Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hide and Q   Rewatch 
May 4, 2020 5:16 AM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Q grants Riker godlike power, yet surprisingly, he doesn't use it to give himself an awesome beard.

Memory Alpha wishes to give us all some wonderful gifts:

• Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode. This is her first non-appearance. The revised final draft screenplay submitted only three days prior to filming featured Deanna Troi which suggests that Marina Sirtis' sudden unavailability was the reason for her non-appearance. Her lines were eventually cut from the episode or transferred to other characters (mostly Tasha Yar) and Picard's log entry explaining her absence (a trip home) was written for the beginning of the teaser.

• This episode represented Maurice Hurley's first contribution to TNG. Gene Roddenberry gave him the episode as a rewrite assignment. However, Roddenberry was thereafter so disappointed with his work on the episode that he ignored Hurley whenever they passed each other in the hallway at Paramount, which was about four or five times a day. Ultimately, the script was rewritten by Roddenberry to such an extent that Hurley requested the pseudonym "C. J. Holland" be used instead of his own name for the episode credits.

• This episode marks the first appearance of a Starfleet admiral's uniform in TNG, although the dress uniform worn by Q was never seen again.

• This episode marks the first appearance of LeVar Burton without the VISOR or contact lenses. The second is in the fourth season episode "Future Imperfect" and the third and last is in the seventh season episode "Interface".

"I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony I say with conviction. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty. In form, in moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god…""
"Surely you don't see your species like that, do you?!"
"I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is it that which concerns you?"
- Q and Picard

"I feel like such an idiot."
"Quite right, so you should."
- Riker and Picard

Poster's Log:
It's not at all surprising to learn that this is yet another instance of a writer getting their work screwed with by Roddenberry; this episode has some profoundly weird elements, I realize now after having seen it probably twenty times (it's one of a handful I had on VHS, and thus rewatched semi-habitually, but long ago). Case in point: in light of how much time Q spends prattling on about games and rules, we might have expected…any kind of sense of what the game was, and maybe more than one rule (the "penalty box") enumerated. Also, why is it even called "Hide and Q"? Who hides? Was there hiding in an early draft, and Roddenberry took it out, and forgot to change the title? Now, I've actually always half-liked this episode, and I wonder if the sheer weirdness of the story may have been part of the reason why—that I previously attributed its mildly foreboding sense of "anything can happen" to Q's incomprehensibility and not to the apparent actual reason for it: office politics.

To spend an episode getting to know Riker for really the first time when his personality is evidently being tampered with by Q, or at least distorted by Q-level powers, is inadvisable in (part of) the same way that "Naked Now" was inadvisable, but TBH Riker Sans Beard has always felt kinda like Mirror-Universe Riker to me anyway. And in fairness, we do at least understand that he developed quick, genuine fondness for his crewmates. Good thing Deanna wasn't around to get a "gift" from him though! And as for that self-described idiotic behavior here, well listen, YOU try making sound decisions after being made a god and instantly spending a thousand human lifetimes in the Bangin' Demiplane. Surprised even Q-Riker would've had the energy to laugh bizarrely.

Which reminds me: we're back to Yar-as-sex-object, losing professional boundaries with two bridge crew members in the same episode (and yet, astonishingly, Riker isn't one of them). Perhaps the horny old white guys decided that they'd given themselves cover for this sort of crap with "Naked Now"; i.e., since this crew went into Everybody Fucks mode in only their second mission together, what's the point of inhibitions anymore? That might also explain the (unintentionally?) hilarious haste with which Dr. Crusher tries to whisk Wesley off the bridge when Riker starts talking miracle-gifts. Reminiscent of Worf and Yar immediately going "Oh crap: Wesley!" once they learned about the WASP planet's legal system. It's the thing this crew is most consistently competent about early on: quickly envisioning how Wesley's presence will complicate already-bad situations.

Anyway, plenty of big memorable Q moments for the Q fans. I love De Lancie's facial expression here so much.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
"Greatest Generation" episode link. And I would be remiss if I didn't include Fashion It So's excellent rundown of this one, and who wants to be remiss.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
After having read his MA entry, I chalk just about everything to do with scripts in the first season up to Gene's lawyer Leonard Maizlish.

If you've never read about him before, do so now before we get too far into the first season. When I did so, it was so eye opening and explained so much on why all the people who came with Gene from TOS ended up bailing on him.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've invoked Maizlish's name a few times in Trek threads before, but I'd be a little cautious in taking that MA article on him at 100% face value, as it sometimes seems to imply that any objectionable decision that Roddenberry ever made was attributable to his lawyer. A while ago, I read about a practice that was supposedly popular in pre-revolution Russia, but that seems more or less universal: the commoner who is constantly stymied by the imperial bureaucracy, but believes that if he could only meet the tsar in person, he'd get things settled because the tsar is a reasonable man. And one day he actually gets to meet the tsar, who is indeed a reasonable man, and the commoner goes on to tell everyone he meets what a great guy the tsar is, and how it's really his bureaucrats who are the assholes... without ever once asking himself who set up the bureaucracy in the first place. Roddenberry doesn't seem to have at all been above a bit of self-mythologizing, and if you dig into The Fifty-Year Mission, there are quite a few objectionable things attributed to him directly. That's not to let Maizlish off the hook--Dorothy "D.C." Fontana confirms a lot of the unflattering things that Gerrold says about him--but I don't think that it was all about him.

Regardless of who's most responsible for the writing, though, it has its issues. I think at this point that it's debatable whether or not Tasha Yar had as many problems with her treatment out of the gate as, say, Kes on Voyager. Q's "game" seems clumsily improvised for someone who's always putting down others' intellect: "let's have you fight, uh... werewolves... in Napoleonic uniforms... with flintlock rifles... that shoot laser beams." Worf's mating fight with Random Klingon Woman was also embarrassing, as I felt like the other bridge crew were starting to wonder if they'd just start going at it once the foreplay was out of the way. FWIW, I did like Geordi and Data's speeches rejecting their "gifts", although I was reminded of someone saying once that the decision to permanently cover up LeVar Burton's eyes wasn't one of TNG's better ones. Finally, one of my main questions about this episode went unanswered: if Riker really had Q-level powers, could he have taken Q's own powers away, and given how much Q had been a pain in the ass, why didn't he try, or at least bring it up? (We eventually will see a depowered Q in this series.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:59 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would love to see somebody edit in the real Wil Wheaton for whoever that actor was who played the adult Wesley.
posted by Mogur at 5:52 PM on May 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ten episodes, five gods. Keeping that 50% deific density. Yeah, it’s just Q again, but I’m counting it.

Everyone got real speciesist all of a sudden in this episode, calling Q’s soldiers “animal things” when they could just be another alien of the week in a different episode. So much for the tolerant Federation.

In the opening, Dr Crusher is in a weirdly wallpapered section of the ship, and now I want to know everything about it.
posted by rodlymight at 7:32 PM on May 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I think that Riker being a total newbie with Q powers, Q's experience with using Q powers should be able to counter any attempts.

It feels like the writers probably hadn't considered that particular "solution" to the Q problem, though.
posted by porpoise at 7:49 PM on May 4, 2020

You never give the kids the admin password.
posted by Mogur at 2:58 AM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

the decision to permanently cover up LeVar Burton's eyes wasn't one of TNG's better ones

Perhaps not, but every time I watch this show, I'm struck by how effective he is at still *acting* with the equivalent of two hands tied behind his back. He gets really expressive with his eyebrows in creative ways. I'll point some of these out in some of my favorite episodes in the future.
posted by rocketman at 5:29 AM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Regarding Riker and the power of the Q:
I have always had the impression that it was preliminary. Picard on the bridge learns from Q that it's not definite yet. By preliminary, I think Riker could snap his fingers and get whatever he wanted, but he wasn't an actual Q yet with the ability to remove a fellow Q's powers.
posted by Fukiyama at 7:16 AM on May 5, 2020

I kind of assume that Riker never had any power at all, it was just Q acting on his wishes. He would of course never actually make it permanent either, he just wanted to see what would happen. It’s all a trick, Q is just a flimflam man like Picard says.,
posted by rodlymight at 7:54 AM on May 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I kind of assume that Riker never had any power at all, it was just Q acting on his wishes.

Ehhh, but that implies that Q is telepathic, which IIRC the rest of the franchise doesn't support, his claims of omnipotence notwithstanding.

I could definitely see Q giving Riker the "30-day freeware trial version" of Q powers, though.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:38 AM on May 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Perhaps not, but every time I watch this show, I'm struck by how effective he is at still *acting* with the equivalent of two hands tied behind his back. He gets really expressive with his eyebrows in creative ways.

This is true. (Rene Auberjonois did the the opposite with Odo in DS9, where the character had the equivalent of a full-face latex mask and his eyes were the only thing that we could see.) Still, though, I don't blame Burton for eventually getting the cyborg eye option.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:48 AM on May 5, 2020

I was a tad to the eyerolly on this one. “Squire of Gothos,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “The Savage Curtain,” “Gamesters of Triskelion,” maybe even “Spectre of the Gun.”

Dang that is a pile of revenant parts.

I guess Q’s tunic is the first high-collar TNG Starfleet uni we see. I was amused by the set design swapping “Q” for Napoleon’s “N”.

This is also the first episode in which John DeLancie’s fast-talking ironic shtick and physical appearance lead to a strange pop-culture echo. the founding leader of the San Francisco punk band the Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra (born in Colorado as Eric Boucher) and DeLancie as Q are weirdly reminiscent of one another. I have never found any serious attempt to explore this but would love to see it reported on.

Finally, while others upthread cited Geordi’s eschewal of natural eyesight for a return to his visor as appealing, I found it challenging and weird. As the show launched, LeVar Burton was BY FAR the best known actor in the cast, celebrated and admired for his groundbreaking 1977 role, at twenty, in “Roots” as Chicken George. His participation in TNG at launch helped to underpin the idealistic self-presentation of the show.

However, in the scene where his VISOR is removed and we see Geordi’s (and LeVar’s) natural eyes returned to full function, only for him to refuse the change and don the metallic half-circle, the scene almost insists on being read in relation to Chicken George. The visor looks a lot like a slave collar, and Geordi is refusing unmediated visual experience of his world in favor of the technological meditation that the visor provides him.

It was pretty weird.

Over time, LaForge’s character is among the best written and performed on the show, undoubtedly due in part to Burton’s generous participation in developing Geordi into who we think of today when we think of the core characters of TNG. But I found this specific shot weird and uncomfortable in part because it appeared so unconsidered, so tone-deaf. Guess that’s probably on Gene.

The werepig soldiers put me in mind of supporting cast soldiers from Zelazny’s initial Amber books.

Frakes seemed to be introducing the Ryker wide-stance body language in this episode.
posted by mwhybark at 4:23 PM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

the founding leader of the San Francisco punk band the Dead Kennedys, Jello Biafra (born in Colorado as Eric Boucher) and DeLancie as Q are weirdly reminiscent of one another.

Interesting; that's a connection that I wouldn't have made.

Also, correction: Burton played Kunta Kinte, Ben Vereen was Chicken George.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 PM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

So I will say that from a disability rights perspective actually I thought Geordi's speech was great. Remember- the character of LaForge was blind at birth- so his way of sight through the visor is the only sight he's ever known, and honestly BETTER then "normal" sight in many ways. Why would he give that up for "normalcy"?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:27 PM on May 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

I always thought of Geordie as enhanced not disabled. He certainly used his visor many times to solve problems that he couldn't with regular sight.

But I can respect that disabled folks or people of color might have more complex reactions.
posted by emjaybee at 9:40 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can't get past the stupidity of making a teenager suddenly an adult, as a gift. "Congratulations! I've just shaved years off your life for you--and they're developmentally important years where your identity solidifies!"

I just... I just. What. WHAT. How could anyone think that's a good thing.
posted by meese at 10:21 PM on May 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

OMG, Levar played Kunta Kinte, I cannot believe I wrote that. A high-density fuckup. I even looked it up beforehand, and the information bit flipped. My most extreme apologies. Ah, fuck! My most sincere apologies.
posted by mwhybark at 10:55 PM on May 5, 2020

Lol, Jack, thanks for the correction, I caught it on reread before I refreshed to see further comments. Damn! Sorry LeVar!
posted by mwhybark at 10:57 PM on May 5, 2020

I so wish mordax were still here, because it’s somewhat awkward for me to try to enunciate these critiques, and I know his takes would be more nuanced than mine. I do hope you’ll be interested in them.

My orientation to watching Geordi and Worf with a critical eye as persons of color on the show stems from a conversation I had during the show’s initial run with a still-close friend of mine, someone of African descent and from a Jamaican family who grew up in Atlanta and split with his family when he came out as gay to them. They cut him off, and he joined the Marines and served in Lebanon.

We lost track of each other when he moved to Denver, about the time the first season of TNG aired. In 1990, after my move to Seattle, we were astonished to discover we lived half a block from each other. As the show became more popular we would occasionally watch it together, until I noticed he was sort of growing cool to the idea. I asked him why, and he laid out a pretty persuasive argument that Worf and Geordi are presented as essentially shackled, as limited, as emasculated. I was deeply shocked, just taken aback, and I have never watched the show the same way again.

I last saw him in January, and we are in touch on FB. He’s a social worker and a profoundly good man and I am so glad to have had him in my life all these years. I am not speaking for him or trying to represent his viewpoint when I construct these critical takes, but I am pretty clear that I owe the perspective to his perception.
posted by mwhybark at 11:14 PM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I should note I am a hetero-cisgender male from a background of academic and social privilege. I am so not speaking for people of color here; I cannot.
posted by mwhybark at 11:19 PM on May 5, 2020

The apologia for the (old, white) writers is that their teenaged years must have sucked.

Most of the gifts were totally bonkers, they were all so completely superficial.

Picard "... SO you SHOULD be!", if he meant it, should have had massive fallout over the next few episodes. But there's never conflict between the Captain and XO (without one of them being accused of being senile)?
posted by porpoise at 11:21 PM on May 5, 2020

"Generous" is an excellent term to describe Burton's performance throughout this show. And what I'm noticing here in Season One is that he seems to be the filling the role of less-stuffy, more-laidback, mildly-wisecracking, almost Serenity-crew-esque member of the main cast. That evolves a bit when he ends up in charge of a whole department, but IMO, Geordi's still Geordi, then and now. That was absolutely not a given, considering the rocky start of this show, especially w/r/t the less-highly-ranked regular cast members.

I also appreciate the fact that they made Geordi less and less about his VISOR in (not-too-distant IIRC) future episodes, perhaps out of some vague awareness that they weren't handling it well.

The werepig soldiers put me in mind of supporting cast soldiers from Zelazny’s initial Amber books.

I joked that Q just transplanted a bunch of unusually tall Tellarites.

I can't get past the stupidity of making a teenager suddenly an adult, as a gift. "Congratulations! I've just shaved years off your life for you--and they're developmentally important years where your identity solidifies!"

The uncharitable assumption is that, post-WASP-planet, Wesley started asking Riker insistent and uncomfortable questions about grown-up stuff, and this gift was just because Riker wanted to shut him up.

Picard "... SO you SHOULD be!", if he meant it, should have had massive fallout over the next few episodes.

I thought of that too, but eh, I don't know. One thing that really came through acting-wise in this scene, IMO, was that Riker knew he'd crossed a line, and he still had a certain warm respect for the captain. I feel like there definitely are bigger moments of tension between these two in the future, where they don't necessarily agree about a line-crossing, but of course such moments have little if any future fallout because this show has very few serialized elements.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:18 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I believe it’s canonical that the Visor is painful for Geordi to wear/use, which adds an extra level of .. something .. to that element of this show. I’m also a privileged healthy white cisgender upper-middle-class dude, so, not the right person to be having these thoughts on some level. I think the decision to make the VISOR painful to wear was meant to say “Geordi’s super-vision comes at a cost,” but it also means that Geordi is making the choice here to endure a lifetime of pain because that’s the lot he was given by chance, and/or because he finds the benefits to be worth the pain. I think the writers here just mean “un-earned advantages are bad,” but.. it definitely comes off very tone deaf here. Not that it’s necessarily the wrong choice for the character to make, or a choice that’s not true to how the character is otherwise written, but I’m curious about the whys and how examined that was by the writers at the time in the context of race and privilege (I’m guessing not-very).
posted by Alterscape at 11:08 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

canonical that the Visor is painful for Geordi to wear/use

mmm, not that I am aware of. It was painful in the early seasons for LeVar, though. I suppose that they might have made that true for Geordi too, but I haven’t ever heard of it.
posted by mwhybark at 4:52 PM on May 6, 2020

No, it's canonical -- Geordi & Dr. Crusher discuss it during her medical exam of him in the pilot.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:16 PM on May 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I don’t know how to deep-link subsections in Memory Alpha, but: here’s the MA page for the VISOR, and the discussion between Crusher and LaForge is mentioned midway through the page (ctrl+f Farpoint). I’m also fairly certain it comes up again in later episodes, since it’s something I was aware of before starting this Re-watch and I don’t really have solid memories of Encounter at Farpoint from before.

Then again, I owned the Conversational Klingon CD (It was a gag gift from a relative, but still) and took a college class on Trek so clearly I have some amount of prior exposure...
posted by Alterscape at 5:32 PM on May 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

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