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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old December 16 2010, 06:19 PM   #1
Too Much Fun
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Q Loves Picard?

I know many of us have always thought of Q as a villain and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" clearly set him up to be a recurring villain right from the first episode, but after watching "Tapestry" again, I'm not sure what to make of him anymore. I've watched this episode more times than I can remember, but this was the first time it occurred to me that maybe Q loves Picard. Think about it. Picard died in this episode. There was no way around that. There wasn't some sci-fi contrivance that simply made us and/or the other characters think he might be dead, only to explain that he never really was at the end (something that was done in other episodes). He was physically dead, with a nasty, nasty burn on his chest, beyond hope of resuscitation by human tools of medicine and technology. If not for Q, there would be no plausible way to restore him from death in that episode.

Despite all of Q's mockery of humans and all the pain Q makes Picard endure in this episode, the bottom line seems to be that Q brings him back from the dead out of affection. Making this realization inspired me to look back on Q's history and as I did, I thought to myself, maybe Q never really was a villain in the first place. The only time I can recall him doing something seriously cruel and villainous was when he allowed the Borg to kill several members of the crew and refused to undo the damage the Borg had caused. He did apparently consider killing Amanda Rogers too, but I don't think he really would have gone through with it. In most other appearances, he didn't do much beyond taunting and/or irritating the crew.

Most importantly, he saved Picard's life. He may have threatened to strand Picard in a miserable existence, but in the end, all he accomplished was save Picard's life and help the man appreciate life and himself more. Doesn't that sound more like something a friend could do? I've been saying for years that I think Q should have been the villain of the tenth film. Now I'm not so sure anymore. Does anyone think he could have still been a villain in a Star Trek movie, or did "Tapestry" squash that possibility? I know he was back to his more spiteful, humanity-mocking ways in "All Good Things..." (which I'm about to watch tonight), but after I watch it again, I doubt it will be enough to change my new perception of Q as a friend to Picard above all else.
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Old December 16 2010, 06:39 PM   #2
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Does Q love Picard? Yes, like a human could love a cat, or probably more accurataly, a pet amoeba. Still, it's love nonetheless.

In fact, it's clear to me that, beyond all the mocking and putting down, Q likes humans, and feels some kind of connection with them, and especially with Picard (who's the perfect "straight man" for his antics). In fact, I've long felt that he's kinda envious of the human condition, since in the show it's strongly suggested that humans are the new kids on the block, with a stellar but still largely untapped potential, while Q are more or less on a evolutionary dead-end, able to do almost anything but bored beyond recovery (something that is further explored in VOY even if with flawed results in my opinion).

As for Q being a villain, I don't think he's ever been portrayed as such, starting from Encounter at Fairpoint. He puts obstacles in the way of our crew with the explicit purpose of having them overtaken by them. It's his way (cruel but effective) to teach humanity a lesson (this is extremely clear in Q Who and All Good things..., for example). To me, Q is far from being a villain: ironically, he could be humanity's best friend, guiding them to greatness. Our own "guardian devil".
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Old December 16 2010, 06:48 PM   #3
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Too Much Fun wrote: View Post
Picard died in this episode. There was no way around that. There wasn't some sci-fi contrivance that simply made us and/or the other characters think he might be dead, only to explain that he never really was at the end (something that was done in other episodes). He was physically dead, with a nasty, nasty burn on his chest, beyond hope of resuscitation by human tools of medicine and technology. If not for Q, there would be no plausible way to restore him from death in that episode.
Actually there's a very easy way around that. The claim that Picard died in "Tapestry" came exclusively from Q himself. It was never independently corroborated. At the end, when Picard awoke on the table, Beverly told him simply, "You've been injured." Yes, he had a burn on his chest, but people have recovered from far worse burns. Yes, he was in cardiac arrest and his respiratory system was shutting down, but 24th-century medicine has saved people from worse than that (remember, in "The Neutral Zone," Beverly brought back three people who were actually dead, and did so in a matter of minutes).

So the only reason to accept that Picard actually died in that episode is if you implicitly trust Q's word. And if you think you can do that, then I have a beach resort on Exo III to sell you.


On the other hand, you're right that Q wasn't simply a villain. He liked to play games with lesser beings, often sadistically, but he was capable of a degree of fondness for them as well. As Data said in "All Good Things...," he tended to treat Picard like a favorite pet.

If you look at Q's arc throughout TNG, it looks as though the Continuum assigned him to test humanity and assess their capacity for advancement, but he turned out to be poorly chosen for the assignment because of his capricious, often sadistic way of behaving toward inferior beings. He was punished for it by exile from the Collective, and maybe learned some grudging respect toward humanity while he was living among them. After that, he mostly seemed to toy with Picard or go on assignments like dealing with Amanda Rogers, but ultimately it turned out that the test had never ended.

So I'd say his assigned goals were neither benevolent nor malevolent; his job was to assess humanity's readiness, and how he would treat them depended on how they performed. And if he lost his objectivity and took a personal stake in the lives of some of his lab rats, whether positively or negatively, that reflected his own tendency toward self-gratification. He wasn't a good guy or a bad guy; he was an immature, capricious god who'd been assigned as humanity's parole officer, in a sense. Which is something that could go either way for the humans under his influence.
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Old December 16 2010, 07:07 PM   #4
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Your points actually make me wish Q was in a Star Trek movie all over again, because it would have been refreshing to see the crew pitted against someone who was less a traditional antagonist and more just an ambiguous character who challenges and tests them intriguingly.

As for the uncertainty of Picard's condition, I guess we've interpreted it differently. From the futile attempts of Crusher to revive him at the beginning of the episode (before the screen is consumed by white light and most of the episode takes place in the past), I was absolutely certain that Crusher had definitively tried and failed to save his life. Her saying he was "injured" came across to me as her simply being unaware of the fact that Q, rather than any of her efforts, is the reason Picard has recovered.

We've seen before that Q's seemingly infinite powers can easily blind others to what's going on around them, so it's conceivable that he could have influenced her memory and perception to not realize just how critical Picard's condition was. Like I said, though, it's open to different interpretations.
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Old December 16 2010, 07:30 PM   #5
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

That's just my point. You can interpret it as Picard actually dying, but there's no actual proof of that. So to say there's no possible way around it is simply wrong. There is a way around it, and that's simply to assume that Q lied.
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Old December 16 2010, 07:44 PM   #6
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Part of the mystery of Q is that we really don't know if Picard was mortally wounded in that blast, or if Q was merely pretending that Picard had been killed. There's really not enough information to tell for certain. However, it's my feeling that Picard was gravely wounded, but not mortally. Upon Q noticing Picard's severe injury (he could have very well known this by sensing the future event and waiting for it), he sought to use this as a "teaching event" for Picard... because for all he knew, he was severely injured and could very well die from it.

I'm not so certain that an omnipotent being like Q would consider the human race a bunch of pets. No, once there's a certain level of sentience, there is a degree of appreciation and respect. Q has a tendency to leave respect behind somewhat, but he certainly does have an appreciation. We've seen that on several occasions, from what he has said and his persistent appearances to Starfleet captains. And remember, he even offered Riker the chance to become a Q. Would you elevate a pet or creature of sheer amusement to your own level? I think not.

Q appreciates Picard for what he is. He definitely recognizes him as an exceptional human being, however flawed he may be. And it is those flaws that he teases Picard about. My memory doesn't serve me well about this, but I do remember something about Q mentioning that the human race is progressing faster than they expected... and that the Q continuum is indeed concerned about that. So again, he isn't looking at Picard and crew as pets, but more as future higher level beings that the continuum will have to contend with.
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Old December 16 2010, 08:54 PM   #7
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Gary7 wrote: View Post
I'm not so certain that an omnipotent being like Q would consider the human race a bunch of pets. No, once there's a certain level of sentience, there is a degree of appreciation and respect.
But how do you define sentience? Modern cognitive science is increasingly demonstrating that sentience is a continuum, that many animals show a greater degree of self-awareness and cognitive complexity than we have recognized or been willing to admit. There's abundant evidence to demonstrate that great apes, dolphins, and maybe elephants are intelligent, self-aware beings, and yet our society still keeps them in zoos or circuses, and some keep baby chimps as pets. So even within our species, there's no consensus on what actually constitutes a level of sapience worthy of personhood. To a Q, humanity's ability to write books and build starships may be no more impressive than a chimp's ability to learn sign language or fish for termites with a stick is to the many humans who are aware of such skills but still dismiss the notion that anything nonhuman could be truly sapient.
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Old December 17 2010, 12:16 AM   #8
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Was it ever said what Q stands for? Something like Q'oni or Quara or something? Or is it just Q?
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Old December 17 2010, 12:18 AM   #9
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Chick_McGeester wrote: View Post
Was it ever said what Q stands for? Something like Q'oni or Quara or something? Or is it just Q?
It is just Q.

[I admit I was stalking this topic.]
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Old December 17 2010, 01:00 AM   #10
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Chick_McGeester wrote: View Post
Was it ever said what Q stands for?
My understanding has always been that it represented his role as a questioner, an inquisitor holding humanity up to judgment. There's a passage in my TNG novel The Buried Age that offers an explanation along those lines. I can't recall the source I got that impression from, though. No explanation was ever given for the name onscreen.
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Old December 17 2010, 01:10 AM   #11
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Gary7 wrote: View Post
I'm not so certain that an omnipotent being like Q would consider the human race a bunch of pets. No, once there's a certain level of sentience, there is a degree of appreciation and respect.
But how do you define sentience? Modern cognitive science is increasingly demonstrating that sentience is a continuum, that many animals show a greater degree of self-awareness and cognitive complexity than we have recognized or been willing to admit. There's abundant evidence to demonstrate that great apes, dolphins, and maybe elephants are intelligent, self-aware beings, and yet our society still keeps them in zoos or circuses, and some keep baby chimps as pets. So even within our species, there's no consensus on what actually constitutes a level of sapience worthy of personhood. To a Q, humanity's ability to write books and build starships may be no more impressive than a chimp's ability to learn sign language or fish for termites with a stick is to the many humans who are aware of such skills but still dismiss the notion that anything nonhuman could be truly sapient.
Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that can record information outside of themselves. This made it possible to retain and disseminate information far beyond verbal and physical recitation. It is a level of sentience that allows us to make tremendous technological strides far beyond the other highly intelligent (relatively speaking) creatures around us like dolphins, chimps and elephants. This isn't to say that someday dolphins may be able to do this. Who knows what kinds of progression is going on in their minds. Perhaps one day they will be telekinetic. I'm guessing you're just making a joke with respect to the ability to create starships being no more impressive than a chimp using sign language.
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Old December 17 2010, 04:30 AM   #12
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Gary7 wrote: View Post
Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that can record information outside of themselves.
Yes, and that's a distinction that matters to us. A very alien being of a different order of intelligence might not agree with us about the significance of that distinction.


I'm guessing you're just making a joke with respect to the ability to create starships being no more impressive than a chimp using sign language.
No, I'm saying that it's unwise to assume that profoundly alien beings define their priorities and boundaries the same way we do -- especially when human beings can disagree among themselves about what boundaries are most significant. Don't take it for granted that your assumptions are universally shared even within humanity, let alone beyond it. It's always wise to consider the possibility that others might disagree with the definitions you see as axiomatic.
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Old December 19 2010, 03:55 PM   #13
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Of course Q loved Picard, he mentions him in almost every episode he appears in.

And I'm not unconvinced that it's not actually every episode.
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Old December 19 2010, 05:26 PM   #14
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Actually there's a very easy way around that. The claim that Picard died in "Tapestry" came exclusively from Q himself. It was never independently corroborated. At the end, when Picard awoke on the table, Beverly told him simply, "You've been injured." Yes, he had a burn on his chest, but people have recovered from far worse burns. Yes, he was in cardiac arrest and his respiratory system was shutting down, but 24th-century medicine has saved people from worse than that (remember, in "The Neutral Zone," Beverly brought back three people who were actually dead, and did so in a matter of minutes).

So the only reason to accept that Picard actually died in that episode is if you implicitly trust Q's word. And if you think you can do that, then I have a beach resort on Exo III to sell you.
And to do that, you have to believe that Q actually appeared in the episode. I've always assumed the whole sequence was a fevered dream brought on by the near-death experience.
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Old December 19 2010, 05:29 PM   #15
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Re: Q Loves Picard?

Shon T'Hara wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote:
So the only reason to accept that Picard actually died in that episode is if you implicitly trust Q's word. And if you think you can do that, then I have a beach resort on Exo III to sell you.
And to do that, you have to believe that Q actually appeared in the episode. I've always assumed the whole sequence was a fevered dream brought on by the near-death experience.
And you think that because...?
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