‘Star Trek: Picard’ Recap: Q Is The Worst Friend Ever

“Show them a world they made and they’ll ask you what you did,” John de Lancie’s Q asks Jean-Luc Picard at the head of this season’s second episode of “Picard.”

Such has been the modus operandi of our favorite omnipotent being who has long played with Picard as his guinea pig. Q causes a major disturbance, but it’s mostly to teach pitiful humans a stern lesson and get yucks doing it. This version of Q seems angrier – even slapping Picard in the face once, which seems a bit out of place, but it’s Gritty Trek. (Recall that when Q appears in “Deep Space Nine”, Captain Sisko punches him in the face, which shocks Q, since he can’t conceive of one of his toys turning into violence.)

Q says this time he is not giving education.

“It’s not a lesson,” barks Q. “It’s penance.”

A quick digression: Picard tells Q he’s too old for his, you know, stuff. There’s one lingering issue from the first season of “Picard” that bothers me. It’s that Picard isn’t really too old for anything. He is no longer human. You may remember that Picard passed away last season! Then he woke up as some kind of aging synthetic being. This is the danger of spoiling public expectations with a fake death. There’s always a tech exit for Picard, so he’s never really in danger. This precedent the show has set for itself will affect the dramatic tension going forward.

That doesn’t mean it can’t work. Spock died in “Wrath of Khan” and was brought back to life in the next film. He remained a compelling character for several other films.

In this case, Q places Picard and the rest of his friends in what initially appears to be a mirror universe, but turns out to be an altered reality. Several “Trek” franchises have taken on the mirror universe, but Picard’s “Next Generation” was never one of them.

This isn’t the first time Q has revealed an alternate reality to Picard, however. In the “Next Generation” episode “Tapestry”, Q shows Picard that if a younger version of him hadn’t taken risks, he would have been dissatisfied for the rest of his life. There was also the series finale of “The Next Generation”, where Q tricks Picard into creating an anomaly across several different timelines as part of the trial of humanity. Someone please find Q a job or a show to binge watch, for the good of the galaxy.

The stakes of this reality, however, are much higher. Q shows Picard a world in which the Federation were bloodthirsty conquerors. There is even a conquest museum! We see the remains of some classic ‘Trek’ characters, like Gul Dukat, General Martok and Sarek – all apparently murdered by a Confederacy force led by Picard, who wants a ‘pure’ world according to a recording of a speech . Subtle!

“It’s the only life you understand,” Q tells Picard. But maybe Q is grumpier than usual because, as Picard points out, he’s not well.

It’s unclear exactly what Q is trying to show Picard, as Picard has never been particularly violent. For the most part, he always tried to find peaceful solutions. But “Trek” has never been shy about politics. The parallels between the white nationalists who have made headlines in recent years and what Evil Picard describes are obvious. Separately, it hardly seems incidental that the Eradication Day rally near the end of the episode is reminiscent of rallies led by former President Donald J. Trump, with the crowd chanting Picard’s name.

Seven of Nine is married and head of the Confederacy. (Hey, at least she got a promotion.) Rios is a colonel. Elnor is a rebel. Raffi is somewhere in between. Jurati manages the “eradication” process – and has a digital cat named after Data’s, Spot. She deduces that there has been a corruption in the timeline. We wonder if Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan will make another appearance this season, since Guinan and Q have their own history.

Elnor’s appearance made me laugh because when he appears in the new reality he is 100% okay with the uprising, even though he doesn’t know anything about it or why he’s here to begin with . It matches his character pretty well. He has a strong moral sense, no matter how much information he has.

The Borg Queen also made the trip. She tells Picard that a single decision made in 2024 had lasting consequences for the entire galaxy. (I wonder if there’s something going on in our 2024 that the show alludes to!) By the way, Q is the only reason the Enterprise has ever encountered the Borg, so thanks for that, man.

A weird moment comes when Picard deduces ways to go back in time and mentions that Kirk’s Enterprise has done it “on more than one occasion”. Why didn’t he mention that his own Company was going back in time in “First Contact”, the best “Next Generation” movie?

Occasional puzzles aside, the first two chapters of this season have been ambitious and compelling. Good to see that Picard can still handle a phaser. The episode ends with Seven of Nine’s fake husband discovering that Picard’s merry band is too merry for this timeline. He fell in love with Seven’s cruelty, not her compassion! His date night idea is genocide, which must have made for an interesting Bumble profile.

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