Jammer's Review

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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24 comments on this review

grumpy_otter - Thu, Sep 27, 2007 - 2:22pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
I think I like your reviews of bad episodes the best.
Will - Sun, Oct 25, 2009 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH!!! And Voyager's raping of TNG's glory is now complete.
azcats - Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - 10:50am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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.

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