1.11: “The Nagus”

Okay, this feels more like the show that Deep Space Nine is going to become, I think. As with “Q-Less”, the focus is entirely on the characters, with the external plot serving their storylines, rather than the other way around.

My last rewatch was with my then-roommate Mindi, who loves Nog and Rom, and when I yelled “THEY’RE SUCH GOOD BOYS!!!!” over Jake and Nog I got all nostalgic for sitting on her couch, trying to avoid being attacked by one of her cats, and was sad that she was not here to watch it and yell with me.

For real, though, I feel like Nog has one of the more underrated arcs on the show. He starts as a pretty one-note character, a plot device for Sisko’s parenting arc, and by the end he’s the first Ferengi in Starfleet and dealing with PTSD.

(Also: I get that the Ferengi were concerned about Federation ~indoctrination~, and the fact that a woman was the authority figure in the classroom. But they’re not illiterate! WHY CAN’T NOG READ, this is concerning!!!!! What the hell, Rom? Was it supposed to be his mother’s job to teach him, and since she’s [footage not found], Rom just figured “oh well”? I HAVE QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS.)

Speaking of characters being fleshed out more

This was the first episode where I really felt like Jadzia was recognizable as the character she’ll become over the course of the show. Initially, they’re trying convey Dax’s centures of life experience by trying to make Farrell play Space Galadriel, which is frankly a misuse of Farrell’s strengths. As they move away from that, letting Jadzia have more of her own personality, Dax shows up instead as a confidence and self-assurance beyond Jadzia’s years, and she’s playful and adventurous instead.

That transition starts for real in the second season, but Farrell’s performance here hints at it. Which is to say, I love the following things in her scene with Sisko:

  • The way she turns her chair backwards like the Cool Teacher
  • The fact that she admits her parenting advice might not actually be all that helpful
  • The fact that she just…stays there, eating Jake’s dinner, when Sisko leaves??? EVERYONE ON THIS STATION IS SUCH A MESS AND I LOVE IT

Also, O’Brien’s “what, what? oh no” face at Sisko’s “Your daughter’s three, wait until she’s fourteen” is glorious.

OK but yikes though

WHEW, the whole bit about the Ferengi being jazzed about doing business in the Gamma Quadrant because no one there will know yet that they can’t be trusted, and they can break their word with impunity. Like. W H E W. Got it, Star Trek, they’re untrustworthy and suspicious, and are naturally greedy businessmen, and they’re also short with comically oversized head appendages! I get it. I get it, Star Trek, and it’s not great! IT’S NOT GREAT, STAR TREK.

(Hell, it makes Nog’s illiteracy even weirder and more unbelievable. How are we supposed to trick the goyim with all our learning and fancy contracts full of loopholes only we know how to exploit if we can’t read or write those contracts? At least keep your offensive stereotypes consistent, Trek!)

That said:

  • Wallace Shawn as Zek is just chef’s kiss
  • Quark going full Don Corleone is delightful. Armin Shimerman is ALL IN on this show and the fact that Quark is given more to do than just be a Jewish Ferengi stereotype is one of the things that makes the other Ferengi appearances bearable.
  • I also like that where Nog is concerned, Sisko is occasionally inclined to…something almost like NIMBY-ism? The tension he’s struggling with feels very real: yes, he absolutely believes in the Federation’s ideals about diplomacy and reaching out to different people, but in practice, dealing with Ferengi in his daily life, it’s hard for him. I also like that this tension isn’t something that’s quickly resolved — a couple of seasons down the line, he’s reluctant to recommend Nog for Starfleet Academy, immediately assuming that it’s some sort of prank or scam.

One last thing

“You don’t GRAB power, you accumulate it quietly, without anyone noticing!” SERIOUSLY STAR TREK WHAT THE FUCK. Like, granted, actual fucking Nazis weren’t being called “very fine people” by the President of the United States when this was airing, so while it’s aged poorly, it might be slightly more bearable in an environment where white nationalism isn’t increasingly mainstream. But still, good lord.

Horniness rankings

  1. The Nagus, which, you know what, good for him. I also really love how pretty much from the beginning, Deep Space Nine’s holosuites are for porn. Jake and Sisko were in a fishing program in the pilot, but since that was on a starship instead of the station, it’s the exception that proves the rule.
  2. Quark, particularly for the special pleasure he takes in trolling Odo about his new status as Nagus, good lord, I love it.
  3. Dax, for Sisko’s aubergine stew, apparently? I mean, it sounds great, but come on, Dax, boundaries!!! Although Sisko doesn’t seem to mind, so who am I to judge?

4 thoughts on “1.11: “The Nagus”

  1. Ha, I left this comment on the last post about the schedule because I’m an idiot. Anyway…

    This was a great character-driven episode that I hadn’t watched in many years, mostly because I really cringe at the Ferengi episodes now and skipped them on past rewatches. I didn’t like them all that much when I was younger and this was first running, although I can’t say it was because of any consciousness of the stereotypes, which I wholly lacked. Mostly I thought they were just embarrassing – Trek attempts at comedy that failed because they were too broad. I did appreciate – and appreciate more now – that the writers were working with several non-Federation cultures as a way to contrast with the Federation, and if I’d known that by the end of the series they would have illuminated the Ferengi as fully as they did, I would have been surprised. I’m still not sure it would have helped me enjoy the episodes any more, frankly, especially now that I’m a little more tuned-in to some of the cultural baggage the portrayal of the Ferengi is carrying.

    That said: Armin Shimerman. Armin freaking Shimerman. The guy is really giving it his all. It’s pretty impressive, when he could have been forgiven for phoning this in. This caused me to go back and research and I realized that Shimerman played one of the first Ferengi in Trek, in TNG’s “The Last Outpost”, back when they were very weirdly physically performed and overall just ridiculous. Based on that experience alone, he could have been forgiven for giving this a hard pass, and it’s not like he needed the work in the early 1990s. (He played a tougher Ferengi in “Peak Performance,” maybe that helped… or maybe he just saw something interesting in the character.)

    Why would Chief O’Brien serve as substitute teacher with Keiko still off the station? There have to be any number of people who would make more sense in that role. Dax would have made A TON more sense in that role, and it can’t have been that she’s *busier* than O’Brien given that O’Brien oversees all the maintenance and engineering activities on the entire station.

    Speaking of Dax, “Space Galadriel” is *perfect* as a description of what they were trying to do with her originally. The more they get away from that with her, the better it works.

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      ▔▏┗┛▕▔ appreciate
      ╱▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔╲
      Armin Shimerman
      ╱╱┏┳┓╭╮┏┳┓ ╲╲
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      HE IS SUCH A TREASURE, oh my stars. Like. Quark could so, so easily have been such a terrible character, and Armin Shimerman does a fantastic job of going riiiight up to the edge of unbearable without going over. Is it too much to say he elevates the writing of the character? If it is, SO BE IT.

      I had asked the same thing about O’Brien as the substitute!!! Like. What? It kind of goes back to my general bemusement over how Keiko became the teacher to begin with, honestly, the way the show just kind of treated it as a hobby she’d always wanted to pick up — her husband taking over feels very “just feed the pets while I’m out of town”.

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