Ferengi Culture has been largely unexplored with very little known about the profit seeking violent race from Star Trek the Next Generation. It wasn’t until DS9 that this race came into its own. For the first time we get a deeper glimpse into the Ferengi people. Originally airing on March 21,1993, this is The Nagus.
Station Log Stardate undetermined: The Nagus
Quark finds himself in the cross-hairs after he is dubbed the Grand Nagus of Ferenginar, leader of the Ferengi Alliance upon Grand Nagus Zek’s death. Now Quark must figure out how to survive long enough to at least turn a profit.
Story A: The New Grand Nagus
The Grand Nagus has arrived on board Deep Space Nine and soon pays a visit to Quark just after the Ferengi Bartender corrected his brother Rom’s failure to follow the First rule of Acquisition, ‘Once you have their money, you never give it back’. The Nagus occupies one of Quarks holosuites and remains in it for most of the day much to Quarks dismay.
Later that evening, Quark has the Grand Nagus over for dinner where they begin discussing family and profit. When Zek learns that Nog is attending a Federation school with a female teacher, he demands that the boy no longer attend class. He then informs Quark that he is taking over the bar for a short time to hold a conference concerning the Wormhole and the hidden profits within. Soon the station begins to fill with all of the most influential Ferengi in the galaxy much to Sisko and Odo’s chagrin. As the meeting commences, Zek informs the group that they need to move their operations into the Gamma Quadrant where no one knows the Ferengi and their reputation as a distrustful people. It soon comes as a surprise to Quark when Grand Nagus Zek announces the barkeeper as his successor to lead the Ferengi into the Gamma Quadrant. Upon the announcement, the meeting erupts in anger and they all storm out upset, leaving Quark dumbfounded at his good fortune.
Quark soon finds himself the target of the other Ferengi. Going to Zek for help, Zek informs him that, in order to survive Quark must surround himself with loyal men. Just as Zek begins his advice to Quark, the former Nagus dies in mid sentence much to Quarks surprise. The next morning at the funeral of Grand Nagus Zek, Odo arrives to conduct an investigation in the death of the former Ferengi leader. Just as the shapeshifter leaves, the first assassination attempt on Quarks life is committed and he barely survives the encounter. Although the new Grand Nagus is frightened, he refuses to accept help from anyone on the station. Quark reluctantly provides key information about possible assassins and soon Odo suspects that something is up when the former Grand Nagus’ servant does not attend his masters funeral.
Quark begins to act as Grand Nagus, entertaining various Ferengi as they approach him with opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant. After entertaining a few people, Quark leaves and afterwards Rom & Krax (Zeks son) begin to plot the death of the new Grand Nagus. Soon Rom and Krax prepare to kill Quark by blasting him out of an airlock. Convincing him that he is meeting with a delegation from the Gamma Quadrant, they trick him into walking into the airlock on his own. Luckily Odo sees what is going on and steps in just as the two Ferengi are about to pull the trigger. Bringing Grand Nagus Zek himself, Zek reveals that it was all a test to see if his son Krax was ready to take over for him. Zek is disappointed in his son for trying to take over violently instead of using his cunning. With Zek still alive, Quark finds himself no longer Nagus and still in charge of his bar. Quark congratulates his Rom for a job well done as he never believed his Brother had the lobs to kill Quark for his business.
Story B Jake’s Secret
Meanwhile Chief O’Brien finds himself as a substitute teacher until his wife returns from Earth in two weeks time. When he asks Nog about his homework assignment, Nog indicates that Vulcans stole his homework. Pulling Jake into his lie, Nog agrees to turn in his essay the following day. Later O’Brien indicates that Nog is a bad influence on Jake as the Ferengi boy is irresponsible and a bit of a trouble maker.
Jake finds himself alone and friendless after he and Nog have an argument on the Promenade. After being pulled from school by his father, Nog is upset and insists that Humans and Ferengi should never be friends. Jake has an issue with this as, not only is this his best friend, he is following his Father;s lead in that he should embrace all species. Jake decides he needs to do something to regain his friendship with his Ferengi compatriot. That night Jake arrives late for dinner upsetting his father. Jake is hiding something and Ben Sisko is determined to find out what. Determined to get to the bottom of what Jake and Nog are up to, Commander Sisko tracks his son to the cargo bay learning that his son isn’t up to anything bad, in fact, his son is teaching the Ferengi boy to read.
Commander Sisko is proud of his son and sees that he has been raising him right.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Like TNG exploring Klingon Culture, this is the first episode of DS9 that begins it’s deeper exploration into the world of the Ferengi. This episode establishes a ton of Ferengi lore in a very short time. We learn about Ferengi customs concerning death where they sell off ‘collectible’ containers of your freeze-dried body. We also learn from the get go that the Ferengi Alliance is led by a man who goes by the title Grand Nagus. Zek (played by Wallace Shawn) is the current Nagus and that means he is the most cunning, ruthless, and wealthy Ferengi the galaxy has ever known. Wallace Shawn does an amazing job with this role, quickly establishing himself as one of the most anticipated recurring guest stars in the series.
In addition to the Grand Nagus, we also are introduced to the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. These rules are somewhat of the Constitution of Ferengi Culture. Somewhere between religion and law, these rules were established to provide guidance to all of Ferengi in all manners of life…and to make a tidy profit as well. Created by the first Grand Nagus Gint, the rules would, over time, evolve into over 280 rules to which all Ferengi were to follow in order to find their way to the Divine Treasury at their death. For more on this sacred tome, I do recommend picking up a copy of your own here.
This is one of the more fun and humorous episodes and, after it was seen as a successful entry into the series, it certainly wasn’t the last. To me, this was a wonderful showcase for Quark to take the lead, giving us a real look into who he is and what makes him tick. Armin Shimerman did an amazing job in the spotlight, securing himself as one of the most recognizable, and likable, Ferengi in all of Star Trek.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
While this is not the first appearance of Rom, it is the first time we see him played as the dumb younger brother. When he first appeared he came across as much more intelligent and harsh. I still have to wonder if this isn’t just Rom playing the long con.
Rules of Acquisition mentioned:
the first rule: Once you have their money, you never give it back.
the sixth rule: Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
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Late To The Game 12/13/2020 (Originally published 3/18/19)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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