S2E7: Rules of Acquisition

Quark, Rom, and Dax are playing tongo with the other ferengi on the station. Some of the ferengi mutter things about women behaving improperly, and Dax replies that they are just upset about her raking in all their money. The new waiter Pel introduces Quark to a new snack that makes him go for his drink immediately without him noticing, and suggest they give it out to customers. Quark is quite impressed by this initiative.

The Grand Nagus calls to tell Quark that he is coming to the station for business negotiation with the Gamma Quadrant. When he arrives, Sisko and Kira want something in return for allowing him to do business on the station and Sisko gets him to give the Bajorans a shipment of fertilizer for free, as a gesture of goodwill for future relationships. He then tell Quark that he has come to negotiate with traders from the Gamma Quadrant for 10,000 vats of chula berries. Not because the berries are particularly profitable, but because the ferengi need to get some first business partners in the Gamma Quadrant that will help them get into contact with other traders in the long term. And he wants Quark to negotiate the deal. Quark is overjoyed at first, but Pel points out that he's probably being set up to be the fall guy if the negotiations fail. Pel seems to be a clever guy and so Quark wants him to be his assistant, for 20% of the profits, while Rom gets pushed away to serve Pel's tables. In Pel's quarters, we see that she's actually a woman with fake big ears, and very happy with how things are coming along so far.

When the traders arrive, the first first thing that is seen of them is one of them being thrown out of the ship by the captain. They are overall tending to be rather violent and intimidating and get angry about the Nagus not talking to them in person, but Pel interferes on Quark's behalf and knows just how to nudge him to stand his ground and insist on his demands. The traders offer to trade 5,000 vats, but Quark doesn't back down and demands 10,000 or nothing. The Nagus is joining the evening's tongo group and keeps talking smack about Quark, but Pel says some things to both defend him and make him look good in the Nagus' eyes, which Dax notices.

The next day, Dax is having a chat with Pel about Pel being a rather unusual ferengi, which impresses her. They also talk about Quark which leads to this funny exchange: "I can't help it but love Quark." - "So do I..." - "Yeah, you really do." - "What! Shhh! - "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me." - "Does he know that I am a woman?" - "Your a woman?!" - "Shh!!!"
Pel just really wasn't happy as a woman on the homeworld, knowing that she's actually better at business than most men, and so disguised herself and left to make her own career.

The negotiations end up failing and the traders leave, which makes the Nagus very angry at Quark. But again Pel intervenes and convinces the Nagus to give Quark his shuttle so they can go to the Gamma Quadrant and keep pestering the traders on their planet. But now Quark is supposed to get 100,000 vats. They leave the station and Pel tries to tell Quark her secret, but he says he doesn't want to hear because he already know what it's about, but Pel had agreed on 20% of the profit and he won't budge on that. On the station, Rom is very much upset that Quark is ignoring him and now does all business stuff with Pel. Odo asks him why he isn't happy about being left alone by Quark, and Rom says that he's still his brother and asks how Odo would feel if anyone came between him and his brother. Odo replies that he doesn't have any brothers, that he knows of, but if he did, he would not allow anyone to get between them and do anything to stop it. He seems to get unusually angry at that thought, which the next moment quite surprises him. Rom goes to search Pel's quarters and eventually finds a box with spare fake ears.

At the aliens' planet they hunt down the traders they had been negotiating with, but he tells Quark to go away. But Quark insists that he won't leave until he gets his contract signed and eventually has to flip over a table to get the trader's attention. He finally gives in and offers to sell 10,000 vats, but now Quark wants 100,000 which he can not sell to the ferengi. Quark and Pel decide to stay over night and try again tomorrow, but when it turns out there is only one bed Pel starts to panic. She's saved when the trader's assistant comes by and explains that her boss can't sell 100,000 vats because he doesn't have that many. But for the right price she will tell them who does. Quark agrees and is told that anyone who wants to do large scale business in the Gamma Quadrant has to do so with the Dominion, and she can get them in touch with one of the Dominion's contacts.

When they are back at the station, the Nagus is very pleased with Quark's success and admits that getting in touch with the Dominion was the whole point of everything in the first place, because he just couldn't get any real information about what they are or how to contact them. Rom urgently calls Quark over to tell him something very important and urgent. Seen from across the noisy bar, Rom is wildly talking to Quark without sound, and then calls Pel over. Pel whispers something into Quark's ear, which makes Quark keel over on the spot.
When he gets back up in the infirmary, he tells Rom not to tell anyone about Pel, because he'll be convicted for employing a ferengi woman. He goes to Pel and tells her that she has to leave immediately before anyone else finds out about her, and wants to give her ten bars of latinum to help her get on her way. But before she leaves, the goes visiting the Nagus while Quark and Rom are there. The Nagus praises her for her business skills and cunning, to which she takes her fake ears off. The Nagus is outraged and wants to throw her into prison, but Quark steps in to defend her. The Nagus tells him that he will throw him into prison as well for employing a female, because not knowing is no excuse. But Quark tells the Nagus that he would have to lose his position as well, because he had a female represent him in official business negotiations, and not knowing is no excuse. So the Nagus agrees that they will all keep it a secret.

Pel visits Quark a last time and says she will go to the Gamma Quadrant to make her own career and asks him to come with her, but he says that he can't, which she completely understands. Before she leaves, she gives him a kiss. And takes the latinum he had offered her.

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Ferengi episode #2

Another great episode. Doing comedy episodes in non-comedy shows is rarely pretty to watch, but ferengi almost always work for me in Deep Space Nine. I don't think I did when I first saw the series, but these days I find the Nagus to be one of my favorite minor characters. I only know realized what actor is playing him, you should look it up. I can't even say his name in a normal voice.

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I think this is actually the first time we see Dax being friends with aliens who are considered highly unpleasant by other people from the Federation. Dax is one of my favorite characters, and her casual tolerance of almost all people because she has seen and done pretty much anything in her past lives is one of the main aspects of this. I know there's a good more material on that topic to come in the future, so I will get into that then.
Once again, this episode reminded me that in some ways, even the mid-90s were quite different from today. I think in Germany we are more relaxed about such things in General, and my family is particularly tolerant, but I think when this episode was made, the joke about Dax saying she knows Pel loves Quark and than being surprised that Pel is a woman was actually quite daring and gave Dax a touch of being a deviant. But I approve of it. I think that's the kind of gay joke that does a good job of getting people loosen up about their hangups.

This episode also makes Quark look good. He doesn't show any feelings of being betrayed or being repulsed by Pel, but only gets upset and ties to get rid of her quickly because the threat to his career. And when the Nagus wants to throw her in prison, Quark immediately comes to her defense and stands up to the Nagus. He's still putting business over love, but with Quark you really can't expect that much, and neither does Pel, who is very understanding about it.
Rom does not look that good. At the start of the episode, he's again one of the more vocal ones complaining about women rights. And while he is mostly upset about getting shoved aside as Quark's left-hand man, he immediately uses the opportunity to use Pel's secret against her. There is more to his story as the series goes on, and this issue is an important part of it from what I remember. But since I don't remember that much, this is also a topic for another time.

And only when I checked what the title of the episode was now did I get it! It's not just about the actual rules of acquisition that gets quoted throughout the episode, but also about the restrictions of ferengi society, which is all about business. Clever.

The foreshadowing about the Dominion is nice. But I only know notices the even subtler foreshadowing about Odo instinctively getting quite fierce about the idea of someone messing with his family, even though he thinks he doesn't have one. And his expression looks like he's surprised by that reaction himself.

Great episode, really enjoyed it.