Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Rivals"

**1/2

Air date: 1/3/1994
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Jim Trombetta and Michael Piller
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An El'Aurian con man named Martus (Chris Sarandon) visits DS9 and stumbles across a bizarre gambling device that—once replicated and integrated into his newly established casino—inadvertently changes the laws of probability so that unforeseen unlikelihoods occur on the station.

"Rivals" is an atypical attempt at light cleverness, and it almost works. This is a relaxing, diverting hour with enough sense of whimsy to be respectably entertaining. Particularly fun to watch are the humorous character moments surrounding O'Brien and Bashir's racquetball rivalry. Watching O'Brien's frustration over Julian's youth advantage is a delight, and Bashir's own problem of having to beat a person he considers a mentor is a witty twist.

Less compelling are the implications of Martus' competitive establishment stealing all of Quark's customers—though the idea isn't completely unpalatable. Quark's idea of conning O'Brien and Bashir into a "charity" racquetball tournament to regenerate his business is somewhat inspired. And the results of the tournament prove interesting when the change in the probability laws causes the ball to always go to O'Brien—a fairly clever idea.

But there's a glaring flaw surrounding this episode, which is that the writing is far too restrained and low-key for what the premise demands. Menosky should've pushed the envelope on this one so much further into comic mayhem—or at least into mild slapstick or memorable creativity. As it stands, "Rivals" is an amiable, lightweight episode with some good ideas, but just not funny or inspired enough to maintain a real sense of energy.

Previous episode: Sanctuary
Next episode: The Alternate

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6 comments on this review

Paul York - Wed, Jun 6, 2012 - 9:23am (USA Central)
It seems improbably (implausible) that the laws of probability should be altered in this way, within a local area of spacetime. And if they were, the station would probably come apart and everyone would die, not just a few changes that we see here. However, this is sci-fi, so we accept the premise for the sake of the story. Shows how DS9 attracts all sorts of shady characters ...
Ian - Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - 10:55pm (USA Central)
Sounds like they needed an Infinite Improbibility Drive...

Also sounds like somone had read The Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy...
Asian James - Fri, Jan 11, 2013 - 9:33am (USA Central)
I'm surprised this episode received a 2.5 out of 4 stars from Jammer. The plot about changing the law of probability is very improbable in itself. The props are awful (e.g. the gambling globes that Martus sets up in his shop) and are more painful to watch almost 20 years later after the episode was produced.

The only two saving graces about the episode are as follows:

1. Seeing the B-plot of how much O'Brien hates Bashier, and how he works so hard to defeat Bashier in futuristic racquetball. ***SPOILER ALERT*** It's fun to watch since DS9 viewers know how their friendship evolves.

2. Seeing Chris Sarandon, a.k.a. Prince Humperdinck, on-screen.

My personal rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars.
Jack - Sun, Feb 10, 2013 - 9:13pm (USA Central)
We have a scene in ops where they talk about how the infirmary is swamped, then to a scene where Bashir is in Quark's, and then back to a scene in ops where again it is mentioned that the infirmary is swamped. So why is Bashir in Quark's?
ZurielSeven - Sat, Aug 10, 2013 - 9:09am (USA Central)
Sarandon's early "I'm not listening"... Quarks near-perfect manipulations to set up the match... The reactions of the Bajoran monks... C'mon - add another half-star for this one.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 3:44pm (USA Central)

Absurd episode but somehow it kind of worked for me. The Bashir O'Brien plot was fun as well.

5/10

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