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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Q-Less”

Just a few months after “True Q” aired came the launch of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The series, unlike the other Trek series before or since, had a space station setting, rather than one on a starship. It also had appearances from a few characters first seen on The Next Generation, most notably Miles O’Brien as one of the regulars, and Worf, who became a regular in the show’s fourth season.

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So, it was natural that DS9 would get its own installment of…

…which came in the first half of the first season.

The episode begins in the replimat where Bashir is attempting to romance a lady by bringing up an ordeal he faced while in medical school. O’Brien is sitting behind this lady, no doubt thinking what the hell is going to possess him to actually be BFFs with Bashir down the road. O’Brien rolls his eyes at Bashir’s gloating after the lady departs, and then the duo are summoned to one of the landing pads, where a runabout carrying Dax and an ensign has returned from the wormhole, but has lost power and is rapidly losing oxygen.

As O’Brien tries to open the bay door, Bashir’s tricorder reads a third person in the vessel. They get in and send the three passengers to the infirmary. O’Brien is surprised to discover that the third passenger is Vash, whom he remembers because he was still on the Enterprise when she visited in “Qpid”. As they head out, she tells him that a friend dropped her off in the Gamma Quadrant. The opening act ends with a reveal of that friend: Q.

After the title sequence, Bashir reveals to Vash that he’s astonished at her good health, considering she was in the Gamma Quadrant for the past two years. The show established Bashir as the “ladies’ man” of DS9’s ensemble at this point, which is why it’s not surprising that he starts flirting with her.

In Sisko’s office, Dax tells him that Vash didn’t reveal how she ended up in the Gamma Quadrant, although she didn’t use the wormhole to get there.

Vash, meanwhile, checks her belongings in with an officer who doesn’t look like he’s smiled a day in his life. He takes special note of the quartz item Vash has obtained during her travels. Sisko arrives and informs Vash that the Daystrom Institute is looking forward to hearing about her experiences. She notes the irony, since she was kicked out of the Institute years ago. But she does express interest in going back to Earth, which Sisko tells her he’ll make arrangements for.

Sisko then checks on O’Brien’s work on the runabout. O’Brien says he can’t tell how the ship lost its power, but it should be okay now. Sisko asks how well he knows Vash, and O’Brien says he only met her that one time, but he knows about her close relationship with Captain Picard. Sisko understandably says that Vash doesn’t seem like the type Picard would go for, and then the power briefly goes out. They head back to Ops, and after power is restored, Dax says that the conditions were similar to what happened on the runabout.

O’Brien takes Vash to her quarters and she asks him how Picard is. He says he was fine the last time he saw him, and she says she may say hi to him again. After O’Brien leaves, Q pops up, slightly annoyed that Vash is still interested in Picard. Vash is equally annoyed, because Q has turned out to be just as insufferable as Picard said he was.

But Q proceeds to annoy her, and then Quark knocks on her door. Q tells him to piss off by making him disappear. Vash demands Quark be brought back and an annoyed Q complies before leaving himself. Quark says that he’s become aware of the trinkets she’s brought back from the Gamma Quadrant and is wondering if she’s interested in joining up with him to auction them off. She persuades him to give her a good chunk of the profits but rubbing his lobes in what I assume is foreplay for Ferengis.

Quark leaves happy, and after another brief comment by Q, Bashir arrives to ask Vash out to dinner. Once he leaves, Vash tells Q to piss off again (poor girl; Picard only had to deal with this crap once a year on average, she’s had to for two years straight).

Bashir is waiting in the replimat for Vash when Q arrives, disguised as a Bajoran waiter (and may I say the earring does nothing for him). He tells Bashir that Vash is bad news, and before Bashir can really object, Q convinces the doctor that he needs sleep with the old contagious yawn gag.

Fortunately, O’Brien is nearby and recognizes Q. He goes to Ops to inform Sisko, who’s already familiar with Q because Starfleet briefed him on the Q years earlier. In Quark’s bar, Vash shows him the quartz item when Sisko arrives telling Quark to get lost. Vash asks him where Bashir is, but Sisko wants to know about Q. But Q saves him the trouble by appearing and not taking long to add Sisko to the list of people he annoys.

Sisko tells Q to go away, but the latter says that a dreary place like this station could use a presence like him, although he does admit to liking Sisko’s uniform, which he quickly replicates for himself. Sisko tells him to stop the power outages, but Q condescendingly tells him that he’s not responsible. Their argument leads to Sisko suggesting they go elsewhere. Q obliges by making everyone around them disappear. Sisko demands he return everyone, prompting Q to turn Quark’s bar into a boxing arena with him and Sisko in the ring, and Q sporting quite the ridiculous mustache.

Quark and Vash place bets on the contestants. Q hits Sisko a few times before Sisko knocks him to the ground with a couple of good hits.

We next see numerous people arrive on the station for Quark’s auction. Odo has his eye on them and is annoyed by another power outage. This one results in a hull breach that Dax says was caused by a graviton pulse. She suggests talking to Q about this, but Sisko is starting to think that Q is not the guilty party.

Quark is dragged into Odo’s office, where Odo says that he’s watching the auction Quark is planning. Specifically, he’s got his eye on the people who are doing the bidding. This leads to him revealing his annoyance at the tendency of people to buy items even though they can’t take those things with them when they die. But Quark is unswayed and even asks Odo if there are any items he might want.

Vash is heading for the auction when Q asks her to reconsider traveling with him. She tells him she can take care of herself, but he reminds her of an insect bite she once received during their travels. He shows her the illness and physical deterioration she would’ve have experienced had he not been there to lend a hand. Q asks her to reconsider her stance before healing her and departing.

Sisko notes in his log that DS9’s life support will fail within 14 hours if the outages continue. Dax suggests that they use a special gas which could potentially trace the outages to their source. Sisko agrees and tells his staff to begin evacuations if this plan fails.

Q pops up to gloat, taking the time to be condescending to Kira, so O’Brien tells him to piss off, too. After O’Brien says he knows him from the Enterprise, Q gets another funny line when he refers to O’Brien as one of the ship’s “little people”. He tells the angry crew that Vash and her current plans are the real threat, and then he vanishes.

Quark is preparing for the auction when an acquaintance threatens him if the merchandise he’s auctioning off isn’t legitimate. Quark is too excited by both the money coming his way and the hots he has for Vash to let that get to him, however. Just then, another power outage causes the station to begin moving toward the wormhole.

But Quark isn’t letting a silly thing like a power outage stop his auction, which he carries on in semi-darkness. He even dismisses Vash’s historical explanations of the items she has and simply tells the bidders what it’s worth.

As Dax and O’Brien put their plan into action, Q pops up at the auction and politely informs everyone that the station is hurtling toward its destruction. Quark tries to calm everyone down while Vash angrily goes to Q to ask him to stop what he’s doing to the station. But Q insists he’s not doing anything.

Soon, after power is restored again, the quartz item is on display and Q spices things up by bidding 1 million bars of latinum on it. Quark is so excited he’s practically crapping his pants, but that’s when Sisko, Kira, and Dax arrive, having traced the power outages to the quartz item itself. Over Quark’s objections, Sisko slaps his combadge on it and tells O’Brien to beam it into space. Once the item is off the station, it transforms into a glowing, sting ray-like creature that heads into the wormhole, leaving the station behind.

The episode ends with the station back in its original spot and Vash telling Quark she plans to go to Earth. He tries to lure her into going to retrieve some valuable ruins from another planet, but she declines. Q quietly pops up with a warning.

Q: An abysmal place, Earth. Oh, don’t get me wrong. A thousand years ago it had character: the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, Watergate. Now it’s just mind-numbingly dull.

One wonders what he would think of the current coronavirus era, with the White House run by a moron who steals speeches from fictional presidents.

The two end up admitting they’ll miss each other, and after Q departs, Vash uses the Ferengi ear seduction technique to ask Quark more about that planet he mentioned. A nearby Dax is bemused by this as Bashir arrives, having just woken up from Q’s yawning spell. She silently tells Bashir he lost his chance to get laid again and not to turn to her, which is probably for the best, as she’ll be walking down the aisle with Worf in a few years.

Like TNG’s first season, DS9’s had moments of repeating what came before that were balanced by more original elements which would get greater emphasis in the coming seasons. Case in point: the end of this episode is definitely reminiscent of “Encounter at Farpoint”. But it is fun to watch Q interact with a different set of characters, and the moment where Sisko hands Q’s ass to him rightly has become a classic. It also gave a sense of closure to Vash.

This would mark Q’s only appearance on Deep Space Nine, which is a shame, as it would have been interesting to see him again once Worf became a regular, and it would’ve been interesting to see Q interact with Odo.

Rob Kirchgassner

Rob is a blogger, critic, and author. His latest novel is The Thoughts of a Proud Nerd: A Story of Hope, available now from Amazon.

Tag: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Episodes
Tag: The Rise and Fall of Q

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  • Michael Weyer

    I do like a moment that really was key for SIsko:

    Q: “You hit me! Picard never hit me!”
    Sisko: “I’m not Picard.”
    Q: “Indeed not. You’re much easier to provoke.”

    A major early bit detailing the key differences between them and how Sisko wasn’t going to be a Picard clone in the least.

    • DamonD

      It’s a great piece of writing. Shows both a strength and a weakness of Sisko, in just a handful of words.

  • Ben Wasserman

    Any chance Tapestry is next? Easily the most poignant Picard/Q adventure out of all his appearances.