(written from a Production point of view)
A member of the Q Continuum comes aboard Voyager, seeking asylum so he can commit suicide. Q arrives onboard to stop him, leaving Captain Janeway to mediate a moral dilemma.
On the USS Voyager's bridge, Commander Chakotay is informing Captain Janeway about an unusual spatial object the crew has detected, saying that although it looks like a comet, it is moving too erratically to be one. Janeway considers the possibilities of the anomaly's nature. On her instruction, Lieutenant Torres heads from the bridge to transporter room two and tries to beam aboard a comet fragment for study, surrounding the transporter with a class three containment field. She energizes the transporter but, instead of the sample, she beams aboard a man, clothed in a Starfleet captain's uniform, who steps down from the transporter platform walking directly through the containment field with little effort and then greets Torres, announcing that his name is Q.
Torres contacts Janeway, asking her to come to the transporter room and reporting Q's arrival. Janeway immediately initiates a red alert and starts to head to the transporter room. With a flash, however, Q appears beside Torres. He addresses the captain via Torres' combadge, assuring Janeway not to bother; he instead asks for her permission to take her to lunch.
With more flashes, Q and Janeway materialize in Voyager's mess hall, wherein Q enthusiastically greets her and even causes a table to become laden with dishes, specifically Welsh rarebit. Janeway begins to formally introduce herself but Q interrupts, ending her sentence for her. Neelix is puzzled at the selection of food, remarking about rabbits, and wonders whether their new arrival is a chef that Janeway is interviewing. While interestedly studying crew members clustered around the room, Q tries to persuade the officers to eat, referring to the food he has provided as a token of his appreciation at being released from captivity, a story that Janeway skeptically questions. Q seems stunned to encounter the crew of mortals and reveals an envy of Kes' short lifespan as, more than any other desire, he wants to die. Janeway then confronts him, having assumed that he is the same Q who has repeatedly visited the USS Enterprise-D but he tells her that he is not. Q again interrupts her and, muttering to himself, he starts to say that she has mistaken him for someone else but he breaks off mid-sentence. Mentioning a need for expediency before "others" discover where he is, Q makes a small speech that – apparently – he has spent three hundred years preparing. The speech culminates in him pronouncing the end of himself but, when he flicks his right wrist, the resultant flash instead causes all the male crew members to disappear; a message from Torres confirms for Janeway that this mass disappearance is a ship-wide phenomenon. On Janeway's directive, Q tries to return the men but is so out of practice with his own abilities that he is unable to cause a flash that will bring them back. He flippantly apologizes to Janeway.
With another flash, he returns her to the bridge. Janeway insists that he bring the crew back, but he admits that he doesn't know how to. As he ponders over the question of who would have more recent experience with Humans than he does, the "original" Q appears on the bridge in a flash. He sternly asks what the second Q has now done, before glancing over at Janeway.
Less than thrilled about Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant, Q remarks that Humans shouldn't be in this area of space for another one hundred years. Quinn denies responsibility for the Humans' presence. When Janeway admits that she and her crew are responsible for Quinn's release from imprisonment, Q blames the captain's femininity and claims he was betting Riker would receive command of Voyager. Janeway mentions that she has heard of Q. He is thrilled and wants to know more but becomes distracted by the fact that there are only women on the bridge. When prompted to explain what happened to all the men, Quinn describes it as "a slight accident." Q correctly guesses that he was attempting suicide and, in disgust, brings the male crew members back to their stations, after which he whimsically comments on Chakotay's tattoo.
Although Q intends to leave immediately with the former prisoner, Quinn insists on a request for Janeway to grant him asylum from his brethren. As the pair of Q quarrel over the plea and Quinn tries to escape from Q, Quinn dangerously transports Voyager to the time of the Big Bang (Q mentioning that the crew's atoms could end up being the origin of the humanoid form) and then reduces the ship to subatomic proportions, causing the vessel to be battered by protons. After Q found them every time, Quinn transforms the vessel into a Christmas tree ornament but Q picks the ornament up off the tree and peers into the vessel's viewscreen, warning Quinn that there is nowhere to hide. An angered Janeway, desperate to end their dispute and save her ship, agrees to hold a hearing between the troublesome pair to consider Quinn's request for asylum. Both accept, but each have their own conditions. If Q wins, Quinn will spend eternity in captivity. If Quinn wins, he will be granted mortality so that he may commit suicide. Janeway is therefore presented with a dilemma whose difficulty Q lengthily remarks on.
Quinn flashes into Tuvok's office to find him studying a PADD. Quinn requests that Tuvok act as his counsel during the hearing because Vulcans approve of suicide. Tuvok protests, saying that even though Vulcans who are infirm do practice ritual suicide he has no legal expertise. Quinn persists with his request and Tuvok finally says he will speak to Janeway about it.
Later, with Tuvok acting as Quinn's counsel, the hearing begins with Janeway asking the Qs to promise not to turn the hearing into a circus. They both agree and Janeway begins by asking Quinn one of the most pressing questions: Why does he want to commit suicide? He tells her he doesn't agree with the fact that each individual of the Continuum is obligated to follow the path that his or her life will follow. He wants his path to lead to death and doesn't think that the Continuum should be able to interfere in his choices.
Q calls himself to the stand as a witness, creating an identical him. Q the lawyer and Q the witness discuss the impact a suicide would have on the life of the Q as a whole species. It would be an interruption to society but neither part of Q's personality can specify how it will disrupt society, because they have never had to deal with a suicide before. Quinn accuses the Continuum of being afraid of the unknown but Q characterizes his remarks as that of a mentally unbalanced person and says that no one can justify the suicide of a mentally unbalanced person. Tuvok, however, challenges that statement, as the sole reasoning behind it is that Quinn wants to kill himself.
Tuvok points out that the Continuum has, in the past, executed some of its members as punishment and inquires if their deaths also created interruption in the society. Q contradicts this statement, saying that their crimes created the interruption and their deaths ended it and even then the executions were only carried out as a last resort. He also says that Tuvok's argument is an unfair comparison because Tuvok is comparing the preservation of social order and anarchy. When Tuvok asks about Q's own record of being deemed mentally unstable, he hotly retorts that his record has been cleared, which Tuvok takes as an affirmation. The witness Q is dismissed from the stand.
Q requests to call in more witnesses to help his case, attempting to show how Quinn's existence has had influence throughout the galaxy during Earth; to that end he wants to call people from Earth. Janeway is shocked, but agrees when Q promises their appearances will not affect the timeline and all will have their memories wiped. Q then causes Isaac Newton, Maury Ginsberg, and William T. Riker to appear. Upon seeing Q, Riker becomes agitated and demands to know what Q is up to. Janeway explains the situation to him while also lamenting that, since his memory will have to be wiped, Riker won't be able to inform Starfleet of Voyager's situation. The two former have a hard time believing that they are on a starship, so Janeway tells them to pretend they are having a very strange dream, in which they are seeing the same man they've all met before. Newton recognises Quinn as the man who jostled the tree causing the apple to fall, which allowed him to discover gravity. Ginsberg also remembers Quinn as the man who gave him a ride to Woodstock (where he was a spotlight operator) after his car broke down, a fortunate occurrence as Ginsberg was able to save the concert when the sound system failed by spotting a snagged wire. Riker doesn't recognise Quinn, until Q summons a photo of Riker's ancestor, Colonel Thaddius Riker with the man who carried him from the front lines of the American Civil War after he was wounded in action. Riker realizes the man who helped his ancestor was none other than Quinn. Q explains that Quinn helped shape the lives of all these men: he helped Newton redefine science, ensured Ginsberg made it to Woodstock (as well as introducing him to his future wife), and guaranteed the existence of Will Riker who, as Q points out, would save the Federation from assimilation by the Borg. Q then transports all three back to the proper times and places.
Quinn takes himself, Q, Janeway and Tuvok to a replicated interior of the comet in an effort to help his case. Q tells him that it is his own fault that he has been held in captivity and he could be free if he didn't want to commit suicide. Back on Voyager, Janeway tells Quinn that she cannot take into account the circumstances of his confinement into her ruling, as he is only confined there due to his desire to kill himself. She tells Quinn that the only thing she has found that could possibly justify a ruling in Quinn's favor is the "double effect" principle, which justifies the release from suffering, age, or infirmity even if it also causes death. So far, Quinn has shown no sign of suffering or being in pain, and Janeway tells Quinn that he needs to prove he suffers in any manner other than the conditions of his confinement. Tuvok requests a recess so he and Quinn can consider their response.
In the mess hall, the two men discuss their failure to prove their case. Quinn is grateful to Tuvok for believing in him, but Tuvok says that Quinn's position is not his own and that Quinn appears to only wish to commit suicide due to the fact he is bored by life as a Q and he doesn't believe that a life like his should be wasted. Quinn remarks that Tuvok has managed to surprise him, which is unusual; he also says that if Tuvok lived the life of a Q, he would understand the logic behind his position. Tuvok then proposes visiting the Continuum itself.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. I'm determined to find a better alternative to suicide or endless prison, so I've summoned the advocate Q to make him a proposal."
In her ready room, Janeway asks Q if the Continuum would reconsider putting Quinn in captivity if she rules against him but instead try to reintegrate him into society. Q refuses, saying that Quinn is too dangerous but has been authorized to offer something else as an incentive for Janeway to make, in the Continuum's opinion, the correct decision: if Janeway rules in his favor, then the Continuum will return Voyager to Earth.
The next day, Tuvok tells everyone at the hearing that he and Quinn wish to demonstrate life in the Continuum itself. Q objects saying that Humans would never understand, but Tuvok counters that Quinn has a right to display the living conditions that are responsible for his suffering. Janeway agrees, and Quinn whispers to Q how he will display life in the Continuum to Janeway and Tuvok. Q still isn't happy, but agrees. Quinn then takes everyone to the Continuum…
…which appears as an endless road in the desert. Janeway is incredulous that this is the Continuum, and Quinn explains that this is simply a representation of the Continuum, created so she can comprehend it. He then leads everyone to a small, run-down building by the side of the road.
In the building are several people each doing various things. Some are reading newspapers and magazines (called 'The Old' and 'The New'), another man is playing a pinball machine named "Galaxy", and a couple play croquet with balls that appear to be miniature planets. Quinn explains that the road represents the universe, and that it goes around in a large circle before ending up right back at the building. Quinn has traveled the road many, many times and has done everything he can in the building. Played the games, sat on the porch, been the dog, and even took the place of the scarecrow once before. When Janeway asks why, he tells her that it was simply because he hadn't done it before. Janeway states that the people in the building don't seem to be suffering, and Quinn states that they don't dare feel sad because if they did then at least that would be some progress.
Quinn then tells Janeway that, when he was a respected philosopher, he celebrated the purity the Q had reached and at the beginning of their era the Continuum was full of discussion on the discoveries and the issues that arose in the universe, but now everyone is silent because there is nothing left to talk about. Everything has already been said, and no-one has spoken to each other for ten millennia as a result.
Q states that he doesn't mind the peace and quiet, causing Quinn to remark on the irony that Q would be arguing on behalf on the Continuum when it was Q who was once exiled from the Continuum and made mortal to pay for his crimes. Q simply states that he is a different person now, and Quinn tells Q what a pity that is because the person Q was before, the Q that was out of control and used his powers for his own amusement, inspired him. Q only acted that way because there was nothing left to do in the Continuum, and while he acted that way the Continuum had something to talk about. But then Q was snapped back into line by the Continuum and became just another fine, upstanding member of it, but Quinn misses the old Q that forced him to think. Although he tries not to show it, Q is clearly affected by Quinn's words.
Quinn then picks up a copy of The New and shows one of its articles to Janeway. Titled "I'm Ready to Die; How About You?", it was written by Quinn and was the beginning of his fall from grace. Quinn explains that although the magazine was shut down after the article, Quinn continued to speak out in favor of his suicide and the Continuum was so scared of him that they locked him away in the comet, displaying that the Continuum only favors an individuals rights as long as they don't conflict with the state. Quinn feels his life's work is complete, yet the Continuum has forced immortality on him and as a result he feels his life is cheapening alongside that of the Continuum. Quinn then asks Janeway that, if there was no more space left to explore, no new discoveries left to be made and nothing else to do, would she really want to live forever under those circumstances? In response to Janeway asking him to equate how he suffers in relation to pain or disease he tells her the disease is immortality and that when an immortal's life is futile and no longer endurable then it should be allowed to end.
Everyone is transported back to the hearing room, and Tuvok declares that he and Quinn rest their case. Janeway calls a recess so she can consider her decision.
As Janeway tries to sleep, Q appears in her quarters and asks her if she had thought anymore about his offer to bring Voyager home if she rules in his favor. She dismisses it as a bribe and tells him it will play no part in her decision. However, Q has talked to the members of the Continuum and persuaded them into giving Janeway what she asked for: Quinn will not go back into his cell, someone will be assigned to look after him, to bring him back into the normal life of the Q. Q tells her that she has won and that he thinks the two of them should celebrate together. She, however, doesn't like that at all and orders him to leave.
In the hearing room once again, Janeway begins to deliver her judgement. She tells Quinn that she has considered the implication that granting asylum would lead to a death, even if the death is self-inflicted. She has also considered the possible consequences that Quinn's suicide could have on the Q Continuum. The idea of making a decision that could affect an entire society, be for the better or for the worse, has troubled her. Despite all this, with the evidence that she has been presented she declares that Quinn is not mentally unbalanced and it is clear he is undergoing intolerable suffering. Janeway finishes that she won't support immortality that is forced on an individual by the state and that the possible consequences suffered by the Continuum aren't enough to justify Quinn's continued suffering and rules in his favor, granting Quinn asylum. Q is disappointed but he honors the agreement made at the beginning of the trial and turns Quinn mortal. Janeway then tells Quinn that, rather than committing suicide, maybe he could give mortality a try, as there are a great many sensations and feelings he could explore and he could explore his new existence. Quinn thinks about it and agrees to try.
- "Captain's log, stardate 49301.2. We have assigned quarters to our new passenger, who has entered his name on our crew manifest as Quinn. I am eager to engage him in ship activities as soon as possible."
In her ready room, Janeway and Chakotay are trying to figure out a post for Quinn when The Doctor calls her down to sickbay: Quinn is dying. Janeway arrives in sickbay, where Tuvok and The Doctor are waiting for her, just before Quinn dies. The Doctor informs Janeway that Quinn ingested a form of Nogatch hemlock, for which there is no known cure. Quinn tells her that he would only be pretending to fit into mortal life, that his death is his final gift to his people and he was grateful to Janeway for making his death possible.
The Doctor tells Janeway that he doesn't store the hemlock or any fatal poisons, and Tuvok points out that the replicators won't produce it either. Janeway wonders how Quinn obtained the hemlock, just as Q shows up again. He informs the startled officers that he was the one who assisted Quinn in his suicide. Q remarks that it was Quinn, not he, who was truly irrepressible. He hopes that he could be a worthy student of Quinn's ways and when Janeway remarks that the Continuum won't be happy with him, his only response is, "I certainly hope not." He bids Janeway goodbye, promising that they will meet again.
"Hello. My name is Q."
- - Quinn introduces himself to Torres
"Welsh rarebit, just like your grandfather used to make."
"'Rabbit'? She never told me she likes rabbits. What is a rabbit anyway? Is this some new chef she's interviewing?"
- - Quinn and Neelix, about Captain Janeway
"Captain, there are no stars outside."
"Well, that's partially accurate. Actually, there's no universe outside."
- - Harry Kim and Quinn
"This ship will not survive the formation of the cosmos!"
"Yes, but 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!"
- - Torres and Q
"What have you done now, Q? Well now, isn't this just fine? Humans aren't supposed to be in this quadrant for another hundred years!"
"I didn't bring them here. Nothing to do with me!"
- - Q and Quinn
"How did you get out, Q?"
"I'm afraid we're responsible for that."
"Oh, well I guess that's what we get for having a woman in the captain's seat."
- - Q and Janeway
"You know, I was betting that Riker would get this command."
"May I assume that you're the Q that I've heard so much about?"
"Have you heard about little me? Oh, do tell. Has Jean-Luc been whispering about me behind my back?"
- - Q and Janeway
"Say, is this a ship of the Valkyries? Or have you Human women finally done away with your men altogether?"
- - Q, upon finding a total absence of men on Voyager's bridge
"Facial art. Ooh, how very wilderness of you."
- - Q, to Chakotay
"You can't hide from me, Q!"
"And you can't take me by force! I'll stalemate you for eternity if I have to!"
"The hell you will! The vaunted Q Continuum: 'Self-anointed Guardians of the Universe'! How dare you come aboard this ship and endanger this crew with your personal tug-of-war!"
"Did anyone ever tell you you're angry when you're beautiful?"
- - Q, Quinn, and Janeway – file info
"How would you like to spend eternity as a Gorokian midwife toad?"
"Oh, just try it!"
- - Q and Quinn
"Will you send him to prison for eternity or will you assist in his suicide plan? That's a toughie, but that's why they made you captain, isn't it? To handle the real tough ones? My, my. Now I guess we get to find out whether the pants… really fit."
- - Q, on the implications of Janeway's decision
"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?"
- - Tuvok, after Quinn makes an unannounced visit to his quarters
"You mustn't think of us as omnipotent, no matter what the Continuum would like you to believe. You and your ship seem incredibly powerful to lifeforms without your technological expertise! It's no different with us; we may appear omnipotent to you, but believe me, we're not!"
- - Quinn, in response to Tuvok
"Madame Captain, we are dealing here with an issue of the greatest importance to the Q Continuum. I can assure you that we take this matter very seriously."
"Thank you. And please don't call me Madame Captain."
- - Q and Janeway, at Quinn's asylum hearing
"You could live a perfectly normal life if you were simply willing to live a perfectly normal life!"
- - Q to Quinn
"With your permission, captain, I would like to call an expert on the Continuum to discuss the implications of the decision to be made."
"I call myself to the stand."
(A copy of Q appears)
"Thank you for coming! It's a rare honor to have someone of your reputation and accomplishment with us today."
- - Q, Janeway, and Q's copy
- - Q and his copy in unison, covering their eyes and shaking their heads at the hearing
"Q! What the hell is going on?!"
- - Commander Riker, after being brought to Voyager by Q
"God, if you let me live through this, I promise I'll clean up my act, I swear."
- - Maury Ginsberg, after being brought to Voyager by Q
"I demand an explanation! Why are you dressed like this, young man?"
"Man, have you looked in a mirror lately?"
- - Newton and Ginsberg, eyeing each other's odd clothing
"Wait a minute… weren't you the guy in the Jeep?"
- - Maury Ginsberg, to Quinn
"Q has had a profound influence on these three lives. Without Q, Isaac Newton would've died forgotten in a Liverpool debtor's prison, a suspect in several prostitute murders. Without Q, there would've been no concert at, uh…"
"Wherever. More importantly, Mr. Ginsberg would never have met his future wife – the 'groovy chick' with the long red beads – and he would never have become a successful orthodontist, and settled in Scarsdale with four kids."
"Yes… without Q, there would've 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. And lest I forget, without Q, the Borg would've assimilated the Federation."
- - Q, with small interruptions by Quinn and Ginsberg, explaining what Quinn has done for the people brought aboard Voyager
"Based on my research, you have been many things. A rude, interfering, inconsiderate, sadistic…"
"You've made your point."
"…pest. And, oh yes, you introduced us to the Borg, thank you very much. But one thing you have never been is a liar."
"I think you have uncovered my one redeeming virtue. Am I blushing?"
- - Janeway and Q
"This is the Q Continuum? A road in the desert?"
- - Janeway
"I traveled the road many times, sat on the porch, played the games, been the dog, everything! I was even the scarecrow for a while."
"Because I hadn't done it."
"Oh, we've all done the scarecrow, big deal!"
- - Quinn, Janeway, and Q
(A restless Janeway suddenly finds Q in pajamas and a sleeping cap, lying next to her in bed)
(Janeway bolts out of bed as Q sits up)
"Did you ever try warm Kylerian goat's milk?"
- - Q and Janeway
"Let's celebrate. Just you and me, the two of us!"
"I'll take you home. Before you know it, you'll be scampering across the meadow with your little puppies, the grass beneath your bare feet, a man coming over the hill way in the distance waves to you, you run to be in his arms and as you get closer, you see that it's… me!"
"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 manage to preserve your femininity so well."
- - Q and Janeway, in her quarters
"May I see you in your chambers, captain?"
"You've been in my chambers enough for one visit, sir."
- - Q and Janeway
(Q takes away Quinn's powers and makes him Human) "Nothing happened. Nothing! My powers are gone! I'm… mortal."
"Well, so much for ticker-tape parades."
- - Quinn and Q
"I'm sorry to disappoint you, captain. But I would only have been pretending to fit into this mortal existence. This is my final gift to my people. Oh! Tell them those were my last words. I dearly thank you for making this poss…"
- - The last words of Quinn
"By demanding to end his life, he taught me a little something about my own. He was right when he said the Continuum scared me back in line. I didn't have his courage or his convictions. He called me irrepressible. This was a man who was truly irrepressible. I only hope I make a worthy student."
"I imagine the Continuum won't be very happy with you, Q."
"I certainly hope not. Au revoir, Madame Captain. We will meet again."
- - Q and Janeway, the last lines of this episode
Story and script
- Prior to this episode, rumors about a Q story for Star Trek: Voyager had been circulating almost as long as the series had been in production. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- However, coming up with a justifiable means to include Q on Star Trek: Voyager initially proved challenging. One particular member of the series' production staff who was worried about this problem was executive producer Rick Berman. Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew noted, "Rick Berman was very concerned about how to get Q into the Delta Quadrant." Berman himself recalled, "As much as we've wanted Q on Voyager, getting him here has been tricky." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) Berman also explained, "Bringing Q to Star Trek: Voyager has to be done carefully. We don't want to give the impression that of all Starfleet ships around, the only ones Q visits are those that have on-air series." (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 6) Fellow executive producer Jeri Taylor likewise remembered, "There was a great deal of discussion [about] whether we could legitimately get Q on this ship. What were we saying? That Q only appears to starships that have their own series? Why this one?" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 100) Executive producer Michael Piller concluded, "Everybody wanted to see Q, but we were just not willing to create a Q episode. We knew he could go anywhere in the universe, but we had to have a story that justified it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 100)
- It was important to both Rick Berman and Michael Piller not only that the story would revolve around Q but also that the episode would mark a change in the character's persona. Q actor John de Lancie recalled, "One of the things Michael had said was that he wanted to do a Q story, not a story about how Q affects other people, but how the story affects him, and that he goes from his usual flamboyant self to someone much more introspective. You see that he's truly troubled by a philosophical and unresolvable problem." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) Michael Piller himself noted, "We really wanted a show that would advance the character of Q and as it turned out the race of Q." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 98) Likewise, Rick Berman remarked, "We [didn't] need yet another oh-here's-Q-being-a-pain-in-the-neck story. We needed to move into new Q territory." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.)
- The solution of devising a workable Q story for Star Trek: Voyager was suggested by twenty-three-year old Shawn Piller, the son of Michael Piller. Recalling the younger Piller's original mention of the idea to him, Michael Piller recounted, "My son heard me chatting away at the dinner table and he came in and started pitching and he gave me this basic idea." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) The senior Piller also remarked, "When my son heard me talking about [the difficulties of bringing Q to Voyager] at home, he came up with the idea that all of us had been looking for for years, and that is a true creative achievement [....] The bottom line is [we had] been looking for a Q story that we would feel comfortable with." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 98, 100) Shawn Piller's solution specifically involved another member of the Q Continuum necessitating the introduction of the familiar Q. Jeri Taylor commented, "[It] found a way to get him there which was via the other Q. We inadvertently beam him on board and he needs someone who knows about humans. Who better than John de Lancie for that?" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 100)
- The next step was presenting Shawn Piller's idea to the series' writing staff, with the obvious exception of his father, who reflected, "I had him come in and pitch with everyone in the room." Despite his familiarity with Voyager's production staff, Shawn Piller was still required to take this next step. Michael Piller explained, "Everybody knows Shawn and would like to help him. But we're not just going to hand him an assignment because he's my son. I'm pretty tough that way, but he came up with this thing himself and he wrote the story himself." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Commenting on this meeting, the senior Piller proudly noted, "The most experienced Star Trek minds had been stumped by the challenge of bringing Q to Voyager – but my son walked in with the answer." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) Shawn Piller's plot idea was immediately approved by the series' writing staff. Jeri Taylor remarked, "Michael's son, Shawn Piller, sold the story to us [....] It worked and if it worked we were happy to do it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 100)
- Although Michael Piller had ignored his son's first story proposal (which had, nevertheless, gone on to become the story for TNG: "Journey's End"), the senior Piller – who had a long track record of accepting story ideas, regardless of their source – found himself compelled to accept the pitch. Michael Piller recounted, "I would have been a fool to turn it down. The record is very clear that I will buy a good story from anybody." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) After having bought the story, Michael Piller insisted on scripting the episode's teleplay. Referring to his son, the writer remarked, "He would have loved to have written the script, but as I said, there are no favors here. He had never written a teleplay, and I wasn't going to pay him to practice on us." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- The way that the Pillers approached this episode was usual of Michael Piller and the other producers of Star Trek: Voyager, rooting the story's imaginative concepts – typical of the far-out ideas that the writers frequently devised for Star Trek – in the personal dynamics of the characters and how the aforementioned concepts would affect them. In this case, the Pillers used three typical methods of focusing the story on the characters; they created an alien character (in this case, Quinn) with whom the audience could identify, they used an alien culture (the Q) to personify the concepts that the writers wanted to explore (such as immortality and omniscience), and they centered their story around a character (Quinn) who would be most affected or hurt by the situation (using this as a means to dramatize immortality, which would probably be normally a somewhat comfortable situation, not particularly conducive to drama). (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- Star Trek: Voyager's writing staff also set out to make Q's relationship with Janeway considerably different from the relationship that the former character had had with Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jeri Taylor recalled of this challenge, "Could we develop a relationship between him and Janeway that wouldn't be a repetition of his relationship with Picard. We had no interest in doing that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5)
- Another challenge was devising a way to avoid the possibility of Q solving one of Star Trek: Voyager's central premises. Rick Berman explained, "The Voyager crew is lost in space and Q has the power to bring them home. Obviously we can't let him do that or we wouldn't have a series." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) John de Lancie himself suggested a quick and easy solution to this difficulty. At the Grand Slam IV Star Trek convention in Pasadena, California in May 1996, de Lancie told his audience, "One of the writers said to me a good year and a half ago, 'You know, we have some difficulty with the idea of having Q on Star Trek: Voyager, because you could get them home. You, in fact, know how to get them home.' And I said, 'Why is that a problem? I don't see that as being a problem.'" De Lancie had then proceeded to suggest that the writers solve their so-called "problem" by quickly having Janeway ask Q if he had the knowledge or means to take the crew home, him replying positively, she asking if he would do so and, finally, him simply refusing. De Lancie added, "Now that would solve the problem, wouldn't it?" (Star Trek Monthly issue 17) He also related, "I know that there was a discussion at one point, where they said, 'You know Q could take them all back.' I said, 'Yes that's true, [but] you might imagine a dialogue that goes like this, "Q, can you get us back?" "Yes I can." "Well will you?" "No, I don't think I will," and that's the end of it.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 87)
- The original working title of this episode was "Untitled Q".
- The episode's teleplay consistently refers to the Q who ultimately names himself Quinn as "Q2", referring to the more familiar Q almost entirely as "Q1". In fact, the script introduces the latter Q by describing him as "our old friend Q (hereafter referred to as Q1)". Coincidentally, "Q2" was also used to refer to Corbin Bernsen's Q character in TNG: "Deja Q", and a seventh season episode would be titled "Q2".
- Regarding the story, Michael Piller remarked, "I have never been happy doing something strictly for stunt. I don't mind doing something that's promotable, but I want to start out with a story that's worth telling, and this show was about a genuine Human concern in that Q2, who can live forever, doesn't want to. What a twist on the normal wish that Humans seem to have to live forever." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Piller certainly liked writing this episode, which he cited (along with "Meld" and "Lifesigns") as one of a few from Voyager's second season whose development involved a great deal of enjoyment. "Those shows were more fun to write for me than the big space battle," he said, "because I like character interaction. I like what the characters are doing to themselves and there are personal stakes involved and character conflicts involved." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- This episode's final draft script was submitted on 9 October 1995. 
- When asked whether he thought the episode deals responsibly with the philosophical problems it raises, John de Lancie stated, "It poses the question; I don't know if it handles the issue. I argue for life, because of the effect one has on other people's lives, but the other side is when you're in such pain that you have the opportunity of being able to individually say, 'Enough.' The fact that Janeway agrees that Q2 is in fact in psychic pain, which permits me to help resolve the situation, is only one solution. We posed a question, and I'm hoping that people think about the issue and realize that there are at least two ways of going. That's as much of the social issue as we need to affect. 'Death Wish' poses big problems in terms of our concept of god-likeness and immortality. The idea that immortality is a disease gives us mortals who envy the Q – thinking, 'The king's life must be so much better than mine' – the realization that, well, the Q's life isn't so great, is it?" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- Supervising producer Brannon Braga felt that, at its core, this episode had a very contemporary theme. He noted, "Euthanasia in the Q episode 'Death Wish' is a very Nineties issue." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
- John De Lancie had a deeply spiritual interpretation of the scene wherein Q comments, "Oh, we've all done the scarecrow, big deal." The actor remarked, "Because of the large philosophical stories, you can get all sorts of ideas in. That line, when I read it, evoked in me this idea – I don't know which religion says this, but you're moved in your reincarnations towards the seventh level of comprehension or whatever, and you're sometimes stuck playing the same role over and over again, until you learn and can then go on to the next level. That's what I got out of it. Hopefully, 22 million people watching it will get something different out of it as well." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- Given the complexity of the themes explored in this episode, Rick Berman was initially somewhat unsure if the episode would turn out well but was hopeful that it would. On the first day of the episode's production period, he related, "Although it's got a lot of humor as most Q shows do, it's also an examination of the question of suicide and assisted suicide […] done in a metaphorical sense. But it's gonna be, I hope, provocative and quite interesting [....] Sometimes people would accuse the Q shows of reaching for things, him just popping onto the USS Enterprise or the Deep Space Nine space station, for example, for no purpose except to cause a little mischief. We've been trying to focus on Q stories with a little more meaning than that, and have a very solid reason to have Q in the mix of a given episode, so we'll see what happens." (Star Trek Monthly issue 10)
Cast and characters
- As of this episode, John de Lancie has played the same character on three different Star Trek series. The only other actors to do so are Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker/Thomas Riker), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi), Armin Shimerman (Quark), Michael Ansara (Kang), Richard Poe (Gul Evek), Mark Allen Shepherd (Morn) and Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard).
- John de Lancie and Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew had known each other, as friends, throughout fifteen years prior to the making of this episode, having originally become acquainted due to numerous dinner parties. However, this episode constituted the first time they had worked together on-screen. (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.)
- Before this installment's creation, John de Lancie had very often been asked whether he would be appearing on Star Trek: Voyager. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 87) He was only included in Voyager after Kate Mulgrew had striven to have him involved in the series. About the time of this episode's production, Mulgrew said of her co-star, "I have campaigned very hard to get him on Voyager [....] I even threw a dinner party with the Bermans and the de Lancies and we talked all night long. I said, 'You've got to find a way.'" (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) John de Lancie himself remarked, "I think Kate wanted me to be on the show. I think Rick [Berman] wanted me to be on the show. It just [required] the script, that's all." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 87)
- It wasn't until well into production on the second season of Star Trek: Voyager that John de Lancie was notified that this episode was ready for him. He uncertainly recalled, "I don't remember specifically when it was, because I was busy doing other projects when my agent simply called and said, 'They have a Star Trek episode for you.' As a matter of fact, for a week or so, I was under the impression that it was going to be Deep Space Nine." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- John De Lancie played Q in this episode amid a hectic schedule, immediately after returning from preparing to appear in the play Peer Gynt in New York. He recalled, "I came back and went into Voyager almost the day after I came back. It was a very busy time, and I just didn't know much of anything at that point." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- Immediately after reading the episode's script, a grateful John de Lancie called Michael Piller, complimenting him on the story and considering how good, based on the script, the other Voyager episodes had to be, as the actor had never watched the series before. (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.; The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- According to Kate Mulgrew, this episode was an important step in her gaining more creative control over the depiction of her character. The actress recalled, "I would say it took about two seasons before Rick [Berman] to say, 'Lookit. She's obviously got her own handle on this character. Let's let her fly and see what happens.' I remember, from that moment forward, talking to them creatively about the writing, and being respected. I remember, uh… I think it was probably an episode called 'Death Wish', wanting very much to be an integral part of that process. And I remember Berman saying, very clearly, 'You just go for it. We'll back off, from now on.'" (Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway, VOY Season 1 DVD special features) Mulgrew also stated, "'Death Wish' broke me open. I gained new confidence, new wings in 'Death Wish.'" (Star Trek Monthly issue 83, p. 25)
- Both John de Lancie and Kate Mulgrew were very satisfied with the script of this episode, describing it as "terrific." Mulgrew added, "Very clever. Very literate. Classic Star Trek […] This is what we've prepared all our lives for! This is writing any literate actor would be passionate about." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) Mulgrew later listed this episode among her five favorite episodes from the entirety of Star Trek: Voyager, stating, "The script was wonderful. The arguments about suicide were very compelling." (Star Trek Monthly issue 83, p. 25) With an analogy to classical music, de Lancie noted, "There is something demoralizing about being trained to play Chopin piano concertos but being asked to play jingles. Most television shows – and a lot of movies and plays – are jingles." Picking up the episode's script, he concluded, "Now this is a concerto." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) Rating the episode against his previous experiences of playing Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, de Lancie remarked, "In terms of what was on the page, I would say this episode and '"Tapestry"' were really the two best." He added, "This is what Star Trek does best: serious, somewhat amusing, very focused stories." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) De Lancie also noted, "From the writing point of view I thought that this [Q episode] was an awfully good one." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 89) Additionally, de Lancie said, "Michael Piller did a terrific job of writing that script […] That was Star Trek at its best, which means it made you think and consider and reflect. It didn't offer easy solutions or a pat ending." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 21)
- John De Lancie took a while to adjust to playing Q in the environment of Star Trek: Voyager, compared with his previous appearances as Q in The Next Generation. The actor explained, "It was a bit strange. I was so thrilled with the script […] that there were other areas that I hadn't thought about. One of them was that the dynamics that I was accustomed to, of de Lancie and Patrick Stewart, were no longer there. It was another dynamic now, and I hadn't really gotten that into my head. We had to thrash that out a little bit. The issue was how did [Q] fit now on a whole new ship, and I found that very interesting." Making a comparison between Janeway and Picard, de Lancie noted, "The quips are different, the testosterone level is different." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) De Lancie also commented, "When the script is as meaty as 'Death Wish' you don't need all the banter and the stuff Patrick and I had to add on some of the weaker Q episodes of Next Generation. We didn't need any tricks." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- John de Lancie thought that the episodes in which he played Q should be different each time. Remarking on this particular installment, de Lancie stated, "It was a very different show than is usually the case for me. Of course I had only done nine of them, up until that point, but I didn't think that [this script] warranted too much spin, and smoke and mirrors, that the [screen]play itself held most of the water and that we really needed to just deal with the issues in the play as much as possible." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88) In addition, de Lancie remarked, "This one was interesting because the element that has made this character so popular, that kind of 'in your face, fuck you' quality again was overshadowed by how well the script was written and what the story was about. I thought, rather than play that, maybe it was time to play this one much more introspectively." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) De Lancie further explained, "This is a much more introspective, much more caught off-guard Q, a facet of the character that we haven't seen much. This Q is troubled by what is being revealed–that he's part of a dying society. Our disease is immortality, and I buckled and, in this case, allowed the other Q to be a little more flamboyant because I had to show that I was toeing the company line." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) Shortly after working on this episode, De Lancie similarly commented, "The last show was a show that had more to do with morals, more to do with a Q that was reactive rather than active, than any of the other shows that we've had. After looking at it, I thought I could have given it a little bit of that spin [of having an unpredictable mix of both villainousness and heroism], a little more, but I wanted it to have that facet where here was a character who seemed to have a moral position and he was in a moral dilemma." (Star Trek Monthly issue 17)
- At least partly due to Q's physical appearance in the scene when he suddenly appears in Janeway's quarters, John de Lancie was somewhat amused by the scene. "Because of the nightshirt and what have you, it has […] a comedic quality about it," he observed. De Lancie understood but found fault with a decision that was made about this scene – specifically, that having Janeway sleep with Q would detract from the captain's position. "Unlike Kirk, who can sleep with every alien!" a chuckling John de Lancie responded. "It's a double standard, but I think we would all be taken aback if Janeway started cavorting with Q. You can be up close, but the next level of intimacy is not something you want to get into, because it's not worth it in terms of where the scene would go." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- During production, Kate Mulgrew found that John de Lancie had an extremely short-term memory for dialogue. When later asked if there had been any surprises pertaining to the two close friends acting together, de Lancie said, "Well, Kate discovered that I can't remember a line for longer than five minutes. Actually, five minutes might be pushing it." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) De Lancie also said of Mulgrew, "She was great to work with. Kate […] has this phenomenal capacity to remember lines, which is intimidating at best. I found myself a little bit awash in lines, because I blew myself out in the last two jobs and was very tired, so I was always a little behind the gun when it came to that." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- Ultimately, Kate Mulgrew and John de Lancie were mutually appreciative of each other's input in this episode. De Lancie enthused, "Kate was just a delight to work with." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 21) Mulgrew commented, "I was so supported by my friend John de Lancie." (Star Trek Monthly issue 83, p. 25)
- Quinn actor Gerrit Graham previously played the Lead Hunter in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Captive Pursuit". The episode immediately following it, "Q-Less", is the only DS9 episode to feature Q, and to guest-star John de Lancie playing him.
- Gerrit Graham also played the lawyer of the victim in the Sledge Hammer! episode "Jagged Sledge. A fun fact that here the defendant Sledge Hammer also calls himself into the witness box and 'interviews' himself (via a cassette recorder). Sledge also praises himself for his good work like Q does in this episode.
- John De Lancie enjoyed working with Gerrit Graham. "He was marvelous," de Lancie said of his co-star, "and very amusing. One of the qualities that the character has is a little bit of a campishness, and Gerrit picked that up very quickly. He and I had some good times with that. That's why I said it was a little different, because this was more of his event and my dilemma, and the dynamics were different. I was delighted to have it that way." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) De Lancie also noted about Graham, "Gerrit was marvelous." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 21)
- The Pillers originally wanted to bring on more guest stars for this episode than ultimately appeared. According to Michael Piller, "We tried to get Michael Jordan, but he wants to be hired as an actor, not as himself. We also wanted to get Cal Ripken, Jr., Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, or Frank Sinatra." Piller added, "Hey, we aim high." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.)
- Prior to appearing herein, Jonathan Frakes – hoping that William T. Riker would resurface on either Star Trek: Voyager or Deep Space Nine – asked about the possibility of him making such an appearance. (Starlog #204)
- This is the second of four Star Trek episodes to feature Jonathan Frakes in a role he originated on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He reprised his one-episode TNG role of Thomas Riker in DS9: "Defiant", and reappeared in his usual role of William T. Riker in this episode, ENT: "These Are the Voyages...", and PIC: "Nepenthe".
- Regarding his appearance in this episode, Jonathan Frakes stated, "I had no reservations about this story. I was very happy to return." According to Frakes, he almost didn't get a chance to return because the original draft script slated LeVar Burton to make an appearance as Geordi La Forge instead. Frakes added, "But LeVar has his head shaved these days. He doesn't look much like Geordi – so I lucked out." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) La Forge eventually got his chance to appear on Voyager in the Season 5 episode "Timeless", after audiences had already seen the changes in Burton's appearance in Star Trek: First Contact. He also wore a beard in the subsequent films related to TNG – Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis.
- The character of Maury Ginsberg was played by an actor of the same name. The producers of Star Trek liked the actor's name so much that they decided to use it for his character. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- Production on this episode started in mid-October, 1995. (Star Trek Monthly issue 10) As was typical with the production of Star Trek: Voyager episodes, a period of seven days was assigned for the shooting of this episode. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary) In order to await an availability in John de Lancie's schedule, however, the episode was moved back one slot in the production line-up. (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 6) The episode's production period also overran by one day. Kate Mulgrew described the production stage as "eight days of intense creative pleasure for me." (Delta Quadrant, p. 103)
- The first day of production on this episode coincided with the final stages of editing of the episode "Maneuvers". (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 11)
- Of the scenes that involve Janeway and Q, the first to be filmed was a scene in which the characters argue vehemently and the second was the bedroom scene wherein Q suddenly materializes in Janeway's bed. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) The latter scene was prepared during a much longer rehearsal period than was usual for the series. Kate Mulgrew later remembered, "We rehearsed [the bedroom scene] for 45 minutes, which is extraordinary. Around here, rehearsals usually take six minutes and 15 seconds." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.) The same scene was the subject of some discussion. John de Lancie remarked, "I think they wanted to be very clear about the fact that she's not going to fall into that temptation. Kate and I talked about this a lot, because we thought, 'Well, why wouldn't she find him attractive, and why wouldn't he find her attractive?' I think it was ultimately decided that if she did sleep with Q, it would really detract from her position." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- Late one Friday evening during the episode's shoot, the production crew was filming a long master shot on the bridge. The shot involved the bridge officers, Q, and Quinn. The schedule was behind. This particular scene was difficult and complex, with director James L. Conway doing numerous takes and the cast having much difficulty in trying to get the scene exactly as he wanted it. Finally, everything seemed to be going well and Conway looked pleased with the way the master shot was proceeding. The shot was almost done when a sudden loud clatter sounded, offstage. The noise abruptly halted production but stopped itself, only to be followed by a faint clatter. With the shot now ruined, almost everyone began to snicker and laugh, with the exception of assistant director Jerry Fleck, who angrily rushed to see where the noise had come from. The production staff laughed even more when they realized that unit production manager Brad Yacobian was absent. Everyone else expected him to be the last person to spoil a master shot – as he was well known for having an extremely stern and serious attitude about noise during filming – but he was indeed the guilty party and the disturbance had been a result of him trying to get a sweet snack from the craft service storeroom. Grinning broadly, he soon reappeared and loudly confirmed that he had been the culprit. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager)
- The set used for the hearing in this episode was the briefing room minus its usual large table. As the briefing room table was bigger than any of the room's doors, Leslie Frankenheimer's set dressing crew had to pull out one of the room's walls to remove the table. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary) This episode's text commentary – written by production staffers Michael and Denise Okuda – speculates that, aboard Voyager, the vessel's crew probably either dismantled the table before they could take it out of the room or that they simply beamed it out.
- An entire day was dedicated to the filming of the scene in which Quinn's involvement in the lives of Riker, Ginsberg, and Newton is discussed. Shooting the scene was an enjoyable experience for the actors involved. John de Lancie recalled, "We had a great time on one particular day […] It was when Isaac Newton and the gang were there. All day we were in that little room, and we just had a hoot." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88) De Lancie also reminisced, "There was one particular day that Jonathan [Frakes] was there, as well as the gentlemen who played Isaac Newton and Maury Ginsberg–so it was them, Kate, Gerrit, Tim Russ, and I in that room, and we had a ball. We were in hysterics most of the time. I don't know how it came out on film, but we had a great time […] There were big, long difficult speeches, and nobody really had enough time to get that all under their belts, so there was a little bit of a struggle there, but we certainly had a good time." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6)
- At least one rehearsal of the scene that includes Riker was performed while Jonathan Frakes was wearing a black t-shirt but Kate Mulgrew and John de Lancie were both in their command-red Starfleet uniforms. 
- The comet interior was a tiny set built on Paramount Stage 9, right next to Q's Christmas tree. Presumably owing to the proximity of the two sets, both the scene featuring the comet's interior and the scene involving the Christmas tree were filmed at about the same time as each other. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- The desert location used to resemble the Q Continuum was actually in Lancaster, California. The roadside building where Quinn takes Janeway, Tuvok and Q is, in reality, a popular filming location known as "Club Ed," named after the area's first caretaker. Both the Q magazine article that Quinn shows Janeway outside the roadside building and the "Never Closes" sign on the building's exterior were designed by scenic artist Wendy Drapanas. The scene that was filmed in the desert resort was entirely done so in a day. Although location shooting was expensive, it was deemed necessary, as the surreal imagery offered an extraordinary insight into the nature of the Q Continuum. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- Regarding his performance in the final moments of this episode, John de Lancie commented, "I hope in the last scene that one gets the sense that [Q] has found something to do, and that is maybe go back and try to revitalize the Continuum [....] I tried to leave it a little upbeat, that Q goes back and tries to change that around." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) De Lancie also said of these final moments, "I think the way in which it was left, through the death of one of the Q's, I had my job cut out for me, to go back and try to affect a change in where we were, where we had come now." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 89)
- This episode reunited director James L. Conway with John de Lancie, the pair having worked together on the short-lived series Legend earlier in 1995. De Lancie said of the director, "He has got a great inner rhythm that's very quick and moves along, and I think he did some very good work on Legend. I talked to him after we finished this episode, and he thought it came together pretty well." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) Despite the fact that de Lancie and Conway both worked on numerous Star Trek episodes, this is the only one on which they collaborated.
- The melting comet that appears at the beginning of this episode is a reuse of the melting comet from TNG: "Masks", as created by Santa Barbara Studios.
- During the episode's preproduction period, considerable thought went into deciding how the Big Bang should physically be depicted, such as what color it would be. Because there were no photons at the time of the actual Big Bang, any depiction that the production staff came up with would necessarily be historically inaccurate (though difficult to disprove). Their solution was to make it virtually all white, with merely a hint of color fringing. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- The protons that batter Voyager are shown in a display that, like that of the Big Bang, is a highly stylized rendering. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- The image of Earth that Q shows Janeway is the famous Blue Marble picture, a photograph taken in December 1972 by the crew of NASA spacecraft Apollo 17, upon returning to Earth following the final moon landing of the Apollo program. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- The 1864 image of Thaddius Riker with Quinn was indeed a vintage photograph from the American Civil War. However, the picture was digitally retouched in order to graft details from the faces of actors Jonathan Frakes and Gerrit Graham into the image. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary) The photograph can be viewed here.
- This episode was subject to some significant editing. John de Lancie explained, "The problem was that the show was way too long. It was very crammed with words. Because it was almost like a play, we could have sped things up, but only after a more strenuous rehearsal period, which episodic television just doesn't afford you. So they were in a time crunch, and things had to begin to go. Some of the humor went. Some of the time it takes to have an emotional response went. There just weren't that many places where the argument could be cut. It was […] bare bones, and necessary, so I think that they found themselves between a rock and a hard spot. So they began doing internal cutting." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 89)
- The episode was originally to have started with a scene set in Harry Kim's quarters, involving the characters of Kim and Tom Paris. The scene was shot on the first day of filming but was ultimately deleted from the episode. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary) It was nevertheless thereafter included as the first scene of the later Season 2 episode "The Thaw". As scripted for this episode, the scene would have been followed by a deleted preface to the only teaser scene in the episode's final version, with not only Kim and Paris arriving on the bridge but also Janeway, to whom Chakotay then begins to describe the comet.
- One in-joke that was originally set to be included in the episode but was later removed did not even make it into the final draft script. Concerning this jestful comment, John de Lancie explained, "I make some reference to Tim Russ [Tuvok]. Apparently he and LeVar Burton had been up for the same role [Geordi La Forge], and I make a reference to that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88) De Lancie clarified, "This episode is full of in-jokes. But one was so 'in' it got cut. In the first draft, Q was supposed to say to Tuvok, 'Without Q, you would have been the engineer on the Enterprise.' It's known among [Trekkers] that Tim Russ, who plays Tuvok, was the runner-up for the role of the engineer Geordi [on TNG]." (TV Guide, 17-23 Feb.)
- Even though the episode's final version leaves Q2's request for Tuvok to act as his counsel unanswered, the final draft script has Tuvok reply that he will speak to Captain Janeway. Q2 then thanks him and starts to gesture with his hand to disappear but, apparently due to the discussion he has had with Tuvok about the Q's lack of manners, he instead exits through the door of Tuvok's office. A deleted scene, set in Janeway's ready room, follows. Janeway is deep in study when Tuvok arrives. He lets her know about Q2's request. Despite approving of the request as being both smart of Q2 as well as his right, Janeway warns Tuvok that his task won't be an easy one. From this, Tuvok wonders if she means she is not entirely unbiased. The pair then debate how suicide is regarded in various cultures, Janeway citing it as undesirable on both Romulus and Earth (actually being illegal on the former) but Tuvok saying that Klingons, Bajorans, and Vulcans consider it an honorable way to end one's life. He argues that suicide is viewed as legal on Earth and begins to state that it may be seen as even more acceptable, if one does not take into account the survivors' emotional distress, but Janeway interrupts that she cannot do that. Tuvok asks her to at least keep an open mind, to which she answers, "Always, my friend." After Tuvok leaves her ready room, the script details a scene that is in the final version of the episode – the first of the hearing room scenes.
- The final draft script does not include the supplemental log entry that begins the fourth act of the episode. Instead, the script has a deleted preface to a scene between Janeway and Q in the former's ready room. In this cut section, Janeway questions what she believes to be the computer about a way to contact Q but she soon realizes that he is already with her and that it has been he who has been talking in the computer's voice. Q and the irritated Janeway subsequently banter, mentioning – once each – Q's relationship with Captain Picard. Q also comments to Janeway, "We really have to do something with your hair." Janeway then requests that they discuss the hearing but Q questions the appropriateness of doing so, outside of official proceedings (using the legal term "ex parte"). Janeway replies that she would like to remove herself from her current quandary and that Q can make that easier for her. The script proceeds along the same lines as the episode's aired version, with Janeway requesting that Q come to the next hearing session and announce that the Q Continuum are prepared to reintegrate Q2 into their society. Of this deleted content, John de Lancie remembered, "I make a reference to the fact that we really have got to do something about Kate's hair." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 88-89)
- This episode is the fourth of four Q-related episodes without a Q-play-on-word as title. The others are "Encounter at Farpoint", "Tapestry", and "All Good Things...".
- This episode is significant in establishing the context of the Q Continuum. Prior to the episode's first airing, John de Lancie remarked, "I think that what Michael Piller has done is answer eight years of questions concerning Q, and […] posed a whole new set of questions. There are many elements in the story that people are going to be interested in finding out, not the least of which is, 'My God, we're going to the Q Continuum! What is that like?' […] What Michael [Piller] did is cement the landscape a little bit. He was making sure that there were certain posts that established what we [the Q Continuum] are, how we are, what we're doing and where we are in time […] Now that we've said it all, seen it all, done it all and heard it all, we're just dying. I thought that really helps us establish the enigmatic thing called Q and the Q Continuum." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 6) In addition, de Lancie stated, "Dyed-in-the-wool Star Trek fans will have numerous reasons to watch this episode. It answers so many questions about Q, but it raises several new issues." (Star Trek Monthly issue 17)
- This episode marks the first of two appearances of the round TNG-style combadge that appeared in TNG and early DS9 on Star Trek: Voyager. The combadge was next seen briefly when Seven of Nine had flashbacks of assimilated Starfleet officers in VOY: "Infinite Regress". The fact that the badge is worn here by Commander Riker suggests that Q took him from sometime between 2366 and 2370, before the USS Voyager launched in 2371. However, this would appear to create a continuity error, as Riker seemingly recognizes Janeway as Voyager's captain. There are several plausible explanations for this, the simplest being that individual ships have some discretion over uniform style. Another explanation is that Riker was taken in early 2371, prior to the events of Star Trek Generations (when the new combadge-design was in circulation aboard the USS Enterprise-D, but also after Janeway being named as Voyager's s captain, and prior to the ship's disappearance in the Badlands.
- Q also hints that Riker was offered command of Voyager, which he evidently turned down.
- Q peers into the bridge of Voyager through the viewscreen, much like Captain Kirk does when Flint shrinks the USS Enterprise in size, in TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah".
- Q claims that, without Q2, there would have been no William Riker at all and, by extension, the Borg would have assimilated the Federation. Janeway also mentions Q's involvement in throwing the Enterprise-D into the path of a Borg cube (in the TNG episode "Q Who"), which ultimately led to the Borg's attempt to assimilate Humanity. This is the only episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which the Borg do not appear but are referred to – the series' first mention of the race who became a regular threat from the third season, onwards.
- This episode makes several references to when Q is turned Human in "Deja Q" which also features the first other Q, known (in common with Quinn in this episode's script) as Q2.
- Tuvok's mention of members of the Q Continuum being executed for certain crimes, while not expressly mentioned, is likely a reference to Amanda Rogers's parents from TNG: "True Q".
- This episode features the second of two appearances of Isaac Newton on Star Trek; he was previously played by John Neville in the TNG Season 6 episode "Descent".
- The appearance of Q represents the sixth time besides the series premiere (after "Eye of the Needle", "Prime Factors", "The 37's", "Cold Fire", and "Threshold") that the Voyager crew has a possibility of returning home.
- This is the first of three Q episodes in Star Trek: Voyager, followed by "The Q and the Grey" and "Q2". The repercussions of Quinn's suicide here are depicted in "The Q and the Grey".
- This is one of numerous episodes in Voyager's second season that each feature an element from the Alpha Quadrant; the other such elements include a colony of Humans in "The 37's", Reginald Barclay in "Projections", flashbacks to a youthful Chakotay's hike through a Central American jungle in "Tattoo", many reminders of the pasts of Voyager's crew in "Persistence of Vision" and the Cardassian Dreadnought missile in "Dreadnought". Staff writer Lisa Klink admitted, "Unfortunately, I feel like we've done a couple cross-over type of things like bringing Q in [....] It was familiar. It was somebody who we've met before […] Individually those episodes worked well, but I think in general they had the effect of making this a familiar neighborhood." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77)
- It is claimed in this episode that Q is not a liar, despite the fact that, in DS9: "Q-Less", Q states that he had encountered a race that called him "the god of lies".
Reception and aftermath
- Despite feeling that this episode added to an unfortunate sense of familiarity of elements in the second season, Lisa Klink also said of this installment, "I think that was a terrific episode." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77)
- With similar enthusiasm for the installment, Rick Berman described the episode as "a great new Q show" and a "charmingly conflicting episode". (Star Trek: Communicator issue 109, p. 14)
- Likewise, Brannon Braga – during the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager – expressed an appreciation for this episode, describing it as "great." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 69)
- This episode was originally intended to air towards the end of January 1996. Recognizing the installment's publicity potential, however, UPN decided to hold the episode until the February sweeps period of that year. This decision caused the installment to interrupt a multi-episode arc involving the traitorous Michael Jonas, Tom Paris acting rebelliously, and the Kazon. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 79)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6.8 million homes, and a 10% share. It was the second most watched episode of Voyager's second season (on first airing), topped only by season premiere "The 37's". A contemporaneous fan poll, to which Jeri Taylor paid particular attention, also ranked this installment as the second highest-rated episode of the second season (in that case, topped by "Deadlock"). (Star Trek: Communicator issue 108, p. 18) However, a currently ongoing, widespread Internet fan poll ranks the episode as the most popular installment of the second season. 
- In the special edition magazine Star Trek 30 Years, this episode is highlighted as being one of the magazine makers' five favorite episodes of Star Trek: Voyager's first two seasons.
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 92)
- Star Trek Magazine scored this episode 4 out of 5 stars, defined as "Trill-powered viewing". Additionally, Stuart Clark, a reviewer for the magazine, referred to the episode as "much trumpeted" and "a studied examination of the issues raised by euthanasia and assisted suicide," with the character of Quinn "ably played by Gerrit Graham." (Star Trek Monthly issue 17, p. 59)
- Mark A. Altman commented, in a review of "Death Wish", that the episode was "a missed opportunity" and went on to say, "Though creative in bringing Q to the Delta Quadrant, the episode suffers under the weight of its lofty goals in examining the morality of assisted suicide. Frankly, it would have been much more interesting if it was our Q who had the death wish rather than being put in the unenviable position of having to urge against his suicide. There are problems in abundance, however. Q's banter with Janeway is a bit on the chauvinistic side, and a scene in which Sir Isaac Newton, Will Riker (in a pointless bit of stunt casting) and Maury Ginsberg (the man without whom Woodstock would have never happened) are assembled for the hearings is just plain loony. One of the more intriguing aspects of the episode is in its depiction of the Q Continuum, which, though appropriately surreal, seemed a little overbaked." Altman rated the episode as "mediocre." (Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga, p. 57)
- The unofficial reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 105) gives this installment a rating of 9 out of 10.
- Not long after the filming of the scene in which Riker appears, John de Lancie and Jonathan Frakes had a conversation about the scene. "He said, 'That was one of the most fun days I've ever had,'" de Lancie recounted. "And I said, 'I feel the exact same way.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88) For de Lancie, the behind-the-scenes hilarity involved in the making of the scene was actually one of his most treasured memorable experiences of his entire tenure as Q. (Star Trek Magazine issue 168, p. 51)
- In the same year that this episode (featuring Voyager's transformation into a Christmas tree ornament) first aired, Hallmark released a replica of Voyager as part of their line of Star Trek-themed Christmas ornaments. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
- The collaboration between Michael and Shawn Piller, on this episode, was the start of a lengthy professional writing partnership between them. (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q text commentary)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.7, 22 July 1996
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Q collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special appearance by
- Tony Acker as Pinball man
- Lisa Cash as young woman
- John Copage as sciences officer
- Andrew English as operations officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Sue Henley as Brooks
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- James Reynolds as young man
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Lou Slaughter as command officer
- Lewis R. Stegman as Thaddius Riker (photo)
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Laura Tyler as model type woman
- Robert Woods as older black man
- Unknown actor as Murphy
ability; accusation; amusement; anarchy; apple; assisted suicide; Atlanta; baryonic particles; Battle of Pine Mountain; behavior; Big Bang; bead; Bolians; Borg; boulevard; Christmas tree; colonel; comet; corruption; croquet; croquet ball; deadlock; debtor's prison (debtor); Delta Quadrant; Department of Investigation; desert; DNA; double effect principle; Earth; Enterprise-D, USS; eternity; ethics; evidence; extension cord; explorer; Federation; flapper; gas pump; general; gesture; Ginsberg family; God; Gorokian midwife toad; grass; hide and seek; humanoid; Hundred Year war; immortality; Janeway's grandfather; Jeep; Johnson, Mark; Kylerian goat; living conditions; meadow; milk; Liverpool; logic; mayor; merchant; mile; My Corner of the Continuum; mortality; murder; murdered prostitutes; new era; New York; night cap; Nogatch hemlock; Ocampa; omnipotent (omnipotence); orthodontist; pants; path; Picard, Jean-Luc; poison; porch; Post Office Department; prison; proton; prostitutes; puppy; Q (species); Q Continuum; red; red alert; replicator; ritual suicide; Romulan history; Romulan-Vulcan War; root beer; sadism; sabbath law; sandwich; scarecrow; Scarsdale; Senate; Sherman, William T.; Sherman's March on Atlanta; sidebar; social order; sound system; spotlight; spotlight operator; Sri Lanka Boulevard; stellar cartography; suicide; suicide plan; summer; suspect; ticker tape parade; tug of war; Valkyrie; Vulcans; Vulcan history; Welsh rarebit; Woodstock
- "Death Wish" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Death Wish" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Death Wish" at Wikipedia
|TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" • "Hide and Q" • "Q Who" • "Deja Q" • "Qpid" • "True Q" • "Tapestry" • "All Good Things..."|
|DS9: "Q-Less"||VOY: "Death Wish" • "The Q and the Grey" • "Q2"|
| Previous episode:|
| Star Trek: Voyager|
| Next episode:|