Q2By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 11:24 PM GMT
See Also: 'Q2' Episode Guide
Q pops up on Voyager with his son, asking Aunt Kathy to please help discipline his unruly offspring. Because Junior removes Neelix's vocal chords, turns engineering into an inter-species disco and subjects Voyager to attack by the Borg, the Continuum rescinds his powers and threatens to make him an amoeba permanently if he doesn't mend his ways. Q, whose mate has disowned her son, hopes vaunted Starfleet ideals will rub off on Q2 -- and besides, he's sure the captain will make a good parent because of how quickly she housebroke a Borg drone. To spare her godson eternity as an amoeba, Janeway tries to teach the now-human young man some manners.
Q2 proves to have an insecurity complex -- he was born to be the savior of his race, but can't even impress his father. Janeway is impressed with how quickly the youngster learns and befriends Icheb once he applies himself. But Father Q is unimpressed, so his son steals the Delta Flyer to hide from the Continuum. When a confrontation with a hostile alien nearly gets Icheb killed, he offers his own life to save first his friend, then the captain. It turns out the alien was Q all along, testing his son, and when the Continuum votes to excommunicate Junior permanently, Q threatens to leave forever if they don't reconsider. In gratitude for her help, Janeway gets bouquets of roses and the crew gets a few years off their journey -- no more, because Q wants to set a good example by not doing all the work.
"Q2" starts with Icheb giving a report on James T. Kirk, whose name recurs at several points during the episode. Thus comparisons are inevitable not only between Janeway and Q's most famous sparring partner, Jean-Luc Picard, but between Voyager's captain and the greatest legend Starfleet has ever known. And how does she measure up? Why, the way mommies always measure up on this series. She's pathetic.
I don't need to reiterate Trek's long litany of characters trying to live up to their fathers, from Spock and McCoy to Riker, Worf and Data to the Sisko patriarchy to Chakotay and Paris. Q enters a venerable tradition in which mothers are either absent, irrelevant or unspeakably cruel; in Q2's case, she's apparently all three. Naturally we don't hear anything of her side of the story -- whether Q, whom we're apparently supposed to find adorable despite his bullying and insensitivity, cheated on her, mistreated her, or abandoned her in favor of boyish antics as the ending of "The Q and the Grey" suggests. She's a non-person.
Since Q is a Q, he needs some other parent for his spawn...and who better than Aunt Kathy, whom, as he points out, has done little other than parent her crew for the past several years? She's raised Seven from bratty Borg to dream girl for Chakotay, who was once her own love interest, but the writers have made it more than obvious now that she's much too old for the handsome first officer. Q gets into a bathtub with the woman he once wanted to mate with, but doesn't even bother to flirt; she's been redefined as a mother figure, she's no longer a sexual being. Ironically, Janeway's hardly a maternal stereotype, since she spends most of her time sitting in judgment on a crew that can never live up to her standards. She's more like a stereotypical crotchety old aunt who never married because she couldn't possibly find anyone good enough for her, and never had kids of her own but is more than happy to point out what a terrible job everyone else does as a parent.
Which is not to excuse Q, who's looking too old to be charming and acting too obnoxious to be amusing. Like Q2 says, Kirk had pizzazz, even when he got old, egotistical and toupeed. Icheb didn't make him boring enough, because I was nostalgic for original Trek from the first scene. Q's tired routine isn't nearly colorful or witty enough to redeem "Q2." If this episode has a saving grace, it's the graceful, understated performance by Manu Intiraymi as the adolescent Borg who tries to befriend a peer and fellow outcast, even if he gets called names like "Drone" and "Itchy," kidnapped and nearly killed for his trouble.
Unfortunately his screen time is limited to show off Q2. Naturally, with Icheb playing the Good Teenager, the boys in Voyager's demographic audience are expected to relate to the Bad Teenager. We're supposed to approve when he sexually harrasses Seven by making her clothes disappear, and when he behaves in a similar manner toward Torres by turning engineering into Hooters. The plot hinges on Q Junior supposedly acting too nonconformist and outrageous for civilized society, yet those are the very qualities we've been encouraged to appreciate in a Q since the first generation showed up on The Next Generation. Q's contempt for humanity stemmed from absolute belief in his superiority, not an insecurity complex about all he needed to learn from humans. Even on Voyager in "Deathwish," Q's willingness to buck Continuum politics made him admirable. Here, he's a buffoon telling his kid not to mess with the Borg -- though messing with the Borg was his most interesting contribution to TNG.
John de Lancie's son Keegan gives a likeable performance, but he can't overcome the clunkers in the script -- particularly when he's called upon to promote his father's book I, Q as the title of Q2's essay. Still, the son has the father's mannerisms down pat. He also musters sincere-looking warmth with Mulgrew's Janeway, though it would have been much more entertaining if he set off sparks with his adoptive mother the way Seven of Nine does.
In the end, Janeway gets consolation roses and Voyager gets a few years off its trip. The captain seems pleased with herself, but if I were any other member of her crew, I'd be resentful that her coziness with the Continuum almost got my home destroyed. Naturally, when Q2 heads back to face hostile aliens, Janeway goes with him, just as she always did with Seven of Nine. Is that supposed to make her look impressive as a parent? Because it sure doesn't make her look impressive as a captain. If she's so desperate to nurture children, let's just wait for the writers to send her home so she can open a day care center or become a nanny for Seven and Chakotay's children. Then maybe we can conjure a Kirk -- or a first-season Janeway -- to captain Voyager into the future.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.