Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989): S02E16 – Q Who


“Q Who” is the 16th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode first aired in broadcast syndication on 05 May 1989.

It was written by executive producer Maurice Hurley and directed by Rob Bowman. “Q Who” marked the first appearance of the Borg, who were designed by Hurley and originally intended to appear in the first season episode “The Neutral Zone“.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the omnipotent entity known as “Q” (John de Lancie) arrives on the Enterprise and decides that Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is ignorant and overconfident. Q then sends the ship across the galaxy where the crew make first contact with the cybernetically enhanced assimilating race known as the Borg. After first trying to make peace and then trying to destroy the ship, and failing both, Picard is forced to beg for Q’s help.

Costume designs were created by Dorinda Wood, while Michael Westmore developed the prosthetics worn on the actor’s heads. The designs were reminiscent of creations of H. R. Giger and the character Lord Dread from the television series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. The episode went over budget and nearly required additional filming time. “Q Who” was watched by 10.3 million viewers. It was nominated for three Emmy Awards, winning two.


On his way back to his quarters, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) steps off a turbolift and instead of finding himself in a corridor onboard the Enterprise, ends up on board a shuttlecraft with Q (John de Lancie) at the controls. Picard demands to be returned to the Enterprise; Q calls him “an impossibly stubborn human” and refuses to take him back until he agrees to at least hear Q’s requests. Q then transports them to Ten Forward, where Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), who recognises him, warns Picard not to trust him. Q reveals that he wants to join the crew to assist them as they push further into unexplored regions of the galaxy, asserting they are not ready for the threats they will encounter. Picard chooses to make their own way into the unknown, and rejects Q’s offer. Irritated by Picard’s arrogance, Q instantaneously sends the Enterprise thousands of light years across the galaxy, then disappears. Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) reports that the nearest starbase is over two years away at maximum warp. A fearful Guinan warns Picard to set course for home immediately, but Picard is curious to explore.

The crew discover a nearby planet that shows signs of a previous civilisation but has been stripped of all industrial and mechanical elements, similar to destruction found several months ago to Federation outposts bordering the Romulan Neutral Zone. Moments later, they detect and are then met by a large, cube-shaped vessel which does not answer their hails. Guinan warns Picard that the ship belongs to the Borg, a powerful, cyborg-like race that nearly wiped out her people, scattering the survivors across the galaxy, and again urges Picard to leave immediately or face certain destruction. Though Picard orders the Enterprise’s shields raised, a single, speechless Borg transports into Engineering and begins to probe the Enterprise’s computer systems. Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) initially attempts to incapacitate the intruder with his phaser set on stun, which has no effect. Worf is forced to use the kill setting in order to neutralise the Borg. Immediately afterwards, a second Borg appears and continues probing the computer, now proving to be completely immune to phaser fire. Completing its mission, it strips several components from the dead Borg, then transports itself and the dead Borg away. The Borg ship contacts the Enterprise and demands their surrender. The Borg then immobilises the Enterprise with a tractor beam, disables the shields, and uses a cutting beam to slice into the saucer section to remove a cross-section of the ship, killing eighteen people.

Picard orders return fire, and the Enterprise apparently disables the Borg ship. Against Guinan’s advice, Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) takes an away team to the immense Borg cube where they find mostly dormant Borg drones and a Borg nursery. Worf discovers that the Borg ship is regenerating and repairing the damage made by the Enterprise. The away team is beamed directly to the bridge, and Picard orders that they depart at maximum warp. The Borg ship suddenly reactivates and begins pursuit, gaining on the Enterprise. Q appears on the bridge and warns Picard that the Borg will never stop chasing them, and cannot be defeated. Picard attempts to fight back against the Borg to no avail, and finally admits he needs Q’s help. Q obliges, safely returning the Enterprise to its last position in Federation space. Picard, though thankful for Q’s lesson, blames Q for the deaths of his crew. Q disappears, but not before reminding them again of their ill-preparedness. Guinan warns Picard that now that the Borg are aware of the Federation’s presence, they will be coming. Picard reflects that perhaps Q did the right thing for the wrong reasons by bringing forward their encounter with the Borg, as it has informed the Federation what lies ahead of them as they continue to explore.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Rob Bowman.
  • Writer(s): Maurice Hurley.
  • Release Date: 08 May 1989.
  • Running Time: 50 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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