Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"The Q and the Grey"

When I have complained in the past that I would rather be beaten with a sack of doorknobs than review VOY, it was episodes like ‘The Q and the Grey” that made the cruising for a bruising more appealing. In the first place, I am not big on Q episodes in the first place. But add to that bad story elements and the complete ignoring of established continuity, and you have an even worse episode than if q just showed up and went about his usual shtick. Kenneth Biller wrote this one, of course. He is an evil, evil man.

Q visits Janeway with a proposition--have a child with him. She naturally refuses, but he continues to court her in the stereotypical ways, among them the Pepe le Pew act, serenading, and gift giving. A female Q shows up to interrupt his hapless endeavor. As she is played by Suzie Plakson, better known as K’Elehr from TNG, I will unimaginatively refer to her as Suzie Q. At the very least, maybe you can sustain yourself through this review with happy thoughts of Credence Clearwater Revival.

Q escapes with Janeway into the Q Continuum just as the aftermath of a supernova is about to strike the ship, leaving the rest of the crew to deal with Suxie Q. It is in the Continuum the just for laughs bits end and the heart of the story, such that it is, begins. Quinn, the Q who committed suicide in order to escape his eternal existence, has sparked off a civil war between those Q who believe in individualism and those who want to maintain the old ways. Q, who had a change of heart and assisted Quinn in his suicide, took up his cause. He now regrets his choice, and like a battered woman in a troubled marriage, thinks having a child will fix the problem.

Janeway perceives the conflict in the best way her mind can comprehend--as the American Civil War. The Q who support indivual freedom are the union. The status quo supporters are the Confederates. If you have any questions as to which side is absolutely correct in the conflict, then you are not politically correct enough to walk out in public unsupervised by a progressive. Kudos to you for that. Q is a yankee, as if I needed another reason to dislike him.

It is at this point, the episode introduces three serious problems that place it firmly in the VOY basement.

One, how can the Q destroy each other in a war? Quinn had to lose his powers before he could commit suicide. It was the only way he could harm himself. “The Q and the Grey” show Q killing each other with guns and cannon balls. The John de Lancie Q is shot in the arm earlier on in order to gain our sympathy. He is not the only one shown to be wounded. There is a Confederate soldier with his leg below the knee missing. If it is possible to create weapons for the Q to maim and kill each other, why could Quinn not have done himself in without having his powers taken away?

Two, while Janeway refuses to mate with Q, she suggests he have a child with Suzie Q instead. Q’s first rationale is that he wants his child to have the best of Q and the best of humanity in himself. Absorb that one for a moment. Q could mate with any human woman who has ever existed or ever will, and he chooses Janeway as the best possible choice. Jeri Taylor’s heart must have grown three sizes when biller tossed in that Janeway id Awesome bit. Q’s second point is pickling. He claims Q do not have children. But they do. Two former Q had a daughter in TNG‘s “True Q” who was a full Q. Q himself was involved in her return to the Continuum, so he ought to know better. There have only been a handful of Q episodes ever, and “True Q” aired only four years prior. It is not asking much to maintain continuity.

Three, Suzie Q, who has lost her powers now thanks to the war, lets the Voyager crew in on a little secret--they can enter the Continuum by way of some techno babble engine modifications and a super nova. You may consider this a weak gripe, but I think it takes what little mystic there is out of the alleged wondrous Continuum by making it an easily accessible destination for a determined ship.

The crew arrives in the Conituum dressed in full union regalia just in time to rescue Janeway and Q from a Confederate firing squad. I suppose the uniforms are a nice touch, but they do seem like a Hollywood embellishment. You know, the crew is wearing them just to be cute. Maybe I am nitpicking with that, too. It is difficult to forgive borderline oddities in an episode that is not very good.

The Confederates surrender because they are outgunned by the Voyager crew. I am surprised that is true, but okay. Q finally decides to take Janeway’s advice and mate with Suxie Q. Realizing hey are about to do the deed right now, Janeway begins to slink off before q asks if she wants to watch. She does, for heaven’s sake. Q and Suxie Q touch index fingers and that is it. Janeway remarks bewilderingly how anticlimactic it was, as though she was expecting to see some real bumping and grinding.

The birth of the child leads to the big question: how is it that two Q on one side in the civil war having a child resolves the conflict? At the very least, the parents should have been one from each side of the ideological struggle. That would have made at least some sense. The continuity issue of Q already having a child in the past aside, I do not see how having the kid changes anything. But remember, I am in the mindset Q has the often terrible rationale that repairing a bad relationship by having a child is a good idea, so perhaps I am biased.

“The Q and the Grey” is quite awful. I would imagine Q fans have to ignore it in order to still enjoy the Q related aspects of the canon. There is no point to the episode at all. The resolution does not make any sense. Janeway does not even think to ask Q to send them back to the Alpha Quadrant as thanks for assisting him. The only virtue of “The Q and the Grey” is a personal penchant for Civil War related stories. I have the typical southern interest in the war, but these days, popular entertainment will rarely touch on it because of the trend of applying modern moral standards to the past. Ted Turner has been the only guy brave enough to make film on the subject in recent years, and he has dropped off the entertainment map in favor of promoting global warming hysteria. Civil War buffs are left out in the cold these days.
"Is it over yet?"

Nope. There are another 116 episodes to go, I am afraid.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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