Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 2: Rules of Acquisition

Deep Space Nine, Season 2
"Rules of Acquisition"
Airdate: November 7, 1993
26 of 173 produced
26 of 173 aired


When he is conscripted by the Grand Nagus to travel to the Gamma Quadrant to broker a trade deal, Quark's career is placed in jeopardy by an unexpected amorous advance.

Did anybody else think Quark protested too little when his apparently male waiter jumped him in the sack?


Matthew: So, it's a Ferengi episode. Sometimes, that means a pointless, inconsequential romp with strong comedy overtones. This is not the case here. I don't know if this episode succeeds at being an issue-driven sci-fi allegory, but it has a bit more going on than shows like "Menage A Troi" or even "The Nagus." The sexism story is interesting, and I like the fact that Quark doesn't change his stripes by the end. But it really isn't the focus of the episode, because of the narrative heavy lifting the story is required to do.

Kevin: Largely because of the stable of really, really good actors that DS9 got to play the recurring Ferengi, I mostly enjoy Ferengi episodes even when they veer into mere slapstick. That being said, when a Ferengi episode bombs, it bombs it a huge way. Happily, that is not the case here. I like that we get a deeper look at actual Ferengi society, and it adds some depth to TNG's Ferengi chauvinism. I agree that Quark not abandoning his beliefs, while still helping Pel individually, is a very realistic and dramatically credible way to end the episode.

Matthew: We're introduced to the Dominion here. Well, the idea of the Dominion, anyway. At the end of the day, though, a lot of time is spent on very little. Tulaberry wine isn't exactly the most scintillating mechanism to deliver a story. The Dosi had the potential to be interesting, but were really just a posterboard species. I wanted to know more about them, their (apparently species-wide) costume, their trading ethos in contrast to the Ferengi. This episode continues a trend of introducing a Gamma Quadrant set of characters who go totally undeveloped. This will continue until we finally get to the Jem'Hadar and Dominion stories.

Kevin: I forget who between Behr, Moore, or Wolfe who said it in an interview, but the choice of introducing the Dominion obliquely in a Ferengi episode was a conscious choice. They didn't want to have their first introduction be a direct confrontation, like the Borg. Overall, I like the idea. We'll get teased with it a few more times before the end of the season, and I'm fine with that, too. I think it gave the writers more space to develop them since they could drop hints about them, see how they played and then adjust before making the final reveal. I agree the Dosi were sadly underutilized, but I enjoyed what we got. They definitely had personality.

Matthew: A minor sort of add-on to the story was Dax and her interaction with the Ferengi. I like Tongo quite a bit more than Dabo, because it offers a more interesting "ruleset" for us to enjoy. Like a poker-style game, it's just more conducive to filmed drama. I liked Dax's perspective on them, contrasted with Kira's continuing bigotry and distaste. The intro scene to the teaser posed interesting questions to me. Where do people like Morn live on the station? Do they pay rent? What are their jobs? Why is the Promenade closed at night at all? That seems like an unsupportable and unwise policy on a galactic trading post.

Kevin: I've said it before, but I really love Dax and Kira's friendship. Dax certainly presents the most consistent application of Federation ideals, moreso than Sisko or O'Brien in their dealings with the Ferengi, and I think it adds some teeth to the dogma that at least someone practices what they preach, and it provides a nice look into both characters. I'm fine with the idea of a cycle of station behavior to help reinforce the idea of an actual day, but given the amount of traffic, there should be some activity, all hours, I agree. Quark's should always be open. That would make sense.


Matthew: I really liked Helene Udy as Pel. Initially, I thought the actor might be a midget, because she was tiny even in contrast to the other Ferengi. It turns out, in fact, that she is a tiny French-Canadian who looks like this:

Anyway, she did a really admirable job of fitting in with the universe, portraying her character's struggle against a repressive, sexist society, and seeming to be into Quark romantically. Armin Shimerman did his typically excellent job, and the way he mixed lust for profit, intentional indifference to apparently homosexual advances, and then his culturally conditioned inability to make the leap to loving Pel was really good.

Kevin: Both actors did a great job. Pel really seemed like a real person with real desires, rather than a cardboard cutout meant to teach us all a very special lesson about gender equality. I also like that she otherwise towed the party line on Ferengi ideals. Making her too perfect would have destroyed the character. I really empathized with her when she was talking to Dax about Quark. It also can't be easy to portray romance under all that make-up. Well done.

Matthew: Wallace Shawn was good again as Zek, with a lot of good authority in his performance. The real nice surprise was Max Grodenchik as Rom, who is really growing into a character that is more than just a simpleton. I really liked Brian Thompson and Emilia Crow as the Dosi, which is why I would have preferred to learn more about them. Brian Thompson is really good at every guest character he plays, and I wish he had been used even more than he was.

Kevin: Wallace Shawn knows how to add just the right amount of menace to his portrayal so you realize the doddering old man schtick is itself the deception. He also manages to do "irritating voice" in a way that doesn't leave never wanting to see the character again. I liked the Dosi as well. They really committed, the mark of any good guest stars.

Production Values

Matthew: I imagine the Dosi look will divide people. I'm on the pro side, even though they don't look particularly alien. It's sort of a tribal paint look combined with a Cirque Du Soleil jumperoo. It made me curious about them, at least.

Kevin: I remember thinking the Dosi make-up seemed a bit of a cheat when I first watched this one, but over time, I've grown to like it. It's a definite look, and it's not just unitards and up-dos. There's a sheen to the makeup that really makes it pop, especially against the grays of the station. It also prevented the fact that everyone on their world dresses alike from seeming odd or boring.

Matthew: The F2M transexual makeup on Pel was, well, basically just the latex ear appliances without any ceremony. I would have liked a more elaborate portrayal of the things she went through to appear male. I think it could have developed the character for us to watch her tape her breasts, maybe apply an Adam's apple, and who know what else.

Kevin: I agree, but was okay with what they portrayed. The reveal with ears with the Nagus was really funny. I like the Nagus' shuttle. It was very of a piece with Ferengi design and well achieved  and some variant of it makes numerous appearances over the years.


Matthew: Overall this one is just too schizophrenic to rise above a 3. Its parts are entertaining separately, but like Nuts And Gum, they just don't go together convincingly. I still like the episode, and it continues a trend of solid shows in Season 2.

Kevin: This is a 3 for me as well. The episode is fun and entertaining. It manages to engage a social issue where characters undergo credible amounts of (small) growth, and it never turns preachy or sappy. A more thoroughly developed Dosi, or a slightly less oblique reference to the Dominion might have knocked it up a notch, but I agree with Matt that this still fits nicely in the higher quality string of episodes apparently in evidence in season 2.

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