Posted by: rebeccajrobare | August 29, 2017

Refusing the Faustian Bargain: “Hide and Q”

Blog note: That was quite the hiatus! I had a little bit of work, followed hard on by a series of family medical mishaps. And since my kids aren’t yet old enough to watch TV while I get things done. . . (It’s amazing how quickly good intentions around screen time evaporate!) Though one of the boys was riveted by a documentary on Nikola Tesla. . . my suspicion is that the pan-across-the-photographs, Ken-Burns style of program is easier for a baby to look at than a frenetic cartoon. But I digress. On to today’s lesson on leadership.

Mission Summary: Q comes back, kidnaps most of the bridge crew, trades Shakespearean barbs with Picard, and offers Riker the powers of the Q. Riker progresses quickly from refusing to use his new powers to wanting to accept a place in the Q continuum. He offers his friends “gifts” to mark his departure, but each one refuses, and Riker realizes that this is not a path he wants to take. Q departs, apparently snatched away by his angry fellow Q.

Lessons on Leadership: Two moments stand out in Capt. Picard’s handling of this mission. One, when Lt. Yar is returned to the Bridge by herself after having been abducted along with the rest of the bridge crew,  sans Picard, she finds herself in tears at frustration at having an enemy she can’t fight. Her strength and intelligence simply do her no good against an all-powerful and capricious enemy. Picard does not embarrass her for crying, and helps her regain control. Picard consistently has accepted his officers’ emotions as a valuable part of them, never making them feel guilty for having strong emotions and only correcting the actions they may take in the line of duty, particularly in the case where anger or fear may elicit a violent or aggressive response when this is not the best course of action. Certainly in non-Starfleet life, it’s rare to find a leader who can manage emotions and emotionality so deftly in their staff.

Second, near the end of the mission, when Cmdr. Riker intends to leave the Enterprise to join the Q, Picard refuses a gift on his own behalf but allows Riker to offer gifts to others among the crew. Every gift is refused – a Klingon woman for Worf (and I have to wonder about Riker’s judgement, that he thinks a sentient being fit to give, as though she were property! Reviewing this mission, I can only hope that this shows how quickly the power of the Q can corrupt a person’s ethics, and is not emblematic of Riker’s general approach to life, women, or sex); sight for LaForge; a skipped decade for Wesley Crusher, making him instantly a man; and an offer to make Data human. When each colleague has refused, Riker turns to Picard, realizing that Picard knew that this would happen. In the intoxication of his newfound power, Riker has forgotten that the other crew members value who they are now, regardless of loneliness, disability, impatience, or unfulfilled goals. Riker now understands that these are not gifts of beneficence, but tricks that have a string attached. Picard could not have elicited this realization in Riker just by telling him. He knew that Riker needed the experience of being rejected, several times, in order to understand, and he trusted the crew to reject the fulfillment of their fantasies. Whatever Picard’s flaws during some of the other missions we have reviewed, he has a remarkable understanding of his crew’s psychology, and that leads in this mission to a total success.

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