Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Family Business"

2 stars

Air date: 5/15/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You know, the rate we go through Runabouts, it's a good thing the Earth has so many rivers." — Kira

The role of the Ferengi in the Star Trek universe is becoming a ponderous issue, as further demonstrated in this somewhat frustrating episode. When TNG began, the Ferengi were to be the major threat to the Federation. The idea was abandoned very early on and, over the years, the Ferengi have changed from their occasional lightweight threats (i.e., "Menage a Troi," "Captain's Holiday" and "Rascals") to the simple comic relief they have become on DS9.

When DS9 began, Ferengi Quark was to be a character that would presumably offer some depth to the primarily two-dimensional Ferengi culture while offering some comic relief. And occasionally Quark has some depth. Unfortunately, most of this season he hasn't. The high point for Quark this season came in "The House of Quark." There, he had the Klingons to play against and had the opportunity to supply some non-obvious, non-cardboard actions with motives less directed at his own benefit.

But with the recent Ferengi vehicles "Family Business" and "Prophet Motive," the Ferengi are beginning to wear quite thin—as is the character of Quark, despite Shimerman's always-lively portrayals. It's becoming increasingly difficult to sympathize with a character who cares about nothing but himself and his profit while exploiting the other characters in every B-story he can get the chance.

In this outing, Quark is investigated by the Ferengi Commerce Agency (FCA), who tell him he is responsible for the illegal actions of his mother Ishka. She's a female earning profit, and that is against the law. He must venture home with Rom to persuade Ishka to confess and return the profits she has made. (Quick aside: It's noteworthy that after eight seasons of Ferengi existence this is the first time Trek has visited the Ferengi Homeworld.)

Ishka (Andrea Martin) is rigidly stubborn on keeping the profit. It's a matter of principle. She is better at earning profit than most Ferengi males and believes it's downright wrong that the sexist laws of Ferengi culture prevent her from legally doing so. We are treading here on a rehash of "Rules of Acquisition."

She has a hidden fortune—a financial empire—with a startling number of false-fronts and laundering filters. If the FCA were to find it, Quark would be forced to pay for it and be ruined. Quark continues to persuade her to return it; she continues to refuse.

This leads to the true core of the episode—the family conflict. A lot of it runs like a cliché, such as Quark's line to Rom, "You always take her side." And although this apparently intends to be a character development episode of Quark and Rom, it does nothing for either character because both remain as rigidly transparent as usual. Quark only cares about his financial future. Rom is less selfish, but he says the dumbest things at the dumbest times that it's impossible to think of him as anything but an idiot. I for one was hoping Rom would be the type of character that looks like a dullard on the outside but through his actions proves otherwise. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Another problem with "Family Business" is its indecision whether to take itself seriously or simply go over-the-top. It's mostly lightweight and dumb. There's a scene where Quark and Rom get into a brawl on the living room floor, but it's so contrived and goofy that it's hard to see it as anything more than comic relief. (Then you have to ask yourself, comic relief of what?)

The episode is sporadically humorous, mostly due to Shimerman's facial and vocal talents, combined with the gags of gratuitously expensive Ferengi customs. (I also liked the throwaway line referencing the computer display of the Ferengi stock market.)

The intent of the episode seems to be to somewhat change the Ferengi to fit better into the Roddenberry universe. "Family Business," however, completely misses its own point. Through the arguing, fighting and eventual reconciliation with Rom and his mother, Quark learns nothing—leaving him as much an unsympathetic and cardboard personality as ever.

Redeeming the episode is the very agreeable B-story of Sisko meeting freighter captain Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) at Jake's persistent insisting. The results of this time-restrained B-story are far better than anything in the main plot, as Sisko and Yates connect through—wouldn't you know it—a dead sport called baseball. If the writers choose to use her at a later date, it may prove to be the perfect addition to Sisko's continuously improving character. Kasidy Yates is definitely a character I would like to see return.

Previous episode: Explorers
Next episode: Shakaar

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79 comments on this post

Mark Oates
Sat, Sep 27, 2008, 6:10am (UTC -6)
If you can get past the silly platform which this episode stands - a look into the goofy Ferengi culture - it's actually quite charming. I think your review asks for too much Human morality. "Prophet Motive," "Rules of Acquisition," and similar episodes have established quite firmly that the Ferengi do not share Human morals. This episode shows how their culture is able to have love and family despite that we see them as culturally "dysfunctional".
Wed, Jul 15, 2009, 10:30am (UTC -6)
I thought the answer was 42. I find that the Ferengi represent a stereotype of people not uncommon in our own world, with their attitudes about greed and women. We all know, or know of, people who almost fit that stereotype. We also know that those types are also extremely rigid, so we should not expect, or for that matter, even want Quark to change. Quark sometimes mellows especially when he's forced to see the error of his ways, but by the next episode, he's same old Quark, because if he weren't, we'd miss him.
Fri, Nov 6, 2009, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
Ira Steven Behr has said that while most Star Trek fans do not like the Ferengi episodes, people he has met on the plane who aren't Star Trek fans (but obviously have watched DS9) love the Ferengi episodes. I find this hard to believe (though maybe I'm forgetting just how low-brow the average American audience is). I've tried to imagine episodes like "Family Business" or "Bar Association" being set on 20th century Earth with all human characters, and wondered if I would find it interesting. The answer is: no, I wouldn't because it would be too mundane. So maybe the problem with the Ferengi is that they're TOO MUCH like 20th century humans... they have nothing new to bring to the table.
Tue, Mar 8, 2011, 9:04pm (UTC -6)
I'm mentioned before that you seem to dislike Ferengis and episodes heavily featuring them purely on principle. What principle that is, I can't say.

Before I looked at this review, I knew you wouldn't have given this episode even 3 stars, though it's worth that at least.

Your recurring critique of all things Ferengi usually centers on the one-dimensional nature of their personalities. Cardboard cutouts of selfishness and greed, written obviously with little growth for the characters who play them.

First off, I would argue this interpretation to begin with. But, for the moment, assuming this is true, I can't understand why I haven't seen you lambasting Vulcans, Romulans, or even Klingons.

Replace Ferengi with any of those, and change the adjectives from 'selfish' and 'greedy' to fit the stereotype of any of those races, and if your point is valid for Quark, it's valid for Spock, a Romulan, or any individual Klingon (perhaps save Worf).

For example:

"The role of the [Vulcans] in the Star Trek universe is becoming a ponderous issue, as further demonstrated in this somewhat frustrating episode. When [TOS] began, the [Vulcans] were to be the [guiding force behind] the Federation. The idea was abandoned very early on and, over the years, the [Vulcans]have changed from their occasional [sage and professorial teachers] to the simple [rationality-above-all-else counterparts to humanity] they have become.

When ]TOS] began, [Vulcan Spock] was to be a character that would presumably offer some depth to the primarily two-dimensional [Vulcan] culture while offering some [interesting counterpoints to the typical human condition]. And occasionally [Spock] has some depth. Unfortunately, most of this season he hasn't. The high point for [Spock] came in "The Wrath of Khan" There, he had [death and self-sacrifice] to play against and had the opportunity to supply some non-obvious, non-cardboard actions with motives less directed at [pure logic].

the [Vulcans] are beginning to wear quite thin--as s the character of [Spock], despite Nimoy's always-[professional] portrayals. It's becoming increasingly difficult to sympathize with a character who cares about nothing but [logic] and his [intellectual superiority] while [critiquing and reminding] the other characters [of this fact]in every B-story he can get the chance."

I believe it is a matter of you not liking the a-moral attitudes of the Ferengi, rather than having any real problem with 2 dimensionality or lack of character growth.

As you yourself say 'its hard to sympathize' with such characters. From my perspective, they aren't there to be personally relatable, they are there as a cautionary tale, a reminder of our own human avaristic past, and to representative of the financial antithesis to the Federation, just as the Klingons were to be the representatives of violence, the Romulans showcases for Imperialism, and the Cardassians wore the human rights abuses suit. Each major power was cast in a way that diametrically opposed some core Federation value. The Ferengis are playing their part, and it's no more two-dimensional than the parts any other races play.

In sum, I would argue that your personal animus towards selfishness and greed (laudably so I might add) unfavorably color your judgement of Ferengis and Quark in a way that it does not for other similarly situated characters and races.
Wed, Apr 27, 2011, 11:42pm (UTC -6)
Sexpun makes an entirely valid argument. Regardless of this, I also find episodes centering on the Ferengi dull and uninteresting. At least so far in DS9, the only non-human species which have received as much attention as the Ferengi are the Bajorans and Cardassians, both of which have a lot more dimension than the Ferengi. This, I believe, is why DS9 is far superior to the other series. Klingons, Vulcans, and Romulans are generally more interesting to me than Ferengi, but the Cardassian/Bajoran element of DS9 blows all of them out of the water. In the context of DS9, Ferengi-centered episodes often seem uncreative and dimensionless.
Wed, Apr 27, 2011, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
Though this episode deserves some credit for finally introducing a female Ferengi to counter the mounting mental image of the females as mindless, submissive waifs as perpetuated by male Ferengi.
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 5:45am (UTC -6)
I thought this episode was really funny
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 2:24am (UTC -6)
I agree with the anylisis of Sexpun.
The Ferengi are money-driven (the Cardassians or Romulans are power-driven) and they have their own morality and set of laws. Quark is very in character: he believes in the rules of acquisition and Ferengi laws. While this isn't a stellar episode, it does give us some insight about why Quark is Quark. He's grown up with having to deal with taunting, a strong atypical mother and a feeble father and had to fend for himself while his brother was overprotected. We realize that Quark is being generous with the latinum he sends to his mom and without him his brother wouldn't have much to live on (however obnoxious he can be to him).

Now, his general misbehavior has everything to do with his culture (not that I agree with it). But he stays true to his cultural heritage.

On the other hand, I can't say the same about Sisko ! I often grind my teeth about his character: he blackmails, belittles and threatens Quark (if he doesn't like or respect Ferengis, he shouldn't have blackmailed Q. to remain on the station) and others. He dares critisizing an officer while he's disobbeying a direct order. His handling of his son is often very wrong (for example, making Jake feel guilty for preferring staying on DS9 to see a friend he can't see often. In the same episode (explorers), he's willing to risk his son's life on a handmade and non-tested ship, etc etc). This is not to mention the (mostly) bad acting of Avery Brooks. In a nutshell, Sisko is not a true Trek-Federation officer, at least, he's been badly written and appears to me like an hypocritical preacher. I much prefer Quark's character. Well... You understood: Sisko is my least favourite character :-p.

Dont' get me wrong, I enjoyed DS9 (even if not for the same reasons I liked the other Trek series) and I like your reviews, but I wanted to give a different point of view.
Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 6:42am (UTC -6)
Arachnea, your assessment of Sisko is accurate. To put Sisko's interactions (and blatant bias!) against Feringi into perspective, consider this hypothetical:

"US Fort #11 in Turkey is run by Commander Smith. The President of Nepal, a tiny, ignored, irrelevant country, decides to pay a visit personally to the Fort to interact with a Nepalese bar tender. For sake of argument, let's say the man is obnoxious, loud, and a heavy smoker. Commander Smith ignores the President completely, belittles him in conversation, and snaps at anyone who suggests he should treat the President with any respect."

That is exactly how Sisko treats the Grand Nagus!

I picked Nepal specifically because it's tiny. Now substitute someplace like Switzerland.

And nobody questions this?!

Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 1:57pm (UTC -6)
Why is it acceptable to break into Quark's while he's not there? I doubt breaking into another facility would be tolerated, but here Odo and Sisko both even witness it and do nothing. And the excuse why they can't replicate another is stupid.
Wed, May 29, 2013, 1:25am (UTC -6)

because even in the 24th century, Je- I mean Ferengi - get no respect. They're just so funny looking and are only interested in profit; it's almost like they're people!
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 7:22pm (UTC -6)
This is a very good episode. Well paced, good camera work, it has a certain tempo to it, and everything is played lightly and for comedy. Some of the sets are also fantastic. I think Jammer is bugged about the trite plot, but the direction sells it.
Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
Agree with sexpun's analysis... I think that Nog and Rom give a little more depth to the Ferengi as the series goes on, but it is a bit of a shame to see them become so shallow and irrelevant... I would have liked to see them have a more interesting geopolitical role with the Dominion for example, to have seen more Ferengi ships, more of a (serious) role for the Nagus... the Ferengi clearly have warships and some kind of empire, why couldn't they be more than a parody?
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:03am (UTC -6)
So-so Ferengi episode.

Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 5:14am (UTC -6)
The discussion in this comments section is far more entertaining than the episode or its review. Sexpun's post is quite remarkable. It is true that many of the races in Trek are portrayed as a mono-culture (even humanity when you think about it) and there could have been a lot more depth to the Vulcans, Romulans and Klingons.

I like the Cardassians, they are as a race mistrustful and hostile, but we see how their society conditions them this way and they are clearly a military society who are perhaps forced into new conquests in order to provide resources for a struggling empire.

As for the Ferengi, I love Quark, Rom and Nog, they embody different characteristics of their species and therefore I feel the Ferengi are well-handled. It's only when other Ferengi come into it behaving like cartoon characters that I would admit their race isn't brilliantly protrayed; however the Grand Nagus is always hilarious and Quark gets some of the best lines in DS9. If only the human characters had been allowed more freedom of expression.

After that rambling discourse, I am always wary of Ferengi episodes as I like stuff that is intense such as the war episodes and the galactic politics. "The House of Quark" is the best Ferengi episode I can think of, it was really funny and very well-acted, but it is not what I'd like to see every episode.
Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 3:30am (UTC -6)
Seems to me that the much vaunted tolerance that the Federation, and by proxy humans, are supposed to show for other races and cultures doesn't quite apply to Ferengis...

There's not really much I can add to what has already been said above, but I neither find the Ferengis distasteful nor amoral. They are who they are.

A major test of tolerance is to maintain it when dealing with something which runs counter to your own way of being. And it seems to me that the Federation, and indeed many of the Hu-mans on this site have failed that test.

Don't worry though, I remain tolerant of you! ;)
Tue, Dec 31, 2013, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
Of course Rom was just lying, but it was absurd that Ishka would expect Quark to change his mind when she hadn't budged at all...she was still insisting on keeping it is that compromise, and why did she suddenly think Quark would agree to it, especially since he's legally responsible for it.
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 1:14pm (UTC -6)
The breaking in was played for humour. This whole episode was hilarious, especially the scene where the FCA agent see's their mother wearing clothes and is shocked as if an IRS agent saw your mother naked.

Personally I love Ferengi episodes, the sheer ludicrousesness of seeing unrestrained capatilism taken to the extremes is always fun.
Sun, Mar 2, 2014, 5:37pm (UTC -6)
When I first saw this ep I dismissed it as the typical lightweight Ferengi nonsense - somewhat cute, somewhat dull, entirely inoffensive. Twenty years later, it enrages me.

Ishka is a female Ferengi who has a pretty good life. Widowed and living alone on Ferenganor, she bucks tradition, dresses as she pleases, speaks to males outside her family, does the profit-earning work she loves, and gets a stipend from her well-off son. The legal and cultural enslavement of Ferengi women is, therefore, cast as a lightweight concern: we viewers are encouraged to see her as a middle-class lady whining because she wants to play in the boys' league. Unlike famous Treks of old which used sci-fi to make us think seriously about real social problems of today, this ep determinedly wants us to laugh at those problems.

Ferengi women live under the following restrictions: They are kept utterly dependent on male family members. They are told how to dress. They are not permitted to speak to unrelated males. They are not allowed to travel. They are also the repositories of 'family honor' as we see in Quark's words to his mother ("our family's disgrace...our family's reputation...")

These are not the cute problems of big-eared aliens on a tv show. These are the very real problems of hundreds of millions of real human women: Muslim mostly, but also ultra-orthodox Jew and certain Christian sects and in parts of India and much of Africa etc etc. I wonder what happens to Ferengi women who don't have kind male family members to support them. I wonder what happens when a husband, son, or brother feels like hitting his (utterly dependent) woman. I wonder what happens in any society to a class of people who are kept powerless and thrown on the mercy of others? I wonder if every Ferengi female besides Ishka is - as Quark believes and no one contradicts - docile, obedient, without opinions and totally happy to be powerless.

Not every episode has to has a heavy social commentary. Personally I prefer the adventure outings and the DS9 geopolitics to the moralizing that characterized a lot of TOS and TNG. But to portray a real and huge social problem that enslaves countless women today, and recast it as a giggle-fest? That is shameful, and unworthy of the Star Trek legacy.
Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 8:50am (UTC -6)
I don't mind the Ferengi episodes as much as I cringe from NextGen episodes when Picard and Riker basically say "Ewwwwww! Ferengis. Who let that thing on board?"
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
Interesting discussion.

It's the details of the Ferengi episodes that make them so cringeworthy. What kind of culture builds doorways where everyone has to duck to get through? It makes the Ferengi look stupid, both visually (because they are bobbing up and down to get through the doors) and intellectually when obviously they are a relatively major power with an advanced civilization.

As the B plot: the baseball shtick totally bugs me. Sisko's love of baseball is the equivalent of . . . I don't know, it's late, something really stupid. It's pandering to say that centuries from now our hero is going to think that the most exciting sport is . . . gosh, it's our favorite sport! We are so cool! We will live forever!
William B
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 11:09pm (UTC -6)
@Quarkissnyder (great name),

Michael Piller is the big baseball fan, and I think that was the reason he wanted to make the protagonist share something in common with him. Frankly, I like it better when Dr. Stubbs in "Evolution" loves baseball -- there's something a little touching about our national sport being beloved only by lonely, friendless oddballs (even if genius ones).
William B
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 12:06am (UTC -6)
I mean to put quotation marks around "our national sport," since it's not even *my* national sport. Anyway...
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 7:39am (UTC -6)
"What kind of culture builds doorways where everyone has to duck to get through?"

Plenty of human cultures do or have done this... it reinforces each room as a *place*, and makes the act of moving into or out of it more meaningful.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 9:05am (UTC -6)
Everyone (writers included) relates the Ferengi with capitalists and that of course is correct.

But what never seems to get mentioned is their treatment of women is pretty much Muslim. That has nothing to do with Capitalism.

Not a huge fan of this one, but I'll give is a 2.5. It's an average episode. Lots of comedy.

"Moooooogy"... god I hate that...
Sun, Sep 14, 2014, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
I generally hate the Ferengi stories, this one included, even though i am a capitalist. However you can usually find very impressive or humorous moments, often understated, such as the preces and ritual welcoming of Brunt into Quarks home, performed with the perfect amount of rote lackluster you'd expect from two people who don't like each other yet begrudgingly respect their shared traditions:

Quark (handing Brunt a towell to dry his head, and giving the Ferengi gesture of piety): "Remember, my house is my house"

Brunt (in response, returning the gesture): "As are its contents."

A very well done moment, and hilarious to anyone who ever performs routine social or pious rituals.
Don Joe
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
It seemed a little weird to me that jammer gave so much relevance to the Sisko b-story, but then I understand some people don't really like the ferengi stories. No offense but I think some of the comments are much more interesting this time.

I myself thought, as I watched it, that this would be a thought provoking episode, what with the ferengi woman wanting to be a person. But... in the end, there was nothing gained. Clearly she couldn't just win her rights in the course of a forty minutes comedic episode, but the result was that her (also actual) issue was only used to give a context to the comedy, as has already been pointed out. It's unfortunate the ferengi have turned out so funny, because the way their society is built makes for very trekkish stories.

Maybe someone already mentioned that the black commander hooked up with yet another gorgeous black woman, and what do they have in common? Oh hey, it's baseball!
Sorry, I've got nothing against those things. I just thought that, maybe, in the vast universe... Perhaps Andorians have colored people too.
Wed, Nov 5, 2014, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
If Ishka was being remotely truthful with Rom about it not being about the money, but about the pride, then she shouldn't have minded at all splitting the money with Quark. It was her generous stipend from Quark that made all of her dealings possible after all. Ishka came off so despicably here that I couldn't stand her in any of her later appearances, even though she was played by another actress.
Sat, Feb 14, 2015, 3:50am (UTC -6)
I think the hatred for the Ferengi is because they look so different from humans. You can't call it "racism", but in Star Trek, the human-aliens are always similar to humans, but the more bizzare ones are always evil. The Ferengi, because they looked comical, were downgraded from evil to greedy ( a type of evil ).

Therefore the real reflection of human nature is humans are still racist, but in a PC world everyone has to pretend not to be, so Star Trek is an outlet for racial aggression.

As follows:

Klingons - black coloured people are violent

Ferengi - jews are greedy and comical

Romulans/Cardassians/Borg - too controlling and not tolerant of "human" rights like americans.

Federation - The ONLY truly moral AMERICAN types, who lead other aliens ( or human races ) into the right path to morality ???

As Quark mentions later, if the Federation knew struggling, they wouldn't be so moral. As for humans currently, most of the problems are caused by Americans keeping slaves in China, yet we expect them to act moral, yet ship cheap goods to us ???

Or Americans saying Saudis are cruel, yet we expect their oil to support our monetary system ???

Yet without cheap chinese goods shipped to us by Saudi oil, suddenly Americans are immoral.

Quark = TRUTH
Sun, Apr 12, 2015, 7:16am (UTC -6)
I like Rom
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
The problem I have with the Ferengi in general is that the writers rarely respect their culture. They show some respect to the Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans, Vulcans, etc., even though they may also show faults within their cultures. But Ferengi in groups are mostly to be laughed at. 'Ha Ha! They care about profit! That must mean they're also corrupt & are always lying about their financial transactions!' Are you laughing yet?

[As an aside, "The House of Quark" is not a Ferengi episode; it's a Klingon episode which features Quark. That episode successfully makes fun of the Klingon culture. It works better than any Ferengi episode because the writers have successfully built up a Klingon culture that can handle teasing; something they failed to do with the Ferengi.]

All that said...I was OK with this episode on this rewatch, perhaps because for once they were respectful of a Ferengi making a profit. The fact that they were showing it's wrong to shun Quark's mother for making a profit, of course, runs counter to their normal comedy point with Ferengi; that making profit is wrong and must be mocked. I'd probably give it 2 stars.
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
@methane: my exact problem as well.

So the reason this one doesn't work for me is that A) they fail to cast Ishka as a sympathetic character B) they act like "Rules of Acquisition" never happened and C) there's no real character driven actions in the resolution. Like, we have a what should be a woman, being oppressed and denied agency by her species going under the oppressive and corrupt government's nose and someone make her the bad guy. Quark is all "Hey. You're going to completely ruin our entire family financially and doom us all to a life slavery and destitution" and she's like "I don't give a shit. I want my money." like, if they had made her part of some feminist movement intentionally flaunting her profits to make a point then I could get behind her. If they ever once implied she was torn about the fact she was going to screw Quark and Rom in doing this I could get behind her. But they don't. Also, the fact that Quark never once shows that he learned from Pel and is like "Yes. I know women can earn profit and all that. I dealt with one a few years ago. But here's the thing..." *points at arrest warrant showing they clearly already caught her and the jig is up*

And then in the end... something happens? I guess? They bond as a family and Ishka agrees to play along with the government (completely undermining her stance for the entire episode) Quark does nothing to accomplish any goals (making him an unsatisfying protagonist) Rom never really had anything to lose and doesn't really clearly have a plan for anything besides bringing his family together which he only kinda does? somehow? (making him also a failure as a potential protagonist even though he clearly isn't cast as one)

The ferengi episodes all have such potential (well, some of them have potential) and if the writers would just have the characters in universe take the culture seriously I could enjoy it, but they seem content to make everyone but Quark see the Ferengi the way the viewers do and it just doesn't work.
William B
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
Great comment, Easter. I just rewatched this episode and am going to write about it soon, but you have said much of what I'd like to say, and very clearly.
William B
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
I liked "Rules of Acquisition" more than I expected to, so I went into "Family Business" with something like an attempt at an open mind. There are some things I like about the depiction of Quark's family life. The intense, aggressive arguments between Quark and Ishka suggest a deep dysfunction in Quark and Rom's upbringing that goes some way to explain the unhealthy patterns that Quark and Rom have settled into, where Quark treats his brother badly most of the time and Rom responds by bottling until some occasion causes him to explode. That Ishka is headstrong and sometimes quite cruel to Quark, and that we gather that Keldar was mostly a pushover in business (and perhaps at home), suggests that the two models for behaviour were more or less taken on by Quark and Rom in the next generation (Quark behaving as Ishka, Rom as Keldar); Quark's nasty streak to Rom originates partly in his jealousy over his mother's doting over Rom, which, as it turns out, is specifically because Rom did not have the same nasty streak. The depiction of a family which is essentially *permanently* dysfunctional, without any real hope of being adjusted to a healthier state, is troubling but somehow right. There are quite a few families that are complex, painful, abusive and loving in similar measures, and sifting through what elements are dominant at a given time is very difficult. The general idea of that depiction interests me and there are a few moments with some power.

Still, the big climactic moment when Quark and Rom descend into physical fighting comes when Rom starts telling Quark that Keldar was really bad at profit, and this goes back to the tonal weirdness that makes many Ferengi episodes hard for me: we are sort of supposed to take this as both "serious family drama" and the broadest of "satires" which mostly consists of replacing common human institutions and values with "profit." That acquiring profit has a kind of divine significance for Ferengi *sometimes* has a satirical point, but sometimes it feels like the kind of simple one-to-one substitution that is reflected in, say, light comedy cartoons. It's as if The Flintstones did an episode where a semi-serious fight broke out between Fred and Barney over long-simmering issues triggered by Fred finding out Barney betrayed his trust by cracking the "combination rock" on Fred's safe; there are at least two frames the story is playing in, and one is so silly that it's very difficult to be invested in the other. Of course, the family material also plays *very* broadly, with Ishka and Quark even turning more or less "to the camera" in disgust with Rom's saying it's just like old times.

Mainly though, the big issue is that the episode goes very far out of its way to make both Quark and Ishka so unpleasant that it is hard (for me at least) to feel good for either of them. Quark, who in "Rules of Acquisition" seemed mostly to toe the line on women to avoid rocking the boat politically (and in terms of his business interests) and ended the episode supporting Pel, and whom we've seen be very supportive of strong women, is a complete chauvinist, insisting that Ishka's earning profit is axiomatically wrong with no difficulty. On the one hand, I do think that it does happen that people can be very open-minded about other cultures and families but have set, rigid customs for their own families, and I also get the impression that Quark has particular feelings of resentment toward his mother. But on the other, the contradiction is never brought up in this episode and it really does seem as if Quark is depicted as someone who is *always* toeing the line. Ishka, meanwhile, continues to act as if the consequences to her actions not even just to her family but to *herself* are irrelevant, and that she does not give a damn what the FCA gives to Quark. It is not even as if Ishka has much choice in the matter of whether to stop her profit earning, unless she plans to oppose the unfairness of the law more directly, which we more or less gather she doesn't do.

The whole episode relies basically on making the conflict between Quark and Ishka credible, and there are enough human cultures with restrictive and patriarchal laws that it is hard to cry foul as far as representation. Even the gag about the reversal of the usual rules (women are asked to be naked instead of covering up) has some direct analogues to the way women's bodies are pretty frequently "policed" (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally) both for showing too much skin or for showing too little, and for the cultural signifiers that those carry. I guess showing the discomfort with women's bodies with clothes as visceral rather than following from any logical arguments is a way of showing their irrationality. And yet...Quark, in particular, is someone we have come to know over a few years, and I think it's important at least to give some indication of why he believes in these bizarre customs, to the point where a whole episode is built around the shock of his mother's defiance of them.
Rom's mediation convinces them to "compromise," which is to say convinces Ishka to give up all her profit, except the stuff that she kept in private. This is not really much of a resolution -- and, you know, that doesn't quite bother me as much as it could, because there are more episodes building on this story. I guess the real resolution is for Quark to admit that he got his profit instincts from his mother and for Ishka to admit that she sees a lot of herself in Quark. Touching, I guess, but they have both been so unpleasant this episode that it is hard to be too moved.

Ben & Kasidy: Well, it's okay. I like Kasidy fine. The crew's big interest in setting those two up is both cute and annoying. That their date seems to be going "badly" until it's revealed that she happens to know about baseball kind of bothers me too, since we have been told over and over again how there is no baseball, and the idea that Kasidy just *happens* to know a member one of the only baseball teams in Federation space is stretching it -- not to mention the bizarre idea that Kasidy was asked by her friend to listen to the audio transmission of the game RIGHT AWAY upon receipt. Really? Anyway, Jake's enthusiasm about helping his dad find love is I think partly meant to be the healthy (24th century human) alternative to the loving-under-it-all-but-often-horrible family dynamics in the A-plot.

Also, in this subplot, O'Brien and Bashir break a lock because they have a lucky dartboard while Odo mostly snarks. Remember how at the beginning of the season every episode mentioned the overwhelming sense of dread created by the Dominion threat?

I guess 1.5 stars. I did not enjoy it but found some merit.
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
William B: "...not to mention the bizarre idea that Kasidy was asked by her friend to listen to the audio transmission of the game RIGHT AWAY upon receipt."

Since I just finished watching the episode, by coincidence, I'll address this point. In fact, my leisurely re-watching illustrates the point: time-shifting entertainment is common now, but it was hard to conceive in 1995. Yes, we recorded shows for later (which is how I watched most of DS9's 2nd season, as I recall), but I don't blame the writers for not imagining that Kasidy's message would be waiting in her mailbox for whenever she gets to it. Seems so simple now.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 6:42am (UTC -6)
@William B

You've hit upon why Ishka is one of my least favorite characters in the entire franchise - she's so damn unlikable! And she only gets worse from here.

She so bad that she even harms the whole Ferengi Women's Liberation Movement (if that's the right term for it). Given that she's the audience's representative of this noble cause, why in the world did they decide to make her such a cold-hearted bitch? You would think they would want someone in that role that was at least somewhat appealing. Instead, she treats her own flesh and blood son like he's scum under her feet. And, from what we're given, it seems like she's always done so. Can anybody honestly be surprised that Quark has problems with women?!
William B
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 8:04am (UTC -6)
@Grumpy -- heh. I hadn't thought about that. How things change in a couple decades.

@Luke, yeah. I wonder if the reason she was written as so unlikable is to add complexity to the situation; our inclination would normally be to support someone fighting for equal rights in an ultra-patriarchal society, so they make her unpleasant and mean in order to give us reason to sympathize with the people who want to keep her naked at home?
Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 9:03am (UTC -6)
I didn't think Ishka was unlikeable in fact (as someone somewhat fiscally conservative) I thought it was interesting albeit somewhat one-note to see a character earnestly believing in and trying to practice both capitalism and feminism and have the view that those were a lot more compatible than capitalism and sexism.
Quark in this episode OTOH was unlikeable and too inconsistent with how he had been before and Rom was mostly likeable but just a little too much.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 1:59pm (UTC -6)
Perhaps the most compelling parts of this one are in the little details - the house entering ritual being a particular highlight. It's true that this portrays Ferengi society in a somewhat broad way, and it is a failing that it never really commits to the comedy if that was the intent.

The Sisko-Kasidy meeting never really gets going this time. As a light-hearted and surprisingly heartfelt at times episode this nevertheless fails to fully engage. 2.5 stars.
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 12:11am (UTC -6)
Ah, "Family Business". How I've been dreading this one. Let me just get this right out on the table as soon as possible - Ishka is easily my least favorite character on DS9 and is in the running for my least favorite in the franchise. She is a truly horrible, horrible person!

On other forums I have been called, and I quote, an "asshole", "scumbag", "dickhead", "sexist piece of shit", "dipshit who obviously wasn't paying attention", "woman hating fucktard", "misogynist douchebag" and told that I should "just shut the fuck up", "go away right now", "keep my violent, woman-hating shit off this forum" and "just do the world a favor and kill yourself" (among many, many other things) for daring to criticize this character. Well, none of those highly reasoned arguments has ever dissuaded me from doing so, so I'll continue to criticize her (though hopefully I won't run into anything like that around here - it's really getting old at this point).

I do not hate Ishka because she struggles for women's rights - who the hell would in the West today? I think she's a terrible person because of the way she treats Quark. Long story short - Ishka treats her own son like complete and utter dogshit and yet we're supposed to just ignore that and completely take her side of the argument. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do that. If they're going to tell a story about how women should (and rightly ought) to be treated as equals to men, then they're going to have to accept women being held to the same moral standards as men. If the gender dynamics were reversed here does anybody believe it would be okay? Would it be okay for a father character to treat his daughter the way Ishka treats Quark? Suppose Dax went back home to deal with some family issues and her father acted like this. Everybody would think he was a horrible, horrible person and a monster (and rightly so!). But, apparently, this episode which is so focused on the struggle for female equality wants us to strip women of their moral agency and just pretend that they aren't responsible for their own actions. Well done! *slow clap*

And yes, I'm fully taking Quark's side in this argument; but not just because I really like him as a character or because I think he often gets treated unfairly by the writers, but because NOBODY in this episode does! Quark is presented here as a person who is taking care of his mother (he sends her money to live on), does everything in his power to keep her from being sold into slavery by the Ferengi Commerce Authority and is really put in the lurch by her actions (in addition to her being sold into slavery he'll be driven into the poorhouse and made an outcast from Ferengi society) and yet Ishka does everything in her power to run him down and treat him like he's little more than scum under her boots. Nothing Quark does is ever good enough for her, his legitimate concerns (not only for his own financial well-being but also for her potential enslavement) are dismissed without a second's consideration and his rather understandable reaction to her cold, indifferent treatment of him is met with outright hostility. And, according to both Quark and Rom, she's treated him this way ever since he was a child. Can anybody honestly be surprised that he doesn't hold her in high regard! Abuse of children (whether physical or emotional) is a real sore point for me, especially when it's done by their own parents, so I'm not going to just let Ishka off the hook here!

The only appealing aspect of her character is that she's fighting for better treatment of women. Again, who disagrees with that sentiment?! But even that is undermined. First, by the absurdly ridiculous depiction of Ferengi society. Why would any capitalist society so severely cripple a full half of their population? You would think capitalists would be happy that women are out there in the marketplace earning as much profit as humanly, or Ferengily (is that even a word?) possible. Is this supposed to be a reductio ad absurdum of some kind? Because there is no societies (even the most patriarchal ones) that come even remotely close to this in their treatment of women. Or are they just saying that capitalism is inherently sexist? If that's the case then why are capitalist societies often the very best ones when it comes to gender equality? Second, by the fact that Ishka is willing to make this strike against Ferengi patriarchy by dragging down Quark with her. Her desire to make profit is so important that she's willing to let her own flesh and blood son suffer the consequences, his rights and well-being be damned. If you're going to make a character be a moral crusader, you might want that character to be at least somewhat likeable! Just saying. Third, by the gross-out "humor." For an episode that is, I guess, supposed to be handling a very serious issue there is a remarkable amount of stupidity on display - ear picking, tooth sharpening, eating live bugs that Rom literally just finished scrapping off the cellar walls, etc.

Getting back to the treatment of Quark, it really bothers me that everyone (and I do mean "everyone") in this episode sides against him - Rom, Ishka, even Odo! Odo's statement of "this is your mother you're talking about" says it all. Ishka can treat Quark how ever she wishes and he's supposed to just sit there and take it. Even the scene at the end when Rom supposedly takes both of them aside and forces them to work things out is anti-Quark. Rom tells Quark that he should be ashamed of himself for treating Cardassians better than his own mother. Well, I doubt those Cardassians have spent the last few decades personally treating Quark like shit! He then criticizes Ishka by saying "if Quark can uncover your hidden investments, eventually the FCA will too and then all that profit will be lost; think about that for a moment." In other words, Quark should be ashamed for not appreciating his mistreatment while Ishka doesn't have to feel any shame over what she's done to him. *facepalm* And don't even get me started on Rom's utter stupidity for most of this episode. I actually like Rom as a character but he was absolutely insufferable here - from his dumbass inability to keep his mouth shut around Brunt to his constant "MOOOOOOOGIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE" bullshit. Not even Jeffrey Coombs could save this story. Oh, poor Jeffrey Coombs. He was in "Meridian" and now this train wreck. How much longer is it until Weyoun joins the show?

I would give "Family Business" a zero but it does have one saving grace - the B-plot. And thank God Almighty that I can talk about that now! In any other episode this introduction for Kassidy Yates would be fairly average at best. But here, surrounded by the absolute dreck of the A-plot, it's like a shining diamond floating on a sea of diarrhea. Every single time the episode cut back to it it was like a breath of fresh air. I can even forgive the rather disconcerting breaking and entering of Quark's bar by O'Brien, Bashir and Odo (yeah, I'm sure it would be okay for Quark to, say, break into the Infirmary when Bashir's out of town, right?) because at least it's not the A-plot. All I could think of whenever the A-plot was playing was "please Penny Johnson ride in on your white horse and save this..." (what's the male version of a damsel-in-distress, a lad-in-distress?). Taken on it's own, however, this story is actually fairly nice. Sisko and Yates don't meet and instantaneously fall in love with each other. They just have a cup of coffee and then bond a little over their shared love of baseball. That's surprisingly mature for a Star Trek "romance" plot, especially since it's in this episode.

BRUNT: "I sincerely hope I never see any of you again."

Oh, if only that were so. But, sadly, as bad as this episode is, it only gets worse with each of Ishka's appearances.

WTF HAIR - 26 (+1)

Thu, May 26, 2016, 1:00pm (UTC -6)
@Sexpun, I think you're right about your characterization of Jammer's prejudice against Ferengi episodes.

I really like Ferengi episodes. I do think they're funny. Rom and Quark are a hilarious Abbot and Costello routine. I also think a lot of people are delusional if they feel Ferengi don't aptly represent an aspect of the human condition and aren't relatable. Good god, even today in Iran women are treated horribly, and in Saudi Arabia they still can't drive cars! This is *2016*! In the Ferengi we have some of the worst of human misogynism, avarice, and amorality. And Star Trek takes such horrid sorts of people and belittles them for our enjoyment, as a way for us to laugh at our worst traits and see them for the ridiculousness that they are.

In response to Jammer and others, I would cite Quark to Sisko from end of last season, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You know why you don't like Ferengi, Commander? Because we remind you of how you used to be, of parts of your history you would rather forget." Something to that effect.

@Luke, I think your analysis of Ishka is great! But I think your ire is misplaced, in that you interpret the episode wanting us to conclude that Ishka is a moral hero. Hell no she is not! The point to be gathered is that Ferengi females can be just as mean, selfish, and thoughtless as the males. Quark is the hero! Just as you have determined. He saves the day and he doesn't like it one bit. Dumb as Rom his, he is a savant, and gets Quark and Ishka back together because he doesn't want either of them to suffer. Does Rom criticize his mother in that scene? No, he *loves* his moogie! haha. He criticizes Quark, who is always a jerk to Rom. It makes perfect sense.

"Why would any capitalist society so severely cripple a full half of their population?" Watching Mad Men helped me to appreciate just how sexist America was just 50 years ago. And you're right, of course; in fact, the Nagus and the Ferengi come to the same conclusion by the end of the series! The Ferengi aren't perfectly capitalist either; free market and open society is what leads to the utopian Federation anyway. The Ferengi are additionally affected by extreme self-interest and therefore paranoia, causing them to make bad business decisions that do not increase the wealth of their nation.

"Because there is no societies (even the most patriarchal ones) that come even remotely close to this in their treatment of women." I cite again the Iranian and Saudi examples, and add pre-2001 Taliban-run Afghanistan. And you're right, it is a reductio ad absurdum. That's the essence of the comedy. "Or are they just saying that capitalism is inherently sexist? If that's the case then why are capitalist societies often the very best ones when it comes to gender equality?" I never thought there was any intended connexion, other than these being traits associated with pre-Federation humanity.

Ferengi comedy works for big-picture reasons because it puts many of our worst human qualities in one race, and instead of making them a dire and cruel foe (such as with the Cardassians), they are an object of pity and derision. I think that's genius.
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 4:51pm (UTC -6)
"The rate we go through runabouts, it's a good thing the Earth has so many rivers." - Kira

Funniest line of the episode.
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 12:32am (UTC -6)
I enjoy the Ferengi episodes. I remember reading Jammer's reviews way back in the day and thinking he was just so dogmatic about hating them. They are not the finest of DS9, nor should they be. Even a great series like this needs diversions from the story arcs and seriousness of what is happening during the season. These are diversionary episodes and I approach them with fun and whimsy and just enjoy them for what they are.

Not every episode needs to be measured by the same standards to enjoy them. Context is important.

I like these Ferengi a lot better than the crap they tried to make them in the first 2 seaons of TNG.
Wed, Oct 19, 2016, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

I always liked this episode. When I watched this with my Mother during our Friday night get-togethers, a few years later, we laughed and laughed at the puns and jokes. I still think of it that way. Quark was her favorite, actually.

Ferengi Commerce Authority, not Agency. Heh, just had to say it. :)

As with any other culture that was shown in any sort of depth during the Trek's, I simply accepted that this is how the Ferengi's operate. Same as when I saw the Klingon Homeworld, or Romulus, or Cardassia Prime. You might not agree with it, but that is what they do and we hope our heroes will be able to eventually change their political system a bit, so that it is nicer like the Federation (which eventually seems to have one Admiral after another trying to change it).

While reading some of the admittedly good comments above, I had a "Stripes" moment: Lighten up Francis...

Some great lines in this one, that led up to me being in stitches:

---O'Brien: Everyone... (then they all look back down at the lock in unison).
---Brunt: Hard work, bribes, sucking up to the boss—just like any other job.
---Rom: A-haa, you see? I told you! - What is it? Quark: I'm going to kill her!
---Rom: [about his and Quark's father] He went from one bad deal to the next, one failure after another. He couldn't hold on to LATINUM if you SEWED IT INTO HIS PAAANTS!!!

It'd been a while since I'd seen this, and I have to admit I had to pause it from laughing at the last one. The jokes seemed to build on one-another, until I got to that last one and it was just perfect.

It seemed to me that folks didn't notice Rom wanted the status-quo as well, he was just being nicer about it. He was uncomfortable with clothes, and just wanted Moogie to act like other Ferengi females. But the momma's-boy in him thought it was fine she still had profit, just as long as no one knew about it.

Even though I know what Rom eventually became, I think that at this time in the series, he was pretty spot-on. He'd earlier tried to achieve profit with the death attempt of Quark (to which Quark said he was proud of him), and had said many times he wanted the bar if something... bad... were to happen to Quark. Heck, they even mentioned how he'd been skimming in the past, knowing the code to Quark's safe. Rom had just been trying to get ahead all these years, and sometimes, he succeeded.

I always thought the front doors were low so visitors would have to "bow" as they came into your home, adding to the homage paid to their domicile, along with the entering ritual (where they actually paid). The same with the rooms, mostly. That they had to duck every time they went through their own doors would be irrelevant. They were used to it.

At the time, the B story didn't do much for me. They introduced Kasidy, but we didn't know if it would go anywhere. And it could have just as easily been mentioned in a later episode that "We listened to the game, and enjoyed the company, but she's not for me", and ended it at that. Honestly, without knowing what the future might hold, I always felt it was fairly lackluster.

Your mileage may vary, but I enjoyed watching this one again. For me, it is almost outside of the normal star ratings, just as it was outside of the normal episodes for DS9. It just exists and I liked it. :)

Peter G.
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 8:59am (UTC -6)
"As with any other culture that was shown in any sort of depth during the Trek's, I simply accepted that this is how the Ferengi's operate. Same as when I saw the Klingon Homeworld, or Romulus, or Cardassia Prime. You might not agree with it, but that is what they do and we hope our heroes will be able to eventually change their political system a bit, so that it is nicer like the Federation"

Looks like Eddington is being proved right about the Federation :)
Thu, Apr 27, 2017, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
Re monoculture: any advanced society will eventually globalize and develop a monoculture before space flight. Otherwise, you're going to end up with two cultures duking it out, and they won't have the resources to develop space flight until one kills off the other.

Re race: why is it that way into the future, humans are still segregating into races enough to have whites, Asians, blacks, etc (would require mating within your own race to be more frequent than between races). We will hopefully be one big mutt race by then, not so segregated mentally that every time Sisko falls for someone (e.g., Kassidy Yates, that disappearing alien lady, his first wife), they happen to be black.
Fri, Aug 4, 2017, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
2 stars just not my type of Star Trek show and DS9 continues with pretty ho hum B plot filler--this time with sisko meeting kasidy Yates meh
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
The Ferengi "culture" is an absurd mish-mosh of obvious plot generators. All Ferengi stories are completely crippled thereby. Zero stars. There wasn't enough of the B plot to rescue the hour.
Habitat Ringer
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
Please someone answer this one question. Why is it easy to beam cargo out of the cargo bay but impossible to beam a dartboard out of Quark's?
Thu, May 17, 2018, 9:13pm (UTC -6)
As DS9 Ferengi episodes go, this one is below average and frustrating as nothing is accomplished in the A-plot and character-wise. If Ishka is making a stand for Ferengi female rights, she quickly gives that up because somehow Quark means so much to her later in the episode when he didn't seem to earlier in it. In any case, what a lousy way to try to make a point about a worthy social issue.

In any case, there was too much stupidity in this episode and the Ferengi arc as a comedy utterly fails. What was the point of having Ishka take off her clothes just to make Rom feel better -- does that show she's a caring mother or something? Even trying to somehow discuss family dynamics like how Rom is more like his father (not having the lobes for business) whereas Ishka is like Quark fell flat because these Ferengi are cardboard meaningless characters. Rom is too annoying and Ishka is little more than a plot device here, as she finally gives in after putting Quark through his own version of hell.

The Yates/Sisko B-plot was decent for a way to build another dimension to the commander's character. Interesting that it comes down to baseball as the spark -- and a league formed on Cestus III (site of the Gorn massacre in "Arena" many years prior).

"Family Business" can't quite get to 1.5 stars for me, so 1 star it is. The Ferengi A-plot doesn't resolve anything as Ishka keeps 2/3 of the profit and will continue to try to hide from the FCA while being a Ferengi women's activist on the inside -- of course DS9 now has an excuse to milk this aspect of the Ferengi arc for another episode or 2. Good potential with Sisko/Yates and really wished that could have taken on more of a role in this episode instead of excessive Ferengi goofiness. But perhaps at some point the Ferengi culture will treat females better, but it would be hard to care much given how Trek has turned the species into a sad joke.
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 1:00am (UTC -6)
This episode is the epitome of mediocrity-nothing in it is actively offensive, but it really fails to make a notable impact in any way. I liked some of the details, like the Ferengi hobbit holes, but the main story didn't work. Anytime the DS9 writers ask us to take the Ferengi somewhat seriously, they undercut it 5 minutes later with an unfunny joke. "Family Business", like many Ferengi episodes in DS9, veers between ineffective drama and unfunny comedy.

2 stars.
Sat, Oct 20, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

Ben is making a meal for him and his son, singing to himself. Jake immediately picks up the thread from “Explorers” in reminding his father about that freighter captain he wants him to meet, Claire Finn.

Quark's is bustling—I guess the station's economy has improved since, erm...the Dominion obliterated an enormous fleet full of the best covert agents in the quadrant. Yeah. Anyway, Quark is bitching to Rom about Nog's slow drift towards humOnism in his preparation to join Starfleet. His little FOXNews rant is interrupted by the arrival of Jeffrey Combs, now playing Blunt, or whatever, who is from the Ferengi Commerce Association. He pins a pamphlet of some sort to the door and Rom evacuates the bar.

Act 1 : **.5, 18%

First question: as the embodiment of unfettered capitalism, why do the Ferengi have a regulating body like the FCA? Ask any Objectivist: red tape is bad for business. This would be like learning that Gowron has set up anger management courses for the High Council or that they have a Burning Man festival on Vulcan. Sigh...anyway, Blunt, a liquidator, is here to evaluate Quark's business. Blunt warns Quark that he had better not be concealing profits from the IRS, I mean the FCA, because that would be a serious breach of Ferengi law. Laws which encourage lying, greed and deceit as a ground state for the culture. Yeah. Quark tries to weasel out of his deceit by blaming Rom for concealing the profits from the Tullaberry wine franchise. This would be the franchise set up between the Nagus and the Dominion, last referenced in “The Search.” 1. how in the actual fuck are the Ferengi still doing business with the Dominion? True they'd have no scruples about it, but it seems ludicrously dangerous for a business that apparently doesn't turn over enough profit to lift Quark out of his relative poverty, and 2. how would Blunt not know about a business set up by the Nagus himself? Oh, but it's a callback, so DS9 = good show.

Quark is being charged with the violation of a by-law; his mother has been accused of criminal activity—something which annoys but doesn't surprise Quark—and in a bizarre combination of Klingon and and Kazon cultural/legal norms, Quark, her closest and most financially-successful male relative, is responsible for her actions. To the horror of all present, Suzy Orman or whatever her name is has been charged with earning profit...with a vagina! The audacity.

In a surprising scene, Quark asks Odo to look after his belongings and thieving brother while he sorts things out on Ferenginar. What's surprising is that, while we get a little bit of the typical venom, Quark is pretty forthright with Odo about his family worries, and Odo is oddly sympathetic, deigning not only to listen to Quark's troubles, but he doesn't even make a cruel joke at his expense. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Sisko tells Kira to have O'Brien rename their new runabout the “Rubicon,” because he likes really ironic names. “Sisko” is actually Old French for “peace-weaver.” Dax is being her typical nosy self, asking after Claire—I mean Kasidy Yates. Dax and Jake are conspiring to get them together now, Dax even admitting that :

DAX: If I were Curzon, I'd have stolen her from you by now.

I'm going to be generous and assume this means that Jadzia isn't quite the slut that Curzon was (although there's ample evidence to the judgement, to be clear. Being a slut is perfectly fine), and not because she has lady parts now.

Rom decides he's going to join his brother, over the latter's objections. Apparently, Rom is the golden child and Quark is the disappointment, reigniting some childhood frictions.

Act 2 : *.5, 18%

On Ferenginar where it always rains, the brothers and Blunt arrive at their childhood home. As has been commented on already, everything about this trip serves to double down on the monocultural elements of the Ferengi. Now, as I have said before, Star Trek is allegorical and we are meant to see elements of ourselves in the alien cultures depicted on the screen. The Klingons borrow elements from the Soviets, from the Japanese and from the Vikings. And the Ferengi, as Data made very clear, are Yankee traders, displaying “the worst quality of capitalists.” Okay. As someone who thinks capitalism, especially in its current Neoliberal expression, is a blight upon the earth, I think the Ferengi are pretty much useless as an allegory. When they were turned into a joke species in TNG's third or sixth season depending on your view, the exaggerations employed to broadcast FERENGI ARE GREEDY CAPITALISTS became just something to laugh at. We can't comment on the evils of capitalism or mention potential counterarguments about its good aspects when the whole thing is a big joke. We are not meant to want to emulate the Klingons, but their culture is at least respectable and somewhat coherent. They live according to a value system that is problematic, but they come to it honestly, and so, when we encounter Klingons, we can have a genuine debate about the pros and cons of their society before we conclude that it's wrong. Not so with the Ferengi.

Well. Suzy makes her appearance, scandalising the Ferengi dudes by wearing clothing and addressing Blunt directly. Okay, let's address this issue: “The Last Outpost” also established that Ferengi females are not permitted clothing. And why? Because they're nothing more than sexual chattel. The implications of that were quite clear. If we want to extrapolate on Ferengi society then...I'm sorry, but the Ferengi would almost certainly dispose of their females once they ceased being fertile. Of what possible economic value are widows and spinsters who are legally required to produce nothing and just sit around consuming oxygen and resources? At the very least, older women would be enslaved to do menial labour. You can't have a culture so cartoonishly capitalistic that one has to tithe upon entering a home like it's a damned baptismal font, or have people cut up into little wafers and sold after they die if you aren't going to follow through on the implications of that depiction. The only reason for Suzy to be allowed to live the way she does, doing nothing but consume, is if the Ferengi have room in their culture for non-transactional relationships. And if that's the case, then the absurdities we see in the way they behave the rest of the time cannot be justified in-universe. Anyway, Quark demands his mother make the confession, but she refuses.

On DS9, Bashir and O'Brien are trying to break into the bar to retrieve their dartboard, because, god forbid these two should retain some dignity this week. Odo rightly asks why they can't replicate a new one, and O'Brien petulantly responds that they want *their* dartboard. Uh-huh. Did you not replicate the first one? Are you two really this fucking petty, not to mention, since when are *humans* so concerned about personal property? Sigh....this bullshit meanders along until Sisko enters the scene so I can bury my face in my hands over how embarrassing this all is. Looks like EVERYBODY's in on the gag to get Sisko laid. Great. So we're doing “Captain's Holiday” again?

On Planet Contradiction, we get a little character development for our cartoons. Suzy has always been subversive of Ferengi traditions, refusing to chew her sons' food for them, for example. I'm having a really hard time here because, while the episode is ostensibly trying to depict a criticism of Ferengi values, what the writers are really doing is embracing one of the fundamental tools of Neoliberal ideology. The patriarchy, they posit, isn't an *extension* of a culture consumed with greed and avarice, it is a *perversion* of it. Please. The subjugation of women throughout human history is directly related to exploitative economics. Women have always provided *free* labour in that work which was assigned to them as a duty of their gender, like the alluded-to preparation of food. If you trace the history of feminism, it is tightly knit to the labour-struggle and the fight against the ruling class. And this is one of those things at which Neoliberalism excels: take an inherently anti-capitalist movement, like challenging the patriarchy, and commodify it so that it is no threat to the system whatsoever. Think of Che Guevara T-shirts sold at novelty shoppes, or celebrating the promotion of women to high-paid CEO positions over incredibly unjust and anti-woman companies like Sheryl Sandberg. Think... Hillary Clinton.

The Quark clan sit down to a meal prepared by Rom, punctuated by uncomfortable arguing and mugging cheesily for the camera. Try as Armin Shimmerman might, the writers cannot seem, for even a moment, to relinquish the culture-as-joke paradigm that this species has become. At one point, Quark is sincerely begging his mother to relent for the sake of the family's reputation, almost in tears, but the dialogue always reminds us that it's about making sure that he can do business with other Ferengi. It's all farce. So lines like:

QUARK: You're a selfish female who never cared about this family, about Father, or about me.

ring hollow.

Act 3 : *, 18%

Moogie Suzy takes her clothes off to make Rom feel more comfortable. You know...if we took out the painfully obvious reversal going on here, a human nudist who insisted that the freedom to be naked was an assertion of her female power in flagrant disregard for the patriarchy...if this strong character decided, for her grown-us idiot son's sake, to put a robe on in her own god-damned house, I wouldn't find this endearing. This would demonstrate that 1. her principles don't mean a whole hell of a lot if she's willing to compromise them just so Rom doesn't have to feel icky and 2. this family is in serious need of therapy. To say that Rom is in a state of arrested development is like saying Ferengi's ears are their penises; it's obvious, it's disturbing, and it needs to stop. Again...Rom getting his head that close to his mother's vagina is not the issue per sae, it's that she pets him like he's a five-year-old who just woke up from a bad dream. If you can stomach the ridiculous imagery in this scene, something curious emerges here—apparently Quark is extremely “generous” with his stipend to his mother. Exactly how does *that* fit in with Ferengi values?

Anyway, we finally meet Kasidy, who's very clumsily hit on by Sisko. I must say, after enduring Jennifer, Batgirl (Fenna) and mirror-Dax, Sisko is FINALLY given a romantic interest who seems like a likeable human being. That said, I need to return to a running discomfort I have in this series with regard to racialised casting. It is my opinion that the Trek producers of this time (and possibly still) are fucking cowards. Despite continuing Gene's legacy of including as much diversity as possible on the “bridge” of the series, can anyone name a time when Picard, Riker, or Wesley, the Id, Ego and Superego of the Enterprise, respectively, pursued a character who wasn't white or white-passing? Kirk banged anything that moved, green, purple, polka-dotted...and yet these guys always seemed to find the white ladies. The few times there were black women portrayed as potential love-interests on TNG, they were always for Geordi or Worf. Yeah. The one tiny, tiny exception to this legacy was in “Homeward,” where Penny Johnson herself was the one-off love interest for Worf's white human brother, something that could be shooed off the screen after that week's credits. Then we get DS9 with a black male lead, which is fantastic, writing for and acting by Brooks aside, and the one and only time he has a sexual relationship with a woman who isn't black is the one-off, telegraphed-to-be-just-meaningless-sex fling with mirror-Dax. This makes me incredibly uncomfortable—in both series—because it says, subliminally, “There's a beautiful black lady, I guess Sisko is allowed to get serious with her.” It's really fucking frustrating that this still was (is) going on decades after Uhura tore down television barriers on the inclusive sexiness of black women on TV. The saving grace here is that Kasidy and Sisko have decent chemistry and Johnson is a fine actress with an easy-going humanity to her that is most welcome.

Meanwhile, Quark discovers that his mother's indiscretions go deeper than they realised; she has built a small business empire under various male aliases—her illegal profits far exceed Quark's wealth, including all his possessions, meaning he can't possibly make amends under the terms of the FCA.

Act 4 : zero stars, 13% (very short)

Quark confronts his Moogie. Again, the attempted “progressivism” of having a lady stand up for herself and declare ownership of her profits totally ignores the socioeconomic realities that sexism, racism and capitalism are inexorably intertwined, so this little display is pretty flaccid. Well anyway, it turns out Suzy is the best businessman (pardon the term) in the family. Her deceased husband resented her for it and made sure to pass that attitude down to Quark who storms off to report her to Blunt. This leads to...(wait did Rom say “age of ascension?”)...this leads to a totally ludicrous fight between the brothers. If “Family” had a perverted counterpart, this would be it. All you have to do is listen to the score during this crap to realise that no one seemed to know what was going on here—is it supposed to be serious? funny? tragic? grotesque? Well the composer certainly didn't know, which is why we have emotionally neutral vamping underscoring this “dramatic” or “funny” or “whatever” scene. Finally, Suzy Orman breaks them up by tugging on their penis/lobes—yeah.

Act 5 : **, 18%

So Quark climbs the Tower of Commerce and pays his tithe for a chair so he can meet with Blunt. Rom follows him to the waiting room and lets him know that Suzy is willing to share her massive profits with him. This brings us right back to Chez Moogie for Quark to offer his insincere apology. It quickly emerges that Rom lied to them both to facilitate this meeting. Good one. Then we know what, the Rom speech is too painful to summarise on my keyboard, so I'll skip it.

Moogie and Quark are seated together and she explains to her son that the two of them are alike, that Rom and their father never had “the lobes” and that she loves him. In a vacuum, this is an effective scene, but it is impossible to shake the context in which this is happening: she agrees to give back all the money and confess her crime for the sake of her family. what about the Rules of Acquisition which you just lauded, lady? Which rule says, “Giving up profit for your family is good for business”?

So, Sisko and Kasidy have their first real date, coffee on the Promenade. It turns out the two share an interest in that paragon of forgotten human excellence...erm, baseball. I guess someone is going to be “sliding into home.” Anybody?

Suzy makes her naked confession through those crooked teeth. Quark bribes Blunt into keeping the issue secret. We get some clichéd “call your mother some time” dialogue, and it turns out she still has about 2/3 of her fortune hidden away. Wow. Who didn't see that coming?

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

Honestly, the most damning thing about this episode is that it's not funny, which is a pitiful irony, as the deeper issues as to why the attempted allegory falls apart are all related to the fact that the Ferengi culture is joke. For counterpoint with the failed comedy, we get incredibly tepid, clichéd and ill-advised “sweet moments” between the Ferengi that range from eye-roll-inducing to cringeworthy. What keeps it from being totally irredeemable dreck is that the performances temper the idiot scripting into something which isn't an affront to television.

The B-plot is a lot like the “Explorers.” It's inoffensive, amiably conveyed and makes sense; it's just too banal to justify occupying this much of an episode. Penny Johnson seems to bring out a more human dimension to Avery Brooks' acting, and for that reason alone, I welcome her addition to the extended cast, but her brief screentime here also showcases admirable talent and presence in its own right. I look forward to her return.

Final Score : *.5
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -6)

“The few times there were black women portrayed as potential love-interests on TNG, they were always for Geordi or Worf.”

True, but on the other hand these two (black) actors were almost always coupled with white actresses. This, in addition to Miles-Keiko originating on TNG, makes me believe that TNG was at least aware and consciously trying to include interracial couples. I do agree with what you’re saying in regards to DS9, that except in the rare instance Sisko and Jake are always with black women. My theory, partially based on the chemistry you described with actors, is that Brooks and Lofton were more comfortable with women of the same race. Dorn is of course a different story.

“Moogie and Quark are seated together and she explains to her son that the two of them are alike, that Rom and their father never had “the lobes” and that she loves him. In a vacuum, this is an effective scene”

I agree this scene works in a vacuum but I don’t think the arc they’re building with Quark here ever works out. We’re constantly reminded that Quark is good at business and Rom is good at non-Ferengi things, but this only culiminates in (spoiler) Rom defying all logic and becoming the Grand Nagus. How this all compares to raw capitalism is, like you say, anyone’s guess.

Oh Elliott - one small thing I wanted to mention since I keeping seeing it. Unless I’m missing some alternate spelling that exists in parts, the latin is “per se” not “per sae”. Sorry to even bring it up; It’s a small gnit in otherwise really entertaining reviews.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Hi Chrome

The first time I watched DS9, I tuned out most of the Ferengi plot because I found it tedious, but I’m looking forward (sort of) to watching how it all plays out with a critical eye.

Regarding the spelling of sæ/sae/se, I learned the very old fashion way as a kid, with the ligature. I realise that most people use the updated version now, but old habits die hard.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
I meant to say as well that my concern is less worth depicting interracial couples per s...per s[ėê]...more that it’s a problem in media that black women (and Asian men) are rarely depicted as desirable unless it’s to the same race. It’s a complicated issue.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
It's interesting reading both Elliott and Luke's takes on the episode. It seems that the one constant in the Trek fandom, regardless of political ideology, is that the Ferengi are horrible.
William B
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott, Chrome:

I wonder if some of the issue is that Ferengi society is more divided than the front they put on. If we take Quark as an example, Quark has all kinds of altruistic impulses, many of which are compatible with his profit-seeking, and many of which run directly contrary to it, and so he has to deny them entirely. If Ferengi society is similar, then it may be that the profit-seeking stuff plays the function of a kind of extreme culture/religious devotion, where really most people aren't very devout, and even the Inquisitors like Brunt know that, but it's important to them to keep Ferengi society functioning by requiring all these public displays (the tithing at entering places, etc.). And certainly, as with any belief which is narrower than the confines of the human (or, in this case, Ferengi) condition, people will start to break out from it and have to be reined into the orthodoxy. Bert Cooper, Mad Men's Objectivist, had loyalty to his friends. The purpose of the FCA in that case is not to regulate the economy but to ensure outward compliance with the society's values.

The other thing about the FCA is that I think that Ferenginar is to some extent run as a kind of large conglomerate, with the Nagus as CEO -- the inevitable endpoint where Disnamazoogle take over everything. And at that point, bureaucracy will be necessary; big companies still have their own administration to "regulate" ("keep on task" etc.) their huge infrastructure. However, the Ferengi still want to have a kind of small business personal profit model of their society and so pretend they have more financial independence than they do, maybe? It's hard to parse.

It's possible then that people will take care of their family members even after they are no longer "contributing" is a sop to compassion, which would not be possible to stably eliminate on a societal level, and that the requirement to meet Ferengi society guidelines is then that "useless" family members be hidden away. That Ferengi have some sort of innate acquisitiveness seems also to be true, which is why it makes sense for Ishka to want to play the game of getting money, but even she is fonder of Rom than of Quark, because she loves sweetness more than she loves profit-seeking.

This is a point that Trek comes back to with a lot of the hat races. Klingons profess honour but there is all kinds of personal nonsense and backstabbing. Garak as our Cardassian representative *wants* to be Tain, but he isn't, and we also find that a lot of what motivates the worst Cardassians (Madred, Tain, Dukat) are personal weaknesses and shames. Vulcans tried to keep their whole pon farr thing secret during the TOS era and are still cagey about it in the Voyager era. The Bajorans' faith is, I know, not really unpacked to your (or my) satisfaction but through Winn at least there is the suggestion that it can serve as a fig leaf for all kinds of authoritarian control-bids. It's not that Klingons *don't* value (and demonstrate) "honour" (courage, glory-seeking), Vulcans logic, Cardassians militaristic control, Bajorans religious faith, etc. than humans do, but they still are human analogues to an extent and so their suppressed opposite always pops up. It makes a certain amount of sense that the Ferengi are more ruthless capitalists than most, but still have private inclinations that go against that, and that they have to have their own Brunts to force them back in line to maintain the illusion of total fealty.

Why they absolutely need "greed" as their organizing principle is maybe the real question the show needs to ask and doesn't do that much to answer, even with Quark himself. With most of the other races, we have some sense of what they are covering. Vulcans need logic because without it they are animalistic and out of control. Cardassians need their expansionistic military because without it they are worried they will be naked and afraid. What is it that Ferengi fear? I think with Quark, it probably is to some extent that he fears that he'll be Rom -- or, more to the point, his father -- if he stops acquiring, but it's sort of a circular argument, because his father and Rom are viewed as worthless because their society undervalues them. Mirror Quark maybe gives a clue -- during the Occupation, for example, for Quark to be too brazen in sticking his neck out for the Bajorans or for proto-dissident Cardassians like Natima could get him killed, just as mirror Quark gets killed. And this does come up in season six when the Occupation comes up again but with the Dominion in tow this time. Even Quark's (in?)famous The Siege of AR-558 speech might help with this: he believes that hew-mons' root beer personas are only skin deep, and that they will turn on anyone, including him, if things get bad enough, that not only can he not rely on anyone but himself, but that to pretend otherwise would be tremendous folly which would open him up to all sorts of horrors.

Ferenginar is a place where it never stops raining and they can never see the Sun; maybe it requires a constant reminder that everyone is out for themselves, end of story, to stop them from wallowing in planetary misery.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
If I were going to (charitably) look for a coherent theme that the Ferengi episodes illustrate, it would be something along the lines that William B suggested, in the realm of "what are we supposed to learn from them". In their case it seems like this episode in particular shows how much their culture is in a conflict of interests as a result of their economic system. Ferengi actually *do* enjoy having loving parents, even if they later learn that their father was a business failure. But everything in their culture trains them to only value success and money. So obviously this is a commentary on America in particular, but on any place with a materialist ethic. You end up publicly lauding some things even though it actually makes you your own enemy, and being their own enemy seems like the most important trait the Ferengi have. All the things they're supposed to like basically make the 'human' in them miserable, and avarice becomes the only pleasure left. It's the same building but different department from Cardassia, where they too are their own worst enemy.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
For me—and I will eventually synthesise this idea with citations when we get to later episodes—the failure stems from the fact that the writers wanted to critique materialism/greed without indicting the system (capitalism/neoliberalism) which perpetuates those foibles. The result is their attempts to throw in “grey areas” into cultures which are *designed* to be allegorical create a confusing mess.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Elliott -

And if they had critiqued the system in the episode, then someone would have complained that they should have critiqued the causes of the system, namely the kind of thinking which led to its establishment. Where do you stop?
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:28pm (UTC -6)

You don’t stop. That’s the advantage of having close to 800 episodes of Star Trek; you can talk about a lot.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 4:49pm (UTC -6)
"For me—and I will eventually synthesise this idea with citations when we get to later episodes—the failure stems from the fact that the writers wanted to critique materialism/greed without indicting the system (capitalism/neoliberalism) which perpetuates those foibles. The result is their attempts to throw in “grey areas” into cultures which are *designed* to be allegorical create a confusing mess."

To be honest, I'm not so sure that they did want to critique it. In "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", it seems that some Ferengi have achieved the academic ideal of capitalism. In the episode, everyone gets what they want. It's more likely to me that they wanted to redeem an irredeemably awful species (when I say awful, I mean they didn't work as villains), not make anti-capitalist statements (They probably aren't anti-capitalist. As I said previously, Ron Moore laughed at the idea of a money-less society. If you need entertainment that precisely aligns with your worldview, I'm afraid you won't be able to watch much. Socialists are a tiny fringe minority, and Bernie Sanders is considered a radical here in the States). In my opinion, the writers succeeded with Quark, Rom, and Nog, and they failed with Ferengi society as a whole, "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" excepted. It seems like your issue with them is more an ideological disagreement with the writers. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you on that front, but I agree more with Jammer-for the most part, Ferengi just aren't funny, interesting, or entertaining to watch in the slightest, and that's their biggest problem.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
Their mistake was in wanting the Ferengi episodes to be funny, and wanting them to be caricatures of capitalism, and not knowing how to integrate those. They tried to do it commedia style where the known archetypes are overblown and clowned up, but it doesn't work because in order for that to be funny you have to have contrasting types that make up a society. For anyone who knows commedia at all, you can't have a show that's just a bunch of pantalones and no lovers or anyone else. You need a variety of archetypes to bounce off each other; but since the Ferengi are all supposedly the same in values there's nothing to play off of.

And it's not funny. I think we mostly covered that part.

Without integrating the comedy with the critique, and without having a clear idea of what is being critiques, we ended up with a grab bag of random silliness but no comic 'concept' to guide it. It's basically a mess that you'll enjoy if you like silliness but it amounts to little in storytelling. I like Magnificent Ferengi, parts of Family Business, and Treachery... but several of them, and certainly several parts of them of them, are not worth that much.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -6)

I realise it may be not be clear, as I learned to write from my English grandfather, and was exactly the type of stubborn kid to refuse to assimilate in school, I'm actually American. I grew up in the midwest and currently live in NYC. I don't want to go off on a huge tangent of contemporary politics, but I can't let "Bernie Sanders is considered radical here" to go unchallenged. Sanders is a very middling populist and happens to be one of the few relatively honest politicians on the national stage. For this, some media like to characterise him and other "socialists" (he's not a socialist) as radicals, but this is a transparent tactic. In right wing circles, Barack Obama is called a communist constantly. Nancy Pelosi, a millionaire corporatist is called a left-wing extremist. It's preposterous.

I do have ideological disagreements with the writers, and obviously that's where I draw my criticism from, but I am always willing to hear out a compelling argument from a different side if that argument is...well, compelling. Trying to parse out feminism from anti-capitalism, as this episode does, is ideologically dishonest. I am trying to recall details from S7 which tie this up and can't quite remember, but I think they actually end up making more sense by the end. The influences of a social drive for sexual equality end up tempering the Ferengi capitalist frenzy culture with reforms and social safety nets.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 5:29pm (UTC -6)

“Trying to parse out feminism from anti-capitalism, as this episode does, is ideologically dishonest. I am trying to recall details from S7 which tie this up and can't quite remember, but I think they actually end up making more sense by the end. The influences of a social drive for sexual equality end up tempering the Ferengi capitalist frenzy culture with reforms and social safety nets.”

Yeah I think the writers’ intended message is something along the lines of “capitalism is okay, but not when taken to the extremes the Ferengi take it”. To that end, Ishka is just an example of *extreme capitalism* that needs to be fixed but I don’t think the writers in DS9 ever go to any sincere lengths to say capitalism is inherently bad.

You’re right, there is something of arc here where Ferenginar will end up more like New Deal-era USA. Unfortunately, most of that story happens of screen (season 7 has more important things to do deal with) so it’s not really a coherent conclusion, even if it’s satisfying to some degree (Or at least we’d imagine the writers are happy to end the series with the Ferengi being closer to Democrats).
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
@William B

“I wonder if some of the issue is that Ferengi society is more divided than the front they put on. If we take Quark as an example, Quark has all kinds of altruistic impulses, many of which are compatible with his profit-seeking, and many of which run directly contrary to it, and so he has to deny them entirely. If Ferengi society is similar, then it may be that the profit-seeking stuff plays the function of a kind of extreme culture/religious devotion, where really most people aren't very devout, and even the Inquisitors like Brunt know that, but it's important to them to keep Ferengi society functioning by requiring all these public displays (the tithing at entering places, etc.).”

I’d like to believe that Quark’s family somehow exemplifies societal ills on Ferenginar, however the way other orthodox Ferengi like Brunt react to them (“Brunt: I sincerely hope I’ll never see any of you again!” and the later “I’ve never liked you, Quark” rant in “Body Parts”) makes me believe they’re rather more exceptional. There’s one hint in “Profit and Lace” that another female like Ishka exists, but even so two Ferengi women out of billions hardly represents a trend. I think you might be hitting on what writers wanted to go for, but like I mentioned above there just wasn’t any time for serious Ferengi episodes when the meatier Dominion War arcs heated up.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
"I realise it may be not be clear, as I learned to write from my English grandfather, and was exactly the type of stubborn kid to refuse to assimilate in school, I'm actually American. I grew up in the midwest and currently live in NYC."

I never meant to say, or imply you weren't.

"I don't want to go off on a huge tangent of contemporary politics, but I can't let "Bernie Sanders is considered radical here" to go unchallenged. Sanders is a very middling populist and happens to be one of the few relatively honest politicians on the national stage. For this, some media like to characterise him and other "socialists" (he's not a socialist) as radicals, but this is a transparent tactic. In right wing circles, Barack Obama is called a communist constantly. Nancy Pelosi, a millionaire corporatist is called a left-wing extremist. It's preposterous."

It sounds like we agree on this. I'm not sure why you wrote "unchallenged". I never claimed that he actually was a radical-just that he's considered one by many people. That's true.

"Trying to parse out feminism from anti-capitalism, as this episode does, is ideologically dishonest."

I disagree. The need for feminism existed long before capitalism, and it will exist even if out society transforms to an alternative economic model (which I think is pretty unlikely honestly).
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 2:41am (UTC -6)

"It's interesting reading both Elliott and Luke's takes on the episode. It seems that the one constant in the Trek fandom, regardless of political ideology, is that the Ferengi are horrible."

Indeed. Elliott and I make not agree on much - for instance he thinks that " capitalism, especially in its current Neoliberal expression, is a blight upon the earth" and I'm of the opinion that capitalism, even in it's corrupted neo-liberal form, is the best hope humanity has for prosperity and long-term advancement. However, on one thing we most certainly agree.... the Ferengi are just a joke. Heck, I was even harsher on this episode than he was.

While I do have a real soft-spot for Quark (he's probably my favorite character on DS9) and for the Ferengi in general, I got to admit the execution of so, so much of the Ferengi-oriented material (from TNG to DS9 and VOY, and even on ENT!) is just downright garbage.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 7:48am (UTC -6)
"While I do have a real soft-spot for Quark (he's probably my favorite character on DS9) and for the Ferengi in general, I got to admit the execution of so, so much of the Ferengi-oriented material (from TNG to DS9 and VOY, and even on ENT!) is just downright garbage."

DS9 definitely did the best with the Ferengi overall. They did great episodes like "The House of Quark", "Little Green Men", and "The Magnificent Ferengi". And I agree that Quark is a great character played to perfection by the great Armin Shimerman. His interactions with Odo are one of the highlights of DS9. But they arguably did the worst, with "Profit and Lace" and "The Emperor's New Cloak".
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
An episode of Trek being a social justice warrior, beating its audience over the head with Conservative straw manning?

Say it ain't so!
Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 9:59am (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--Sisko is going to meet Kassidy the freighter captain. Quark's bar is shut down by the FCA. Because Moogie is earning profit.

--Going to name the new runabout "Rubicon," huh? What a fateful name.

--Ferenghi home world! I can't remember seeing this before. Why so rainy?

--Jake looking for a Mom. Quark and Rom re-connecting with Moogie.

--Do we know what happened to Rom's wife (Nog's mother)?

--Family and how they get into your business, interfere and help and hurt. Jake and Sisko, Quark & Rom and Moogie, Kassidy and her brother.

--Ferenghi Fraternal Fight!!!

Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 4:34am (UTC -6)
Why wouldn't Ishka share her profits rather than lose it all? 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Sure, she hid a lot of it, but she could have kept a lot more of it.

I'm not sure how she was supposed to do that since she had to give something to the FCA - maybe by declaring less to the FCA, then sharing some with Quark, and hiding the rest? Say she hides 50% of it and in the end gives 50% to the FCA.. She could have given 25% to the FCA, 12.5% to Quark, and 12.5% for herself, and on top it she maybe gains Quark as an ally (since he's of course motivated by profit).

I guess I'm just a little confused that she absolutely refused to bribe Quark when bribes are so commonplace in the Ferengi Alliance.

Yes, emotion could have been in it (being stubborn), but they are Ferengi - profit trumps everything.

Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 4:37am (UTC -6)
Oh wait, she gave 1/3rd to the FCA.. Still, she could have kept more - the calculations are just altered a bit.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 2:18pm (UTC -6)
Jeffrey Combs

Officially playing everyone in the whole of the universe everywhere (and I like it)
Gaius Maximus
Sat, May 16, 2020, 12:12am (UTC -6)
Just a comment on Sisko always dating women of the same race. This used to bother me a lot too, but I saw somewhere recently, (possibly it was in the What We Left Behind documentary), that it was actually Brooks' request that his character only be involved with black women. Still seems a bit strange to me, but as a white guy, I'm not going to gainsay a black man on what's most appropriate on a racial issue.
Circus Man
Sat, May 16, 2020, 10:50am (UTC -6)
Here's an article speaking to this very phenomenon in 2000:

In-narrative, I see no reason to regard it as much more than Sisko having a "type."
Mon, Oct 19, 2020, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
Yanks said: "But what never seems to get mentioned is their treatment of women is pretty much Muslim. That has nothing to do with Capitalism."

That's not a "Muslim thing", though. All the major Abrahamic religions started out super sexist, women deemed inferior, required to be submissive, cover their faces or heads, barred from education, or owning property, or positions of power, or denied protection under religious law, or barred from positions of power within the religion itself.

And these religions would have all have stayed that way absent various outside pressures and social movements.

And sexism is intimately bound with capitalism. Anthropologists tell us early nomadic and hunter gatherer tribes tended to be fairly egalitarian and sexually equal. Then humans began to develop farming, settled down, started fighting over land, and started putting up fences. States were then formed to guarantee property rights and to guarantee that ruling classes could maintain their ownership of surplus through institutions that excluded other members of the community from political functions. They then set up armies, a judiciary power, and producers of ideology (scholars, teachers etc) who were to make sure that the domination of those who appropriated wealth was accepted by all.

Meanwhile, patrilinearity - the notion of inheritance and the transmission of property through the male line - meant that private property led to the importance of having male offspring whose lineage was beyond contest. Women thus became pieces of property themselves, something that had to be controlled and dominated in order to preserve one's property.

As societies developed, landed owners acquired public responsibilities and political functions which were denied to those they dispossessed. Women were excluded from these positions, and relegated to the private sphere, manual labor or child-bearing (the transmission of property, or the reproduction of the labor force etc).

So while sexism existed before capitalism, capitalism kickstarted whole new forms of sexism and control, and heightened many old forms.

Anyway, Jammer and most commenters seem to hate this episode, but I liked it a lot. William believes the Sisko/Jake/Kassidy plot is too cute and cloying, but I liked seeing Sisko caught off guard, and I think his first meeting with Kassidy is beautifully acted by Brooks. Yes, their last scene together in this episode is overly wacky, but that first meeting is something special.

Toraya and Elliot made a couple nice posts above. They basically criticize this episode for simplifying issues of sexism and turning female oppression into a cute thing rather than a brutish thing. Elliot goes on to say that this episode ignores the ways in which its view of emancipation ("Women can trade on Wall Street too!") still perpetuates oppression, or is itself oppression.

All of that is true IMO, and yet whenever I watch this episode, that's never the vibe I get from it. Quark's mom is a joke, yes, but the episode sympathizes with her plight, and plainly views Ferrengi culture as a horrible thing responsible for her oppression. And I think the intention of the episode is to portray “women's rights” as they would have occurred on Earth in the early 1900s, or late 1800s, when emancipation was equated with wearing pants, flappers, shorter skirts, working in factories and such. It's an incomplete emancipation, or a false one, but in the context of that kind of society – Ferengi women seem like a cross between Victorian era repression and something more Medieval – I feel it's the believable next step.

Personally, I'd rank this episode about 3 stars on Jammer's scale. I liked the architecture, the production design, the little stylized cash-registers the Ferrengi have everywhere, and the way the Ferrengi are constantly charging one another to use trivial things (the lift, a pad, a chair etc). The Mother/Rom stuff was a bit much, as was the Quark/Rom fight – there's about 10 minutes too much Ferrengi melodrama in this – and the episode does drop the ball in any number of philosophical/political ways, but I like it as a really weird bit of world-building. I like the gutsiness of diving into the Ferrengi, and the show's stubborn audacity to repeatedly churn out about 3 Ferrengi episodes a season.

Elliot is right, in that the episode is not rigorous enough – this a culture that should be awash in slavery and all manners of nastiness – but I can't imagine Ira Behr Trek doing that kind of stuff. I could see TOS geting away with it, maybe, but not DS9.
Frake's Nightmare
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
Some people just don't have the lobes for a Ferengi episode!
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
I laughed at this episode when I first viewed it, but having seen stories about "honor-killings" since then, the scene of Quark deciding to kill his mother has become disturbing rather than funny. It hasn't aged well, not since you can just do a search for "honor killings" on youtube and see stories that will break your heart.

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