6/8/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Qpid"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E20 (lol blaze it)
Air Date: April 22, 1991
Written by: Randy Russell and Ira Steven Behr
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
Q teaches Picard all about his weakness and the dangers of love by turning him into that most classic of literary lovers, Cassan--... wait, no, Robin Hood?

Recap
The episode starts off by promising a most exciting premise: an archeology symposium! But, wait, before you start to drift off, what if I told you that Vash was part of this symposium? You know, the chick that Picard met on Risa who was just as good at stealing Picard's heart as she was at stealing ancient artifacts for a living. She smuggles herself on board the Enterprise ostensibly as part of the archeology council, but she's vague enough about her answers that one supposes she has ulterior motives while orbiting the long-forbidden archeological treasure trove of Tagus III. Meanwhile, as she introduces herself to the crew (including a mischievous Dr. Crusher), she begins to realize that Picard never told any of them about her. And that makes her a bit upset. After all, she thought they had something special!

Well, Picard has his work cut out for him, trying to explain to Vash that he's a private man and doesn't really discuss personal matters with the crew, all while preparing his speech for the archeology symposium. The episode starts looking really dull, so who else could we count on to shake things up, but Q! The immortal god of mischief appears in Picard's ready room and explains that he has a debt to repay. Picard helped him return to the Q Continuum, and for that favor he feels a nagging sense of obligatory reciprocity. He's determined to pay Picard back immediately. It can't wait until after the archeology symposium. Picard insists that Q leaving would be payment enough, but that won't satisfy Q, of course.
This is a man who is difficult to please.
Later, Picard stops by Vash's quarters to apologize for not talking about her, but when he does, he discovers that she's planning on stealing artifacts from Tagus III (surprise, surprise). They fight over it, and, of course, Q is listening in. He's a smart immortal being, he can figure out what's up: they're in love. So, as Picard is trying to get to sleep, he chooses that moment to tell him how he plans to pay him back. With a lesson in what seems to be his greatest weakness: love. So, the next day, while Picard is giving his speech at the symposium, his senior staff starts slowly turning into merry men one article of clothing at a time. Before any of them can figure out what's going on, they're transported through Q's trademark snap flash to Sherwood Forest. And while Worf can't quite figure out what's going on, Picard immediately figures it out. He has been turned into Robin Hood.

Riker is Little John, Data is Friar Tuck, Worf is Will Scarlett, and Geordi is Alan A-Dale. It's unclear who Beverly and Troi are supposed to be, but they're similarly merrily dressed. Just as Worf refuses to play the fool in Q's game, Sir Guy of Gisborne arrives to capture Robin Hood, and Worf is the first to break his vow and start a sword fight with him. Picard orders everyone to run away and then they run into Q who explains the situation dressed as the famed Sheriff of Nottingham. Much like the Deistic God, Q set up this world and let it play out with his hands off. He has no idea what's going to happen, except that, without Picard's intervention, "Maid Marian" will be executed at sunrise. And guess who Marian is.
Vash the Unfreed.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, Vash is trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Luckily, Sir Guy is there to explain that unless she marries him, she's going to die in the morning. Much to everyone's surprise, Vash's sense of self-preservation kicks in and she agrees to the wedding... at least temporarily. So the execution is off! Yay! Still, Picard doesn't know that, so while his senior staff are busy practicing being merry, he orders that they stay behind while he goes after Vash. Of course, going off alone is suicide, but 1) this is a fantasy world, right? 2) Love is Picard's weakness, evidently. He gets to the castle in time to explain the rest of the story to Vash, including that he is Robin Hood, but she tells him that she's in no danger. She agreed to marry Sir Guy and she'll figure out the rest from there. Picard will not have any of that, so he picks her up ready to leave... and then she points his own sword at him, capturing him as Q walks in, amused.

Well, it turns out that there will be an execution later: Picard's. So Vash writes a letter to the Merry Men and tries to get her maid to deliver it to them. After she refuses, Q walks in and discovers Vash's plan. He admits that he had underestimated her. He finds her to be a lot more amusing than he originally anticipated. Nonetheless, a game is a game and a lesson is a lesson. Looks like there will be two executions later on! Q sends Vash to prison right along side Picard. This is not how I remember the original Robin Hood story going at all!
I mean, Picard isn't even a fox.
On the way to their execution, Picard and Vash bicker like an old married couple. Meanwhile, the Merry Men secretly find their way in disguised as monks. Which didn't take much for Data since he was a monk to begin with. Picard is first on the chopping block, but before the executioner can swing the ax, Data throws a bit of his own machinery into a fire. It explodes, providing just enough distraction for Picard to beat up the executioner and the Merry Men to fight off the guards. Picard calls an end to the demonstration when he finds Vash safe in the tower and declares victory. Q says "See! Love is your weakness!" Vash says "Heck no! It's his strength!" Everyone is transported back to the Enterprise except for Vash. Q has one more surprise in that regard. Vash is going on an adventure with him. They both arrive for one last farewell to Picard. Q allows Vash and Picard a moment of privacy, and after a final kiss goodbye, Vash disappears.

Review
So there may have been a few problems with this episode. Q's choice of Robin Hood instead of any number of romantic leads is confusing to me, but I suppose it worked out in the end. After all is said and done, this was an episode to be taken lightly. A fun episode where you can laugh as Worf breaks Geordi's lute and Troi shoots Data in the torso with an arrow. And I, personally, am a big fan of Q, so there's that. Despite any problems that might exist in this episode, I enjoy it! A bit of a comic relief episode every now and then is classic Star Trek.