Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Rivals   Rewatch 
August 5, 2015 6:01 AM - Season 2, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Quark feels threatened when a con artist arrives on the station and opens up a competing bar. Meanwhile, Chief O'Brien is determined to beat Doctor Bashir at racquetball.

Rules of Acquisition
#47: "Never trust a man wearing a better suit than your own"
#109: "Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack"

* The original story pitch focused on the butterfly effect, which was also the original name for the show. Martus Mazur wasn't in this version of the story; instead, he was added later by Michael Piller. Jim Trombetta on the original concept: "Quark gets a device that gives him a lot of good luck, at the expense of other people. Someone had dug up this machine from an ancient civilization and was using it to gamble with. And Quark started having all this good luck, while everyone else was having terrible luck and things were falling apart." He wasn't entirely happy with the finished product. "Ultimately, it seemed a little confusing. I never explained the quantum gambling device adequately.
* Joe Menosky: "Writers would come in an say, 'What about the chaos theory?' And someone else would say, 'Well, what about it?' Everyone would struggle but nobody would devise a story. It wasn't until Jim Trombetta pitched that Michael [Piller] saw a story."
* Trombetta himself said it was extremely frustrating developing the story, "because there was this subplot of the racquetball game that they had wanted to put in a number of times and had not been able to, so they put it in this [episode] after I was gone because they felt it made the most sense since this was about games." He goes onto say, "I would have liked to have done more with the quantum-luck thing. I had the idea that if randomness could be managed, then you're in a lot of trouble. Basically, the universe is random; it's a mind boggling thing. Eventually Quark would beat [Martus] by using Mr. Randomness. We never got into that, although I would have liked to."
* Michael Piller conceived Martus Mazur to be the wayward son of Guinan. Guinan herself was to appear in the episode but Whoopi Goldberg was unavailable. All the references to Guinan were removed and only Martus's status as an El-Aurian was retained.
* Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss pointed out that neutrinos can only exist in only one spin state, the left-handed spin state (antineutrinos, however, are in the right-handed spin state), and therefore Dax could never have discovered a "statistically unlikely" left-handed alignment of whirling neutrinos. Science Advisor Andre Bormanis said of this error, "This was a mistake on my part; I thought neutrinos had multiple spin states like other subatomic particles, and didn't double-check. Well, as Spock noted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - nobody's perfect."
* The racquetball court was built on the holosuite set. Due to the cost of putting up and taking down the set, it was decided not to re-use the sport. According to Siddig El Fadil (Julian Bashir), "The dartboard was cheaper, and we started using that in the third season."
* Though the racquetball scenes only took six hours to shoot, there were issues, as El Fadil notes; "The scenes were kind of bizarre because the racquetball court was such an odd shape that the ball would bounce wrong. It was designed in a sci-fi shape, with the walls at all sorts of oblique angles, and you'd hit the ball and you wouldn't know where it would go. So we were chasing these balls around like nutters, until they finally just staged us so we could look like we were shooting the ball where we wanted it to go."
* Of the decision to have O'Brien appear shirtless, director David Livingston commented, "I thought it was important. He represents the common man on the show, and common men, when they get sweaty, take off their shirts. And so what if he doesn't look like Fabio. He looks real, like a human being. And later on, he has this nice loving moment with Keiko, where she hands him his shirt. I fought for that." Robert Hewitt Wolfe noted, "I think it was an attempt to show he's sexy to his wife. There's some sparks between the two of them. We don't see it all the time, but it's a real ongoing thing." On the prospect of being a sex symbol, Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) joked, "It would seem to me that there are far more likely candidates for it!" Robert Hewitt Wolfe recalled, "Our e-mail fans really liked the tight suit that Bashir wore in the matches. They liked that a lot."
* In-Joke: One of the ingredients in Quark's sedative drink is "dilithium flavoring extract oz. 435" as shown on Bashir's computer screen.

Keiko: "Kick his butt." to Miles, before his racquetball match with Julian
Quark: "I have a contract for which I paid considerably! All gambling on DS9 happens at Quark's or it doesn't happen!"
Sisko: "A few bribes to the Cardassians when they ran this place doesn't constitute a contract. Not in the eyes of the Federation."
Quark: "He's a con artist...a crook!"
Sisko: "One more won't make much difference."
Quark: "You owe me! You begged me to stay here when you first came on board, and I did. Against my better judgment."
Sisko: "I didn't beg, I blackmailed you. And don't pretend it hasn't paid off for you, either."

[O'Brien returns from a demoralizing racquetball game with Bashir]
Quark: "What was the score?"
O'Brien: "Who cares?"
Quark: "I care. I'm listening. Tell me your problems. All of them."
O'Brien: "I've got no problems a good drop shot wouldn't cure."
Quark: "He beat you."
O'Brien: "Only by half a step, that's all! He's got a few years on me, so what? I... I've got more experience."
Quark: [to himself] "The aging champion...."
O'Brien: " spin shots he's never seen."
Quark: "...versus the daring challenger..."
O'Brien: "So I had a few breaks, huh? One more game, that's all I needed!"
Quark: "Come one, come all..."
O'Brien: "I'd have kicked him all over the court. He knows it too."
Quark: "Welcome to Quark's!"
O'Brien: [annoyed] "Thanks!"
Quark: "Don't mention it."
posted by zarq (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, this one's pretty terrible. It's obvious from the opening scene that the woman is a con artist, so Martus is a pretty poor excuse for a con man to fall for it. And since he's not a worthy adversary for Quark, that leaves us with "random crap happens on DS9" which does not make for a particularly compelling plot.
posted by creepygirl at 6:59 AM on August 5, 2015

I quite enjoyed this episode- I liked Rom presenting his litany of failures to an increasingly frustrated Martus. I also liked the scene where Keiko is helping Miles prepare for the big match- it's one of the few scenes between them that don't make you ask "Why are you two still a couple, again?"

Also, on seeing Dr. Bashir warming up in his racquetball suit, I had a flash of revelation that, in the early seasons, Bashir was basically Arnold Rimmer.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:32 AM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is one of those episodes that interesting in view of the both Bashir's retconning and the JuliMiles bromance.

You definitely see the seeds for the latter being planted here. But how does the fact that Julian was obviously sandbagging play in here?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:52 PM on August 5, 2015

Also, on seeing Dr. Bashir warming up in his racquetball suit, I had a flash of revelation that, in the early seasons, Bashir was basically Arnold Rimmer.

Hee. You know, there's a bit in Emma Thompson's commentary in the Sense & Sensibility DVD where she talks about a scene in which they're trying to portray the boredom of the characters without making it a boring scene for the audience to watch. I think Rimmer was uniquely successful creation in the same way, in that he is on paper an utterly insufferable prig and yet completely entertaining to watch. Maybe uniquely British, at least. When news came out that they were doing a US-version of Red Dwarf, I had a feeling that they'd never be able to translate Rimmer, and when the bootlegs of the failed pilot surfaced I saw I'd been right. They just made him someone you were meant to point at and laugh, without realizing that you should also be able to identify/sympathize with him on some level.

Bashir so far is coming off like we're meant to find him charming, but he's not. I think that's why I love the Garak scenes; he's much more appealing when he's uncertain than when he's in pompous-flirt mode.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:39 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I liked this episode, for all its faults. The racquetball game between Bashir and O'Brien is great, and the scene where he comes home and throws his bag down is superb - Keiko is fantastic in this one, even though she only plays a small part.
posted by marienbad at 4:01 PM on October 18, 2015

This one has definitely the most charisma between the O'Briens that I can recall, though it's worth mentioning that Keiko is doing all of the emotional labor there. I think there's a reading of Miles (at least up to this point) that a lot of his insecurities are tied up in his relationship dynamic, though, and that's part of what makes Keiko's "kick his butt" scene play as sweetly as it does.

Chris Sarandon is a good guest-star here, and as good as you could hope for considering he drives the whole thing. His mark doesn't necessarily seem like she's playing him in the first scene (because standard Star Trek writing means that's exactly how she'd play being that gullible) but by the time she lays the Spanish Prisoner on him, he should be wise. Of course, he's high on a hot streak at that point, but if he's so lucky at that point, why should that be the moment she gets her claws into him?

Anyway, kinda dumb episode, but a fun one at least.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:30 PM on May 12, 2020

> It's obvious from the opening scene that the woman is a con artist

I thought it was obvious but then I second-guessed it wondering if it was just bad acting and writing. Glad I was wrong, but it's not great that I thought that. Maybe it's because I've had to believe that that gambling game is at all interesting -- it's a coin toss! -- and there was that recent episode where everyone was so entranced by the most boring music. I can no longer tell what is real.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:31 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]

« Older The X-Files: Ice...   |  Strike Back: Episode 1 ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments