*** (3 stars out of 5)"Hide and Q" is here, and here's John de Lancie being better than the material (especially the title!) as usual.
Rushing to save the colonists of Sigma III from an explosion, the crew is caught up by Q again and made to battle pig-monsters with phaser-muskets.
Tasha is emotionally tormented by Q's threat to turn her to nothingness if the others refuse to play his reindeer games.
Picard's defiant speech to Q is a personal favourite:
"Oh, 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!'"
And Picard believes that is the path humanity is on. He figures the Q are afraid of the eventual competition.
It's undercut only slightly by how inept Worf is made to look in action in the next scene. Worf rushes out of hiding and presents his right flank for easy phasering had Riker actually been the enemy. 'A warrior's reaction," says the Klingon. 'You came out of nowhere!" Geordi praises the Klingon. Uh, right. That didn't look like a tactical misjudgement at all.
Q grants Riker the ultimate cheat code: Q power. Riker ends the game when Worf and Wesley are run through. I remember the visceral terror of those stab wounds- it was 1987 but I wasn't accustomed to such things. Well done, all.
Picard feels Riker will be corrupted by the power (perhaps he's seen 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' or at least heard the tale of Gary Mitchell), and gets Will to agree not to chalk up this particular Q.
Geordi's super-vision and Data's super-strength are not enough to save a little girl smashed by rubble. I won't say it's worse for Riker than the mom, but Riker's dilemma is beyond the human norm. I remain invested in these people and their choices.
Riker tries to give his friends their wishes: Wesley becomes ten years older (and incidentally buff). Data refuses to participate- he doesn't want the illusion of humanity: 'This above all, to thine own self be true". Geordi is given eyesight and a glimpse of the grotty planet Sigma III and the much-more appealing Yar. Except..."I don't like who I'd have to thank." Worf receives the gift that keeps on giving: a snarling Klingon strumpet. Still no.
Rejected by all, Q is summoned back to the continuum, apparently in deep doo-doo for failing to recruit. Some of Roddenberry's pro-human, anti-god stance comes through in this story. So, for a little added blasphemy: Hasa Diga Eebowai!
And happy 2012.