In the seventh episode of the first season of Deep Space Nine, a familiar face brings chaos to the station. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of stalking
I admire this episode, even though I think it’s more of a cool concept than an effective execution of the story. For the most part, “Q-Less” relies on our familiarity with Q and Vash and the entertainment that comes from seeing these two characters interact with the DS9 universe. There’s only so much value that can provide. So what else does “Q-Less” do?
I’m not quite sure of that. Jennifer Hetrick and John de Lancie are a lot of fun here, and I’m tickled by the very notion that after “Qpid,” Vash got SICK OF Q. There’s not a person who wouldn’t understand that! Q is exactly as Vash describes him, and so it made sense to me that after a couple years, she’d want to be far, far away from him. Exceptâ€¦were they just friends? Did something more happen? The script seemed to be deliberately vague about this, and I think it’s one of a few flaws here. What sort of relationship did they have? Why doesn’t the show take a harder stance on Q’s behavior? At best, he’s an annoying presence, which irked me because his actions here put him much more in line with a possessive, stalker boyfriend than anything else. Likeâ€¦following someone around the galaxy, actively sabotaging possible dates, physically isolating them from other peopleâ€¦ THIS IS REALLY BAD.
But it’s Q, so most of it is portrayed as humorous antics than anything else. That does work, however, when we see Q interact with the DS9 crew. It’s funny to watch Sisko exhibit about .5 seconds worth of patience with Q, which builds up to the VERY BEST scene in the entire episode: Sisko punching Q in the face with absolutely no regret. None. There is no better demonstration that Sisko is nothing like Picard than this one. RIGHT??? While the rest of the staff shows different levels of annoyance â€“ from amused to downright hostility â€“ I don’t think any of them get a scene quite like Sisko does.
Which isn’t the worst thing imaginable. If Q is going to return to DS9, then there’s a potential to explore those dynamics. Still, that means that “Q-Less” isn’t as satisfying as it could be. With the bulk of his time onscreen spent in Vash’s presence, there’s little room to explore Q through the lens of DS9. In that sense, he’s both a welcome addition but also completely out of place. I think that might be deliberate, since he’s only here to beg Vash to let him back in her life. But I think it’s an odd choice for a focus of the episode, especially it’s never developed beyond the superficial. What sort of benefit did Q gain from Vash’s presence? There’s a very brief explanation here â€“ he can see the universe through wondrous eyes â€“ but it’s not much of an exploration of the reasoning, is it? (Though I had a moment of meta joy: people tell me they enjoy this project of mine because they get to do the same thing with the things they love.)
It’s a strange episode in the end. It is by no means terrible, but it wavers in focus. It’s about the end of a relationship; it’s about a burgeoning friendship between Quark and Vash; it’s about the dangers of stealing artifacts from their indigenous cultures. Actually, let’s talk about that, because it’s kind of infuriating that Vash appears to miss the whole point of the journey. I mean, first of all, it’s highly immoral to do what she does anyway. (Heads up, Britain.) It’s barely addressed within the show, except when she steals a gem THAT IS ACTUALLY AN EGG THAT IS READY TO HATCH. Her theft of this egg nearly causes the DS9 to be obliterated. And when she finds this out? It’s nothing more than a neat factoid or an odd occurrence. At the end of “Q-Less,” it’s highly suggested that she isn’t going to give up on her previous profession and return to Earth. Nope, she’s gonna keep stealing things without knowing what they are and devoid of their cultural context, thereby risking the lives of other people. Again. Inevitably, it’s going to happen again, right?
But the story seems unaware of this. Bah. I had fun watching this, but it falls apart in hindsight, doesn’t it?
The video for “Q-Less” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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