John de Lancie reveals that it was his idea for Q to haul off and slap Jean-Luc in a pivotal Star Trek: Picard season 2, episode 1 scene.
John de Lancie says it was his idea for Q to slap Jean-Luc in episode 1 of Star Trek: Picard season 2. Season 1 of Paramount+’s Picard-centered Star Trek show brought back several fan favorite characters from Star Trek: TNG in addition to Picard himself. And even more TNG characters have returned for Picard season 2.
Of course some of those Picard season 1 returns – particularly Riker and Troi – were little more than cameo appearances that had only a minor impact on the actual story. The return of de Lancie’s Q in season 2 has been a different story however. Picard’s long-time antagonist not only showed up shockingly at the end of episode 1, but his actions were in fact the catalyst for the entire season’s story.
Exactly what is going on with Q in Picard season 2 is something that the show has yet to answer. However, it was clear from Q’s actions in episode 1 that the character is not the same as he was on TNG. As it turns out, Q’s most surprising action – hauling off and slapping Jean-Luc Picard across the face – was specifically intended to convey that Q is not his usual self. According to Q actor de Lancie, it was actually his own idea to get across Q’s greater sense of urgency in this blunt and physical way. As de Lancie told fans during a Twitter Spaces chat (via TrekMovie.com):
That was something that I added… It should be shocking. I hope so. And then mostly it should show that it’s not playtime. I don’t have the time for this to be an 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.
Long-time Star Trek fans were indeed shocked that Q would resort to such a basic human move as slapping someone in the face to get their attention. Q of course is well-known for being much more subtle in his actions as he messes with people’s heads in order to better study their behavior (and get a sadistic thrill out of being a prankster). But it’s clear Q is not back to play games like in the classic TNG episode “Qpid,” where he memorably forced the crew of the Enterprise to live out a scenario from the story of Robin Hood. This time around the stakes are much higher for the character, hence his need to cut through all the usual banter and get Picard to listen.
The thought of Q slapping Picard in the face would of course have been unthinkable on TNG, but that’s exactly why the moment is so effective. That de Lancie would grasp this and come up with the slap idea himself only shows how thoroughly he’s come to understand the character over the years. The fact that Q is seemingly in such desperate straits indeed makes the character’s return more interesting, helping elevate it above a standard fan-service move. It will be interesting to see what other unusual behaviors Q engages in as Star Trek: Picard season 2 plays out.
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