Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Review: Voyager 3.11: The Q and the Grey

Star Trek, never afraid to push the dick joke.
Star Trek Voyager - Season Three, Episode Eleven - The Q and the Grey
Written between 5th and 6th August 2015.
"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." Katheryn effing Janeway, everyone.

From the somewhat sublime to the totally ridiculous. Of all the story arcs in Voyager's predecessor, The Next Generation, the most complete and satisfying was that of Q, the omnipotent being who in that show's premiere and finale sets out to judge Humanity in the 24th Century, with several visits inbetween in which his character developed from a trickster god into a benevolent caretaker. Voyager rather questionably decides to continue this arc further, in a trilogy of episodes focusing on change in the Q continuum. The first of these episodes was last year's Death Wish, and this is the second, incredibly disappointing, follow up.
     Q appears on the ship and starts pursuing Janeway, asking to mate with her and conceive a child, which of course she would look after. She is completely bemused by this, even as Q starts asking around the ship as to how to woo her. Eventually a female Q arrives, claiming to be our Q's eternal mate. Q whisks Janeway off to the continuum and explains that, since the death of Quinn in Death Wish, the Q have been in a violent civil war started by Q himself, which is having repercussions in the rest of the universe, demonstrated back on Voyager by a series of supernovae in quick succession. This Civil War, in Janeway's terms, is being expressed as the American Civil War, except with the muskets in fact being inter-dimension weapons capable of killing a Q. The female Q takes Voyager into the Continuum and they save Q and Janeway from being executed, with Q and Miss Q procreating with a touch of the fingers.
     The episode's first fifteen minutes are a total farce, with Q chasing Janeway around the ship and borderline sexually harassing her. The reasons for Q's desire to "mate" with Janeway aren't explained until half-way through the story, and so we're left to believe that the omnipotent protector of humanity simply has the horn. The way Q's request travels around the ship like schoolyard gossip irked me quite a bit, and it also highlighted the main issue with this whole thing: Q's treatment of Janeway would not happen if she were a man. Q tested Picard, and attempted to fight Sisko. The Q are an omnipotent race of beings who live in an ethereal space inconceivable to us, why would they have a concept of gender? And why must we straddle Star Trek's only main female captain with a plotline where Q wants to make babies with her?
You're only saying that because you played the
first named Klingon female on Star Trek.
     What's even more bizarre than Q's behaviour on Voyager is the whole thing going on within the continuum. The idea of the Q Civil War is an interesting one, and granted there are a few decent conversations regarding its origins and its solutions, mainly using ideas carried over from Death Wish. But the use of the US Civil War as an extended metaphor robbed the whole idea of its significance. The flimsy excuse of the "muskets" which are weapons powerful enough to harm a Q but which can be easily operated by humans shatters suspension of disbelief, and the fact that the entire plot is resolved by two people touching fingers is quite frankly insulting, rendering the whole thing a waste of time. Not to mention the further treatment of women - Janeway and the female Q are both rendered in the Continuum as wearing cumbersome, flowing dresses, because God forbid a woman actually be capable of doing useful things.
     There were a few fun moments in this episode, mainly surrounding the J/C ship which always tickles my pickle. But the humour missed the mark often enough that it really didn't feel like a worthy return for such a cool character. In fiction we often avoid omnipotent characters because their powers rob the plot of all tension or drive, and they are boring as people. Q subverted this, and managed to be one of the franchise's stand-out guest stars. Unfortunately, here he is wasted, his story being far too silly and just plain odd to make and sense. That's a commonality in Season Three, as we'll find out in the coming weeks.


NEXT WEEK: Giant microbes make Janeway lose her shirt and turn into Starfleet's answer to Rambo. It's Macrocosm.

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