Episode 3.16: Prophet Motive

Capitalism seems to work because humans have strong vices that often outweigh our virtues.  Greed, tribalism (us vs them), and envy all seem to influence the broader economic landscape.  Respectfully consider: corporate managers who guide their business for their own bonuses, stratification of laborers’ jobs like fruit picking toward immigrants and the poor, and marketing tactics that try to convince you that you need something you don’t have.  Capitalism is fueled by winners and losers, and no one wants to be in the loser category.  And sadly, capitalism is the only system that seems to work for us.

Quark offers the best defense of greed I’ve heard to date.  Ambition is what drives us to innovate and improve our situation, he claims.  The greedy are never satisfied with what they have, and only through this aspect of humanity (or Ferenginarity) will anyone be driven to actually work to gain a better circumstance.  That profit isn’t wrong because it is the mechanism that helps fuel this positive ambition.  I have to admit, this is as compelling as it gets for me.  In my own worldview, I see innovation and improved circumstance being driven by idealism; Quark’s storyline is contrasted with Bashir’s storyline.  Bashir’s accomplishment is driven by his own intrinsic desire to improve the health of all sentient creatures.  He has no greedy bone in his body, and he can effectively improve the lives of those around him.  But unfortunately, realism hits me in the eye with this one; idealism is grand and occasionally effective, but it is greed that seems to be most effective in our world.  Let’s also not ignore that Bashir doesn’t need to provide for himself either.  I don’t agree with the lengths Quark goes to (“There is nothing beyond greed” he exclaims), but rather I recognize that greed is what works in our world.  Quark’s point is begrudgingly taken.

The Prophets’ “de-evolving” of Zek is quite naïve.  Unfortunately, the opposite of greed isn’t blind generosity.  Zek is taken advantage of (by Rom of all people!), and he isn’t smart with how he uses his resources.  He still needs to consider how to smartly apportion resources.  However, I think the core motive from the Prophets is still important:  Greed and aggression aren’t ideals to strive for because they inevitably cause winners and losers.  Quark’s interactions with the Prophets is very Ferengi.  Quark starts with an aggressive stance, sticks to what he thinks is true, and negotiates.  Halfway through, when threatened with his own de-evolving, he smartly switches tactics from trying to convince them of his point to giving them what they really want, which is no more contact with Ferengi.  He lays out clear terms, which the Prophets agree to.  No Ferengi interacts with the Prophets again.

Random Thoughts:  1) The title is a play on words: prophet vs profit.  2) Bashir shows some great growth in this episode.  He is mature enough to recognize that he isn’t likely to win the Carrington Award, but doesn’t stifle himself so much that he loses all enthusiasm for it.  3) A real life example of greed vs idealism is pharmaceuticals, a field I have direct contact with.  Innovation for new drugs comes from the big companies because they can turn a profit on it.  Many excellent discoveries die in academia because there is no way to commercialize the product.  An ancillary consequence of this is that research into improved health doesn’t happen unless it can be monetized.  I find this tragic, as health is a basic human right.  4) Rom’s place at the end of the series as a Grand Nagus who ushers in a new era of Ferengi is foreshadowed strongly here.  I doubt they thought that far ahead though.  5) One real Rule of Acquisition is stated!  10th Rule!  6) There are six Revised Rules stated: 1st, 10th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 285th.  7) The self-sealing stembolts make an amusing return.  8) Ferengi sometimes have this feeling of being vagabonds.  This feeling is very strong here when looking at Rom’s lifestyle.  9) Quark isn’t a very traditional Ferengi.  He places pleasure about as equal as profit.  10) Quark gets another on-screen win.  Somewhat.  He shares in Rom’s embezzling.  I’m starting to rethink my stance that Quark doesn’t get a lot of profit on-screen.  11) The dartboard makes the first appearance.  It will last until the end of the series.  It was intended to replace the full racquetball set, as that was taking up too much space on the production lot.  12) Bashir and O’Brien have some fun mind games by trying to screw each other up with their current stress points (award and Keiko, respectively).  13) The Orb of Wisdom is officially returned (sold) to the Bajoran people.  14) Highly amused that Quark calls for Morn when he’s in the Orb experience.  15) Odo does something here that most great detectives do: he makes an educated guess at Bashir’s writing topic.


~ by Joshua Black on March 17, 2017.

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