Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “Hide and Q”

“Hide and Q”
Story by C.J. Holland
Teleplay by C.J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Cliff Bole

Season 1, Episode 10
Original air date: November 23, 1987
Star date: 41590.5

Mission summary

The Enterprise is en route to Sigma III, where an explosion has threatened a mining colony.  Hurtling through space at warp 9.1, the ship gets caught in a net–the same stock footage they saw back near Farpoint station. Sure enough and with his usual bad timing, Q blinks onto the bridge and informs Picard that the Q have become impressed by humans, and as such are offering Riker–and only Riker– “the realization of your most impossible dream.”

Alas, he doesn’t mean skipping to season 3.

Q blinks the entire bridge crew, sans Picard, to an unidentifiable class M planet for some “games” to test Riker’s worthiness for this “gift.” He’s wearing a Napoleonic marshal’s uniform, a hint at either the nature of the games or what happened to be in the costume closet that week. When Yar protests the unfairness of a death match (you’d think she’d never done this before…), he dispatches her to a “penalty box”–on the bridge with Picard–and notes that any further penalties will displace Yar into nothingness. Back on the bridge she cries about it, because that’s what women do. In her defense, Picard gets into a Shakespeare quotation fight (As You Like It vs. Hamlet, Round 1! FIGHT!) with Q about the worthiness of humanity, and in the end makes a bet:  Picard’s command against Q swearing to leave humanity alone forever.

On the class M planet, Riker and company fight a bunch of pig-like humanoids dressed in Napoleonic military uniforms whose muskets shoot lasers. Yeah, okay.

Q appears and tells Riker that he now has the power of the Q. Confused but alarmed for his friends, Riker blinks them all safely back to the bridge of the Enterprise by sheer force of will. Cool! Q, now in a Starfleet commander’s uniform, congratulates Riker on his newfound power and explains that the Continuum was just so darn impressed by humanity’s behavior on the Farpoint mission that they have gifted this ability to Riker. Riker tries to reject it but all his friends wind up in danger, again, so he uses the mojo just this one little time to save them all. In the immortal words of heroes everywhere, what could possibly go wrong?

Back on the ship, Picard warns Riker not to use the magic, which our number one shrugs off as no difficult task. Per plot requirements he is challenged almost immediately when the ship reaches the mining colony and Dr. Crusher discovers a dead little girl that Riker could, but chooses not to, save.

Riker begins to think his promise to Picard to avoid using the Q powers was a mistake, and Q shows up in a monk’s outfit to back him up. To prove both the harmlessness and awesomeness of this god stuff, Q suggests that Riker give each of his friends a gift. Picard allows it, and we get the sense he has a hunch about how this will play out.

Riker starts with Wesley, who he “may know best of all.” (That’s news to his mom, who starts freaking out.) He makes Wesley ten years older–a grown man. For Data he offers a chance to be human, which the android refuses on the grounds that it would be an illusion. To Geordi he gives the gift of natural sight, but Geordi doesn’t want it, either:  “The price is a little high for me, and I don’t like who I would have to thank. ” To Worf, he gives a Klingon female in heat, who he rejects because that culture has no place in his Starfleet life. (The best thing I can say about this is that at least the entire bridge crew looked as horrified as I did.) Finally even Wesley wants the accelerated adolescence undone, and Riker seems ashamed of himself.

RIKER: How did you know, sir? I feel like such an idiot.
PICARD: Quite right. So you should.

Picard demands that Q honor his part of the wager, but Q “can recall no wager.” Someone out there can, though, because Q is beamed against his will back to the Continuum, and all is normal once again.


I had remembered Q in the Napoleonic uniform and of course the “gifts” at the end, but the rest of it–the pig people with muskets, the penalty box, the dead little girl–were all forgotten (as well they should be, it turned out).

The main thrust of the story remains a good one–can a person retain individuality and a sense of humility if he becomes a god?–but that question is asked so late in the episode and by then the answer is so obvious that you wonder why Riker bothers playing out the charade. I was frustrated that Picard repeatedly tells Riker not to use the powers, and yet can’t really come up with a reason why. He argues that it’s “too great a temptation” but doesn’t explain what that temptation is or make any case for why it should be resisted. I can think of reasons not to use the power–losing your sense of self, the thrill of absolute power that turns into an addiction, having to face others who want to use you for their own ends, the unknowable repercussions of altering time and space–but they all go unarticulated, and as a result Picard just seems like a killjoy for telling Riker not to play with his new toy.

The “games” are largely forgettable and I’m not really sure why they feature at all. They serve no purpose other than to place his friends in artificial danger (when they should be in danger just hanging around a god-like Riker) and drag out the first half hour tediously. Also boring: the war of quotations, which again, didn’t go anywhere or ultimately mean anything. Perhaps if the episode had begun with Riker getting the powers, and then went on to deal with the temptation and consequences of using them, I would have liked it more. I also resented the overt manipulation of the dead little girl. I mean, what about all the other dead people? Think big, Riker!

I do still mostly enjoy the gift-giving scene, for two reasons. First, it allows the characters to show us that they accept their so-called flaws as virtues. The Wesley aging thing is silly, but who didn’t want to just grow up already when they were teenagers? I liked Data’s response that he is who he is and anything else wouldn’t feel real to him. And of course there’s Geordi, who winds up time and again offered some form of sight and rejects them all, because the way he sees the world is his own and he doesn’t feel in any way inferior or disabled. It’s a little odd that Riker doesn’t get Tasha a present, but considering what he gave Worf it’s probably for the best. Speaking of, this marks the first appearance of a Klingon woman on the show. Not only is she a blank, personality-less sex receptacle, but she doesn’t even speak–just growls and bites. Truly, stupendously awful.  Geordi’s reaction is priceless: “Worf, is this your idea of sex?” Of course, if you think about it, it’s actually Riker’s idea of Klingon sex, which makes it all the more creepy…

Secondly, the gift scene proves that no matter how close you may be, you can never know another man or woman’s heart. The things that people want in life for themselves are not necessarily the things you would want if you were in their shoes. Riker can never know what it’s like to be Data, who is (for all he knows at this point) one-of-a-kind. He has never seen through Geordi’s eyes, or felt the loneliness of being the only Klingon in Starfleet. He could not possibly understand anyone else on a level necessary to grant those kinds of wishes. We each live in our own little worlds, and our desires are our own.

The one really clever bit in the whole episode: when Q reappears to give Riker his powers, note that he’s wearing a commander’s uniform. They’re equals now.

Torie’s Rating: Warp 3 (on a scale of 1-6)

Thread Alert: Okay, I kind of love the Napoleonic uniform. It makes me wish we could see him face off against Horatio Hornblower in space.

Best Line: Riker: No one has ever offered to turn me into a god before

Trivia/Other Notes: The Bolian race was named after this episode’s director, Cliff Bole (he directed the upcoming “Conspiracy” which introduced them).

C.J. Holland is actually Maurice Hurley, a TNG producer with a long, tangled, and mostly unpleasant history with the franchise.

Previous episode: Season 1, Episode 9 – “The Battle.”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 11 – “Haven.”

About Torie Atkinson

Torie Atkinson watches too many movies and plays too many games but never, ever reads enough books.