I wanna fight for your right to faaaair pay! Unions, adjustments and negotiations all on the episode that originally aired on February 19,1996. This is Bar Association.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Bar Association
Quark is shocked when his employees form a union and go on strike, led by his own brother Rom.
Story A: Free the People
After Rom passes out due to an ear infection, he finds himself in the infirmary where Bashir casually mentions that he forms a union so he can petition for sick leave and other rights.
Rom returns to the Bar where he is instantly attacked by his Brother who announces that everyone’s salary is cut by a third. Rom, upset over his recent treatment decides to do something about it. Rom soon calls the staff together and informs them that they are going to form a Union despite how forbidden it is by the Ferengi Commerce Authority. The staff joins in and Rom realizes that he needs more information and goes to Bashir to get more advice. O’Brien, referencing his ancestor, inspires Rom to go on strike and become a hero of the staff.
The next morning Quark is shocked to find his staff gathered as the Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees. Rom presents their demands and, when Quark refuses to comply, the entire staff goes on strike leaving Quark alone to run the bar.
In order to combat the strike, Quark relies on holographic waiters who happen to look like him. Quark begs Odo to remove the striking staff from blocking the entrance to his bar. Odo informs the Ferengi Bartender that he is not allowed to interfere as per orders from Sisko leaving Quark to fend for himself.
After the arrest of three of his officers for Brawling in the bar, Sisko goes to Quark and instructs him to settle this strike as soon as possible. Sisko informs the bartender to find a way to end the strike or The Federation will begin billing him for rent, power and repairs. Quark agrees to speak to his brother and attempts to bribe Rom with latinum. Rom reminds Quark that he referred to Rom as an employee and not family. That evening, Quark is visited by liquidator Brunt who has been sent to end the labor dispute by any means necessary.
During a union meeting, Brunt breaks in with two Nausicaans immediately threatening them all with death. Rom stand up for the group but Brunt gives them an ultimatum, if they don’t go back to work, they will be financially ruined. Rom takes this as a challenge and decides to stand for the Union. Rallying the staff they return to the picket line ready for a challenge.
After Leeta shows affection toward Rom for his bravery, Quark tells his brother that he is concerned about what the Liquidator will do to him. Quark fears that the FCA is planning to kill his brother but Rom is not dissuaded. Back at the bar, Liquidator Brunt decides that they will get back at the Union by hurting the bartender himself, Quark.
Rom visits his brother in the infirmary the next day where he finds a very injured Quark. Rom makes it clear that, no matter how much they try to hurt him, Rom will not give in. Quark makes it clear that he can’t give in and betray 10,000 years of tradition but also doesn’t want more violence. Quark and Rom come to a secret agreement that Quark will give in to his demands but under the guise that the Union has dissolved. Rom agrees, knowing that it is dangerous to trust his brother.
The next day, with the bar reopened, Quark is shocked to find his brother Rom in Bajoran uniform. Rom has joined the the Bajoran crew as a technician and is finally free of his brothers control.
After returning from a mission, Jadzia notices that Worf is infatuated by the Defiant. Later, they discover a thief who has robbed Worf’s quarters and the Klingon is infuriated. Soon he finds more and more about the station not to his liking and makes a decision. Deciding that he needs more control over his life, Worf moves his quarters to the Defiant on a permanent basis. Jadzia gives him a housewarming gift of Klingon Operas but tells the Klingon that eventually he will need to adapt to life on the Station.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode is all about change and adaptation. From Rom demanding fair treatment from his brother to Worf’s decision to live on the Defiant, this episode serves as a transitory moment setting up future story-lines and establishing possible future relationships.
For the main story, we finally get some serious character development for one of the most ignored characters on the series, Quarks Brother Rom. For much of the series, Rom has been played as a bumbling fool and foil to Quarks savvy businessman character. For every great deal Quark has made, Rom has come across as well, the fool. From small moments where Rom stood up to Quark about Nog’s life choices to even showing that he had some technological intelligence in Our Man Bashir, this season we have been seeing hints of Rom becoming his own man. It was only a matter of time for Quark’s younger brother to step out on his own and honestly, staging a strike at Quark’s Bar was a great way to do it.
The B story involves our favorite Klingon, Worf. While there is not much going on in his story, other than him being unsatisfied with Station Life, there is more subtext than what we see on screen.
For the past seven+ years we have watched the first Klingon in the Federation grow into one of the finest officers Star Fleet has had. He has served admirably aboard a starship, been promoted numerous times, and has had personal battles too numerous to count yet he still finds himself determined to be the best he can be. After traveling the stars with a well balanced (ish) crew, being assigned to a somewhat dysfunctional space station has not sat well with him yet and he is steadily losing his cool. Thankfully, not only does he have the Defiant to fall back on, but also a certain Trill who has an affinity toward Klingon. I’m not saying something is brewing but…something is brewing.
All in all, a great episode that could have easily been a filler but manages to establish itself as one of the most memorable. With a great direction by LeVar Burton, Bar Association goes down as one of my favorite Ferengi episodes. Plus, Jeffery Combs comes back as Liquidator Brunt and frankly, Combs is great in everything he does.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Nausicaans play a game where they throw darts at each other. huh. okay then.
- We learn that some Ferengi’s give themselves oo-mox. well now.
- New Rules of Acquisition!
- Rule 211: Employees are the rungs on the ladder of success. Don’t hesitate to step on them.
- Never let doubt interfere with your lust for latinum.
- A keen eye will notice something familiar about one of the Ferengi who are striking against Quarks bar. While he was not credited in the role, Aaron Eisenberg really showed his abilities as a Ferengi other than Nog.
- This episode marks the start of two future relationships. More to come on that front!
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: Accession
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Late To The Game 9/5/2021 (Originally published 9/11/2019)
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.
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