Whilst en route to offer aid to a Federation colony following a mining explosion, the Enterprise’s journey is interrupted once again by the powerful Q. As always, Q wants to play games with the crew, and as always, he has an ulterior motive. This time, it’s to offer Riker the powers of the Q, but what will the straight-laced first officer do with omnipotence? And can he retain his essential humanity in the face of this life-changing power?
You’d think we’d earned a respite from Q after Encounter at Farpoint, but no, a handful of episodes and here he is again. The episode starts with some pointless set piece in which Q makes the bridge crew face off against some piglike aliens in French military uniforms (greetings and salutations, anyone), gives Tasha an emotional moment and Picard some Shakespeare, all before getting on to the actual plot. It’s a morality piece about the dangers of absolute power, but one that’s pretty heavy-handed – and also one that doesn’t quite work at this stage. At this point in the series, Riker is a pretty bland and boring character, so there’s not really much to hang his emotional reactions on. It’s just a shame that Q’s promise never to bother humanity again won’t be kept.
- Troi isn’t in this episode – she’s on leave to make a trip home. She shouldn’t have bothered – her mother will be coming to visit her in the next episode. Then again, maybe she went back to see old friends rather than family.
- After getting his power, Riker becomes arrogant and unbearable – he even dares to address Picard as “Jean-Luc”. There’s a dilemma moment in which his promise not to use his powers means he can’t save a little girl’s life, but since she’s a nameless extra, it hardly matters. After all, he does save Worf and Wesley – yes, he could have let Wesley die! To be fair, he later ages Wesley by ten years, bringing him closer to death, but it doesn’t last.
- Yar is put in a ‘penalty box’ for defying Q, in the knowledge that if anyone else breaks one of Q’s rules, they will take her place in the box and she will die. Faced with the frustration of being subject to Q’s whim, we see our tough security almost break down in tears – of course, it has to be the women who do the crying, but in this case I can forgive it. Remember where Yar is coming from – a world where rape gangs ran free and did what they liked. Any situation where she has to surrender control must make her feel just like she did in those bad times. I hope she’s working this out with Counsellor Troi.
- Worf remains pretty feral and simplistic – when is he going to grow a personality instead of just growling and pointing phasers at everything that moves?
Omnipotent for a day
You’ve just been given the powers of the Q – you can do anything you like. Of course, at the start you still think in linear human ways, so it might be difficult to adapt, but let’s say you decide to make full use of your gift.
Maybe at first you focus on yourself and your loved ones – you make sure they have everything they want, give yourself a solid gold house, that kind of thing. Unless you’re a selfless 24th century human, of course.
Next up, you have a bit of fun with space and time. You can construct any scenario you imagine, go to any time period. You can make people fall in love with you, make them forget (probably, it’s never really clear if the Q choose not to alter people’s thoughts, or cannot), punish wrongdoers, go back in time to visit your ancestors, Shakespeare, Henry VIII. It can be real, or it can be a constructed fantasy, it’s all the same to you.
Do you start fixing Earth at this point? Do you try to end hunger, poverty and war? Does it become like The Sims, as you micromanage humanity to a better place? Do you free Steven Avery? Or maybe it’s all meaningless to you now – not only is reality fluid and barely worth even calling ‘reality’, but the antics of humans are as ants to you.
And then, when you’ve done everything you might have possibly wanted to do, what next? Do you become ever more creative, perhaps more extreme and perverted? Do you get bored, and so once again decide to interfere in the lives of lesser being for amusement? Have you now, in fact, become Q?
Don’t think about it
- As my viewing companion points out, why do they still have manual mining operations in the 24th century? Surely they should have automation by this point. And anyway, what are they mining when the replicator can create pretty much anything? Do they just dig out rocks which can be converted to energy and then back to different things by the replicator process?
- The instant Riker regretted not saving the girl, he could have changed his mind and brought her back to life. Even if her body was rotting and long gone, he could have either gone back in time to save her, or brought her back from the past. In fact, he could have gone back and undone ever making the promise not to use his powers.
- Geordi was born blind – he has never had ‘normal’ human vision. So surely he would have struggled to interpret what he was seeing once Riker restored his sight. Would he have even considered Yar beautiful, given that his idea of beauty must be very different from that of a sighted person? Also, the only reason Riker knows Geordi craves normal sight is because Geordi got so upset about in the The Naked Now. Before that everyone seemed to think he felt fine just the way he is.
- Klingon foreplay (I’m assuming that there’s more physical contact to the real thing) is quite violent. Also, is Worf’s greatest wish really to have a good hard shag with a Klingon woman? What about getting his family back?
- The Q Continuum steps in to fix everything at the end, much like Trelane’s parents did way back when.
A couple of things from ‘The Battle’
- In this century, the brain is “fully charted”, headaches are rare and unusual, and the common cold has been cured. So, quite an advance on McCoy’s day, then.
- Picard and the Stargazer crew were adrift in shuttlecraft for weeks – these must be a lot better than the 23rd century shuttlecraft, which barely had enough provisions for a few hours.
Summary – Hide and Q: What does this episode title actually mean? If it’s a pun, I’m not getting it