During an attempt to beam up a comet sample, the crew inadvertently brings aboard a member of the Q Continuum, who was imprisoned inside the comet. The escaped Q expresses his gratitude at being rescued, then bids the crew farewell. Unfortunately, his attempt to disappear has made all the male members of Voyager disappear instead. Janeway orders him to return her crew. Instead, the well-known Q, who has bedeviled the officers of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D for years, appears.

Q tells Janeway that the escaped Q ("Q2") has been locked up for the past 300 years due to his repeated suicide attempts. The freed Q2 demands asylum and attempts to press the point by haphazardly tossing the ship around the universe in an attempt to lose the other Q. Janeway calls a halt to the dangerous game of hide-and-seek and agrees to hold a hearing to consider the request for asylum. The terms are set: if the Captain rules in the Continuum's favor, the escaped prisoner must return to confinement. If she doesn't, Q2 will be granted mortality so he can fulfill his death wish.

Q2 asks Tuvok to represent him at the hearing, where he explains he wants to end the tedium of immortality. Q counters by explaining that Q2's suicide could have unpredictable consequences for the Continuum, which has never known anything but immortality. A courtroom drama ensues when Q2 calls himself to the stand along with other witnesses, including the Enterprise's William Riker, whose lives were profoundly changed by Q2's influence.

Q tries to sway Janeway's ruling by promising to send the crew back to Earth if the decision is in his favor. Determined to render a just verdict, Janeway, Tuvok and the two Qs visit a manifestation of the Q Continuum to see what life is like there. Afterwards, the Captain announces that she'll reveal her decision the next day. In the morning, she grants Q2's request for asylum, and urges him to explore the mysteries of mortal life. But within hours, the now-human Q2 has committed suicide, using a rare poison that the other Q confesses he secured for his friend.