‘Star Trek: Picard’: Why Q and Picard’s Relationship is “Profoundly Deep”

As Trekkies likely are aware by now, John de Lancie will be reprising his role as Q in the second season of Star Trek: Picard. Back in April, writer and producer Akiva Goldman called Q’s relationship with Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart) “profoundly deep” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. That seems to be especially true given what we’ve learned from the second trailer, released earlier this week during Star Trek Day.

Q helps Picard make sense of himself

Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart at the SiriusXM Hollywood Studio, 2020 | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

In the Next Generation episode ‘Tapestry,’ Picard is bemoaning some of the rashness he demonstrated as a younger man. Q gives him the opportunity to see what his life would be like if he had been a more cautious, rule-abiding person at that age. And the answer is — his life would have been pretty unremarkable. 

The lesson is that the boldness he looks back on with self-judgment is actually what gives him the confidence and courage to take risks, something essential for a Starfleet captain.

It seems Q could be playing a similar role in the second season of Picard. In the most recent trailer, he says to Jean-Luc, “Welcome to the very end of the road not taken.” Given that this is a show that deals extensively with themes of regret and making amends, could this lean mean Q will again show him how things could have been if he’d made different choices?

If so, it could unfurl differently this time around. Picard is now in the final stage of his life. And he seems to be haunted by regret much more than he was during ‘Tapestry.’ The destruction of Romulus, his failure to be there for Raffi (Michelle Hurd) or for Elnor (Evan Evagora), his inability to save Data (Brent Spiner) — these are all things he regrets deeply. 

It could be more difficult this time around for him to make peace with his past. But given the nature of their relationship over the years, Q is the one you’d expect to give him a push down that path. Of course, his methods probably won’t be exactly welcome, though. And he’ll likely cause plenty of chaos along the way.

The judge and the defendant

The relationship between Q and Picard is also significant due to the roles Q casts them both in. By assuming the role of judge of humanity, he puts himself in a position where he is examining Picard closely, trying to understand his decisions and motivations. However arrogant or misguided his actions may be, he’s always trying to bring these deeper feelings and beliefs to the surface. And that certainly gives a depth to their relationship, unwanted as it may be on Picard’s side.

And the fact that Q essentially appoints Picard as a representative for all of humanity lends a gravity to their interactions. If Picard messes up, Q will take it as evidence against humanity’s continued existence. 

Q is a joker, and he loves to play games. But underneath all of that, there is a deadly seriousness to their relationship, as Q could wipe humanity out of existence in an instant. So Picard finds himself having to be a spokesperson for humanity’s better angels when Q is around. And it leads to some pretty interesting philosophical conversations.

Q respects Picard

Q’s omnipotence and immortality make it difficult for him to connect with others. He has a superiority complex. And the fact that he has few vulnerabilities means he has never really had to take a risk and let anyone else in. How can you grow close to other people if you don’t have to be vulnerable with them?

But Q respects Picard. In fact, Picard is probably the only person he feels any kind of real connection with. In fact, in the Next Generation episode ‘Deja Q,’ the Continuum strips Q of his powers and gives him the choice of becoming anything he wants as long as it’s mortal.

He chooses to become human, and to be placed on the Enterprise. This is incredibly revealing. When he finally does experience a moment of vulnerability, where does he feel safe? With Picard.

So how will that play into Picard Season 2? We know the crew will travel back to the 21st Century because, as Picard says in the second trailer, “Q went back in time and turned our world into a totalitarian nightmare.” But Q also repeats his line from the series finale of Next Generation, ‘All good things,’ when he says “the trial never ends.”

It’s probably safe to say that secretly, Q wants humanity to continue existing. And because of his interactions with Picard, which have allowed him to see the latter’s courage and integrity, he believes Jean-Luc can rise to the occasion and pass his tests. So that’s most likely what’s going on in the upcoming season.

Q is seemingly challenging Picard to prove humanity is worthy of existence one last time, deep down hoping he’ll pass the test. So things are different, and time has passed. But in some ways, their relationship dynamic will likely be the same as it ever was. 

Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard will premiere on Paramout+ in February 2022.

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