Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 42 (Q Who)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell what kind of influence a particular episode will have. If the Ferengi hadn’t flopped as an adversary, the writers for Star Trek: The Next Generation might not have felt compelled to come up with a better enemy. However, the Ferengi didn’t do so well and here we are, at the 42nd episode of The Next Generation. The omnipotent Q finds himself in exile from the Continuum for not leaving humanity alone. Since he can’t think of any place else to go, he decides to pay the Enterprise a visit. Q wants to be a guide for the Enterprise, showing them the galaxy and helping out as needed.

Picard flat out refuses his offer. That’s not a wise thing to do with an omnipotent being. Insulted, Q flings them many thousands of light years away, right into Borg territory. Guinan knows both the Q and the Borg. She warns that the Enterprise had better start heading back as soon as possible. However, Captain Picard decides to stay, not aware of the threat that’s about to find them.

The Enterprise finds a planet that has craters on the surface similar to those found in the first-season finale, “Neutral Zone”. It turns out that the Borg were the ones that made those craters. They don’t just destroy, though. They assimilate. They assimilate entire cultures, as they did with Guinan’s race. What few of her people are left are scattered throughout the galaxy. She’s in no mood to wait around for them.

However, a Borg cube does show up on long-range sensors. When it meets up with the Enterprise, it locks on with its tractor beam and starts pulling it in. The Enterprise is able to destroy 20% of the Borg ship before taking out the tractor beam, but doesn’t run. Instead, Commander Riker takes an away team over to look at the ship. He finds babies and assumes that the Borg reproduce. (It’s an assumption that’s later proven incorrect, but I won’t get into that here.)

When it’s discovered that the Borg ship is regenerating, the Enterprise turns and runs, but the Borg ship is faster. Captain Picard finally swallows his pride and admits that there are things out there that he isn’t ready for. Satisfied, Q takes the Enterprise back to friendly territory. In the final scene, Guinan and Picard are talking; she tells Picard that since the Borg know of the Federation, they’ll be coming.

While this episode formally introduces us to the Borg, I have to take exception with the final scene. In the episode, it’s acknowledged that the Borg destroyed the outposts along the Neutral Zone. I’d assume that a certain amount of information was collected, either by assimilating people or by going through the computers. That means that Q wasn’t the one to introduce us to the Borg. All he did was to make us aware of the threat that they pose.

Guinan says that they’ve been developing for thousands of centuries, assimilating race after race. This truly is the ultimate threat. Not only is the Federation going against a single mind, but it’s also going against the technology of however many countless races they’ve encountered. I could never figure out why the Borg usually sent such a small contingent to destroy the Federation in later episodes. Perhaps it was arrogance. I don’t want to get into that here, though.

This is one of the few four-star episodes in the second season. Whoopi Goldberg does a great job as Guinan. It’s a shame that she usually has small roles in the episodes she’s in. This is one of the few cases where we get to see her for any decent length of time. I’d recommend buying it on VHS if you’re looking to buy a few episodes. 


No comments :