Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Qpid"

*

Air date: 4/22/1991
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr
Story by Randee Russell and Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise plays host to an archeological conference, during which Vash (Jennifer Hetrick, in a particularly sub-par performance) boards the ship ostensibly to rekindle some heat with Picard (following up last year's "Captain's Holiday"), but maybe also because she has a scheme up her sleeve involving some illegal archeologizing (new word; I made it up), which drives Picard's stolid sense of duty up the wall even as he cannot fully squelch that voice in his head that says he's attracted to her.

Then Q shows up (in his most perfunctory appearance of all time) claiming that he simply wants to thank Picard for saving his life in "Deja Q." When Picard balks, Q decides to teach him a lesson about those pesky love feelings that Picard claims to eschew regarding Vash. So Q teleports the crew to a fantasy realm. But there clearly was never a story here. This is the sort of brain-dead production where someone said: "We need a Q story. What are we going to do?" And then someone else brilliantly offered up, "Robin Hood!"

"Qpid" is stupid (even dumber than that rhyme) — amazingly even worse than "Captain's Holiday," featuring an even more transparent sense of going through the clunky motions of laborious action/comedy. About a minute after Q snapped his fingers and sent the entire crew into Sherwood Forest, I was ready to check out. This is one of those TNG fantasies where anything can happen, and nothing does. The plot is nonexistent. The production and costume designers and stunt coordinators spend all their money on period details and swordplay while those of us wanting this to have any purpose are left scratching our heads. It's a snooze fest. As Q comedies go, this doesn't have an ounce of the charm of "Deja Q." Everything feels forced.

Okay, it has a couple of marginally funny moments, like when the crew is so interested in this Vash woman that Picard is so tight-lipped about. Or where Worf purposely smashes Geordi's mandolin and then says, "Sorry." (I'm lukewarm to Worf's "I am NOT a merry man!" line.) But mostly it's an aimless, disjoined mess of lame Picard/Vash bickering and hackneyed action that has no purpose and little entertainment value.

Previous episode: The Nth Degree
Next episode: The Drumhead

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16 comments on this review

Kat - Tue, Mar 25, 2008 - 5:40pm (USA Central)
'Qpid' - I must confess that despite its inherent cheesiness, the episode does have a special place in my heart. For unlike Picard, I am from Nottingham. I say 'special place' - of course I mean 'provides additional p-taking opportunities for me when viewing'.

It is an awful episode, though. The way it jumps from the archaeological council theme to Robin Hood is enough to break your neck - it really is like they had two seperate half-arsed ideas and stuck them together because they needed a filler and quick. All the characters just end up looking stupid.

Although "I am NOT a merry man!" always makes me smile. :)

However I do think that 'Qpid' really wouldn't have looked too out of place on post 'Death Wish' Voyager, sadly.
DeadBessie - Fri, Mar 28, 2008 - 10:36am (USA Central)
Does anyone know if Tim Lynch's old reviews are posted online anywhere? This is not to impugn Jammer's abilities; I thoroughly enjoy his reviews as well. But while I've read (and still have) Lynch's DS9 reviews, I don't think I've seen his TNG reviews, and I'd like to.

TNG remains my favorite Trek series (with DS9 a close second), probably because I only discovered it around the end of the fifth season, which meant that for months, I had BRAND NEW episodes to watch practically every night. I've still got the tapes, although I haven't watched them in years, but I watched so obsessively in the beginning that I can still replay most of the episodes in my mind.

One of the things that annoyed me most about "Qpid", aside from its suckiness, was something I believe one of the actresses commented on at the time. While the men are running around, acting macho with swords, the women are reduced to cringing behind the scenery, occasionally whacking someone over the head with a pot. These are 24TH CENTURY women here; give them freakin' swords! Clearly the writers were still firmly grounded in the 20th century, and for all the fantastic concepts they came up with season after season, they still couldn't conceive of a future where women could fight with anything other than crockery.

The only bright spots for me in "Qpid": Worf breaking Geordi's mandolin, and Data getting hit with an arrow by a horrified Troi and not realizing it until he looked down.

I loved "The Mind's Eye": brilliant, taut piece of work. Although I was also screaming for Data to "Run, damnit!" at the end. For some reason I also found hilarious Geordi's reaction when he finally notices the de-cloaking warbird: "Whoa!" Delightfully understated.
Sam - Fri, Mar 28, 2008 - 9:16pm (USA Central)
Oh cool... more TNG Season 4 goodness. Thanks Jammer.

Pretty much agree with everything here. I have to say though that I actually enjoyed "Qpid". Yes, it's incredibly stupid, but al least to me it's never embarrassing. Whereas I had to turn off "Half a Life", "Clues" or "The Host" the second time. The acting in those eps just put me to sleep.

Overall though, I think this was the most solid year for TNG. Even if this is when Brannon Braga came on the show (cringe). It's also nice to remember when ST had "cool" Klingons, rather than the generic variety we get in latter installments (including much of DS9, unfortunately). Next to the bork cligghanger, I'd say Worf's story arc was the highlight of TNG.
Sam - Sat, Mar 29, 2008 - 8:07am (USA Central)
"Does anyone know if Tim Lynch's old reviews are posted online anywhere?"
If you go to Trek Nation's episode guide, each episode has a link to Lynch's review.

Thanks for the reviews here Jammer. I have to say I agree on nearly all your opinions, though I'm probably a bit harsher on some things! Watched Season 4 again quite recently, and I was struck by how strong it is; I particularly enjoy Remember Me, for example. I actually also quite enjoy Devil's Due!
Destructor - Mon, Jul 7, 2008 - 12:47am (USA Central)
Oh, and while the second half of Qpid is lameness incarnate, the first half does contain one of my favourite Q lines ever:

"Leave me alone Q, I need to work on my speech."

"Yes, your speech, I read it. It's dull, plodding, pedantic: much like yourself."
Eric - Sat, May 5, 2012 - 1:15am (USA Central)
I enjoyed it. At least this one didn't have any lame singing.
Tamerlane - Mon, May 21, 2012 - 3:07am (USA Central)
@DeadBessie: totally agree re: the gals-smashing pots-on-heads thing. Apparently, Sirtis and McFadden were the only actors who had any actual training in fencing/swordfighting. Go figure.

I read somewhere that this episode was pretty much about capitalising on the Robin Hood mania that was happening at the time (such as Kevin Costner's crappy attempt)... On reflection, it probably makes sense then that this is one of the weaker, if not weakest, Q eps! (In the TNG universe at least - I'm not even touching Voyager!)

Having said that, the bit where Worf smashes Geordi's mandolin (or whatever it is) always makes me laugh, so I can't completely discount this episode.
Bob - Sat, Feb 16, 2013 - 7:34am (USA Central)
Watched the episode with my three kids (ages 9, 11, 13)and it is easily their favorite to date! I consider Qpid in the same vein as "Trouble With Tribbles" of the original series...quirkey, not taking itself seriously, and actually many pretty funny moments (as mentioned in other comments).

I give it 2.5/4 stars for the humor.
EightOfNine - Sat, Mar 9, 2013 - 3:57pm (USA Central)
- I am NOT a merry man!
- (smashes mandolin) Sorry.
mephyve - Sat, Jun 22, 2013 - 7:37pm (USA Central)
Loved it!! I hated Q in Farpoint, but most of his subsequent appearances were highly enjoyable. Let's face it, Q became a character that was brought in for light hearted hilarity. Mind you, there was nothing funny about the Borg; the most significant and enjoyable of the Q episodes.
Nothing significant here except maybe introducing Vash to the crew, but anything goes in a Q episode. This one had me in stitches and is in my top ten all time favorite STTNG episodes. 5 stars.
William B - Tue, Jul 9, 2013 - 1:01am (USA Central)
Silly? Certainly. Ridiculous? Yes. Plodding? Sure. Pointless? Well...okay, I'm going to say "not quite."

While this is the weakest of the TNG Q episodes ("Farpoint" is not a good episode, but the Q bits mostly work for me), I think it still matters in the grand scheme of things, in developing the Q/Picard relationship, such as it is. As others have mentioned on these comment threads in other Q episodes, Q has an arc over the series, moving from pure antagonist in "Farpoint" to something like a personal adviser trickster figure to Picard in "Tapestry" and "All Good Things." This episode cements that gradual change, but what this episode does, more so than any of the previous ones, is establish exactly how...*personal* it is. In "Farpoint" through "Q Who," Picard mostly happened to be the representative of humanity chosen by Q; in this (following his own brief experience as a human in "Deja Q") and "Tapestry," Q zeroes in on Picard, before in "All Good Things" his relationship with Picard and humanity as a whole are both on the table.

Part of what I find interesting about this episode is that it suggests that maybe Picard does need something of Q in his life. "Captain's Holiday" was a bore and the Picard/Vash chemistry is not all that powerful. But he is attracted to Vash, and we are reminded several times that Vash is not that far from a human, female, less-powerful version of Q, fascinated by and mocking of Picard's virtue and solidity all at once. I don't mean, despite the flirtatious tone Q takes, that Picard should be romantically attracted to Q, but that his carefully organized life actually does seek a little bit of a chaotic figure, and this episode helps tie into other (mostly weak) episodes to suggest that Q might actually provide something for Picard, much as Picard is loath to admit it. What Vash can do for Picard a tiny bit -- let him get outside his captain's persona, have a connection with another person which does not have any of the hierarchical demands that keep him isolated from his crew, at least until that magical moment at the end of "AGT" where he comes to join them at the poker game -- Q can do even more, because not only is Q not bounded by Picard's narrow conception of morality or by Starfleet like Vash, but by humanity at all. Q, as an amoral trickster figure, puts Picard and his crew in situations which have real danger but which allow them, and Picard in particular, to learn something about himself that he couldn't learn simply by...being. That Vash slightly upends Picard's life and he likes it suggests that Q's total upending of Picard's life might not be as bad as it immediately seems. Picard's willingness to enter the poker game with the crew in "All Good Things" is *because* Q put him through what he put him through in AGT, early on, for example, and I think his willingness, in AGT, to see Q as something of a benefactor, albeit a dangerous one, acting on orders to test humanity but wanting him and deep down expecting him to pass, is set up a tiny bit here, where Vash and Q draw the comparison between the two of them explicitly and Vash, whose presence in his life Picard ultimately does like, ends up going off with him. Q's surprisingly provocative lines (stating that Vash has found a weakness Q had been searching for, that had he known he would have come as a woman -- which oddly reminds me of Ardra's attempted seduction of Picard) reinforce the sense that Picard/Vash is the sideshow and the real interest here is in the Picard-Q dynamic which spans the whole series. By tying Picard/Vash into the series-spanning Picard-Q arc, it makes "Captain's Holiday" more integrated into the overall series, and even perhaps does the same for the Ardra stuff in "Devil's Due." None of these are good episodes, but this episode makes me feel vaguely glad that they exist in this show, now.

Given, again, that Q's influence on Picard ultimately erases some of the distance between Picard and his crew in the finale (and I think his influence in other episodes has a bit of a similar effect, see e.g. Picard bonding with Riker at the end of "Tapestry," by being more willing to accept his past), it's neat that Vash's effect is similar. She embarrasses him because he doesn't like to admit his humanity to his crew in ways that go against the way he wants to present himself, but as Vash points out there are no Starfleet regulations that say he has to keep his distance. I like the early scenes where Vash gives Picard away in various ways -- Beverly finding that he's (presumably) spent the night with a woman, Riker finding out that Picard does a great impression of him -- end up tying in with the later scenes in the episode, where Picard orders the crew to stay behind and they, of course, defy orders and come to rescue him. It's not thrilling, but it is neat that Q and Vash, together and separately, end up conspiring to forcing Picard to be exposed in his human emotions, both to himself and to his crew, in a way that ends up bringing him closer to other people.

That is all pretty abstract, and not really the main experience of watching the episode. In its second half, the Robin Hood scenario is pretty uninteresting, and also gets downright sexist. On Memory Alpha I learn that McFadden and Sirtis were ironically the only people actually trained to swordfight, and they have to smash concrete blocks over people's heads. Cliff Bole justifies this by saying that there weren't women swordfighters in the 12th century, which, yeah, I must have forgotten that 12th century people also had microchips implanted below the skin of their wrist which could cause large distracting explosions, or that when Q created the scenario he scaled Troi and Crusher's skills according to the timeframe. Meanwhile, the Picard/Vash chemistry is still lukewarm at best, and Vash has better pop with pretty much every other character than she does with Picard, which is sort of a shame, even though I think the episode is more about Picard & Q (and Picard & his crew) than about Picard/Vash. To emphasize the episode's theme Picard is written too conservatively, too, though I think that makes some sense -- that Vash (and Q) bring that side out of him, as partly a rebellion. I don't disagree with Jammer's criticisms of the episode and it's certainly not a great one by any means, but I think there's enough here that interests me for it to earn a middling rather than a bad grade, say 2 stars.
Corey - Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - 12:55pm (USA Central)
Re: about Sirtis and McFadden not using swords

One of the commenters said the Alpha Memory said the female cast members weren't using swords due to the 12th century women didn't engage in sword play - that's all fine and dandy, but the Enterprise crew is not from the 12th century and they would have no problem giving the female cast members swords if it would help.

However, there are a number of issues with this, that no one yet has mentioned. Q provided the crew with their costumes AND WEAPONS - perhaps he just didn't give any to the women. I doubt the crew had the time or resources to forge a sword for Troi and Crusher.

Also, a REAL sword is a large hunk of metal (e.g. heavy) - it really does require strength to wield effectively - so unless the women were unusually strong for a women (which they don't look it), they would need the right size swords to match their arm strength, perhaps none were available.

Having said all that, it was an oversight of Captain Picard (or perhaps Riker, who was leading the assault), to not equip the women with weapons they COULD use. Examples of such weapons are wooden quarterstaffs or bows and arrow, both weapons that could have been created using resources in the forest. Troi sending an arrow in Q's forehead might have been nice payback - though she would probably have to restrain herself, she does want to get back to the Enterprise...
Corey - Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - 1:23pm (USA Central)
Re: Qpid

I would think a 1 star show is unwatchable or worse, but I just don't see that for Qpid. In fact, I do find it entertaining and I never skip it when re-watching TNG seasons. Thus, I would just say it's mediocre and give it 2./4.0 stars.
Marshal - Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 3:37am (USA Central)
I have to say I live Q episodes. It's supposed to be a stupid rhomp. Q is trying to place them in a humiliating scenario for his very much viewing pleasure. The delight he experiences when he discovers Vash is every bit the trixter as himself is my favorite moment.

To the suggestion of sexism because the Dr and Troi have no swords I must remind you they are healthcare personale. They are not typically armed in any episode and would most likely seek non-lethal means of subduing the opposition, even in a Q created world.
Paul C - Sun, Sep 1, 2013 - 8:11am (USA Central)
The best line is in fact

"If it wasn't for you, I'd be dead."
"We all make mistakes."
Moonie - Sat, Nov 23, 2013 - 6:40am (USA Central)
I didn't think it was that bad. I found it quite entertaining. And I liked Vash - a character with human weaknesses, not saint-like like the members of our beloved main crew :-).

A few good Picard moments - how often do we get to see him stammering like that? Two priceless Worf moments. I can overlook the stupid Robin Hood scenario for that.

I don't know why, but I found the scenario in another Q episode where they were attacked by, what, 4, Napoleonic soldiers(??) - a lot worse.

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