Last week and this make two good episodes in succession, offering very little reason for nitpicking.
One of the things I’ve been interested in is the way in which the central cast have been developed across the first half of the season. We had very strong initial ideas of Sisko and Kira at the outset, though nothing further has been done about Sisko’s role at The Prophet, and little more as to the Major’s status as former Bajoran rebel and representative of a world picking itself up.
There’s been a little bit about Dax that I, personally, thought fudged the Trill issue more than somewhat and very little about anyone else. So this Quark and Ferenghi oriented episode was both very welcome and a bit overdue.
There was a subplot about the friendship between Jake Sisko and Nog, concerning the question of whether the latter was a good influence on the former, which, since Nog got Jake to tell a direct lie to the returning Chief O’Brien, seemed to indicate no, but no-one seemed to take into the account that the influence might work the other way and Jake be a good influence on his Ferenghi friend. Jake got off his misdemeanours when the Commander discovered his son was staying out late to teach Nog how to read.
This was a relatively minor but still neatly handled sideline, playing off the main story, which was the arrival of the Grand Nagus (i.e., the numero uno Ferenghi of them all) at DS9, putting the wind up Quark, who could see the Nagus buying out the bar from underneath him, and at a pittance.
Instead, Grand Nagus Zek – played to the wonderful hilt by the shrill-voiced Wallace Shawn, with the odd echo of Vizzini in there from time to time – was there to do two things: appoint Quark his successor as Grand Nagus and promptly die, leaving Quark at the mercy of the Ferenghis.
It was a great introduction to such things as the Laws of Acquisition, and the generally rapacious Ferenghi attitude to money, and there was a neat arc through the episode for Quark’s brother, Nog’s father Rom: identified as family for the first time. Quark started by berating Rom for handing back – intact! – a fat purse of money he’d found and ended by promoting him to Assistant Manager and treating him to drinks. And for why? Rom had only tried to kill Quark in between, in cahoots with the Nagus’s son, Krax.
But the Nagus was not dead, only pretending, to test whether Krax was fit to succeed him by slowly getting Quark under his thumb, only for Krax to be an utter disaster. Quark, on the other hand, was delighted to learn that his useless brother could act like a true Ferenghi!
So, an entertaining and enlightening episode, also notable for the first substantial appearance of the barfly Morn. I hope there’ll be a few more like that back half of the season, as there are still some cast members who are not much more than ciphers, yet. I’m looking at you, Doctor Bashir.