Star Trek: Voyager

"Q2"

*1/2

Air date: 4/11/2001
Teleplay by Robert Doherty
Story by Kenneth Biller
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"He worked so hard on that paper. The least you could've done was tell him you were proud of him."
"But I'm not."

— Janeway and Q

In brief: Yawn. Not nearly funny enough to make up for the woeful lack of imagination and utterly wrong-headed use of the Q.

I suppose we're supposed to laugh at the fact omnipotent beings are asking parental advice of Captain Janeway. Unfortunately, the joke isn't all that funny — nor is much of "Q2" in general — so if it's not a comedy it can only be a pretty lame excuse for a Q episode.

The best Q comedy was TNG's "Deja Q." That was a show with chemistry and wit ... and a premise that at least made Our Favorite Q (John de Lancie) into a human, such that he had no choice but to experience human behavior firsthand. But "Q2" — aside from its ripped-off "Deja Q"-like elements — is unfortunately the sequel to "The Q and the Grey" from four years back, an episode that went about as wrong as a Q story could. "Q2" only takes that wrongness further; omnipotence apparently means you have the ability to do anything physically, but have the intellect and ambitions of an American teenager.

Basically, the problem is that we have humans teaching lessons to the Q instead of the other way around — which is absurd and simply a waste of the Q as a story device. When you have beings who can do anything, why put them through the shenanigans of sitcom-level teenage rebellion? In TNG's "All Good Things..." Q was trying to help Picard understand larger issues about the nature of the universe. In Voyager's "Death Wish" we had a Q who wanted to die because knowing everything had rendered his existence pointless. Those were interesting, larger-thinking shows.

Now? We get High Concept 101: "A teenage Q." And Higher Concept 102: "Let's have John de Lancie's real-life son (Keegan de Lancie) play the part of Q's son!" Well, great. It's an okay starting point and I'm sure fun for all the actors, but there has to be a story here for it to be worth our time.

Alas, there's not much to be said for the story that is "Q2." It's featherweight at best, and the lessons rehashed here are straight from Chapter 1 of the Star Trek Human Lessons Textbook. I wish I could say there was anything here resembling Q-worthy thought on the writers' behalf, anything that could put it more in the vein of "All Good Things..." or "Death Wish," but there isn't. "Q2" is simply a gag show starring the Q, with their super-duper powers as the tools for the gimmicks. There's no evidence this show even wanted to be thoughtful; it's dumbed down by design.

Q arrives on Voyager to ask "Aunt Kathy" (an amusing title, I'll grant) to help him teach his out-of-control son (born as a result of "Q and the Grey") some responsibility. Why Q cannot do this himself is a question that, if answered, would reveal the entire foundation of the episode as the sham it is. Apparently being omnipotent doesn't afford you any parenting skills. (Omnipotence just isn't what it used to be.) If we're to accept the can-of-worms premise of an out-of-control Q, at least make it seem like there's some urgency.

Instead, the idea of an out-of-control teenage Q quickly paves the way to a series of routine comic gimmicks. Gimmicky Q hijinks are a hallmark of Q stories, even in good ones like "Death Wish," but without a story to eventually grab our attention they just tire here.

Gimmick #1: Turn engineering into a dance club. "It's a party," explains Q Jr., with beverage in hand. Is it non-alcoholic? I hope so, because he's most definitely underage and that would mean Voyager needs more competent bouncers. For that matter, a drunken Q could be dangerous: Alcohol and altering the space-time continuum don't mix. Janeway rolls her eyes here for what won't be the last time.

Gimmick #2: Make Seven nekkid. This looks like one of those things the studio must've loved when they heard about. I can almost picture the people who cut together the episode trailers smiling with glee: Here's an easy workday! Plus, it can be justified as plausible! What heterosexual teenage male wouldn't wanted to see Seven without clothes? Nothing like a little realism in your Trek. Of course, Seven is too superior to be embarrassed or do any Janeway-style eye-rolling, so she simply uses the ignore-the-pest tactic.

Gimmick #3: War games. Q Jr. starts a war between two societies simply to watch their ships shoot at one another on the viewscreen. Somebody needs to go out and buy this kid a PlayStation or a DVD of Star Wars (the latter of which I'm guessing might actually be available by the 24th century, but no promises).

Gimmick #4: Make Neelix mute. Hey, this is actually a pretty good idea. Q Jr. fuses Neelix's jaw shut and makes his vocal cords disappear. Poor Neelix — he had his lungs extracted way back in "Phage" and now he has his vocal cords taken away. There's no justice in the world. Or come to think of it, maybe there is.

Such zaniness is setup for the actual premise, which is that Q suspends all of Q Jr.'s powers, and gives his son one week to shape up under Janeway's tutelage. If he hasn't shown great improvement, the Q Continuum will transform the unruly brat into an amoeba. The lesson: Actions Have Consequences, especially when your actions can rearrange entire worlds. I'd just like to know why Q can't conjure up some sense for this kid when he has the power to transform him into an amoeba. For that matter, I'd like to know if the writers actually thought any of their "intellectually immature superbeing" plot was fresh, seeing as TOS did "Charlie X" roughly 35 years ago.

The middle passages of the show are bland moments of Janeway trying to whip this kid into shape with lay-down-the-law threat tactics and then lessons that double as Meaningful Dialog Scenes. Eventually we're watching as Q Jr. writes a paper on the Q Continuum, which is hopelessly inane; apparently the great Continuum really is too much for my feeble mind to comprehend ... or for television writers to do any justice.

Then we have Q Jr. stealing the Delta Flyer because he apparently didn't learn anything from all this. His excuse for theft and joyriding? Boredom. He goes flying through alien territory with unwilling partner-in-crime Icheb, opening fire on an alien ship when they try to detain him for trespassing. Icheb is injured, Q Jr. escapes and returns to Voyager where he gets the usual dressing-down by Janeway. Icheb lies dying, with Doc going on about how he needs to know more about the weapon in order to save Icheb's life. (Yes, in sci-fi you can treat someone who has been run down by a car as long as you know what make and model the car was.)

The final act is so underwhelming it plays more like a parody on humanism than a satisfying ending. Q Jr. decides to accept responsibility for his actions by returning to face the music at the hands of the aliens he shot at. But, surprise! The alien was actually Q, who engineered the encounter as a test to see if Q Jr. would own up to the consequences of his mischief. Icheb is really okay. Then we get a quick trial of Q Jr. by Continuum judges, who, after all this, find that Q Jr.'s actions don't indicate acceptable levels of progress.

My point is more along the lines of Q's complaint — that Janeway has turned Q Jr. into a human with Federation values and, well, what good is that for the Continuum? They're judging Q Jr. on an incident and actions that have about as much cosmic relevance as what I ate for breakfast this morning.

LeVar Burton, who has directed excellent episodes like "Timeless," is saddled with a banal script that thinks small when it should be thinking big. The closing scenes give us a trial and a guilty verdict only for it to be reversed with a bunch of Q's off-screen (non)arguments. What, if anything, is all of this saying? It's clunky and abrupt along the narrative line.

My, how the Q have fallen. Amazingly, it would seem Voyager has managed to bastardize the Q even worse than the Borg. Who could've guessed that the beings who put humanity on trial back in the TNG days would be reduced to the sort of family sitcom where a son whines to his father about being too pressured about living up to expectations? Let's be real here: Do we want to see the Q as a metaphor for emotionally abandoned teenagers and/or fathers?

I'd have told the kid: Hey, you're omnipotent. With your talents I'll be damned if I'm going to let you end up working at Burger King. Stop screwing around and put that galaxy back where it belongs.

Next week: Doc's unauthorized Voyager biography. Some names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Previous episode: Human Error
Next episode: Author, Author

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29 comments on this review

grumpy_otter
Thu, Sep 27, 2007, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
If it were possible to give negative stars, this episode should get them.

I must admit, I have never understood the appeal of the Q--Omnipotent beings really have nothing better to do than toy with weak little bipeds?

Yes, I love to sit around and poke at anthills, and pour water on them, and disturb their nests, and smush a few. Really?

Dull, dull, dull.

Saxman 1
Wed, Apr 30, 2008, 9:52am (UTC -5)
I loved Q on TNG but I think all his appearances on Voyager (and the one on DS9) were terrible. He's always some kind of male chauvanistic pig and it just goes downhill from there. Ugh. In this ep especially, he looks tired, old, bloated and bored, just like his character at this point.
Jake
Mon, May 26, 2008, 10:43am (UTC -5)
I actually enjoyed his DS9 appearance basically because of his nice interactions with the DS9 gang.
However, his Voyager appearances made him basically a copy of that uncle on Bewitched, unlike the character he established on TNG, which was much more complex & interesting.
Jonathan
Wed, Feb 4, 2009, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
What happened to Q Jr's "technology" trick that opened a rift directly to such-and-such a place? Why couldn't Voyager use the logs from the Delta Flyer to do the same thing and take themselves home? Why, further, does this omnipotent, lazy Q know more about their technology than they do even when he "won't stoop to use it" and doesn't seem to have any other relevant knowledge?
EP
Sun, Mar 8, 2009, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Q is the archetypal Loki, the trickster. At least he was used properly in this vein in TNG, constantly tormenting humanity, and daring them to go beyond their limits, and them punching them in the nose when they would do so.
His one appearance on DS9 was totally lame, and a stunt, I suspect, on the part of the DS9 production staff to net curious TNG viewers during DS9's first season.
His appearances on VOY were absolutely egregious, and serve only to diminish the interesting aspects that his character originally conveyed.
Bah. Humbug.
Matt
Sat, Apr 4, 2009, 2:00am (UTC -5)
I think I like your reviews of bad episodes the best.
Will
Sun, Oct 25, 2009, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
I have now seen all of Q's appearances on Voyager. I have not seen his DS9 appearance yet so cannot comment on it. I enjoyed "Death Wish", Q's first appearance on Voyager, and I also enjoyed (and I may come under fire for this, but everyone's entitled to an opinion) the Q and the Grey, but I thought this episode was just a lame excuse to shoehorn Q into Voyager at the last minute. Did he really need to come back after his last appearance?
Jay
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
It's obvious that the Q exist beyond time, because in the four years between deLancie's last appearance and this one, he seems to have aged at least ten.
Michael
Wed, Jul 21, 2010, 3:17am (UTC -5)
"You know what, Talaxian? You talk too much. [Welds Neelix's lips shut and removes his vocal cords.]"

AMEN TO THAT!!!!!!!

God, if only this kid had been around in the first season, he could've spared us from Neelix altogether!

The rest of the show is risible and, Jammer, you shouldn't have graced it with more than a couple of lines. It's funny at times though, sometimes in a stupid way.

I'd give it two stars...
Cloudane
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Guess I'm the odd one out, I kind of enjoyed it. It wasn't "what could've been" but after 7 seasons of Voyager I think I've accepted it for what it is because it was never going to live up to its potential.

So expectations of un-Voyager-y things cast aside, I found it to be fun and light hearted. I especially liked the replicator saying "make it yourself!", referring to Neelix as the "pet Talaxian" and acknowledging how annoying his character is, in this case by sealing his mouth :). (poor guy, his heart is in the right place. But he IS annoying)

Not an ideal end to Q (seeing as there were no more 24th century Trek series and John de Lancie was already looking a bit old for the part of an immortal) but I didn't find it offensive. 2-2.5.
Paul
Sat, Dec 10, 2011, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Can we retroactively rename this series, "Star Trek: Unused Potential"?

First, Voyager pissed away it's initial premises. The Starfleet/Maquis conflict amounted to next to nothing, and the Kazon years -- which I think were actually the series' best -- were too ham-fisted and not consequential enough.

When it was evident things weren't working, Bernman and the gang brought in Q for one of the series' best episodes ('Death Wish'). And, honestly, I thought the 'Q and the Grey' was better than Jammer and others did.

But THIS episode on the heels of that one -- plus the watering down of the Borg and even an episode that totally neutered the Klingons -- showed that Voyager didn't just waste its own potential. It wasted the potential it inherited from TNG.

DS9 wasn't a perfect series, but at least it made its own storylines and premises. Voyager tried that, failed and then corrupted two big parts of the TNG legacy.
V
Tue, Feb 14, 2012, 12:50am (UTC -5)
TNG Q is more daunting and complex but at the same time Loki-like. VOY in this ep is all Loki-like. Either way the episode was very funny to my husband who is NOT a trekkie and got him interested in Trek a lot more. Previously all his interest is making fun of sisko's and janeway's voice, and poking fun about how reversing the polarity and recalibrations saves the day (he thinks the writers of VOY are lazy that they can't imagine a new science-talk and just kept repeating themselves). Either way it's interesting how non-trekkies look at this ST world. Q had so much potential to bring in more fans if done right -I wished TNG made 1 movie regarding Q.
Sintek
Sun, May 26, 2013, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Awful. DeLancie JR can't act and big daddy Q looks more tired and bloated than Riker post-First Contact. A shameful sendoff for a once great character.
Leah
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH!!! And Voyager's raping of TNG's glory is now complete.
azcats
Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 10:50am (UTC -5)
I actually think this was the best of the 3 Q voyager episodes. by far the most entertaining.

but not one of my favorite episodes.

2 star
Watching the reruns
Sun, Sep 29, 2013, 2:37am (UTC -5)
I agree with all the criticism about the potential of Q being just pissed away (my limited human brain can't imagine what an immortal omnipotent being would actually do, since they have probably already done everything) but ... I did like the actor playing the charming little sociopath (Q2), a true chip off the old block (Q), and what a hoot it is to discover that the two are actually father and son! Light frothy fun, so long as you skim along the surface and don't try to think more deeply about it.
Jo Jo Meastro
Sat, Oct 19, 2013, 6:44am (UTC -5)
A decent, entertaining effort even if it is apparent that Q stories deserve to amount to a lot more.

Part of what makes it forgivable is that there are plenty of smirk inducing gags and all of the actors involved make much more mileage out of the material than there really should be. Q Junior could have easily descended into Jar Jar Binks territory, but thanks to the actor portraying him; he's actually amusing, quirky and has a certain charm. It must be difficult to nail a role were you must be irritating to every character yet loveable to the audience.

A few instances did hold it back. Even for a story that's meant to be light-hearted, some gags just didn't work and despite what the writers think; we don't want Seven reduced to shameless bait for adolescent male viewers. Plus some of Qs' human lessons were redundant. Making him write essays was dull and useless, as the episode proved a few Acts later.

In the end I did hope for but I laughed more than I sighed, so it gets a moderately enjoyable 2.5 stars.
Jack
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
Someone didn't research the years very well...Icheb had Kirk finishing his first 5 year mission in 2207, well before he was even born.
Cloudane
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Epilogue: Q then gets bored of humans and decides to go and be a pony-dragon-thing instead. Fluttershy > Janeway 1000 times over :)
Susan
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
Even though I think Janeway is an idiot in most of them, she wasn't half bad here. I could be biased though, I love any episode of any Trek that has Q. lol He's my favorite guest star of all time. The kid who plays his son, is actually his son in real life too, so that was pretty awesome as well. - pepsiadikt
Steinway
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Wow, I'm surprised this one is so hated. It's definitely not my favorite, but I didn't find it offensive (except for the female sexploitation moments). I didn't like Death Wish (moral objections), and thought Q and the Grey was a little boring, so I guess this one would be the best Voyager Q episode in my book. Once again I agree with azcats.

I think the reason I found endearing is that I'm a parent, and so I could relate to a lot of the parenting plotline. I didn't take it as a grand Q Continuum story, but rather a metaphor for human parenting. A lot of the time that's what Star Trek is – a metaphor for our own times.
DLPB
Sun, Mar 9, 2014, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
Q was originally a brilliant character. His chemistry with Picard was excellent, and he was played to perfection. But then, towards the end of Generation and for the entirety of Voyager, the character was destroyed by brain dead and simplistic writing.
NCC-1701-Z
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 1:06am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode...when it was TNG's "True Q".

Bleah. Voyager ruined the Q even worse than they ruined the Borg.
Shaen
Sat, Sep 20, 2014, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Besides the fact that the Voyager writers didn't seem to get what made Q a great character in TNG, Keegan de Lancie's terrible acting didn't do this episode any favors. And ha ha, sexual assault played as a joke? Classy stuff.
St.Manfred
Tue, Apr 21, 2015, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
I liked the ep, with the exception of Keegan's acting and / or the sudden change of mind forced upon his character by the writers. 2.5 stars.
Proper from Gunnerkrigg
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 3:14am (UTC -5)
I didn't like how the judges dressed just like Q did in TNG, it cheapened the concept.

(PS. I'm an idiot and a liar.)
TRIP
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -5)
This episode almost made me puke. In fact, give me a moment and I’ll be right back…

Zero Stars – Stop destroying our favourite characters!!! I personally love Q episodes. Almost every week, the writers try to piss us off in some way. My only guess at this point, is that the writers for Voyager are actually Star Wars fans, who hate Star Trek. There’s always been a bit of rivalry between those who like Star Wars, and those who like Star Trek. They infiltrated us. Get ‘em.

When Q said "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times. Don't provoke the Borg!!!", I could actually sense his fear. What the hell? Even Janeway isn't afraid of the Borg. She willingly chooses to get assimilated, she raids Borg cubes, etc... Voyager has now castrated the Q. Can it get any worse?

DS9’s Q appearance was OK. It reminded me of “Encounter at Farpoint”, as it was another Alien that was being held captive. Again, they were being tested, to see if they would figure it out in time, and set the alien free. It wasn’t as good as “Encounter at Farpoint”, but they didn’t change the Q character like in this sack of crap.

As Q’s favour to Janeway, he should have left Neelix mute. Q could have just winked at Janeway, said “You’re Welcome”, then snapped his fingers and disappeared.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Just desperate. Even as someone who has only rarely enjoyed a Q episode, this is a new low. I think that what gets my back up most is that Junior takes on all of Q's most irritating traits, magnifies them by 100, and makes a character unlovable enough that his conversion matters not a jot. It also doesn't help that the conversion is so jarring, with a wildly swinging tone, and that it follows right out of the Sesame St trite lesson school.

I've said before that Q worked best as a vehicle for something else in my mind, such as introducing the Borg in Q Who. This is the other extreme, a Q episode that seeks nothing but to introduce a bigger, badder Q for nothing more than its own sake. "Can I help you, kitchen rat?" indeed. 1 star.
Skeptical
Thu, May 12, 2016, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
Yeesh. When they decided to make a sequel to the not so great Demon, they took that contrived, uh, contrivance and used it to make a unique and interesting episode. And when they decided to make a sequel to the awful Q and the Grey, they took that bad concept and doubled down on it, creating this mess.

For starters, the episode doubled down on the absurdity of Qs acting like humans. Remember, Q had absolutely no experience with being a human in Deja Q, despite appearing like them and knowing all about them. He openly admitted he would have appeared as a woman if he had realized before it could have distracted Picard. So why, pray tell, is little q acting like a horny fifteen year old? Why on earth would he care about techno-music and what any alien girls look like? Why would he want to party or see Seven naked? He wouldn't. But I guess the writers think we like this kind of juvenile humor. Well, I certainly don't. And even if others do, it isn't worth butchering the Q for it.

V mentioned that her husband, not a fan of Star Trek, liked the show. Well, sorry, but that's not a good justification of it. Part of the joy of a continuing franchise is the word "continuing", or continuity. We like seeing characters and concepts and cultures developing out over time, and seeing those characters and concepts and cultures in a new light. But it requires those characters and concepts and cultures to show a connection to what came in the past. Sure, it may be possible to create a good comedy with a bumbling, incompetent legendary king in a fantasy world. But if it was Aragorn, and an official sequel to Lord of the Rings? It'd be a slap in the face of all the fans who became emotionally connected to him in the far more serious LOTR. It doesn't fit the setting. Any quality in the book would be offset by the massive disconnect it would have with the intended audience.

Same here with this farce of a Q. Now, Trek is huge, and things have definitely been retconned at times, and for good reason. I don't mind that the Trill in The Host are nothing like the Dax family, because some things that work in a one-off episode wouldn't work in a deeper exploration. I don't mind that the Ferengi were retconned after their dismal initial showings. But Q was beloved. Q was at the beginning and end of TNG. Q was a well developed concept by this point. Why are we throwing away some excellent concepts for a cheap farce and juvenile jokes? Who thought this would be a good idea?

Except that it was prevalent in all three Voyager Q shows. The stupid flirting with Janeway. This teenage PG-rated rebel here. Why??? If you wanted to have a story about a magical being who didn't know what it was like to be a parent, create a new magical being. Sure, it would probably be too TOS-like and still probably be dumb, but at least you aren't embarrassing a beloved actor and beloved character.

Ugh, but anyway, it wasn't just that, even if it is the most egregious. Q tells Janeway to teach q how to be a Q, without actually letting her know what that entails. He still thinks humans are stupid; shouldn't he see the obvious contradiction in that? And so Janeway has q work on a term paper and learn how to be a human? OK, in fairness, Q gave her no direction on what to do, but gave her a very strict deadline. I'm pretty sure a term paper isn't going to impress anyone. I'm pretty sure any training program has more value than that...

Meanwhile, q apparently doesn't know how to write a paper, doesn't know how to pilot a ship, but does know how to reprogram holodecks and open random wormholes (and hey, shouldn't Kim or Seven be able to reverse engineer whatever he did based on the Delta Flyer's logs?). Just what constitutes knowledge that is beneath value for a Q and what doesn't? The answer is apparently whatever the plot requires. Which is definitely a sign of a problem in the plot...

Oh, and "Don't provoke the Borg!"? Hey, Q, what did you do back in Q Who? Oh, right, provoked the Borg. Guess he belongs to the "do as I say, not as I do" school of parenting.

As for the ending, and it's obvious parallels to Deja Q, well, I'm of two minds on that. On the one hand, it kinda makes sense that Q would set that scenario up. After all, it was what got HIM reinstituted into the Q Continuum, so maybe it should work for q as well. So logically, I can see the reasoning. But the execution just fell flat. Besides the obvious retread and the obviousness that the alien was Q (c'mon, the coincidences of everything were way too high), the emotional connection just wasn't there. That said, I did like the scene where Q callously refused to save Icheb. One of the very few scenes where he actually felt like the character he really was.

This was an episode we really didn't need, and wasn't worth it even if we did. Poor Q, he deserved much better than this.

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