Written by Ira Steven Behr, Randee Russell, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, Joe Menosky, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Cliff Bole
One thing that’s really hit-or-miss with episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are the episodes which focus on humor. The ones that work, more often than not, are the ones involving the character Q (portrayed by John deLancie).
The Enterprise is hosting an archaeological conference, which brings aboard Vash (portrayed by Jennifer Hetrick), a former flame of Captain Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) from the episode Captain’s Holiday.
It is at this time that Q decides to put in an appearance, ostensibly to repay the Captain for his help during the episode Deja Q. Q is an omnipotent being who is part of what is called “The Continuum.” In a fit of fury, in which Q was made mortal, he was temporarily expelled from “The Continuum.” Captain Picard helped defend Q from another race whom he had been plaguing, now out to destroy him.
After observing a tense exchange between Picard and Vash, Q gets the idea to spark a romance between the two. To do this, he transports Picard, Vash, and some of the crew of the Enterprise to Sherwood Forest to act out Robin Hood.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I have got to admit, though, that I found this to be one of the more hilarious episodes of the series. Just hearing the Klingon, Worf (Michael Dorn) utter “Captain, I must protest! I am not a merry man!” cracks me up even after having viewed this episode several times.
This episode works largely because it does not take any of the regular cast out of character. The fact that Picard has never mentioned Vash to any of the crew reinforces the stoic image we have of the Captain. Not willing to let his guard down nor involve the crew in his personal situations, that translates through even during the “Sherwood Forest” scenes. Even when he was surrounded by his crew following his rescue from The Borg, it was not until he was back with his brother in Family that he let his guard down and showed his emotions.
In that way, this episode grows Picard somewhat. He learns to rely on his crew a bit more and not keep them as much at a distance. It’s not the lesson Q intends to teach Picard about love, but it’s a bit of a pick-me-up for an episode that is truly all about the downfalls of love.
Jennifer Hetrick is excellent again as Vash. She is able to change the tone depending on whom she is opposite. While with Picard she is sly and sensual, but immediately changes her tone when Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) offers to take her on a tour of the Enterprise. While in the Robin Hood setting, she easily shift from complicity with the evil Sir Guy to confrontational when Q appears as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Her manipulative ways impress Q and he gleans that they are more alike than different. Perhaps this speaks of a pattern for Picard? His soft spot for Q as well as his attraction to Vash, both two of a kind?
Patrick Stewart and the rest of the crew largely make this episode work because they believe in their characters. Picard must acknowledge how he feels about Vash, and admit that he can use the help of his crew. The humor works because all of them stay in character but in a different setting. The regular cast all seem to be having fun with this episode, and it comes through in their performances although it never deteriorates into pure silliness. It is truly entertaining and funny.
The star of the episode is Q, as he is in just about any episode involving him. He is the spoiled child of the galaxy; wanting his own way and to impose it on others. John deLancie’s portrayal is without a doubt one of the best secondary characters ever brought into the Star Trek universe; perhaps that’s why he’s brought back so much. Q does not want to take life so seriously, and makes the perfect foil for Picard in that regard.
As a side note, Clive Revill portrays Sir Guy. He was the The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back and was the only actor to have appeared in both a Star Trek series and a Star Wars film as of 2003.
This is one of those episodes that has always stuck with me and one that I never mind watching again. It has some terrific humor, great acting, and wonderful moments for the characters. For fans, it’s a great relief from all of the serious episodes. Non-fans or casual viewers might not appreciate it as much if they don’t have the background from Captain’s Holiday or any of the Q episodes.