Tuesday, July 6, 2010

DS9 Rewind Review - "Q-Less"

Review by Paul Steven Brown

'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'
Season 1 - Episode 6

After five episodes with only a few 'TNG' callbacks (Picard in "Emissary", the Duras Sisters in "Past Prologue"), the writers of 'DS9' write a sequel to one of the previous program's episodes. While Vash had only made two appearances on 'TNG', Q was the Enterpirse-D crew's first villain and most recurring nuisance outside of the Borg (and probably Lwaxana Troi). It would appear that the writers wanted to throw one more bone to ensure that some of the fans from 'TNG' would still recognize 'DS9' as 'Star Trek'.

While this isn't a great episode, it does highlight something of note: Sisko is a very different leader than Picard, and his crew members aren't the infallible paragons of Starfleet excellence like the Enterprise crew. Take Q's first encounter with Sisko; the trickster even points out that Sisko isn't given to bantering back and forth like Picard. Even more literally striking is the fact that given the opportunity, Ben punches this godlike creature in the face. Once again, Q reiterates, this is something that ol' Jean-Luc would have never done.

Q's omnipotent works here metatextually, too. In his attempt to insult the DS9 crew, he tells them that Picard's gang would have "solved this technobabble" by now. If you hadn't noticed it already, Q is pointing out that this is an extremely heavy technobabble episode. I've always hated these nonsense words used to describe make-believe sci-fi tech or chemistry. Something as simple as not enough power to the runabout doors gets unnecessarily convaluted. Instead needing the what's-it to charge the whatevers, O'Brien should have just asked Kira to hand him the portable generator so he can power up the door motors.

Once again, the lone Quark and Odo scene is a standout of the episode. The best part is Odo gruffly shrugging off Quark's list of possible desires until the mention of a latinum bucket to sleep in gives him pause. Quark's scenes with Vash, however, are hit and miss. They work when they get down to the business of talking business. It's less successful when the Ferengi hits on her.

Speaking of flirting, Bashir is in top overbearingly Lothario form. The gag works the first time around when Miles overhears Julian trying to impress (and succeeding) a young Bajoran woman with tales of torturous Starfleet medical finals. O'Brien's reactions are great. This gag looses a bit of steam once Bashir is schmoozing on Vash with lines like "those minutes will feel like an eternity". Also, isn't there some code of conduct about romantically engaging with someone you just saw as a patient a few minutes prior?

"Q-Less" is pretty middle of the road for 'DS9' thus far in this early stage of its broadcast run. It really pales in comparison to the fun and adventure of the previous episode "Captive Pursuit". The 'TNG' nods only served to lure in the skeptics, when the creators of 'DS9' should have been really focusing on making this show its own beast.

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