The Ferengi. A relatively unknown race in the Star Trek universe, but all that is changing due to this series. Once again we dive deeper into the culture that is Ferengi. Originally airing on November 7, 1993, this is Rules of Acquisition.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Rules of Acquisition
The Nagus returns with plans to begin business ventures with a species from the Gamma Quadrant only for Quark to be placed in command of the operation. However, Quark is teamed up with another Ferengi who isn’t quite what he claims he is…
During a game of Tongo with several Ferengis (and Jadzia Dax) Quark is contacted by Grand Nagus Zek who informs Quark that he is to be the chief Negotiator with a species from the Gamma Quadrant called the Dosi. Upon arrival, Zek negotiates with Sisko to be allowed to hold a summit with the Dosi on Deep Space Nine.
In the meantime, Quark, realizing he needs help in the negotiations, he enlists the assistance of his clever new bartender, Pel, who has proven his ‘lobes’ in business. Little does he know that Pel is a female Ferengi in disguise, a revelation that could ultimately destroy his chances of success due to the archaic Ferengi customs concerning women. The Dosi arrive and, much to Quarks dismay, they seem to be quite the violent race. As they begin their negotiations, it soon becomes apparent that this is going to be quite the challenge for Quark and Pel.
Later that evening, during another game of Tongo, Jadzia notices that Pel is very enamored with her boss, Quark. The next morning, Dax confronts Pel about her feelings for her boss. Dax is shocked to learn that Pel is a woman who wanted more than any other Female on Ferenginar. She traveled to DS9 to find profit under the guise of a male only to find herself in love with Quark.
The Nagus is upset upon learning that Quark has failed the negotiations with the Dosi. The Dosi have returned to their home in the Gamma Quadrant without signing the contract with the Ferengi. In order to find a way to get the contract setup, Quark and Pel head into the Wormhole in order to hunt down the Dosi on Pel’s recommendation.
Back on Deep Space Nine, Rom is jealous of Quarks admiration for Pel and, after raider her room, Rom discovers Pel’s secret.
Quark and Pel find the Dosi settlement where it is clear that these people are very serious people in the game of profit. Quark confronts the Dosi negotiator demanding the 100 thousand vats of Tulaberry wine, he is denied but Quark refuses to give up. Returning to their quarters, Quark tries to go to sleep but Pel panics wen it is apparent that they would have to share a bed. Pel, realizing that there is no option, kisses Quark right when one of the Dosi comes in. She offers them a chance at the 100k vats but only if they do business with The Dominion.
Quark is thrilled to learn that the Tulaberry Wine was not the main goal, in fact contact with The Dominion was what Zek was after. Returning to DS9, Quark informs Zek of his findings where the Nagus is excited to learn Quark has the information he needs. Rom soon informs Quark of what he discovered and Quark promptly passes out. Quark awakes in sickbay being treated by Bashir for his injuries. Rom is determined to stop Pel but Quark refuses. Should in be revealed that Quark has been deceived by a female, all of his work is for nothing. Quark strikes up a deal with Rom to keep quiet about the situation.
Quark visits Pel where he informs her that she is to leave Deep Space Nine, giving up her attempt to remain under disguise as a Male. She admits that she loves him and, although it is against Ferengi Law for a female to earn profit, she is willing to travel to the Gamma Quadrant with Quark to start a new life. Quark refuses her offer, telling her that he can not break with tradition.
That night at dinner with Zek, Quark is clearly feeling bad over the situation. Just as things are looking up, Pel arrives and reveals to Zek her secret by ripping off her lobes in front of him. Zek threatens Pel with a prison sentence but Quark steps in telling the Nagus that he is as complicit in the crime as Quark is. In a rare act of decency, Quark relinquishes his Gamma Quadrant profits in order to keep Pel out of prison.
Pel informs Quark that she is leaving and asks he to come with her. He sorrowfully turns her down even though he really is in love with Pel.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is one that really give you a chance to get to know Quark even more. What I loved most about Star Trek The Next Generation is how they firmly established the culture and life of the Klingon People. Over the course of seven seasons, we learned more about the Klingons than ever before even though they had been a part of Star Trek Mythos since the beginning. It is somewhat ironic that the Ferengi get a chance to be fleshed out on Deep Space Nine after being introduced on STNG seeing that the Klingons were established in the original series. It is almost as if there is a rule that proceeding series takes a new species from the previous one to develop. Personally, I’m glad they did as the Ferengi, while greedy and very misogynist, are one of my favorite species on the show. They are a great foil and sometimes show a little hit of progress as the series continues.
Today’s episode is one that firmly establishes some of the Ferengi’s more misogynist cultural rules. It establishes that the reason we have yet to encounter a Ferengi female is simply that the Females of Ferenginar are treated more like property than people. Ferengi females are not allowed to make profit, not allowed to work, rarely if ever allowed to leave home and not even allowed to wear clothing. The Ferengi culture in many was is an extreme version of the classic 50’s sitcom family where the woman of the family stayed home, cared for the kids and never pursued a career. Thinking about it, with all of those rules in place it is a miracle there are any Ferengi at all. I mean, the likelihood of meeting a female on Ferenginar is pretty slim…then again, it also implies that there are some dark cultural norms concerning marriage as well…ugh.
With all of these ‘rules’ we get a hint that there is a little bit of a rebellion going on. Seeing that Pel managed to escape Ferenginar she had to have had a little help from someone. She proves that Ferengi females are not the docile things that the Ferengi males make them out to be, in fact they are better in business than most of the Ferengi we have met are. We will also learn down the road that this isn’t all that uncommon in reality.
As for character development, We really get a chance to see Quark shine. While he is constantly in pursuit of profit, Quark shows that he does stand up for what is right on occasion. When Pel reveals her true nature to Zek, Quark could have easily acted as shocked as Zek and could have allowed Pel to be carted off without any question. In fact, as per Ferengi custom it is rather shocking that he didn’t. This is of course an extreme ‘cronyism’ culture so those mutual secrets would only go down for more negotiation later on. For him to stand up and risk losing everything so that she would not be punished, is pretty momentous this early in the series. I often wondered if Quark is serving some sort of self imposed penance remaining on DS9 all these years. Yeah, Sisko blackmailed him into staying early on but nothing has prevented him from leaving since. hmmmm
All in all, this is a terrific episode that really opens up the world of the Ferengi, and trust me, this is not the last of it.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
A keen eye will recognize character actor Brian Thompson as Inglatu the Dosi. This guy is the go to guy when a scifi series needs a buff or intimidating alien. Plus he is just awesome!
We never see nor hear from Pel again, which is sad because she and Quark would have been great together. Especially the Quark we get later in the series…spoilers!
We never see nor hear of the Dosi again but we do get a mention of the Karemma who do appear later on.
We learn of yet another Ferengi game, Tongo, and that Jadzia is quite the accomplished player.
This marks the first mention of the Dominion. Oh yeah, they will become quite important later.
I particularly love the subplot where Grand Nagus Zek is attempting to buy Major Kira’s affections. She wants to ring his little goblin neck but has to keep her composure throughout the episode. There are some wonderful moments there.
We learn that there are 285 rules of Acquisition, more of which we learn in this episode:
Rule #21 Never place friendship above profit
Rule #22 A wise man can hear profit in the wind
Rule #33 It never hurts to suck up to the Boss
Rule #48 The Bigger the smile, the sharper the knife
Rule #59 Free advice is seldom cheap
Rule #62 The Riskier the Road, the greater the Profit
Rule #103 Sleep can interfere with (not completed but I assume it is ‘Profit’ or ‘Business’)
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Necessary Evil
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 2/6/2021 (Originally published 4/24/2019)
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.
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”