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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Magnificent Ferengi

Nog: "Why are we hiding?"
Gaila: "There are Jem'Hadar out there!"
Nog: "Of course they're out there. We asked them to come!"
Brunt: "He's right. Everything's going according to plan. Now all you have to do, Quark, is negotiate the prisoner exchange. Remember, be firm, strong."
Gaila: "But don't get them angry."
Rom: "Good luck, brother. Say hi to Moogie for me."
Quark: "What if it's a trap?"
Keevan: "Of course it's a trap. They're not here to negotiate. They're here to kill us all."

An episode in which a merry band of Ferengi takes on the Dominion in order to rescue Quark’s mother.

The show open with Quark making an announcement: he has tracked down several cases of squill, which apparently is really good on groatcakes. His audience salivates as they listen with rapt attention to his tale – until some Starfleet officers return from a dangerous mission and steal all the attention.

Odo mocks Quark’s accomplishment, but I want to point out that keeping supplies available takes a lot of work, especially in tough times. Remember the great toilet paper shortage when the pandemic lockdowns began? That was caused both by hoarding and by the fact that many people who had been doing half their toilet flushes away from home were suddenly forced to use their own toilets whenever, well, you know. So, kudos to Quark for finding some squill, and for noticing how someone on Balancor ordered Ferengi rain slippers and so Balancor had no drought!

Anyway, just as Quark is annoyed that people don’t consider him a hero, he receives a mission from the Nagus to rescue his own mother (and although you’d think most people would want to rescue their mothers, Quark is mainly incentivized by the reward of 50 bars of latinum). Because he’s jealous of the admiration all the Starfleet officers are receiving, he decides to staff his mission only with Ferengi, a move which Rom thinks will get them all killed. Nevertheless, they persist, recruiting many of the Ferengi we’ve met before: Nog, Gaila, Brunt and also Leck, who is an Eliminator, a Ferengi motivated by other things than latinum.

Nog tries to train them, but they fail miserably but humorously. Now, Ferengi episodes often attempt comedy, which in many ways is more challenging than drama. Comedy often depends on keeping up a pace. Also, not all comedy remains funny forever (for example, even though I have a copy of an excellent version of The Taming of the Shrew, the premise now strikes me as so horrible, I cannot watch it). Anyway, the simulation in which the Ferengi try to rescue Moogie from a Dominion internment camp -- I suppose they picked up general schematics from Worf and Bashir (In Purgatory's Shadow and By Inferno's Light) -- is really funny.

As Rom warned before, Ferengi don't make the best warriors; he reminds Quark they are negotiators. And so they initiate a trade, offering to exchange Keevan, a Vorta captured by Sisko, for Ishka, the mother of Quark and Rom. This, by the way, was made possible thanks to the heroic deeds of Quark and Rom during the occupation (reasons Quark should feel like a hero, far more so than Odo, who nearly betrayed his friends during the Occupation, and who was in far less danger than practically anyone else on the station).

The Ferengi meet the Dominion representatives on Empok Nor, a deserted Cardassian station. Nog is wise to choose it as he knows the layout. And the show is wise to choose it and save money on a set. All they had to do was dim the lighting and put barrels and hoses all over the place.

Again, it’s fun to watch the Ferengi cower in the infirmary when the Jem’Hadar arrive, until they remember that they invited the Jem’Hadar and so all is going according to plan. Quark does some negotiating to improve their chances of surviving the exchange. Something has to happen to shift the direction plot’s direction, and it happens after Rom mentions the reward offered by the Nagus was 50 bars, and not the 20 bars described by Quark. They are furious, and angry humanoids with weapons are never a good thing. Keevan gets killed.

Keevan’s death causes no sorrow, because he was so vile in Rocks and Shoals. Besides, if he had been returned to the Dominion, he would have been tortured and executed. A quick, unanticipated death is actually his best ending. This leaves the Ferengi without anyone, however, to trade for Ishka. However, Nog finds out he can get Keevan’s dead body to move with some neural stimulators (conveniently Nog mentioned earlier how some of the infirmary equipment was still working).

This may be ridiculous, but it is also enjoyable, as Quark stalls a bit to give Nog time to get Keevan ambulatory. Keevan’s corpse finally staggers along a corridor during the exchange; his wretched condition is put down to torture, which the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar buy, because the Dominion certainly tortures their prisoners.

Two of the Ferengi – Leck, with his knife, and Rom, with a phaser – take out the two Jem’Hadar. The Ferengi rescue Moogie and take Yelgrun prisoner. We have no complaints about the Ferengi treachery, because the Dominion should never have kidnapped Moogie in the first place. And, it turns out, the Ferengi were heroes after all.

Title musings. “The Magnificent Ferengi” is the title of this episode, and is a play off the title of the movie The Magnificent Seven. The Magnificent Seven was made twice, once in 1960 and once in 2016; the 1960 edition was extremely popular. The Magnificent Seven was based on a Japanese movie made in 1954 called The Seven Samurai. As the episode only has six Ferengi (and Gaila is absolutely worthless) the Seven in the title had to be dropped.

Bits and pieces

I wonder why Quark did not tell Rom before this that their mother was having an affair with the Nagus.

It may seem overly generous of the Nagus to offer Quark 50 bars of gold-pressed latinum to rescue Moogie, even if they are lovers. But as Ishka is also his financial adviser, she’s worth even more, according to the way the Ferengi think.

I could not find my way out of a paper bag, so I appreciate how Quark and Rom ended up in Sisko’s office.

You would think Cousin Gaila, who was in the arms business for years, would be more capable around weapons. Oh, well, the episode needed someone to mess up their plans.

Vorta have the ability to kill themselves. I wonder why Keevan did not do this.

Yelgrun was played by Iggy Pop, an unusual but enjoyable choice.

Quotes

Odo: Does that mean the drought on Balancar is over?
Quark There never was a drought on Balancar. It was all a ploy by their Agricultural Consortium. They've been stockpiling squill so they could drive the price up.
O'Brien: We're the first reconnaissance mission into Cardassian space since the Dominion's retreat. The first one to make it back, anyway.

Quark: Yes, something's wrong. A bunch of self-satisfied Starfleet officers just stole my audience.
Odo: They're not just Starfleet officers, they're heroes. Let's face it, Quark, there's nothing heroic about earning profit.
Quark: There is on Ferenginar.
Odo: We're not on Ferenginar.

Quark: It's about the Nagus and Moogie.
Rom: What about them?
Quark: They're lovers.
Rom: No.
Quark: It's been going on for over a year.
Rom: No.
Quark: She's his secret financial advisor. She helps him run the entire Ferengi Alliance.
Rom: No!
Quark: Would you stop saying that!

Nog: I'm a Starfleet officer. I can't go running off with you on some half-baked rescue mission. I have duties to perform.
Rom: But you know how to fire a phaser.
Quark: Forget it, Rom. Don't beg. Too bad, though. We were going to make you Strategic Operations officer.
Nog: You mean like Commander Worf?

Nog: No, no, no! Computer, freeze program. Reset Jem'Hadar.
Rom: I think we're getting better.
Nog: No, you're not. This is the eighth run through and you haven't been able to hit a single Jem'Hadar. And you shot Moogie.

Rom: Brother, I think we've been going about this the wrong way. We're not commandos, we're negotiators. We make deals. That's what we're good at. The Dominion has something we want, so we need to find something they want.

Quark: Captain, I can't thank you enough for all your help.
Sisko: Don't thank me, thank Major Kira. She's the one that convinced me to talk to Starfleet on your behalf.
Kira: Consider it payback, Quark, for rescuing me from the Dominion.
Payback for deeds mentioned in Sacrifice of Angels.

Keevan: By the time the Dominion is done with you, all you'll want is a quick death.

Yelgrun: Your people have a reputation for cunning. I see that it's well earned. Perhaps one day the Ferengi will take their place as valued members of the Dominion.
Quark: Anything's possible.

Leck: This is the sloppiest, most amateurish operation I've ever seen. If you ever do something like this again, count me in.

Overall Rating

Ferengi episodes are often considered lesser episodes, but this one was enjoyable, letting the Ferengi be true to themselves while stretching to make themselves better. Three out of four pairs of Ferengi rain slippers.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

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