Star Trek 149: Q Who?

149. Q Who?

FORMULA: Hide and Q + Where No One Has Gone Before + Conspiracy + The Neutral Zone + The Corbomite Maneuver

WHY WE LIKE IT: The introduction of the Borg. Q at the height of his powers. The mystery surrounding Guinan. Sonya Gomez.

WHY WE DON'T: Not everything matches up to later continuity. The ship regeneration effect is kind of hokey compared to the rest of the show.

REVIEW: Whoah Nelly! After a couple of stinkers, the show is back on track, bringing back an old enemy and creating a new one. Are there two opponents more emblematic of TNG than Q and the Borg? Q, for his part, is written much better than in his last appearance (Hide and Q), a mix of humor and foreboding. Maybe it's because he's sparingly used to make room for the other antagonists, but his scenes really sing. He creates a real dilemma for Picard, and the good captain is the bigger man, admitting defeat as a means of saving his ship. Q's little lesson is a hard-learned one, and you simply can't dismiss this one as fluff. It also helps that his flashes are particularly well executed - the pivoting chair, the various switches between characters. Beautiful.

As for the Borg, they're more a force of nature than a race here, and very intriguing. An original ship design, very powerful weapons and that hive attitude that is totally unlike any other Trek enemy race. If they have a weakness, it's that they're not very good conversationalists, and giving them a face may prove difficult to do (and not necessarily satisfying). What we see of them is cool though, including the interior matte shot, the Dune-style shields and the cutting beam taking out a cross-section of the saucer. I was less enthused with the regeneration effect, which seemed more like the surface of a plastic model than that of the Borg cube, but the fx budget was certainly strained. Q not only brought the Enterprise to the Borg, but set things in motion for the Borg to come to Federation space. "They will be coming," indeed. Chilling cliffhanger. (Although they've already come by, if we go by The Neutral Zone.)

Tying the two enemies together is Guinan, who has had dealings with both. While this causes problems in later continuity (what kind of power does she have over Q? what is she really if not what she appears? why does the Federation not know about the Borg if the El-Aurians encountered them?), there's a nice aura of mystery surrounding the character here. I like the "claws" coming out when Q appears, like some kind of protective spell. And of course, it's nice to finally have some backstory on her character. It's just too bad much of it would never really pay off.

Another guest character I found fun to watch is Sonya Gomez, who could definitely have stayed on board in the same capacity as Guinan or O'Brien, in my opinion. She's bubbly, she's clumsy, she's pretty, she's got a light comedic touch (how long was she going to keep rubbing Picard's chest there?), and a lot more personality than a couple of regulars I won't name. She appears in a few scenes, and is basically there as comic relief before heading into darker territories, but even that's done well. Q Who? even features music that's more on par with that of the movies than the regular tv show. A homerun on all elements.

LESSON: Starfleet uniforms are resistant to heat, but not to stains.

REWATCHABILITY - High: The Borg start out with great potential here, but beyond that, this episode has great performances, effects, guest stars and writing. A must-see.

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