Star Trek: The Next Generation – Qpid [4.20]

As the Enterprise hosts an archeology conference, Picard re-encounters Vash and renews his romance.  Her presence makes him uncomfortable, as it turns out that he’s never told any of his crew about her.  Q also shows up, feeling indebted to teach Picard a lesson about the dangers of love.  To this end, he transport Picard, Vash, and the command crew of the Enterprise into a Robin Hood-fantasy, with Picard as Robin Hood and Vash as Maid Marian.  Picard and the crew must rescue Vash from Sir Guy of Gisborne.  They are successful, and the Robin Hood fantasy ends, but Q is so impressed by Vash’s ruthlessness that he invites her to travel with him.  She accepts.

Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr. Story by Randee Russell and Ira Steven Behr.  Directed by Robert Legato.

Previous Episode: The Nth Degree • Next Episode: The Drumhead

Last time, I commented that the appearances of the Cyrano de Bergerac scene was really an excuse for Star Trek to play dress up.  Well, that’s nothing compared to Qpid, which really uses the flimsiest of excuses to put all of the characters in tights and feathered caps.  Not that we’re complaining.  The result is a witty, fun, and genuinely thoughtful deconstruction of the traditional Robin Hood story, with a Marian who is willing to pull a sword on Robin Hood and calls him an idiot for trying to rescue her without an army.  Picard and Vash’s bickering gets a little stale eventually, but fortunately it doesn’t dominate for too long.

What’s more, the episode doesn’t put all its comedy eggs in the Robin Hood basket, with several great moments of Picard re-encounter with Vash – most particularly the extremely awkward introduction (for Jean-Luc) of Vash with Beverly Crusher.  Beverly’s delight at meeting Vash inspires similar feelings in the audience.  It’s a great choice for a sequel like this, drawing out elements of the original story that were a bit overlooked at the time – in this case Picard’s awkwardness at having the crew aware of his personal life.

Q almost gets overshadowed by all this.  He still has a few good lines but he’s not stealing the show in the way he usually does, which is a pity.  His motivations for all his shenanigans are a bit unfathomable, and his life lesson is made weakly at best.  Clearly he’s just an excuse for some period-based comedy, and I suppose the production team have to be congratulated on being able to avoid setting such an adventure on the holodeck.  Q’s pairing up with Vash has potential but doesn’t really go very far in the future of the franchise.

As enjoyable as the episode is, I also remember it for another reason.  That’s the controversy that sprung up even at its first airing at the role that the woman are relegated to in the Robin Hood fantasy – specifically Troi and Crusher.  A lot of people took exception to the fact that they’re only weapon in the big fight scene is crockery, rather than swords.  And I’ve even heard it mentioned that it’s bothersome that neither of them are identified with known Robin Hood figures.  I don’t find any of this particularly problematic.  Not that there is not anything unbalanced about Star Trek’s portrayal of women, but I think Troi and Crusher do pretty well in this series, Troi’s outfits notwithstanding.  Of course, this is all before we had the likes of Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax going hand-to-hand against Klingon warriors and winning – one almost feels that the future Star Trek action heroine’s were almost precipitated by some of the response to this episode.

Anyway, none of that bothered me.  Neither do the story weaknesses.  They are more than compensated for by several moments of comedy gold – Data finding he is holding a big piece of chicken in his hand, Troi shooting Data with an arrow, Vash sitting in Picard’s chair, and just about everything Worf does.  It’s part of the strength of a show like Star Trek – that we can get episodes like this, Family, and Reunion all in the same season, and they all feel true to the series’ premise.

Shout Out to the Past:
Vash reappears, with the statue from Captain’s Holiday, and several references to their adventure there.

Similarly, Q is back, with numerous direct references to his last visit in Deja Q.

Setting Up the Future:
• Q and Vash will reappear together in the Deep Space 9 episode, Q-Less.

Guest Cast:
• Clive Revill (Guy of Gisborne) has got a bazillion acting credits to his name, including, amusingly, in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and in a video called Tom and Jerry: Robin Hood and His Merry Mouse.  He was also the original voice of the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.

• More archeology.  I’m a little mystified that Picard is giving the keynote address at an archeology conference.  I guess it’s his role as a flagship Captain that got him that perk.  Or maybe, he’s just much more than the enthusiastic amateur he makes himself out to be.

•  Dr. Crusher wears a fetching sweater.

• Of course, you know that Vash is up to no good, but it is funny to see her around.

• “Nice legs…for a human.”  One of many good moments from Worf.

• Q gets a few good ones in.  “Jean-Luc, it’s wonderful to see you again. How about a big hug?”  Also, “You are simply the most impossible person to buy a gift for.”  And “You know, Worf, you’d make a perfect throw rug in Nottingham Castle.”

• Picard is obviously tempted by Q’s offer to take him to the ruins

• Funny how Picard walks past Vash’s door at first, he is genuinely uncomfortable and awkward.

• Worf sort of madly charges the sheriff.

• The Nurse is funny too.  “I have some nice fresh leeches. To drain the fever.”

• Another great Worf moment – smashing Geordi’s lute.

• Cool in a classic sort of way when Riker and co. appear disguised as monks.

• I don’t mind that the girls only get to smash guys with crockery.  The problem is that those guys have metal helmets on!  Pretty useless helmets if they can’t protect you from a bit of crockery!  Incidentally, Beverly looks like she’s having fun when she clocks the guy, while Troi looks like she’s freaking out

Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
You definitely need Picard for this episode.  You could have had him coming on board for the archeological conference, but then you’d lose a lot of that stuff of him being awkward as the ship’s Captain with a girlfriend, especially the bit where Vash sits in the Captain’s chair.

Dialogue High Point
Out of many good ones, the best is from Worf upon realization of their predicament.

Sir, I protest!  I am not a merry man!

Previous Episode: The Nth Degree • Next Episode: The Drumhead

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