Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Q-Less”

“Q-Less”
Written by Hannah Louise Shearer and Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Paul Lynch
Season 1, Episode 6
Production episode 40511-407
Original air date: February 7, 1993
Stardate: 46531.2

Station log: Bashir is hitting on a pretty Bajoran woman in the replimat. At the next table over O’Brien is rolling his eyes and snarfing on his coffee. To Bashir and the woman’s disappointment, and O’Brien’s great relief, they’re interrupted by a summons to a runabout landing pad. The Ganges spent too long out of coverage, and their battery is drained of power, and Dax forgot to pack the USB charger. They barely made it to the station. Dax and Ensign Pauley are trapped inside, and they can’t get the door open. Confusing the issue is that Bashir is reading three lifesigns. (Further confusing the issue is the fact that the station has transporter technology, and they could just beam the people off the runabout, but we’ll let that go.)

O’Brien plugs in a charger, and they get the door open. The chief recognizes the third passenger as Vash, who’s been in the Gamma Quadrant for two years. “A friend dropped me off,” she says offhandedly, and as they escort Dax, Pauley, and Vash to the infirmary, we get a look at Q hiding in the background. (Amusingly, Vash doesn’t recognize O’Brien at first. Nobody ever pays attention to the transporter operator…)

Vash checks out okay, and Dax reports to Sisko that she was surprised by the wormhole, and refused to talk about how she got to the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko orders Dax to investigate her. Sisko later meets with Vash after she stores her valuables in the assay office, saying that the Daystrom Institute in general and Professor Wu in particular are interested in talking to her about her experiences in the Gamma Quadrant. Vash is amused, since Wu suspended her from Daystrom’s archaeological council twice. Sisko offers to book her passage to Earth, and she accepts.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

O’Brien can’t find anything wrong with the Ganges—yes, power’s almost gone, but they’re putting power back into it and all’s well. It’s as if something drained the ship entirely of power. He also tells Sisko what little he knows about Vash from when she came on board the Enterprise.

The station suffers a power drain, which burns out the power transfer units—it happens the same way it happened on the Ganges, according to Dax.

O’Brien escorts Vash to her guest quarters, and Q shows up while she’s unpacking. They apparently had a falling out, and every attempt Q makes to get her to travel with him again fall on pissed-off ears.

Vash finally gets rid of Q when Quark shows up. The assay clerk’s assistant told Quark about her loot, and he offers to set up an auction for her—for a percentage, of course. Bashir then arrives to ask her to dinner.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Q disguises himself as a Bajoran waiter and advises Bashir not to have dinner with Vash—then punctuates it by making him exhausted and sending him to his quarters for a nap. O’Brien sees this, mutters, “Bloody hell,” and goes to ops to report the Q sighting (he doesn’t bother to mention that Bashir’s been sent away for a nap). Then there’s another power drain. O’Brien thinks it’s Q, especially since all the systems—for the first time in a month—are functioning normally.

Sisko interrupts Vash’s setting up the auction with Quark to ask about Q—but Q himself shows up and says he’ll answer any question Sisko wants. They go back and forth for a bit, with Q disappointed in Sisko’s lack of clever repartee. When Sisko asks to talk in private, Q’s reply is to make everyone on the station disappear except the two of them. Sisko grabs Q by the uniform and angrily asks him to bring them back—which he does, while also putting himself and Sisko into 19th-century boxing togs for bare-knuckle fighting. (For good measure, Q gives himself a truly spectacular mustache.)

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Sisko responds to Q’s several seconds of jabs both verbal and physical by decking him. Q is surprised. “Picard never hit me!” “I’m not Picard.” “Indeed not—you’re much easier to provoke. How fortunate for me!” And then he disappears.

Another power drain hits, this time accompanied by hull breaches from graviton pulses. As they’re trying to trace the source of the power drain, Q shows up to taunt them (he calls O’Brien one of the “little people,” after O’Brien reminds Q of who he is—seriously, nobody ever pays attention to the transporter operator!) and says that it’s Vash, not Q, who’s a danger to the station.

Quark tries to entice Vash to a permanent partnership, but she insists she’s going to retire on Earth after this auction, which Quark doesn’t buy for a second. But before he can continue to argue with her on the subject, the station shakes. It’s now being pulled into the wormhole, with power continuing to drain. At ops, they’ve traced the power drain to the central core, eventually tracking it to Quark’s: it’s a large gemstone that Quark was about to sell for a pretty penny. Sisko beams it outside the station where it transforms into some kind of life form, which goes through the wormhole. That seems to solve the problem, as the power drain ends, they use thrusters to put the station back into position, and all’s well. (Except for Quark, who was about to sell the lifeform for a million bars of gold-pressed latinum. Easy come, easy go…)

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Vash insists to both Quark and Q that she’s returning to Earth. Q thinks it’s a dreary place (“a thousand years ago it had character—Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Watergate”), and it doesn’t take long before she decides to take Quark up on his offer to go to the ruins on Tartarus V instead. As Vash and Quark start the beginning of their beautiful friendship, Bashir wakes up and asks if he’s missed anything.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: As the crew tries to figure out where the power drain’s coming from, Q appears and scoffs that Picard and his crew would have long since solved all the technobabble by then.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko decks Q.

Nothing really to add there, it’s just so sufficiently spectacular that it’s worth repeating.

Sisko decks Q.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Rules of Acquisition: Quark and Vash were made for each other. He sets up her auction, picking some select clientele—selected, as he explains to Odo, by virtue of their being incredibly wealthy and not too bright.

He also says “bid high and bid often,” a delightfully Ferengi play on the quote attributed to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, “vote early and vote often.”

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo disguises himself as something—he never tells Quark exactly what—during at least one of his meetings with Vash, thus learning all about the auction.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

For Cardassia!: O’Brien cautions Vash that the Cardassian bed may not be comfortable. Vash says it’ll be fine, as her archaeological career has led to a lot of sleeping in tents, so any bed is nice, but O’Brien insists that she’s only saying that because she’s never slept in a Cardassian bed.

Later O’Brien asks Q why he doesn’t do something useful like torment Cardassians.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir tells what sounds like an old war story to the pretty Bajoran woman, but it turns out he’s talking about his Starfleet Medical final exams, which he later tells a skeptical O’Brien “works every time.”

Vash uses her skills with oo-max (possibly practiced on Sovak some time prior to “Captain’s Holiday”?) to negotiate Quark down to a commission of 22% on setting up her auction.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Keep your ears open: “You’re arrogant, overbearing, and you think you know everything.”

“I do know everything.”

“That makes it worse.”

Vash explaining to Q why she doesn’t like him.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Welcome aboard: John deLancie makes his second of three appearances in the 1992/93 Star Trek season, with this bracketed by his prior turn on TNG’s “True Q” and his role the following week on TNG’s “Tapestry.” Jennifer Hetrick makes her third and final Trek appearance as Vash, reprising the role from TNG’s “Captain’s Holiday” and “Qpid.” Van Epperson is delightfully snotty as the assay office clerk, Tom McCleister is tiresomely bombastic as Kolos, and Laura Cameron is painfully vapid as the woman Bashir hits on.

Trivial matters: This is the final Trek writing credit for Hannah Louise Shearer and the first DS9 credit for Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who would go on to become a valued part of the writing staff. It’s also yet another episode directed by Paul Lynch…

Several references are made by O’Brien to Vash’s prior appearances in “Captain’s Holiday” and “Qpid.”

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Picard and Sisko discuss Q’s arrival on the station in your humble rewatcher’s eBook Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment in the Slings and Arrows miniseries. Sisko rather enjoys telling Picard that he decked Q.

While Vash doesn’t appear again onscreen, she plays a good-sized role in the Millennium trilogy by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

Several medical professionals have pointed out that it’s pretty much impossible to confuse a pre-ganglionic fiber with a post-ganglionic nerve, trick question or no. It will be implied in “Distant Voices” that Bashir deliberately flubbed it, and the later revelation in “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” that he was genetically enhanced adds credence to that theory—spelled out in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers story Oaths by Glenn Hauman—that he made the mistake to keep himself from being perfect and drawing attention to his genetically enhanced nature.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

Walk with the Prophets: “My God, you’re an impertinent waiter.” Sisko decks Q.

Okay, yeah, other stuff happens. This continues the theme established in “Qpid” that Vash has chemistry with everyone in the world except for Sir Patrick Stewart. Her scenes with Siddig el Fadil, Avery Brooks, and Colm Meaney work quite well, her banter with John deLancie remains strong, and she and Armin Shimerman play off each other wonderfully. Vash and Quark are a great team, honestly, and it’s a pity we didn’t see the two of them together again. In general, this is a good vehicle for Shimerman, in particular showing off Quark’s negotiating and auctioning skills.

Q doesn’t entirely fit within the framework of DS9, which is no doubt why he wasn’t brought back (though he worked better here than he ever did on Voyager), but it’s never not fun to watch deLancie prattle, though the script never loses sight of just how much of a dick Q is, either.

Which is why it’s so wonderful when Sisko decks him.

The plot is mostly harmless, though you’ve got to wonder about why they don’t have any kind of quarantine/examination procedures for stuff coming through the wormhole. Shouldn’t Vash’s bag o’ stuff have been inspected a lot more thoroughly? And it still amuses me that they had to go to all that trouble to get the door to the Ganges open when they’ve got perfectly good transporters to beam everyone out with.

Though it does lead to Sisko getting to deck Q.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Q-Less

The technobabble plot—which Q delightfully comes out and actually refers to as a technobabble plot—is perfunctory and lifeless and full of artificial suspense that has all the urgency of one of Bashir’s many yawns, and mostly serves as something to kill time between bits of Q snark. And Q getting decked by Sisko.

But ultimately, none of this matters, because it comes down to one great moment of Sisko decking Q. Bliss.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido urges everyone to listen to his monthly podcast Dead Kitchen Radio: The Keith R.A. DeCandido Podcast (part of The Chronic Rift Network of pop-culture podcasts). This month’s features his reading “Blood in the Water” from his new short story collection Tales from Dragon Precinct, out this month from Dark Quest Books.

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