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December 3, 2012

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 6 - Q-Less

One of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s most memorable characters was the omnipotent Q. He was a constant foil for Captain Picard, and the repartee between John DeLancie and Patrick Stewart was always wonderful, even when the story wasn’t the best. Whether it was DeLancie’s delivery or just the writers being inspired by his acting ability to write some good stuff, he was always a joy to see, even in the worst episodes (e.g. "Qpid"). So it was only natural that he would show up on Deep Space Nine to spar with Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks). Would the producers be able to catch lightning in a bottle twice? Unfortunately, no.

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.

There were some questionable moments in the story as well. O’Brien quite clearly knows of Vash from his time on the Enterprise, yet it takes Sisko forever to actually ask him about her. In fact, he starts having Dax research her before actually talking to him, and when he does it almost seems like a “by the way” moment (he might as well have said “by the way, what’s the story on her?”).

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.

Memorable Quote:

"You hit me! Picard never hit me!” “I’m not Picard.” Q & Sisko



  1. My comment doesn't have much to do w/ this series, because I didn't ever follow it. I may have watched one episode, or parts of one at some point, but that's about it. I do remember the Q character from Star Trek, The Next Generation and sparring w/ Picard, but I'm going to leap from science fiction to soap operas and throw the whole space time continuum out of whack.

    John DeLancie first came to fame on Days of Our Lives in the 80s as the character Eugene, a quirky, highly nervous, over the top, expansive, effusive, dramatic and sensitive guy who was also psychic, in the little town of Salem. Sound familiar? He acquired an equally quirky girlfriend named Calliope and they added a great deal of hilarity to the plot lines for several years.

    Fast forward to the 90s when the second version of Star Trek gave birth to Q, and I have to tell you, Q is just a science fiction version of Eugene. DeLancie portrays both characters with pretty much the same effect. I guess it can be argued that some actors play themselves over and over, rather than adapt to the character, and I believe that may be true of John DeLancie. His personality is so over the top that it crowds out whatever nuances he's meant to bring to a new character. Q and Eugene from Days could be interchangeable if you ignore the wardrobe and the timeline.

    That being said, DeLancie can be delightful to watch when he's given free reign for all that manic energy.

    I bet you never expected a comment on this one to take you into the world of afternoon soap operas, right?! I'm happy to broaden horizons.

    - Dawnie

    1. My Mom has watched Days of Our Lives almost since its inception, so I'm quite familiar with Eugene. I always loved him and Calliope. Gave some much-needed comic relief amid all that melodrama.

      Q can bring a bit of menace that Eugene didn't quite have, but I concur. It is a very similar character.

      So while I didn't necessarily expect a comment on this particular article (especially from you! :P) taking it into soap operas, I'm not surprised by it either. :)

    2. Wowsers, what a thing to have in common! I still watch the odd episode of Days, here and there, because it's the last survivor of all the cancellations of the genre. Really sad. The soap I watched from childhood was Guiding Light, and I admit that I cried when I watched the final episode. I still miss that show and the characters.

      Yes, Q definitely was the "grown up", hard core version of Eugene. You know what he - Q - made think of? The original series episode of the Liberace type guy who was actually a bratty "child" who kidnapped Kirk, Bones, Spock and all to be his "pets". Remembe that one? His parents made the planet for him as his playground, per se. I wish I could remember the name of that character. Okay, found it - The Squire of Gothos, and the character was General Trelayne, played by William Campbell. He also played a Klingon in another episode, I think.

      I've always thought the writers drew from that character for Q, and then once John DeLancie was cast, all they had to do was keep their foot off the brakes and let him go buck wild.

    3. Btw, pardon the typos. I was writing and talking to a client on the phone simultaneously.

    4. Actually, while it's never been confirmed, it's a common assumption among fan circles that Trelane (that was his name) was actually a Q. :) And yes, he did play a Klingon (Koloth) in a future episode.

      So great minds think alike and all of that stuff!

    5. Oh, no, I didn't meant that Trelayne was a Q. That didn't even occur to me until you mentioned it. I just meant that the setup was similar. Makes sense, though, that others have thought it could be possible. Yes, I mentioned it - General Trelayne was his affected title on the original episode, because he was playing military stuff, according to his parents. That was such a great episode!

  2. Didn't "mean". Dang it! Blogger needs to give us an edit option!


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