In which Bashir hits on several women, Q is remarkably restrained for a creepy demigod, and all space life is aquatic in design.
Bashir is in the middle of a heroic tale to impress a lovely Bajoran lady. It turns out to be about how he passed a test and graduated second in his class. Bashir is just so… Bashr.
He and O’Brien are then called away to an emergency door-opening – a returning runabout is badly damaged, out of life support, and with an extra passenger – Vash. O’Brien recognizes her immediately, and it turns out she’d been stranded in the Gamma quadrant for two years, after Q abandoned her (judging by the stardates and episode numbers) basically immediately. It’s fine, though. He’s actually one of the techs looking over the shuttle.
Also, now that I come to think of it, he may have control over time as well as space, so Q’s time with Vash doesn’t have to have been strictly linear. Time to go brush up on my Doctor Who.
Poor Bashir. He is utterly unprepared for Vash. If she had nothing better to do she would chew him up and spit him out. She also mentions that she’s encountered cultures in the Gamma quadrant with millions of years of history. Sisko is somewhat… skeptical… that she knows nothing about the wormhole, and starts to go digging. Soon he will find out she’s a thief… if Picard could bring himself to put that in his logs. Meanwhile, she has some things to store in the Deep Space Nine safety deposit vault.
Vash stores a bunch of stuff in the vault, including something that we get to pay special attention to because it glows from within and doesn’t actually get entered into the inventory database. She stores everything before Sisko comes in to fish, and to let her know he knows about her illicit activities.
The actual politics of this scene are a little vague. Vash has been suspended from the Daystom Institute twice for selling artifacts she oughtn’t have sold. But she seems perfectly willing to put herself under Federation jurisdiction in order to see Earth again. She doesn’t seem the type to give into homesickness if there’s a downside for her, but there has been no official offer of amnesty, so she’s not, strictly speaking, wanted for anything. Just not in good standing with the scientific community – a fact which may change if she talks about what she saw in the Gamma Quadrant. The Federation is a junkie, and new cool information is their heroin.
O’Brien’s been going over the runabout and it seems the shuttle was never actually damaged in any way – just inexplicably out of batteries. After this revelation, the station itself starts to suffer a brownout – one which Dax recognizes as the same as what happened to the shuttle.
Since it’s brought up in dialogue, I’ll mention it too. Everything about Cardassian aesthetics is wrong to humans, and it’s very, very well portrayed here. The beds, obviously, are terrible and the station hasn’t been fully functional long enough to replace luxury items like that. The doors have a raised lip at the bottom – something Starfleet engineering would never abide unless it were absolutely necessary. Even the airtight bulkhead doors aboard the Enterprise are flush so that nobody could possibly stub a toe. Even the gratuitous table art has sharp edges.
Vash is putting away her clothes when Q shows up to try to get into her good graces, but as it turns out, Vash claims to be the one to leave Q. He must be even more of a jerk than can be imagined if she willingly stranded herself in the Gamma Quadrant. Apparently he nearly got Vash killed and is known as the God of Lies in some places. I like to believe he’s also Loki.
Quark shows up to try to deal in some probably-stolen antiquities on favorable terms, but Vash gives him a handjob in order to get a better deal. In fact, this is so good that Quark drops his demanded share from 50% to 22% in less then a minute. Shortly thereafter, Bashir drops by to admit that he couldn’t hit on her under the guise of a doctor-patient relationship and therefore has to do it honestly. Keep an eye on this – I seem to recall Bashir hitting on his patients a lot. It’s fine, though. Q makes Bashir miss the date, and O’Brien sees this.
Starfleet has briefings on threats like Q. Obviously, they should, but given the general incompetence of Starfleet’s security and intelligence practices shown so far, it’s nice to know that they do, and that Sisko doesn’t have to go look Q up. During this discussion, the power goes down again, and we must therefore suspect Q. It is at nearly this moment that Vash shows off the glowy crystal and Quark tries to swindle her out of it. Sisko drops by, Q shows up to taunt him, and it’s on.
Q starts in on the games, vanishing everyone on the station so that he and Sisko can talk privately. Then, when Sisko gets physical, Q creates a boxing ring and a truly wonderful mustache. He starts punching Sisko. He gets in four jabs before Sisko takes him out with a block, a gut punch, and a hook to the jaw. Seems like Q has gotten the measure of Sisko successfully.
The power outages are getting worse and worse – this time, the hull was pierced by a focused graviton pulse just after the power drain. There’s a force field over the hole in the hull, which strikes me as an incredibly irresponsible place for Sisko and Dax to stand without environment suits and safety tethers. Given, you know, that the power is just shutting down randomly.
Quark and Odo have a philosophical discussion on the nature of weealth and material goods. Most of the things Quark offers are just silly. Most of the goods he mentions – a suit, jewelry – Odo could just make himself, and would fall off if Odo ever needs to shift. The closest he gets is an ornate sleeping bucket, which Odo contemplates for about half a second.
Q makes another bid to get Vash back, by reinstating physical maladies she could have contracted in the Gamma quadrant without him. Q has been coming off as extremely rapey and abusive in this episode. He’s clearly not used to not getting his way, and goes off to bother Ops, but does drop a hint about Vash, disguised as philosophical concern for Federation ethics.
The next graviton burst starts knocking the station out of position and towards the wormhole. We can presume that if the station hits the wormhole, it will be, at minimum, torn into large pieces.
Vash starts the auction by giving a short lecture about her pieces, which nobody wants to hear. It’s kind of adorable that Vash, for all her foibles and avarice, is still so much more… Federation… than is necessary to sell rare merchandise to rich collectors.
The sensors finally pinpoint the source of the drain, which is of course the glowing bauble. If we hadn’t figured it out by now, Q is extending the bidding on the item long enough for Sisko to beam it off the station, where it hatches into a space-stingray. Just another piece of the galactic ecosystem.
Q shows up for the wrap-up to explain why ancient space-traveling demigods travel with mortals, Vash slips back into her old ways, and Bashir finally wakes up.