Riker: "Limitless powers, command over space and time, boyish good looks, perfect hair, an ass that won't quit, eyes you could get lost in, a chuckle that just makes you want to curl up with him by a fire…I'm sorry, what were we talking about?"

#95 – Qception

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Of course, a year or two later Wes would start attending Starfleet Academy, where he would sit around with the other Nova Squadron cadets smoking synthweed and having structurally very similar conversations.

Q is such a problem for this franchise, because he’s It Was All Just A Dream incarnate. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love watching John de Lancie doing his thing and they’ve had a good time with some of the wacky What If stuff as individual episodes, but he’s hugely problematic as someone who is implicitly always out there, everywhere, able to appear at a moment’s notice, at a mere mention, to pull some I Dream Of Jeannie bullshit at a galactic-slash-existential level, like some psychopathic Space Kibo. Because when he can do that any time he wants, and nobody could possibly stop him if he didn’t want to be stopped, and he seems to delight specifically in mussing with the affairs of his pet humans, then…why does everything work out?

A big part of the problem with Q comes down to his contradictory role as a limitless trickster god who nonetheless cooperates unerringly with the maintenance of the status quo. He can and often does do the otherwise impossible with a snap of his fingers — make people disappear or appear, change history, even grant other people likewise godlike powers — but he can never seem to commit on any of it.

As an in-universe criticism of the tyranny of syndication over rich continuity and character development, you could argue that it’s subtle and brilliant. But I think that’s giving the whole thing far too much credit, overall. Even if you’re lampshading a problem in your show, it’s still a problem in your show.