Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Rules of Acquisition   Rewatch 
July 22, 2015 6:10 AM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Quark represents Grand Nagus Zek in a plot to establish a Ferengi business presence in the Gamma Quadrant. Pel, a young Ferengi, teams up with Quark and they learn that to do business in the Gamma Quadrant they must contact the Keremma, a member race of the Dominion.

* First episode to mention the Dominion.
* First on-screen appearance of a Ferengi female in Star Trek.
* Rule of Acquisition #21, Never place friendship above profit
* Rule of Acquisition #22, A wise man can hear profit in the wind
* Rule of Acquisition #33, It never hurts to suck up to the boss
* Rule of Acquisition #48, The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife
* Rule of Acquisition #59, Free advice is seldom cheap
* Rule of Acquisition #62, The riskier the road, the greater the profit
* Rule of Acquisition #103, Sleep can interfere with.... (Quark interrupted Pel halfway through this Rule. It is never repeated in the series.
* Episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series.
* First episode to mention the Dominion, which would go on to become an integral power in the series. The Karemma are also mentioned for the first time.
* The decision to place the initial mention of the Dominion in an otherwise inconsequential "comedy" episode was deliberately intended to throw the viewers off.
* In the The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond documentary on the DS9 Season 3 DVD, several of the writers give their views on the need to create a specific identity for the Gamma Quadrant:
- Michael Piller: "I can remember that once we decided that we were going to go deeply into the wormhole, that we essentially were forcing ourselves to decide for ourselves what we were going to find there."
- Ira Steven Behr: "We just felt that having done a year and a half of the show at that time, that we had such a rich backdrop that we hadn't yet explored. What's on the other side of the wormhole? Is it just more space?"
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "We just felt it was time to give a face to the Gamma Quadrant. Voyager was going to be wandering through the Delta Quadrant from place to place, meeting new people every week, and we wanted to make the Gamma Quadrant distinctly different from that, by creating the Dominion, a sort of unifying anti-Federation in a way, just to give it a completely different character."
posted by zarq (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For some reason I've always enjoyed the distant, silent, little play within the play as it were when Rom and Pel reveal the secret.
posted by juiceCake at 7:12 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

For some reason I've always enjoyed the distant, silent, little play within the play as it were when Rom and Pel reveal the secret.

Reminds me of John Rogers' repeated pointing out in the Leverage commentaries about how much comedy gold there is in a locked-off frame (can't remember the exact phrasing, but he loved to have a shot with two characters in the foreground doing dialogue, with hijinks going on silently behind them).

I think this may be one of the few times the ST acknowledged the existence of homosexuality, by having Jadzia recognize that Pel was in love with Quark before finding out she was a woman. But, it's still just using aliens, I don't think they ever did anything non-heterosexual that wasn't non-human/metaphorical. I know there's a later episode where Jadzia kisses a woman, but, my memory is that they were former lovers from when one of their hosts was a man and one was a woman, so, still a pretty heteronormative and 'well of loneliness' kind of episode.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:45 AM on July 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've often wondered why the station closes down at "night". What happens if a ship pulls up at the wrong time?

I think the reveal about Pel being in love with Quark would have been better if they'd strung the audience along for a while, rather than outing her as a woman pretty much straight away.

When Zek grabs hold of Kira as she goes to stand, I always flinch.
posted by Solomon at 11:04 AM on July 23, 2015

I think this may also have been the first episode in which tongo is shown being played.

I thought the approach to gender inequality/trans issues was relatively sensitive by the standards of the 1990s- to me it seems like the writers were trying to give it an almost Shakespearean quality, both with the cross-dressing romance, and the more physical comedic aspects that juiceCake points out.

It's interesting to see how Zek's grotesque harassment of Maj. Kira plays to our eyes now, when it was written almost entirely for laughs. Also, somewhat out-of-character for Kira, who I think after issuing the first warning, likely would have proceeded to beat the snail juice out of the offender, age and diplomatic consequences be damned. This notwithstanding, Wallace Shawn's portrayal of Zek is still inconceivably good.

Even though the Dosi were used as a throwaway culture in this episode, I really enjoyed their makeup.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:52 PM on July 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, much later in the series, we do see Zek redeem himself somewhat for his treatment of Pel in this episode.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2015

I dislike the Grand Negus a lot. I wonder how much of that is because of the character himself, and how much of it is because of Shawn's acting. I suspect it's rather more the latter than the former. See also: Winn. Fletcher is an amazing actress, and I don't think Winn would be so very creepily perfect were someone else playing her.
posted by Solomon at 6:32 AM on July 24, 2015

Oh yeah- I'm sure Fletcher is perfectly nice, but I would have a lot of trouble if I met her in person.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:45 AM on July 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Both Quark and Zek pursue Kira, a strong-willed independent woman who won't put up with their shit. But when confronted with a strong-willed independent woman who is actually interested in him, Quark doesn't know what to do.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:16 PM on July 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

I thought the approach to gender inequality/trans issues was relatively sensitive by the standards of the 1990s

I can't wrap my brain around the fact that the same person (co-)wrote this episode and "Profit and Lace," and the staff thought the latter was the better one.
posted by thetortoise at 11:33 PM on July 24, 2015

I love this episode. Wallace Shawn said he loved playing Zek as it meant he could ham it up. Agree that it would have been better to keep the reveal of Pel being female until later. Love the scene where Jadzia says she loves Quark and Pel just sorta spills out the truth, almost without realising what she is saying.
posted by marienbad at 3:37 PM on October 18, 2015

Odo’s got a really nice Blade Runner coat thing going on. I’d watch this spinoff series!
posted by sacchan at 4:02 AM on November 20, 2018

Wallace Shawn's portrayal of Zek is still inconceivably good.

I see what you did there, The White Skull
posted by bunderful at 7:04 PM on June 13, 2021

I can't wrap my brain around the fact that the same person (co-)wrote this episode and "Profit and Lace," and the staff thought the latter was the better one.

What's wild to me is how much this episode sets up the latter one in terms of being two ends of one of Quark's major character arcs. Profit and Lace is horrendous, of course, but the one redeemable part of it, Quark's monologue about pockets and how Ferengi women's lib is going to be immensely profitable for anyone smart enough to get on board with it has its roots here, particularly in Shimerman's performance, which shows Quark knowing the right thing to do but not having the courage to go against his culture yet.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the best of the (several) episodes which concern the Sexual Revolution on Ferenginar, and a lot of that comes down to Pel just being the most compelling face for it. I've read somewhere that Shimerman saw DS9 as an opportunity to rehabilitate the Ferengi after being a part of their godawful introduction in S1 of TNG. So where most other actors played up the deeply irritating aspects of Ferengi characters, he downplays them (as does Aron Eisenberg.) Zek is supposed to be atrociously off-putting, so that's fine, and Wallace Shawn makes it work. It took the writers a while to figure out what Rom was all about, but once they decided to make him sympathetic, Grodénchik found a way to make that work within the characterizations he'd already established. And of course, most other Ferengi we meet are varying shades of villainous.

But the two Ferengi women we meet in the series are Pel and Moogie. Moogie has sympathetic turns, but is generally played in an unpleasant way (by both actors who play her.) Pel, meanwhile, is immediately pretty likable even before we know her story. Profit and Lace is a terrible idea, terribly executed no matter what context it's in, but I really wish Pel could have come back and continued to be central to this long-running arc.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on April 20, 2022

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