Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 2/19/1996
Teleplay by Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr
Story by Barbara J. Lee & Jenifer A. Lee
Directed by LeVar Burton
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Maybe I don't know much about Ferengi culture, but I do know who holds the lease on your bar." — Sisko to Quark
Nutshell: An all-too-typical Ferengi "comedy" with a few redeeming moments.
When Quark cuts all his employees' pay, Rom takes the initiative to form a labor union and get the entire bar staff to strike. It's bad news for Quark, not to mention illegal by Ferengi customs.
Let it be said, "Bar Association" is far more entertaining and humorous than most Ferengi shows. It has a certain zip and pleasantness that was painfully absent in "Prophet Motive" and "Family Business." But, nevertheless, "Bar" is still just another Ferengi Comedy Episode—fairly diverting and occasionally worth chuckling at, but thin and generally devoid of any real substance. I'll rank a tad below "Little Green Men."
The plot, if you care, is nothing much; it centers around Rom finally getting fed up with his brother's nonstop exploitation of both him and the bar staff. Advice from O'Brien (who had a famous ancestor who was a "union man" in the early 1900s) prompts Rom to create a union, and Quark suddenly finds himself in a sticky situation with both Captain Sisko and the FCA (Ferengi Commerce Agency) breathing down his neck to resolve the situation.
The plot is merely a clothesline to hang the silly gags. Though not all of them work, a number them do.
Let's start with the ones that work. There's the idea of Quark using holographic images of himself to run the bar. I don't know why, but there's just something inherently funny about Quark talking to Odo in the foreground while three other Quarks walk around in the background. (Maybe it's the subtlety of the humor that's appealing.) The scene also features another one of Odo's hilarious double takes.
I also got a good laugh out of Worf and O'Brien's "brawl"—which ends with Bashir being hurled over a table and all three of them thrown into a holding cell. Sisko's reaction to his officers brawling on the promenade is equally amusing and appropriate: he lets them spend the night in jail. Sisko's subsequent action—persuading Quark into negotiating an end to the strike (by blackmailing him with huge back payments on his bar lease)—is a load of fun. The notion is so...Sisko.
Brunt, the FCA guy (Jeffrey Combs, reprising a stupid role from "Family Business") who threatens Quark with bodily harm unless he ends the strike, has a couple of heavies who make an unlikely comic duo in the goofily witty scene where the two play darts using each other's chests as the targets. This is simply zaniness at its best—it works magnificently.
Of course, the funny moments (and I think I covered most of them worth mentioning) are at the mercy of the usual Ferengi-show shortcomings of (A) lots of Ferengi gathering to discuss profit strategy (who is it that thinks putting a dozen Ferengi in a room together is funny by definition, anyway?); (B) Quark and Rom shouting at each other in their usual sibling rivalry clichéd manner; (C) Max Grodenchik overacting in virtually every scene—making Rom look as dumb as ever, even though the writers seem to want to make him smarter than he appears.
There's also a scene that falls completely flat where a Ferengi crumbles to the ground to grovel in the face of the FCA. (Yes, ha ha; we know that Ferengi values are centered around their economy and that's supposed to be funny, but enough already.)
Leeta (Chase Masterson)—the attractive Bajoran character unseen since "Facets" some 16 episodes ago—has an agreeable role here as a Dabo Girl. But her presence, unfortunately, has practically no dramatic purpose in the episode (other than, I suppose, to provide compensation for the presence of a dozen inelegant Ferengi). She most frequently appears in the hokey and contrived union meeting scenes, which refuse to utilize the fact that she isn't a Ferengi to the plot's advantage.
While "Bar Association" is easily the weakest show DS9 has done so far this season, it still isn't that bad. I can tolerate the problems here, because they're not nearly as in-your-face annoying as they were in last season's Ferengi shows, and the episode makes up for it with some fairly original comic ideas.
The B-story? Something to do with Worf moving his quarters to on board the Defiant over his inability to adapt to the tone of the station. The results are sometimes amusing—though, like the rest of the show, not exactly pressing. However, I somehow doubt that Worf, being the Klingon warrior he is, would really have such a problem integrating into DS9. Like I said, we're not exactly looking at deep character material here.
Still, there is at least one lasting consequence from all this. As a result of his experience and strike victory, Rom decides to quit working for his brother and take a job as a station electronic technician. This was a long time coming, and I, for one, am sincerely glad it finally happened. Quark's constant exploitation of Rom has long since been exhausted, and has even longer since not been amusing. I guess the creators finally figured that out and acted on it.
Previous episode: Sons of Mogh
Next episode: Accession
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.
80 comments on this post
Mon, Jan 5, 2009, 1:42am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 9, 2009, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
Quark is again the fall guy, but that's what he's there for. I did kept hoping that Brunt's goons would run afowl of Worf, but Odo at least had the last word with them.
So, I have to give this episode at least another 1/2 or maybe even another full point.
Sat, Dec 5, 2009, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
And there were a lot of little moments that worked for me, from Sisko's scene with Quark, to O'Brien in the Infirmary: "he was more than a hero; he was a Union man!"
Yes some bits degenerated into your normal Ferengi fare, such as the mentioned groveling, but overall, I call this certainly not a classic, but a winner. Three stars.
Wed, Jan 12, 2011, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 20, 2011, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
In short, it's an episode like this that makes me embarrassed for the show... not something that usually happens.
Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, I had to say that line I memorized from "Babel" after I read the words, "strike victory."
Oh, Leeta's presence (Chase Masterson) is absolutely necessary. She has gorgeous, er, scenery. And she's a real sweetheart. I actually got a chance to meet her at a Trek convention and not only is she wonderful to her fans, but she's quite involved with charity and many other worthy activities. Did I mention she's attractive?
Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Anyway, I wanted to point out the double meaning in the title. It's an association of bar workers - but it is also an attempt to bar the union.
Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
IMO, Leeta is absolutely annoying and useless. She always was and always will be. I do care how good looking she is. She has about as much depth as a bottle cap. Why did they have to keep her around DS9? She had no purpose. And the little fling with her and Rom was completely unbelievable.
Sun, Aug 19, 2012, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Season 4 was kind to the little buggers.
Sun, Dec 9, 2012, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
Plus Worf and Odo were an amusing duo as usual.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 2, 2013, 7:28am (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
I'm also not usually one to comment on the placement of episodes in terms of airing order, but this was a breath of fresh air coming after the previous ep shooting itself in the foot. That being said, I've never really faulted or praised an ep on anything other than its own merits. It's just the timing, in this case, was nice. I suppose if I saw a whole bunch of one "type" of episode in a row as it were, I may complain. I don't know and I've never seen that happen in this show.
But I digress. This was a rather pleasant outing that had some good progression for Quark and Rom and furthered some insight into Ferengi customs in an amicable way. Showcasing the idiot/savant aspect of Rom here was done well and, like Jammer, am very glad for this step forward finally happening. The bumbling aspects of Rom when around fellow Ferengi was a neat contrast to his finding his bravery in, not only starting the union, but also in pursuing what he wants out of life. No doubt an influence from his son joining Starfleet. Whether implied or not, it's logical and Roms actions are far from out of character.
Overall, not only was this better than some other Ferengi episodes - it was a good episode in its own right.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 11:27am (UTC -5)
That's about it for this one.
1 star, ...... for Rom.
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 6:57am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
Like the last Ferengi episode with his mother, Quark is a model (Ferengi) citizen stuck between a ruthless government he CANNOT win against and someone going against that government and completely willing to throw him under the bus to get what they want and then he gets thrown under the bus despite being, narratively speaking, the protagonist of the story. Rom fills the role previously played by his mom and just decides "oh hey. I don't care about my entire species' ethos and culture anymore for some reason" which causes Quark to stare down the barrel of the government's gun. Rom/Mom continues to spit in the face of their own government, Quark get's in more trouble and then Rom/Mom wins despite facing no actual adversity. This is what I mean by Quark is the protagonist. He's the one with a problem to overcome who faces obstacles. Rom's story is "Rom decides he wants to strike. Rom strikes. Rom's brother gets beaten up very badly and almost dies and then, fearing for his life at the hands of his oppressive government, gives Rom what he wants. Rom quits his job." That's not a protagonist arc, Quarks story is "Quark's staff go on strike. Quark tries to run his bar without a staff and eventually Sisko comes in and strongarms him (yet again) into settling the dispute (Side note here: DS9 has been letting Quark operate rent free this whole time? Why? How? There's no way Quark has been going 4 years without a contract and Sisko has been failing to enforce payments from him. He hates Quark. I don't accept that premise) so Quark tries to bribe Rom and fails. The FCA show up and threaten Quark's brother so, fearing for his brother's safety, he tries to get him to listen to reason but his brother refuses. Quark goes back to the FCA and they almost kill him." now, if this was an episode about literally any other character this is the part where they would come up with some solution to get out of this problem but the show doesn't like Quark so instead he just capitulates to Rom's demands and loses. That's our protagonist right there.
Sorry, I don't suscribe to this Merchant of Venice, Shylock is the villain because he's greedy, crap. You can't cast Quark as the protagonist and as the antagonist and expect me to enjoy your narrative. You can't have Rom and Moogie being randomly Federation valued for no reason and just get away with it with no explanation or consequence and expect me to room for them. If you want a character to be part of an alien culture, they need to show appropriate respect for their own culture or an appropriate arc towards change or appropriate consequences for violating their culture.
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 8:09am (UTC -5)
The weird thing is that the episode even has multiple advocates for Quark's side among the main cast: Odo's propensity for order means he instinctively sides with the status quo and sees protests as unseemly and too-busy, and apparently Worf sided with management enough to get into a fight with O'Brien, though what his reasons are were never explained. The way the supporting characters react suggests that the episode is attempting to depict a split where there are reasonable differences of opinion, which means that having Quark capitulate to every one of Rom's demands, no negotiation, nothing, with the Guild remaining in all but title, after having been beaten up, is pretty odd. In fact Quark suffers indignity after indignity here; after Worf and O'Brien inexplicably get into a big brawl and Bashir gets thrown over a table somehow, Sisko blames Quark rather than his own officers, and then starts blackmailing him into settling the dispute, whereas he is noticeably absent when Quark is badly beaten later in the episode. Ha ha.
I hasten to say that even if Quark declines to press charges, having strikebreakers on the station whose sole purpose is to intimidate through violence, and even intimidating Bajoran citizens like Leeta (directly or indirectly) is probably a sign that Sisko, Kira and/or Odo should get involved. In general, just because Ferengi business practices forbid unions does not mean that unions should be banned on Federation-Bajoran joint space stations with lots of non-Ferengi employees. The whole episode relies on the idea that Big Capital from Ferenginar is so anti-union that it will start beating up managers to send a message on little bars out of Ferengi space and jurisdiction, which is dubious to begin with, though I can maybe concede that they would apply economic pressure back home (seizing people's wages). Still, once the FCA starts using violent intimidation on the Fed/Bajoran station, this starts becoming an intergovernmental issue. That Quark, Rom et al. have to balance Ferengi values with the reality of life on a Fed/Bajoran station is/should be part of the issue here, and this aspect is acknowledged (in Brunt's "we forgive you because you're away from home, but don't expect this to go too far" speech) and largely dropped. Brunt's alacrity on the station is just difficult to believe, and feels largely like a desperate dramatic advice to prevent the episode from just resolving due to the fact that ordinary economic pressures (e.g. the boycott) would probably force Quark to capitulating earlier, given that Rom went full-on union pretty early in the show.
To some degree the external FCA pressure is meant to represent the internal pressures; Quark cannot allow unionization partly because he feels sick at the idea because of his values from home. But Quark is ultimately more pragmatic than ideological, and would basically agree to whatever gave *him* the most profit in the long run; if the bar would have to close down because of the strike, he would negotiate. As a metaphor, then, the FCA exaggerates the extent to which Quark is a traditioalist. Meanwhile, Rom for whatever reason holds one of the Ferengi traditions to heart. Rom is close to his final form in the series by now, and the comic lunkhead thing is in place where he fixates on one phrase as a guiding principle ("SEAN O'BRIEN!") and we are largely meant to buy it. Nah. The episode also is sure to endear us to Rom by the episode beginning with him having an ear infection which apparently resulted from too much oo-max, because we all know that you can get an STI from too much masturbation. That said, I did find some of Quark and Rom's moments together a little moving, because I kind of like their brotherly bond, even if it's a fairly abusive one in both directions. Rom's carelessness about Quark's having been beaten actually is consistent with "The Nagus," so maybe we should view Rom as someone who loves his brother but can turn on ruthlessness rather suddenly when he becomes fixated on an idea, and when he is particularly angry at Quark's treatment of him. In that sense, Rom quitting the bar and going into engineering is a nice resolution -- Rom recognizes that the bar will always be a battlefield for him and Quark, and that they can only really be brothers once they are not locked in competition. Leeta is fairly blank; it is noteworthy that Rom/Leeta is set up pretty hard here even though she is officially with Julian, a relationship that is given no development.
Somewhat better is the Worf subplot; I know that most of it is just "Worf is grumpy," which gets old quickly when it is not accompanied by good jokes, as it was in, say, "The Icarus Factor." And there is that brawl with O'Brien which still makes no sense to me. But overall it's kind of cute and it makes sense to me that Worf would find a starship more comfortable than a station, especially a warship. I like his scene with O'Brien talking about the Enterprise, and his scene with Odo talking about Worf's security failures (and Odo's glee), and Dax's thoughtful gift of opera, along with the final exchange: will he finally adapt to them, or they to him? It is lightweight (and probably needs even fewer scenes than the handful it has), but it's fine.
So the episode has a few elements I like but its basic structure relies on a bizarre series of assumptions, the FCA contrivance, setting up a conflict in which one side totally capitulates while twisting supporting characters into (off-screen) defending the other side, and so on, and has basically nothing to say about unions. For a far superior comic treatment, check out The Simpsons' classic "Last Exit to Springfield." 1.5 stars.
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
*Worf Goes in*
*O'Brien and Bashir follow*
O'Brien: What the hell do you think you're doing?
Worf: I am getting a drink. I am thirsty.
O'Brien: There is a strike going on! You can't eat here.
Worf: That is none of my concern, and you can not tell me where I can and cannot eat.
O'Brien: Stop being such an asshole *grabs Worf's sleeve and starts trying to lead him away*
And then the fight starts.
I never got the sense that the fight was because Worf passionately SUPPORTED the strike so much as he opposed whatever O'Brien said or did to try to shame him out of getting a drink there.
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
In fact, the episode sort of gestures (interestingly) to this idea -- to some degree, basically Quark and Rom's *personal* dispute, as siblings, and the labour dispute between Quark's employees and Quark, as workers and employer, get taken over by conflicting interests who get involved to defend one or two principles and then promptly lose interest. Bashir suggests unionizing and then after Rom actually unionizes, half-assedly back-pedals and suggest he didn't actually tell Rom to do that. O'Brien gets passionate about the idea of unions from his family history and gets in brawls over it, but does not do all that much to help the workers. Sisko intervenes when his officers get into a relatively minor (if inappropriate) fight, which has little to do with Quark or Rom or anyone, and then is noitceably absent when Nausicaans beat Quark badly while he no doubt begs for mercy. Brunt swoops in to protect Ferengi values, has the one person on Brunt's "side" beats up and inadvertently forces management to capitulate to *all* the union's demands. Worf has no opinion about the union at all but is in a bad mood so gets into a fight. That read strikes me as pretty funny and entertaining, particularly against the backdrop of Bajoran Space Lent starting everything up, which means that basically every element of this episode is created by conflicting ideological and quasi-religious motivations, mixed in with decades-old family resentments, to the point where it becomes basically impossible for any of the characters to deal with the conflict rationally. That is *maybe* what they were going for, and I think aspects of it are definitely in the final product, but it is pretty confused.
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 10:51am (UTC -5)
"The thing is, I can imagine ways in which Worf could start siding with Quark -- for example, if we push the episode's class stuff further, maybe with his House stripped, Worf pines for his aristocratic status within the Empire and projects this onto Quark's attempt to hold onto what is "his" by Ferengi tradition."
I think you're quite right:
A traditional, aristocratic warrior ethos values honour, tradition, law, and order, and will therefore almost always side with authority. Almost any authority.
The only exception to this is the importance given to *justice* in a given ethos. To a mediaeval, chivalrous, Christian knight, for instance, the notion of justice was much more important than to a Roman patrician, or a Japanese samurai. While all three would expect servants to obey their masters, the Christian knight would also expect the masters to treat their servants with a certain minimum of fair treatment as good Christians, and might even go so far as to support a revolt against a tyrannous lord as a just cause. This is indeed at the very core of the mediaeval Christian concept of 'bellum iustum, or 'just war'.
We know that the Klingon ethos also values justice; in fact, it is at the very heart of Klingon mythology: Kahless the Unforgettable rose to fight the tyrant Molor. But would this be enough to make Worf support Quark's workers?
I don't believe so. Unlike the Roman patricians, who had little or no regard for human life but were often undistinguishable from great merchants, always involved in trading, the Klingon ethos seems to much more resemble the Japanese one, with a much more profound divide between land and commerce, nobility and money. In a Roman perspective, much more pragmatic, a pennyless patrician would no longer be a patrician. In the Japanese worldview, utterly dogmatic, all a samurai needed was his sword, and his word, to be noble.
In "The House of Quark" we see hints of the economic workings of a Klingon noble house. And unlike the Romans, it is clear that the Klingons have little or no respect for that part of the administration of noble estates: it is a necessary evil, best to be avoided by the lords themselves. This is again consistent with the administration of Japanese noble houses, in which the lords would be expected to master calligraphy, and poetry, and would spend their time in other such noble occupations: not accounting.
So while I can imagine a Klingon warrior supporting a rebellion against a tyrannous lord, the rebellion must *not* be about... money. The workers' cause at Quark's, in the eyes of a samurai or a Klingon warrior, would seem dishonorable: they are not beaten, raped, or otherwise mistreated by their master. All they want is more money, and other trivial things. To a Ferengi this is of course of great importance; but to a Klingon, the importance is next to none: a Klingon would not recognize the workers' claims.
So it makes sense that Worf wouldn't really be interested in Quark's and the workers' quarrels over trivial matters; but must he take sides, it would be with Quark: not out of sympathy for his cause, but as a natural, visceral defence of tradition. Because in the eyes of his ethos, tradition is inherently good. Klingon tradition is good for Klingons; Cardassian tradition is good for Cardassians; Romulan tradition is good for Romulans; and Ferengi tradition is good for the Ferengi. As a Jem'Hadar would say: "It is the order of things".
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 11:05am (UTC -5)
"when a klingon episode shows up I accept that their values matter to them and look at the characters as part of that culture. And the writers do the same. When a Ferengi episode comes up I still try to understand their point of view but the writers don't."
William B is right: you hit the nail on the head here.
Fri, Jan 1, 2016, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
But has there ever been a better delivery than Worf's description of the station as "unsettling". And Dax gives Worf a mix-tape - I mean how adorable is that? 2.5 stars.
Sat, Apr 2, 2016, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 7:09am (UTC -5)
When I first started doing these "Deep Space Nine" reviews I said that I was going to try to keep my thoughts relatively brief compared to my TNG ones. I think I've been relatively successful at that - keeping them to around three or four paragraphs long. However, I did say that when I thought an episode was particularly bad I would reengage my Rantzerker Mode. Well, brace yourselves ladies and gentlemen. This is going to be a very, very long review because this episode sucked!
"Deep Space Nine" has been fairly good about not doing stuff like this - only showing one side of an argument or getting up on the usual Trek preachy soap-box about an issue. "Past Tense" did a pretty good job of not going off into the standard Trek preachy mode when it dealt with its issues. And virtually whenever the series deals with religion, the treatment has been remarkably well-balanced (very much unlike almost all TNG treatments of it). However, this time the writers, producers, actors, etc. are in full-on soap-box mode when it comes to the issue of labor relations. Management is simply not given any kind of reasonable treatment here in any way, shape or form whatsoever. Quark is the villain, end of story. Nothing will get in the way of that. The unionists are the heroes. Again, end of story. Trade unions cannot, and will not, be shown to be anything but shining, angelic exemplars of virtue by "Bar Association", even when what's being presented is really, really disturbing.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm a conservative. However, if there is really any political entity on the American scene today that even comes close to adequately representing my views it would the Libertarian Party. But even then there's a lot I disagree with them on. One of their slogans is "fiscally conservative, socially liberal." I personally don't like it because it makes libertarians look like they're just picking and choosing things from more well-thought out philosophies instead of having a rigorous system of their own. But, for my purposes here it works. I think it's fair to generalize and say I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal. However, that does not mean I am adamantly against unions. Unions have a place and a role to serve, no doubt. There are indeed greedy, asshole employers out there who treat their workers like dirt and unions are, naturally, a good remedy for that. But, I do have two major problems with almost all unions - forced membership and treatment of scab workers. I once belonged to a union, a public sector union no less, and so I have personal experience with those problems. That union never did anything for me except force me to join, take union dues out of my paycheck that I didn't want them to take and browbeat me into standing on picket lines I didn't want to take part in. If workers want to be non-unionized then their desires should be respected. And if others want to cross the picket/strike line and work as scabs, then they shouldn't be molested. But show me a union and in 99.9% of cases I'll show you those two problems being committed. And the recent Supreme Court case that allowed unions to force membership and dues from workers doesn't help either. So, an episode that really goes to the wall in an attempt to paint unions as infallibly good is already off on the wrong foot with me.
As for the episode itself, I've debated how best to organize the problems I have with it. Do I do a standard paragraph rundown of them all? Or another act-by-act review? No. There are so many problems that I'm going to have to go through the episode literally scene by scene. So, again, brace yourselves. This is going to be long....
1.) We start out with O'Brien and Bashir dressed in Celtic warrior costumes looking like morons. Leeta even laughs at them, prompting Bashir to say he feels silly. Well, the two of you are dressed in ridiculous outfits; so yeah, you should feel silly. Apparently they've got a holosuite program about the Battle of Clontarf - Irish warriors verses Vikings. O'Brien gets to play the part of the High King of Ireland because, as it turns out, he's a direct descendant of the real-life King Brian Boru. Well, given that he was killed while praying in his tent at the battle, I sure hope you have fun there Miles.
2.) We then see that Quark's Bar is almost completely empty. There are virtually no customers. Only Morn, of course, and it looks like one other behind the Dabo Table. All the Dabo Girls and waiters are just milling around, doing nothing. It's the Bajoran Time of Cleansing, when they abstain from all worldly pleasures for a whole month. Good Lord, and I thought giving up one worldly pleasure for Lent was tough! Quark, naturally, is in a foul mood as a result. I can't say I blame him since his entire business model revolves around helping people satisfy their worldly pleasures. Meanwhile, Rom is moaning and groaning because his ear hurts. He then decides to pour an entire beaker of something into it right there behind the bar. Yeah, that's a good idea - start out the episode in which you're going to say that Rom is really smarter than he appears by having him do something downright stupid and revolting. Does he take this home ear remedy back in Quark's stockroom? In some secluded corner of the restaurant where nobody will see him? Nope! Right behind the bar, in full view of everyone present. Idiot.
3.) By the way, where are all the non-Bajoran residents of the station? Why aren't they still indulging in worldly pleasures? Oh well, we'll just ignore that because the episode requires it. *groan*
4.) Rom then collapses because his ear problem is so serious. Leeta rushes over to him to help and asks Quark if he's going to do anything, to which Quark replies that he's going to dock Rom's pay. Leeta is absolutely aghast. This establishes that Quark is indisputably the villain for the episode. Showing a complete disrespect for someone who's clearly sick and/or incapacitated is clearly wrong and shows what a total scumbag you are. Let's just file this little nugget of information away for later, shall we?
5.) We come back from the credits to find Rom having his ear treated by Bashir in the Infirmary. We learn that he's had this infection for three weeks but didn't come in to have it checked out because he can't leave work during his shift. Quark's employees get no sick time, no vacations, no overtime pay. If Rom had left to get his ear examined he could have been fired because Quark's employees have such terrible working conditions. Well, apparently Starfleet has amazing working conditions, with extremely short hours. Otherwise Rom might have been able to have Bashir fix him up, you know, after work! But that would mean Bashir would have to work a little late. And the Battle of Clontarf isn't going to holographically fight itself, is it Julian?! A man has to have his priorities straight, after all. Of course, we get no condemnation of Bashir or his medical staff for this. That would mean someone other than Quark would be seen as villainous. We can't have that, can we?
6.) Rom returns to work and meekly tells Leeta that it's really his fault for getting sick. He didn't get his routine check-up and has also been giving himself to much oo-mox. Just so we're clear here - Rom has been literally jerking off so much that he messed up his ear. In other words, his condition was self-inflicted. Any sympathy I had for Rom while Quark stood over him not caring has already evaporated.
7.) We then get this exchange....
LEETA: Really? Who's the lucky female?
ROM: No female. Just me.
LEETA: I'm sorry.
ROM: Sorry enough to do something about it? *shoves his ear toward her*
Easy there, tiger! Damn, he's smooth, isn't he? Again, this is supposed to be the "hero" of the episode, right?
8.) Quark then announces a pay cut. Clearly he's a greedy little son-of-a-bitch, right? There's no other possible explanation for such a move, right? Are you kidding? There's hardly any customers. There haven't been hardly any costumers since the Time of Cleansing began. Earnings are down. Time for a quick economics lesson. Profit is what is left over after expenses are taken out of earnings. With earnings down there can be no profit. So, Quark is right - it's either cut the pay or fire some people. Quark, being the bastard he supposedly is, decides to go with the pay cut instead of tossing everyone out on the street. News flash - some pay is better than no pay. But, no, we're supposed to see this as just another sign of Quark's greedy villainy.
9.) Rom takes him aside and says that he can't cut the pay. It doesn't matter if the bar has virtually no customers and isn't bringing in any earnings. The employees deserve to be paid at the same rate even though they're basically doing nothing. In other words - GIMME, GIMME, GIMME! Who is the greedy one here? Quark is willing to keep all these people on, only at a reduced rate of pay, but Rom is having none of it. But that doesn't matter. We can't have Rom, and the other employees', greed be even commented upon because we can't have unions look bad.
10.) Quark responds to Rom's implicit threat of regretting his decision by lamenting that he isn't an only child. Okay, that really is a dick move. But, given some of the stuff Rom later does in the episode, I have a hard time disagreeing with Quark's assessment.
11.) We then cut over to the B-plot with Worf and Dax leaving the holosuites and their Klingon training sessions.
DAX: I'm not a Klingon warrior. I'm a beautiful and sensitive young woman who thrives on....
Oh, great, as if this episode wasn't already insufferable enough, let's throw a nice, huge helping of Jadzia's narcissism into the mix.
12.) Worf and Dax discover a thief crawling through the shafts who has just robbed Worf's quarters. This leads to the only good part of the episode - Odo giving Worf grief about security breaches on the Enterprise, including the events of "Rascals" and "A Matter of Time". It's a very enjoyable scene but it's nowhere near enough to save the episode. Then again, since it basically revolves around Odo rubbing Worf's face in shit, it's actually a perfect metaphor for "Bar Association", which is otherwise nothing but shit.
13.) Sigh, back to the A-plot. Rom assembles all of Quark's employees and tells them that Quark is just using the Cleansing Ritual to increase his profits at their expanse. No he isn't! I know you're stupid, Rom, but are you also blind?! Or do the writers just expect me to be blind and/or stupid. There are no customers! Have we forgotten this?! Without customers there are no earnings and without earnings there is no profit or pay. Without customers these people have no jobs! But no, we just have to blindly accept that Quark is clearly in the wrong because unions can do no wrong.
14.) This leads directly into one of the major problems with the episode. Rom tells everyone that they're going to form a union. That means that Rom is going to be leader of this little worker's rebellion. Rom. You know, I do like Rom as a character, even if he's so woefully misused a lot of times. But does anybody honestly think that he's capable of being an inspiring, charismatic leader of men? This is Rom. He's an idiot. He's the guy who thought it was okay to pour stuff into his ear in public and creepily ask a woman for a hand-job with no lead in. This is not the guy who is going to hold together this little rag-tag group and be firm enough to stand up to the pressure that's going to be placed on him. But the episode honestly expects us to think this makes sense. *facepalm*
15.) Actually, this scene also establishes another major problem with the episode. Rom is, through the force of his personality (ha!), able to convince every single employee of Quark's to join in his little union/strike. Remember what I said about how I dislike most unions because of the way they treat scabs? Well, where the hell are the scabs in this story? There's not a single one to be found. But, of course, if we showed scabs or anybody not willing to take part in this plan it would - you guessed it - show unions in a bad light. And we simply cannot have that now can we?
16.) We cut over to the Infirmary, where O'Brien has a disgusting cyst growing on the back of his neck. Ha, another perfect metaphor for "Bar Association"! O'Brien is fully on board with the formation of the union. But then, as the every-man/handyman of the series, did you honestly expect the writers to do anything less? He references another of his ancestors, Sean O'Brien, as a leader during the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902. While I'm impressed that they used an actual historical event, I wonder why they didn't mention something like the International Association of Bridge Structural Iron Workers Strikes of 1906-1911. Oh, that's right, because in those strikes the union directly responded to management's refusal to talk by dynamiting buildings and physically assaulting non-union workers, leading to dozens of deaths and hundred of people wounded. Nah, the only violence involved in labor relations comes from management using it against the poor, struggling workers, right? Even when referring to actual historical events they refuse to portray unions as anything but angelic.
17.) ROM: You mean we should force Quark to close the bar?
BASHIR: Only as a last resort. If he's reasonable about your requests, there's no need to strike.
O'BRIEN: Quark reasonable? Ha! Unlikely. You'll have to strike, mark my words.
Ah, yes, because the series has never shown Quark to be reasonable in any way, has it? Did I just slip into the Mirror Universe again without realizing it? Quark has been shown to be reasonable in this very episode by NOT FIRING EVERYONE! God!
18.) And so, the strike is on! And the matter in which they go about it? Bribing people to not patronize Quark's Bar. Hmm, I thought greed and lust for money was the problem. I guess it's okay when it's done in the name of the workers.
19.) Odo comes into the Bar after being called by Quark only to find he's using holographic waiters now. Again, where the hell are the scabs?!
20.) Odo makes a really sensible remark about how if you need a mob to get something it's probably not worth getting. Of course he won't help Quark even though he agrees with him. We can't have one of the hero characters helping the vile, evil, greedy Quark break up the wonderful strike, now can we? Sisko has ordered him not to get involved as long as the strike is peaceful and he's going along. Given that Odo has been shown to disobey direct orders in the past when he disagrees with them, I'm calling bullshit on this.
21.) BASHIR: What about that Vulcan?
O'BRIEN: With their sense of ethics? Definitely on the side of labor.
Ah yes, because the only way to be ethical is to be in favor of the union. Fuck you. And by the way, isn't the defining feature of Vulcans logic, not ethics? Logic can lead you to some pretty unethical/immoral behavior. For instance - the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Very logical, but it could be used to, say, justify helping sixty million Germans by killing six million Jews.
22.) Two Pakleds then enter the bar, which Bashir and O'Brien knew they would. Given that the Pakleds have been shown, since they're very first appearance, to be utterly stupid, that means the writers are saying you have to be stupid yourselves if you support management. Fuck you!
23.) Worf then enters the bar (for reasons only he knows - maybe he just wants to get a drink and fucking relax!), much to O'Brien's chagrin. "Not for long," O'Brien declares as he storms into the bar intent on setting Worf on the path of supposed virtue once more. Of course, the only thing that happens is that he and Worf get into a small brawl ending with Bashir being thrown over a table. Finally, an admission that labor can lead to violence! Of course, is this ever once commented on by the episode? Of fucking course not! One of the supposed "good guys" can start a fight - we later learn that O'Brien threw the first punch - with someone only appearing to support the supposed "bad guy" and basically not be called on it aside from a night in a holding cell.
24.) Which brings me to the scene in the holding cell with Sisko, Worf, O'Brien and Bashir. Could someone explain to me why Sisko decides to leave Bashir in jail for the night? He was trying to stop the fight. Oh well, it's supposed to be funny, I guess?
25.) So Sisko decides that enough is enough. If Starfleet officers, and senior staff members no less, are brawling on the Promenade over this, it's high time to bring this strike to a close. What does he do? Does he bring Quark and Rom together and make them hammer out an agreement that's mutually beneficial to both? Sit down with both sides and offer to mediate the dispute? No. He, of course, hauls Quark, alone, into his office and browbeats him about not resolving the issue already. Nevermind that the fight started because O'Brien was taking Rom's side. Quark is to blame! Quark alone! Nevermind the truly difficult spot Quark finds himself in due to Ferengi law and customs. It's all Quark's fault for not giving the strikers everything they want! He even goes so far as to threaten Quark with collecting all the past dues his bar has incurred over the years, dues the Federation usually doesn't care about. In other words, he starts acting like a capitalist. Well, greed is okay when it's done in favor of the workers and now, I suppose, capitalism is too. Christ, I'm only twenty-five minutes into the episode! When is this shit going to end?!
26.) Well, not yet, because when faced with this threat from Sisko, Quark goes and offers to compromise with Rom. He offers him a bribe - a fairly standard Ferengi way of compromising. Rom absolutely refuses to budge from his position. So, Quark (the vile, evil villain) is willing to work out some form of a compromise even in the face of 10,000 years of Ferengi tradition but Rom won't compromise at all. Who the fuck is supposed to be the villain here again?!
27.) "Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains." ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!!!!!!!! They did it. They actually did it! They had the god-damn "hero" of this story directly quote the motherfucking Communist Manifesto! FUCK YOU, WRITERS!!!!! FUCK YOU!!!!! Communism is the single most destructive ideology in human history. It degrades the human soul more than anything ever devised by the mind of Man! And they had the quote, unquote "good guy" quote from one of it's most important founding documents. Leaving aside natural causes, communism has directly led to more deaths than anything, ever. The death toll from communism makes even Hitler himself look like nothing! If I wasn't determined to get through this pile of horseshit affectionately known as an episode, this is the point where I would throw up my hands and bail out. Given that this episode aired in 1996, just a little over five short years after the collapse of Soviet Communism - quite possibly the most evil force ever unleashed on humanity - I am stunned almost speechless. Is there really any point in going on after this?! Fuck, I'll try.
28.) QUARK: What's happened to you?
Umm, yeah, what has happened to Rom at this point? He is rather stupid, but having him quote Karl Marx is a level of stupid that surpasses any expectation. Having a Ferengi, even Rom, do that is like having a Jew quote "Mein Kampf" and say "well, a little extreme but he makes some good points."
29.) Enter the actual villain of the episode - Brunt, F.C.A. Oh, by the way, Jammer - that's Ferengi Commerce Authority, not Agency. He tells Quark that he's been ordered to end the strike by any means necessary. This clearly troubles Quark. But he's nothing but a cold, heartless villain, right?
30.) In Rom's quarters, the union members all laugh about how Quark is having less and less customers by the day because support for them is growing on the station. One says "Quark will have to settle or go out of business," to which they all laugh again. Yeah, Quark will have to shut down the bar. Haha! And then you'll all be unemployed, without any pay, sick leave, vacations or overtime at all. Isn't it funny?! *facepalm* Of course, the episode can't point this out because, you guessed it, unions can't be shown as bad in any way.
31.) Brunt then phasers his way through the door and interrupts the meeting to threaten everyone with Ferengi cultural intimidation and his two large, hulking Nausicaan thuggish goons. What's the response to this by Rom and the strikers? "Let's get back on that picket line and show Quark what we're made of!" Let me just bang my head against my desk for a few minutes! Dumbass, it wasn't Quark who shot his way into the room and threatened you all. It was Brunt! Even when they actually have a villain intimidating the "good guys," blame still has to be directed entirely at Quark. Christ!
32.) "In unity, there is strength." Good grief, as SFDebris pointed out in his review, that's the slogan of the fascist, totalitarian state in a "Doctor Who" episode. They sure are picking some real winners for this union's mission statements, aren't they. First communism, now fascism.
33.) Cutting back to the B-plot, Worf apologizes to O'Brien for their brawl. He apologizes for a fight O'Brien started. *sigh* You know.... .... .... .... fuck it, moving on.
34.) Quark ambushes Rom in the corridor after he walked Leeta home and says he wants to talk. Rom refuses to talk unless Quark gives in to all the union's demands. More uncompromising bullshit from our hero, ladies and gentlemen. Well, actually, Quark is here because he's worried about Rom now that Brunt and his Nausicaan goons are on the case. How does Rom respond to this actual heartfelt concern from his brother? Does it make him reconsider his position? Make him stop acting like such an ass? Of course not. He just doubles-down on his prickish behavior. When Quark says he was so hard on him for his own good, Rom responds by declaring that Quark was only making himself feel good by running him down and calling him an idiot. But let's face facts here folks, that's bullshit. Quark is right - Rom is an idiot. He may be an idiot-savant when it comes to technical and engineering matters, but when it comes to business matters (the only thing Quark and Ferengi society at large care about), he is certified moron! Even his own mother admitted as much back in "Family Business", and she favors him over Quark tremendously. Granted, I usually don't give a single shit about anything Ishka says since she's so horrible a person, but you know whose opinion I do care about? Nog's. Even Nog, his own son, admitted that he's an idiot when it comes to business back in "Heart of Stone", in one of the series' most emotional scenes. Now I like Rom, I really do. Certainly not in this episode, but I do generally like him. But this is just absurd! Just another attempt to make Quark look bad.
35.) So, Quark continues expressing his concern over Rom's safety, saying that he won't be able to stop Brunt from hurting him and that he doesn't want his only brother harmed. Rom responds to this by simply not giving a shit. So, the "villain" has just showed heartfelt concern and compassion for his rival while the "hero" has acted like an asshole. *facepalm*
36.) Brunt flat out says that they need to hurt someone in order to send a message to the strikers. Quark openly admits that he doesn't want his brother harmed. More compassion from the cold-hearted, greedy bastard of a villain. Brunt, instead, decides to hurt Quark in order to get the message across to Rom. That is such a monumentally stupid idea that I don't think I even need to get into it.
37.) After the Nausicaans beat Quark to within an inch, hell - a millimeter, of his life (including shattering one his eye sockets, breaking several ribs and ripping open one of his lungs) Rom comes to visit him in the Infirmary. And we get this wonderful little exchange....
ROM: Does it hurt?
QUARK: Of course it hurts.
ROM: Too bad.
QUARK: If you're going to stand there and gloat, you can leave right now.
ROM: I'm not done gloating.
Where do I even begin? Let's start by pulling out #4 above which we tucked away for remembrance, shall we? Quark not caring about Rom's injury was a sign of total villainy - even though that problem was entirely self-inflicted. Rom not caring about Quark's injuries, which were anything but self-inflicted, isn't. Nice going, writers! You just made your "hero" look about as unsympathetic as possible. In fact, you made him look like a complete, irredeemable asshole!
38.) Quark continues to show what a scumbag he is by not pressing charges against Brunt and his goons in order to protect Rom from further acts of violence. Our villain, people, our villain!
39.) In an attempt to finally end the strike and ensure that the F.C.A. doesn't come down them like the Hammer of the Gods, Quark agrees to give in and allow the union to have all their demands. All his asks is that the new benefits not take effect for six months, at which time the Ferengi government won't be watching the books so closely. Rom throws this further offer at compromise right back in Quark's face. The union has to have its demands met right now! GIMME, GIMME, GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!! NO COMPROMISE!! But we're not supposed to judge Rom or the union for this because.... *sigh* do I even need to say it at this point?.... unions can do no wrong.
40.) All of this "unions are perfect" nonsense comes to a climax when Rom, in order to get the benefits immediately, demands that Quark create a false business ledger for the F.C.A. In other words, he forces Quark to commit fraud. But, hey, I guess fraud is perfectly acceptable when it's done in order to benefit the proletariat against the ravages of the bourgeoisie, eh comrade?
41.) We wrap up the B-plot by having Worf move into one of the ultra-tiny quarters aboard the Defiant in order to escape the chaos of the station. He and Dax banter a little about life on DS9 and Worf refuses to accommodate himself to this new life, insisting that everyone will have to change to deal with him. So, Worf doesn't have to deal with changing circumstances, but Quark damn well better! *head-desk*
42.) Nana Visitor then gets her paycheck required cameo appearance in the episode when she enters Quark's Bar after the Cleansing Ritual and immediately begins indulging in worldly pleasures again. But not before telling Quark to just get her food and then fuck off without bothering her with conservation. Because, even now, fuck Quark.
43.) Rom decides to quit his job at the bar and become one of the station's night shift, junior grade technicians. In later episodes, we learn that he gets assigned to waste extraction. So, after leading a campaign to stop being treated like shit, he decides it's better to be literally surrounded by shit all hours of the night. Rom, you're a god-damn dumbass!
And so "Bar Association" blessedly comes to a close! Damn, talk about a total train wreck! I guess I shouldn't be so surprised about it, though. It was never, never, never, never, never going to end up doing anything but taking the side of labor against management. After all, practically everyone involved in its production are themselves in unions. Ira Steven Behr - a member of the Writer's Guild. Armin Shimmerman - a lead negotiator on several Screen Actor's Guild issues. Levar Burton, the director of the episode - he's a Board Member of the Director's Guild of America! It simply wasn't going to be sympathetic to management. So, I've really taken Quark's side in this review. The reason for that is quite simple - nobody in the episode or the writing department does! Easter said it best - "When a Ferengi episode comes up I still try to understand their point of view but the writers don't." You know, the five major problems with this episode (Rom as an inspiring leader, the absence of scab workers, the disgusting use of the Communist Manifesto, Rom acting like such an absolute douche-bag after Quark's beating and Rom's use of fraud at the end) would alone be enough to tank this episode hard and earn it a 0 out of 10 score. But just look at all the other problems with it!
WORST! EPISODE! YET!
HOLODECK TOYS - 9 (+2)
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 8:26am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -5)
1-4 : Mostly agree, although since you're watching an episode you hated a second time I think perhaps these scenes are playing more grating than they should have. On the whole I found them relatively amusing, though still meh.
5 : Ya, I know he's a single parent but Nog is off at school... so I don't know what he's busy doing all night that he can't go see Bashir. And don't most bars have late hours anyway? Shouldn't he be working more like 5-3 when stuff is busiest? But Ferengi usually have to be caricature level of awful when it comes to treatment of employees and greed and so the baseline is just that Quark is an awful employer. Which anybody watching the show already knew. I don't know if we needed this level of hyperbole either... but at least he's not making Rom rub his ears, right?
6&7 : Hand on, you've never been to the doctor over a self inflicted injury? And apparently "getting off" on DS9 is rough business... didn't Curzon die from Jamaharon? And lol, yes Rom is smooth. But I'm not 100% sure he's the hero.
8-10 : I'm as liberal as it gets and the only thing I faulted Quark with here is his delivery. In most places dozens of employees sitting around doing nothing would be furloughed until busy season again. Quark is right... I'm not sure why you think the PoV is that he isn't. He treats his employees like crap (no sick days!!), but the "straw that breaks the camels back" in this case is not the decision of a heartless capitalists monster. This episode goes back and forth between comedy and serious, but I don't think Quark's supposed to just be a monster. A caricature at times... yes, but not a monster.
11-12 : I liked this too.
13 : I think Rom, because Quark treats them like garbage, thinks that Quark is doing a pay cut instead of furlough so that he can keep all his employees and not fully reinstate the pay next month when business goes back to normal. I don't think Quark can do no wrong, but I'm not 100% sure Rom's suspicion that Quark wants to use this to permanently cut pay and eventually raise his profit is all wrong. As a liberal watching this episode my gut reaction by the end is that they are both pig headed as anything and that this episode is ultimately about the relationship between 2 brothers and not really pro-union material.
14 : Lol... Ferengi comedy tends to require more suspension of disbelief that most episodes. I liked this one though (even though I don't like most Ferengi comedies that much). Just go with it. The "hero" (although that's debatable) is a lunkhead.
15 : "Here's not a single one to be found." Don't we get one in like 5 minutes?
16 : That's O'Brien's PoV, not necessarily the episodes. Characters should be biased.
17 : These are flawed characters and they have, on more than one occasion, been shown to be rather racist against Ferengi... even when the Ferengi aren't doing anything wrong. Again though, characters being flawed and biased aren't necessarily speaking for the episode or the writers. Sisko in particular is awful to Quark and almost didn't even let his son be friends with a Ferengi. Which is awesome because Jake is black and that's a cool twist.
18 : LOL, I think there are a lot of hints that the union is flawed too.
19-20 : Oh lighten up, this was a cute scene. And why would Odo disobey orders to stop something that is as of yet peaceful. Shouldn't he need a bigger reason to disobey orders than "I don't really like this"? Is he THAT terrible of an officer? But still, here is a character that is in the grey zone and you are not appreciating it!!
21 : O'Brien and Bashir think it's unethical to side with labor. The episode clearly puts O'Brien/Bashir on one side and Worf/Odo on the other. It's one of DS9's strong suits that their characters are so different. O'Brien/Bashir/Dax are typically more liberal and Odo/Worf/Kira are typically more conservative. Sisko tries to sit more in the middle (although I think he leans left).
22 : Again, O'Brien is pretty racist. On the whole he's a good guy... but he really doesn't like Spoonheads, Ferengi or Pakleds. I really never felt HIM to be the mouthpiece of the series (I actually think it's usually Sisko).
23-24 : O'Brien caused a brawl in Quark's... you still don't think the episode is on his side, do you? Do they 100% establish who threw the first punch? I don't see that in the script. But yes, Sisko leaving Bashir in there is a dick move.
25. Sisko has been shown to be racist against Quark in the past, yes... But I don't actually think Sisko thinks it's Quark's "fault". I think he thinks Quark is the one he has leverage on. He can MAKE Quark fix this in a way he can't MAKE Rom fix it. It's not the first time he's pulled a dick move to push Quark into solving one of his problems. He bullies Quark. In more than one episode. Starting with the first one.
26. There is no villain. At least not to me. This whole episode is character development for Quark and Rom and the fact is that Rom is a TERRIBLE Ferengi. Which is what leads us to the episode's conclusion (and has nothing to do with strikes).
27-28. Yes, this episode is about what's happeniong to Rom and their relationship. It doesn't actually have all that much to do with Unions.
29. Yes, the show does paint Brunt as the villain... which I never had a problem with. He, to me... is the epitome of everything bad about the Ferengi. Which contrasts with Quark.
30-32. They are quoting the Soviet Union and Facists and you still think the writers are trying to say they are 100% right? Also we have our first scab (someone who decided his life was more important than the Union's cause) and you didn't mention it!!! He wasn't portrayed gallantly, but still.
33. They both apologize and he apologizes for letting their argument get out of hand... not for crossing the picket line. Are you 100% sure O'Brien started it though?
"SISKO: Then what were you doing?
O'BRIEN: We were
WORF: Having a difference of opinion.
O'BRIEN: I suppose towards the end there, we might have done a bit of shoving.
SISKO: According to Odo, Doctor Bashir was shoved over a table.
WORF: Now that was an accident.
BASHIR: It was just, things just got a little out of hand. "
O'Brien started the argument, I see nothing about who threw the first punch. Which does matter.... and the episode might even imply it's Worf based on this scene. I STILL think O'Brien was to blame, harrassing the poor man for getting his damned prune juice, but still.... a friend can still apologize to a friend for hitting him without it meaning more than that.
34&35. I actually think this is where Rom starts to look less sympathetic and Quark more. All I saw in this scene was ROM being selfish and Quark worried about his brother. Which again brings me to my conclusion that the union is the backdrop for what the episode is actually about.
36. "More compassion from the cold-hearted, greedy bastard of a villain" the episode keeps disproving your initial assumptions about it and veering into gray territory but you keep ignoring that... why?
37. I like that we pull back #4 here. Both brothers have shown significant lack of compassion towards each other this episode. Nobody is the hero!! (though Brunt is clearly the villain)
38. Well in this case he doesn't press charges because he's afraid of the FCA. That makes the FCA look like villains. It doesn't say jack about Quark.
39. Your right, Quark is being more reasonable to Rom. And the fact that Rom doesn't let Quark have his way here nearly leads to Quark's DEATH at the end of the season. I'm sorry they don't reference that as being partially Rom's fault. In fact, Body Parts is a direct sequel and Rom is largely responsible for the hate Brunt takes to Quark. And Brunt references the Union, but nobody pits in on Rom that he didn't give Quark time to cover it up.... a missed opportunity.
40. "BRUNT: Done to me? And you call your brother an idiot? Nothing you've ever done to me has been more than a minor inconvenience. No. Protecting your mother from an FCA audit, and secretly settling with your striking employees were nothing more than symptoms of a vile and insidious weakness. A weakness that makes me loath you, not for what you've done but for who you are, what you are." Yes, that fraud comes back to bite Quark in the ass big time later.
42. I'm actually sorry she wasn't in the episode more. She's one of Trek's more conservative characters and I'd have loved to get her opinion. That said, my Dad gets cranky after not drinking all of Lent too.... so I think this was just a joke.
43. This is why I think this episode has nothing to do with unions. Rom is a bad Ferengi. He wouldn't take a bribe to stop a strike. He isn't afraid of the FCA. Their conversation is really about the fact that Rom needs to see who he is when his brother isn't running his life. It's why Rom has been as big, if not a bigger dick to Quark all episode. Quark is almost like a Dad/Brother in some ways. Rom was rebelling. The whole strike was Rom raging against his culture and his brother. It's why he was so unreasonable.
I watched this episode and I saw Quark caring about his brother and his brother being unreasonable. The ending is a little abrubt, but it's what the episode is about. Rom finding himself. That's really all. Quark is a greedy SOB who gave no paid sick or vacation and wouldn't promise to remove the pay cut when the Bajoran's came back from fasting... but Rom was being a greed SOB too and you finally figure out why. He's rebelling against his culture. And his brother. He wants to go find himself, like so many teenagers (except he isn't one). But Rom being immature is nothing new. I just think this episode is about brothers, and it's a good one. And I like the followup too (Body Parts)... though I wish SOMEONE pointed out that it was all Rom's fault in the end.....
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Remind me never to make you mad lol.
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
At the very least, the episode gave Rom an identity for the first time that really distinguished him from Quark. And this only builds to bigger things down the line. Whether Rom was taken in a good direction is surely a matter of opinion, but the fact remains that fleshing out his character began with this episode. (Leeta Romance, Joining station engineering, being less interested in business)
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 6:53am (UTC -5)
1-4 : Okay, you might be right about some of these scenes, especially the stuff about O'Brien and Bashir dressed up for the holosuites. My already present dislike of the Holodeck Toy gag and my overall dislike for the episode probably tainted that a little. I'll let it pass.
5: Exactly, the hyperbole is off the charts in this episode.
6-7: Can't say I've ever been to the doctor for a self-inflicted injury. Maybe, when I was so young I can't remember now, but I doubt it. And I certainly wouldn't use that as an excuse to gain the levels of sympathy the episode tries to get us to feel for Rom over it.
8-10: Quark's decision to cut the pay is the direct reason for Rom forming the union. So, yeah, I think it's fair to say that the episode is painting Quark as the villain with this.
11-12: I also really liked the scene between Worf and Odo. The one with Dax, however - well, that's probably my already present dislike of her character.
13: I have to disagree with you there. While both Quark and Rom are presented as pigheaded, I think the episode is very much pro-union in its message.
15: I assume you mean Frool - the Ferengi who collapses in front of Brunt because he's scared of the F.C.A. I don't count him as a scab because it's not like he goes back to work after that scene or anything. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, he's seen back on the picket line in the very next scene.
16: I don't know. The episode sure doesn't seem determined to show any negatives of unions.
18: Okay, there may be hints that the union is flawed (though it's debatable), but given that they're never called on it, I'll stick with my original assumption.
19-20: Okay, maybe. But even the grey character still ultimately takes the side of the union.
22: This scene really just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe that's just my interpretation of it, but there it is.
33: It's pretty clear that O'Brien started it. Here's the dialogue....
O'BRIEN: I grabbed you, you shoved me, and Julian was tossed over a table.
36: "the episode keeps disproving your initial assumptions about it and veering into gray territory but you keep ignoring that... why?" Because I really don't see any sympathy being marshaled for Quark, even here. I honestly get the impression that the writers still want us to side with Rom.
38: ROM: Odo has him and the Nausicaans in a holding cell. He says it's an open and shut case.
QUARK: It's an open and shut case all right, but I'm not going to press charges.
ROM: You're not?
QUARK: Of course not. I'm in enough trouble with the FCA as it is.
ROM: But then Odo will have to let them go.
QUARK: Either way, the FCA will just send another Liquidator. AND THAT ONE WILL MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF YOU. (emphasis added)
Seems obvious to me that Quark is, at least in part, doing it because he doesn't want Rom to get hurt.
You make some good points about what this episode *might* be trying to say. But, I still think it's the worst DS9 outing yet.
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 8:53am (UTC -5)
13 : It LEANS pro-union... but I do appreciate that not every good guy automatically thinks the union is a good idea. As you pointed out, every person involved in the making of this episode is in a union... but they still manage to grey the issue out with Worf/Odo (and the fact that Quark actually isn't being totally unreasonable... even for Quark).
15 : Is he? LOL... I haven't watched it in a while. That's a miss for sure.
33 : Thanks, I was looking for that, thought obviously not really well. Worf probably should have had more restraint than to attack a fellow officer and friend just for grabbing him, but that's Worf's character development in this episode (that he's on edge because he hates living on the station). O'Brien should probably have known better than to grab a thirsty Klingon though. That's gotta be foreign relations 101 at the academy.....
36 : I had the impression that Rom was the hero of the piece too... but that what the piece was about was him growing up. I more him as being opposed to Ferengi culture in general. Quark is, in some ways, an "innocent" bystander in Rom's little anti-Ferengi rebellion.
38 : Fair enough, I had fully conceded though that Quark's concern for Rom is pretty obvious. Quark is hard on Rom, but he loves him. It's all on full display in this episode. It's another reason I think this episode is trying to make Quark not the villain.
The point of the episode (to me at least) is just that Rom stands up to Quark finally and grows up a little. He makes mistakes along the way, and Quark is not really totally in the wrong, but like a teenager standing up to their parents I guess it's an important part of growing up. Even when you're not totally right, going your own way is important developmentally (I guess :P ).
I agree with a lot of your assessment of the episode... especially the fight, the fact that Quark is treated poorly be everybody often, even when he's not being bad, and the hyperbole. But I think this episode is a really important lynchpin in the Quark/Rom arc (like Chrome said) and that it may not be as anti-management as you think (even if it IS pro-union... which I will concede).
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, yeah Capitalism is good, Unions are bad. We get it.
Quark treats his employer as capitalists did during the 19th century. No sick leave, no vacation and children working 18 hours a day until they were dead. And unions and the teachings of Karl Marx (who by the way is still very respected as an economist even by guys from the other side like Hayek or Friedman) were the reason that through the evil state/work laws we have now sick leave, vacation and no child labor. The horror.
Why do you even watch Star Trek ? The Federation is basically a liberal communist state.
Maybe the apprentice is more your style.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:01am (UTC -5)
OMG another frakin socialist.
Unions are only possible because of capitalism. .... and it's not like the rest of the planets workforce were in cozy unions so don't knock the US when the rest of the world was worse.
Go vote for Bernie.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 11:24am (UTC -5)
And I was actually talking about Europe not about the colonies. :)
But I guess it was quite as bad in the US during that time (plus slavery and the native american genocide)
My point was that Luke doesn't know much about economics or history (which are my fields) but that has never stopped anybody, right. ?
Mon, May 30, 2016, 1:48am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
What I think is interesting is that the writers both allow you and me to see Quark as the victim in all this, while at the same time insist we interpret capitalism as bad and unions as good. I guess that's their idea of balance. What did Armin Shimmerman's character Hebert say in "Far Beyond The Stars"? Wasn't it you freaking "pinko"?
Sun, Oct 9, 2016, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 15, 2016, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
This is a great episode. Watch it.
Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Jammer indeed has an anti-Ferengi bias. I thought this episode was far better than his review suggests, Max Grodenchik and Chase Masterson were both fantastic and this was one of the stronger "Life on the Station" episodes - solid 3 star episode.
Everybody getting there political knickers in a twist..... I too would consider myself a Libertarian and I'm no fan of Unions but I don't get furious and write a 10,000 word essay attacking an episode just because it doesn't match my political philosophy. To me this episode was an example of what Unions should do, as opposed to what I feel in many cases they actually do. Star Trek is entertainment, in my mind fantastic entertainment and I'm not going to get all bent out of shape because there's a couple of lines in the script that I may not subscribe to politically.
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I agree with SteveRage, it's entertainment and not something to strop about or get all foamy at the mouth over. And I've also noticed that Jammer has a clear bias against Ferengi episodes. IMO most Ferengi episodes on DS9 are hilarious. Little Green Men in particular had me in stitches. Armin Shimerman is a scream and he bounces off the other characters remarkably well.
@Luke: 'Showing a complete disrespect for someone who's clearly sick and/or incapacitated is clearly wrong and shows what a total scumbag you are.' Not entirely sure what you're trying to express by this sentence but under normal circumstances I would say that yes, employers forcing (temporarily) ill or unfit employees to work is indeed extremely unethical.
@Robert: 'O'Brien/Bashir/Dax are typically more liberal and Odo/Worf/Kira are typically more conservative. Sisko tries to sit more in the middle (although I think he leans left).' Great observation, I never thought of looking at it that way, though now you mention it it's pretty obvious.
Anyway, that's my two cents. Oh, and I'm not from America. Just thought I'd put that on the table.
Sat, Apr 22, 2017, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 26, 2017, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 2:34am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 23, 2017, 4:03am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 25, 2017, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 3, 2017, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
That's what the Ferengi are good for -- just about the odd semi-humorous episode now and then. The characters of Rom and Quark are so 1-dimensional, it's hard to see them do anything than Rom coming across as dumb but wanting better and Quark being a shady/exploiting business owner.
I find it hard to believe O'Brien/Worf/Bashir would seriously get involved in a skirmish over the strike. Worf's B-story about feeling uncomfortable on the station was lame -- not sure if anything came out of it.
As for Rom's union, I guess we learn a bit more about Ferengi culture -- but who really cares? Nobody cares about this race anymore after how the writers have turned them into comic figures.
A few zany moments with Brunt's enforcers, the 3 senior officers in the holding cell, and Sisko blackmailing Quark but we get no idea of how conceding to Rom's demands affects Quark's profitability. I guess we come to understand that he must have been doing quite well for himself exploiting everybody + given the good deal he's got on rent etc. from the UFP.
I agree with Jammer's 2-star rating for "Bar Association" -- more exploration on Ferengi culture not meshing with Federation values as it relates to employment. No big deal. OK on the execution but ho-hum episode. Just some light-hearted stuff that doesn't do anything hugely wrong other than being mediocre and, to me, not even comedic.
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 1:53am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 1:13am (UTC -5)
I noticed something silly, the name of the union was The Guild of Restaurant And Casino Employees, which could use the acronym GRACE, which made me think of Return to Grace. This season having something of a redemption arc, a theme about finding or getting back to your true self (which Rom does), I wondered if this was deliberate.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
Worf dismisses the Defiant crew from a five day mission in the GQ, but he's being his usual fastidious and anal retentive self, noting some minor issues with the gyroscope or something. Dax thinks Worf has fallen in love with the Defiant, which is about as healthy as any of Worf's previous romances. I wonder if he's keeping in touch with Troi...
Meanwhile, we learn that Bashir has started dating Jessica Rabbit from “Facets,” and he and O'Brien have expanded their historical larping to ancient Irish/Viking battles. Welp, there it is. The writers are pushing these boys dangerously close to incel territory at this point.
That bullshit out of the way, we can begin the main plot which centres on Quark and Rom being miserable. Quark is morose over yet another Bajoran religious festival we've never heard of before (the month of cleansing). Again, I'll just briefly reiterate that this shorthand Bajorans doing religious-sounding thing is lazy and makes the serious attempts at religious allegory with these people all the more flaccid. Rom, however, is in physical pain, his lobes pounding and his head spinning. Jessica Rabbit—who is inexplicably not participating in stupid Bajoran ritual #54—tries to stand up for Rom, which is good, because he promptly passes out.
LEETA: Aren't you going to do something?
QUARK: Of course I'm going to do something. I'm going to dock his pay.
I think that was supposed to be a joke. Yeah.
Act 1 : **.5, 17%
Rom gets treated for his infection by Bashir. It turns out Rom has avoided receiving treatment for this potentially deadly condition because it would “violate his contract” with Quark. I wish I could say that this farcical scenario was heavy-handed and overwrought, but spend any amount of time reviewing the current state of the American healthcare system, and you'll find depressingly numerous examples of people not getting the care they need because of the greed of the business class. Now, this doesn't make literal sense—Rom is obviously not working every waking moment. There's no reason he couldn't have gotten treatment (for free) in his off hours, but the allegory of enduring dangerous medical risks over economic anxiety? That works for me. Rom elaborates on the further exploitative conditions of his and every other Ferengi's labour contracts, which reads like Ayn Rand's wettest dream.
BASHIR: What you people need is a union.
ROM: A what?
BASHIR: You know, a trade guild, a collective bargaining association. A union. Something to keep you from being exploited.
ROM: You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters.
Again—this is supposed to be farcical, but one of the ground states of the conservative political base in West is this pernicious fantasy that all exploited workers are really just latent millionaires. We can't support strong safety nets or economic regulations that only burden the wealthy because, hey, one day *I* might be wealthy, and then I want to be as greedy as possible!
We follow this up with the really lame reveal that Rom gave himself this infection by masturbating (self-oomaxing) too much. Again, has time for dangerous over-masturbation, but not for routine health checkups. Then we get:
ROM: No female. Just me.
LEETA: I'm sorry.
ROM: Sorry enough to do something about it?
He then sticks is ears right in her face. So, the writers have made the important decision that our heroic labour rights leader this episode is a sexual misfit who essentially waves his dick around in a woman's face while begging her to touch him. Great. Jessica's only objection seems to be upsetting her doctor boyfriend—beware the incel-isation.
Quark interrupts this unpleasantness to announce that he's cutting wages by a third in light of this cleansing bullshit. Aside from directly countering Quark's characterisation in “The House of Quark,” where fears over the Dominion had similarly dried up profits, isn't this ritual supposed to happen annually? How is Quark so poor a businessman that he made absolutely no preparations for this? Anyway, whatever plot demons have infected Quark lead Rom to warn his brother that there will be consequences for this outrage.
We cut to Dax and Worf returning from yet another holosuite session to find that his quarters are being burgled. Worf drags the thief to Odo's office, seething, and demands to know how such an egregious violation of his property rights could have...oh yeah. In his rage-stupor, Worf makes the mistake of trying to invoke continuity, proclaiming that security violations like this did not occur on the Enterprise. Odo mentions two of my least favourite TNG episodes, “A Matter of Time,” and “Rascals,” to “prove” that Worf's recollection of The Next Generation is rose-tinted at best. I maintain that his references prove my point that Season 5 is when TNG started to suck.
Meanwhile, Rom rallies Quark's employees together and declares that they're going to unionise to fight back against Quark's greed. And there was much clutching of pearls.
Act 2 : **, 17%
One of the Ferengi extras objects on principle to Rom's suggestion, noting that the idea itself is a violation of Ferengi law.
ROM: All right. So we're doomed. FCA Liquidators will probably haunt us for the rest of our lives. But I say if they're going to come after us, let's give them a good reason.
So, what's difficult here—and I think part of the reason for the irritation many feel about this episode—is that the relationship between ordinary Ferengi, their government, and their culture has been poorly-realised over the the course of the franchise. In early TNG, all Ferengi wore their cultural hats, per the Trek idiom, uniformly. Capitalistic exploitation was simply de rigueur. When individual Ferengi broke in any way from the mould, as with Tog in “Ménage à Troi” or Bok in “Bloodlines,” they were immediately chastised by their peers. Most recently, we have seen Moogie Suzy engage in this kind of subversive behaviour. The problem is that these subversions are always framed as *extensions* of Ferengi philosophy that violate the rules of conduct, but not the underlying instinct for greed. Tog was enamoured with Lwaxana and violated Ferengi gender rules for her, but in the end it served his quest for more profit; Bok was a bit more subversive, seeking to avenge himself on Picard over pursuing material profit, but his motivation was still completely self-interested and myopically greedy; Suzy (Ishka) rises up against the Ferengi patriarchy, but it's only so that she, as a female, can be as horribly exploitative as her male counterparts. Rom is of course the “bad” Ferengi, lacking the lobes for capitalism. So, we can surmise that his natural instinct for greed frustrates him, since he can't realise this ambition in a Ferengi-sanctioned way.
Think about the last episode, “Sons of Mogh,” and the differences between Worf and Kurn. We have enough history with the Klingons to understand how their instincts for nobility and honour are (or aren't) served by Klingon institutions. In the mythical past (which is where Worf tends to live), a genuine honour-based society allowed every warrior to realise his potential. In the modern Empire, corruption has replaced honour with Honour®. Kurn recognises the difference, to a degree, but isn't willing to live without the latter. It's too difficult. Worf isn't willing to ignore the differences and suffers exile as a result. I think the writers are attempting something similar between the brothers Quark and Rom here—to have Rom be the Ferengi version of Worf. Because he doesn't possess the ability to succeed in the sanctioned version of Ferengi society, he is searching for a way to sublimate his instincts in another way, and is stumbling into the anti-capitalist forces that inevitably occurred on Earth.
Getting back to the realisation of Ferengi culture, Gene Roddenberry created a race meant to allegorise greed and capitalism, just as the Klingons allegorise feudalism and chivalry. But feudalism and chivalry feel more remote to *our* culture than do greed and capitalism, as much now as in the 90s. So, the Ferengi were altered to perform their culture more “realistically,” and the allegory became very muddy and weird. Again, Rom's trip to the infirmary is supposed to be an absurd exaggeration of the pitfalls of greedy employers—and the actual circumstances of his malady are silly—but the severity of his situation and the underlying forces which triggered it are not absurd at all. I mean—they *are* absurd, but they are, in terms of severity, rather realistic. Capitalistic greed does directly lead to preventable illnesses going untreated or permanent bankruptcy from medical expenses every day—right now.
It's difficult then to know how to regard Quark's employees' reactions to Rom's little revolution. Is Quark egregiously over-doing Ferengi greed? Well, no. As we will soon discover, his behaviour as an employer is sanctioned by Ferengi society. Rom already explained how his ridiculous labour contract is standard-issue (actually, universal-issue) for all Ferengi. But then, what would be the “natural” reaction for these Ferengi to have? Are they suffering from the same “latent millionaire” delusion as your average Tory or Republican voter? Klingon social woes are the result of political corruption, whereas Ferengi social woes are the result of cultural purity. Adhering to Capitalistic values inevitably sews the seeds for communist revolution (as we are beginning to see). This is difficult to contend with on screen because the Ferengi allegory has been so watered down that it is nearly identical to modern life. Trek's allegories work because they provide emotional distance from the subject at hand, but there's almost no distance between us and the Ferengi anymore.
We continue to the incel bromance with Miles insisting Bashir remove a cyst from his backside. #nohomo, bro. Rom enters the infirmary for some advice on how to proceed with his union effort, and luckily O'Brien, being Irish, is Mr Labour Day, having an ancestor who led the strikes at the anthracite fields back in the day. His advice: look forward to being a martyr.
The freshly un-cyst-ed O'Brien performs one of his usual bandaid jobs on the hybrid tech in Ops, adding to Worf's grumpiness. I think it's time for a prune juice. This conversation is designed to be a bit of fluff (and more digging at TNG from fuckhead Ira Behr), but O'Brien's remarks reveal the other problem with this episode's theme.
O'BRIEN: Have you have any idea how bored I used to get sitting in the Transporter room waiting for something to break down? Here, I've a half dozen new problems every day. This station needs me.
So Mr Labour Day is happy to have some labour value in his position on DS9. He has an honest job to keep him busy and give his life meaning. This ties in directly with the Ferengi dilemma, but, just as the Ferengi are too close to home to function properly as allegory, O'Brien's humanity is too close to home to follow the Trekkian discourse. The whole point of the Federation economy is that the model allows people to pursue their own interests:
PICARD: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.
O'Brien could have been practising his 'cello, or learning how not to be a shitty husband to Keiko, or developing his rafting skills, or picking up a new hobby, or developing transporter innovations with Barclay—oh wait—he did all of those things on the Enterprise, didn't he? So, why was he so fucking bored? A working man today might feel unfulfilled at his job because he would have to sit there in his coal mine or transporter room or whatever in order to collect his paycheque and feed his family. That kind of soul-crushing tedium is no longer a necessity in the 24th century economic model, which is the entire point of Star Trek.
Later, Quark is confronted by the new union, the Gild of Restaurant and Casino Employees, or GRACE (nice). They present their demands to Quark, who just laughs in their faces. His mirth quickly turns to dread as the gild immediately strikes and leaves the bar en masse.
Act 3 : **, 17%
In an attempt to be more allegorical, GRACE is bribing customers away from Quark's instead of picketing or pamphleting the crowd (there's a crowd, now? What happened to the Holy Month of Bajoran Enemas?). Quark has attempted to circumvent the strike by employing holograms of himself to service the customers. Thankfully, we don't see a Quark Dabbo girl...save that thought for Season 6. Odo has been called in to respond to the bribery campaign outside his front door. Surprisingly—erm, sort of—Odo is in agreement with Quark's position.
ODO: I don't like mobs. In my opinion, if you need one to get what you want, it's not worth getting.
Mr Gestapo has been ordered not to violate GRACE's freedom of assembly rights by Sisko. For their part, the incel bros are playing voyeur to the whole endeavour, guessing on who is going cross the picket line from across the promenade. Hey Miles, WHY ARE YOU SO BORED? They are aggrieved to see Worf enter the bar and run after him to have a word.
Exterior shot, then we're in Odo's jail where the incels and Worf are being held in a cell together. Sisko arrives to berate them. Apparently, these three felt so strongly about the strike that it led to an actual brawl. Sisko's idiotic conclusion isn't to teach his officers how to behave like fucking adults while in uniform, but to try and force Quark to settle so that these adolescent man-babies aren't provoked into fighting any more. LEADERSHIP!
Quark explains to Sisko that Ferengi law and religion prohibit Quark from even talking to the union. Well, Sisko could give a fuck about any of that, so he decides his going to apply pressure by getting all capitalist on Quark and threatening to start demanding back rent and utilities from him. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's good that the show is demonstrating how wealth isn't acquired in a vacuum. Services and infrastructure create the circumstances in which business can succeed far more than the innovative genius of any individual man (hi, Howard Schultz! Elon!). On the other hand, this raises all sorts of problems in-Universe. Isn't the station's economy Bajoran? I thought Starfleet was running DS9, not in legal possession of it. If DS9 is actually a Federation station, then Quark shouldn't be allowed to earn a profit at all, like Sisko's dad back in New Orleans. Grrrr.
Anyway, Quark attempts to settle the strike by bribing his brother.
QUARK: Rom, we shouldn't be fighting. We're brothers.
ROM: Not when it comes to business. We're nothing but employer and employee. You said so yourself.
QUARK: I was wrong.
ROM: No, you weren't.
Rom then reads him the most famous of Marxist quotes, outside of Captain Picard's of course, and Quark leaves in disgust. However, his lousy day isn't over yet. He returns to the bar to discover Blunt and a couple of Naussicans waiting for him. Blunt has been ordered to settle the dispute “by any means necessary.” Hmm.
Act 4 : **.5, 17%
GRACE discusses its successes and concerns. While Jessica and Rom are optimistic, Blunt and the Naussicans break in to remind them of what their chief concern should be: imminent physical danger at the hands of the FCA. Of course, the fact that Blunt is showing “mercy” by allowing the strikers to disband before things continue down this unholy path is a sign of the union's efficacy, something I'm pleased to see Rom recognise:
GRIMP: What about our accounts on Ferenginar?
ROM: If your accounts on Ferenginar were worth anything, you wouldn't be working as a waiter.
Later on, Miles and Worf settle their score. Thankfully, Worf realises that his actions were unacceptable, but blames his odd behaviour on the building pressure he's been feeling living aboard DS9. So, his solution, almost brilliant in its simplicity, is to move aboard the Defiant. He can live on a starship again.
Jessica Rabbit takes a moment to compliment Rom on his bravery and lobe-tease him a bit before retiring to dinner with Julian. Quark follows in a panic and starts begging Rom to rehash the issues from “Family Business,” tying in their cultural disputes to lingering childhood trauma. What's good about this scene is that it fishes Quark out of the irredeemable pit of miserliness that he was tossed into in the earlier acts by revealing that Quark is concerned for Rom's safety. Good.
He reports his failure to Blunt while the Naussicans play fraternity games in the background. Blunt's solution reveals that on the one hand, he knows better than to pull an anthracite fields and martyr Rom in his cause. But on the other, his research into historical labour disputes hasn't provided him any actual means to fight the strike. He concludes that Quark is going to have to be roughed up to pressure Rom into backing down. Sigh...this is a big mistake, in my opinion. I get that the writers were trying to further integrate the family dynamic into the plot, but this misses a huge part of the politics behind the message they're trying to sell. After all his Gestapo posturing, would Odo really allow Blunt to assault someone on the station without reprisal? Would Sisko and the Federation really not issue diplomatic sanctions against Ferenginar after his blackmailing earlier? If the forces of Capitalism are able to suppress organised labour, it's because they have the support of the government (which they often do—hi, Scott Walker!). Without that dynamic, this feels more like disputes between rival mafias than a parable about labour rights.
Act 5 : **, 17%
Well, we find that Quark was almost killed by his off-camera beating. Bashir has allowed Rom to visit his brother and gloat. Quark says he can't press charges (that shouldn't matter to Odo; he witnessed the assault taking place). No, instead he's going to undermine the entire point of the episode:
QUARK: I mean, I mean you dissolve the union, make it look like I've won, and I'll give you everything you want.
William B nails it on the head: “Brunt's alacrity on the station is just difficult to believe, and feels largely like a desperate dramatic advice to prevent the episode from just resolving due to the fact that ordinary economic pressures (e.g. the boycott) would probably force Quark to capitulating earlier.” Precisely. This is the writers doing one of their “morally grey” white-washings on a fairly simple issue, reducing the exploitation on the workers, but allowing Quark to save face. So the union is effective, but only because it was willing to commit fraud and lie to the FCA, thus preventing or at least postponing a genuine labour uprising throughout the Ferengi Alliance. I'm not surprised Quark would suggest this, but it's disappointing to see Rom's ambitions dissolve so easily.
We take a moment to check in on Worf on the Defiant. Jadzia gives him a gift and Worf rewards her with a joke:
DAX: Sooner or later you're going to have to adapt.
WORF: Perhaps in the end it will be all of you who that have to adapt to me.
We finish with Quark's Bar opening up to the fully-cleansed Bajorans who are desperate for booze and gambling. Way to uplift a spiritual people guys; suggest that this very sacred ritual is nothing more than vapid tradition inviting an immediate palinode! Oh, and also Rom has quit the bar and joined the technical crew aboard the station. This ending at least manages to provide both Ferengi brothers a little more dignity than they're usually supplied.
Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%
This episode is kind of a mess. But I also kind of like it. Unlike many previous Ferengi episodes, nothing is egregiously bad here. The humour isn't anything close to the greatness found in “The Nagus,” “The House of Quark,” or “Little Green Men,” but it's alright. The characterisation and message elements of the main plot are well-intentioned, but suffer from the poor realisation of the Ferengi as a people from all the preceding material. So, I'm inclined to give the writers a bit of a pass on issues they inherited. The major flaw is the resolution, which is basically identical to “Family Business”: put Pandora back in her box and pretend nothing is wrong. This issue is [SPOILER] better-resolved later this season in “Body Parts,” but it does make things feel a bit pat at the end of this tale. They managed to make both Rom and Quark sympathetic for the most part, which is a sign of the superior writing for character this season compared to S2 or S3. Worf's story is little more than an excuse for the writers to get meta about the DS9 > TNG inferiority complex which pervades many an episode, but you know, Worf isn't trying to murder elderly Klingons or erasing family members this week, so I'm feeling more positive about this development. The extraneous elements, like the braindead Bajoran juice cleanse, the baffling legal/economic structure of the station, and the inexplicable romance between Jessica and both Bashir and Rom leave me pretty cold.
Final Score : **
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
She has to pay the bills somehow...although asshole djarra guy is only a week away,...
Thu, May 30, 2019, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
It's far from perfect - the writers have to seriously bend Quark's established personality to make him even more heartless than usual. And Rom's personality takes an equal amount of reshaping, taking him from an abused-and-clueless-supergeek to an intelligent character with a backbone.
I'd also question the idea that the Ferengi are so vehemently anti-union. I know they're meant to be the ultimate capitalists, but they're also heavily obsessed with rules and status, so I'd expect their society to be absolutely riddled with guilds, unions and many other formal and informal professional and personal associations.
But still, it gets the mildly dubious honour of being my least-unfavorite Ferengi episode...
Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
And so meandering about the station like a probing eye, we catch glimpses of Bajorans as they head to their religious temples. We catch Kira waiting for ale, and find Bashir and Miles heading to the holodeck dressed as warriors. Later we find them sitting on the promenade, just chilling and relaxing and spying on Quark's Bar, where they spot Worf, who seems to be having a bad day.
Meanwhile Worf is wandering about the station, missing the Enterprise, and totally oblivious to Dax, who when you rewatch the series you realize is totally in love with him from this point onwards, and who goes out of her way to help him fit in. But nope, DS9's a pain in the ass. Worf decides to sleep on the Defiant.
And on and on we languorously prowl, the stakes pleasantly low, nobody up to much. We drift into Sisko's office, who learns that Quark's employees are striking - another stupid problem for the Federation to solve! - and then to his confusion finds his chief officers in the brig. Gah! Lock them up for the night, Odo!
More neat touches abound: Sisko does some important Trek world-building, by informing us that the Federation is so "wealthy" that it collects no rents or monies from Quark (Oh no! Quark the libertarian subsidized by Big Government!). Later Worf and Miles meet up and apologize for a scuffle, and Quark replaces his staff with hologram versions of himself, much to Odo's annoyance (one Quark was enough!).
We also get some good character development, Rom abandoning Quark for life as a station engineer. Later he falls in love with Bajoran babe Leeta, who is as alienated from Bajoran culture as Rom is from his.
All these neat touches exist on the margins of a Ferrengi plot that is interesting, but ultimately wastes most of its opportunities. In this plot, Quark so mistreats his staff, that they form a union and go on strike. Rom's their leader, who gets the idea after talking to Federation officers (Miles and Bashir). Yes, DS9 is so subversive, that it starts out subverting its own subversive take on TNG's ferrengi. Not content to only turn TNG's abrasive space capitalists into loveable trolls, DS9 now has them slowly corrupted by Gene Roddenberry himself ("It's what Gene would have wanted!" you can hear the writers say). And so here the Federation literally puts ideas of unionizing and Karl Marx slogans into Rom's head. Later on in the series Rom has his son join Starfleet, Quark increasingly grows to love the Feds, and hanging around Sisko and the gang starts the Ferrengi on the path of women's rights. The Federation just can't help corrupting every culture it touches.
Most of the comments above seem to hate the Rom vs Quark plot here. I thought it was the right mix of cute comedy and serious social message. But there's no serious critique of capitalism and its myriad contradictions here, and the episode wastes time by introducing the Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA), who give the writers a get-out-of-jail-free card by forcing labor and capital to form an alliance in their attempts to deceive it. The episode does end with Rom winning - he gets a pay rise for the staff - but it's a victory which is too consoling, and ultimately sells a lie; the idea that issues of class, poverty, and exploitation can ever be ameliorated in aggregate by "good bosses", and that the latter can exist without negative knock-on effects elsewhere in the system.
Incidentally, I found it neat that the Bajoran Time of Cleansing, in which Bajoran's fast and renounce biochemical pleasures for a month, brings about the fall of Quarks. Quark's little economy relies on a kind of dissatisfaction. His customers are incomplete, hungry, thirsty, chasing hedonistic highs and the next new hit, so much so that religious peace, self-satisfaction and contentment, ruins his customer base and puts him out of business (under capitalism, the most radical thing you can do is be satisfied).
I also heard that Trek legend Jeffery Combs was in this episode, but couldn't spot him anywhere. I had to use Google to find out where he was hiding (in plain sight, it turns out).
Sat, Feb 13, 2021, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
Is he greedy or not?
Does he wish Quark harm or not?
Is he an idiot or not?
What are his motivations?
Who knows. But it's quite possible that Rom isn't sure either. Which is why it's nice to have an episode where he starts showing more confidence and independence. It's the right direction for his character.
I don't much care for the B-Story on this one. It seems so irrelevant because nothing is really at stake. It's just Worf not adjusting well to life on DS9. Big deal. The episode doesn't even do much to communicate his mood. We just see Worf looking aggravated (as he usually is by default) and then saying something like "I find this place unsettling". Thats a pretty low-effort attempt at communicating a character's feelings. And then the moment that's supposed to be the climax of his frustrations, where he gets into a brawl with Bashir and Obrien, we don't even get to see it. They choose not to show us that moment so that they can cut to the three of them in a holding cell. Instead of showing Worf's frustration to the audience, they'd rather just make a lame cutaway joke. That's so dumb. And then the B-Story concludes with Worf choosing to set his quarters on the Defiant... which doesn't even make sense. I realized this even the first time I saw this episode years ago.
1) Worfs whole reason for wanting quarters on the Defiant is to get solitude. He'll be by himself. But there must be SOME dedicated crew on the Defiant. It is a starship after all. Even if it's usually commanded by Sisko, it has to operate autonomously from the station to some degree.
2) Sometimes the Defiant has to be sent on longterm missions and there's always the possibility Worf won't be on those missions. So would he just not have quarters when that happens? Does he have secondary quarters on DS9?
These are the questions that go through my head when that B-Plot is "resolved".
But in conclusion, I like the episode. It's definitely not on my best of list, but it's not bad.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 7:42am (UTC -5)
Yeah that whole B plot with Worf was sort of useless and going nowhere fast when you come the realization it made no sense to have living quarters on a ship he may not be on when on a long term or heck short trip . I did like the nudge O'Brien said about dying of boredom when he was transport chief on the Enterprise. And Odo slamming him for being a sloppy security officer on the Federations flag ship , I'm surprised he didn't mention the events from Starship Mine aka Die Hard Trek .
That being said, I'd give this 7/10, I have a bias for Ferengi episodes , I'll say this I did feel genuinely sorry for ROm when Quark disavowed him as a brother.
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
It lends an odd complexity to the situation, since the union is the side we are instinctively on, yet Quark feels like the adult in the room.
Mon, Aug 23, 2021, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 6, 2021, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 8:13am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 6, 2021, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
"Does this site not have any moderators at all? Why has that 2019 comment not been removed?"
How could you possibly get the year wrong?
Jammer has little ones now. I'm sure he'll get to it at some time.
Tue, Nov 9, 2021, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 10:45am (UTC -5)
I jest, but I genuinely think it would be great if people knew off-topic posts (including this one) would get removed later anyway. Like the graffiti-ist (is that the word?) who knows it'll be gone in a week and decides not to bother.
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 11:02am (UTC -5)
And hey, complaining about off topic posts in an off topic post and even acknowledging the fact that it is an off topic post. Smart.
Here maybe try this. Might relax you
Thu, Jan 20, 2022, 12:48am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 20, 2022, 1:29am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 18, 2022, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
Other than that this was a great episode.
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
I have realised that approch of trade unions varies very much between countries. It was an interesting attempt to bring it up in Star Trek. It did not fail but it was not a sucess either. The reason was probably the ferengi connection but on the other hand, if there is not a need for a trade union in Quark's then where?
Ron a last voted with his feet. I liked that.
Thu, Sep 1, 2022, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Okay, so, like, I don't know: labor unions good or nah? Do I love or hate capitalism and its..."exploitation"? All the mixed messages... - oy! The writers need to get off the fence and tell us where they REALLY stand and what the message of the story is!
So, yeag, the ep. has the finesse of a rhinoceros wearing stilettos and all the subtlety of a jackhammer. "Workers of the world, unite!" (Said by a guy who never worked a day in his entire life.) The statement is never shown with multiple asterisks though, including:
* And erase the borders so your country can be flooded by unproductive criminals and cheap labor. The former will poison your family with fentanyl while the latter will undercut you and cost you your job.
* And screw up the energy sector by shutting down proven, cheap, and efficient sources of power, and shifting to expensive and unreliable "green" ones. That will make sure you can't afford to drive yourself looking for work, and you'll spend your summer melting in the place you're about to get evicted from anyway. If you manage to avoid eviction by raiding your pitiful savings, you'll freeze to death during the winter, as it'll be too expensive to heat the place.
* And defund the police. That way, when walking around looking for work, any P.O.S. with nothing to do, having used his food stamps to buy some skunk weed, can assault or murder you, and be released on no bail later that day because he's a "victim."
Etc. I could go on for much longer.
Yeah, "workers of the world," the modern Left sure is looking out for you! They've got your back, oh, sure they do... - but it's not to protect you. Just don't bend down!
Okay, okay, I'm taking this far too seriously. It was an okay, but a throwaway, episode. Two stars is about right.
Wed, May 24, 2023, 7:59am (UTC -5)
I wonder if this predates Doctor (on Voyager's) mobile emitter? What about a holographic Quark on every Starship? :D
It was nice to see the genesis of Rom as an engineer on the station. It's still one of my favourite things that Rom and Nog got so much character development over the course of the series.
All in all I liked this, would watch again.
Submit a comment
◄ Season Index