TNG: “Pen Pals” and “Q-Who?”

Date: March 22, 2020

Season 2, Episodes 15 and 16

Setting the Stage: I watched both episodes, via Netflix, yesterday with all the fur children, the husband, and our friend Will. We were able to practice social distancing very well and he helped us eat some of the marinara sauce I made. We also watched the introduction because he’s never watched any Star Trek either so Will could hear the words and theme music. It sparked several conversations and thoughts of other science-fiction we have seen and loved. It’s great that these can be stand alone episodes are you aren’t too lost without the context, but it is helpful if you’ve watched the previous two Q episodes. I am also shocked to report that both he and my husband have never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey but since we don’t own it and it’s not streaming, we decided on two TNG episodes instead. I’m wasn’t feeling the greatest mental-health wise today so I started listening to sad music, more specifically some random symphony I found on YouTube. I was then inspired by this version of the Mambo Italiano and started listening to whatever was on “play next” and my mood brightened considerably.

I also happen to know a guy who writes a ton of stuff based in the Star Trek universe (among many other universes). You should check out his ridiculously long list of books and such here. I hear he’s a big fan of Moonstruck and the Yankees.

Favorite Quote from “Pen Pals”:

Picard: Remembrance and regrets, they too are a part of friendship.

Picard dropping some deep knowledge.
The quote above reminded my of this song by Yellowcard.
🎵 And we hoped for the best
And let go of the rest 🎵

“Pen Pals” has the Enterprise exploring new and uncharted space, as its continuing mission states. Riker puts Wesley in charge of the geological survey so that he can get a feel at command. Data is working on a pet project that I’m sure will be important later. Wesley puts together his team and is a ball of panic, but he does ask for advice from quite a few of the bridge crew. Data’s project yielded a communication back, but Picard orders communication to stop and an “all hands” meeting to figure out the geological and moral issues. The bridge crew has a discussion about the prime directive but Picard’s order stands until they hear the plea for help from the voice of what sounds like a little girl.

Princess Leia: "You're my only hope".
Data was her only hope, why do droids have all the fun?

Wesley’s hunch was right and they now know the reason for the geological issue. Data cannot reach his friend due to atmospheric interference and wants to beam down in order to deliver the message where he meets Sarjenka. The child is abnormally attached to Data. Wesley’s plan works and quiets the planet’s issues. Picard wants Sarjenka’s memory wiped and Data delivers her back to her room and leaves her with the Elanin singing stone.

Sarjenka and Data on the bridge
Picard: ” He has brought a child onto my ship and on my Bridge.”

Overall I really liked this episode, I mean it has everything you could want in a show. First, Wesley is getting some hands on experience in leading a team. I would have liked to see him be part of a team before because you have to work on one before you can really lead effectively, but I’m sure it happened off camera. He asks advice and is nervous, but in the end trusts his gut and isn’t too cocky when the plan works. Next we have Data working on his pet project which obviously coincided with Wesley’s geological study – because why not? The discussion of the Prime Directive, the plea for help, and the kidnapping by Data are all so intriguing and integral to how the story plays out. Picard shows his crotchety old man side and Riker tries his best to keep everything on the down low. Ultimately Picard knows what needs to be done and Data is so grateful, but I wonder if Picard would have been so inclined if he had never heard the girl speak? I wonder if her family came back looking for her, or if she was still trapped on the planet alone? I have so many questions that makes me think this deserves an 8 bit byte.

Favorite Quote from “Q-Who?”:

Q: That was a difficult admission. Another man would have been humiliated to say those words. Another man would have rather died than ask for help.

Picard: I understand what you’ve done here, Q, but I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of 18 members of my crew.

Q: If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it’s not for the timid.

As snotty as Q can be, he’s not wrong.

“Q-Who?” starts with an awkward ensign and hot chocolate scene to open the episode, at least she’s nice to the food replicators. As Picard goes to change his uniform he runs into Q. On Ten Forward, Guinan has a feeling and calls the bridge and moments later everyone realizes Picard is no longer on the ship. Q returns him to the ship and Guinan apparently knows him from 200 years ago, she looks good for an old lady. Apparently due to his last encounter, Q is homeless and wants to join the crew of the Enterprise.

Q believes that Starfleet and Picard are arrogant and they aren’t ready for what is out there, so he transports them 7000 light years away. For reference that means the nearest Star Base is two years away at maximum warp – oh my! There is similar damage to what happened at and in “The Neutral Zone” and soon they encounter a cube-like ship with no known life signs that Guinan identifies as “The Borg”.

a cube with writings and etchings and symbols over it, known as the allspark in the Transformers universe.
This is the Allspark from Transformersm notice any similarities?

La Forge identifies an intruder in engineering but they cannot get its attention or shut it down until Picard allows “any means necessary”. Just as it does down, a second materializes but this one has a shield, takes some stuff of its dead friend, and de-materializes. Troi identifies that they have a hive mind and the Enterprise is about to be tractor beamed into the cube-ship. After several laser fires the tractor beam is off but there are 18 crew members now dead. Picard decides to send an away team of Riker, Worf, and Data. The Borg ship has compartments for their members, babies that have artificial implants, and is also repairing itself so Picard tries to get them the hell out of there but the Borg pursue and attack. Picard breaks down to Q, who gets them back where they started and departs with a warning.

"Y U NO Heed my warning" from the Y U NO guy himself
an actual picture of Q, I swear!

As a non-Trekkie who has many Trekkie friends and loved ones, The Borg is an enemy I had heard of, much like the Klingons and the Romulans. It’s one of those pop culture things that transcends those that follow the universe. I sort of assumed they were cyborgs and I am so damn curious to see how they are made/born/work, etc. I also like finding out more about Guinan, she’s becoming a fun supporting character. Her voice is very calming, but I don’t understand why she gave them information piecemeal. Seriously, tell Picard everything right away woman!

Guinan ready to attack
Guinan throwing hands

The episode starts off with a goofy scene and you wonder where it’s headed until Q shows up and you know something is about to go down. There’s a bit of a panic when Picard is missing, but he’s gone for such a short time it’s not too much of a crisis until he shows up with Q and then again it’s a question of “what does he want this time?”. Q, of course, tolerates no arrogance or being told “no”, so he forces them to encounter something they weren’t ready for. Here’s the kicker though, it’s a damn good thing he does this as it gives the Enterprise and Starfleet a head start to prepare them for what they didn’t know before – at least if they’re smart. It’s like in the Avengers when Tony Stark is like “holy hell there ARE aliens” and realizes how under prepared Earth is from external attack. Picard goes from exasperated and annoyed at his newest crew member, to on alert and annoyed with Q, to arrogant, to worried, to desperate, and to relieved all in the span of 40 minutes. If that doesn’t show range of actor and captain, I don’t know what will. I’m sure we’ll see more of the Borg soon, but I won’t know just how important this episode is until I get there. For now, it’s a 9.3x74r which is apparently a type of rifle ammunition and is the topmost searched for thing when you put “9.” in the Google box… fascinating.

TA Out!

Published by njdevil12

I'm just a big city girl living in a not so big city with my fur children and partner.

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