Q Who? (ST: TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 16)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break.

The unpredictable entity Q introduces the Enterprise to the Borg, a collective of hybrid biological and technological drones. We learn that Q and Guinan have some unspecified backstory that, based on their hand gestures, seems to involve a community theater production of Cats.

In this episode, Q is to Picard as The Great Gazoo is to Fred Flintstone. (Popping in and out, acting superior, and somehow failing to conceal a strange attachment to the lower beings he is observing.)

I had absolutely no memory of Ensign Gomez, the recent academy graduate who embarrasses herself in front of Picard in the teaser. This episode seems to set her up as a recurring character for LaForge to talk to now that he’s been promoted off the bridge, but I don’t remember her ever appearing again.

We’re familiar with first contact protocol — the Enterprise scans a ship, Troi reveals she senses something completely unhelpful, there’s a voice-only transmission that raises more questions than it answers, and an away team beams over so the actors can walk around a soundstage waving props at set pieces and looking amazed. As much as I enjoy these first contact tropes, on my rewatch I was surprised at how thin the plot was — a wispy contrivance of Q’s, resolved after the captain says the magic words. However, the episode established the Borg as a real threat, nicely setting up future encounters.