From the very beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Q was written as a godlike being who loved to interfere in the affairs of Captain Picard. He occasionally popped up on Voyager and once on Deep Space Nine, but all of his episodes had one thing in common: they implied that Q saw characters like Picard and Janeway as very special and, therefore, worth his time. However, an episode of Lower Decks proved that Q really does just appear to random Starfleet officers when he is bored, which seems to retroactively change what makes his relationship with Picard unique and special.
Who Is Q? (Besides A Letter In The Alphabet)
If you’re not all that familiar with Star Trek, you probably have a simple question right now: just who the heck is Q? In short, he is a member of the Q continuum and functions, for all intents and purposes, as a god who is nearly all-powerful and who can manipulate reality at will. He appeared in the TNG pilot “Encounter At Farpoint” determined to put humanity on trial, but most of his later appearances solidified him as a kind of trickster figure who was especially fixated on Captain Picard.
The End Of Q (Kind Of)
That fixation came to a kind of bittersweet conclusion in the second season of Star Trek: Picard when we discover that Q is dying (something he once thought impossible), and he decides to give Picard one last crazy adventure by sending him to a kind of fascist alternate reality that Picard and his friends have to fix through time travel shenanigans. Q died at the end of that season (which didn’t keep him from popping up at the very end of the next season), and his emotional hug with Picard seemingly cemented the fact that their relationship was something truly unique.
Q And The Cerritos
In typical irreverent fashion, Star Trek: Lower Decks ended up undoing decades of Q character-building for a quick throwaway joke. At the end of the episode “Veritas,” Q appears before Mariner and the rest of our erstwhile ensigns and challenges them to a duel, telling them that his chosen weapon is the mind. This causes an exasperated Mariner to tell him “We’re not dealing with any of your Q bulls–t” and walk away, leaving Q to proclaim how he wants to put humanity to “the ultimate test” and lamenting that “Picard is no fun” and is always “quoting Shakespeare.”
Lower Decks Corrupts The Picard/Q Dynamic
As gags go, it’s a really funny moment, and hearing John de Lancie voice his chaotic character in animated form was a real treat. However, the nature of the Star Trek: Lower Decks joke really undercuts the idea that Q and Picard had a very special relationship: not only does the godlike being dunk on Picard for being too serious, but we now have canonical proof that he likes to bother random Starfleet officers, from captains of special destiny all the way to lowly ensigns.
Picard Needs A New Frenemy
Sorry, Picard: when he’s not busy helping you uncover the secrets of your past and the wonders of humanity, he’s busy bothering a bunch of lower-deckers simply because he’s bored. As big fans of Star Trek: Lower Decks, though, we are left with one big question: are Mariner and Boimler ever going to teach Q the Chu Chu dance?