7 comments on “Deja Q

  1. You were talking like Q was either a capricious dick or cultivating humanity/Picard with moral lessons – whynotbothjpg?

    …Huh. Repeats not only the brig from “The Hunted,” but also the asteroid. I wonder at what stage of production they make those decisions.

    • The cultivating angle requires an elevated morality with the immaturity and capriciousness being a facade. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of assholes hypocritically judging humanity on a set of values they hold but fail to embody. Why else would Q pretend to forget his wager with Picard, then relent when confronted?

      Or Q has been on work release and so he personally fails to embody those values, but is charged with instilling them (in a weird “Scared Incorporeal” program) and constantly monitored by other Q (possibly seen in Hide and Q).

      Or the Q are dicks, but our Q is a renegade in a corrupt system and torments other races as a smokescreen for preparing humanity. When he’s found out (or pushes his cover too far) and made human, his loss of ‘omnipotent privilege’ shocked into becoming a petulant human (like Troi when she lost her powers).

      Those two both back him being on probation and having to handle that execrable Amanda Rogers affair, even though the whole thing was fucked up and stupid.

      Or every Q is a different Q or a different facet of the Q and we get into weird territory.

      • If the Continuum’s morality is elevated above the Federation’s, then there’s a gap the Federation doesn’t totally understand, which I don’t think can be distinguished (practically or semantically) from capriciousness. So I read anything the Continuum or Q might be “failing” on as things they aren’t testing humanity on.

        The Continuum’s interest in humanity seems analogous to the Federation’s interest in societies on the cusp of warp travel; the Continuum having general standing goals for any species on the cusp isn’t necessarily at odds with any particular Q having more specific goals for the races they interact with.

        Voyager does confirm de Lancie’s Q as a young firebrand who is frustrated with stagnation in the old guard. It’s impossible to say how much Voyager is influencing my views of these first TNG appearances, but I read Q tormenting other races as his attempts to court them the same way he courts humanity.

        • The Q tested humanity on compassion for lesser life forms, having ultimate power without being dicks, and being humble. So they are testing humanity on virtues Q himself utterly fails at.

          I see ‘incomprehensible morality’ in the same bucket as Lovecraftian horrors; kind of a cop-out. Especially if your series’ concept is ‘morality tales, but in space.’

          Maybe the human race (or Federation society) is on the cusp of something else and that’s why the Q are uniquely interested in them. And maybe Q is interfering with that. I get it.

          OTOH, I don’t know what cusp the humans would share with the Calamarain, who are willing to wager the safety of a planet for a chance to try and kill Q. Like, the more reasonable the Calamarain are, the more dickish Q’s treatment of them would have had to have been to prompt what I could only describe as a murderous, collateral-damage strewn rampage.

          Yeah, I hate Voyager’s characterization of him, but a lot of this episode is me being honest about that characterization starting here. I hate to say it, but aside from his infatuation with Picard, Voyager does a lot to add to his character. I don’t think any of it was necessary, but they did a good job of executing that bad idea.

          • Comprehensively disagree.

            The jellyfish at Farpoint was a superior life form, and compassion wasn’t being tested. Q lays it out in his first scene: when encountering unknown superior beings (whose moral dimension was hidden), would the Enterprise respond aggressively (as Tasha, Worf and eventually Picard try to), and would they allow entangling alliances to broaden the existing conflict?

            Q contrives the most compassionate outcome possible: because the Enterprise is present when the jellyfish’s mate attacks, and because Q prevented the Enterprise from provoking the jellyfish, our heroes have the opportunity to tend the injuries of both sides.

            “Hide and Q” tests “whether the first officer is worthy of the greatest gift the Q can offer.” The Q want Riker to join them so they can understand how humanity’s drive for advancement will take humanity beyond the Q. The test isn’t about having ultimate power without being a dick, it’s about not using that power to avoid the struggle for advancement.

            Did Picard win the wager? The terms are never explicit, and maybe that’s what Q was disputing at the end. If Riker proved himself worthy of the gift of being Q, how is he not now a Q? In Picard’s eyes, refusing Qhood might constitute a “win;” but in the Qs’ eyes, accepting Qhood was half the point.

            In these encounters, the writers start our heroes from a position of arrogance and ignorance – they have a biased and incomplete view of Q’s methods and motives. If Q can kill and revive Tasha at a whim, what’s the moral cost of that? If Q is reprehensible for letting natives die at Farpoint, why not likewise for Riker with the mercy mission in “Hide and Q?” Q calls humanity a “dangerous, savage child race” and, just like TV children trying to understand TV parents, Picard et al see Q’s actions as more arbitrary and inconsistent than the viewers do. So in that respect, I agree that some of the caprice and dickishness is a “facade” rather than innate; but the manic enthusiasm, and general disregard for humanoid safety, I take as a genuine culture clash, and moreover not in conflict with the lessons I think Q is trying to impart.

            I agree that “Q Who” is a lesson in humility, but it’s only the practical humility of small fry swimming with sharks. It’s a kind of humility we never get to see Q tested on. “Deja Q” is about humility too, but a different kind which we never really see the crew tested on.

            I don’t think Q’s interest in humanity is interfering with the Qs’ agenda. One of the first things he tells Picard in “Encounter at Farpoint” is that humanity has “infiltrated the galaxy too far already,” “go back or you will most certainly die.” He makes a similar challenge before launching the Enterprise towards the Borg in “Q Who,” while “Hide and Q” talks about humanity surpassing the Q in only a few centuries or millennia. Suppose humanity was a little more developed – closer to the space jellyfish, like the Calamarain. Picard already sees Q as an existential threat with a bottomless well of antagonism; can you imagine if he’d had the power to withstand Q’s initial advances? If he’d never been coerced into acknowledging the moral validity in Q’s persuasions? Or if humanity had failed some of Q’s tests?

            You seem to be posing the evolutionary ladder from ape to apotheosis as intrinsically being a journey of moral refinement: Q are transcendental and therefore moral paragons (relative to humanity). I don’t get that, but I get how Voyager’s characterization conflicts with it; and I would say that the cues Voyager picked up didn’t start here, but back in season one.

          • Sorry for the delay.

            If Q morality is somehow incomprehensible to the viewer (whether because it’s that advanced or because it’s that alien) there’s no reason to talk about it. If it’s comprehensible, it’s by belief it’s either a pretense (they fail what they’re testing humanity on) or it’s an honest morality that Q fails to uphold.

            At Farpoint, you are right. It wasn’t compassion, but the ability to understand the jellyfish instead of destroying it. But if moving the Enterprise between the jellyfish and the Bandai city was aggressive enough to fail the test, then humanity failed. That’s it. End of story. Back to Earth. Picard ordering ‘s kidnapping would have also qualified.

            Instead, Q stopped Picard. He interfered in the test. Q operates at cross-purposes with his stated goal, sometimes helping and sometimes hindering Picard’s progress.
            The question of whether he’s a net help or a net hindrance is weighed against Picard’s ability to ignore Q and doing what he was going to do anyway. As of Deja Q, we know the Continuum actually exists as an entity which punishes Q, so it’s a small assumption that Q was their on their behalf and has a contentious relationship with them.

            Incidentally, we also know they’ll use living, suffering to further their own ends.

            So then the Continuum wants to test Picard’s ability to handle the power of the Q and he says “no.” End of test goodbye.

            Except that Q then offers someone else the power and pressures them into accepting. Riker accepts half of that power and immediately uses it with the limited confines of his own existence. He becomes corrupt and complacent. He has a moment of self-realization and refuses becoming a ‘full Q’ (apparently a level of fullness where you got a tutorial), preserving his integrity and passing on the opportunity to use his powers to benefit humanity. IIRC, Q ends the episode screaming as the Continuum punishes him for failure.

            If Riker–who used the awesome power of the Q within the stifling and narrow confines of becoming a better officer–was supposed to bring human ambition and adaptability to the Continuum, he was a bad pick from the start. Again, if we’re going to talk about this at all, we have to take some of the Continuum’s stated goal as truth. The Q likely wanted to either corrupt humanity with a decadent, unbearded overlord, have an ambitious, disciplined human join the Continuum (Picard), study a human while they made him think he was a Q, or to teach Picard and crew the value of their struggles and the importance of always striving to make things better and accept losses (this mirrors Q Who in that respect).

            Your point stands since half of these involve them not wanting corruption, but both the pretense/morality views still hold.

            Incidentally, stabbing a teenager isn’t less morally reprehensible if you then resurrect them. If a superhero named Heals Gunshots Man shoots you, then heals you, he has still committed a crime.

            In Q Who, Q either gave The Federation a warning to prepare for a Borg attack or put The Federation on their radar too soon. The episode itself probably reads in favor the latter and The Best of Both Worlds backs that up. Picard admits to a certain sense of complacency, but the challenge is one of Q’s devising. I can see the difference between that and his actions in Deja Q, but I sincerely don’t see it as as significant one.

            Q teaches and judges the human race on behalf of the Continuum. He acts against the Continuum’s stated purposes at times and is eventually punished. The Q perform immoral acts, but they also (eventually) condemn Q for some of his immoral acts.

            If we make the assumptions necessary to discuss their morality at all, my assertion is the Continuum/Q dynamic, as of Deja Q is pretentious/moral or moral/amoral.

          • As for the morality/ascension link. It really liked it after watching “John Doe.” It’s a very Star Trek concept, that hatred and mistrust gets you a Husnock-sized dirt nap with your warships while peace and cooperation and learning are the keys to understanding the universe. If the all-powerful were truly capricious, evil, and/or, then their meddling with the universe would be manifest (and maybe they and the universe would already be destroyed). Q may be a persistent menace, but he seems to be in the minority.

            But Star Trek has gotten a bit more cynical so the reason the Q don’t form rulership over the mortals of the galaxy for their own idle amusement is because…they didn’t think of it? Maybe threats like The Borg and The Founders are a bit too close to their weight class for them to easily move in? Or maybe there’s a balance of power between different omnipotent entities and no one wants a proxy war in the bottom four dimensions because it could explode into a full-blown godwar.

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