Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, May 8, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Sixteen "Q Who"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Sixteen "Q Who"
Production Order: 42
Air Order: 42
Stardate: 42761.3
Original Air Date: May 8, 1989

We start out in Engineering, A new girl requests hot chocolate from a replicator, and she's polite as hell, so she says "please."
Geordi laughs at her for being polite to a replicator. Like he's not being a jerk about it, but it is interesting that he would point out that she's being polite to a machine, where he's perfectly polite to Data. Like, it's not the same, but... eh? Anyway, she explains that she thinks that courtesy should be extended more in every direction, and that we lose a bit of our humanity when we don't, and she thanks the replicator after her drink appears.
We then learn that she's an ensign, so fresh out of the Academy that not all of her paint is dry yet, and that Geordi hand-picked her because she's got some awesome talent. She excited about this, and talks real fast. Geordi reminds her that having hot chocolate around expensive Engineering equipment is a bad idea, and she apologizes, turning to finish her drink nearby.
But then -

Geordi tries to take responsibility while Sonia hurriedly apologizes and wipes at the front of Picard's uniform, making a bigger mess.
Picard is that mixed bag of pissed off and amused. He tells Sonia that it will just be easier if she stops spreading her drink all over his chest, and he'll just change his uniform.
She fumbles another apology, blurting out that she's going to attempt to serve the ship and it's crew to the best of her ability.

"Okay. Great. Bye."

Picard leaves Engineering, walking down the hall to the lift. But when he exits the lift, it's into a shuttle, and the lift doors close behind him before he has a chance to react. There's someone sitting in the pilot's seat.
"Crewman, what's going on?" he demands.
Aw, fuck. It's this asshole again.

"The hell?" yells Picard. "What are you doing here? We agreed you'd stay the fuck away from my ship."
Q smoothly chastises Picard for the chocolate on his uniform, then cleans it with a swipe of his hand, before saying that he always keeps his promises, and then says that they're nowhere near the E.
Picard checks the window. No ship.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Geordi and Sonia are walking through the corridors. He is taking her to Ten Forward to chill out a bit. He says she's so young to be driven like that, which is weird, because people who are driven when younger often achieve awesome stuff. They just have to watch out for burn-out, though that seems to be the stance that Geordi is taking. Sonia really wanted to be here, because they might be the first humans to see something, and she wants to be a part of that.
"Okay, chill the hell out, and I'll make sure you don't miss anything good," he offers.
She agrees.

Guinan is going about her business in Ten Forward when she gets a weird look on her face. Suspicious music plays. She stares out the window, then goes to a comm panel on the bar and calls the bridge.
Riker is surprised to hear from her. "You've never called the bridge before."
"Yeah, um, everything okay? I got a weird feeling."
Riker looks at Worf, who just looks back. "Yeah, we're good. Why?"
She brushes it off as "probably nothing," and hangs up.
Yeah, no, Riker. If the mysterious alien bartender calls the bridge and says she has a bad feeling that something is going on, you follow up with that shit.

Out in BFE, Space, Picard is attempting to call the E, or at least alert them to where he is, but Q says they're too far out. Then he tells Picard in the creepiest, most predator-like way ever that they have business.

Mace his ass, Jean-Luc.

Sonia and Geordi are chatting, and Geordi stops mid-sentence. Guinan is staring out the window again, and Geordi asks her if everything is okay.
She waffles, but says everything is fine. He's not buying it.
"I'm gonna go check on Engineering," he says, getting up.
Geordi is smart. Sonia follows.

Troi rushes onto the bridge and asks where Picard is, but a few quick checks with Majel reveal that he is not on the ship. Worf announces that a shuttle is missing. A confused Wes demands to know how Picard could have left without anyone knowing. Riker has Wes stop the ship, and when no shuttle is located nearby, they plot a search pattern to find it.

Riker's Log 42761.3: "Captain missing six hours. Our search pattern has been for how far out a shuttle can travel that distance without warp, but we haven't found anything."

On the shuttle, Picard has decided to give the silent treatment to Q instead of talking to him. And Q has responded by repeatedly bouncing a ball against a bulkhead and reminding Picard that he is immortal, and can do this forever. (Though let's be honest here - Q is a whiner, and while he has the ability to do this forever, he'd eventually get bored and try to goad Picard into playing with him.)
Picard is unimpressed with Q's threat, and states that Riker will become captain if he never returns.
"If I take you back, will you consider doing me a favor?" asks Q.
Picard nods.
Q throws the ball again, and when it bounces back to him, they are in an empty Ten-Forward.
Or maybe not so empty.

"WTF?" asks Worf, on the bridge. "The shuttle is back in the shuttle bay!"
"Majel, where's the captain?" asks Riker.
"Ten-Forward," says Majel.
Riker smiles strangely, and heads for the lift.

Suspicious music! Commercial break!

Right away, there's a rumble in Ten-Forward. Seems like Q and Guinan know one another, and things did not end well. Q yells that Guinan is trouble, and needs to go.
"Bitch, that's you," snaps Picard. "Now, WTF do you want?"
"Yeah, seriously," says Riker, stepping into Ten-Forward with Worf.
Q calls Worf  "micro-brain" again, and I frown because really, an omnipotent being can't come up with a better insult?
"I want to join you as a member of your crew," says Q, as though he's a host for a televised home shopping network, and he has something that Picard and Riker will just love.
"I'm totes homeless," he adds, like they better call now.
Only an infinitesimal number of payments of $19.99.

Riker snorts in derision. "They kicked you out."
Guinan throws some shade: "Not all of the Q are alike. Some are almost respectable."
"Okay," says Picard, as though entertaining the idea. "What would you do on this ship? What job is too lowly for an omnipotent being?"
Q accuses Picard of making fun of him, and Picard assures Q that he is not.
"We're out here looking for new life, and you qualify. But you're a complete dick."
Picard sends Worf out to guard the doors of Ten-Forward, and Q tries pleading his case, saying that he'll give up his powers and be a humble human.
All while wearing a captain's rank on his uniform, I might add.
Guinan makes the best forced-snort noise ever.

Riker is super amused by this conversation.
"No, we don't trust you," says Picard plainly.
"But you need me," argues Q. "You aren't prepared for what's out there, and I can be your guide. All of the enemies you've made so far have been kind of pitiful."
"Noop," Picard answers. "We're fine without you, thanks. Whatever's out there, we're ready to meet it, and we don't need your help."
Q throws a quiet tantrum, and forces the ship to spin like a boomerang into a different part of BFE, Space.

"Ha, have fun, bitches," he says, before disappearing.
Picard calls the bridge. "Bridge, where the fuck are we?"
"7000 light years from our last location," replies Data. "In sector J-25. We're about three years' travel beyond our closest starbase right now."
Picard and Riker both turn to Guinan.
"Your people have been here before?" asks Picard.
"What can you tell us?"
"...if I were you, I'd start back now."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 42761.9: "Guinan told us to head back, and despite that ominous warning, I've decided to Kirk it up, and ignore the advice of wiser people. We're gonna look around before leaving."

The E wanders over to a class-M planet and checks it out. Data reports roads, but where they should be cities, there are holes, like something scooped the cities off the surface of the planet. He mentions that it is similar to the outposts that went missing in the season one episode "The Neutral Zone."
"Bein' scanned," announces Worf.
They put on the viewscreen, and have to magnify a couple of times, because the ship is pretty far away.


They go to yellow alert, but keep the shields down because "we don't want to appear provocative."
God, go to red alert, get those shields the fuck UP, and leave. NOW.
Data reports no engineering section, no bridge, no living quarters, no life signs.
Worf says they don't have shields or any kind of weapon that he recognizes.
Picard tries to hail them.
No answer.

Guinan is watching out the windows of Ten-Forward, staring at the new ship, probably wondering if she has any Klingon in her, and is this a good day to die?

Picard calls her and asks her to activate her viewscreen, which is weird, because she probably has a better view than he does, just staring at the window. She leaves Ten-Forward and goes down the corridor to her officer, turning on a screen.
"Tell us about these people," instructs Picard.
"Okay... they're called the Borg. We met them a hundred years ago, they decimated our cities, and scattered the rest of us to the stars. You should really put the fucking shields up," she adds.
Riker does so.
Geordi is down in Engineering, listening in, when something beams in next to the warp core.
He calls Security.
"Hey, um, intruder alert."

Geordi is watching the Borg check out their work stations when Picard, Worf, and two Security Golds come in.
"He checked out the warp core, now he's checking out the stations," Geordi tells the others.
Q appears behind Picard, and I guess he's decided that Picard wants that sexy hot Q breath in his ear, because he talks directly into his ear again.
"He's interesting, right?"
"Hey, hi, what do you want?" Picard asks the Borg.
The Borg ignores him.
"He's not interested in you," purrs Q. "He's a scout, and he's here to collect info on your technology. He might try to take over your ship."
The Borg lifts it's huge arm, and connects to the work station, most likely downloading the computer.
"Hey, stop!" protests Picard.
He tells the Golds to do something, and Worf sends in this little Gold ensign.
The Borg knocks the ensign across the room, and Worf tries to stun the Borg.
Nope. Borg just turns and stares at him while continuing to download the computer.

"Organic life-form, please."

Worf hits the guy on kill setting, and the Borg hits the ground. A second or so later, another Borg materializes... presumably both came through the shields. The second Borg finishes the download process, and Worf hits this new one with his phaser again. This time, a series of personal shields protects the Borg, and when Worf stops shooting, he completes his download and turns to look Worf square in the eyes.

Then he collects a few components off the fallen Borg and disappears. It looks like the first one dematerializes as well, but leaves behind a body-shaped burn mark on the carpet, so maybe he was incinerated?

Picard calls a meeting in the Obs Lounge with Troi, Riker, Data, and Guinan. He asks Guinan about what happened when her people met the Borg.
"I wasn't there personally."
Otherwise, she wouldn't be here.
"But when they came, they wiped out everything, and there were very few of my people left."
"How come they didn't attack us?" asks Riker. "They could have attacked."
"They don't do that," explains Guinan. "Not individually. They go in at first and get info."
"So that's what happened in Engineering?" asks Data. "They were sizing us up?"
"How do we negotiate?" puts in Picard. "How do we let them know we're not a threat?"
She laughs humorlessly. "You don't."

"We're being hailed," calls Worf.
They put the greeting on the little Obs Lounge screen, and it shows the inside of the Cube, with multiple voices all saying, "We checked out your shit, and we can super make you a greasy smear on the pavement. Don't fight us, or we'll punish you."
Then they hang up.

"Sooo, that's not one person," chimes in Troi. "It's the collective thoughts of all of them."
Picard, always eager to talk about such things, is all, "Dude, that has advantages."
"Totes," agrees Troi. "A single leader can make a mistake. A collective... much less so."
Q hops onto the viewscreen to ask if Picard is sure he doesn't want him as a member of his crew.

"Hey... the Borg have a tractor beam on us," interrupts Worf.
Everyone rushes to the bridge.
"Get us the fuck out of here, to anywhere, at warp 8," Picard yells to Wes.
Wes gets that "equipment unresponsive" noise that I've come to hate, and I bet they hate it too.
"Nothin' doing," he calls back.
"The beam is draining our shields," announces Worf.
"OMG, fire the phasers at wherever that tractor beam is coming from," Picard instructs.
They try, but the phasers fire at a completely different part of the Cube.

Then a new kind of beam comes out from the Cube, and slices a neat, round hole in the top of the saucer section, and another tractor beam draws it out and sucks it into the Cube.

"Dammit it all, fire at that beam!" yells Picard.
They try twice more, again hitting the Cube in places not even close to the tractor beam, and while they make some damage, it isn't until the third try that they finally hit the beam's origin, shutting it off.
Data reports that their shields are holding the hull integrity together where the Borg took a section out.
"What's that damage like?" asks Picard.
"Like, nine sections missing across three decks," says Worf. "18 crew members missing."
"Fuuuuuuck," says Picard. "What about the Borg?"
"Twenty-percent damage."
"Life support minimal."
Um, thought they showed no signs of life? Why would they need life support?
"Dude, conference," says Picard.

We go down to Engineering, where Geordi and Sonia are frantically working at the pool table console, trying to get the shields back up to max. Sonia is struggling, and he tells her that if she can't fix something, to re-route it. She keeps talking about those 18 people being dead, and he finally barks at her to knock it off, that they can think about that later, once they're out of immediate danger.

The others meet up again in the Obs Lounge.
"Go for exposition," Picard tells Guinan.
She says that they're made of organic matter and machine, which they've been developing over thousands of years. The Q appears and interrupts to say that the Borg are "the ultimate user," and that they don't want power or more or political gain, but technology. They go through systems, steal tech, and add it to their own.
Then Q takes off again, and the chair he was sitting in rocks after he disappears, which I like. They acknowledged that his mass being removed from the chair would change how it was sitting. It's like in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when a cartoon character sits on a chair, and the cushion indents. Little details like that are awesome.
"I think we should go to the Borg ship," says Riker. "Look around, gather info on them."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" demands Guinan.
"They visited us," says Riker. "We should do the same."
"Minimal away team," agrees Picard.
Guinan probably starts planning their wakes.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Here's an update for if you just came in after missing the first three-quarters of this episode."

Riker beams over with Data and Worf, telling them to set phasers on stun. I don't know what good that'll do, though - they already proved with the first Borg that stunning was ineffective, and the kill setting on the second Borg produced shields and side-eye.
Once over there, they draw weapons, and again, I have no idea why. Maybe it just makes them feel better. They see the Borg all plugged into little alcoves in the walls, and none of them is paying our boys any mind. Data surmises that they aren't picking up life signs because when the Borg are plugged into the ship, they function as one. But then, wouldn't their life signs show up as one instead of none? Data also thinks that each alcove is designed for a specific Borg.
A Borg comes down the catwalk toward them. Worf draws his weapon, but Riker holds him back. The Borg goes to another Borg who is plugged in. She connects with it (I know they say the Borg are genderless, but it's a female actor), then disconnects, walks past them again, and plugs into her own alcove.
"They either don't see us, or don't see us as a threat," muses Riker.

Our boys wander into a different area full of large drawers in the wall.
"I think it's a Borg nursery," Riker tells Picard.
He opens a drawer to find a baby with mechanical components attached.
"Looks like the Borg are born as meat sack life forms, and then right after, they start fitting them with mechanical components," he relays. "Their tech is super-advanced."

Data calls his friends over to a section of wall to examine it. "I think they're using their collective minds to repair the ship, which is why they're ignoring us," says Data.
Picard catches this suggestion over the comm badge, and yells for O'Brien to beam the away team back.
The away team appears on the bridge.
"Okay," says Picard. "Once again, get us the fuck out of here, warp eight, anywhere but here. Set a heading and go!"
Now, a million years after Guinan advised them to get the hell out of Dodge, they finally turn and leave.
But the Borg are paying enough attention to give chase.
When magnified on the viewscreen, stop-motion animation is shown to indicate that the Borg ship is repairing itself.

"Let's see if we can outrun them," says Picard.
Famous Last Words, buddy.
They push the speed until almost to warp 10. The Borg keep up. They fire photon torpedoes. Nope.
Q shows up to taunt them and be a general nuisance.
"They'll just keep chasing you until you give up or run out of gas. Admit it - you should have stayed where you were."
That's rich, coming from the guy who shot them 7000 light years from the closest starbase.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "How the holy hell are they gaining on us?"

Engines are at maximum, and now the Borg ship is firing at them.
"Um, no damage," reports Worf, even though they were hit.
"Yeah, it's not meant to cause damage," says Data. "It was meant to drain the shields."
"Oh, yeah," frowns Worf.
Another direct hit, and the shields are down more. If the Borg fire one more time, they're toast.
Picard has Worf fire more photon torpedoes, but the Borg Cube takes no damage.
The Borg fire again, and the shields go down. One last time, and they lose warp engines.
Q is super amused. "Lol, you guys are so fucked! You told me you were ready to find out what was out there, and this is it - this is what's out there."
Riker tells Worf to arm the torpedoes, and Data reminds him that, without shields, firing those torpedoes could damage the E. There's a pause, then Picard says, "Do it."
"So are you facing this or what?" asks Q. "I'm leaving, cuz I'm bored."
"Maybe you should fucking end this," suggests Picard.
"What makes you think I'm able to?" Q asks, batting his proverbial eyelashes.
Dude, don't do that false modesty bullshit.
"Okay, look," says Picard. "You wanted to frighten me? It's done. We're shitting our pants here. You want us to say that we're inadequate? For right now, hell yeah, we are. You want me to say I need you? I need you, you stupid motherfucker."
And Q smiles, and snaps his fingers, and the ship goes spinning off in another direction. When they stop, Wes confirms that they're right back where they started.
"Wow, that had to suck for you," says Q, with slight admiration. "Another guy might have died rather than admitted that."
"I get it," says Picard. "You wanted us to know how scary it can be out here. But you killed 18 people in the process."
"Boo-fucking-hoo," replies Q, and disappears.

"OMG, nearest starbase please," Picard tells Wes.
They set off.

We cut to Ten-Forward, where Guinan is playing 3-D chess while she talks to a flustered Picard.
"So you weren't supposed to meet the Borg that soon," she says. "Q pushed that meeting way up. But now that they're aware of you..."
"They'll be coming, anyway," he finishes. He is thoughtful, and looks out the window. "Maybe he did the right thing for the wrong reason. Maybe what we needed was to be less complacent."
He moves a chess piece, and they both smile, and we get extended music as the ship flies through space.

This is a pretty great episode. As villains, the Romulans have always struck me as being kind of impotent, a group that was developed to be mysterious, but actually went nowhere. And the Ferengi are better as comedy relief. But the Borg, man. The fucking Borg. There's always been something mildly terrifying to me about cyborgs who take your essence and discard it, so that you are nothing more than a meat bag that holds mechanical components. For this reason, Doctor Who's Cybermen have always been far more scary to me that the Daleks (The Great Whiners of the Stars). There's something extra awful about a person being kept alive, who has no spark of their former selves, whose life has been overwritten by another species. With both the Borgs and the Cybermen, we find out that that essence still exists under the new programming, but for all intents and purposes, it is lost. There is no getting it back, and friends and loved ones must contend that a person taken by the Borg is essentially dead, but there is no one to bury or hold a ceremony for. They must live with the thought that that person still exists, but as someone completely new. That's pretty fucked up.
I like that we've established Q's downfall thus fall. Q with unlimited powers and ego is boring. He's a rebel without a cause, and has no reason to hassle Picard & Co, other than boredom. Ugh. Like, who gives a shit? But a Q within a free-fall? That's interesting. And the later-established political problems that Q has with the continuum is interesting. What I like is the whiny, petulant, self-absorbed Q who provides a bit of comic relief. He becomes a bit like Trelane from TOS' "The Squire of Gothos."
My only sticking point here: the writers can't seem to figure out how "alive" the Borg are. Data reports no life support systems in his original scan, but Worf later says that life support to the Cube is minimal during repairs. Data surmises that the Borg do not show up as individuals with life signs, but wouldn't they show up as one instead of none? I dunno. There are a handful of other things that the writers will clear up or refine in later episodes, but my research didn't turn up anything on Borg organic components being more or less alive.

Fun Facts:

-The Borg were originally supposed to be insectoid, but budget constraints made them humanoid cyborgs instead. The hive mind remained.

- The Ferengi were supposed to be the new big-baddies of TNG, but they fell flat as a villain collectively. Needing a new villain, Maurice Hurley wrote The Neutral Zone, intending to introduce the Borg then, but the Writers' Guild Strike of 1988 prevented this, and the idea of the Borg being introduced was set aside until later in the second season.
- Many fans missed the passing reference that Data makes about how the outposts near the Neutral Zone had been scooped off the planet's surface, and so they didn't quite understand that the two episodes were connected.
- You probably know Lycia Naff (Sonia Gomez) from somewhere else. Namely, this one movie she did the following year:

Ugh. Friends don't let friends wear stupid prosthetics on camera. Where were Lycia Naff's friend's when she accepted this part? She seems to have better buddies these days, as she's into journalism now.
- The character of Sonia Gomez was originally supposed to be a recurring one, a bit of bright sunshine and some comic relief down in Engineering. She was also slated to be a love interest for Geordi, leading to him considering undergoing a dangerous operation to restore his eyesight, so he could see her in person. However, audiences did not see her as a girl that Geordi would fall for, possibly due to the fact that Naff and LeVar Burton played the relationship in this episode as big brother/little sister-ish. They were unaware that they might be later playing romantic interests. When the love story arc died, the Powers That Be decided to have Sonia return for two more episodes, which then got cut to one. Naff blames the cut-back on a haircut: the producers were waffling as to how many times they wanted Sonia Gomez to appear, and Naff wanted to get a haircut, so her agent called the producers, who said, "It's cool, go ahead and cut your hair." So she did. They called her back a few days later and asked her to come in to re-shoot a scene in a corridor. They were pretty pissed off about having to put extensions in her hair, and Naff only got called back for one other episode.
-This is the only time we see Guinan's office.

- The Borg actors had to be glued into their costumes.
- The background displays in the Borg alcoves were referred to as "Borg spaghetti" by the crew.
- The look of the Borg and their ship were inspired by HR Giger and the series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Furture.
- Because the Borg were considered to be "too powerful," they only appeared in five episodes of TNG.
- Much like the Klingons, the Borg here have simplified costumes due to budgetary constraints. As the series moves forward and the budget increases, the Borg costumes and ships will improve.
- Ron Jones composed the score for this episode and The Neutral Zone, as well as Borg-based two-parter that comes up later.
- Sadly, we never find out what the rumble was between Q and Guinan.
- A Star Trek novel later written reveals that the 18 people who go missing when that slice is taken out of the ship were assimilated into the Borg.
- Due to time travel and other situations with films and other franchise shows, there is some goofiness in the continuity of when the Borg first encounter the human race.
- When the E tries to shoot at the tractor beam and comes up with Stormtrooper aim, it is suggested that there were malfunctions in the running of those particular phaser arrays.
- This episode won two Emmy Awards for sound, and was nominated for a third for Special Effects.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Unknown color crew deaths: 18
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 11
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments:0
To date: 5
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Pulaski Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 19
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 19
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:



  1. Your reaction under the first picture with the Borg cube made me actually laugh out loud. Well done.

  2. The character of Sonya Gomez would go on to bigger and better things in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novellas, which are lovely episode-sized stories. (As opposed to the cinematic scale of a novel.) She still gets teased about the hot chocolate incident sometimes, though.

  3. How did I miss this review last week?

    One piece of trivia that I'd heard that isn't listed here. Originally, Q was basically gonna tell the crew "Nyah, nyah, told ya so!" in the lounge, and it was DeLancie's idea to change it to "Oh, please", which I think works a hell of a lot better and fits Q's personality.

  4. Oh, another thing. The Federation really should have looked into installing projectile weapons on its ships after this incident.