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[VOY] Jammer's Review: "Q2"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Voyager s Q2. If you haven t seen the episode yet, beware. In brief: Yawn. Not nearly funny enough to
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14 10:49 PM
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      Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Voyager's "Q2." If
      you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.


      In brief: Yawn. Not nearly funny enough to make up for the woeful lack of
      imagination and utterly wrong-headed use of the Q.

      Plot description: Q comes to Voyager and asks Janeway to help him teach
      lessons of responsibility to his troublesome son.

      -----
      Star Trek: Voyager -- "Q2"

      Airdate: 4/11/2001 (USA)
      Teleplay by Robert Doherty
      Story by Kenneth Biller
      Directed by LeVar Burton

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: *1/2

      "He worked so hard on that paper. The least you could've done was tell
      him you were proud of him."
      "But I'm not."
      -- Janeway and Q
      -----

      I suppose we're supposed to laugh at the fact omnipotent beings are
      asking parental advice of Captain Janeway. Unfortunately, the joke isn't
      all that funny -- nor is much of "Q2" in general -- so if it's not a
      comedy it can only be a pretty lame excuse for a Q episode.

      The best Q *comedy* was TNG's "Deja Q." That was a show with chemistry
      and wit ... and a premise that at least made Our Favorite Q (John de
      Lancie) into a human, such that he had no choice but to experience human
      behavior firsthand. But "Q2" -- aside from its ripped-off "Deja Q"-like
      elements -- is unfortunately the sequel to "The Q and the Grey" from four
      years back, an episode that went about as wrong as a Q story could. "Q2"
      only takes that wrongness further; omnipotence apparently means you have
      the ability to do anything physically, but have the intellect and
      ambitions of an American teenager.

      Basically, the problem is that we have humans teaching lessons to the Q
      instead of the other way around -- which is absurd and simply a waste of
      the Q as a story device. When you have beings who can do anything, why
      put them through the shenanigans of sitcom-level teenage rebellion? In
      TNG's "All Good Things..." Q was trying to help Picard understand larger
      issues about the nature of the universe. In Voyager's "Death Wish" we had
      a Q who wanted to die because knowing everything had rendered his
      existence pointless. Those were interesting, larger-thinking shows.

      Now? We get High Concept 101: "A teenage Q." And Higher Concept 102:
      "Let's have John de Lancie's real-life son (Keegan de Lancie) play the
      part of Q's son!" Well, great. It's an okay starting point and I'm sure
      fun for all the actors, but there has to be a story here for it to be
      worth our time.

      Alas, there's not much to be said for the story that is "Q2." It's
      featherweight at best, and the lessons rehashed here are straight from
      Chapter 1 of the Star Trek Human Lessons Textbook. I wish I could say
      there was anything here resembling Q-worthy thought on the writers'
      behalf, anything that could put it more in the vein of "All Good
      Things..." or "Death Wish," but there isn't. "Q2" is simply a gag show
      starring the Q, with their super-duper powers as the tools for the
      gimmicks. There's no evidence this show even *wanted* to be thoughtful;
      it's dumbed down by design.

      Q arrives on Voyager to ask "Aunt Kathy" (an amusing title, I'll grant)
      to help him teach his out-of-control son (born as a result of "Q and the
      Grey") some responsibility. Why Q cannot do this himself is a question
      that, if answered, would reveal the entire foundation of the episode as
      the sham it is. Apparently being omnipotent doesn't afford you any
      parenting skills. (Omnipotence just isn't what it used to be.) If we're
      to accept the can-of-worms premise of an out-of-control Q, at least make
      it seem like there's some urgency.

      Instead, the idea of an out-of-control teenage Q quickly paves the way to
      a series of routine comic gimmicks. Gimmicky Q hijinks are a hallmark of
      Q stories, even in good ones like "Death Wish," but without a story to
      eventually grab our attention they just tire here.

      Gimmick #1: Turn engineering into a dance club. "It's a party," explains
      Q Jr., with beverage in hand. Is it non-alcoholic? I hope so, because
      he's most definitely underage and that would mean Voyager needs more
      competent bouncers. For that matter, a drunken Q could be dangerous:
      Alcohol and altering the space-time continuum don't mix. Janeway rolls
      her eyes here for what won't be the last time.

      Gimmick #2: Make Seven nekkid. This looks like one of those things the
      studio must've loved when they heard about. I can almost picture the
      people who cut together the episode trailers smiling with glee: *Here's*
      an easy workday! Plus, it can be justified as *plausible*! What
      heterosexual teenage male *wouldn't* wanted to see Seven without clothes?
      Nothing like a little realism in your Trek. Of course, Seven is too
      superior to be embarrassed or do any Janeway-style eye-rolling, so she
      simply uses the ignore-the-pest tactic.

      Gimmick #3: War games. Q Jr. starts a war between two societies simply to
      watch their ships shoot at one another on the viewscreen. Somebody needs
      to go out and buy this kid a PlayStation or a DVD of "Star Wars" (the
      latter of which I'm guessing might actually be available by the 24th
      century, but no promises).

      Gimmick #4: Make Neelix mute. Hey, this is actually a pretty good idea. Q
      Jr. fuses Neelix's jaw shut and makes his vocal cords disappear. Poor
      Neelix -- he had his lungs extracted way back in "Phage" and now he has
      his vocal cords taken away. There's no justice in the world. Or come to
      think of it, maybe there is.

      Such zaniness is setup for the actual premise, which is that Q suspends
      all of Q Jr.'s powers, and gives his son one week to shape up under
      Janeway's tutelage. If he hasn't shown great improvement, the Q Continuum
      will transform the unruly brat into an amoeba. The lesson: Actions Have
      Consequences, especially when your actions can rearrange entire worlds.
      I'd just like to know why Q can't conjure up some sense for this kid when
      he has the power to transform him into an amoeba. For that matter, I'd
      like to know if the writers actually thought any of their "intellectually
      immature superbeing" plot was fresh, seeing as TOS did "Charlie X"
      roughly 35 years ago.

      The middle passages of the show are bland moments of Janeway trying to
      whip this kid into shape with lay-down-the-law threat tactics and then
      lessons that double as Meaningful Dialog Scenes. Eventually we're
      watching as Q Jr. writes a paper on the Q Continuum, which is hopelessly
      inane; apparently the great Continuum really *is* too much for my feeble
      mind to comprehend ... or for television writers to do any justice.

      Then we have Q Jr. stealing the Delta Flyer because he apparently didn't
      learn anything from all this. His excuse for theft and joyriding?
      Boredom. He goes flying through alien territory with unwilling
      partner-in-crime Icheb, opening fire on an alien ship when they try to
      detain him for trespassing. Icheb is injured, Q Jr. escapes and returns
      to Voyager where he gets the usual dressing-down by Janeway. Icheb lies
      dying, with Doc going on about how he needs to know more about the weapon
      in order to save Icheb's life. (Yes, in sci-fi you can treat someone who
      has been run down by a car as long as you know what make and model the
      car was.)

      The final act is so underwhelming it plays more like a parody on humanism
      than a satisfying ending. Q Jr. decides to accept responsibility for his
      actions by returning to face the music at the hands of the aliens he shot
      at. But, surprise! The alien was actually Q, who engineered the encounter
      as a test to see if Q Jr. would own up to the consequences of his
      mischief. Icheb is really okay. Then we get a quick trial of Q Jr. by
      Continuum judges, who, after all this, find that Q Jr.'s actions don't
      indicate acceptable levels of progress.

      My point is more along the lines of Q's complaint -- that Janeway has
      turned Q Jr. into a human with Federation values and, well, what good is
      that for the Continuum? They're judging Q Jr. on an incident and actions
      that have about as much cosmic relevance as what I ate for breakfast this
      morning.

      LeVar Burton, who has directed excellent episodes like "Timeless," is
      saddled with a banal script that thinks small when it should be thinking
      big. The closing scenes give us a trial and a guilty verdict only for it
      to be reversed with a bunch of Q's off-screen (non)arguments. What, if
      anything, is all of this saying? It's clunky and abrupt along the
      narrative line.

      My, how the Q have fallen. Amazingly, it would seem Voyager has managed
      to bastardize the Q even worse than the Borg. Who could've guessed that
      the beings who put humanity on trial back in the TNG days would be
      reduced to the sort of family sitcom where a son whines to his father
      about being too pressured about living up to expectations? Let's be real
      here: Do we *want* to see the Q as a metaphor for emotionally abandoned
      teenagers and/or fathers?

      I'd have told the kid: Hey, you're *omnipotent*. With your talents I'll
      be damned if I'm going to let you end up working at Burger King. Stop
      screwing around and put that galaxy back where it belongs.

      --
      Next week: Doc's unauthorized Voyager biography. Some names have been
      changed to protect the guilty.

      -----
      Copyright 2001 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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