In which Julian gets right up my nose – and up Q’s too.
Memory Alpha says: Archaeologist Vash arrives from the Gamma Quadrant as Q plagues the station and an unknown force threatens to destroy it. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
I’m getting blogger’s anxiety about whether people are enjoying this, because I haven’t had any comments in the last couple of days, and as I type this my Blogger stats suggest people actually haven’t been viewing the last couple of entries. I realise that the format or style of my reviews has been changing around; in some cases I just gave commentary while in others I recapped the episode with my commentary seeded in. (I fell into this, I suppose, because it’s standard on Television Without Pity, and I usually enjoy that site – Keckler’s reviews of Enterprise are well worth reading, because she gives the show credit for what it did well but never lets its many weak points slide, and is funny, and includes interesting cookery anecdotes, and she did some one-offs of TOS, TNG and DS9 episodes as well.) I hope that’s not annoying people. On the other hand, I realise that it’s the end of the middle of December and a lot of people are travelling to spend the holidays with their families, shopping, cooking and decorating for Christmas, going to parties, and generally less inclined to sit on their bums reading about Star Trek, so I’ll try not to fret.
To take my mind off it, today I shall wrap presents (I’m using a ‘brown paper packages tied up with strings’ theme, and anyone who doesn’t like The Sound of Music can sit on it), help decorate the tree at my parents’, and watch Star Trek. I see I’ve surprised you! Okay, let’s tackle the only Q episode of DS9, which would otherwise be Q-less, and you see what I did there.
This episode begins with Julian being smarmy and quite repellent to me. It seems like I really don’t like the guy, doesn’t it? I just don’t like the way he behaves in early episodes, and a lot of why he behaves that way is because he’s a callow youth whose intelligence, confidence and education far outstrip his life experience. Few things repel me like unjustified self-esteem (and I teach, so I see a lot of it). DS9 is, in part, the story of Julian Bashir Growing Up, and he’s got to start somewhere. I’ll grow to love Julian again, but going back and seeing what a knob he was in the beginning is jarring.
As an example of how little actual life experience Julian has to draw on, he is sitting in the replimat trying to impress a pretty Bajoran lady by telling her how difficult his exams were, and what a badass he was for answering a really hard question at the last minute. (Seriously, you couldn’t tell her about an exciting tennis game or something?) O’Brien is sitting in the background being my total identification figure. You can SEE the cloud above his head with ‘WANKER’ written in it. (Apart from anything else, I think O’Brien is very much the sort of person who thinks his achievements speak for themselves, and is more concerned with the usefulness of his work than the impressiveness of it.)
‘And that, I suppose, is the stuff salutatorians are made of,’ Julian concludes, and smiles sweetly. Gloriously, the lady repeats ‘Salutatorian?’ as if this might be a deal-killer for her. Julian tells her about his Waterloo – in the orals, he mistook a pre-ganglionic fibre for a post-ganglionic nerve. How ironic that one so gangly should have difficulty with ganglia. He claims it was a trick question. I am interested to note that while Julian pronounces ‘aural’ ‘owral,’ he pronounces ‘oral’ ‘awral.’ Accents are weird and nifty. Anyway! The lady beams ‘Fascinating!’, possibly just because he is so very pretty, and Julian begins ‘Not nearly as fascinating as when I -‘<
Fortunately my BFF O’Brien is saved from rolling his eyes hard enough to hurt himself, because the Sisko’s voice summons him and Bashir to landing pad five. As they leave, Bashir leans over to O’Brien and undertones ‘Starfleet medical finals. It gets them every time.’ O’Brien looks faintly ill, possibly because something smells like that time a raccoon got stuck in the copier.
At the landing pad, Sisko and Kira are trying frantically to open the hatch into a runabout, the Ganges, which has had a rough run in from the wormhole. Dax is on board and she’s stuck. Because only Sisko and Kira are in the corridor, no actual, like, space stevedores who you’d think would be around in a scenario like this, I wonder for a moment if this is a set-up for a surprise birthday party for O’Brien, and when he gets the hatch open all his friends will be in there with balloons and a cake.
Julian reports that life support has failed and oxygen is getting dangerously low inside, and Kira wants to try to burn through the door with her phaser, but Sisko says that will take too long because it’s made of ‘duranium alloy.’ Do you think ‘duranium’ is just a really durable form of uranium? Julian is surprised to see a reading for three passengers in the Ganges, not just the two Kira and Sisko know about. O’Brien fixes the hatch with a magic plastic LCARS thing, they get it open, and Julian hurries in. He goes to Dax first, who says she’s fine and he should check ‘the others.’ O’Brien is helping up one of those others now, and when he sees her face he blurts ‘Vash?’ (He rhymes it with cash, rather than exactly like the French word for cow.) He reintroduces himself, and asks how she got onto the Ganges. Dax explains that they found her in the Gamma Quadrant, where she’d spent the last two years. Everyone is surprised, but further catch-ups will have to wait until everyone’s had a check-up.
As they leave the shuttle, O’Brien asks Vash how she got to the GQ, and she says ‘A friend dropped me off.’ He says ‘Oh’ as if that explains it, and the camera closes in on a chap in a red TNG uniform doing something to O’Brien’s magic plastic thing, and of course he turns around and is Q.
It’s a bit odd for me seeing this episode at the moment, because in my TNG rewatch I haven’t yet hit any post-‘Farpoint’ Qpisodes. It’s a less successful attempt to carry over one of the best-loved elements of TNG in order to give the new show a boost. So much of Q’s involvement in TNG is based on the fact that he’s developed a relationship with Picard, which is one of the most significant (if flaming annoying, from Picard’s point of view) in either of their lives, and it’s his much weaker and less interesting relationship with Vash, herself not a hugely interesting person, that draws him into this story. I understand Q was all over Voyager, mostly because John De Lancie and Kate Mulgrew are great pals in real life, but I can’t recall ever seeing the episodes in question, so I have no opinion about that. I’ve always been faintly sad that there was no Q in the TNG movies. Couldn’t they have done something with Q instead of Insurrection or Nemesis? Isn’t Q a lot more like a nemesis to Picard than poor Tom Hardy in a bald wig?
In the infirmary, Vash is losing no time in eye-flirting with Julian (she does have very pretty eyes) as she asks ‘Will I live?’ He tells her she’s fine, in fact, ‘in remarkable shape.’ She smiles ‘I try,’ and he gets flustered, puts down her hand that he was holding/examining, and stammers that she’s coped very well considering how long she’s been away from civilisation. (Naturally, I find flustered stammering Julian worlds more appealing than smarmy boasting Julian.) Vash wouldn’t call the GQ uncivilised; there are cultures there going back millions of years. (At this point I retconaceously assume that Vash knows all about the Dominion and the Founders and warns no-one because she’s kind of a jerk.) Julian would love to hear more about that, but Vash gently brushes him off, saying maybe she’ll write a book. He admits that he’s disappointed she’s so healthy, because he has no reason to keep her there. She says he almost makes her wish she wasn’t feeling so well – but evidently not quite, because she picks up her enormous duffel bag and leaves.
Debriefing in Sisko’s office, Dax says that Vash seemed genuinely surprised by the wormhole. Sisko asks how she could have got to the GQ without going through it, and Dax says, a trace archly, that she said she didn’t want to talk about it – it was a personal matter. Sisko is annoyed by the lack of sense this makes, and wants Dax to do a background check.
In the assayer’s office on the promenade, which has been tidied up since Nog helped the hoodie alien loot it, Vash is hiring a safe deposit box. A pompous chap in grey explains how secure the structure of the place is. They trade security details, the grey chap evidently being stiffly proud of his technology, and Vash says ‘Well, I suppose that’ll have to do.’ Gracious! They inventory the items from Vash’s duffel bag – mostly ornaments and fake-looking jewellery (a ‘gold’ necklace, for example, is obviously as light as plastic from the way they handle it). The kicker is a big orange jewel in a black box, which has a sparkly light inside it.
Vash chooses her PIN and gets her eyeball scanned, and arranges to pick up her stuff tomorrow when she leaves. On the way out she bumps into Sisko – who, like a gentleman, takes her cumbersome bag to carry. He tries to coax her to stay a bit, saying scientists from the Daystrom Institute will want to hear all about her adventures, including how she got there – but she smilingly stonewalls that that’s a personal matter.
From the doorway of his bar, Quark watches them pass, and waves in the assayer’s assistant from the previous scene. Schemes are afoot.
Sisko and Vash exchange some chit-chat to the effect that she’s a discredited archaeologist because she sells artifacts illegally. Profit is more important to her than science. Bitch would probably sell the Ark of the Covenant to the Nazis. Sisko manages to persuade her to take a trip to Earth, where she hasn’t been for about twelve years. Now, did the information he used in that conversation come from Dax’s background check? And if so, why would a background check on this individual not turn up a report or log entry from Picard as the most recent document mentioning her, so they’d know about her Q connection? Did Picard not bother to report on what happened in ‘Q-Pid’? Was he too embarrassed?
In the Ganges, O’Brien is puzzled, because he can’t find anything wrong with the ship. Sure it’s got a flat battery and several systems are almost inoperable as a result, but there’s nothing wrong with them except a lack of power. He says it’s as if something drained the ship dry. A SPACE SHIP VAMPIRE, say I. At this point Q is still lying low and I am getting vaguely bored waiting for him.
Leaving the runabout, Sisko asks O’Brien about Vash (which he also rhymes with cash), so O’Brien tells him a little about ‘Captain’s Holiday,’ saying that he thought Vash must be special if Picard was so interested in her, and he seemed to see her as a challenge. The lights abruptly go down and back up, and they hurry off to Ops to find out why.
As you don’t really need to be told, DS9’s power grid is being affected by whatever sucked the juice out of the Ganges. There’s graviton flux, which Dax recognises as what happened on the runabout.
O’Brien drew the job of showing Vash to her quarters (even though in the previous scene he said he’d have to replace some vital thingummy that was damaged by the power drain), and as with Tosk, he starts out apologising for the Cardie accommodations. Vash is used to roughing it under canvas, though, so she thinks it’ll be fine. Before they part she asks after Picard, and hearing that he’s fine, says she’ll have to look him up. When O’Brien’s a little way down the corridor he stops and looks back at her going into her room, suspiciously.
Inside, Vash has a look at a remarkably ugly metal sculpture on the table (considering that the Cardassians took everything that wasn’t nailed down and trashed everything that was, where do the little objets d’art in the guest quarters come from? Whose job was it to pick them out? I unilaterally decide that they’re works from Bajoran artists, put there by the Ministry for Art and Culture, and in the bedside drawer is a little pamphlet telling you how you can buy them and support the recovery of their economy), plunks her bag on the bed, then starts putting her clothes in the drawers. I do not understand people who put their clothes into hotel drawers when they’re only going to stay a night or two. Folded in your bag, folded in the drawer, what’s the difference? It only gives you one more job to do before you can leave, and increases your chances of leaving something behind. I suppose this was a necessary bit of business to get Vash to turn her back to the bed, because when she turns back, Q is lounging there, reproaching her for ‘pining for Jean-Luc.’ Pot, kettle; you’re the one who has such difficulty leaving him alone.
Vash says she wishes she’d listened when Picard warned her about Q, and he smoothly says ‘You’re hurt, you strike back, I understand. But be of good cheer, I bring you wonderful news! I’m ba-ack!’ This feels like a line that was written with an eye to the episode promos. They bicker about whether he left her or she left him, and Q’s main way of dealing with Vash’s efforts to part from him is to gloss right over them. He magics her bag back onto her shoulder and starts talking about where they’ll go next – and he does genuinely seem to be offering some nifty sights, like Star Dancers. Vash repeatedly tells him no, and he tries the bag trick again, and she throws it at him.
There’s some recapping of the fact that he promised to take her to places no other human could visit, and she thanks him sweetly, propelling him towards the door, and tells him firmly GOOD-BYE. Q points out that they haven’t explored anything like the whole of this galaxy – not to mention all the others. As he says this he’s backing her across the room, and bends her back over the foot of the bed, more or less getting on top of her, and either they’ve been doing it or he has remarkably unusual codes of body language. Pushing him off, she tells him ‘It’s over, Q, I want you out of my life,’ the language again framing this as a lovers’ breakup, and accuses him of being arrogant, overbearing, and thinking he knows everything. Puzzled, Q objects that he does know everything (which is surely not true or there would be no point in him interacting with others; he doesn’t know what they’re going to say or do). That, Vash says, makes it worse.
Turning away, Q asks in a tone of weary patience what she really wants, and Vash says ‘The life I had before I met you.’ He throws her crappy disreputable grave-robbing career in her face, and she brings up his striking unpopularity on various planets – ‘What did they call you, the God of Lies?’ ‘They meant it affectionately.’ I would submit that God of Lies is a less nifty epithet than The Oncoming Storm. These two should either get married or never see each other again, but either way make their minds up quickly.
Just then the doorbell rings, and Vash’s angry ‘Come in!’ produces Quark with a nice bottle of something, who gets an immediate ‘Go away!’ from Q and is dematerialised. Vash insists on bringing him back and Q calls him a disgusting little troll. She gets her way, though, and Q disappears as Quark is restored.
Slightly confused by his brief sojourn in the netherworld, but remaining goal-oriented, Quark tells Vash he understands she has certain items, and profit, and Vash says ‘I’m listening’ and takes his bottle. Quark offers to arrange a buyer or an auction in exchange for a percentage – to be precise, fifty-fifty. Vash says ‘Mr Quark, I believe you are trying to take advantage of me,’ and yes, he will do that, don’t sign anything. As he bends forward to offer her some wine, she goes for the ears, and damn it, how many Ferengi handjobs do we need to see? This gets Quark down to forty, then thirty percent; a compliment on his cartilage reaches twenty-two, ‘and don’t stop.’ ‘You’ve got a deal,’ Vash says, and promptly stops. He leaves happily, sticking his finger in his ear, and ew.
Reappearing, Q speaks for me: ‘How perfectly vile.’ Before they can bicker much more there’s another caller, also presumably in search of a handjob, Dr Bashir. He wants to take her out for dinner, with an offer of couscous and ‘mildly entertaining’ company. Don’t do it Vash, he will tell you about his A-levels. As Vash tries to form an answer, Q appears again behind Julian’s shoulder, and starts making mocking faces. I would appreciate the mockery of Julian, but so far he’s actually being quite pleasant and even a bit self-deprecating, and it’s a bit buffoony for Q. Vash accepts, but asks for twenty minutes to ‘freshen up,’ and he tells her ‘Those twenty minutes will seem like an eternity,’ and gets the medal for Trying Too Hard. Although if you want to give lavish compliments, Julian, try ‘Life without you would be like a broken pencil – pointless.’
Julian smarms his way out and Q is back in a flash, still refusing to accept that Vash really wants him to leave. She tells him ‘I can take care of myself’ and he responds ‘Really? We’ll see about that.’
In the replimat, Julian is counting down his twenty minutes when a waiter approaches. (Wait – Julian asked Vash to have dinner with him at Quark’s. Why is he waiting for her at the replimat?) He asks for mint tea (oh, I like mint tea, yay!), but the waiter, who is Q in a Bajoran get-up, tells him he’s making a terrible mistake. Julian thinks he means the replicators are borked again, and I appreciate the continuity from ‘Babel,’ but Q clarifies that he means Vash – ‘Stay away from her.’ Julian is astonished by his impertinence, but Q calls it friendly advice. Since Julian is pretty set on seeing Vash anyway, Q basically puts a contagious yawning spell on him, and he totters off saying he thinks he needs to lie down. ‘Hopefully by yourself for a change,’ Q mutters. Hee.
O’Brien sees all this, and goes off with a muttered ‘Bloody hell.’
In Ops, Kira is reporting that a Klingon ship is just leaving, and Sisko says ‘Good, tell Odo he can relax.’ Oh Klingons, you are truly the yobs of the cosmos. O’Brien hurries in and reports his Q-spotting. Kira asks ‘What’s Q?’ in a tone that suggests she expects a minor annoyance like cockroaches. There is some brief glossing on Q, and O’Brien suggests that they ask Vash he wants, since they know each other – not so much from the Enterprise as from Sherwood Forest, as part of one of Q’s ‘little jokes.’
The lights go down again, and the gravitons are doing things – but then the power spontaneously comes back. Kira snaps that if this happens during a docking, they could lose a pylon, and she seems to be directing this at O’Brien as if it’s his fault. Stolidly, he answers that he’s checked everything and there is nothing wrong – this has to be a stupid Q trick.
In Quark’s, Vash and the proprietor are discussing the goods for auction. She’s changed into a sort of coral/melon coloured little number and seems pretty unperturbed by the lack of Julian. Vash wants to auction the shiny orange thing last, because she thinks it’s the best piece, although Quark isn’t very impressed by it. Except it becomes pretty obvious that he is when he offers to ‘take it off her hands’ at a reduced price. Vash is not having it. I can’t consciously remember how this episode ends but I feel pretty confident the orange jewel is the power sucker. It’s probably going to turn out to be an egg or a cocoon or something. They banter, it’s dull to me. Sisko interrupts and dismisses Quark.
In between here and the next paragraph, I noticed it was getting late-ish, I was only halfway through the episode, and I just wasn’t having enough fun to stay up, so I went to bed.
Vash asks Sisko where Julian is, since he was supposed to meet her there. Sisko sits down, asks ‘Tell me about Q,’ and the man himself swivels around on a barstool, saying he’s happy to tell Sisko anything he wants to know. Just one question – is he here as a punishment, or did he actually ask to work in this dump?
Sisko wants him off the station, and Q burbles about DS9 looking like a gulag and wanting to brighten it up. He compliments Sisko on his suit and changes into one to match. Sisko calls this ‘parlour tricks’ and insists that Q stop fucking with the power. Q gives a self-pitying speech about being blamed for everything, calling himself ‘the galaxy’s whipping boy.’ This episode honestly is not interesting enough to describe in detail. I’m going to go into point form for the second half.
In conclusion, I got fairly fed up with this episode, and am glad that next time I’m doing another TNG, just because it’s something different. The next DS9s I do will be ‘Dax,’ so yay Fionnula Flanagan, and that one where Julian gets possessed and Sisko shoots him.
Somewhere on the internet is a gif that just loops Julian’s reaction to being shot and it looks like Elvis dancing in ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ I don’t have it, but if you do, SHOW ME.
Next time, the utterly ridiculous ‘Justice,’ in which Wesley is sentenced to death for messing up a flower bed, and this twaddle is somehow a Prime Directive issue. Fun-running!