Jan 10 2014 4:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Family Business"

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business“Family Business”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 3, Episode 23
Production episode 40512-469
Original air date: May 15, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Sisko is making chicken paprikash for dinner, which indicates to Jake that his father’s latest mission went well, since he only cooks Hungarian food when he’s in a good mood. Jake also tells Sisko that Kasidy Yates—the freighter captain he’s been trying to set him up with since last episode—is on the station.

Business is booming in Quark’s, which makes the proprietor that much crankier when Rom tells him that he gave Nog the night off to study for his Starfleet exams. Then a liquidator from the Ferengi Commerce Authority named Brunt shows up and places a writ of accountability on the bar. Quark and Rom are devastated, and the bar is quickly closed and evacuated. Brunt is doing an audit. After Quark bribes him, Brunt explains the charges against him: poor supervision of a family member. Quark probably thinks it’s Nog at first, but it turns out to be his and Rom’s mother, Ishka, who is earning profit. (Ferengi females are forbidden from earning profit.) Quark is responsible for getting her to confess to her crimes, make restitution, and reveal her accomplices. Quark and Rom are on the next transport to Ferenginar (with Quark asking Odo to keep an eye on the bar while he’s gone, which is hilarious). Quark doesn’t want Rom along, because he always takes Ishka’s side, but Rom insists.

Quark is not at all happy to be home, and he’s even less happy to see Ishka wearing clothes and addressing Brunt, a stranger. Brunt gives Quark three days, at which point she will be sold into indentured servitude and Quark will have to make restitution (though her profit is only three bars of latinum, so Quark can probably afford it, but still...). After Brunt leaves, Ishka makes it clear that she’s not signing the confession, nor removing her clothes.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

It becomes apparent to Sisko that Jake has told everyone about Yates—he’s asked about her by Dax in Ops and by O’Brien and Bashir as they’re trying (under Odo’s watchful eye) to break into Quark’s (still closed by the FCA) to retrieve their lucky dart board (though O’Brien insists they never called it their lucky dart board).

Rom serves dinner because Ishka isn’t feeling well. Quark is bitter about how she never chewed their food for them, not even when they were kids, and how the other children would make fun of them because their mother talked to strangers and didn’t masticate their dinner. Their father never earned much profit because he was so worried about Ishka’s eccentricities. Over dinner, Quark and Ishka argue and then Quark actually gets down on his knees begging her to confess for the sake of the family’s reputation. Later Rom tries his hand at asking her less confrontationally. But it’s too important to Ishka to be able to earn profit—she doesn’t care about the money as such, it’s the principle of the thing.

Sisko finally goes to meet Yates in the cargo bay. They’re both amused by Jake’s matchmaking attempt, and agree to meet for coffee.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

Quark discovers, to his dismay, that Ishka has earned a helluva lot more than three bars of latinum. She’s made so much profit that Quark couldn’t begin to make restitution. While Rom’s impressed that she has such good lobes for business, Quark is devastated. He screams at Ishka, who screams right back, revealing that her husband didn’t have the lobes for business, but refused to listen to Ishka’s advice, because she was a female. Quark storms out to inform the FCA about Ishka’s financial empire, but Rom stops him, telling him what Quark never knew, because Rom stayed home for ten years after Quark left Ferenginar: Keldar was a failure at business. “He couldn’t hold onto latinum if you sewed it into his pants!” They break out in a spectacularly lame-ass fight, which Ishka breaks up.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

Quark goes to the Tower of Commerce (he walks up all 40 flights of stairs, unwilling to pay the seven strips of latinum for the elevator). While waiting to see Brunt (and after paying bribes to the secretary both to let Brunt know of his arrival and to be allowed to sit—sitting is three slips, but if you stay standing it’s one slip), Rom shows up with an offer from Ishka: splitting the profits 50-50. This intrigues Quark, and he puts off seeing Brunt. But Rom just said that to get Quark back to the house. He forces Ishka and Quark to sit and talk and work things out, pointing out to Quark that he treats Cardassians with more respect than his own mother and to Ishka that, if Quark can find her hidden profits, so can the FCA eventually. After yelling at them to work it out, Rom goes off to take a nap.

Ishka tells Quark that he’s too hard on Rom, but he replies that he had to be because she was too easy on him. But even if she’d pushed him, it wouldn’t have helped. Rom is like his father, with no lobes for business. Quark is more like Ishka—he not only memorized the Rules of Acquisition (one of Ishka’s proudest moments was when he got through all 285 without a mistake the first time), he understands them. Ishka is willing to give in and sign the confession for her son.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

Sisko and Yates’s date goes okay, but Yates is preoccupied because she forgot that she was getting a transmission from her brother on Cestus III: an audio recording of a baseball game he’s playing. To Sisko’s joy and delight, they’ve revived baseball on that Federation colony, and they go off to listen to the game together.

Ishka signs the confession (while naked) and Brunt happily goes off, a hush bribe from Quark in his pocket. What Brunt doesn’t know (and neither does Quark, though Rom does) is that Ishka only admitted to about a third of what she actually made to the FCA.

The Sisko is of Bajor: After a huge nudzh from Jake, aided by the latter informing the entire senior staff about her existence and how he wants them to get together, Sisko meets up with Yates, and they hit it off, particularly once they discover a shared love of baseball.

The slug in your belly: Dax’s opinion of Yates after meeting her: “If I were Curzon, I’d have stolen her from you by now.”

Rules of Acquisition: Standard operating procedure for pretty much any official conversation on Ferenginar involves a bribe. When you enter a Ferengi’s house, you sign a legal waiver and deposit an admission fee; the owner says, “My house is my house,” to which the visitor replies, “As are its contents.”

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Jake’s matchmaking finally pays off, as Sisko and Yates have a coffee date.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

Keep your ears open: “How do you get to be an FCA liquidator?”

“Hard work, bribes, sucking up to the boss—just like any other job.”

Rom asking Brunt about his work.

Welcome aboard: Three recurring characters make their first appearance in this episode.

Penny Johnson (these days credited as Penny Johnson Jerald), last seen as Dobara on TNG’s “Homeward,” plays Kasidy Yates, who will remain Sisko’s sweet baboo (with some ups and downs) through to the end of the series. She’ll next appear (with a much less ridiculous hairstyle) in “The Way of the Warrior” at the top of the fourth season.

Jeffrey Combs, last seen as Tiron in “Meridian,” makes the first of eight appearances as Brunt. This is the first of three recurring characters for Combs, two of which are on this show, Weyoun being the other. He’ll also recur as Shran on Enterprise. His next appearance as Brunt will be in “Bar Association” next season.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business

And the great Andrea Martin of SCTV fame appears as Ishka. This is Martin’s only appearance in the role—in all future appearances, starting in “Ferengi Love Songs” in the fifth season, Ishka will be played by Cecily Adams.

Plus we have Max Grodénchik as Rom.

Trivial matters: This episode marks the first appearance of Ferenginar, with its very humid weather and the hobbit-like dwelling places, as well as various and sundry customs of the homeworld, most of them involving bribes.

Brunt and Ishka also appear in Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed, your humble rewatcher’s contribution to Worlds of DS9 Volume 3. Brunt additionally appears in the novella Reservoir Ferengi by David A. McIntee in Seven Deadly Sins and as a younger man in Robert Greenberger’s Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Buying Time. Ishka also appears in Greenberger’s Doors Into Chaos and in the Terok Nor novel Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison.

Cestus III was established as a Federation colony that intruded upon Gorn space in the original series episode “Arena.” Apparently in the century since, it became a Federation colony once again.

Yates’s brother playing baseball on Cestus III will be a recurring theme. Your humble rewatcher fleshed out the Cestus Baseball League in A Time for War, a Time for Peace and Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny. The brother in question is named Kornelius in Articles.

The Pike City Pioneers’ home city is presumably named after Christopher Pike, Kirk’s predecessor as captain of the Enterprise from “The Cage,” “The Menagerietwo-parter, and the two JJ Abrams Star Trek films.

This episode formally establishes what was already obvious: that the runabouts are named after Earth rivers. In addition, Sisko is the one who picks the names when new runabouts are assigned. He dubs the newest one Rubicon (amusing, given that the last one was destroyed in “The Die is Cast,” a quote from Julius Caesar right before he crossed that river).

Walk with the Prophets: “Moogie!” First of all, I just have to say how much I absolutely adore the entire conception and design of Ferenginar: the tiny houses with rounded doorways that even the shrimpy Ferengi have to duck to get through, the constant rain, the ritual for entering a house involving fees, waivers, and a pile of towels to wipe your head of rain, and of course the bribes everywhere.

We also get an episode that challenges Ferengi sexism far more effectively than “Rules of Acquisition” did, as Ishka is obviously a revolutionary, one who sees no reason why her gender should affect her ability to make profit—especially given how good she is at it.

There’s also a genuine family crisis here that’s compelling viewing. The relationships among Ishka, Quark, Rom, and, as discussed, the late Keldar, are well drawn out, well portrayed, and help flesh out both Quark and Rom nicely. We already knew from “Civil Defense” that Quark left home at an early age, and we find out now that it was two decades ago—and Rom stayed home for another decade. Rom really gets to shine here—presaging his future career as a politician by manipulating Quark and Ishka into talking to each other—without ever losing his innate Rom-ness. I particularly love how he lectures his brother and mother, and then announces he’s going to take a nap.

In general, this episode works well as a Ferengi comedy episode because the comedy isn’t unnecessarily broad. It doesn’t always take the Ferengi entirely seriously as a culture, but doesn’t entirely mock it, either, and more to the point it takes the characters seriously.We get such great insights into Quark and his family. It’s particularly fascinating to see that he was raised by a strong-willed woman, given that the women he’s been attracted to (Natima Lang, Pel, that Boslic freighter captain, not to mention Kira and Dax) have also all been strong-willed.

And, not only do we get Ishka, we also get Brunt, who will be a delightful recurring antagonist, played with magnificent snottiness (and hilariously small lobes) by Jeffrey Combs. The whole concept of the FCA is a brilliant one, the perfect boogeyman for the average Ferengi.

Elsewhere, we have Jake’s entertaining matchmaking, made all the more delightful by the fact that Yates and Sisko hit it off pretty instantly when they meet in the cargo bay babbling about transporters, and then the deal is sealed when they bond over baseball. A pleasant start to what will be a cornerstone relationship in the series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Family Business


Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel, Gryphon Precinct, is now on sale from the fine folks at Dark Quest Books, and also via Amazon (trade paperback, Kindle, audio), Barnes & Noble (trade paperback, Nook), Indie Bound, or Kobo. This is the fifth book in the acclaimed “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals, following Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, and Tales from Dragon Precinct.

Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
This is fun. Another great moment in Rom's growth as a character, and some good family drama, funny yet believable. And I love the Ferenginar worldbuilding too. The institutionalization of bribes as just an everyday practice, like feeding parking meters, makes so much sense in context. (Parking meters, for what it's worth, exist in large part to benefit businesses, by limiting the amount of time any one potential customer can take up a parking space and thereby increasing the customer traffic in a commercial area. Which I learned from the debate over a parking-meter privatization plan that was a central issue in last November's local council race.)

It bothered me that Cestus III was established as a human colony. Part of the point of "Arena" was that humans had been wrong to settle Cestus III, that it was the Gorn's rightful territory to begin with. It was a great episode because it challenged the assumption of human manifest destiny that otherwise tended to underlie the series. So having Cestus III just happen to be a human colony world a century later feels like monumentally missing the point.
2. James2
@1, Fascinating explanation for parking meters; I never considered that, but it makes sense.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
I think this may be the best of the Ferengi episodes (or second to "Little Green Men"). And the reason it works is that it is entirely character oriented. All the Ferengi stuff is just ornamentation and plot driver, it's heart is the family dynamics. And we wind up with character growth for Rom and Quark and even Ferengi culture. It's just too bad that they couldn't get Andrea Martin for the role again. Nothing against Cecily Adams, but she had some mighty big shoes to fill and never quite made it. If the role had been hers to begin with, she would have owned it completely, but Andrea Martin claimed it utterly and forever here.

The fight scene between Quark and Rom is truly lame, but I bet a lot of that is due to the makeup. If they got too into it, they'd have had to spend hours back in the chair to repair the damage for every take. But it does make the scene that much better.

I really liked Kassidy, though I was unhappy with her character arc. I've heard that she came about because Avery Brooks was lobbying hard for a girlfriend for Sisko. He felt that it was time for him to set aside his grief and guilt and get on with his life. Sisko's sexuality was one of the areas where Brooks tangled constantly with the execs, ultimately leading to a somewhat unsatisfying end to his character arc.
4. Uncle Mikey
@ChristopherLBennett - That always seemed a bit odd to me, as well. I have to assume that the writers rolled the dice and picked a "familiar" name for Kasidy's brother's home, but I could have wished they'd made a better choice. Or else given us enough back-story to be willing to accept that maybe it's a joint settlement of some sort. As it is, it would be a throw-away if they didn't bring it up again at least once more in the future (and set Cestus III eight weeks away at the fastest speed Kasidy's freighter can pull, a rare admission by Star Trek that space is big!)
5. TheMadLibrarian
In one of the short story collections, the settlement of Cestus III was negotiated over a baseball game between the Gorn and Human colonists. The Humans thought they would easily win, until it was revealed that Gorns have job-specialized dimorphism, and they wouldn't be playing against the nerdy Gorn scientist types, but their warrior caste. Hilarity ensues.
Christopher Bennett
6. ChristopherLBennett
@5: What story collection do you mean? I have most of them, but I don't recall that story.
Matt Stoumbaugh
7. LazerWulf
I just want to say that Chicken Paprikash is probably my favorite dish ever, and I'm super-delighted to see that people are still cooking it in the 24th Century. For those who don't know, it's kind of like Chicken and Dumplings (the dumplings in this case being made of spaetzle) with a cream-based soup (and paprikah, which is where it gets it's name) instead of just plain chicken stock.
8. Alright Then
Manifest destiny is sometimes paid for. I suppose the Feds could have given the Gorn something for Cestus III after the Metron incident.

Omaha steaks are nice. Maybe a tin of popcorn. Nah, probably lettuce. Lizards like lettuce.
Alicia Dodson
9. LynMars
For some reason it always really stuck with me, in a good way, that it was Jake who lobbied so hard for his father to start dating again. A lot of times it's an easy way out for family angst, to have the kid feel as though their parent is "cheating" or "forgetting" the lost spouse (and that's fairly common, and valid, for many children to work through such feelings). At the time, it spoke a lot about the Siskos' relationship, and Jake's maturity, that he met a woman who he KNEW would be perfect for his dad and worked to make sure they at least got a chance to meet and click.

I always liked the relationship, and how it progressed, though at the end I can see why Brooks was so annoyed with how they ended the series and his character's arc. I was pretty upset by it myself, and hold onto that promise of "maybe yesterday."
Keith DeCandido
10. krad
LynMars: You should read Unity by S.D. Perry. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Sara H
11. LadyBelaine
Keith, you mentioned it in passing in the summary but didn't cite to one of the most delightful little tidbits of Ferengi culture that sheds so much light on everything Ferenginar - of course they would charge a fee for an elevator! It's just a miserly, chiselling little thing that speaks volumes. The writer who came up with that is a genius and has kept me amused for almost 20 years.

The fact that the females are kept unclothed also makes sense if we posit that Fenenginar is moist, sultry tropical place.... although I do resent single-biome planets.... sigh.
Keith DeCandido
12. krad
LadyBelaine: One of the things I had fun with in my "Ferenginar" short novel in Worlds of DS9 Volume 3 was the head of a pharmaceutical company complaining that sales of bronchial remedies were down because women were walking around clothed, so they weren't getting sick as often.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Robbie C
13. leandar
I too, love this episode. I may be in the minority, but I am a fan of the ''Ferengi Comedy Episodes'' because they were a nice break in the action at times and any opportunity for Armin and Max and later Aron to shine is a good one, I think.

An in universe question generated by this episode, and maybe someone will be able to come up with a good explanation for it, but it seems to me that if it's constantly raining on Ferenginar, shouldn't it be a completely flooded water world by now, assuming the rain has been constant over geologic time? With rain like that, one would think the surface would be many miles below the water. I'm not understanding how that works, maybe someone on here has an idea? Thanks in advance.
Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
Of course it couldn't be raining over the entire planet constantly at every moment. But there are places on Earth that receive rainfall on as many as 350 or more days per year. Perhaps the populated parts of Ferenginar are in high-rainfall areas due to the geography of the planet, and the low-rainfall areas are mostly over the oceans or uninhabitable terrains. The rainwater would flow back to the oceans and evaporate into the clouds, maintaining the cycle.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
16. Lisamarie
I loved this - not just because I enjoy seeing Ferengi feminism in action (and it is kind of interesting to me in that they made Iskha a character who still buys into the other aspects of Ferengi culture - she still accepts the emphasis on profit as a good - which in my opinion is more realistic than just having her reject her entire culture as a whole) but I really did enjoy the family dynamics and exploring, and the reveal that while Kheldar may not have been great at business, he (and Rom) does have other good qualities that Iskha appreciates (so in that way, perhaps Ishka is still more progressive in terms of how she views what makes a 'valuable' Ferengi).
17. James2
@14, Yeah, I've always seen Ferenginar as the Seattle of the Alpha Quadrant. :)
18. tryptych
Just catching up on this rewatch and really enjoying it - so thanks toour humble rewatcher!

I wonder if the idea of charging for every little thing was inspired by Philip K Dick - in one of the novels (is it Ubik?) the protagonists have to pay fof everything - to open the doors, to activate the toaster, even in their own apartments...

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