5 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.

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