Star Trek Voyager Torture: Death Wish (Season 2 Episode 34)

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Wow, what an episode. I wasn’t really prepared for this Star Trek: Voyager. After plenty of terrible episodes featuring no name, shitty aliens we haven’t had many ties to the “good” Star Trek universe of Next Generation and DS9. Sure, there was a Romulan that showed up early in the first season. And we can’t forget Barclay making an appearance and some name dropping of other characters like Spock and Data, but the ties to the better Star Trek series have been pretty tenuous.

This episode goes all in and features Q! And not just a Q, but the real Q we know and love played by John de Lancie. But hang on, let’s do a normal breakdown of this show.

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The episode opens up with the Voyager crew stumbling upon a comet. They take a core sample and beam it over to the ship. To their surprise, they find a guy in a Starfleet uniform who is in his late 40s and is a white guy, so it makes total sense when he reveals that he’s a Q.

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“Neelix, we only have a few minutes of screen time so use it up looking like an idiot.”

This Q is played by Gerrit Graham, a character actor who is in a ton of stuff and who I find enjoyable. His Q is certainly more playful and funnier, though some of the jokiness falls flat due to the Voyager writers’ inability to do comedy well. Speaking of “comedy”, Neelix has a moment where he hilariously misunderstands something. It’s so bad that I won’t repeat it.

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Well, all the men went away, but Neelix went away too so maybe it’s a wash.

Nu-Q reveals that he was in the comet because he was imprisoned there by the Q continuum. Why? Well, he wanted to die and the Q have a real problem with committing suicide. Now that he’s free he can kill himself. He tries and then hilariously, all the male crew members disappear. Oops. Well, he can’t fix his mistake and he’s going to leave… until Q appears! The other Q, the one played by John de Lancie.

de Lancie Q brings back all the dudes after threatening to put Graham Q back in his eternal imprisonment in the comet.

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Before I forget, there’s this weird moment when all the men are brought back and none of them say anything. Nobody says, “That was weird” or “Who are these two people on the bridge?” They’re just back. And when Chakotay starts to say something, Janeway basically shushes him. I guess they didn’t want to pay the rest of the cast to speak much this episode.

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Yeah, this was pretty weird.

We then proceed to a battle of the Qs were Graham Q keeps moving the Voyager around and de Lancie Q catching them. At first they’re at the start of the universe, then they’re subatomic, then they’re… an ornament on a Christmas tree. While this might seem like it would be fun. It’s actually not. It’s tedious.

Graham Q asks for asylum on the Voyager. de Lancie Q agrees to this for whatever reason. I think mostly because the dude loves a trial. Janeway will act as a judge and Tuvok will represent Graham Q while de Lancie will be the prosecution. The stakes are thus: If Janeway goes with de Lancie Q Graham Q will go back into his prison forever. If she favors Graham Q, he’s be made mortal and can end his life.

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“If we kill ourselves we can get off this show!”

And that’s just we get! A trial episode! These are some of the best in Star Trek. Unfortunately, it’s no “The Measure of a Man”. Instead we have a highly uneven episode featuring a lot of talking and it’s rather boring at times. It shouldn’t be boring, there’s some great stuff in here, but somehow it doesn’t feel as powerful as it could be. I think this has to do with the fact that there’s a weird mix of comedy and seriousness and the fact that there’s a seriously goofy-ass scene.

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This scene looks so bad in HD.

One of de Lancie Q’s tactics is to call himself as a witness and in usual Q fashion he literally calls himself. You’d think having two de Lancie Qs on screen would have been a fun scene, but it’s completely marred by the poor special effects. Doubling an actor had been done for years and years on TV and yet, Voyager manages to botch it. They have the second de Lancie Q sitting on a chair and he was inserted digitally. It’s so obvious it was done on green screen and it doesn’t look like he’s in the right position to be sitting in that chair. It’s such a cheap and poorly done effect.

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Uh… I don’t know what to make of this.

At one point de Lancie Q wants to demonstrate how Graham Q has been messing with human history so he calls forth three people from Earth’s past and present. This is when me and my girlfriend (who was watching the show with me) got really nervous, because the three people called were a hippy looking guy, an old timey guy with a wig, and Riker. Yep, that Riker. From Next Generation. An A list cast member crossover on Voyager. Surely, this is momentous occasion that won’t go to waste!

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So the dude with the wig turns out to be Sir Isaac Newton. Of course. Historical figures in Star Trek can work and it’s not unusual, but I never get super excited by it. Especially after Janeway quickly explains to the three of them that they traveled forward in time and they’re on a starship and Isaac Newton doesn’t stop her and ask just what the hell is a starship. Anyway, it’s revealed that Graham Q shook the tree which caused the apple to fall on Newton’s head. He also helped the hippy and if he hadn’t… there would have been no Woodstock.

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Very convincing.

And Riker? He’s never met Graham Q… but they look at an old Civil War picture and see a distant relative of Riker and a very badly Photoshoped guy that looks like Graham Q. Graham Q saved Riker’s relative in the Civil War! And with that Riker is dismissed.

Good, Riker can tell Starfleet that Voyager is out there! No, they make it very clear that their memories will be wiped when they return. Sorry Voyager crew!

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Please kill him.

Let’s also take a second to recognize how dumb it was that Woodstock was ranked next to ensuring Riker would exist (who played an important roll in saving humanity from the Borg) and helping ensure humanity would advance with physics through Newton. There’s a certain type of Baby Boomer that put so much stock into Woodstock being important that simply doesn’t really relate to today. How about something like saving, I dunno, someone who was crucial to the Civil Rights movement? Something more meaningful than a really famous concert that really didn’t ultimately do anything except be a platform for famous bands and a nostalgic thing for small percentage of people alive on earth at that time.

Also, it’s odd that Riker is in an older uniform, the kind with the black shoulders. I’m guessing they didn’t have a DS9 style uniform or a Next Gen movie era one on hand that he would fit into. Anyway, the time that Riker is on screen is great even though it’s a huge fumble on his use.

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Mind blowing special effects.

So the next step in the trial is to go inside the comet to demonstrate just exactly how much of a torment Graham Q was in. And holy shit, this is one of the worst special effects I’ve seen in Star Trek since the original series. Janeway, Tuvok, and the Qs are basically crammed into a plastic bubble and there’s some fog being blown across the screen. Thankfully, it only lasts a few seconds but it does a great job at destroying any of the dramatic tension that was built up over the course of this trial.

Let’s take a moment to recognize how lame this imprisonment is. Any starfaring civilization that has perfected teleportation can pluck him out of there. You’d think the Q Continuum would have had a much more secure eternal prison. Maybe putting him in a bubble in the middle of a star?

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I wonder if they’ll get home this episode…

During some breaks in the trial, de Lancie Q visits Janeway and makes an offer. If she decides in his favor, the Voyager crew will be brought home. That’s not enough for Janeway though, she doesn’t want Graham Q to be put back into the comet, she wants him to have a measure of freedom. I don’t blame her. Going home is important, but at least she’s holding onto an ideal of helping someone else less fortunate. Oh and Q is interested in Janeway sexually… for some reason.

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Back at the trial Graham Q decides to show that the Q Continuum is lame by bringing Janeway and Tuvok to it, something that’s never been done before. The way their brains see it (the only way they can comprehend it) is some lame old shack in the desert.

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Q dog is the best Q.

The Q don’t talk, they just sit around and read or play pinball. They’re a stagnant culture. Graham Q feels like the only thing left is death, since there’s nothing left to discuss or discover. Existing is meaningless now.

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This was fantastic.

They go back to the Voyager and Janeway rules in Graham Q’s favor, he should have the right to end his own life he he chooses. de Lancie Q lives up to his word and makes Graham Q a mortal. And Voyager doesn’t get to go home. Of course.

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“I’m so… glad… I don’t have to be on this series any more…”

We flash forward a few weeks to Janeway discussing what Graham’s role on the ship should be. He kind of knows everything, so it’s tough to put him in a good place. Well, we can’t have an interesting character who knows everything on the ship, so of course Janeway is called to sickbay where Graham Q is dying. He voluntarily ingested some hemlock and he has died. Where did he get hemlock on the ship? de Lancie Q shows up and says he gave it to him. This signals a return to a Q that doesn’t do what the Continuum wants. Neat ending.

Least Annoying Characters:

Tuvok, Graham Q, de Lancie Q, Riker (I’m guessing this is the only time I can say that)

Most Torturous Moment:

Really tough call on this one. Neelix had a stupid ass joke. And the hippy was annoying, because he was a hippy. The bad special effects were really torturous… but I’ll decide on the hippy talking as the most torturous moment.

Chris Art Accuracy:

While this scene didn’t actually happen, it sure would have been interesting to see.

Torture Score: 2 out of 5 Neelixes

2 of 5 Neelix

Despite being a bit of a botch and oddly boring at times, this episode had a pretty decent story over all. Graham’s Q was delightful and Riker showing up was a nice bonus.