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The Trek Nation - Hide and Q

Hide and Q

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 4, 2007 - 9:32 PM GMT

See Also: 'Hide and Q' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: On a mission to evacuate the survivors of a deadly mining accident, the Enterprise is stopped in space by Q, who insists that the crew play a game with him far more important than the rescue mission. Q promises that, now that humans have come to the attention of the Q Continuum, the game could result in great glory for the entire species or in death. Under duress, Picard agrees only on the condition that Q stop meddling with his ship. Riker and an away team are promptly taken to the surface of a planet, where they are forced to relive a battle from the Napoleonic Wars with animalistic humanoids. As crewmembers start dying, Riker discovers that he has been given the power of the Q. He brings Wesley and Worf back to life but is ordered by Picard not to interfere any further, so he lets a child who died in the mining accident remain dead. Riker is upset by this and decides to use his new powers to grant everyone's greatest wishes, but one by one the crewmembers refuse what he thinks they want: vision for Geordi, adulthood for Wesley, being human for Data. Picard announces that Q has failed to tempt them and Q, howling in protest, is summoned back to the Continuum as Riker returns to normal.


Analysis: A bit more creativity, and "Hide and Q" could have been my favorite episode of The Next Generation's first season. But it chickens out at the critical moment, when Riker, given the opportunity to play God, demonstrates lack of both ingenuity and ambition, and that not only makes it mediocre, it diminishes everyone involved...except, oddly enough, for Q himself, despite a departure worthy of "The Squire of Gothos" himself, Trelane from the original series. Until that point, though, there's quite a bit of goofy fun and a delightful classic Star Trek feel: silly costumes, historical Earth anachronisms, an omniscient alien helplessly obsessed with humans, a captain in no mood for being manipulated and one of Star Trek's most popular gimmicks, dead people brought back to life.

But make Riker a Q, and what does he do? Absolutely nothing worth watching! He lacks the ambition of Gary Mitchell, though for a few minutes, when he's calling the captain "Jean-Luc" and suggesting that the laws governing mere mortals no longer apply to him, it appears that there might be some hope. But his surefire plan to bestow bliss upon his crewmates not only demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of what makes them tick, even the ones he claims to know well. It also proves to us as a viewing audience that halfway through the first season, the TNG writers still scarcely have a clue what these people are about! Wesley sometimes wishes he were taken seriously like an adult? Duh. Geordi dreams of being able to see the faces of his crewmates and be free of the VISOR that gives him headaches. Double duh. Worf feels isolated as the only Klingon on a ship of humans? Lo duh! And Data wants to be human? They told us this in the very first episode!

Riker's idea of providing "companionship" for Worf is to invent an animalistic Klingon woman who communicates in growls instead of speech and tries to smack Worf around, which probably says much more about Riker than about Worf...particularly since Worf points out that apart from the initial porn value, he has nothing in common with such a creature and no use for a mate who's none except in the most physical sense of the word. And I find it extremely telling that Riker makes no effort to answer the age-old question of what women want. He implies that Crusher would choose selfless medical knowledge like any good doctor (I'd expect exactly the same of McCoy, Bashir, and Phlox, though Voyager's holographic doctor might have received Data's gift instead). But Riker's onetime love Troi is conveniently absent for his foray into godhood, and Yar, once again, gets nothing to do...Worf's the one leaping at Q from the moment he appears on the bridge. What women seem to want, according to this episode, is a father figure with a shoulder to cry on when they're sent to the penalty box like little girls. Come on, guys, surely you could have come up with more interesting stuff than this!

Once again Picard is left spluttering and making speeches while Riker gets all the action and all the glory; even his feeble decisions seem pro-active compared to Picard's blustering from the sidelines. We know in retrospect that Q's real fixation is on the captain, not his first officer - Q later reveals that if he knew Picard could be tempted by the fairer sex, he would have come to him as a woman, and later still Q shows up in Picard's bed - but here the best banter is saved for Riker, save for the marvelous scene where Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie quote Shakespeare at one another as if competing to see whether the traditional British or maverick American version of one of the most famous soliloquies in English will win the day. (Sorry, Q: Hamlet's glorious "What a piece of work is man!" trumps Macbeth's "tale told by an idiot" in this case.)

But it's Riker who gets the explanation for why Q is there - because the Continuum, apparently stagnating in omniscience, wants to learn about the human desire to learn and evolve - while Picard is left guessing that the Continuum is frightened. And it's interesting to watch Riker appear (and be called) arrogant as he begins to take on characteristics we quite naturally take for granted in a starship captain, calling everyone by their first names, summarily dismissing them and suggesting that some rules were meant to be bent, if not broken. Clearly Riker lacks the cruel streak of so many super-humans (not just Trelane and Mitchell but Henoch, Khan, et al), yet his model for how a human who has fulfilled his potential seems to be Picard. He doesn't quite get what's wrong with trying to fulfill people's wildest dreams without thinking of the consequences, but the consequences seem pretty feeble. Wesley's not being ready for something he will achieve soon enough is one thing, but Data would feel phony as a human? How does he know that without trying it?

It's so frustrating that "Hide and Q" fails to hit the mark because it comes so close, more so than any earlier installment. It asks big questions without becoming obnoxiously talky or sanctimonious. It gives us a glimpse of who Riker is at the core - not just a fundamentally decent human being, but one who readily accepts his place even after a taste of omnipotence. And it's really difficult not to have a good time watching Q, who switches off costumes between a Starfleet admiral, a French military leader, a medieval monk and a three-headed serpent, needling his way under Picard's skin with a charm that becomes increasingly obvious with each appearance.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.