Monday, July 31, 2017

Episode Review - Death Wish (Voyager, Season 2)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The crew of Voyager accidentally free a member of the Q Continuum from a unique comet that the rest of the Continuum had imprisoned him over three centuries ago. When Q, known to have caused much mischief to Picard on the Enterprise, arrives, Janeway becomes the arbiter for a hearing to determine if the newly released Q will be imprisoned again or be allowed his one true desire: death. 

Dueling Qs

Score: 9/10 – I really think that this episode is one of the strongest from Voyager’s second season. Since Voyager started, fans have been wanting the ever-popular Q to make an appearance. The issue at stake here was how to do so with a story that was worthy of this monumental occurrence. “Death Wish” gives us that. Creator Michael Piller was given the idea from his son, Shawn, and it provided a way for Q to come to voyager in a way that was not so contrived. By introducing Quinn (which is how I will refer to the suicidal Q from this point on), we are given a reason for Q (played once more with brilliance and wickedly impishness John de Lancie) to appear in the Delta Quadrant. Quinn is fascinating to me as a character. Played by Gerrit Graham (whom we saw previously in DS9’s first season episode “Captive Pursuit”), he is able to grab onto the mischievous quality common to most Q, but brought a bit down to Earth by his weariness with an immortal existence. Most of all, what works best in this episode is the superb on-screen chemistry between Q and Janeway. This is the third captain that Q has tangled with. Picard set the standard and his relationship with Q was always entertaining. Sisko only got one shot, and while he hadnled Q well, from a story point the fire just wasn’t there. With Janeway, Q takes things to a different place. The banter is there, but it is different. This refreshes the character of Q, and the theme of the story being the place of euthanasia in society gives Q an opportunity to change. While much of the rest of the cast is relegated to the background, we get some great scenes for Tuvok and Janeway.

Q(uinn) attempts to end his life...and causes all the men on the ship to vanish

Relevance – 2 points. One point for setting the stage for the rest of the Q-centered episodes that will follow on Voyager. Because of Quinn’s death, Q rethinks his attitude towards the Continuum, and causes him to go back to his rebel ways. Another point is scored for a quick list of Q’s previous antics (most notably introducing the Federation to the Borg).

The game of hide and seek continues

Continuity – 3 points. Story wise this works well. It would make sense that when Janeway hears that “Q” is on the ship, she declares red alert and braces herself for a tough go. Universe continuity also works well, and we get a rare glimpse as to what life in the Q continuum is like. Character continuity is good as well. I thought even Q was true to himself throughout the episode, despite the growth and change he underwent.

Everyone has been the scarecrow

Character Development – 2 points. Q gets the most treatment and growth here, and while he is not a main character on the show, he is a beloved character that now spans three series. While this may not score points in this category, it does deserve a mention. I also feel that Janeway gets some significant development and lays the foundation for what will be an entertaining rivalry between her and Q. Much of the main cast becomes glorified extras here, but Tuvok does get to tangle his logic as he advocates for Quinn.

Best double-face-palm in Trek. Vulcans.

Social Commentary – 3 points. Even today many governments in the world are conflicted by the debate around a person’s right to die. As much as we would like to think that all lives are important, what happens when one is overcome by the pains of life to the point that they want to end it? Does Quinn have a lot to contribute? Of course he does. He would have been invaluable to the Voyager crew. And yet he would have been miserable and therefor chose to end his life. Is this right? That is a hard question to answer and evokes much emotion, but that is what makes the social commentary so relevant. While we continue to grapple with this issue, this episode gives us a lot to consider and helps us better understand both sides of the argument.

The Q Continuum

Cool Stuff – 3 points. Of course we score a point for Q. The show is almost always a bit more special when this omnipotent rascal blips onto the screen. John de Lancie is true form and pulls off one of his better outings as Q. I enjoyed the exploration of the Q Continuum itself, with its whimsical portrayal of the long highway, with various Q playing the different parts, from the dog to the scarecrow. I also award a point for the appearance of Q’s witnesses. Issac Newton appears again (this time as a non-holographic entity) and we get to see William T. Riker again (it’s always nice to see Johnathan Frakes), but I love how the second witness, the hippy responsible for saving Woodstock, is named after the actor that plays him. The story goes that the character had a different name, but upon meeting actor Maury Ginsberg, the Michael Piller loved his name so much that they changed it in the script. This makes him the second character to share the same name as the character, but the first person to have that honor for a character that was not himself (Stephan Hawking played himself in a TNG episode). That’s a bit of obscure trivia for your day!

The witnesses are called

Rank – Admiral (22 points). This is definitely a must watch and shows some of the strength in Voyager. Q was such a popular character on TNG that fans had been clamoring for his return in every follow-up series. While his appearance on Deep Space Nine was not terrible, it was only decent at best. On Voyager, however, they were able to bring him into the show in a way that was more than just another Q running a muck episode. This episode is Star Trek at its best.

The comet where Quinn was found

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Voyager, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.


  1. I disagree on one point. Janeway's triggering a Red Alert merely shows that she's even more trigger happy than young Captain Kirk. She apparently only skimmed the reports on Q, or she might have thought a bit more about the idea of putting her crew on phaser panic mode against an omnipotent visitor who'd merely laugh at their weapons and force fields. On the other hand we get a look at what seems to be the only decent member of the Q Continuum we meet in any of the Trek franchises. (The Universe quite frankly would be better off if all of the Q would simply pack up and leave.)

    1. Let me amend that. It'd be even better if all of the Q were to follow Quinn's example.

    2. I think there is a difference between Red Alert (everyone be ready for anything) and the panic mode, but I get your point.