Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Unicorner. Her continuing mission to recap every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. To attempt to do this in a timely manner but failing. To boldly go where many have recapped before but nobody as cool as she.
The Rules, you know the drill:
- For every heartfelt and affecting moment in Data’s quest to be human, there’s way too many painfully awkward/unfunny ones.
- The competence of the Enterprise crew varies greatly depending on plot requirements.
- For a scifi show, some of this tech is dated as fuck.
- Wesley is the Gary-est Stu to ever Stu.
- Pop culture ended in 1987.
- Though TNG is a feminist show in many ways, it has some hella sexist moments.
- As progressive as Star Trek usually is, there’s some racist ass shit up in here.
- TNG writers should never, ever attempt humor. Ever.
- When it comes to distancing this utopian future from present day, holy overcompensation, Batman!
- Star Trek is kind of a mess when it comes to LGBT representation or lack thereof.
- Dramatic music always informs us when we’ve hit a Plot Point.
- This shit don’t make a damn lick of sense.
- Wesley Crusher sees all, knows all.
- Though most Trek tech is integrated into the world building, the series is not immune to unnecessary and seemingly extraneous technocrap because it’s THE FUTURE!
- Adherence to the Prime Directive comes and goes as plot convenience requires.
- Men ain’t shit even in outer space.
One more thing: if you’ve decided to watch TNG and follow along with my recaps, a) congrats on this excellent life decision b) beware potential spoilers, as I may occasionally comment on developments later in the series.
I know this recap is so slow in coming you guys probably wondered if I was still doing this. Part of the reason I have been MIA is real life getting busy; most of it is because this is a Q episode, and I fucking hate Q episodes. Even by Q episode standards, this one is some bullshit, and while most S1 TNG episodes are some bullshit, at least the non-Q ones are semi-entertaining bullshit. Except the Borg one. I like the Borg one, but that’s only because the Borg are awesome. Anyway, since my goal here is to recap every episode, I can’t in good conscience skip this one (because these recaps are in such high demand and all, clearly).
To ease the burden of recapping a Q episode, I’m going to start with a mini-rant on why I hate Q episodes and Q in general. Yes, I know this is sacrilege because for completely predictable reasons this guy is a fan favorite. And by completely predictable reasons I mean white, male, and having homoerotic interactions with another white male. Seeing as in 2017 the only thing more boring and overdone than white males interacting is fangirls and fanboys losing their shit over white males interacting, suffice to say Q and his shtick have not aged well, though I suspect were I an adult when TNG first aired I wouldn’t have given any more of a shit about Q than I did as a little kid, so at least I’m consistent.
Among oft-cited reasons for the fan love of Q is John de Lancie’s performance which… well, congrats on playing douchebag really well, I guess. Other fans seem to really love his interactions with Picard which are basically the kind of faux-deep shit you’d see on tumblr if it were populated by middle-aged white men instead of teenage girls. Then there’s Q’s “arc,” which breaks down to “alien in the form of white guy realizes he is not, in fact, the center of the universe, that beings he deems beneath him can actually teach him a thing or two, and maybe he should just be less of a raging douchebag all the time.” This is also some bullshit, because white men will never realize they’re not the center of the universe, even in a fictional utopian spandex-wearing future.
If more than 3 people read this blog I’d anticipate butthurt Q defenders in the comments, but that’s honestly a level of shit-giving I can’t really conceive of, because how special of a snowflake do you gotta be to be butthurt over a single human disagreeing with an overwhelmingly popular fandom opinion? Shoo.
Now, let’s get this shit over with.
Picard’s VO immediately informs us that Troi is off visiting Betazed, and the Enterprise is en route to a Federation colony to offer aid after a mining explosion. The explanation of Troi’s absence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in light of the rocky relationship with her mother established in future episodes, but the writers most likely hadn’t planned that far ahead at this point. Anyway, the Enterprise is moving along until they run up against one of Q’s space walls.
PICARD: Not now. Dammit, Q.
Picard, my dude, we are in agreement.
A disco ball with snakes sticking out of it materializes on the bridge.
Worf leaps over a console while brandishing his phaser.
Picard essentially tells Q to fuck off back to space reddit, but Q is not one to relinquish a prime trolling opportunity. Apparently the disco ball thing was an “Aldebaran serpent,” marking the fine Star Trek tradition of exoticizing mundane flora or fauna by affixing some alien descriptor to it.
- Alien creatures are mostly the same as ours. Except alien.
Q wants to play another game and spirits everyone on the bridge minus Picard away to Generic Planet Set #11324312432. Picard, meanwhile, is trapped on the bridge and unable to communicate with anyone else on the ship, thanks to Q’s machinations.
On the planet, Q appears in a faux-Napoleonic costume from Space Party City and invites Riker over to sit with him in his tent. Riker hesitates because who the fuck would want to spend time with Q, but Data encourages him, thinking Riker can get more information out of Q.
Q materializes a pitcher of lemonade because apparently Riker was having a hankering for it. Personally, I’d be thinking of something harder than lemonade if I had to spend time with Q, but it’s 3 in the afternoon here and even I have my limits. Q conjures drinks in the other crew members’ hands, and Worf makes a show of defiantly pouring his drink out and then throwing his glass aside. So we’re 10 minutes in and all we’ve done is watch Q talk shit and cosplay. Remember how I predicted last time I’d be begging to have the Ferengi back? BRING THE FERENGI BACK!
Q decides this game needs more harrowing stakes, like a Star Trek Battle Royale, but this episode will never be that entertaining. The prize, should the crew win, is “the greatest future [they] could possibly imagine.” A future without Q episodes??? You bitches better win! If the crew loses, well, they’ll die. Yar has had enough of Q’s bullshit, so Q banishes her to a “penalty box” where she will remain unless one of the others earns a penalty, in which case they will replace her in the box and she will disappear into nothingness. Can we put the writers of this episode into the penalty box instead?
Yar’s “penalty box” is on the Enterprise bridge with Picard. She tells him what’s up and breaks down in frustration, and I can see why Denise Crosby peaced out given the material she has had to work with thus far.
Q appears on the bridge to taunt them some more and eventually releases Yar from her penalty. So when am I gonna get released from my penalty? Q intimates that it’s Riker he’s testing this time, which seems to amuse Picard. The latter is certain Riker will defeat Q. Oh yay, a battle of wits between Q and another white guy, so much exciting, so much fresh. Q wants to make a wager, and Picard says if Riker passes the test, Q will leave them alone for good. He won’t, because his ass appears in four more episodes. Talk about a lose-lose situation. Q is confident Riker will find his offer “impossible to refuse.”
Back on the planet, Data, LaForge, and Riker must fight French soldiers in period dress. Worf runs a reconnaissance mission, and we see that these soldiers aren’t humans but are snorting pig-faced aliens.
On the Enterprise, Picard and Q talk about Shakespeare, which isn’t an obvious way to shoehorn in PStew’s Shakespearean past, not at all. On the planet, Riker and co. learn that while the pigfaces’ weapons bear the appearance of period-accurate muskets, they’re actually powerful phase rifles. During this exchange, Data does his space wikipedia routine again to explain what muskets and bullets are because LaForge and Riker must have flunked Earth history. #1. Riker takes a couple of pigfaces out with his phaser, but there are too many of them and the crew all know it. Q tells Riker that he has given him the power of the Q and he can use it to save their asses. A befuddled Riker does the Q wrist-flick and sure enough, the rest of the gang disappears.
Back on the Enterprise, Q’s wall also disappears and all systems are back online. Picard soon realizes that Q has suspended time, so they have in fact not lost any time from their rescue mission. The remaining bridge crew minus Riker reappear on the bridge and offer Picard and Yar a brief explanation of what happened to them. Data assures Picard he’ll put the incident in his report, and can you guys imagine how tl;dr Data’s reports must be? Does anyone ever read these reports? Can you imagine the reaction? “Fucking Data. Which of us peons at Starfleet headquarters gonna read this shit? I’d say flip a coin, but we don’t have coins anymore. Fuck.” #1
No one knows where Riker is, but Picard believes the former is safe because Q has had an interest in him since Farpoint and clearly has some plans for him now. The Enterprise proceeds on their mission.
Back on the planet, Q reappears. Riker’s like, so what’s the catch? Q wants Riker to become part of the continuum so the Q might better understand the human need to explore and discover. Riker is rightly skeptical and rejects Q’s offer. Displeased, Q teleports the main characters back to the planet along with Wesley. Great, just when you think the episode can’t get any worse. LaForge speaks for all of us when he groans, “Not again.” Riker shows up, looking about as done with this bullshit as I am. Yar discovers none of them have their phasers. The pig soldiers attack, and both Worf and Wesley get stabbed in the gut. I’m sure a lot of Wesley haters found this scene satisfying, but I can’t condone violence against a kid, even an annoying one. I actually wouldn’t mind Wesley if he’d just, you know, be a kid and not some supergenius prodigy who is always smarter than the adults, but I digress. At least his outfit is slightly less ugly than usual.
Riker flips shit and engages his Q powers, throwing up a wall in front of the pig solders and teleporting everyone back to the Enterprise. Worf and Wesley are completely restored, and all seems well for the time being.
As the Enterprise approaches the colony, Picard calls Riker into his ready room where they discuss Riker’s predicament. Picard believes the temptation of Q’s powers is too great for humanity at this time and is concerned about Riker’s ability to resist using his powers. Riker gives Picard his word that he will resist.
An away team beams down to the colony, where they find only a handful of survivors of the accident. LaForge discovers someone buried under a pile of rocks and enlists Data as the android muscle. The victim turns out to be a young girl, and Dr. Crusher sadly informs Data and LaForge that it’s too late. Data entreats Riker to use his powers to revive the girl, but Riker refuses, explaining his promise to Picard. I’m surprised Data was the one to bring up Riker’s abilities, being an emotionless android and all–you’d think one of the more emotion-driven characters would be most invested in bringing the girl back to life. Maybe Data noticed that his friends were upset and didn’t want them to be upset anymore? Eh, I don’t know. S1, y’all.
Back on the Enterprise, Riker is understandably upset and accosts Picard on the bridge. Picard assures Riker that he did the right thing, reminding him of the consequences should he get too used to his powers. Riker isn’t appeased and wants to hold a meeting of the bridge crew.
The next scene finds Picard pacing on the bridge when Riker swaggers in from the turbo lift. I’m starting to understand why Troi was gone from this episode. I’d initially assumed Marina Sirtis was busy, but if Troi was here, she’d undoubtedly have called Riker on his shit by now. Riker starts taking charge and Picard’s like, “Hey asshole, did you forget who’s running this show?” They metaphorically swing their e-peens for a bit until Dr. Crusher walks in with Wesley. Riker’s like, what’s this little puke doing here? Wesley points out that Riker made him part of the bridge crew as an acting ensign.
Wesley: 1, Riker: 0. Bet you never thought I’d type that phrase.
Riker reassures everyone that just because he has Q’s powers doesn’t make him a giant douchebucket like the latter and he’s “still the same William T. Riker you’ve always known.” Dr. Crusher crosses her arms and smirks like, “Bitch, like you weren’t calling your captain Jean-Luc just a few minutes ago.” In the absence of Troi, I guess Crusher’s taken over in the shade department.
So now Picard starts getting shady, calling Riker “Will” and talking about how power corrupts. Riker is still angry that he couldn’t save the girl, drawing a parallel to the time he saved the crew from the pig soldiers. Picard points out that “that particular danger was invented by Q.” Yar adds, “Those Q bitches could give two shits about human life and just fuck with us for shits and giggles.” (OK, I might have paraphrased.) Riker counters that the Q think very highly of humans, and now LaForge gets his shade on.
RIKER: We have a quality of growth which they admire.
LAFORGE: Or fear.
LaForge: 1. Riker: 0.
Picard tells Riker that Q has “muddled [his] mind.”
Q chooses that moment to show up sporting a monk outfit. Picard calls him a “flimflam man” which confuses Worf and any viewers born later than 1960. The fuck is a flimflam man? I’d google but I realize I don’t give a shit. Q accuses Picard of being a shitty friend for cockblocking Riker, then challenges Riker to present everyone with a gift they desire. Dr. Crusher starts to take Wesley out of the room because I guess she anticipates some kinky shit. Given the sausage party in there aside from Yar, she’s probably onto something. Riker entreats Wesley to stay, granting the latter’s wish to become a grownup. The actor cast to play older Wesley in this sequence is a hilarious choice in retrospect seeing as he looks absolutely nothing like Wil Wheaton.
Riker turns to Data next, fixing to turn him into a real boy. Data, however, stops him.
DATA: I never wanted to compound one illusion with another.
Data’s a Gaga fan! I always knew I liked that android.
Basically if it ain’t real, it doesn’t count. Data sucks up to Picard by quoting Shakespeare, and Picard smirks.
Next, Riker restores LaForge’s vision. LeVar Burton gets to take off the silver spray-painted banana clip and immediately seizes the opportunity to hit on Yar.
LaForge, however, ultimately declines the gift, for the same reason as Data.
Riker then creates a Klingon babe for Worf, who growls and claws at him and then tries to attack Yar, perceiving her as competition. Worf rejects Q’s “gift” as something with “no place in [his] life now.” LaForge, of course, has his priorities straight.
I’m still processing the fact that LaForge is the hornier character than a teenage boy.
Wesley chimes in to reject Riker’s gift, and the latter realizes the jig is up–Picard accepted the challenge knowing his crew would reject these “gifts.” Hey, we never got to see Yar’s gift! Though I’d imagine “more than 3-5 lines an episode” was probably a frontrunner. Riker’s like, “I feel like a dumbass now” and Picard’s like, “Yeah, you should.” Picard then turns to Q like, “lol you done fucked up!” and the continuum, apparently sensing Q’s failure, summon him back amidst his protests. As Q disappears, he does the time turner thing again, and the crew are now back to the moment they returned to the ship following the rescue mission.
DATA: Sir, how is it that the Q can handle time and space so well, and us so badly?
PICARD: Perhaps someday we will discover that space and time are simpler than the human equation.
The Enterprise warps off for their next adventure, and that’s a wrap! And it only took me months to get through. Where’s Q’s time turner when you need it? Well, the good news is the next episode does not feature Q, so I will undoubtedly get the recap out in a more timely manner. Please, try to contain your excitement.