‘Star Trek: Picard’: What’s Going on With Q?

Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard and John de Lancie as Q in Star Trek Picard
Spoiler Alert
Trae Patton/Paramount+

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 2 Episode 2 “Penance.”]

As the trickster Q (John de Lancie) introduces Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) to the new reality in which he now is — after he activated the self-destruct on the Stargazer with the Borg Queen on board — tables turn just for a moment in the second episode of the second season.

As the latest Star Trek: Picard episode begins, Q shows Picard “a world of [his] own making,” with Jean-Luc arguing he’s no longer his pawn. “You are more than just a piece. You’re the very board on which this game is played,” Q corrects him, but Picard just wants him to cut to the chase. “The chase is bleeding. The chase is dying in your arms, and I am but a suture in the wound,” the trickster says. That’s when Picard realizes, “Q, you are not well.”

Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard and John de Lancie as Q in Star Trek Picard

Trae Patton/Paramount+

Q retakes control of the conversation, leaving us wondering just what’s going on with Q. “The one thing that we do try to do consistently in the series — this isn’t exactly an answer, but it’s an answer — is we try to make the time between the last time you saw the character and now matter,” executive producer Akiva Goldsman told TV Insider. “It’s not static, but those years that passed for us passed for them as well. It’s a little bit more complicated with Q because he doesn’t quite live in linear time. Nevertheless, the same burden of recent history that Picard brought to Season 1 Q is bringing to season 2.”

Adds de Lancie, “it is a slow progression and it’s not really an important commodity or important point in the beginning of the storyline. And it is intentionally hidden as it were. It’s like somebody’s just not gonna talk about what their health situations are, and that’s pretty much where it’s kept for a while.” Given all we know so far, we have to also think about his comments about Q needing Picard to “look at a particular issue that is important that he look at” because his character has “something at stake.”

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But Picard is busy at the moment, getting to know this new reality in which he now finds himself. While Q won’t tell him at the time where the Stargazer or his crew are (he’ll reunite with them soon enough, though), he does say, “we’re never too old to be students of our behaviors, Jean-Luc… I’ve had enough of your obstinance, your stubbornness, your insistence on changing in all ways but the one that matters. This is not a lesson. It’s a penance.”

In this new reality, Picard has alien slaves and trophies of skulls (including Sarek, Spock’s father). He’s “the greatest general the mighty Confederation of Earth has ever seen, the most bloodthirsty, merciless, ruthless, human to ever set out to conquer the galaxy.” And once he eventually reunites with the others — Agnes (Alison Pill), Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Raffi (Michelle Hurd), Elnor (Evan Evagora), and Rios (Santiago Cabrera), all of whom are also living different lives — they must trust the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) to travel back in time (as, is noted, Kirk’s Enterprise, though they had Spock, has done) to Los Angeles in 2024, when something was changed, to fix reality.

Star Trek: Picard, Thursdays, Paramount+