December 3, 2012
Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 6 - Q-Less
It all starts with Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) trying to woo a Bajoran woman at the bar while O’Brien (Colm Meaney) looks on in disgust. In the middle of Bashir’s attempt, they are called to a runabout pad, where Lt. Dax’s (Terry Farrell) runabout has lost all power and the air is disappearing from inside. They also have an unexpected passenger, Vash (Jennifer Hetrick). It seems that Vash has been alone in the Gamma Quadrant for two years. Sisko would like to know how a human managed to get to the Gamma Quadrant before the wormhole was discovered, but Vash says it’s personal.
She also has a bunch of artifacts that she would like to sell. Quark (Armin Shimmerman) offers to host an auction for a small percentage. Everything may be put in danger, though, when the unexplained power outages start affecting the station. Meanwhile, Q has come aboard to try and bring Vash back with him. It seems they did not have an amicable parting in the Gamma Quadrant. He crosses swords with Sisko and generally gets in the way of the crew trying to discover what’s going on. Just what is causing these outages, and will whatever it is end up destroying the station before the auction is over?
There is a reason that Q never reappeared on Deep Space Nine, and it’s because DeLancie and Brooks have no chemistry together. It’s amusing at first, as Q tries to bait Sisko the exact same way he used to bait Picard, but Sisko isn’t buying it. He’s a much more down to earth, straightforward man who doesn’t have the biting wit that Picard is capable of. I wouldn’t say Brooks is overmatched by DeLancie (Brooks actually pulls off some decent lines in this one). It’s just that their styles don’t match.
It’s like watching a debate between John Grisham and Oscar Wilde: both of them may be entertaining, but they’re not talking on the same level. Q gets in some wonderful one-liners, but they’re just not enough to save it. DeLancie’s face is priceless when Q challenges Sisko to a boxing match (“This is so wonderfully barbaric!”) and Sisko ends up punching him out. It showcases the two captain’s styles in a very clear way without having to have someone tell us. But then they get back to dialogue and Brooks just doesn’t match up.
The other characters are barely in the episode, and you can tell as they pretty much phone in their roles. Bashir disappears after twice playing the charming rogue (once with the previously mentioned Bajoran and once with Vash). The scenes El Fadil does get are a bit over the top but at least they’re in character (he’s tried similar lines on Dax). Kira (Nana Visitor) gets to say a few lines and sound strident (prompting one of Q’s better lines, as he tells Sisko he should watch out for her, because she’s going to be gunning for his job).
The only character who gets much meat is Quark, and Shimmerman pulls it off fairly well. The character is fairly one-note in this episode (greedy and lecherous, letting his libido get in the way of commerce) but Shimmerman’s performance is top-notch despite this. He has a great scene with Odo (Rene Auberjonois, who spent a lot of time in the make-up chair for not much to do) where they discuss the acquisition of material things (“I have my work. What else do I need?”). He manages to hold his own despite the weak script.
And that’s the main failing in this episode. The script is very lackluster (the teleplay is by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who wrote some of Deep Space Nine’s best episodes, but this was his first, I believe) and it’s not very interesting. Whenever Q is on the screen, DeLancie shines like a beacon, but it looks like pretty much everybody else read the script and decided they wanted to perform to its level.
Unfortunately, that level would be “bad” or “boring” or “uninterested.” This is yet another uninspired early episode that tries to depend on the actors to give it life, and this time it bit the producers in the ass. Nothing could resuscitate this one. It’s a waste of DeLancie and it’s a waste of Shimmerman. And don’t get me started on how vapid Vash is. I never really liked Hetrick’s smug performance and she turns it up a notch in this one. At least she didn’t look as much like a fish out of water without Stewart around.
One more complaint, and then I’m done. This is only episode six, and there have been three “sequels” or story elements taken from The Next Generation. It’s time for Deep Space Nine to stand on its own two feet. Use these wonderful characters that you have created, and do something interesting with them. The actors have carried this series so far, and it’s time that the writers caught up. Unfortunately, it would get worse before it gets better (he says in hindsight, giving a sneak preview for my next couple of reviews).
This one is worth watching once, for DeLancie. Otherwise, give it a miss.
"You hit me! Picard never hit me!” “I’m not Picard.” Q & Sisko