Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Deja Q”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 2/5/1990
Written by Richard Danus
Directed by Les Landau

Review Text

As the Enterprise attempts to correct the decaying orbit of a moon before it crashes into the populated planet below, Q appears, having been stripped of all his powers by the Q Continuum and made into a mortal human being. Having the choice of where to be banished, Q picked the Enterprise because of "all the fun we had in the past." Q now finds himself among a crew that doesn't like him, experiencing the very non-omnipotent lifestyle of a normal, limited human.

"Deja Q" is one of the rare attempts by TNG to do sustained comedy, and it might also be the most successful. Q as a fish out of water is a gimmick, to be sure, but it's a good one. John de Lancie has natural comic timing, and the story wisely pairs Q with Data for much of the show, which is an inspired choice. Not only is Data the perfect, endlessly patient straight man for Q's nonstop chatter, it allows the story to provide a running commentary on the human condition from the perspective of outsiders.

A successful comedy must also have sharp, funny dialog, which "Deja Q" has. In addition to all of Q's ongoing struggles with human banalities like sleeping and eating ("I'll have 10 chocolate sundaes"), we have the running joke that this formerly omnipotent being still takes omnipotence for granted. (His solution to the decaying moon orbit: "Change the gravitational constant of the universe." And he isn't kidding; he means it.) Q proves to be an insufferable man. We have scene after scene of Q's arrogance, boredom, and sarcasm. The secret to this working is that because of the way de Lancie plays him, Q is likable despite being a constant pain in the ass. (Q on not being able to get along with others: "It's hard to work well in groups when you're omnipotent.")

Even the peril — and no TNG plot would be satisfied without peril — is made amusing. (When Q is attacked by the Calamarain and Data saves him, Data lands on his side, like an object rather than a person, which is a likably goofy gag.) But what ultimately makes this episode work as well as it does is that it's actually about something — Q and Data and their similar plights of trying to figure out what it means to be human while approaching that question from completely different points of view: Data as someone who wants to be human, and Q as someone who definitely does not.

Previous episode: The High Ground
Next episode: A Matter of Perspective

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

66 comments on this post

    I liked this episode a lot. The opening scene of the show was VERY convenient -- Troi was no where around! So the crew initially did not believe Q had lost his powers.

    In this scene, I can't believe you didn't mention Worf's great line! Q asked what does he have to do to prove he's mortal? Worf: Die!

    This episode definitely has my recommendation.

    Actually, Troi was present at the episode's beginning. She said that she could sense an emotional presence in Q, but the crew were still understandably skeptical due to their past dealings with him.


    I wouldn't normally quibble over your star-ratings of episodes, but I have to make an exception for this episode. "Deja Q" is the creme de la creme of TNG. John deLancie's multifaceted performance was Emmy-worthy. The script was as funny and witty as "The Trouble with Tribbles" while touching on all the serious philosophical touchstones of the Roddenberry philosophy. It should definitely get a "Living Witness"-level reconsideration for a full 4 stars. IMHO.

    Definitely 4 stars and a classic episode.

    Watching Data laughing made my mood. Why did Geordi had to ruin Data's moment? Just let your friend laugh his head off, Geordi, for God's sake!!!

    And of course, as always John de Lancie is shining as Q.

    I hate to be the rain on the parade, but this episode really doesn't do it for me. Granted, Guinan stabbing Q with a fork was marvelous, but it's just annoying to see two outsiders talk about humanity as though we didn't already know everything they're saying. Came across as pretentious.

    That, however, is probably more of a subjective thing than anything else, and the episode is definitely one of Q's best performances.

    Good fun episode. Nissa, personally I didn't see this episode as being about Data and Q's perceptions of humanity, although I suppose that makes sense. Data seems a bit peripheral to the whole thing; I just assumed the reason he appeared so much is that it was a necessary part of the plot (no one else could deal with Q that much...). If anything, Q gaining a bit of humility was the purpose of the episode. Or really, it was an excuse for an enjoyable hour.

    Two other notes:

    1) There's a lot of very heavy episodes in the middle of this string of episodes (starting with Defector and ending with Sins of the Father, more or less) that deal with a lot of difficult questions, heavy themes, dramatic moments, and strong emotions. Getting TNG's best comedy show in the middle of all of this is a pleasant relief. It has nothing to do with the episode as a whole, but it's pleasant nonetheless.

    2) The sub-plot of the falling moon is a good one. With all the magical spatial anomalies and subspace disruptions and other technobabble nonsense, seeing some hard science was enjoyable. The discussion of options in the beginning was probably too simple for highly skilled and trained spacemen from the future (seriously, one would assume they would all know that blowing up the moon wouldn't help), but it's a necessary conceit to get this info to the viewers. And even though the solution (or partial solution) was all technobabbleish (warp bubbles to change the gravitational constant or whatever), the problem of obtaining the delta-V needed was stated in realistic terms. It was good to watch all around.

    This was so great :D

    I agree with Patrick, this is the cream of the crop of TNG. If I were to made a list of awesome TNG episodes, this one would be one of them. As Jammer says, it might as well be TNG's best comedy episode.

    I only have petty complaints like, for instance, Q used his powers to produce a Mariachi band (not sure why, but it feels a bit embarrassing to watch), and if I recall correctly, the other Q used to speak to our Q while he's a little tiny fairy or something. It felt a bit childish.

    But those are minor complaints, as the rest of the episode was awesome! Great dialogue, and humor and drama (for Q himself, mostly, hah). The acting was superb and I even enjoyed the B-plot, since it tied into the A-plot.

    Now, the episode was almost perfect until that moment when Data laughed. Then it became...beautiful. To me that was the icing on a cake. For one brief moment Data was able to experience emotions like a real human (without becoming one, as seen in the S1 episode "Hide and Q").

    Data saying "It was a wonderful...feeling" is one of my favorite good lines of the entire series.

    And, of course, John de Lancie is just wonderful here.

    This was an awesome episode, one of the best so far. Of course, John de Lancie's performance is central to the show. By contrast, Corbin Bernsen made a poor Q2. We also have, Picard, Data and Worf who come across as brilliant actors. Patrick Stewart never ceases to amaze me with all the non-verbal acting he does even without speaking a line of dialogue.

    I thought that Guinan stabbing Q with a fork was a bit over the top, but it was funny and unexpected.

    It's true that the almost complete absence of Troy might be one of the good points of the episode. Her magical sensing abilities are too often overused and tell us what we should see for ourselves.

    There are many very good quotes and amusing moments. This is also a very philosophical episode that explores the question of human nature. "You have achieved in disgrace what I have always aspired to be." - Data

    This was the beginning of the end for Q. Apart from the season finale. Q is portrayed completely out of character, and his race is seen a rather silly bunch of pranksters. The writing staff clearly had no idea what they were doing.

    Probably my favorite Q episode. Pairing up Q and Data was a wise decision, they worked very well together. This allowed for a pretty good exploration of human nature. Overall, balanced serious drama with humor very well - I loved the appearance of the second Q, Data laughing, Guinan stabbing him with a fork and Worf taking Q down to the brig.

    Also: this ep is the origin of the Picard Facepalm meme! +0.5 star bonus!

    4 stars.

    Funniest exchange:

    Picard: Q the liar! Q the misanthrope!
    Q: Q the miserable! Q the desperate! What must I do to convince you people?
    Worf: Die.

    I just don't get it. Yes, John de Lancie plays him well, but Q has got to be the most obnoxious character ever created. He has all the charm of a three-year-old throwing a tantrum.

    Whenever he turns up, the captain becomes the Skipper yelling "GILLIGAN!"

    I am with Worf here, I wish he would just DIE!

    Wait a second...Data dismisses blowing the moon up because the thousands of fragments would "spread destruction over a wider area", but then the next moment they say that the impact destruction be "insignificant compared to the seismic repercussions, massive landquakes and tsunami", which seems to directly contradict that it would be worse to blow it up. Thousands of fragments aren't going to have little, if any, "seismic repercussions, massive landquakes, and tsunami". Both would be destructive, but by their own reckoning, blowing it up seems by far the lesser of two evils.

    Not much to add here except that this is a 4 star episode in my book. Indeed, I think quite a few of Jammer's 3 - 3.5 star-rated TNG episodes should be upgraded to 4 stars ("The Enemy" and "The Most Toys" for example). I know that there's no such thing as an objective standard in reviewing, but I think Jammer is generally harder on TNG than he was on any of the other Trek series. We all have our favorites, but TNG obviously wasn't Jammer's.

    I think Jammer's ratings of TNG are lower, relative to his DS9 or BSG scores, than I would do. I also think Jammer doesn't love TNG as much as DS9 or BSG. However, I don't think that's the only factor here. First off, I think it's clear he likes TNG more than Voyager or Enterprise, and almost certainly TOS. Second, I think there's a big difference between watching a show week after week and doing capsule reviews of decent length twenty years after the fact. New episodes have more potential to register emotionally as exciting and revolutionary than twenty year old ones, both because they are "cutting-edge" and unfamiliar, and because the anticipation buildup of several weeks has a different impact on viewing -- so that each individual episode is a bigger "event" -- than the ability to jump through several episodes at a time. I think that it's also very possible that people just get less easily wowed as they get older, too -- that's at leats somewhat the case with me. Some of these things are ultimately just purely subjective -- it may be that Jammer would give "Family" or "Darmok" three stars if he were able to see them for the first time now, with episodes coming out every few weeks, for instance, even if I'd give them four -- but I think that there are other factors besides overall series preferences.

    Watch Worf during the wide shot when Q appears on the bridge with the mariachi band. It's one of the funniest moments on the entire series for me.

    I find Q episodes average. I dislike omnipotence, it is too much like magic to be in a sci-fi. For example in the end of this Q deflects the errant moon, though the enterprise was pretty much helpless (I actually like where Q helps by suggesting to change gravity which works as a great example of brainstorming)
    As for this episode, I'm less thrilled than others that it is played for laughs, though it works as a comedy.
    The highlight is the Data-Q duality and it serves to develop Data's character (and some Guinan character development as well)
    The Q2 at the end seemed a bit like a lenient parent who had second thoughts after scolding his kid. Though in the context of this being a comedy it didn't hurt too much.

    Aside from "Q Who," this is easily the best Q episode to date (and "Q Who" had numerous other things going for it besides Q). Like Jammer says, it's a successful attempt at comedy, which is something Trek (and especially post-TOS Trek) has always struggled with. de Lancie and Spiner really knock it out of the park acting-wise and the whole concept of viewing humanity from two outside, yet opposing, points of view is inspired. Based on this alone, I'd probably give "Deja Q" an 8 or 9 out of 10.

    However, there is one problem I have with the episode and it's a big one. For all the protestations this episode throws our way about how humanity is so willing to forgive and how that's our greatest characteristic, very few of the characters actually display that strength. Now, granted, Q is a loud, rude, crude, smug, self-important, obnoxious (but ultimately likeable) pain-in-the-ass, but isn't the whole 'point' that our compassion-filled heroes are willing to look past that and protect even someone as undeserving as Q? The only characters who show any of that awe-inspiring human compassion and willingness to forgive are Picard and Data. It's odd that the most 'human' character in this episode is the android.

    Riker, in all seriousness, advocates turning Q over to his enemies to be killed because protecting him "isn't his job." Crusher is deliberately very rough with Q while treating his back. LaForge acts like a petulant child toward Q for most of the episode (going so far as to regulate him to do grunt work simply because he, LaForge, is slightly perturbed by Q's crudeness - never mind that billions of people's lives hang in the balance, don't use your most important asset if you're a little put off). While working on Data in Sickbay, LaForge even says "he's not worth it," in regards to Q. You know, because he's so willing to forgive! Guinan straight-up physically assaults Q (you know, for the LOLs) and then smugly stands there and revels in his pain after the Calamarain attack him for the first time. Isn't that what she literally just got done saying made Q such scum?! "How the mighty have fallen." Yes, you have indeed fallen pretty far to lower yourself to Q's level, Guinan!

    Such wonderfully compassionate people!

    Thankfully, the comedy, de Lancie and Spiner cover over all this, however. And, it's got the mariachi band on the bridge scene, which absolves a multitude of sins.


    The writing in this episode is very bad. Everyone constantly says things that everyone should know, especially Q.

    The acting is good in parts, but certainly not from those 2 aliens. We know a moon crashing into a planet is bad.

    Guinan is also bad in this episode. She assaults Q without provocation.

    The episode is essential Q, but don't watch it sober.

    @Mike - Guinan(the El Aurians) and the Q have a history. See "Q Who" Knowing Q and The Q, I hardly think Guinan was unprovoked.

    I'm sorry, but the Mariachi band was completely hilarious. It was such a Q thing to do - stupid and genuine all at the same time, and completely embarrassing for the bridge crew. I actually laughed out loud when that happened. Plus, you know, the cigars, and the beautiful women. It was funny, dammit.

    I definitely think this episode deserves the full 4 stars. I can't think of a part I didn't like or appreciate in some way. And there is a lot of depth here, which is what I enjoy most in a Trek episode.

    Seeing Corbin Bersen made me realise that when this episode aired Diana Muldaur was probably starting her tenure on LA Law as the deliciously evil Rosalind Shays. :D

    Yeah, doing commentary on a show 20 years later is certainly different than the impact they had on initial showing, but I thought this was a definite 4* then and now. Also I disagree with a comment someone had about Corbin Bernsen...I thought he made a GREAT Q2 (but I had never watched LA Law so I hadn't seen him anywhere else before...he came out of left field for me).
    One last thing. I remember early in the series Riker was playing trombone in a holodeck fantasy and watching him it appeared like he did play it since the slide movements appeared correct (and as we later learn, he does play trombone). Does Mr. de Lancie play trumpet? It's hard to tell since he's waving it around and I don't play trumpet myself but there seemed some authenticity there.

    A very over-rated episode. Sure it was funny, but is that enough to make a good TNG episode? Not in my view. I also noticed that this is the first episode not to have Gene Roddenberry's name appear at the end before the credits roll. Was he that embarrassed by it that he left his name off it?

    Slightly over rated episode this one. Nowhere near as good as Q-Who, Tapestry or AGT and not as fun as Q-Pid. I'd say 3 star, no more. Good Ep, but not great.

    It's funny - I remember seeing the first episode of TNG - possibly a year after it came out - and finding the whole thing rather rather silly, and subsequently finding Q irritating whenever he turned up. Not Troi's mother or The Grand Negus irritating, but not all that far off. Then something odd happened and I started warming to him, and now I think he's great!

    Perhaps it hasn't hurt that I've just come off re-watching Breaking Bad, where John de Lancie puts in such a memorable and sympathetic performance, but this is one character and actor who I've certainly done a 180' on over the decades. Not to say he hasn't been in a few clangers (wanting to mate with Janeway, for example. Was that before or after Tom Paris mated with her while they were newts? I can't remember? Still he was probably the best thing about that episode).

    Worf's monosyllabic existential suggestion, 'Die', as the only acceptable evidence of being mortal is possibly the funniest one second of dialog in ST history (well, it's debatable, but it'll do until someone can point me to something obviously better, consisting of no more than three letters. Maybe there's a really funny phoneme out there?)

    Seriously though, this episode is one of the rare moments when Star Trek manage to a generally funny episode without it being a disaster involving something like the aforementioned Negus and Troi's mother. Babylon 5, for instance, managed to weave humorous dialog into a regular dramatic episode, but usually Trek gives me the impression of having decided that they've had a run of deep and serious eps, and it must therefore be time for a comedy episode, and then playing the whole 44:30 minutes for laughs. This episode manages to be lighthearted without being disposable - though the Mariachi Band was maybe a bridge too far, and the cigar in the last shot might have been ok if they'd have left that awful SFX head out, or waited a few years til they could have CG'd it.

    This was a fun hour of TNG - have had plenty of heavy, serious episodes so it's nice to have a change of pace. But on it's own, I'd hardly consider "Deja Q" a classic. I don't even think it's a true comedy like "The Trouble With Tribbles" or "A Piece of the Action" - it just that Q is a humorous character but the rest of the crew is dead serious about dealing with the him and the moon. But no question John de Lancie is a terrific actor and does comedy well - plenty of good lines between him and the Enterprise crew. Plenty of good acting all around with the different crew members displaying their reactions to Q.

    The thing is the whole while the viewer knows Q will get his powers back in the end and play some gags.

    I wasn't too engaged with Geordi's attempts at deflecting the moon - not sure a starship should be able to do this, but who knows in sci-fi. The technobable wasn't particularly interesting.

    As for the real point of the episode which I assume is about human qualities being experienced from the standpoint of an alien - the compassion, selflessness issue is dealt with a bit summarily. Data and Q made a good team and the android exemplified the self-sacrifice but it's a bit hard to take seriously given it's hard to know what's really going on with Q's situation.

    Bernsen was fine as the 2nd Q, but his judgment about Q's shred of humility is cloaked in humor as well - so a bit hard to give much credence to the story's plot.

    "Deja Q" is worth 3 stars for me - not a fan of omnipotent beings but that doesn't factor into the episode except for at the edges but it's a fun episode mainly because of Q's humor and the crew's reactions toward him.

    De Lancie brightens up any episode of TNG and Spiner worked very well with him.
    I still don't like the Guinan / Q thing but at least we didn't have the daft hissing and posturing Skeksis impression nonsense that happened last time they clashed.
    I loved the Mariachi band.
    Q is just brilliant at lampooning the dull, self important twits of Starfleet.

    I don't know how this conversation has been going on so long without mentioning the second best piece of dialogue, which happens immediately after the first, Worf's simple statement, "Die."

    Q's retort is just fun: "Eat any good books lately?"

    Yeah, season 3 is the best in TNG history.

    @Caz: This ep had so much great dialogue but Worf's "Die" was the funniest. Worf got to have so much fun, and he had the honor of throwing Q in the brig too!!

    Overall I think almost all the main cast members got to have their moment this episode. When TNG fires on all cylinders, they really fire on all cylinders .

    @1701-Z Yeah, they did this round. I think this was the funniest episode of Trek, or at least I can't think of anything which beats it at the moment.

    "Eat any good books lately?" had me in stitches. Great episode: 3 1/2 stars.

    3 stars. A fairly decent episode. I don’t think it’s anything particularly great. The humor displayed was nicely understated and the highlight had to have been Guinan’s delight in taking Q down a peg or two but as far as jeopardy plots this was rather pedestrian and I can’t help thinking the premise of a human Q wasn’t fully explored enough. I also enjoyed the friendship between Data and Q

    I agree that this is 4 star material throughout. Full of wonderful performances and superb dialogue, some of the all time beat of Trek. Bermaga really lost their way when it came to writing dialogue after TNG - I honestly didn't know that early Star Trek was this warm, funny and well-written, in contrast to the passionless, lazy tripe that "24th century dialogue" would become. A pity Q's character growth would be undone so quickly. The ending was just magical.

    "Deja Q" is worth the three and a half stars you gave it. But lost in all the accolades is the plot hole that if an "omnipotent" being can be stripped of his powers, than he really isn't "omnipotent," and neither are his fellows. "Extremelypotent," yes, but not OMNIpotent. It's more than a nitpick to me, because words still have meaning. Another example is the Borg rhetoric about "adding to/enhancing our perfection". Perfection is an inherent trait; either you are or you aren't. The imperfect cannot become perfect by their own efforts, whereas the perfect can become imperfect that way. But when they do, they can't become perfect again. The Borg are not and never would have been "perfect" by the very admission that they were pursuing it.
    It evokes Data's remark to the Borg Queen in "First Contact" about "believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind."

    @ JASmius,

    While your argument about the Q has a certain logic to it, you've entered the territory of "can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?" If the Q are omnipotent, can't they do anything, including removing their omnipotence? Or if not, does that mean there's something they can't do, so are they really OMNIpotent? It devolves into a sophistical argument at this point because we could never understand what real omnipotence is in the first place.

    Another question you might well ask is how there could possibly be more than one omnipotent being in existence? If there are many of them, they obviously cannot each be ALL-powerful since the power is split up, or otherwise contestable amongst them.

    I think the safe assumption here (and the one I've always made) is that the Q are not in fact omnipotent in the sense of being literally all-powerful, but are omnipotent in the sense of having full control over any aspect of the physical universe, in both space and time. The assumption here would have to be that there's a mode of existence beyond the physical, and that perhaps they're not omnipotent in that realm. My head canon is that they're the most advanced of the non-corporeal life forms and hit the stage that comes after the stage where we see occasional energy beings (like the Organians).

    Just as funny as I remember. Q's joke about Beverly's patients healing quickly was too funny. :-)

    My favorite line: " ... And tsunami."

    Can you imagine how freaked out the two scientists (not to mention the people on the coastal areas of the western continent) would have been if they had been privy to all that was going on with Q and the Calamarain?

    I don't think of this as a comedy, though. While witty and funny, it had a lot to say about the human condition. It did break up a string of intense episode before it in a nice way.

    I'm tempted to say that this was the greatest Q episode ever. It was most certainly the most entertaining.
    I love Worf puns, from Data's "Take my Worf ...please" to Q's "Little boy who cried Worf." bwahahahahah funny stuff
    Best moment this time round was when Data said "Trained little minions." echoing Q's derision of the Enterprise crew.
    Worf's "Die" suggestion was quite droll.
    And let's not forget Q's dig at Riker's stache.
    There was some serious stuff as Q contemplated his mortality. Overall 5 out of 4 stars.
    More Q please. They should make a Star Trek Q series lol

    2 stars - Q is downgraded from an imperious, commanding trickster (as in Encounter At Farpoint and Q-Who) to a comic irritant here, and it doesn't work for me. All of Q's scenes with Worf are good and genuinely funny, but other than that I find this a misfire - and also a rare instance of Guinan's character not being written and utilised especially well. The hour plays like fan fiction, and Q is no longer genuinely intriguing or threatening, or able to shine a light on the show and its characters. I'm not a Q fan generally, but there is a philosophical angle to the best Q shows - the character at best functions as a surrogate for the show's writers, testing and toying with the characters. It's because of this meta-narrative function that Q is best used dramatically than comically. Not that he can't also be comic in a dramatic context, but too many episodes use Q as bad sitcom fodder. The character should be mysterious, meretricious, and familiar but always a little frightening - not the source of hackneyed shenanigans.

    Many great lines in this episode. I still find this one to be genuinely funny and very well acted. 4 stars from me! Q`s parting gift to Data seals the deal. Not quite Picard pulling out his "Inner Light" flute, or "...the sky`s the limit"...but a nice touch that approaches those great endings,IMHO.

    My wife’s favorite TNG episode and one of mine as well. Data’s laugh at the end is a tribute to Stan Laurel. There’s one flaw in the basic science of raising the orbit of a satellite. You have to apply the change in velocity (delta V) at the apogee rather than the perigee.

    Q is an obnoxious jerk, and a very little of him goes a very long way. For a supposedly omnipotent being, he does very little with his powers. The episode would have been much better without Q, or at least without the silliness that is seemingly inseparable from the character.

    again I have to give this something just over 7/10. 7 means I enjoyed it but wouldn't put it in a virtual collection. The extra points are for the Data and Q interactions and discussion of humanity. so maybe 7.25 again.

    I usually don't care for the Q episodes but this one wasn't so bad. After watching this one it strikes me that Q episodes remind me of the Ferengi episodes on DS9: campy, funny to some but not to all, character that seems a little out of sync with the main cast.

    I guess I don't see an immortal who sees all and knows all to be so interested in one species in one corner of the universe and to take on such a persona. But I guess one such as that would know exactly what kind of human character to portray itself through.

    Loved it.

    I knew I was in for a fun time after this bit:

    Q (insisting he's human): What must I do to convince you people???
    WORF: Die.

    Perfection. Lots of boring preachy dialogue not necessary (or optimal) for getting a point across.

    What it means to be human. How best to be human. Selflessness, morality. Happiness, laughter, suffering, tears. Oww!!

    It's all there in the ep, all without lectures from Picard.

    The dialogue was snappy, the performances were great, the story engaging. Having Data act as a foil for depressed-human Q was pure genius.

    John de Lancie at his peak.

    The planet is saved; Q is saved.

    Q's in his Continuum and all's right with the Galaxy.

    They could've heard my laughter from space!

    First things first, even before the Quintessential focus of the episode kicks in, there's a moment that basically encapsulates the plight of Starfleet's poor engineers.

    "Geordi, what can we do?"
    "Uhh, we could try this, but it'd be like an ant pushing a tricycle."
    "Great! Let's do it."

    Fun times down in Engineering.

    Meanwhile on the bridge, there's Q, completely naked and hovering in midair. (I love how petty he is about clothes this episode. Complains that the ones they put him in "aren't his colours". Proceeds to repeatedly beg for a Starfleet uniform. And then, when he finally gets his powers back, the *very first thing he does* is immediately change himself into one. Such perfectly precise pettiness.)

    I could go on, but it would be impossible to pick out a list of "best Q moments" without essentially writing up a full script of his dialogue from the episode. Every single line is glorious, no exaggeration. So instead, I want to say that I love his double act with Data -- who's really the perfect straight man for *any* double act -- in how it's both hilarious and fascinating to watch. Their unlikely rapport over time, as essentially tourists to humanity, builds up a surprisingly solid emotional core when it comes to the conclusion. Data's just such an innocent, earnest helper that he manages to inspire the tiniest bit of selflessness in Q's immortal ego. Honestly, I'd die for Data too.

    (Special mention to the Guinan scene, by the way. It's immensely satisfying to see Guinan move from being an implied equal to Q to being the one with the upper hand.)

    The ending is really just the cherry on top of the chocolate sundae. I think I heard *Data's* laughter from space. That moment managed to be hilarious, ridiculous, adorable and rather emotionally affecting all at once... and that sums up the episode, really.

    I really like this one. It does require the massive suspension of disbelief that all 'Q' episodes ask of their audiences. But it's worth it. The comic performances from de Lancie and Spiner are spot on and the writers came up with some delicious dry dialogue.

    A few thoughts anyway:

    That line about changing the gravitational constant of the Universe. That would have have devastating consequences in billions of star systems in billions of galaxies, for the sake of one planet and its satellite. I don't like to think that Q has that power. Something a bit more modest and imaginative might have been a better bet (and he does of course fix the problem at the end of the episode - we can assume, I hope, that he hasn't made a fundamental change to the celestial mechanics of the totality of the cosmos).

    Q's hair looks a little shorter in some of the scenes. Bit of a continuity gaffe.

    Every time Q turns up, it's "oh jeez not you again", yet he is possessed of powers and knowledge that might transform the human experience for all eternity.

    Still. All that said, it's a belter of an episode.

    @ James G,

    "That line about changing the gravitational constant of the Universe. That would have have devastating consequences in billions of star systems in billions of galaxies, for the sake of one planet and its satellite. I don't like to think that Q has that power."

    I see no reason to believe Q doesn't have that power. That being said, he might have meant that he would change the gravitational constant of the universe - but just locally. The "of the universe" is a term that means it's contant across the universe, but wouldn't necessarily mean that he'd have to change it for the entire universe to do this. All changing it locally would mean is that it's no longer a "universal constant"!

    As an aside on this point, extending the warp field to the asteroid pretty does exactly what Q suggested, so his idea wasn't even far-fetched. It was supposed to sound ridiculous, but I think mostly in the sense that he would just do it by thinking it, whereas humans would have to come up with a technological trick to approximate that effect.

    "Every time Q turns up, it's "oh jeez not you again", yet he is possessed of powers and knowledge that might transform the human experience for all eternity."

    Yes, I've had this problem myself with early Trek's use of Q. It might be fair to surmise that after Encounter at Farpoint and maybe Hide and Q that Picard has his ego hurt by Q's power over them, and his attitude after that was to treat Q as an annoying blight. Maybe the only power Picard could ever hope to have over Q was to not treat him seriously. Personally I think that was a mistake, and apparently Q did also because in Q Who he took steps to rectify them taking him more seriously. By Deja Q I agree it would be illogical for them to suddenly treat him like he's useless and to be dismissed, so I think (and some of us here have sort of agreed on this point already) that Deja Q sort of breaks continuity and even Trek logic for the sake of a wonderfully comic and fun episode. Trying to make sense of the remaining Q episodes is a lot easier if Deja Q isn't counted among them. One reason being, it's hard to believe that Deja Q's story is canon-worthy if we're also supposed to believe the premiere and finale in terms of Q's role in helping humanity.

    I love the journey taken by Q in this episode, even if it is rendered meaningless by the end when he's given back his powers. His condescending one-liners and continual mocking of the Enterprise crew through the first two-thirds of the episode make total sense. He's always considered humans beneath him. But a deep and wonderful transformation takes place in the last third. He's a broken man and while that has not caused anyone around him to lose their contempt for him, his pain is palpable and understandable.

    Throughout the series, John de Lancie always handled both comedy and drama brilliantly, but this stands out as unique among all his other performances. The comedy is self-defeating and somewhat tragic, while the drama is much more personal than Q's usual menacing, grandiose characterizations.

    In a story sense, it's unusual that Q suddenly has no security detail when he confesses to Picard in the Ready Room, nor when he talks to a recovering Data in Sickbay, but from a dramatic sense, these two scenes need a one-on-one dynamic, and of course, de Lancie pulls off both scenes flawlessly. This Q is more interesting and three-dimensional than he is in any other episode (including his appearances on DS9 and Voyager). Bravo to de Lancie and the writers!

    Well one thing he never got to experience it seems, was a hard on- maybe he'd have stuck around....

    Q episodes lean a little too heavily on humor, this one was ok, I guess. I didn't super hate it.

    I feel bad because Jane's Dad is a really good actor, probably one of the strongest, but I just can't get into most Q episodes.

    I did enjoy the Corbin Q scene in the shuttle but, overall, the Q continuum just feels like a graveyard for stories.

    "Nearly omnipotent and nearly omniscient and mildly annoying entity shows up to chew the scenery and irritate Picard."

    How many times can you watch the same story rehashed over and over?

    "the Q continuum just feels like a graveyard for stories."

    I'm not a huge fan of "Q as Prankster" episodes, either, but Tapestry, All Good Things, and Q Who all show the characters potential, imo.

    I do think this is easily the best of the more humorous Q episodes; there are several great lines in this one. I liked Corbin Bernsen's performance, but I have to admit that I wish the first Q we met after Q wasn't so Q-like. If that makes any sense.

    Worf log entries from that day:

    Morning log;
    “I got to insult Q and then throw him in the brig.

    Evening log:
    “Q is back and omnipotent again, and brought a Mariachi band onto the bridge.

    Apart from the lame ending, this episode is great fun, and has some of the funniest lines in all of TNG.

    Q: “Oh very funny Worf. Eat any good books lately?”

    Q: (to Worf) “I can’t disappear! Any more than you could win a beauty contest.”

    Q: “…like the boy who cried Worf “

    Q: (to Data) “It’s an irony that you make a better human than I do.”

    John de Lancie is his normal self - I.e. he delivers his lines with perfect timing. I’m not a huge fan of Q episodes, but this and Q Who? are two of the best, albeit for entirely different reasons.

    (The transporter can beam a whole shuttle craft? Uh….?)

    3.5 stars seems fair.

    The transporter is like the universal translator. Better not to think about it too much. What is a transporter essentially? A replicator. Your entire physical form is broken down into an energy pattern and that pattern is then transferred into the physical form again.
    The transporter is a plot device to gets people from a to b quickly. In TNG they already pushed it to the brink with Thomas Riker and other things.

    I assume they would need a larger transporter pad to beam a shuttle aboard, probably one in a cargo bay.

    @Booming @Peter G

    Yet they also have a tractor beam - why stretch our credibility with the transporter?

    I'm not sure what the issue is here. Surely two humpback whales, plus however much cubic whatever of sea water, make for a bigger beamout than a shuttlecraft, and that was done much earlier.

    I love this episode too but I couldn't find anyone who mentioned another great exchange:

    Troi: I am sensing an emotional presence, Captain. I would normally describe it as being terrified.

    Q: How rude.


    I remember watching a snippet of a Trek behind the scenes extra of some kind and this episode came up. Initially, Q was going to pretend to be powerless as part of some super complicated scheme. Then Roddenberry pulled the writer aside and asked “What is this episode about?” The writer began going into the weeds about Q’s super-complicated scheme with double and triple crossing, then Roddenberry asked the question again. That was when the writer realized the episode should be themed around Q losing his powers for real and what it would be like for him to be brought down to the human level.

    And boy, am I glad Gene did that - the result is one of my favorite episodes in all of Trek.

    Gene Roddenberry was by no means a perfect man but at the end of the day, he grasped the heart of Trek in a way no one else was quite able to afterward. That story illustrates why.

    I have to say this even though it's years later.

    Luke, Luke, Luke: "Very few of the characters actually display [forgiveness]. . . . . It's odd that the most 'human' character in this episode is the android."

    What one or two annoyed, tense people do at a single moment in time is not the point; the point is the general character of the entire species.

    "Crusher is deliberately very rough with Q while treating his back." Actually forceful pressure is a standard technique for alleviating muscle spasms.

    "Guinan straight-up physically assaults Q." Guinan is not human.

    By jove, that was a laugh a minute! The boy Q there getting kicked out of the Continuum! I can sympathise with our young scallywag. I used to be an upstanding member of the William Shatner fanclub, member #6743221! And I too was thrown out just like Q. It's not my fault Mr Shatner stood in wet paint during one of the conventions. I did try and warn him, but he said, Willy, Willy my boy, if a man wasn't supposed to stand in wet paint, then god would have put a tractor beam around it. And I said to him, what does god need with a tractor beam? Well, next thing you know, I'm being carried out of the hotel by goons and my honorary Shatner wig stripped from my head!

    The wife and I started watching TOS and Wednesdays and TNG on Saturdays. We are halfway through season 3 of TNG, and only have a handful of the worst TOS episodes still to watch. Near the end of Season 3 of Picard, we put a temporary hold on the older 2 series.

    Came back to this classic episode and didn't like it. Hated the alien prosthetics - probably the worst post-TOS aliens ever. Thought the moon spiraling in was dumb. I didn't hate it. Q's proposed solution for the moon thing was funny. But mostly I was bored and impatient.

    I think I'll wrap up TOS, pause TNG, and return to this episode in 2024 to see if it can respark my affection for Trek.

    Rating withheld.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index