Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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

3 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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103 comments on this post

Ospero
Fri, Mar 28, 2008, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode a lot when it first aired, and I still do. Talk about clash of cultures. This has to be one of the most purely funny hours of DS9 (you wouldn't actually think that the rather subdued Kira/O'Brien plot fits in this, but somehow it does). The final scene in the Infirmary is a scream, thanks in no small part to the line delivery of Alexander Siddig ("I should stop asking those questions..."). Great, great fun.
Nic
Wed, Jan 27, 2010, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
I guess 'funny' is in the eye of the beholder. Although this episode was a Farce with a capital F, I laughed maybe once or twice. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to take any of these characters seriously again. At no point during the episode did anything feel genuiune to me. Everyone is so out of character it's ridiculous, especially coming after the very serious ending scenes of the previous episode. "Sons of Mogh" notwithstanding, Dax's crush on Worf comes out of nowhere and the scene where they finally get together is quite underwhelming, especially when compared with the Paris/Torres scenes in "Day of Honor" and "Revulsion".

Voyager may have had it's flaws, but if there's one thing they got better than any of the other series, it's the humour.
Donnydingbattered
Tue, Mar 2, 2010, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
The holodeck sequence was a clever reimagining of the balcony scene from from Cyrano de Bergerac. This was where Cyrano was feeding him lines of poetry to repeat in order to woo the girl. It was a brilliant episode. I have found that watching DS9 again 10 years later I finally have the maturity and education to understand the complexity of Star Trek's clever reinventions of story's like Cyrano de Bergerac and The Merchant of Venice as seen in S4's Body Parts.
Joan T
Sun, May 2, 2010, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
I have always thought this was a great episode and watched it again recently on re-runs. Personally, I loved the story arc in which Kira and O'Brien are attracted to one another. It is understandable that they feel a kind of false intimacy under the circumstances. I wasn't too sure about the Dax/Worf pairing either as it seemed to come somewhat out of the blue. However, it is to the credit of the creators that they didn't toss this relationship away. A great, fun, episode for what was always presumed to be the 'darker' series of Trek.
Jay
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Apparently K'Ehlehr isn't considered a Klingon woman, since Worf replies in the negative to the question of whether he's pursued a Klingon woman before.

I'd beg to differ. If K'Ehlehr isn't a Klingon then neither is Alexander.
Jay
Sun, Oct 16, 2011, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
And did I miss something?...we have one scene where Odo is whining to Kira about how Miles isn't doing his job and things are falling apart, and then not five minutes later, we have Miles gushing to Keiko that they don;t need him and that things are slow.

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

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

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

That should be "Klingon word for love with more AGGRESSIVE overtones". It is a small change, but that way it makes a whole lot more sense placing it in the context of Klingons.
Grumpy
Tue, Aug 7, 2012, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Jay: "Apparently K'Ehlehr isn't considered a Klingon woman..."

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

Notice how the gizmo allowing Worf to control Quark is made clear without a single line of technobabble. Later, there's one line about "optronic relays," and that's all that's needed.
microfish
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 8:35am (UTC -5)
Quark: "War - what is it good for? If you ask me: Absolutely nothing!"

That line hit completly off guard. I couldn't stop laughing.
Kotas
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
Fun, funny and a passable effort at a romance for a star trek show.

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

Physical comedy galore and some pointers to the future with virtual reality and cybernetic assistance/control technology...
Nissa
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
...I couldn't have a bigger meh if I tried. While I like the Kira/O'Brien storyline, I didn't care for the rest of it. Worf doesn't really do comedy all that well, and Dax....she comes across as a slut. I'm sorry, but I had to say it. Over time, she's had a lot of "intimacies" with she's known for no time at all, like the guy whose planet phased in and out of existence, and that guy that walked out of her room another time. And she encourages Kira to mess around with holographic guys. I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to respect someone who sees a distraught friend and figures that the right reaction is to sleep with him.
Jons
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
@ Nissa: a slut, really??

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

I'll never understand the star trek fandom i guess. How can one watch a show that is so willingly progressive and yet be so staunchingly conservative it's ridiculous?
Klovis Mann
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 11:29am (UTC -5)
.....Very enjoyable episode......one of the incidental pleasures of Star Trek is seeing the return of actors that have appeared over the years in different roles.....I was pleased to see Joseph Ruskin reprise his role of Tumek from "House of Quark"......

.....his appearances in TOS date from 1968 in "The Gamesters of Triskelion"..........DS9's "Improbable Cause" featured him as an informant....and he's found in in episodes of "Voyager" and "Enterprise" as well.....just a footnote but 40+ years along it's this kind of detail that satisfies......
Patrick D
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 11:36am (UTC -5)
@Klovis Mann

Joseph Ruskin also played a Son'a officer in Star Trek Insurrection, so that covers TNG as well. So he's appeared in every incarnation of Trek (not counting JJ Abrams Trek...because no one should).
Vylora
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
One of the most amusing hours of DS9 by far with standout character moments and consistently great dialogue. The long since subtly hinted at crush Jadzia had on Worf finally comes to fruition here. The return of the Grilka/Quark dynamic was also very welcome and lovingly done. I wish more was learned about them in future episodes, but I won't fault this one for it.

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

3.5 stars.
Alex
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
Jammer

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

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

3.5 Stars
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I liked this one. Pretty damn funny in spots.

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

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

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

lol

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall good episode fun and drama, but the usual inconsistency in writing at times.
Icarus32Soar
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
The Kira-Miles stuff is codswallop.The Grilka-Quark stuff is genius parody, and I wish they had never brought in Worf. Poor Michael Dorn,such a sweetie in real life stuck with a character that gives both Klingons & Starfleet a bad name.Quark has some insanely classic lines,he & Grilka save the episode.
DLPB
Thu, Mar 19, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
I'll never understand the star trek fandom i guess. How can one watch a show that is so willingly progressive and yet be so staunchingly conservative it's ridiculous?
----------

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

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

Which of us is more tolerant?
Julian
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
@impulse Just a scene with Worf and Jake could spark interest in his own son or Worf and Cisko casually mentioning raising a son would have been nice.

I'm not sure if jake and Worf ever spoke to each other.
Teejay
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 2:07am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode, except for the Miles/Kira part. Those scenes felt like they were written by a bad sitcom writer.
Joe H
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
@Microfish - Thank you for the comment about Quark and his line! That one caught me also, and of course I couldn't get the Edwin Starr song out of my mind after hearing that!
Jay
Wed, Oct 7, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
@ Grumpy

It still doesn't make sense for Worf to not consider K'Ehleyr a "Klingon woman"..she doesn't self-identify as Klingon but her career is almost entirely involved in working with them, and then obviously consider his son to be Klingon, although he (until DS9) wants absolutely nothing to do with them.
methane
Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
Like most others, I enjoyed the Quark/Grilka/Worf/Dax storyline.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I like but don't love the main plot (say 3 stars) and dislike the subplot (say 1.5-2 stars). 2.5 stars for the whole package.
William B
Thu, Dec 31, 2015, 9:18am (UTC -5)
Eep, sorry about the line breaks. You can ignore that post and read this one:

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

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

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

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

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

So I like but don't love the main plot (say 3 stars) and dislike the subplot (say 1.5-2 stars). 2.5 stars for the whole package.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 11:27am (UTC -5)
Yes, we're playing with Cyrano de Bergerac here, but this is carried off with such verve and humour that it's easy to get carried along. The Quark/Worf/Dax/Grilka story is beautifully played, and remarkably enough for DS9 everyone ends up happy - which in itself is worthy of note.

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

"...like a pair of crazed voles. Grrr" indeed. 3.5 stars.
Quark
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Funny episode.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's that "IDIC" thing, it only applies to things they agree with. You know that.
Robert
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:19am (UTC -5)
@Yanks - If I'm being honest, if Trek were as conservative as it is liberal, I'd probably not tune in. That being said.... it depends a lot on which incarnation of Trek. Luke and I were talking about how gray DS9 is, and I really can see how anybody could enjoy that. As Sisko put it, "My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station". While it's not always true, and sometimes the writers really heavy hand you with a message episode, it's more true than not.

Also, it depends on what your definition of conservative is. But I imagine if I believed passionately in every single thing on the Republican Platform (and actually I don't necessarily think that would make you a conservative, conservatives come in different shapes/sizes and sometimes I would almost consider MYSELF a progressive conservative in some ways) I imagine I would spend most of my time watching TNG wanted to hit Picard in the face.
Robert
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:31am (UTC -5)
I will say that I AM open minded though, and I'd love to see how conservatives feel about that. To expand on my thoughts....

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

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

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

That said, some liberals feel conservatives would hate Star Trek because they see conservatives as being anti peace, tolerance and progress. I am NOT in that category. I like to think that the majority of conservatives want those things in a different way.
Yanks
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
I guess it was another thread that I posted a link the Ex Artis Scientia's discussion of the Federation's Economy. I wouldn't dream of even trying to explain it better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So all in all, I'm pretty sure most of us are not all that different, not all that far apart. We all may have our button issues, but that's never going to go away. If trek does anything, it sparks spirited discussion concerning important issues and we are all better for it.
Chrome
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
@Robert - "Liberal Pet Ideas"

Don't forget TNG's "Force of Nature". The idea of Space travel harming nature is a big allegory for Climate change. The episode itself is laughable, in that it really expects us to believe Starfleet would immediately reduce all warp speed to
Chrome
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
...and I figured out how to break the comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will agree with Chrome that regardless of your nuanced position (or un-nuanced position) on climate change (and here I just mean a general "you", nobody in particular)... that episode was a face palm worthy allegory if there ever was one. Almost as bad Symbiosis was about drugs.
Skeptical
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
Well, here are my random comments on the intersection of Trek (and media) and politics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So write about universal themes, staying true to your characters. Don't turn them into mouthpieces for your agenda, and write the plots to support your agenda. Trek is at its best when it does this, using sci-fi ideals to investigate these themes. Themes of struggling to communicate, like Darmok. Themes of heroic sacrifice, like Yesterday's Enterprise. Themes of internal vs external honor, like Sins of the Father. Or themes of looking for love in all the wrong places (there, now this post is on topic!)
Yanks
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Robert,

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

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

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

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

Skeptical,

Fantastic post!! I echo your view completely!! Well done.
Luke
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Hey, hey! It looks like I've been talked about a little in this thread and didn't even know it. :-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOLODECK TOYS - 16 (+2)

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

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

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

It's also conservative in that the we earthlings -- and specifically, 20th and 21st century American culture--are considered the gold standard against which all other cultures fall short. Across all the ST series, the only powerful alien cultures that weren't eventually "human-fied"-- with their leaders figuring out that human culture is better than their own (the big cube thing on TNG, I forget what it's called) or else looking like idiots (Ferengi in general) -- is the Dominion, which is one reason why I think that DS9 is the best of all the series.
Paul Allen
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 7:15am (UTC -5)
Absolutely loved this episode, all of it.

As fun an episode I've binge watched in a long time. :)
Paul Allen
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 7:50am (UTC -5)
"the scene where they finally get together is quite underwhelming, especially when compared with the ******/********** scenes in "Day of Honor" and "Revulsion"."


We should really not have spoilers for other ST shows in the comments, I haven't got that far yet in Voyager about 10 eps from there. :(
N
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Good stuff - 3 stars for a competent character comedy. Biggest drawback is that Grilka is a little underserved by the episode; in House Of Quark she was great and we really got to know her, but here she's just a catalyst for the Worf/Dax/Quark shenanigans. But it's great to see Quark have a relationship - the writers were very keen on pairing up all the characters during DS9's later years (Sisko-Kasidy, Kira-Odo, Worf-Jadzia, Bashir-Ezri, Rom-Leeta, Dukat-Winn) yet Quark always remained single and portrayed as somewhere between asexual and sleazily opportunistic if never outright predatory (oo-mox, flirting with waitresses etc). It's nice to see Quark's romantic interest taken seriously by the episode and rewarded.
TH
Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 12:15am (UTC -5)
I will give you that this is one of the better-realized Trek comedy pieces, but I still have two major gripes.

Worf's "falling" for Grilka really seems out of i) character and ii) the blue. There just isn't enough there for me to believe he looks at her and things she is the most unique and amazing Klingon woman he's ever seen. Maybe had he said simply the most beautiful, I could buy that. But he surely can't know much of anything about her from one look to be enough to double-take and walk away from Dax as if they weren't even having a conversation. He acts like a silly teenager which I think sets the character evolution back a few notches.

My second problem is with the finale, and in particular the logistics. How the hell is Worf supposed to be able to puppeteer for Quark. They make NO attempt to even suggest that Worf has any idea what the bodyguard is doing. They needed do one of two things: Have a hologram of the bodyguard based on scans of the room for worf to fight against, or have Quark wear some sort of "spy glasses" and worf wear his own pair that lets him see what quark is seeing.

It was simply beyond belief that Worf could possibly block hits he could never have seen coming. Further, I would have accepted it, but some of the moves Quark makes (like blocking the blade or having his blade blocked should not be possible by Worf since his blade won't make contact with anything in his empty room.

I really would have liked to see SOMEONE come up with a better logistical situation for this (the hologram is the best answer, in my view.

I did like the O'Brien-Kira subplot. I thought it worked really well.
Lt. Yarko
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Yikes. What a strange, awkward episode. Yeah, there were a few laughs with the ferengi/Klingon culture clash stuff but there was also too much cringey stuff, especially in the kira/miles story. I didn't buy the connection between them at all. And, why, exactly, is kira living with them? That seems like a rather extreme move. I thought she had a boyfriend. Did that relationship end? Couldn't he be giving her back rubs?

I did like jadzia coming on to worf at the end, probably mostly because Terry Farrell is such an amazingly attractive woman and I would want her to pay me any kind of attention, even if it's growling at me.
No more than 2.5 stars from me.
RandomThoughts
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

Yeah, this one is one of my favorites. Sometimes, during my re-watches (Voyager and DS9 side-by-side right now), I'll get to an episode and it is all I can do to not just fast-forward through it. Voyager, The Chute, I had to put on in the background while fooling around with the computer. But this one I looked forward to. It had been many years, and I wasn't disappointed.

My favorite scene was from the B-side, with Miles and Nerys in the runabout. That was gold to me:

O'BRIEN: So I guess we're going.
KIRA: Looks like it.
O'BRIEN: Tell me about this house we're going to.
KIRA: It's a gorgeous two hundred year old cottage filled with antiques, sitting in the middle of a deep, dark forest. It's got three fireplaces, two balconies
O'BRIEN: I see.
KIRA: It's twenty kilometres to the nearest neighbour, thirty to the nearest town.
O'BRIEN: Why am I not surprised?
KIRA: It gets worse. There's a view....
(Partial transcript credit from www.chakoteya.net/DS9/501.htm)

Just the way she said "There's a view", starting high and pitching down, saying it as the most melancholy thing ever (with a big sigh), was my favorite moment. :)

I also would have liked to see more of Grilka in other episodes, at least one. She seemed to be the perfect actress for the role. (Mary Kay Adams also played Na'Toth in a few episodes of B5). I liked how we were able to tell Quark was truly taken with her, as opposed to the other females where he'd had only a superficial interest. When he described her as "glorious", with the same far-away eyes as Worf, he really sold me.

Just a good, all round fun episode. Thumbs up!

Enjoy the day Everyone... RT
Gooz
Sun, May 7, 2017, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Klingons + Keiko + Love story = the Star Trek crap trifecta.
Ca$hback
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 1:58am (UTC -5)
The beauty of trek is watching the strong left confronted by their morals and having to suffer to uphold them. The high road isn't free. It's also really preachy.
Libertarianism doesn't get starships built. No institution left big enough to want or pay for it.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Jul 24, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
This one was awful. 1.5 stars

I don't tune into a Star Trek for stupid sitcom stories that are like nails on a chalkboard. Worf and Jadzia had zero chemistry. Even in retrospect with years of focus on their romance they still have zero chemistry. The entire episode was just very juvenile and lowbrow. Besides if I want to watch a sitcom. I'll watch an actual sitcom
Jay Jay
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
Worf and Quark scene on the Defiant...Gold man, just gold!
RickBrant
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Opening quote was correct the first time - "this is ridiculous".
Mallory
Thu, Jun 28, 2018, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
Hilarious episode, I forgot how much I liked this one. I love when Sisko chimes in on Worf conversations. And the opera scene on the Defiant was a joy. Worf is such an underused character - I'm glad an overused character like Quark did not dominate the story. (And sorry but I think Miles missed out on an epic threesome arrangement. The writers really seem to hate O'Brien.)
Rahul
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Definitely a different kind of DS9 episode but one that shows the writers can use the characters in comedic ways while still keeping their integrity -- for the most part (Worf's behavior was a tad odd). It's a nice change of pace, whimsical -- just enjoy the characters do their thing given their motivations.

One thing I don't get is why Worf would go to such great extent to help Quark impress Grilka. Worf can barely tolerate the Ferengi and just because of his beaten down status can't court Grilka -- seems quite forced to me that he should go to extraordinary lengths to help Quark. But I think a good point is made about Worf's inability to court a Klingon woman. When has he really done it? K'Ehleyr from TNG was different. So maybe that's his motivation here.

The O'Brien/Kira/Keiko triangle was getting quite weird -- like Keiko is encouraging Kira and O'Brien to get closer but the 2 know they shouldn't based on Odo chiding Kira and Miles coming to the right realization of what could potentially happen. Great acting/writing in their final scene when they realize they shouldn't go to Bajor together.

And at the end Dax basically throws herself at Worf -- maybe there have been some subtle hints regarding her crush for the Klingon. But this was a good episode with 2 similar subplots about love / desire -- one 1 hand Dax has the hots for Worf but Kira and O'Brien have to cool down whatever has been developing between them. And Grilka pummels Quark in Klingonese love-making. Pretty fun dynamic.

This is a better episode than "The House of Quark" -- one reason being Quark is not just being a profiteering Ferengi. This episode is, for me, one of the best uses of him I've seen -- great when he is used in comedic roles that don't involve belittling Rom or trying to dupe people. His right of proclamation speech was funny as was his attempt to spout Klingonese.

2.5 stars for "Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" -- not an episode to be taken seriously but the way the humor was done is far superior to the DFCs (dumb Ferengi comedies) even with Quark being a principal actor. Some things seem a bit of a stretch like Grilka coming back for Quark, Worf helping Quark, Keiko encouraging Miles/Kira, but it did play out like a romantic comedy Trek-style and it shows the series has the depth to pull it off.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"One thing I don't get is why Worf would go to such great extent to help Quark impress Grilka. Worf can barely tolerate the Ferengi and just because of his beaten down status can't court Grilka -- seems quite forced to me that he should go to extraordinary lengths to help Quark. But I think a good point is made about Worf's inability to court a Klingon woman. When has he really done it? K'Ehleyr from TNG was different. So maybe that's his motivation here. "

It's pretty much stated outright in one scene by Worf "So I don't know about Klingon women, eh?" Once he knows there's no chance with her the rest in an ego trip to prove he had what it took. And that fits in perfectly with what Dax tells him later on, that he's thinking of a woman of being a statue on a pedestal rather than a real person right in front of him. He doesn't even want Grilka, not really; he wants the idea of her. While in the meantime he doesn't even notice someone right in front of him who's desirable but not what he pictured in his head. And this isn't some kind of "best friend" scenario where he just doesn't see Dax that way - actually he sort of does! In an early episode she tells him a joke in Klingon, which he agrees with, which translates to the fact that she's good looking. So really his problem wasn't that he didn't see her, but rather that he didn't understand that a woman isn't an object to win but someone to actually care about. And although the Klingons talk a good game about 'winning' a woman the reality is always a bit less dramatic than that.

Incidentally, Rahul, I guess I'll just observe that I've noticed a number of times where every comment in a review of yours is an item of praise, often using words like "great" or "excellent", and after seemingly reflecting glowingly on the episode the final rating is ** or **1/2. Any reason why the final rating is sometimes so harsh compared with the things that struck you as being successful about the ep?
Rahul
Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

Regarding your comment and thinking about it a bit more, yes, it comes down to Worf's pride in proving he can court a Klingon woman -- even vicariously through Quark (of all people) -- as greater motivation than preventing Quark from being with a "glorious" female like Grilka. An interesting premise for sure.

And I guess Dax had to step up her game (both her and Worf injured at the end of the episode) since she felt Worf didn't really see what was staring him in the face.

Regarding the ratings -- I think a 2.5* episode is a decent outing -- and will definitely have some strong points, which are worth highlighting (as this one has). But such episodes don't strike me as great (3* and higher). They either aren't ambitious enough or have some flaws (perhaps too much suspension of disbelief, poor premise/writing/acting etc.) I don't think I'd have too many "excellent" comments for a 2* episode as it is largely bordering on mediocrity with enough flaws creeping in and I'm sure I'd have enough criticisms leveled at it.
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"Regarding the ratings -- I think a 2.5* episode is a decent outing -- and will definitely have some strong points, which are worth highlighting (as this one has). But such episodes don't strike me as great (3* and higher). They either aren't ambitious enough or have some flaws (perhaps too much suspension of disbelief, poor premise/writing/acting etc.) I don't think I'd have too many "excellent" comments for a 2* episode as it is largely bordering on mediocrity with enough flaws creeping in and I'm sure I'd have enough criticisms leveled at it."

I was just curious to know what your system translated to in terms of "good", "decent", "very good" and so forth. If *** to you is "great" then that's not what I would have expected but it makes me understand your various ratings much better. In that case I can see giving this one a rating just shy of 'great', as it is.

For my part I don't usually think in terms of ratings but using the 'Jammer scale' I usually think of less than *** as meaning it's not such a good ep at all, although it may have some positive points.
Rahul
Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

Given my own criteria, I think a 2.5* episode is definitely not a bad one (like 6 or 6.5 out of 10). It's a decent episode, watchable hour. Some episodes Jammer has rated as 3* really shouldn't be rated as such for me ("Shore Leave", "I, Mudd", "Take Me Out to the Holosuite")

Incidentally, I think my ratings would yield a distribution that is more centrally weighted than Jammer's. In other words, Jammer's distribution has "fatter tails" (i.e. more 4* and 0.5* and 0* episodes than me).

Obviously, most episodes would fall into that 2.5* (decent) and 2* (mediocre) rating. So maybe qualitatively I'd say (for what it's worth):
3* -- great
3.5* -- excellent
4* -- exceptional: leaves a lasting impression, thoroughly impressive, riveting
Iceman
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
"Looking for par'mach in all the Wrong Places" isn't as good as I remembered. It's a passable attempt at comedy, but it falls far short of the brilliance of "The House of Quark". It's fun seeing Quark try to woo Grilka, but it's nothing special. The sub plot is uncomfortable, and has a backwards and outdated message. I'd consider it a failure.

2.5 stars on the whole.
Cody B
Sat, Jan 12, 2019, 1:30am (UTC -5)
I wouldn’t mind clashing batleths with jadzia myself
Springy
Tue, Jan 15, 2019, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Julian eavesdropping on the O'Briens is pretty out there, but I guess it's another example of looking for Parmach in the wrong place (Julian is a lonely guy without a family).

The ep is about love, in all its various forms. Romantic, sexual, family (as Odo says: Aunt, sister, cousin??), friendship, momentary infatuation (crushes), lasting marriage, certain and uncertain love, appropriate and inappropriate, even the dutiful love of Grilka's bodyguard.

We seem all the characters deal with their feelings of love and attachment, and their desire for same. We see the varying ways they deal, depending on their personalities and cultures. We see Quark using deception, and Keiko being painfully trusting, and Odo being snarky, and Jadzia being straightforward, and more.

We see them hurtful and joyous, because of love. Love is joy and love is pain. Love is a gift to you, but love is also a sacrifice from you.

Love.

I liked the sound of that cottage on Bajor. But if you try to have it all, you'll lose all.

The best part: Worf knocking poor Morn out of the chair!

A fun, sweet episode. Some silliness, not perfect.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Am I meant to seriously dislike Worf at this point? Because I really do. I just want to see Sisko demote him and put him on Targ manure shipment guard duty. What an enormous turd he's turning into, especially with the move on Morn.

I know its meant to be "comedy cos that's how klingons do things", but we spent the whole of TNG watching Worf restrain that side (hell, WESLEY had to drag it out of him about the pain sticks ritual), but jeez. And the whole jealousy thing and lusting after Grillka? He acts like one of the annoying aliens of the week from TNG - the lusty old blowhard Klingon in the bar who gets knocked out headbutting Data or something. Please, please can we have old Worf back? This one is broken.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington,

I would suggest to you that Worf in DS9 is being made to explore all the chinks in his armor that TNG only hinted at. In TNG he puts up a brave front and does his best to look like just another Starfleet officer, but we know from certain episodes of TNG that this isn't really true. Between The Emissary, Redemption, Ethics, even Cost of Living, we see someone who has made himself fit into that uniform but who is fundamentally in a state of tension between his inner self and the job he has to do. Picard respects this enough in Rightful Heir to give him special leave because of his Klingon needs.

What DS9 does is give Worf a non-Starfleet environment where he doesn't have to put up such a perfect front and always look like a human with head ridges. Here he can actually be more like a Klingon, and at times this is satirized such as in the scene with Morn, where Worf actually apologizes to him before doing something that any other Klingon would do without remorse. I do think that moment is funny but that's not really the point. Worf *really wants* to be a 'real Klingon', and this thread was shown way back in TNG days. The sort of sadness we saw in Redemption when he couldn't really kick back like the other Klingons is a constant thorn in his side, and in DS9 we get to explore what exactly it is he really wants, or at least the difficulties he faces in even figuring that out. Does he really want Grilka, or does he want to want her? Does he want to fight for her, or does he want a sort of romantic role that wooing a Great Lady would qualify for? Is it because he wants a mate, or because he wants to prove to himself that he's worthy of one? These are all questions explored in this episode in particular, but in general I think DS9-Worf is allowed to be imperfect and for that to be ok, whereas on TNG he sort of did have to be Mr. perfect all the time.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G

Thanks for the reply, and you make some good points. I think you are correct that's what the writers were going for. Maybe I would not be a friend to Worf if I were on DS9 because I would want him to stay like TNG Worf! I guess we understand why he got "denied" so often ....

Its a little like a scene in The Orville, when two of the characters are discussing whether the Moclans can really remain members of the Union given how opposed their values are. With the Klingons, I appreciate they are not Federation members, but Worf is, and I can't help but agree with his season-introduction sentiment that he is poorly suited as a Starfleet officer and should consider an alternate career. Sisko obviously talked him out of it, but its turning out to be a mistake I think. Picard would have had him thrown in the brig for the Morn stunt, without a doubt.

I know I am taking it way too seriously as its meant as a light hearted episode, but I just feel like Worf is turning into a bully, and possibly riding Federation tolerance as far as is possible.

I guess that's the point and this is all leading to something!
Moegreen
Thu, Aug 15, 2019, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Kira & O'Brien have zero chemistry, which makes the idea of them 'alone' in that house on Bajor torturous.
Elliott
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

Bashir and Quark are (independently) eavesdropping on the O'Briens having an argument in their quarters. Well sort of. Keiko strolls up the corridor and snidely greets them as she enters her home. It turns out that Miles and *Kira* are the ones getting into a spat. All in all this is pretty creepy. Moving on.

Worf and Jadzia are talking Klingon opera. I'll concede that any time the writers try getting technical with musical terms, it's completely nonsensical, so I extend to the scientists who watch Trek some sympathy with the usual technobabble. The idea that a singer would vary his performance “by a half-tone,” is ludicrous. Varying one's performance by a half-tone is called failing to sing properly. The point of this little tiff is of course:

DAX: You know, for a Klingon who was raised by humans, wears a Starfleet uniform and drinks prune juice, you're pretty attached to tradition. But that's okay. I like a man riddled with contradictions.

Juicy. *Prune* juicy in fact. Speaking of, Grilka and her entourage step onto the Promenade, causing Worf's heart to skip a beat. He gawks at her for a moment before following her to Quark's. Upon seeing her embrace her ex-husband, Dax recalls her identity and relays the goofy conceit of “The House of Quark” to a scowling Worf.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

Quark and Grilka catch up over drinks and she lays out the premise for this week; the war has cost her house money, er, somehow. Quark agrees to take a look at her financial records.

Meanwhile, Dax finishes recapping “The House of Quark” for Worf in Ops, before diagnosing him with “a bad case of Par'mach,” which is Klingon for “aggressive boner.”

Back to the B, or C plot...Julian prescribes Miles a face-mask to tame Kira's pregnancy sneezes and a trip with himself to the holosuite for some fun...of the decidedly platonic type, unfortunately.

O'BRIEN: I can't go to the holosuite tonight. Kira and I have some things to work out.
BASHIR: Still fighting, huh?
O'BRIEN: Who said we were fighting?
BASHIR: Word gets around. It's a small station.
O'BRIEN: It's a huge station.

Why, why...it can hold almost 300 people, it can! As they converse, it becomes clear that his relationship with Kira is becoming complicated by their surrogacy situation. This is one of those times where Trek ages poorly. What in 1996 was pitched as such a far-fetched premise that it yields (allegedly funny) sci-fi circumstances with which to deal, is not remotely weird or particularly funny through the lens of 2019.

In Quark's, Worf throws Morn out of his seat and demands a drink from the bartender before engaging in further stupid Klingon courtship rituals by screaming at Grilka's aid. Tumek, the old counsellor calls off the charade before explaining to Worf, calmly and clearly, that he's a bastard pariah of the Empire and that Grilka would sooner re-marry Rom than mate with him.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Dax consoles Worf on the Defiant mess but is interrupted by Worf's favourite Ferengi. Quark admits to her that he's been invited to Grilka's for dinner and is hoping to spin the evening into a rekindled romance. Worf is incensed, but Dax plays it cool—she's explaining to Quark that his hopes of a one-night-stand are folly with most Klingons (c.f. “The Emissary”), but also subtly telegraphing to Worf that she very much understands the Klingon heart. Worf suggests bringing a carcass to the affair because, you know, Klingon.

Meanwhile, Miles is living his best Three's Company life. I'll say now that I agree with William B that this whole story idea is ill-conceived from the get-go. I just get bored when the Trek writers can't seem to treat sexuality with maturity, which is to say, most of the time. This isn't a DS9 problem—in fact DS9 probably handles sex better than the other series overall—but one of the redeeming features of early TNG was the openness with which the crew seemed to treat sexual activity. Hooking up is fine. Polyamory and open relationships are fine. Why get bent out of shape about it? If Miles and Kira are developing an attraction to each other, then they and Keiko should talk about what that means for their relationship. Keiko at least isn't acting like a fool during all this.

We cut to Worf singing along to his Klingon operas on the Defiant bridge. Quark interrupts again to report that his evening with Grilka went swimmingly.

QUARK: She spent about an hour talking about her family history. A rather long and bloody tale, but what else is new? Then we ate the lingta, which tasted really bad, listened to some noise which she called Klingon music, and I left.
WORF: A perfect evening.
QUARK: Almost. Her bodyguard was giving me threatening looks all night.
WORF: That is to be expected. The idea of a Ferengi courting a great lady is offensive.
QUARK: You know, it's attitudes like that that keep you people from getting invited to all the really good parties.

The prospect of winning Grilka's heart—even for Quark and not himself—is too tempting for Worf to refuse. Really, this is a lighter-toned version of the perspective on Worf we saw in “Apocalypse Rising”: his academic expertise in Klingon tradition and culture allows him to subvert the political structures of his own people. For Worf, it's both a thrill and a shameful burden to engage with them this way.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

So we find ourselves in what is probably one of Alexander's holodeck training programmes that Worf clutched to his chest and cried over when the boy told him he wanted to be a botanist or whatever. Worf is observing while Dax and Quark vanquish holographic Klingons. Jadzia is getting into it (performatively, it should be noted), but Quark is having a hard time enjoying himself. Given the Cyrano plot, it's actually rather hilarious that what this scene reminds me of is “The Nth Degree,” with Quark in the role of Barclay and Worf playing the overzealous director Dr Crusher. And indeed, this isn't a training programme, it's an historical reenactment of an epic Klingon Romance. Like their human counterparts, there's a lot of bloodshed preceding the boning in Klingon epic Romances.

We get an appearance from Odo as he berates Kira in his office over Miles slacking off in his maintenance duties. Kira defends him, and Odo echoes Bashir's taunting tone over their apparent intimacy.

ODO: Which part?
KIRA: What?
ODO: Which part of his family are you? Sister? Daughter? Cousin?

See, this is what I mean about ageing poorly—a *man* who a few months ago was being judged by his “family” in an ocean made of organic goo is being paternalistic towards Kira for her “unconventional” family situation. It just feels so childish. I admit that I haven't read or seen Cyrano since I was like 9 years old, and I have not bothered to revisit it, so maybe these side conversations are a symptom of replicating the source material, but that's still not an excuse.

Grilka and Quark emerge from the holosuite laughing and thirsty for some libations. She puts the question to him as to why he go to all this effort.

GRILKA: Acquire? Now you sound like a Ferengi again.
QUARK: I am a Ferengi. That means I have a talent for appreciating objects of great value.

It's interesting how much mileage this series gets out of juxtaposing Klingon and Ferengi values and their corresponding rhetorical devices. What, after all, is a courtship (in the medieval Romantic sense that Klingon customs clearly borrow from) but a ploy to acquire? Human marriage is very much about the inheritance and control of property. The feel-good love-language aspects we associate with it are very modern additions to what is, at its heart, a contract. And what's more capitalist than contracts?

Grilka seems to be falling for Quark's overtures, but, er, Toe Pack (is that his name?) screams and breaks up their little moment. He demands that Quark kill him tomorrow or be killed himself lest the honour-less Ferengi bespoil her noble house. Toe Pack is of course not so much a character as a personification of the sociopolitical and cultural barriers that would keep this romantic pair apart, like Melot in the tale of “Tristan and Isolda.”

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

Miles and Keiko are having a romantic evening at home and Kira arrives looking exhausted. She has decided to take a few days vacation on Bajor—mostly to get away from her growing attraction to Miles. But Keiko in classic sit-com fashion insists that she not go alone but take her husband with her. Cue whacky trombone music and canned laughter. Ugh.

Having found himself in a similar spot to “The House of Quark,” the eponymous Ferengi considers replicating his unlikely victory in that episode by daring Toe Pack to kill him. Worf notes that this won't work this time. Ah, but Dax has a truly ridiculous solution up her sleeve: smash cut to Quark besting Jadzia in the holosuite. She has attached some gizmos to Quark's neck that allow Worf to control his movements. Boy, that would have been handy when Worf's spine was shattered, or in about a thousand other scenarios. But of course, we'll never see this tech again. See, DS9 is just as bad as the other series on this front. Quark goes to bed and Dax confronts Worf over his intense attraction to Grilka, and lets him know, with little ambiguity, that she's hot for him.

The next day, Quark appears to meet Toe Pack's challenge, with Worf's magical puppet strings attached. So they fight, fight, fight...but of course, something goes wrong and the link to Worf is severed by some sort of technical glitch. Ronald D Moore, everyone, master of original story-telling.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

While Dax works furiously to repair the unit, Quark stalls, using his own talents, inventing a Ferengi “rite of proclamation.” We get a mad-lib style Shakespearian sonnet that successfully allows Shimmerman to showcase his talents for a bit before the connection is restore, Toe Pack defeated (though not killed) and the fight concluded. The funniest moment has got to be when Quark and Grilka begin strangling each other (this is Klingon kink, not a lovers' quarrel); Jadzia severs the connect, denying Worf his avatar sex with Grilka and robbing Quark of the ability to match her strength.

WORF: What does she see in that parasite?
DAX: Who knows? But they're on the same wavelength, and at least Quark can see an opportunity when it's standing in front of him.
WORF: He would have to be blind not to see it.

So, Dax and Worf start fighting, then strangling, then...

We tie up Kira and O'Brien embarking on their romantic weekend—another pretty funny scene that almost manages to redeem this plot.

The coda sees the two romantic pairs being treated for Klingon sex injuries in the infirmary. They fuck so hard their bones break! Comedy!

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

I can't say I endorse either of the non-Quark plots in this episode. Dax' and Worf's attraction to each other seems to be about nothing more than the fact that they both get hard for Klingon silliness. Similarly, Kira's and Miles' attraction is based on...um...massages? The problem is not that either of these couples would want to fuck and/or explore their unconventional pairing, it's that the episode insists that these attractions must be about something deeper. If that's going to be the premise, then the story completely fails to establish that depth. Then to reference the fact that Worf has always taken sex VERY seriously, only to dismiss it at the end feels rather cheap. All of that said, none of this was unpleasant to watch. The actors did a fine job conveying budding chemistry to my taste, and the humour and dialogue were smart and effective. The premise was bad, but the execution almost made up for it.

The Quark/Grilka romance still works for me, despite the contrived conflict and very silly deus ex Avatar resolution. What's weird is that we don't actually get any resolution to this pairing. Wasn't she having financial troubles? Are they getting married again? What gives? Did he tell her about the tech-tech?

So overall, this is an episode that almost works despite itself, thanks to some gentle character work with Worf and Quark and some very good performances, music, direction and design. Best not to think too hard about the implications of any of it, though.

Final Score : ***
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 11:10am (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

I agree with some of the stuff in your review, Elliott, especiallty the bit about there being merit in the Ferengi/Klingon mating. I like that DS9 didn't shy away from cross-species flirting and stuff like that (I actually enjoy Dax's references to Captain Boday and Kira grimacing at them). Personally I don't find it so weird that Kira and O'Brien should end up having some strange intimacy going on, especially with him helping her out of the bath and stuff, her having his baby inside her (hormone hijinx galore) and even stuff I've posted before about how I actually think he's her ideal type of man since she always goes for guys like him.

Regarding the Dax/Worf attraction, I think I can see why she's like him: he's tough on the outside but soft on the inside (just like Curzon), he's very mixed up about who he is even though his outward beliefs are strong (just like Dax is, really, considering Curzon bullies the rest of her hosts IMO), and he sort of has the soul of an artist in both how he likes music and how he fights, which I think appeals to her very romatic views on life. He's basically a perfect match, even to the extent that he's just *impossible*, just like she is. Of course that good a match is going to come with fireworks, but that's a different story (literally). As for why he'd not think of her, that's where I'm fuzzy. I never took him for the oblivious type, and he's already been with Deanna so it's not like he can't imagine a non-Klingon pairing. I guess this is supposed to sort of a rom-com thing, but it's a little silly since they went WAY out of their way to have her seriously flirting with him for like 10 episodes already, throwing him suggestive comments left and right. On my last watch-through I was quite impressed at how *not* out of the blue this romance was. So I guess the only reason to have him be oblivious is for comic effect, which is a bit weak since it wasn't really funny.

Getting back to the other non-Quark plot, I actually really like the O'Brien/Kira plot. The "in another life" line has always hit me in the gut, as that exact feeling is SO tough to grapple with and it's so real. That's not just a case of par'mach, it's an actual acknowledgement that they really could work but that O'Brien is committed for life and that's that. Ouch, I feel bad for both of them in that scene. I'd call that great writing, even thought the sci-fi premise is, as you say, not really sci-fi any more. The only possible way around this impasse is what you wrote, which I found puzzling:

"Hooking up is fine. Polyamory and open relationships are fine. Why get bent out of shape about it? If Miles and Kira are developing an attraction to each other, then they and Keiko should talk about what that means for their relationship."

Surely you're aware that these things 'being fine' are a matter of opinion, right? I mean, some people say it's not a matter of opinion and that they are factually wrong, but let's leave that type of arugment aside and remain in the "live and let live" area. Some people think this sort of thing is fine (I know many of them) and some absolutely do not. Some totally liberal people believe in strict monogomy and marriage for life, and that cheating is the biggest disgrace you can engage in. So it is by no means 'agreed upon' that these things are fine, although it's good to have a society that can let people choose. It should come as no surprise to you that even if some people on the Enterprise like Riker believed in free love (essentially) that other Federation citizens - especially a traditional Japanese woman and a good old fashioned Irish boy - will be very much in the camp of 'you marry you're married' and that's that. Any other attraction would be something to be squashed and set aside unless you're going to break your marital vows and ruin everyone's life.

Now a reasonable case could be made that it would have been neat to have a show featuring a legit polyamorous group or an open marriage or something. Maybe so, but it can hardly be called a strike against them that they didn't, and let's face it, network TV wasn't ready for that for the most part in 1996. I can totally see the "if only" there, like if the show was made now instead of them then sure, they could have done that. But as it was, and with the characters it involved, there would be no decent and honorable way for O'Brien to discuss his attraction with Keiko unless his goal was to make her feel like garbage and to say that their marriage was in jeopardy.

Just as a side note I've never seen a polyamorous situation work out amicably for all involved - it's blown up every time I've observed it, always to the detriment of either everyone or else to the third wheel (which there usually is). That doesn't mean it can't work, but we'll need a few hundred years of observing data on that to figure out the viability (biologically speaking) of such an arrangement before we can say that it's "fine" - and I'm not even talking morality here, which is a whole other can of worms.
Chrome
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 11:26am (UTC -5)
I actually think the O'Brien plot is okay in the sense that it explores how the familial intimacy that's been forced on these people can lead to some unexpected consequences. Though like Elliott, I find it a little ham-fisted and sitcomesque that Keiko of all people would total ignore the whole romantic situation and actually unintentionally push them together.

The silly B plot unfortunately stifles development from an A plot that's generally good, but could've been great. For starters, why is Worf interested in Grilka? Is it love at first sight and that's that? In the Cyrano story, Cyrano actually had developed feelings towards the object of affection and we knew he was acting out his love through another. It's hard to see why Worf would go to such lengths for Quark, and all for this woman he's never talked to. We could, like Elliott mentions, chalk all this up to Klingon pride and Worf wanting to be with Klingons, but then some more development *on that angle* would've improved the story.
William B
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
I wonder how much Worf was aware of Jadzia's interest on some level and decided to ignore it. Worf was aware of the possibility of something with Troi but never really followed up, and then lost his connection to Klingons. I think probably the notion of dating a non Klingon was sort of bearable in late TNG because he felt better about his Klingon-ness, but in S4 of ds9 was too focused on his tragic condition to really let himself admit that he could have a full life ostracized from other Klingons. This episode does link Worf's desire to woo Grilka to his insecurity about being a pariah; it appears that being able to successfully woo her through Quark is enough to get him to realize he has the skills to be a Real Klingon, in different circumstances, and thus allay his concerns enough to make him willing to consider what's right in front of him.

Notably, Dax *is* respected by Klingons, so I wonder if on some level Worf feared that any relationship would just end up hurting her, that his pariah status would somehow rub off on her. I guess mostly he needed a confidence shot.
Peter G.
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 12:03am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"For starters, why is Worf interested in Grilka?"

Have to say I've never had a problem understanding that one. When he says "she's glorious" I can't really disagree. Not sure how I feel about aliens in prosthetics, or maybe that actress is just dynamite, but I wow right along with him. She moves so damn nobly! Her ep with Quark is one of my favorites in the series, mostly because of her (and the Gowron scene).

Funny enough, although I abstractly see the parallel I never really felt this was a Cyrano story. To me it was a "proving I'm the man" story rather than about any love he had for anyone, and actually Jadzia seems to know this from the start and is frustrated that Worf is deluding himself about his own motives. She spells it out clearly: he sees a perfect-looking Klingon, but there's nothing more there than that: it's not a plot defect, it's actually a feature that there's no depth to it. That's her whole point, and why she has to just jump him in the end.

@ William B,

Interesting theory. I think it's on the mark insofar as Worf seems to me to have been in it more to prove something to himself than to Grilka - his aside to himself after Quark initially succeeds shows that pretty clearly. I hadn't connected that before to his disgrace; I think I had mostly connected it to the fact that he's really just not had access to Klingon women ever before (other than in Birthright, I guess, ugh) and like you say wanted to prove to himself he's a real Klingon. That challenge was put to him initially in Heart of Glory and honestly until this point it was never really settled. Dax puts in the final word on it here and later: he's a real Klingon, but not a normal one, and that's ok.
Chrome
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 9:10am (UTC -5)
@Peter

Actually, I agree with you that Mary Kay Adams is great and all the performances across the board are superb. Shimerman does some excellent pantomime and ad lib, while Dorn and Farrel have great chemistry. I think the acting makes up for some of the weaker sitcom-y writing that could’ve been scrapped, but that’s really me splitting hairs on giving this a high 3 over a 4 like I’d give “House of Quark”.
Fenn
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
On my treks around the Trek side of the internet, I've seen people joking about Keiko making incredibly unsubtle attempts to open up her marriage at basically all times.

Watching this... yeah. I'm seeing it...!

So, alternative take on Keiko this ep: she knows EXACTLY what she's doing, and takes every opportunity. I couldn't help having this in my head whenever they focused on the B-plot. Yes, what they're going for is "Keiko obliviously pushing Miles and Kira closer together, with all the awkwardness that implies", sure. But it's actually kinda ridiculously easy to see it as "Keiko 'obliviously' but *fully knowingly* pushing Miles and Kira closer together", and that really just adds another dimension to the comedy here.

I mean, come on. Miles massaging Kira. Keiko walks in. Miles and Kira awkwardly jolt apart, Keiko clearly notices -- and, grinning, tells them "don't stop on my account!" WINK WINK. This woman has Schemes, and she is enjoying their execution *far* too much. Genuinely, this seems like a pretty natural extension from how she manoeuvres Miles and Julian into one of their holosuite hangouts together in 'Accession'.

To be less silly for a moment, though? I may have laughed my way through this, but this would be a *really* crappy way to open up a relationship. Pushing your husband into loaded situations when it's not already abundantly clear that you have no problem with anything happening between them? What you're gonna achieve there is a good reading on how likely your husband is to cheat on you. That... would potentially be a darker and more manipulative reading on this. But I ain't about to take that any further; Keiko gets it rough enough with the writing already.

I do tend to be naturally attuned to less "conventional" readings on relationships. To give a shred of counterevidence to doubts about the validity of polyamory above, I'm in an open engagement that's gonna turn into an open marriage in a few weeks; I can safely say the one polyamorous relationship I've been in ended amicably with all parties (I'm marrying the boyfriend I had in that relationship, and I've actually got plans to hang out with my now ex-girlfriend just this weekend, in full knowledge and approval from my husband-to-be).

I will say that I'm just sort of "shrug" on the idea of Miles/Kira in general (I spent more time being amused by Keiko than I did being enthused by the other two, and yeah, I don't think there's much chemistry there). Nor do I have a problem with DS9 *not* being "right, here we go, full speed ahead for the Kiro'brien throuple". TNG always *was* flexible with how it portrayed relationships -- I particularly appreciated the dynamic with Troi and Riker, with an ongoing simmering whatever unmarred by the fact that each had plenty going on outside each other. But a three-person arrangement like this would probably take it a bit far for what people thought was safe to depict.

As for the other side of the conventional/non-conventional relationship spectrum, as well as the other side of this episode... I have my reservations regarding Worf and Dax. Worf always did stand out as the biggest monogamist on TNG (guy gets laid and then *immediately* kills the mood with the marriage ritual, good going mate). This isn't inherently bad -- maybe he still feels the need to adhere to Klingon standards, or maybe this just genuinely works best for him (which is perfectly fine). But when brought into contrast with Dax?? Who seems much more in line with TNG's relaxed, "free love" approach*, with this as no exception? I can't help wondering if there might be some friction there, and the final conversation of the episode definitely seems to be starting down that path.

Maybe Worf will loosen up, as Dax suggests; Lord knows he's loosened up on a hell of a lot of Klingon tradition anyway, by necessity or by choice. But it feels bad for Dax to basically be banking on that happening, especially when they've *already* done the deed and put him into the awkward situation of continuing from there. In the same vein as what I was saying above, it's not good to get people into these situations without full knowledge of what you're getting into in advance.

Final notes:

- I still haven't got used to hearing "Nerys" said. It still feels weird. (Sometimes that works for effect, though. Oh god, Jake in 'Fascination'...)
- The entire "morning after in the Infirmary" scene... oh my god. Poor Bashir getting the "hotel cleaner working Feb 15th" experience.
- With Klingon tradition in mind, are Quark and Grilka going to get re-married or what??? Goddamn revolving door of marriage and divorce with those two.
Fenn
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
Just noticed I left an asterisk promising a footnote in that comment, and then left the poor asterisk hanging without the actual footnote. Unforgiveable sin. Let's try that again:

"But when brought into contrast with Dax?? Who seems much more in line with TNG's relaxed, "free love" approach*, with this as no exception?"

* (hell, she even exceeds TNG's usual boundaries of "free love", being the one and only main character we've seen openly going beyond Trek's universal straightness)

There, now I'm done. Asterisk no longer left lonely. I can rest easy at last.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 10:15am (UTC -5)
@ Fenn,

I'm sorry to say, but I think there is approximately a zero percent chance that they were (subtly or not) portraying Keiko as hinting at an open marriage. There is just no way; it's out of character for her, and not the kind of 'humor' they were going for here. She's basically a futuristic version of a culturally Japanese woman who believes in a mix of scientific learning with more traditional values. Otherwise she'd never have gotten along with Miles, despite the fact that each of their versions of 'traditional' are no doubt different due to Irish vs Japanese. But they're not William Riker, let's just put it that way.

If I was going to criticize an aspect of this episode - and I'm loath to because I love it - it's that Keiko is clearly being portrayed as being outright stupid about this. The 'joke' as it were is that she keeps shoving them into intimate situations while being oblivious to what could happen, and she no doubt thinks that they're getting the better of Kira since Kira's doing all the hard work and Keiko is 'getting away with something', not having to carry the baby. So yeah, she wants to give Kira the royal treatment since their family is getting such a service from her, and her husband is going to be the royal slave to fan Kira with palm leaves and feed her grapes. It's not a sex thing, it's a "you better take care of her just like you would me if I had the baby inside me!" She's making Miles pamper her by proxy, and since it can't be called selfish she gets a kick out of it at the same time. My criticism is that portraying Keiko as being this oblivious is more of a sitcom trope than anything that belongs on DS9 as it does her no favors here. And if you want evidence of how traditional this scenario is, even Miles gets startled at what's happening between him and Kira, as if it wasn't entirely predictable. The fact that it would even get as far as him and Kira in that shuttle shows they were going for a comedy style rather than a realistic situation. I don't mind that, but I just think it does make Keiko look dumb.

This episode (and others) did foresee situations that could arise with surrogate motherhood, but I think it is most definitely not about unconventional *sexual* relationships. The title is about looking for love/sex in the wrong places; in Worf's case it's thinking he wants a Klingon woman; in Miles' case it's thinking it should go towards the woman bearing his child. That natural instinct leads him wrong. Or at least I think that's the confusion the episode is going for; not that he wants a relationship with Kira (or ever has) but that he's become attracted to her by the bond over the pregnancy.
Fenn
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Peter G: "I'm sorry to say, but I think there is approximately a zero percent chance that they were (subtly or not) portraying Keiko as hinting at an open marriage."

Oh yeah, of course not. I don't know if I made it clear enough in my original comment, but I definitely wasn't interpreting this as what the episode is actually *aiming* to depict. Big difference between intent and interpretation, and what I'm going on about is the latter. Just as a silly comedic alternate reading -- one that also happens to work surprisingly well with Keiko's behaviour, and which also happens to do away with her sitcom-induced obliviousness.

If you *do* want to read the episode as the writers intended -- no issue with that, just different ways of approaching media -- then yeah, that does come part and parcel with accepting Keiko as being shockingly clueless. Nah, Keiko draws the short straw often enough already. I'll happily see the silly solution here.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Ah, ok I see. I wasn't quite sure about that.
Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
Something of an odd episode.

Back when TOS began, Roddenberry threw a few things into the melting pot, such as the pulp sci-fi stories published in serials such as Amazing Stories, the waves of optimism and free love sweeping over America (driven in part by a burgeoning economy and the positioning of the USA as the defender of the Free World at the time), and the traditional libertarian and frontier spirit of early american history.

And depending on your viewpoint, Gene was also into open relationships or just a serial adulterer; his relationship with Majel began at least a decade before he divorced his previous wife and there are many stories about his behaviour.

So in many ways, this episode feels like a throw back to Gene's vision from the sixties, as it centres around the exploration of non-standard relationships.

In the first instance, there's the development of a poly relationship between Kira, O'Brien and Keiko. Or at least, I think that's what the writers were aiming for, as I know a number of people in very similar setups - some of which include a child being cared for by everyone in the relationship. It's perhaps a shame that things inevitably fall apart for the sake of dramatic tension (and perhaps because they'd pushed the concept as far as they could get away with on an American syndicated TV show).

There's then the relationship between Quark and Grilka, as mediated by Worf, who selflessly puts aside his own feelings for Grilka to help Quark. And as with Keiko, Kira and O'Brien, it's interesting to see how accepting everyone is of this non-standard situation, though it does fit in well with Worf's long standing traits of being selfless and honourable.

Then, we get to the final pairings: Quark and Grilka, Worf and Dax. And again, this harks back to the free love, pulp sci-fi themes of the sixties, when Men were Men and Kirk could get into fisticuffs before retiring off to his boudoir with the scantily clad, blue/green skinned alien girl of the week.

And it's that side of things which always feels a bit /too/ hand-wavey. There's often significant issues when it comes to human relationships across differing cultures and religions and when you throw in other species with completely separate cultures and religions - and the various biological differences therein - I always find it hard to buy into how easily cross-species relationships develop in Star Trek.

(Though equally, I may just be overly cynical. And to be fair, the use of alien species does allow the writers to explore things which otherwise would be censored by the networks, such as the distinctly BDSM elements inherent to Klingon culture, as epitomised by the damage inflicted on both Quark and Dax...)

Still, it's interesting to see how DS9 was starting to explore topics which were previously taboo...
Buckbart
Wed, May 13, 2020, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
I ALWAYS wish Worf laughed more.
Justin
Sat, Jun 6, 2020, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
I love how Michael Dorn leaned into singing along with Klingon opera. Relatable 😂😂😂
Dirk
Fri, Jul 24, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I almost skipped this one - so glad I didn't! One of Dorn's best performances. Bravo!
Trent
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 3:36am (UTC -5)
This episode seems pretty popular with everyone. My feelings were more in line with William's big review above: I thought Quark's little story was fine, but generally unimpressed with the other three. Kira and Miles are out of character, like giggling schoolkids, and while there's no chance of a 90s trek show portraying this, I thought their tale would have worked better as a straight tale about swinging and polyamorous relationships.

Dax is one is my favorite characters, but I never bought her relationship with Worf, which begins here (I'm interested in seeing if my opinions of them change during this rewatch).

Yes, in a way, they make sense as a couple. Worf's never as traditional as he likes to think he is, and she likes being transgressive and has a fondness for the exotic. Worf's dopey, offensive, stick-in-the-mud traits might also be deemed hot to a scientist who sees beyond them to their root causes. Still, I never got the sense that there was chemistry between them.

Julian and Odo seem just a bit out of character here as well. Odo's oddly judgemental, and Julian seems to revert to his season 1 horniness.

As others have said, the Quark-arc is the best thing about this episode. I also like the episode's willingness - and DS9's willingness in general - to be extremely low-key. Ds9 was proud of its "nothing much is happening today on the quadrant's most immobile station" stabs at banality.

More than any Trek show, it favors the slow burn, the long sentence, and gives carte blanche to a certain type of writerly indulgence. Where TOS and TNG strip things down and refine their writing to a point, DS9 finds a comfy couch and sprawls itself out, languishing and languid.
Brendan
Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 1:54am (UTC -5)
As I rewatch this, I jokingly laugh at the scene in the runabout and only now thought that it was too bad they couldn't have someone/something kill Keiko off and let Miles and Nerys figure out what could be.
Tara
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 10:37am (UTC -5)
I’m so glad I rewatched this one. I agree with Jammer for the most part. Quark was funny and refreshing. He had a chance to be sincere and sympathetic (and brave - he could have bailed on Grilka as soon as his life was threatened), as he had been in “House of Quark.” Good character work, and lots of laughs.

I thought Worf’s motivation for helping Quark was more than just a straightforward effort to prove he had the right stuff to win a Klingon woman. There was an element of masochism in it. Worf, the most honorable of men, lives with the shame of public disgrace, and as apparently feels it is his Klingon place to submit to this and even wallow in it (we’ve seen him insulted by Klingons in a number of scenes; he never defends himself). To help a (to him) worthless and craven Ferengi win the heart of a noblewoman he desires is an extension of his chronic self-flagellation. He’s intent on embracing his sorry lot, and believing himself the most disgraced of all disgraced Klingons in the history of Q’onos.

I liked Dax’s pointed comments to Worf, but I got whiplash from Worf’s sudden about-face. One moment he was wracked with pain as Quark walkEd away with Grilka,; the next he was helplessly responding to Dax’s charms. The scene did imply pretty heavily that Worf’s response to Dax was instinctive and sexual, which (among humans at least) is very different from being in love. I was expecting an awkward morning-after scene (as I think Worf had with Kaylahr) and was relieved that they were still together and still on speaking terms when they arrived in Sick Bay.

This is where I’m going to be a spoilsport and count up the number of retcons we’ve seen to Klingon mating and marriage rules. In TNG season one, we saw a fantasy Klingon woman appear in the bridge on all fours (wearing a fetish outfit as I remember), savage and submissive and snarling like a cat. In “Emissary,” it was implied that after a male and female have sex, tradition demands that they “take the oath” - apparently indicating commitment so intense that Keylahr wanted more part of. In “House of Quark,” we learned that Klingon marriage and divorce can be accomplished at the drop of a hat. All of which leaves me puzzled at the end of this episode. Did Quark win himself a wife or a one-night stand? Will Worf insist Dax take the oath? Well, I won’t think too hard or complain too much. It was a great comedy with warm characterizations, from a series that rarely gets comedy right.

The B story is more problematic. Here’s what’s good: I like that Keiko, a 24th-century spouse, has apparently evolved beyond jealousy and suspicion. (Roddenberry would be proud.). I like Miles and Kira developing feelings for each other in a believable, mildly funny way. And I was relieved that the ending didn’t descend into soapy adultery and marital drama.

Now here’s the bad: Doctor Bashir made prurient bro-talk with Miles about a woman who is, among other things, his own patient. I cringed when Miles gave Kira an all-over massage (yes, I know this is more evidence of 24th century liberation so I should like it for that, but I have 21st-century eyes..).

But what bothers me most is the overarching plot of Kira handicapped by pregnancy and unable to travel, function normally, or even live in her own quarters. Maybe I missed something - maybe this is at some point explained as ‘Kira being extra sick and fragile because her fetus is an alien’, and maybe I would mind it less if this point were given more attention. But what comes across is that a formerly tough-minded female character has been reduced to a state of aches and pains and dependency by the vagaries of her female body. If a tough male character were watered down like this, made needy and unfit for duty, I might use the word “neutered” to describe what the show has done to him. Interestingly, since Kira is female, the word doesn’t apply, I would say instead that she has been “feminized” - and while this shouldn’t be an insult, it is one, precisely because the Hollywood trope makes it one. To be feminized is to be made passive, sexual, demoted to the background, and given lightweight relationship stories rather than important action. I miss the old Kira. I hope she has the damn baby soon.

Final note: Thanks to a comment above, I’ve just realized that the Grilka actor is the same woman who played the replacement Na’Toth on Babylon 5. Strange: she was strong and noble as Grilka, but weak as Na’Toth and seemed unable to match the fierce Narn presence of the previous actor. Am I alone in thinking that?
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
@ Trent,

Re: Klingon marriage, while I do think there was some soft retconning I think what you're also seeing is a vestige of the arc we're taken through in TNG (and now DS9) of the demystifying of Klingon beliefs that Worf was totally serious about when he was more ignorant of how real Klingons live. Back in TNG S1-2 he believed that all Klingons value honor above all things, marry any woman they want to have sex with, hit themselves with pain sticks on a regular basis, enjoy fancy tea ceremonies, and generally live the life of a Klingon samurai poet. The reality we've been given, striking the heart of his fantasies about what being Klingon is like, is that modern Klingons are mostly just warriors who are subject to the same kind of corruptions as other races, who aren't particularly poetic, who do sleep around, and who don't care that much about sneak attacks or cheap tactics.

Back in Emissary Worf's position is largely an examination of traditional human values (i.e. conservative Earth values) versus a Roddenberrian view which is more about free love, not taking everything so seriously, and going with your feelings rather than tradition. That this doubled as being about Klingon culture ended up, in hindsight, making Worf an ultra-conservative Klingon given what we now know about them, which is not really inconsistent with the Klingons in general. He's just an outlier, mostly because of his own distance from real Klingons. By the time of DS9 I think it's sort of clear that Worf bubble has been burst and he knows he's not really a normal Klingon. Maybe dating Troi was the straw that broke that camel's back.

In the here and now I think Worf isn't exactly 'modernized' but he's not quite as scandalized as he was 10 years prior at the idea of sex without taking the oath. And I think he still does want the oath, but he's mellowed enough to know he can't realistically ask her for it. If he's going to date an alien, or even a modernized Klingon, he'll have to learn to compromise on that score.

About Kira, I think honestly it never occurred to me for a moment that she was being portrayed as weak just because at this point she is physically much less able. I can tell you that there's nothing cliche or diminishing to women to suggest that toward the end of their pregnancy they are really out of commission. Sure, some can go around and do their thing, but mostly you can't expect anyone to be able to walk more than a short way (back pain, loosening of muscle tissues) or do physically arduous things, and you're not even supported to exert yourself much. Being sleepy all the time is a thing, as well as being sore in random places and needing massages. So to me nothing we see here is diminishing to Kira or un-manning of her toughness. It's just the physical state she's in at this point, and even a softening of her temper can be well understood in terms of her not being quite so feisty at a time like this. I guess I'm not really sure what your objection is, other than I do get the idea that "let's end this baby thing and get our old Kira back." To that extent I basically agree, it had run its course and frankly didn't amount to that much narratively, so it was nice to have her back to normal after.

As for Na-Toth, I never had a problem with either of them.
Nolan
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
@Tara, Peter G.

Regarding both the "weakening" of Kira and the length and narrative purpose of the pregnancy plotline, remember, those are both determined by the timetable and demands of the Kira actress' *real* pregnancy (With Bashir actor Siddig El Fadil's child!). Nana Visitor couldn't rush that along anymore than the writers, and it'd be pretty cruel to throw a pregnant woman into demanding action plots. I think they probably extended the pregnancy story past the birth of the actudl child given some later episodes, but given the context of real life behind the scenes, I don't begrudge Kira getting "lighter" fare here.
Tara
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
@PeterG,

Thanks for the explanation regarding Worf. I didn’t think of that. I did understand that his sense of honor wasn’t shared by all the members of the High Council, and that his self-taught outsider status made him a purist who held himself to the highest standards (similar to Brienne of Tarth in GOT). I just had never related that to Klingon sexual mores. But it makes perfect t sense.

I am going to disagree with you about pregnancy. Throughout human history - and still today in most of the world - women do not have the luxury of taking to their beds or quitting their usual duties for months at a time, every couple years. Women are the people who do most of the grunt work of subsistence farming, lugging the water and last year’s baby on their backs, scrubbing the wash and cooking the meals, and they keep it up until the baby comes. The human race would not have evolved pregnancy as an incapacitating condition, since this would have been terrible for the species’ survival. The same is true for animals: Zebras and cheetahs can’t lie down and moan just because they’re gestating. They have to run for their lives. Other animals have no chivalry toward their delicate condition.

In the 24th century - when medicine is incredibly advanced and a hypospray is all it takes to cure pain - I don’t buy Kira’s situation. I understand she would avoid military action because she doesn’t want Keiko’s fetus to get phasered - but other than that, there should be much less fuss. I could be charitable, I guess, and assume the Kira actor was having problems with her actual pregnancy and asked to be put out of commission for a while and that the writers saw this as an opportunity to display a different side of her. Still, I can’t help gagging a little. Maybe that’s just me.

(On a personal note: I had to work 36- hour days and an eighty-hour week throughout my first pregnancy, mostly on my feet, despite vomiting literally ten times a day and sometimes needing IV fluids to keep me on my feet at work. I kept this up until the day Ibwas induced. Can’t say I enjoyed it -actually it was miserable and exhausting, especially the last couple weeks - but it was my job and I had no choice and I did it. No one ever suggested it was dangerous or too hard for me or that I should be excused. Guess what my position was? I was a medical resident — in OB-GYN..)

Question for everyone: Pregnant women - doctors, nurses, teachers, and I assume soldiers and plumbers too - don’t typically get excused from work or put on light duty prior to delivery, do they? I’ve never worked anywhere but the medical field so perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of this being a thing in the modern age, among any of my working female friends.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
@ Tara (and sorry for writing "@ Trent" prefacing my previous comment),

I don't mean to imply that pregnancy incapacitates women outright. I am specifically talking about later in terms, and most specifically 9th month. My wife was working throughout her pregnancy, right until the day she gave birth, but nevertheless long walks and any kind of vigorous energy requirement was really a no-go in the last few weeks. Even a 20 min walk would be difficult with the extreme muscle looseness in certain areas that expand. It's just a physical fact, it would have been literally impossible for her to be doing anything physically exerting at that point. And yeah, there was much more lying down, groaning with soreness, feeling a bit incapacitated. Still working, but not physically very able. It's not a weakness, it's just a reality.
Jason R.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
" Women are the people who do most of the grunt work of subsistence farming, lugging the water and last year’s baby on their backs, scrubbing the wash and cooking the meals, and they keep it up until the baby comes"

My wife is incapacitated at 6 months. But now that I think of it she never did much manual labor when she wasn't pregnant haha.

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