Fri
Jul 11 2014 2:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Ferengi Love Songs”

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs“Ferengi Love Songs”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 5, Episode 20
Production episode 40510-518
Original air date: April 21, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Quark’s has been closed for three days due to a vole infestation. He’s miserable, and Rom’s attempt to cheer him up with the news that he and Leeta are getting married is an abject failure. Rom suggests he go home to Ferenginar to be with his moogie.

Against all odds, Quark actually takes this advice, travelling home to a very surprised Ishka. She doesn’t seem entirely thrilled to find Quark there, but while she says it’s because they’ve never gotten along all that well, there’s another reason, as Quark learns when he goes to his room and sees Grand Nagus Zek and Maihar’du in his closet. At first, Quark runs from the room scared, because Zek says he shouldn’t be on Ferenginar because of his FCA ban, and it takes him until he runs to the living room before he realizes that, well, the grand nagus is hiding in his closet.

Turns out that Zek and Ishka are dating. They met at the Global Tongo Championship, where she gave him advice on how to fix his game. They corresponded, and eventually met, and fell in love. However, their relationship is a secret, and Quark promises to stay quiet.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

Rom has started wearing a Bajoran earring and is learning all about being a Bajoran, as he proudly proclaims to Dax and O’Brien. However, Leeta has shown no interest in learning about being a Ferengi woman, which Dax thinks is to her credit. But Rom suddenly starts worrying about whether or not he can trust a non-Ferengi woman. So he decides to ask Leeta to sign a waiver of property and profit, which means that she gives up all rights to his money if the marriage ends. She of course refuses to sign it, at one point calling the Rules of Acquisition stupid. They fight, and the marriage is off.

Quark tries to get Zek to reverse the FCA ban, but he refuses, to Quark’s annoyance. He retires to his bedroom, only to hear a muffled transporter. He opens his closet to see Brunt there. Brunt knows about the relationship, and he offers Quark his business license back if he poisons the relationship quietly. He wants to spare the nagus embarrassment, but he needs to stop her whispering female depravity into his oversized ears. Quark agrees in a heartbeat, going to the nagus and telling him all about those rumors about how she earned more profit than she gave back to the FCA (which is true) and is starting a revolution to give women equal rights (which is nonsense), which poisons the well nicely.

Sisko and Odo find Rom crying over his work. He unconvincingly insists they’re tears of joy. Meanwhile, Leeta insists to Kira that she’s well to be rid of Rom, which Kira doesn’t believe, and Leeta breaks down crying.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

Quark pretends to be shocked when a crying (lot of crying in this episode...) Ishka says that Zek left her, accusing her of all kinds of awful things. Quark then contacts Brunt, who reinstates his license. (“You’re a Ferengi again.” “I always was!”)

The next day, Quark, having packed to head home to DS9, is summoned by Zek, who offers him the position of First Clerk, as a reward for warning him about Ishka. However, it quickly becomes clear that the fives and tens are missing from Zek’s deck. He’s suffering from Space Alzheimer’s, and Ishka was the only thing keeping him together. Now the market’s down 199 points, and Brunt is giddy as a schoolgirl. Turns out he wasn’t trying to protect Zek, he was trying to expose Zek’s infirmity so he himself could become nagus. The FCA is going to question Zek which will put Brunt in the nagal seat.

O’Brien comes to Rom’s quarters to get a tool back that Rom borrowed. Rom’s considering bribing Leeta to sign the WP&P, but O’Brien points out that if she signs it, she doesn’t even get to keep the bribe. Rom finally admits that he’d do anything to get Leeta back. So Rom gives all his profits, such as they are, to Kira for the Bajoran War Orphans Fund, so he has no profits for the WP&P to affect even if she did sign it. Which she doesn’t. And then they smooch.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

While Quark could easily go back to DS9, he’s discovered to his horror that he has a conscience. He blames exposure to humans. So Ishka gives him advice to tell Zek when he’s questioned by the FCA. When he passes the inquisition with flying colors, Zek thanks Quark, but Quark explains that it was really Ishka who helped him get through it. Zek takes her back and fires Quark for lying to him about Ishka. Back home, as Quark’s packing, Brunt beams into his closet knowing that he’s lost. He even lets Quark keep his business license so he can keep an eye on him and nail him when he screws up. But for now, Quark tosses him back in the closet, then starts playing with the Marauder Mo action figures that Ishka returned to him earlier.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: When Rom gives all his profits to the Bajoran War Orphans Fund, Kira kisses him. We do not get to see this, which is actually kinda too bad.

Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo arrests General Martok for tossing an officer over a railing. Worf insists it was a standard disciplinary matter, but Odo points out that the falling officer almost landed on a Bolian ambassador, and Sisko adds that it isn’t a Klingon space station. Odo also is told to let Martok out of his holding cell.

Rules of Acquisition: We get four Rules this time around, one we’ve heard before (#18: “A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all”) and three new ones (#94: “Females and finances don’t mix,” #208: “The only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer,” and #229: “Latinum lasts longer than lust”).

We also have Quark and Ishka discussing what sets the grand nagus apart from other Ferengi: His personal greed must reflect the people’s greed. That’s why they say that Brunt is unfit to be nagus.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Zek and Ishka are the most revoltingly cutesy couple in the history of Trek, so cloying that they actually make Rom and Leeta’s super-sappiness kind of restrained in comparison.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

Keep your ears open: “Have you ever looked at latinum—I mean, really looked at it?”

Rom having a stoner moment regarding his pile of profits.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

Welcome aboard: Hamilton Camp debuts the character of Leck, who will return (and be much more interesting) in “The Magnificent Ferengi.” Cecily Adams takes over the recurring role of Ishka from Andrea Martin (who was uncomfortable with the prosthetics and declined to come back after “Family Bsuiness”). And we’ve got other recurring regulars in Max Grodénchik (Rom), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Tiny Ron (Maihar’du), Jeffrey Combs (Brunt), and Wallace Shawn (Zek).

Trivial matters: Cecily Adams is, in fact, nine years younger than Armin Shimerman, and yet was still cast as his mother.

This episode had working titles of “How Quark Acquired His Groove Back” and “Of Love and Profit,” before settling on the riff on Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs.”

The Marauder Mo action figures that Ishka returns to Quark (and that he plays with as we fade to black) are retrofitted Superpatriot figures from the SpawnSeries 6 line of Image Comics-based action figures from the mid-1990s. They carry energy whips like the ones used by the first Ferengi we saw in “The Last Outpost.”

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

Starting in “Soldiers of the Empire,” the next episode, the FCA notice on the walls of Quark’s that have been there since “Body Parts” will no longer be present.

This is the first of several times that Brunt will make a play for becoming nagus.

Walk with the Prophets: “What are you doing in my closet?” A slight, absurd, ridiculous, hilarious, awful, delightful, funny, wretched, stupid, silly episode.

I mean, you know what you’re getting right there in the title and everything. And the actual love stories here are enough to make you want to throw up, y’know, a lot. Zek and Ishka’s mushy talk is particularly vomit-inducing, not aided by Wallace Shawn’s screech and Cecily Adams’s bellow. (The recasting is unfortunate here. The late Adams does the best she can, but Andrea Martin is an impossibly tough act to follow.) Rom and Leeta are only marginally better, and it mostly works because nobody says “Aw!” more adorably than Chase Masterson and Max Grodénchik cries exactly like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

On the other hand, this episode is hilariously funny. Armin Shimerman, having proved his dramatic chops in “Business as Usual,” reminds us that he’s a master of comic timing, from his befuddlement at the presence of Zek in his closet to his desperate attempts to keep Zek on point as First Clerk to his depression in the teaser to his gleeful “I always was!” after Brunt reinstates him to playing with his Marauder Mo action figures at the end.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Ferengi Love Songs

And I’m sorry, but I found the running gag of people constantly showing up in Quark’s closet to be uproariously funny. I have no idea why.

In the end, we have both a return to the status quo—Quark is a proper Ferengi again—and a change to it—Rom and Leeta really are getting married—and getting there is an hour of television that makes you laugh. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido will be the guest speaker at the July meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society tonight at 9pm at the International House at 3710 Chestnut Street. Keith will have books for sale (including The Klingon Art of War), and there will be an informal dinner at a local eatery afterward that all are welcome to join. Also, please support his Kickstarter for a new story in the Dragon Precinct universe! Details can be found here...

24 comments
jeff hendrix
1. templarsteel
I'm surprised that they didn't use the ferengi actions from the playmates star trek toyline for the Marauder Mo action figures
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
I think Leeta and Rom are adorable, in spite of myself.

It would be interesting if they did more with the Ferengi feminism movement...don't know if they will or not, but I think it's a neat idea.
Rancho Unicorno
3. Rancho Unicorno
While a fun episode - and really good from that perspective - it was a little sad to see how the how little some of the station staff respect the Ferengi.

From Dax's satisfaction that Leeta showd no interest in Ferengi culture to...er...Leeta's disinterest in Ferengi culture (that we've seen), there is a feeling that Rom must abandon all that he was to be good enough for Leeta and that there are no redeeming qualities or reasonable perspectives on what makes a Ferengi tick.

No sir, I don't like it.
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
A little too broad and comedic, but still moderately fun. The closet running gag is emblematic: It's a funny comedy beat, but it's a little implausible that it keeps happening.
Rancho Unicorno
5. Ashcom
First off, I love this episode. It's one that, on paper, should be horrendous, but in this case it's all in the execution.

The Rom and Leeta storyline in particular should be painful to watch, but it shows the benefit of moving from a "self-contained story" format to a continuine plotline. It is because we learned a few weeks ago about Rom's first marriage that it becomes believable. Rom isn't just, you know, being Rom. He's been burned once, and burned badly, and that's what is informing his actions here, and it's something most people can relate to.

As to the main storyline, as a Brit I grew up with trouser-dropping farce, and that's precisely what is going on here. Right down to the point that two of the most common recurring themes in farce are completely inappropriate mismatched couples getting all lovey-dovey with each other, and people being found in closets.

Of course, it's a throwaway episode. Other than the Quark FCA license reset button, you could remove this episode from the timeline and it wouldn't make any difference. But it's great fun nonetheless,
Rancho Unicorno
6. Random22
I love stories where Quark interacts with other Ferengi (P&L excepted of course) , he's the Ferengi equivilant of Worf. Like Worf he can talk talk the talk of his culture, but when it comes to the day-to-day compromises he just cannot manage it. Crooked and tarnished as it is, Quark's heart just isn't in it.
Rancho Unicorno
7. ad
3. I've never understood this Ferengi thing with women. They're supposed to be selfish individualists: the only thing one of them should care about, when dealing with someone else, is how to make money out of them. Why are they supposed to think that being male or female is such a Big Deal?
Mike R
8. Redlander
#7

Maybe because the Ferengi are really supposed to be... us, greedy and sexist?
Rancho Unicorno
9. Random22
@7 Just because you claim to be an ultra rationalist does not also mean you don't have a huge pile of hypocrisy and prejudice too. Just like the Klingons are not all honor all the time, despite claims, and that 99% of all Vulcans consistently behave in illogical ways, the Ferengi claim ultra-randian capitalism bt fall short due to having their own unique cultural blindspots. Honestly, this shouldn't need to be explained. It isn't even subtext, its been made text in several episodes.
Craig Sanders
10. CASanders
When I hear "Rom," I half expect a giant space robot to show up and start shooting some Dire Wraiths. ;)
Steve Nicholson
11. SSteve
I was so excited when Andrea Martin got cast as Quark's mother. And just as disappointed when she declined to return. Apparently she was never into Star Trek in the first place so none of it resonated with her. What a shame.
Rancho Unicorno
12. Eduardo Jencarelli
Definitely a fun episode. A bit cartoony and over the top, but undeniably fun, thanks in no small part to the actors involved. And very necessary after all the sorrow in the previous episode. Given the bleak tone the season was taking, this episode was definitely necessary.

The bit involving Martok's arrest. I wonder if Ira was aware of what was about to happen in Soldiers of the Empire and planted this little bit as foresight. I imagine that's the case.

I think Cecily Adams was adequate for the role, despite not being in Andrea's league, and had good chemistry with the other Ferengi actors. It was sad to see her go so soon, and so young.
Rancho Unicorno
13. Crusader75
@8 - Its not so much that the Ferengi are sexist, it is how they are sexist which does not ring true. Paticularly since we ae not really told of whatever cultural influence drives it that makes them able to put profit aside in that one area.
Rancho Unicorno
14. Random22
@13 Sure we've been told. It is no more and no less than that is how things were traditionally always done and the Ferengi were just too blinkered to change in that area (or the male Ferengi are getting too much out of the system to push for equality), nothing more than instituitional inertia. You can keep on banging the drum about how it doesn't make sense, but its been dealt with over and over and over again. Oh and the Ferengi love for profit, even that is not as great as fandom makes out. The Ferengi are aquisitive by nature, sure, but while they are supposed to live their lives according to the Guidelines Rules of Aquisition, most of the time those guidelines are brought up is only to see how they are being broken this week.

You gotta watch those old canon canards, like Klingons are all warriors all the time so how do they have chefs or scientists or lawyers(all shown in the show pre-Enterprise), or how Kirk gets laid every week (he doesn't), or -to venture out of Trek- how Aquaman is useless in Kansas (he's not), or how the Death Star had a gaping hole in it (it didn't)... Those -and many others- are the cliff notes complaints, the superficial joke, nitpick or point scoring, that only works if you don't actually know the show or canon beyond the superficial.

In this case, the way the Ferengi treat their women is contrasted with their cultural ideals, and once again we see that cultural ideals come up short in practice. Which is a concept that we'll see again and again in Star Trek (pre-Enterprise anyway, Enterprise tended to take these at face value and play them without the irony that previous script writers intended).
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@13: How does it not ring true? For centuries, American and Western capitalists have ignored the profit-earning potential of women and minorities because of pre-existing cultural prejudices. An objective assessment would've shown that including them in the workforce as equals would've been good for profits, but the exclusion persisted nonetheless.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that just because the Ferengi embrace capitalism as their religion, that doesn't mean it's the only factor driving their culture or psychology. Their history must be just as complex as that of any other species, with a lot of different beliefs and traditions coming together to form their view of the world. Heck, the fact that they needed someone to write a book of rules telling them how to be proper capitalists pretty much proves that it's not their only or instinctive way of thinking, but is something they had to learn and superimpose on their pre-existing culture. ("Prophet Motive" also supports this, suggesting that the Ferengi were once a more altruistic, less profit-driven people.) So the basis for their sexism may be older than their capitalist, Acquisitionist culture. (Okay, there's never been a formal name for the Ferengi belief system/religion/economic system, but I think "Acquisitionism" is as good a name as any.)
Renee Remy
16. signsing
Have we forgotten that when the male becomes infatuated with the female, the male simply loses all ability to think reasonably. It's truly cross cultural/cross species. Without this quirk of nature, male kind would cease to exist because they'd be too busy trying to gain profit, power, or kill each other.

And of course equality is a bad idea. Since the female is more clever than the male of the species, if the female were equal, the male couldn't compete.

Hmmm.... Seems simple to me.
Nick Hlavacek
17. Nick31
The closet gag was the only part of this one I really enjoyed, and that only worked because of Shimerman's aforementioned gift with comic timing. I understand that the series thought it needed the comic relief of the Ferengi episodes, but they rarely managed to make them good comedy. There's all different kinds of comedy out there, but the kind I dislike the most is humor based on people not communicating and making bad assumptions. (See, for example, every single episode* of Three's Company.) Actually there is one kind I dislike even more that that - humor based on people doing rational things which lead to them ending up in horribly embarrassing situations which they proceed to make worse with every move. (See, for example, every Ben Stiller movie** except "Tropic Thunder".) Fortunately this episode didn't have that kind, but it did have way too much of the "it's funny because they don't talk" humor. It's not the worst of the Ferengi episodes, but to me that isn't saying much. I'd give it a 4 at best. OK, maybe a 5. The absurdity of the closet gag did make me laugh after all.

* I'm assuming it was every episode. Even as a kid I could only stomach watching a few of them before the stupidity was too much.

** Again, I'm assuming every movie based on trailers for "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers".
Kit Case
18. wiredog
"Humor based on people not communicating and making bad assumptions" is most of Shakespeare's comedies, and tradgedies for that matter.
Rancho Unicorno
19. Noblehunter
@13, 15, don't forget the variance between public belief and private practice. Just because the guilds say there's no place for women in the industry doesn't mean the guildmaster's wife and daughters aren't doing valuable work. And peasant women were absolutely vital to the household's survival.

Also, households don't run themselves. If women can work outside the home, the patriarch has to provide some incentive for her to stay home and do house work. By preventing women from officially working, he gets free labor. Quark's father got all the credit for Ishka's business acumen. Look at Zek, he's getting advice that doesn't cost him money, but avoids the downsides of being free.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
20. Lisamarie
Or, you know, he can help run the household...
Rancho Unicorno
21. Crunchy
@18 - The only difference between Shakespeare's comedies and his tragedies is that the tragedies are funnier.
Rancho Unicorno
22. Crusader75
@15 - I don't disagree with any of your points made. In fact, that's the source of my problem with the sexism. Profit motive is a dynamic force for innovation, therefore the cultural imperative that prevents innovation in that aspect of Ferengi culture most be equally strong. However, the writers don't bother to explain how or why it exists, it just does. It comes across to me as a strawman aspect to the Ferengi. Several episodes that make the profit motive into a virtue ("In the Cards" comes to mind), but there'still the absurd sexism available to make you despise the Ferengi worldview.
Rancho Unicorno
23. Asehpe
@22, I don't see that as a problem. As @15 said above, profit-driven capitalists in our culture did ignore the potential for profit-making implicit in allowing women in the workforce. How did they do this? By simply never asking themselves the question; and if anyone ever did, by answering with "explanations" about how women would be too inefficient, or are by nature incapable of doing this right, etc. There always was some "explanation" that made the status quo "make sense" (just as there is also some historical reason why it arose -- although this is disputed in the case of our civilization).

I assume the Ferengi were similar. In the course of their development, they came upon a male-oriented society (I hate the term 'patriarchy', for reasons irrelevant to this topic). It worked for them at the time (maybe it was more efficient than the alternatives). Later on they proceeded to their capitalist phase, changing many things from the previous phase but keeping others, among which their male-oriented philosophy, just as our civilization did way past the phase when it was economically advantageous. And voilà -- sexist capitalist Ferengi!
Christopher Bennett
24. ChristopherLBennett
@23: Indeed. After all, the Ferengi were originally conceived as a satirical caricature of us, as filtered through Roddenberry's critical view of our society. They represented the baser attributes of 20th-century humanity that had been overcome by the 24th. So capitalism and sexism coexist in Ferengi society because they coexist in ours.

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