The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Q Who?

When Q returns to meddle in the affairs of the Enterprise crew once again, Picard is insistent that there is nothing the omnipotent being can help him with. But Q has ideas of his own, and decides to show Picard just how little humanity knows of the wider galaxy by forcing an encounter with the relentless cybernetic menace known as the Borg.

It’s not often I get to blog about the introduction of a new major race in Star Trek, but today is one of those exceptions. Remember the Borg before Voyager ruined them and made them easily beatable enemies of the week? Well, this is where it all began. In fact, it’s so good to see the first of the Borg that I can even forgive Q being in this episode – and actually, he does have some good lines here.

We are the Borg

The Borg don’t really speak or say any of their characteristic phrases in this episode, but this is our first look at the iconic Borg Cube and the cybernetic life forms that dwell within. We see the regeneration alcoves, their ability to adapt and recover from attacks, and also the hive mind. One minor inconsistency – in this episode we see a Borg nursery, where Riker surmises that Borg are born organic and have mechanical parts grafted on. I think it’s pretty well established later on that the Borg don’t sexually reproduce amongst themselves – they just assimilate children of other races.

Who is Guinan?

As of this episode, we know that Guinan is at least 200 years old, has had at least one other name, and is “not what she seems”. Q seems to regard her as troublesome enough to be wary of, although so far her special powers are limited to “sensing when something isn’t quite right”.

Guinan’s people were attacked and persecuted by the Borg.

Other points

  • Although Riker points out that the planet attacked by the Borg looks just like the attacked Federation outposts, no one really takes this thought through to its conclusion – that the Borg were the ones responsible for attacking Federation and Romulan bases, and thus Q’s warning actually provides valuable intelligence on a hostile enemy (the alternative being that Q alerted the Borg to humanity’s presence, thus putting the Federation in danger).
  • The klutzy Ensign Sonya Gomez was meant to be a comedic recurring character, but was dropped after two episodes (we’ll see her again in Samaritan Snare). Although she is painfully tropey here, it’s a shame she didn’t become a regular character giving more of a “Lower Decks” perspective.

Summary – Q Who?: “It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid”

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