Star Trek The Next Generation: Qpid

"Captain's log, stardate 44741.9. We have arrived at Tagus Three where the Enterprise is to serve as host of the Federation Archaeology Council's annual symposium. I look forward to giving tomorrow's keynote address with great anticipation."

Now this was a fun little episode.

Before I get started, allow me a minute or two to gush about this episode's writer, Ira Steven Behr. Possessing the best goatee this side of the mirror universe, Behr is one of the unsung heroes of Star Trek and doesn't really get enough credit for his contribution to the franchise. As a producer during the third season he prevented tensions escalating between Michael Piller and the show's writer staff, who were still loyal to previous showrunner Maurice Hurley, and helped to craft 'Yesterday's Enterprise', one of the finest episodes of Trek ever produced. When Piller was planning to leave after that season he suggested Behr replace him, but he turned down the offer and left the show. He returned to the fold to work as a producer on Deep Space Nine, eventually becoming head writer, overseeing what I personally think are the five finest seasons of Star Trek ever produced.

But before all that, Behr briefly returned to Next Gen to pen this delightfully silly episode, a superior sequel to 'Captain's Holiday', which he also wrote. Amoral tomb raider Vash has come crashing back into Picard's life, at the exact same time that Q has decided to stop by to do something nice for Picard. Never rains but it pours, eh Jean Luc? Before you can say "men in tights" everyone is zapped to Sherwood Forest for good old fashioned adventure and swashbuckling. How exactly do you swash a buckle? That word never made much sense to me.


'Qpid' could've easily been nothing more than a nice bit of fluff, but Behr is smart enough to know that sillies does not automatically mean a lack of substance. As much fun as the Sherwood adventure was (and it was immensely fun), my favourite part of the episode was everything that preceded it. This allowed us the opportunity to see Picard as the nervous boyfriend, unsure how to behave in front of everyone with Vash around. How adorable was it that he made sure no one was watching when he visited Vash's quarters?

Picard is, as Vash is repeatedly told, "a very private man". He is someone who works hard to keep his work and personal lives completely separate. He never hangs around Ten Forward when he's off duty, and never attends the weekly poker game. He is friendly with his senior staff, but still keeps them all at arm's length, with the notable exception of Beverly, but even she wasn't told about Vash. Part of the reason for this is because Picard believes he must hold himself to higher standard in front of the crew. If they are to have absolute confidence in him and his decisions they must see see him as more than just a man. They can't see the vulnerable side of the him, the romantic side, the side of him that has a thing for bad girls like Vash.

This is why Q sends him to Sherwood, to act out one of the most famous love stories of all time. This is the Q I like, the one who isn't just annoying everyone because he's bored, but because he wants to teach Picard a lesson in his own unique way. I'm just not entirely sure what that lesson was. If it was to stop being so closed off and let Vash, and everyone else, know how you really feel, then it is made redundant by the ending. Having Q leave and take Vash was the wrong way to end things as it negates any need for character growth on Picard's part. I know that this was just the way that Star Trek was made back then, with everything resetting at the end of the episode, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.


Notes and Quotes

--At one point it was proposed to set this episode in Camelot rather than Sherwood Forest, but Behr thought it would be boring.

--Riker has some seriously cheesy pick up lines.

--Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden were both annoyed that only the men were allowed to use swords as they were the only members of the cast who were trained fencers.

Q: "Well, don't just stand there. Say something."
Picard: "Get out of my chair!"

Picard: "Vash! How did you get in here?"
Vash: "I came in through the window."

Worf: "Nice legs... for a human."

Picard: "I've just been paid a visit from Q."
Riker: "Q? Any idea what he's up to?"
Picard: "He wants to do something nice for me."
Riker: "I'll alert the crew."

Worf: "Sir, I protest! I am not a merry man!"

Three out of four colourful goatees.
--
Mark Greig has had his Weetabix. More Mark Greig

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

For some reason, I enjoyed this one a lot more during rewatch than I did when it aired. It has a lot of charm and it's clear that the cast had fun with it. I particularly liked how Vash was going to go ahead and enthusiastically marry Guy of Gisborne to save her neck instead of virtuously waiting for rescue. The Worf gags were funny, too. I especially liked him smashing Georgi's mandolin, or whatever that was, and handing it back to him.

Victoria Grossack said...

Billie, I agree; that was my favorite moment with respect to Vash. Since she's not hung up on keeping her word (and why should one keep one's word if coerced into marriage) her approach was extremely sensible.

tricksterson said...

"Buckler" is a small leather shield. It was customary at the time that if you wanted to prove your badassery to walk through the streets banging your sword against your buckler proclaiming said badassery and offering to take on any and all challengers, thus swashbuckling.