Star Trek: The Next Generation “Hide and Q”
Q’s promise to return at the end of “Encounter at Farpoint” excited fans. Hence, it was a pleasant surprise when we didn’t have to wait long for that return, which came just eight episodes later with “Hide and Q.”
The third installment of…
…begins with the Enterprise en route to a colony to deliver medical aid because of a mining accident. La Forge detects something approaching, which turns into the force-field Q whipped up during “Farpoint”.
Q himself pops up on the bridge in the form of a three-headed snake atop a glowing transparent ball, prompting Worf to do a nice leap over the panel that would soon be his professional move.
Picard tries to tell Q that they’re on an urgent mission, but Q says screw that, then turns into his human form, wearing a Starfleet admiral’s uniform.
After the title sequence, Q says that he’s returned with the promise of fulfilling any desires the crew may have. His attention shifts to Riker when the latter tries to object. When Riker says the crew doesn’t have time for games, Q’s ears perk up and whisks Riker, Yar, Worf, La Forge, and Data off. Picard is left alone on the bridge, unable to call any department on the ship or use the turbolifts.
The others are brought to an unknown world with green skies and twin moons, although it isn’t Tatooine. Apparently, Barry Lyndon is in Q’s top 10 favorite films, as the others spot him wearing French regalia from Napoleon’s time. He invites Riker to sit with him, giving him lemonade while giving the others drinks as well. Worf promptly dumps his on the ground. Q tries to lay out the rules of the “game” that they’ll be playing. Yar objects when Q says the game won’t be fair, leading to him making her vanish. He tells the others that Yar is in a penalty box. But if anyone else gets sent into it, Yar is basically screwed.
Yar soon returns to the bridge after Picard is unable to make a log entry. She starts to break down in a less-than-convincing way, prompting Picard to calm her down. Q pops up and says that the penalty is over (well, that was remarkably suspense-free). Q then reveals that he plans to see if Riker is worthy of what Q has to offer. Picard says that Riker will prevail and Q even agrees to leave everyone the hell alone if Riker wins.
On the planet, La Forge is tracking Worf, who’s getting a closer look at the soldiers that have suddenly appeared. The soldiers are dressed like Napoleon’s guards, but have the appearance of what Worf describes as “vicious animal things”.
Q is in Picard’s ready room looking at the captain’s nice volume of Shakespeare. He quickly learns not to debate about Shakespeare with Picard, who talks about how the Bard illustrates that humanity is not the easy pickings Q thinks it is. This pisses Q off enough to toss that nice, big book at Picard before vanishing.
Riker startles a returning Worf by testing the phasers, and then the latter reports on his findings. The guards are approaching as Riker asks Data for advice. But he turns around to reveal he’s Q with Data’s makeup on. The guards’ muskets shoot not bullets, but phaser-like fire. Q tells Riker that he now has the powers of the Q, and can send the others back by whisking them away. Riker does so and is left alone on the planet.
Q’s force-field vanishes and the ship is up and running again. Picard tells Yar to take the conn as he calls Engineering to see if everything’s back online. But this week’s chief engineer says that systems were never offline. Picard and Yar realize that Q suspended time, and talk as if they didn’t know he could do that (more on that later). Worf, La Forge, and Data return and Picard tells everyone that Q’s intention is to try to recruit Riker to his cause. But since they don’t know where Riker is, they have no choice but to resume their rescue mission.
Riker is on the planet laughing his ass off. Q teleports in, asking Riker why he doesn’t appreciate the power he now has. But Riker knows there’s a catch to this, and actually thanks Q when he says Riker sounds just like Picard. They have a debate on the nature of humanity with Q saying that his realm, the Q Continuum, simply wants to know more about humanity. But Riker still says thanks but no thanks. After Q vanishes, the others return to the planet, this time joined by Picard and Wesley. La Forge speaks for all of us when he says, “Come on, not again!”
Yar realizes they’re now unarmed as the soldiers approach again. Worf impulsively takes them on and is soon skewered. Wesley runs to help and is skewered as well and because we’re still in the first half of the first season, we know this brought nothing but cheers. In anger, Riker uses his power to wipe out the soldiers, while bringing the others back to the ship, restoring Worf and Wesley to life.
As the ship approaches its destination, Picard chats with Riker in his ready room. The captain cautions Riker not to use his powers, and Riker assures him that he’ll restrain himself.
Riker beams down with an away team to help survivors of that mining accident. La Forge sees someone in a pile of rubble with his VISOR. Sadly, it’s a young girl who’s now dead. Riker is pissed because he can’t use his new powers to revive her, and he even vents to Picard about it. But the captain says he did the right thing, leading to Riker wanting a meeting with the bridge crew after the mission is finished.
Everyone gathers on the bridge, with Riker referring to Picard by his first name in a condescending way. He says that he’s still the same person even with these new powers, but Picard brings up the adage that “Power corrupts.” Riker points out that he saved the crew from Q’s soldiers, although Picard points out that that was something Q himself manufactured. The others argue that the Q don’t really admire them as Riker was told.
Q then adds spice to this party by popping up dressed as a Franciscan monk (he obviously likes The Name of the Rose, too). Picard tells Riker that Q is simply full of shit and always has been. But Q says that Riker can prove his case by giving each of his friends something they always wanted. Riker starts with Wesley, turning him into an adult over Dr. Crusher’s objections. And nothing against the actor in this scene, but he looks nothing like Wil Wheaton.
Riker next tries to turn Data into a human, but Data says thanks but no thanks. Undaunted, Riker gives La Forge real eyes. He briefly takes in what his new eyes show him, even telling Yar that she’s beautiful. But like Data, La Forge respectfully tells Riker that he doesn’t want such a gift in this manner and asks for his previous eyes back, which Riker gives him.
Next up is Worf, whom Riker gives a generic Klingon lady to mate with. But Worf angrily knocks her down (foreplay, I guess) before telling Riker that this kind of life is not for him now.
Wesley also asks for his normal body back, despite Q’s pleas. This convinces Riker to side with Picard. And as in “Farpoint”, this episode ends with Picard telling Q to piss off, but this time, the Q Continuum gives him a hand with that when Picard reminds him of the agreement they made. As a result, Q vanishes in a cry of anguish as Wesley is back to his own age and the generic Klingon lady vanishes. The crew briefly ponder Q’s ability to suspend time once more before heading off.
De Lancie has stated that this is his least favorite of Q’s episodes. That’s understandable, because the implications of suddenly getting great power and knowing when it’s wise to use it has been done to death. One could call this episode a microcosm of Voyager, where Janeway didn’t give a shit when it came to helping others escape imminent disaster.
And I always wondered why the crew is so surprised all of a sudden at Q’s ability to suspend time. He did precisely the same thing in “Farpoint” when he took Picard, Yar, Troi, and Data to that post-apocalyptic court and O’Brien didn’t seem to be any the wiser.
But one intriguing aspect was when Picard points out that Riker saving the crew from Q’s soldiers was just something Q whipped up. The same can’t be said for that little girl’s death, so would those powers have worked in her case? This episode ends with the Continuum pissed off at Q, so could Q really have had an ulterior motive of his own in giving Riker those powers? Was this a plan of his to gain a greater voice in the Continuum by using Riker as a pawn? This could have made the episode quite intriguing. Alas, all we get is the more simplistic “absolute power corrupts absolutely” argument.
I must say, though, Worf says “flimflam” in the same funny way Spock said “Tallyho!” Also like “Farpoint,” “Hide and Q” is watchable thanks to De Lancie. Happily, for our next recap, we actually get a great script to compliment his great charisma.