October 6, 2014
Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Deja Q"
So, series premiere aside, it's time for the third of Q's annual guest appearances. They just keep getting better and better. I wasn't really sold on his Season 1 episode, "Hide and Q", but did really like his Season 2 episode, "Q Who" - although that was mainly because it introduced the Borg. This third episode is a fully-fledged comedy, to which everyone involved brings along their A-game. It works particularly well because of Q's three earlier appearances - he's got a rapport going with the regular cast now, and the episode riffs on those relationships marvellously.
Take Worf. For three years now Q has belittled him, teasted him, nicknamed him "Microbrain". Here he's helpless and afraid. 'What do I have to do to convince you all I'm mortal?' Q asks. Worf's deadpan reply? 'Die.' A later scene involves Guinan stabbing him in the hand with a fork to find out his mortality for herself. It's actually all rather cruel, but at the same time Q's had it coming for two-and-a-half seasons, and the payback is so wonderfully enjoyable.
The episode's real surprise for me is Q's relationship with Data. It's unexpected, since they haven't really interacted before, and it's a perfect match. Data's an unemotional android, and so lacks the resentment towards Q that his crewmates share. At the same time Q is resenting being human, which is the one thing Data has always wanted. It's one of those "eureka" moments in script writing: so completely obvious, yet most writers probably would never have thought of it. John de Lancie and Brent Spiner bounce off each other marvellously: particularly effective is de Lancie's performance once Data has nearly killed himself protecting Q from the Calamarain. He comes across as so completely overwhelmed: there are so many new facets to the experience that he doesn't quite know how to react.
There is a subplot involving a moon set to crash into a planet killing untold millions of people, but to be honest the whole plot works as a hook on which to hang Q's misfortunes. It works as a framework, but isn't particularly interesting in its own right. It's all an excuse really, to have fun and play around, and everyone does that brilliantly - and I love Corbin Bernsen's cameo during the episode's climax.
This is the eighth good episode out of 13: we're halfway through Season 3 now with a quality ratio of 62 per cent.