Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The House of Quark

"It's not about profit anymore, it's about respect. You see the way they look at me now – I'm not just some venal Ferengi trying to take their money. I'm Quark, slayer of Klingons!"

After a drunken Klingon accidentally kills himself in the bar, Quark spins a tall tale about killing him in self defense to boost his struggling business (I guess people in the 24th century are just as morbidly curious as people in the 21st). Unsurprisingly, his little fib quickly comes back to bite him in the ears.

'The House of Quark' brings together two things I've never been all that keen on: Klingon internal politics and Ferengi comedy antics. I'm usually bored to tears by the former and hardly ever amused by the latter. Which is why I was so surprised by how much I loved this episode. You'd think the two would be utterly incompatible, but they actually ended up complimenting each other perfectly. The Klingon internal politics keeps the Ferengi comedy antics from getting out of hand while the Ferengi comedy antics make the Klingon internal politics bearable. Hilarious even.

I've always felt that Quark is a character who works best when he has a strong straight man or woman to play off against. This is why his relationship with Odo is one of the series' best while his relationship with Rom, who at this stage is mainly used as bumbling sidekick, can start to grate if they have too many scenes together. This episode understands that and pairs Quark up with Mary Kay Adams' wonderful Grilka. Thanks to the great chemistry between Adams and Armin Shimerman, Quark and Grilka ended up being a surprisingly endearing pairing. So much so that by the end of the episode I was actually hoping that they'd stick together and try to make a go of their sham marriage.

In the episode's b-plot, Keiko gets shoved out the airlock. Okay, not really, but that is more or less what happened. The writers use the threat of the Dominion as a pretext for shutting down the station's school and shipping Keiko and Molly off to Bajor for six months. Why? So Miles and Julian could hang out more. No, seriously, that is exactly what they did. They wanted to develop that particular friendship more and thought Keiko would get in the way of that. I mean, let's be real here, you can't expect a man to have a best friend and wife. If TV has taught us anything it is that the two just don't go together. Nope, one of them had to go and it sure as hell wasn't going to be the one who has his name in the opening credits.

I'd be lying if I said that Keiko is one of my favourite characters and I'm absolutely fuming about her being treated this way. Even on Next Gen I found her a little unbearable at times. None of which was Rosalind Chao's fault. She always gave her all, but the writers often lazily wrote Keiko as a nagging wife stereotype, constantly having a whine at Miles for doing this or that. But I still think she deserved better than being kicked off the station for months at a time just because the mostly male writing staff couldn't comprehend why a man would go home to his family if he could hang out in Quark's with his BFF instead.

Notes and Quotes

--So if you like DS9 and love a good laugh you might enjoy a regular feature on our Tumblr page: Deep Space Nine Nine. Here's a taste:


--This is the only episode of either DS9 or Next Gen where Gowron appears and Worf doesn't.

--It is rather ironic that in a episode filled with so many Klingons the most honourable character ended up being Quark of all people. Quark!

--Tumek says D'Ghor's family has been at war with Kozak's for seven generations. Since they are brothers that makes no sense.

--Morn seems to be quite the ladies man.

--Stephen Hawking visited the set during the filming of this episode. Armin Shimerman considers meeting him one of the high points of his life.


--Gowron and the entire Klingon High Council being utterly bemused by these Ferengi and their financial ways may just be one of the funniest moments in Star Trek history.


Quark: "Now I know we're doomed."
Rom: "Why, brother?"
Quark: "Rule of Acquisition 286: When Morn leaves, it's all over."
Rom: "There is no such rule!"
Quark: "There should be."

Rom: "What about Kozak's family? What if they come here for revenge?"
Quark: "If that happens, I'll stand up, look them straight in the eye...and offer them a bribe."

Grilka: "I really am very grateful for all you've done, Quark. That is why I'm going to let you take your hand off my thigh, instead of shattering every bone in your body."

Gowron: "The charge has been made! You are accused of using... money... to bring down a Great House!"

Quark: "I am Quark, son of Keldar, and I have come to answer the challenge of D'Ghor, son of... whatever."

Three out of four tall tales.
--
Mark Greig is in the mood for dancing, romancin' Ooh, he's givin' it all tonight More Mark Greig

3 comments:

JRS said...

Great review, Mark! I agree, this was really entertaining as an episode. While I dislike that they got rid of Keiko, I did like that they made it more about her career, but I don’t understand why DS9 doesn’t have a botanical research center, what with all the new stuff coming from the Gamma Quadrant.

Also thought this ep was a half follow up to the final ep from last season. Quark complains races never mix with Ferengi. He had a great Klingon fling here though!

Billie Doux said...

My dislike for the Ferengi has an exception, and that is Armin Shimerman. He's so good. And I always think about the fact that he was playing the principal of Sunnydale High the same time he was playing Quark. That must have been a busy couple of years for him.

Victoria Grossack said...

I always enjoyed this episode! But you are right, Keiko was kicked off with a most illogical reason. The Enterprise had an arboretum, and she worked in it. And at DS9 having a place for botanical samples - or simply hydroponics - would make even more sense!

Your comments show how much society has changed in the 20 years since DS9 came out. The existence of Kira and Dax show that Star Trek could create strong, scrappy female characters - but the writers still had some limits to their imaginations. And as for the treatment of the Ferengi - some of what passed for normal back then strikes me as racist now. Think of the times that Worf or Kira or even O'Brien call Quark names?