In which I’m going to learn to play Tongo, we get our first hint of things to come, and Kira was right all along.
Appropriately enough for today, we open with Morn passed out as if in a turkey coma on the Promenade, being gently awaked by Odo. That was my contractually obligated holiday reference, and I hope you enjoyed it. In fact, he appears to be camped out outside of Quark’s, which is currently hosting a game of Tongo. Tongo is played with cards, a lazy susan, and a communal pot. My best guess is it plays like a cross between rummy and poker, but with upcard sets that can shift between players. Also, Jadzia is beating the pants off of the others.
Over the game, one of Quark’s waiters, Pel, offers him a way to make customers thirstier using the space-prefix-equivalent of salty peanuts. They’re very drying. Quark and the waiter quote the bible at each other for a bit, and then Quark gets a call from the Nagus – Quark is getting tapped as chief negotiator for the Ferengi Gamma Quadrant expansion. And I’m sure this won’t turn out to be an elaborate joke at Quark’s expense like it was last time.
Sisko and Kira love talking with Zek, but Zek knows how to bribe local authorities – greasing the wheels with a little hyperfertilizer to help repair some of the Cardassian damage. And it only hurts him just a skosh. Zek’s great business venture is a wine venture that Quark knows nothing about. Pel warns Quark against treachery, and seems to be an eager-to-please little underling. At least until he opens his jerry-can and puts away her disguise. After the teaser reminded us exactly how unegalitarian (ungalitarian?) Ferengi society is, this revelation will surely be found out and culminate in a Shakespearean tragicomic twist. At least they’re stealing from one of the greatest literary thieves of all time.
The aliens, the Dosi, that Quark and Zek will be negotiating with have a very… martial… look about them. Also, they handle minor disagreements by throwing people at things. Wait, did I drunkenly mangle that last sentence? No, I did not. Throwing people at things. The Dosi negotiators display evident displeasure at being ‘charmed’ but back down when statements are made with force. Also, it may be reading into the situation a little much, but the male alien displays an open… let’s call it concern for the respect of his female partner. In anything but a scripted scene it wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but I bring it up for the possibility that later the society will turn out to be slightly matriarchal so that I can then call out how they set it up earlier.
Zek has sent his manservant to deliver a very expensive gift to Kira, which prompts another super-speciest-ist tirade. And look, I recall openly calling for the Federation to bombard the Ferengi homeworld back in TNG. And Kira has no particular reason to be held to the high-minded ideals of the Federation after spending her life in a resistance army. Whereas Dax is Federation and has the benefit of centuries of perspective, and I guess what I’m saying is the characterization in this scene is spot-on. Where was I? Oh yes. With her wealth of life experience and willingness to look past the surface objectionability of Ferengi cultural to the hidden meanings beneath, Jadzia Dax has spotted Pel’s secret. Well, the one where Pel is in love with Quark. She got that one immediately. What Dax didn’t realize was that Pel is female. Great scene.
Zek’s insistence on forcing Quark to up the bid has caused them to leave, but Pel has a plan – take Zek’s ship on a romantic cruise to the Gamma quadrant to consult with the Dosi.
Oh hey, someone trotted out the Pakled makeup for the background scene of Rom trying to keep up with demand at the bar. Too bad they’re in the background and we don’t get to hear if the whole species is as represented in TNG. Also of note: Rom is trying to explain why he’s so frustrated that Pel is coming between him and Quark, and Odo admits that if he had a brother he would choose said brother over anyone and everyone else. Good thing Odo’s the only one of his kind and such a question of loyalty will never come up. Thus encouraged, Rom tosses Pel’s room and finds her prosthetic lobes.
Quark and Pel have found themselves a drinking-hall/trading floor. Quark continues to pester the Dosi to no avail. Unfortunately for Pel, there’s only one bed, which means Pel can’t reveal her disguise. There’s only one recourse – get Quark drunk and go for it. They are interrupted by one of the Dosi explaining that there simply isn’t that much of the commodity to trade, but that she can make introductions… for the right price. She arranges a meeting for Quark with an important power in the Dominion. The Dominion, it seems, is the predominant legal entity in the Gamma Quadrant – a statement that is as ominous as Quark is oblivious. All Quark can think is that Zek was trying to arrange a meeting with this ‘Dominion.’
Fortunately for Quark, this is in fact what Zek had in mind, and makes Quark a business offer that… well… now I’ve seen Armin Shimerman’s O-face and I will never sleep well again. This is followed by Rom telling Quark Pel’s secret. When Quark wakes up, he forbids his brother from telling the truth, because the truth coming out would ruin him. Man, Ferengi society is just awful – the repression is on par with, if not worse than, the must fundamentalist societies today.
It’s tough to feel bad for Quark after all that, but they managed to make it happen somehow.