Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 10/26/1992
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Robert Scheerer
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The brilliant new intern Amanda Rogers (you didn't expect the intern selected for the Enterprise could be anything less than brilliant, did you?) comes aboard the ship and realizes that the secret abilities she's been experiencing for a while suddenly begin to manifest themselves more frequently and powerfully. When accidents start to occur around her, her telekinetic ability is able to avert disaster. First she stops a cargo container from falling on Riker. Later she stops a warp core explosion from destroying the ship.
Turns out Our Favorite Q was responsible for the "accidents," and was testing the abilities of Amanda (Olivia d'Abo), who is the offspring of two Q who years ago decided to leave the Q Continuum and live among humans. Q wants to see just who Amanda is: Is she a Q who could return to the Continuum, or some sort of hybrid who could potentially cause untold disaster?
"True Q" is an intriguing tale that provides a unique look at the Q. The issue of the Q's omnipotence has often been played as a joke in the past, but here we see the possibility that an undisciplined or uncontrolled Q with typical human emotions could possibly destroy ... well, the entire galaxy, I guess. Q is here to provide Amanda with some guidance over her newfound abilities and to convince her to join the Continuum. But he also has his own unrevealed mission — to play judge, jury, and, if necessary, executioner if Amanda is deemed too much of an uncertainty to the Q.
The Q are tricky story subjects, and there are at least as many questions here as answers: Just what is the nature of the Q Continuum, and what rules is it governed by? Given that Q could (probably) destroy the entire galaxy by simply thinking about it, what has kept them from doing so over the past few eons? Do they have their own Prime Directive that keeps them from interfering in the simple matters of life and death for the rest of the universe? And just why is Our Favorite Q always so interested in observing the "human condition" which, as a matter of his own existence, is about as relevant to him as an ant colony is to us? (To try to answer that last question: I suppose if we could walk as ants among other ants just to see what it's like, maybe we'd try it for a day or two.)
The main story point here is that Amanda must choose between being an omnipotent Q and going on with her life as a regular human. She at first just wants to be a regular human. And on that point, I must say I'm with Q — that seems to be such a naive and limited point of view when the alternative is limitless knowledge. I'm also with Q when it comes to the whole issue of Amanda's fate: If she could potentially destroy the entire galaxy, someone has to step up and make the call to end her existence if that's what it takes. Right?
And when Picard has a speech that lectures Q on morality, I again must also agree with Q: It's a great speech, wonderfully argued by the typically impressive Patrick Stewart gravitas, but I almost have to laugh it off, because it's so idealistic in the face of ultimate power that can't possibly be governed based on limited human perspectives. Clearly, the Q didn't not destroy the universe millions of years ago by having no rules.
John de Lancie is more menacing than usual as Q, exhibiting paternal and yet simultaneously dominating (in its quasi-sexual overtones) in his scenes with Amanda. Olivia d'Abo is effective in depicting a naiveté that must quickly adapt to the situation before her, ultimately choosing between a life as a human where she must never use her powers (like her parents, who failed, and were killed by the Continuum as a result) or joining the Continuum as a being that must leave more human trivialities behind. The end result is a solid sci-fi outing about a single choice.