The Q return in an most unexpected way. Originally broadcast on February 19,1996, this is Death Wish.
A Q arrives on Voyager asking for asylum so that he can end his life. When Q (John DeLancie) arrives things get even more complicated.
Encountering a rogue asteroid, Janeway orders a piece beamed aboard the ship in order to study it. Torres is shocked when she encounters a Starfleet Captain in the transporter room who identifies himself as ‘Q’. (for the sake of this article we will refer to him as Q2, this will make sense later) Reacting to the name, Janeway sets the ship to Red Alert and starts toward the transporter room to respond to this known threat. Q2 contacts Janeway and wisks her with a wave of his hand to the Mess Hall for lunch.
With another wave of his hand, this Q2 makes a meal of Welsh Rabbit appear for himself and the Captain. Claiming that he is grateful for Voyager freeing him from his captivity, Janeway is not convinced having heard about Q’s activities in the past. Janeway tries to get a word in but Q2 makes it clear that he is envious of the crew’s mortal lives even remarking on how lucky Kes is to have such a short life span. When Janeway questions Q2 about his antics aboard the Enterprise, Q2 assures her that he is not the same Q. Instead he is there to end his life as he no longer wishes to be a Q. Waving his hand he is embarrassed when he inadvertently makes all of the males vanish from the ship with no way to retrieve them. Returning himself and Janeway to the bridge he humbly apologizes when they are both surprise by a visit from the original Q.
The original Q is not pleased with Voyager’s appearance in the Delta Quadrant commenting on the lack of men on the ship. Q2 informs Q that, in his attempt to commit suicide, Q2 inadvertently whisked away the men. Q brings them all back and, as he prepares to leave with Q2, Q2 makes it clear he wants to remain behind. Surprising everyone, Q2 requests asylum aboard Voyager. When Q declines to allow Q2 to remain, Q2 whisks Voyager to the Birth of the Universe only to be followed by Q. The two continues their game of cat and mouse through time and space, even turning Voyager into a Christmas Tree Ornament.
Frustrated at the antics of the Q’s, Janeway demands that they follow Q2’s request for Asylum to the letter holding a hearing aboard Voyager. The Q’s agree with their own stipulations as to what will happen in the outcome of the hearing. Janeway agrees and Q2 asks Tuvok to represent him in the Asylum proceedings due to the fact that Vulcan’s have no issue with suicide. Tuvok reluctantly agrees.
The hearing begins with Janeway insisting that the hearing remain serious and no antics will be tolerated. Q calls himself as a witness and states that, should Q2 kill himself, it would cause irreparable damage to the Q Continuum as a whole. Q then calls other witnesses including Isaac Newton, Maury Ginsberg and William T Riker. Using them as an example of Q2’s value to human history, Q begins to explain how Q2 affected each of these people for the greater good.
Q2 asks to show the ‘court’ the conditions of his confinement and we see the horrible conditions he was forced to live in and will be force to live in from here on out. Despite the evidence provided, Janeway can not judge whether Q2 is suffering substantially to warrant a suicide. Tuvok asks for time to consider their response and a recess is granted. Over lunch, they realize that the only way to understand the suffering Q2 is going through is to show everyone what life in the continuum is like.
In her office, Janeway pleads with Q to allow Q2 to return to the continuum should she side with Q in the hearing. Q attempts to bribe Janeway with an instantaneous way back home should she agree to side in his favor giving her much to consider.
Tuvok and Q2 request that they visit the Q continuum itself in order for Janeway to best appreciate the living conditions Q2 will be subject to. Taking them to the continuum, Janeway realizes that life as a Q quickly becomes a tedious and boring existence. Q is shocked to learn that Q2 was inspired by Q’s activities and revolution that ultimately resulted in the removal of Q’s powers. Q2 argues that his life has been completed and all he has left to explore is death. Returning to Voyager, Janeway calls a recess so she can make her decision.
That night Q appears in Janeway’s quarters with a deal for her indicating that he will return them home should she agree to let Q2 return to the continuum. He offers her anything she could imagine as he finds her very attractive as the Captain of Voyager. Janeway kicks him out but he promises they will talk further at a later time.
The next morning Janeway informs Q2 that she has ruled in his favor despite the fact that she will be in effect participating in his euthanasia. Q is not pleased but gives Q2 his mortality stripping him of his powers. Janeway pleads with Q2 to remain with them aboard Voyager allowing him to explore his new found mortality as his next adventure.
Continuing on their way, Q2 takes the name of Quinn and begins to acclimate to ship life. Janeway soon receives bad news when the Doctor informs her that Quinn has taken a poison that has no cure. Janeway is saddened and is shocked when Q appears informing them that he assisted Quinn in his suicide. Q has realized that Quinn was an inspiration and has decided to continue to be a disruptive force in the continuum…and possibly with Voyager as well.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I have made this no secret, I love the character of Q and the fact that he has returned after being absent for so long was such a delight for me when this episode first aired. Unlike that of most of Q’s appearances, however, his first appearance on Voyager comes with a much darker and serious story that directly addresses an issue that has plagued modern society for centuries, should someone be allowed to kill themselves.
Star Trek taking on heavy subjects is certainly not unheard of. If anything, this franchise is rife with continual sociopolitical statements and observations depicting everything from inequality to antiwar sentiments. For the series to take on suicide was a major step and one that, I believe, was handled in an admirable way. While I, personally, do not believe suicide is the answer to solving your problems, the act of suicide is not what is in question here. What is in question is if we simply have the right to end our lives if we so determine we wish to. That one simple idea is something that will ultimately create debates all the way up to the top levels of government and religious organizations world wide. Interestingly, the decision to commit suicide is not one that can, or really should, be controlled by any religion or state, it honestly falls upon the shoulders of the individual and their personal feelings on the matter. That being said, I love how Janeway navigates this conundrum knowing full well that her decisions will likely result in the death of another being. It is clear that this is not an easy decision for Janeway to make and that pain is apparent in every moment that actor Kate Mulgrew is on the screen. I have to applaud the level of emotion Mulgrew depicts in this one making it one of the most heartfelt and memorable Q episodes to date. Additionally, Gerrit Graham’s performance as Quinn personifying this conundrum is nothing short of perfection.
The interaction between Janeway and Q is nothing short of legendary. For so long Q has become known as Picard’s ultimate foil and, outside of a single encounter with Ben Sisko, the omniscient trickster has never been one to take no for an answer. Immediately starting off as a might sexists towards the ‘female Captain’, it soon becomes apparent that Q has a deeper interest in ‘Kathy’ unlike that of his relationship with Picard. While he knows he can be a nuisance to this ship, there is something about Janeway he likes and this will be part of his future return to the series.
This episode not only marks the return of Q to the franchise but also marks the second appearance of a Next Generation Enterprise crew-member on the series. Although Frakes has directed a few episodes in the past, the idea that he could actually appear as Riker on an episode was nearly impossible. With this appearance, and his later appearances on Enterprise and Picard, Frakes would have the honor of appearing on the most Star Trek series to date. Seems he just can not get enough of this series.
Overall, I love this episode. From the return of John DeLancie as Q, to the incredibly powerful performance of Gerrit Grahm as Q2, this is one of my favorites of the season for sure. The cool thing is, this is not the last we see of the incomparable Q.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 32 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
- We learn that Riker was up for command of Voyager but turned it down. I really dig Janeway but that would have been an interesting series.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Lifesigns
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Late To The Game 6/17/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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