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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
MA 2009Warning!
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Short Treks, and thus may contain spoilers.

For the unrelated TNG novel, please see Q&A.
Chaos Theory redirects here; for the mathematical theory, please see chaos theory.

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.

Summary Edit

In 2254, Ensign Spock, a Vulcan, boards the USS Enterprise. After beaming aboard using a transporter, he meets Una, the ship's Human 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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Memorable quotes Edit

"Sir, Ensign Spock, S 179-276 SP, reporting for duty."

- Spock to Una, 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, on Captain Pike

Background information Edit

Q&A poster

Promotional poster for the episode released after the premiere

Writing Edit

  • 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."
Spock likes the sound

Spock's smile, when he encounters the singing flower on Talos IV

"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."

Production Edit

  • 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. [1] 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. [2] 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. [3] This episode was written by Michael Chabon and was mainly focused on Una 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. [4]

Cast and characters Edit

Music and sound Edit

  • 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. [5]

Continuity Edit

  • This episode takes place before the events of "The Cage".
  • Spock's observation that Una 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".
  • 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 Edit

Starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

ReferencesEdit

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

External link Edit


Previous episode:
"The Escape Artist"
Star Trek: Short Treks
Season 2
Next episode:
"The Trouble with Edward"
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