DS9: S3E23: “Family Business”

In which an episode is aptly and obviously titled, and it’s Raining on Ferenginar. 

"You need to lay off your old man's balls, son. Literally."

“You need to lay off your old man’s balls, son. Literally.”

Sisko is cooking again. This is evidently something he takes way more seriously than Riker did, with his dorm-room hot-plate scrambled omelette. Sisko has induction cookware, which he uses to cook Hungarian food when he’s in a good mood, such as a minor diplomatic victory. Also, the woman Jake wanted to set his dad up with is on the station. Jake’s eager to find out if the station has soundproofing inside the quarters, apparently.

Things are bustling at Quark’s, and Nog has the night off to study for his Starfleet exams, and Quark isn’t happy that his nephew wants to ‘become hew-mon.’ He recognizes the nature of cultural imperialism. Then, in walks Brunt, of the Ferengi Commerce Authority to close down the business. And to deeply enjoy himself while doing it.

Quark is being audited, and Rom is terminally stupid about reading the situation. Also, in Ferengi society, it is customary for the accused to bribe the official before he’ll even tell you the charges. In Quark’s case, that charge is <bribe> violate of a page listing that translates to <bribe> improper supervision of a family member – he is being held accountable for his mother’s crimes of <bribe> earning money. It is a crime for women to earn profit in Ferengi society, and so Quark deputizes Odo to look after his bar so he can go interrogate his mom.

Jadzia is also hounding Ben Sisko about Kasidy Yeates. Curzon Dax would have already made a move, but we’re already back to Quark, who doesn’t want Rom along because Rom will side with their Moogie.

The little flourish is what makes it great.

The little flourish is what makes it great.

It’s raining on Ferenginar, but it’s evidently a warm rain, because all of the doors of their house are already open. Quark’s childhood home has an anteroom that seems purpose-built for ducking into to shake off the rain before proceeding into the main house. All of the doorways are shorter than all of the occupants, and it is customary for visitors to deposit an admission fee. There’s even a traditional greeting – “my house is my house” to which the response is “as are its contents.” I’m not sure whether this being a rote and boring statement points towards an inbuilt Ferengi respect for property, or lack thereof. We know Quark considers humans barbaric for having slavery, concentration camps, and genocide in their past – what’s the theft situation like?

It is apparent that Rom was the favorite. He had a latinum tooth-sharpener, where Quark had a wooden chewing stick. Ishka “Mooge” Daughter of Adred Wife of Keldar is also wearing clothes. Brunt is horrified and scandalized at being in the presence of a progressive.

Odo is forced to preside over O’Brien and Bashir trying to break into Quark’s bar so they can get their dartboard back, but Rom builds his own locks and even O’Brien is having trouble. I’m not sure why they couldn’t crawl in through the ducts or just transport in. DS9 seems to be highlighting more scarcity and economics concerns than Next Generation did, though, so maybe a Cardassian space station with a meager few fusion generators can’t afford the power. Or maybe it’s the principle of the thing. They suggest Ben go meet Kasidy, and then all studiously go back to the lock.

"At least we can agree that Rom is an idiot."

“At least we can agree that Rom is an idiot.”

One of the things that makes DS9 great is the thought that goes into the cultures. It is sitll, at heart, a morality play in the genre of science fiction, like all other Star Treks before it, but if the aliens are caricatures of virtues and vices we see in ourselves, they are presented with a measure of integrity. Quark is extremely thorough in his convictions, as terrible as they are. Just as the Cardassians are firm in their beliefs about the importance of Family, but that extrapolates upward into Statist fascism.

Kasidy Yeates is hard at work loading cargo onto her ship, which has a fifteen-year-old transporter and can’t handle some of the cargo, which is yet another spark of verisimilitude. They seem to hit it off, too. Enough for coffee.

Moogie’s crimes, such as they are, go much deeper than the three original bars the FCA knew about. She has a vast  business empire under dozens of shell corporations. Under Ferengi law, Quark would be responsible for paying back her ‘earnings,’ but basically he’d be trying to buy out  a Warren Buffet or Elon Musk. heated words are exchanged, the sons of Keldar start fightingand Quark runs away to tattle. Too bad for him elevators are expensive and the office he wants is on the 40th floor. Being signed in costs latinum. Sitting costs latinum. Standing costs latinum. Rom runs in before Quark can tell Brunt, and tells him that Moogie will share it with him.

Rom’s lie doesn’t really last very long, but it serves him to get them into the same room long enough to actually shout for once in his life and make them talk. And what’s really nice is that Ishka’s progressive shakeup isn’t about changing the way Ferengi culture works in terms of commerce, just in terms of making sure that everyone has earning power. After they have it out, Moogie agrees to give back the money. Because that’s what a real Ferengi with dozens of hidden accounts would do, of course – come clean about all of it and not stow anything away or double down on future hiding places.

As Sisko and Kasidy talk about family matters, it turns out that Kasidy’s brother plays the long-dead sport of Baseball – Sisko’s favorite game. They’re resurrecting it on one of the colony worlds, they bond rapidly, and Jake watches, happy that he’s getting his dad laid.

Ishka signs the confession and simpers convincingly for Brunt, who is happy to take Quark’s bribe not to release the story that could shake Ferengi civilization to its core. And she’s still got the other two-thirds hidden away. Look at my surprised face.

Did we miss something awesome?