perhaps just her empathy) she's aware Picard is missing, but I like the economy of story here by not going into why. Why doesn't Guinan tell Picard or Starfleet about the Borg? It's not specified, but she may well be worried that doing so would simply make Starfleet extremely curious of the Borg and that it would trigger a disastrous encounter, more or less like this. It's likely true considering Picard immediately dismisses her advice and they go exploring. Later, he again ignores her advice to explore the ship with an away team. "Q Who", a possible unique reference to Doctor Who? Maybe. Doctor Who was widely shown on PBS stations. As a teenager in the south, I watched it and even went to a Doctor Who convention (with Tom Baker and Colin Baker) around 1985 or so. Certainly the TNG producers and writers would be aware of it. Q actually does behave a lot like a Doctor in this episode, albeit far more aggressively and overtly and of course with substantially more powers.

Gomez: I'm glad she didn't die here because it really would have been terribly cliché to introduce a character only to immediately kill them off. One nitpick for me- Gomez goes on and about still seeing the faces of the 18 killed. But she just got assigned to the ship. Had she even met them? That line just seemed off.

I figure "Q Who" refers to Q's role on the show. If we retcon it so that Q Less precedes Q Who and Qpid doesn't exist then Q Who is the turning point in the series from Q as villainous antagonist to Q as helpful trickster and even mentor. In Q Who we ask: who is Q? And the answer at the end is different than at the beginning.

Maybe the title is a reference to the Grinch Who Stole Chrismas. Maybe Q is the trickster from Whoville and Q Who his proper name.

They should've named Amanda or the Suzie Plakson character "Cindy Q Who."

@Sullivan "btw, what is Riker doing in that scene? He's leaning so steeply over the bar and looking unwaveringly into her eyes." I think it was just for cinematography reasons. Jonathan Frakes is 5 inches taller than Patrick Stewart and it's a tight shot. If Frakes weren't leaning over, much of his head wouldn't be in shot. I was watching a season one (IIRC) episode and at one point, Geordi and Riker stand facing each other, and it's almost comical because Burton is 8 inches shorter than Frakes. I think they rarely used them both in the same shot like that later on for this reason.

I'm watching this one right now. An interesting thought occurred to me: one of the issues Q Who brings up is human (Federation) arrogance, at assuming they're ready to encounter what's out there. At first glance this is Q's point, to which Picard relents and finally agrees he needs help. Except there's an interesting moment after the initial death of the 18 crew members, during the senior staff meeting, when Riker announces that the only tactical choice that makes sense is to board the Borg ship rather than flee. Guinan's "What?!" is very telling: most experienced commanders would have taken her advice and tried to return as quickly as possible and get away from the Borg. Which of course, would have been useless anyhow. But Riker is always thinking of how to win, rather than how to cut his losses. This occurs in a big way in Peak Performance, and culminates in BoBW when he goes against even Picard's logic (as Locutus) and conducts an extremely brash and arrogant plan to do the unexpected. So on the one hand Q (and the episode) is teaching us that the Federation is *so* not ready for what's out there. But Riker on the other hand, to Guinan's shock, seems *completely* ready to encounter it on his terms, no matter how overwhelming it is. So whereas Q is claiming the human's arrogance is a danger to them, in fact Riker's arrogance (later showing big in BoBW) is the only reason they learn as much as they do and have any chance at all against them.

@Silly "It was weird how much development they put into Sonya Gomez then dropped her after one more episode. I always wondered about that considering she's given all the hallmarks of a new regular or at least recurring character. She's almost like a proto-Barclay." Gomez as "a proto-Barclay" ; perceptive, wish that her character had been retained. The coffee scene still resonates. The actresses comedic talent is evident, although it got squelched by the Borg disaster. A similar thing happened with a female character named Kaplan in Voyager....introduced, used in a few episodes, then dispatched.

Well said. Imo it's absolutely one of the best TNG episodes ever.

One of my favorite all time episodes of any Trek. The Borg thing is so scary, they do a genuinely good job of making this episode feel scary. Its a cool idea that the Federation needs to be humbled, and this is certainly a dose of humility.

I liked the Borg better here, when they were all just one mind with no leader. When they came up with the Borg Queen it kind of ruined that. Apparently in this episode the Borg had babies though, they had not come up with the idea of assimilation yet. What was that silly thing Guinan was doing with her hands, does she have some kind of Q like powers also? I don't think they ever brought that up again. Nice that we finally got some more backstory about her and Q in season 2 of Picard.

The Bishop of Battle

Gomez was totally intended to be one of those recurring second stringers like Barclay and O'Brien but audiences hated her so they dropped her. At least she got her own command years later.

Todayshorse

Great episode. I also love how the camera follows Picard as he's heading for the turbolift just before he ends up on the shuttle.

Sjdrake: I have to disagree with you about Gomez. Star Trek does use their teasers as allegories for the episodes. I went back and looked at the openings of all of Season 2 so far, and 10 of the 16 are either foreshadowing or allegorical. The most obvious are Ep 5 (Loud as a Whisper), 6 (The Schizoid Man), 8 (A Matter of Honor), 9 (The Measure of a Man), and this one. Ep 5 opens with Picard trying to figure out how a planet’s erratic orbit, which shouldn’t work, does in fact work. The episode concludes with the mediator trying something that shouldn’t work but that we are led to believe will work. Ep 6 opening scene: Data is trying out a new look via a beard, and in the episode he gets taken over by a second personality. Ep 8 opens with a new ensign successfully adjusting to his new ship, and the episode is about Riker successfully adjusting to a new ship. Ep 9 opening scene, Data loses at poker because he can’t detect a bluff, and the whole episode is about whether he’s a sapient being or a machine. For this episode 16, someone else has already analyzed that. I believe eppies 2, 3, and 12 are also in this category, and 1, 10, and 15 are good candidates. I’ve gotten curious about this now and might go back and look at TOS episodes.

One nice detail I never thought about before is the detail of Sonya Gomez spilling the coffee on Picard. Of course it's a 'big deal' in the office politics of a Starship and its Captain. But the airtime it gets, with the drawn out embarrassment of Geordi in the background, and Picard clearly irritated, is a very nice counterpoint to this exchange: PICARD: I understand what you've done here, Q, but I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of eighteen members of my crew. Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. To Q the lost crewmen are like spilling coffee on a shirt, something trivial in the grand scheme. I think his argument isn't only about human arrogance and its presumption that it's ready for anything out there, but also in its expectation that things can avoid getting messy and unpleasant. Going out into space and exploring could mean opening up a Pandora's box that could even permanently make things far less pleasant. As a little aside, the online transcript for this episode does have a question mark in the episode title. I'm not sure if that's relevant to anything or represents some canonical original version of the title that existed prior to airing.

Beard of Sisko

In which Q transforms (and for the better) from an over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon villain into a more complex anti-villain. His callousness toward the 18 dead crew members prevents him from crossing into full blown hero territory, but from here on out it can at least be inferred that Q cares about humanity and wishes for them to thrive. Indeed, but for him giving them a premature encounter with the Borg, the Federation would have remained complacent and more than likely not have been able to thwart the attempted assimilation of Earth a year later.

Neo the Beagle

Gomez spills hot chocolate on Picard, not coffee

Masterpiece. Masterclass. A true chef's kiss of an episode, and what a performance from de Lancie. Pity there was never any development for Guinan and her history except for a few vague mentions here and there. Every so often Star Trek serves up a truly frightening alien, such as the Borg and the fish-faced chap from Where Silence Has Lease. I don't recall anything else reaching this level of fear and threat until Voyager encounters Species 8472, something like six years later! Why can't we have more scary, unknowable aliens? Peter G (three comments up): what a clever and interesting idea. Too subtle for most of us, I think: there is so much excitement and interest here that I forgot Gomez as soon as she was off the screen.

Paul Johnson

Something always seemed to be missing in Q-Who until I watched it again last night. Something that would have made this episode far more threatening. The phrases "we are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile," and, "we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own." Or did I just miss that exchange? Pretty sure the verbal threats wern't there, though. May stating them would have diffused the mystery and future peril of Borg contact.

"Something always seemed to be missing in Q-Who until I watched it again last night. Something that would have made this episode far more threatening. The phrases "we are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile," and, "we will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own." Or did I just miss that exchange? Pretty sure the verbal threats wern't there, though. May stating them would have diffused the mystery and future peril of Borg contact." That's because the original concept didn't include biological assimilation; Q explicitly says that they are "raw material" and only their technology is of interest. In Best of Both Worlds this is perhaps retconned, although I'd say it's less a retroactive change and more a logical development - while it somewhat contradicts the literal statement made by Q it is certainly in keeping with its spirit and I guess if you want to really technical, all Q said was they only were interested in technology as in at that specific moment in that encounter; he never guaranteed the Borg wouldn't have some other priority in future encounters.

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16th episode of the 2nd season of Star Trek: The Next Generation / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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" Q Who " is the 16th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation . The episode first aired in broadcast syndication on May   5, 1989. It was written by executive producer Maurice Hurley and directed by Rob Bowman . "Q Who" marked the first appearance of the Borg , who were designed by Hurley and originally intended to appear in the first season episode " The Neutral Zone ".

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D . In this episode, the almost- omnipotent entity known as " Q " ( John de Lancie ) arrives on the Enterprise and decides that Captain Jean-Luc Picard ( Patrick Stewart ) is ignorant and overconfident. Q then sends the ship across the galaxy where the crew make first contact with the cybernetically enhanced assimilating race known as the Borg. After first trying to make peace and then trying to destroy the ship, and failing at both, Picard is forced to beg for Q's help.

Costume designs were created by Dorinda Wood, while Michael Westmore developed the prosthetics worn on the actor's heads. The designs were reminiscent of creations of H. R. Giger and the character Lord Dread from the television series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future . The episode went over budget and nearly required additional filming time. "Q Who" was watched by 10.3 million viewers. The critical reception has been positive, with the episode described as the first "great episode" of the series. [1] It was nominated for three Emmy Awards , winning two.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “Q Who”

Season 2, Episode 16 Original air date: May 8, 1989 Star date: 42761.3

Mission summary

The Enterprise has a new arrival: manic pixie dream girl Ensign Sonya Gomez, who tries to charm us by being polite to replicators, babbling on incoherently, and spilling hot chocolate (so much cuter than coffee) on an unsuspecting Captain Picard. The captain heads to Officers’ Quarters (really? They have their own district away from the riff-raff?) but the turbolift dumps him instead onto a familiar-looking shuttlecraft out in the deepness of space… with Q.

Guinan has a hunch that something’s wrong, but no one believes her until Riker realizes the captain and shuttlecraft six are both missing. Picard, meanwhile, demands to be returned to his ship and upbraids Q for interfering when he promised he wouldn’t. Q then snaps them both back to the Enterprise and is surprised to find Guinan, an old and not-so-amiable acquaintance. It seems Q has alienated everyone, including the Q Continuum, and he has no place to go now. He offers to join the Enterprise ‘s rag-tag crew! Picard acknowledges that it’s a “provocative” offer, but ultimately says he can’t possibly trust him.

Q: Oh. Well, you may not trust me, but you do need me. You’re not prepared for what awaits you. PICARD: How can we be prepared for that which we do not know? But I do know that we are ready to encounter it. Q: Really? PICARD: Yes. Absolutely. That’s why we’re out here. Q: Oh, the arrogance. They don’t have a clue as to what’s out here. […] You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you have encountered so far. The Romulans, the Klingons. They are nothing compared to what’s waiting. Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine, and terrors to freeze your soul. I offer myself as guide only to be rejected out of hand. RIKER: We’ll just have to do the best we can without you. Q: What justifies that smugness? PICARD: Not smugness, not arrogance. But we are resolute, we are determined, and your help is not required. Q: We’ll just have to see how ready you are.

Q snaps his fingers again and the Enterprise is flung 7,000 lights years away. It will take nearly three years to get to the nearest starbase. But hey, isn’t Guinan from around here?

RIKER: What can you tell us? GUINAN: Only that if I were you, I’d start back now.

Oh. Well, she’s just a mysterious, unfathomably old alien. What does she know?

They find a class M planet in the sector, which looks like all the machine parts have been ripped away, just as with the outposts mentioned in “ The Neutral Zone .” Because its ears are burning, a giant cube flies through space to meet the Enterprise . Guinan warns them that this sector is home to the Borg, a relentless, cybernetic intelligence that wiped out her entire species. Cool! Picard goes in for a closer look.

Once the Cube is in range, a Borg beams over to Engineering and starts zapping the terminals, extracting information. Picard tries to reason with it but it ignores him. Worf is able to neutralize it, but a new one just pops up in its place, some kind of mechanical hydra. Worf gets this one, too, but the Borg already got what they wanted from the computer. They lock a tractor beam onto the Enterprise and cut out a little slice of the ship’s hull, taking 18 crewmembers with them. The Borg have a message: resistance is futile.

That’s not so great, actually, so Picard calls a meeting.

Q: The Borg is the ultimate user. They’re unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They’re not interested in political conquest, wealth or power as you know it. They’re simply interested in your ship, its technology. They’ve identified it as something they can consume.

So what do they do? They fire at the ship until the tractor beam is released, but the Cube is repairing itself and will be functional again in no time. Why waste the opportunity for research? Riker, Worf, and Data beam over to investigate this new, dangerous species, and find out that… they’re a relentless cybernetic intelligence. News, huh? It seems the cube is very generic, but each borg has his own little cubby hole that they can plug into.

Picard decides it’s time to get out of there, and once his full complement is back on board (well, aside from the unlucky eighteen) he tells Wesley to gun the engine full-throttle. The Cube pursues, and even at maximum warp the Enterprise isn’t going to get out of this one.

WORF: The Borg are still gaining. Q: They will follow this ship until you exhaust your fuel. They will wear down your defenses. Then you will be theirs. Admit it, Picard. You’re out of your league. You should have stayed where you belonged. […] You can’t outrun them. You can’t destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone. They are relentless. […] Where’s your stubbornness now, Picard, your arrogance? Do you still profess to be prepared for what awaits you?

Jeeeeez, what an obnoxious winner. But he’s not done until he has Picard begging.

PICARD: If we all die, here, now, you will not be able to gloat. You wanted to frighten us. We’re frightened. You wanted to show us that we were inadequate. For the moment, I grant that. You wanted me to say I need you. I need you!

Q obliges and snaps them back to where they were. Phew.

Mulling over what’s happened, Guinan and Picard discuss what this means for humanity and the Federation. Now the Borg know humanity exists, and they’ll be coming to finish what they started…

PICARD: Maybe Q did the right thing for the wrong reason. GUINAN: How so? PICARD: Well, perhaps what we most needed was a kick in our complacency, to prepare us for what lies ahead.

Maybe it’s just because it’s sandwiched between “ Pen Pals ” and “Samaritan Snare” that my memory was so rosy, but even after two seasons of waiting this didn’t quite meet my expectations.

Q is back, and he’s as malevolent as ever. This is worth celebrating! In his first two appearances he seems petulant and silly (the costumes don’t help), probably intended as a throwback reference to Trelane & Co., but I think here he really comes into his own as a dangerous being. They retconned this encounter in First Contact to make meeting the Borg early a way to “save” the Federation by helping them prepare, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. Q’s setting up the pawns to fight a battle that would not have otherwise been fought, because he wants Picard to lead the charge. It’s perverse and disturbing and selfish and I love it. You know he wouldn’t do it if a betting man didn’t have his money on the Borg, so you also know the odds are stacked against our heroes. Picard’s a diplomat, so what happens when you pit him against a power that cannot be reasoned with? This is drama, the stuff that’s supposed to be on TV. About damn time.

But let’s face it, we’re all here for the Borg. By next season they’ll have come a long way from their roots (power supplies?). The Cube looks really silly when it first appears. I kind of blinked and thought “that’s it?” but maybe I’m spoiled by the mid-90s First Contact effects. All the Borg look the same, too. They aren’t recognizably different species and there’s absolutely no mention of assimilation, so presumably that evolved later. Without the troubling elements of loss of identity and self, the first appearance of the Borg is kind of… underwhelming. They don’t seem any different from the doomsday machine, and you get the distinct impression all this could be sorted out by planting some malware. There’s no bite, not like a proper villain. They’re obviously powerful but they aren’t scary just yet. This thread will get somewhere worth getting to (eventually) so I’m still left rubbing my hands in excitement.

So given those promises, I’d peg this as a Warp 3. But “Q Who?” has something much more powerful going on than just a new villain and some cheesy effects: it represents the complete take-down of the philosophy of the first two seasons. We’ve spent two years listening to how the Federation is perfect and everyone is so special and they go on these amazing adventures and know what’s best… and then Q comes up and tells them it’s all bullshit and there is plenty out there in the universe that will kill them, and if they’re going to cry about it they should pack their bags and go home. It’s amazing . All of us at home seething at these smug bastards occupying our Enterprise , and someone tells it like it is . These people are arrogant! They don’t know what’s out there! Space is terrifying and wonderful and deadly! It finally steps into its own as a descendant of the original series, and you get the feeling they’re about to embark on an adventure–one worth having–for the first time.

Just try to keep that in mind when you watch “Up the Long Ladder.”

Torie’s Rating: Warp 5 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: Q: If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it’s not for the timid.

Trivia/Other Notes: I’m sure we all know this, but it bears repeating: the Borg are named such because they’re cyborgs, and they were initially supposed to be a race of insects, but that’s too expensive.

Ensign Gomez must have pissed off someone other than me, because she’s in the next episode and then never appears again. You don’t think you know her but you do: Lycia Naff was the triple-breasted Martian prostitute in (the original) Total Recall .

If you thought the Guinan/Q standoff looked weird and/or familiar, it’s because it’s the stance she uses in The Color Purple when she finally stands up to her abusive husband. That’s not loaded, or anything…

Q bouncing the ball in the shuttlecraft is, of course, a reference to The Great Escape .

Previous episode: Season 2, Episode 15 – “ Pen Pals .”

Next episode: Season 2, Episode 17 – “ Samaritan Snare .”

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About Torie Atkinson

21 comments.

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I think we’re sufficiently jaded from years of great shows and tense moments because I still remember the first time I saw this, during it’s second airing (after a friend of mine raved about the episode) it scared the bejesus out of me. Granted, I was all of 15.

Back in the day when all you had were Ferengi, Romulans and Klingons, the Borg were something else entirely. The tension in the episode, the discovery that this was something that was utterly alien to [i]Enterprise[/i] and her crew, even the silly looking cube all stacked up to something that really left an impression.

Nowadays, of course, it’s not such a big deal. But as an episode in its time, this one really blew us all away.

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I liked this episode quite a bit when it first aired, and I can see it has aged well.

It restores a sense of scale and danger and unknown to the universe in a way we haven’t seen since “Where No One Has Gone Before” and will so seldom see again in the TNG run. There are definitely things Out There beyond the scope of humans to defend against.

This is probably my favorite Q episode. He definitely comes across as less cuddlesome, more rancorous and unpredictable than we have or will see him, indifferently exposing a swath of crew to painful death.

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The captain heads to Officers’ Quarters (really? They have their own district away from the riff-raff?)

Yes. That’s one of the fixtures of an officer/enlisted hierarchy. You keep them separate and discourage social mixing. You don’t make friends with people you have to order into certain death someday. Troi finds out why, later.

It’s why the captain has to ask permission before entering the officer’s wardroom, as well. Captains get to be friends with no one.

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Oddly, I find I have very little to say about this episode. I didn’t much care for it when if first aired, mostly because it featured Q. John de Lancie is a terrific actor and he can do a lot with what he’s given, but it’s still Q. He’s a little better than APPDEBs like at Farpoint or in “Justice”, but only because he talks.

The other big problem is the retcons. Not just that Q promised to leave them alone – he has his excuses for that – but the claim that the Federation wouldn’t have encountered the Borg for another hundred years while at the same time making it clear that they were responsible for the attacks on the outposts at the end of season 1. You really can’t have both at the same time.

An insectile race (the Zek? The Ect? Borg was such a stupid name) may or may not have been scary. Big bugs creep me right the hell out, but other than that? The fact that doing them that way would have been too expensive shows how quickly SFX advanced over the next few years. By 1994, Babylon 5 was able to have a CGI praying mantis dude show up occasionally (rendered with an Amiga, no less) and 3 years after that Voyager came along with Species 8472 (hut, hut, hike!). That’s less than a decade from “We can’t do that” to “frequently appearing effect that doesn’t hurt our budget at all.”

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As a kid, I remember being really excited by the ending to this episode. Before I even knew what the word “continuity” meant, the idea that an episode could introduce something that could come back many episodes later was really appealing to me. Of course, back then I was still waiting for those aliens from “Conspiracy” to turn up again.

The Cybermen Borg cube also stuck with me long after I saw this episode for the first time. It looks so alien, and so unlike anything I would think of when I imagined a space ship. Where’s the front of that thing and where’s the back? How could a square have its own means of propulsion? Seriously.. that thing freaked me out more than the actual Borg.

I’ve always wondered why the Cybermen Borg bothered to attack the Federation if it was so far away. Why waste all that time and energy on one civilization when there are so many other life forms between Borg space and the Federation just waiting to be assimilated?

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I was both impressed and underwhelmed by my re-watch of this episode. I’ve always liked Q, and this is one of his finest hours (though he is wearing on me a little), but I was impatient to see the Borg, and I was surprised at how long it takes them to get there. Why are we being introduced to this annoying ancillary character who seemingly serves no purpose? You half-expect her to be one of the 18 dead later in the episode, right? And did it seem like Geordi was kind of…flirty?

It’s a little hard to separate this version of the Borg from what we see of them later on. Like Torie, I thought they’d be a little creepier. Instead of adowable Borg babies, I wanted them to find their missing crewmates being converted into drones. The ship looks smaller than I remembered, and it’s surprising Enterprise is actually able to do so much damage to it–especially when Worf misses the tractor beam twice before finally hitting it. Get it together, Worf!

But they were the first new alien race introduced on TNG that is both interesting and dangerous–and different from anything we’ve seen on the show before. They are powerful and mysterious at first, and it still gives me chills when they carve that section out of the saucer; at that moment, I was thinking of Star Trek II , and how we really needed to cut to a shot in a corridor showing the destruction from the inside.

The episode does feel incomplete to me, particularly with Q’s last-minute save, but it represented a big step in storytelling: drawing on previous, seemingly insignificant continuity and setting the show up for other episodes with this ominous ending.

I love Torie’s analysis of Q’s motivations here, which were less clear to me as I watched. Was he really banished by the Q, or was it all a ploy? Wouldn’t the Borg have discovered the Federation pretty soon anyway, since they were already attacking Romulan outposts?

I appreciate Picard’s sentiment that they’re ready to face whatever’s out there, and the lesson Q teaches him. In the end, it really was Picard’s arrogance that brought them under the Borg’s attention; if he had listened to Guinan and headed home, they might have escaped unnoticed. (I was also confused about how much people know about Guinan, and why she’s so vague about everything.)

So I wavered between warp 4 and 5, but in light of recent and forthcoming episodes, and the importance of this story to the Star Trek universe, and how they pulled out all the stops to try to make this feel BIG–that slow pull-out on the crew inside the Borg cube is amazing –I’ll give it a 5.

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There’s plenty it nit-pick in this episode (if they are all officer’s then what the hell is officer’s quarters? What si Gomez in the story, she serves no purpose what so ever.) However, eve though it is a Q episode I generally like this one. the characters are in over their depth, there’s a real sense that the universe is grander and more dangerous that the backward nativie stories that the show had been telling, and Q isactually right for a change. They were arrogant and not ready. What annoyed me the most was th away team trip to the cube. You already know that this is an implacable and hostile species, sending three people to poke around is foolish. (though that could have been saved had the reason been rescue, the hopes that the in the section lifted by the Borg might be saved. And you could have paid off with the crew – convereted to borg, attacking the rescue team.) still, this was so much betetr than what had come before, sadlyn what lies ahead is the neutering of the borg…

(Re)watching this episode, I was struck by the idea that this might be TNG’s take on the Kobiyashi Maru no-win scenario.

I mean, here you have this new ST captain who is clearly the shining star of the series to date, and you have writers who want to “take him out on a test drive.” What do you do? Well, you recreate Kirk’s iconic moment (the moment that turned him into an icon) and play it against this new captain.

Here, the strength is in pliance, Picard’s willingness to be humble and ask for help—a reed versus the oak moment, if you will—which is really quite in contrast to Kirk. Picard wins because he is not a stuffed shirt with a tin star. We viewers think here, yes, Kirk might’ve failed Q’s problem. This is a new kind of captain, we’re thinking.

I tend to think a lot of this masterful foresight we’re told about by the Creative into how they always intended to introduce the Borg is itself a lot of retconned, after-the-fact horseshit. I mean, this is a series that hasn’t shown a lot of quality to date, a lot of intelligence to date, and we’re expected to believe they had they whole Borg story arc plotted out… instead of, as I suspect, it being yet another plate of pasta thrown at the wall to see what stuck (as, I believe, the character of Gomez also was, and didn’t [stick]). No, I think the ready-made “implacable enemy” was trotted out for “All Good Things” and worked out so brilliantly, so wonderful, that someone retconned “I meant to do that, gimme a retro-Emmy” on to this episode.

In the same way everyone wants to be the reincarnation of Napoleon, not his stable boy, everyone involved in TNG wants to take credit for the Borg, the whole enchilada, not the Ferengi or, ulp Pakleds. IMO.

At any rate, it is interesting to ponder WWKD regarding the Borg/Q problem presented here.

Correction: …trotted out for “Best of Both Worlds”…

As for the character of Gomez, I must wonder if she isn’t some protypical stab at the “Everyman” in what would ultimately become most recognizable as Barclay.

As Torie notes, you have this perfect universe in which every lead character is unique, most excellent, gifted, marvelous, wunderkind, etc. And you’ve got Gene cracking a whip that, by golly, everyone who inhabits this universe is this special, this amazing. And you have the writers glancing sadly at one another, saying, “How are we supposed to write compelling drama around this?” Especially when most television of the era is focused quite heavily on human flaws, follies and foibles.

So I can see back pressure from writers in wanting to add an “Everyday Joe,” someone vulnerable to the awe and mystery, to the cast. For comic relief, for viewer identification, whatever.

There are several of these stabs. I would place O’Brien as more or less one of them. Barclay is its ultimate expression. But I think Gomez is understandable as a test of the writers’ cry from the parched, unwatered wilderness Gene created for character drama.

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@ 1 Toryx Aww, it’s good to have that perspective. I saw this years later in syndication, and I remember my first Borg episode as “I, Borg” (which still sticks with me).

@ 2 Lemnoc Agreed on all points.

@ 3 S. Hutson Blount But there is no officer/enlisted divide in this series. O’Brien hangs out with Worf. La Forge goes out for drinks with his subordinate (who is admittedly an officer, but still!).

@ 4 DemetriosX I really don’t shed any tears that the Borg weren’t bugs. That’d be creepy, yet ironically not as effective at conveying the hive mind thing. And I think cyborgs were long overdue as a TV villain.

@ 5 JohnSteed7 The cube didn’t freak me out until they beamed aboard. It’s just so soulless to watch these sorta-people plug themselves into the motherboard.

“The Neutral Zone” implied the Borg were awfully close to the Federation already. Like Demetrios, I don’t think the writers can really have it both ways…

@ 6 Eugene Geordi seemed a little flirty, but also had some obvious contempt for her, so that was weird…

As for Q’s motivations, I think he really was kicked out of the Q, and as such decided to commission some no holds barred entertainment. What’s to stop him now, right? It’s exceptionally wicked.

@ 7 bobsandiego I had exactly the same issue. What on earth are they going to accomplish by beaming over?! But maybe it’s just another example of their naive arrogance, to think everything out there in the universe is not just safe but easily explicable.

@ 8 Lemnoc I really, really love this interpretation. I kind of want to print it out and tape it to my desk. You’re absolutely right. This is Picard’s Khan, in a way. His arrogance means the death of those 18 people. If he had listened to Guinan (or even given Q the benefit of the doubt and erred on the safe side) none of this would have happened.

What I don’t understand (and Eugene mentions this) is why Guinan is so mysterious. Don’t you think SOMEONE, before she was assigned to the flagship of the Federation, would have been like “So, nearly last of your kind, eh? What happened to your people? Whoa, what Borg?!?!” And don’t you love that once they finally sit her down for a debrief, they abandon the meeting halfway? Um, I’d think you’d want to know what she has to say…

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While it’s just speculation since it was never addressed in the series, there is a way for the Borg to be responsible for the damage seen in The Neutral Zone yet have the first viable encounter be a century away. The Borg sends out long range exploration/scout ships which travel in great circle routes to get a sampling of what resources are available in the surrounding areas. These ships will return to Borg space then the Collective evaluates the findings to set the priorities for their next series of campaigns.

Were that the case, you could reason that Q taking the Enterprise out there, then Picard’s decisions and actions, caused the Borg to take an early interest in the Federation. Could it be that they didn’t know that Q was responsible for the ship appearing in their space and they wanted what they thought was some new technology?

Could it be that they didn’t know that Q was responsible for the ship appearing in their space and they wanted what they thought was some new technology?

That is a great point, and I meant to mention that: What the hell did the Borg think when the Enterprise warped away (sideways!) just when it was nearly destroyed? They would either want to acquire that technology or proceed cautiously, wary of the Federation’s strength. Though they’ve just scanned the ship, so they know exactly what its capabilities are.

I also don’t understand why the Borg pick a couple of pieces off fallen drones and then incinerate the body on the spot, instead of just transporting back with the corpse and harvesting all the parts they want.

I think the most frightening part of the Borg to me is the way they ignore you while you’re wandering around their ship, because they really can just destroy you if they felt like it.

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@Eugene #12 Supposedly ants will do this too — if you don’t obviously smell like an intruder and they aren’t warrior caste, they’ll just go about their jobs and ignore you. I actually thought it was kind of believable that the average Borg will just sort of carry on with whatever the currently assigned task is and pay no attention to the man in the corner. What’s more surprising is that they don’t seem to have triggered any sort of security alarm by beaming over…

@11 Torie: there’s hardly any enlisted personnel that we see, ever–which might be the best evidence of a class divide. Even in “Lower Decks,” they’re all ensigns.

More speculation. The items taken from a fallen Borg could be the buffers and short term memory units holding information that was waiting for a transmission window to forward that information on to the Collective.

Also. I had thought about the Borg having scanned the ship. They’d have an idea based on that information what the ship should be able to do but they did all of a sudden detect it within their space then they saw it leave their space in a way differing greatly from that information.

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—a thought provoking episode to be sure—interesting to reflect upon because in retrospect we know what the borg are capable of—why don’t they crush the enterprise and be done with it?–i feel this way at points with “best of both worlds” too—but like the predators of the insect world that the borg were supposed to be–careful sizing up of prey is common–i keep hearing in my mind dr. morbius when he said in forbidden planet “this is just a foretaste”–Q of course is growing in his importance to this series–as playfully malicious as he is–he serves to make the captain better, see “tapestry”—i for one am glad that guinan is mysterious–it provides depth for what becomes a character of great importance in this series—she listens–but she doesn’t tell—ensign gomez does have one thing right—“working with so much artificial intelligence can be dehumanizing”—and then i see groups of people looking at their phones, instead of having conversations—-

@ torie 11 .La Forge goes out for drinks with his subordinate (who is admittedly an officer, but still!). The fact she is an officer is really everything.Now is our current system he would be in very serious trouble for flirting with a person directly under hsi command, it would be better for him if she were a security officer, or a non-command line officer like medical. But yeah, as military fiction Trek is pretty poorly written. If I were on the Enterprise I would want to get my hands on the person who programmed the ship’s computer though. Really, I can take the captain off the ship and the computer won’t tell and unless someone asks? For pete’s sake this is a universe with teleportation, so it is not inconcievable that an enemy could beam aboard and snatch the c.o. and in that case it would be friggin’ nice if the ship’s computer would tell someone.

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Friggin’ Q. The more often I watch them, the less I like episodes with Q.

Now, don’t get me wrong. deLancie is a wonderful actor, and I’ve enjoyed him in other things, including the Star Trek Symphony thing (he and Robert Picardo were the hosts, and were really funny). But I don’t like Q, because I don’t enjoy Space Douches, and Q is the spacey-est, douche-iest of them all.

The only bit I really liked in this one was the Borg taking a core sample of the Enterprise. It was such a quintessentially scientist-y thing to do with something you don’t yet understand. It wasn’t an attack, per se: it was just doing what Curiosity is on Mars, sampling in the search for scientific advancement.

That the Borg take that sample in the name of self-improvement doesn’t even change it much: we do the same, all the time, with all kinds of core samples, and we don’t concern ourselves a whole lot with whatever life forms way-below-us think of the process.

That’s about all I liked, though. I remain thoroughly curmudgeoned about the whole thing.

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@ 18 “Really, I can take the captain off the ship and the computer won’t tell and unless someone asks? For pete’s sake this is a universe with teleportation, so it is not inconcievable that an enemy could beam aboard and snatch the c.o. and in that case it would be friggin’ nice if the ship’s computer would tell someone.”

Yeah, it’s a weak concept. Don’t forget, they’ll do it again in a later season ( Alliegience” ), but at least that time there will be a faux Picard left in his place. Of course, if you want to play devil’s advocate, you could say that Q fixed it so that the computer would’nt notice his disappearance until asked.

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Yay, someone else loathes Q! Why is he even in this episode? (Why is he in any episode?) In “Q Who” he could easily be replaced by the bog-standard TNG “anomaly” as an excuse for the Enterprise’s miraculous transport to a far distant part of the galaxy (and their rescue therefrom) and we’d lose nothing. Hell, it might even be a stronger episode without Q’s appearance because right from the start, thanks to Q’s derision, we know from the start that things are going to go badly wrong; without Q we’d have more suspense.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Q Who? (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

Q Who? throws down the gauntlet for Star Trek: The Next Generation . It serves as a fitting reminder that Picard and his crew are still amateurs when it comes to space exploration. They don’t even win the day – they suffer “a bloody nose” before limping away from their strange new opponents to lick their wounds. For a crew that never seemed to sweat before, who never seemed like they were under pressure, this is a shocking development.

More interestingly, it’s something unknown in a universe that has become far too familiar. Three of the four episodes leading into Q Who? ended with the crew accepting that there were some things they’d never fully understand or comprehend, and – while it’s unlikely this was intentional – it seems like a nice bit of thematic foreshadowing rather than haphazard plotting. For the first season-and-a-half of the show, it seemed like the Enterprise was always dealing with the familiar, always in control of the situation.

With Q Who? , everything is put into perspective.

Borg to death...

Borg to death…

Indeed, Rob Bowman concedes on the commentary that the whole point of Q Who? was to catch the crew of the Enterprise off-guard:

The inspiration for the Borg was that Maurey – and probably Rick too, I can’t remember – had this notion that every time the crew of the Enterprise came upon something they’d never ever seen before, by the end of the episode they’d sort of figured out and conquered it. So the idea was to create a character or a society that we couldn’t figure out, that we couldn’t conquer.

It’s an attempt to shake things up.

Well, Q does seem to appreciate his quality alone time...

Well, Q does seem to appreciate his quality alone time…

Indeed, part of what’s fascinating about Q Who? is that the episode doesn’t really have an easy-to-pin-down story structure. Maurice Hurley was never great when it came to structuring his Star Trek scripts. For example, the teaser on Time Squared seemed to end too early, with the discovery of the shuttle rather than Picard.  Q Who? seems similarly weak on structure. The teaser ends with the return of Q, rather than with a solid hook.

(While it would be too early for the Borg or for Q to fling the Enterprise to the Delta Quadrant, the teaser might be more compelling if it gave us some hint of Q’s status – maybe ending with Q seeking asylum. The next season’s Deja Q ends its teaser with the reveal of Q, but with a shocking reveal of his circumstances. “Q appears” really isn’t a gripping opening to an episode. “Q appears naked on the bridge” is much more effective.)

Claws for concern...

Claws for concern…

Still, Hurley’s weak structure works as an advantage here. Q Who? doesn’t really work as a stand-alone adventure. Q returns; he wants to join the crew; he sends the Enterprise to the Delta Quadrant; the Enterprise encounters the Borg; the Enterprise runs away as quickly as possible. That’s hardly the most compelling of narratives, and it’s difficult to transpose an act structure over. However, the fact that Q Who? isn’t anything like any Next Generation story to date works to its advantage.

Q Who? is unsettling, and decidedly so. It’s very clearly a collection of things that should not be happening on The Next Generation . It is also exactly what the show needed at this point in time. The last episode ended that the Enterprise crew using magic memory wipe technology to side-step an ethical issue. It’s important that the show demonstrate that these are still people who face problems and threats that they can’t conveniently defeat with technobabble.

Worf gets shot down, again...

Worf gets shot down, again…

Which brings us back to one of the primary difficulties that The Next Generation has had in trying to define its own identity. How does it prove itself a spiritual successor to Star Trek while adjusting to the fact that times have changed? The show has tried to introduce a stand-in for McCoy with Pulaski, it has tried to channel that “free love” spirit of the sixties with limited success. While it’s still struggling to figure out the balance, episodes like The Measure of a Man succeeded by drawing from the themes and core ideas of classic Star Trek , updating them for the eighties.

And so Q Who? feels like a spiritual successor to those early adventures of Kirk’s Enterprise, when it seemed like space was – to quote the JJ Abrams reboot – “disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.” Even though Picard has encountered strange phenomena and alien entities before, this seems like the first time that the Lovecraftian horror of the cosmos has been hammered home to him, in the same way that the first season of Star Trek touched on quite frequently.

Collective consciousness...

Collective consciousness…

It makes space wondrous and terrifying again – it’s full of new and horrifying things that test the limits of humanity’s capacity to comprehend. The Enterprise is no longer invulnerable, but that means that it can also be surprised and amazed. “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed,” Q suggests. “It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it’s not for the timid.”

Q Who? is quite candid in calling out the arrogance of the crew. Even the introductory sequence with Sonya Gomez is designed to suggest that being the best isn’t always good enough. Gomex is a technical genius, because she wants to work on a crew of technical geniuses. “I had to be the best because only the best get to be here,” she explains, reinforcing the idea that the Enterprise is staffed by the very best and brightest. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. Still, it could be worse. While Picard’s arrogance leads to the death of eighteen crewmembers, Gomez’ absent-mindedness only ruins the captain’s tunic.

Piecing it together...

Piecing it together…

The whole point of Q Who? is to put the crew out of their depth. When Picard smugly rejects Q’s petition to join the crew, the entity informs him, bluntly, “You’re not prepared for what awaits you.” Picard arrogantly plays semantics. “How can we be prepared for that which we do not know?” he demands. “But I do know that we are ready to encounter it.” Q finds this all quite amusing. “Oh, the arrogance. They don’t have a clue as to what’s out here.”

And so, appropriately enough, Q Who? ends with Picard embracing humility. Far from arrogantly dismissing Q in Ten Forward, Picard is force to beg for Q’s mercy and assistance. “You wanted to frighten us. We’re frightened. You wanted to show us that we were inadequate. For the moment, I grant that. You wanted me to say I need you. I need you!” That’s the big life lesson of the episode, right there. That’s the moral of the story.

A slice of the action...

A slice of the action…

The Borg are nice additional element to heap on top, a fascinating (and essential) addition to the  Star Trek canon. However, for the purposes of the story of  Q Who? , such as it exists, the Borg are merely window-dressing. They are merely a tool to humble the Enterprise. “Another man would have been humiliated to say those words,” Q observes. “Another man would have rather died than ask for help.” This episode is very much about putting the crew of the Enterprise in their place.

And that is undoubtedly a good thing, a necessary part of The Next Generation growing up. While Q Who? ends with a tease that leads directly to The Best of Both Worlds , it also heralds a bolder new direction for the show. It reaffirms that the Enterprise is a ship that is exploring the unknown, and that there’s an element of risk involved. Granted, the show won’t be in any position to follow up on this before the third season. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Q Who? would have worked a lot better as a second season finalé. But it is what it is.

Denting the ship's ego...

Denting the ship’s ego…

Before delving into the Borg, it’s worth considering how Q Who? shifts the characterisation of Q. John DeLancie is, as ever, brilliant in the role. However, Q Who? really represents a shift away from the portrayal of the character as seen in Encounter at Farpoint and Hide and Q . It really defines his characterisation for the rest of the series. While Q is still an alien with limitless power and god-like capabilities, he’s defined more as a trouble-maker than a direct threat. When he describes Guinan as an “imp” , Picard turns the insult back on him.

More than that, though, there’s a sense that Q is fascinated with humanity and with Picard in particular. In Encounter at Farpoint , it seemed like he picked the Enterprise by chance. In Hide and Q , Riker is the focus of his attention. In Q Who? , Q focuses quite heavily on Picard. It’s a nice way of allowing John DeLancie and Patrick Stewart to play off one another, but it also does a lot to develop Q as a character in his own right, rather than simply presenting him as an all-powerful meddler.

"Well, there weren't any free seats..."

“Well, there weren’t any free seats…”

Asked why he chose to seek asylum on the Enterprise, he admits that the ship holds a particular fascination for him. “I remembered all the good times I had with you,” he explains. In Deja Q , he goes one step further and calls Picard the closest thing in the universe that he has to a friend. While his decision to retreat to the Enterprise is pragmatic, it’s still based on the fact that he does have a special relationship with the ship and its commanding officer.

It’s possible to construe his actions in Q Who? in a number of ways, but they generally suggest a strange fondness for the crew. Given that the made their presence known to the Alpha Quadrant in The Neutral Zone , Q’s decision to force a direct encounter with the Enterprise may have been intended to assist the ship – to give it a fighting chance against the (at this stage) inevitable Borg invasion. Such a motivation suggests that Q has a fondness for Picard, and the Enterprise, and humanity.

He'll be brief(ing)...

He’ll be brief(ing)…

Of course, it’s entirely possible we’re ascribing to Q motivations entirely too noble. Reflecting on the encounter with Guinan, Picard seems unwilling to attribute any such motivations to the god-like entity. “Maybe Q did the right thing for the wrong reason,” he observes, accepting the importance of the lesson taught. Maybe Q threw the Enterprise into that situation just to force Picard’s hand, just to make Picard say the words “I need you!”

If that’s the case, it still suggests a strange attachment to Picard. Q is a god-like entity. To suggest that he needs Picard’s validation or approval is absurd. However, going to those lengths – and relenting when that approval is offered – suggests that Q places considerable worth in Picard’s opinion of him. If that was the entire point of the exercise, it suggests that Q does respect Picard a great deal. As such, it paves the way for his characterisation in later episodes.

Hold steady...

Hold steady…

And so, we reach the Borg. With no offence to the Ferengi, the Borg stand as perhaps the most significant single contribution made to the Star Trek mythos by The Next Generation . There’s a reason that they are one of the few “second generation” concepts that have been frequently teased and mooted for JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek film series. They were the logical choice of villains for the first truly stand-alone Next Generation feature film, Star Trek: First Contact .

The first season of The Next Generation had attempted to introduce a recurring foe for the crew of the Enterprise with the Ferengi. However, that didn’t quite work out. As timely as a bunch of crazy capitalist consumers might have been in the late eighties (with The Last Outpost airing two months before the release of Wall Street ), they were simply too comical and simplistic to work as a recurring foe for the Enterprise. Defined as short and stupid, more concerned with profit than warfare, it was hard to take them seriously.

Guinan got a square deal...

Guinan got a square deal…

There’s an argument to be made that the Borg manage to capture many of the same fears, just more effectively. When discussing the Borg with Picard, Q defines them as hungry consumers. “The Borg is the ultimate user,” Q informs us. “They’re unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They’re not interested in political conquest, wealth or power as you know it. They’re simply interested in your ship, its technology. They’ve identified it as something they can consume.”

While their lack of interest in “wealth or power” might lead the viewer to reject the Borg as a criticism of unchecked capitalism, the species is defined as beings that will devour and exploit everything available to them. Here, they are interested in the material value of the Enterprise, rather than the people who inhabit the ship. (Rather tellingly, they take a sample from the hull, consigning eighteen innocents to the vacuum.) At the end of the episode, Guinan describes the Federation as “nothing but raw material to them.”

Recovery operations...

Recovery operations…

Then again, part of the beauty of the Borg is that they are an adaptable concept. It’s possible to describe them as metaphors for any number of objects, often in conflicting terms. Right-wing analysis of The Next Generation tends to read the Borg as a fear or rejection of collectivism, arguing that the Borg are just The Next Generation ‘s convenient stand-in for the threat of communism, a spiritual successor to the portrayal of the Klingons or the Romulans in the original Star Trek .

It’s tempting to look at in that light. After all, The Next Generation did premiere towards the end of the Cold War. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t informed by the fears that had been bubbling away beneath the surface for so many years. Patrick Thaddeus Jackson and Daniel H. Nexon advance such an argument in Representation is Futile? American Anti-Collectivism and the Borg , contending that The Next Generation was the product of a country that had grown up with the ideology of the Cold War drilled into their heads.

It is a big universe out there...

It is a big universe out there…

As Bob Wallace contends in I Write What I See , the parallels are obvious:

The Borg are the ultimate collectivists. Commies in a Great Big Cube. Everyone has a place, and is taken care of from birth to death. There are a few unpleasant catches: the Borg have absolutely no freedom, and they are engaged in eternal war – perpetual war for perpetual peace – to annihilate their enemies through absorption. It’s not the case of One-World Government; it’s One-Galaxy Government. Whether you want it or not.

Indeed, you could arguably construct a convincing argument that the Borg are simply giving form to the right-wing New World Order conspiracy theories that became increasingly popular in the late eighties and into the nineties.

Hot stuff...

Hot stuff…

However, when it comes to the Borg as a metaphor for communism, others have noted that the timing of the Borg’s first appearance seems a little strange for them to be such a simplistic anti-communist message:

It’s actually rather unconvincing to describe the Borg as collectivist monsters in the Soviet sense.  Apart from anything else, they appear at the precise moment when the Soviet Union had never looked less collectivist or less threatening.  They arose in the immediate post-Cold War era, making their first appearance just before the demolition of the Berlin Wall.  The Borg appeared just as communism was crumbling. Glasnost, perestroika, decay, strife, queues for cabbage, branches of McDonalds opening in Moscow. Walls were about to fall. The Enemy had never looked more wobbly and vulnerable.  The Borg, by contrast, are monolithic, powerful, undefeatable in their first appearance. So, in short, they weren’t Russians in 1989.

If they weren’t the Russians in 1989, then what were they?

Q does always look (Ten) Forward to their little chats...

Q does always look (Ten) Forward to their little chats…

You could make a convincing argument that they are intended as a very cynical take on the United States’ model of liberal democracy and foreign policy – an attempt to assimilate other cultures into one gigantic hegemony. After all, the beauty of the Big Mac is that it is exactly the same whether you eat it in Los Angeles or Dehli . Indeed, it even looks the same if you leave it for fourteen years .

What are the Borg, but an expansion of that concept to its logical extreme? The ability to make everything exactly the same, all over the galaxy? Their ships are perfectly cubic, and their drones are perfectly interchangeable. They are an entity with the power and willingness to ensure that absolutely everything will be identical no matter where everybody is. Everything will conform to a single unifying view of what the universe should be.

The Enterprise blows chunks in this scenario...

The Enterprise blows chunks in this scenario…

After all, one of the benefits of transhumanism is the idea that it will allow mankind to transcend differences. As Donna Haraway argued in her thought-provoking A Manifesto for Cyborgs in 1985, transformation into cyborgs would make all differences moot:

From the perspective of cyborgs, freed of the need to ground politics in ‘our’ privileged position of the oppression that incorporates all other dominations, the innocence of the merely violated, the ground of those closer to nature, we can see powerful possibilities.

Incidentally, this is part of the reason why the introduction of the Queen in First Contact feels like such a step backwards for the franchise. The Queen is a much more recognisable figurehead, there’s something a lot less unnerving and unknowable about dealing with a technological monarchy than there is negotiating with a swarm.

Baby Borg!

In way, though, this hints at why the Borg work so effectively. They are a dark mirror to the Federation, in any number of ways. Robert H. Chaires and Bradley Stewart Chilton hint towards this in Star Trek Visions of Law and Justice :

It took the Borg to bring Star Trek visions of utopia and dystopia into focus. The Borg represent the ultimate interactive command structure, the ultimate rejection of all the values of the Federation and Starfleet – of the Prime Directive. They did not conquer; they did not desire political or social dominance; they did not even exterminate in the sense of genocide – they “assimilated.” Beyond all the obvious metaphors of communism and totalitarian government and fears about dehumanising technology in general, the Borg were just plain nasty. They did not eat, drink, recreate or consume beyond their immediate need to do their job; worst of all, they did not excrete or bathe. If the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians were cultural and politically “different”, they were at least understandable – convertible. The Borg were the ultimate dystopian future, a fate worse than death – a fate that was death in the minds of individuals and societies that value choice, but often do not think critically about what that word really means.

That’s an intriguing argument – that the Borg represent a stark contrast to Federation ideals. However, it’s also possible to argue that the Borg represent a chilling counterpart to what the Federation actually is, as depicted in these early episodes of The Next Generation .

"Michael Fassbender's got nothing on my hand-waving abilities..."

“Michael Fassbender’s got nothing on my hand-waving abilities…”

Indeed, within the narrative of Star Trek itself, the traitor Michael Eddington makes this explicit in his lecture to Sisko in For the Cause . The Borg are just a grotesque distortion of Federation ideals and values, as espoused in The Next Generation . They are a bunch of people who assume that their view of the universe is entirely correct and all other views are inferior and irrelevant. Everybody should conform to one set of values.

It’s a small step from the “human values are superior” attitude of Lonely Among Us and The Last Outpost to wide-spread assimilation. After all, the early seasons of The Next Generation saw the cast and crew ready and willing to dismiss other value systems as inferior, acting as if joining the Federation is the logical aspiration of just about about an civilised species. The Borg don’t have a choice, but they also don’t dissent or disagree.

Squaring off against the Borg...

Squaring off against the Borg…

In a way, the perfectly-formed collective without free will or differences seems uncannily like Gene Roddenberry’s view of 24th century mankind, writ large. The best episode of the season is The Measure of a Man , which hinges on Data asserting his own free will and refusing to sacrifice his own autonomy for what Starfleet and the Federation have deemed the greater good. And it’s worth noting that Roddenberry was vocally opposed to that plot. He expected Data to readily volunteer himself.

After all, the Borg turn the Federation’s greatest strength back on themselves. When Q protests that humanity can’t possibly be ready for what awaits them, Guinan responds, “But they will learn, adapt. That is their greatest advantage.” We discover over the course of Q Who? that the Borg share that advantage. They adapt to Worf’s hand phaser, and they adapt to the weapons deployed by the Enterprise during the high-speed chase.

"My celebrity guest star sense is tingling..."

“My celebrity guest star sense is tingling…”

Indeed, it’s hard not to take the notion of what Troi describes as “the combined whole” as a none-too-subtle jab at Picard’s leadership style. In contrast to Kirk’s gung-ho approach to leadership, Picard is more willing to listen to the opinions of the group. In  Pen Pals , he even holds a little senior staff conference in his quarters.  Q Who? calls attention to this by having Picard constantly calling “conference” when faced by the Borg. The crew have two meetings in the space of as many hours about this new threat. Maybe the Enterprise isn’t that far from a group mind.

It’s interesting that  Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and arguably Star Trek: Enterprise ) really found their feet when they introduced mirror counterparts to the Federation. Each grounded in concerns particular to the show in question. Here, the Borg seek to impose hegemony on a chaotic universe. In  Deep Space Nine , the Dominion is built on a rigid class structure, with one species’ values paramount. In  Enterprise , the Xindi are a bunch of squabbling species with no guiding principle.

Collective concerns?

Collective concerns?

Then again, it’s possible that the Borg simply play on more basic fears. As Dan Curry argues on the commentary, the Borg have actually become more relevant in the years since Q Who ? originally broadcast:

I think the Borg are a particularly disturbing species for us because in a way it darkly foreshadows what we could become. Because they’re in human form and we’re sort of borg-fiying ourselves now. We get implants, body part replacements. I’ve a friend with two titanium knees and a titanium shoulder. And so, it’s the dark side of communications technology. We could be implanted with chips and we could have our iPhones implanted in our skulls and not have to carry them. It’s the dark side of where humanity could drive our own evolution based on our own technological capabilities.

Indeed, these dependence and reliance on technology has grown so significantly that David Cronenberg has expanded his technological body horror beyond the movie screen and into viral campaigns .

Too hot to handle?

Too hot to handle?

Still, the Borg are very clearly a product of the late eighties, a recognisable off-shoot of the cyberpunk movement. The existence of a race of cyborgs, a shared collective consciousness and even the black leather outfits all feel like they are intended to evoke that particular offshoot of science-fiction that was rapidly gaining traction in popular culture. Indeed, William Gibson, the father of cyberpunk, has acknowledged the acceptance of the Borg by popular culture, describing current social media as a sort of  “benign Borg absorption.”

Of course, this being Star Trek , there’s a palpable unease around the concept of transhumanism. Though nowhere near the outright revulsion demonstrated in Up the Long Ladder , there’s a clear sense that the crew are disgusted that the Borg have (presumably) done this to themselves. They have made themselves inhuman, and they continue to do so. Q Who? makes no reference to the process of assimilating individuals, instead suggesting that the Borg somehow procreate. They are born organic and then graft the cybernetic parts on later.

Just when you think it's gonna be a Geordi romantic comedy episode... bam!

Just when you think it’s gonna be a Geordi romantic comedy episode… bam!

As such, the Borg are presented as walking body horrors, akin to zombies possessed by some sort of ethereal Lovecraftian collective consciousness – something that’s almost too monstrous to comprehend. Again, this is perfectly in keeping with the franchise’s attitudes towards meddling with mankind. It’s most obvious in the way that the original Star Trek presented the genetically-modified Khan as inherently monstrous, but it’s also played out in Unnatural Selection earlier this season. For a show about embracing the unknown and infinite possibilities, Star Trek sure is skittish around the idea of anything beyond human.

Incidentally, it’s interesting how Guinan seems to suggest that the Delta Quadrant is a terrifying place. Even before the Borg arrive, Guinan urges the crew to retreat. “What can you tell us?” Riker asks. Guinan replies, “Only that if I were you, I’d start back now.” Given the way that Q talks about “wonders” , it suggests that the Borg are just one horrifyingly alien concept lurking in the dark space out here. It suggests that the Delta Quadrant is packed with truly alien creatures and lifeforms. So it was a bit of a disappointment when Star Trek: Voyager arrived there and it was really just more of the same.

While I don't advocate draining the entire Enterprise's computer system, I can imagine typing's a pain for this guy.

While I don’t advocate draining the entire Enterprise’s computer system, I can imagine typing’s a pain for this guy.

Q Who? represents a massive step forward for  The Next Generation , pushing it one step closer to emerging from the shadow of its illustrious predecessor. Unfortunately, the second season goes into something of a holding pattern for the rest of the year, as if exhausted by this last dramatic push. Still, it’s nice to know what  The Next Generation can do when it sets its mind to it. The only problem is getting the show to do it more consistently.

Read our reviews of the second season of  Star Trek: The Next Generation :

  • Supplemental: Phase II (1978) – The Child
  • Where Silence Has Lease
  • Supplemental: Embrace the Wolf
  • The Outrageous Okona
  • Loud as a Whisper
  • The Schizoid Man
  • Supplemental: Deep Space Nine (Marvel Comics) #3-4 – The Cancer Within
  • A Matter of Honour
  • Supplemental: Myriad Universes – Echoes and Refractions: Brave New World by Chris Roberson
  • Supplemental: The Measure of a Man (Extended Cut)
  • Supplemental: Masks by John Vornholt
  • Time Squared
  • Supplemental: The Lost Era – Deny Thy Father by Jeff Mariotte
  • Supplemental: (DC Comics) Annual #2 – Thin Ice
  • Supplemental: Strange New Worlds VI – The Beginning by Anne Reed
  • Supplemental: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who – Assimilation²
  • Supplemental: The Newspaper Strips – Beware the Omnimind! (aka Restructuring is Futile)
  • Samaritan Snare
  • Up the Long Ladder
  • The Emissary
  • Peak Performance
  • Shades of Grey

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Filed under: The Next Generation | Tagged: borg , Cold War , Cyborg , Dan Curry , Denise Okuda , Donna Haraway , february , Federation , games , Geordi La Forge , iphone , jean-luc picard , McDonalds , Moby Dick , Next Generation , picard , Soviet Union , star trek , Star Trek Next Generation , star trek: first contact , star trek: the next generation , Time Squared , USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) , William Gibson |

23 Responses

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Amazing essay! I love this episode. It is indeed a benchmark entry like you mentioned. Your observation about Guinan and the Delta Quadrant was spot on. Good job on this post! I’ll be sure to share it. 🙂

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Thanks Victor! Glad you enjoyed it!

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An absolutely splendid breakdown for this seminal episode, Darren. Well done.

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Oh good, it’s not just me… The first time I saw the Borg episodes, I thought they and the Federation were both supposed to be stand-ins for globalization, representing the most pessimistic and optimistic views of it respectively. Wasn’t until I went online that I found out that people saw socialist metaphors there too.

I think that’s one of the strange things about The Next Generation. It’s both a socialist utopia (thank you, The Neutral Zone ) and also a metaphor for America’s global influence (peace-keepers, diplomats, aid-givers, well-wishers, first responders) at the same time. It’s hard to really make that hang together very well, particularly given lingering Cold War anxieties – I mean, look at how “socialist” is still used as a dirty word in debates over healthcare – but somehow The Next Generation does it. (Mainly by never drawing attention to both aspects at the same time.)

So I think it makes sense that the Borg are a dark mirror to both aspects of the Federation equally. When reading commentaries on the Borg, it’s interesting to not how very few tend to make the connection between the Borg and the Federation. Right-wing commentators arguing the Borg are a representation of collectivism are unlikely to argue that the Federation is a working socialist economy. Similarly, left-wing commentators arguing the Borg represent the worst aspect of globalisation are unlikely to discuss the use of the Federation as an optimistic metaphor for American foreign policy in the nineties.

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As a socialist myself, Id be okay with a socialist America that resembled the Federation 😛

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A fascinating review!

I do perhaps have to quibble with your view of the Borg Queen however; while I didn’t particularly care for her I did think something like her was neccessary to keep the Borg as villains. As fascinating an idea as the Borg are a completely faceless, interchangable horde has limited dramatic storytelling opportunities. In fact the original Borg concept seems to have already vanished by ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ when we got Locutus as a ‘face’ for the collective. The very next Borg episode (‘I Borg’) was about individualising the Borg. ‘Descent’ turns them into muscle for Lore. ‘First Contact’ works entirely because of Picard’s personal history with them – as villains they might as well have been Cardassians.

Ultimately I think the Borg probably worked best as a philosophical concept, an anti-Federation. As a one episode wonder they are great; as a reccurring foe they don’t quite work because of their limitations in the dramatic medium, which is why as fascinating as they are in the abstract I much prefer the Cardassians .

That’s a very valid point, and I’m sympathetic to the narrative constraints imposed by a collective consciousness. As you note, the show begins individualising the Borg in their second proper appearance and never looks back. The Queen is just the end point of that particular narrative logic.

And I think there’s something to be said for the variety in how the show did individualise them. Locutus was a great hook, because he’s the show’s lead, stripped of his individuality to give voice to a collective. Hugh is great because he’s forced into individuality, cut off from the hive. I’m struggling to justify Descent, which might have been interesting if it were the last Borg story ever told, or a gateway into further “end of the Collective” tales. Instead, as you note, they are just muscle for Lore. Scorpion works well because it gives us a miniature collective enclosed within Voyager, with Seven of Nine as the voice.

However, the Borg Queen just feels like narrative convenience, and becomes a much less unsettling adversary than a billions of voices speaking as one. In First Contact and Voyager, her scenes with the other actors feel like clichéd hero-villain stand-offs from Bond films. I think First Contact gets away with it, being her first appearance and because the film moves like a rocket. The Voyager episodes (particularly Unimatrix Zero and Endgame) work less well, although I don’t mind Dark Frontier too much.

That said, I’d argue that Scorpion does quite well with the collective, even if it’s only really for the first part. Janeway’s attempts at negotiations are wonderfully unnerving in the way they wouldn’t be with Alice Krige or Susanne Thompson.

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I admittedly like the Borg Queen, at least in First Contact. I do think the Borg were cooler without a queen, though I recognize leaving them an unstoppable faceless ubervillain would have been a narrative dead end, though I think they could have handled the idea of the queen to be more in line with their hive mind/collective consciousness. Like have the queen clearly be just the embodiment of the collective and not some individual, or have the collective talk more manipulatively and personable in First Contact and Voyager, without a queen. That’s just me though.

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With the Queen, it’s not so much she’s a figurehead, it’s that she’s a character in her own right. If they had a voice effect so she had a similar “thousands of voices as one” sound and was just as replaceable, say they kill her, before the body hits the floor there’s another, that’d be interesting. A Borg Queen who wants to have sex with Data and Picard and is an actual individual who acts as the end boss not so much.

Another little thought I’ve had, is are Q episodes necessarily in order from his point of view? His character is a bit inconsistent from appearance to appearance, sometimes he’s like a child, other times agent of the continuum, I like to think that since he can go anywhere any time, he’d randomly show up and that explains the changes.

I think somebody suggested that idea to me before, that Q is jumping around the timeline. It’s certainly an interesting case that explains a lot. (I’d imagine, for example, that the Q in True Q comes from earlier in his personal timeline than the one from Tapestry. If the latter actually exists.)

But I think there’s a clear thread that runs from Hide & Q into Q Who into Deja Q into Q-Pid that suggests at least that sequence of adventures happened in sequence for the character.

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You know, the more I hear about Roddenbery’s edicts, I can’t help wonder that the inception of the Borg came about as a mean-spirited jab at Roddenbery’s optimistic future from the writer’s room. “Oh, we’ll show Gene his true, pure and true vision of the Federation. There is no conflict among the crew on a Borg vessel, they are clearly more evolved then everyone else, and will clearly let everyone know it. All individuals among the Borg have a voice, but there are no dissenting opinions, they are of one mind, they know all the answers and what is right and wrong. (Season 1 and 2 about no conflict among the crew) The Borg seek to better themselves, and to better those around them (First Contact), they have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions, they have grown out of their infancy. (Neutral Zone) They do not mourn the loss of a single drone, death is accepted as a natural part of life. (The Bonding). The individual drone would happily sacrifice their own existence if it meant the betterment of the whole, and have eliminated the need for lawyers. (The Measure of a Man). The Borg have no silly attachments to their children, when alien invaders board there vessel, they’re free to examine them and take them if they wish, it is of no concern. (When the Bough Breaks, Q Who, Best of Both Worlds).

Isn’t this beautiful vision of Utopia grand? *cue image of life on a Borg Cube*

It’s also quite telling that Data’s suggestion in The Measure of a Man that all in Starfleet should be required to have cybernetics implants if they truly believed in the serving the greater whole.

I’m even starting to wonder if the Borg Cube design is really just a metaphor for the “Roddenberry Box”. I imagine that box gives all the writers who had to work on TNG seasons 1 and 2 nightmares.

Ha! I like it!

Good spot, actually!

That’s an interesting notion, actually. In Roddenberry’s novelisation of The Motion Picture, I believe he hints at some sort of cybernetic union of human consciousness as an example of how Earth was a utopia. (Kirk is written as something of a throwback, in contrast.)

Funny how people rag so much on the first two seasons (I do it too!) yet they contains one of the best episodes of the franchise, well two (the other being Measure of a Man). This episode would have made a better pilot than Encounter at Farpoint

As for the Delta Quadrant, I believe the Borg were originally supposed to come from the Gamma Quadrant, since they were the original planned villains for DS9.

I heard that Gamma Quadrant speculation before.

As it stands, I’m glad DS9 got the Dominion to make their own.

Agreed. Also, I don’t believe its speculation, as the DS9 writers are on record stating they originally planned the Borg to be the big bads, hence their appearance in Emissary.

Definitely.

To be fair, the second season represents a big step up from the first, with episodes like A Matter of Honour and The Emissary. Heck, I even like The Royale a lot.

“When this train comes in, everybody rides.”

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Q only threw them 7,000 light years away – that can by no means be the Delta Quadrant. And the Borg had been near Federation space before (attacks on outposts in the Neutral Zone). Okay, that is quite nerdy, but where else is the place?

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Script to Screen | Q Who? - Star Trek: The Next Generation

This episode aired on this day in 1989.

StarTrek.com highlights a notable scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation "Q Who?"

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Star Trek: The Cruise VII: fans wearing yellow t-shirts celebrating on the pool deck and cheering

star trek next generation q who

Star Trek: The Next Generation : "Q Who?"/"Samaritan Snare"/"Up The Long Ladder"

It’s easy to get lost in the wild. Call it the arrogance of the path. You see the trail under your feet, you follow it for miles through thick forest growth, and after so many steps, you get to feeling sure of yourself. The path is important, but surely it’s your native wit and instincts that have gotten you this far. You are prepared for the occasional crash of branches in the distance, the stray rocks, the signs pointing forward so caked in moss and sun baked it takes careful detective work to read them. You brought a good supply of snacks, you’re wearing proper shoes, and the blister on your left heel, well, that’s the price of having an adventure. After a while, you look through all the greenery and you think, I don’t really need the trail, do I? There’s a hill over there I wouldn’t mind seeing the other side of, or that maple tree a few hundred yards off that looks like easy climbing. What’s a day in the woods without a little risk.

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So you step off the path in the boots you bought mail order and your good thick slacks are stained brown in seconds. You trudge through mud you didn’t notice, and the moisture seeps into your wool socks and you sweat. The swarm of flies around you grows so thick that you can taste bug whenever you open your mouth and the buzzing becomes a never-ending howl. The hill is taller than it seemed, the maple tree is dead inside and groans at your touch, and you’re getting sick of this. You already finished the Gatorade and the granola bars you brought, and the pack straps rub your shoulders. The path really was important, because the path was the way back, and having it beneath you meant all these difficulties were simply irritants to be endured. Now they’re something else. And then you realize you aren’t entirely sure what direction you started out from, and when you try and backtrack you go at least twice the distance you came in without finding your own trail. The crashing sound is closer now. You want to run, but you’re already sinking.

I love the moment when a good show becomes great. I love feeling all your investment and increasingly desperate optimism suddenly pay off. We’ve had good TNG episodes before this, but “Q Who?” goes that one extra step, and finally, finally takes the show out from behind TOS ’s shadow once and for all. There’ll be backtracking in the weeks to come, no doubt (and we’ve got one fairly painful episode to look at in a few paragraphs), but before now, it was possible to legitimately question if TNG could ever stand on its own feet. That is no longer an issue. From now on, even when the writing sucks and the characters are annoying and the special effects insult our ocular abilities, we know for certain that the series is at least capable of kicking some serious ass.

Admittedly, “Who?” doesn’t start with a bang. The title is cutesy, and our first scene is all about introducing the new hottie ensign in Engineering, a motormouth named Sonya who talks Geordi’s ear off before spilling hot chocolate on a less than amused Captain Picard. Given that the episode marks our first introduction to the Borg, I half-wondered if this wasn’t all a set-up to kill Sonya in the third act and create some pathos, but she’s actually a semi-recurring character. (I think “Who?” is a rare case where such a cliched structure might’ve worked, given how rarely people die on the show by now. Still, the almost incidental horror of the crew deaths we do get works fine on its own.) Intentionally or not, a scene like this provides a false sense of security, because it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Geordi is friendly, the new personnel is gawky and excited, and Picard is just barely polite. Quell surprise.

It gets interesting fast, though. Q reappears, snatching Picard off the Enterprise and onto a shuttlecraft in order to follow the letter of the law of his previous “stay away from this ship!” promise. Q has been booted out of the continuum, and wants to join up with Picard’s crew. He argues that he’d be a valuable, even essential asset, with all his crazy semi-magical powers and willingness to insult Worf. Picard understandably balks at the idea. Q insists, “You’re not prepared for what awaits you.” Picard disagrees, and what makes this scene (and the rest of the episode) work so well is that we’re fully on his side. We’ve seen the Enterprise struggle against all manner of aliens, god-like beings, and internal strife, and while there’s been the occasional tense situation, no challenge has ever proven insurmountable. In fact, that’s one of the central tenets of the Trek universe: intelligence, compassion, and force of will are enough to solve any problem. As Guinan points out, that’s what human’s do—we adapt, and we learn, and sooner or later, we will kick ass.

So Q decides to prove his point, by throwing the Enterprise 7,000 light years off course and forcing the crew to face an enemy they can’t beat. And you know why “Who?” is brilliant? Because for once, Q is right.

Before they became the vampires of the Trek- verse (I would totally read a Twilight -esque series about a whiny teenage girl and the cyborg who wants to utterly erase any vestige of her individuality. You wouldn’t even have to change much from the original books), the Borg were terrifying. They’re zombies, which is part of it—each individual body is valueless, they can’t be reasoned with directly, and whenever you kill one, another follows soon after. It gets worse, though. Zombies don’t work together, they don’t handle tools well, and they don’t have a philosophy beyond grabbing and chewing. The Borg have a purpose that is at odds with nearly everything we value about life. They don’t parlay, or conquer, or even massacre. They assimilate. They homogenize. And they learn very, very fast.

It’s scary to watch how thoroughly ill-equipped our heroes are to deal with such a threat. They try peaceful communication, with no response. There’s a great sequence when one of the Borg beams aboard and starts trying to take over the ship. Picard attempts to reason with him, then someone moves to physically restrain the creature, then Worf fires his phaser, first on stun, then on the kill setting. The first Borg dies. Another beams aboard and takes over where the first left off, and this time, when Worf fires his phaser, the Borg has a shield that blocks the beam. It’s an exciting, tense scene, but what really matters is how little attention the Borg pay to any of the Enterprise crew. They are irrelevant to the process. Picard asks Guinan, who’s had dealings with the Borg before, how to defeat them. “You don’t,” she says. Given how generally positive her character is, that brutal two word negative is dark stuff indeed.

Things get worse. There’s a brief hope when the Enterprise manages to do some damage to the Borg ship, but considering the ship’s design, it’s not surprising that even 20 percent destruction fails to slow them down that much. So we get to the big climax, and we have our expectations. This is when Picard pulls out the big guns, or Data comes up with a clever technical fix, or Wesley is annoyingly perfect, or any of a dozen possible solutions we’ve come to expect from our heroes. If that had happened, this still would’ve been a strong episode. The Borg are a creative and effective threat, Q is at his most entertainingly obnoxious, and the stakes are very high indeed.

Instead, though, Picard turns to Q and he begs for help. There’s really no nice way to put it. He admits that the Enterprise isn’t ready to face this danger, and he pleads with Q to save them. You could argue this is a cheat, a weak resolution that betrays an inability on the part of writer Maurice Hurley to come up with a clever twist—and you’d be wrong. “Who?” isn’t the best TNG episode. It lacks an emotional impact that later storylines would manage. It is, however, the first great episode, because it admits that these humans, who have been walking that path for so long that they seem to have forgotten there ever was a wilderness, can be arrogant, and weak, and that they can be bested. It introduces us to an alien force which for once truly is alien, and it doesn’t cheapen the introduction by engineering a conclusion just to let Picard save face. The 18 crewmembers who die here stay dead even after Q brings the ship back home. In the end, Picard learns that there are some dangers that the human spirit can’t overcome through ability alone, and that their escape is a temporary one. The Borg know the Enterprise is out there. And they’re not ones to forget a name.

Stray Observations:

  • Q is really at his best here—his motives are plausible, his theatrics are enthusiastic without becoming overly flamboyant, and De Lancie is gets the most out of some really excellent lines. “The hall is rented. The orchestra engaged. It’s now time to see if you can dance,” could’ve been corny, but it plays very well.
  • Hey, Guinan has a purpose! The hand gesture stand-off between her and Q is hilarious, and we have a very different look at her character here: she’s still wise and Yoda-esque, but there’s a deep sadness behind it, and, once the Borg show up, her resignation is as unsettling as any histrionics would’ve been. (Come to think of it, that’s also Yoda-esque.)
  • Speaking of arrogance, how cocky do you have to be to beam over to an enemy ship with a phaser you already know is ineffective? Riker, Worf, and Data’s brief trip to the Borg cube is worth it for the view of all those resting bodies, and the creepy as hell Borg nursery, but Riker puts a lot of faith in his and his men’s ability to protect themselves. Which fits in with the rest of the episode, really. (And you gotta love Picard   beaming them back to the bridge immediately upon realizing that the Borg ship is regenerating.)

“Samaritan Snare”

The other two episodes this week aren’t anywhere near the same class as “Q Who?”, although I suppose I should be grateful for the order I watched them in. “Snare” is decent, and deals with some of the same themes as “Who?,” albeit on a much smaller, less effective scale. “Up the Long Ladder,” on the other hand… Well, I appreciate decompression as much as the next man, is what I’m saying. If I’d had to face the Space Irish after hanging out with the Borg, I think I would’ve stapled a fax machine to my chest and told everyone to call me Locutus.

Anyway, “Snare.” We’ve got two main plots here which don’t connect till the finale. There’s Picard travelling with Wesley to Starbase 515; and back on the Enterprise , there’s Riker and company meeting the idiotic Pakleds, who turn out to be not quite as idiotic as they initially appear. (Although even then, they’re still pretty dumb.) It’s a sign of how far the show has come that even plots as relatively straightforward and, well, uninspired as these go down painlessly. The Pakleds, who look like a bunch of fat clowns out of make-up, are less a race than a physical representation of a satirical construct, but it’s not like that’s new to the show, and they’re less offensive than the Ferengi. As for Picard’s story, it’s mundane, and Wesley is as much a sap as ever, but it’s always fun to see Patrick Stewart glowering at people.

All right, Picard first—he has a broken heart. Literally. Pulaski is demanding he get a replacement, but Picard refuses to have the work done on ship, because he can’t bear the idea that anyone on board know about his weakness. So he hitches a ride with Wesley, who’s headed to the Starbase for some kind of Starfleet Academy testing. (He has to prove his work on the Enterprise should count for course credit.) There’s mild comedy in Wesley being nervous about having to make small talk with a clearly irritable captain, and the kid doesn’t do himself any favors with comments like, “You might have made a good father.” (That’s the line I have in my notes. I can’t help thinking “would” makes more sense than “might,” but hey, a man has to trust his notes.) I’ve come to expect this kind of behavior from the character, and while it still makes me wince, it could’ve been worse.

At least it gives us a chance for back-story. Picard talks about duty and obligation, which isn’t a huge surprise, but he also reveals the heart problem, and explains that it stems from his wild and crazy youth, when he got in a fight with some Nausicaans (apparently Robert McCullough is a Miyazaki fan) and wound up with a spear through his chest. It’s a nice speech, well delivered, and it gives some context for Picard’s obsessive image concerns which generally play as forced drama. Picard doesn’t exactly regret his past, but he’s aware of the separation between who he was, and who he is, and it’s important to him to keep that distinction. Which makes you wonder how much he’s still trying to prove, really.

As for the Pakleds, once again we see a commanding officer’s confidence getting him (and others) into hot water. The Pakleds show up with a damaged ship, Riker offers to send Geordi over to help with repairs, and when Worf, quite reasonably, objects to sending over the Chief of Engineering to strangers whose true intentions aren’t clear, Riker dismisses the warning out of hand. We’ve seen the Enterprise offering assistance to those in need before, so Riker’s behavior here isn’t out of character, but it’s nice that Worf gets a chance to be right for once. The TNG crew are far, far more trusting than they really ought to be, and while their willingness to help when they can speaks well of them as people, it’s not the best policy to expect everyone else to return that kindness. Riker is all about the bold choices, and having a race as borderline mentally incompetent as the Pakleds briefly get the better of him makes for a solid reversal.

Like the Borg, the Pakleds are more dangerous then they initially appear, because they “innovate” by stealing the technology they want from their intellectual superiors. But where the Borg’s theft is done via advanced weaponry and utter ruthlessness (I’m not even sure “ruthlessness” is the right word, because it implies a disregard for morality, and the Borg are beyond even disregard), as far as we can tell, the Pakleds steal by taking advantage of others’ kindness. While Riker is able to find a way to save Geordi without too much trouble (the complicated ruse he puts on was less impressive in action than I was hoping, given the Sting -like conning that precedes it), these are still some deeply creepy mofos. They blast Geordi with his own phaser multiple times without any change in demeanor, and I couldn’t help wondering how many bodies they buried to get their own ship. Sure, they don’t have much of a weapons system, but imagine three or four of the things just charging you at once, and… brrr.

The two plotlines come together when Picard’s supposedly safe heart surgery goes wrong, and only Dr. Pulaski has the necessary training to save the day. It’s a little silly. The episode would’ve worked better without forced suspense, and really, might’ve been better served by jettisoning the Picard story entirely. I can understand needing him off the ship, as Picard would’ve been more cautious than Riker during the initial dealings with the Pakleds, but I wouldn’t have minded a few more turns of the screw on Geordi’s kidnapping. We’ve yet to see a really effective two-storyline episode, but I’ll keep hope alive a little while longer.

  • Picard gave Wesley a William James book. I was assigned James’ Principles of Psychology in college, and much like Wesley, I didn’t read much of it. (Although I hear it’s quite good.)
  • Why do so many of the doctors on this show dress like Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers ?

“Up The Long Ladder”

And then things just get stupid.

There are a handful of scenes I really enjoyed in “Long Ladder,” and they’re good enough that I would champion them even if they hadn’t stood out in such stark contrast to the rest of this crap heap. Those scenes are: Worf faints, Pulaski treats him, they bond, and she takes part in a Klingon Tea Ceremony. It’s excellent. Pulaski’s coldness works to her favor, and her clear respect for Worf makes for a strong connection between the characters. The Ceremony itself is fascinating—the tea is poisonous, and while the poison isn’t fatal to Klingons, drinking it isn’t pleasant. Like most everything else the Klingons do in ritual, it’s all about proving one’s abilities as a warrior, and Pulaski shows herself more than equal to the challenge when she pre-doses herself with an antidote that makes it possible for her to drink the tea with Worf. In a few minutes, the scene does everything you want out of TNG , demonstrating respect for another culture, a sly sense of humor, and an eagerness to explore.

Then there’s the friggin Space Irish, who eat up half the running time and plague us with comic relief and tedious stereotypes. I honestly don’t really have a lot to say about this. I’ve been writing about Trek for a while now, and I’ve ranted at length about both TOS and TNG ’s lapses into cultural cliche. There’s not much to add here, so this is probably going to be a short review. Go watch “Q Who?” again with the time you’ll save. You can thank me later.

All right, once upon a time there were two groups of people who traveled together to the stars in search of a new home. One group wanted to stick with the old ways, full of butter-churning and venereal disease and hateful, shrewish women who are also hot, so it’s okay that they’re evil. The other group was big on science. Group one ended up with Planet The Quiet Man, group two ended up with Planet Parts: The Clonus Horror, and it’s up to the Enterprise to rejoin the disparate halves into one destined to implode after the first month whole. Everything is terribly convenient. Riker bangs an attractive woman, we get a lot of horrid comic relief, and we learn Riker really hates clones.

About that hot woman: yeah, Brenna (Rosalyn Landor), the daughter of the clan chief of the Space Irish (who irritated me so much I’m not even going to search through my notes for his proper name), is easy on the eyes, but that doesn’t excuse her being a twerp. I suppose growing up with Paddy O’Predictable as a da would ruin anyone’s outlook, but our first introduction to Brenna has her screaming at Picard because she’s not happy with the Enterprise . Picard gets this look on his face like he’s having a Private Moment, and when Riker stays behind to put the moves on the shouty Irish lass, he and Picard exchange a glance that seems to indicate both men know exactly what will happen next. Which could’ve led to a really nasty, In The Company of Men scenario, but instead is meant to convince us that Brenna is irresistible. I’m not seeing it. Sure, the midriff-bearing outfit she wears is striking, and sure, she seems to be fairly easy to impress, but this is a character with two settings: “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” and “kissing.” I’m probably alone on this, but I find the unpleasantness of the former outweighs the promise of the latter.

The cloning storyline isn’t awful. Riker and Pulaski’s vehement opposition to the idea of donating their own DNA to the land of Xerox made sense, as did Riker’s complete willingness to destroy his clone when he discovers his genetic material was stolen. (Another nice moment here when Riker checks with Pulaski before destroying her clone as well.) I guess there was some kind of point being made about the sterility of one colony needing the chaotic life force of the Space Irish to survive, and how both groups could stand for some moderation of their core principles, but it mostly just felt like two concepts grafted onto one another because neither was developed enough to fill a full episode. There’s only so many times you can say that bad comic relief is always painful, and bad ethnic comic relief is worse than that. I’m glad someone working for TNG saw Darby O’Gill And The Little People at a young age and was forever haunted by it. Maybe if we’d had a few more leprechauns here, I might’ve had more fun.

  • Funny how Riker once again falls for the “we could use some help with repairs” trick. At least this time he’s the one who gets screwed over and not poor Geordi.
  • Oh, and there’s talk of how all the men will need to father at least three children with three different women, which everybody gets very excited about. If these Space Irish are supposed to be holding to the old ways, wouldn’t some of them be offended by the enforced promiscuity? And is there any reason why, since the clone colony caves and allows the influx of new blood, that they can’t just put the call out for more settlers so the romantic relations don’t have to be quite so mathematical?
  • Next week, join me as I hopefully find some more interesting things to say about “Manhunt,” “The Emissary,” and “Peak Performance.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Finale Remains Perfect

Deal us in.

Marina Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes in "All Good Things..."

Three decades ago, one sci-fi series rose above the rest to approach the impossible label of perfection. When Star Trek: The Next Generation aired its triumphant finale on May 23, 1994, it was almost an entirely different series than when it began in 1987. Back then, Next Gen was an awkward remake of The Original Series . When Next Gen ended, it was Star Trek, transforming a 1960s curio into a format destined to survive and evolve for another quarter century.

To say there is no modern Star Trek without The Next Generation is obvious, but what gets missed in countless reassessments is that most adoration for Next Gen can be qualified non-linearly. Just as Captain Picard discovers that a time paradox is the key to saving the galaxy, the success of the TNG finale “All Good Things...” didn’t just come from the fact that it ended a hit show on a high note; instead, it revised Next Generation history to make the beginning of the show feel as good as the ending.

“All Good Things...” was presented as a two-hour finale, just like TNG’s pilot, “Encounter at Farpoint.” Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) finds himself jumping between the present, a past before when we meet him in “Farpoint,” and a future where he’s a doddering old man with memory problems. Borrowing from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five , Picard is unstuck in time. It’s soon revealed that the meddling space god Q ( John de Lancie ), intent on teaching Picard a lesson before it's too late, is behind these time shifts. The entire history of everything is on the line as Q reveals a spatial anomaly centered around Picard that threatens to wipe out humanity.

In the past, Picard is tasked with convincing characters who barely know him that he’s their beloved leader, while in the future, the close-knit TNG family has splintered. To save the day, Picard has to heal old wounds and get a fractured Enterprise crew back together for one last ride. In the end, Picard must order three versions of the Enterprise — past, present, and future — to their utter destruction. But it’s okay, no one really lost their lives. The anomaly is erased, and Q dryly tells Picard, “If it puts your mind at ease, you've saved humanity... once again.”

Q (John de Lancie) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) in "All Good Things..."

Q has one last test for Picard.

Part of what makes “All Good Things...” so on-brand for TNG is that there’s no real villain, and once the quest is over its stakes seem ridiculously low. You’re never actually worried the episode will end with humanity getting wiped out by a time anomaly, meaning the true stakes of the episode are emotional. The journey was about understanding the Starfleet family that’s formed over the last seven years.

If this sounds overly sentimental, you’re not wrong, but what made “All Good Things...” a successful finale is that it celebrated what Next Generation had become: a warm, allegorical, pseudo-family show about people more than sci-fi concepts. That Picard, Geordi, and Data share an epiphany about a time paradox, and that realization saves the day, feels like a denouement that could have occurred in any episode. But in the final analysis, the show was about this generation of heroes, and how they came together as a family, not a crew.

“That to me is one of the best series finales ever,” Marvel’s Kevin Feige said in 2018. “Picard went and played poker with the crew, something he should have done a long time ago, right?” It’s certainly a memorable moment for fans. The stiff, distant Picard had grown closer and more vulnerable over the years, but he’d never joined his crew’s card game, a tradition first introduced way back in one of TNG’s best episodes, Season 2’s “The Measure of a Man.” But now, as Picard sits down and looks at his crew, he realizes it's okay for him to be happy. There are no hard decisions to make, and he doesn’t need to slip into his signature stoicism to seem strong. He can just be there with the people he loves.

The final shot of "All Good Things..." featuring the entire 'Next Generation' crew.

The final shot of the crew in “All Good Things...”

This moment was echoed in the 2023 series finale of Picard , and for good reason. Since the end of The Next Generation , the series' reputation is greater than the sum of its parts. While the first two seasons have standout moments, the show didn’t find its feet until 1990. Even its final season wasn’t its best, even if the finale is excellent.

As the most venerable and flexible sci-fi franchise of them all, Star Trek has proven that characters and tones can change radically while still feeling like part of a cohesive whole. But as an ensemble show about people, The Next Generation became something special in its finale. The Enterprise doesn’t warp into its next adventure; it just gently cruises through space. Fans didn’t want the show to end, but not because they craved more adventures. We just wanted to keep hanging out with these people, because the true triumph of The Next Generation is that it felt like home.

Phasers on Stun!: How the Making — and Remaking — of Star Trek Changed the World

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I can't think of a better series finale than star trek: tng, even 30 years later.

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12 Best Star Trek Season Finales Ranked

House of the dragon season 2 confirms a big, divisive rhaenyra targaryen change from grrm's story, the last of us season 2 set photos reveal first look at original voice actor's return.

  • Star Trek: TNG's series finale holds a special place in my heart, bringing Picard's journey full circle.
  • Data's role in the finale resonated with me, as he discovers the solution to save the day.
  • Star Trek: Picard season 3 gave TNG fans another emotional finale, redeeming the bad movies.

30 years later, I can't think of a better series finale than Star Trek: The Next Generation 's. I didn't grow up watching TNG but the show and its phenomenal ending still hold a special place in my heart. TNG came to an end on May 23, 1994, when I was not even two years old. When I finally watched "All Good Things..." many years later, I'm sure it didn't have the same impact on me as it did for those fans who watched it live in 1994 . I still had Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise in my Netflix queue to look forward to, after all.

After seven seasons, Star Trek: The Next Generation came to a close with an emotional finale that brought the series full circle. When Captain Picard finds his mind jumping between the past, present, and future, he must put the pieces together to solve a mystery that connects all three time periods. Picard's old enemy, Q (John de Lancie) , returns, but he has warmed up to the Captain over TNG's seven seasons. Q declares that the trial for humanity never ended, but he helps Jean-Luc by causing the time jumping. Picard then reaches out to his USS Enterprise-D crew members in all three timelines to save the galaxy one final time (for now).

In its impressive nearly 60-year history, the various Star Trek series have delivered some truly excellent season finales.

TNG's "All Good Things..." Was A Perfect Conclusion

"so. five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky's the limit.".

I hadn't spent my childhood with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his USS Enterprise-D crew, but I did spend most of my college years with them. After long, stressful days, I spent my evenings exploring the final frontier and forgetting, for a moment, about the papers I had to write and exams I had to study for. When I made it to the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation , it felt like closing a chapter of my life. I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters. And sure, I still had four movies to watch, but, for me, the TNG films never captured the same magic as the show.

I connected with Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) more than any other character.

Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, I connected with Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) more than any other character. Data plays a major role in the finale, as he's instrumental in discovering the anti-time anomaly and finding the solution that saves the day. I also loved Data's potential future as a Cambridge University professor. The final scene of "All Good Things..." includes one of Picard's greatest moments, as he joins his friends for a game of poker . Data and the rest of the bridge crew have been playing poker throughout TNG, but Picard always kept himself at a distance, making his decision to finally join them the perfect series-ending note.

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Gave TNG Another Great Finale & Redeemed The Bad Movies

"i've come to believe that the stars have always been in my favor.".

While I was too young to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation's original finale when it premiered, I did get to experience the finale of Star Trek: Picard season 3 in real-time. Streaming shows operate differently than syndicated shows like TNG, but it was still fun to watch Star Trek: Picard's "The Last Generation" as soon as it was available and then observe fans' responses to it online. I may not have a Star Trek fan as long as some others, but I still got emotional when Admiral Picard reunited with his TNG crew on the bridge of the rebuilt USS Enterprise-D.

Thanks to Star Trek: Picard , I got to fall in love with Data all over again, as he got the perfect upgrade, complete with the ability to experience emotions. After the android's TNG journey and tragic, unfulfilling death in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard season 3 gave Data the perfect ending. (And I hope he pops up again in a future Trek project.) Picard season 3 also introduced a new favorite character in Captain Liam Shaw (Todd Stashwick), whose death I'm still not over. As my introduction to the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: The Next Generation will always be my comfort show, from its captivating premiere to its celebrated finale.

Star Trek: The Next Generation & Star Trek: Picard are available to stream on Paramount+.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation is the third installment in the sci-fi franchise and follows the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew members of the USS Enterprise. Set around one hundred years after the original series, Picard and his crew travel through the galaxy in largely self-contained episodes exploring the crew dynamics and their own political discourse. The series also had several overarching plots that would develop over the course of the isolated episodes, with four films released in tandem with the series to further some of these story elements.

Star Trek: Picard

After starring in Star Trek: The Next Generation for seven seasons and various other Star Trek projects, Patrick Stewart is back as Jean-Luc Picard. Star Trek: Picard focuses on a retired Picard who is living on his family vineyard as he struggles to cope with the death of Data and the destruction of Romulus. But before too long, Picard is pulled back into the action. The series also brings back fan-favorite characters from the Star Trek franchise, such as Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton), Worf (Michael Dorn), and William Riker (Jonathan Frakes).

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

star trek the next generation

Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard in "All Good Things..."

star trek the next generation

Writer Brannon Braga

star trek the next generation

Star trek: the next generation 's series finale at 30 (exclusive), "all good things..." co-writer brannon braga on how he and former writing partner ronald d. moore made tv history..

Thirty years ago today, Star Trek writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore found themselves shouldering the unique responsibility of simultaneously writing The Next Generation cast's first Trek movie while also scripting their last episode of television.

For others, the dual writing duties would likely feel (at best) overwhelming. But that wasn't the case for Braga.

"We didn't flinch," Braga tells the Television Academy in an exclusive interview celebrating the 30th anniversary of TNG 's series finale, "All Good Things...," which aired in syndication on May 23, 1994. "I can't speak for Ron, but I don't recall us ever saying, 'Should we be doing this?' We were deeply immersed in these characters. And I think there was something cool about doing a two-hour finale and the movie at the same time, because they were very different stories."

But both "All Good Things..." and what would go on to be the seventh Star Trek feature film, Generations , were similar in that they dealt with one of Trek 's most popular plot and thematic devices: time. Ironically, time was also foremost on the then–writing team's minds as they juggled both scripts — with roughly three weeks allotted to write the series finale. Moore and Braga were in the middle of rewriting a draft of Generations when they were tapped by the late TNG showrunner (and Braga's mentor) Michael Piller to script "All Good Things...." The riveting two-part episode features Captain Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) moving back and forth across three different time periods — with the help of his omnipotent nemesis, Q (John de Lancie) — on a mission to save the galaxy from an anti-time anomaly. As Picard struggles to restore temporal order to the universe, he must interact with three different versions of his beloved Enterprise-D crew — past, present and future — in ways that remind the considerate and accomplished starship captain to better appreciate how vital the here and now is, even in the time travel–heavy world of Star Trek .

Whereas Generations would garner mixed reviews from both audiences and critics upon its release in November 1994, "All Good Things..." quickly became a fan-favorite and is regarded by many as one of the most creatively successful series finales in TV history.

"It proved ultimately to be what the movie should have been," Braga explains. "The movie had a lot of cooks in the kitchen. There were many studio mandates. It was conceived to be a 'passing of the baton.' On 'All Good Things...,' [Paramount] largely left us alone. We were left to do what we do, and I think you can feel the benefit of that in the final product."

In honor of the 30th anniversary of "All Good Things...," Braga takes us behind the scenes of the writing process, shares which pivotal scene he and Moore watched being filmed and why a fourth timeline featuring the Borg was ultimately cut from the story.

Television Academy: Traditionally, the showrunner writes the series finale, but not in TNG 's case. Do you recall when you and Ron were assigned the finale, and maybe what Michael's thinking was at the time with that assignment?

Brannon Braga: I don't know the exact timeline. But I do know that we received the movie assignment sometime in the seventh season of Next Gen . Because I remember we were pretty much in the throes of our 26-episode season and how excited we were. And that's a much longer development process, a movie. It's slower and bigger and more complicated. And, in the meantime, you're racing along with the TV show. I also remember not being too worried about [writing both the movie and the finale] because the TV schedule was such that the movie was a marathon, and the TV show was a sprint. And you just had to get the TV episodes written. So in some ways, I don't think we lost a step.

As for why we were chosen, I think [ TNG executive producer] Jeri Taylor was probably already working on Star Trek: Voyager . And Michael, I believe, was also developing Voyager , but he still had a hand in Deep Space Nine .

When during TNG 's run was it discussed that the seventh season would be its last, at the height of its ratings popularity?

Those conversations were happening really early. And the reason I remember that is because Michael Piller asked me to go [write on] Deep Space Nine at the end of season six of Next Gen . Piller wanted me to come over, and he really thought I would fit well with the concept. And I really liked Deep Space Nine . I love its concept, and I was really enchanted with the idea of working on that kind of Star Trek . But because he gave me the option, I declined. And the reason I gave him was, "I want to see Next Gen through to the end." And that's because I knew, at that point, that season seven was going to be the last season. But I didn't know about "All Good Things..." at that point. I didn't know that I would be working on the final episode. I just knew that I had to see Next Gen through, emotionally.

You and Ron seem to have taken the news rather well, of writing the last episode of Next Gen while in the middle of writing that cast's first movie.

I remember feeling excited. We didn't flinch. I can't speak for Ron, but I don't recall us ever saying, 'Should we be doing this?' We were deeply immersed in these characters. Ron had been writing the show for five seasons. I'd been writing it for four. That's nine seasons, collectively. And we were just in the middle of it. And I think there was something cool about doing a two-hour finale and the movie at the same time, because they were very different stories. For the finale, we were going to tell a movie-sized story with significant developments in the characters.

It's funny that "All Good Things..." was the easiest of the two. We wrote that much more quickly, I think we had three weeks on that script. It felt easier, because the movie had [input from] William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, the studio and [ TNG producer] Rick Berman. The movie had a lot of cooks in the kitchen. A lot of mandates. It was conceived as a "passing of the baton." It had to have [Captain] Kirk, it had to have the Klingons. And Leonard Nimoy, at one point, crossed paths [with directing Generations ].

What was the notes process like on the finale, or did the studio pretty much leave you alone?

[Paramount] largely left us alone. The studio wasn't giving us notes. We were left to do what we do, and I think one can feel the benefit of that in the final product. Rick gave us notes, I'm sure, but not many. And it was his suggestion for Picard's last line, in the poker scene, the "sky's the limit" line.

Speaking of that last scene, where Picard joins the crew's traditional poker game for the first time, I know that also was the last scene shot for the show. Were you able to go to set for that?

That was the one time Ron and I went to the set. We didn't go to the set often, because there was usually no time when you're doing 26 episodes. You're either writing or in the writers' room. But we went down for certain scenes. We went down to meet Stephen Hawking, who was in another poker scene [the season six episode "Descent, Part I"]. But for the finale's poker scene, we just wanted to be there, because we knew it was the final scene. It was the last scene to be shot. It was a strange mixture of emotions, because there were tears. Some people were very moved, because this was the end of seven years. The show was enormously popular at the time. It was taken off air at the height of its popularity, which was a smart move in some ways.

But despite the bittersweetness of it all, they were reconfiguring the sets for the movie. The movie started shooting in a week. There was a compartmentalization going on. The show was the show, and the movies were the movies. They were just different. But it was a very emotional moment. And I think that almost always comes across on-screen. I think you sense the authenticity of what the actors are going through in that scene. To me, that scene boils down to the subtlety of Patrick's performance. And I would credit Marina Sirtis [who plays the Enterprise 's empathic counselor Deanna Troi] with her delivery of the "You were always welcome" line to Patrick. It was very moving. Marina's a great actress, very instinctive.

The anomaly Picard and the Enterprise crew must stop concerns anti-time, which is a very clever concept and plot twist. How did you and Ron come up with that?

I distinctly remember sitting in Ron's office and coming up with the phrase "anti-time." That came out when we were writing; I think I was typing and Ron was pacing, which was usually the case. We hadn't really figured out all the particulars or what we sometimes called "technobabble," but in this case, I think it was conceptual. The conceit was coming up with the anti-matter equivalent of time. And it was just one of those things where you suddenly had something to hang your hat on, like, "If it's like anti-matter with time, I think I know how we can explain what's happening and why it's dangerous, because you don't want time and anti-time to collide, much like you don't want matter and anti-matter to come together, either.

In an early version of the story, instead of using Dr. Beverly Crusher's (Gates McFadden) medical ship, the Pasteur , the crew in the future timeline were going to take the mothballed Enterprise from a museum—  

Yes, and that was cut from an early draft. We really wanted to do it, too, but we ended up on Beverly's medical ship instead. But that's not what it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be stealing the Enterprise out of a museum, which I think Terry [Matalas, Braga's former writer's assistant] ended up doing a version of on [the final season of] Picard . By the way, if you think about it for a second, it's much better, because you've got the three Enterprise s working together. That's perfection. With all due respect to Beverly's medical ship, it would have been more emotionally satisfying if it were the Enterprise .

There was a fourth timeline involving the Borg that stemmed from the events of TNG 's third season finale, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I." Do you recall any scene specifics?

I may be misremembering, but it may have had to do with an assimilated Earth.

I believe it was a timeline where the Borg had won. But I know we added it because we thought we needed additional stakes, that the time anomaly might be too abstract. And we were eager to bring the Borg back, because we hadn't really dipped our toe into the Borg, full throttle, like we did with "Best of Both Worlds." I don't remember specific scenes, unfortunately. But I do remember it didn't last long. It wasn't working. Michael didn't want it. It became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that three was the right number. But that was something Ron and I carried into the development and script for Star Trek: First Contact [the 1996 sequel to Generations ].

I am surprised you didn't ask me about the "people getting younger" subplot that Michael Piller wanted to do.

Whoa, I didn't even know that was a thing, and I've watched this episode a ton. Can I ask you about that now?

I'm going to tell you about it. So there was a subplot that took place in the present-day storyline, where we were going to have all these ships that came and gathered around the anomaly, because it turns out that the anomaly had some anti-aging effect. It was de-aging people, and ships were gathering from all over to soak in the rays of the anomaly.

So that explains, in part, where a pregnant nurse on the Enterprise becomes "un-pregnant" and loses her baby. And why Geordi LaForge's [the blind engineer played by LeVar Burton] eyes start acting up.

Right. Those are little remnants of the storyline that got cut. And I think the reason it got cut out was it didn't have to do anything with anything. Ron and I were resistant to it, because we didn't think it really serviced the main plot of the episode, the emotional story for the characters. And, of course, Michael Piller would end up taking those ideas and using them in [the 1998 feature film] Star Trek: Insurrection .

How was it when you first watched the final episode? Do you remember where you were?

I had seen early cuts of the episode, but the first time I saw it was at the premiere on the lot that Paramount did. And Michael wasn't generous with his compliments. So when he did compliment you, it really meant something. And I remember every one, because he was a real mentor to me. And I owe so much to him. And he complimented us at the after-party. He was happy. And it was his legacy, too.

All seven seasons of  Star Trek: The Next Generation are now streaming on Paramount+.

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Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes Nailed It In Explaining Why Strange New Worlds Is Arguably Fans' Favorite Show Since The Next Generation

He makes a great point.

From the time it premiered, critics and audiences alike praised Star Trek: Strange New Worlds , and the series has won over enough for Paramount+ to have the confidence to renew it for Season 4 before Season 3 has even aired. Even as a fan of every show that's been released, I would say it's arguably the most popular show of the franchise since The Next Generation , though it took a conversation with director Jonathan Frakes to really drive that home for me.

I had the honor of speaking to Frakes ahead of the arrival of the latest Discovery episode he directed, "Lagrange Point," which will be available to watch with a Paramount+ subscription . I mentioned Strange New Worlds to Frakes, knowing he recently completed work on an episode for Season 3, and in response to me asking if he believes the wait for the new episodes in 2025 will be worth it, he said this:

Certainly. The one I just finished is spectacular. They take big swings on Strange New Worlds. I think that the fact that they are stand-alone episodes has made this, arguably, the favorite Star Trek since Next Gen, probably.

When it comes to Star Trek , everything is debatable. That said, it does seem as though Strange New Worlds has the most fans on board compared to the other shows of the new era. Taking big swings certainly plays a part in that, as Jonathan Frakes said, and I don't think there's any denying its done that.

Whether it's pushing forward the franchise universe's timeline of World War III or when exactly Khan Noonien Singh was born , Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has not only done that, but found ways to reconcile it with the previously existing canon. Jonathan Frakes said some people deserve credit for that and listed them by name:

And that's attributed to Alex [Kurtzman] and Akiva [Goldsman] and Henry Alonso Myers and Chris Fisher and all the people who have encouraged it. They try to assign a director to an episode that they believe will be able to enhance whatever that particular 'movie of the week' episode is. And it's, I think, pretty effective. The one I did last year, 'Those Old Scientists,' with the crossover of cartoon characters coming in? That's a big chance to take, and it worked wonderfully. The musical, again, worked wonderfully. I'm very proud of and impressed with the swings that the producers of Strange New Worlds take.

It's no surprise to see Frakes mention any of those names listed above. Akiva Goldsman initially pitched the idea for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in the Discovery Season 1 writer' room, and top brass Alex Kurtzman paved the way for it with the story while acting as showrunner in Discovery Season 2. Of course, Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers share showrunner duties for SNW, and Fisher is an EP on the series, along with the rest.

Georgiou and Ortegas

I would love for this to be true.

It remains to be seen if Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will still be the franchise's golden child in the future as Seasons 3 and 4 arrive and other upcoming Star Trek shows pop up on the scene. For now, however, it holds the top title, and while Jonathan Frakes has admitted the praise can be bittersweet to see sometimes, we're lucky as fans to see him contribute to it as often as he has.

Strange New Worlds Season 3 will presumably pick up where the end of Season 2 left off. After a tense conflict with the Gorn escalated, Pike was faced with the decision to retreat and avoid engaging the species further, or to try to save the crew members left on the Gorn ship. I would reckon there's not much suspense on what decision he's going to make if you watch the show, but I'm eager to see the new season finally arrive in 2025 all the same.

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Those who are counting the days until Star Trek: Strange New Worlds returns can watch old episodes right now on Paramount+. I'd also recommend anyone check out the final season of Discovery while they're there, as this season has arguably been the best one yet.

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.

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star trek next generation q who

star trek next generation q who

Jonathan Frakes on Directing ‘Star Trek’: Looking Back on ‘Discovery’ & Ahead to ‘Strange New Worlds’ Season 3

Director Jonathan Frakes and Mary Wiseman as Tilly in 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 5 Episode 9

For  Star Trek: Discovery ‘s penultimate episode, an icon from the franchise stepped behind the camera: Jonathan Frakes , who starred as Riker on  Star Trek: The Next Generation and reprised the role on  Picard .

And for him, it was just returning to a set he enjoys, for his eighth episode behind the camera on  Discovery . In the episode, members of the crew infiltrate the Breen ship in hopes of getting their hands on a key piece of tech for their mission to find the Progenitors’ power. But even amidst the action, there’s time for some emotional beats.

Below, Frakes takes us inside the episode, looks back on  Discovery , and teases a  Strange New Worlds Season 3 episode he directed.

What excited you about this script as a director?

Jonathan Frakes: There’s a lot more action than I’m usually given, and the whole direction, if you will, of the season was that we find more action and more levity, two of my favorite parts of the business. So I was thrilled. The ending where the ship literally flies in the tailpipe of another ship I thought was really ambitious and great to storyboard and a beautifully executed by JZ [Jason Zimmerman] and all of our friends over at the visual effects department, but also the contrast between—Burnham [ Sonequa Martin-Green ] and Book [ David Ajala ] have a story that they clearly have not found time to sort out about their relationship. They’re in the midst of all this chaos. And, the B story, the wonderful story with our Kelpian and our Vulcan with Doug [Jones] and Tara [Rosling] is so beautiful that they’re in love and about to get married during the chaos of this fight with the Breen. So the contrasts of tone were very interesting to me.

I was going to point to Michael and Book’s conversation because it’s with their helmets on, so talk about directing that emotional scene.

Yeah, Maya Bankovic was my cinematographer on that. We desperately needed a way to see their faces because I mean, I get the Breen all look alike. I get they all wear helmets, and I get that that’s the premise of the show and it’s already been established, but it’s very hard for the audience to know who’s who. I can see that Burnham’s a little shorter than Book, but I mean, they’re all wearing ridiculous helmets and costumes, and so we found a way to take the liberty of having what we would call a camera inside the helmet where we could literally see their faces. And when we tested that and everybody approved that, that let us breathe a little more easily, that when we had intimate conversations while they were pretending to be Breen, we could actually shoot it like a tight closeup. So that certainly helped.

Wilson Cruz Recalls 'Star Trek: Discovery' Audition & Being 'Formidable Enough'

Wilson Cruz Recalls 'Star Trek: Discovery' Audition & Being 'Formidable Enough'

But there’s very little time in this story for them to [talk], and she pulls him aside in the middle of this chaos in the Breen hallways to just give them a little taste—because she didn’t have a chance. She saw him in engineering and wasn’t able to have a private moment. Then they had the meeting where they decided who was going to go there, and there was no real private moment there. I think that was a great part of the writing, that there was so much going on that these two lead characters whose lives have been altered by the information that Michael got in 508 at the library was… I think you’re waiting as an audience member, she’s got to say something to her about this, doesn’t she?

We’ve also been following Adira’s ( Blu del Barrio ) journey as they find their place, and we get to see them step into that a bit in this episode going on this mission. There’s also a slight sense of dads seeing their kid off to college when they’re leaving.

Yeah, I think that’s enabled by Tilly [ Mary Wiseman] . Tilly has been a mentor to Adira in a way that, in addition to Culber [ Wilson Cruz ] and Stamets [Anthony Rapp]  being parents, the three of them have encouraged that character to embrace their confidence, if you will. And I thought that was a very sweet little walk and talk where the three of them are walking down, like dropping them off for college. That’s a good metaphor for it. And the stiff upper lip that they took was, “I’ll be fine dad, don’t worry. I’ll be back.” And I think it was very relatable.

You mentioned that ship flying into the other ship…

That was all storyboard and we talked about it and the chaos of all that, but I didn’t get to execute any of that except shooting the plates for it. Also, that whole green ship was on the AR wall, which is a trip in itself, that set when it’s that exciting and that incredibly detailed. It’s changed filmmaking, these AR walls; instead of imagining what might be on a green screen behind you, you’re literally in a volume that has everything that the actors need and what the filmmakers need, what the camera needs to tell the story. So many of the visual effects that are not put in later, they’re put in as part of the extensive and expensive planning of the AR wall set. And that was a very successful version of that I thought.

What scene did you have the most fun directing?

I like the scene in the ready room where Burnham puts the pieces together and the decision sort of in the moment, “Well, I’m going to go and you’re going to go and you’re going to go and you’re going to go, and that’s how we’re going to do this.” I loved Burnham’s decision making. Also, I was crazy about Callum [Keith Rennie] at the end, pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing, and then deciding again in the moment, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” I like when the leaders make powerful decisions with confidence, and both of those scenes reflected that.

You’ve directed across Trek series. What have you found that’s unique to Discovery that you enjoy directing?

I have a special fondness for Discovery because it was the first Star Trek after the old ones that I was asked back onto, so that family of actors reminded me a lot of our family on Next Gen . So I have a real soft spot [for them]. [They went through] what we were going through on our Season 1, which is now we’re part of this Star Trek universe, what does this really mean? And they were the first ones back. I mean, they opened up this whole new wave of Star Trek . So there was a certain skepticism that I warned them about. I was like the elder who’d come to town to tell what it’s going to be like. I said, “Your lives are going to change.” And that’s what DeForest Kelley told me, and it was true. They did, and they have, and I think we’re all very grateful to be part of this family.

David Ajala as Book, Director Jonathan Frakes, Blu del Barrio as Adira, Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner, Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Anthony Rapp as Stamets in 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 5 Episode 9 "Lagrange Point"

Michael Gibson / Paramount+

You’ve directed eight episodes of Discovery . What are you going to miss about this show?

I’m going to miss Sonequa. I’m going to miss Doug. I’m going to miss Anthony. I’m going to miss Tunde [Olatunde Osunsanmi]. There’s a lot of people over there that I have built long professional and personal relationships with. The cast is quite something. Mary. I mean, I remember when Blu first arrived and Anthony Rapp and I had the first scene with them in the corridor, and it was so clear to us that the talent that this actor had brought from one of the schools in London and Anthony and I had this moment where we looked at each other because both of us had been doing it a long time, and it was so clear like, “Holy s**t, this one really gets it,” and it’s been true. So watching them grow has been spectacular for me. As always, it’s all about the people. There’s nobody better as a leader than Sonequa.

Picard had that great next generation reunion, which I loved. Could we see you as Riker again? Have you heard anything?

I haven’t heard anything, but I’m available.

What else is coming up for you? What else have you directed that’s still to come?

I just finished a fabulous episode of Strange New Worlds that we actually finished editing last week, so that’s for next season. And I’ve got a couple of pilots that I’m trying to get developed and up and out, and I’ve got my son’s wedding that we’re planning and I’ve got a whole pile of conventions to go to, and then I’ll look forward to Starfleet Academy , which is coming up in the fall.

You said Strange New Worlds . Anything you can say about that?

I can say that it is maybe the best episode of TV I’ve had the privilege of directing. The story, as you’ll see, ends up being a Hollywood murder mystery, and that’s about all I’m allowed to leak.

Star Trek: Discovery , Series Finale, Thursday, May 30, Paramount+

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds , Season 3, TBA, Paramount+

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One of Star Trek's Most Enduring Villains Was Created by a Paramount Exec

Resistance is futile.

The Big Picture

  • One Paramount executive thought the Borg were boring, resulting in the creation of the Borg Queen as an iconic character.
  • The Borg Queen appears in multiple Star Trek series, using manipulation and vulnerability to become a compelling villain.
  • In the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard , the Borg Queen returns with manipulative tactics to assimilate humanity through Picard's son, Jack Crusher.

The Star Trek franchise has so many iconic villains that it might be difficult for some fans to choose their favorite. Starfleet's crews are constantly encountering both new and old enemies while exploring the galaxy and meeting new civilizations. The Next Generation 's Q ( John De Lancie ) is one of the biggest tricksters in the galaxy , while Deep Space Nine 's Cardassian war criminal Gul Dukat ( Marc Alaimo ) is constantly stirring up something, and Khan Noonien Singh ( Ricardo Maltabán ) simply wants to take over the world. Time and time again, the bad guys that always seem to pop up are the Borg. Although they seem like a simple hivemind collective, their recurring presence in the franchise reveals them to be so much more, and viewers have seen what can happen when they're given their individuality or how they react under pressure. During the filming of the Next Generation movie Star Trek: First Contact , however, one Paramount executive thought a particular change was needed to give the Borg a specific face — and it was a change that made an impact on the franchise moving forward.

Star Trek: First Contact

The Borg travel back in time intent on preventing Earth's first contact with an alien species. Captain Picard and his crew pursue them to ensure that Zefram Cochrane makes his maiden flight reaching warp speed.

According to The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams , edited by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, Paramount's Jonathan Dolgen thought the Borg were boring and amounted to little more than zombie robots; they needed some kind of voice other than being mindless drones, and what's a hive without its Queen? So, screenwriter Brannon Braga did a substantial rewrite to include a character that would come to be known as the Borg Queen ( Alice Krige ). Dolgen, it's been reported, was a huge Star Trek fan and often put in his two cents about which episodes he liked, which apparently paid off big time. His suggestion spiraled into the creation of this iconic character who always has a habit of popping up when we least expect her.

Where Have We Seen the Borg Queen in Star Trek Before?

In First Contact , the Borg travel back in time to stop scientist Zefram Cochrane ( James Cromwell ) from discovering warp speed, which leads to humanity's first encounter with the Vulcans, which in turn allows for the deeper exploration of space and the eventual founding of the Federation. As a villain, the Borg Queen, played by Alice Krige in First Contact , is so different from other Borg introduced in The Next Generation ; she is sexual and emotional, making her prone to trickery and manipulation, even though she is a master at both herself. She brings a sense of vulnerability to the Borg, despite being a slinky, devious monster, which makes her the perfect foil for Jean-Luc Picard ( Patrick Stewart ), first in First Contact and then later on when the character reappears in Star Trek: Picard . She toys with people around her and convinces them to join her Hive. She has this special fondness for Picard and will do anything to convince him to join the collective. He's like a trophy she needs to collect for her mantle. Even though we thought she perished at the end of First Contact , she has this nasty habit of popping up again and again.

She's also a notable villain in Star Trek: Voyager , after Seven of Nine ( Jeri Ryan ) is liberated from the Borg. As a power-hungry leader obsessed with finding perfection and evolving the Borg into the ultimate race, Queen can't stand that a Borg drone has escaped and been disconnected from the Hive and does everything in her power to manipulate and bring Seven of Nine back to the collective. After Voyager blasts some severe hits on the Borg, they also deliver a neurolytic pathogen they believe kills the Borg Queen — but that's proven wrong when she appears once again in Star Trek: Picard.

'Star Trek: Picard' Introduces Another Side of the Borg Queen

The Borg Queen returns in Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard (voiced by Krige and portrayed physically by Jane Edwina Seymour ) in an attempt to create a new collective after she cannibalizes her drones to sustain herself. While she's clearly become a more narcissistic, manipulative, and conniving villain with many puppets, she's especially good at getting under Picard's skin. In a new twist, she has been grooming Picard's only son, Jack Crusher ( Ed Speelers ) — who is connected to the Borg because of Picard's connection to the Hive during his brief time as Locutus — seducing him to help assimilate all humanity and become a weapon of mass destruction. Jack is the key to the Borg's evolution as an unintended consequence of what happened to Picard when he was briefly assimilated.

This looming threat to his son leads Picard on an emotional journey where he must figure out how to get Jack back before it's too late. By working with the Enterprise crewmates he's been reunited with, he also discovers what it means to be a father and how much of a connection he wants with his son. In Picard 's final season, the crew's mission becomes about rescuing Jack Crusher, who the Queen has assimilated as Vox of Borg , and finally thwarting her once and for all.

However, despite Starfleet's repeated attempts to eliminate her, the Borg Queen always returns. Her resilience and persistence are critical aspects of her character, making her a formidable and compelling antagonist. She embodies everything Starfleet opposes, presenting a constant threat and a significant element in the franchise. While her ability to endure, even after seemingly insurmountable setbacks, is a testament to her strength and tenacity, her relentless pursuit of perfection ultimately becomes her downfall as she plunders the galaxy, looking for the next race to add to her collective.

Star Trek: First Contact is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Episode list

Star trek: the next generation.

Kelly Gallant in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E1 ∙ Encounter at Farpoint

Gates McFadden and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E2 ∙ The Naked Now

Denise Crosby, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E3 ∙ Code of Honor

Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E4 ∙ The Last Outpost

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E5 ∙ Where No One Has Gone Before

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E6 ∙ Lonely Among Us

Marina Sirtis and Jay Louden in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E7 ∙ Justice

Frank Corsentino, Robert Towers, and Douglas Warhit in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E8 ∙ The Battle

John de Lancie in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E9 ∙ Hide and Q

Anna Katarina in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E10 ∙ Haven

Patrick Stewart and Carolyn Allport in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E11 ∙ The Big Goodbye

Brent Spiner in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E12 ∙ Datalore

Leonard Crofoot, Patricia McPherson, and Karen Montgomery in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E13 ∙ Angel One

Patrick Stewart, Katy Boyer, Gene Dynarski, and Alexandra Johnson in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E14 ∙ 11001001

Gates McFadden, Patrick Stewart, Marsha Hunt, and Clayton Rohner in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E15 ∙ Too Short a Season

Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E16 ∙ When the Bough Breaks

Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E17 ∙ Home Soil

Wil Wheaton and John Putch in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E18 ∙ Coming of Age

Michael Dorn, Vaughn Armstrong, Robert Bauer, and Charles Hyman in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E19 ∙ Heart of Glory

Vincent Schiavelli and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E20 ∙ The Arsenal of Freedom

Jonathan Frakes, Merritt Butrick, Kimberley Farr, Richard Lineback, and Judson Scott in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E21 ∙ Symbiosis

Marina Sirtis in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E22 ∙ Skin of Evil

Patrick Stewart and Michelle Phillips in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E23 ∙ We'll Always Have Paris

Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E24 ∙ Conspiracy

Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

S1.E25 ∙ The Neutral Zone

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Simon Kinberg in Talks to Produce ‘Star Trek’ Prequel Film

By Adam B. Vary

Adam B. Vary

Senior Entertainment Writer

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  • Simon Kinberg in Talks to Produce ‘Star Trek’ Prequel Film 1 week ago

Simon Kinberg

Veteran producer Simon Kinberg , who oversaw most of the “X-Men” movies for 20th Century Fox, is in talks to produce an upcoming “ Star Trek ” movie for Paramount Pictures, Variety has confirmed.

The project has already been in development at the studio for some time, with Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) handing the screenplay and Toby Haynes (“Andor,” “Black Mirror: USS Callister”) on board to direct. Insiders say the film is intended as an origin story for the main timeline of the “Star Trek” franchise (rather than the alternate, Kelvin timeline started with 2009’s “Star Trek”), set in the aftermath of humanity’s first contact with aliens.

Popular on Variety

The “Star Trek” prequel will also be produced by J.J. Abrams, who has overseen all “Star Trek” movies through Bad Robot since 2009’s “Star Trek,” which he directed. Abrams is also producing a separate “Star Trek” film intended to be the final mission of the Kelvin timeline cast, including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldaña. Steve Yockey (“The Flight Attendant”) is writing the newest draft of that script.

Puck first broke the news about Kinberg.

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COMMENTS

  1. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Q Who (TV Episode 1989)

    Q Who: Directed by Rob Bowman. With Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn. Q tries to prove that Picard needs him as part of their crew by hurling the Enterprise 7,000 light years away where they encounter the Borg for the first time.

  2. Q Who

    "Q Who" is the 16th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode first aired in broadcast syndication on May 5, 1989. It was written by executive producer Maurice Hurley and directed by Rob Bowman. "Q Who" marked the first appearance of the Borg, who were designed by Hurley and originally intended to appear in the ...

  3. Q Who (episode)

    Q throws the Enterprise into uncharted space where it encounters and is engaged by a dangerous alien vessel of a previously unknown species: the Borg. When the vessel instantly and effortlessly overwhelms the Enterprise, Picard realizes that the Federation may not be as ready for the future as he thought. New ensign Sonya Gomez orders a hot chocolate from a replicator in engineering. While ...

  4. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Q Who (TV Episode 1989)

    "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Q Who (TV Episode 1989) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight.

  5. The Next Generation Transcripts

    The first time we met you, you put us on trial for the crimes of humanity. Q: Of which you were exonerated. RIKER: The next time we saw you, you asked me to join the Q Continuum. Q: A big mistake that you did not accept my offer. More and more I realise that here, here is where I want to be.

  6. Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E16 "Q Who"

    Overeager young Ensign Sonya Gomez, a recent Academy graduate just assigned to the Enterprise, is carrying on a rambling conversation with Lt. La Forge in Engineering. When La Forge tells her that she ought to take her mug of hot chocolate away from the delicate machinery, Gomez turns around and spills all over Captain Picard himself ...

  7. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Q Who (TV Episode 1989)

    Q : You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far - the Romulans, the Klingons. They're nothing compared to what's waiting. Picard - you are about to move into areas of the galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine - and terrors to freeze your soul. Q : My purpose is to join you.

  8. "Q Who?"

    In-depth critical reviews of Star Trek and some other sci-fi series. Includes all episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds. Also, Star Wars, the new Battlestar Galactica, and The Orville.

  9. Q Who

    "Q Who" is the 16th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode first aired in broadcast syndication on May 5, 1989. It was written by executive producer Maurice Hurley and directed by Rob Bowman. "Q Who" marked the first appearance of the Borg, who were designed by Hurley and originally intended to appear in the ...

  10. Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: "Q Who"

    "Q Who" Written by Maurice Hurley Directed by Rob Bowman. Season 2, Episode 16 Original air date: May 8, 1989 Star date: 42761.3. Mission summary. The Enterprise has a new arrival: manic pixie dream girl Ensign Sonya Gomez, who tries to charm us by being polite to replicators, babbling on incoherently, and spilling hot chocolate (so much cuter than coffee) on an unsuspecting Captain Picard.

  11. Star Trek: The Next Generation

    This January and February, we'll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review. Q Who? throws down the gauntlet for Star Trek: The Next Generation.It serves as a fitting reminder that Picard and his crew are still ...

  12. Every Q Appearance In Star Trek TNG, DS9, Voyager & Picard

    Q (John de Lancie), Star Trek's omnipotent being has appeared across multiple shows since his debut in the 1987 pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation.Q's strongest connection was with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), and it was a relationship that would last for the rest of Q's apparently infinite lifespan.

  13. Q-Who

    The crew is hurled into the future by the malevolent Q, who sets them up for destruction by a race of aliens known as the Borg.

  14. Star Trek History: Q Who?

    Star Trek: The Next Generation. Published May 8, 2021. Star Trek History: Q Who? On this day in 1989, this classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode premiered. On this day in 1989, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q Who?" premiered. How to pitch startrek.com. Where to Watch.

  15. Script to Screen

    StarTrek.com highlights a notable scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation "Q Who?" Stay tuned to StarTrek.com for more details! And be sure to follow @StarTrek on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Related. The Epic Voyage of Star Trek: The Cruise VII. Star Trek Universe. 03:07.

  16. Star Trek: The Next Generation : "Q Who?"/"Samaritan Snare"/"Up The

    The Borg are a creative and effective threat, Q is at his most entertainingly obnoxious, and the stakes are very high indeed. Instead, though, Picard turns to Q and he begs for help. There's ...

  17. Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E16: Q Who

    Incidental music from the final scene of ST:TNG 'Q, Who', where Picard and Guinan discuss the Borg.

  18. Q (Star Trek)

    Q is a fictional character, as well as the name of a race, in Star Trek, appearing in the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Lower Decks, and Picard series and in related media. The most familiar Q is portrayed by John de Lancie.He is an extra-dimensional being of unknown origin who possesses immeasurable power over time, space, the laws of physics, and reality itself, being capable of ...

  19. John de Lancie

    John Sherwood de Lancie, Jr. (born March 20, 1948) is an American actor, best known for his role as Q in various Star Trek series, beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987 and leading up to the third season of Star Trek: Picard in 2023. De Lancie's first television role was in Captains and the Kings in 1976. His other television series roles include Eugene Bradford in Days of Our ...

  20. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Q Who (TV Episode 1989)

    The Second Season of Star Trek the Next Generation has often been downplayed due to multiple production and writing staff problems, and several major cast changes. Although of mixed quality, it does contain some outstanding and brilliant episodes. Senior Trekker is extremely grateful to all those people who worked so hard under difficult ...

  21. Star Trek: The Next Generation's Finale Remains Perfect

    Three decades ago, one sci-fi series rose above the rest to approach the impossible label of perfection. When Star Trek: The Next Generation aired its triumphant finale on May 23, 1994, it was ...

  22. I Can't Think Of A Better Series Finale Than Star Trek: TNG, Even 30

    While I was too young to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation's original finale when it premiered, I did get to experience the finale of Star Trek: Picard season 3 in real-time. Streaming shows operate differently than syndicated shows like TNG, but it was still fun to watch Star Trek: Picard's "The Last Generation" as soon as it was available and then observe fans' responses to it online.

  23. Star Trek: The Next Generation's Series Finale at 30 (Exclusive)

    Thirty years ago today, Star Trek writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore found themselves shouldering the unique responsibility of simultaneously writing The Next Generation cast's first Trek movie while also scripting their last episode of television. For others, the dual writing duties would likely feel (at best) overwhelming. But that wasn't the case for Braga.

  24. Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Star Trek TV series. Star Trek: The Next Generation ( TNG) is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. It originally aired from September 28, 1987, to May 23, 1994, in syndication, spanning 178 episodes over seven seasons. The third series in the Star Trek franchise, it was inspired by Star Trek: The Original ...

  25. Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes Nailed It In Explaining Why Strange New

    It remains to be seen if Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will still be the franchise's golden child in the future as Seasons 3 and 4 arrive and other upcoming Star Trek shows pop up on the scene ...

  26. Star Trek: Q Episodes In Order

    The Q and the Grey. (1996) 1995-2001 46m TV-PG. 7.1 (2K) Rate. TV Episode. Due to the death of the Q in their last encounter with Voyager, a Civil War has broken out among the Q continuum. A new Q needs to be produced and the mischievous Q known to the USS Enterprise has chosen Janeway as his mate. Director Cliff Bole Stars Kate Mulgrew ...

  27. Jonathan Frakes on Directing 'Star Trek': Looking Back on 'Discovery

    For Star Trek: Discovery's penultimate episode, an icon from the franchise stepped behind the camera: Jonathan Frakes, who starred as Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and reprised the ...

  28. One of Star Trek's Most Enduring Villains Was Created by a ...

    The Next Generation's Q (John De Lancie) is one of the biggest tricksters in the galaxy, while Deep Space Nine's Cardassian war criminal Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) is constantly stirring up something ...

  29. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series 1987-1994)

    Sat, Nov 28, 1987. While on a mission to a planet called Haven, Counselor Troi meets her husband to be, a marriage arranged by her father years before, as the Enterprise encounters a ship far deadlier than any combat could provide. 6.2/10 (3.7K) Rate. Watch options.

  30. 'Star Trek' Prequel: Simon Kinberg in Talks to Produce

    The "Star Trek" prequel will also be produced by J.J. Abrams, who has overseen all "Star Trek" movies through Bad Robot since 2009's "Star Trek," which he directed.