(written from a Production point of view)
Ensign Spock's first day aboard the USS Enterprise doesn't go as planned when he and Number One are unexpectedly stuck together in a turbolift.
In 2254, Ensign Spock, a Vulcan, boards the USS Enterprise. After beaming aboard using a transporter, he meets Una Chin-Riley, the ship's Illyrian first officer, and announces that he is reporting for duty. She reminds him that there is no need to yell. The two board a turbolift, and Spock asks her for "the three most salient facts about Captain Pike", referring to Christopher Pike, the captain of the ship, and she tells him about his diplomatic skills and that he is "utterly unsentimental except when it comes to horses." The turbolift eventually malfunctions and the two officers are trapped inside. With nothing to do, Spock annoys her with questions such as "Has it ever occurred to you that the Prime Directive is not only not ethical but also illogical?" and "Do you like eggplant?" Eventually, the two discover their similarities and bond over them before being rescued by Amin.
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"Sir, Ensign Spock, S 179-276 SP, reporting for duty."
- - Spock to Una Chin-Riley, after being transported to the Enterprise
"What are the three most salient facts about Captain Pike?"
"One, his capacity for hearing out another point of view is exceeded only by his willingness to change his own once he's heard you out. Two, even though he is the most heavily decorated fighting captain in Starfleet, he views resorting to force as an admission of failure. And three... he is utterly unsentimental except when it comes to horses."
- - Spock and Una Chin-Riley, on Captain Pike
- This episode was released on Saturday, 5 October 2019, in conjunction with a Star Trek panel at the New York Comic-Con.
- This is the first episode or film in the Star Trek franchise to premiere on a Saturday since Star Trek: The Animated Series' "The Counter-Clock Incident", 45 years earlier.
- This is the first Star Trek episode or film to debut without the premiere date having been announced ahead of time.
- Michael Chabon wrote this episode to provide an in-universe explanation of why Spock's behavior and manner in "The Cage" are so different from those seen in the rest of TOS.
- "It's something I've mulled over and thought about since the very first time I saw "The Menagerie" when I was like 10 years old. And of course there was a Doylist explanation for why Spock is so, so different. But, the one thing that just can't be explained is from a Watsonian point-of-view was that; like what is with Spock? It's that smile. More than anything. Yeah, there's the shouty-ness and lots of other expressions of emotion that are sort of disturbing if you feel like you know the character of Spock. In the extra-fictional sense, Spock took over Number One's personality. And if we're going to really plunge into them and they're going to be co-existing with each other, we need to account for that."
- Chabon described this episode as "patching the hole" of "the mystery of Spock’s smile, when he encounters the singing flower on Talos IV." Chabon wrote that in "The Menagerie", "apart from the ears and the gull-wing eyebrows, the Spock who served under Captain Pike was nothing like the Spock who later launched a thousand zines."
- "In the rejected pilot, and in Roddenberry’s original conception of the show, Number One was the expressionless, rational, cool-tempered crew member, "almost glacier-like," according to the episode’s teleplay, "in her imperturbability and precision" (glaciers evidently having become more precise by the twenty-third century). Spock, by contrast, was decidedly warmer, his animated face and voice freely expressing such emotions as alarm, concern, relief, and even an almost childlike delight, when, having beamed down to the surface of the planet Talos IV, he encountered that singing flower and broke out, in a way that never got less disturbing, no matter how many times one saw it, in a toothy grin. The pretext for my script, the hole in the quilt, was the lack of any "in-universe" – or "Watsonian," as opposed to "out-of-universe," or "Doylist" – explanation for Spock's transition from expressive, even unreserved, to thoroughly glacial."
- During the writing of this episode, Alex Kurtzman texted Rebecca Romijn and asked her whether she had any special skills. She replied that she played badminton, was good with foreign languages, and sang Gilbert and Sullivan. Because of the last, Michael Chabon decided that Una Chin-Riley's "freaky" would be a fondness for Gilbert and Sullivan, and wrote the scene in which she sings "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General". ("Inside Short Treks: How Rebecca Romijn Helped Sneak Gilbert and Sullivan into Star Trek" at CBS All Access; "Michael Chabon Explains His New Short Trek's Connections to The Next Generation and Picard" at SyFy Wire)
- When Chabon pitched this Short Trek episode, he also pitched, as a bookend, a Short Trek about Number One's last day on the Enterprise. ("Michael Chabon Explains His New Short Trek's Connections to The Next Generation and Picard" at SyFy Wire)
- This episode appears to have initially been called "Chaos Theory". That title was announced in an Instagram post by director Mark Pellington in late May 2019. Another post by Pellington contained images of the director with actors Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck, and the hashtag #Chabon, suggesting the episode was written by Michael Chabon.  The title "Q&A" was first mentioned in passing in the press release announcing that Michael Chabon had been named the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard.  On 20 July 2019, Alex Kurtzman confirmed that there would be six episodes in the second season of Short Treks. The same day, a trailer for the season was released, including six episode titles; "Chaos Theory" was not among those names.  This episode was written by Michael Chabon and was mainly focused on Una Chin-Riley and Spock, the characters played by Romijn and Peck, respectively, leading to the idea that "Q&A" is likely a new name for what had previously been referred to as "Chaos Theory".
- The episode is dedicated in memory of Dr. Robert Chabon, father of Michael Chabon. As Chabon recounted in an essay in The New Yorker, he wrote part of "Q&A" in his father's hospital room as he lay dying. 
Cast and characters
- Samora Smallwood (Amin) first appeared in the DIS Season 2 episodes, "Such Sweet Sorrow" and "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2". The Enterprise War had established that Amin had joined the Enterprise crew at some point before the events of the book in 2256, which is consistent with her being aboard in this episode which is set in 2254.
- In this episode, Jenette Goldstein took over as the Enterprise's computer. The role was held by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry from 1966 until her death in 2008. Goldstein previously portrayed the science officer aboard the USS Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations.
Music and sound
- Michael Giacchino served as a supervising composer on this episode, and some themes reminiscent of the alternate reality films can be heard in the short.
- Israeli/Dutch composer Nami Melumad composed music for this episode, including the end titles cue. This is the first episode in the franchise to be scored by a female composer. 
- This episode takes place before the events of "The Cage", which is set in 2254.
- Spock's observation that Una Chin-Riley has "made a most careful study" of Capt. Pike, and Number One's subsequent reaction to that comment, foreshadow the revelation in "The Cage" that she is attracted to Pike.
- After beaming aboard, Spock stated his serial number "S 179-276 SP", which was also stated in "Court Martial".
- When conversing about the nature of General Order 1 with Number One during this episode, Spock refers to it as the "Prime Directive." In "Strange New Worlds", which takes place several years later in 2259, Admiral Robert April describes that the Federation Council had only just ascribed that moniker to the directive in the wake of the Enterprise's incident response on the surface of Kiley 279.
- There are a number of similarities between this episode and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Disaster". In addition to having characters stuck in a turbolift and having to exit through the turboshaft, both episodes feature a character singing "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General", then being embarrassed by it. Writer Michael Chabon acknowledged the similarities, but said that they were inadvertent:
- "I know that episode ["Disaster"]. I remember that episode. But it really was an accident. I think in the back of my mind, the idea of Picard getting trapped in the turbolift was certainly there. I've seen it at least twice, maybe more over the years.
[Having Number One sing Gilbert and Sullivan] arose because it's in Rebecca Romijn's resume! I didn't know that. I inquired. I was already thinking of Number One and her quote-unquote 'freaky.' So I asked her if there was anything that Rebecca might be capable of that I didn't know, that the public didn't know, that maybe nobody knew, and that's one of the first things said she was a trained Gilbert and Sullivan singer. And I said 'that's perfect.'
Now, the fact that 'that's perfect' was my response is because I had this unconscious memory of the Gilbert and Sullivan from that episode. But it was not the first thing I thought of. The first thing I thought of was I can instantly see this cool, reserved woman who doesn't ever show anyone anything just suddenly busting out in this incredible patter song. It seemed immediately perfect and immediately true to me of Number One. So then, to have it all come together and kind of resonate as an homage to that episode of TNG, it was both accidental I think, but also, deep down, I'm a huge fan of TNG. Having that stuff in there. It's all in there somewhere."
Links and references
99 Pegasi; animal; animalculous; binomial theorem; belaying rig; boson sampling; bullshit; combat salvo analysis; Delta Scuti star; differential calculus; diode; e; eggplant; England; Enterprise, USS; fan; first officer; food synthesizer; golden ratio; Gupta glucose matrix; helmsman; horse; hypotenuse; "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General"; integral; Katzman glucose matrix; king; Ling plateau; Major-General; Marathon, Battle of; mathematical constant; memorandum; microbox; mineral; Neo-Wayne model; news; Onafuwa; Onafuwa model; Prime Directive; quadratical equation; quantum stochastics; quantum-stochastic combat modeling; rock climbing; science officer; OS; service hatch; smile; Starbase 40; square; tricorder; turbolift; Una glucose matrix; vegetable; Vulcan; Waterloo, Battle of
- "Q&A" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The One with Two Short Treks" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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