(written from a Production point of view)
Q is seeking asylum on the Enterprise after he has been thrown out of the Continuum and stripped of his powers.
The USS Enterprise-D is called to Bre'el IV to help them with their moon that is falling out of orbit and threatening the planet. As they are trying to find a way to get the moon back into its orbit, Q suddenly tumbles from mid-air, completely naked, onto the deck of the bridge.
Act OnePicard and the crew are convinced that Q is responsible for what is happening to the Bre'el. However, Q insists that he had nothing to do with it and that he has been stripped of his powers and was given the choice to be turned into anything he so desired, as long as it was mortal. He chose to be Human and was sent to the Enterprise because out of all the beings in the universe he considers "Jean-Luc" the closest thing to a friend he has. When a desperate Q practically begs to know what he can do to convince the crew that he is mortal and has lost his powers, Worf succinctly suggests that he dies.
Counselor Troi confirms that she can sense emotions from Q which reveal that he is terrified. Data scans Q with a tricorder and tells the captain he is reading Human life signs from him. While not believing Q entirely, Picard has Worf throw him into the brig for safekeeping. Moments later, broadband emissions illuminate the Enterprise until they shrink down to sneak into the brig, where Q has fallen asleep.
Picard is suspicious of Q's motives and keeps asking him to stop torturing these people and get their moon back. Q insists that he has nothing to do with it. Q complains about how ordinary it is to be Human. For instance, not realizing what "sleep" is, he describes it as suddenly feeling weak and being no longer able to stand. Q finally convinces Picard that he can help return the moon to its natural orbit with his immense knowledge of spatial phenomena from all over the universe. Picard, still deep in doubt that Q is Human, releases him from the brig and assigns Data to keep him out of trouble.
In engineering, Q is not very helpful. He suddenly develops a back pain. Data calls for medical assistance. While Dr. Crusher is en route, Q complains mainly about his limited abilities as a Human and makes suggestions that no one on the Enterprise with their current level of scientific knowledge can follow. Still thinking as a Q, he suggests to Geordi La Forge that he merely change the gravitational constant of the universe, thereby altering the mass of the moon. That suggestion is quickly dismissed as impossible. Dr. Crusher arrives to treat Q, vocalising that she is not particularly sympathetic. She diagnoses back muscle spasms and treats him, not particularly gently, leading to Q grumbling about her bedside manner. La Forge realizes that they could wrap a low-level warp field around the moon, thus reducing its gravitational constant, making it lighter so they can push it. Q replies that he is glad he could help. . Once Dr. Crusher has treated him, he starts to complain of a noisy stomach that, as Dr. Crusher tells him, is probably a sign that he is hungry.
Data takes Q to Ten Forward to get something to eat. Q asks Data what he eats and since Data doesn't "eat" in the traditional sense, he suggests something chocolate to Q, as it is Deanna Troi's favorite food when she's in a bad mood. Q orders ten chocolate sundaes; Data notes that's likely excessive, but Q says he is in a terrible mood, and reasons that since he has never consumed food before, he must be hungry enough to eat it all. Guinan enters, which gives Q a sense of uneasiness as this is not a moment he was looking forward to. Guinan had already heard the news that Q was exiled from the Continuum. Data explains Q's transformation to Guinan and tells her the crew is not entirely convinced Q is truly Human. Guinan then calmly stabs his hand with a fork to test if he's really mortal. Q reacts in excruciating pain. Guinan responds that Q seems human enough to her.
Q protests Picard making Guinan a member of the crew instead of him, calling her dangerous. Guinan recounts how Q used to be omnipotent and terrorized countless species for his own amusement. She recommend that Q now learn how to be a mortal, citing Data as someone to learn from. Guinan calls Q a pitiful excuse for a human, and that the only way he would survive is on the charity of others. The encounter with Guinan understandably causes Q to lose his appetite, so he is unable to enjoy his huge chocolate treat.
At the same time, the Enterprise sensors pick up a cloud of energetic plasma, noted to have a highly organized structure. The ship's computer picks up a signal from it, proof of intelligence, but is unable to translate.
While Q sulks miserably in Ten Forward, the Calamarain, a species Q tormented in the past, tries to kill him to return the favor. The crew is able to repel them and Q screams for help, while Guinan looks down on him lying on the floor and says, "How the mighty have fallen."
While elaborating about the Calamarain, Q is forced to admit that for all his protestations of friendship, his real reason for being on the Enterprise is protection. He insists that he did not do the Calamarain any injustice, that they are intelligent beings, even if flighty. Riker accuses him of having tortured the Calamarain and hence they are after him. Riker supposes that since Q has made many enemies over his lifetime as an omnipotent being, the Enterprise would spend all its time fighting off the enemies of Q, which is not the job that Riker or Picard signed up for.
Nonetheless, his knowledge is still useful in the task of moving the moon. When Q gets to engineering, he thinks that because he has knowledge of how to move the moon, he is in charge. Obviously this is not the case and when La Forge tells him what to do, Q tells La Forge that he will not take orders because he has never taken orders. Data tells him that it would be his wisest course of action to listen to La Forge, as he is in charge. During their attempt to surround the moon in a warp field, the Calamarain attack again, nearly killing Q. Data intervenes at great peril to himself and though he saves Q from being pulled through the hull, he himself is nearly electrocuted.
In sickbay, Dr. Crusher works on fixing Data noting that if he'd been Human he'd be dead. The crew then reprimand Q, who is still concerned only for himself for not even caring that Data saved his life and kick him out of sickbay. Later, Picard and La Forge discuss the situation with the moon… La Forge confirms that their recent attempt has bought them another orbit, and can try again when the moon reaches its perigee. Riker, though, realizes that they have the same dilemma of protecting Q or helping the people on Bre'el IV. At this point, La Forge is ready to throw Q to the proverbial wolf. Q talks to Picard, who is drinking a cup of tea in his ready room, and admits that he cannot understand why Data would risk sacrificing himself. Going over the incident in his mind, Q is forced to admit that if the positions had been reversed and he had to endanger himself to save Data, he wouldn't have and that makes him feel deep shame. Picard gives Q short shrift, reminding him that all he ever did was bring misery and torment to the crew and he still isn't convinced Q isn't just playing some grand joke. Q insists that the joke is on him, and comes to the conclusion that being Human has made him a miserable coward.
After, Q goes back to sickbay to check on Data. Doctor Crusher is still repairing him and Data is unable to speak. Q tells Data that for all as much as he covets Humanity, he's missing nothing… but regardless, Data makes a better Human than he does. Q figures the ship and planet will never be safe as long as he is on board the Enterprise, so he takes the Type 7 shuttlecraft Sakharov and leaves the ship to distract the Calamarain.
The Enterprise see Q is being chased again by the Calamarain but (against their better instincts), try to save him. However all attempts of trying to beam him back on board, extending the shields to the shuttlecraft, and putting a tractor beam on it fail (Picard claims that their actions have more to do with saving the shuttle than Q). The Calamarain seem to be catching up to Q in his shuttlecraft.
All attempts to rescue Q fail as Q2, who had Q stripped of his powers and was watching him to see how he reacted, disables the Enterprise's tractor beam, transporters, shields, etc. He pops in to see Q and says that his display of selflessness has convinced him to give Q's powers back so long as he behaves himself. Q2 says he cannot go back to the Q Continuum and tell the others that Q was selfless right before he died because it would take too much effort and a very long time. So he gives Q his powers back; Q is about to seek revenge on the Calamarain, but Q2 pops in again with a warning, so Q puts the Calamarain back, blowing them away like a candle.
With no sign of the Calamarain, or the shuttle, the Enterprise crew assumes they are dead, and Picard suggests that they had seen the last of Q. However, Q then appears on the bridge as a trumpet-player with a mariachi band, making cigars appear in Picard's and Riker's mouths, and materializing around Riker a pair of scantily-clad women to celebrate. After Riker denounces Q's materializing the scantily-clad females, Q tells him he wasn't "so stolid" before he grew his beard. Q then transfers the women to Worf instead. Picard snaps at him to stop everything and Q protests that he "feels like celebrating", while Picard retorts "I don't!". Q does away with both the scantily-clad females and the mariachi band, leaving only himself, wearing a uniform identical to Picard's (complete with captain's pips), much to Picard's frustration.
Q, understanding that he has (once again) overstayed his welcome, declares that, as a Human, he was "ill-equipped to thank you; but, as myself, you have my everlasting gratitude." However, before he leaves, he decides to give Data a gift to thank him for saving his life. Data, believing Q is about to make him human, is about to refuse but Q assures android he would never inflict the 'curse' of humanity upon him but just wishes to give him a little "going-away present" – Q then disappears, and a few seconds later Data is overcome by a burst of uncontrollable laughter, much to the bridge crew's surprise (and, in a couple of cases, amusement). After several seconds, it stops, and while Data doesn't know what he was laughing at he states it was still a wonderful "feeling". Just then, a grateful message comes in from Bre'el IV, thanking a stunned Picard for saving them. Picard has Worf and Data confirm that the errant moon has been returned to its correct orbit – and, the captain, knowing it was not the Enterprise who accomplished this, says there may be a residue of Humanity left in Q. A visage of Q appears in the smoke rising from a lit cigar that had materialized in Picard's hand – and tells Picard not to bet on it.
- - Picard, when Q appears on the Enterprise bridge nude
"… in all the universe, you're the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean-Luc."
- - Q, followed by "the look" from Picard
"Human or not, I want no part of you!"
- - Picard, to Q
"Return that moon to its orbit!"
"I have no powers! Q, the ordinary!"
"Q, the liar! Q, the misanthrope!"
"Q, the miserable! Q, the desperate! What must I do to convince you people?"
"Oh, very clever, Worf. Eat any good books lately?"
- - Picard, Q and Worf
"HELP ME! SOMEBODY HELP ME!"
"How the mighty have fallen."
- - Q crying helplessly on the floor in Ten Forward while Guinan looks on
"As I learn more and more what it is to be Human, I am more and more convinced that I would never make a good one. I don't have what it takes… without my powers I'm frightened of everything. I'm a coward… and I'm miserable. And I can't go on this way."
- - Q, talking to Picard in his ready room
"Who does he think he is giving me orders?!"
"Geordi thinks he is in command here. And he is correct."
- - Q and Data
"Sacrificing yourself for these Humans? Do I detect a little selfless act?"
"You flatter me. I was only trying to put a quick end to a miserable existence."
- - Q2 and Q
"I've been keeping track of you."
"I always felt you were in my corner."
"Actually, I was the one who got you kicked out. You know, you're incorrigible, Q. You're a lost cause. I can't go to a single solar system without having to apologize for you, and I'm tired of it!"
- - Q2 and Q
"Now you and I both know that the Calamarain would eventually have destroyed the Enterprise to get to you, and that's really why you left, right?"
"It was a… teeny bit selfless, wasn't it?"
"GRRR! Yeah, and there's my problem! See, I can't got back to the Continuum and tell them that you committed a selfless act just before the end! If I do there's gonna be 'questions', there's gonna be 'explanations' for centuries!"
- - Q2 and Q
(to the Calamarain in the palm of his hand) "If you think I tormented you in the past, my little friends, wait until you see what I do with you now."
"I was just seeing if you were…still watching." (gently blows the Calamarain away)
- - Q and Q2
"Au contraire, mon capitaine! HEEEE'S BAAAAACK!"
- - Q, just after he appears on the bridge with a mariachi band
"I'm immortal again! Omnipotent again!"
- - Q and Riker
"But I feel like celebrating."
- - Picard and Q
"Perhaps there is a… residue of Humanity in Q after all."
"Don't bet on it, Picard."
- - Jean-Luc Picard and Q, who mischievously causes a lit cigar to materialize in Picard's hand
- Preliminary draft script: 8 November 1989
- Final draft script: 14 November 1989 
- Score recorded, at 20th Century Fox Scoring Stage: 19 January 1990 (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 14, p. 8)
- Premiere airdate: 5 February 1990
- First UK airdate: 15 January 1992
Story and script
- Michael Piller recalled, "Our first take on it was that Q lost his powers, came on board and we developed a whole story about how we were about to come into a war with the Klingons. It turns out that Q didn't really lose his powers after all, he was just playing with us and pulling our strings just so that he could make himself a hero, become an officer and prove his value. It wasn't a bad story, but ultimately we sat down with Gene and Rick, and Gene said, 'If you're going to do a story – Godlike and brought to Earth – then do it. Do a story about what it's like to lose everything that you are and having to discover your own humanity.' He kind of threw cold water on us and suggested we do it straight forward and that's what we did. We made it a comedy, we made it fun, but I think it has some extraordinary things to say about humanity." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 191)
- Melinda Snodgrass remarked, "I always think of Q as Loki. He's chaos. Maury Hurley always thought Q was here to teach us a lesson, to guide and instruct us. I can understand that to some extent, but I really see him as a mischief maker. He really just wants to foul Picard's head." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 191)
- John de Lancie considered the bridge scenes of this episode among his hardest to film. His simulated trumpet playing took several takes, and with no way found to fake the scene in which he appears suspended in the nude, he had to do it au naturel. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 114)
- de Lancie had been provided with a g-string for modesty before it was determined that the shot would not work otherwise. Visual effects supervisor Dan Curry remembered, "It's one of the few shots we've done that came out looking exactly like the storyboard. I'd picked the spot for the camera in advance, and the scene played out just as I drew it. The script said 'Q appears nude.' We planned to have John de Lancie lay on a wooden board that couldn't be seen due to Patrick Stewart's position in the shot. As we were prepping the shot, John showed up on the set with his bathrobe on. When we were ready to go, he dropped his bathrobe and he was stark naked. That caused… ummmm… a bit of a stir." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 134)
- The Calamarain effect was created by Curry using a sophisticated laser rig rented for one day. A range of footage was produced during that day, which he described as one of the most enduring investments he ever made: it became used as elements in anything from nebulae to phaser hits, alien transporter elements and creatures, as well as making up part of the tractor beam used in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. (Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 4 DVD special features)
- A brief reaction shot of Troi in the observation lounge when Q informs the crew about the Calamarain is taken from "Evolution", twelve episodes prior.
Props and costumes
- A Bre'el IV scientist costume was auctioned off in the It's A Wrap! sale and auction. The tag mistakenly states that it was for portraying a "Calamarain Scientist".
- Among the costumes and props from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, was Sandra Wild's costume which was re-used in further Trek episodes such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Sanctuary" as the dress Haneek found more than ugly. 
- This is the first episode in which Q appears, albeit briefly, in the updated style of uniform introduced in "Evolution".
- The Mariachi band plays the folk-song "La Paloma". The English version is called "No More", and was made popular by Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii (1961).
- Composer Dennis McCarthy talks about his work for "Deja Q" in the article "Dennis McCarthy – Music for the Stars" in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 14, pp. 7-9. The spotting session was held shortly before New Year's Day 1990 and had, like almost always, no visual and sound effects in it. The recording session was held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, 19 January 1990 at the 20th Century Fox Scoring Stage, where The Next Generation was recorded since Paramount Pictures closed down their own stage during the second season. The orchestra for "Deja Q" required 12 violins, four cellos, four bass, one flute, one oboe, one B-Flat clarinet, three horns, two trombones, three trumpets, two pianos, one guitar and one percussion. Armin Steiner mixed together all of the instruments onto a single stereo recording at a master control board. For this episode he had a total of 17 music cues, which add up to about 18 minutes and the orchestra finished at 5:00 p.m. McCarthy then had the task to rerecord the trumpet play of actor John de Lancie and fill it into "La Paloma".
- This episode marks the first appearance by another member of the Q Continuum (Q2) besides "our" Q. Other members of the Continuum would later appear in "True Q" and various episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
- Q's willingness to sacrifice himself to prevent the Enterprise from suffering the consequences of his behavior is later mirrored by his son in the Voyager episode "Q2". However, the Continuum is less sympathetic that time, and forces Q to maintain eternal oversight over Junior.
- Berthold rays were previously referred to in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise".
- Michael Piller remarked, "Wonderful show and a very difficult one to get on its feet, but once it got there, we were very proud of it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 191)
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 12, pp. 62-65.
- In comparison to the rest of the third season, this episode received an unusually high Nielsen rating, the only other installment, apart from "Yesterday's Enterprise", to score more than 12.0. (The Making of Yesterday's Enterprise, p. 87)
- This episode is the source of the most common variant of the popular Picard facepalm meme. 
- This episode was nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production (Robert Lederman) and for Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 31, 6 December 1991
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum: 5 December 1994
- As part of the US VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - Q Continuum: 8 September 1998
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 3.5, 3 July 2000
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q collection
- As part of the TNG Season 3 Blu-ray collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
And special guest star
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Corbin Bernsen as Q2
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carrie Crain as Ten Forward waitress
- Robert Daniels as operations officer
- Benny Gong as Bre'el IV technician
- Eben Ham as operations division officer
- Mel Ladia as Bre'el IV technician
- Mark Lentry as science division officer
- Debbie Marsh as civilian
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- James McElroy as civilian
- Michael Moorehead as civilian
- Keith Rayve as command division ensign
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Sandra Wild as Q's fantasy woman #1
- Unknown performers as
- Command division officer
- Bre'el IV technician
- Female engineer
- Female operations division officer
- Female operations division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Female science division officer
- Q's fantasy woman #2
- Science division officer
- Security officer
- Ten Forward waiter
- Three Mariachi band members
- Transporter officer (voice)
- Michael J. Sarna as stunt double for John de Lancie
- Unknown stunt performer as stunt double for Brent Spiner
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for John de Lancie
"a little"; "a lost cause"; "a lot"; "a second thought"; absolution; achievement; "against my better judgement"; ability; aging; alien; "all right"; altitude; analysis; android; animal; answer; ant; apology; area; arrival; asteroidal moon; atmosphere; "at all"; "at best"; "at most"; "at risk"; atmospheric drag; attack; autonomic node; backyard; back; backside; bad breath; bathing; beard; bearing; beauty contest; bedside manner; begging; Belzoidian flea; Berthold radiation; Berthold rays; billion; black hole; blast; book; "bored to tears"; boredom; Boy Who Cried Wolf, The; brain; Bre'el IV; Bre'el IV moon (Bre'el satellite); Bre'el IV native; Bre'el IV system; breed; brig; brother; "by the book"; bypass; Calamarain; career; century; character flaw; charade; charity; choice; chocolate; chocolate sundae; circuit; circular orbit; claustrophobia; cliché; color; compassion; computer; consciousness; contact; containment field; cosmos; course; course; coward; creature; cruel and unusual punishment; crying; curiosity; damage; danger; "day after day"; death; defrocking; degree; delight; Deltived asteroid belt; delta-vee; desire; destruction; detention cell three; deteriorating orbit; dignity; dilemma; disaster; disease; "don't bet on it"; "drummed you out"; dungeon; dust cloud; eatiing; echo; effect; emergency; emergency control center; emission; emitter coolant rate; emotion; enemy; energy output; energy pattern; envy; evacuation plan; exile; existence; experience; expert; explanation; exposure; eye; fabric; fact; failure; family; father confessor; feeling; ferrous; field coil; field integrity; field symmetry; flattery; flight tolerance; flow regulator; fluidic system; food; "for example"; "for that matter"; force field; forgiveness; fragment; French language; friend; friendship; Galaxy-class decks; "get the hell out of here"; goat; "grand scheme"; gratitude; gravitational constant; gravity; grievance; hail; hailing frequency; hair; "here goes"; hope; hour; "how the mighty have fallen"; hull; hull temperature; Human; humanities; humiliation; humor; hundred; hunger; "I don't know"; "if you ask me"; IQ; ice age; idea; immortality; impact; impulse engine; impulse power; incarnation; "in doubt"; "in high places"; "in my corner"; "in my heart of hearts"; "in that case"; "in the clear"; "in the nick of time"; inertial density; inertial mass; intellect; intelligence; intention; interpersonal relationship; ionized gas; irony; itch; joke; "keep an eye on"; kilometer; kilometer per second; king; Klingon; knowledge; "La Paloma"; landquake; language circuit; laughing; launch; lesson; liar; liaison; lifeform; location; main shuttlebay; main viewer; Markoffian sea lizard; mass; meal; medical assistance; medical scan; meter; meter per second; metric ton; million; minute; misanthrope; mission; missionary; mistake; mister; mood; moon; morality; mortal; motor pathway; Much Ado About Nothing; muscle spasm; "never mind": "no doubt"; noise; "of course"; object; omnipotent; "on my way"; "on the contrary"; "one of the boys"; opportunity; optimism; orbit; orbital distance; order; osmotic pressure; overpressure; pain; patient; percent; perigee; person; phenomenon; pimple; place; plan; plane; plasma; plasma cloud; pleasure; point of origin; population; positronic net; present; problem; professor; protection; punishment; Q Continuum; quality; question; race; radius; range; reason; red alert; rem; rendezvous; replicator; rescue; result; right angle; robot; Romulan; rule; sacrifice; Sakharov; sanctuary; satellite; science station; second; section; sector containing Bre'el IV; sensor; shell; shields; shield grid; shield harmonics; "shut up"; signal; signal pattern; silicon; sister; skill; sky; sleep; sneeze; "so be it": solar system; solution; sound; speaker; species; starbase; Starfleet; Starfleet uniform; station keeping; Station Nigala IV; status; stomach; story; strength; structural field harmonics; structural integrity field; subspace compression; suffering; suicide; surface; sustenance; sympathy; symptom; tachyons; tachyon field; "teeny"; temperature; term; terror; "thank you"; thermal limit; thermal shock; threat; thousand; ticklishness; tide; tidal force; toe; tractor beam; tractor beam emitter; trajectory; translation matrix; transporter room three; trauma; tricorder; tricycle; truth; tsunami; transporter lock; Type 7 shuttlecraft; universe; "very well"; victim; volume; warp core; warp field; warp power; western continent of Bre'el IV; "what the devil"; "what the hell"; "with the best of them"; "yeah"
|TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" • "Hide and Q" • "Q Who" • "Deja Q" • "Qpid" • "True Q" • "Tapestry" • "All Good Things..."|
|DS9: "Q-Less"||VOY: "Death Wish" • "The Q and the Grey" • "Q2"|
- "Deja Q" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Deja Q" at Wikipedia
- "Deja Q" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Deja Q" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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