Episode 3.23: Family Business

There are times that DS9 is subtle and there are times when it isn’t.  Whenever Ferengi society is involved, DS9 isn’t subtle.  I think that is telling, actually.  In DS9, Ferengi society is meant to be representative of our modern society, and the obvious nature of the deficiencies of Ferengi society should be a sign to us.  There are some glaring, obvious deficiencies in our society.  The kind that should make us stop and ask ourselves why we are still dealing with them.  Gender equality is one of those.  The second storyline is has parallel gender equality themes, but they are more subtle and are overshadowed by the life-on-the-station feel.  I like this lighter blend for this point in the season, as the season is between two intense, heavy moments: the failure of Tain’s attack on the Founders (The Die is Cast, Ep. 3.21) and the escalations of Dominion tensions and Odo’s killing of a Founder (The Adversary, Ep 3.26).

Ferengi gender inequalities are hardwired into society.  It is illegal for a woman to earn profit, which is reminiscent of a time in Western history when it was illegal for a woman to own property.  The Ferengi  inequalities to us are painfully obvious, and as viewers we could respond in one of two ways.  We could either look at Ferengi society and think, “Ah, we’ve moved past that.”  Or we could think, “What remnants of that attitude still exist today?”  Obtaining gender equality in a society is actually a very difficult order to obtain.  Even assessing it is difficult.  It’s more than a simple calculation of pay gaps or percentage representation in a given field.  Many other things are baked into any gender divide (years in the workforce, socioeconomic class opportunities, physical requirements, etc).  Nonetheless, gender divides are real.  It is actually Rom who models what I think is the best, most fruitful path forward.  He demands conversation between Quark and Ishka.  He calls them out on their own failures, and gets them to see the opposing person’s struggle.  This is where any society needs to begin when working through social change: conversation.

As always, I’m impressed with how Quark is able to lay out the most defensible position for his Ferengi-inspired actions.  Since the inequalities are hardwired into society, for his family to buck those norms would lead to severe consequences.  Quark’s efforts with the bar support all three of them and Nog too, which is a great credit to him.  Standing up to the FCA would lead to them being ostracized, and it would limit Quark’s ability to earn the profit needed for them to live the life they do.  The true tension is whether this is worth it or not?  To Ishka, it clearly is.  In a societal sense, it clearly is.  But Quark’s priorities are with his profit and his family (even if he often denies the latter).  Additionally, what Quark (or Ishka) don’t realize is that they would not be alone in defying the FCA.  Quark’s fears do come to pass in Body Parts (Ep. 4.25), and his friends on the station support him fully in becoming emancipated from the FCA.

Sisko is finally set up with Kasidy Yates through Jake.  I don’t think it’s ever revealed how Jake knows Kasidy, other than Jake simply meeting her during his travels through the station.  There are some parallels here to the main storyline.  Where Ishka is oppressed, Ka sidyis utterly free.  She is a ship captain, she leads males on her crew, and she makes the first official move with Sisko by asking him out.  During their date, Sisko and Kasidy bond over this obscure activity that the 24th century has forgotten: baseball.  It’s actually eerily similar to the first date between myself and my now-wife.  We were having a generally good time, then I casually (and unintentionally) mentioned an obscure television show that I liked and how I was missing watching it because I was on a date with her.  She instantly recognized it and loved it too.  And so we now have a fantastic bond through Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It’s fascinating how relationships work like that; one connection becomes stronger, which allow further connections to be created.  Kasidy and Sisko stay together through the rest of the series, with a few rocky moments, as all relationships have.

Random Thoughts:  1) Quark laments Nog joining Starfleet because Nog isn’t working for profit in the family business.  Quark has strong family ties.  2) Quark’s closing of the bar on a profitable night shows how important the FCA and Brunt’s visit is.  3) I love the title, “Liquidator”.  4) Everything in Ferengi society is monetized.  Even standing.  And they have pockets built into their coats to facilitate bribes!  5) New runabout arrives: the Rubicon.  Kira makes a bit of a meta-joke about how often runabouts are being destroyed by saying how lucky it is that Earth has many rivers.  6) Nice painting of Ferenginar, where it is always raining.  7) As hard a Quark tries, his mother can earn three times the profit even while hamstrung by laws.  8) The ending with Brunt is hilarious.  Not only is the FCA easily outsmarted, but Brunt shall return many times.

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~ by Joshua Black on April 29, 2017.

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