Written by Kenneth Biller and Robert Doherty
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 7, Episode 19
Production episode 265
Original air date: April 11, 2001
Captain’s log. Icheb is presenting a paper on Starfleet history to Janeway, who thinks it’s a bit too long, but good enough for him to finally be a full-fledged cadet. After he leaves, q shows up to make snotty comments. Janeway doesn’t recognize him until Q appears, and identifies him as her godson, who was an infant when Janeway saw him last.
Q says that q is taking a little vacation from the Q-Continuum, and Q wants him to experience humanity. However, after Q leaves, q does pretty much whatever the hell he wants: He starts a dance party in engineering, he reprograms the computer to be as snide as he is, he removes Seven’s clothing, and he starts a war between the previously peaceful Wyngari and Vojean. Attempts to talk to him fail, and attempts to ignore him in the hopes that he’ll get bored just result in him trying to be less bored: He puts Voyager in a confrontation with the Borg.
That gets Q to show up, with the admonishment never to ever provoke the Borg. He puts everything back the way it was, then takes Janeway aside. Apparently q has been a holy terror, to the point that his mother has disowned him. Q was hoping that Starfleet ideals would rub off on him, and Janeway points out that you don’t parent a kid by fobbing him off on someone else—you spend time with him.
Q tries that, which lasts all of ten minutes (but much longer in the Continuum, apparently), and it turns out that Q is a terrible parent (surprise!). Now q is embarrassed to be seen with him. And the Continuum has lost all patience. They’ve given q one week to get his act together, or they’ll turn him into an amoeba. And for the duration of that week, he doesn’t have his powers.
Q then leaves him on Voyager. Gamely, the crew attempts to train him. At first, q cheats (altering the program of a holodeck diplomacy scenario, e.g.), but eventually he comes around. Janeway almost gives up on him until he admits the truth: He is overwhelmed by the pressure. Q and Lady Q had him so he’d be the savior of the Continuum, and he has no idea how that’s even possible. But he really doesn’t want to be an amoeba, so he applies himself.
He becomes friends with Icheb—q calls him “Itchy” and Icheb calls him “Q-ball”—and the pair of them join Paris on the Delta Flyer for piloting lessons. While flying, there’s a minor malfunction on the ship (the 24th-century equivalent of the check engine light), but they just ignore it.
When Q returns, q reads an essay he wrote about the history of the Continuum, which Q is visibly bored by. Janeway upbraids Q, but Q insists that q has to demonstrate overwhelming Q-ness or it’s amoeba city for him. The captain then offers to speak on his behalf to the Continuum and let q stay on Voyager as a human instead of an amoeba. But q doesn’t want to be an amoeba or a human, he wants to be a Q like his father.
Icheb is convinced to go with q to fix the Delta Flyer, but instead q uses it to travel to another star system, using a spatial flexure. He then fires on a Chokuzan ship, and the resultant battle injures Icheb very badly, so q must return to Voyager because Icheb needs medical attention.
The EMH needs to know what the weapon was that was used on Icheb. Accompanied by Janeway, q returns to Chokuzan space to beg for help. The Chokuzan commander agrees, but only if Janeway subjects herself to punishment for q’s actions. Appalled, q insists that he receive punishment, as it’s his fault that Icheb is dying. Impressed, the Chokuzan starts to laugh: It turns out that the Chokuzan was Q all along, and this whole thing was a test. (Icheb is also fine.)
Q, q, and Janeway stand before three Q judges, who declare that q is not worthy of being a Q. They do not force him to become an amoeba, but instead condemn him to remain human. The judges disappear, as does an outraged Q, and q asks Janeway if the offer to stay on Voyager is still good. It’s obvious that Q doesn’t want him, as he abandoned him twice on this ship. But then Q returns, saying the real question is why he keeps coming back…
Q’s story to q is that he threatened to leave the Continuum, at which point they gave in. Janeway knows better, and Q sheepishly confirms in private that Q must now be responsible for q every nanosecond. In gratitude, Q provides Janeway with a shortcut that will get them home a bit sooner. Janeway asks why he doesn’t just send them all the way home (a question she inexplicably never asked either of the other two times he was on board), and he asks what kind of example would he be for his son if he did all the work for her?
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? A spatial flexure can transport a ship instantly to another star system. Despite q using that trick with the Delta Flyer, this incredibly valuable technology that could probably get them home will never be seen or mentioned again, even though q was able to do it without benefit of his powers.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Q insists that Janeway is the perfect person to parent q. When Janeway reminds him that she isn’t a parent, Q says that she’s certainly a mommy to her crew.
Mr. Vulcan. It’s Tuvok who suggests ignoring q in the hopes that he becomes bored. This almost works.
Half and half. Torres is not happy about her engine room being turned into a dance hall…
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix, claiming to be good with children, tries to talk to q, who rewards him by sealing his mouth shut and removing his vocal cords, thus thrilling a subset of fandom who hates Neelix. Later, after Q restores him, Neelix makes it a point to babble even more than usual whenever he’s in q’s presence, which is actually quite delightful.
Resistance is futile. When q first encounters Seven, the first thing he does is remove her clothes. She is not embarrassed, but simply keeps working as she was when clothed.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Later, when Seven is teaching q about spatial mechanics, q asks if he can see her naked again. Because of course an omnipotent entity who is only taking a human form for convenience’s sake would act exactly like a heterosexual male human adolescent…
Do it. “You can’t just dump your child on someone and hope he learns something.”
Janeway and Q discussing parenting methods.
Welcome aboard. John deLancie makes his final Voyager appearance as Q. He’ll next appear in the Lower Decks episode “Veritas,” and he’ll also be in the forthcoming second season of Picard. Keegan deLancie, John’s son, appears as q—he even looks a little bit like Suzie Plakson, so it really is perfect casting…
Lorna Raver plays the Q judge, Michael Kagan plays Q disguised as a Chokuzan commander, and Manu Intiraymi is back as Icheb.
Trivial matters: Ken Biller first pitched this story in season four.
This is the second time in Trek that a regular actor’s son has played the son of the actor’s character, the previous time being when Sir Patrick Stewart’s son Daniel played the son of “Kamin,” the person whose life Picard led in TNG‘s “The Inner Light.”
While this is the last (so far) appearance of q onscreen, he does appear in several works of tie-in fiction, most notably The Eternal Tide by Kirsten Beyer, in which he helps Kes resurrect Janeway, and also sacrifices his life to stop the Omega Continuum. He also appeared in I, Q by John deLancie & Peter David, The Q-Continuum trilogy by Greg Cox, and your humble rewatcher’s Q & A.
This episode is the first to establish a date for the end of the five-year mission that was chronicled on the original series, as Icheb’s report has Kirk’s last adventure before the five-year mission ended (and he was promoted to admiral, as seen in The Motion Picture) take place in 2270.
Previous works of tie-in fiction chronicled the end of Kirk’s five-year mission, each of which contradicts the other: the 1986 comic book Star Trek Annual #2 from DC’s first series by Mike W. Barr, Dan Jurgens, & Bob Smith; J.M. Dillard’s 1989 novel The Lost Years; and the 1995 comic book Star Trek #75 from DC’s second series by Howard Weinstein, Rachel Ketchum and Mark Heike, which concluded the “Star-Crossed” arc that chronicled the Kirk-Carol Marcus relationship.
Reportedly, Rick Berman pushed for casting Keegan deLancie after seeing him guest star on an episode of Ally McBeal.
Q’s admonishment to q never to provoke the Borg is amusing considering that Q was responsible for Starfleet’s first significant contact with the Borg in TNG‘s “Q Who.” Your humble rewatcher established in Q & A that both introducing Starfleet to the Borg ahead of “schedule” was part of a long-term plan to make sure the Borg would be distracted by their conflicts with the Federation and not expand to a particular planet.
This is the shortest title in Trek history up to this point at only two characters, though its record will be broken by Enterprise‘s “E2.”
Set a course for home. “How do you save a race that is already omnipotent?” It’s, to coin a phrase, “Déjà Q” all over again! But where that TNG episode was absolutely hilarious and still managed to do some character development with Q (as well as Data), “Q2” is just a tired slog. There’s precious few of the laughs one expects from a Q episode, and what yuks we do have are puerile at best. The sex-farce humor is particularly sad, from q drooling over a naked Seven to Q materializing (fully clothed!) in Janeway’s bath.
The already-idiotic notion that q would unite the Continuum is made even more idiotic here by it not actually working, and there being apparently no consequences in the Continuum. They fought a civil war that blew up suns that was only stopped by this child’s birth, yet now he’s treated like an inconvenience and an irrelevance.
Keegan deLancie does okay, though the transition from snotty teenager to earnest kid trying to do some good is not even a little bit convincing. The burgeoning friendship between q and Icheb is, at least, convincing, and provides the only real character work in the entire episode. Most of it is just the actors reading the lines and going through the motions without any emotion or character or interest. Even the usually reliable John deLancie is phoning it in.
Probably the biggest disappointment is the lack of Suzie Plakson as Lady Q. On the other hand, it’s probably for the best that she wasn’t stuck in this awful script, but, as with “The Q and the Grey,” she probably would’ve elevated the material. Goodness knows, there’s nowhere here to go but up…
Plus there are three elements that just don’t ring right. The Q judges are dressed in the outfit that Q wore in both “Encounter at Farpoint” and “All Good Things…,” but in both cases, Q was cosplaying as a judge from a fascist state in the “post-atomic horror” on Earth. It makes absolutely no sense that the Q judges here would do likewise. And the spatial flexure is a bit of technobabble that really should’ve been used beyond q going on a joyride given that it would probably get Voyager, y’know, home and stuff.
Speaking of that, in the end, when Q provides his shortcut, Janeway asks why he doesn’t send them all the way home and WHY THE HELL DIDN’T SHE ASK THAT IN “DEATH WISH” OR “THE Q AND THE GREY”????????
Q works beautifully on TNG because deLancie and Sir Patrick Stewart have simply perfect chemistry, which will likely hold true when the entity appears on Picard. His appearances on Voyager have been a sequence of diminishing returns, and when they finally address the elephant in the room regarding the fact that Q can get them home with a snap of his fingers, they botch that, too. Just a sodden, awful mess.
Warp factor rating: 2
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s most recent fiction includes the thriller Animal (written with Dr. Munish K. Batra) about a serial killer who targets people who harm animals; All-the-Way House, part of the Systema Paradoxa series of books about cryptids, telling the secret origin of the Jersey Devil; “Unguarded,” a story about guardian angels in two different faiths in the anthology Devilish and Divine; and “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be,” a story of H. Rider Haggard’s She, in the charity anthology Turning the Tied.