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Voyager's "Death Wish," 19 Years Later

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"Death Wish," one of Star Trek: Voyager's edgiest and most-controversial episodes, aired 19 years ago today: February 19, 1996. The story follows a Q named Quinn, played by Gerrit Graham, who seeks asylum aboard Voyager... so that he can commit suicide in order to end the tedium he's endured as an immortal being. Also involved are Q (John de Lanice) and William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), with Q attempting to defend the Q Continuum and Riker called upon to share how his life was profoundly changed by Q's influence.

Here are some facts and anecdotes about "Death Wish" --

  • Kate Mulgrew lobbied hard to have De Lancie appear on Voyager, despite the concerns of the writers and producers about how to include the character without it seeming he only ever appeared on the starships from current Star Trek shows.
  • Mulgrew hosted a dinner that included De Lancie and his wife and Voyager executive producer Rick Berman and his wife. And during that evening the actress directly implored Berman to find a way to beam Q aboard Voyager.
  • The a-ha moment for bringing Q to Voyager came courtesty of Shawn Piller, co-executive producer Michael Piller's son, who was then in his early 20s. Shawn suggested the idea of another Q serving as the impetus for De Lancie's Q to appear on the ship. Shawn pitched the writers' room, the concept took hold, and father and son wrote the teleplay together.
  • Graham, prior to his Voyager guest turn, had played a Hunter in the Deep Space Nine episode "Captive Pursuit."
  • Maury Ginsberg was portrayed by... Maury Ginsberg. The producers liked the actor's name and retained it for the character.
  • The episode ran long, resulting in the trimming of some scenes and the full excision of a conversation between Harry Kim and Tom Paris in Kim's quarters. The scene didn't go to waste, however. It was later included in "The Thaw."
  • 6.8 million viewers watched "Death Wish," the second-highest ratings numbers of any season-two episode, behind only "The 37's." Interestingly, James L. Conway directed both episodes.
  • "Death Wish" was full of ironies for Conway. It was down to him and Frakes to direct First Contact, and Patrick Stewart chose his close friend Frakes. Yet, there he was on "Death Wish," directing Frakes. And there's more, as Conway recounted during a conversation with StarTrek.com a few years ago. "That was my first time with John de Lancie, and he’s a delight," he said. "Gerrit Graham was great, too. John is a wonderful raconteur and a wonderful actor, and he had that character down. Q was such a wonderful character. A year or two later I did the video game with John, Star Trek: Borg, which was shot at the same time as the movie Jonathan was directing, which was another irony of that whole thing."
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