Star Trek: Voyager

Season 2 Episode 18

Death Wish

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Feb 19, 1996 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
214 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Stardate: 49301.2
A suicidal Q threatens the future of the Q-Continuum when he requests asylum aboard Voyager.

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  • Another great Q episode

    TNG vets John De Lancie (Q) and Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker) guest star in this high profile VOY episode thought up by Michael Piller's son, with VOY using the Q Continuum for a rare story where the protagonist fights for death and the antagonists fight for his life.

    Frakes himself has only a glorified cameo (originally meant for LeVar Burton, though the latter's shaved head made him unusable as Geordi), and it's Mulgrew, De Lancie, and guest star Gerrit Graham doing the heavy lifting, with the real story being about Graham's character and the philosophical question of whether a person has the right to choose to die or not.

    After beginning with some superfluous Q whimsy (including an inside joke where Voyager becomes a Christmas tree ornament), the episode settles into the weighty subject matter in a courtroom-like setting with the characters carefully positioned into their roles. Graham's character is the defendant, Tuvok serves as the defense attorney, De Lancie's Q is the prosecutor, and Janeway is the judge.

    The case, of course, is shamelessly set up in the protagonist's favor, with no family or friends around to illustrate the selfish side of suicide. The trial, nonetheless, opens the door for some interesting questions about the matter, such as why a society feels it's okay to have a death penalty but wrong for someone to kill his or herself. (This has the double benefit of preempting longtime Star Trek fans from pointing out that the Q Continuum has killed its own in the past, debunking the idea that the Continuum can't survive a Q's death). And being tucked inside a Q Continuum story, it allows the writers to be creative, with the prosecution and the defense both presenting some unusual evidence. (This is where Riker comes in, with De Lancie's Q summoning several historically important Earth people to show how their lives have been touched by the defendant. It comes across like a Forrest Gump spoof and adds little to the episode, though thankfully Michael Jordan and Bill Gates declined invitations to appear). Probably most notably, the defense creates an abstract facsimile of the Q continuum, finally giving the race some depth. Recognizing the need to create a stark contrast to Voyager, the show spends money on location shooting, turning a road in Lancaster, California into a metaphor for the continuum's home.

    Most people (and most television shows) try to dodge the hard questions about the right to commit suicide with an appealing alternative: the idea of some kind of help for the individual to find inner contentment. It's a win-win for the individual and society, with the individual enjoying life and society enjoying the individual; but it's also a bit of a cheat, eliminating the dilemma. To VOY's credit, the show floats this idea but doesn't use it as a cop out to avoid the original issue or to answer the question of what to do after you've done it all and there are no undiscovered countries left to explore.

    Serving as a counterpoint to Da Lancie's Q, Gerrit Graham gives a poignant performance that cuts through the Q silliness and gives the episode drama and meaning. The other actors, probably recognizing a rich script, work hard as well. With the high profile guest stars, Paramount held this episode back to air during sweeps, plopping it into the middle of some episodes with a developing story involving Paris and Crewman Jonas. The story does not, however, contradict anything in the other episodes, so the show gets away with it.

    Da Lancie's Q, who uses "Death Wish" to build a rapport with Janeway, returns in a loose sequel to this episode in third season's "The Q and the Grey".

  • An easy ticket home thrown away

    I spent most of this episode wondering when Janeway would ask one of the two omnipotent beings hanging around if they would be so kind as to send her ship back to the Alpha quadrant. From the pilot episode, I'd been thinking the ship needed to come across a Q as a solution to get home. But no, instead Janeway is rude upon having unearthed a Q. He's trying to be nice, she's being a bitch, then she agrees to the trial without getting any concessions from either Q1 or Q2 about a reward for doing so (going

    The euthanasia plot was interesting if/when I managed to set all that aside, but it was really difficult.moreless
  • LAME

    First of all, I don't like the Q in any of the Star Trek series. They're more magic/fantasy as opposed to science fiction/technology. Think "I Dream of Jeannie" or "Bewitched." In this episode, a Q has been imprisoned because he wants to use his "powers" to kill himself. (Sort of like can God make a rock too big for him to lift and we've got a guy who is about to try it). This sets off an episode based on one central premise: "Immortality is boring and what's a bored immortal to do about it..." Ho-hum for us mortals. Like we could care less. We get a lot of talking heads sitting around talking about life, mortality, and essentially continually restating the obvious.

    To prove boredom, we visit a "representation" of the Continuum which is a way station (complete with mid-20th Century utility poles) and several people sitting around with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I'm sure someone thought this might be cute at the time but we don't need representations to prove boredom. We easily understand it. They could have just showed clips of this episode, for example.

    Then, there is the horridly staged "journey in a comet." There's a small window for us the viewer to look in as Janeway experiences Q-Quinn's confinement. I thought the set was right out of the second season of Lost in Space. Totally cheesy. They could have done a much better job considering their series' budget.

    However, the ultimate disappoint was what I felt was a total lack of the usual quick wit John de Lancie brought to the original SNG role. Like I said, I never liked the Q stories but at least his dialogue was entertaining. Here it's forced, as if the writers never bothered to review SNG episodes to get it right. A future episode will correct this problem but in this episode I found the character totally unlikeable and boring. Finally, let's talk about goals. In "Voyager," we have Janeway chasing around the Delta Quadrant looking for a quick way home. We've always had the impression she'd beg, borrow, or steal whatever is necessary to get her crew home. So, when offered a way home by the magical Q why doesn't she go for it? Or, make some other sort of deal with Q? That puts everything into the mindset of Major Nelson (I Dream of Jeannie) or Darrin Stephens (Bewitched). How can you believably turn down "magical gifts?"moreless
  • The only lame thing about this episode is tv-striker's incredibly abysmal and moronic review...

    The only lame thing about this episode is tv-striker's incredibly abysmal and moronic review of what is an immediate classic Star Trek episode of any genre.

    This is a wonderful episode for Q fans and non-fans alike. tv-striker needs to re-think this. For the rest of us? A great episode. Q rules.
  • Death Wish

    Death Wish was a superb episode of Star Trek: Voyager and I really enjoyed watching because it had a great story involving a Q from the Q-Continuum who wanted to end his immortality. The ensuing trial with Captain Janeway presiding was fun to watch as both sides argued their points. I enjoyed the visit to the Q-Continuum, it was like Gods or Ascended Beings with nothing to really do. The croquet balls looked like planets or universes or something reminding me of the Galaxy marbles from Men in Black. There were important moral and ethical questions raised in this episode. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek: Voyager!!!!!!!moreless
John de Lancie

John de Lancie


Guest Star

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William Riker

Guest Star

Gerrit Graham

Gerrit Graham

Q / Quinn

Guest Star

Tarik Ergin

Tarik Ergin

Lt. Ayala

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Nitpick: Janeway states that Q's one redeeming quality is that he's never been a liar. However, in The Next Generation's "Deja Q", Picard specifically refers to him as a liar. In Deep Space Nine's "Q-Less", Vash mentions that the population of Brax known him as "The God of Lies".

    • Nitpick: During a discussion with the two Qs- where Janeway asks one of them to return Voyager to its correct time- the strap that extends under Q's shoe to hold his pant leg immobile is visible.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • B'Elanna: This ship will not survive the formation of the cosmos!

    • Q: Without Q, there would have been no William T. Riker at all. And I would have lost at least a dozen really good opportunities to insult him over the years.

    • Q: My, my, now I guess we get to find out whether the pants... (looks at Janeway's posterior)... really fit.

    • Q: Forget Mark. I know how to show a girl a good time. How would you like a ticker-tape parade down Sri Lanka Boulevard? The captain that brought Voyager back, a celebrated hero. I never did anything like that for Jean-Luc. But I feel very close to you. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because you have such authority, and yet manage to preserve your femininity so well.

    • Q: (to Janeway) A hearing? You would have me put his future into your delicate little hands? Oh, so touchably soft. What is your secret, dear?

    • Q: Have you heard about little me? Oh, do tell. Has Jean-Luc been whispering about me behind my back?

    • Tuvok: I am curious. Have the Q always had an absence of manners, or is it the result of some natural evolutionary process that comes with omnipotence?

    • Q: You've uncovered my one redeeming virtue. Am I blushing? I wish I could help you, Kathy. I just can't. We're dealing here with the most dangerous man in the Continuum. I didn't tell you this, but one of his self destructive stunts created a misunderstanding that ignited the hundred-year war between the Romulans and the Vulcans. No, he (Quinn) has to go back to his confinement. But I would like to make this easier for you. The Continuum is prepared to do you a little favor... if we approve of your ruling. Look out the window. Now you see it. (pauses as the planet Earth has appeared) Now you don't. (planet Earth disappears)

    • Q: Without Q, lsaac Newton would have died forgotten in a Liverpool debtor's prison a suspect in several prostitute murders.

    • Q: (to Janeway) Did anyone ever tell you you're angry when you're beautiful?

    • Q: (to B'Elanna) Just think of the honor of having your DNA spread from one corner of the universe to the other. Why, you could be the origin of the humanoid form.

    • Q: (to Chakotay) Oh, facial art. How very wilderness of you.

    • Quinn: I was the greatest threat the Continuum had ever known. They feared me so much they had to lock me away for eternity. And when they did that, they were saying that the individual's rights will be protected only so long as they don't conflict with the state. Nothing is so dangerous to a society. My life's work is complete. But they force immortality on me and when the do that they cheapen and denigrate my life and all life in the Continuum. All life. Captain, you're an explorer. What if you had nothing left to explore? Would you want to live forever under those circumstances? You want me to prove to you that I suffer in terms that you equate with pain or disease. Look at us. When life has become futile, meaningless, unendurable, it must be allowed to end. Can't you see, Captain? For us, the disease is immortality.

    • Quinn: I was even the scarecrow for a while.
      Janeway: Why?
      Quinn: Because I'd never done it before.
      Q: Oh, we've all done the scarecrow. Big deal.

    • Janeway: Based on my research, you have been many things, rude, interfering, inconsiderate, sadistic, a pest...
      Q: You've made your point.
      Janeway: Oh, and yes, you introduced us to the Borg, thank you very much. But one thing you have never been is a liar.
      Q: I think you've uncovered my one redeeming virtue. Am I blushing?

    • Q: With your permission captain, I would like to call an expert on the Continuum to discuss the implications of the decision to be made.
      Janeway: Proceed.
      Q: I call myself to the stand.

    • Q: (to the other Q) How did you get out, Q?
      Janeway: We're responsible for that.
      Q: Ah, well I guess that's what we get for having a woman in the captain's seat. You know, I was betting that Riker would get this command.

    • Quinn: When someone asks you about me, and they will, would you tell them I said - you know what, I've had 300 years to think of appropriate last words, I wanted something... memorable, you know, quotable - would you tell them I said "I die, not for myself, but for you."

    • Q: Say, is this a ship of the Valkyries, or have you human women finally done away with your men altogether?

  • NOTES (3)

    • The episode "Deathwish" is mentioned in the first season DVD retrospective "Voyager Time Capsule: Captain Janeway".

      Kate Mulgrew states that this was one of the first episodes of the program in which the showrunners allowed her more creative freedom. She requested that she be allowed to be a more integral part of the creative process and Rick Berman told her "We'll back off from now on." Brief clips from this episode are also seen in this featurette.

    • Geordi LaForge was originally going to be the Starfleet Officer Q produced as a witness, but Levar Burton was sporting a clean-shaved head so the producers called in Jonathan Frakes at the last minute.

    • As of this episode, John de Lancie has played the same character (Q) on three different Star Trek series. The only other actors to do so are Armin Shimerman (Quark), Michael Ansara (Kang), Richard Poe (Gul Evek), Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker) and Marina Sirtis (Counsellor Deanna Troi).


    • Hemlock - Quinn's method of suicide

      Hemlock is reportedly the poison used on Socrates to punish him for speaking out against the status quo - officially, corrupting the youth and disbelief in the gods of the state. According to his disciples Plato and Xenophon, contemporaries of Socrates, he could have recanted but declared death preferable.