the story: Q shows Janeway the results of "Death Wish."
what it's all about: In a lot of ways, Q's appearances in Voyager were a direct continuation of his Next Generation episode "Deja Q," where his story is changes from the obnoxious omnipotent being who put humanity on trial to the obnoxious omnipotent being whose main concern is...the rest of the obnoxious omnipotent beings in the Q Continuum. So in a lot of ways, Voyager managed to tell an incredibly important franchise story in the midst of being a series that was supposed to be removed from incredibly important franchise stories. And Q is a character who lends himself to that possibility, after all.
Naturally, it infuriated fans to no end, the idea that Voyager could improve on Next Generation material. I mean, precious few Star Trek episodes improve on "Tapestry," but in terms of Q being Q but still having a good reason for showing up...it's kind of really hard to argue exploring the nature of Q in real depth. Because that's what the one-two punch of "Death Wish" and "The Q and the Grey" are all about. It's comparable to the Mirror Universe episodes in Deep Space Nine, certainly the first few ("Crossover," "Through the Looking Glass," and "Shattered Mirror"), all of which function as sequels to the original series classic "Mirror, Mirror," and are arguably far superior to it in terms of nuanced storytelling.
The best material in the episode is onboard the ship. Discovering Q's ex gave Suzie Plakson, who was already a legend in the franchise, a bold new character to play, arguably her most important. It's hard to play opposite John de Lancie, but Plakson was absolutely up to the challenge.
And Janeway? After "Death Wish" it became easier to believe Q would take her seriously. Picard was always the skeptic, who thought Q a menace and not much else. Janeway, though, stood up to him, too, and in that episode helped him understand that not every human was like Picard, that some would stand up for the likes of him. No doubt an incredibly intoxicating thought. But the very idea of why he shows up, it's fraught with the kind of natural comedy the character had become best known for, none of the serious "trial of humanity" business that bookended his Next Generation existence. Putting aside all prejudices, these appearances are by definition classics.
- franchise - The last great Q appearance.
- series - A hugely effective sequel to a prior standout episode.
- character - Works extremely well for Q, and for helping further define what sets Janeway apart.
- essential - To truly understand Q, you need to see this episode.
John de Lancie (Q)
Suzie Plakson (Q)