Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Q-Less"

**1/2

Air date: 2/8/1993
Teleplay by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by Paul Lynch

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When a Runabout crew finds Q's former traveling companion Vash (Jennifer Hetrick) in the Gamma Quadrant, Q (John de Lancie) comes to the station in an attempt to convince her to rejoin him. In a related subplot, Vash and Quark plan an auction for rare Gamma Quadrant artifacts Vash has collected during her two years on the other side of the wormhole. In a less than interesting plot turn, one of the artifacts turns out to be an embryonic lifeform trying to return to the Gamma Quadrant, placing the station in some rather uninspired danger.

There's very little meat here. Most of the story exists as an excuse to hang the Q dialog scenes on. The rest of it is mired in that evil stuff known as Trekkian technobabble, used to explain why the station is catapulting to its doom. It's unfortunate to use Q in a show featuring such banality, considering he's the embodiment of omnipotence. Then again, Q has usually been the source of comedy rather than insight in most cases ("Q Who?" notwithstanding), and the show's comic attempts are fairly successful. Quark and Vash make an engaging scheming pair, Bashir's inept attempts at womanizing are fittingly annoying, and Q's acerbic lines poking fun at the DS9 crew are amusing. At one point he actually says "Picard and his lackeys would've solved all this technobabble hours ago." The show features superficial fun and a good performance from de Lancie, but don't look for much depth in the plot.

Previous episode: Captive Pursuit
Next episode: Dax

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36 comments on this review

Daniel - Tue, Dec 11, 2007 - 3:07am (USA Central)
"Picard and his lackeys would have solved all this technobabble hours ago". That's just great.
Eduardo - Wed, Dec 21, 2011 - 9:55am (USA Central)
DS9 had some really humorous moments. Q-Less has one of my all-time favorite exchanges. Definitely one the funnier ones, between Q and Vash.

Vash: You're arrogant, and you think you know everything.

Q: But I do know everything.

It's funny, because it's true.

I also love Kira's strident behavior on Move Along Home:

Kira: I'm sure you starfleet types love this kind of exploration, but I have a station to run. This is not what I signed up for!

And also Sisko in Dramatis Personae:

Sisko: Never! Get me a phaser! I'll get rid of Kira!

Duet is simply one of the finest hours of Trek ever written and filmed.

I really appreciate the Ferengi episodes. DS9 fixed them, after many failed TNG episodes.

Ira Behr really managed to create three dimensional characters out of these caricatures. Not enough praise can be given to Grodenchik, Eisneberg and Shimmerman in bringing them to life. Terrific actors, and memorable characters.
Londonboy73 - Tue, Jul 3, 2012 - 6:26pm (USA Central)
Q is often used for comedy and Jammer has noted Q Who? as an example here he is not. I think that Tapestry should also get a mention as this is one of Q's best moments ever.
William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 11:10pm (USA Central)
The whole thing felt gratuitous to me. And I say that as a Q fan and a John de Lancie fan. Except for some great one-liners from Q elevating the Enterprise crew at the expense of the DS9 crowd, I never really saw the point of this one.

They were starting to seem a little desperate, after the Duras sisters, to cram in as many characters from Next Gen as possible. Of course, they came to stand on their own just as well -- or better, really -- but at this time, it wasn't looking promising.
Van_Patten - Mon, Aug 6, 2012 - 8:24am (USA Central)
Well, the first real stumble of the series and one of the season's low points for me. The plot, such as it is, involves Vash arriving at DS9, with artefacts foraged from her travels, and with companion Q in tow. One of these objects then threatens the station's survival. I was surprised this was the first use of the 'unknown special anomaly' threatening the station as it does get used quite frequently in the First season.

The plot is thus perfunctory, and thinking about it this is a sequel to the episodes 'Captain's Holiday' ( arguably amongst the low points of TNG Season 3, if not the nadir ) and 'Qpid', probably the weakest Q related story in the TNG canon. I can only think they'd have been better to try and use either 'True Q' or 'Deja Q' perhaps as source material, but have to agree with William in any case, that mining TNG for Guest starship the 6the episode smacks of a degree of early desperation.

The dialogue is very weak, and whilst I normally like John De Lancie, the performance is phoned in, with the auction scenes, especially looking terrible now. The episode moves at a sloth's pace and the jeopardy premise is wholly unconvincing. For me one of, if not the weakest episode of the season. 1.5 stars for this one.
Cail Corishev - Tue, Sep 11, 2012 - 9:24pm (USA Central)
I like Q, but he has no purpose here except to emphasize the difference between Sisko and Picard in how they handle annoying Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Vash was interesting with Picard, but here she's just dull. And the artifact looked like a cheap lamp from the 1970s, yet everyone who got a glance at it oohed and aahed for some reason. A weak and pointless episode with a few good lines.
stargazer - Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
"that evil stuff known as Trekkian technobabble"

I reckon you probably regard any professional jargon, whether that of doctors or engineers, or of any other professional, as "evil stuff". I don't understand why people who watch science fiction consider technical and technology-related stuff a nuisance. It's science fiction! And, in addition to that, it's Star Trek (distant future, 24th century, advanced technology, etc.). Naturally, there has to be a certain amount of technicality. It would be strange indeed and out of place if such tech jargon occurred in a soap opera, but not in Star Trek.

Regarding the episode... Well, it's always nice to see Q. Although it seems a bit out of character for him to drool over a woman. But overall, a funny episode, and Q has one of the funniest lines in this one. :)
grumpy_otter - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 1:02pm (USA Central)
I have a dream that someday I will meet the person who thought up the character of Q and I will choke him to death on his own intestines.

Will someone please tell me that DS 9 never invites that infantile asshole back ever again?

Patrick - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
@grumpy_otter

Gene Roddenberry created the character of "Q". He's dead and ashes. So no catharsis there.

Also, Q is one of the greatest characters of Trekdom.

"Q-Less" and "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" (with Robert Picardo as Doc Zimmerman) are two of my favorite episodes of DS9, just because some familiar characters from other shows livened up this series without idiotic Ferengi antics.
Paul - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 3:36pm (USA Central)
@Patrick: Oh, come on.

DS9 was a great series and didn't need cameos from other series to make it great. I don't disagree that the Ferengi episodes were pointless (they almost always were) but "Q-Less" and "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" aren't even in the top 20 episodes of DS9.

Without even thinking too hard, "The Visitor", "In the Pale Moonlight", "Call to Arms", "By Inferno's Light" and "Necessary Evil" were all great DS9 episodes.
grumpy_otter - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 4:52pm (USA Central)
@Patrick--thank you for the info. Hmmmm. That makes a difference that it was Gene who thought him up.

I have often thought that Q was the perfect example of what a truly omnipotent being would act like--totally obnoxious and rude, not caring for the woes of humanoids. Sort of like the Judeo-Christian God acts in the holy texts.

I imagine Gene created him to illustrate this concept. Q acts little different from the Bible God ("You won't do what I want so I am going to kill you all in a flood. WAAAhaaaa. Only the ones who suck up to me get to live!")

That kind of makes the Q character a bit more tolerable if Gene created him. I will try and tolerate him.

@Paul--thanks--I plan to look forward to those, lol!
Patrick - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 8:05pm (USA Central)
@Paul

I never said "Q-Less" or "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" were the best episodes. I just said they were *my* favorites. Also I love "Statistical Probabilities" and "Chrysalis" for the exact same reason--it was cool to see The Jack Pack (along with Q and Doc Zimmerman) show up the Ferengi when it came to Trekkian humor.

@GrumpyOtter

Q was truly the only character that had an *overt* character arc. He starts out as a moustache-twirler in the early episodes, and then in "Deja Q" the TNG crew save his ass, and he becomes a more complex wildcard character to the one who helps Picard save the universe in "All Good Things...". He was TNG's answer to Garak.
Elliott - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 11:18pm (USA Central)
@ Patrick & Paul:

DS9's top 20 episodes on GEOS (ranked by fans) :

1. FBTS
2. Duet
3. Children of Time
4. Trias and Tribbleations
5. Die is Cast
6. Hard Time
7. Improbable Cause
8. Necessary Evil
9. The Wire
10. Call to Arms
11. Inquisition
12. The Quickening
13. TWOTW
14. Time to Stand
15. Jem'Hadar
16. Rocks & Shoals
17. Our Man Bashir
18. Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
19. Purgatory's Shadow
20. Chimera

For the record

"The Visitor" : #30
"ITPML" : #57
"Inferno's Light" : #21 (close call)
"Q-Less" : #150 (not even close)
Patrick - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 1:21pm (USA Central)
"The Visitor" and "In the Pale Moonlight" aren't in the top 5 (let alone the top 20) of that list, to whit, I can't take it seriously.
Elliott - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 3:14pm (USA Central)
Those are 3 star episodes (on the Jammer scale) in my opinion.

Top 10 from the other series:

TOS

1. City on the edge
2. Twok
3. Mirror, Mirror
4. Tribbles
5. Undiscovered country
6. Amok Time
7. Voyage Home
8. Balance of Terror
9. Doomsday Machine
10. Space Seed

TNG
1. Bobw 1
2. Inner Light
3. All Good Things
4. Measure of a Man
5. Bobw 2
6. Chain of Command 2
7. Darmok
8. Q Who?
9. YE
10. Sarek

VOY

1. Scorpion 1
2. Scorpion 2
3. Timeless
4. Year of Hell 1
5. Living Witness
6. Tinker, Tenor
7. Workforce
8. Drone
9. Blink of an Eye
10. Pathfinder

ENT

1. The Forge
2. Kir'shara
3. The Council
4. Twilight
5. Dear Doctor
6. Regeneration
7. Mirror 1
8. Countdown
9. Mirror 2
10. Azati Prime

I dunno. Seems fairly accurate to me. Except for ENT, most episodes have fan votes between 300-700 individuals from at least 15 countries. My lists are somewhat different, but they seem fair.
William B - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 4:10pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, I'm curious, do you have ten lists prepared? I have enjoyed many of your comments and am curious. (I believe I like DS9 and some late-TNG more than you do, though I agree with some of your criticisms.)

For me, the four lists (not counting ENT, of which I've only seen s1) seem pretty reasonable. I wouldn't put ST6 on a top ten list for TOS (or even top 20, I think, though I might rethink that). The TNG list is close to my top 10 -- I think all of those from GEOS would be in my top 20, with the *possible* exception of Sarek which would be top 30 if nothing else. All of the DS9s would be in my top 20, though I think both the mentioned episodes (The Visitor and ITPM) would be in my top 10. I think all the VOYs would be in my top 20 except maybe Scorpion 2 and probably Workforce (but I haven't seen either in a long while).
grumpy_otter - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
@Patrick--you said Q "becomes a more complex wildcard character to the one who helps Picard save the universe in "All Good Things..."

Jammer likes to keep comments focused on particular episodes, so I wrote my answer over there in TNG land. :-)
Elliott - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 6:17pm (USA Central)
@William B.

Looking at the scores I submitted on GEOS (admittedly, not as thoroughly scaled as they could be), my lists would be thus:

TOS

1. City on the Edge
2. TMP
3. TWOK
4. Tomorrow is Yesterday
5. Mirror, Mirror
6. Amok Time
7. Galileo 7
8. Balance of Terror
9. Undiscovered Country
10. Doomsday Machine

TNG

1. BOBW 1
2. Inner Light
3. Darmok
4. Measure of a Man
5. Sarek
6. All Good Things
7. Who Watches the Watchers
8. Family
9. The Survivors
10. The Offspring

DS9

1. FBTS
2. Chimera
3. Hard Time
4. The Wire
5. Improbable Cause
6. Rocks and Shoals
7. The Quickening
8. Waltz
9. Children of Time
10. Duet

VOY

1. Year of Hell
2. Scorpion 1
3. Timeless
4. Latent Image
5. Dark Frontier
6. Distant Origin
7. Drone
8. Someone to Watch Over Me
9. Muse
10. The Thaw

I can't muster enough energy to care about Enterprise. I think their Vulcan Trilogy was their best.
William B - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 7:01pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, thanks, those are fine lists. I'm going to be rewatching TNG s3 soon after many, many years, so that's especially exciting to see it perform so well. Your list(s) also makes me realize I quite need to rewatch "The Thaw," of which I remember almost nothing. I especially agree with how highly "Chimera" places on the DS9 list and I'm always glad to see "Muse" get the recognition it deserves.
Patrick - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 10:49pm (USA Central)
@William B

TNG season 3 is divine. You're in for a treat.
Elliott - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 1:26am (USA Central)
Without hesitation, I second that. TNG season 3 is the best season of Trek ever produced. Amazing, considering that season 1 is probably the worst and season 7 isn't far behind. What a wild ride that show was.
Paul - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 4:09pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: Interesting thought on TNG season 3.

I'd definitely grant you that it's TNG's best season and better than anything Voyager or Enterprise came out with. Season 1 of TOS was pretty solid, but it did have some laughers.

So, is TNG 3 better than DS9 5 or DS9 2?

I'd say yes and no. Season 5 of DS9 is so strong and cohesive. "Let He Who Is Without Sin" is awful and "Ferengi Love Songs" was very bad. But otherwise, the season was amazingly good (I think Jammer is overly harsh on "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", "Empok Nor" and "The Ship", for the record).

TNG 3 had "The Vengeance Factor" and "The Bonding" both of which were pretty stupid. "The Price" wasn't awful, but it was boring and a missed opportunity. I actually liked "Captain's Holiday" more than Jammer did, but it's not a good episode.
Elliott - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
@Paul:

Season 3, in addition to simply having the most concentration of great episodes (The Survivors, WWTW, YE, The Offspring, Sins of the Father, The Most Toys, Sarek and of course BOBB (the better part of the 2 parts)), episodes like "Ensigns of Command," "The Enemy," "The Defector," "The Hunted," "The High Ground", "Déjà Q", "Matter of Perspective," "Tin Man," and "Hollow Pursuits" are very solid B+ to A- shows in my book. The only mediocre episodes are "Evolution," "The Enemy," "The Price," "Allegiance," "Captain's Holiday," and "Transfigurations." Those remaining (The Bonding, Booby Trap, Vengeance Factor and Menage à Troi) aren't great, but are not anywhere near the bottom of the barrel like "Code of Honour," "Shades of Grey," "Suddenly Human," "Imaginary Friend," "Aquiel," or "Sub Rosa."

But it's more than a matter of statistics; those great and even mediocre episodes of S3 define the show in its best guise; philosophical, a little adventurous, artful and a bit whimsical with a balanced and strongly counterpoised cast. Every season has its moments and S4 is pretty strong, but none can really match.

Now, with DS9, I don't hold that show in nearly as high a regard as many on here do (including Jammer), but I'd say the part of the show that accomplished for it what S3 did for TNG is the first half of Season 6. With the exception of the last 10 minutes of "Sacrifice of Angels," and the clunker "Magnificent Ferengi," it's a solid 14-16 episode run which shows of the series in its best light; heavily serialised, calculated and primarily satisfying plot machinations with a strong supporting cast and thoughtful action. The second half of that season has too much flop (His Way, The Reckoning, Valiant, Profit and Lace, Time's Orphan) to hold the entire season as being "great". Season 6 also has the greatest episode of the series whether you're a Roddenberrian Trekker ("Far Beyond the Stars") or a Behr/Moore fan ("In the Pale Moonlight.")

Season 5 has Children of Time and Tribbleations, which are very good one-off stories, but the one-offs are not DS9's strength or intention. There's some pretty good arc building in the middle of the season and Bashir? and Darkness and the Light are pretty good, but then you've got "Sin", "Rapture," "The Assignment", "In the Cards," "Par'Mach" and the goddamned Eddington business with "Blaze".

Season 2 is a lot like 5; there's good stuff (Necessary Evil, THe Wire) decent arc-building (The Circle Trilogy and the Maquis story [only decent there]) and a bunch of crap on the bottom (Profit & Loss, Paradise, Rivals, Melora, Sanctuary, Second Sight, Rules of Acquisition, Invasive Procedures, Armageddon Game, Shadowplay...).

Statistically, S4 is DS9's strongest, but I think in fairness to the series, S6, part 1 is the best "season." At any rate, there's no comparing it with TNG's S3.

For the record, TOS' S1 is its "quintessential season" as is VOY's S5 and ENT's S4.
William B - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 6:18pm (USA Central)
@Elliott, you listed The Enemy twice! :)

I actually think early s6 of DS9 is a bit weaker -- Sons and Daughters, Resurrection early on, and before you get to In the Pale Moonlight (which I agree is the quintessential Moore/Behr DS9 ep) you have to get through Wrongs Darker than Death or Night as well as middling fare like Who Mourns for Morn.

Still, the highs are *very* high in this run, and I think I agree that the "season" from A Time to Stand through In the Pale Moonlight is DS9 near its strongest. There are also no episodes in s6 post-ITPM that I think are particularly good (possible exception Tears of the Prophets, but I don't even really like that one).

Actually, if we treat a "season" as a 26-ep streak, we could extend back into the end of s5 to bring in Call to Arms and Children of Time -- though that means taking on Empok Nor and Ferengi Love Songs, so...maybe we shouldn't. We could adjust the "26-episode window" forward by dropping Ferengi Love Songs and taking on His Way. That said, while I think His Way is not as bad as Ferengi Love Songs, Ferengi Love Songs is more crap for the running Ferengi arc, which is almost all bad (despite Shimmerman's considerable charm); His Way is not as bad an ep but does damage to Odo's character arc and the Odo/Kira relationship which are *good* otherwise, so I'm almost tempted to say that it's better to keep that out.

I mean, this "26-episode window" idea is madness anyway.

I think that TOS s2 has (for me) the most peak episodes rather than s1 -- no episodes on the level of City on the Edge of Forever, but The Doomsday Machine, Mirror Mirror, Amok Time, The Trouble with Tribbles, A Piece of the Action for comedy. But its lows are more frequent and lower and it has fewer episodes in the solid-good range.
Patrick - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 7:50pm (USA Central)
Best Seasons

TOS: season 1
TNG: season 3
DS9: season 5
VGR: season 1 (I mean it)
ENT: season 4 (slam dunk)
Elliott - Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - 11:16pm (USA Central)
Not surprising considering our previous comments that we should differ on DS9 and VOY. I stated my criteria for why TNG3 and DS9 6 (.5) are those series' best and the same is true for the other 3. I don't think Voyager's 1st season (though the best 1st season of any if the next gen series) showcases what's best about that show; a rich and deeply interesting main cast, adventure and emotional storytelling with a philosophical bent and glossy production. VOT1 is the season during which people still held out hope that the show would be about what they hoped/expected it to be about. For what the show is, S5 is the best.

Could you possibly give your criteria for judging best seasons? There are many ways; statistical averages, favourite episodes, production...
Elliott - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 12:03am (USA Central)
@William B.

You're right! haha I think that's telling of about where that episode sits though, on the low end of very good (isn't that silly). Somewhere between mediocre and excellent.
William B - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 12:43am (USA Central)
@Elliott

My memory of The Enemy is shaky, but I think I feel the same way. I think aspects of it (the Worf/Crusher plot) were exceptional. The central Geordi & Romulan learn to get along plot seems like both an ideal Star Trek and Next Gen story, and a fairly cookie-cutter 'enemies work things out' with a so-so plot. I can't think of anything about the episode that requires it to be a Geordi show, except for the fact that Geordi gets so few shows overall (whereas the Worf/Crusher conflict is baked into the definitions of those characters).

But it's been more than a decade since I've watched it, and I will see it again within a few weeks! So no fear.
Patrick - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 10:16pm (USA Central)
Jammer, your reviews for this show seem rather inflated. No way this story would have gotten above one and a half stars on TNG. And these characters are far more boring.

When exactly does this show get any good???
ProgHead777 - Fri, Jul 5, 2013 - 5:11am (USA Central)
I believe this marks the only appearance of the term "technobabble" in Star Trek dialog. A little self-deprecating humor is always welcome in Trek, in my opinion. And I found the sight-gag of Q repeatedly returning Vash's luggage, fully packed, back to her shoulder every time she unpacks it to be one of the best genuine belly laughs that DS9 had in its entire run. Otherwise, this episode is utterly forgettable and I think two and half stars is a stretch. It's not near as bad as Voyager's Q2, but this is easily one of the weakest Q episodes in Star Trek history. Two stars from me.
ProgHead777 - Fri, Jul 5, 2013 - 5:34am (USA Central)
@Patrick The quality of the series began improving in the 3rd season, improved still more in season 4, but really gained its reputation among its devotees with seasons 5 through 7 (though naturally there are plenty of missteps along the way). That's provided of course that you're approaching the series with an open mind, which, if you're already questioning its potential in the first 3rd of the very first season, I can't help but doubt. Remember, the first two seasons of TNG, with the exception of one or two standout episodes (The Measure of a Man comes to mind), were uniformly pretty lousy. Just keep going and forget about any arguments you may have had with DS9 fanatics. Judge the series by its own merits, not the hyperbolic ravings of its followers.
azcats - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 11:45am (USA Central)
Voyager is still my favorite.

i too liked the duffel bag gag. and the picard and his lackeys gag.

still rather have this than a ferengi episode.
Snitch - Fri, Oct 4, 2013 - 8:18pm (USA Central)
This episode, except for a few Q one liners was quite boring.

1 1/2 Stars
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:43pm (USA Central)

I love Q but this episode was pretty poor. Vash shouldn't be interesting enough to hold Q's attention.

3/10
NoPoet - Thu, Dec 12, 2013 - 2:56am (USA Central)
This episode is boring and stupid, more of an idiot's view of Star Trek, with the use of Q seeming gratuitous because the episode was a load of crap. It's like a later episode where Tuvok appears but does nothing whatsoever: a total waste of a potentially good crossover.

Q acts like an idiot and I winced with embarrassment during the boxing scene. This is a supreme being prancing around making a fool of himself, although we get the admittedly excellent "Picard never hit me!" "I'm not Picard" exchange.

I love crossovers in Trek and regret that there aren't more of them, or at least the existing ones could have been of better quality. Stargate SG-1, SG-A and SG-U managed it (to the point where SG-A season 3 is more like SG-1 season 11), Buffy and Angel managed it, why not Trek? Maybe episodes like this are to blame.
Dusty - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 3:24am (USA Central)
The Vash/Quark scenes and Sisko punching Q are fairly enjoyable, but they don't change the fact that neither Vash nor Q has a terribly compelling reason to be on DS9. The writers just decided we needed two recognizable faces from TNG and grafted a weak plot onto them. If they were going to use Q, he should have been saved for a much more important episode.

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