Synopsis: The episode begins with Bashir animatedly telling one of his Ripping Yarns to a pretty lady over what appears to be breakfast at the station’s Holiday Inn Express, as Irishy eavesdrops in a corner, rolling his eyes so much that he can barely finish his bowl of gruel. The story is about Bashir’s final exam in medical school, and how he missed being valedictorian by thaaaaaaat much. Just as he’s about to seal the deal, he and Irishy get called to Ops on their comm badges, and Bashir swaggers off all like, “medical school exam stories work fifty percent of the time, every time.”
Crisis! The Ganges, one of the station’s runabouts (one of the small shuttles that they use to travel on official business) has docked at the station to disembark, but a sudden power drain has caused the hatch to become stuck, and the passengers are trapped.
Sisko, Irishy, and Bashir finally get the hatch pried open and rush into the people, of whom there are either two or three (there were only supposed to be two, but Bashir said his tricorder read three life signs). The people are all woozy and messed up, and one of them is Jadzia, who insists that she’s OK and Bashir should tend to the other passenger, Lady-Anthropologist Vash, who was a recurring character on NexGen. If Vash wrote a personals ad, it would read “SWF seeks powerful man with classical acting training for swashbuckling, adventure, and larceny. No fatties.” After toying with John-Luc Picard’s affections on and off, she eventually ran off with Q, the playfully douchey omnipotent being who plagued JLP’s existence.
Irishy (who, if you remember, originated on NexGen) is all, “what are you doing here?” and Jadzia explains that they found Vash in the Gamma Quadrant, where she’d been for about two years. Irishy wants to know how she got there, and she obliquely says that a “friend dropped her off.” We know it was Q, though, because we are a well-informed audience and also this episode title has a Q in it.
But for those of us on the short bus, the camera pans to a random officer hanging out at the docking hatch, and he turns towards us to reveal that he is Q, played, as always, by the simply magnificent John de Lancie.
After credits, we cut to Vash (who you may remember as being rather, um, free-wheeling on NexGen) blatantly hitting on Dr. Bashir as he tests her with his beepy medical devices. He obviously wants to get it on with her, but seems kind of disoriented by being the pursued instead of the pursuer. As she leaves, he throws out a dopey smile like he’s completely smitten. He is such a nerd.
In Sisko’s office, Jadzia is explaining to a skeptical Sisko that Vash didn’t seem to know anything about the wormhole, not even that it existed. Sisko is all, “then how did she get there?” and Jadzia is all, “she said it was personal,” and Sisko is all, “personal shmershonal, dig into her background please.”
A portly gentleman we have never seen before is trying to sell Vash a safety deposit box of some sort (we guess they’re at First Intergalactic Bank of Bajor, Deep Space Nine Branch?)
Vash has some very specific questions about security, and seems relatively pleased with the answers (retinal scans and…keys), so they start inventorying all of her shit. This portly guy, by the way, is terrible at inventory. This scene plays like an improv exercise where the goal is to describe whatever you’re handed with as little precision as possible. We’re going to list everything this guy puts in Vash’s safety deposit box, in his own words, and not give you any pictures – remember, if Vash’s safety deposit box were to be burgaled and it was your job to figure out what was missing and/or find it, this would be literally all you had to go on:
1. “One statue, stone, thirty odd centimeters tall. Approximately eight kilograms.”
2. “Assorted gems.” (he just took a peek into the bag, he didn’t even pour them out or anything)
3. “Gold necklace.” (that is pretty clearly made of two different kinds of materials)
4. “One dagger. Bronze and gold. About 25 centimeters.”
5. “Some kind of Promethean quartz.”
That last one is the important one, as Vash explains that it’s not really Promethean quartz, it’s waaaaaaay better.
The guy is all, like, “fascinating, awesome, never seen anything like it, let’s put it in the box so I can go dick around on the Space Internet.”
They scan her retina and set up an access code, because this place is so fucking high tech that they apparently can’t afford measuring tapes. Approximately thirty centimeters my ass.
Anyway, Vash says that she’ll pick it all up in the morning, and then she’s leaving the station for the glittering lights of worlds unknown. Sisko slides up in the doorway, all like, “leaving so soon?” He says that everyone really really wants to hear about her experiences in the Gamma Quadrant, especially everyone at the Daystrom Institute, where she used to work.
She’s all, “oh really, because they suspended me twice for illegally selling artifacts, can you imagine!” She says that between science and profit she’ll take profit every time. Indiana Jones she ain’t.
Sisko senses that he’s dealing with someone unstable, and, rather than finding it charming (as was always Picard’s problem) decides it’s in everyone’s best interest if he personally sends her along to talk to the nice people at the institute. He says he’d be willing to arrange passage for her to go to Earth, where she hasn’t been in more than a decade. She says that’d be cool.
On the Ganges, Irishy is befuddled, trying to figure out why all the power drained out of it earlier. He says there’s nothing really wrong with it – it sort of looks like something just tapped into the power supply and sucked it dry. HMMMMM.
Sisko steers the conversation to Vash, and how Irishy knows her. He says that she and JLP were close personal friends, “very close, if you take my meaning,” which apparently is Irish-person code for “they were banging.” (they did meet on Risa, after all)
In Ops, the power seems to have been drained from the station in much the same way power was drained from the Ganges. Dun-dun-DUN.
Irishy escorts Vash to her quarters, and she asks after JLP. Irishy says he’s fine, and leaves her to her affairs. She starts to unpack, and when she turns around, Q is sitting on her bed, pretty as you please. He says he can’t believe she’s still pining after JLP, and she says she should have listened to him when he warned her about Q.
It turns out that they broke up a while ago, and now Q wants her back. He tries to tempt her with travel to anywhere to see anything, but she’s not biting. She says she wants him out of her life, and, in fact, wants the life she had before they met. He points out that she was rather ignominious before they got together, and she says he wasn’t any better off: on one small planet, apparently he’s known as “the God of Lies.” “They meant it affectionately,” Q bristles.
Quark comes in to visit, bearing wine, and Q magicks him away. Q, you must understand, prefers using his omnipotence to make people and things appear, disappear, and transform than using it to solve societal problems on myriad planets or something silly like that. Vash makes him bring Quark back, and Q does so, before vanishing in a huff. Quark, naturally, has a business proposition. He wants to set up an auction for Vash’s stolen artifacts and split the gold-pressed latinum 50/50, but Vash is a smart lady and massages his ears until he agrees to 80/20. This seems as good a time as any to explain that Ferengi dudes orgasm by having their ears rubbed, and doing so is a sexual act called Oo-max. This is used to great (and gross) comedic effect throughout the series. Quark leaves, and Q reappears to disapprove.
Before he can finish, though, Bashir rings the doorbell all like, I heard there was Oo-max in here? Q vanishes again, and Bashir invites her out to dinner so he can regale her with exciting tales of how he went out for a frat this one time in med school, but they wouldn’t let him in because they were intimidated by his intelligence. Hey, he’s only human, right? Hahaha, maybe you’d like to find out just how human back at his place over a glass of Romulan Ale, vintage 2321? Only the best for you, baby.
As Bashir talks, Q materializes unseen over his shoulder and starts mocking him (no one mocks quite like John de Lancie). Vash tells Bashir she’ll meet him in twenty minutes, and Bashir literally says that it will seem like an eternity. “These mating issues you humans engage in are really quite disgusting,” Q notes when Bashir has left, and I couldn’t agree more. Vash throws Q out again, and he’s all, “we’ll see about that.”
The next thing we see, Bashir is waiting for dinner, and Q, disguised as a Bajoran waiter, warns Bashir away from Vash.
“My God, you’re an impertinent waiter!” Bashir says cheerfully. Apparently Vash is so hot that nothing can spoil his mood. Also, we love that that’s just the first place he takes the conversation.
Q is all, “maybe you’re not up to it, you look super tired,” and then he uses his powers to make Bashir mind-bogglingly sleepy so he’ll go back to his quarters. Irishy sees this go down, and, having dealt with Q before, immediately goes to find a grown-up or police officer to tell.
In Ops, everyone seems relieved that the station’s power is back to normal, but NOT SO FAST Irishy bursts in to apprise them of the Stranger Danger situation.
Sisko is all like, “shit,” because it turns out that he went to a Q symposium at Starfleet a couple of years ago, where we assume Picard taught all of the breakout sessions (“How to Debate Your Way Out of Species Annihilation,” “So You’ve Been Returned To Your Misspent Youth: Practicalities, Pitfalls, and How to Bang Your Roommate While Maintaining the Integrity of the Timeline“).
Kira, meanwhile, is yelling at no one in particular about how much she hates the ongoing power drains and how it’s probably all some sort of Cardassian conspiracy (OK, we made that last part up, but doesn’t it totally sound like something she’d say?).
Irishy explains that there’s no mechanical explanation for the power issues, so it must be Q “playing one of his jokes.”
“I’m not laughing,” Sisko says, and, DAMN is he serious business right now. Q had better watch out, for reals.
In the bar, Quark and Vash are bartering for some of her shit (maybe the “gold necklace” or the “assorted gems”), and they’re both really good bargainers, which turns Quark on. Like, a lot.
Sisko shows up and, after making Quark leave, demands Vash tell him everything about Q. Q suddenly appears at the bar and says he’ll tell Sisko anything he wants to know. Then he makes fun of Sisko’s job, insinuating that he sucks at it. Q is in no way as frightened as he should be by the look Sisko gives him.
Q argues that the station is dreary and that he needs to be around to liven things up. Sisko tells Q that he is not impressed with his “parlor tricks,” and informs him that he’s going to get the hell off his station. Hey, anybody remember that time that Picard spent a whole episode arguing with a drag queen who claimed to be the Devil not about whether s/he was the Devil or not, but about the minutia of a contract s/he supposedly signed a thousand years earlier? Yeah, Sisko does not stand for that shit. Q is going to get off his station, or there is going to be violence. Sisko does not negotiate with omnipotent beings, no matter how fucking whimsical they think they are.
Q is upset that Sisko isn’t indulging in witty banter with him, so he verbally abuses Vash a little more. Sisko suggests that they continue their conversation in private, and Q obligingly magicks everyone else in the bar away. You can tell that he thinks Sisko is going to resort to Picard’s traditional “yell at Q from across the room” technique, but Sisko – no surprise to me – growls “BRING THEM BACK Q, NOW” and grabs him by his lapels, never breaking eye contact.
“Or what?” Q asks, “You’ll thrash me?” Yes. Actually. Q magicks them into a bare-knuckle boxing match, complete with crowd, and, oh, we think this is a mistake on his part. It does not seem like he has thought this through. On the other hand, Q has included a righteous turn-of-the-century handlebar mustache for himself, so at least he’s doing it right.
He jabs at and taunts Sisko, and as he dances around, Quark and Vash appear in the crowd to lay odds. Quark is betting on Sisko.We don’t think we can emphasize enough how mind-blowing it is that Quark – who comes from a society based solely on profit – is betting on Sisko beating a God at bare-knuckle boxing.
Finally, Q takes it too far, and Sisko delivers a lovely, almost effortless punch that lays Q out. Then he just stands there like, well, I tried to warn you. Q looks up from the ground, betrayed. “You hit me. Picard never hit me.”
Sisko then reminds Q, and indeed all of us: “I’m not Picard.”
Q says Sisko is easier to provoke, but we’d argue that he’s also better at getting the job done.
On the promenade, a variety of skevy-looking aliens arrive for Quark and Vash’s upcoming auction. There’s another bad power fluctuation, fracturing the hull of the station in several places. Jadzia suggests that Sisko discuss this with Q, but Sisko is beginning to doubt that Q is behind it, saying that it doesn’t seem like his style. True. It isn’t whimsical at all.
Meanwhile, Odo summons Quark to his office to discuss the questionably legal auction. They discuss acquisition, which Odo says he’ll never understand. Quark asks if there’s anything Odo desires, and starts listing luxury items, almost tempting him with the invocation of a latinum plated bucket to sleep in. Odo tells him to watch himself.
Back on the promenade, Vash is leaving and Q is still pestering her. In the classic cycle of domestic abuse, he tells her that she can’t take care of herself and that if it weren’t for him she’d be old and covered in pustules without any hair, and that she should reconsider getting back together with him. Q has nothing if not follow-up, so he magicks her so that she is old and covered in pustules without any hair. But! Then he fixes her almost immediately. Stay classy, Q. We’re pretty sure this exact situation was covered in an educational pamphlet from a woman’s center we read one time.
Sisko log-entry-voices-over that the power is still screwy and their life support will fail in fourteen hours. They techonobabble up a strategy to figure out what’s wrong, and it involves flooding the station with radioactive gas? Which seems like it might be a bad idea? But we’ll assume they know what they’re doing.
Q pops up and says, “Picard and his lackeys would have solved all of this technobabble hours ago.” Yes! He literally said that! We did not make it up! Although, for the record, no they would not have. The only progress they would have made would have involved Worf getting punched three to five times.
Kira hollers for security, and Q calls her fiesty. Then he insults Irishy by not remembering him, and tells Sisko to evacuate the station. Sisko demands to know what’s going on, and Q hints that it’s somehow Vash’s fault. Which seems like it might be a safe bet.
The auction is about to begin in the bar, and seems to be filled with some rough characters. Quark is more infatuated with Vash than ever, and proposes a “permanent partnership.” Vash says no thank you, she’s going to stop her roving misdemeanors and settle down to a life of solitude, but Quark doesn’t believe her.
The station suddenly rocks, and everyone in Ops realizes that the station is powerless and hurtling straight towards the wormhole. Kira says that, based on their trajectory, they only have 18 minutes before they get there. All the main characters seem baffled by what could be pulling them in.
Vash and Quark’s auction is in full swing, as they sell off both the statue, stone, thirty odd centimeters tall approximately eight kilograms, and the dagger, bronze and gold, about 25 centimeters. Then Q shows up to yell fire in a crowded theater by telling everyone that the station is hurdling towards its doom. Quark only just manages to keep everyone in their seats, and Q tells Vash that he’s interested to see the station fly apart into a million pieces.
Finally, Quark auctions off the Waaaay Better Than Promethean Quartz that the safety deposit idiot was all impressed by earlier. Quark sells it for a million bars of gold-pressed latinum, and, just in time, Ops realizes that that is what’s ruining everything – it’s been draining the power and dragging them towards the wormhole like a magnet. They beam it into space, where it transfigures into a flying life form, like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon, and zooms off into the wormhole. You can tell Quark really really wants to throw out a long “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” here.
With things returned to normal, Quark talks to Vash about her plans for the future, and tells her that there was just some crazy artifact discovery they should get in on the ground floor of. She declines, and Q appears to tell her that Earth is extremely dull. He tells her that he’ll give her her life back, but it won’t be the same without her. He vanishes, and she decides she’s going to get in on Quark’s artifacts scheme after all.
Suddenly, Bashir appears in the bar. “I feel as if I’d been asleep for days!” he tells Jadzia, who looks at him with thinly veiled amusement. Man, it’s a good thing no one had any medical emergencies this week. It’s funny because people could have died!
Meredith’s Analysis: This episode is important because it brings some beloved NexGen characters – Q and Vash – into the mix and shows how Sisko and the other characters respond to them differently. It was a vital that the show, in its first season, distinguished itself from NexGen, which was still on the air, and this episode did that in spades, showing you that Sisko isn’t Picard, and DS9 isn’t the Enterprise. We’re dealing with a totally different beast, here. Also, any chance to feature John de Lancie is one that should be sprung upon.
Tim’s Analysis: This episode was Robert Hewitt Wolfe‘s writing debut on DS9. He was asked to join the DS9 team after writing A Fistful of Datas for TNG. He went on to frequently team up with executive producer Ira Steven Behr write some of our favorite episodes. Also note that both of them are working on SyFy’s Alphas right now in the same positions, so watch for that show to improve a lot once it finds its balance.
But back to the episode itself, Q-less is a lot of fun. We get some good Q hi-jinks and we get to see how Sisko reacts. Something pretty fun to do is watch the different captains’ reactions to Q’s first arrival. Picard meets Q and is all curious and wants to know what he wants and wants to shout at him from a distance. Sisko just gets mad that his time is being wasted. Janeway hears the name Q and immediately calls battle stations. I think it’s safe to say word got around starfleet. The real purpose of this episode was to put to rest any lingering doubt in viewers that Sisko might be a copy of Picard and it does it pretty well. We also get some fun with Quark. He shows more of his softer side trying to woo Vash and that’s cool. It’s Q’s only appearance on DS9 and it’s pretty solid.