DS9: S2E11: “Rivals”

In which a con artist boards the station and finds his luck has changed. 



This one gets music. A wealthy-looking window is talking to Prince Humperdinck about her life savings. Hands up anyone who thinks this is going to go well? Anyone? He’s either a really good con man or has some minor psychic whammy, and he manages to get her to talk about her mining purchase, and the fact that she has some insider information, and exactly what it is.

Odo knows about this Martus, however, and knows that he’s an El-Aurian refugee. Other notable El-Aurians include Guinan. A species notoriously good at Listening, and getting people to talk about things they normally wouldn’t. He is, however, a con man, and Odo can put him in holding because someone made a complaint.

This is why nobody likes you, Julian.

This is why nobody likes you, Julian.

O’Brien is on his way to practice space-squash, which is both a sport and a vegetable we’ll learn about once we hit Voyager. Bashir, however, is already on the court (which O’Brien built himself as a reward for putting up with Cardassian engineering architecture) and which he was clearly not expecting Bashir to just invite himself into with his doofy warmups and his division-coded lycra workout unitard. You are not making any friends here, Bashir.

Speaking of not making any friends, Martus is now cellmates with an old unfortunate alien with apnea who, once he stops snoring, is eager to share his story. He has some sort of little purple puzzle ball which he seems to indicate is responsible for a run of bad luck. He starts playing with it, wins one last time, and dies.

O’Brien seems to have lost miserably to Bashir and goes home to complain about it to Keiko, who is supportive but amused. O’Brien is convinced Julian was being condescending a douchey, which he probably was. Julian, meanwhile, is concerned because he was pretty sure the Chief was going to have a heart attack, but Miles’ pride wouldn’t let him take a breather. Also, all the ketchup is empty.

The little device makes the ‘winner’ noise, and moments later Odo is grudgingly forced to release martus because nobody is willing to press charges. That was lucky. As is Martus winning some free pink prosecco off of Quark’s rigged dice. The game seems far more fascinating than it really should be, and Quark tries to buy it. I have to presume the light emits some sort of pleasurable field in addition to any other plot-advancing anomalous properties. Such as lucky Martus just stumbling across another widow of means closing up shop.

For a reference that three people will get: Hey look, it's Smilin' Stan Stanman, Used Boat/Coffin/Life Insurance/Time Share/Restaurant Supplies/Voodoo/Souvenir salesman!

For a reference that three people will get: Hey look, it’s Smilin’ Stan S. Stanman, Used Boat/Coffin/Life Insurance/Time Share/Restaurant Supplies/Voodoo/Souvenir salesman!

Now in possession of a storefront, the first person to complain to Odo is Quark, which means Martus will stay in business that much longer just so Odo can mess with his favorite miscreant. Quark goes to Sisko, who’s also not sympathetic. Martus’ establishment is a bar with some big copies of the game built in. His mark is there, but apparently her asteroid mining bid has been bound up in some environmental red tape. If only someone can finance the study and invest in her bid, surely it will pay off tenfold. Why, it almost looks like a variant on the Spanish Prisoner scam, but surely not, when Martus’ luck is running so high. He even proposes to his business partner.

Up in Ops, Jadzia’s search returns results she was expecting to take moths. Down on the squash court, O’Brien slipped on a ball in a million-to-one chance. When Bashir is called away, O’Brien goes down to Quark’s for a much-needed drink, and gives Quark the idea to sponsor a championship. Meanwhile, Kira loses a report, minor accidents area ppearing all over the station, and every single one of Martus’ patrons hits the jackpot at once. That’s not great for him, as it turns out.

Quark is working on making his own luck, and ropes Bashir and O’Brien into competing in a title bout by offering to donate money to Bajoran orphans. No good Starfleet officer could possibly refuse one game of squash under those conditions. Furthermore, more and more minor accidents continue. Dax decides to make the connection.

Martus’ business partner catches him consoling himself on the prodigious bosoms of one of his floor girls, and gets kicked out of his new digs. Shortly thereafter, he gives all of the proceeds from the place away to an Nigerean prince asteroid mining speculator.

Miles O’Brien dresses for battle, and Keiko continues to be actually supportive but not demanding, which is a nice change for her. Bashir’s own batman (no, not that Batman) is Quark, bringing him some traditional Bajoran folk medicine, and definitely not performance degrading drugs trying to fix the match. Wait, did I say ‘not,’ because I shouldn’t have.

Dax has found that neutrinos passing through the station are overwhelmingly spinning in one direction, because the laws of probability are out of whack. Which is going to make this game in which Bashir is heavily favored to win very interesting. Even as Martus comes to terms with not being the best con man around and Rom goes back to Quark with a startlingly willing showgirl, O’Brien does not accept that the match could be miraculously going his way this much. At least O’Brien recognizes that it’s not Bashir throwing the game.

While I appreaciate that, in tracking down the probabilistic anomaly, Dax uses a neutrino detecotr, I really would have preferred a Rozencrantz & Guildenstern reference in which she walks around the station flipping a coin. Oh well, can’t have everything. Unsurprisingly, the gambling machines are affecting luck on the station. And replicators are perfectly capable of scanning extremely complex objects that perform unknown quantum mechanical manipulations and reproducing them parametrically, making them possibly even more dangerous that a holodeck.

The classic Star Trek solution would have been to beam them into space.

The classic Star Trek solution would have been to beam them into space.

We know how to solve this sort of problem. It involves a high-energy particle stream, which we can actually see from this image doesn’t really create a beam so much as a stream that continues for as long as the button is being held. You can, in fact, see that in this case the stream has travel time. Nifty. In any case, newly destitute and with new charges against him, Prince Humperdinck desperately bargains with Quark to loan him enough money to get off-station.

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