Series:Star Trek: The Next GenerationThe third appearance of the mischevious Q Entity, and the debut of the Borg, arguably the most famous adversarial race introduced post-Original Series.Overeager young Ensign Sonya Gomez, a recent Academy graduate just assigned to the Enterprise, is carrying on a rambling conversation with Lt. La Forge in engineering, while carrying a mug of hot chocolate in her hands. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? When Geordi politely remonstrates her that it's not a good idea to be carrying that mug around sensitive electronic equipment, Gomez turns to leave Engineering and plows right into Captain Picard.Picard leaves Engineering to get a change of uniform and exits the turbolift without looking— and suddenly he's on a shuttlecraft piloted by Q. Picard angrily reminds Q that after their last encounter, he'd promised never to trouble the Enterprise again, and Q says he always keeps his word: The shuttlecraft is in the middle of nowhere.Back on the Enterprise, La Forge and Gomez are pedeconferencing, with Geordi assuring her that he wouldn't have requested her if she wasn't the best at what she does. (It probably doesn't hurt that she's kinda cute). He says they'll go to Ten-Forward to sit and relax, and help teach her how to slow down. When Gomez demurs, La Forge says she's awfully young to be so driven.
Episode: Season 2, Episode 16
Previous: Pen Pals
Next: Samaritan Snare
Episode: Season 2, Episode 16
Previous: Pen Pals
Next: Samaritan Snare
- Gomez: Whatever is out here, we're gonna be the first humans to see it, and I wanna be part of that, I wanna understand it.La Forge: Sonya, relax... you're here, you've made it, but you won't last long banging into walls. It'll be there for you, believe me.
- Picard: Keeping me a prisoner here will not compell me to discuss anything with you.Q [leaning right into Picard's ear]: It will in time.
- Q: I agree, Captain. Enough about this creature. She's diverting us from the purpose of my being here.Riker [as he and Worf enter]: Which is?Q: Oh, the reboutable Commander Riker! And micro-brain! Growl for me, let me know you still care.
- Riker: We'll just have to do the best we can without you.Q: What justifies that smugness?Picard: Not smugness. Not arrogance. But we are resolute, we are determined... and your help is not required.Q: We'll just have to see how ready you are!Guinan: Q!
- Riker: Why?Q: "Why?" Why, to give you a taste of your future. A preview of things to come. Con permiso, Capitan. The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged. It's now time to see if you can dance.
- Picard: You're familiar with this life form?Guinan: Yes. My people encountered them a century ago. They destroyed our cities; scattered my people throughout the galaxy. They're called the Borg. Protect yourself, Captain, or they'll destroy you.
- Borg: We have analyzed your defensive capabilities as being unable to withstand us. If you defend yourselves, you will be punished.
- Riker: You brought us here, you exposed us to them, and you cost us the lives of our shipmates!'Q [coldly]: Oh, please.
- Q: They will follow this ship until you exhaust your fuel. They will wear down your defenses. Then you will be theirs. Admit it, Picard, you're out of your league. You should have stayed where you belong.
- Q [swapping places with Data in a flash]: I'll be leaving now. You thought you could handle it. So handle it.Picard: Q. End this.Q: Moi? What makes you think I'm either inclined or capable to terminate this encounter?Picard: If we all die... here, now... you will not be able to gloat! You wanted to frighten us. We're frightened. You wanted to show us that we are inadequate. For the moment... I grant that. You wanted me to say I need you? I! NEED! YOU!
This episode contains examples of:
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Picard during his Patrick Stewart Speech at the end.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Q, after instantly flashing the Enterprise halfway across the galaxy on a whim and bringing them into a confrontation with The Borg, reinforces this with two words:
- Bittersweet Ending: The Enterprise escapes and is safe, for now. But the Borg now know the Federation exists, and they will be coming.
- Blatant Lies:Q: Sir, do you mock me?Picard: Not at all; that's the last thing I would do.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Q's actions could be considered this; he wasn't responsible for the Borg coming after the Federation later, because the attacks in "The Neutral Zone" are implied to be the result of the Borg, so they were on their way anyway. His actions actually gave the Federation an advance warning about who the Borg were, even if people died as a result.
- This canon was later reinforced in Star Trek: Voyager, where it is revealed that Seven of Nine's parents were Federation scientists investigating the then unknown Borg almost a decade before this episode. The whole family and their small ship was captured and assimilated. Which means that the Borg already possessed knowledge of the existence of humans and the Federation. What would have been new to them was the Galaxy Class starship Enterprise, hence their interest in assimilating it.
- David Versus Goliath: The Enterprise versus a Borg cube. Picard and crew get a few good shots in at first, due to the Borg being unfamiliar with their weaponry... and then the Borg become immune to it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Q, of course, is an endless stream of sarcastic comments and witty remarks as the Enterprise rebuffs his attempts to join them and then during the struggle with the Borg.
- The Dreaded: Q's description of what lies waiting for humanity as they continue out into the galaxy. The Borg are his immediate example.Q: Picard, you are about to move into areas of the galaxy containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine - and terrors to freeze your soul.Q: You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you've encountered so far. The Romulans, the Klingons; they're nothing compared to what's waiting.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Borg's shield-draining weapon is never used again after this episode, though their tractor beam would have similar properties. And this is the only episode in which the Borg aren't interested in assimilating humanoid lifeforms.
- Ensign Newbie: Sonya Gomez, who is just so eager to be out exploring the galaxy aboard the Enterprise.
- Idiot Ball: All there in his Captain's Log - 'Despite Guinan's warnings, I have decided to explore this sector of space a bit before heading back'.
- Ignored Expert:
- Picard ignores Guinan's advice to start back immediately and decides to explore the sector first, which causes 18 Enterprise crew members to be killed and the ship to almost be destroyed. They also ignore her advice not to beam an Away Team to the ship. All of this is after directly asking Guinan to monitor the bridge screen because 'we might need your input.'
- Arrogant as he is, Q's warnings are also ignored until Picard has to literally beg for his help.
- Implacable Man: The Borg.Q: They will follow this ship until you exhaust your fuel. They will wear down your defenses. Then you will be theirs.Q: You can't outrun them; you can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains. They regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken, your reserves will be gone. They are relentless!
- Noodle Incident: Whatever "dealings" Q and Guinan had 200 years earlier.
- No Sell:
- Once the Borg cube adapts to the Enterprise's weapons, a volley of photon torpedoes don't even scratch it.
- Similarly, the first drone that is shot in Engineering falls to the floor dead. The second one that appears has a defense shield that absorbs phaser fire.
- Outside-Context Villain: The Borg, perhaps the greatest example of this Trope in the Trek 'Verse, are introduced here. The situation is deliberately set up by Q to prove to Picard just how unprepared the Federation is for something like them.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: One of the most brilliant of the series, when Picard tells Q he needs him.
- Run or Die: When Riker informs Picard that the Borg cube is healing itself at an alarming rate, running like hell looks like the only possible chance the Enterprise crew has to survive the encounter. It is defied when the Borg are shown to be capable of running just a little faster and slowing the Enterprise down.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted. Trying to find a small shuttlecraft that Q could literally have put anywhere in the universe is just as impossible as it should be.
- Shout-Out: Q passes the time on the shuttle by throwing a ball against the wall.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: When Riker chews Q out for exposing them to the Borg and costing the lives of a dozen shipmates, all Q responds with is "Oh, please...". This was an ad-lib by de Lancie, and a considerable improvement on the Large Ham line in the script. Then there's Q's parting words.Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. 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.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Q's real opinion of the Enterprise crew, explicitly stated when he tries to get Picard to let him join. (Which is a strange thing to do during a job interview.)Q: This ship is already home for the indigent, the unwanted, the unworthy; why not for a homeless entity?Q: And if necessary, though I can't imagine why, I will renounce my powers, and become as weak and as incompetent as all of you.
- Voice of the Legion: The Borg's method of communicating.
- We Have Become Complacent: The point that Q was trying to get across by introducing the Enterprise to the Borg, and a statement which Picard ultimately admits is not without merit.