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Star Trek Hints Q Will Return In Picard Series

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After several references to the Q Continuum, Star Trek: Lower Decks brought back the fan-favorite character Q, played by John de Lancie, for a humorous cameo appearance — that hints the character could appear in Star Trek: Picard. The character Q had an instrumental role in developing the tone of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it's no mere coincidence that his appearances bookend the series. However, Q remains uniquely suited for the TNG ethos, and his character never really fit in with later series. Based on the recent appearance in Lower Decks, however, that looks to change.

Q first appeared in the TNG series premiere "Encounter at Farpoint," characterized as an alien similar to humankind's many trickster God myths. Q put the Enterprise crew on trial for the crimes of humanity, demanding they prove to him that their species deserves to exist. The episode channeled the spirit of The Original Series episodes like "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "Plato's Stepchildren," which fused pseudo-religious philosophy and fantasy. The experience left an impression on the omniscient being, and sparked his interest in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).

Although de Lancie would reprise the role for a few episodes in later series, none of these Q appearances are as memorable or significant as his contributions to TNG. Q appeared in a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager — in many ways TNG's spiritual successor — in stories that feel like forced attempts to replicate the Picard-Q dynamic. Although he was a beloved character, Q simply didn't fit into the tone Star Trek was increasingly developing by the time Voyager was on the air. In bringing him back, Lower Decks is reviving an alien race that hasn't really featured in the franchise — outside of extended universe materials — in almost 20 years, and is setting up a possible role in Picard's future. Not only does the reference hint that Q could return in the sequel series, it is easing the character back into contemporary Star Trek while also offering a plausible reason for Q's renewed interest in humanity.


In the Lower Decks episode "Veritas," Q makes a welcome return in a cameo that sees the character in his original "Encounter at Farpoint" attire. He attempts to goad Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) into matching wits with him, but she promptly shoots him down, telling him to "go find Picard." Q responds "Oh Picard! He's no fun. He's always quoting Shakespeare, he's always making wine..." — a reference to Picard running his family vinyard at the beginning of Star Trek: Picard. While this is possibly a continuity error, as the events being alluded to haven't yet happened when the Lower Decks episode takes place, it may actually be laying the groundwork for de Lancie to revisit his favorite "Capitaine." In addition to the fact that the Q cameo on Lower Decks predicts Picard's future, it also provides a reason for Q to return in Star Trek: Picard: because Picard is fun again.

Star Trek: Picard season 2 is expected to feature Picard leading a rag-tag team of misfits on various adventures in space. This offers the perfect opportunity for Q to reappear in Picard's life — if only for a cameo similar to the one in Lower Decks. For the most part, Star Trek has moved past the more fantasy-inspired plots of TOS and TNG, and seemingly-magical beings are unlikely to have a role in the series going forward; however, Picard has demonstrated a willingness to celebrate beloved ideas and characters from TNG, and Q was such a significant character for Captain Picard's overall TNG arc, the sequel series would be remise to not include de Lancie's mischievous trouble-maker. Q has saved Picard's life more than once, and the former Starfleet captain just died and became reborn as an android — it's hard to believe that none of these developments would spark Q's interest.

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