Star Trek The Next Generation: True Q

"With unlimited power comes responsibility." As Spider-man would say.

A surprisingly good Q episode.

Amanda Rogers started out this episode as a lucky young woman, an outstanding honor student beginning an internship on the Enterprise. But she wasn't just any old honor student: she had inexplicable magical powers that had only recently manifested. Although she was established as medically normal while carrying out a tricorder maintenance task for Dr. Crusher, Amanda could also make impossibly cute puppies magically appear and disappear. (That's a power I wish I had.) Then she used telekinesis to save Riker from getting smushed, and prevented a warp core breach.

And then Q showed up, and Amanda learned the truth: that her parents had belonged to the Q Continuum, but had given up their powers in order to live ordinary lives on Earth. Who could permanently give up power like that? Who could resist that temptation? It might have been interesting if they'd shown us what it was that made Amanda's parents break their word and use their power, "forcing" the Continuum to destroy them with an atypical and somewhat comical tornado. (The fact that it touched down in Kansas felt like a deliberate callback to The Wizard of Oz.)

At first, Amanda seemed to be having a lot of fun. She and Q played teleporting hide and seek on the Enterprise, and I loved that they wound up standing outside on the hull because it was wonderful, and why not?


But mostly, Q came across in this episode as creepy and scary, even before we learned that he was going to be Amanda's judge, jury and possibly her executioner. When he was with Amanda, he constantly invaded her personal space, physically crowding her and verbally pushing her, far more intimidating than seductive, more of the frightening trickster god that he used to be than the more recent comical superfriend. It was almost like Q wanted Amanda to fail so that he could kill her. I wonder what Q would have done if Amanda had been more like the uncontrollable Charlie X, Star Trek's first super-teen, throwing tantrums and hurting people in terrible ways? Would Q have approved of Charlie X?

Amanda did ultimately misbehave, but in a much less harmful way than Charlie X did. I thought it was believable that she couldn't resist forcing her new crush Will Riker to make love to her in a romance novel setting. It was also believable that she would find it unsatisfying because it wasn't real. Almost like using a holodeck to live out a fantasy, but wrong because it victimized Riker.

Our Enterprise crew came across well in this episode. They know Q all too well and while they were careful dealing with him and his power, they also didn't hesitate to show their exasperation. Picard stood up to Q as he always does, choosing to tell Amanda the truth that Q was deciding whether or not to kill her. Picard also observed, and correctly, that Q is fascinated by human morality. His interest in humans and their choices is the only thing that keeps Q on anything resembling a leash when he visits the Enterprise.

(Had to include a dog metaphor, considering how many were in this episode.)

This was also a good episode for Beverly Crusher, who turned out to be an excellent role model for Amanda while just being herself. Crusher said that if she had the power of the Q, she would use it to heal people. Amanda asked a very interesting question – would Crusher choose to bring her husband back to life if she could? and Crusher's reaction was a thoughtful one. What choices did Crusher make in her life because her husband died when Wesley was young? (Amanda was clearly thinking of bringing her parents back, although I doubt that Q would have allowed that.) It was also interesting that the botany experiment that Crusher initially assigned to Amanda was ruined when she finished it using the power of the Q, a lesson for Amanda that her power couldn't magically fix everything.

As it turned out, Amanda accepted the power of the Q because she couldn't resist repairing the ecosystem on Tagra 4. Her heart was in the right place, and it's nice to think that she might use her power to save other planets from their own stupidity. (Ours could use some help.)

Maybe she'll be a good influence on Q, too. You never can tell.

Bits:

— Stardate 46192.3. Starbase 112 and Tagra 4.

— Does anyone else think that there was a bit of Mary Sue about the character of Amanda, a beautiful super-teen who is suddenly the focus of everyone in the cast?

— Olivia d'Abo (Amanda) did a relatively good job with the part. She is probably best known for The Wonder Years. I checked out her IMDb page and she's done a lot of voice work since then.

— In this week's hair report, did Amanda's bun of steel remind you of anybody?

Quotes:

Geordi: "It's like the laws of physics just went right out the window!"
Q: "And why shouldn't they? They're so inconvenient."

Q: "Crusher gets more shrill with each passing year."
The way he turned her into an Irish setter was probably supposed to be funny, but it felt sexist to me.

Picard: "Very well, I will introduce you. But we cannot argue like this in front of her. We must at least appear to be…"
Q: "Pals?"
Picard: "Civil."

Q: "Very impressive the way you contained that explosion. What else have you done?"
Amanda: "I don't understand."
Q: "Telekinesis? Teleportation? (looks at Picard) Spontaneous combustion of someone you don't like?"

Q: (re: Riker) "Well, if it isn't Number Two."
Honestly, Q. A poop joke? You're cleverer than that.

Q: (re: Riker) "You're attracted to him."
Amanda: "I am not."
Q: "I think you are. How repulsive! How do you stand that hair all over his face?"

Much better than I remembered. Three out of four magically appearing puppies,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the review Billie. I thought this episode was kind of fun with a lovely moral lesson. What does being omnipotent do to a being? Maybe that is why Q is Q. I got the opposite feeling from Q ie. that he didn't want her to fail but thought she had been too contaminated by her human experience to make it but then it was her 'humanity' that helped her pass - ie. her moral compass. I was glad the Q continuum at least had some rules. Omnipotent beings are scary.