Q-Less

Q and Vash

Smokey and the Bandit. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Episode: 7

Original air date: February 7, 1993

Notable guest stars: John de Lancie as Q (crossover), Jennifer Hetrick as Vash (crossover), Tom McCleister as Kolos

In a nutshell: Picard’s old flame shows up on DS9 looking to sell some trinkets and give Q the slip. Because it’s a small galaxy after all.

Say hello to: Q and Vash

Say goodbye to: Vash (this is her final appearance in the Star Trek universe)

Missing in action: Jake Sisko

Words of wisdom: “Oh, heavy is the burden of being me.” – Q

Impotent omnipotence

In the replimat on the Promenade, Bashir is wooing a  Bajoran woman over dinner with a heroic retelling of the “toughest battle of [his] life” – the Starfleet medical exam – while O’Brien listens from an adjacent table, unable to believe how the woman is enthralled by the doctor’s terribly exaggerated tale. Fortunately for O’Brien’s ears, Sisko pages him and the doctor to join him at a landing pad.

Q

It’s me, mon capitaine…wait, what’s “commander” in French?

When they arrive, they discover Sisko and Kira trying to manually open the door of a runabout. They explain that the runabout, containing Dax and some random ensign, returned from the wormhole suffering from a catastrophic loss of power and oxygen levels inside the ship are running low. As Bashir scans the interior of the ship, he discovers there are three people inside the runabout instead of the expected two.

O’Brien pulls out a brick to temporarily recharge the ship’s door mechanisms, allowing Sisko and Kira to force the door open. Dax and the random ensign are fine, and O’Brien recognizes the mystery occupant immediately from his days on the Enterprise – it’s Vash, scurrilous archaeologist and part-time side piece of Jean-Luc Picard.

Dax tells O’Brien that they found Vash in the Gamma Quadrant, where she’s been living for the past two years. As Sisko orders them all to the infirmary for a checkup, O’Brien asks Vash show she got to the Gamma Quadrant and she gives a noncommittal answer. As the group leaves the runabout, a Starfleet officer crouched a control panel turns around and reveals himself to be Q.

OPENING CREDITS

As Bashir flirts awkwardly (does he know any other way?) with Vash in the infirmary, Dax talks to Sisko in his office about discovering her in the Gamma Quadrant. She has little insight to provide as to how Vash got there, other than she had no prior knowledge of the wormhole and certainly didn’t use it to get there. Sisko orders Dax to investigate Vash and her past.

The mysterious crystal

FORESHADOWING ALERT: Pay attention, people.

After leaving the infirmary, Vash makes a stop at the station’s assay office to drop off some valuables for safe keeping. Among the trinkets she stores is a chest containing a large, sparkly crystal. As she leaves the office, Sisko greets her and strikes up a conversation. She again refuses to reveal how she got to the Gamma Quadrant, calling it a personal matter, and finds it odd that the Daystrom Institute is interested in speaking to her since they’ve suspended her membership twice. Acknowledging that it’s been a while since she was on Earth, she seems to agree to Sisko arranging passage for her.

Back on the runabout, O’Brien is at a loss to explain to Sisko what’s wrong. His conclusion is that nothing’s wrong – everything on the vessel is functioning perfectly; it was just somehow totally drained of power. Sisko asks him for a little backstory on Vash, but O’Brien says he doesn’t know much about her other than the captain was banging her (wee bit of paraphrasing on my part) after they met on Risa.

Their conversation about Picard’s sex life is interrupted when the power suddenly goes out. After it’s restored, the pair race up (down? across?) to Ops where Kira reports that the power was drained somehow. Dax chimes in to tell everyone that this appears to be exactly what happened on the runabout.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

O’Brien takes Vash to her quarters and the two engage in some chit-chat about Picard. Vash tells O’Brien that she’ll have to look up him now that she’s back in the Alpha Quadrant. O’Brien just wants to get out of there.

After he leaves, Q appears in Vash’s room and begins haranguing her about her infatuation with Picard. Vash tells Q that she’s left him and doesn’t want anything to do with him, but Q reminds her that he really holds all the power in their relationship and suggests that they continue exploring together. They’re interrupted by Quark, who appears at Vash’s door with a bottle of booze, but Q quickly dismisses him. Vash commands Q to make Quark return and he reluctantly does.

Vash gets cozy with Quark

And to think, those hands have touched Picard.

Quark has heard that Vash has some valuable artifacts from the Gamma Quadrant and he wants to be her partner in auctioning them off to some highly interested buyers. When he suggests splitting the take 50-50, Vash uses her nimble fingers to stroke Quark into agreeing to significantly less.

After Quark leaves, Bashir appears. Obviously believing that his awkward flirting in the infirmary got him somewhere, he asks Vash out to dinner and surprisingly, she agrees. As Bashir waits for Vash to get ready at the bar, Q appears in the form of a Bajoran waiter and tries to warn him off from getting involved with her. When Bashir takes umbrage at the suggestion, Q makes him very sleepy. Unable to stay away, Bashir staggers off to get some sleep.

In Ops, O’Brien tells Sisko that Q is on DS9 and that she has a previous association with Vash. As the crew wonders what Q might be possibly be up to, Vash and Quark take a look at the items for their auction. Having not foreshadowed the importance of the large crystal enough in the assay office scene, Vash and Quark ogle it some more before Sisko interrupts them and demands that Vash tell him about Q. Q himself spins around and tells the commander that he’ll tell him whatever he wants.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Sisko tells Q to leave the station, but Q ignores him, talking about the interior decorating and new uniforms instead. When Sisko demands Q stop draining the station’s power, Q acts as if he has nothing to do it. He then makes all of the station’s inhabitants disappear and provokes Sisko into physically confronting him. Sensing that there’s fun to be had, Q suggests they engage in fisticuffs and turns the bar into a olden boxing ring complete with a cheering crowd. After Q baits Sisko with some punches and verbal barbs, Sisko knocks down Q with a solid punch. After noting that Picard never hit me, Q takes glee in the fact the Sisko is so easy to provoke and then vanishes.

Q, ready to box with Sisko

Much like his pugilist doppelgänger Von Kaiser, Q falls after a few jabs.

As the bidders begin to arrive for Quark and Vash’s auction, another power loss hits the station. This one causes hull breaches, although O’Brien is able to save the day with some temporary shielding. Dax scans one of the hull breaches and discovers that the damage was caused by gravitons, which apparently were created from the station’s power grid.

Odo calls Quark into his office to tell him he’s aware of the upcoming auction. Quark expresses indignation at being snooped on by the shapeshifter and that the auction is a perfectly legal one. The two then get into a conversation about their radically differing views on material wealth.

As Vash heads to the auction, Q once again tries to get her to come with him and resume their exploring. When she tells him that she doesn’t need his protection, Q reminds of her an insect bite she received during their travels. He then shows her what that bite would have done to her if he hadn’t been there to protect her, gradually turning her into a withered, painful mass. He tells Vash to reconsider her decision and then disappears, restoring her to her healthy state.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

The station’s power continues to be drained and turned into gravitons by some mysterious force, which Sisko isn’t convinced is Q. This is a problem because DS9 will lose life support in about 14 hours if they can’t find a way to stop. When O’Brien gripes about the inability of the internal sensors to track down the power drain’s source, Dax suggests flooding the station with a toxic substance (but just a little bit) and measuring its flow through the station. Q pops into Ops quickly to insult everyone and warn them that Vash presents more a threat to them than he does.

Vash and her giant earrings

In the future, every woman will wear combined necklaces/earrings.

At Quarks, the bar owner uses Vash’s credibility as the “foremost expert on the Gamma Quadrant” to settle a bidder’s fears about the items’ authenticity. He then pitches a long-term partnership to Vash, but she refuses.

Suddenly, the entire station shudders. Kira reports that DS9 is being pulled out of its normal position. Sisko tries to stabilize their position with thrusters, but nothing happens. O’Brien suggests shutting down the reactors to cut off the gravitons’ supply, but that doesn’t work either. Dax determines that the station is being pulled directly into the wormhole.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

As the station hurtles towards certain doom, the auction gets underway at Quark’s. Vash begins describing the first artifact, but Quark quickly intervenes, dispensing her boring academic description with commentary designed to whet the appetites of the bidders. The auction quickly gets contentious and it becomes clear that Quark and Vash are both going to make a lot of money. Q appears at the back of the room and warns them all that they won’t get to enjoy their winnings since the station is careening into the wormhole and they’ll all be destroyed. Quark reassures the bidders that everything is fine and Vash tells Q she’d rather take her chances on the station than have Q whisk her away to safety.

The alien flies away

Pasta to go

Meanwhile, Dax and O’Brien begin trying to locate the source of the power drain by tracking the toxic gas flow. They narrow the location down to the central core, but can’t pinpoint it any further than that. Dax suggests turning the reactors back on so the power drain will increase and make the graviton flow easier to discern. Even though it might accelerate their journey into wormhole, Sisko agrees to it, and they quickly determine the drain is coming from the Promenade.

At Quark’s, the auction concludes with Vash’s mysterious and much-foreshadowed giant crystal in a box. The bidding starts high and soon reaches unfathomable heights (I guess, they all seem taken aback by it) before Q intervenes and attempts to screw with everyone by outbidding them. Dax uses her tricorder to trace the source of the power drain – it’s the mysterious crystal! (Who saw that coming?!?) Sisko attaches his badge to the box and has it beamed out into space, where it transforms into a giant, sentient piece of ravioli with tentacles which heads straight into the wormhole.

Afterwards, Vash is getting ready to leave for Earth when Quark again tries to get her back into the artifact scrounging business. She again refuses as Q appears and tells her that Quark is right – she’d be happy stealing treasures than bring back on Earth. He decides it’s time to part ways with Vash, although he admits he’ll miss her. As soon as Q leaves, Vash heads back to Quark and asks him how to get to his planet of promised riches.

Finally, Bashir emerges from his epic nap, still a little groggy, confused, and presumably horny.

Thoughts and ruminations

  • Just like last week, the crew’s entire interaction with the Gamma Quadrant takes place on the station. We’re not seeing anyone going in to explore. They’re just dealing with whatever is coming out. More like Star Trek: Border Inspection Station.
  • I’m not a huge fan of crossover episodes in general, and this one certainly doesn’t do anything to dissuade me of that opinion. Having the Duras sisters show up a few weeks ago was handled fairly well, but it’s just plain disappointing to see one of TNG‘s greatest adversaries trotted out for a meandering, pointless, boring mid-season cameo appearance on DS9.
  • Taking your date to the replimat seems pretty lame. Isn’t there a normal, sit-down restaurant on the station? Even Quark’s would provide a better atmosphere for Bashir’s date.
  • This brings up a small point that I don’t think is ever really addressed – how does money work on the station? TNG made a big deal about the Federation not needing money because they’d evolved beyond the need to accumulate wealth. But the rest of the universe is very obviously still a bunch of money-grubbing throwbacks. Is the food at the replimat free? If not, how do Starfleet officers get anything to eat? If so, why would anyone eat at Quark’s when they can have whatever they want replicated for free? How does Quark make money off of serving drinks to Starfleet officers? Does Starfleet provide stipends in the local currency for officers stationed on “primitive” money-centric planets? What’s keeping Quark from just replicating a bunch of gold-pressed latinum?
  • Two weeks ago, they couldn’t beam a crew out of an airlock. Now they can’t beam a crew out of a docked runabout. They should get a better transporter.
  • Why are the station commander and first officer the ones doing the manual labor of trying to open the door? Don’t they have people for these sorts of things?
  • If the power levels are so low on the runabout, why are all the screens still showing static? And why would they show static anyway? They’re not receiving a broadcast signal. Shouldn’t they just go dark if they’re not receiving a digital signal? Unplug the HDMI cord from your TV – you don’t get static.
  • Despite the general terribleness of this episode, John de Lancie’s portrayal of Q is just as spot-on and perfect as ever.
  • Bashir tells Vash, “We have no idea what’s beyond the wormhole.” If only Starfleet had vessels that could be used for exploration…
  • Unless geometry has changed in the future, the storage chamber in the assay’s office in no way resembles a “cubicle.”
  • According to the audible beeps, Vash creates a 5-character passcode to go along with her retinal scan. That doesn’t even meet 21st century security standards.
  • Throughout the episode, crew members go back and forth as to whether Vash is pronounced with a short or long ‘a’ sound.
  • What does Q get out of his relationship with Vash? Just someone to alternately impress and torture?
  • Does Vash have a first name? Or a last name? I can’t think of any other humans in all of Star Trek with just one name.
  • Again, Bashir contributes nothing but raging hormones.
  • Why does Kira need to let Odo know that a ship has left? As the chief of security, shouldn’t he have access to basic logs concerning vessel comings and goings?
  • One thing this episode does really well is paint the differences between Picard and Sisko during Q’s first conversation with the commander in Quark’s bar. Unfortunately, it also illustrates how underwhelming this episode will be because of those differences.
  • Did Dax really need to inform everyone in Ops that they were losing atmosphere? You’d think the giant sucking sound, loss of air pressure and difficulty breathing would clue them in.
  • I’m not convinced that the writers really have a solid conception of what they think gravitons are. They’re just bandied about as some kind of MacGuffin to keep the secondary “we’re all gonna die” plot moving along.
  • Again, Odo is free to just snoop on anyone he wants at anytime without any kind of warrant.
  • The conversation in Odo’s office points out why they make the perfect foils for one another – Quark is the ultimate materialist, Odo the ultimate minimalist.
  • The giant earrings/necklace on Vash during the auction are/is crazy big. I hope the actress didn’t sprain her earlobes.
  • Q’s line, “I’d keep my eye on this one; chances are she’s after your job,” is one of the best ones from this episode.
  • For an omnipotent being, Q sure does show a lot of patience and restraint while he takes guff from everyone on the station. Of course, it’d be a pretty short show if he just banished them all to the void every time they shot their mouths off.
  • I don’t know exactly what the distance is between the station and Bajor, but shouldn’t the planet (even small and distant) be visible in some of the shots as the station hurtles towards the wormhole? I don’t think DS9 was moved terribly far during the pilot episode, but the station always appears to be in the middle of nowhere on exterior shots.
  • Another lifeform masquerading as an inanimate object. They seem to follow Q around. (Although in his defense, Q really had nothing to do with them either here or at Farpoint.)
  • Oh, okay, that’s what Q gets out of his relationship with Vash: a sense of wonder. I’m not buying it.
  • Q doesn’t really do anything in this episode. He doesn’t use his powers to cause trouble. He doesn’t play games with the crew. He has no plot or scheme or goal or anything. He doesn’t even seem to do anything except observe what’s going on around him and engage in some verbal sparring. I guess it makes sense for him to be there given his connection to Vash, but it doesn’t add anything to the story.

The verdict

This episode’s plot is both contrived and boring. They took one of the most interesting and dynamic characters in the show’s universe and did absolutely nothing with him. “Q-Less” was just an obvious stab at cashing in on Q’s TNG pull to boost viewership for DS9. Perhaps this would have been a little less insulting later on during the show’s run, but it just comes across as desperate for a show still trying to find its own footing. One out of four Odo buckets.

The Odo Scale

The Modernish Father

Your guide to DS9 is a father of two, husband of one and inspiration for millions of sardonic bald guys. A Texas native who recently moved to San Francisco, he loves baseball, history, most science fiction and generally all things nerdy. Find out more on his blog.

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