Q returns to the Enterprise to tempt Commander Riker into joining the Q Continuum with the lure of Q's powers.
This episode contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Counsellor Troi.
- Actor Allusion: Of course Picard would read and know the works of Shakespeare, Q.
- Big "NO!": Q, at the end of the episode, when he is being pulled back into the Continuum, against his own will.
- Buffy Speak: It seems as though nobody can come up with a better term for "beast-men dressed like Napoleonic soldiers with nineteenth century muskets that shoot energy blasts" than "vicious animal things."
- Captain's Log:
"Starlog entry. Stardate...today..."
- While trapped alone on The Bridge, Picard complains that he can't even make a recording. Poor guy.
- Q then mockingly make his own log entry describing the Enterprise's situation.
- Deadly Game: Q subjects the crew to one, in order to test Riker.
- Deal with the Devil
- Death of a Child: At the end, Riker goes on a rescue away mission where a cave-in has happened. Among the fatalities was a young girl and Riker decides not to bring her back to life as he now has the power of the Q, though that decision weighed heavily on him.
- Destructo-Nookie: Worf and the Klingon woman provide a brief glimpse of this. No furniture-throwing, though.
- Drunk with Power: Riker, temporarily.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Q says that the Klingons have been conquered by the Federation.
- Worf tosses the drink that Q makes for him, which the latter says is due to the Klingon code saying "drink not with thine enemy." The "Redemption" two-parter would show Klingons more than willing to drink with their enemies.note
- Riker uses his Q powers by waving his hands rather than snapping his fingers.note
- Eldritch Abomination: Q first appears as an "Aldebaran Serpent", which looked like a floating bubble with three cobras sticking out of it.
- Fantastic Aesop: The show plays Failed Metaphor straight in the episode. Commander Riker is granted god-like power by the god-like Q. But using these new powers to save colonists who are in danger? Resurrecting a girl who died? Can't have that, now.
- First-Name Basis:Riker: Everyone looks uncomfortable.
Picard: Perhaps they're remembering that old quote, "Power corrupts—"
Riker: "And absolute power corrupts absolutely." Do you believe I haven't thought of that, Jean-Luc?
Picard: And have you noticed how you and I are now on a first-name basis?
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: When the crew don't like his Aldebaran Serpent form, Q switches to his normal John de Lancie.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Worf gets stabbed by one of the soldier creatures, the camera cuts away at the moment the bayonet actually enters his body. Inverted, surprisingly enough, by Wesley's own impalement, which is depicted in a shot that's shockingly graphic by TV standards of this era.
- Humans Are Special: The Q believe this, and are afraid of it. The purpose (according to Q) of tempting Riker into joining the Q Continuum is to give the Q knowledge of humanity's special qualities, which they can use to head off humanity's advancement before the species surpasses the Q themselves.
- I Gave My Word: Riker promises Picard not to use his new powers.
- Infant Immortality: Averted, and Riker's promise ensures that it sticks.
- Large Ham: John de Lancie is particularly over-the-top in this episode.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Worf when he attempts to fight the Napoleonic soldiers, getting a bayonet in the gut and setting the stage for seven years of getting his ass kicked.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The aforementioned beast-men dressed like Napoleonic soldiers with nineteenth century muskets that shoot energy blasts.
- No Man Should Have This Power: Q turns Riker into a Reality Warper, if not a Physical God. This is the conclusion that Picard, and later Riker, come to, so Riker refuses to use his power.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: Geordi's reaction to everyone getting transported back to the planet with the "vicious animal-things."
- Patrick Stewart Speech: One of the best in the series.Picard: 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!"
Q: Surely, you don't see your species like that, do you?
Picard: I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is that what concerns you?
- Precision F-Strike:Riker: Dammit! Dammit to HELL!
- Quote-to-Quote Combat: Involving Shakespeare, one area in which Picard can easily hold his own against Q.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Riker could have used his powers to help countless people.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:Q: "Fairness" is such a human concept. Think imaginatively! This game shall, in fact, be...completely unfair!
- Ship Tease:
- When Geordi is given his sight, he looks at Tasha and says, "You're more beautiful than I ever imagined."
- Tasha and Picard also get one when he comforts her while she's crying and she looks at him and says, "Captain. Oh, if you weren't a captain..." before Q interrupts.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Several, from Q, Picard, and Data, quoting Hamlet, Macbeth, and As You Like It. For example:Q: Hear this, Picard, and reflect: "All the galaxy's a stage."
Picard: "World," not "galaxy"; "all the world's a stage."
Q: Oh, you know that one. Well, if he was living now, he would have said "galaxy."
- Shown Their Work: When Picard makes his Patrick Stewart Speech and quotes Hamlet, he notes that while Hamlet was sarcastic when listing humanity's virtues, he himself is being sincere, thus averting Analogy Backfire. Unsurprising given Patrick Stewart's Shakespearean background. Somewhat averted later on when Data quotes another famous Hamlet line ("To thine own self be true") to justify turning down Riker's offer to make him human. While in the modern day the line has entered popular usage unironically, the character who says it in the play is a bit of a windbag and isn't really supposed to be taken seriously. (Though this could also be Fridge Brilliance, since it's been well-established that Data has trouble with human concepts such as irony and would be less likely to make such a distinction in tone.)
- Smug Snake: Q, in tempting Riker to hold onto his new powers and abandon his shipmates.
- Smug Super: Riker starts acting like a cocky Jerkass once he realizes what power he has been given.
- Stock Footage:
- The first shot, depicting medical crewmembers hurrying out of sickbay, is recycled from the pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint".
- The vfx shots of the Enterprise stopped by Q's net are also taken from the pilot.
- Tempting Fate: Data notes how their phasers are vastly superior to French muskets. Turns out the "vicious animal things" are using energy weapons.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Riker gives Geordi actual eyes, which lets him appreciate Tasha's attractiveness, but Geordi asks to stay blind, saying "I don't like where it came from."
- Up to Eleven: Q adopts a French Field Marshal's uniform just because it lets him go one rank above admiral.
- What the Hell, Hero?: We know Picard hates children, but did he just give Riker a pat on the back for not using his powers to save a dying child?Riker: I could have saved that little girl!
Picard: You were right not to try!
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Wesley tries to help the impaled Worf, but gets impaled himself.
- Picard demands that Riker let a little girl remain dead despite having the power to save her.
- Written-In Absence: Troi has been left on Starbase G-6 to catch a shuttle home on leave, prior to the opening scene.