The episode also introduced Q, a villain who became the show’s perennial antagonist over its seven seasons. Played by John de Lancie, the seemingly invincible entity criticizes humankind’s flaws and history of destruction. That diatribe allows Picard to speak of how far humanity has come in the centuries that follow the audience’s present day, re-establishing that the series would continue to act as a vision of the future we can aspire toward.
“I think, as corny as it sounds, that the show is popular because it has a positive vision of what life might be like in the 24th century,” Jonathan Frakes said in 1990, just as the series was filming its 80th episode, surpassing the original series’ run of 79 episodes. Commander Riker himself went on to direct several episodes of the show, and most recently helmed an installment of the TNG-inspired FOX series The Orville.