Overall Ep :
First Aired :
5 Feb 1990
Season Ep :
When Q is in sickbay, Picard tells the security guard to follow him. Yet for the entire remainder of the episode, the guard is nowhere to be seen.
Great Moment :
Data enjoying his present from Q.
Body Count :
The original story had Q lose his powers as the Federation and Klingons were on the verge of going to war, and in the end it turned out that Q hadn't really lost his power and was manipulating the whole situation to try and become an officer on the ship and a hero to the crew. Gene suggested that if they were going to explore what it was like for Q to lose his power, they should do it for real.
After the crew underwent considerable struggle trying to make John deLancie look nude for the teaser while preserving his dignity, the actor finally asked anybody who was offended by nudity to clear the set, stripped for real, and finished the scene in one take.
This is the first episode ever to feature another Q. We would not see any more until Voyager.
The USS Enterprise-D responds to a distress call from Bre'el IV, where a moon is falling out of orbit towards the surface of the planet. As they attempt to push the moon back into a stable orbit their efforts are disrupted when a naked Q suddenly appears on the bridge.
Once dressed, Q claims to have nothing to do with the current situation as he has been stripped of his powers and turned into a normal Human being. He claims he had his choice of being any life form so long as it was mortal, and chose to be a Human on the Enterprise as Jen-Luc is the closest thing he has ever had to a friend. Picard is skeptical, and a grumpy Worf suggests that Q could prove his newly gained mortality by dying for them. Troi confirms that she can sense normal emotions from Q - indeed, he is terrified - and Picard has him thrown into the brig until he can decide what to do about him. Whilst sleeping there, Q is apparently scanned by some sort of energy from beyond the ship.
Later on Picard, still suspicious, asks Q to stop whatever he is doing with the moon and put it back into the proper orbit. A frustrated Q continues to deny any knowledge of the situation and bemoans his Human status, complaining about having to sleep or eat. Finally he confesses that whilst he had nothing to do with the moon and no power to return it, he does still possess vast knowledge from all over the universe and may well be able to lend assistance. Although doubtful Picard releases Q from the brig and assigns Data to look after him. Q goes to Engineering and proves less than helpful, suggesting that all they need to do is simply "change the gravitational constant of the universe", so altering the mass of the moon. However, it does give Geordi an idea - whilst they can't change the gravitational constant of the universe they can alter the mass of the moon alone by wrapping it in a low-level warp field. This would then allow them to push it back into the proper orbit using a tractor beam. Q instantly claims credit for the idea but then yells that his back hurts; Dr. Crusher is called and diagnoses a minor back spasm, which she cures with a little massage - as Q complains even about that. When his stomach also starts to feel strange she suggests that he may be hungry.
Data takes Q up to visit Ten Forward, and the two wonder what he might eat. When Data suggests that chocolate is something Troi enjoys when she is in a good mood, Q responds by ordering no less than ten chocolate sundaes. When Guinan arrives Q displays unease, and she justifies it by testing his Human condition - by stabbing him in the hand with a dessert fork. An energy creature approaches the ship and attacks Q with some sort of energy. The crew is able to repel the creature, leaving Q crying for help on the deck in ten forward as Guinan gloats over him.
Once recovered, Q tells them that the creature is a Calamarain, a species which is intelligent, if a little "flighty". He admits that he may have tormented the Calamarain somewhat as a Q, and now they are here looking for revenge. Q confesses that this is the real reason he chose to be deposited on the Enterprise - because of all the species known, Humans are the ones who might defend him even after all he had done. Riker and Picard complain that spending their career fighting off the enemies Q has accumulated was not what they joined Starfleet for. Still, they do need Q's knowledge in the current crisis and so he goes back to engineering for the next attempt to shift the moon.
Q continues as before, attempting to take charge of things in Engineering and then complaining that the minor task Geordi assigns him is beneath him. He reluctantly goes along with it and they begin to alter the orbit of the moon, but the Calamarain attacks again. Data grabs him as the energy strikes once more, engulfing both of them. Data and Q are nearly killed before the attack is stopped.
Dr. Crusher works to repair Data, who has been rendered mute by the damage. Q, on the other hand, doesn't even think to thank him for his actions. The officers discuss how to proceed - they have a potential method to restore the moon, but know that any effort they make might be disrupted by a Calamarain attack. Q talks to Picard about how he is coping with his transition - he's a miserable coward, afraid and depressed that he can't even be a good Human. He goes to sickbay and thanks Data, noting that even as a machine the android is a better Human than he is. Then he steals a shuttle and departs the ship. The Calamarain rapidly gives chase; Picard orders the shuttle recovered with tractor beam and then transporters, but both systems inexplicably fail. Q seems doomed.
However, a second Q appears on the shuttle, a former friend of the first. He explains that he has put the Enterprise and the Calamarain "on hold" so he can talk, and reveals that it was he who convinced the Continuum to strip Q of his powers, as he was fed up of his antics giving them all a bad name and constantly having to clean up after him. However, he also knows that Q chose to leave the Enterprise because he knew that eventually the Calamarain would overwhelm the ship - essentially, he chose to sacrifice himself to save them. Q admits that this was true, causing his exasperated friend to say that he can hardly go back to the Continuum and tell them that he let Q die as a Human after this improvement in his character. He decides to grant Q his powers back - Q immediately grabs the Calamarain, miniaturizing it to hold in the palm of his hand and threatening to torment them - but when Q notes that he is still watching, Q claims he was just joking and sends them on their way.
On the Enterprise they see the shuttle apparently destroyed, only to have Q appear on the bridge moments later, celebrating his return to omnipotence with a mariachi band, cigars, and scantily clad women materialized for the crew. Picard demands the celebration be ended and Q reluctantly complies, but turns to Data and says he will repay his debt to him. Data warns Q against turning him into a Human but Q simply smiles and says he would never inflict that on him, but he will give him a little going away present. As Q vanishes Data turns - and breaks into hysterical laughter, a few moments of genuine Human feeling to remember.
The ship is hailed by Bre'el IV, who thank them for their efforts. A surprised Picard finds that the moon has been mysteriously restored to the previous orbit, ending the crisis - another parting gift from Q. As the Captain wonders if Q perhaps retains a semblance of Humanity a cigar appears in his hand, Q's face in the smoke telling him "don't bet on it" before vanishing.
A fun little episode this. The story is pretty thin - the plot, such as it is, serves purely as a way to play around with the characters. But what's done with the characters is quite interesting and enjoyable to watch. deLancie does a great job as Q; he's not as absurdly pompous as in his early appearances, where Q could seem fairly silly. Rather he has a sort of thwarted intensity - he's the butt of the humour, but you sympathize with him even as you chuckle over him getting his comeuppance. Pairing him with Data was a good idea - and how cool was it to see Data laughing at the end?
The only part I really thought was a bit tenuous was the whole redemption by a selfless act thing. It just seemed like something tossed in there, a quick way to reset the episode. And especially combined with Q's "Don't bet on it", which indicates that he's pretty much going to go back to the way he was before. Just imagine how much more interesting it could have been if Q had remained as a Human at the end, going on his way to live on a Federation planet somewhere - perhaps make the threatened planet a Federation colony and have him stay there to live with them for a while. Then make the next episode about him reaching a point where he is redeemed, and go from there.
Still, for all that it's a good fun episode, well done by all concerned.