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Star Trek: Voyager “The Q and the Grey”

Despite its flaws, “Death Wish” was a dramatically intriguing episode. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the next installment of…

“The Q and the Grey” begins with the Voyager crew monitoring a star going supernova, because their longing for home isn’t stopping them from enjoying a light show whenever one pops up.

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Janeway congratulates everyone for being only the third crew in Starfleet to witness such an event, while Neelix proves that he’s still an annoying prick just by saying, “Wow!”

Chakotay convinces Janeway to get some sleep and she reluctantly agrees. But upon entering her quarters, she finds a red silk blanket and heart-shaped pillows covering her bed. The captain calls for security, but Q pops up, telling her there’s no need. He puts the moves on her, even changing her attire to something more appropriate for bedtime before telling her that he wants her to be his baby mamma. I suppose Voyager deserves some congratulations of sorts here, because despite the fact that this is John de Lancie in this scene, this is clearly not the same character we saw him play in, say, “Tapestry”.

After the title sequence, Janeway pushes Q aside and goes to put on a robe. Q keeps giving her compliments and praise, but she tells him to get lost. He interprets this as her playing hard to get and vanishes. Frankly, this scene was much funnier when it was in Mr. Mom.

Janeway informs Chakotay that Q is around and tells everyone to keep their eyes open. They discuss this a bit more the next day. Chakotay admits he’s bothered by all this, although this could easily be interpreted as Beltran being bothered with the show at this point. Q pops up in a tiff thinking that Janeway is attached to Chakotay. He also continues his practice of self-humiliation by whipping up a Chakotay-esque tattoo that covers his whole face.

Later, Paris and Kim are doing reports on the holodeck while holo-girls are massaging them, presumably because they aren’t comfortable massaging each other in public yet. Q crashes their little party and asks them for advice on how to win Janeway’s heart, “man-to-man” as he puts it. Boy, did he approach the wrong two guys.

They ignore him and leave, so Q then asks Neelix, whom he appropriately refers to as “bar-rodent”, for a drink at his holo-bar. But Neelix wants to know why he’s bugging Janeway. When he scoffs at Q’s gift ideas for the captain, Q rightfully points out that Neelix himself has done the same by convincing Janeway that he can cook and has survival skills. This must’ve worked, because there was a Voyager cookbook with Neelix’s picture on the cover that I’m sure both of his fans bought. Neelix also adds “liar” to his list of traits by saying that he’s respectful, loyal, and sincere.

Janeway is in her ready room and finds a cute puppy behind her desk. But she quickly calls Q out on it. They sit down and chat, with Q stating that he wants a relationship. He even hits Janeway with the revelation that being so far from home, her chances of settling down aren’t exactly high. Janeway admits she’d like to settle down herself, just not with Q. She gets unexpected support when a lady Q (Suzie Plakson, who previously played Worf’s baby mamma, K’Ehleyr) shows up to rip Q a new one and call Janeway a dog. The expressions on their faces at this insult are definitely Overacting 101.

Q reluctantly introduces Janeway to the female Q, who I’ll refer to as Suzie Q because 1.) that’s what fans call her and 2.) unlike K’Ehleyr, this character really annoys me.

Q’s slide downward into humiliating characterization continues, as he explains that he and Suzie Q have had a centuries-long romance. I wonder what the (male) Q we saw in “True Q” would have to say about that. Janeway assures Suzie Q that she has no interest in Q, and tells them to take their fight elsewhere. She hands the puppy over to Q, who promptly sends it home, and Janeway is called to the bridge.

Chakotay reports that a second star is about to go supernova. Kim then reports a third is about to do the same. Janeway confronts Q about this, as having three stars go boom in the same area in a short space of time isn’t ordinary. He gives a half-assed “it’s not really me” explanation. As a shock wave from one star approaches the ship, Janeway demands Q do something, and he makes himself and Janeway both vanish. An annoyed Suzie Q follows suit as the wave hits the ship.

Cut to a nice manor house. Inside is Janeway, wearing a period dress. Q enters wearing the attire of a Union soldier during the American Civil War and tells her that she’s in the Q Continuum. But rather than a gas station in the middle of the desert, we’re now in a nice mansion. Demanding answers, Q shows Janeway what’s going on just outside the house: a vicious battle.

He says that Quinn’s suicide has resulted in what is now a civil war within the Q Continuum. The numerous supernovas are basically the aftershocks of the battles going on. Q says that Quinn’s actions prompted him to lead a group in favor of change, while others wanted to retain the status quo of the Q. He also believes that having a child with a mortal will create a new being within the Continuum, which will usher in a new era. Janeway is as flabbergasted by this bullshit as we are. But that’s when the mansion gets riddled with bullets, some of which hit Q, causing him to bleed.

Meanwhile, Voyager is damaged from the shock wave (not that it matters, because it’ll be good as new in no time). Chakotay sees Suzie Q has returned, and demands she give him answers. His stance is helped when it’s revealed she’s lost her powers, although she remains as irritable as ever. They’re next discussing the situation with Tuvok. Chakotay suggests they help Suzie get into the Continuum so she can help get Janeway back. Suzie Q admits that there’s one method they could try, with Tuvok reminding her that their primitive ship is her only chance of doing anything right now.

In the manor, Janeway tends to Q’s wounds, with the latter stating that the weapons being used aren’t the standard bullet and gunpowder deals. The firing stops and a voice tells Q that he’s surrounded and to surrender. Despite Janeway telling him to do so, Q stands and defiantly fires his pistol. Naturally, this causes the gunfire to resume, although Janeway manages to drag Q out of the line of fire.

Chakotay’s log says that, since it’s the guest star who’s pulling the bullshit physics out of their ass rather than the Voyager crew themselves, they’re following Suzie Q’s suggestion for how to enter the Continuum. Suzie goes to Engineering to tell Torres to hurry up. The banter that follows is, I guess, meant to be an in-joke of sorts, with Suzie stating how much she likes Klingon females, but all it does is reinforce how annoying she is.

We then see Janeway tending to Q in a camp outside the manor. Since the manor was surrounded, your guess is as good as mine as to how they got outside. She tells Q that she’s thought about what he said earlier and she think it’s a good plan. The difference is, she thinks Q should have a child with Suzie Q. He objects, saying that such a pairing is unprecedented, which may explain why Suzie is such a bitch. But Janeway is adamant, and says she’s going to the enemy camp to surrender.

On the ship, Suzie Q continues to be annoying as she informs Paris to do some technobabble bullshit in order to fly into a star to get to the Continuum.

At the same time, Janeway meets with another Q (Harve Presnell) who’s dressed like a Confederate colonel, naturally. Despite their non-hostile dialogue, the colonel says that he plans to execute Q and asks Janeway where he is. But Q himself saves him the trouble by showing up, although this doesn’t stop the colonel from saying they’ll both die anyway.

As the sun comes up, Janeway and Q are lead into the woods and tied to trees. She pleads for a non-violent end to the war, while Q does the same for Janeway’s life. But Colonel Q isn’t swayed, and dramatic zoom-ins on Janeway and Q signify that they’re screwed. Q apologizes to Janeway, who responds with “I know,” because “-I love you. -I know.” was already taken.

But the soldiers’ weapons are soon diverted by other soldiers firing at them. This includes Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, and Kim all dressed as Union soldiers while Suzie Q has donned a similar dress to Janeway. It’s not long before the colonel tells his soldiers to stand down while Janeway and Q are freed.

He and Suzie make up and touch fingers, which I guess is the Q way of having sex. Janeway is astonished as she and the others are returned to the ship.

After confirming that the ship is fine and there are no more supernovas anywhere, the episode ends with Janeway in her ready room, where Q shows off his new son. She congratulates the new dad, who asks Janeway to be the baby’s godmother, before Q and Baby Q depart.

Where to begin with this one…

As I noted earlier, this basically reduces Q to a sitcom character, like something out of Bewitched. The Q we saw in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine would definitely rip the Q we see in this episode a new one for being bumbling, unfunny comedy relief.

Secondly, Quinn wanted to end his life because existence in the Q Continuum had nothing more to offer him. One could say that, like V’Ger, his knowledge had reached the limits of this universe, and for Quinn, the next logical step was death. But “The Q and the Grey” makes him out to be a MLK-esque martyr. The difference here is that Dr. King himself was not suicidal. Yes, he knew that the crusade he embarked on could cost him his life, but he pressed on because he and others knew that such change in society was needed and long overdue. But Quinn wasn’t seeking out change. He was simply dissatisfied with how his life was going, but he didn’t encourage others to follow suit and take their own lives.

There’s also the matter of Q saying that a baby with Janeway is the way to fix the civil war. What about Amanda Rogers? Q made a big deal about the fact that she was the child of two of the Q, but that’s never mentioned once here. Of course, if it were, we would’ve been spared this episode’s awful romantic comedy moments.

Finally, the episode ends with the Voyager crew saving the Q Continuum. Let me repeat that: This episode ends with the Voyager crew saving the Q Continuum. Don’t you think that the Q would reward them for such an act? Like, say, snapping their fingers and returning them home?

This episode came in the middle of Voyager‘s third season. During the summer hiatus before the season started, Voyager producer Jeri Taylor said that the third season would have the crew agonizing less about getting home and embracing the exploration opportunities presented by their situation. This, I suppose, was the red flag indicating that Voyager was no longer going to take its premise seriously. Perhaps some Voyager crew members would eventually adopt this stance, but I find it hard to believe that all of them would just magically adjust to being so far from home.

I once noted that the season opener “Basics, Part II” mainly faltered because not one crew member confronted Janeway about the whole crew being stranded. “The Q and the Grey” went even further, with Janeway not even asking Q to send them home when the episode ends. So with “The Q and the Grey”, we’ve now reached the “fall” part of the Rise and Fall of Q—and of Voyager, as well.

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.

TV Show: Star Trek: Voyager

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  • Grumpy

    “Mine’s bigger” is pretty funny, though, and worth the time it took to apply the makeup.

  • AJ

    Voyager is undoubtedly where I lost interest in Star Trek. It had a neat (if unoriginal) ‘lost in space’ premise yet this was quickly brushed aside in favor of these sort of dumb sitcom plots. Voyager itself also never seemed to be in need of repairs or anything that required returning to Federation space, which further cheapened the premise. And of course for all their bitching, the crew never seemed to have any sense of urgency about their situation. Just… terrible writing all around.

    • mamba

      The very literal first season they had the plot where some days they were running out of food, they had no spare parts and things were limited, they were all living on rations and they of course were not quite lost but so damn far away they might as well be lost in the middle of basically nowhere with no friends or allies. THAT was a good show!!! The fact of limited torpedos and energy reserves was well established, and remember Neelex wasn’t just a freeloader, he offered the promise of knowing where resources and food is.The crew was showing the strain. They even had plots where they were tempted to just settle down on a good planet and say the heck with it all.

      But (huge sigh) by the second season all that went out the window to become the Voyager we know today. Star Trek in a new place and no apparent hardships as all the resources problems went away like that! They had something unique and special…and painted over it to make it look like pretty much every other generic Trek show out there, playing it safe, and no real peril.

      Frankly, I want to see the voyages of the Equinox!!! (roughly beaten ship in the same circumstances as Voyager, about 6 left alive with heavy PTSD and an attitude of get home no matter what, plus a doctor without morality subroutines, all well established in the Voyager show ironically enough. Voyager’s fate is sealed in marble…I wanted the cameras to follow THEM!!!)

      • Xander

        On a Michael Piller show, you can always tell the season(s) where he’s less hands-on with the production. Deep Space Nine faltered some when he went to make Voyager, and Voyager suffered when he left there, as well.

        If I want to make my wife seethe, I can always ask about the later seasons of The Dead Zone, too.

        • DamonD

          Voyager always felt like it fell between two stools.

          Something conceived as a back-to-basics episodic show intended for syndication, but given a plot and mission statement that lent itself much more to serialised continuity.

          Either don’t have the ‘stranded and fending for yourselves on limited supplies’ plot theme, or don’t have so many standalone adventures or the dreaded reset button. Just how many shuttlecraft did Voyager get through, anyway?