Written by Rene Echevarria, Matthew Corey, and Brannon Braga
Directed by Robert Scheerer
The Enterprise is at Starbase 112 to take relief supplies to Tagra IV. While there, they have taken on board an honor student, Amanda Rogers (portrayed by Olivia d’Abo).
It turns out that Amanda’s parents were Q. They left the continuum and assumed human form and had a child. It wasn’t known if the child inherited their powers, but a few tests by Q himself (John de Lancie) proves that supposition to be true.
Although the crew doesn’t know it, Q must see if he can draw Amanda back into the Continuum. If she won’t, she must be killed. Although he has stated that Amanda must make her own choice in the matter, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) doesn’t trust Q and launches an investigation into the death of her parents years before.
Q has always straddled the “villain” line on the show. Not quite an enemy, he is a point of great frustration for Captain Picard as well as others on the crew who regard the omnipotent being with great disdain. Here, however, he seems to display a bit of a more compassionate side. His goal seems to be to preserve Amanda’s life despite what the rest of the Continuum thinks, although he knows he must abide by their directive should he fail to bring the young woman back into the fold.
Eventually Picard figures out that the Continuum murdered Amanda’s parents (in an odd Wizard of Oz-like way). When she is told of this information, Q backs off a bit and states that she can be human as long as she promises not to use her powers. Of course, the first time a life-or-death situation occurs, she uses them to save thousands of lives.
In many ways, this show uses the same ideas as Hide and Q did back in the first season. In that episode, Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) was given the powers of Q and his personality transformed into one quite similar to John deLancie’s character. Here, however, Amanda does not seem to immediately welcome the powers and enjoy them. Instead, Q must lure her into using them by placing certain obstacles in her path or showing her how much fun it can be. She seems to have more humanity in her than Riker did, although that could just be the uneven writing during the first season.
The acting here is great. Usually guest stars as the center of an episode are a poor choice, but Olivia d’Abo does a great job as Amanda. She portrays the woman with just the right amount of naivete and unsureness for a girl of her age, and at the same time shows some signs of maturity. Gates McFadden as Dr. Crusher sort of takes Amanda under her wing, and it seems natural for a woman who is experiencing “empty nest” syndrome to gravitate toward the young woman. The relationship between the two women doesn’t seem unnatural, forced, or happen too fast. Instead, it seems something expected.
As always in a “Q” episode, the highlight is the interplay between Patrick Stewart and John deLancie. The two men display their animosity well, and it seems to simmer beneath the surface even when they must act nice to each other in front of Amanda. It’s great to see Q goad Picard which is usually the case in “Q” episodes, but here Picard can also get to him as well. The two men work together quite well and it’s no wonder the writers choose to bring Q back as a foil for Picard time and again.
This episode doesn’t rely greatly on a previous knowledge of Q’s appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it does help. For fans, it’s a terrific show that shows a more compassionate side of Q as he attempts to preserve the life of another Q, rather than allowing her to be taken out by the Continuum.
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