In which a space-wizard extinguishes a dozen puppies and I refuse to let it go.
We’re chilling around at a starbase loading up supplies for a relief mission, and also loading up an intern. Amanda Rogers has basically a Masters in several different fields and I have no idea whether she’s an Academy student, or working for Starfleet Medical or the Daystrom Institute or what. Riker shows her to her quarters in a way that’s not creepy at all. He leaves quickly once she starts talking about all of her dogs, but afterwards a dozen puppies appear in her quarters before she vaporizes them. It’s fine, they probably didn’t feel pain. Probably.
Crusher is teaching Amanda to calibrate and test tricorders before they’re packed away for the relief efforts. As it turns out, Amanda was accepted to the Academy, so I guess the internship is before that. Also, there’s clearly something sinister because she can’t even hold a tricorder the right way around. Also the puppy atomization. Also, fun note, half of those tricorders aren’t medical models. You can tell because they don’t have the salt shaker probe in the front.
A brief moral lesson regarding the sense of cleaning up the atmosphere versus stopping pollution in the first place tells us that pollution control in the 24th century works like one of those ionizing fans, only with much bigger equipment that can actually impede transporters. She gets bored and takes the opportunity to save Riker from having a cargo case fall on his head and making us watch “Ethics” again. Then, in Engineering, a warp core breach threatens and she stops that too.
In trying to figure out what she is, they have a conference, and Q shows up to smarm at them and reveal that Amanda is one of the Q. Her biological parents were being tourists and conceived a child while in human form.
Pause, because this is important. When Q assumes human form to sass Picard, I tend to assume he doesn’t mimic all the nasty wobbly bits inside unless he expects to use it for purposes of mocking. But if Amanda’s real parents conceived a child who registers as human, either Amanda is aware of her power and chooses to appear completely human, or she grew up thinking she was human and has always been biologically human. Her accidental summoning (and subsequent murder/disintigration) of a dozen puppies suggests that she believes she’s human, or at least grew up believing it. Which would suggest that her parents fully assumed human form and conceived her the natural way. Which means that the source of Q powers isn’t strictly-speaking biological. Call her a three-dimensional protuberance of a multidimensional entity if you want, but it suggests something that might, by some people, be termed a ‘soul.’
Well, either that or her parents just attached Q powers to their infant before dying in an accident conveniently.
Q showed up on behalf of the Continuum to verify the Qlieness of Amanda and teach her how to use her powers. That’s right, Q is part of the Establishment now, and asks Picard to help Amanda trust him. Present a united front, sort of thing. That said, Picard also immediately goes to do some background research on her real parents because he insists that she ought to know the choice ahead of her. Q shows up to take her away, and she refuses and blows him across the room.
Amanda is struggling with her new identity. Imagine if, say, Harry Potter had grown up in a happy family and the Dursleys showed up to take him to Hogwarts, and also Hogwarts sucked. She just wants to go to the Academy as normal. Which is a testament to the culture of the 24th century. She’d rather go to school than be a literal god.
In case you got the wrong idea from Q, though, he is a good guy in this scenario. One of the Continuum shows up to ask about his progress, and he seems put-upon and really hopeful that they won’t have to kill Amanda. It seems as though he’s tempting her with the use of her power, and in comparison Crusher offers her meticulous bacterial growth experiments. Q is going to ‘help’ her finish it quickly. Of course, this ‘help’ makes the experiment useless.
Apparently, Amanda Rogers’ parents died in a freak tornado in Topeka, despite the fact that Earth has a ‘weather modification net.’ Weather control. How far in advance do you think they schedule rainy days? Of course, the tornado shows other signs of being artificial.
This is followed by a Hide and Seek sequence in which Q does a pretty good job of teaching her to stop thinking like a human. He hides as a barrel, in the warp core, and on the hull. He makes a compelling argument, I’m honestly not sure of a good counterargument. Then again, Q is kind of a bad influence – she’s crushing on Riker and kidnaps him in the middle of his date with someone else. Also, she puts him in a waistcoat and top hat. Give Q credit, he’s managed to turn her from being adamant about her future as a human to playing dress-up with people and getting super rapey about it.
As she discovers the emptiness of playing life with cheat mode on, it comes out that the Continuum executed her parents for leaving the Q, and they’ll do the same to her rather than letting an omnipotent being run around without proper supervision. One wonders where they were when Kirk ran into Apollo, Gorgan, Trelaine, and God-at-the-center-of-the-galaxy. Well, I guess Trelaine was a very naughty boy and maybe his parents were Q. But the rest of them certainly acted with impunity. Oh, and the Organians forcing a peace treaty on the Federation and Klingon Empire.
Also important – Q’s initial appearance comes up, and Q mentions that the jury is still out. Which literally means that he’s still throwing tests at them. There’s no reason to think he stopped with just the one. Every weird inexplicable anomaly, every confluence of events that shouldn’t have happened, all potentially Q.
In fact, Q offers a choice rather than termination. She can go to the Continuum, or she can stay a human. If she chooses to stay a human, she can either keep the power and never use it, or maybe get it taken away. She chooses to refrain from using the power, but will be immediately put to the test when her crush, Riker, is in the midst of a planetary reactor overload. Then it spontaneously fixes itself and the planetary atmosphere cleans itself. Amanda is really bad at avoiding temptation.
Credit where it’s due, when she gave in to the power, she used it in line with, if not Federation principles and regulations, at least the Federation do-gooder ideal. In just the past few days she’s come a long way from her former puppy-annihilating ways. Think the Continuum will manage to brainwash it out of her?