The Good: Humorous, Well-acted, Good concept
The Bad: Repetitive after a point, Occasionally silly character development
The Basics: A generally fun episode, "Deja Q" finds Q as a mortal of flesh and blood and the viewer wondering why no one can think of original ways to prove it.
Every now and then, a show gets an episode name horribly wrong. The writers come up with a title that makes a lot of sense to them, but the people who watch the film never associate with the work. Like Attack of the Clones. Horrible title. "Deja Q" is a similar example from Star Trek The Next Generation. As with Star Trek IV, - which was horribly mistitled - I've never heard anyone refer to this episode as anything other than "The One Where Q Becomes Human."
Actually, he appears as a human almost immediately in the episode. The Enterprise is around a planet whose moon has fallen out of alignment and is causing much mayhem and destruction. The villain Q appears naked on the bridge to reveal that he has been kicked out of the Q Continuum. While the crew works to figure out how to fix the moon's orbit without destroying the satellite or the planet, Q works to convince the crew he is human and powerless to help. Under Data's supervision, Q begins to adapt to being human until an alien race, apparently recognizing Q and remembering how he tormented them, appears to exact revenge on the now-powerless entity.
The problem with "Deja Q" is that it is essentially a one trick pony. That is, it has a simple idea: Q is human. Then it beats that premise into the ground. Q is human, how do you prove it? Worf says "die," Dr. Crusher does a scan and inflicts pain while rubbing his back, Guinan stabs him with a fork. Everything is treated as new and different to Q and it seems silly.
Actually, it seems like a rerun. Perhaps "Deja Q" is an appropriate name for the episode; we've been here before. "Deja Q" is a revisiting of all of the "Data's Growth" episodes that we've been watching for the past two and a half seasons. That is, the episode does nothing terribly original, simply does the same thing that has already been done with a different character. And how does that affect the villainy of Q? Well, it certainly lessens his menace this time around. It's hard to take the character as a serious threat after this.
That's not to say that the episode is without merit. In some ways better than Data's witless, emotionless quest for humanity, Q's sentence of humanity is an emotional, distressing experience. And it works on some level; the crew has a chance to get supreme revenge on an entity that introduced them to the Borg, put them on trial, and tempted them. Here they illustrate their enlightenment. And Q? Q illustrates his utter pettiness, his sense of loss and frustration.
"Deja Q" works, when it does, because it pairs two excellent actors together. John De Lancie and Brent Spiner have both spent a great deal of time playing aloof characters and putting the two characters together gives the actors a chance to expand their characters. De Lancie brings a greater sense of movement to Q than we've seen thus far, Spiner allows Data to do the confidential leaning in. In fact, the characters appear to be kindred spirits and the actors play that to the hilt. Given the caliber of the actors, I doubt that was unintentional.
"Deja Q" is most appreciated by those who are fans of Star Trek The Next Generation. Without having seen any episodes with Q, a viewer would be at a loss to accept this whiny, irritating person who appears and does little more than brood for an episode. The magnitude of Data's sacrifice to save Q is also lost. Moreover, even if one has only seen an episode or two of Star Trek The Next Generation, the contrast between the enlightened philosophers and the almost unanimous dislike for Q is astounding until one watches the three prior Q episodes.
But for those of us who are fans? This is an excellent opportunity to watch Q get his comeuppance. Sure, he might not be as villainous after this point, but he certainly grows in character.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Third Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the third season by clicking here!
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© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.