Written by Gene Roddenberry, Maurice Hurley, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Cliff Bole
Many fans of the more recent Star Trek shows feel that any episode which features the character Q cannot be a bad episode. I have not yet come across anything myself to dispute that.
Hide and Q begins with the Enterprise and its crew racing to a planet where a lethal explosion has occurred on a rescue mission. On the way, they are intercepted by the omniscient entity we know as Q. Q (portrayed by John DeLancie) leaves Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) seemingly alone on the bridge of the Enterprise, with no crew and no apparent way to contact anyone or go anywhere.
On the surface of some unknown planet, Q assembles a team of Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), the Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn), the android Data (Brent Spiner), Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton), Security Chief Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) along with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) to fight animal-like soldiers in a setting reminiscent of the Napoleonic Wars.
Q then tempts Riker by giving him the power of the Q. Riker first uses this power to save Worf and Wesley from injuries they suffered at the hands of the animal-soldiers and returns them all to the Enterprise.
Almost immediately, we see a change in Riker. His attitude becomes more condescending to his friends and crew-mates. Though he has promised Captain Picard not to use the powers, he struggles to keep this promise and finally gives in to the temptation of using it.
After deciding to accept the powers of the Q, Riker intends to depart the scene after giving his friends “gifts”. He makes Wesley 10 years older, he produces a Klingon woman for Worf, he allows LaForge to see, and he intends to make Data human. All tell him to keep his gifts, and Q goes back to where he came from – alone.
John DeLancie as Q is always a pleasure to watch and this episode is no different. His performance is perfectly a cross between spoiled child and genius. He is comic relief without it feeling forced. He actually saves the episode from its bad writing moments.
Riker’s progression from dutiful crew member to cocky god-like being is entirely too quick, however. The writing here is erratic, and the directing just as bad. I can allow for some of it as the actors and writers struggle to find the characters during the first season, but the pose Riker strikes after returning the crew to the Enterprise was just one of the most awful scenes I’ve seen.
Likewise, when Tasha Yar is sent to the penalty box by Q and is trying to explain it to Captain Picard, she breaks down and begins crying. Picard tells her it’s okay to cry in the penalty box. This is so out of character for the tough woman who grew up an orphan in some of the worst conditions imaginable.
This is one of the better first-season episodes, but only because of Q. Take that character out of the mix, and the episode suffers from the same floundering and contrasting characterizations that many of the first-season episodes seem to suffer from.
Previous episode (link): Star Trek – The Next Generation: The Battle
Next episode (link): Star Trek – The Next Generation: Too Short a Season