Later, on the bridge, Q appears on the Enterprise‘s main viewscreen and tells Picard that his time is running out. Worf reacts by pointing a phaser at him, but Picard restrains him, pointing out that he would be shooting the viewscreen instead of Q himself. Picard states that they will proceed the same regardless of Q’s involvement, stating that, “If we’re going to be damned, let’s be damned for what we really are.“
“Personal Log, Stardate 41153.8. Of the 24 hours Q allotted us to prove ourselves 11 have now passed without incident and yet I cannot forget Q’s prediction that we will face some critical test.“
In Picard’s ready room, Riker then tells the captain about objects appearing when thought of on the planet. Picard is a bit skeptical about Riker’s observations and orders Counselor Troi to join him and Riker on an away mission, which results in an awkward reunion on the bridge between Troi and Riker, her Imzadi.
On Deneb IV, Picard, Riker, and Troi meet with Zorn, but Zorn immediately becomes fearful since there is a Betazoid at the meeting. Troi assures Zorn that she is only half-Betazoid and that she can only sense strong emotions in people.
She then feels a strong flood of emotions coming from somewhere, namely pain, loneliness, and despair, but not from Zorn or his people. Zorn’s explanation is somewhat evasive, which makes Picard suspicious. The team begins to leave, and Picard tells Zorn that the Federation may not protect Farpoint anymore, to which Zorn says that the station may become vulnerable to species like the Ferengi, to which Picard replies, “Fine, let’s hope they find you as tasty as they did their past associates.“
Later, on the Enterprise-D, Riker finally meets Data in the ship’s holodeck, where the android is in a forest program trying to whistle “Pop Goes the Weasel“. He requests Data’s participation in the away mission, to which Data agrees. They then proceed to discuss Data’s background and his studies at the Academy, with Data admitting that, while superior to Humans in many ways, he would rather be Human.
As Riker and Data discuss the intricacies of the holodeck technology, Wesley enters the holodeck, excited about the potential of the technology, but accidentally falls into a pond, only to be rescued singlehandedly by Data. They exit as Picard is walking down a corridor, Riker stating that he is leading an away mission down to Deneb IV, and Wesley apologetically dripping water on the corridor carpet.
Riker then leads a team to explore more of Farpoint Station, with Yar, La Forge, Data, and Troi. Troi suggests that she and Riker explore the tunnels, but Riker – all too quickly – suggests that she go with Yar and La Forge instead, whilst he and Data explore the topside of the station.
Topside, Riker and Data are examining construction materials for the station, when Yar suddenly calls Riker with an update. La Forge reports that the tunnel walls of the passageway they’re in under the station are made of unfamiliar materials. Troi again senses great despair and pain eminating from somewhere, and is brought to her knees by the pressure of it.
Wesley asks his mother to let him see the bridge. Crusher hadn’t met Picard since her husband died, and goes with Wesley to see him on the bridge. Taken aback, Picard lets Wesley onto the bridge where he walks around in awe. Picard even lets Wesley sit in the captain’s chair, and Wesley is describing – much to Picard’s surprised – how much he knows about the bridge controls, when an alert sounds. Wesley reports that there is a perimeter alert, but Picard – believing that Wesley has touched something he shouldn’t have – orders him off the bridge. Worf confirms the perimeter alert, just as Dr Crusher escorts her son into the turbolift, clearly miffed. Security reports an unknown and unexpected ship approaching the planet. Picard orders shields up, and phasers ready.
Underground on Deneb IV, Troi believes that she’s getting close to working out what the pain and despair is all about, when Data reports that their comm signal is being blocked, and Troi thinks it’s as though something doesn’t want them to be in touch with Enterprise. The team heads back towards the surface.
Enterprise contacts Zorn about the approaching ship, but he insists he does not know the ship or expect one. The ship scans the Enterprise and begins attacking the surface of Deneb IV, though only the Old Bandi City rather than the station.
As the away team approach the surface of Deneb IV, La Forge reports that the tunnel material is now ordinary stone, resembling the material found on the surface. They can now hear and feel the attack on Old Bandi City from the unknown vessel.
The conspicuous targeted attack leads Picard to suggest that Zorn may have more information about the aliens than he is letting on and orders Riker to seize him (admittedly illegally) so that they may interrogate him further. After Picard confirms with Troi that attacking the ship will not violate the Prime Directive and orders phasers prepared, Q appears on the bridge.
Q says he expected force from Picard, when the motives of the ship should be clear. Picard orders the Enterprise in between the ship and the planet, but Worf says his control has been lost.
In the Bandi city, Riker and Data are caught in the attack, showered with dust and rubble. Data suddenly sits up and asks of Riker, “Are you undamaged?” whilst he himself is operating normally. They then find Zorn, who is cowering and blubbing under a table in his office. He now appears willing to explain, however he is transported out of his office while he screams in horror. Riker reports in to Picard about Zorn’s abduction, speculating that Q might be responsible. Q mocks the crew for not knowing who abducted Zorn, but then Troi reports a feeling of satisfaction emanating from the alien vessel. Riker and Data return to the Enterprise. Q goads Picard into ordering an away team onto the vessel, which Picard resists, but Riker volunteers, independent of Q’s mocking.
Picard goes to visit Dr Crusher to apologise for his conduct with her and Wesley earlier. He also says that he would consider and approve a transfer request, if her working with him serves as a continual reminder of the loss of her husband. She reveals to him that she actually requested this assignment, and her personal feelings will have no impact in how she serves in her posting. Picard hopes they can be friends, for which she is grateful.
Riker and the away team beam over to the entity and see that its corridors are exactly the same as the underground tunnels on Deneb IV. Troi suddenly senses a new anger, this time directed towards the Old Bandi City – the place that the ship was attacking.
Riker reports back to Enterprise that this ship is like no other ship he’s experienced: no machinery, no crew, no readouts. After Troi senses Zorn’s fear, they find him suspended in mid-air, being tortured. Riker and Data fire their phasers and free him.
Picard attempts to beam the away team back from the entity, but is unsuccessful. Q returns, now wearing the uniform of a Starfleet captain, and informs him that the time of the test has expired. Picard begs Q to let him rescue his people, even to the point of promising to do whatever he says if he does so. At that exact moment, the away team is transported back to the Enterprise, and Q and Picard appear ready to honor that hastily made bargain. However, Troi points out that it was the entity, not Q, that returned the away team to the Enterprise.
Soon, the captain realizes the truth: the Bandi have captured an alien lifeform, a space-dwelling being, and have constructed Farpoint Station and its goods by feeding off its power; feeding it the energy it needs just enough to keep it alive so it can morph into any shape Farpoint wants. The ship in space is not actually a ship, but rather the alien life-form’s mate.
Picard assists the captured alien by using the Enterprise‘s phasers to deliver an energy beam to the entity allowing it to break free of its bonds, thus solving the mystery much to Q’s dismay. Q then retreats, though he hints that it won’t be the last time the crew sees him.
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 41174.2. The agreement for the rebuilding of Farpoint Station has been completed per my instructions.“
With the Farpoint mission over, the crew settles in. Picard asks Riker if he has a problem. Riker replies that he wonders if all their missions will be like their first. Picard assures him that he doesn’t think so – they should be much more interesting. Picard orders Lt. La Forge to set a course, “Let’s see what’s out there. Engage.“