In the first episode of TNG I can finally actually endorse, Q returns while the Enterprise is on a mission of mercy to rescue the survivors of an explosion on a Federation colony. Q interrupts with a new series of games, and snatches most of the bridge crew (less Picard) from the ship and puts them on the surface of a planet where an approaching platoon of deadly nonhuman soldiers close in on their position. Q offers Riker the power of the Q in the hopes that Riker will join the Q Continuum. Riker at first refuses but then uses his new power in a moment of desperation to save his shipmates.
The show's early dialog is lively, thanks to Q's nonstop condescension and his amusing verbal barbs. "Hide and Q" benefits from being a follow-up to "Encounter at Farpoint" because this time Q is a recognizable nemesis who immediately comes across as an intellectual opponent rather than a physical threat. There's a method to his madness, as evidenced in the scene where he confesses to Riker that the reason the Q want Riker to join them is so they can learn about humanity's rare hunger to learn and grow.
The story's second half centers on Riker's new powers and his promise to Picard not to use them (not even to save a young girl who dies in the explosion). Interesting how Riker's new gifts, despite his every effort to remain a humble human, insidiously turn him toward an arrogance he doesn't even recognize. ("Have you noticed how you and I are on a first-name basis?" Picard asks him.) Riker attempts to give all his friends miracle gifts — granting them a literally magical wish — and I liked the way this backfired; apparently humanity has advanced far enough to recognize rewards do not come without an ethical cost.
Yes, the story reduces omnipotence to an almost absurd simplicity (would anyone really give up such a gift?). But what works here is the story's trust in its extended (and effective) dialog scenes that debate and wrestle with the matter at hand — scenes that would be practically unheard of on television today because no one would have the patience for them.
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.