(written from a Production point of view)
|TNG, Episode 3x13|
Production number: 40273-161
First aired: 5 February 1990
|←||60th of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||60th of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||167th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Q is seeking asylum on the Enterprise after he has been thrown out of the Continuum and stripped of his powers.
The USS Enterprise-D is called to Bre'el IV to help them with their moon that is falling out of orbit and threatening the planet. As they are trying to find a way to get the moon back into its orbit, Q suddenly drops in, literally, and Picard jumps to the conclusion that Q is responsible for what is happening to the Bre'el.
However, Q reveals that he had nothing to do with it and that he has been stripped of his powers and was given the choice to be turned into anything he so desired, as long as it was mortal. He chose to be Human and sent to the Enterprise because out of all the universe he considers "Jean-Luc" the closest thing to a friend he has. When a desperate Q practically begs to know what he can do to convince the crew that he has lost his powers, Worf succinctly suggests that he die.
Counselor Troi confirms that she can sense emotions from Q which reveal that he is terrified. While not believing Q entirely, Picard has Worf throw him into the brig for safekeeping. Moments later, broadband emissions illuminate the Enterprise until they shrink down to sneak into the brig, where Q has fallen asleep.
Picard is suspicious of Q's motives and keeps asking him to stop torturing these people and get their moon back. Q insists that he has nothing to do with it. Q complains about how ordinary it is to be Human. For instance, not realizing what "sleep" is, he describes it as suddenly feeling weak and being no longer able to stand. Q finally convinces Picard that he can help return the moon to its natural orbit with his knowledge of spatial phenomena from all over the universe. Picard, still in doubt that Q is Human, releases him from the brig and assigns Data to keep him out of trouble.
In engineering, Q is not very helpful, as he complains mainly about his limited abilities as a Human and makes suggestions that no one on the Enterprise with their current level of scientific knowledge can follow. Still thinking as a Q, he suggests to Geordi La Forge that he just change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the moon. That suggestion is quickly dismissed as impossible; however, La Forge realizes that they could wrap a low-level warp field around the moon, reducing its gravitational constant, making it lighter so they can push it. Q is glad he could help and then suddenly starts complaining about back pain. Dr. Crusher is called to engineering and it seems that Q has back spasms. When Dr. Crusher heals him, he complains of a noisy stomach that, as Dr. Crusher tells him, is probably a sign that he is hungry.
Data takes Q to Ten Forward to get something to eat. Q asks Data what he eats, and since Data doesn't "eat" in the traditional sense, he suggests something chocolate to Q, as it is Deanna Troi's favorite food when she's in a bad mood. Q orders ten chocolate sundaes, since he had never consumed food before becoming Human, he must be really hungry. Guinan enters, which gives Q a sense of uneasiness as this is not a moment he was looking forward to. Data explains Q's transformation to Guinan, who stabs him with a fork to test if he's really Human. The encounter understandably causes Q to lose his appetite, so he is unable to enjoy his huge chocolate treat. He warns them of Guinan being a dangerous creature.
While Q sulks miserably in Ten Forward, the Calamarain, a species Q tormented in the past, tries to kill him to return the favor. The crew is able to repel them and Q screams for help, while Guinan looks down on him and says, "How the mighty have fallen."
While elaborating about the Calamarain, Q is forced to admit that for all his protestations of friendship, his real reason for being on the Enterprise is protection. He insists that he did not do the Calamarian any injustice, that they are intelligent beings, even if flighty. Riker accuses him of having tortured the Calamarain and hence they are after him. Riker supposes that since Q has made many enemies over his lifetime as an omnipotent being, the Enterprise would spend all its time fighting off the enemies of Q, which is not the job Riker signed up for.
Nonetheless, his knowledge is still useful in the task of moving the moon. When Q gets to engineering, he thinks that because he has knowledge of how to move the moon, he is in charge. Obviously this is not the case, and when La Forge tells him what to do, Q tells La Forge that he will not take orders because he has never taken orders. Data tells him that it would be his wisest course of action to listen to La Forge. During their attempt to surround the moon in a warp field, the Calamarain attack again, nearly killing Q. Data intervenes at great peril to himself, and though he saves Q from being pulled through the hull, he himself is nearly electrocuted.
In sickbay, Dr. Crusher works on fixing Data and reprimands Q for not even thinking that Data saved his life. Then Q is escorted out of sickbay. In the meantime, Picard and La Forge discuss how best to move the moon again, and La Forge says that they will have to wait until the moon reaches its perigee for their next try. Riker, though, realizes that they have the same dilemma of protecting Q or helping the people on Bre'el IV. Q comes to the conclusion that being Human has made him a miserable coward, so he goes back to sickbay to thank Data for saving him, and tells him that Data makes a better Human than he does. Q figures the ship and planet will never be safe as long as he is on board the Enterprise, so he takes a shuttlecraft and leaves the ship to distract the Calamarain.
The Enterprise see Q is being chased again by the Calamarain but all attempts of trying to beam him back on board, extending the shields to the shuttlecraft, and putting a tractor beam on it fail. The Calamarain seem to be catching up to Q in his shuttlecraft.
All attempts to rescue Q fail as Q2, who had Q stripped of his powers and was watching him to see how he reacted, disables the tractor beam, transporters, shields, etc. He pops in to see Q and says that his display of selflessness has convinced him to give Q's powers back so long as he behaves himself. Q2 says he cannot go back to the Q Continuum and tell the others that Q was selfless right before he died because it would take too much effort ant time. So he gives Q his back, and Q is about to seek revenge on the Calamarain, but Q2 pops in again, so Q puts the Calamarain back, blowing them out like a candle.
With no sign of the Calamarain, or the shuttle, the Enterprise crew assumes they are dead, and Picard suggests that they had seen the last of Q. Q, however, appears on the bridge as a horn-player with a mariachi band, making cigars appear in Picard's and Riker's mouths, and materializing around Riker a pair of scantily-clad women to celebrate. After Riker denounces Q's materializing the scantily-clad females, Q transfers them to Worf, instead. Q protest that he "feels like celebrating", while Picard retorts "I don't!", and Q does away with both the scantily-clad females and the mariachi band, leaving only Q, wearing a uniform identical to Picard's, which elicits a disgusted look from Picard. Q declares that, as a Human, he was "ill-equipped to thank you; but, as myself, you have my everlasting gratitude." Then, just prior to his departure, Q leaves Data a little "going-away present" – not using his powers to make him Human, as Data suspects, but allowing him to experience laughter for a few surreal moments.
A grateful message comes in from Bre'el IV, thanking a stunned Picard for restoring the errant moon to its correct orbit – and, the captain, knowing it was not the Enterprise who accomplished this, says there may be a residue of Humanity left in Q. A visage of Q appears in the smoke rising from a lit cigar that had materialized in Picard's hand – and tells Picard not to bet on it.
"... in all the universe, you're the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean-Luc."
- - Q, followed by "the look" from Picard
"Return that moon to its orbit"
"I have no powers. Q, the ordinary."
"Q, the liar. Q, the misanthrope."
"Q, the miserable. Q, the desperate. What must I do to convince you people?"
"Oh, very clever, Worf. Eat any good books, lately?"
- - Q, Picard, and Worf on the bridge
"Fine. You want to be treated as Human?"
"All right. Mr. Worf, throw him in the brig."
- - Picard, Q, and Worf
"It was a mistake! I never should've picked Human! I knew it the moment I said it. To think of a future in this shell, forced to cover myself with a fabric because of some outdated Human morality! To say nothing of being too hot or too cold. Growing feeble with age. Losing my hair. Catching a disease? Being ticklish? Sneezing? Having an itch? A pimple? Bad breath? Having to bathe?!"
- - Q and Worf on the way to the brig
"BE QUIET! Or disappear back where you came from!"
"I can't disappear! Any more than you can win a beauty contest!"
- - Worf, getting annoyed at Q's complaints as he takes him to the brig
"As I learn more and more what it is to be Human, I am more and more convinced that I would never make a good one. I don't have what it takes... without my powers I'm frightened of everything. I'm a coward... and I'm miserable. And I can't go on this way."
- - Q, talking to Picard in his ready room
"I have never seen anyone eat ten chocolate sundaes."
"I'm in a really bad mood. And since I've never eaten before, I ought to be very hungry."
- - Data and Q, in Ten Forward
"The captain and many of the crew are not yet convinced he is truly Human."
"Really?" (stabs Q in the hand with a fork)
"Seems Human enough to me."
- - Data, Guinan, and Q, at the bar in Ten Forward
"HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!"
"How the mighty have fallen."
- - Q crying helplessly on the floor in Ten Forward while Guinan looks on
"Q, there is no dignity in this suicide"
"Yes, I suppose you're right; death of a coward then, so be it."
- - Picard attempts to dissuade Q from sacrificing himself
"I'm immortal again! Omnipotent again!"
- - Q and Riker, after Q appears on the bridge and blares a trumpet with a mariachi band
"Data, why are you laughing?"
"I do not know. But it was a wonderful... feeling."
- - La Forge and Data, experiencing Q's gift
"I know Human beings. They are all sopping over with compassion and forgiveness. They can't wait to absolve almost any offense. It's an inherent weakness of breed."
- - Q
"You have brought nothing but pain and suffering to this crew. And, I am still not entirely convinced that all this isn't your latest attempt at a puerile joke."
"It is a joke. A joke on me. Joke of the universe. The king who would be man."
- - Picard and Q, in the ready room
"There are creatures in the universe who would consider you the ultimate achievement, android. No feelings, no emotions, no pain – and yet you covet those qualities of Humanity. Believe me, you're missing nothing. But if it means anything to you, you're a better Human than I."
- - Q, talking to the disabled Data
"This goes against my better judgment. Transporter room three, lock on to shuttle one. Beam it back into its bay... It's a perfectly good shuttlecraft."
- - Captain Picard, to Riker after Q escapes in a shuttlecraft
"But I feel like celebrating."
"(Sighs) All right."
- - Picard to a very festive Q
"I don't need your fantasy women."
"Oh, you're so stolid. You weren't like that before the beard."
- - Riker and Q, after Q materializes two scantily-clad women before Riker
"Perhaps there is a... residue of Humanity in Q after all."
"Don't bet on it, Picard."
- - Jean-Luc Picard and Q, who mischievously causes a lit cigar to materialize in Picard's hand
Story and production
- Michael Piller recalled, "Our first take on it was that Q lost his powers, came on board and we developed a whole story about how we were about to come into a war with the Klingons. It turns out that Q didn't really lose his powers after all, he was just playing with us and pulling our strings just so that he could make himself a hero, become an officer and prove his value. It wasn't a bad story, but ultimately we sat down with Gene and Rick, and Gene said, 'If you're going to do a story – Godlike and brought to Earth – then do it. Do a story about what it's like to lose everything that you are and having to discover your own humanity.' He kind of threw cold water on us and suggested we do it straight forward and that's what we did. We made it a comedy, we made it fun, but I think it has some extraordinary things to say about humanity." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Melinda Snodgrass remarked, "I always think of Q as Loki. He's chaos. Maury Hurley always thought Q was here to teach us a lesson, to guide and instruct us. I can understand that to some extent, but I really see him as a mischief maker. He really just wants to foul Picard's head." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- John de Lancie considered the bridge scenes of this episode among his hardest to film. His simulated trumpet playing took several takes, and with no way found to fake the scene in which he appears suspended in the nude, he had to do it au naturel. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The Mariachi band was playing the folk-song "La Paloma". The English version is called "No More", and was made popular by Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii (1961).
- This episode marks the first appearance by another member of the Q Continuum (Q2) besides "our" Q. Other members of the Continuum would later appear in "True Q" and various episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
Props and costumes
- A Bre'el IV scientist costume was auctioned off in the It's A Wrap! sale and auction. The tag mistakenly states that it was for use of portraying a "Calamarain Scientist". This is an error as the Calamarains were shown as non-corporeal.
- Among the costumes and props from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, was Sandra Wild's costume which was re-used in further Trek episodes such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Sanctuary" as the dress Haneek found more than ugly. 
- This is the first episode in which Q appears, albeit briefly, in the updated style of uniform introduced in "Evolution".
- This episode was nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production (Robert Lederman) and for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.
- The second where Picard slaps his face in this episode became an internet meme known as "Facepalm".
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 31, 6 December 1991
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum: 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 3.5, 3 July 2000
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
And special guest star
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Corbin Bernsen as Q2
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carrie Crain as Ten Forward waitress
- Benny Gong as Bre'el IV scientist
- Eben Ham as operations division officer
- Mel Ladia as Bre'el IV scientist
- Mark Lentry as science division officer
- Debbie Marsh as civilian
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Michael Moorehead as civilian
- Keith Rayve as command division ensign
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Sandra Wild as Q's fantasy woman
- Unknown performers as
- Command division officer
- Female Bre'el IV scientist
- Female operations division officer
- Female operations division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Operations division officer
- Q's fantasy woman
- Science division officer
- Security officer
- Ten Forward waiter
- Three Mariachi band members
- Transporter officer (voice)
- James G. Becker - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for John de Lancie
ant; Belzoidian flea; berthold rays; black hole; Boy Who Cried Wolf, The; Bre'el IV; Bre'el IV moon; Bre'el IV native; Bre'el system; Calamarain; chocolate; chocolate sundae; Deltived asteroid belt; delta-vee; earthquake; father confessor; gravitational constant; IQ; Markoffian sea lizard; missionary; Nigala IV; perigee; pimple; plasma; Q Continuum; red alert; Romulan; Sakharov; silicon; suicide; tachyons; tractor beam; tricorder; tricycle; tsunami; type 7 shuttlecraft; starbase; warp field
|TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" • "Hide and Q" • "Q Who" • "Deja Q" • "Qpid" • "True Q" • "Tapestry" • "All Good Things..."|
|DS9: "Q-Less"||VOY: "Death Wish" • "The Q and the Grey" • "Q2"|
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