Just the title of this week’s episode had me prepared for a good time. I’d always loved those occasions on Next Generation when the vain, impish, disrespectful Q turned up to throw everything off-whack, and I think John de Lancie was perfect in the role, combining arrogance and insouciance with a subtle OTT performance. I was not disappointed.
I’d rather I hadn’t had the episode title to alert me since Q’s first appearance, at the end of the opening sequence, was intended to surprise and would have. It would have been less of a surprise to those fans who had recognised Vash (Jennifer Hetrick), whose second and final Next Generation appearance had sen her scooped up by Q to go to the Gamma Quadrant. And what lies at the other end of DS9’s Wormhole? The link-up practically writes itself.
Most of the episode was played out for amusement, and played between the guest stars, with only Quark getting much of an overdue major part. Vash has brought back various cultural ikons that she wishes to sell for a profit, and Quark wants a substantial share of that. He also wants Vash to rub his ears a bit more, that being the primary Ferengi erogenous zone, which comes under the heading of TMD with a vengeance!
It appears that Vash has decided that two years of Q is too much of a good thing, an opinion Q certainly doesn’t share. He’s here, he’s there, he’s popping in and out everywhere simply taking Vash’s refusal to go back with him as advanced playing hard to get. It’s basic male chauvinsm, though I suppose if you’ve got everything going for you that a Q has, rejection probably is very hard to comprehend.
Of course, there has to be a serious element to the plot, a bit of danger/drama. Periodically, DS9 is being hit by sudden, major power drains, far too fast to be contained or resisted. Each also coincides with massive jumps in the production of gravitons. Much more of this and there’ll be a disaster, like, say, DS9 being drawn out of position, and closing in rapidly on the Wormhole. Which will rip it to pieces.
Of course, everyone assumes it is Q doing this, but actually it’s not. With the crunch going down to the wire, the gang identify the source as being the last of Vash’s artefacts, which is not a pulsating amber quartz as it appears, but a egg that, once teleported into space, hatches with ultra-rapidity into something faintly manta-esque that glows too bright and moves too fast for us to see it clearly, and which legs it down the Wormhole faster than you can say… oh, soddit, it’s already gone.
As dramatic closures go, it’s not handled at all well. There’s no real sense of danger throughout, once Q’s antics are eliminated, and the resolution is done in about fifteen seconds, far too perfunctory. The pacing is very poor, so much so that the producers would have been better opting for straight comedy, instead of what ended up being token dramatic relief.
It was nice to see Quark getting some time in the spotlight, though we learned nothing particularly in depth about him (apart from the bit about the ears, yeuch!). On the other hand, the series is still being very cagey about utilising Dr Bashir. This week, he was mainly played lightly, as would-be lover boy: firstly, in the open to a cute Bajoran female whom he ‘entranced’ with medical exam anecdotes, then with Vash. It felt unconvincing because so far all we’ve seen of the good Doctor is boyish enthusiasm, and he was abruptly cut out of the episode before getting anywhere with Vash by a jealous Q yawning in his face and sending him off to sleep. DS9 is still a long way from knowing what to do with Julian Bashir on this evidence.
Still, it was the humour that counted this week, and the best bit to me came just after Q sent the Doctor off. In the foreground, Chief O’Brien, ex-of the Enterprise stood stock still, taking this in, and then rapidly turned on his heels with a worried expression and a muttered “Bloody hell!” on his lips.