Star Trek: Voyager

"The Q and the Grey"

2 stars

Air date: 11/27/1996
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller
Story by Shawn Piller
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Well, it's time to be going. The old ball-'n-chain really hates it when we're late." — Family man Q

Nutshell: Entertaining in places, but mostly an implausible, unfocused mess.

"The Q and the Grey" is another one of those shows that the promo people live for. Another "high concept" idea that hopes to win its audience over with a plot that can be described on the previews in a single sentence: "Q comes to the Voyager and asks Janeway to mate with him!" It's a hook but it's not a story.

Actually, there is a story mired in Q's inept attempts to serenade Captain Janeway, but it's so unfocused, ponderous, and ambiguously handled that it's hard to get much enjoyment out of it. This is the follow-up of sorts to last season's wonderful "Death Wish," in which a revolutionary Q played by Gerrit Graham voiced his desire to die because his existence had reached the point of irrelevance due to the Q continuum's love of the status quo.

This time, Q comes aboard Voyager and tells Janeway that he has chosen her to be the mother of his child. Janeway is naturally non-receptive, asks him to go away, etc. Q responds with dumb but amiable jokes:

Q: "You're playing hard to get."
Janeway: "As far as you're concerned, Q, I'm impossible to get."
Q: "Goodie! A challenge!"

Janeway keeps Q in his place until he finally, but temporarily, gives up and vanishes.

Naturally, as the case usually is with Q, there's more here than meets the eye. In fact, Q's desire to have a baby with Janeway, he explains, is something he hopes will have repercussions within the Q continuum itself. But to complicate the matter, a jealous female Q (Suzie Plakson, who played Worf's now-deceased half-Klingon lover K'Ehleyr on TNG) appears, and suddenly we have a classic triangle (or so the Plakson-Q thinks) with Janeway unwillingly caught in one corner.

Considering that the story isn't really about this preposterous triangle, it seems rather silly that the show wastes the opening 1 1/2 acts on it. Some of this is mildly amusing (I got a chuckle out of the tattoo gag, for instance), but much of it is just silly and overly proud of its playfulness.

And, after a mere two episodes, I'm sick of Neelix's stupid island holo-program already. The French pool hall had much more class and style if you ask me. (Speaking of Neelix, his exuberantly annoying "Wow!" in response to witnessing a supernova at the beginning of the episode continues to go along with my theory—Neelix is still a painfully irritating character).

Midway through the second act the show finally shows signs of getting better as the story begins to develop into something beyond obvious Q gags. Q takes Janeway to the continuum (courtesy of another one of those human-comprehensible metaphorical renditions like in "Death Wish"). This time, the metaphor is the American Civil War, used to represent a civil war within the Q continuum. The war, Q explains, is the result of Graham-Q's suicide in "Death Wish"—it has caused chaos and dissension between advocates of the status quo and the need for new thought. Our de Lancie-Q is one of the key Qs standing up for freedom of new ideas, but he's on the losing side of a battle which is causing cosmic side effects (like the aforementioned supernovas). Q is convinced that introducing human DNA into the Q gene pool (or whatever) will bring forward a new era of peace (or something).

Okay, fine. So what does all this exposition and discussion about war in the name of ideals really boil down to? Not much, in my opinion. The problem here is that the episode attempts to tell simple little human stories using what are supposed to be omnipotent beings. Is the show saying that the most important thing on an all-powerful being's mind is the discussion of whether the mother should raise a child or the father? And how exactly would the integration of human DNA into Q society magically end the war? The episode thinks a vague, half-explained answer will suffice, but it doesn't. The way the story uses the Q continuum is too questionable; as much as they know about time, history, and the universe, the episode will have us believe the opposing side of the war thinks it can bring the conflict to an end simply by killing Q. Haven't they heard of martyrdom? Do they believe that making Q a martyr will cause his supporters to lie down and give up?

Maybe that's the point the episode is trying to get across—that the omnipotent, all-knowing Q are ultimately just as flawed and ignorant as any backward humanoid. Unfortunately, that's no definition of Q I've ever heard of, and many of the arguments feel like self-contradictions as a result. Besides, do we really want to see the Q reduced to talking about standard Trek-issue arguments of peace and war?

The other big problem with "The Q and the Grey" is that the use of the Civil War metaphor—initially fine—forays into far too tangible, literal terms. The whole point of "Death Wish's" visit to the continuum was to represent a story with somewhat abstract ideas in more tangible, human terms. But here the metaphor becomes a simple plot device that the human characters can fully interact with—and that's totally unacceptable. By the end of the episode, the entire Voyager crew is in the Q continuum, fighting an unfathomable war with omnipotent beings. This is an "action" finale that, frankly, proves absurd. Because the ending is based on action and not dialog or ideas, all that remains to scrutinize are the physical events. These events have no real rhyme or reason; they just happen and assume they make storytelling sense, which they don't. Why can't these omnipotent Q simply snap their fingers and send these pesky humans out of the continuum? Because the writers say so, that's why.

For that matter, the Voyager getting into the continuum in the first place is contrived and misconceived—and based on reams of unnecessary technobabble. Using Plakson-Q's help (who has lost her powers for reasons we needn't concern ourselves with since the story doesn't), the Voyager is able to cross "into" the Q continuum—using methods that seem about as arbitrarily decided on by the writers as the flip of a coin. Plus Plakson gets shoehorned into the thankless role of a smug, superior being who is better than everyone else and makes sure they know it, too.

Another underlying problem is that this episode doesn't really know what it's about. First it's about relationships and love, then procreation and parenthood, then violence and war between immortal superbeings. In a vacuum, some of the isolated dialog has valid human points and works pretty well, but the show doesn't find any true focus over any of it, and so the themes feel like they've been jammed into a murkily explained, incoherent overall package. And the constant shift in tone from "downright goofy comedy" to "attempted cerebral drama" sure doesn't help the flow of the episode.

And, I'm sorry, the banter between Q and Janeway just does not hold its own. There are some good lines, I'm happy to say, and I think Mulgrew and de Lancie both manage to transcend the material, but overall it's based too much on silly sexual innuendoes and recycled jokes. All such scenes do is highlight how much better similar scenes worked between Q and Picard, where truly smart dialog took precedence.

"The Q and the Grey" is a mishmash of less-than-compelling themes and lackluster dialog. All that we're left with at the end is a bunch of questions that are supposed to have wonderfully complex answers, but instead have little wonder and just feel vague for the sake of inexplicable vagueness.

"Death Wish" this is not.

Previous episode: Warlord
Next episode: Macrocosm

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76 comments on this review

Bob
Wed, Oct 31, 2007, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
I like how they portrayed the Union as idealistic men of principle and the Confederacy as mindless minions of orthodoxy when the historical reality was the opposite (Slavery was not cool, and all that, but there were many factors that led to the Southern states attempting to withdraw from the US). That aside, this episode was a lame ratings-booster to stall for time after the writers blew their wad on "Future's End". Oh yeah, all the other Q episodes on Voyager sucked, too. In fact, every time TNG and Voyager met, suckage abounded!
Salmonax
Thu, Nov 1, 2007, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
I dunno, Bob - Lt. Barclay's appearances on Voyager usually seemed to work.
Gretchen
Sat, Nov 3, 2007, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Not that the series gave us anything truly stellar before this, but this is the episode which really turned me off Voyager.
So, if you want to visit the Q, all you have to do is fly into a star?
And, after the crew stops the Q civil war, Q doesn't send them home as thanks? Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
Dirk Hartmann
Thu, Apr 10, 2008, 2:37am (UTC -5)
This episode does not deserver two stars. The one and only scene I really enjoyed was the dialogue between the female Q and B'Elanna.
Mike
Wed, Oct 22, 2008, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Yeah, 2 stars is pushing it. Although Jammer's review points this out, the idea that the Q are completely helpless against the invading humans is ridiculous. The Q are acting completely different from all the other Q episodes, which I think is unforgivable -- admittedly, season 4 and 5 would see the Borg change similarly. This COULD have been a good episode but was felled by incoherent ideas and terrible writing (and continuity).
Nic
Tue, Jun 1, 2010, 8:55am (UTC -5)
I always enjoyed this episode. "Death Wish" it is not, of course, but there is one scene which in my opinion bumps it up to a 2.5 star rating, and that's the scene where Janeway is tending to Q's wounds in the camp. The lesson that Q learns here is that human's best qualities are not a result of genetics but of education. They are a result of learning from our mistakes and doing our best not to repeat them, which is something the Q have never had to do. That to me gives this episode more cohesiveness, though I admit the final act is a contrived action-oriented mess that almost makes you forget the good scenes that came before.

Almost.
bigpale
Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
Another show that is Voyager in a nuttshell: a great idea and a botched execution.

The series major flaw was the lack of agood showrunner. Taylor just couldnt cut it. The episodes -- nearly all of them -- were in need of a page one rewrite. That tells me whoever was running that writing room wasnt doing their job keeping the writers on point and focused.

Not that Braga was any better...
Elliott
Fri, Mar 11, 2011, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
Seasons 2 - 4 had the unfortunate habit of forcing one to sift through some silly crowd-pleasing hokiness to see the meat of an episode. As Nic pointed out, there are some really wonderful dialogue scenes and the ideas presented (though they never flower as they ought to) continue philosophically from "Death Wish"--Quinn was adement that the idea of Q being omnipotent was posturing, that they are indeed as flawed as any other being but simply much more advanced technologically and possessed of seemingly infinite knowledge. This is an idea I sincerely wish had migrated to DS9--I wish the Bajorans would have had to contend with their gods being, well, beings who are flawed. I wish they would have seen something like what the Dominion saw (and ignored) in its gods...but I digress.

This is probably a 2.5er--the last act requires one to turn his brain off and just go with the gags, which is not something I want to do when confronted in earlier acts with deep issues. I seemed to me that the whole civil war scenario was created just so that Janeway could tend Q's wounds in a setting which favoured the dialogue there. The writers then found themselves with a big mess to clean up and few avenues of logical escape, so they just threw logic out the supernova-transdimensional aperture.
Elliott
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 12:33am (UTC -5)
You know, I just rewatched this episode and it struck me as a lot better than your synopsis recalled to my memory. The plot is goofy, really goofy and as you say Q traditionalists may have a hard time mixing the story's core which is an intimate story with the "COSMIC CONSEQUENCES!!!!" of the civil war, but the acting on Mulgrew's part especially is so under-played that it works. It's something that Brooks could never achieve even when given a very meaty story.

There are two sides to this instalment of the trilogy, one which adresses a serious albeit light-weight issue of where values really come from (a refreshing change from the DS9 idea that Federation values are some sort of meaningless mantra) which works very well, nearly as much so as "Death Wish," and there's the side that's an excuse for fun with the cast and sets, etc. As I said, the mix is a goofy one, but the execution is surprisingly tasteful.

I also really enjoyed the in-joke between Ms. Q and Torres regarding Klingon females (and of course half-klingon females).
Anthony
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
I just finished watching this episode and I feel dirty.

Doesn't Q and "Trek" in general deserve better than teenage-level swooning and sexual pastiche?
Arachnea
Mon, Dec 24, 2012, 6:49am (UTC -5)
The perfect show would have been a mixture of DS9 and Voyager:
DS9 was better in plots, storytelling,long arcs and use of great recurrent characters but lacked in allegories and deep-thoughts questions (sorry, I don't if that's the proper way to say it in english, but I guess you understand anyway) and forgot a lot about what Star Trek stood for initially. Voyager mostly was the contrary.

This episode is a perfect example. With a DS9 storytelling and the Voyager's thoughtfulness, it would have been excellent. Nic and Elliott already highlighted the good points, thanks.
navamske
Sun, May 26, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Best line in the episode? A toss-up:

"You! Bar Rodent!" (de Lancie-Q to Neelix)
"You! Helm Boy!" (Plakson-Q to Paris)
Kevin
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
I think it says something that this episode effectively has its own entry in the Evil Overlord family of Stupid Plot Tricks:

"If I Am Ever a Starfleet Captain... If my ship is whisked to the far side of the galaxy, leaving us with a seventy-year journey home, and a super-being offers to take us home instantly in exchange for having his baby, I'll agree and ask what we can get for two babies."
Ric
Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 3:10am (UTC -5)
Ok, this one was mostly silly and goofy. But I have to say that in the first 10 minutes I laughed out loud one or two times. "My cosmic clock is ticking"? Hahaha, oh my! And what about the later "you, helm boy"? Hehe, this was so ridiculous that... it sort of worked to me.

Sure, Mrs. Q is terribly goofy and a teenagerish idea, but blah... The problem is that I found her character to be portrayed a bit too sexist for my taste. Like the joke about the captain being billions of years younger... well it treats 20th century sexist visions as universal.

However, here we see a clear continuity from the last time we saw Q. Actually, it seems like decisions made in the last time are giving results here. Pretty cool. Also, I think if Q's telling the truth about him being the one that "sounded the trumpet", this gives his character a lot of additional depth.

PS: oh yes, seeing the Doc walking across the ship was also a good surprise of continuity. Although I had prefered him stuck af the sick bay, I am happy to see a bit of continuity here. Good call.
SlackerInc
Tue, Apr 15, 2014, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Bob's comment at the top of this thread perpetuates a pernicious myth about the Civil War that needs to be countered with a dose of reality:

www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths-about-why-the-south-seceded/2011/01/03/ABHr6jD_story.html
Robert
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Well, I'm going to step offside from most of the opinions and perceptions above and say I like this episode and would give it a good solid 3 stars. I'm not suggesting I'm "right" it's only my opinion.

I just saw the episode, then read all the reviews above, and I will say that there were things in the episode that stretched even my rather large ability to suspend disbelief. As in, from the get go, before I read all the reviews above, I've never been able to really swallow the idea that Kathryn being the mother of a Q hybrid baby could solve a political crisis in the Continuum. The episode says that human DNA will express love and compassion and transmit these values to the Q. Kathryn argues that these are things which are learned, not inherent in the genes. This last point is open to debate; I've heard people argue that genetics accounts for a lot more of what we think of as learned behaviour than we might think.

This leads into one of the criticisms I read above that now makes some sense to me i.e. that the episode tries to cram too many different themes into one show, at least for most people. So if the show was about the nature/nurture debate maybe that would have worked for more people. Same comment for the themes of the perils and pitfalls of war or if the episode was just an old fashioned screw ball comedy. That's too many subjects for 45 minutes for most I suppose, especially when they don't fit well together. Like an egg/ice cream/relish sandwich.

And a think it's a fair criticism that the Q have been taken down a notch after a fashion, and that's something of a loss. They're not really omnipotent, just really really powerful and really really old. They are heretofore reduced to "alien of the week" status. I guess the prior Q outing ("Death Wish") started this (the mighty Q requiring human mediation to resolve a social problem) but I thought that episode had a single powerful theme, which I've also seen well explored in other Science Fiction (I'm thinking of Frank Herbert); that is that "immortality" so called really means living a long long time and is ultimately incredibly boring.

An episode on the trials and tribulations of civil war could have the potential to be compelling. Don't know how you squeeze in the need for Voyager to help stop a Q civil war. Maybe that was the conundrum that lead the writers to come up with the baby idea i.e desperation i.e. we gotta get this show on the road and this is the best we've been able to come up with.

w.r.t. the American Civil War, I read the article recommended by SlackerInc. This article is well written, contains points I've read before from the bit of reading I've done on the American Civil War, and on the face of it sounds "right" to me. But I'm a Canadian and there's no way I'm going to wade into the debate about such a volatile subject as the American Civil war; we have our own "hot button" issues in Canada, such as I've heard passionate opinions expressed about who really won the Battle on the Plains of Abraham. That is where the English defeated the French and occupied Quebec City. As I've been told by English people "we won". But then I've heard of other interpretations. I've been told that Separatist dogma in Quebec is that the battle was a tie, and that is what is now taught in schools in Quebec (I don't know if this is true but it sounds plausible to me). I also read a serious historical article that said that even though the English occupied Quebec City, that isn't the whole story as to how Quebec became part of the British Empire. The explanation offered is that France and Britain were engaged in an 18th century World War which raged in many places,and at that time the big prize in the New World was the Caribbean. So when the conflict was finally being settled at the table the French were more motivated to take what they could get in the Caribbean. Apparently losing Quebec really stuck in the craw of the French, they hated the idea of their French com padres falling under Anglo rule, but the economic benefits they got out of their Caribbean holdings was worth more to them. So Quebec was ceded to the English. The suggestion is that France could very realistically have won Quebec back militarily if France continued the World War, but then they risked losing some of their Caribbean holdings.

Wherever the truth lies there are a couple of big picture points I'm trying to make that this episode of Voyager, and at least one episode of TNG, try to deal with, at least a bit. One is that the passions inflamed by war don't just go quietly into the good night. This is one of the major evils of war. In Canada we still have strong tensions between the ethnically British and the Quebecois. Canadian politics is much more complicated than that but that's one of our big political stressors. In the States it's very clear that the Civil War still inflames passions. I've heard there are people in Asia still upset with Genghis Khan and his visits.

And that is another big picture item; what is the historical truth? And even if diligent and careful and rational and hard working scholars can determine the "truth", there is the problem of what will people believe is true, irrespective of what actually happened. People arguably have tribal instincts that can outweigh an appeal to reason. Well, I'm saying these are topics worthy of Star Trek, and there are many others that revolve around the experience of war.

My understanding (maybe incorrect) is that Gene Roddenberry served in WWII in the Air Force and came out of it with no love of war. But he still believed that evil as war is, it is still sometimes a necessary evil. The tricky part is figuring out in advance when war is a necessary evil.

This is no academic exercise. As I write this there is a very hot debate going on in the States as to what to do militarily in Iraq; the consequences of the decisions being made right now will probably, at least possibly, have far reaching consequences. So back to Star Trek, I think it does a public service when on difficult subjects it makes us think, hopefully helping us to make wiser decisions in times like these.

So why do I like this episode so much? My reasons are pretty prosaic. Even though I'll concede it's a mishmash of incongruous themes, I don't mind that that much. I like all the themes presented, no matter how ineptly.


And if we've lost something with the evolution, or perhaps devolution, of Q, well we've kinda picked up another comedic angle. Even if it is pretty lame.

When it comes right down to it it's two characters that really make it for me. One is the Suzie Plakson Lady Q. I can't get enough of her. I was so sad when they killed her off on TNG, and I wish they'd brought her back some way or other many more times.

I also really "liked" the Confederate Colonel Q, played by Harve Presnell. As in he was polite, witty and a complete SOB. I wouldn't want to be stranded with him on a desert island. But as a character in a TV show I thought Harve did a great job creating a believable, vivid character, with very few lines of dialogue.

And I'll just add that Captain Janeway and Q have their moments, as do B'Elanna, Chakotay, Tom and Harry. I even liked Neelix's bit.

That's all I have to say!
Voyager
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 1:35am (UTC -5)
The only saving grace to this one is some well-realized humor and de Lancie's reliable performance. Otherwise, it is a wasted hour that accomplishes all of the wrong things. Mainly the dumbing down of Q, the insulting of the viewers intelligence, and the Voyager standard of rolling a few good ideas together into the shape of something that fairly resembles a turd.

1 star.
Skeptical
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Move over Threshold, we have a new worst episode in town.

Let's start with the fact that they spent the first half of the movie doubling down on the stupidest part of Death Wish: Q hitting on Janeway. This is, without a doubt, the most juvenile thing I have seen on Voyager (and yes, that includes salamander-sex in Threshold). It is nothing but a farce. Remember, Q is a god-like being, far beyond our way of thinking. So why? Why is he forced into every bad cliche of a nerd hitting on a girl?

I mean, at least with Picard hitting on Lwaxana in Menage a Troi was supposed to be embarrassing for Picard, hence the comedy. Here, it's only embarrassing for John deLancie and the viewers who are forced to see this.

This is the Q who shrugged off the death of 18 Starfleet officers in Q Who as irrelevant. This is the Q who considers humanity as barely beneath contempt, and only interesting for what they would become. This is the Q that told Picard flat out that he would have appeared first as a woman after seeing Vash. This is the Q that didn't even know what hunger and sleepiness felt like, much less any romantic inclinations. In other words, Q isn't male! He's an omniscient being!

So why, then, is there a female Q? That Q apparently "dated"? What does that even mean in the Q Continuum? Who, of course, acted like a stereotypical woman, because Voyager writers have no imagination. What, prey tell, does human gender differences and romantic interactions have to do with an immortal, omnipotent species? Absolutely nothing.

It didn't fit the show, and it wasn't funny in the first place. Sure, the latter part may be a matter of taste, but the former isn't. This is completely out of character.

Next, let's look at the Q Continuum itself. When last we saw it, Quinn referred to it as a metaphor for the real Continuum so that the Voyager crew could comprehend it. Most tellingly, none of them interacted with anything in the Continuum, because, well, how could they? It was a mere metaphor, and it's not like Janeway is all-powerful or anything. It was just a visual representation, nothing more.

But now? It's real. Oh sure, it still takes the form of something that Janeway could understand or whatever. But that "metaphor" is actually real. The rifle that shot Q formed blood, and Janeway was tending to his wounds. So, either she was literally tending to a literal bullet wound in Q (which makes no sense), she was just doing stuff that made no impact whatsoever since the wound was only metaphorical (which doesn't make sense, as Q was reacting to it), or she was tending to whatever his real wound was somehow and somehow gained the power to do that despite not actually having any powers beyond being a human Starfleet captain (which doesn't make sense either). So which is it? The answer is the third one, because the rest of the crew appeared with rifles and the Southern Q all surrendered! Yes, Tom Paris is so awesome that he is able to defeat a Q.

And Southern General Q says that they are using Q weaponry. So wait, Q have technology? Voyager can just fly into a supernova to reach the Continuum? How does any of this relate to anything we know about the Q? They are no longer the Q, they are just Trelanes. Just really powerful humans with super fancy technology. Nothing that sets them apart.

And that last part is important: this episode shows the Q acting just like humans. TNG showed that the Q both disdained and were intrigued by humans. Disdained us because we could act awfully primitive at times. Found us intriguing because of our capability to grow and evolve. But they were only interested in humanity's potential, not the "pettiness" that much of humanity is engaged in. Yet here, it is the Q who are petty. De Lancie trying to get in Janeway's pants. Plakson Q acting like a scorned girlfriend with PMS. Southern Fried General Q acting like an obstinate fool. Stock characters, in other words. Nothing unique about them.

In brief, this episode is completely devoid of anything related to the Q that we know.

And as an episode, it's a mess too. Like I said, the juvenile "love triangle" was just silly, and that was a huge chunk of the episode. The Civil War was silly too. There were a few halfway decent scenes between Janeway and De Lancie Q, but that's about it. On the whole, it was trying to be cheesy and fun, but failed miserably on that last part.
DLPB
Thu, Mar 26, 2015, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Writers WAY out of their depth here in understanding what made Q a great character... this episode and the writing is frankly an embarrassment.
NCC-1701-Z
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 2:02am (UTC -5)
@DLPB: Completely agree with you there. VOY ruined the Q so badly that their emasculation of the Borg looks like substantial character development by comparison. (lone exception being "Death Wish", the last great Q episode)
DLPB
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like Death Wish, either, because it was trivializing the Q to the point of farce. The thing the writing staff should have realized from the beginning is that because the Q live beyond our comprehension, trying to answer what they are should have been left to people's imagination. And, furthermore, the Q was to humans, like humans are to bacteria... so all these nonsense comic relief episodes are totally off-base. Q was meant to be a serious, clever, near omnipotent being, possibly millions of years older than humans. Their "race" was judging humanity. It became less and less about that and more about cheap humour. The writers, especially after TNG, just had no clue what they were doing. They also ruined the Borg with similar childish storylines and short-sighted logic.

How else can it be said, really? Some of the writers are utterly Q-less.
Yanks
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 8:08am (UTC -5)
This episode gets 2 point for including Suzie Plakson.

..and this line: "you know, I've always liked Klingon females. You've got such spunk."

lol, and a great Klingon she was. Just love Suzie.

Another .5 for outstanding banter back and forth throughout the episode.

I guess we are supposed to care about this because.... well the supernova thing I guess. But if the "other" side wins, which they were almost ready too, the supernova thing would have stopped, right?

Why did the war stop?

2.5 stars, it's funny at times.
Zeldark
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 1:23am (UTC -5)
The painfully obvious stupidity of this episode aside, the only part I did enjoy, though I did thoroughly enjoy it, was female Q referring to Janeway as a dog. Because Janeway is an awful character.
John
Thu, Nov 12, 2015, 1:48am (UTC -5)
Wait a minute! Q says that sex with another Q has "never been done." Um, did he forget TNG's 6th season episode "True Q?" Two Qs have a daughter through human sex named Amanda Rodgers. In Q's words to Picard, they did it "in vulgar human fashion." In the end, Amanda returned to the Continuum with Q. So where was she here? Wasn't she the new blood that the Q needed to end this war? Q says to Janeway here that he can only mate with a species capable of copulation. Not true. Amanda's parents were executed by the Q for mating in human fashion (which Death Wish even alluded to). There is literally no continuity here.
Del_Duio
Thu, Nov 12, 2015, 6:59am (UTC -5)
^^ Good point, I guess the writers never saw that episode haha ^^

Another shining example of quality Voyager right there. /sarcasm
45 RPM
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 6:17am (UTC -5)
Voyager I am complete agreement with you. The Q were more than just 'parlor tricks'. The very nature of Q gives them insight and access to anything and everything - including human evolution. Hell, Q seemed to be the only one to really challenge Picard regarding anything! It sure wasn't most of the admirals on the show who put the 'in' in inept.

This episode lowers itself to the point that the Q are now being schooled by humans. Worse, the voyager crew. Uh, right. Can anyone truly name a captain whom kicked the Prime Directive in the family jewels more often than Janeway? I don't even think Archer broke it as many times. And they didn't even have a PD yet! They are the last ones the Q should be turning to in terms of anything regarding human development.

The Q episodes worked because they were a way of getting humans to think beyond the routine and the rote. They could be high brow or they could be more pedestrian but there was always an underlying message in all of them wasn't there? Q himself got a lesson in humility in Deja Q. I fail to see what the message is on either side of the equation in this ep. If omnipotent beings disagree and argue to the point of a fullscale war then that would spell certain doom for lesser beings and the universe I would think.

Worst Q episode ever. At least Q2 attempted to restore the status quo and structure to the continuum. And no, that episode wasn't exactly much better than this one, barely half a star more. That one (and this one for that matter) were too juvenile for my tastes. But that one had a more plausible excuse seeing as how it was his son and not grown Q that were beyond galaxies and time. The Q deserved more than this low brow effort by the writers.

1 star.
MartinB
Fri, Dec 25, 2015, 5:03am (UTC -5)
The whole problem with this episode can be summed up in that one establishing shot of the enemy Q's Civil War camp. We cab see a man, obviously a Q like everyone else, laid on the ground, with both legs missing. So... We are supposed to believe that a Q, an omnipotent being with seemingly infinate powers, can be handicapped? Why doesn't he magic himself up some new legs? Or change form to something else? Or go anywhere else? Etc etc...

Why does Quinn's death have the impact it does at all? Amanda Rodger's Q parents were actually executed by the Continuum for renouncing their powers and having a child. Their deaths didn't plunge the Q into war, why did it here? Why wasn't Amanda herself brought up as an example of a child born to two Q, as Q Junior is here, and her birth and subsequent rejoining the Q, had jack all effect on the Continuum as well. So basically, a death in the Continuum did nothing before and a birth in the Continuum did nothing before, but, they are supposed to be the cause of and solution to a problem that didn't happen the first time!

Voyager should have traded Neelix to the Q general to use as target practise in exchange for sending Voyager home.

The tattoo gag wasn't funny, nor was Janeway's "not big enough" attempt at a dick joke (that's how far this episode has dragged the series and the Q down). The only genuinely funny line was Q calling Chakotay "Chuckles" and Janeway barely reacting to it. And I suppose Female Q's "I'm not talking about the puppy" line was funny, but needlessly bitchy as she never showed up when Q was trekking Vash around the Gamma Quadrant for 2 years...
Chrome
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -5)
It's funny that I should watch this after "Threshold", because it starts to feel like a running gag that characters are trying to impregnate Janeway. John de Lancie (Q) and Kate Mulgrew (Janeway) have an interesting chemistry. Mulgrew plays this episode almost the same as Stewart played his role in Q episodes. She plays an intelligent soundboard for humanity while Q continues to be puzzled by it. The difference between Mulgrew and Stewart, of course, is that Mulgrew has to play a character whose nether-regions are fair game for Q. But compare this episode to "Q-Less" where Sisko just spends an hour proving he's the anti-Picard, which, while successful in universe, seems like a waste of bringing de Lancie onboard. Voyager has much more fun with Q, which seems truer to the spirit of his presence.

There are some problems with this episode, though. It seems to be missing a heart. Beneath the great acting and punchy dialog, it doesn't seem clear what this episode's message is. Is Q a pro-human rebel or is he just a menace of the continuum trying to get humanity tangled in his problems. In that way, this show doesn't work as well as say "Deja Q" of years back which actually explores Q's relationship with humanity.

Another small problem is that Janeway shuts Q off when he offers to take Voyager home. I mean, I know Q is a jerkass genie, but Janeway seems smart enough to manipulate Q. Why doesn't she try to ride his little game for what it's worth and earn some reward?

That said, I liked this episode. Practically none of the story was focused on Voyager's forgotten premise or the feeble problems of the Doctor, and instead we get a nice humanity piece which could fit into any part of Trek.
Chrome
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Oh yes, and it wasn't lost on me that Q played a rebel while wearing a Civil War Union uniform. It seems problematic, but then we don't know exactly which side is what in the continuum, so I'll give that a free pass as simply window dressing for a generic war analogy.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Jan 27, 2016, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Well, thank God it didn't stay as a sex comedy for the full hour. Although it didn't get a whole lot better...

Good points up front, the dialogue here is really, really good with more one liners than I can recall in any recent episode. "You! Bar rodent!", "Not big enough", "What are you doing with that dog?" are all genuinely laugh out loud moments.

But on the debit side, the trivialising of the Q and moving them into a realm where humans can affect them directly seems like a mis-step. The whole civil war theme might have worked in small doses too, except the metaphor became massively over-extended and the mawkish scene where Janeway extols the compassionate virtue of humanity is well overdone. Overall, it misfires on the innuendo and misfires on the main story. 2 stars.
Voyagerfan
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
As usual, another terrible review from Jammer. A person who hates voyager and just reviews it so that can he let everyone else know his lame opinions.
Latex Zebra
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 7:44am (UTC -5)
Voyagerfan - That's what critics do, they tell people their opinions.

No one is saying you have to agree. Maybe you should offer some insight in to why you disagree with his reviews (and in many instances, many of the readers of this site) instead of mindlessly trolling and not actually offering any substance to the site at all.
robrow
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:25am (UTC -5)
As a follow-up to Deathwish, that was ghastly. Although the opening scenes and de Lancie's repartee were as good as usual. I can understand how the production team thought it might be a ratings winner, but I almost hoped the civil war story was one almighty scam by Q to get Janeway to sleep with him. No such luck.
mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
As usual, great stuff from John de Lancie. Too bad janeway is such a stuffed shirt
George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 3:01am (UTC -5)
I know it's a flawed episode, but I love it anyways.
Paul Allen
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 7:35am (UTC -5)
"I'm not talking about the puppy" .... "Chuckles"...

Q makes every episode more interesting, double Q doubly so. :)
dave johnson
Thu, Jan 5, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Suzie Q was the best part of this episode. I always wished they would have brought her as a regular cast member into one of the series after her TNG work.
joao sousa
Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 3:00am (UTC -5)
This episodes makes the Q too human. It's a ridiculous premise to have omnipowerful and eternal being act the same way as humans.

I have to admit the Q have shown too many human traits even in TNG, but this one goes completly overboard with the female Q age jokes and jeoulesy.

In general I have a hard time accepting eternal beings getting enfatuated with humans, like all the vampire novels or in this episode. We should be like children to them, silly little children.
Gooz
Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 12:27am (UTC -5)
Any Voyager Q episode that doesn't begin with Janeway and every other member of the crew getting on their knees and begging Q to tell them what they can do for him so that he'll send them home is a nonstarter. Doesn't matter what happens in the rest of the episode. I just can't watch an episode where every character suddenly forgets their number 1 motivation. By the way, we all know Kirk would have had sex with Q in exchange for a ride home, if he were stuck in the gamma quadrant and Q came a courtin'. Not sure about Picard.
Connor
Sun, Mar 5, 2017, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
What a rubbish, rubbish episode. I guess I liked the civil war sets, but that's about the only good thing I can say about this. Pretty aimless plot, uninteresting dialogue, and you just know everyone's gonna end up where they all started by the end of the episode. This honestly has to be my least favourite episode of Voyager so far - at least Threshold had Paris puking up his own tongue and had a "so bad it's good" kinda vibe; this was just so, so boring.
Ivanov
Mon, Mar 6, 2017, 8:51am (UTC -5)
It would have made more sense for the Status quo Q to be dressed as Union soldiers. But I guess the writers didn't want to ask Tim Russ to put on a Confederate uniform. :/

On the Episode itself: It was dumb but entertainingly dumb. If I were to imagine a Q civil war, it would involve power armored Q's repeatedly striking each other until one falls with legions of mortals stolen from other worlds to be their armies.
Jason R.
Mon, Mar 6, 2017, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Ivanov I fully agree. It makes you wonder why they didn't go with a revolutionary war backdrop with the rebel Q as Americans and the establishment Q as the red coats.

The Civil War analogy with the the rebels as Union soldiers is complete rubbish - zero logic there. I understand why they felt they could not cast the "good" Q as the Confederates but still - rubbish. If they couldn't make the Civil War work then do something else!
Strejda
Tue, Mar 7, 2017, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
I would say your enjoyment of this one depends on how you feel about god-like aliens judging humanity inferior, but I find those pretty annoying and I still think this episode is just embarassing. Death Wish already showed Q Continuum as flawed and imperfect and did it with nuance and care. This is just turning them into an unevolved civilization our heroes need to preach to number 1373.

I think there is something a bit... Sueish about Janeway apparently being the only human woman Q is willing to mate with. I'm not really sure how is it supposed to work anyway, since it's not like Q is an actual humanoid lifeform. Like, couldn't he turn into a woman and have Kirk bang him and carry it themselves?

I really liked Suzie Plakson in her previous roles but she just really didn't work here for me here. I dunno, I thought she was both too hammy and too restricted, so she had neither Lancie's deadpan charisma or his cartoonishness from more comedic episodes. She looks lovely tho.

Also, while I totally get Janeway not accepting Q's offer-even if you think she should just suck it up and boink him, that's not all there is to it, she's supposed to carry his freaking kid-I call bullshit on her not asking him for help at the end. That's not you getting something you did not earn, you saved his life and ended a civil war in their society an Q is legitimely grateful and a better person. Come on!
SteveRage
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Meh, I really like this one. Always enjoyed Q and enjoyed seeing more of the Q as a race. Commenters on here make me laugh. Apologists for "the South" in 2017 for god's sake. Hilarious..... yet a little bit terrifying.

Anyway, 3 stars from me.
Daniel B
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 1:31am (UTC -5)
{ As usual, another terrible review from Jammer. A person who hates voyager and just reviews it so that can he let everyone else know his lame opinions. }

Hilarious comment given that it was on an episode that Jammer gave a very generous rating to.
Startrekwatcher
Thu, Aug 3, 2017, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
1.5 stars. Oh what a stinker!

The stupid comedy bits, the awful Neelix "wow!" Teaser, the incoherent civil war plot

Awful
Mertov
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 4:45am (UTC -5)
The best thing about this episode is reading this accurate review by Jammer.. 1.5 star for the episode (or for the smug and fine Susie Q appearance), 4 stars for Jammer's review..
William B
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
There are some potentially interesting ideas here. I like the idea of following up to Death Wish (which I liked). The idea of having a messiah-baby is not itself terrible; this crisis was precipitated by one of the ostensibly immortal beings dying, and so having a new life be created to recreate the Q into a non-stagnant society can work. I'm very skeptical that what the Q really need is a dose of human values, or that Q would ever think that, but even this I could maybe have taken in as some sort of buy. I find the notion of Janeway being a godmother kind of cute, and I like the last scene as a result, despite myself. Suzie Plakson is always a joy to see, and there's a bit of an acknowledgment of her previous roles as Klingon and Vulcan on TNG. Still, this is terrible. Even on these terms, we are given no detailed explanation of the fractures within the Continuum besides a few rumblings about individuality, nothing of the sort of grounding that Quinn's desire to die gave. We have no idea what the consequences of Q's rebellion are and whether, if we take Death Wish seriously, the whole universe could be destroyed by completely upending the Q social order. There's only the faintest indication of what human values the messiah baby is supposed to bring, and, more importantly, no indication of why the messiah baby is enough of a draw that the "Confederate" Q side will lay down their arms.

All of this is in a package where the first half is puerile stuff which trashes Q the character and the second half is a dull war story which trashes the Q as a concept. Q has often been "immature," but his puckish behaviour in TNG was generally about undermining Picard's pomposity; here it seems as if we're to accept that Q really is a douchey guy who just can't get in a girl's pants and that's all there is to him. Even when his "real reasons" are revealed, we're still left with scene after scene of the "mine's bigger" type stuff. As for the Civil War material, look, Earth history has always been a part of Q-the-character's schtick (and was part of Trelane's as proto-Q back in The Squire of Gothos) -- the 21st century show trial in Encounter at Farpoint/All Good Things, the French field marshal stuff in Hide and Q, the Robin Hood thing in Q-Pid (an episode I blow my credibility by kind of liking -- though it's worth noting that even there, Q specifically frames the adventure as something he is doing for Picard, rather than something he expects to reveal about his own nature), even the "goo" scene in All Good Things -- but it was always specifically in the frame where Q tells humans about their own existence, and not the other way around. The abstraction of the Continuum to the abandoned farm in Death Wish was effective as a *single scene*, but the extended material here just goes on and doesn't have anything to say about what it actually would mean for beings so far advanced to have a Civil War: it's just the American Civil War, with Q bullets instead of normal ones. And the Voyager crew rushing in to save the day with Q weapons is one of the dumbest moments in this series so far. So Suzie-Q's trick to get them into the Q Continuum with technobabble gave them all guns, huh, and it was enough to also overwhelm the entire "Confederate" Q forces, huh? And the Voyager crew may be humanoids, but they are using Q weapons? Yeah, I'll watch out for the next time a human war is ended when a bunch of ants come marching out with rocket launchers. None of this makes sense and it's all boring, to boot. 1 star, alas.
Michael
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 4:01am (UTC -5)
this was a forced comedy that disengenuously tried to be about serious weighty issues going on in the continuum.

I respect Plakson for her versatility. She's been almost every alien you can imagine in Star Trek, but in this outing I was really embarrassed for her.

"I'm not talking about the puppaaay" Ugh. And it's all downhill from here. All this finger-snapping and powers that the Q arbitrarily possess and lose. The whole contrived mess ended up like an episode of Bewitched.
Skoots
Wed, Nov 1, 2017, 3:24am (UTC -5)
I thought Q needed a human/Q baby in order to 'infect' the continuum with human values, in order to end the war, so how would Q and the female Q having a Q baby help anything? If they just needed any baby at all, why bother with Janeway?

The entire episode is terrible, except for de Lancie. He's the only reason this isn't a zero star episode.

1/2 star.
Startrekwatcher
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
1.5 stars

Dumb campy stupid boring. Unfunny lame

I prefer my Star Trek to be more serious and not Giligans island
Eskimo
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
I actually really really enjoyed this episode. My only problem was that Janeway didn't even ask to be sent home. She really doesn't want to go home, does she?
SouthofNorth
Sun, Apr 22, 2018, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
WTF was that????

I would rate that as 1 star. I might even rank it below "Threshold". At least, "Threshold" didn't ruin a beloved ST character.

Fast Forward Rating: 10 (keep your thumb on the FF button, zip through it quickly, do NOT pause.)
Dkeppens
Sun, May 27, 2018, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
One of Voyager's lows, so, really, REALLY, low and a great disservice to the whole Q storyline over the years. It started off nicely with some of the most amusing moments of Q ever, the tattoo thing and Q calling Neelix a bar-rodent got me on board for sure, but things went downhill so fast i suddenly remembered i was watching Voyager... Best forgotten
Nolan C
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 11:42am (UTC -5)
How could you not mention Harve Presnell in your review? The guy’s a serious Hollywood/Broadway actor. I’m really surprised Trek got him, but it was a delight to see.
Brian
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Wow. I just saw this episode for the first time and I can't believe how awful it was! I mean, Voyager was never as good as TNG and TNG had a couple of not so great Q episodes but even the worst of them was better than this crap!
Springy
Sat, Sep 1, 2018, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Fun and funny. Mulgrew and Delancie were delightful together. Kept it light and funny ("not big enough!"). Really well done.

The civil war stuff was ok, kind of plodding. Suzie was fun, especially with B'Ellana.

Enjoyable.
Rahul
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Not much to like in this one. The comedic aspects wore thin quickly and as a follow-up to "Death Wish" -- one of the better VOY episodes -- this one's a failure as it lacks any semblance of intelligence and, even worse, violates some of things that should be characteristic of Q the omnipotent species it is. The episode didn't know if it wanted to be a comedy or something serious. It was also structurally flawed.

The whole concept of de Lancie Q thinking human DNA can be like a messiah in the Q continuum is just ridiculous. But I liked the idea that there was dissension in the Continuum after the events of "Death Wish". But I didn't like that it basically took the form of physical war -- the Q are supposed to be far more advanced than humans and cognizant of the effects of their war on the universe. And then even less did I like that Voyager crew were armed with Q weapons and were somehow on level terms with other Q in the Continuum! The idea of Voyager modulating shields and technobabble to enter the Continuum via a supernova was also unacceptable to me. Just too much to shake my head at here.

I think Plakson as an actress is OK -- she's kind of a 1-trick pony. Not talking about her height but her snarky way of delivering lines. It worked as K'Ehleyr on TNG, but here her superiority complex wears out awful quickly and she just becomes annoying with her constant belittling of Voyager's crew.

It was a cool concept with a civil war among omnipotent beings causing supernovae with, really, the universe at their mercy. Why not a line or 2 about the destruction their civil war was creating in the universe as a means for a truce/peace? I think there was an opportunity lost here, but the writers were too focused on dumb Q tricks and one-liners. The episode also took an awful long time to get to the meat of the issue -- civil war in the Continuum. Way too much time spent on Janeway trying to evade de Lancie Q's "puerile attempt at seduction". But ultimately, maybe one of the redeeming parts is Janeway telling de Lancie Q about humanity's compassion, etc. But those handful of Trekkian ideological lines got lost in the stupidity quickly.

1.5 stars for "The Q and the Grey" -- closer to 1 star than 2 stars for sure. Just a mess of an episode and I don't like how the childish inner workings of the Q Continuum come across -- Trek should do much better with Q. This goes down as one of the handful of "bad Q episodes" in Trek's canon. Just too much here that doesn't make sense.
Momofsix
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
You all take it too seriously. It wasn’t a great episode but it was entertaining. Lighten up!
Jamie Hartley
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Y'all take things too seriously lol. Yeah it was a bit corny, but non stop seriousness is boring as well. I actually loved this episode. I didnt see it as lowering the Q, because all we really know about the Q is from Q himself, and given his high opinion of himself, can we really trust it? Are they really 100% God like? This sent it in a new direction, omnipotent and powerful, but no where close to perfect. And who is to say that the Q arent dependent on some kind of technology, like having to "enter" the continuum through a supernova, actually having weapons, etc. Its notimpossible, since if the Q were susceptible to stuff like that, Q certainly wouldnt have told Picard that. It's also not unusual of a story of the God falling in love with a mortal, very common in ancient mythology. Even the bitter Goddess like Suzie-Q isnt unusual. Hera was so pissed and bitter at Zeus for taking mortal lovers that she turned one of them into a cow if I'm not mistaken. I'm glad they took the direction they did though, because actually following through with Janeway and Q probably would have ruined the characters. Underlying sexual tension is usually more interesting to watch in my opinion. Although I personally find Q hot as Hell, so this episode inspired way more fantasies than I probably should admit lol
Todayshorse
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 12:37am (UTC -5)
Great stuff, with several laugh out loud moments which is always good. I can see why the low rating and understand the majority of the comments here but I enjoyed this, and especially Mrs Q. It's clear Voyager desensitized the menace of Q despite the comedy that was always there in TNG but what the hell.

Voyager will never be TNG but it has its moments.
wolfstar
Thu, Nov 21, 2019, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Skeptical, Connor and SouthofNorth - this is a candidate for worst Voyager episode, way below Threshold. I rewatched it recently for the first time since the 90s and was shocked how awful it was... everything that happens is just complete nonsense, with no reason to care. I don't like Q episodes generally (with the obvious exception of Q Who) but this somehow manages to be the worst of them all.
Smith
Wed, Apr 15, 2020, 10:30am (UTC -5)
This had a similar problem to the last Q episode. Instead of elevating the crew and the viewers to the level of the Q...it lowered the Q to the level of the humans. For example we see Q's idiotic flirting with Janeway. Why would an omnipotent being have any interest in that vile and egotistical woman? Q needed to be roasting Janeway...not telling her how beautiful she was...that completely reversed the point of the Q.

We saw some redeeming Q moments...John's expression when he was called a dog, "bar rodent" and "helmboy"...but these were too few. Many of the crew were unspeakably rude to Q and there were many opportunities for clever retorts that were missed.

The Q civil war concept was actually cool but should have been explored more in depth at the expense of the stupid romance. The major issue I had with it though...it ended because the humans "used their weapons"? None of that made sense.

I thought Suzie Plakson did well as the female Q and wondered how many fans got her joke about her liking strong klingon females. I didn't understand her relationship with Q though...we never established that Q had a gender. On one occasion he expressed regret not appearing to Picard as female...which suggests "he" like the rest of the continuum doesn't have a gender. Then why does have this girlfriend over all these years? It seemed like the TV spent too much time anthropomorphizing Q.
Tomalak
Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Does anyone know what the conflict was actually about?

Death Wish was a great episode, and it was clear that Quinn was up against fellow members of the continuum - including Q himself - who thought euthanasia could have bad potential consequences. But this sequel makes no sense. What precisely is Q rebelling against? Quinn has already killed himself. There are vague references to individualism I think, but since when were the Q unable to go around doing their own thing?

In Death Wish, Q eventually decided he wanted to support Quinn's death wish, and helped make it happen, so he got what he wanted. But equally. as far as the Continuum were concerned he had clearly done all he could to prevent it. I don't understand how a civil war started from this, and nothing in the dialogue explains it, or what either side is fighting for.

Separately, if Q is the leader of the rebellion in this version of the US Civil War shouldn't the guy who tries to stop him be the equivalent of Lincoln? In which case why the pronounced Confederate accent for the latter?

And I think the female Q actress did a poor job with this one, having previously played Star Trek characters well. She comes across too much like a 1990s stereotype woman to be believable as a Q.
Elliott
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 9:51am (UTC -5)
Well, once again I've let several weeks pass without a review, much I'm sure to the chagrin of the three people who care on this forum. In my defence, I don't need a defence. How's everyone enjoying the pandemic? The election? What a year...

Anyway, I'm jumping back in because the latest episode of “Mission Log” has those boys nipping at my heels with their “The Assignment” review on Thursday. They're doing all of DS9 in one swoop, so my current goal is to stay just enough ahead of them by doing a Voyager and a DS9 every week to try and quell the madness. The “First Contact” review included a hefty rewatch of lots of unreviewed episodes given the fact that it is a culmination point in the franchise and for many threads within the Star Trek universe. Today's episode is also a bit of a culmination point for the Q arc. Although it is not the final appearance for Q and the Continuum, it is more or less the end of their developments as a character and a species respectively. “Q2” is a middling coda more than anything else, but we'll get there eventually. “The Q and the Grey” has the added distinction of being one of the most controversial episodes of the Q arc and the Voyager series as it is absolutely loathed by many. So this will be fun.

I think the greatest ire regarding Voyager's completion of the Q arc is really established in “Death Wish.” That episode is seen more favourably, even by non-fans of the show and/or its take on Q, but it is firmly established there that the Q's so-called omnipotence is actually just political propaganda. I for one am very grateful for that information, because otherwise, the Q really are deities with not only the ability, but the *right* to cast judgement on humanity. While in isolation, that could make for a fine fiction, such a truth would be completely at odds with the Star Trek ethos that I think it would break (I will not discuss Discovery or Picard. I will not discuss Discovery or Picard. I will not di...). As I mentioned in the “Death Wish” review, that script reconciled the disparities between “Hide and Q” and “True Q” in as best a way as it could, as far as I can imagine, by retaining the character development for de Lancie Q and ignoring the inconsistent portrayal of Picard as the moral compass in both stories. “Death Wish” reveals that the Q are a pantheon of existentially bored super beings who both appear omnipotent to humans and, critically, *espouse* their presumed omnipotence to humans as a defence mechanism against this very ennui. Quinn's suicide should be a watershed moment for the Continuum, as much an act of whistle-blowing as political martyrdom. Given the metaphorical use of the American 1920s during the trip to the Continuum, we can expect a Q-level “global” conflict of hitherto unseen proportions to follow.

Teaser : **.5, 5%

We begin with the a super nova and the entire cast admiring the sight from the bridge. Neelix, the Doctor and Kes are all there to deliver some truly cringey dialogue to justify cutting their actors' cheques. It turns out witnessing such a rare event in person is almost unheard of in Starfleet history as Janeway congratulates her crew for the monumental achievement of being in the right place at the right time. For all her hard work, apparently, she's convinced by Chakotay to turn in for the night and retires to her quarters.

When she arrives, she discovers that all her copies of Dante and Atwood have been replaced by elevator music and the semen-soaked mattress from the honeymoon suite at Reno's finest wedding parlour. The culprit reveals himself, Q in his cheesiest bathrobe and repeating those god-awful antics from “Q-pid,” “Q-less” and the worst parts of “Death Wish.” Comedy is a very subjective thing, but a lot of the time, I think it comes down to execution. There isn't anything particularly intriguing about the Q/Janeway banter in this scene, but the relative bluntness of the dialogue and the chemistry between Mulgrew and de Lancie sell it. Sue me, but I chuckled quite a bit at “Kathy, don't be such a prude.” The teaser ends with Q informing the now satin-robed captain of his intention to make her the mother of his child.

Act 1 : **, 17%

Janeway rushes off to change into something less flattering as they continue their banter. What we know about Q is, however annoying it can be and when he's not being written by a total hack, his skirt-chasing is always a cover for something else. He told Janeway he wants to mate with her, but he's making this whole thing about the Kama-Qtra or whatever, promising decades of foreplay and orgasms like super novae. Remember that Q *enjoys* Q-ing, whether it's sticking a cigar in Picard's mouth, turning Crusher into a literal bitch or...sigh...letting Sisko punch him in the face. Sexually-harassing Janeway is probably the most direct route to annoying the everliving shit out of her. He just can't help himself.

Q gives up for the time being and we pick up the next morning with Janeway and Chakotay in her readyroom. Their quasi-romance was touched upon in “Future's End” when the pair had some time alone in L.A. with some casual banter. Here it's revisited when Chakotay expresses jealousy over Q's proposal. I've seen it suggested that this is a sincere sentiment on Chakotay's part, rather than the half-veiled tease it obviously is. This is before Beltran was fed up with his job and that little smirk through which he delivers his lines clearly show that he's teasing Janeway for her predicament, as well as flirting in a small way permitted by the short rope they've permitted themselves post-”Resolutions.” Anyway, Q shows up at that moment for some more banter, including a fairly well-played dick joke.

Janeway's log reveals that Q continues to pop in and out. And sure enough we catch up with Harry and Tom getting massages at the Moana Disney Polynesian Resort or whatever this season's holo-setting is called. Being one of the most beautiful People, Harry's in a tank top, but Tom is still basically in his uniform lest these holo-ladies get suspicious about their relationship. Q appears and asks the Misters Furley here for some wooing advice. After that failure, Q tries the “bar rodent.”

NEELIX: You can't bribe Captain Janeway.
Q: Oh, no? Isn't that what you do?
NEELIX: What are you talking about?
Q: I understand that you acquire things for her, create little interesting diversions, prepare little tasty treats. After all, why else would she be so fond of your fur-lined face?

Hmm. File that tidbit away for another day.

For today, Q seems to think he's hit on the key to successfully pantsing the captain and delivers a puppy to her readyroom. The offering is enough to convince her to hear him out. First, he tries Neelix' sincerity.

Q: When you first asked why I wanted to have a child with you, I made jokes, bragged about my prowess, engaged in sexual innuendo. I was using all that to cover up my true feelings...I'm lonely... I want a relationship. I just thought if you and I had a child, it would give me that kind of stability and security that I've been missing.

That completely fails, so he channels Torres instead for a little blunt cruelty.

Q: You're stuck out here, thousands of light years from home, and you aren't getting any younger, are you? All your hopes for home, hearth and family grow dimmer every day. Admit it, Kathryn, you're lonely too. And you wonder if you will ever have a child.

Janeway admits to wanting a family eventually...something else to file away for another day. But no time for more characterisation because their conversation is interrupted by Suzie Plakson who is of course called Q. She makes a lame joke at Janeway's expense because bitches, right? Ugh.

Act 2 : *.5, 17%

Suzie Q continues with the hen-pecking and reveals that she is Q's qimzati or whatever. I mean, she has Q boobs and everything! What, did you think genderless ageless Q was gay or something? Perish the thought. They should have just had de Lancie play the part with a pink bow on his head. This hackery is interrupted by a call from the bridge. It turns out there are three super novae erupting nearby. The technobabble created by these unlikely phenomena render the warp drive useless, of course, and so Janeway in a single breath orders red alert, evasive manoeuvres (wait, what?) and a scathing comment to Q. Suzie Q praises Janeway for deducing the celestial explosions as being part of a Continuum issue. With three shockwaves approaching the ship, Janeway demands that Q rescue them from his little mess. He sort of obliges, whisking himself and her off the Voyager and leaving Suzie Q behind to seethe as the ship is pummelled.

Janeway finds herself playing Scarlett O'Hara in what the budget in what the budget will permit to resemble a 19th Century ante bellum estate. Q appears dressed in Union garb and accompanied by pipes and drums. He explains that he has returned them to the Continuum. He justifies this as follows:

Q: This is a much more colourful representation for a human of American descent, don't you think? An elegant manor house, a beautiful Southern belle, a dashing Union officer determined to win her affections despite her hatred for Yankee interlopers...This has gone way beyond your ship. It's even gone beyond you and me. This is about the future of the Continuum itself...The Continuum is burning. The Q are in the middle of a civil war.

…...............sigh..........

One of my favourite subtle bits from “Death Wish” was the use of the Roaring 20s as a part of the extended metaphor representing the Qs' ontological crisis. As I wrote in the preamble, to the observant viewer, this would foreshadow the Continuum entering into their version of World War II, with new machines of death, the collapse of seemingly unchanging political hierarchies, and the total disillusionment of a generation. And here, we get our war. Except, World War II isn't sexy enough, apparently. What are we going to do, put Janeway and co. in war-torn France? Perish the thought. We've got to do a different war, with black jack and hookers...or at least poofy dresses and harmonicas. So, we get the CIVIL War (see because the conflict is between two sects of Q, see???!!). The problem here is that in trying to go for a more obvious allegory, the metaphor falls apart. The issues plaguing the Q in “Death Wish” mapped very well onto the sociopolitical status quo of the pre-Great Depression world. Decadence leading to depression leading to tension leading to aggression leading to conflict. It all fits. The issues undergirding the American Civil War are radically different. Q is in Union Blue, because he's the good guy and can't be on the side of the fucking racists[*], thank you. But the Union was fighting to *preserve* the, you know, Union, not usher in an era of change.

[*]It should be noted that pretty much everyone in the conflict was a fucking racist, but the Confederates were fighting to preserve the specific codification of one of the most brutal expressions of racism.

Act 3 : .5 stars, 17%

Q explains how the events of “Death Wish” got us here, apparently, that Quinn's “interruption” led to chaos which led to war. My own metaphor for all this is Michael Piller spinning a plate on his finger and then frisbeeing it over to Kenneth Biller who spins the plate so quickly it flies off and shatters against the wall. I really do think this boils down to the dubious decision to cast this conflict as the Civil War. The issues from “Death Wish” have to be made vague and elusive in the dialogue so they can be grafted onto the dynamics of this historical conflict for which they are simply not suited. And in watering them down so much, they lose all meaning and we have little reason to care about them anymore. Sometimes in making art, it's these seemingly small decisions that can have the greatest impact.

Q: War can be an engine of change. War can transform a society for the better. Your own Civil War brought about an end to slavery and oppression.
JANEWAY: But our Civil War came at a time before mankind had learned to resolve disputes without bloodshed. Surely the Q have evolved to a point where you can find a non-violent way to resolve a conflict.

Did you know that oppression ended in 1865? #Facts

Here in the year 2020, there are still people in the United States who believe the American Civil War was not about preserving slavery. It was. But that doesn't mean that the Blues were an army of abolitionists. The United States was well behind the rest of the world in abolishing slavery and modernising aspects of its economy and society. It was the Greys who held the relatively radical (and regressive) position of trying to maintain an outmoded economic model that was widely regarded as immoral *at that time.* The way Q frames the philosophical conflict within the Continuum sounds like a revolution, bucking the status quo in favour of a more enlightened reformation (one hopes). Or as I said, at the very least, the dynamic has to be one where the enlightened (Blue) side is attacking the conservative (Grey) side over a moral issue, which would map onto the American entrance into WWII. In order to make the Civil War allegory work, Q would have to have convinced the Ruling Council or whatever the Q have to enact reforms and the Grey Qs would have to have chosen to secede from the Continuum, sparking this conflict. That much at least would keep the plate spinning in the air at which point we would still need to elaborate on what exactly these reforms are. What is the Continuum's allegorical slave policy? Quinn said it was their immutable immortality. So a reform would seem include the deaths of Qs by their own choosing. Now it isn't entirely clear what's happening outside this setpiece window Janeway's monologuing at, but one would assume that the explosions include the “bodies” of Qs being immolated. So, what's the issue? Shouldn't the Greys be doing everything they can to preserve Q immortality? To prevent Q deaths? Or is it the super novae? Are those the cosmic consequences? I mean, to the puny species in this sector of the Delta Quadrant, it definitely sucks, but to the Q? Stars exploding? Is that really the height of perilous consequences? Hell the Tkon Empire handled it better.

But it gets worse.

Q: It's simple. Mating will create a new breed of Q, which will combine my omnipotence and infinite intellect with the best that humanity has to offer.
JANEWAY: You believe human DNA is going to restore peace?
Q: Precisely.

What happened to “war is good, actually”? No, never mind PEACE is good. You like peace, don't you? All you have to do to restore galactic peace is let me hump your brains out, captain! … If we dumpster-dive into this little back and forth, we see that Q apparently believes that what the Continuum lacks are the essential human qualities of conscience and compassion. Again, this isn't a bad premise for the Q arc. It was adopting those qualities that fuelled Q's personal development in TNG, learning compassion in “Déjà Q” and demonstrating it in “True Q” and “Tapestry.” One could argue that conscience was at the heart of Q's advocacy for humanity in “All Good Things...” and that both qualities led to Q's eventual change of heart in “Death Wish.” That he would seek to disseminate his personal enlightenment to the whole of his people is a natural next step. Where the spinning plate truly flies out the window is in the premise that those essential human qualities are housed in our DNA. That this frankly racist notion emerged in a script wagging its finger at the CSA is kind of hilarious. But even if that were somehow true, if all Q needs is some human DNA, why does he need to mate with a human, or specifically a human who is very unlikely to consent to mate with him? Why not try in-vitro, Q? For that matter, exactly what is the gestation period for a Q-human hybrid? Will there be a super nova in Janeway's uterus?

Q: What the Continuum needs right now is an infusion of fresh blood, a new sensibility, a new leader, a new messiah. Think of it, Kathy. Our child will be like a precious stone tossed into the cosmic lake, sending endless ripples of human conscience and compassion to wash up on every distant shore of the universe.

The “Q and the Grey” drinking game is officially to take a shot every time a character modifies a noun with the word “cosmic.” … If you're going to do a Messiah story, there are one or two you may have heard of, and they all have fuck all to do with the Civil War. Eh whatever, Q is shot and looks surprised that he's bleeding because...

Anyway, the Voyager is still in tact, but also bleeding (METAPHORICALLY!); Suzie Q is also bleeding (LITERALLY!). Leveraging her unexplained mortality, Chakotay gets her to spill the beans about the Civil War (Beltran's delivery is actually very good in all this). Plakson repeats a line from “The Schizoid Man” to Tuvok regarding Vulcan obtuseness, which is a cute reference to her turn as Dr Selar. She suggests that there may be a way to get herself and the Voyager into the Continuum using non-Q means. Sure.

Meanwhile—I think—Janeway tends to Q's “wound” until the Grey Qs outside demand his surrender. The Grey Qs speak in Southern drawl because they're a little more committed to the cosplay.

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

Suzie Q pops into Engineering to check on Torres' progress in updating the Deflector Dish with magic or whatever and to drop the second reference to Plakson's history with the franchise.

FEMALE Q: you know, I've always liked Klingon females. You've got such spunk.

Janeway has managed to haul Q to a Blue campsite and save his life. Sure. Despite some more head-scratching lines and nauseating deadbeat dad jokes, a few lines delivered quietly by Mulgrew manage to make this the best scene in the episode.

JANEWAY: Those best qualities of humanity you talked about aren't a simple matter of genetics. Love, conscience, compassion, they're attributes that mankind has developed over centuries, values that have passed from one generation to the next, taught by parents to their children. Creating a new kind of Q is a noble idea, but it will take more than impregnating someone and walking away. If you want your offspring to embrace your ideals, you're going to have to teach them yourself.

Okay, good. Then we get this wrinkle:

Q: Ah, yes. The crew of the intrepid starship Voyager. Perhaps you'd be interested in sending them home.
JANEWAY: You've tempted me with that prospect before. But frankly, your credibility is more than a little suspect. My crew and I will get home. We're committed to that. But we're going to do it through hard work and determination. We are not looking for a quick fix.

So, Janeway's not wrong that it would be risky to trust Q to send them home in exchange for allowing herself to get pregnant. It's also morally dubious—although as I think about it, there's something biblical about a deity figure impregnating a woman against her will to create a messiah, isn't there? And at this point, Janeway is still living by the ideals seen in “Hide and Q,”; you don't do immoral things do further your own ends. That's been her essential tension since “Caretaker,” and, although the sands are shifting somewhat since “Basics,” that's still where she lands.

Meanwhile on the Voyager, a symphony of technobabble is sounding buoyed up only just barely by Plakson's intentionally aloof and disinterested performance. Torres and Helm Boy follow her babbling instructions that allow the Voyager to enter a star as it's exploding. Sure.

Janeway brings a “white flag” to the Confederate camp and Robert Q Lee or whoever informs her that the Continuum is going to solve this problem the way the always do, by extinguishing it. Q will be executed (exeQted?) just like Amanda Rodgers' parents. Oh yeah, Amanda Rodgers, a Q born of two Q who chose to mate...who was raised by humans with human values...In fairness, the issues underlying the messiah Q, who is to be created intentionally with the consensus of the Continuum, are somewhat different from Amanda's, but the similarities here are at least worth mentioning aren't they? And Q's insistence that he doesn't even know how two Q could mate seems like a pretty glaring gaffe. Eh...so Q is captured and he and Janeway are both sentenced to death. But not right now, that will have to wait for the big finale because STAKES.

Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

Dawn. Metaphorically speaking.

Q makes a little speech where he begs the Continuum to spare Janeway's life. In a bitter irony, his pleas are ignored as irrelevant by General Q in the same way Picard's were ignored in “Encounter at Farpoint.” Every possible movie cliché is then employed by the director, including quick zoom close ups and snare drums until the Voyager crew (boys only of course) emerge in Union Blue to rescue the pair. Christ. Oh and Suzie Q is there, too, in a giant poofy dress. We must be historically accurate in this METAPHOR.

So, while Chakotay and co. capture the Greys, Q makes his proposal of fucking to Suzie Q and they do the ET finger touch. Another mildly amusing sex joke, the crew is whisked back to the Voyager and the war is over. Tahdah

Janeway finds Q and a baby Q in her readyroom.

Q: Well, I'll admit, I look at the universe in an entirely different way now. I mean, I can't go around causing temporal anomalies or subspace inversions without considering the impact it'll have on my son.

Didn't we do this already? Didn't Q say he had reformed in “Death Wish”? What's happening? Well the baby is cute and Janeway is told she will be asked to babysit at some point. I'm sure we all can't wait for that epic followup.

Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

I'm pretty much in agreement with Jammer on this one. There are good ideas in here; there are good jokes in here; there are good performances and good lessons. But overall, the episode is awash with conceptual mistakes, primarily the realisation of the Continuum. Forcing the conflict from “Death Wish” into a Civil War shaped hole pretty much broke the story I think they were trying to tell. Because of this, it makes the entire Q trilogy on Voyager feel like a mistake, which taints “Death Wish,” a story with enormous potential. This in turn sours every other aspect of this episode; the jokes don't seem as funny, the performances don't seem as tight, the technobabble seems especially grating. In execution, it's roughly as irritating to me as “Qpid,” with similar conceptual issues and redeeming facets. But that story was a one-off adventure with low stakes. This one is a defining capstone to a race that's been with the franchise since TNG premiered. A real disappointment.

However. I stand firmly by the notion that exploring the Q in this way and revealing their omnipotence to be a matter of perspective more than absolute truth was the right move to make. A few tweaks to this script, including swapping the setting for something closer to what we'll get in “The Killing Game” would probably have made this an adequate final chapter for Q.

Final Score : *.5
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Hi Elliott,

You know, a large part of your review is description of the plot, and honestly your descriptions are misleading because reading them one might actually think what's going on in the episode makes a lick of sense. By tidying up the story in order to review it you actually ended up writing a clearer story than Kenneth Biller did. But some of the quotes you provided reminded me - to my horror - of the sheer stupidity involved in the making of thie episode.

When it comes to Q episodes having a vital message is icing. All Good Things hit a home run in the Q-message department but the episode was more than exciting enough even if that aspect of it had been less pronounced. Deja Q worked so well not just because it had a message about compassion or mercy, but because it took the situation at hand and gave us winning one-liner after one-liner, all while poking fun at its own premise. So basically a Q episode has to be either fun or smart, and this one is neither. I personally think Q-Pid is stupid but a lot of fun so I wouldn't put it in the same category as Q and the Grey, which is tepid and dumb. So while I see your point about getting sensible with the whole Q-mythos, at the same time if there's no substance brought to the table with this it's just taking on a pose of saying something, but with nothing to say. To me that feels worse than actually just doing a romp like Q-Pid, which in fairness to it had no pretense of being awe-inspiring.

On the topic of Death Wish, I had expressed in that thread that I always liked the episode even though I also thought it set the Q up to be ruined. After a recent series of posts in that thread I decided to have a bit of fun and watch Death Wish again a few weeks ago. To my surprise, I didn't really have a bit of fun at all, and in fact the episode is still sitting half-finished in my Netflix. It was kind of boring, really. So I suppose I must retract my previous position on this 'trilogy', which is that the arc for the Q in VOY does not work, *and* Death Wish was no fun anyhow, so it was really a waste in terms of the result. But on paper I agree with you that learning more about the Q 'race' would have been excellent. That they are Trelane-type deities that use tech to effect omnipotence wouldn't contradict what we saw in TNG, but it would show that even energy beings are not automatically omnipotent. There is the tendency to look at the Organians, or the dude from Transfiguration, and to assume 'oh well I guess they're a god now.' But I always preferred to think of it as an evolutionary ladder, and energy-body is the next level up from organic. But even so all that means is you've hit the next rung, without implying anything about how high up on the energy-being ladder you are (if that makes sense).

I wouldn't have minded learning that the Q are part of a larger energy-being community. I mean, how do they get along with the Organians, or with Jason Ironheart from Babylon 5? Anyhow, rationalizing some of their mystery into concrete statements of fact would be a risk no matter what the choices were, but these choices were brain-dead. An energy being mating with a human? What does that even mean? It's so incoherent you might as well have suggested that a human mate with an amoeba to get some more pseudopod action into our gene pool. I know you took issue with the Q being heteronormative, but on a sci-fi level I would interpret the male/female Q 'biology' as merely implying that two separate systems need to merge in order to create a third new one. That much is fine, as all it's saying is that particular conditions would have to be met to produce a new energy being that wasn't just a copy of a previous one. But trying to map that onto *human* male/female jumps the shark so badly that they may as well have suggested that since Janeway is "female" she could mate with a "male" HDMI cable. It's idiocy on the order of Threshold and Macrocosm. Ok, ok, I don't want to be mean, nothing is as dumb as Macrocosm.
William B
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott,

Glad to see you back and can't wait for "Rapture."

"As I mentioned in the “Death Wish” review, that script reconciled the disparities between “Hide and Q” and “True Q” in as best a way as it could, as far as I can imagine, by retaining the character development for de Lancie Q and ignoring the inconsistent portrayal of Picard as the moral compass in both stories."

I don't necessarily disagree that there's an inconsistency there, but to defend the distinct portrayal of Picard: Riker is a human adult -- and Picard's officer -- upjumped to a Q. Amanda is an apparently human teenager exchange student, born Q. While the metaphors are not too different, and I think Picard would advocate for Amanda to give humanity a try, that Amanda might be distinct, non-human in nature might be unavoidable, and is somewhat beyond Picard's purview in a way identifying what is right for Riker isn't. More generally, Picard *knows* that Riker is not a Q, and that Q is grafting powers (and identity) beyond Riker's ability to handle. He doesn't *know* that with Amanda. All he can do is make the case for humanity and leave the choice to her -- similar to, e.g., how he deals with Worf (as a person, not as an officer), telling him that he values Worf's human qualities while also recognizing that how Worf views his own heritage is only Picard's business so far.

@ Peter,

I agree that QPid is fun and dumb, which gives it the edge over this one.

"That much is fine, as all it's saying is that particular conditions would have to be met to produce a new energy being that wasn't just a copy of a previous one. But trying to map that onto *human* male/female jumps the shark so badly that they may as well have suggested that since Janeway is "female" she could mate with a "male" HDMI cable. It's idiocy on the order of Threshold and Macrocosm. Ok, ok, I don't want to be mean, nothing is as dumb as Macrocosm."

I think it depends whether we're talking Trek-as-sci-fi or Trek-as-myth in SF guise. Humans mate with immortal gods in myth all the time, and there is a lot of precedent for weaving in and out of more myth/fantasy elements, particularly going back to TOS.

Within universe, I might be forgetting something but I don't think Q actually cares that Janeway is a woman, so much as that he's interested in her because of her involvement in "Death Wish," and has some kind of super-high-tech means of incorporating aspects of Janeway's human DNA into the Qenome in some way that would make sense, but which are beyond our understanding.

I think this episode is terrible, so I'm not trying to mount too much of a defense of it, more just that I think the episode is playing off different storytelling precedents for what it's talking about, regarding the "biology" in play.
William B
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I'm reading a translation of "The Odyssey" right now, so that's maybe influencing my reaction, but in any case, a god(like being) offering the captain safe passage home on her long journey in exchange for sex does feel more mythic than science-fiction, and maybe should be judged as such.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

Yeah, I sort of know there's a "don't take it too literally!" aspect to this episode in general. But this is another way in which it falls apart: so much of what we see can't be taken literally (Q guns that humans can use? Q bullets they can dodge? Q mating with a human? An argument between gods that humans can actually understand - and that's even simplistically easy to solve when the Q are dullards and can't?) that nothing means anything. The Q/Janeway mating is right in the vein with the rest of this stuff, basically treating the actual given circumstances as an obstacle to the good ol' story they wanted to tell, so let's just leave the details to the side and tell a good yarn! Or should I say a good yawn.

Looking at Trek as myth works very well when the writer is that kind of writer and the story is that kind of story, this one isn't, and this one isn't. It doesn't work at myth because it tells us nothing about our nature or about the world, it's just a dumb series of illogical events.

And in Elliott's defense, while I am not generally into the analysis framework where we inspect any story against 2020 gender issues, I do think there is an issue here with Q appearing male and courting a human female. Elliott already took Issue with Odo/Kira for a similar reason, but at least there it could make sense because Odo had been imitating a male for so long that may have had some effect on him; and maybe by copying Dr. Mora he just sort of defaulted to male and left it that way as Odo the solid. But with Q - no, he is definitely not a male and until we would know more about the term gender can't even having meaning for us in terms of the Q. He's a being of some sort, is about all we can say about "him". So I do actually think there is a strike against this particular episode in being heteronormative just to have a dude/lady 'romance' on-screen even though the actual fact is that he's not a man and doesn't care that she's a woman. At least a joke about this would have been funny, like maybe (since Tuvok was an advocate in Death Wish) to proposition Tuvok first, and after a mere raised eyebrow by Tuvok that could shift immediately to Janeway. At least we'd get a nod towards Q could go either way to get the human DNA.
William B
Mon, Aug 17, 2020, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

I agree about the heteronormativity issue, definitely.

What you say is true, but I'd argue a step further. As science-fiction this has nothing at all to say and makes no sense at all. As myth, it has little to say and makes little sense. It appears to be tackling issues involving breakdown of society, decadence and meaninglessness leading to conflict and war, the transformative power of a messiah figure. As Elliott alludes to, messiahs are frequently demigods in some way (in some interpretations); what's unusual about this one is that the demigod is meant to rearrange the world of the gods and not of the mortals. Or something. It's incoherent and balderdash, but except for the take-home tip that supernovae are cool but rare, what the episode appears to be at least attempting to or trying to say are mythic issues rather than SF ones (nothing really about technology, the practicalities of life in space, etc.). This may seem like a narrow definition of sci-fi which can talk about all sorts of things, but I guess what I am getting at is that I don't detect very much in the episode's themes that means it works *more* in the sci-fi realm than in the mythic one, except that it has a space ship in it.

It's all moot anyway, because the episode is bad no matter what kind of story it is. I guess I just wanted to say why the ludicrious biology itself doesn't bother me particularly in the morass of things that do.
Elliott
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 8:48am (UTC -5)
@Peter G & William B

This of where metaphor meets myth meets science fiction seems to fold into the idea of suspension of disbelief. I think that those suspensions are purchased by a story's execution. If this episode had stuck to a coherent metaphor regarding how the Continuum's internal conflict manifests itself to Janeway and the crew, I think many more people would be willing to overlook and/or justify the absurdities of the plot.

Peter said

"There is the tendency to look at the Organians, or the dude from Transfiguration, and to assume 'oh well I guess they're a god now.' But I always preferred to think of it as an evolutionary ladder, and energy-body is the next level up from organic. But even so all that means is you've hit the next rung, without implying anything about how high up on the energy-being ladder you are (if that makes sense)."

I fully agree with this. True omnipotence is impossible in the rational Trekverse, but "omnipotence" as a kind of wrung on the ladder, as you say, appeals to me and fits neatly into the whole conceit of the Q from EaFP.

William said

"I don't necessarily disagree that there's an inconsistency there, but to defend the distinct portrayal of Picard: Riker is a human adult -- and Picard's officer -- upjumped to a Q. Amanda is an apparently human teenager exchange student, born Q."

I was referring to the difference in Picard's attitude about saving innocent lives with the power of the Q. In "True Q," he implores Q to save Planet Climate Change. It isn't about undoing something Q had done to them like in "Q who," it's about getting a freebee.

Good to be back! Macrocosm is next, then Rapture. Lots to discuss I'm sure.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:09am (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

It may be where metaphor meets myth meets the parents, but it still has to mean something. It can's stand on its own two legs if the idea has no legs. The American Civil War is about as silly a metaphor for the Q as Nazi German was for the Hirogen. But at least in the latter case the silliness was a mere pretense to have a bunch of costumes and set pieces and have some fun. But in The Q and the Grey the silly pretense actually gets in the way of our understanding anything about the Q, and as evidenced from all the negative reactions to this episode, it not only happens to fail to be highly entertaining in its own right, but if fact undermines any respect or awe we could have for the Q. So while in theory I agree that a metaphoric reality could work so long as it's self-contained and workable (for example in Frame of Mind, which may or may not make sense but is really fun; or similarly with Phantasms). But here the metaphor is part of the problem.
William B
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:59am (UTC -5)
"I was referring to the difference in Picard's attitude about saving innocent lives with the power of the Q. In "True Q," he implores Q to save Planet Climate Change. It isn't about undoing something Q had done to them like in "Q who," it's about getting a freebee."

Oh right, good point, I forgot about that.
Elliott
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

That's where we part ways a bit. As I said, I think the idea set up in "Death Wish" of exploring how the Continuum works and that their supposed omnipotence was more politics than science (or magic) was excellent as well as morally necessary. In order to demonstrate the way the old propaganda would have to die, the allegory would have to use an historical event that had a similarly zeitgeist-shattering effect on humanity. The Civil War wasn't that at all, and that's why the episode breaks trying to cram the Q's struggle into that allegorical framework. Choosing something like WWII (or better perhaps WWI) would have made it much easier for the Continuum's struggle to overlay onto the allegory.

Basically, the metaphor they chose doesn't allegorise the story they're trying to tell, so the whole thing is meaningless. In the absence of meaning, the contrivances leap to the front of our consciences and make the episode that much less enjoyable to watch.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

"In the absence of meaning, the contrivances leap to the front of our consciences and make the episode that much less enjoyable to watch."

That, and it's just not enjoyable to watch anyhow :)
Craig
Tue, Sep 1, 2020, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
The original metaphorical representation of the Q-continuum as a desert way-station worked because the humans didn't interact with it to any significant degree.

Once you had humans surviving on the battlefield with Q, and using Q weapons, the whole premise falls apart. We're talking about mere humans surviving on a battlefield where presumably amounts of power that could shred galaxies are being hurled back and forth. And then somehow picking up and firing the symbolic representations of weapons that could do the aforementioned shredding of galaxies.

It's clear that the writers didn't give any thought to the limitations a symbolic representation of omnipotence and the utterly alien dimension of omnipotent beings should have.

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