Friday, November 22, 2019

Star Trek: Hide and Q

Episode: "Hide and Q"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1, Episode 10
Original Air Date: November 23, 1987
Q is back!  This time, he gives Riker Q-powers as a "gift" but really more of a moral test.  The "What will you do with the powers of a god?" question veers closer to Star Wars territory than Star Trek usually trends.  In true Trek fashion, Riker learns about the limits of seemingly limitless power, particularly when it comes to giving people exactly what he imagines they want.

I have to admit it.  I don't like Q.  Yes, I can acknowledge John de Lancie is a thoroughly gifted actor and Q stories provide wonderful verbal sparring opportunities for Picard.  But the character is off-putting for me.  He is a cat toying too long with his mouse before he finally breaks its neck.  I know there are better Q stories to come but I have no problem listing other recurring characters I prefer.

The story pokes at a question I plan to devote much thought to as I embark on this latest re-watch: what's the deal with Will Riker?  For me, he is TNG's most puzzling character.  It's not that I don't like him.  I do.  It's not that I don't like the actor, though Frakes is definitely the one who follows the Shatner Scenery Chewing principles of acting most closely.  He's also the first actor who made me think of "handsome" as a verb.  Gaze upon me as I handsome proudly.  Henry Cavill handsomes, too.  But I'm going off point...

What does Riker add to the broader story?  When I do a mental rundown of TNG's principals, I usually remember him last, sort of like Happy among Snow White's seven dwarfs.  I appreciate his professional relationship with Picard.  He's the last filter of everyone else's input before the boss makes the call.  He's a good friend and confidant.  Everyone needs that, even starship captains.  He's mentor to one, yet protégé to another.  As I've hinted at before, he eventually develops an interesting duty vs. honor dichotomy with Worf which is more like the Spock-McCoy relationship than any other on TNG.  But there's more, and yet somehow sometimes less.  Occasionally, I feel he merely serves as the young man alternative to Picard when the writers want a sexier leading man for a particular story. 

As you can see, I already have some ideas percolating.  But I'm not quite there yet.  Several of the episodes upcoming are meaningful Riker development stories.  And yet, I think it could take a while before I can stick a pin in this guy.

Acting Notes

Image result for young wil wheaton
via Wikipedia

Wil Wheaton (Wesley) was born July 29, 1972 in Burbank, California.  His mother was an actress which perhaps explains why he was encouraged in the business from a young age.  His career on screen began at age eight with the TV movie A Long Way Home.

For me, Wil Wheaton will always be Gordie.  As I have written before (here), Stand by Me has been a deeply important movie to me from the night I first saw it.  I followed the careers of all four lead actors with great interest so I was delighted to see him turn up on the new Star Trek series.  To put it bluntly, there is a large contingent among the devoted who despise the Wesley character.  For many, he is Star Trek's Jar Jar.  Because of my love for the actor, I've never counted myself among the haters.

Of course, Wheaton is well aware of the hostility and resentment.  Frankly, it's hard to hide from it in the Geekverse, a world where Wheaton has established a prominent presence for himself in adulthood.  Obviously, he is more charitable towards those critics who distinguish between the actor and the character and he is also grateful for the many fans who have told him how important Wesley was for them.

There's strong evidence that Wheaton is a genuinely decent guy in real life.  He has been married to his wife since 1999 and helped raise her two sons from a previous relationship.  At age 19, one of the sons asked Wheaton to officially adopt him.  Naturally, he accepted.  At 19... sniff...


  1. I like Wil. He has a good idea about himself and who he is. I always enjoyed his appearances on Big Bang Theory.
    And, as I said previously, I never had a problem with Wesley.
    Stand By Me was one of those kinds of movies for me, too, though not as important as Dead Poets' Society.

    1. Oddly enough, I don't really know Big Bang Theory. I am definitely in the target audience yet the series has never taken with me.

  2. This first Q spotlight is easily his worst appearance, a thoroughly first season experience.

  3. I hated Q at first, but eventually grew to love him. And yes, Riker is sort of just there because someone had to be number 2 and someone had to be handsome.

    As for Will Wheaton, I saw him in Stand by Me first as well and he was amazing. They all were. It's my favorite Stephen King movie, I think. I liked his character on SNG but as you said before, it would've been much more interesting if he'd had better writers for his character.

    1. I'll be watching how the Riker story develops. Spock and McCoy are essential to making TOS work. Riker isn't in the same way. But then, it's a very different series, too. And Picard is a very different captain.

      Again, it's not that I don't like him. I just don't see his narrative function beyond looking pretty. Yet.