Star Trek: The Next Generation: Qpid   Rewatch 
February 22, 2021 10:48 AM - Season 4, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Q picks up on romantic tensions between Captain Picard and an old flame, transporting them and the senior officers into a representation of Robin Hood.

I believe you were about to tell me that Memory Alpha is as mysterious as the stars.

Story and script
  • The idea for the Picard-Vash-Q love triangle was proposed by Randee Russell. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 161))
  • According to Michael Piller, "While we were trying to break it, someone said let's throw these characters into one of the classic love stories." Ira Steven Behr had initially proposed setting this episode at Camelot. On Behr's suggestion, Piller changed it to Sherwood Forest to capitalize on the popularity of Robin Hood at the time, thanks to the release of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in which Christian Slater performed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 161); Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 219)
  • Ira Steven Behr thought the Camelot idea would have been boring. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 201)
  • Michael Piller gave the idea to Ira Steven Behr to develop, as Behr was a huge fan of Robin Hood and, in particular, the Errol Flynn film The Adventures of Robin Hood. (Mission Overview: Year Four, TNG Season 4 DVD special features) Behr, who had left the writing staff at the end of the third season, remembered, "I got a call from Michael about doing 'Qpid', and he wanted to know if I wanted to do it. I came in, we met, went off, wrote it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 28)
  • Michael Piller elaborated, "It just seemed to be that Robin Hood and his band of merry men was a very nice group to put our guys into, and then we just played it for fun. That was what was so great about the fourth season and wasn't so great about the fifth season. Each week you were never quite sure what was going to come on." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 219)
  • Ira Steven Behr wrote Worf's smashing of La Forge's mandolin, and subsequent non-sequitur apology, as an homage to National Lampoon's Animal House. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 161))
Production
  • "Qpid" was filmed between Wednesday 6 February 1991 and Friday 15 February 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16, as well as on location. A second unit insert shot with Brent Spiner's photo double Guy Vardaman was filmed on Wednesday 10 April 1991 on Paramount Stage 8.
  • The scenes of Sherwood Forest were filmed with one day location shooting on Tuesday 12 February 1991 in the Descanso Gardens, northeast of northeastern Los Angeles suburb Glendale. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 161)) Several close-ups of the actors were later filmed outside Paramount Stage 16.
  • During the filming of this episode, Jonathan Frakes suffered a cut eye when his prop quarterstaff broke after being hit by a sword, and had to be taken to the hospital by Merri Howard. However, due to the rush, he was taken in his Robin Hood-era clothes. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 161); Selected Crew Analysis: Year Four – Profile: Vash, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
  • While filming one scene where Vash paces back and forth, Jennifer Hetrick tripped over her dress. According to Hetrick, the shot was kept as the producers figured that Vash would not be comfortable in a period costume. (Mission Overview: Year Four, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
  • Ironically, Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden were the only members of the cast that were trained in sword fighting, but only the men were allowed to use swords. (Mission Overview: Year Four, TNG Season 4 DVD special features)
    • McFadden commented, "Marina and I have always laughed about the fact that both of us can do fencing and that sort of thing. We're the ones who bash pots over warrior's heads, instead of doing karate or whatever." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 219)
    • Director Cliff Bole noted, "I got a few letters about 'Qpid' that the women who wrote asked why weren't the ladies involved in a more modern way with the fighting. It was my feeling that we went back to the 12th century and we were doing the 12th century, and I can't change history." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 219)
  • Picard's reaction to the first encounter between Vash and Beverly Crusher in the finished episode differs markedly in tone from the script. In the final draft script he simply introduces Crusher and also immediately confirms they met on Risa. In the actual episode, he stumbles "Beverly…Dr. Beverly…Dr. Beverly Crusher" and initially exclaims "No" about the Risa suggestion, until affirming it two times.
Cast and characters
  • Jennifer Hetrick made her second of three appearances as Vash. She appears again in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "Q-Less". In "Q-Less", O'Brien refers to "Qpid" when Commander Sisko asks him how Vash knows Picard. O'Brien tells him: "I believe they actually met in Sherwood Forest".
  • After the comedic "Deja Q", John de Lancie asked the producers to give his character more "bite", as in early appearances. "Then came the Robin Hood one and I tried quite a bit actually to bend the words and the story to make it as malevolent as possible, but it had quite a bit of a fantasy quality to it. It really didn't lend itself to that 'mad, bad, and dangerous to know' quality , but I tried to make it that." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 263)
  • Clive Revill (Sir Guy of Gisbourne) appeared in both an episode of Star Trek and a Star Wars film. He supplied the voice of Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, although in the DVD release he was replaced by Ian McDiarmid, who played the emperor in all the other movies.
Poster's log:

I've pointed out a couple of times that I'm not a fan of the "twinkling" teasing and gloating that pops up on the show from time to time. This one, though - Crusher's barely contained glee at Picard's discomfiture when she appears at breakfast and Vash's delight at getting the upper hand on Riker fit pretty well into the characters as we know them. And the Vash/Riker sparring, short as it is, is one of my favorite bits of the episode.

Kudos to Frakes for the deadpan on "I'll alert the crew".

I do wish they had identified which of the Merry Men Troi and Crusher were meant to represent. We get the names for all the male characters, but not the women.

Picard reappears on the conference room stage and... nothing? The Society members watched him and his crew vanish and didn't alert security? Has no-one actually noticed that the entire senior staff is gone?

Poster's Log, Supplemental:

I haven't rewatched this one in a long time and, in some ways, I wish I hadn't. It held up better in my memory than it did on screen this time around. The pop culture references, especially, feel flat now, even though I really only remembered the Animal House callback coming into it (there's also Picard's homage to "Princess Bride" with the line "I'm not from Nottingham", and I think Riker's "I'll alert the crew" may be calling back to Sir John Gielgud in the 1981 Dudley Moore movie "Arthur").

Vash is a wonderful character, and I'm glad we got another chance for her to interact with Picard. We'll see her again, one more time, on Deep Space Nine.

The episode is a fun relief after the seriousness of "Night Terrors" and "The Nth Degree" and is sort of the Platonic ideal of a "Q" episode, but this rewatch has pulled it out of my list of favorites.
posted by hanov3r (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have always had a fondness for this episode despite it clearly being one of the dopiest of the Berman era. (It's nowhere near as dopey as plennnnty of TOSes.)

Possibly the weirdest thing about "Qpid" is the fact (as hanov3r notes) that it's got at least two direct pop-culture references in it. How often does THAT happen in TNG?

Anyway, this is the sort of freewheeling "fun" episode that
• TNG needed to have every now and then, to offset the generally serious tone of the show;
• DS9 had a little more often, and probably needed more often too, since it got MORE serious than TNG a lot of the time;
• DS9 tried to do maybe a little too soon with the tonally-similar season 1 episode "Move Along Home," often called one of, if not THE, worst of DS9;
• VOY did fewer of than DS9, but VOY didn't need as much as DS9;
• and ENT really needed but never, ever did.

If you want to know what it feels like to gamemaster a successful tabletop RPG adventure, watch Q here. I always giggle a lot when rewatching this episode, but this time it was mostly at Q. His reaction to Vash's letter is the exact sort of glee that a GM often feels in response to players' plans, but which the GM also must often suppress so as not to give too much away to the players. And now that I think about it, I'm almost certain I've used the "I have no more idea what's going to happen than you do" line on my players, and quite often I'm not even lying.

Q returns three times in TNG. Q's next appearance in TNG is "True Q," roughly two years from "Qpid," and Q and Vash appear together "a few months later" (per MA) in the sole DS9 Q episode, "Q-Less." This suggests that Vash and Q spend some time apart during their cosmic misadventures, which (A) makes sense in connection with the plot of "Q-Less" and (B) is trivial to mention anyway, since we know that Q can at least adjust the subjective flow of time.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:03 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


This is another ep where I've been aware of the ep well before I watched it, and part of the lessening of the impact, aside from that, is the time compression of the rewatch--we've been hitting them 2x/week, with no summer break, and so "Hollow Pursuits" was only three months ago (and seems even less than that to me, because of the weird subjective time distortions of the pandemic)--and since this ep is very holodeck-malfunctionish, it's another wacky costume caper with a different time period. (We also had Reg's Cyrano de Bergerac scenes last ep; that seems to have been done with physical sets, costumes and props, and I wonder if that was in part to avoid having two holodeck costume drama eps in a row.) It was fun, even with the bits that I already knew about ("I am not a merry man!" and the Animal House bit), and even with the retroactive disappointment that the two actresses who actually knew how to swashbuckle didn't get to. (Geez, show.) Especially since the next ep is so damn intense. The one bit that I didn't know about ahead of time that was pretty funny was Data casually pulling the arrow out of his chest.

I generally agree with COB about the pattern of humor eps in the other shows. One thing about the DS9 humor eps is that they tended to find some fairly serious topics embedded in the humor: racism in "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", Sisko being baited into nearly ruining the game in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", meeting your idols in "Trials and Tribble-ations", practically all of the Quark/Ferengi-centric eps. TOS' humor episodes, on the other hand, tended to have some serious, fairly meaty SF premises: incipient ecological disaster due to an invasive species in "The Trouble with Tribbles", a demonstration of the need for the Prime Directive in "A Piece of the Action", a robot rebellion being done allegedly for the organics' own good in "I, Mudd", and a few different things in "Spock's Brain", but the show just didn't take those premises very seriously.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I totally get why this one would feel disappointing on the rewatch, hanov3r. I was actually happy about watching it again, because it contains two of my favorite Worf moments ("Sir, I protest--I am NOT a Merry Man!" and of course the mandolin smashing, which, since I never paid Animal House any mind, I didn't connect as a reference). But the sexism really does it a major disservice: while I am glad they went with Beverly just being delighted to find something personal about JL and getting some digs in rather than framing it as a jealousy thing, most of the stuff with Vash as Maid Marian just grinds my gears, as does the fact that the women are unnamed as part of Robin Hood's band.

And then there's this: Director Cliff Bole noted, "I got a few letters about 'Qpid' that the women who wrote asked why weren't the ladies involved in a more modern way with the fighting. It was my feeling that we went back to the 12th century and we were doing the 12th century, and I can't change history." Fuuuuccckkk yoooouuuu, mr director man, you misogynist piece of crap. Especially learning that Sirtis and McFadden knew how to fence! Ugh. Show, why do you make it so hard to love you.

(I enjoyed seeing Clive Revill again, I'd totally forgotten he was in it. I never quite got over them replacing him in Star Wars.)
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:11 PM on February 22 [8 favorites]


I have to admit, I was not enthusiastic going into this one. I never liked Q much when I was watching these as a kid, and the Vash/Picard relationship doesn't really click for me. The first third of the episode just seemed like it was telegraphing where it was going: the Forbidden Temples of Tagus III. Everyone's just dying to know what the hell's going on down there, why it was shut down, and why the brain trust of the Federation is so interested. And Vash wants the jewels, of course. Which is why it was such a pleasure when all the delegates sit down, but then suddenly

BOOP silly hat

followed by BOOP silly hat again

and then BOOP BOOP BOOP and it suddenly becomes clear that no, we're not going to find out about the Ancient Laptop Bags of Targus III, and no we're not raiding temples for ancient weapons or jewels or star maps of lost civilizations, and no Picard is not going to get to deliver that well-ordered and very adequate speech thank you, because Q is all SADDLE UP BITCHES, WE'RE GOING TO THE RENAISSANCE FAIR and I am 100% on board. Is it goofy? Yes. It is so, so goofy. This is what I liked about TOS: no matter how stupid, they always committed to the bit.

I object to the idea that Worf's apology is a "non-sequitur". Having an impulsive angry outburst and then immediately apologizing to another officer is the most in-character Worf thing possible.

This is the second episode in a row where Picard just seems kind of Not So Interested in Actually Exploring Brave New Worlds. They've spent all this screen time on this idea that Picard has a real interest in archaeology, and Q is like "hey, let's go check out the most insane corners of the universe" and Picard isn't even tempted. Vash, on the other hand, is all "fuck yes i'm gonna grab my hat". Maybe that's why the relationship doesn't work; Vash isn't a huuuuuuge stuffy hypocrite. I'm with Q on this; take the stick out, Jean-Luc.
posted by phooky at 12:12 PM on February 22 [12 favorites]


It was my feeling that we went back to the 12th century and we were doing the 12th century, and I can't change history."

*has wardrobe create bright red, orange, and green tights for the cast*
posted by skewed at 12:40 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]


As much as I love this episode, it has always stuck in my craw that while Geordi is Sulu-ing all over the place in that last scene, the two Starfleet trained women were relegated to flower pots. Now that I learn about Sirtis and McFadden were actually trained in fencing... Jesus Christ. That's just beyond ridiculous.

And another detail I noticed during a recent rewatch: After Data causes the explosion with his wrist nitro supply, he completely disappears. I guess seeing the super strong android just plow through Nottingham guards would have been stealing everyone else's thunder.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:53 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Oh! I almost forgot one of my other fave things about this: that they didn't even try with Vash's first outfit. It couldn't be more late '80s, with the sheer black stockings, low-heel pumps, and the asymmetrical black dress, and I laughed and laughed because they were like "Hundreds of years in the future? Pshaw. Let's get wardrobe from whatever movie's shooting next door." Hilar. (It works perfectly of a match with Beverly's aerobics teacher post-class morning outfit.)
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:54 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Beverly's aerobics teacher post-class morning outfit

I really love that sweater on her, though.

Data casually pulling the arrow out of his chest

I avoided talking about Troi's archery because I'm not sure if it was just stage direction or Marina trying her best but, as a guy who regularly uses a bow to shoot my friends, watching her plink the string was a little... painful. (And how does Data know enough about archery to be trying to teach her?)
posted by hanov3r at 2:01 PM on February 22


it suddenly becomes clear that no, we're not going to find out about the Ancient Laptop Bags of Targus III

Now I'm wondering if the mystery of Targus III is something Q did that he's really embarrassed about, and he threw the whole Robin Hood thing together to distract Picard before he figures it out.
posted by bigge at 2:21 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


The Greatest Generation seemed to think that this episode was really promising until we arrived in Sherwood Forest. I really disagree. Maybe its partly the result of my being pretty unhappy with the previous Vash episode, but...

* I'm not buying that Picard, #1 captain in Starfleet of the #1 ship, expert in Klingon law and culture, etc. etc., is also taken seriously writing papers on some difficult archeology thing. Is this some kind of therapy while he recovers from his trauma with the Borg? Where does he find the time? I thought his free time was spent riding horses on the holodeck or taking a nap in Dixon Hill's office.

* Knowing that this was going to be a Q episode, I was expecting the mysterious presence in the Captain's quarters to be Q, but it's...Vash? She doesn't have the ability to fold her arms and blink into another room, right? Can we talk about security on this ship? Anyway, this kind of stalker move should be red flag #1, Jean-Luc.

* "You didn't tell your friends about me?" Am I the only one who doesn't think it's that weird that the Captain wasn't bragging about how he scored on Risa? This sort of manipulative talk should be red flag #2, but instead Picard gets all apologetic.

(I do wonder if, when he got back from Risa, he filled out a report with Starfleet about how he saved the space-time continuum or whatever)

* When Picard finally does accuse Vash of being immoral and not his type, it feels a few beats too late.

* It feels really wrong how late Q shows up in a Q episode. And that's on top of the normal wrongness of a Q episode.

I liked some of the stupid-but-fun gags in Sherwood Forest, but I think the one really good thing about this episode is that Vash had quickly figured out how to con her way of of prison, and Picard just fucks it up.
posted by polecat at 2:22 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


"I got a few letters about 'Qpid' that the women who wrote asked why weren't the ladies involved in a more modern way with the fighting. It was my feeling that we went back to the 12th century and we were doing the 12th century, and I can't change history."

Klingons and androids, on the other hand, were clearly sword-fighting all over the place in merry old England.
posted by Pryde at 2:26 PM on February 22 [4 favorites]


* When Picard finally does accuse Vash of being immoral and not his type, it feels a few beats too late.

I'm sure I noted this previously, but the way our super-upstanding bridge crew, who are repeatedly shown as being against interfering with cultures even to save the from certain destruction, are pretty much cool with Vash stealing cultural works. They're against the profit motive when the Ferengi do it. They were huge snots to the business tycoon guy in 'The Neutral Zone'. If Vash steals relics for money, it's just a little bit naughty. Did she renounce Federation citizenship in order to skirt the applicable laws or something? No outstanding arrest warrants that Worf would be obligated to serve?
posted by StarkRoads at 2:45 PM on February 22


When i first saw this one back in the day and then seeing it several different times over time, I accepted the basic premise: Picard doesn't share his feelings as we all know and Vash is not pleased that their relationship isn't shared with Picard's close associates. But watching tonight and having read or watched other things over the years involving captains and their crews, I have more sympathy for Picard and less for Vash.

Overall this one is okay. It's entertaining and holds the attention. Q of course is the main selling point for me.

Reading the comments above, I've been thinking... Is this the first appearance of Picard's fascination with archaeology? I suppose the Dixon Hill angle could only get the writers so far before it got stale and they needed something new for Picard to do during his time off.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:07 PM on February 22


Can we talk about security on this ship?
Oh, yes. Yes we can! Let's talk about security on this ship! Let's start with "who has access to the captain's quarters". Off the top of my head, we got:
* old flames
* weird kids raised by murderous space-wolves
* con artists who pretend to be the devil and want to get into Picard's pants
* aliens who want to abduct the captain and replace him with a clone
* captain's clone
At least it's better than the holodeck, right? uncomfortable wink

I also appreciate that the computer, which apparently can tell you where anyone on the ship is at any time, chooses not to let anyone know when someone disappears until asked.
posted by phooky at 7:46 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Is this the first appearance of Picard's fascination with archaeology?

I know when he first met Vash on Risa he was having a good time with his Indiana Jones adventure. I think there was some other time where he seemed interested in an archeological mystery that came into the plot, but it seemed like a fleeting thing. Can't remember details.

con artists who pretend to be the devil and want to get into Picard's pants

Yeah, they sneered at that lady for having a cheap knockoff of Romulan technology, but it seemed like she was running circles around them for quite awhile.
posted by polecat at 8:48 PM on February 22


as a guy who regularly uses a bow to shoot my friends

...dude, what?

Klingons and androids, on the other hand, were clearly sword-fighting all over the place in merry old England.

Or inventing holidays elsewhere.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:54 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I think there was some other time where he seemed interested in an archeological mystery that came into the plot, but it seemed like a fleeting thing. Can't remember details.
Picard's interest in the thousand-year-old Promelian battle cruiser in "Booby Trap"?
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 10:15 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Vash is a wonderful character,

Absolutely, Top 3 easily
posted by Bwithh at 11:30 PM on February 22


> as a guy who regularly uses a bow to shoot my friends

...dude, what?


Oh, I'm a LARP nerd. We're a full-contact combat sport, and I'm usually used as artillery.
posted by hanov3r at 7:22 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I just realized that this episode is so special that no one's even mentioned Worf's bizarre "good house, nice legs" moment. Anyway, that happened.
posted by phooky at 7:57 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG are thinner on the ground than expected:

His Honor, The High Sheriff of Nottingham provides a pretty effective means of utilizing captives, say, from a Mandarin Bailiff. Worf can prevent that; he assures us I Am Not a Merry Man! Ar-Q-ologist is a bit different from the Q cards mentioned previously, simply providing some deck recycling for the player using it if the opponent fails.

The most notable card is undeniably Second Edition's Pinned Down , which was featured in the starter decks and very commonly added to dilemma piles throughout the game's run. As your ability to complete missions depended on the skills and attributes of your crew, more is inherently better, so cards like PD were used to make it more attractive to choose a crew of 9 personnel strategically rather than just sending ever card in play.

Generic support cards Science PADD and the weirdly photoshopped Van Orten round out the lot. The saturation/brightness just seems a bit too high.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:58 AM on February 23


I'm sure I noted this previously, but the way our super-upstanding bridge crew, who are repeatedly shown as being against interfering with cultures even to save the from certain destruction, are pretty much cool with Vash stealing cultural works.

Unless I missed a scene, they don’t know that. Only Picard knows about Vash’s hustle and as we’ve seen, he did not tell anyone anything about her. Presumably, none of the federation archaeology council know of her crimes either, since she’s able to move among them without raising any alarm (it’s not clear whether or not she’s on the council, she may even be a respected academic by day).

Why though, why are they holding a prestigious archaeology conference at (or just in orbit of?) a planet that is closed to archaeologists? Feels a bit like having military “exercises” just over the border or doing the “I’m not touching you” thing. Not cool, federats.
posted by rodlymight at 6:55 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Why though, why are they holding a prestigious archaeology conference at (or just in orbit of?) a planet that is closed to archaeologists? Feels a bit like having military “exercises” just over the border or doing the “I’m not touching you” thing.

Very interesting point. The dialogue suggests that one specific ruins site is closed to outsiders, not necessarily the whole planet. But it would be in keeping with the cultural imperialism that the Federation has been accused of to park the conference there, on the flagship, in a naggy, sad-puppy-face sort of move. And w/r/t THIS story, I've always interpreted the Enterprise hosting the conference as a way to signal to the audience that Picard isn't a total archaeology dilettante. But, knowing nothing about the academic culture of archaeology, that may be naive of me.

Along those lines, there's a TNG novel called The Buried Age IIRC that answers the question "what did Picard do between losing the Stargazer and getting the Enterprise?" and the answer is "archaeology stuff."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:40 AM on February 24 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised that nobody at Starfleet HQ has had the entire bridge crew committed given all the seemingly unhinged reports they must be submitting.

Vash shows up out of nowhere, shortly followed by Q, you all get transported to 12th century England on Earth, kill a bunch of people, including a nobleman, then get transported back home. Then Vash just disappears into the ether? What..?

Do you have any idea what you might have done to the timeline if this story isn't just some shared hallucination?

The Enterprise must be doing some damn good work off screen for command to put up with it all.
posted by wierdo at 12:24 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Where's the archery contest?

The whole women-wouldn't-have-done-that-in-the-12th-century bit is the sort of defense usually offered by someone who hasn't actually checked what actually would've been done in the 12th century. (And rather a non sequitur to the situation at hand.)
posted by ckape at 10:09 PM on March 3


« Older Last Week Tonight with John Ol...   |  The Great Pottery Throw Down: ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments