Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places"

***

Air date: 10/14/1996
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Andrew J. Robinson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"This is ridiculous! I'm surrounded by corpses, my shoes are dripping in blood—and you want me to feel romantic?" — Quark

Nutshell: One of the most purely enjoyable "little" episodes of Trek in quite a while. Very amusing, and with some well-realized character work, too.

When Quark's Klingon "ex-wife" Grilka (see third season's "House of Quark" for a recap of the circumstances surrounding their constructed relationship) visits the station, her demeanor strikes Worf with a sudden case of "par'mach" (described by Dax as the "Klingon word for love with more intense overtones"). Worf's dishonor among Klingons, however, prevents him from pursuing any sort of relationship with her. Besides, the possibility exists that she is, in fact, here because she is interested in Quark.

"Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places," in addition to having one of the longest episode titles in Trek history, is one of the most purely amusing episodes of DS9 I can remember. There's not much of anything here in terms of plot, but that's precisely the point and the reason why the show works so well.

Every once in a while DS9 needs to do this—just forget about storytelling with the usual plot workings and get back to the fundamentals of the characters. In essence, "Looking for Par'mach" is a lot like shore leave: the characters are always off duty, the bad guys are nowhere to be found, and the only concerns become our characters' personal affairs. Plot takes a back seat to human interaction, and as for special effects—who needs 'em when we've got quirky dialog?

For starters, this is probably one of the best comic vehicles Quark has ever had. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, unlike most Quark-oriented shows, this is not a Ferengi episode, so all the typical baggage that comes along with Ferengi episodes (see Voyager's "False Profits" from last week for a prime example of Ferengi baggage) is thankfully missing. Secondly, Quark is allowed an opportunity to act with motivations beyond exploiting people to make a quick buck. Such unending exploitation without consequence is one aspect of his character I have never found particularly impressive (it got really old really fast) and it's nice to see that profit isn't a motive for his actions here. The third reason "Looking for Par'mach" makes a good Quark show is because it, well, isn't really a Quark show; it's an ensemble show, with Quark playing a major part and interacting with the other characters in fresh and interesting ways.

Don't get me wrong, Quark is still Quark—cynical, sarcastic, and in pursuit of something he wants—but these aspects are nicely balanced in ways that make the character funny and likable rather than boorish and bland.

Then there's the Worf factor. I, for one, welcomed a romantic comedy (can I use that term to describe a Trek show?) for this guy, because if there's one character on DS9 that the writers have taken almost too seriously, it's Worf. When was the last time this guy laughed? Or even really smiled?

Don't get me wrong here, either. Worf is still Worf, too—grumpy, serious, and with a bit of a chip on his shoulder regarding his less-than-ideal personal situation—and I like him that way. But it's very refreshing to see him in a plot that isn't so crammed full with honor and duty and battle and personal torment. He instead receives something else—the opportunity to help Quark woo Grilka in the traditional Klingon way.

Worf doesn't exactly jump at the opportunity to help Quark, but once he realizes that his own attempts in pursuing Grilka are futile (which, incidentally, takes place after he tosses Morn off a bar stool as part of a Klingon courting tactic), he reluctantly decides to use his Klingon knowledge for Quark's benefit. There are shades of "Cyrano de Bergerac" here, in which one man helps another overcome his deficiencies such that he may win the heart of a woman that both men care for. The resulting situations from this setup rank among the series' funniest moments, mostly because they (A) are whimsical, silly, and bizarre and (B) resonate on the most basic level of the analysis of human differences.

There's humor to be found in much of the show's dialog, most of which is inspired by the real point of the show—that of a clash between cultures and how people relate through their differences; specifically, in this case, Klingon and Ferengi. Quark's recount to Worf of his dinner with Grilka is one of the episode's shining moments ("I listened to her family history: another long and bloody tale—what else is new? Then we ate this Klingon food that tasted really bad, and listened to some noise she called music.") The idea of Quark enduring what he personally considers distasteful out of consideration for (gasp!) another person is something that we don't usually get a chance to see. It makes him a better, more well-rounded character instead of a caricature—and that is most definitely a good thing.

For that matter, Quark's willingness to engage in these foreign rituals says something about his feelings for Grilka. Some may argue, based on some of the episode's more sophomoric yet humorous passages, that Quark is only motivated by sex, but this is really not the case; Quark does have an emotional commitment here, and one that appears more understandable, believable, and developed than any other relationship he's had on the series (say, for example, "Profit and Loss" or "Rules of Acquisition").

Another thing very right about "Looking For Par'mach" is its interaction between its three main characters. Quite simply, Worf, Dax, and Quark work very well together in all this Klingon milieu, and never once aren't they a pleasure to watch. Worf seems much more agreeable in his dealings with Quark than in past shows. It's almost as if there is a camaraderie building here, based on their common goals to prove their worthiness to Grilka (whether implicitly or explicitly). Dax pulls things together nicely with an occasional commentary or one-liner.

Most of Dax's scenes relate more to Worf than to Quark. She wants to know what it is Worf sees in Grilka in the first place, and she brings up some interesting points concerning Worf's ability to relate to Klingon women: living among humans his entire life has hardly made it easy, let alone plausible. In many ways, this show is about Worf and his problem, and everything the story encompasses is enjoyable yet relevant.

Aside from the compelling character statements made here about Worf and Quark, and the issue of cross-cultural affairs, the surface of "Looking for Par'mach" features some hilariously original gags and physical comedy. Take, for example, a sequence where Quark must practice Klingon "serenading" in the holosuites with the help of Worf and Dax. This scene features the pint-sized Ferengi fiercely yelling and grunting while battling an ancient fight and ineptly reciting historic phrases in the original Klingon dialect. Armin Shimerman goes for broke, and the scene nearly had me on the floor.

Then there's the ending, in which Quark must fight Grilka's unhappy bodyguard to prove himself. Since Quark doesn't stand a chance, Worf helps him out by being a sort of "puppeteer" with the use of a special technological brain wave gizmo. This way Quark can exactly mimic Worf's actions during the fight. I've never seen physical comedy quite like this; it's original and filled with punctuated moments of hilarity (like Quark's posturing once he gets into the role). And when things go wrong, Quark's improvisation is one of the silliest yet funniest moments in the last several seasons of Trek. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of the comic mayhem.

But not as surprised as I was at Dax's rather...aggressive move on Worf at the end, which I found rather...interesting.

In all honesty, I thought I saw evidence of some sort of prelude to a relationship between these two characters last season when Dax was giving Worf strange looks in "Sons of Mogh," but I certainly didn't expect this idea to manifest itself with such abruptness or straightforwardness. The idea is played almost solely for laughs here, and laughs it receives—the final scene in the infirmary where poor Bashir realizes he should think twice before asking "What happened?" is hilarious. The goofy tone of the entire scene, featuring Quark beat up by Grilka and Worf and Dax beat up by each other in bouts of rather violent, er, activity, is amusing to say the least—and I enjoyed it a lot.

The only thing I hesitate on is the motivation of everything here. Based on Worf and Dax's discussion, I don't think any of this can simply go away, but I'm also unsure where the writers should go with it from here (which is why they're writing the show and I'm not). It works fine here for comedy, but the creators have to be careful how they proceed with this (if they proceed) or they could miss some major character opportunities, or, worse yet, turn the entire thing into a trite little fiasco like the whole Worf/Troi thing in TNG's final season.

Turning to the B-story, the implications of Kira living with the O'Briens proved interesting. I, for one, welcomed this story, because the whole Kira/O'Briens situation seemed like something the creators could establish and then never address. Fortunately, the writers have not forgotten about this thread, and prove that their bizarre situation is not something that can necessarily be taken with a grain of salt (as demonstrated with some truly awkward, uncomfortable, and unexpected moments). Bashir toys with O'Brien about Kira living with him ("I bet you looked") while Odo, on the other hand, sends some of the most scathing, acerbic yet playful sarcasm in Kira's direction that it's even funnier than it is thoughtful.

A closing scene set in a Runabout should be commended—it shows both Kira and Miles in a state of weakness, and Kira is able to prod Miles with a reality check that also turns out to be one of the show's most well-realized lines: "Get out." She knows where things stand and forces him to understand as well. Nicely done.

But I think I've gone on far longer than long enough. "Looking for Par'mach" is an outstanding Trek comedy that works because it understands its characters. Permeating the goofy yet very amusing gags is a sense that it knows human behavior. What more can you say about an episode that ends with Worf laughing?

Previous episode: The Ship
Next episode: Nor the Battle to the Strong

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56 comments on this review

Ospero
Fri, Mar 28, 2008, 1:01pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode a lot when it first aired, and I still do. Talk about clash of cultures. This has to be one of the most purely funny hours of DS9 (you wouldn't actually think that the rather subdued Kira/O'Brien plot fits in this, but somehow it does). The final scene in the Infirmary is a scream, thanks in no small part to the line delivery of Alexander Siddig ("I should stop asking those questions..."). Great, great fun.
Nic
Wed, Jan 27, 2010, 7:37pm (UTC -6)
I guess 'funny' is in the eye of the beholder. Although this episode was a Farce with a capital F, I laughed maybe once or twice. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to take any of these characters seriously again. At no point during the episode did anything feel genuiune to me. Everyone is so out of character it's ridiculous, especially coming after the very serious ending scenes of the previous episode. "Sons of Mogh" notwithstanding, Dax's crush on Worf comes out of nowhere and the scene where they finally get together is quite underwhelming, especially when compared with the Paris/Torres scenes in "Day of Honor" and "Revulsion".

Voyager may have had it's flaws, but if there's one thing they got better than any of the other series, it's the humour.
Donnydingbattered
Tue, Mar 2, 2010, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
The holodeck sequence was a clever reimagining of the balcony scene from from Cyrano de Bergerac. This was where Cyrano was feeding him lines of poetry to repeat in order to woo the girl. It was a brilliant episode. I have found that watching DS9 again 10 years later I finally have the maturity and education to understand the complexity of Star Trek's clever reinventions of story's like Cyrano de Bergerac and The Merchant of Venice as seen in S4's Body Parts.

Joan T
Sun, May 2, 2010, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
I have always thought this was a great episode and watched it again recently on re-runs. Personally, I loved the story arc in which Kira and O'Brien are attracted to one another. It is understandable that they feel a kind of false intimacy under the circumstances. I wasn't too sure about the Dax/Worf pairing either as it seemed to come somewhat out of the blue. However, it is to the credit of the creators that they didn't toss this relationship away. A great, fun, episode for what was always presumed to be the 'darker' series of Trek.
Jay
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 11:52am (UTC -6)
Apparently K'Ehlehr isn't considered a Klingon woman, since Worf replies in the negative to the question of whether he's pursued a Klingon woman before.

I'd beg to differ. If K'Ehlehr isn't a Klingon then neither is Alexander.
Jay
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
And did I miss something?...we have one scene where Odo is whining to Kira about how Miles isn't doing his job and things are falling apart, and then not five minutes later, we have Miles gushing to Keiko that they don;t need him and that things are slow.

Which is it?
Jay
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
Also, did they say how Worf can see what Quark sees while fighting...surely that's necessary.
Nic
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
I didn't notice it on first viewing, but the "Federation-Klingon war" seems kind of vague and could have benefited from more definition. At the end of season 4, war seemed imminent. Then we began season 5 already at war, but a cease-fire was declared at the end of the episode. Now, it appears, "Peace talks are going well" (according to Dax). And, of course, the cease-fire would be broken and reinstated next week...
tec
Tue, Nov 29, 2011, 3:47am (UTC -6)
I think Odo was just grumpy about the theft and was over stateing the facts about upper pylon 3 there are work crews that could see to the work load Miles did have shore leave built up (After 2 wrongful imprissionments he should have a whole year saved up)
Justin
Fri, Mar 23, 2012, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
Best love poem evar:

To this end my blade soars
Through the aquarium of my soul
Seeking the kelp of discontent
Which must be cut
So that the rocky bottom of love
Lie in waiting
With fertile sand
For the coming seed of Grilka's affection
Tom
Fri, Apr 27, 2012, 7:57pm (UTC -6)
One of my favorite episodes. Definately the best of the most light-hearted episodes (actually second best to the Tribbles episode). Getting Worf and Dax together was brilliant, I've always felt the chemistry between them since their first scene in The Way of the Warrior. How can people say it's out of the blue? Yes in the previous episodes of season 5 their relationship isn't touched much but haven't people watch The Way of the Warrior, Sons of Mogh, Bar Association? Even little moments in Broken link and Rules of engangement suggest there is an attraction between them (especially from Dax's part).
Snitch
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:38am (UTC -6)
I had to suspend my disbelief that the Klingon maid would be interested in an annoying troll like Quark. Otherwise some nice humor in this episode. The Dax Warf thing meh, no problem with it but I never saw it coming before this episode.
2 Stars from me
jason
Fri, May 4, 2012, 10:58am (UTC -6)
Very good episode, I've always supported worf and dax 's relationship and quarks is hilarious.
Skywalker
Sat, May 19, 2012, 9:13am (UTC -6)
Funny, heart-warming and with a great plot. Jadzia and Worf make in my opinion a beautiful and passionate couple and it was great that they finally fell in love.
Nebula Nox
Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 7:33pm (UTC -6)
Why are people surprised that Grilka is fond of Quark? He was there for her in a way that no other male was.

I really dislike how people refer to the Ferengi as annoying trolls. It seems an acceptable prejudice.
Chloe
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 9:31am (UTC -6)
One of my favorite episodes. Worf and Jadzia are so great together.
Jasper
Mon, Jun 18, 2012, 5:11am (UTC -6)
Jammer wrote: "Klingon word for love with more intense overtones"

That should be "Klingon word for love with more AGGRESSIVE overtones". It is a small change, but that way it makes a whole lot more sense placing it in the context of Klingons.
Grumpy
Tue, Aug 7, 2012, 10:13am (UTC -6)
Jay: "Apparently K'Ehlehr isn't considered a Klingon woman..."

Half-human, raised among humans. Just like Worf's other squeeze in "Birthright part 2" was half-Romulan, raised among Romulans. So what he said is true, from a certain point of view.

Notice how the gizmo allowing Worf to control Quark is made clear without a single line of technobabble. Later, there's one line about "optronic relays," and that's all that's needed.
microfish
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 8:35am (UTC -6)
Quark: "War - what is it good for? If you ask me: Absolutely nothing!"

That line hit completly off guard. I couldn't stop laughing.
Kotas
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:08pm (UTC -6)

Fun, funny and a passable effort at a romance for a star trek show.

7/10
eastwest101
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 5:05pm (UTC -6)
A nice nod and a wink to Cyrano DeBergerac, looks like everyone had a lot of fun making it....

Physical comedy galore and some pointers to the future with virtual reality and cybernetic assistance/control technology...
Nissa
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 4:50pm (UTC -6)
...I couldn't have a bigger meh if I tried. While I like the Kira/O'Brien storyline, I didn't care for the rest of it. Worf doesn't really do comedy all that well, and Dax....she comes across as a slut. I'm sorry, but I had to say it. Over time, she's had a lot of "intimacies" with she's known for no time at all, like the guy whose planet phased in and out of existence, and that guy that walked out of her room another time. And she encourages Kira to mess around with holographic guys. I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to respect someone who sees a distraught friend and figures that the right reaction is to sleep with him.
Jons
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 10:48pm (UTC -6)
@ Nissa: a slut, really??

ST characters have one-off romances ALL THE TIME, why? Because ST is mainly a one-hour show, a bit like a sitcom. Dax isn't any more a slut than Picard. Unless you think it's only because she's a woman (currently) so she should marry or be a nun...

I'll never understand the star trek fandom i guess. How can one watch a show that is so willingly progressive and yet be so staunchingly conservative it's ridiculous?
Klovis Mann
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 11:29am (UTC -6)
.....Very enjoyable episode......one of the incidental pleasures of Star Trek is seeing the return of actors that have appeared over the years in different roles.....I was pleased to see Joseph Ruskin reprise his role of Tumek from "House of Quark"......

.....his appearances in TOS date from 1968 in "The Gamesters of Triskelion"..........DS9's "Improbable Cause" featured him as an informant....and he's found in in episodes of "Voyager" and "Enterprise" as well.....just a footnote but 40+ years along it's this kind of detail that satisfies......
Patrick D
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 11:36am (UTC -6)
@Klovis Mann

Joseph Ruskin also played a Son'a officer in Star Trek Insurrection, so that covers TNG as well. So he's appeared in every incarnation of Trek (not counting JJ Abrams Trek...because no one should).
Vylora
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
One of the most amusing hours of DS9 by far with standout character moments and consistently great dialogue. The long since subtly hinted at crush Jadzia had on Worf finally comes to fruition here. The return of the Grilka/Quark dynamic was also very welcome and lovingly done. I wish more was learned about them in future episodes, but I won't fault this one for it.

There was nothing in this episode that wasn't good to great.

3.5 stars.
Alex
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
Jammer

The way you gush over this episode I wonder how you give it less than 3.5 stars. You didn't have anything negative to say about it.

For me, this is definitely a favorite ep from S5. I wish they had brought back Grilka again. She was a great character.

3.5 Stars
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. Pretty damn funny in spots.

Everyone has hit all the plot/character spots, but did anyone take notice as to how good Shimmerman's acting was when he was fighting with the bat'leth? It REALLY looked like he was being slung around :-)

Worf and Jadzia get together, we see the Kira/Keiko/Miles "arrangement" more. It's funny that Keiko is cracking the whip to make Miles do all kinds of stuff to Kira. Just loved it when Miles and Kira were talking on the run-a-bout:

"KIRA: Get out.
O'BRIEN: Right"

lol

Mary Kay Adam's Grilka is outstanding... Just love her.

3.5 stars for me.
Katie
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 6:45pm (UTC -6)
The Quark/Dax/Worf stuff is fun, but for me by far the best part of this ep was the O'Brien storyline. The tension and discomfort between Kira and Miles struck me as very realistic under the circumstances. How could you not look at a woman differently when she's carrying your child, living in your home, you're massaging her on a daily basis, helping her in and out of the bath? I think it's great that the writers addressed this awkward situation rather than ignoring it.
Chief
Sun, Sep 7, 2014, 1:16am (UTC -6)
@Katie this episode didn't help the way people saw Keiko. Obrien deserved someone like Kira. Someone who was nice that he could have fun with. The writers should have had obrien divorce Keiko. He deserved better
Filip
Wed, Nov 26, 2014, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
An entertaining episode, plus, the final scene with the doctor in the infirmary is priceless!
Impulse
Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
I laughed a few times watching this one.

Btw does Worf still have a son at this point? I only ask because over a year of episodes with a Captain raising his own son, you would think the writers would create at least one conversation to prove Worf hasn't abandoned him. Just a scene with Worf and Jake could spark interest in his own son or Worf and Cisko casually mentioning raising a son would have been nice.

I much preferred the Miles Nerys Keiko situation. It felt very natural and awkward.

In contrast to that I found the quark scenes blatant, and strange decisions and reactions from all concerned. For example Grilka willingly allows quark to fight to the death knowing he would lose. No one present mentions that quark won? No one noticed or mentioned he moved like a puppet on a string quite prominently at the end? If Grilka knew he was being helped I could accept this, but she didn't so in her eyes she was expecting Quark to die. Surely all the years of Klingons shouting about honor would have seen this as cheating? So, either they did notice and didn't care (no honor) or they didn't notice which is unbelievably stupid considering Quark won and moved like pinocchio.

Worf and Dax was foreshadowed, and previous episodes show Dax close to Klingons so it work alot better than Worf and Troi. Why in Gods name would you write a woman who loves chacolate, finer things in life, dates sensitive intelligent men, hates violence or even sensing pain in others (even a horse), then dates Worf!?! Mr "I love giving and taking pain for fun", Dates dangerous violent women, sees sensitive people as weak.

Overall good episode fun and drama, but the usual inconsistency in writing at times.
Icarus32Soar
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 9:21pm (UTC -6)
The Kira-Miles stuff is codswallop.The Grilka-Quark stuff is genius parody, and I wish they had never brought in Worf. Poor Michael Dorn,such a sweetie in real life stuck with a character that gives both Klingons & Starfleet a bad name.Quark has some insanely classic lines,he & Grilka save the episode.
DLPB
Thu, Mar 19, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -6)
I'll never understand the star trek fandom i guess. How can one watch a show that is so willingly progressive and yet be so staunchingly conservative it's ridiculous?
----------

Because not all the episodes are like that, and because most people are enlightened enough to ignore the short-comings of a fiction if there is some good or some entertainment.

I assume from your comment that you aren't as open-minded and, had Trek been Conservative, you'd refuse to tune in.

Which of us is more tolerant?
Julian
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
@impulse Just a scene with Worf and Jake could spark interest in his own son or Worf and Cisko casually mentioning raising a son would have been nice.

I'm not sure if jake and Worf ever spoke to each other.
Teejay
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 2:07am (UTC -6)
I really enjoyed this episode, except for the Miles/Kira part. Those scenes felt like they were written by a bad sitcom writer.
Joe H
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
@Microfish - Thank you for the comment about Quark and his line! That one caught me also, and of course I couldn't get the Edwin Starr song out of my mind after hearing that!
Jay
Wed, Oct 7, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
@ Grumpy

It still doesn't make sense for Worf to not consider K'Ehleyr a "Klingon woman"..she doesn't self-identify as Klingon but her career is almost entirely involved in working with them, and then obviously consider his son to be Klingon, although he (until DS9) wants absolutely nothing to do with them.
methane
Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
Like most others, I enjoyed the Quark/Grilka/Worf/Dax storyline.

I do have to say I'm always a bit frustrated at this point in the series that Kira only comes to the foreground for pregnancy jokes. She's a great character early in the series & will be a great character later on, but we're nearing the end of a very long run (starting before she was pregnant) where she isn't driving any of the action. Jammer and many commenters talked about it in the Season 4 recap, but it always hits me in this episode.

The Miles/Keiko/Nerys storyline, although not at the same level as the rest of the episode, is just fine taken on it's own. But whenever I get to this episode I'm always a bit annoyed because I'm tired of Kira not getting anything substantial to do.
Jack
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 5:52pm (UTC -6)
So we have Keiko treating Nerys basically like a cross between a slave and a concubine, and we have Jadzia about a step and a half shy of undergoing pon farr...
William B
Thu, Dec 31, 2015, 9:17am (UTC -6)
So, I enjoyed the Cyrano-inspired main plot. I have some problems with it, but for the most part I think that it's true to character for the four leads (well, three of

them anyway -- we don't get all of Grilka's POV and have to guess at it a bit). What hurts the episode is the Kira/O'Brien subplot. The basic idea that spending time

together would create a bond of attraction is not so terrible, but it plays out as false, mostly because there is so little background on how Kira and O'Brien relate

to each other throughout the rest of the series. Additionally, as (e.g.) methane points out, Kira's role in the series has been badly reduced, and so having one of her

rare stories be about how she's hot for Miles now feels disappointing. Really, part of the problem here is that Kira, in taking on the O'Brien baby, seems to have

mostly given up her own life -- moving in with them, also not having any plotlines because she mostly can't leave the ship -- and so now we also have the suggestion

that Miles takes up her headspace as romantic partner as well, primarily because she somewhat *becomes* an O'Brien just because she's carrying their child. I would

rather have a story about what it feels like for Kira to recognize how much her life has changed, and how badly she is limited, as a result of this decision which she

had little choice in, and maybe a story that depicted her changing relationship to Miles (and Keiko, but, sure, if you want to focus mostly on Miles that's fine) that

shows how they change from work acquaintances to friends/family rather than from work acquaintances to potential lovers who somehow can't resist each other because of

his awesome backrubs (?). I know, I know -- part of the poitn is that the forced intimacy of the situation makes it hard to negotiate feelings, and it's hard to make

sense of their newfound closeness except romantically, but it just strikes me as very un-Kira to be suddenly crazy about Miles because she's...agreed to give up her

life for a few months? Really, there's no reason Kira should have had to move in with the O'Briens, and for Keiko to insist that Kira have Miles around her at all

times feels positively regressive (they do have communicators in the 24th century, right? and, you know, life sign monitors or whatever?). I don't particularly believe

loyal husband Miles would be so smitten with Kira that he can barely control himself, either; yes, she is attractive, but still.

Still, the worst character work in the episode is for Bashir. It is weird for him to be so intent on spying on the "battling O'Briens" at the beginning, but when he

starts talking about O'Brien "looking" at Kira while helping her out of the bath, I felt particularly put off. It's a weird kind of immaturity for the doctor who was

the one who perform the operation to have the baby transferred in the first place, and who already knows how difficult and uncomfortable this situation is. I think the

idea is that Bashir likes teasing O'Brien because they're buds, but Kira is his patient and he *knows* that the whole reason Kira is carrying the baby at all is

because of her selfless willingness to let her body be used for months for the sake of the O'Briens. I find it pretty unprofessional and disrespectful from a doctor --

in fact, her doctor. Would O'Brien start cracking jokes about Bashir getting turned on while doing OB/GYN or breast exams of his female patients? I hope not. On the

plus side, I liked his "never mind" attitude at the episode's end regarding the incoming couples.

And on that note...it's interesting to have what starts out as a Cyrano plot, but Roxanne really has no interest in Cyrano as a friend or otherwise, Christian is a

point of view character who is pretty major in his own right, and Cyrano has a female best friend who is all but screaming at him how she's into big noses. If

anything, I'd say that the episode's focus on Worf's side of things gives Quark and especially Grilka the short shrift. One moment that I liked was when Quark told

Grilka how much he enjoyed acquiring, which she initially took as an insult -- she is just another potential object to acquire? -- until Quark specified that she was

worth all the latinum in the galaxy, and her heart melted a bit; moments like these in which the difficulty of communicating attraction and interest across differing

value systems, but that it was nevertheless possible, were pretty great. Now, Quark's dishonesty in using Worf's Klingon knowledge, and eventually fighting ability, is

a bit of a problem that maybe could have been addressed. It seems in some ways as if the breakdown of the puppeteering thing was an opportunity for Quark to

demonstrate his *own* qualities which win Grilka over, and it does sort of go there to an extent -- his coming up with the Rite of Proclamation was a nice touch, and

the poem itself was funny, though I feel like the direction or something made it not quite as funny as it should be. But Grilka seems a little befuddled by the poem

and is more impressed by Quark's Klingon-like behaviour, which means that she...is not that impressed with Quark qua Quark. So the romance feels a tiny bit unearned in

that sense, and a little skeevy besides, though I guess it is Quark we are talking about. What I do like is that Grilka did genuinely seem to be more impressed that

Quark made an effort to try to reach out to her through Klingon customs than his success at those customs themselves, which means that in some respects Worf's help was

misdirection -- Quark really managed to woo Grilka through his demonstrated willingness to try to woo her. On the other hand, if this is the case, Grilka should really

not have let Quark go through with the fight to the death with her bodyguard, because, dude.

In any case, though, I like that Worf's pride being injured leads him to want to practice all his Klingon-woman-wooing tricks to get Quark to reach Grilka, because if

Worf can get *Quark* to win the heart of the hottest of high-class Klingon ladies, Worf really does know his stuff. That there is implicit dishonesty in this does mean

that I think Worf should have had more qualms than he did, but it's not total dishonesty -- Worf is more teaching Quark to go through the motions of being a Klingon

that any Klingon could learn. The loneliness of being ostracized having the impact that Worf cannot get a date from a Klingon woman is a logical place to go in Worf's

story after having gone through other variations on the theme. That he idealizes Grilka does seem to be partly as a recognition that she is totally lost to him; he had

opportunity to try to date Klingon women (by which I mean not just women who were part Klingon, like K'Ehleyr or Ba'el, but women who are citizens of the Klingon

Empire) before he was a pariah, but never exercised that opportunity, perhaps because of fear, perhaps because he felt that he did not belong with Klingon women

(suggested in "Hide and Q"), or perhaps because it was never his priority when the option was there, because, as Dax suggests at the end of the episode, he is not

*actually* the traditionalist he claims. He needs to prove his Klingon-ness because it is lost to him, and helping Quark woo Grilka turns out to be a way to do that.

What he only realizes at the end (and perhaps does not realize -- it's hard to say) is that the Klingon rituals he performs are not the true beating heart of anyone's

culture, but just a way to codify attraction enough to get people to show interest; learning Klingon mating rituals gets Quark in the door, but it is something unique

to Quark that Grilka is attracted to. As a result, Worf gets reassurance that he can play the Klingon, but it's for who he is that Dax wants him.

Dax's successful wooing of Worf runs in some senses parallel to what Worf and Quark do -- Quark demonstrates willingness to go through Klingon customs for Grilka, and Worf demonstrates willingness to help Quark to prove his Klingon-ness. Dax is willing to help Worf woo Grilka through Quark, because she is willing to help Worf (and Quark). I am pretty down on both of these two in their next episode, but they are largely cute here, with Dax being just on the edge of stating her attraction openly but not quite crossing, so that it is plausible that someone hesitant like Worf might not pick up on it. I will say that I am unimpressed by Dax going for the Klingon par'mach aggressive sex and only afterward saying "yeah let's not get married, you don't want to either"; it's not that I think that she should have to get married, but she is an expert in Klingon lore, knew what the ritual implied, and could clearly have negotiated consent beforehand. Worf might have refused to have sex if it did not necessarily go anywhere, and she probably knew that. Overall I think she guessed right, but she shouldn't have had to guess.

So I like but don't love the main plot (say 3 stars) and dislike the subplot (say 1.5-2 stars). 2.5 stars for the whole package.
William B
Thu, Dec 31, 2015, 9:18am (UTC -6)
Eep, sorry about the line breaks. You can ignore that post and read this one:

So, I enjoyed the Cyrano-inspired main plot. I have some problems with it, but for the most part I think that it's true to character for the four leads (well, three of them anyway -- we don't get all of Grilka's POV and have to guess at it a bit). What hurts the episode is the Kira/O'Brien subplot. The basic idea that spending time together would create a bond of attraction is not so terrible, but it plays out as false, mostly because there is so little background on how Kira and O'Brien relate to each other throughout the rest of the series. Additionally, as (e.g.) methane points out, Kira's role in the series has been badly reduced, and so having one of her rare stories be about how she's hot for Miles now feels disappointing. Really, part of the problem here is that Kira, in taking on the O'Brien baby, seems to have mostly given up her own life -- moving in with them, also not having any plotlines because she mostly can't leave the ship -- and so now we also have the suggestion that Miles takes up her headspace as romantic partner as well, primarily because she somewhat *becomes* an O'Brien just because she's carrying their child. I would rather have a story about what it feels like for Kira to recognize how much her life has changed, and how badly she is limited, as a result of this decision which she had little choice in, and maybe a story that depicted her changing relationship to Miles (and Keiko, but, sure, if you want to focus mostly on Miles that's fine) that shows how they change from work acquaintances to friends/family rather than from work acquaintances to potential lovers who somehow can't resist each other because of his awesome backrubs (?). I know, I know -- part of the poitn is that the forced intimacy of the situation makes it hard to negotiate feelings, and it's hard to make sense of their newfound closeness except romantically, but it just strikes me as very un-Kira to be suddenly crazy about Miles because she's...agreed to give up her life for a few months? Really, there's no reason Kira should have had to move in with the O'Briens, and for Keiko to insist that Kira have Miles around her at all times feels positively regressive (they do have communicators in the 24th century, right? and, you know, life sign monitors or whatever?). I don't particularly believe loyal husband Miles would be so smitten with Kira that he can barely control himself, either; yes, she is attractive, but still.

Still, the worst character work in the episode is for Bashir. It is weird for him to be so intent on spying on the "battling O'Briens" at the beginning, but when he starts talking about O'Brien "looking" at Kira while helping her out of the bath, I felt particularly put off. It's a weird kind of immaturity for the doctor who was the one who perform the operation to have the baby transferred in the first place, and who already knows how difficult and uncomfortable this situation is. I think the idea is that Bashir likes teasing O'Brien because they're buds, but Kira is his patient and he *knows* that the whole reason Kira is carrying the baby at all is because of her selfless willingness to let her body be used for months for the sake of the O'Briens. I find it pretty unprofessional and disrespectful from a doctor -- in fact, her doctor. Would O'Brien start cracking jokes about Bashir getting turned on while doing OB/GYN or breast exams of his female patients? I hope not. On the plus side, I liked his "never mind" attitude at the episode's end regarding the incoming couples.

And on that note...it's interesting to have what starts out as a Cyrano plot, but Roxanne really has no interest in Cyrano as a friend or otherwise, Christian is a point of view character who is pretty major in his own right, and Cyrano has a female best friend who is all but screaming at him how she's into big noses. If anything, I'd say that the episode's focus on Worf's side of things gives Quark and especially Grilka the short shrift. One moment that I liked was when Quark told Grilka how much he enjoyed acquiring, which she initially took as an insult -- she is just another potential object to acquire? -- until Quark specified that she was worth all the latinum in the galaxy, and her heart melted a bit; moments like these in which the difficulty of communicating attraction and interest across differing value systems, but that it was nevertheless possible, were pretty great. Now, Quark's dishonesty in using Worf's Klingon knowledge, and eventually fighting ability, is a bit of a problem that maybe could have been addressed. It seems in some ways as if the breakdown of the puppeteering thing was an opportunity for Quark to demonstrate his *own* qualities which win Grilka over, and it does sort of go there to an extent -- his coming up with the Rite of Proclamation was a nice touch, and the poem itself was funny, though I feel like the direction or something made it not quite as funny as it should be. But Grilka seems a little befuddled by the poem and is more impressed by Quark's Klingon-like behaviour, which means that she...is not that impressed with Quark qua Quark. So the romance feels a tiny bit unearned in that sense, and a little skeevy besides, though I guess it is Quark we are talking about. What I do like is that Grilka did genuinely seem to be more impressed that Quark made an effort to try to reach out to her through Klingon customs than his success at those customs themselves, which means that in some respects Worf's help was misdirection -- Quark really managed to woo Grilka through his demonstrated willingness to try to woo her. On the other hand, if this is the case, Grilka should really not have let Quark go through with the fight to the death with her bodyguard, because, dude.

In any case, though, I like that Worf's pride being injured leads him to want to practice all his Klingon-woman-wooing tricks to get Quark to reach Grilka, because if Worf can get *Quark* to win the heart of the hottest of high-class Klingon ladies, Worf really does know his stuff. That there is implicit dishonesty in this does mean that I think Worf should have had more qualms than he did, but it's not total dishonesty -- Worf is more teaching Quark to go through the motions of being a Klingon that any Klingon could learn. The loneliness of being ostracized having the impact that Worf cannot get a date from a Klingon woman is a logical place to go in Worf's story after having gone through other variations on the theme. That he idealizes Grilka does seem to be partly as a recognition that she is totally lost to him; he had opportunity to try to date Klingon women (by which I mean not just women who were part Klingon, like K'Ehleyr or Ba'el, but women who are citizens of the Klingon Empire) before he was a pariah, but never exercised that opportunity, perhaps because of fear, perhaps because he felt that he did not belong with Klingon women (suggested in "Hide and Q"), or perhaps because it was never his priority when the option was there, because, as Dax suggests at the end of the episode, he is not *actually* the traditionalist he claims. He needs to prove his Klingon-ness because it is lost to him, and helping Quark woo Grilka turns out to be a way to do that. What he only realizes at the end (and perhaps does not realize -- it's hard to say) is that the Klingon rituals he performs are not the true beating heart of anyone's culture, but just a way to codify attraction enough to get people to show interest; learning Klingon mating rituals gets Quark in the door, but it is something unique to Quark that Grilka is attracted to. As a result, Worf gets reassurance that he can play the Klingon, but it's for who he is that Dax wants him.

Dax's successful wooing of Worf runs in some senses parallel to what Worf and Quark do -- Quark demonstrates willingness to go through Klingon customs for Grilka, and Worf demonstrates willingness to help Quark to prove his Klingon-ness. Dax is willing to help Worf woo Grilka through Quark, because she is willing to help Worf (and Quark). I am pretty down on both of these two in their next episode, but they are largely cute here, with Dax being just on the edge of stating her attraction openly but not quite crossing, so that it is plausible that someone hesitant like Worf might not pick up on it. I will say that I am unimpressed by Dax going for the Klingon par'mach aggressive sex and only afterward saying "yeah let's not get married, you don't want to either"; it's not that I think that she should have to get married, but she is an expert in Klingon lore, knew what the ritual implied, and could clearly have negotiated consent beforehand. Worf might have refused to have sex if it did not necessarily go anywhere, and she probably knew that. Overall I think she guessed right, but she shouldn't have had to guess.

So I like but don't love the main plot (say 3 stars) and dislike the subplot (say 1.5-2 stars). 2.5 stars for the whole package.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 11:27am (UTC -6)
Yes, we're playing with Cyrano de Bergerac here, but this is carried off with such verve and humour that it's easy to get carried along. The Quark/Worf/Dax/Grilka story is beautifully played, and remarkably enough for DS9 everyone ends up happy - which in itself is worthy of note.

I'll admit the Kira/O'Brien story came a little out of left field for me, and feels just a little on the nose, but again some of the performances (the Odo/Kira scene and the one she and O'Brien play out describing the most romantic location on Bajor) are so magnificent it's easy to forgive.

"...like a pair of crazed voles. Grrr" indeed. 3.5 stars.
Quark
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
Funny episode.

On the other hand, all this xenophobia the majority of Klingons purportedly have (if Worf's statement to a certain Ferengi in this ep is correct) doesn't make me like them any better. Worf also acted like a pompous prick at the beginning.

At least it had a happy ending.
Yanks
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 8:29am (UTC -6)
@ DLPB
Thu, Mar 19, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)

I'll never understand the star trek fandom i guess. How can one watch a show that is so willingly progressive and yet be so staunchingly conservative it's ridiculous?
----------

Because not all the episodes are like that, and because most people are enlightened enough to ignore the short-comings of a fiction if there is some good or some entertainment.

I assume from your comment that you aren't as open-minded and, had Trek been Conservative, you'd refuse to tune in.

Which of us is more tolerant?
===================================

It's that "IDIC" thing, it only applies to things they agree with. You know that.
Robert
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:19am (UTC -6)
@Yanks - If I'm being honest, if Trek were as conservative as it is liberal, I'd probably not tune in. That being said.... it depends a lot on which incarnation of Trek. Luke and I were talking about how gray DS9 is, and I really can see how anybody could enjoy that. As Sisko put it, "My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station". While it's not always true, and sometimes the writers really heavy hand you with a message episode, it's more true than not.

Also, it depends on what your definition of conservative is. But I imagine if I believed passionately in every single thing on the Republican Platform (and actually I don't necessarily think that would make you a conservative, conservatives come in different shapes/sizes and sometimes I would almost consider MYSELF a progressive conservative in some ways) I imagine I would spend most of my time watching TNG wanted to hit Picard in the face.
Robert
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:31am (UTC -6)
I will say that I AM open minded though, and I'd love to see how conservatives feel about that. To expand on my thoughts....

Luke has basically said that he gets past Trekkian communism by assuming that any government that can replicate basic needs out of thin air and doesn't distribute those things for free would be evil. Those are MY words, not his, but it seems to me that he doesn't consider the Federation economy to be communist, but instead just to be so post scarcity that many goods have dropped to nearly zero value.

But Trek-liberalism doesn't stop there. Outside of DS9 I imagine (and have seen many conservatives on this site say) that Trek treatment of religion is a sore point. I imagine that social conservatives find Trek treatment of sexuality to be a sore point (although in all fairness, most of those hour long romances are a suffering point for me too).

But even beyond that stuff even, Trek is full of liberal pet ideas. Eating meat is wrong, to the point of Keiko's disgust that O'Brien's mother handled real meat. Extreme pacifism is ever present. Earth has a world-wide government and will not admit other member worlds to the Federation if they don't!

That said, some liberals feel conservatives would hate Star Trek because they see conservatives as being anti peace, tolerance and progress. I am NOT in that category. I like to think that the majority of conservatives want those things in a different way.
Yanks
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
I guess it was another thread that I posted a link the Ex Artis Scientia's discussion of the Federation's Economy. I wouldn't dream of even trying to explain it better.

www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/economy.htm

Gene: "In the 24th century there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read."

So Gene's "utopia" was on Earth, not the entire Federation. So many times that point is missed.

You know what I hate about Democrats? ... there is no such thing in Congress anymore as a "Conservative Democrat"... they are all loonie toons... JFK would be rolling in his grave.

Good lord, I'm a TEA Partier and Reagan Conservative Republican that loves listening to old JFK speeches. I adore trek - nothing I've ever watched has gripped me like it does. Kirk loved the US Constitution so much that he recited the preamble in an episode!! He met Abe Lincoln!! NCC-1701 is a Constitution Class!! I personally believe the US Constitution is man's greatest gift to man and I can't stand anyone that needs to "reinterpret" it to further their goals/agenda. I'm not a bible thumper but don't like attacks on religion (Christianity), I don't think Islam is compatible with the US Constitution and the rights it protects.

Trek reflects "both" sides in all it's incarnations. I really don't oppose the majority of "liberal issues" in trek (and society) aside from the 4th wall (right term?) Hollywood preaching crap. (I.E. a black Captain in the 24th Century is all of a sudden worried about "our people".... blah, blah...) I don't like how trek (at times) berates religion, it's just not necessary. I'm FOR all science and don't need to knock one down to prop up the other. Makes me appreciate the X-files and BAB5 all the more...

So all in all, I'm pretty sure most of us are not all that different, not all that far apart. We all may have our button issues, but that's never going to go away. If trek does anything, it sparks spirited discussion concerning important issues and we are all better for it.


Chrome
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
@Robert - "Liberal Pet Ideas"

Don't forget TNG's "Force of Nature". The idea of Space travel harming nature is a big allegory for Climate change. The episode itself is laughable, in that it really expects us to believe Starfleet would immediately reduce all warp speed to
Chrome
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
...and I figured out how to break the comments.

But yes, "all warp speed to less than 5 based on the study of a single scientist in a single sector.
Robert
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 1:25pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks - Both sides are waaaay more polarized than they were back in the day. There are probably more liberal Republicans (on the national stage.... ie just the Senate, House picks up more fringe elements on both sides) than there are conservative Democrats.

I'll join you in lamenting how hard it is to find people that depart from party lines though. But I think it's a factor of people on both sides having to lie to stay in power.

It is just NOT POSSIBLE that there aren't (to pick 2 pet issues at random) more pro-choice Republicans (3 in the Senate, 4 in the entire House) or pro-gun Democrats (I don't actually know the number there but my Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, switch from gun rights to gun control when she moved from the House to the Senate and Hillary is slapping Bernie silly over a couple of pro-gun Senate votes over a 30 year career). It's not hard to see why people toe the line, even though it's terrible.

I'm in favor of gun control but I was sad when Gillibrand switched her point of view because I felt it made her more genuine when she had ONE DAMNED OPINION that didn't toe the party line. So even though we're on different sides I'll stand with you in lamenting the extreme partisanship and group think going on here.

And I KNOW former Democrat Donald Trump has liberal positions that he's "not allowed" to say and that Clinton is not nearly as far left as Sanders has pushed her and that the guy pretending to be Marco Rubio for the last 3 months is actually nothing like Marco Rubio. But these are the games we play.

I've reviewed my post and hope that I am still successfully talking about politics and Star Trek without getting too political :)

And tying it back to Trek, I have no problem with Sisko being into black issues/history and with objecting to white washing it. As you pointed out, Kirk was really into American history. If a man from Iowa can be obsessed with the guy that freed the slaves 400 years ago (directly tied in with black history too... and referenced in a conversation with Uhura), why can't Sisko be interested in the same type of thing? My only issue with Sisko on that front was the REALLY WEAK tie in to the series with the Benny Russell visions. If they had done a better job explaining why the prophets needed to send him THAT vision I'd give the episode 4 stars. The station part of that episode weakens it for me. But Sisko being upset about Vic's? That didn't bother me.

I will agree with Chrome that regardless of your nuanced position (or un-nuanced position) on climate change (and here I just mean a general "you", nobody in particular)... that episode was a face palm worthy allegory if there ever was one. Almost as bad Symbiosis was about drugs.
Skeptical
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
Well, here are my random comments on the intersection of Trek (and media) and politics:

In general, I think it's easier for conservatives to be tolerant of liberal shows than vice versa (note, for example, Robert saying he may not enjoy Trek if it had a conservative bent). Not because conservatives are morally superior, but simply because conservatives have more experience in this regard, given that the media and entertainment industries are almost uniformly liberal in this era. Robert claimed conservatives probably want to perpetually slap Picard. On the contrary, he's my favorite character in all of Trek. I mean, sure, I wanted to slap him silly in Season 1, but everyone deserved to be slapped silly in Season 1 of TNG.

Besides, one thing I've noticed is that, despite the writers being uniformly liberal, stories are often subtly conservative. This is because, in broad strokes, virtually all stories are conservative. The hero's journey (the most basic plot) is fundamentally individualist, in which through hard work and dedication the singular hero overcomes his humble position to fulfill his dreams. There is usually moral clarity, in which the hero fights for classical liberal ideals such as freedom and good. Oh, and the hero gets the girl, not just for a roll in the hay, but for true and everlasting love, which is the most noble cause in the story (other than a MLT sandwich). Obviously not all movies and shows follow this structure, but the highly popular ones tend to, regardless of the beliefs of the creator.

Moving this specifically to Picard, it struck me throughout the run of TNG that, whenever the writers weren't consciously trying to push a message, Picard was consistently a classical liberal (which in modern terms is a conservative). He tended to push individual freedom as the highest moral good, such as refusing to order Worf to donate his ribosomes to the Romulan, his speech to the Borg, simply walking away from a standoff between Roga Danar's rebels and the government in Hunted, and his proud support for Data. Basically, his character was that he would do what was right and just, regardless of the consequences. Which isn't exactly political anyway. So why should anyone really be annoyed by him, except when the writers use him to push an agenda?

(Besides, don't forget that Trek tried to make the great villain of TNG be a rightwing capitalist race, and failed miserably. Then tried again with the ultimate communist collective, and succeeded in creating something truly frightening...)

More broadly, I always thought it wouldn't take much to convert Star Trek to a rightwing utopia. For example, all Trek shows are very broadly supportive of the military. We are so used to the post-Vietnam portrayal of people who join the military as being kill-hungry psychos, and all the civilians, or at least the civilians with brains, have barely disguised contempt for any member of the military. Does that fit Picard or Kirk? Nope. Starfleet is honorable. Starfleet is elite. Starfleet is full of enlightened philosopher warriors. Picard and Kirk are peaceful, hopeful people who believe in justice, and yet will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to defend their way of life.

Or take the Prime Directive. Is that not the essence of libertarianism? Live and let live? Look how many progressives on this site hate the Klingons for their culture. Do you have any doubt that if they were in charge, they would try to change the Klingons? In recent years, the Left has replaced the Moral Majority as the keepers of the Nanny State, imposing their own view of morality on everyone else by force if necessary. In contrast, the prevailing view on the Right (in the US, at least), is that people can do whatever the heck they want and believe whatever the heck they want as long as it doesn't demand anything on anyone else. If the Prime Directive - a policy of non-interference - is expanded to the individual level, it becomes virtually indistinguishable from classical ideals.

And for that matter, what is the Trek motto of "we seek to better ourselves" if not the ultimate capitalist, individualist message? It's not some magical government initiative that created this utopia of Trek, it's brilliant scientists creating value by inventing replicators and the like. More accurately, the ENTIRE Trek utopia relied not on a government program, not on central planning, but on a lone nut sitting in Montana who built a warp drive for the sole purpose of getting filthy stinking rich. What better way to show the great value that capitalism has provided to society than by linking the single most important event in Trek history to an act of capitalism?

And one can easily interpret everything in the opposite direction too, of course. Which is why I don't understand the emphasis of pushing politics in Trek. Many ideas are universal to all but the most hardened philosophies, so why does Hollywood try to push an agenda instead? With the new Trek series, I've seen so many people say some variation of: this series should focus on reflecting the issues facing us today, because that's what Trek does best. What? No it doesn't; that's what Trek does worst! How many people declare High Ground or Outcast or Force of Nature to be the best TNG episodes, vs how many people declare Yesterday's Enterprise or Best of Both Worlds or All Good Things as the best? For that matter, why does everyone love The Voyage Home? Because of the save the whales message, or because of nuclear wessels and hello computer? And the one season of Trek that was explicitly created to be a message show - Season 1 of TNG - is generally considered the worst season of all of Trek!

More broadly, message fiction in general tends to be terrible, regardless of which side of the aisle it comes on. When you write message fiction, you end up sacrificing the story for the message, and end up with Mary Sue characters, 2-D villains, an illogical flow of the narrative, deus ex machinas, and all sorts of pathetic contrivances just to make sure you hit the message you want. It annoys people on the other side of the aisle and, for people who are honest, ends up an unsatisfying journey. It is extraordinarily rare to see someone pull it off successfully (I would say impossible, but I do think Robert Heinlein manages it. But he's the only one I know who can not only create a great story but also puts the message front and center.)

So write about universal themes, staying true to your characters. Don't turn them into mouthpieces for your agenda, and write the plots to support your agenda. Trek is at its best when it does this, using sci-fi ideals to investigate these themes. Themes of struggling to communicate, like Darmok. Themes of heroic sacrifice, like Yesterday's Enterprise. Themes of internal vs external honor, like Sins of the Father. Or themes of looking for love in all the wrong places (there, now this post is on topic!)
Yanks
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 11:28am (UTC -6)
Robert,

"Both sides are waaaay more polarized than they were back in the day."

More than we knew/saw for sure. The 24 hour new channels have accentuated everything.

"I have no problem with Sisko being into black issues/history and with objecting to white washing it." .... "...and referenced in a conversation with Uhura"

See here's the problem. (I've discussed this on this site somewhere before). Uhura , when addressing Lincoln, did so in a manner that fit Gene's vision. She was obviously past racism and Lincolns comments didn't bother her at all. Kirk putting Skiles in his place in BoT is good because it supports the vision AND was relevant to the story. Sisko's out of the blue "concern" was a 4th wall injection only because Avery was black. Not needed for the story and remember, this is 200 years after TOS. That's the stuff I don't like. (at least Kassidy tried to talk sense into him) Same for Past Tense, it didn't fit the story. We've discussed this before. Tom Paris' turns into an out of control environmental whacko, slavery is injected into Measure of a Man, .... there are many others. It's not just trek either. It's all over TV and movies.

Skeptical,

Fantastic post!! I echo your view completely!! Well done.

Luke
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
Hey, hey! It looks like I've been talked about a little in this thread and didn't even know it. :-)

@Skeptical - that was indeed a fantastic post. I could only wish to put it so well myself.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---

And I was alone then, no honor in site
I did everything I could to get me through the night
I don''t know where it started (the invasion of Cardassia?) or where it might end
I'd turn to a stranger just like a friend

'Cause I was lookin' for par'mach
In all the wrong places
Lookin' for par'mach in too many faces.

Okay, that's a painfully obvious joke, but I had to make it. :-P

What really is there to say about "Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places" other than that it's simply a joy to watch and a very worthy follow-up to "The House of Quark"? Jammer is right that the episode is remarkably light on plot and focuses almost exclusively on comedy (all of which actually works! - no clunkers) and character dynamics.

Probably the one thing I enjoyed most about the episode is how well Quark came off in it. Sure, he might be overly interested in only having sex with Grilka but there is a genuine emotional connection at play as well. But, in addition to that, this episode, probably more than any other, shows that Quark may just be the most "color-blind" character in the history of Trek. He'll pursue anybody romantically - he doesn't discriminate. He pursues female Vulcans ("The Maquis"), Klingons (duh), Trills (duh), other Ferengi ("Rules of Acquisition"), Cardassians ("Profit and Loss") and Bajorans (Kira, Leeta, and any number of Dabo Girls). I can only assume that if given the chance he would pursue a female Breen or Vorta. Combine this rather nice little character bit with the fact that this is a comedy episode featuring a Ferengi character that doesn't devolve in unfunny "slapstick" shenanigans and you have a real winner for Quark as a character. But then, when the pair Quark up with non-Ferengi characters in a comedic episode, it usually works. Pair him up with other Ferengi and it's usually a disaster.

As much as I harp on how much I dislike Dax, I have to admit that her relationship with Worf does work surprisingly well. That's probably because the writers don't just treat it as a silly romance-of-the-week and give it some of the respect it deserves. Oh, it will give us some of the most insanely horrible moments in the series (especially in an episode coming up very shortly - I assume you all know exactly which one I mean) but it is refreshingly mature for a Star Trek romance, even with the standard Hollywood nonsense of "we just started dating so let's jump straight to the sex!".

As for the B-plot with the O'Brien's and Kira, it might very well be the best part of this otherwise fantastic episode. Not only does it take the concept established in "Body Parts" of Kira living with the O'Briens and use it very effectively, but it also gives us quite possibly the most "human" story Trek has ever done. Here are two people who, completely unbeknownst to them, have developed something of an affection for each other and that makes them, understandably, very uncomfortable. "Deep Space Nine" sure seems to have a talent for using O'Brien effectively in these "human" situations. The scene of him and Bashir drunkenly singing in "Explorers" was the most "human" moment up until then and now it's been replaced. This plot-line is just thoroughly enjoyable because there are no high-stakes involved. It's just two people in an personally uncomfortable and dangerous situation and the drama solely focuses on how they deal with it. And Kira's "get out" is delivered by Visitor with such subtlety that you get the feeling that she may have actually "done the deed" under only slightly different circumstances. Very well handled.

If there is any problem it's the character of Thopok. Why does Grilka even keep this guy around? The moment he butted his way into her relationship with Quark she should have just dropped the hammer on him and kicked him to the curb. For that matter, how is he even able to have the "fight to the death" with Quark in the first place? Is Sisko really allowing this to happen on his station? Given his reaction to Worf's attempt to kill Kurn back in "Sons of Mogh", I find that highly unlikely.

HOLODECK TOYS - 16 (+2)

9/10
Andrew Carey
Fri, May 13, 2016, 4:55am (UTC -6)
The whole episode was ruined for me by how out of character Worf was. He would normally consider this whole Cyrano act dishonorable and decisive, especially donning the device that allowed Quark to cheat the battle with the bodyguard.
Quarkissnyder
Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
I loved most of this episode. From the moment Quark said, "War? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." I knew this would be a great episode. I very rarely laugh out loud at the tv but that had me. (Even though I usually hate it when 20-21st century pop culture is inserted onto the show, this was perfect.)

On the downsite, as usual every time Miles or Keiko were in an episode I wanted to slap them. I can't stand them. They were as annoying as always in this episode, and I'm sorry to see them dragging Kira down with them.

On the liberal versus conservative debate: There is no question that all of ST is socially liberal and from TO S was ahead of its time in that regard. But on the conservative side it is also a highly militaristic series and has been since the beginning. There's a lot of war is hell lip service, but it's also often a show about war, with the implication that huge, powerful, expensive armies and cutting edge military equipment is a necessity for survival.

It's also conservative in that the we earthlings -- and specifically, 20th and 21st century American culture--are considered the gold standard against which all other cultures fall short. Across all the ST series, the only powerful alien cultures that weren't eventually "human-fied"-- with their leaders figuring out that human culture is better than their own (the big cube thing on TNG, I forget what it's called) or else looking like idiots (Ferengi in general) -- is the Dominion, which is one reason why I think that DS9 is the best of all the series.

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