May 1, 2020
Star Trek: The Next Generation “True Q”
Fans ended up waiting over a year after “Qpid” for the next installment of…
…as the character was conspicuously absent from TNG’s fifth season. There were reportedly plans for an appearance but storylines couldn’t be worked out. However, Q would certainly make up for his absence in the following season, with three appearances on not one but two Star Trek series.
The first of these was this episode from the first half of TNG’s sixth season, “True Q.”
The Enterprise arrives at a Starbase to get supplies for a planet having trouble with its atmosphere. They take aboard Amanda Rogers (Olivia d’Abo), who has just won an internship out of many potential candidates. She impresses Picard, Crusher, and Riker with the knowledge she already has about the ship’s layout. As Riker drops her off at her quarters, Rogers says that she wishes her three dogs were with her to enjoy the ship. Once Riker leaves, numerous puppies pop out of thin air. She frantically gathers them up and sweetly tells them that they have to go home, and they all soon vanish.
After the title sequence, Crusher is giving Rogers lessons on how to use various medical equipment. They bond as they talk about their families, with Crusher noting she’s a widow with a son at the Academy, while Rogers says she was adopted after her biological parents died.
Rogers is later helping out in the cargo bay. She impresses La Forge with her knowledge of what’s required for the relief mission they’re on. She also focuses on Riker and is able to save him from a falling container with an unseen move of her hand.
La Forge gives her a tour of Engineering, and as he and Data explain how the warp core works, a breach starts to take place. La Forge orders an evacuation and prepares to eject the core. But that turns out to be unnecessary because Rogers is able to contain the warp core breach, leaving La Forge and Data astonished.
Picard, Crusher, La Forge, and Troi discuss this in the observation lounge. Crusher says that Rogers is in her quarters and La Forge says that there was no reason why the core breach should have occurred when it did. That’s when Q materializes, saying that he caused the breach to confirm his suspicions that Rogers herself is a Q. He explains that her parents took the form of humans and had a child, to Q’s disgust. But after their deaths, the Q Continuum was unsure if Rogers inherited their powers.
Of late, however, her powers have begun to emerge, which is why the Continuum sent Q to check Rogers out. He cautions our heroes that, if unchecked, Rogers could end up using her powers to destroy herself or others. Crusher objects when Q states his intentions to take Rogers to the Continuum once he’s confirmed the extent of her powers. This prompts Q to whisk himself and Picard to the captain’s ready room so they can chat in private.
Q asks Picard to introduce him to Rogers, although Picard is skeptical of Q’s claim that he’s only being helpful. Nonetheless, Picard agrees, and after Q leaves, he goes out on the bridge and asks Data for info about the death of Rogers’s parents.
In Rogers’ quarters, Crusher fills her in and Q literally walks through the wall and begins looking at Rogers in a creepy, #MeToo sort of way. This understandably leads to Rogers telling Q to piss off, using her powers to throw him across the room.
As Q vents to Picard in the ready room (even with his powers, Q can get pissed), the captain suggests being less creepy with Rogers. At the same time, Rogers confides to Crusher about the uncertainty she’s feeling with these new revelations about herself, because she wants to be the same as everyone else. Rogers agrees to meet with Q again, while Crusher promises she won’t treat Rogers with kid gloves.
En route to see Rogers again, Q is stopped by a shadow on the wall, which is presumably one of the Continuum asking about his progress. Q says that he’s working on it, although he expresses his doubts that Rogers will have to die.
Q’s next visit with Rogers is less violent. She doesn’t even seem to mind his creepy tendencies as he explains how awesome it is to be a Q; no doubt because she now knows that she can kick his ass if he goes too far. When Rogers says that she wants to see her real parents, Q instructs her to focus. She soon gets a nice vision of them with her as a little girl.
Rogers meets with Crusher in the lab, where the doctor gives her an experiment to perform. The two ladies have a heart to heart about loved ones, with Rogers asking Crusher if she would bring her husband back if she was able. Crusher says she’s unsure, and once she’s gone, Q shows up and recommends Rogers use her powers to speed up the experiment.
On the bridge, Picard gets a message saying that problems have come up with their relief mission. As La Forge gets to work, Data tells Picard that Rogers’s parents were killed by a tornado at their Kansas home. Picard is suspicious, because in the 24th Century, there’s fancy tech that can dissipate tornadoes.
In the lab, Riker checks in with Rogers and Crusher, and Q notes with disgust that Rogers is drawn to him. The doctor is dismayed at the experimental results, because speeding things up has made it unable to take proper notes. This leads to an argument between her and Q, during which he briefly turns Crusher into a dog, although Rogers turns her back, and Crusher is none the wiser.
Rogers, with Q’s help, explores her powers a bit more. This involves a nice of the ship as they pop up in various locations, such as the warp core, and even outside the ship itself.
That night, she’s dining with Crusher and Troi. Riker comes by on a date of his own, but Rogers whisks him and herself away to a romantic setting with period clothing. Riker resists until Rogers uses her powers to give him the desire to make out with her. But she quickly realizes that the passion isn’t genuine and sends him back.
Q meets Picard in his ready room, where the captain confronts him about the tornado and asks if this was the Continuum’s way of executing Rogers’s parents. Q admits as much, and adds that he has to determine if Rogers herself is a Q or a hybrid of some sort. If so, she’ll have to die as well. He attempts to rationalize this by saying that beings with unlimited power can’t be permitted to roam the universe. Picard asks point blank if Rogers will die, and Q says that he doesn’t know yet.
Picard meets with Crusher and Troi, and they agree that Rogers should be told the truth. At the same time, Riker goes down to the planet to assist with the issues there.
After Picard explains the situation to Rogers, she demands that Q appear, and he does. Picard says that Q is acting similar to the way he did when he judged him in “Encounter at Farpoint”, and reiterates his stance that, despite their vast powers, the Q are still full of shit compared to humanity, and basically laughs at how they’re pondering killing someone who has both humanity and powers of the Q.
This leads to another great Q line.
Q: Jean-Luc, sometimes I think the only reason I come here is to listen to these wonderful speeches of yours.
He adds that Picard’s conviction isn’t necessary, because the Continuum doesn’t plan to execute Rogers. Instead, they’ll give her a choice. She can join the Continuum, or continue with her human life as long as she doesn’t use her powers. Rogers says that she can refrain from doing so, but Q says that it’s easier said than done.
That’s when the ship is hailed by Riker, who says that the state of the reactor on the planet is worse than they thought. Q insists he’s not doing anything and vanishes. Things are looking grim until the reactor begins fixing itself and the atmosphere of the planet clears up.
Q pops up on the bridge to gloat, and Rogers confesses that she couldn’t just stand by as disaster unfolded. She brings Crusher to the bridge and says that she can’t deny that she’s a Q and agrees to join the Continuum. But she insists on explaining things to the parents who raised her before doing so. She and Crusher hug each other farewell, with the promise that they’ll see each other again, and then Rogers and Q depart.
This episode certainly has good intentions. While I didn’t care for Crusher briefly being a dog or Rogers attempting to romance Riker, the Crusher/Rogers scenes are quite sweet and d’Abo makes it easy for us to side with Rogers. It’s actually a bit reminiscent of the original Star Trek episode “Charlie X”, in that it involves the crew dealing with a young person with immense power. But it’s different enough that it can’t be called a rip-off.
Where the episode falters is the ending, which seems a bit rushed. While Rogers saves a planet full of people, there’s never a sense of urgency to the proceedings like there was in “Q Who”. Afterward, she and Q take off, and that’s that. But it still deserves credit for trying something different; Q himself is actually more of a supporting player here than in his previous outings.