Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Prophet Motive

Quark: “There is nothing beyond greed. Greed is the noblest of emotions."

Ferengis are not the darlings of the Star Trek universe but I have always had a soft spot for Quark and this Ferengi-centric episode was a lot of fun.

After a visit to the Prophets, the Grand Nagus returns with a new set of Rules of Acquisition which are the direct opposite of what every Ferengi believes. Quark struggles to figure out what is going on and tries to hold onto his believe that the Nagus had some type of trick up his sleeve until it becomes obvious that something is terribly wrong. What is amusing is that 'terribly wrong' for a Ferengi contains many of the principles that we hold dear – kindness, charity, tolerance. You expect to think that finally the Ferengi will become decent human beings but the point is that they are not human beings and what right do we have to expect that they follow our rules?

On the other hand, it was difficult to have Quark spout the same nonsense that I have heard from right wing politicians and pundits, i.e., we need greed and ambition in order to move ahead as a species or as Quark says so we don't all just lie around and starve. All evidence, at least for human beings, points to the contrary. Anthropologists argue that we have actually succeeded as a species because of co-operation and altruism. Experiments with minimum income, that is giving people a base income, show that people want to work, create and help each other even when they don't have to. But then, despite my feelings about the Ferengi and their valorization of greed, I was delighted when we found out that Rom had embezzled from the Nagus. Finally Rom got it right (or wrong – I'm obviously confused).

The 'B' plot was the nomination of Dr. Bashir for the prestigious Carrington award. We followed his roller coaster ride; from certain he wasn't going to win, to hedging his bets and writing an acceptance speech, to finally, the agony of defeat for a prize that he really knew he had no chance to win. I thought this was a very realistic portrayal of someone in this situation and a nice piece of character development for Bashir. I enjoyed the fact that everyone got engaged in the process and had an opinion of who would win even though I'm sure they had never heard of the Carrington award before.

Quark and Rom often work as the comic relief in this show and this episode highlighted their antics. The brotherly bickering in Rom's quarters, sneaking around with or about the Nagus, trying to decode the new Rules of Acquisition were all bits of fun. Even Quark's arguments to the Prophets were amusing – turn us back if you want us to stop bothering you. The Prophets were much more interested in keeping their privacy than improving the Ferengi, which also tells us something about the Prophets.

Bits and Pieces

Nog is on the homeworld visiting his grandmother. I wonder how you bake cookies in the nude?

Ferengi men are messy and clean their ears with something resembling an electric toothbrush. If there are no women around the lowest person in stature is expected to clean up – poor Nog.

We also got to learn a little bit about Maihar'du who is a Hupyrian. As servants they take a vow of silence only speaking to their masters. That's pretty handy for someone who is the scheming, financial head of billions of Ferengi.

There were so many little touches in this episode. For example, I never noticed the grey hair in the Nagus' ears before. The scene with the dart game and ribbing between Bashir and O'Brien was cute as was Odo's investigation/gossip about the Carrington award.

The Ferengi were not always so into greed. I wonder what pushed them in that direction?

Quotes

Bashir: “April Wade is 106. The last time she was nominated, three years ago, people said it was premature.”

Quark: “If never keep profit a good smile honesty.”

The Nagus: “It might be fun for you and me but it’s no fun for the beetles.”

The Nagus: “Looking for answers? You couldn’t find them if they were dangling from your lobes.”

Odo: “I have a friend at Starfleet Intelligence and she has a friend who has a cousin who’s married to the assistant of one of the members of the Federation Medical Council.”

Prophet: “Linguistic communication is tiresome.” (I would agree)

Quark: “You embezzled money from the Nagus?”
Rom: “Surprise.”
Quark: “Father would be proud.”

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