The introduction of the Q
The Q were of course first introduced in TNG in the pilot epsiode “Encounter at Farpoint,” where Q put humanity on trial for being a “savage, child-like race”.
We’ve seen this sort of behaviour from alien species before as Picard pointed out and at this point the Q did not seem (other than their amazing powers) to be anything special.
As Q made more appearances in TNG and later in Voyager (along with other members of the Q continuum) they developed into a fascinating race.
John De Lancie
It wouldn’t be right to talk about Q without briefly discussing the amazing John De Lancie. I think he was absolutely brilliant as Q and along with Patrick Stewart & Brent Spiner managed to out act every other member of the TNG crew.
I’m personally very excited that John De Lancie will be at Star Trek London and I am very excited to meet him and have my photo taken with him 🙂
The origins of the Q
Nothing is known about the origins of the Q race but they are clearly an ancient race.
So, are the Q gods? This is something Wayne and I have discussed at some length on the podcast and I can categorically say that no, they are not.
The Q are a highly advanced species with technology way beyond anything we can even comprehend but that’s it, nothing more.
It is my belief that the Q were once a physical species but over millions or even billions of years had evolved beyond the need for a physical form. During this time they had developed technology which allowed them to manipulate space and time.
It was this technology which made them appear omnipotent. This is a myth which many of the Q liked to promote but as we found out from Quinn in “Death Wish,” the Q were not all powerful, just very, very advanced.
The motives of the Q
In many of the appearances of the Q they seem to be nothing more than sadistic trouble makers who tormented lower races for nothing more than their own sick pleasure. However, if you look below the surface you will begin to understand a little more about their motives.
In the episode “Hide and Q” where Commander Riker is offered the power of the Q, we find out from Q that the continuum is fascinated by the human compulsion to strive for new knowledge, and this is something that the continuum wanted to understand.
Q stated that this drive could one day “in a future you cannot yet conceive” allow humans to advance even beyond the Q themselves which is indeed a rather sobering but very exciting thought.
I think that the Q were for the most part bored and sought ways to entertain themselves. We find out from Quinn in one of my favourite episodes “Death Wish” that the Q had stagnated, they had been everywhere, seen everything and done everything and maybe this explains their love of games and causing mischief, anything to relieve the monotony of their existence.
There are however a number of occasions where we see another side to Q such as in “Tapestry” and “All Good Things” where Q in fact helps Picard to explore possibilities he had never considered. Was this all part of an elaborate game or was he trying to advance humanity in some small way?
He did after all say to Picard that “charting the unknown possibilities of existence” was the journey that awaited humanity.
Not all of the Q are alike
Of course when we think of the Q we think of Q played by John De Lancie but we did meet several other members of the continuum.
During the TNG series we only ever saw 2 other Q, one was Q2 who appeared at the end of the episode “Deja Q” and of course Amanda Rogers from “True Q”.
Q2 we only ever saw for a few minutes and we never saw much of his personality. He struck me as being a carbon copy of the Q we know and love.
Amanda Rogers was interesting but as she only discovered she was actually a Q during this episode we can’t say too much about her personality except to say that eventually she came to accept her existence as a Q and did seem to revel in her new found powers (well, who wouldn’t?).
You can’t talk about the other members of the continuum without talking about Quinn who we meet in “Death Wish” in Star Trek: Voyager.
I loved the character of Quinn. He showed a very different side to the Q and gave us a lot of insight into the continuum as a whole. Without Quinn we would not have seen the continuum and would not have discovered for sure that the Q were not in fact omnipotent.
Quinn also told us more about life as a Q and that he had grown tired of immortality and that without anything new or interesting that his life had become intolerable.
Personally I can’t think of anything worse than being forced to live forever, particularly when, like the Q, you had been everywhere and seen anything. That’s the joy of life: new experiences.
I also enjoyed the female Q played by the wonderful Suzie Plakson. She was just what I expected a female Q to be and I thought that she was a perfect companion for Q. She certainly wasn’t going to take any of Q’s nonsense and it was of course after they produced a child that Q did seem to settle down (at least a little) and take on some responsibilities.
The Q are one of my favourite alien races in Star Trek. I love the Vulcans and the Romulans. Like most of the races we see they are not actually very alien but are in fact representations of some of the facets of human personalities.
The Q however are alien, completely and utterly alien. They are as far removed from humans as humans are from amoeba. Simply having the opportunity to see such a race and try to understand their existence (in as small a way as the puny human mind could) was very compelling.
Personally I would love to see the Q pop up again in a future movie or TV series but to be honest I’m not sure if they should. Like the Borg on Voyager they could end up being demystified and that for me would be a tragedy.
See you “out there.”