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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 2 E 18 "Death Wish"

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"Will you send him to prison for eternity or will you assist in his suicide plan? That's a toughie, but that's why they made you captain, isn't it?"

Voyager encounters a member of the Q Continuum who was trapped within a comet because of his desire of wanting to kill himself. The Q that was encountered by Captain Jean-Luc Picard appears on the scene to argue against the case of his fellow Q's desire for being granted mortality for the sake of self-termination, and although Captain Janeway doesn't want to see that Q end his own life, she nonetheless rules in favor of his being granted mortality when she sees for herself the kind of life he and other members of the Q Continuum are constantly subjected to due to their immortality.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Quinn casually walks through the forcefield around the transporter pad.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Q is pretty clearly interested in Janeway, telling her she's angry when she's beautiful and even showing up uninvited in her bed. She makes it clear that she's really not interested. Q being Q, of course, this doesn't put him off.
  • The Alcatraz: The comet where Quinn has been imprisoned for over 300 years.
  • And I Must Scream: Quinn's prison inside the comet is cramped, cold, and he's going to stay there for eternity or until he relents his position.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Q assures Janeway that they will meet again.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Quinn's three witnesses whose lives he changed resulted in Isaac Newton discovering gravity, the existence of William Riker and all the times he saved the Federation (notably from the Borg), and some guy who saved Woodstock by noticing a disconnected cable.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving:
    Q: Without Q there would have been no William T. Riker at all, and I would have lost at least a dozen really good opportunities to insult him over the years. Oh, and lest I forget, without Q, the Borg would have assimilated the Federation.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment
    Q: I'll take you home. Before you know it, you'll be scampering across the meadow with your little puppies, the grass beneath your bare feet. A man, coming over the hill way in the distance, waves to you. You run to be in his arms and as you get closer you see that it'!
    Janeway: You?
    Q: Forget Mark. I know how to show a girl a good time.
  • Bedmate Reveal: As per tradition, Q appears in the captain's bed, this time wearing a silly nightcap. Unlike Picard, Janeway immediately jumps out of bed and puts on a dressing gown. "Get Out!"
  • Been There, Shaped History: To show how a Q's life can affect the universe, Q calls 3 witnesses from human history who all had a run in with Quinn:
    • Famous physicist Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under a tree that was jostled by Quinn, causing the apple to fall on his head, giving birth to modern physics.
    • When hippie sound technician Maury Ginsberg's car broke down, he was given a lift by Quinn to the music festival at Woodstock, and ended up being in the right place to notice a single unplugged extension cord that had knocked out the entire sound system, thereby saving the show. He also met his future wife thanks to Quinn.
    • Quinn saved the life of Commander Will Riker's wounded ancestor, Colonel Thaddeus Riker, during the American Civil War by helping him to a hospital, thus enabling Riker to exist and save the Federation from the Borg.
  • Birds of a Feather: Quinn was inspired to rebel against the Continuum by Q's disobedience.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Q tells Maury Ginsberg he will eventually marry the cute hippy chick he met on the way to Woodstock and become a successful orthodontist, settled in Scarsdale with four kids.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Q calls an expert on the Continuum to give testimony. Himself.
    Q: Thank you for coming. It's a rare honour to have someone of your reputation and accomplishment with us today.
  • Call-Back: To the TNG episode Descent, where the holographic Sir Isaac Newton was outraged to hear Data say that the story of the apple falling on his head was considered to be apocryphal. This time, the actual man himself appears and confirms that it's completely true.
  • The Cameo: Jonathan Frakes as Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation, called as a witness for the trial.
  • Cerebus Retcon: For seven years on TNG (and once on DS9), Q had been portrayed as a Jerkass God, The Gadfly, or Trickster Mentor, who took delight in messing with people. This episode put a dark spin on all of his prior antics. A glimpse of life in the continuum showed that underneath all of his bluster and wacky cartoonishness, Q was a Sad Clown.
    Quinn: Q rebelled against this existence by refusing to behave. He was out of control, he used his powers recklessly, tormented lesser beings, all for his own amusement. And he desperately needed amusement. Because he could find none here at home.
  • Character Overlap: Riker and Q.
  • Clarke's Third Law
    Quinn: You mustn't think of us as omnipotent, no matter what The Continuum would like you to believe. You and your ship seem incredibly powerful to lifeforms without your technological expertise! It's no different with us; we may appear omnipotent to you, but believe me, we're not.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Q and Q both mention cases where other Q have been executed, with the case of Amanda Rogers' mother and father having previously been explored.
    • When Janeway tells Riker that Voyager was lost in the Delta Quadrant, Riker immediately glares at Q. In TNG's "Q Who", Q flung the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant, where they were introduced to the Borg in an encounter which left 18 Enterprise crewmembers dead.
  • Courtroom Antics: Despite Janeway warning against this at the start of proceedings, courtroom antics are inevitable with two omnipotent Large Hams involved. And who else but Q could call himself as a Surprise Witness and proceed to cross-examine himself?
  • Courtroom Episode: Quinn more or less sued the Continuum to allow him to commit suicide and was sectioned to the Q equivalent of a rubber room (e.g. a comet). Q asks Janeway to rule on whether Quinn has the right to take his own life. Vulcans approve of suicide, so Tuvok is the counsel chosen by Quinn to assist in his case.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A given, considering it's a Q episode.
    • When Quinn pops in to Tuvok's quarters, Tuvok asks him if the Q have always lacked manners or if it evolved with their omnipotence.
    • When Quinn brings Voyager to the moment of the Big Bang, B'Elanna quips "This ship will not survive the formation of the cosmos."
  • Deus ex Machina: Q offers to instantly take Voyager back to Earth if Janeway rules in his favor. Incidentally this trope prevented the writers from bringing back Q for some time, to the surprise of John de Lancie when he found out. To him the whole thing was a non-issue, as he pointed out Q would simply refuse if asked. This is played straight in "Q2".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The ethics of assisted suicide.
    • Quinn uses hemlock to poison himself, as did the philosopher Socrates.
    • At the time of original broadcast, Hallmark stores were selling Christmas ornaments in the form of ships such as the Enterprise, the Shuttlecraft Galileo, and yes... Voyager.
    • Q says he's a born-again Q.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir":
    Janeway: Don't call me Madame Captain!
  • Double Entendre:
    Q: May I see you in your chambers, Captain?
    Janeway: You've been in my chambers enough for one visit, sir.
  • Driven to Suicide
  • Emergency Temporal Shift: One of Quinn's many attempts to escape Q involves transporting the ship back to before the Big Bang.
  • Face Palm: Q performs an elusively rare stereo variation on the double facepalm. That is, two faces, one right palm per face (this is not a recommended procedure for mere mortals). Oh, whatever was the gesture for? Well, Vulcan logic is no fun, basically.
  • Facial Markings: Q meets Chakotay. "Facial art — how wilderness of you!"
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: A variation, as Q's witnesses are Isaac Newton (known to pretty much everybody on Earth), William Riker (known to all Trekkies), and Maury Ginsberg (known to...okay, pretty much nobody, although he apparently played an important role at Woodstock).
  • Fighting Across Time and Space: Q and Quinn get into a Reality Warp-off with poor Voyager stuck in the middle, bouncing across all of creation before Janeway runs out of patience and demands they try something else.
  • First-Name Basis: Q of course refers to Captain Janeway as "Kathy" when in the privacy of her quarters.
  • Force-Field Door: Quinn, on being beamed in, doesn't quite just walk through the barrier meant to contain him like it was nothing — rather, he sets it off where the camera can see; he pauses, surprised, when he realizes it's there and then walks through it like it's nothing.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Q's Great Gazoo behaviour is explained as him rebelling against the ennui of immortality. Quinn even says his rebellion was inspired by Q's actions.
    Q: My penance has ended. I'm a born again Q. That life is behind me.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • When Quinn is first beamed on board Voyager, he's already wearing a Starfleet uniform.
    • The Q Continuum is depicted as an old service station in the middle of nowhere so that the humans can understand what it is truly like for Quinn.
  • Gendercide: Quinn accidentally makes all of Voyager's male crew members disappear and can't bring them back until Q intervenes.
  • Get Out!: Played straight when Q first turns up in Janeway's bed. Once he starts seriously hitting on her, it's a cold and quiet; "Leave."
  • A God I Am Not: Quinn tells Tuvok that, despite what the Continuum would have mortals believe, the Q are not omnipotent, just sufficiently advanced; he points out that Voyager and its crew would seem just as powerful to less advanced races. He later implies that they haven't always been as they are now, speaking of a time before the "new era" when they previously had to deal with the unknown.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Q vs Quinn.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Q provides the poison so Quinn can kill himself, having been convinced by his arguments. As revealed in "The Q and the Grey", he goes on to launch a rebellion inside the Continuum.
  • Humanity Ensues: Averted; although Janeway invites him to explore life as a mortal rather that commit suicide, Quinn still kills himself, knowing he'd only be pretending to be human.
  • I Gave My Word: Janeway knows Q will stick by any agreement he's made.
    Q: How would you know if I intended to keep my word?
    Janeway: Based on my research, you have been many things. A rude, interfering, inconsiderate, sadistic—
    Q: You've made your point.
    Janeway: Pest. And, oh yes, you introduced us to the Borg, thank you very much. But one thing you have never been is a liar.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Quinn needs an expert on humans. The Q we know from ST:TNG appears.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Voyager is shrunk to the subatomic level, then becomes a Christmas tree decoration in Quinn's efforts to hide from Q.
  • In the Doldrums: The Q continuum was described this way by a Q who had become so bored with his omniscience that he wished to commit suicide. In order to back up his statement, he led the crew to a part of the continuum inhabited by a group of Q who did absolutely nothing but sit in one spot - having done literally everything.
  • Irony: Q's argument for the reason Quinn's life has been of value, and should not be allowed to end, is supported by examples of how he has positively impacted the history of the human race. The same human race that rabidly enforces the infamous Alien Non-Interference Clause known as the Prime Directive. Even funnier, Q is using Quinn's past interventions as a supporting argument, even though the ultimate goal is to return Quinn to imprisonment where he would not be able to affect anything anymore.
  • Lady Land: Quinn temporarily makes all the male crewmembers disappear, making Q think Voyager is an Amazon Brigade.
  • Meaningful Echo: Janeway's "Bring them back now!" Sisko said the same thing in the sole Q episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Averted
    Torres: Torres to Janeway. You'd better get down here, Captain.
    Janeway: Problem, Lieutenant?
    Torres: Yes, ma'am. That transport from the comet? It brought a man aboard. He says his name is Q.
    Janeway: Red alert!
  • Never Trust a Title: There is intentionally no "Q" in the episode title, despite it being a feature of most (but not all) Q episodes. The producers did not want the audience to know Q would be appearing on the show as was the case with "Tapestry" on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Noodle Incident: Q claims that Quinn accidentally started a hundred-year war between the Romulans and Vulcans with his Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: After Quinn appears standing uncomfortably close over his shoulder, Tuvok wonders if an absence of manners is a natural consequence of omnipotence.
    Quinn: Oh, you mean our just barging in whenever we feel like it?
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: Quinn's objective.
  • Not Me This Time: When Q first arrives on Voyager, he initially suspects Quinn is responsible for them being in the Delta Quadrant, where humans aren't supposed to be for another century; Quinn hastily points out it had nothing to do with him. Later, Riker is implied to suspect the same of Q himself.
  • Oh, Crap!: Janeway immediately calls Red Alert when she hears there's a Q on board.
  • The Omnipotent: Subverted, at least according to Quinn. The Q aren't truly all-powerful, they just seem that way from a human perspective.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Apart from his usual disdain for petty bipeds, Q makes several sexist remarks.
  • Red Alert: Janeway on hearing the notorious Q is on board, though it turns out to be a notorious Q, but the definite article arrives shortly after.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: According to Q, if Quinn hadn't caused the apple to fall on Sir Isaac Newton's head, the man would have died alone and forgotten in a Liverpool debtor's prison, a suspect in several prostitute murders. Newton's lack of reaction implies he isn't surprised by that.
  • Running Gag: Q annoying Starfleet captains (and hitting on them too, you could say).
  • Sadistic Choice: If Janeway rules in Q's favor, Quinn will be confined for eternity in a most uncomfortable prison. If she rules in favor of Quinn, he will commit suicide.
  • Skewed Priorities: When summing up the impact Quinn has had on the lives of his witnesses, Q notes that that had Quinn not saved Riker's ancestor, he would have lot at least a dozen good chances to insult the man over the years. Oh, and the Borg would have assimilated Earth.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Q: This is your own doing. You could live a perfectly normal life if you were simply willing to live a perfectly normal life.
  • Slouch of Villainy: On Voyager's bridge, Q slouches on the consoles and in front of the viewscreen.
  • Status Quo Is God: Q promises that none of the witnesses he summoned will remember anything. Thus, Riker doesn't get to tell Starfleet that Voyager was stuck in the Delta Quadrant.
  • Stepford Smiler: All the Q beside Q(1) and Quinn, just sit or stand around with silly grins plastered to their faces. Q(1) says they are all happy while Quinn says, "Yes, they have to be."
  • Stock Desert Interstate: How Q and Quinn agree to present the Q Continuum to the Voyager crew, since You Cannot Grasp the True Form applies to their realm for "lesser" beings such as Humans and Vulcans.
  • Stock Footage: Quinn's comet is recycled footage of the comet from the TNG episode "Masks".
  • Story Arc: This episode kicks off VOY's Q Trilogy, which will continue in Season Three's "The Q and the Grey" and conclude in Season Seven's "Q2".
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: Q is opposed to Quinn committing suicide because it will destabilize their society with the idea that their existence could end.
  • Take That!: “And you find nothing contradictory in a society that outlaws suicide but practices capital punishment?”
  • Troll: Q presumably could have summoned Riker's ancestor from the past to witness that Quinn saved his life. He brought Riker to the Delta Quadrant purely to mess with him.
  • The Un-Smile: When Q insists the bored members of the Continuum are happy with their immortal lives, one makes an unconvincing grin.
  • We Will Meet Again: Unlike on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Q will return in "The Q and the Grey".
  • Wham Line: "Hello, my name is Q" from someone who isn't John de Lancie.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Q Continuum live a boring, empty existence because they've already done, said and visited everything.
  • Women Drivers: Q makes a snide comment that having a woman in charge is why Voyager is 75,000 light years off course.
  • World of Silence: The Q Continuum, as depicted in this episode.
  • You're Cute When You're Angry
    Janeway: The vaunted Q Continuum: "Self-anointed Guardians of The Universe"! How dare you come aboard this ship and endanger this crew with your personal tug-of-war!
    Q: Did anyone ever tell you you're angry when you're beautiful?
  • Your Favorite: In gratitude for Captain Janeway freeing him, Quinn magics up a dinner of Welsh rarebit "like your grandfather used to make."
    Neelix: Rabbit? She never told me she likes rabbits. What is a rabbit anyway? Is this some new chef she's interviewing?
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Q transports a spotlight operator from The '60s and Sir Isaac Newton to give testimony. Janeway tries to explain to them what is happening.
    Janeway: Consider for a moment that it might be possible to travel forward in time, say to the twenty fourth century, onto a starship seventy five thousand light years from Earth.
    (Blank looks)