The return of Q has been a big part of the second season of Star Trek: Picard and there are many mysteries still to unfold. On Monday during a Paramount+ Twitter Spaces chat, actor John de Lancie offered up more details on what’s going on and what’s driving Q in season two. He also cleared up some questions about Q and Guinan’s backstory, and more.
Q’s existential dilemma… and about that slap
Last week John de Lancie was talking about how Q is trying to help Jean-Luc Picard in season two. During the Twitter Spaces event, the actor talked more about Q’s personal motivation:
It’s not only about Picard, it is deeply personal to Q… Whereas before Q seemed to be poking and prodding… this time the story is such that there’s an urgency to all of this. And the urgency is for something to be done NOW, not only for him but for me… This is a different facet from earlier portrayals and that is that Q is faced with kind of an existential dilemma… and his service to Picard is more than just getting Picard to have a more fulfilled life.
In the second episode of Picard season two, Q showed how things are different this time by striking Picard hard enough to cause a nosebleed. De Lancie talked about how that was actually his idea to emphasize the stakes:
That was something that I added… It should be shocking. I hope so. And then mostly is it should show that it’s not playtime. I don’t have the time for this to be and extended back and forth between Picard and I. I’ve come there to be helpful in the most profound sort of way for him. But also, there’s a motivation for me as well.
How Picard relates to classic TNG episodes
The actor also talked about how Picard carries on from the last time Q and Picard interacted in the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation:
If you take the direct line from “All Good Things…” When he is talking to Picard at the end, I went back to look at that. I wanted to see what my subtext was at that point. And we’d moved into a more serious Q by that time. We moved into somebody who’s saying, ‘Come out and explore the infinite possibilities of existence, see you out there.’ Well, 20 years later, this is out there. I’ve now come back. And with that I am bringing a different reality to our relationship.
In the sixth season TNG episode “Tapestry,” Q changes a single choice in Picard’s youth to show him how it would change his life. When asked about the parallel with season two of Picard, de Lancie talked about what is the same, and what isn’t:
One of the things about “Tapestry,” in the best of what Star Trek is, Star Trek is kind of oftentimes a cautionary tale. The best Q episodes are the ones in which there was something of a large philosophical nature at stake. Those were the ones that I always felt were the ones that work the best, not whether Q loved Vash or Vash loved Q or some nonsense like that. So “Tapestry” is a very good example of it. “All Good Things…” is an example of it. [“Death Wish”] Voyager is another good example.
And in this Picard season 2, we are back in that kind of saddle again. But just so that you understand and that the audience understands. I’m a catalyst. Unlike when I would come on in Next Generation and be sort of wall-to-wall words. I am a catalyst in this. So I’m there to get the ball rolling. I’m there to make sure certain things happen. There’s a distinction there.
As with “All Good Things…” and “Tapestry,” Q is again playing with time in Picard, but de Lancie said there is more to it:
From Q’s point of view, time travel is a parlor trick. That’s not really what the issue is. It’s psychological. So what I am playing is psychological. The whole issue of time travel and this and that; that fits in only if it serves the psychological… It’s not just time travel. It’s why?
Explaining Guinan and Q’s history
Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan is also in season 2 of Picard, and de Lancie was asked about the first encounter between their characters in the TNG episode “Q Who” where Guinan raised her hands in a specific way, as if she had some ability to defend herself from Q’s powers. When asked about this moment, the actor revealed that he and Goldberg came up with this on their own:
It was not implicit in the writing, when Whoopi and I had that first meeting. It was not implicit in the writing as to what our relationship was. There was certainly no talk about backstory and what have you. And this is one of those little actor tricks that can get done every once in a while. That particular scene, which I really remember well, we both read it a couple of times, we said the words out, and we both expressed a little bit of like, ‘Ugh, the scene seems a little flat. What can we do? How can we make the scene better?’ Which you see by our hands going up. Don’t get any closer! Like the sign of the cross with a vampire. Which was perhaps a cheap way of taking the audience’s eye off the fact that the scene was a little limp and gave it a little bit of a spin. Little did either of us realize that it was going to become a whole thing of ‘What is all of this stuff going on with Guinan?’ For which I go, ‘I don’t know.’ [laughs]
As for when the characters had met before, the actor joked “it was a bad date.”
Up for more Q
During the chat, de Lancie confirmed he does not return to Picard in season three; however, he said he was open to returning to the franchise on any of the other shows:
Sure. Of course, It is like anything else. It comes down to what’s the story and is it something that I can do well and would I be contributing and is it a good story to do? But nobody’s talked to me about anything.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on Fridays where Paramount+ is available around the world. In Canada, it airs on CTV Sci-Fi Channel on streams on Crave on Thursdays. Picard is also available on Fridays on Amazon Prime Video around the world.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news and analysis.