Deep Space Nine: s05 e03 – Looking for par’Mach in all the wrong places


Grilka

For once, I’m not entirely sure what I want to say about a DS9 episode, let alone how I want to say it.

‘Looking for par’Mach in all the wrong places’ (apparently the longest title for a DS9 episode and the second longest for any Star Trek series) was a purely character-driven episode. It was directed by Andrew J. (Garak) Robinson, though he doesn’t appear in the episode, it was, at the suggestion of Michael Dorn, based on the famous French play, Cyrano de Bergerac, and it initiates the relationship of Worf and Dax as a couple.

It also heavily features Quark and, surprisingly, is actually bearable.

This episode also has a B story which, in standard DS9 fashion, is introduced first in the open, with Doctor Bashir eavesdropping on a seeming row between the O’Briens, which turns out to be a row between the Chief and the Major, their live-in guest whilst Kira is carrying Miles’ baby.

This switches to our A-story, with Dax and Worf present to see a tall, bold, long-striding Klingon woman arrive on the station. Worf falls for her instantly, like the proverbial ton of bricks, though his romantic ideals are shattered when he follows her to Quark’s, and sees her enthusiastically embrace the proprietor. For this is Grilka, and Mary Kay Adams for a second and final time, and she is Quark’s ex-wife, as anyone who recalls ‘The house of Quark’, exactly two seasons ago, will remember (I didn’t).

So, Worf is smitten, and Dax displays considerable equanimity in listening to his moon-struck babblings about how glorious Grilka is. Worf even makes a start on traditional Klingon wooing, only to be told, not unkindly, by her aged Counsellor, Tumek, that as a dishonoured traitor to the Empire, it’s no chance whatsoever, and as a Klingon brought up by humans, Worf wouldn’t know how to woo a Klingon woman anyway.

This is like a red rag to a bull, and this is where the Cyrano bit comes in, because when Quark asks for help in wooing the statuesque Grilka, Worf takes over as his mentor, wooing by remote control, and getting a hell of a long way with it.

Unfortunately, the remote control bit has to become a little more direct. Quark’s filthy and demeaning attentions prove to be too much for Grilka’s bodyguard, Thopok, who demands satisfaction, with bat’leths.

Dax quickly cooks up a device that enable Worf to see through Quarks eyes and control his movements and effectively fight his duel for him without even being in the same holo-suite. Apparently, everybody seems to be incredibly fussed about the way nobody explains just how this little transmitter/receiver device work, and the decision not to explain because that would just bog the story down in unnecessary detail, and I don’t get why all the fuss: this is the twenty-fourth century, I don’t need an explanation for how a scientifically advanced device works and yer dern tooting it would have killed the momentum in its tracks.

Anyway, lots a by-play later, the Quark-puppet wins his duel, spares Thopok’s life and has Grilka jump his bones with true Klingon aggression. Worf, who has proved his point without anyone but Dax knowing, who has won his woman only for her to go off shagging Quark, gets an undeniable touch of the melancholies, from which a by-now frustrated Dax, tired of trying to make him see there’s a randy Trill under his nose, starts a bat’leth fight which draws both into a pyre of lust that ends wiith them shagging (tastefully offscreen, of course).

Both couples wind up in the Infirmary with cuts, bruises, dinged ribs, strains (I will reject all advances from Klingon women if this is what it leads to), causing Bashir to mentally wince so much, he probably pulls a mental hamstring himself.

For all this is an overtly sexual storyline, its ironic that the only female flesh we get to see is in the B story. No, not Rosalind Chao, though it was noticable to the unreconstructed among us just how clingy was that top she was wearing at the start, but Nana Visitor, clad in but a light, and short purple slip, having a massage from Chief O’Brien that started at her pregnancy-swollen ankles and got a long way up her unclad thighs.

If the A-story was about a love triangle, the same went for the B-story, as Miles and Nerys found themselves developing an unexpected – and unwanted – attraction for each other based on their close proximity, that was clearly capable of going beyond the purely sexual.

Everybody seemed to see there was something at least potentially going on except, naturally, Keiko. This was an interesting story, and an interesting twist on human relationships, with Miles and Nerys trying to distance themselves from each other to avoid nearing the point of lost control, whilst not letting the oblivious Keiko see that there was anything to back away from.

Matters came to a head when Kira abruptly decided to take several days leave in solitude on Bajor, only for a horrified Keiko to insist the Chief go with her, to look after her. The problem was, this was a gorgeous place in the most romantic of settings…

The drawback with this story was that its treatment was too light, and it was concluded without an ending. Miles and Nerys recognise that they daren’t go off together, and that there is too much of a potential affair that neither wants. So Kira shoots off for some no-doubt pregnant nookie with Shakaar, and O’Brien heads home to (unseen) lie to Keiko about some miscommunication meaning she’d jetted off without him, which wasn’t going to work for a second, or change any of the genuine fears that prompted Keiko to send her husband off with his baby-mother, or actually resolve anything, and I bet we don’t hear of this storyline again.

Basically, this was a lightweight script, with some comic elements that worked mildly successfully, a deliberate contrast that would perhaps have worked better if it were not thrown in so early in the season, when there was so little to contrast it to. But Quark, despite having a major role, was perfectly bearable, because he was playing against his usual, money-grubbing Ferengi self.

At least we’ve now hurdled into the Worf/Dax relationship.

Deep Space Nine: s03 e03 – The House of Quark


It’s going to be one of *those* kind of marriages

Aye. Well. Mm.

I can’t say I didn’t expect an immediate return to an essentially trivial story – it was about Quark, he’s not there for the serious stuff – though there were elements about this episode that demonstrated that Deep Space Nine wasn’t going to immediately run away from what it had started over the last three episodes.

What was good was that the effect of the Dominion threat carried over in continuity. Quark’s bar is virtually empty due to the lack of people coming to the station whilst it’s under threat, and Keiko O’Brien has shut the station school down because the only pupils she has left are Jake and Nog.

That latter is the subplot, which I personally found more interesting, and certainly more serious than Quark’s shenanigans at the front of the house.

Let me explain, as briefly as I can. The last customer left in the bar is a drunken, penniless Klingon named Kovak, who pulls a knife on Quark, but who is too drunk to stand and falls on his own knife, killing himself. Quark, seeing notoriety as a way of attracting morbid – but money-spending – customers, claims to have killed Koval in self-defence, in personal combat. Kovak, it transpires, was Head of a Klingon House.

Shortly after, Quark is ambushed by D’Gor, Kovak’s brother. He quickly scares the truth out of Quark but insists he maintain the lie since it is important that Kovak should have died an honourable death. Quark’s next visitor is Grilka, Kovak’s widow. She also learns the truth, but she knocks him out and kidnaps him back to Kronos, where the first thing she does once Quark is revived is to marry him.

This move is to try to preserve the House’s existence. Kovak left no male heir and, under Klingon custom, the House is to be dissolved. Were there ‘unusual circumstances’, a special dispensation might be obtained from the Council to allow Grilka to lead the House, but an honourable death in personal combat.

Should the House be dissolved, its lands, properties etc. shall go to Kovak’s brother, D’Gor, who has been a sworn enemy for many years and is the House’s principal creditor, Kovak having been a wastrel. By marrying Kovak’s killer, Grilka can save the House, even if it has to be led by a short, cowardly, stinking Ferenghi. It becomes the House of Quark.

D’Gor then throws a spanner into the wors by producing the only witness to the truth of Kovak’s death, Quark’s brother, Rom.

Our comic relief Ferenghi does have some talents however, especially when it comes to money, and it doesn’t take long to establish that D’Gor has been waging a most UnKlingon-like economic war of the House of Kovak, essentially defrauding it into its current parlous state. Unfortunately, he can’t get the Council to see this and the accusation enables D’Gor to challenge Quark to personal combat.

Needless to say, Quark wishes to have it away upon his toes in dead of night, and Grilka contemptuously washes her hands of him. Nevertheless, he turns up on time, complete with ba’tleth. It’s Quark’s story, he’s going to be the hero of it, what do you expect? But what he does is to throw his weapon away and offer himself defencelessly to D’Rog. It won’t be a duel, but an execution, a ridiculously one-sided personal combat rendered completely without honour by Quark taking the gamble of stripping it down to what it truly is. It’s not D’Gor but the Council that he’s out to con, and when D’Gor takes the bait and raises his ba’tleth, the Council rises in disgust at it, and he is ostracised.

Chancellor Gowron recognises the ‘unusual circumstances’ and gives the House to Grilka, who promptly thanks Quark by giving him his requested divorce – and a serious snog as soon as he’s no longer her husband, a sight I shall be spending much of the next week trying to scrub from my mind. Actually, she did kiss him as the conclusion to the wedding ceremony, but she did spit rather disgustedly after doing to, which made it a lot more acceptable.

In and of itself, the story was an interesting one, especially for its revelation of Klingon¬† social customs and mores, and Quark’s method of overcoming D’Gor was both ingenious and entirely logical, but – and this is my problem, not yours – come on, I mean, it’s Quark.

I don’t dislike Quark, but I do find him excessive. He’s a comic relief character who, at any given time, exists at a forty-five degree angle to everything about him. Because Armin Shimerman is in the cast, Quark is continually wedged into stories that have nothing to do with him, and to which he cannot contribute anything except a derailment of the plot. That means that putting him at the centre of a story that’s meant to be in any way serious gives the story a mountain to climb to gain any credibility. Quark is a silly and trivial character who makes everything around him silly and trivial by association.

Much more important to me was the subplot. Keiko had closed the school down due to¬† circumstances beyond her control, which left her with nothing to do and feeling that intently. She was putting a very brace face on it, but Miles O’Brien knew, and it hurt him deeply that the woman he loved was unhappy.

Everyone sympathised and there were some good and decent lines that I took to heart, the more so for their being kept very simple, but I was unhappy with the solution,which was to send Keiko back to her profession/vocation as a botanist, on a Bajoran expedition that would be away for six months. So that’s the last we’ll see of Rosalind Chao this season.

It seemed like a counter-intuitive approach to resolving an issue that had the potential to undermine an otherwise very happy marriage – and the Chief is the only member of the cast who is married, or who is in a relationship at all (I am not counting Major Kira’s occasional shags with Vedek Bariel unless and until we learn that last season’s escapade hasn’t hindered their sexual relationship). Instead of a solution, it seemed more like a cheap way of writing out a character they had no real idea how to serve.

Still, considering the episode as a whole, it was well-constructed and performed, and Mary Kay Adams gave it plenty of wellie as Grilka, but it was the evidence that the incipient Dominion War was going to have an ongoing effect that I most welcomed. May this continue.