The Next Generation
Disc No :
First Aired :
23 Nov 1987
When Riker makes Wesley a few years older, Geordi whistles and comments "hey Wes, not bad!". When Riker gives Geordi his eyes back he looks at Yar and comments that she is even more beautiful than he imagined. So, can Geordi tell what people look like via his VISOR, or can't he? If he can, then he already knows what Yar looks like. If he can't, he has no way to tell what the grown up Wesely looks like.
And now that Wil Wheaton is indeed ten years older, why doesn't he look anything like the guy in this episode? I know, there was nothing they could have done about this one. But it's still a valid nit!
Great Moment :
Picard gently chiding Riker for not realizing that everybody would refuse his gifts.
Body Count :
Several Enterprise officers get killed on the planet, but Riker brings them back to life. At least one small girl on the colony dies for good.
Director Cliff Bole is the most prolific TNG episode director, with 25 episodes to his name.
Thi is the first episode of TNG without an appearence from Marina Sirtis.
The Enterprise-D is hurrying to lend aid to a Federation colony in the Sigma III system when Q reappears, trapping the ship in a forcefield grid. He appears on the bridge, gleefully informing the crew that the Q have been watching them and have become impressed by Humanity. He offers them a great prize, the realisation of "impossible dreams". When Riker declines to be involved in any more games Q takes this as a suggestion and transports the First Officer to a planet along with Geordi, Worf, Data and Tasha. He states that the purpose of this game is to stay alive - and the game will not only not be fair, but will in fact be extremely unfair. When Yar objects he sends her back to the Enterprise-D bridge, where Picard has been trapped alone, as a penalty - with the knowledge that should another player incur a penalty whilst she is there she will be blinked into nothingness so they can take her place.
Q soon appears and releases her back to the game before informing Picard that the purpose of the exercise is to test whether Riker is worthy of "the greatest gift the Q can offer". Picard instantly assumes that the First Officer will get the best of Q, and wagers with him to that end - the stakes, Picard's Command against the Q staying out of Human affairs way forever. When Picard confidently proclaims that the Q grossly underestimate Humans, Q angrily leaves the bridge.
Meanwhile, Worf is scouting out the territory on the planet whilst the others discuss the situation. A group of strange animal-looking things begin to approach, dressed in antique Earth uniforms and carrying equally ancient muskets. When Riker wonders at the apparent mismatch in firepower, his answer is quickly provided when the aliens begin firing powerful energy pulses from their weapons. Q appears and informs Riker that he ahs the power to return his shipmates to the ship; Q has given him the near omnipotent power of the Q. Riker does so, though he remains behind.
He is initially amused at the power Q has given him, confident that it must all be a trick or part of a hidden agenda. Q responds by bringing more crew back from the Enterprise to be attacked by the aline things; Wesley is bayonetted, prompting Riker to destroy the alien things and return everybody alive and well to the ship so that they can proceed on course to the colony.
In the ready room, Picard wonders if Riker will be able to resist using the power of the Q. Riker promises that he will, but he soon finds his promise put to the test when the ship arrives at the colony and he finds a dead child amongst the carnage. Although able to bring her back to life, Riker refrains because of his promis - though he clearly isn't happy about it.
Back on the ship Riker tries to assure everybody that he is still the same man he was. Q appears, claiming that Riker has been given something no Human can understand. When Riker suggests that he might give everybody a present, Picard agrees and sits back to observe. Wesley he makes ten years older; Data he offers to make Human, though Data declines since it would not feel real to him. Geordi is given his sight back, and is astonished to see how beautiful Yar is with normal vision. For Worf, Riker creates a Klingon woman - though the Klingon is tempted, he angrily rejects her. Geordi also reluctantly declines his gift, as does Wesley.
A chastened Riker admits how wrong he has been, much to Picard's pleasure. When Q realises that he has lost his wager he vanishes, apparently dragged back by the continuum to answer for his actions.
Not a bad idea, this, but the execution is a little off. The concept of exploring what a Human might do with omnipotence (or near omnipotence at any rate) is the main draw here, but we get very little of that. Riker uses the Q power precisely twice, then swears off it forever. Then later he uses it again to give people gifts they don't want before giving it up forever. I'd far rather have skipped a whole bunch of standing around on the planet and taken more time to explore Riker's reaction to his new abilities.
Speaking of which, his slip into "arrogant jerk" seemed rather forced. For one thing it was too quick - he just jumps from ordinary guy to out of character stuff like addressing Picard as Jean-Luc to thinking he can make everyone's life better for them in the space of about an hour, real time, maybe five minutes on screen.
His choice of gifts is interesting, too. Geordi's reaction is my favourite - although Geordi would later very much take the "this is what I am and I don't regret it at all" line, early on he was sometimes shown as having a great longing for normal vision and Burton plays the moment when he attains it very well. Speaking of that, is it just me or did this show hint at some attraction between Geordi and Yar? Just watch how he focuses in on her and her alone here. Then he tops that when he asks Riker to give him his VISOR back and responds to the first officer's concern with a simple and very heartfelt "please...
The other gifts aren't quite as well played. If Worf wants Klingon hotties, surely he can get them from the holodeck? Okay they aren't real, but neither is Riker's version. And does Wesley really want to be older? I can see he'd want the responsibility and freedom that comes with that, but I never really saw him as wishing away his childhood like that. Data is an easy one, the gift is obvious and the rejection just as obvious. I have to wonder why Crusher and Picard didn't rate gifts and what they'd get if they did, but I guess the point had been made by then.
I wonder if it wasn't the intention to drop Q after this; the way the episode ends it really does look like he won't be back. Q Who? gets around it by claiming that Q promised not to bother the Enterprise, but in fact this is not so - he clearly promises to leave Humanity alone, forever. I guess that the fan reaction to the character was enough to ensure a return, and the rest is history...