12/9/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Hide and Q"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E10
Air Date: November 23, 1987
Written by: C.J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
Q decides to play a game involving Riker having Q powers while the Enterprise races off to save an exploded mining colony.

Review
After conveniently dropping Troi off at a starbase, the Enterprise is called on to assist a nearby mining colony that has just suffered an accidental explosion. While on their way there at warp 9.1, they're stopped by the same Q-Ball that they encountered at Farpoint. (Excuse me while I randomly point out my correct usage of "their", "there", and "they're".) The Q-Ball once again turns into a force field that brings the Enterprise to a complete halt, and then Q arrives on the bridge in the form of a sphere with three snakes popping out of it. No one approves of his new style, so it doesn't take long until he flashes back to human form wearing a Starfleet Admiral's uniform.

Q explains that the Q Continuum has taken an interest in humanity, and wants to run more tests by giving them a gift beyond their greatest dreams. Picard says that's all well and good, but they're kind of in the middle of something. Not like that stopped Q before. Q promptly ignores Picard and turns to Riker. "Whadda ya think, Riker? Awesome gift? Eh?" Riker says he doesn't have time for Q's games, so what does Q do? Stops time and starts a game. He flashes a few members of the crew excluding Picard to a random planet and shows up in a Napoleonic French Marshal's uniform because it was the last thing on Picard's mind. (He obviously has a thing for Picard... but the Continuum has a thing for Riker, so...)
Tell me, Will, do you like long walks on the beach?
Q shares some drinks with the officers and then explains the rules of the game. A bunch of French pigs will come at them and Riker has to use Q powers to get them out of it. Yar immediately objects, so Q throws her out of the game, sending her into a "penalty box" which just happens to be the Enterprise bridge where Picard is waiting lonely and alone. Picard attempts to comfort Yar while Q is listening in. Something in the conversation moves Q to bring Yar out of penalty, but not put her back in the game. Meanwhile, on the planet, Q, disguised as Data, tells Riker he's got Q powers and the French Pigs have laser rifles. Riker has the ability to transport everyone back to the Enterprise... so he does.

Back on the Enterprise everyone looks around and is relieved to be back home. Except Riker... Riker is still back on the planet to have a little chat with Q. He asks Q what he wants, and Q explains that the Continuum is fascinated by humans because they keep on evolving. They want to turn Riker into a Q so that they can have a bit of that humanity. But Riker says "No, screw that. Take your powers." So, Q teleports everyone back down to the planet including Wesley. Worf gets shot by a French Pig and Wesley tries to save him, but gets stabbed by a bayonet.
Just gonna leave this here. You may marvel if you wish.
 Unfortunately, Riker gets really pissed off by this, so he waves his hand and everyone magically appears back on the bridge with Wesley and Worf fully healed and in tact. Everything appears to be back to normal and Geordi reports that no time had passed and they're back on their original heading. So they go to the mining colony and Riker still has his powers. On the way, Picard has a chat with Riker and advises that he doesn't use his Q powers because it's not natural for a human to advance so quickly. Well, at the colony, they find a girl crushed under a rock. She appears to be dead, but Data, recognizing that Riker could save her, turns to him for help. But he refuses because he made a promise to Picard.

This upsets Riker and he gathers everyone on the bridge to tell them "I'M HERE, I'M Q, GET OVER IT." Q shows up and says "YES, GOOD." But Picard is having none of this. Riker asks how his powers could be a bad thing if all he wants is to help people. Picard says "ok, fine, give us all everything we want." So Riker gives Geordi his eyesight, makes Wesley a grownup, gives Worf a Klingon mate... and they each turn him down because it just doesn't feel right. Riker says "omg I feel so stupid" and Picard says "AS WELL YOU SHOULD." And Q just rolls his eyes.
I've got some theses to nail on YOU!
Picard reminds Q that they had made a wager: if he fails to turn Riker into a Q, Q promised to leave the Enterprise and humanity alone forever. Q claims not to remember such a wager, but Picard insists that his friends in the Q Continuum will remember. Thunder roars and lightning flashes and the Q Continuum forces Q to come back home while he screams for a second chance. With everything now completely back to normal, Data asks how the Q can handle space and time so well, but not understand humans. Picard thoughtfully replies that in time they will discover that there is far more to the human equation.

Overall Thoughts
I like this episode because Q. The planet that he takes people to leaves a little to be desired, but the story is solid. It gives Star Trek newcomers an introduction to why the Prime Directive exists: because it's detrimental to make any species evolve unnaturally. We also learn a little bit more about the Q Continuum and how they're pretty stagnant when it comes to evolution. This episode is the beginning of what we will eventually find is a great divide in the Q Continuum concerning humans. A divide that isn't settled until Voyager. Thumbs up all around for this episode!