In which we meet two old friends, Picard has good taste in movies, and Worf is not a merry man.
The Enterprise has arrived at Tagus III, where there’s an archaeology symposium that Picard gets to keynote. One has to wonder why. I guess running the flagship of the fleet might make him something of a culture hero, but he doesn’t get the chance to do much archaeolog…ing. Maybe the Daystrom Institute only just got around to publishing their findings from the Tkon dig? Or maybe it’s just because his ship is big enough to fit all the council members in luxury. Troi’s duties include giving the captain a pep talk as he pushes through a pitcher of coffee. She orders him to chillax and he goes back to his quarters, only to find the Risian sex idol, and Vash, waiting for him.
She also claims to have come in through the window. Good thing she’s a liar. I suppose there are a couple of ways that could be true – either Q could have made it happen (where would I ever get that idea?) or alternately she could have beamed in. Query: what safeguards aside from social mores prevent someone from beaming into your quarters to do whatever they want? I have not been particularly impressed by the ability of Starfleet to effectively lock out functions to those who shouldn’t have access to them. Three random popsicles managed to call the bridge during a crisis situation, and Data was able to take over the ship because command function overrides don’t require a special code if you’re wearing an unauthorized commbadge.
The next morning, Vash and Picard are having breakfast together and she is evading every question he asks and making things incredibly awkward when Bevery shows up for morning tea. They give up being snippy at each other in exchange for being snippy together at Picard. Bev takes Vash on a tour to Ten-Forward, where Riker tries to hit on her, but you know what they say: Once you go Picard, you never, uh… um… well, you know what they say. Crusher gets called to sick bay, and Riker now gets to finish conducting the tour with the bridge, where Vash curls up in his chair.
Vash is wandering around the ship asking everyone if Picard really never talked about her, and getting more and more worked up until she finally interrupts him at the reception to pester him about it. For a Frenchman, he has very British mores, and his day only gets worse when he finds Q in his chair in his ready room. It has not been a good day for Picard so far, chair-wise.
Q initially claims to have been puttering around and just happened to see the Enterprise and drop in to say hello. Soon, however, he says that he’s here because he owes Picard a debt for saving him in “Deja Q” and helping him get his powers back. Q cannot abide owing a debt, which provides perhaps a real hit at last into his nature. Could Q be one of the Fair Folk?
Picard tries to brush him off by spending his favor on making Q go away, but Q offers many things – help with Picard’s speech, taking him to the forbidden ruins below, even to the point of taking Picard back in time to before the ruins were ruined, but eventually he leaves, and Picard warns Riker that Q is around, and to be on the alert. And in addition to having to deal with that, he still has to go apologize to Vash, who’s pretty clearly planning on sneaking into the ruins to deal in more black market antiquities. Their spat gives Q an idea. He’s going to give Picard girl advice. Or possibly teach Picard to overcome the human weakness known as ‘love.’
There’s a theater on the Enterprise. It’s a powerpoint room. It’s possibly the least useless one-off set they’ve shown us so far, and its only purpose is to be the room in which Q starts giving all of the senior staff hunter’s caps in order to slowly gaslight Picard as he gives his speech. To this, there can be only one endgame. Picard as Robin Hood, and his staff as the merry men. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Jonathan Frakes as John Little, Data as Friar Tuck, and Worf as Will Scarlet. Worf may not want to play Will Scarlet, but he’s pissed enough to start attacking regardless.
Compare and contrast to “Hide and Q” as to how long it takes them to start playing along. Q does permit Picard the option of not doing so, but of course Q has an incentive – be pragmatic, do nothing, and let Marion (Vash) get her head lopped off, or put his his crew’s lives on the line in the name of love. Also, Q claims that he’s given the fantasy a life of it’s own and that he’s going to let it play out as it will.
Of course, Vash is unencumbered by 12th century mores and is perfectly willing to lie to Guy of Gisbourne in order to save her life. Which is a good thing because Troi is as lousy a shot as Geordi is a lutist. Q is astonished that Vash is being a Guile hero, which has to be a new experience for him. It’s not exactly fair of Q to drop Vash into the scenario without priming her, but she seems able to take care of herself. When Picard shows up in a half-baked plan to try and rescue her and Guy breaks in on them, she captures Picard in order to stay alive and postpone judgement until she can work up a plan to escape. All of this cements Q’s interest in her, but unfortunately he’s caught her warning Riker and so there’s going to be a double header, which I can’t believe they didn’t write into the script.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be a Robin Hood story if there’s not a last-minute Robin Rescue by the Merry Men. Fortunately, Data apparently keeps combustible oils in his arm for just such an occasion, execution axes are not balanced for fighting, and Picard is really spry for a desk jockey, and fences. That said, he is exceedingly poorly-versed in castle construction and gives up the high-steps advantage. He makes up for it by having watched the Princess Bride, however.
With the denoument of the Robin Hood story, Q returns everyone to the ship, except Vash. She’s somewhat chuffed that he want to all that trouble to rescue her and willing to overlook the fact that he never talked about her. But she’s going with Q to go plunder the galaxy, because trusting one of the Fair Folk never turns out poorly.