DS9 Episode 2.7 – Rules of Acquisition

In which rubber ears take the place of a codpiece.

Memory Alpha says: Grand Nagus Zek assigns Quark to initiate negotiations with a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, but Quark’s new associate is not what he seems. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review

I am, at last, getting back to DS9 – partly because I have seasons 1 through 5 on DVD, whereas my current internet situation makes it difficult to stream the TNG material. Just to date this entry (other than by looking at the actual date on it): the TNG HD/Blu-Ray trailers have just started going around. I don’t actually have a Blu-Ray player. I would be happy enough just to have plain old DVDs. OH WELL. Let’s get on with ‘Ferengi Twelfth Night’ and try to get out of this blogging dry spell.

It’s hard to see any better way to open this than with a snippet from Memory Alpha: ‘This episode was originally to be titled “Profit Margin”. It began life as a TNG pitch. Hilary J. Bader‘s original story had Pel involved with Will RikerBeverly Crusher would subsequently find out, and she and Pel would develop a kind of sisterhood.’

JESUS CHRIST LITTLE CROSS-DRESSING FERENGI CHICK HITTING ON RIKER. Though I am sure he would be a perfect gentleman about it, in a twinkly-eyed way. And I am sure Quark would be tickled to be slotted into a Riker-shaped gap in an episode. It is weird how TNG pitches got reshaped into DS9 stories at this stage, and the trend continued with some later DS9 pitches getting recycled in Voyager; that’s why there’s an episode with the EMH Doctor having this conflict with a hologram of a Cardassian Dr Mengele type. That should have been a Julian episode, and it just didn’t get used.

I appear reluctant to start watching the episode, which is odd because I’m not conscious of really minding it. It’s not ‘Melora’ or ‘Profit and Lace.’

  • Return of the round playing cards! And introduction of Jadzia’s gambling and palling around with Ferengi dudes. I liked the little low-key opening with Morn and Odo, although it’s a little sad that Morn can’t get into his ‘home’ after hours.
  • It’s interesting how they chose to handle Pel’s ‘fake’ ears, making them visibly fake to the viewer compared with the other Ferengi actors’ ‘real’ fake ears. I guess I’m a little puzzled about those ears, because going right back to TOS we have a convention that you can be ‘surgically’ disguised as pretty much anything without it looking ‘fake’ by the show’s own terms (the Klingon spy in ‘The Trouble With Tribbles,’ Kirk’s Romulan disguise in whatever the hell episode they disguised him as a Romulan in).
  • Perhaps Pel couldn’t afford surgery (I’d say ‘or didn’t want to make such a major modification to her body’ but these cosmetic surgeries are always presented as a totally minor thing, with nobody being upset about being physically changed or worried about whether they can get their original features back. Quark’s temporary sex change in ‘Profit and Lace’ is, bizarrely, presented as if he really has had a full surgical sex change rather than just modifying his ears and putting on a Mrs Doubtfire bodysuit, and yet he’s not supposed to be upset or weirded out about, you know, HIS PENIS BEING CUT OFF, and apparently Julian was just fine with performing this procedure for him without any sort of psychological testing or counselling, because it’s not as if gender reassignment is a BIG THING, oh lord this parenthesis has got away from me, do you think Julian kept Quark’s dick in a jar until he wanted it back, THIS IS WHY WE DON’T WATCH ‘PROFIT AND LACE’) or sophisticated prosthetics; perhaps she had to make them herself. It’s a good thing she has a head for business because she’s not going to make it as a sculptress.
  • And yet, despite being visibly fake to the audience, we are meant to buy that they look realistic enough to other Ferengi for her to pass as male.
  • Pel this idea has already been thought of. It’s called salted peanuts.
  • I know they’re just doing expository dialogue but who interviewed Pel for her job? Does Quark let Rom hire waiters? It’s being played a bit as if he hasn’t talked to her before.
  • I kind of hate it when the Ferengi are required to laugh raucously.
  • I mean, I presume (I don’t remember clearly) that the Nagus is just dicking around with Quark here, but it does seem a little bit odd to make him chief negotiator with the Gamma Quadrant just because he’s local. He’s just a guy who owns a bar. He doesn’t have any other businesses or anything to indicate that he’s capable of working on a bigger scale. You’d think he’d need to show a couple of intermediate stages of competence before being given a shot at such a big gig.
  • I privately believe that if anyone does accept the Nagus’ offer of beetle-snuff, he expects them to pay for it.
  • oh lord that poor valet has to keep Zek’s snotty handkerchief in his own sleeve
  • just… just never put your face close to Zek’s. It’s a bad idea. Especially if he has some fertiliser to sell you.
  • and Sisko smirks because it always amuses him to see his staff sexually harassed by old people
  • WHY DO WE HAVE TO BEGIN A SCENE FOCUSING ON AN OLD MAN’S EAR HAIR. WHY IS QUARK REQUIRED TO TAKE OFF THE OLD MAN’S BOOTS WHILE POINTING HIS ASS AT HIM. GO AND POINT YOUR ASS AT PEL QUARK SHE’D APPRECIATE IT MORE.
  • I always imagine tulaberries are pretty much like Smurfberries. And I always imagine Smurfberries taste like wintergreen.
  • The thing I wonder here is, is tulaberry wine already known in the Alpha Quadrant, or is Zek trying to introduce a really new product? Has he done any market research? He’s sort of talking like tulaberries are already a known and desirable quantity but the GQ is a new source, which doesn’t make sense at all (why would the same kind of berry be found on planets in such distant bits of space?).
  • And Rom doesn’t even know what tulaberries taste like, but then, you could fill a book with things Rom doesn’t know.
  • The Ferengi foot in the GQ door won’t be much use if tulaberry products don’t become popular; it’ll be associated with failure. I know you have to take risks in business, but has Zek even commissioned any market research? Does he have an angle in mind for how he’s going to present tulaberry wine – as something exclusive and exotic? As something fun and partyish? As something healthy and invigorating? I want the tulaberries to make more sense than they do.
  • I like the twirly party straw in the glass Quark is filling with red drank.
  • yep, yep, yep, Quark, you should change your name to Patsy
  • This is one of the uneven things about Quark. He’s sometimes presented as a real sharp operator with extensive underworld contacts. Other times he’s presented as kind of a rube who doesn’t think of things like ‘putting me in charge of this operation gives Zek a scapegoat if it goes wrong.’ Is it just that he gets so star-struck when dealing with the highest authority figure in his society (it is kind of like the Pope-President-King suddenly showing up to offer you a job) that his judgement goes out the window?
  • And this is one of those scenes where Quark seems kind of attracted to Pel while thinking she’s a guy – Pel’s all aflutter but so to an extent is he.
  • welp, just got home from work, think I’ll take off my fake ears and reveal my boobs. Aaah, that’s better.
  • seriously, Pel, look into some kind of binding-down garment because if you have to take your jacket off at work for any reason your cover is ber-lown.
  • I am pleased to see that Quark is wearing one of my favourite outfits, the jewel-tones Mondrian-grid jacket with teal/jade pants.
  • Everyone is standing so close together. Why would Kira ever stand so close to Zek, apart from the obvious ‘he just goosed her’ gag they just did? Either that, or Zek’s confusion is real and it was the valet who goosed Kira. We have no idea what he’s capable of.
  • And here come some people in gaudy face-paint and holofoil-trimmed bondage outfits. The dude, the one who’s a total Hey It’s That Guy, mainly trading on having a Schwarzeneggery kind of look, was also in the ‘Riker goes to Klingon Camp’ episode of TNG. You know, the guy I thought was called Klang and I was so disappointed that it was only Klag.
  • Not terribly subtle, but I think they are trying to show us that the woman negotiator is the senior and the bigger, stronger man is concerned about meeting her standards.
  • That was a weird little nose-twitch.
  • Jeez, why not take five thousand vats, do a limited release to test the market, and go back for more if it’s a success?
  • Sorry O’Brien, your role today is to be ignored, while we run a comedy sub-plot about the Nagus courting Kira.
  • This is one of those times where I think Jadzia forgets that, while her seven lifetimes allow her to take a ‘big picture’ view that most people can’t, they have also given her a confidence that other people simply can’t feel. If she feels safe and comfortable around greedy misogynistic little trolls, that’s fine, good for her, but it doesn’t mean anyone else is wrong to be bothered by them.
  • ALL THIS FUCKERY OVER A PRODUCT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IF ANYONE LIKES.
  • ‘Why are you being so nice to me?’ Quark’s delivery of the line is rather sweet, because he doesn’t sound really suspicious, he sounds kind of pleased and surprised, as if he’s not sure whether to trust this niceness but he likes it an awful lot.
  • I know we’re supposed to think that Jadzia rumbles Pel because, being so old and wise, she recognises from behavioural cues that she’s not what she appears. I just can’t get past thinking that she must be weirded out by the ears. Except they ought to be much more obvious to fellow Ferengi than to an alien.
  • okay Quark is mental. WHY would you think a lady would want to make out with you in a replica of her childhood bedroom? I CAN’T DO THIS MY CARE BEAR IS STARING AT ME.
  • The question is whether Jadzia is actually surprised when she says ‘You’re a woman?’ I really can’t tell how we’re supposed to read that. If she is surprised, then she thought Pel was a guy and was totally fine with him being in love with Quark, which is nice, Star Trek, heart in the right place, BUT YOU DON’T GAIN BACK ANY OF THE POINTS YOU LOST BY CANCELLING JULIAN/GARAK. I’m not sure why she would sham surprise, it’s just that Terry Farrell’s delivery of the line is odd, and maybe I’m reading something into an element that was just an actor being a little off.
  • I am also interested in why Jadzia has decided to talk to Pel about this. I think, and I like her for it, she’s being a little protective of Quark as her friend and wants to make sure Pel’s intentions are good. If she wants to get a gold star from me, though, she can go and tell Zek to fuck off bothering Kira. Jadzia is playing Beverly’s role here, per the origin of this story, and I’m not so sure why Bev would be intervening. Deanna would seem like a more natural choice, since she wouldn’t be able to ‘read’ Pel (Betazoid ESP doesn’t work on Ferengi), but would have reason to be protective of Riker and want to make sure he wasn’t going to be messed around.
  • And I think the implication as a whole is that, because Pel is passing herself off as a man, her feelings about Quark are transgressive in a way that they wouldn’t be if she were male. The reason I interpret Ferengi as being, by and large, okay with gay relationships is the paired Rules, ‘Never have sex with the boss’s sister (112)’ and ‘Always have sex with the boss (113).’ The latter appears only in the book Legends of the Ferengi but doesn’t really leave much ambiguity – because a Ferengi with a job is by definition a male Ferengi, and do we imagine there are many male Ferengi willing to work for a woman, even a woman of another species?
  • Ferengis just love twirly party straws.
  • Kira, no amount of fertiliser is worth this bullshit.
  • We’ll take your ship! Okay, but you’ll owe me gas money.
  • A detail I liked very much – when Quark kisses Zek’s hand, Pel briefly stares, because Quark+kiss in any context=hello you have Pel’s full attention.
  • Their seats look really uncomfortable.
  • BACKGROUND PAKLEDS.
  • ODO YOU JUST KIND OF ADVISED ROM TO DO SOMETHING HORRIBLE TO PEL. BE CAREFUL. YOU KNOW HE IS NOT SMART.
  • Speaking of which, I just love how in between the first Grand Nagus episode and this one, Rom has done a 180 from being willing to kill Quark to being willing to kill for Quark, or at least ruin someone’s life in order to hang onto him. With this and his later secret genius thing, I think he gets retconned even more severely than Julian.
  • haha Julian and Rom bonding over being secret geniuses
  • Julian and Rom bonding over both having banged Leeta?
  • let’s not go here any more
  • Rom searched everywhere else before trying under the bed? He really isn’t smart.
  • So tulaberry wine is blue? Okay, I can already see a problem. The number one blue drank in the Alpha Quadrant is Romulan ale (despite the fact that it’s kind of illegal in the Federation – I guess the best analogy is Cuban cigars in the USA). And after that, blue Gatorade. Where’s the market niche for tulaberry wine? Is the best you can hope for number three?
  • This is odd, because despite the earlier display of the woman’s superiority, they’re now playing it as if Schwarzenegger-lite is the person whose say-so they need to make the deal.
  • Quark you asshole. You are wasting booze.
  • There is absolutely no reason why this works! Why doesn’t he kill Quark for being such a dick?
  • Pel. Quit panicking. It’s not like you’re going to get a lady boner in your sleep that he’ll notice. Unless there are things about Ferengi women’s bodies that I really don’t care to know. You can also get around this by making a show of feudal spirit and offering Quark the bed to himself while you curl up on a chair or the floor. AND IF HE STILL WANTS YOU TO GET UP ON THE BED WITH HIM THEN GO FOR IT. JEEZ.
  • Scared to be in an intimate situation with boss you have a huge crush on… give him a drink and flatter him. Pel, you are smart at business but kind of dumb otherwise.
  • Sometimes I’d love to be an actor but other times I realise I might have to play a scene like this and would probably cringe myself to death before I could get paid.
  • Pel, changing her mind for no reason (unless tulaberry wine makes you drunk really fast, and I guess that could be their marketing angle), kisses Quark and his response is to lie back on the bed. I’m just saying. What am I saying? I don’t know. Quark is part gay. Whatever. He looks startled by Pel clambering on him but he doesn’t look scared or repelled.
  • Ferengi VPL sighted.
  • DO NOT HIT ON YOUR BOSS IN A ROOM WITH ONLY CURTAINS FOR WALLS AND A DOOR.
  • First mention of the Dominion in a corny Ferengi romantic comedy episode. I do really like that.
  • And Quark’s refusal to acknowledge the kiss could be read equally as ‘uncomfortable with Pel’s attraction to him’ or ‘not wanting to get bogged down in mush when on the verge of making the biggest deal of his life.’ Again, I do want to award a heart-in-the-right-place point for the fact that he doesn’t act repelled or go into gay panic mode.
  • You know, I’m just thinking about things wrong with Rom’s discovery of Pel here. One, if Pel hadn’t left her spare ears at home, this couldn’t have happened – though I suppose she thought they’d be safer than if she were carrying them around and Quark asked what was up with the big bag. Two, the fake ears don’t actually prove anything incriminating on their own. It’s not like there’s a precedent for Ferengi women disguising their ears in order to pass as men. They could just mean that Pel has deformed ears or humiliatingly small ones for a man; the equivalent of a toupée. Three, how much do we expect Rom to be able to deduce from a pair of rubber ears?
  • And why, exactly, did Zek send Quark on this fishing expedition without telling him what he was looking for? What if Quark had just come back with a fuckton of tulaberries instead of new information on the Dominion? It works because it pays off the way Zek wants it to, but if it hadn’t, it would have been nonsense.
  • And I guess they play the revelation scene in dumb-show because it’s hard to imagine what the actual lines would have been. At least it didn’t involve Pel’s jacket being ripped off.
  • Why is Pel just answering the door with her jacket and fake ears off when she doesn’t know who’s going to come to the door?
  • HAHAHA THE DRAMATIC SOAP OPERA FRAMING of Quark staring into the camera and Pel, out of focus over his shoulder. (yes, sorry, that’s all I’ve got out of their confrontation, it’s shot like a scene from Days Of Our Lives)
  • PEL WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS.
  • Well, obviously, so that Quark can step up to defend her and show that he cares, but that’s not an in-character reason. Is someone as cunning as Pel, who’s carefully studied the Rules and all their Commentaries, and managed to finagle her way off Ferenginar in the first place (that can’t have been easy – how did she get together her initial stake? How did she secure the materials to make her fake ears and learn how to make them? How did she learn to read?) now supposed to be so upset that things haven’t worked out with Quark that she just throws away the opportunity he gave her to leave safely, and puts him in danger of ruin as well?
  • And now Pel acts like her point was to prove women are as capable as men – but her behaviour actually made it appear that women get carried away with emotion and create unnecessary scenes. This is just frustrating.
  • I guess at least she gets quite a nice kiss? Although both actors are visibly struggling a bit with their prosthetic noses and dentures. And Quark got his ear felt up so everyone’s a winner.
  • So you won’t even play a hand of tongo with the guy to help him get over it? Cold, Jadzia, way cold.

Well, that was bracingly weird. Can’t say I’m sorry it’s over. The next episode will be ‘Necessary Evil,’ or as I think of it, ‘Terok Noir.’

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One Response to “DS9 Episode 2.7 – Rules of Acquisition”

  1. Robert Says:

    I think Zek’s idea with the tulaberry wine was to take an already fairly popular GQ beverage and make the Ferengi into big players in the tulaberry wine market to establish a commercial foothold/market contacts in the region so they could branch out into more profitable industries.
    Contrary to what he told Quark, I don’t think Zek actually thought too highly of the profit potential of the tulaberry wine venture, which is why I think he was quick to offer Quark a share of the profits (although I think Zek is ambiguous about whether Quark will get a share of ALL Ferengi GQ commerce, or just what results from the sale of tulaberry wine).
    Also, I’m not fully convinced that Zek knew as much as the Dominion as he let on when Quark brought him the news — I think he might have been pretending as if he did so as not to appear less informed than Quark was giving him credit for. Either way, I don’t think the Ferengi syndicate would have been in trouble if Quark actually had managed to buy all that wine.
    Overall, I enjoyed this episode, though I agree that Pel was behaving pretty ridiculously towards the end.


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