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The Trek Nation - Qpid

Qpid

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at March 20, 2009 - 9:48 PM GMT

See Also: 'Q-Pid' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: When Picard tells Troi that he is excited the Enterprise will be hosting an archaeology symposium, she warns him not to overwork himself. Upon returning to his quarters, Picard finds Vash waiting for him, and the two enjoy each other's company until he discovers that she is still in the business of selling relics and she discovers that he never mentioned her to any of his friends after their fling on Risa. Their quarreling is overheard by Q, who has arrived to repay the debt he believes he owes Picard for Q's reinstatement in the continuum of omnipotent beings to which he belongs. When Picard refuses to play along with Q, the latter turns the crew into Robin Hood and his merry men and sends the lot of them to Sherwood Forest, where Vash - now Maid Marian - has been given the choice between marrying Sir Guy de Gisbourne or being executed. Picard and Q both believe Vash's life is in danger, and though Picard insists to Q that he is not in love with Vash, he sets off to rescue her. Vash, meanwhile, promises to marry Sir Guy and tells her rescuer that she can take care of herself, turning Picard over to Gisbourne. Q takes this as proof that love is a fickle, unworthy emotion until he discovers Vash sending a secret message to Riker asking for help saving Picard; he then turns Vash in as a traitor. Gisbourne intends to execute the lovers but the crew interrupts the proceedings and Picard kills Sir Guy in single combat. Q returns the crew to the Enterprise, but not before he persuades Vash to travel the universe with him and take her to archaeological ruins of which Picard can only dream.


Analysis: If there were nothing else to love about "Qpid," it would be worth watching just for Worf's outraged, mortified declaration, "Sir, I protest! I am not a Merry Man!" And that isn't even my favorite line in the episode. That honor falls to Q's lament to Picard, "She's found a vulnerability in you, a vulnerability that I've been looking for for years. If I had known sooner, I would have appeared as a female." That, kids, is one of the sexiest things anyone has ever said on Star Trek. For all its romantic cliches and heavy-handed flirtation, this isn't a love story about Vash and Picard, but about Q and Picard, and that adds a layer of entertainment much more interesting than the wooden romantic comedy being forced upon the stuffy captain and the naughty treasure-hunter. If "Qpid" is a bit more timid than next season's "Tapestry," in which Q actually snuggles in bed with Picard, it remains far more subversive than any of the clunky heteronormative Voyager episodes trying for force Captain Janeway into typical gender roles vis-a-vis the man who's supposed to know everything. Picard romance is generally not my thing, whether it's het or slash, Vash or Jenice or Beverly, but I can't resist the idea of an omnipotent alien overwhelmed by what he dismisses as inferior, pathetic human feeling for an inferior, pathetic human.

This is an episode that people seem either to love or to hate, with the haters frequently insisting that it's badly written or clumsily performed. I disagree in both cases. "Qpid" is an embarrassing episode to like; it doesn't have a whit of science fiction worth mentioning, and most of the crew members get used for comic relief, meaning they're only barely in character at times. Whether that's a good or bad thing will inevitably be in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I would much rather watch Crusher gleefully interrogate an ex-girlfriend of Picard's than go stomping around and sniveling to Troi as she did in previous seasons, and Worf is completely hilarious smashing LaForge's mandolin, not to mention launching himself at Nottingham's men in an attempt to overcome the humiliation of having to wear that adorable scarlet hat. Riker seems pretty on target having to laugh at the proceedings even when he realizes Picard is in danger. And Data's creating an explosion by taking a transponder out of his arm is inspired, though one really wonders why he never did this in more volatile situations where the risk is more tangible than a game of Q's - maybe getting shot by Troi's clumsy attempt at archery shorted a circuit.

What works least is Picard's attraction to Vash, but that's a problem left over from "Captain's Holiday." She's still too young for him, not just in the sense that it's a bit icky, but because she makes him look old by comparison, a situation compounded by the fact that he's written as fuddy-duddy to her free spirit. I can believe that Picard would have a fling with someone as selfish as Vash, but once the word "love" gets thrown around, it becomes harder to believe even if the jamaharon is exceptionally good. Because this is a romantic comedy, Picard stands around tight-lipped and uncomfortable while Vash calls him Jean-Luc and reveals intimacies in front of the crew when he could simply take Vash aside, remind her that he is in a professional situation and inform her coolly that he wants her to stop it.

However, as I said before, the passion between Picard and Vash is not the real focus of the storyline. In the end, she's a throwaway character here, just as she was in "Captain's Holiday." But Q is an established part of Next Gen lore - he was there at the beginning, he's been back time and again - so we have a stronger investment in what he's up to and how he and Picard interact. Crusher's minor jealousy is nothing compared to Q's all-out disappointment at learning his Jean-Luc may have a girlfriend, and what a girlfriend! Q's very impressed to meet someone who can proclaim the virtues of love yet ditch her lover for someone more advantageous, whether it's to save her own life by marrying Gisbourne or to see places in the universe only a Q could take her. Vash is unworthy of Q, but then, she's unworthy of Picard, and he's already told her so. Picard is speaking the truth when he informs Q that he would rescue any woman from the scenario Q has concocted - it could have been Crusher or Troi or a nameless ensign or Shahna the green-haired chick from "The Gamesters of Triskelion." Picard may be lying when he pretends he doesn't care at all about Vash, but that's for Q's benefit, for Vash's protection. He likes her, but he doesn't love her.

Since Q can't wrest Picard away from Vash, he settles for wresting Vash away from the captain. She will, after all, give him the big hug Picard denies him. It's a perfect ending, not only because it restores the status quo on the Enterprise, but because it makes obvious the romantic themes running through the episode: that Vash likes Picard but will readily trade him in for the next man, and that Q can't stop thinking about Picard even when he has the whole universe to explore. That plus lots of little nods to familiar material ("There's something you should know...I am not from Nottingham") make this episode thoroughly entertaining for me, but if you're here for the sci-fi, your mileage may vary a great deal.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.