Episode 2.7: Rules of Acquisition

Ferengi can be decidedly human.  And Ferengi episodes can be decidedly Ferengi!  The Ferengi are always portrayed as morally mixed characters, usually with the virtues orthogonal to the vices.  Here, they are both despicably sexist and brilliantly shrewd; this is how I would like to approach this episode.  First though, I note they are still holding onto the Old West feel here in the second season.  The opening shows a drunk in the street and poker-like gambling in the bar.  Dax loves the Ferengi; in particular, she loves how vibrantly full of life they are.  And she accepts them as enjoyable company even as they direct their sexism toward her.  Dax in the tongo game is a foreshadowing of Pel.  Dax is equal to men, earning profit, and Quark’s attitude toward Dax during tongo (he sees her as an equal) predicts Quark’s attitude change toward Pel.

Ferengi sexism is painfully simple.  Females can’t read, they can’t earn profit, and they can’t wear clothes.  It’s juvenile.  But I think sexism is honestly a simple problem and a simple sort of moral failure.  This is the message I feel they wish to communicate about this social issue.  Pel’s simple desire is to experience her full potential by earning profit.  And she’s very good at it; her lobes for profit are more sensitive than most Ferengi men.  This is a boon, as Quark has good lobs for profit in a general sense, but he always seems to need a little boost from others.  By the end, Quark really respects Pel; he is rather progressive for a Ferengi.  There isn’t love from Quark, but he will respect anyone with the lobes for profit.  In a very real sense, Quark remains a staunch sexist at the end of the episode.  He still desires his women naked and illiterate.  But Quarks accepts and respects that women are fully capable of earning profit.  For a Ferengi, this is the biggest and most important barrier to cross.  Even when they learn something, Ferengi (ie modern humans) are a mix of vices and virtues.

The Ferengi shrewdness demonstrated is a bit more interesting.  Zek is driving very hard to obtain this wine contract.  It is initially portrayed as simple greed from Zek, but given how he changes the deal to 100,000 vats right when Quark is about to close shows that Zek knows there is a deeper story to the Gamma Quadrant politics.  He has the lobes to hear the whispers of the Dominion and to seek them out first.  It is his greed that gives him suspicions there is more to the Gamma Quandrant than meets the eye, but unfortunately, it is also his greed that tricks him into only seeing it as an opportunity for profit.  This foreknowledge of the Dominion will turn out to be invaluable for the Federation and Bajor.  Zek’s series-wide foreshadowing: “Whoever figures out the Dominion, figures out the secret of the Gamma Quandrant.”  Quark has his own moment of brilliant shrewdness by turning Zek’s words back on him (“Stupidity is no excuse”).  Again, to a Ferengi, Pel’s ability to earn profit earns her great respect, and this is what Quark defends (not out of any love for Pel).

Random Thoughts:  1) Unsurprisingly, this episode is a wellspring of Rules of Acquisition:  59th, 22nd, 33rd, 48th, 21st, and 62nd.  The quote of the 103rd is started, but isn’t finished.  Nowhere in all of Star Trek canon is it finished.  2) The existence of a total of 285 Rules of Acquisition is stated.  3) In Sisko’s office, Zek is genuinely surprised at the idea of giving something to the Bajorans.  4) Ear hair can be distinguished in Ferengi culture.  Hot.  5) Kira’s struggle at being diplomatic with Zek amidst the…cultural…differences is amusing.  6) Most of Pel’s actions can be directly tied to rules she quotes.  For example, her advocating to Quark to go to the Doci homeworld is the 62nd Rule: The risker the road, the greater the profit.  7) Quark can pilot small ships!  8) I like the visual backdrop provided for the Doci homeworld.  9) The Doci have the greed of Ferengi and the tempers of Klingons!  10) Lots of main character cameos, probably just to get them in the episode.  11) Dax and Pel foil each other at the end.  Pel fails to know Quark by not realizing his love for profit is greater than his love for women.  Conversely, Dax does realize that even without love, Quark will still miss Pel’s companionship.

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~ by Joshua Black on April 3, 2016.

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