DS9 Episode 1.11: The Nagus

In which Ferengi culture gets a little more fleshed out… with hairy ears.

Memory Alpha says: With the sudden death of Grand Nagus Zek, Quark becomes the new leader of the Ferengi Alliance, but he also becomes a target for murder. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Well, I finally have a proper, working internet connection again, so I can blog some more – although it seems inappropriate to cover a Ferengi episode when I have an ear infection. I don’t quite feel like this:

but I don’t feel too good.

This episode introduces Grand Nagus Zek and starts to show us a bit more about how the Ferengi Alliance works. Well, it shows us that the Ferengi Alliance does work, in its own shifty, shady, shonky little way, and that it’s run by people with at least fractionally more nous than those twerps with energy whips who occasionally mildly inconvenience Captain Picard. Feeling about Ferengi-centric episodes seems to be a bit divided among DS9 fans, as some regard them as Odious Comic Relief. I like ’em. I like ’em all. What do you mean, ‘Profit and Lace’? There’s an episode called ‘Profit and Loss,’ you must be thinking of that. Move along.

I’m still bullet-pointing, but I get the feeling that when more substantial episodes come along, I am going to want to write out more detailed summaries, for both TNG and DS9.

  • Zek’s really tall alien butler and Lwaxana’s really tall alien butler should hang out. Or date. Or at least be pen friends. I can’t remember whether Zek and Lwaxana ever meet. I think it might cause some sort of combustion.
  • Dude, Jake’s boots are HUGE! He must be like those puppies that have really big paws. He does grow entertainingly tall and lanky later on. In that one ‘horrors of war’ episode where he and Julian are running around dodging explosions I laugh completely inappropriately because they chose the two lankiest, gangliest guys in the cast to do this and they look like giraffes.
  • There is no proper door into Jake’s bedroom. It just opens off the living room. How can a fourteen-year-old boy live like that? We don’t even have to go to the furtive masturbation jokes; what does he do when he wants to listen to obnoxious music while his dad is home? (Except of course Jake probably wants to listen to pan flutes or some shit while Sisko keeps leaving Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em lying around where he can see it. I just Googled to check I had the title right and did you know it was the first hip-hop album certified diamond by the RIAA? You really should give it a listen, Jake-O. More than ten million units sold can’t be all wrong.)
  • First mention of the ‘fire caverns,’ later Fire Caves, later where the Pah Wraiths hang out. One thing that I really like about DS9 is the way that things that later become extremely significant are seeded in early on, often sounding quite innocuous. The first time ‘the Dominion’ is mentioned onscreen is in an otherwise silly and light Ferengi episode about cross-dressing and tulaberry wine. Tosk foreshadows the Jem’Hadar. Sisko thinks the cavern where he will one day meet his fiery doom sounds like a nice spot to visit on a mini-break with his son. Much as I have been bitching about the quality of many of these early episodes, being able to appreciate the whole tapestry of the thing is why they are well worth watching.
  • Haha Jake’s laptop/schoolbag is so blue and chunky!
  • Jake and Nog are big into tractors. God they’re dorks.
  • When exactly did Rom develop his Rom Voice? I don’t recall, just that he didn’t have it the first time we met him. But he’s the first person we hear recite a Rule of Acquisition, so there’s another first for us.
  • I have always wondered why some Ferengi wear a little curtain around the back of their heads and others don’t. Is it just a matter of personal taste and inclination, does it have some cultural significance, is it something some are required to wear but not others? In short, why do Rom and Nog wear them when Quark doesn’t? Why is Quark’s head nuuuuude? And why does Quark have so much purple around his eyes, when contrariwise, Rom and Nog don’t? Is that natural pigmentation, or should I assume he wears eyeshadow as well as blue nail polish?
  • Ah, the fine old tradition of passing on the shit someone just gave you to the next person in the pecking order.
  • Good grief, that was a freaky giant fish skeleton thing. Why is it hanging up there over the Prom?
  • Hallo Morn! Good to see you having a laugh.
  • I like how Zek has someone to dramatically pull back his mysterious hood for him.
  • The holosuite is, once again, for porn. By the way, I didn’t make the connection for a long, long time, but the actor playing Zek is Wallace Shawn. Wallace Shawn was Vizzini in The Princess Bride. Wallace Shawn is a bloody legend.
  • I honestly don’t understand why O’Brien is teaching the class, since Keiko isn’t back from Earth yet. If this school were actually part of a system with a set school year, and terms, and scheduled exams that older children like Jake and Nog might be working to pass, then I could understand them saying ‘well we don’t want the kids missing any more school than they have to, someone will just have to fill in for Mrs O’Brien.’ But it’s not. The school is basically Mrs O’Brien’s hobby until she figures out that she just can’t handle living on this shitty station with her (awesome, adorable, coveted by me) husband and needs to be somewhere that’s green. And if the children missing school were actually a concern, she should have arranged a substitute before she went on holiday – someone who doesn’t have a full-time job with a huge amount of responsibility.
  • I want to know what O’Brien is wiping off his hands with that little blue cloth. Whatever it is, he’s been wiping at it for a while, so it must be sticky. Um, transporter grease?
  • ‘Informed attributes’ is a term I learned from reading B-Masters Cabal websites like And You Call Yourself a Scientist! (Go, read, brilliant, wonderful.) It describes that situation in which we are told or even shown (or they attempt to show) that a character possesses certain qualities – usually favourable ones like being very attractive, or excelling in a skill that’s important to the story – but it’s hard to buy, e.g. the actor is unappealing or the display of ‘skill’ is unconvincing (see also Tasha Yar, martial arts). In this scene two Informed Attributes that I find hard to buy are implied: that the kids don’t like learning from O’Brien, and that Keiko is a nicer teacher.All right, maybe Keiko isn’t as ratty with the class as she can be sometimes, but who the fuck wouldn’t like O’Brien? Do I just have a blind spot here? The man is the salt of the earth sprinkled on a baked potato. I would think that the boys in the class especially would cluster around him and he’d invent wonderful projects for them like something out of James May’s Toy Stories. Have you ever seen that? They made a whole garden of Plasticine flowers and entered it in the Chelsea Flower Show, and it won a special prize for being AWESOME. And they built a 1:1 scale Airfix model of a fighter plane. Anyway I insist on believing that O’Brien would be an awesome teacher. And would like Top Gear.
  • But setting an essay topic as vague and broad as ‘define the term “ethics”‘ is not a good idea. It’s the sort of thing that you either answer simply in a paragraph or have to write a book to explain properly.
  • Oh Nog. Sweetie-pie, you only had to say PAKLEDS did it. That, or get a friend who isn’t such a crappy liar.
  • I’m just skipping scenes I have nothing much to say about. Like this one.
  • Note O’Brien working in his pit.
  • The thing is, there was no sign in the foregoing scene of kids ‘taking advantage of the substitute.’ There wasn’t even a synchronised pencil drop or an attempt to answer the wrong names in the roll. Nog and Jake lied about the homework, but that was homework O’Brien himself had set them the previous week – that’s not a substitute-specific technique like ‘No, Mrs O’Brien said we had two weeks to do that! She’s the real teacher!’
  • You know, when Molly is fourteen, I imagine she’s going to be incredibly difficult. I’d still like to get to see her, just because, as I think I’ve said before, Star Trek needs a canon teenage girl.
  • Those larvae look very similar to the larvae from that TNG episode. You know the one. The prop/catering people didn’t do a very good matching job, though, as the ‘tube grubs’ Zek is eating in the subsequent shot are not even the same colour – the ones we saw the valet taste were brown, and the stuff he’s eating is grey!
  • I love the huge multi-tiered Lazy Susan on the table, especially the rainbow-coloured jellies on the top tier. Because they’re eating with chunky chopsticks and there’s a Lazy Susan, the whole thing seems very Chinese, and I want to go out for Ferengi yum char.
  • I like Nog’s little green stockings and boots. He looks like a leprechaun.
  • They describe it as ‘a Federation school,’ but it’s just Keiko’s freaking hobby! She made up the curriculum herself!
  • I find Quark’s napkin implausible; it is too shiny to be absorbent.
  • Nothing is private from Morn.
  • The one Ferengi guy who says to Zek’s son ‘Still hiding in your father’s shadow’ then does something very awkward with his teeth and tongue which looks almost salacious, except in context I don’t think it is supposed to be. Incidentally, I may as well say that I don’t think we ever see Zek’s son again after this episode, despite the fact that he will eventually be Quark and Rom’s stepbrother. If he’s… still alive?
  • I just noticed Nog has freckles. That’s adorable.
  • Haaaa! When Zek says ‘salute’ he pauses slightly and actually salutes, just like Home Improvement. Was that contemporary with this? I have no idea. I always liked that show, darn it. Al had a good beard.
  • I don’t know if I just feel this way because I’ve seen it all before, but the Nagus’ naming of Quark as successor just seems so obviously a ruse. There’s no genuine suspense or surprise in the plot or its eventual twist. This comes from someone who rereads detective novels to enjoy the details again.
  • Jake: ‘It’s not fair! Nog can’t even read.’ Okay, here are my objections. Do you remember way back in ‘Captive Pursuit,’ I got really antsy about the teaser scene concerning Quark’s dodgy contract with a dabo girl? And I said ‘Another thing that bugs me in relation to this will come up in a subsequent episode, but it’s more of a logical inconsistency than a “wait, I like this guy, but I kind of feel like I should de-friend him for that, and warn people.”‘ Well, this is it.Objection Number One: Nog is a member of a culture that routinely crafts highly complex and sophisticated contracts designed to secure the maximum possible advantages to itself. Why would a boy growing up in such a culture not be taught to read and write, with great emphasis on both accuracy and ambiguity of language, from an early age? I find this highly implausible.

    Objection Number Two:  How has Keiko not managed to find out that Nog can’t read and start teaching him? We know from the ‘Vulcans stole my homework’ excuse that he is not a particularly clever liar; I don’t see him being able to fake literacy. It’s not a huge, crowded class in which one non-reading student can easily slip by under cover of the others, either – indeed, on the first day there were only two children other than Jake and Nog, so picking up on individual problems should have been easy. And for crying out loud, one of the first things any sensible teacher does on getting a new class is to give them a reading comprehension test to find out each kid’s current level. Even if you don’t have access to standardised tests such as I’d use, which I realise Keiko might not, you can still ask each child to read aloud to you and ask them questions to see if they understood it. What a shitty school she runs.

  • It makes Quark seem so very naïve, that being Nagused goes to his head so quickly and he’s so surprised and disturbed to hear that he will have to deal with enemies and rivals.
  • I want to go to the tidal hallucination planet! But not with Zek.
  • If he were actually dead, ‘When in doubt, be ruthless!’ would have been pretty boss last words.
  • I absolutely love the Ferengi custom of selling off the dead’s ashes as collectibles.
  • You have one strident laugh, Quark.
  • Odo has a surprising little cowlick at the back of his head there.
  • There are those gorgeous little green boots again! I think I want my own pair.
  • Oh come on boys, you have lots to talk about. Girls. Dangling. Tractors.
  • I like how Quark quickly puts his foot down on the coin, because it reminds me of my intermediate-school days when, if anyone dropped their change, the first person to slam their foot down on it could claim it.
  • Everyone is saying Quork. There’s that damn flickery light again; I wish someone would get that fixed.
  • Eupirean servants are renowned for their devotion to their masters. WELL MAYBE HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE RACIALLY PROFILED, ODO.
  • This scene is designed as an homage to The Godfather; I know this because I have read it is so, but because I am a philistine who’s never seen The Godfather, I’m not getting that much out of it, especially because it seems inconsistent with Quark’s earlier naïveté. Unless it’s just that he once saw The Godfather and thought ‘One day I’d like to do that.’
  • So is Rom serious about trying to kill his brother here? I can’t remember.
  • That’s some serious aggression you’re taking out on that poor glove, Benjamin.
  • Aubergine stew, half an hour cold. Why does Jadzia turn her chair backwards? Why does she take a taste directly from the serving dish? I see why you weren’t a very successful parent if those are the kind of table manners you modelled, young lady!
  • How does Sisko know where to look for the boys, incidentally? Big station.
  • So the explanation for the secrecy is all wholesome and cuddly, Jake is teaching Nog to read. That’s very nice and the act of a really good friend, but why does he keep it a secret when he’d already told his father Nog couldn’t read? And why does nobody care that Keiko wasn’t teaching him in the first place?
  • Are we supposed to sympathise with Rom’s apparent desire to murder his brother because Quark doesn’t appreciate him? Or should we just think that Rom is a wormy little fratricidal bastard? And should I just cut them some slack for not having established their characters’ personalities as they later would, and put Fratricidal Rom in the same filing cabinet as Smiley Data? Actually I shouldn’t do that, since as we know, Smiley Data kind of hates the Ferengi.
  • And now Rom wants to watch his brother die a horrible death from decompression? Rom is a pretty evil guy in this episode!
  • Oh, big fuckin’ twist that the Nagus is alive and it was all a test. (Who was that in the petri dishes they sold at the bar?)
  • The Nagus seems to have quite a lot of purple eyeshadow on himself.  But not in the next scene. What’s up with that?
  • So attempted fratricide is culturally appropriate for Ferengi, and thus Quark is fine with it, and let us never speak of this again, especially later on when we’re supposed to think of Rom as a lovable dork and sudden technological savant.
  • Nog really likes those jumja sticks. Nog, here is a fact: you will not get a Vulcan babe to notice you, or even to steal your homework, if you are carrying an ice-lolly. Even if you claim you were just holding it for a friend.
  • Okiedoke, that was ‘The Nagus.’ Before you think me ungrateful, I was very glad to have my dear O’Brien back again. Next time, we return to TNG for ‘The Big Goodbye,’ an episode which demonstrates some more peculiar naïveté, this time on Captain Picard’s part. And after that it’s ‘Datalore,’ which is pretty silly but has a cool twangly electronic score and introduces Lore, who I really dig. See you then!


    2 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.11: The Nagus”

    1. Sparklynn Says:

      I can’t wait for you to review Profit and Lace. Please please please get that far with these!

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