Q Who


Q Who

Our old friend Q is back. And he is taking the Enterprise to meet some new friends. They are not very friendly though. They destroyed Guinan’s planet 100 years ago. Guinan and Q are also old friends. Really old. They have known each other for 200 years. And they are not really friends. Brain full yet? There is still so much more to learn when we put Q Who in the Mission Log.

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  • Adam Buxton

    Cant wait to listen! Will the take out be our societies growing dependance on technology?

  • Stephen McFadden

    I just wanted to post a quick one about the alert system for missing people/shuttles on the Enterprise.

    This is a system design issue, basically what would be monitored are things like, the opening of the shuttlebay doors, the use of the transporters, the detection of transporter signals, an unexpected increase in the number of lifeforms on board.

    A decrease in materials or personnel would not be an area of focus as causes of that decrease are more easily monitored and don’t require active sensor systems. This would be a power drain and constantly watching, just in case, is always a drain on resources.


    • Endocrom .

      True, although considering the Captain’s position and history so far (“The Battle” if I’m remembering correctly), they might want to make an exception.
      The trick will be to do this without making Picard feel like one of those toddlers at the park that are literally leashed to their parents.

      • Stephen McFadden

        It’s more about procedure than anything else. You can go further and monitor biological data from any crew member, but that requires resources, monitoring etc…

        So how complex is the enterprise? How much effort is required to monitor the ship itself and space around it. Given the size of the bridge crew, fairly complex. Anything else you monitor is a distraction and… The enterprise can function without its captain.

  • CmdrR

    The Borg are TNG’s best villains. Q is a close second. You mentioned how it might get “messed up” if they ever gave the Borg a Queen. For whatever reason, I think of Victor Buono from “Man from Atlantis.” He’s a recurring villain who is always defeated. He goes from threatening the world unless someone pays him a billion dollars… to asking for one million dollars in kind of a defeated sheepish way. Done wrong, recurring villains are like that. They become an annoyance rather than a menace. In ‘Q Who’ the Borg are ominous in their dead-eyed singular motivation to take you and your stuff. By the time we get to Voyager’s overuse of the Borg, they’re just monologueing pests. Ah well.

    • Durakken

      I hate when people say the Borg Queen messed up the Borg. It’s just not true. Any system that works as a collective has a governor and that governor is going to have higher level functionality as well as avatar like characteristics. Likewise the Borg Queen doesn’t take away necessarily from the menace of the Borg as the Borg operate as a collective and indipendently based on imperatives set by some nodal governor that directs which Borg goes where. This being stated doesn’t lessen the fact that this must be happening in the background of all that “Zombie-like” behavior that people derive the “menace” from. That menace come directly from the idea that each borg does whatever it is doing mindlessly having been given its initial orders from the collective mind of all. You kill one of them, the goal remains the same and another takes its place. The menace is the same.

      However… those that don’t realize that without it being stated may see it as losing some of the menace because its an inherent weakness that can be exploited. The fact that this weakness wasn’t exploited right from the beginning is simply lack of understanding how these things work while it’s later understanding and usage is bad writing, not because its there or that it “ruins the borg”, but because, again, it lacks understanding how such a system as the borg would operate. It’s the implications of First Contact and Voyager that hurt the borg. It’s the idea that you can kill a single cell in an amorphous system with multiple redundancies and protocols and do severe damage to the whole of the system directly and it takes them years to recoup that ruins the Borg, if anything.

      • Jenny Jackson-Smith

        I think for me, part of what makes the Queen an unsatisfactory addition to the Borg mythos is that she makes the Borg more understandable… I can wrap my head around the idea of a hive mind controlled by one central individual… I can’t wrap my head around a mass of individuals with their individuality stripped and all their minds working as one. That is so completely foreign, so it is much more frightening.

        • Durakken

          You’ve got it wrong…
          The “Queen” is the manefistation of the minds working as one, governed itself by what I’d call the “Queen Protocol.” The Queen is no more controlling the Borg than the Borg aren’t a mind working together as one. They’re the same thing.

          The only difference is perspective and what part of the whole you are dealing with. When you see a borg drone you are talking to a cell in the body. When you see a Queen you are talking to a governor of a particular node. The drones and queens are just different parts of the same whole that act differently due to their function being different.

          The only problem, again, is the writing and misunderstanding of this fact. The queens we see are the governors of the nodes that have to be more personable to deal with persons… or should be. They are not central Queen… or shouldn’t be. As that core should be less personal as it shouldn’t have character traits needed to deal with individuals, but all the same, that queen would be different from a drone too.

          Also to maintain something as not understandable would not be inline with good story telling, especially when dealing with a group of people who’s sole goul is to attempt to understand things. To impose that on the scenario would automatically imply the incompetence of the federations and the inferiority of individuality as the borg argue…which instantly gives you understanding again which ruins the borg in your eyes still. So it’s a no win, but 1 is bad writing and the other is not. Not making the borg more understandable as time goes on would be bad writing.

          • Jenny Jackson-Smith

            heh, I’ve “got it wrong” about a fictional species that neither of us had a part in inventing… interesting…

            Anyway, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I think an enemy that is beyond our comprehension is way more frightening than one that we can quantify. Yes, I think we should learn more about them as time went on, but personally, I would have rather had the things we learned about them make them more foreign than make them more able to understand (and therefore predict).

            I do think they were the most successful villians that Star Trek created, but well, I just personally (and I guess I’m not alone in this) feel that the Queen humanized them too much.

          • Durakken

            Yes, you’ve got it wrong. It doesn’t take inventing something to spot when someone is making an error in their understanding of something. The Queen was descriptively said to be exactly what you’re talking about. You are having trouble comprehending that what you’re describing as you’re “prefered” interpretation is the exact same as what the Queen actually is said to be. She IS the Borg. The Borg ARE her. The same way I am my cells and they are me. The minds that make up the borg are what make her. She’s not controlling those minds. She is those minds.

            And that is why when she appears on Voyagers the writers get it wrong half the time. That same miscomprehension of that fact… but at the same time during her appearances Unimatrix 0 is happening so the Borg are glitching so that helps cover that up.

            As to the rest, the unknown is always frightening. It’s overcoming this fear of the unknown that is part of Star Trek’s overall themes. We encounter something unknown and it makes us afraid. It could kill us, but we can’t grow unless we explore and interact with it. Come to understand it. And then we stop fearing it, because we now understand it. The Borg becoming understandable and less scary is a triumph of ST and Sci-fi, not some ruining of it.

            You’d only be right in saying the Borg Queen ruined or humans the Borg too much if we were watching a horror movie or series.

          • Jenny Jackson-Smith

            alright, last comment from me in this particular discussion… interpretation of an idea that we did not create… it is just interpretation. You can’t know the intention of the creators because you are not them, neither can I. I personally feel dissatisfied because coalescing the borg into one person (the queen) made them other than what they were presented to be here… I know why they did it, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing to me. And yes, that is just MY interpretation… but it is just as valid as yours because neither one of us are the minds behind the Borg.

        • Robert Greffey

          Agreed. The whole queen concept just ended up making the Borg a bit more pedestrian, IMHO. It robbed them of some of their alienness that made them creepy.

          But okay, I was willing to accept that this collective consciousness might culminate and manifest into a single personality that can be represented in an individual being. What managed to still irk me about her in First Contact was her desire for a mate.

          The Borg society has made a tremendous effort to eliminate the concept of individuality, only to have that collective personality still feel the need for an equal individual personality to be its companion. Huh? It just undermines the entire concept of the advantage of the being a collective. You’d think this kind of contradiction would cause some reexamination of the entire idea underlying their way of life. Especially since this need is exactly what ends up undermining their Assimilate Earth: Plan B that was the plot of the movie.

          Add to that, despite whatever words the script put in her mouth, I don’t buy that she wanted an individual to be her mate. Or at least Picard. Picard would never have led that assault at Wolf 359 killing thousands of his comrades. Locutus was not Picard. It was what was left of Picard after she had broken him and bent him to her will. So if she doesn’t really want an equal, it just comes off like she’s just horny or something.

          Lame. And perhaps even a bit sexist.

          So at the risk of inviting Durakken’s wrath, I’m firmly in the “Borg Queen ruined the Borg” camp. I had problems with it conceptually, and the actual execution of the idea made it unforgivably bad. But, that’s the kind of thing that happens when you try to take a frightening sci-fi concept and make it a gimmick for your dumb action movie…

          • Durakken

            The mating thing… How much of that was just an act for the sake of Data and such? And what type of “mating” are we talking about. As I recall she was proposing something of a merging of the two purposes converging on a “perfect” being that lies inbetween machine trying to be man and man trying to be machine.

            Locutus supports the Queen Protocol hypothesis and a first attempt at adapting to dealing with human individualism.

            I would point out that individuals continually undermining Borg ships would cause the Borg who rapidly adapt to situations would cause individuality to emerge…or rather there would be at least 2 branches. More strict collective and less strict collective…and variations to attempt to deal with the problem that is the Federation. So would not be at all unusual if you got some completely individuated borg and queens… In fact Unimatrix 0 might actually be a result of this.

            I agreee in large part with what you’re saying, but I think saying “The Borg Queen ruined the Borg” is wrong as the concept of a Borg Queen didn’t. It’s all that extra added stuff that did it. I admit that they used the concept badly, but if they handled it properly and explored it more fully, that transition of individuating and factioning, I think it would make for a great series.

      • CmdrR

        Fine. I’ll agree with “messed up” by overuse and bad writing. Voyager had its crew teaming up with the Borg to defeat the unconvincing cg creatures from ‘fluidic space’ (which it turns out worked like regular space, but was ‘fluidic’). I think there is a general rule that the more you see a monster the less scary it is. See: Jaws, Alien, the Raymond Burr version of Godzilla or the newest one. All of those directors wound up withholding the goods to build our fear. I didn’t even mind Alice Krige’s performance in ‘First Contact’ and ‘End Game.’ But several other appearances of the Borg sapped the tension of the hidden enemy. IMHO.

        • Durakken

          Right… but Star Trek isn’t Horror and the hosts of the podcast are wrong when they said the queen dumbs ST down. By trying to make ST about horror the fans are dumbing down Star Trek. Humanizing an inhuman enemy is in line with the overall message of Star Trek that your “enemies” no matter how inhuman or weird they seem, are people too.

          • McDunno

            Star Trek may not be “horror” per se, but that doesn’t mean that it should be precluded from delving into the horror genre. In fact, it did so from the very beginning. “The Man Trap” is a horror story about a killer alien who can assume any form (sort of like John Carpenter’s The Thing). “Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” can easily be considered horror stories about godlike powers in the hands of a mere mortal (similar to Jerome Bixby’s It’s a Good Life).

            The list goes on: “The Devil in the Dark”, “And the Children Shall Lead”, “Day of the Dove”, “The Empath”. I think a credible case could be made that each of these is in the horror genre. Actually, I would go so far as to say that “Catspaw” is in the horror genre, although it failed on every level; as horror, as a Star Trek story, and as a piece of fiction in general.

            As for your opinion on the Borg Queen, it is just that: opinion. If the introduction of the Borg Queen increased your appreciation of the Borg, good for you. There is no way you can tell someone they are wrong when they say that their appreciation of the Borg decreased with the introduction of the Borg Queen.

            And since we’re talking genres, and I have already established that Star Trek is no stranger to horror, I can easily see the point of view that runaway technology in the form of forced cybernetic implants is a worthy topic for a science fiction show and the depiction of that topic is far more effective when it is presented in the form of a horror-inducing, implacable, faceless foe, rather than the form of an enemy that can negotiate and be understood.

          • Durakken

            Sci-fi delves into horror to deliver a message through an arc going from unknown to understanding. Horror is just there to make you feel afraid. The exact opposite of sci-fi.

          • McDunno

            You seem to have some rather narrow parameters for what can be considered “sci-fi” and what constitutes “understanding”.

            While I accept that you find the Borg Queen added to your enjoyment of the Borg as a villain, simply put, the Borg are faceless, lacking in personality, and difficult to understand. Moviegoing audiences do not like things that are faceless, lacking in personality, and difficult to understand. Therefore, the Borg Queen was created to appeal to that broader audience.

            The Borg did not go “from unknown to understanding”; they were just made easier to understand.

          • Durakken

            You say as most horror films are based on faceless, lacking in personality, difficult to understand and there is a glut of them because they are popular showing that what you are saying is nonsense.

          • McDunno

            What are you talking about? I never said any of that. To quote something I vaguely remember reading in this forum:

            “And that is not what I said. Don’t misconstrue what people say.”

      • TrixieB


  • Jenny Jackson-Smith

    I wonder if anyone other than me was annoyed by Guinan in this episode…

    When Picard asks her what she knows about this area of space, she just says “turn around now…”, no specifics. If she is supposed to know Picard as well as she is represented as knowing him, she would know that wouldn’t be enough… why didn’t she give specifics about the Borg? Honestly, that might not have been enough to get Picard to turn around even then, but they would have at least been better prepared.

    This is one of those situations where I feel like the writing was not at its peak. I know the actual reason why she didn’t give specifics — for dramatic effect. It is better as an audience to have the villian revealed to us slowly. But it feels…forced. She should have said something. Both because it would have been the smart thing to do and because it would make more sense given what we know about her and her character.

    • Jeff Smith

      Kind of like in “Skin of Evil” when the black goo rises up into the form of (roughly) a man, and Picard, aboard the Enterprise, says, “What do you see?” and Riker responds “Trouble!” As you say, I understand the need to be dramatic, but sometimes it’s just silly.

  • Joe Blow

    REMINDER: The BORG were just like us before they developed cell phones.

  • Mike Poteet

    Never, ever, ever have I thought Q’s line referred to Kirk, although I can easily imagine the scene Ken sketches. I always took it to be TNG’s commentary that knowing when to ask for help is an important part of maturation, whether as an individual or as a species. Q sounds not just surprised but even a little impressed during his response to Picard; I hear an undercurrent of, “There may be hope for you and your kind yet.”

    And I’m not so sure Kirk wouldn’t have done the same. What is it McCoy tells Kirk he does in ST III – “what he had to do”? Given the situation as it is in that final scene – where the only thing to be done is to throw oneself on Q’s mercy – Kirk may have done just that, if it meant his crew, his ship’s and his own survival. And what’s that phrase Kirk quotes to Edith Keeler as the three most important words in the universe – “Let me help”? Kirk knows the value of well-time help.

    Great conversation about a great episode. Thanks for it!

  • Wildride

    You need to watch more closely. When the saucer is cored, and the Borg are pulling it out, the Enterprise hits them with full phasers and the tractor beam shuts off, leaving the section out in space (maybe with inertia floating towards the Borg ship, I guess). They have no shielding from the vacuum of space. They are dead. But the Borg aren’t doing anything with them unless they later scooped them up.

    Occam’s razor, assume they couldn’t just beam them back before they died of asphyxiation (most likely cause) because someone probably would’ve mentioned that.

    • Arvis Jaggamar

      Also beaming them back would require lowering the shields, which would have left them defenseless.

      They still had shields at that point, I believe.

  • Wildride

    One thing that’s interesting is the Borg check out some outposts: Not impressed. They check out the Enterprise: Not impressed, but may have some useful gadgets were grabbing. Enterprise, when under attacked, can unexpectedly travel at unmatched speeds: A-ha! That’s worth going after.

    For all we know, the Borg looked at their vanishing act, analyzed it and voila: Transwarp corridors.

    Of course, we don’t really know that the ship that showed up in BoBW wasn’t already on its way and Q did this knowing that and that they really weren’t ready.

    • Abeom

      Holy cow, After all these years, I NEVER imagined that THAT was the reason the borg followed the Enterprise. And the transwarp idea is also very cool, But I think they already had those “back” in St: ENT, right?

  • Reese

    Saw DeLancie give a speech in Vegas a few years ago. (I was there for business and had never been to a convention before. What a fun opportunity– had a great time.) He’s a swell speaker.

    • Arvis Jaggamar

      I met him and got his autograph at a convention and he seemed really grumpy and unfriendly. I assume he was having an off day and the encounter has not changed my very positive opinion of him.

  • wchmara

    Yeah, that “C’mon, Q! Let’s rock” pose that Guinan strikes was intriguing, and it is a shame that nothing further developed from that. She is, supposedly, an El Aurian, a humanoid race of “good listeners.” Q seems less than pleased with encountering her (and vice versa), so that suggests she is something more. Certainly Q cannot simply snap his fingers and make her go away.
    Q says Borg are neither male nor female. On the basis of this, Roddenberry forced a disclaimer into Peter David’s novel, Vendetta, stating that the author’s interpretation of the Trek universe differed from his own. Much later, of course, we would get to see a Borg Queen.
    These beings originated in the Delta Quadrant. where, presumably, there would be far less humanoid species to assimilate, yet we have never seen one that didn’t have the standard Borg form. An episode of Doctor Who (“School Reunion”) introduced a species which also went through space assimilating other species, albeit biologically. Today, they have no resemblance to their original form. You’d think by absorbing the high tech of countless worlds for who knows how long, the Borg drone would be streamlined, fast, and have hundreds of options built in for subduing resistance, rather than the slow-witted clunkers that debuted here and remained until the franchise’s end.

    • Does seem they’d be more efficient with some kind of shape-changing form or at least the ability to alter form enough when the job needs it.

      • CmdrR

        The same could be said of the Federation, considering how much tech they’ve discovered; certainly between the time of TOS and the later TNG period.

        • wchmara

          But isn’t all that reflected in the series? Ships that can carry families, higher warp velocities, faster and safer transporters that have extended range, replicators, more compact and specialized tricorders. When Mr. Scott turns up, even he, Kirk’s miracle worker, has to admit that he can’t wrap his brain around 24th century tech.

  • A letter from John de Lancie :

  • Zach Maben

    The most obvious metaphor to me was a political philosophy where the collective works together in complete equality and unity to improve themselves and to liberate others from the cruelty of individual existence. No?

  • Eric Schwenke

    Hi, I’ve only been listening since Wil Wheton posted a link to his interview to Facebook. I’ve since listened to all of the TNG reviews up to this one. You guys are great. Keep it up.

    I wanted to comment on the Gomez/hot chocolate incident. There’s a good reason for not wanting liquids near touch screens. No, getting one wet won’t blow up the ship, but it could make one malfunctioned until it was cleaned and it could malfunction more while cleaning it. Speaking as someone who has tried to wash dishes while playing a time-sensitive game on his iPad, it would be disasterous in an emergency, or could even cause an emergency because of what the engineering consoles could do. Imagine the hot chocolate spilling and the buttons suddenly doing nothing. Then you wipe it off and accidentally turn off life-support. Not good.

  • The decks sliced out of Big D by the Borg Cutting Beam.

    • Endocrom .

      Oh, no! They assimilated our office furniture tech. This will surely be the key to their victory in the alpha quadrant.

  • Jerry Stokes

    Are the Borg thhe equivelent to the Cibermen from “Doctor Who”?

  • Jerry Stokes

    Even if they let Borg space, as soon as they got tere, wouldn’t the Borg have found them, anyway? I think so.

  • One of those early episodes that was shown in the theatre – as a one night stand no less.

  • Cygnus-X1

    I was a bit surprised that you guys didn’t mention a very likely basis for the origination of the Borg as characters: “…The Cybermen were originally a wholly organic species of humanoids originating on Earth’s twin planet Mondas
    that began to implant more and more artificial parts into their bodies
    as a means of self-preservation. This led to the race becoming coldly
    logical and calculating, with every emotion deleted from their minds.”

    Sound familiar?


    • I thought we had mentioned something in passing. Maybe not. We simply don’t have good evidence to support the idea that there was a direct influence. Similar ideas? Yes. A smoking gun that someone wrote a memo saying “I saw this cool idea on a British sci-fi show”? No.

      • Cygnus-X1

        I would be very surprised to learn of the discovery of a “Let’s rip off Dr. Who” memo. But, I submit the following for your consideration. The Cybermen had been around for over 20 years by the time of “Q Who,” as regular characters in the longest running, most popular British sci-fi show (which I used to watch on PBS as a kid). How likely is it that people doing sci-fi TV for a living in the late 1980s would not have been aware of the Cybermen? I’m actually not very familiar with the Cybermen storylines, but just Googling it real quick look at what I turned up: “Back on Telos the Cybermen plan to travel back in time to 1985 and
        destroy life on Earth. They hope this will prevent Mondas from being
        destroyed.” Sound familiar? Yup, it’s the premise of Star Trek: First Contact. And have a look at the clip that follows. Toward the end we see Cybermen regenerating in alcoves remarkably similar to those of the Borg. The only meaningful difference between the Cybermen and the Borg seems to be in the personalities—the Borg are a collective consciousness entirely focused upon assimilation, whereas the Cybermen are individuals portrayed as somewhat evil. But, even that difference changed in later TNG episodes (“Descent”) where Lor (corollary to the influence of Hugh) manages to turn the Borg from dispassionate to somewhat evil. Lastly, imagine that an American sci-fi show, like “Babylon 5,” rather than “Dr. Who,” had introduced The Cybermen as regular characters after the Borg had become well-known on TNG. Given the number and degree of similarities between these two characterizations, what do you suppose the reaction/reception would have been, among fans and within the industry?

        • Yep – again, lots of similarities. For trivia, we try to stay with topics for which we can point to specific evidence. Definitely heard fans discuss Cybermen and Borg before – and “Captain EO” and the Borg before. It’s all interesting, just not the discussion we wanted to have on the show.

          • Cygnus-X1

            Obviously it is your show and your call. With respect to trivia and specific evidence, if you are interested, the following could be an entre into raising the curious issue of the similarities when you review a subsequent episode of TNG featuring the Borg:

            “Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 is an eight-issue limited series comic book written by Scott and David Tipton, assisted by Tony Lee on issues 1 to 4, with art by J.K. Woodward. The series is published by IDW Publishing
            with the first issue released in May 2012. These were collected in two graphic novels published on 9 October 2012 and 26 February 2013. It is across-over featuring the science-fiction series Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Assimilation2 sees the Doctor and his companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, encounter the crew of the USS Enterprise-D, joining together to stop an alliance between the Borg and the Cybermen.”


            And who knows what else you might turn up if you dig into this issue a bit. Even a statement from someone in the production denying any direct influence would be interesting. I do acknowledge that the Cybermen and the Borg as creative concepts could have evolved in parallel rather than in series (causally connected)—they both could have been influenced by a common fictitious ancestor. But it is a juicy coincidence. . . .

  • As Published in “The Continuing Mission:”

  • McParadigm

    The “Borg as corporation/religion” discussion really misses a key theme of Star Trek that the guys have overlooked in past episodes, as well.

    Star Trek repeatedly takes an interestingly wary stance on technology as a form of human betterment. It’s how the show asserts its humanity, in the midst of all this advanced scifi tech problem solving. Technological advancement as loss of humanity is touched on time and again. The philosophy is basically that our technology will carry us to new places, but our humanity will make us worthy of the journey.

    The Borg is the perfect representation of Star Trek’s tech-wary version of scifi.

  • TrixieB

    Q really takes petty to new levels. Hes still one of my favourites though!

    I really appreciate how much sexism you guys call out. So, I feel you’ll be okay hearing about a wee quibble. 1) Babble. Only women or children are said to babble. She could have been talking. Babble and chatter are things only ascribed to women and children. 2) Breast jokes?? Ya coulda mentioned the scene without laughing and commenting. That’s adding to the objectification you were so awesome in pointing out.

    Truly appreciate all the work. I’m here for the duration and then all the way through Moonlighting!

    • Hi @disqus_v1SZHOyrDT:disqus – glad you’ve found us and thanks for listening and commenting! 1) Was not aware of a sexist context to “babble.” In Star Trek “technobabble” applies to everyone all the time. 2) The scene in “Total Recall?” Sure, we’ll slip into jokes very often on the show, and it seems like that’s a scene that definitely never took itself seriously.
      “Kolchak” then “Moonlighting” and make sure you stick around for “The Love Boat” and “Supertrain!” 🙂

  • TrixieB

    I think Kirk would have gotten them out by asking earlier. Picard did it to save them, but I didn’t see it as sincere. First episode Picard was genuine with Q. I think here he just capitulated.

    Plus, he really needs to learn to listen

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    Why does the ship systems not detect the disappearance of Picard and the shuttlecraft? I assumed that it was Q’s doing, though that begs the question as to why he would feel the need to be so considerate or devious.

    Q’s whole demeanour here is different from previous appearances: sombre, sober, saturnine. DeLancie has quoted the line about Lord byron to describe Q: “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”. I wish that he had been presented this way from the start.