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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Family Business

Quark: “It’s the end of Ferengi civilization as we know it.”

Families are complicated, even Ferengi ones.

In this episode Quark and Rom have to return to the homeworld in order to deal with some transgressions by their mother. At the same time Jake is trying to fix up his father with Kasidy Yates, a freighter captain that Jake met. I guess the theme of families taking care of each other is the somewhat slender thread that is supposed to hold this episode together. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me. I had some difficulty reviewing this episode. I know that the way Ferengis treat their females, as well as their obsession with profit, are supposed to be comments on the not so modern bits of our society, but they are a bit close to home and the resolution of the 'problem' with Iska (Quark and Rom's mother) is far from satisfactory.

Iska is a rebel who wears clothes, talks to strange men and earns profit, not to mention that she refuses to pre-chew her sons' food. To control her, the Ferengi Commerce Authority charges Quark with subsection 1027, paragraph 3 of Ferengi law – failure to properly control a relative. It is Quark's job to get his mother to confess and return all her profits. I know that the Ferengi rules about women are supposed to seem ridiculous but I come from a generation that remembers when women couldn't get a credit card without their husband's permission. My grandmother, a rebel like Iska, forged her husband's signature to get a credit card (he was a very stingy man). They didn't find this out until she died. My mother hid the fact that she was married so that she could keep her job. We aren't as far away from such 'ridiculous' rules as we might think. And the problem is resolved through a woman's self-sacrifice when Iska confesses to her 'crimes' because of her love for her sons. Ugh. I know there was some triumph in the fact that she continued to do what she wanted behind closed doors and only gave up a third of her profit, but the same old rules continued to stand.

The other theme in this story was the one about sibling rivalry. Rom has always been a favourite of his mother and we find out that this is because he reminds her of her husband who, although he was not great at business, was a good husband and father. Rom, it turns out, is also good at family and he is the one who resolves the situation by forcing his mother and brother to talk. Quark is more like his mother and this seems to result in them fighting even though Quark just wants his mother's love (and 50% of her profits). Everything is set to rights when Iska shows her love for Quark by confessing and saving his business and reputation.

The sub-sub-plot is Jake fixing up his dad with a freighter captain named Kasidy Yates. She is the mirror of Iska in that she is also an independent woman but she is free to be who she wants to be in the more 'civilized' Federation. Although there were some funny bits back on the station, I don't think this thread added much to the overall episode.

We did get to learn more about the Ferengi culture which has a FCA – Ferengi Commerce Authority, requires many bribes, including for the luxury of taking an elevator or sitting in a chair. It seems to rain continuously on the homeworld which may explain something. I did enjoy the ritual of entering a Ferengi home which included an admission fee and signing of legal waivers.

Bits and Pieces

Bashir and O'Brien are willing to break into Quark's bar to get their lucky dart board back. I found this amusing mostly because I know people who play darts.

The runabouts are named after rivers on Earth. Kira's comment was a nice call out to how many runabouts they tend to blow up for various reasons.

Rom may not be recognized for his business acumen like his brother but he does know how to build a lock.

The look on Sisko's face when he realizes Kasidy is talking about baseball.


Quark: “Remember, my house is my house.”
Brunt: “As are its contents.”

Rom: “He couldn’t hold onto latinum if you sewed it into his pants.”

Iska: “Don’t let your lobes get caught in the door on your way out.”


  1. I actually remember despising this episode when it aired, for all of the reasons you mentioned, Doc. I think the real mistake was the writers thinking that the way Ferengi treat their females was a possibility for humor in the first place, because for me, it never was.

  2. I am really not a fan of the Ferengi stuff either. I do love Kasidy, though, and this was some good Kasidy stuff.


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