Synopsis: Quark and Rom return to Ferenginar when their mother is charged with a serious crime. Sisko goes on a date.
Synopsis: Quark tries to solve the mystery of Grand Nagus Zek’s sudden turn to philanthropy, and realizes that he’s had an encounter with the Prophets. Meanwhile, Bashir is nominated for a major Starfleet Medical award.
With every rewatch of the series, I’ve come to appreciate this episode more — almost entirely for the B plot, interestingly. The A plot is good, but for me, the B plot is just so surprising and moving that every time I rewatch, I’m almost surprised to remember that oh, right, it’s not actually the primary focus of the episode.
OK, I know they are a divisive topic in the fandom, so I’m gonna come out with what may be one of my spicier Deep Space Nine takes: I…actually enjoy a lot of the Ferengi episodes? I know I complain a lot about the fact that, while conceived as parodies of 80s-style capitalist excess, a la Steve Castle/That Guy from Futurama, the decision to portray them physically as short troll-like people with oversized facial appendages means they also end up being really unfortunate antisemitic caricatures. But Nog, Quark, and Rom have such great arcs over the course of the show, in no small part due to the phenomenal performances given by Aron Eisenberg (ז״ל), Armin Shimerman, and Max Grodénchik, that, much like Dax, I really do enjoy the time we spend with them. (Also, Wallace Shawn as Zek is positively inspired.)
So, having said that, yes, I actually rather enjoyed this episode!
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!)
- 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
JewishFerengi 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.
- 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.
- Quark, particularly for the special pleasure he takes in trolling Odo about his new status as Nagus, good lord, I love it.
- 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?