For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here
Overview – Q returns to the Enterprise, wanting to be a member of the crew. When Picard scoffs at the idea, Q warns him that there are great dangers in the universe that they are unaware of. Without warning Q sends the Enterprise to a distant corner of the galaxy where Picard and his crew encounter a new threat, one that seems to be unstoppable.
Score: 9/10 – “Q Who” is one of those episodes that you need to see for following TNG. This is the first time that Q has appeared on the ship since Guinan came aboard, and it is obvious that they have a past. It also gives us some insight to her character, and layers on the mystery of her character. We learn that her people were destroyed by the Borg. Speaking of which, this gives us our first official introduction to the most dangerous enemy Picard and his crew will tangle with throughout the series and the films. Because of how powerful the Borg are, they are (appropriately) used sparingly so as to maintain the seriousness of their threat. This episode effectively establishes them as the deadliest foe the Federation has yet to face. This episode also has a lot to offer. There is action, humor, and suspense. The writing is crisp, the acting is great, and the story is compelling. Before this point the Enterprise had not really suffered any loss of life in the double digits. The Borg took out 18 crewmembers. That was a serious blow to Picard, and he approaches it with concern and trepidation. Overall, one not to miss.
Relevance - 3 points. One point for solving the mystery of the missing colonies along the neutral zone that was mentioned at the end of the last season. One point scored for the references to Q’s purposes for his prior visits to the Enterprise. And finally, a third point is scored for the introduction of the Borg. I think it is safe to say that the Borg would turn out to be TNG’s nemesis above all others. This episode marks a launching point that will give us some great episodes, such as “I, Borg”, “Descent”, and, of course, “The Best of Both Worlds”. Plus, if you are a Q fan, this episode is also relevant in that it establishes a history between our favorite omnipotent being and Guinan.
Continuity – 3 points. Story continuity is good, although I would have liked it if they had been a little more explicit with the connection to “The Neutral Zone” which established that Federation and Romulan outposts were being destroyed. Universe contiuity also gets a point here, though I thought that the subtle change in the Borg’s main objectives between this and their next appearance pushed it a bit. In this episode, it is technology that they are seeking to assimilate, whereas it will later be established that it encompasses much more than that. Since it is a logical progression, I still gave it a point. Character continuity also gets a point scored here. Since Picard is the major focus, his reactions are under the most scrutiny. When he has to tell Q that he is helpless to defeat this adversary, it took a great deal of humility. While Picard often works at establishing confidence in his leadership, it is perfectly fitting for him to demonstrate that there are times when in order to help his crew, he must confess his limitations.
Character Development – 2 points. The characters that receive the most development in this episode are the two main guest characters, Q and Guinan. That leaves Picard from the main cast as the one who receives some significant treatment. For our beloved captain, Jean-Luc must swallow his pride a bit. I like the ending of this episode where, as Q is mocking him for being out of his league with the Borg, he humbly admits that Q is right. At that moment, Picard is inadequate to handle the situation and needs Q. I have always felt that the best leaders require an element of humility in their character, and Picard demonstrates that here. While he is not groveling for help, he does show that he is in need of Q’s help. That is one of the first times that I can recall Picard conceding that he is not always up to the task. Sadly, for Picard, this will not be the last time he finds himself falling short when dealing with the Borg.
Social Commentary – 2 points. As often seems to be the case in some of these excellent episodes, I have difficulty narrowing down what the story might be saying about our day-to-day lives. In this episode, there are several comments that can be interpreted. Picard’s show of humility teaches us the importance of being humble when leading. There are those that feel that any sign of humility is a sign of weakness, and that a good leader never shows weakness. I’m not advocating that all leaders need to constantly inform their crew that they are inadequate to the task at hand, because I do believe that good leaders need to be confident in themselves and their crew, but I do feel that if a leader is faced with a difficult or even impossible task, there is no shame in admitting it.
Cool Stuff – 3 points. Everything about the Borg here is cool. Their look, their ship, and their culture was beyond impressive and showed a great deal of consideration and planning. Originally they were supposed to be insectoids of some sort, but I like the cyborg better. While the Borg themselves score a point, I am scoring a second point for the special effect of the section of the Enterprise being carved out of the hull. A very cool effect. Finally, since I cannot use Guinan’s development in the Character Development, I think the excitement about the mysteries surrounding her character just made her that much cooler.
Rank – Admiral (22 points). While Q may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he is a very popular character that has made several big impacts on the TNG. This episode is one where some argue he makes the biggest impact of them all in introducing the Borg to Picard and his crew. It has been hotly debated over the last three decades as to whether or not Q did Picard any favors here, it cannot be denied that this episode is an essential show to watch for the series. The episode itself is excellently made and is a lot of fun on repeat viewings.
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