Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 16

Q Who?

Aired Unknown May 08, 1989 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
310 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 42761.3 Q hurls the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and introduces the Federation to a powerful new enemy that may destroy the Alpha Quadrant: the Borg.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • The only episode that used the Borg effectively - as totally mysterious, powerful, and alien.

    Picard's boasts to Q result in the Enterprise being thrust into a conflict with a remorseless and extremely powerful adversary.

    To my mind, this is the Borg used to best effect - no "Queens", "Spheres", "fallen members", movie deals, etc. Just a totally different kind of opponent.

    As soon as the Borg were over-used in every series of the franchise, they lost all their impact. Here, it works, totally alien, totally un-interested in anything close to human motivation, completely mindless in the ability to scan and assimilate anything they come across. Lots of drama is built up in the plotting and execution of this episiode.

    And that's how this installment is written, with nice references to the Borg's past terror and visual examples of their invulnerabilty to the defenses of any opponents. Of course the temptation to use them over and over again would be great, but at least in this first installment, Q introduces the Federation to something that is seemingly horrific but at the same time is diabolical in that it DOES make sense in an impersonal way.

    A very clever idea in science fiction for television.moreless
  • Q introduces the Enterprise to the Delta Quadrant.

    Half a decade before Voyager would become lost in the Delta Quadrant, the Enterprise makes its own unscheduled trip to this place, courtesy of Q. And they meet the Borg. The idea behind this show was to create a new villain to replace the disappointing Ferengi and to be to TNG what the Klingons are to the original series. The end result however, far surpasses these expectations. Much of the credit must go to the incredible writing of this episode, which builds the drama nicely, and credit must also be given to Maurice Hurley's for his basic "insect" idea for the new alien race. The resulting synergy gives us an episode that plays somewhat like the first Terminator movie, with all its strengths. The Borg would be back in later episodes (and a movie) but that only makes this gem even more special. A can't miss.moreless
  • Imagine if TNG had been this good every week?!

    The show's most memorably chilling villains, the Borg, are introduced in this riveting, genuinely scary episode which also sees the return of Q.

    Few episodes of TNG managed to make space travel seem as alien, momentous and downright scary as this. Most of the time the Enterprise was just a travelling hotel in space and most of the aliens and races encountered were rather blah. But this episode stands out as a stark reminder of how scary the unknown can be and is an all-too rare example of when the Enterprise really DOES go where no one has gone before.

    It's well-written and expertly produced, with a viscerally claustrophobic and intense tone throughout. The directing, music and production values are all first rate. Q's characterisation has rarely been better: funny, acerbic, but also dangerous and unpredictable - and I loved his rivalry with Guinan, which was an inspired touch. The Borg themselves are a brilliant creation: cyborg zombies that really did manage to strike fear into my heart as an impressionable young kid. I swear I had nightmares after watching this episode.

    Overall, this is a smash and deeply invigorated an otherwise lacklustre season. Brilliant.moreless
  • Welcome to the Borg!

    The episode where we first encounter the Borg. Logically therefore, it is a first contact type episode with the added complication of having the interfering Q expedite the encounter. So while some of aspects of the plot are typical others are not.

    It is an episode that has some combat, although its mostly smoke and mirrors stuff, with the Enterprise not having the technology to deal with the threat. We do however get to see how the Borg operate, from their initial unauthorised boarding, to the boring a section of the Enterprise containing 18 crewmembers. This is one of the aspects of the encounter that is dropped for more traditional site-to-site teleportation in later skirmishes.

    Another such facet of the Borg is when Cmdr. Ryker informs the bridge that the Borg appear to be primarily biologically grown beings with implants added later. This is also changed later as the prescribed approach is to assimilate and change existing lifeforms into Borg.

    The loss of the crewmen is one of the only (if the only) times when Federation vessels do not risk attempting to liberate captives taken by the Borg.

    We also have no experience with the Borg mantra that is to become so much part of their fearful makeup in the future - Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

    This is the first time that Picard relents to Q in their battle of wills and asks for Q to return them to the safety of the Alpha quaderant. There are two times when Picard is left helpless in this episode and sees a welcome change to the arrogance that the first season was full of.

    On a minor note we get introduced to a bitpart engineer (Ensign Sonya Gomez) whom has a few episodes.

    One of the most interesting scenes is where Guinan and Q square up to each other. We get another hint of past meetings and what each thinks of the other. Guinan does an impression of a cornered alley cat!

    Overall interesting enough, and should not be missed, but dont expect it to be filled with latter season impressive combat.moreless
  • The Enterprise's first encounter with the Borg.

    One thing that disappointed me about all of the Star Trek series and movies is that there was so little wonder. The Trek world gives us ships capable of leaping across light years in a matter of hours, but instead of awesome encounters with the unknown, the crewmembers are mostly involved in diplomatic missions, rescue operations, etc. This, I believe, was largely due to budget restrictions and the fact that Trek is so character-driven. (And I must admit that I still enjoyed most of these stories.) "Q-Who" was one of the episodes that did give us wonder. The Enterprise is hurled into the path of a massive cube of a ship. Aboard are a cancerous race known as the Borg. They advance their knowledge by consuming other races, and they quickly identify the Enterprise as something they want to assimilate. The depiction of the Borg is haunting--soulless, cadaver-like beings with technology superior to that on the Enterprise. While Picard and crew eventually escape, they realize the Borg will surely follow them into Federation space. And that cast a chill over the series that lasted well into the next season. A masterful piece of storytelling.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

Lycia Naff

Lycia Naff

Ensign Sonya Gomez

Guest Star

John de Lancie

John de Lancie


Recurring Role

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg


Recurring Role

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Miles O'Brien

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • The hot chocolate seems to hurt neither Picard nor Ensign Sonya Gomez.

    • The hot chocolate stain on Picard's uniform changes - it initially is fairly small, then the camera cuts to Geordi and when it cuts back to Picard the stain has almost doubled in size.

    • When Picard gets into the turbolift on deck 36 and asks for deck 9, the motion indicators shows the turbolift going down, not up.

    • When Riker asks the computer where Captain Picard is after Q takes him to the shuttlecraft, the computer says, "The Captain is not on the ship." In later episodes when the computer is asked where someone is on the ship, it would say, "The Captain is not on board the Enterprise."

    • Both Picard and Q misstate the terms of the bet that Picard won in "Hide and Q". The agreement was that Q would keep out of humanity's way forever - it had nothing to do with Q being on the Enterprise or setting foot on it again, or troubling the Enterprise ever again.

    • When Worf shoots the first Borg, he falls to the ground, his left arm sprawled over his head and his right leg bent in an awkward position. In the next wide-angle shot, the dead Borg changes his position.

    • Worf doesn't do his job very well: when told to fire at the source of the tractor beam, he fires three separate times at other parts of the cube, and the Borg beam is only terminated when he finally decides to fire at the right spot.

    • Misdubbed audio: in Engineering when Worf says "Ensign!", Michael Dorn's lips don't move.

    • When Guinan goes into an office to view the Borg ship, they miscue the sound effect when she turns on the viewscreen - it makes a beeping noise just before she touches anything.

    • When on the Borg ship, one of the Borg drones is incorrectly facing into their alcove, rather than outwards.

    • When Q snaps his fingers to send the Enterprise back to their starting point, the Enterprise then turns around to the left. But in the view of the stars on the screen, they move from right to left, in the wrong direction.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Picard: (teleported aboard a shuttle) You promised that you would never trouble my ship again.
      Q: I always keep my agreements, sir. Look...we're nowhere near your vessel.

    • Q: Ah, the redoubtable Commander Riker... (sees Worf) and Microbrain! Growl for me... let me know you still care!

    • (Picard to Q after his request to join the ship)
      Picard: Ready and willing, able to serve. What would you do? Would you start as an ordinary crewman, hmmmm? What task is too menial for an entity?
      Q: Sir, do you mock me?

    • Picard: Guinan, activate your viewscreen. I want you to monitor what's going on up here. I may need your input.
      Guinan: I'm here. I can see the other ship.
      Picard: You are acquainted with this life form?
      Guinan: Yes. My people encountered them a century ago. Our cities were destroyed.... our people scattered across the galaxy. They are called the Borg. Protect yourself or they will destroy you.

    • Q: The Borg is the ultimate user, they're unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They're not interested in political conquest, wealth, or power as you know it. They're simply interested in your ship, its technology. They've identified it as something they can consume.

    • 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!

    • 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 belonged.

    • Worf: A type of laser beam is slicing into the saucer section.
      Riker: They're carving us up like a roast.

    • Q: (Guinan's) an imp..and wherever she goes..trouble always follows.
      Picard: You're speaking of yourself, Q, not Guinan.
      Q: Guinan? Is that your name now?

    • Q: I add a little spice, a little excitement to your lives, and all you do is complain!

    • Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you had better go back home and crawl under your bed.

    • Q: 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.

    • Picard: If we all, 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 that I need you...I need you!

    • Picard: Maybe Q did the right thing for the wrong reason.
      Guinan: How so?
      Picard: Well, Perhaps what we most needed was a kick in our complacency to prepare us for what lies ahead.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Injoke: The hand gesture that Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) makes during her initial confrontation with Q in Ten Forward is the same hand gesture she made when she cursed Mister (Danny Glover) just before driving away with Shug in the movie The Color Purple.

    • This episode and "The Outrageous Okona" are the only ones of the season in which Diana Muldaur (Dr. Pulaski) does not appear.

    • The episode won two Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

    • This episode introduces the Borg, the series' most well-known and most popular foe. The Borg was devised as an "ultimate enemy" after the Ferengi, originally conceived for such position, were felt to be too comical.