111 "Hide and Q"

(airdate: November 23, 1987)

Story: C.J. Holland [pseudonym for Maurice Hurley]      Teleplay: C.J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry
Director: Cliff Bole

Q: John de Lancie

Female survivor: Elaine Nalee

Wesley Crusher (age 25): William A. Wallace

Stardate: 41590.5

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is on an urgent rescue mission to the colony Quadra Sigma III when it's stopped in its tracks by Q ("Encounter at Farpoint"), who wishes to test humanity again. To that end, he abducts most of the bridge crew and forces them to fight strange aliens. Q's real goal is to give Riker the powers of the Q and see how he handles them; Picard wagers his command against Q's continued interference in humanity that Riker will give them up, while Q thinks Riker will be unable to resist the powers of the Q. Q engineers a number of situations to get Riker to use his powers, and Riker temporarily gives in, becoming more arrogant in the process. However, when he offers each of his friends a gift, they all refuse. This causes Riker to realize that he shouldn't have the powers of the Q, and so he gives them up. Picard then demands that Q honor his bet to leave humanity alone, while Q goes to face the wrath of the other Q.

Whoops!: Data's wearing the wrong pips in the scene with Q at his tent (the pip closest to the center is hollow instead of the usual solid gold). Why does Q transport Wesley to the surface, when he's the only one there who wasn't on the bridge? (He even explicitly says he was in school.) [You might argue it's because Riker has affection for Wes and Q's trying to bait him - but if that's the case why doesn't Q also grab Troi from Betazed? Or Dr. Crusher?] And it's a little strange how it just happens to be the case that, instead of the usual complement of crewmembers working at the rear stations, no one besides the regulars is on the bridge during the key moments of this episode. [It's almost like they knew Q was going to be transporting the bridge personnel...]
     What does the name of this episode mean? Does it have to do with the idea that Q wants to play a game? Because while it's probably meant to be a play on "hide and seek", that's not remotely the game being played: no one is hiding from Q, nor is Q hiding from anyone else. So what's the point of the title?

Classic Lines: Riker offering Data a gift: "But it's what you've always wanted, Data, to become human." Data, refusing it: "Yes, sir, that is true. But I never wanted to compound one illusion with another. It might be real to Q, perhaps even you, sir. But it would not be so to me. Was it not one of the captain's favorite authors who wrote, 'This above all: to thine own self be true?' Sorry, Commander, I must decline."
     Q: "Wasn't it your own Hartley who said, 'Nothing reveals humanity so well as the games it plays'? Almost right. Actually, you reveal yourselves best in how you play." ["Hartley" is presumably meant to refer to the English philosopher David Hartley, but we can't actually find any evidence that he said this - it's not in his Observations on Man, for instance (nor is there anything broadly similar), and every reference to the quote we can find refers back to this episode. So either this is misattributed (though we can't find any evidence of that either) or in fact an original line.]

Cringe Lines: "There's a new ship's standing order on the bridge. When one is in the penalty box, tears are permitted."
     Data belaboring the point for the audience: "Sir, how is it that the Q can handle time and space so well, and us so badly?"

Casualty Report: Worf and Wesley are both killed by being bayonetted in Q's deadly game, although both are revived by Riker with the power of the Q. There are also a lot of people killed in an accidental explosion on Quadra Sigma III, mostly off-screen - but we do see the body of a young girl crushed under concrete debris.

Alien Love: Worf momentarily gets hot and heavy with an illusory Klingon woman.

Library Computer: The Q have discussed their recent contact with humanity ("Encounter at Farpoint") with each other; they initially thought humans were merely savage, but they observed a capacity to grow and learn that made them wonder what the future of humanity would be. They foresaw a time, aeons in the future, when humanity might evolve to a point even beyond the Q. Consequently, they decided to offer a human the powers of the Q, to make them part of the Q so that they could better study humans and their need and hunger. [The implication is that the Q are incapable of such growth.] The human they chose was Riker.
     Q here appears as an Aldebaran serpent, a 24th-century Starfleet admiral, an early 19th-century French marshal, Data, a medieval monk, and [most curiously, given his predilection for high-ranking uniforms] a 24th-century Starfleet commander. Abilities seen here include the creation of: alien pig-faced soldiers with yellow skin, dressed in late 18th-century French uniforms (armed with muskets that fire energy bolts); a Napoleonic-era field tent and trappings, with the pre-French Revolution fleur-de-lis (rather than Le Tricolore), which Q claims he took from Picard's mind; and old-fashioned lemonade. He can also stop time and he can possibly create a rocky planet surface with a green sky and two moons. [It's unclear if the planet they're on already exists or not.] He's willing to bet that Riker will want the powers of the Q, wagering the continued interference of the Q in humanity's affairs against this - a wager he ultimately loses, to the apparent displeasure of the rest of the Q. [We'll pick up on this in Q's next appearance, "Q Who".]
     Consequently, Q can bestow the powers of the Q on Riker, who uses them to transport people, throw up forcefields (like the one that stops the Enterprise), bring people back to life [or at least heal their mortal injuries, in the case of Riker and Wesley], age up Wesley ten years, restore Geordi's sight, and create a Klingon woman for Worf. Riker-as-a-Q is noticeably more arrogant and smug than normal, and he's more inclined to speak overly familiarly with people such as Picard. After he realizes that humanity should achieve its dreams on its own, Riker ultimately gives up his powers. [Well, probably; we never actually see him lose his powers, so there's a fan theory out there that he never does. If that's true then he has amazing self-control, however, given the number of situations where he might have been tempted to use them and doesn't (such as the death of Tasha Yar later this season, for instance).]
     Q claims that the Klingon code includes the idea of not drinking with your enemy [that is, not fraternizing with them]. He also remarks that that explains something of why the Federation defeated the Klingons. [Subsequent episodes (including "Yesterday's Enterprise" and "Sarek") will make it very clear that the Klingons have not been defeated, but rather have entered into an alliance with the Federation. Q must therefore be speaking factiously, probably to get a rise out of Worf.]
     The Q Continuum is where the Q exist. Q describes it as "the limitless dimensions of the galaxy in which we exist".
     Quadra Sigma III is a Federation colony in the Sigma III solar system, on a cloudy brown-and-white planet. The colony was at one point home to 504 colonists, but an explosion caused by a "methane-like gas seeping in from underground" devastated a mining operation there, reducing the number of colonists to a small handful. [It's unclear if the survivors leave aboard the Enterprise or not.]
     The Starfleet dress uniform for admirals looks the same as the ones seen in "Lonely Among Us" (so hanging down to mid-thigh, clasping at the right shoulder), but with a very thick (around 2 inches) gold braid.
     An Aldebaran serpent is a creature with three hooded heads and necks, patterned with red and dark brown scales, that connect down to a central floating clear sphere. [It appears glowing and translucent here, but it's not clear if that's normally what an Aldebaran serpent looks like or if Q is making it look that way.]
     Picard recognizes the uniform of a Napoleonic-era French marshal. One of his favorite authors is Shakespeare; consequently he's not only familiar with As You Like It ("All the world's a stage") and Macbeth ("Life is but a walking shadow") but can quote speeches from Hamlet ("What a piece of work is man"). He's willing to wager his command that Riker will ultimately resist Q's temptation.
     Riker's middle initial is T. He's had long talks with Wesley and considers him his friend, enough to know that Wes wishes he were an adult.
     Data is strong enough to effortlessly toss aside shattered blocks of concrete and to force open stuck doors. He doesn't wish to become human via the power of the Q, considering it merely a different type of illusion.
     Geordi wants to see, but not at the cost of being in debt to Q. He's pictured Tasha as beautiful and is pleased to see he was right.
     Yar doesn't like the idea of dying because of the whims of an alien with superpowers like Q. She's embarrassed to find herself crying out of frustration.
     Worf declares that he finds the Klingon world an alien one, and while he seems attracted to the Klingon woman Riker-as-Q creates, he doesn't feel right being with this woman. His [and so presumably the Klingon] idea of sex involves lots of growling and violence. The woman we see is dressed in a leotard with knit chainmail-like leggings and undershirt, with a row of plates from the collar down the arms, and black leather fingerless gauntlets. Worf dislikes Q.
     Counselor Troi was dropped off at Starbase G-6 in order to take a shuttle home [to Betazed].
     The Enterprise has a Turbolift Control area.

Final Analysis: "Games? Did someone say games?! And perchance, for interest's sake, a deadly game?" It's nice to see Jonathan Frakes stretch his acting muscles, while John de Lancie is clearly enjoying himself - and his interplay with Patrick Stewart is great fun. You just wish that fun could have extended to the rest of the episode. But instead we get long, tedious stretches mixed with awkward moments and dialogue. It's not completely meritless, but "Hide and Q" makes you work to get at the good bits.

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