Memory Alpha summary
|via The Viewscreen|
"And then, sir?"
"Then we eat them."
In short, she drives everyone crazy. Usually you need Q to accomplish that, but then, maybe Lwaxana always was Q without all the omnipotence. She's just omnipresent. Yay!
In fact, let's take that a step further. Q episodes before "Manhunt" feature Q in the role of a challenger. Q episodes after "Manhunt" feature Q in the role of a trickster. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Now, just imagine an episode with Q and Lwaxana...Thankfully this never, ever happened. Everyone would've gone insane...
"Manhunt" also features the prism of Picard and Riker contrasting against each other, which "Peak Performance" two episodes later also does (not to mention the preview from "The Measure of a Man"). In that sense, it's the culmination of a season's worth efforts to distinguish the two and make it less of a competition, perhaps the tipping of the scales away from Riker and back toward Picard, as the second season had clearly flirted with early on. The show's creators knew there was a problem. They didn't necessarily know what the problem was, but they did considerable work trying to figure it out. Again, as I've stated previously, the revelation that was the third season would not have been possible without all the work from the second. "Manhunt" is so casual about it you probably wouldn't even expect that kind of effort behind it.
But then, like Q, Lwaxana was a character designed to find stress points. She just happened to be the first of the two to actually push the series to its best all on her own.
four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character