OK, Deep Space Nine hasn’t gone off its rocker after all, and these four episodes concern life getting back to normal following the Dominion occupation, focusing on individual characters. Albeit with varying degrees of success.
“You are Cordially Invited”
I can’t bring myself to get that worked up about Dax and Worf’s wedding, but this episode made the best of a somewhat uninteresting idea. It’s Trek as rom-com, including the inevitable and predictable arc of Dax trying to appeal to her steely-eyed and disapproving future mother-in-law. Since it’s Trek, that means:
- Dax has already been married five times via previous hosts;
- The mother’s demanding tasks including feats of strength and the recitation of House Martok’s imperial lineage to 30 or 40 generations;
- The wedding ceremony gives us the origin of Worf’s infamous claim that the Klingons have no gods because they killed them all;
- After the vows, the wedding party attacks the couple as part of a ritual assassination attempt.
Stern in-laws are the same regardless of species, though. This episode does a pretty good job of showing why Worf and Dax are together — they both frustrate one another, but they also have a unique understanding — and it cements Alexander as space klutz in canon, with his imminent reassignment to a different vessel serving as the impetus for the rushed wedding. It doesn’t really get any more “life as usual” than a wedding, though, so this is a sensible follow-up to the Dominion occupation.
This, on the other hand… hmm. I get the impression this was a fill-in episode designed to drop into the series any time the production schedule needed a little breathing room, since it’s almost entirely devoid of continuity. Normally, that would be fine, but this continuity-free episode is the first one to really focus on Kira following Ziyal’s murder and there’s not even a passing mention of it. Considering how close the two became, that seems like a huge misstep; instead, “Resurrection” explores the ramifications a completely different loss for Kira as the Mirror Universe of her dead lover Berial appears and starts charming her. I feel like this episode would have been fine anywhere but here, but showing up right after the Dominion occupation diminishes Ziyal’s death. So that’s disappointing.
Irrespective of that, the story here is fine, if a bit predictable. Hmm, a Mirror Universe Berial who is a scoundrel and a thief appears and cozies up to Kira. Yes, clearly this will end well and change the status quo of the show forever! Not surprisingly, Mirror-Berial turns out to be in it for the magic space sphere, which Mirror-Kira sent him to acquire so she can install herself as Bajor’s ruler and rise up against the Alliance. I do like the idea of Mirror Universe characters sneaking into our reality from time to time, and Mirror-Kira is definitely the most devious and enduring Mirror Universe character we’ve ever seen. And it’s nice that Mirror-Berial ultimately had a change of heart after falling for the real Kira. But, eh, kind of a nothing of an episode, in the grand scheme of things.
We finally get to see why the kind of genetic enhancements Bashir’s parents had done to him are illegal in the Federation. Bashir is asked to help manage a quartet of fellow augments who were unable to reintegrate into society after their enhancements all went horribly wrong in various ways. While he finds them to be kindred spirits, they’re all a lot to take due to their exaggerated personality quirks.
Worse, they make the mistake of allowing their intelligence and confidence in their enhanced abilities lead them to believing they basically have divine rights of judgments: The group (and Bashir) start crunching numbers and come to the conclusion that the Federation is statistically unable to defeat the Dominion (who enter the picture here, and the station, by offering to make a “deal” that would cede space to the Federation while giving them a limitless supply of Ketracel White with which to regulate the Jem’Hadar). Realizing that a protracted war with the Dominion could result in the deaths of nearly a trillion beings, the augments decide to leak Federation ship and troop deployment intel to Weyoun, allowing the Dominion to bring the war to a quick and crushing end that will nevertheless spare 890 billion lives, give or take.
While I’m not in love with the two-dimensional personalities the disturbed augments display, it’s a nice peek into Bashir’s mind and history that also feeds into the larger saga. A strong episode.
“The Magnificent Ferengi”
The title of this one had me worried, but… it was great?
It’s remarkable that this show and its characters can veer from something like “Rocks and Shoals” to this, but here we are. Both Nog and the Vorta officer Keevan factor into both stories, which couldn’t be more different, tonally. In short, the Dominion capture Quark and Rom’s mother (for some reason), and the Grand Nagus commissions Quark to rescue her. He puts together a task force of Ferengi who have appeared throughout the series — including Brunt, though sadly Weyoun doesn’t appear here, so we don’t get Jeffrey Combs playing both of his recurring roles against one another — and it’s all kind of disaster. They’re terribly incompetent.
Nog’s attempts to drill the group into some semblance of military competence goes horribly wrong, so Quark instead decides to negotiate for his mother’s release. It’s to be a hostage exchange, with Keevan as the bargaining chip. Keevan seems remarkably unenthused about this, having expected to spend the remainder of the war safely in a Federation cell rather than being sent back to the Dominion to be interrogated and executed. It’s hard to feel too terrible for him, given how slimy and uncaring he was in “Rocks and Shoals,” but his death comes a lot sooner than expected — and without a scrap of dignity. I suppose there’s something to be said for the way this episode makes his death (and the subsequent use of his corpse) into a joke after the angst Sisko experienced about allowing Keevan to live… but that’s the difference between Starfleet ethics and Ferengi ethics.
Anyway, a team of half a dozen mostly inept Ferengi manage to get the best of an entire Jem’Hadar hit squad. It’s great that Deep Space Nine can maintain its sense of humor despite the overarching plotline being so heavy, and this manages to present the Ferengi as hopeless bumblers with just the right amount of cunning and nastiness to come out ahead — which, again, makes the species’ evolution as presented in Trek since their awful debut quite remarkable.
7 thoughts on ““You are Cordially Invited” through “The Magnificent Ferengi””
DS9’s redemption of the Ferengi is an accomplishment I don’t see being taken seriously enough in discussions of the show. While they’re still played for comedy by and large (though this episode is one of my favorite Ferengi spectacles), they managed to take what I feel comfortable calling Trek’s single worst species and turn them into something legitimately three-dimensional.
While still a pretty overt parody of American Crony Capitalism the show made sure to set some time aside to point out that this is something that was sustainable for thousands of years of Ferenginar and that had to say SOMETHING positive about it. While ultimately the series seemed like it couldn’t ethically justify allowing Ferengi society to continue without change in the long-term I appreciate the show’s ability to take something that was intended as bitter critique and say “the fact that we’re even asking this question means that there’s something worth discussing here.”
“including Brunt, though sadly Weyoun doesn’t appear here, so we don’t get Jeffrey Combs playing both of his recurring roles against one another”
That was definitely a missed opportunity. Even the creators regret it.
Oh, they’ve said as much? Nice. Though, realistically, Weyoun doesn’t ACTUALLY make sense negotiating a hostage exchange given his placement in the Dominion.
In “The Magnificent Ferengi”, Yelgrun was played by Iggy Pop!
Ah, I saw his screen credit but didn’t think to look up who he played.
The creators have been remarkably upfront about their hits, misses, and could-have-beens. I can point you toward all the printed interviews you’ll ever need if you’re interested.
Maybe after I’m done with the series, thanks!
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