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Star Trek: Voyager – Q2 (Review)

Q2 is an episode very much in keeping with the ethos of Star Trek: Voyager, particularly at this point in its run.

It isn’t just the strange nostalgia that permeates the episode, opening with an extended oral presentation from Icheb on the heroic exploits of James Tiberius Kirk from the original Star Trek and extending through to the unnecessary return of a beloved recurring guest character from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nor is it the awkwardness with which Q2 affects a half-hearted compromise in its final act, with the series paying lip service to the fact that its omnipotent (and mostly friendly) guest star could get the crew home with a click of his fingers, while refusing to do that because it would break the series.

“Q2 ratings are way up!”

The essential Voyager-ness at the heart of Q2 is much more profound than all of that. It has to do with how the series treats is returning guest star. Q has been a part of the Star Trek universe dating back to Encounter at Farpoint. John de Lancie has been a recurring guest star on the franchise for thirteen-and-a-half years. Although de Lancie has aged relatively well, and although suspension of belief easily allows for it, even Q himself seems much older between his first and last appearances in the television franchise.

However, Q2 takes a character who was introduced as an immortal and all-powerful trickster god in The Next Generation, and transform him into a stressed middle-aged parent by the end of Voyager. This is a very Voyager approach to characterisation and development. It is how the series has approach many of its characters. In Caretaker, Chakotay was a rebel, Paris as a rogue, and Neelix was a free-wheeling trader; within the show’s first season, all of those rough edges have been filed off. The decision to do that with a character who is effectively a trickster god speaks a lot to the central philosophy of Voyager.

Not kidding around.

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Star Trek: Voyager – Death Wish (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

Death Wish is an interesting beast.

On the one hand, it is a decidedly cynical cash-in. It is very much a crossover episode that exists to cement the ties between Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation, to the point where it not only features a beloved guest star who bookended the seven-year run of The Next Generation, but also a “special appearance” from the secondary lead of that show. It was also consciously moved around in the production order so it might air in February sweeps, and was heavily hyped as part of the network’s news cycle.

Qrossover!

Qrossover!

On the other hand, Death Wish is a fascinating episode on a number of levels. It is certainly the best of Q’s three appearances on Voyager, and certainly ranks among some of the character’s best work in general. Death Wish engages with a fairly hefty social issue of the nineties, as Janeway is embroiled in a debate about the morality of suicide. It also serves as a vehicle for writer Michael Piller to put his own version of Voyager on trial, with certain segments of the episode resonating quite clearly with the behind-the-scenes turmoil on the show.

Death Wish is a paradox of an episode. It is bold and daring on its own terms, but it is also cynical and coy. It is an example of Voyager actively steering into its reputation as “Next Generation Lite”, which will cause a lot of problems for the show down the line. This is a shame; Death Wish is actually quite interesting on its own merits.

The road to nowhere...

The road to nowhere…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Q-Squared by Peter David (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Q-Squared is probably Peter David’s most ambitious Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. “Q-Squared is almost my challenge to the reader to keep up with me,” he boasted in Voyages of the Imagination. Essentially a meditation on reality and free will within that construct, Q-Squared is a breathtakingly confident endeavour. It’s an interesting reflection on the potentiality embraced by The Next Generation, the broadening of the franchise’s perspective to embrace the best of all possible worlds.

Q-Squared hit stands in early July 1994, just over a month after All Good Things… brought the curtain down on The Next Generation for one last time. It’s tempting to look at the two stories as companion pieces. All Good Things… is an exploration of the time that the crew spent together – jumping backwards and forwards to trace our heroes over the course of their lives. In contrast, Q-Squared jumps sideways – looking at what might have been, or what could have been.

tng-q-squared

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – I, Q by John deLancie & Peter David (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

I, Q is John deLancie’s second attempt to write a story featuring his popular and iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation character. As with The Gift, he is teamed with an experienced Star Trek tie-in writer to help bring his vision to life. While Michael Jan Friedman’s collaboration with deLancie for the first annual of DC’s first Next Generation series was a less than promising debut for the actor-turned-writer, I, Q works a lot better.

It’s hard to tell if this is because deLancie works better with Peter David as a collaborator, or that his style works better in prose, or simply that he has developed as a writer in the years since that first comic was published. I, Q is far from the perfect Star Trek novel, but it’s an enjoyable enough read – it captures the voice of its celebrity author quite well, and breezes along inoffensively. There are moments when the novel seems to bask a little too heavily in its central character’s filibustering, but it’s a perfectly serviceable read.

tng-iq

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC, 1989) Annual #1 – The Gift (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films.

You can see why DC comics jumped at the chance to publish The Gift. After all, a comic about Q written by the actor playing Q is a hell of a hook. The publisher had already done something similar, with actor Walter Koenig providing a script for the nineteenth issue of DC’s first Star Trek comic book series. At the same time that The Gift was published, George Takei collaborated with Peter David on a Star Trek annual story, So Near the Touch.

John deLancie isn’t a bad storyteller. Indeed, his published tie-in novel – I, Q written with Peter David – is quite enjoyable. However, The Gift is just an absolute mess of a story, with a couple of interesting high concepts buried beneath two horrible clichés tied together to create a rather unfortunate narrative. The Gift is a disappointment on just about every level.

Cue Q!

Cue Q!

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