[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Rules of Acquisition"

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Timothy W. Lynch

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Nov 15, 1993, 8:23:17 PM11/15/93
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[Note: Sorry for the delay. Our news software died over the weekend and
had to be revived. -- TWL]

WARNING: This article contains spoiler information regarding "Rules of
Acquisition", the most recent DS9 episode. Proceed at your own risk.

In brief: Lightning doesn't strike twice. "The Nagus" was fun; this was
sledgehammer moralizing combined with not-all-that-funny comedy.

Last season, we had "The Nagus", which never fails to be a polarizer:
everyone I know either thought it was hilarious or thought it
was one of the worst Treks ever made). I loved it, but it had several saving
graces. First, the Ferengi side didn't try to be anything other than a
complete farce, and poked fun at behaviors without being tasteless about it.
Second, the Ferengi side was only half the show -- we had something "real" to
balance it out.

"Rules of Acquisition", unfortunately, didn't have either of those two
influences on it, and suffered quite a bit as a result. I don't think the
show was particularly bad; bits of it made me wince, yes, but it wasn't as
downright rotten as "Melora" was the previous week. I just found myself
wondering when it was over "so, why was this made?" I was left feeling a
strong sense of indifference.

Let me cover the bright spots of "Rules of Acquisition" first. First of all,
the Dax portions were probably the highlight of the show. It's interesting,
and a bit disheartening, that Dax seems to get the best treatments in shows
that aren't directly about her (here, "The Circle", etc.). Just seeing her
interact with the Ferengi socially *at all* is a nice side of her to see (the
"I don't particularly care what people think -- I've outlived opinions that
were in vogue before you were born" idea), as is her skill at probably any
game of chance she's had the chance to play in seven lifetimes. :-)

Second, there were *some* bits that were well done. The end of act four was
one of them, where Quark gets to do a dead man's faint after finding out
about Pel. Telegraphed or not, it was fun. Pel's reinvention of peanuts was
cutely done, if somewhat implausible -- I have difficulty believing that such
a simple thing hadn't been invented by the Ferengi several centuries back.
In addition, the depiction of the Dosi center wasn't bad, and the more
scheming aspects of the plot were nice: the "you weren't really after the
tulaberries" scene and the bits of the final "confrontation" between Quark
and Zek that weren't over the top, for instance. There was enough energy in
the good scenes to keep them flowing nicely.

Alas, there was also enough energy to make the scenes that were off extremely
annoying at the same time. In particular, the whole "Zek goes after Kira"
subplot had me cringing at virtually any available opportunity. The one
saving grace of it was the Kira/Dax conversation, but it wasn't nearly enough
to make up for more leers than anyone should know what to do with. In
addition, there's the general observation that every single major character
in the episode spent virtually the whole time sneering, snarling, smirking,
or whining. All the Ferengi, the Dosi, even Kira for most of the show -- all
of them were simply unpleasant people to be around for the duration of the
program. There's a difference between keeping characters imperfect and
making them people you want to put a gag on, and this episode appeared to
blur that boundary rather considerably. Oy.

All the foreshadowing about the Dominion as *the* new heavy race in the Gamma
Quadrant was actually done fairly well. My main concern about it is the very
premise: why does this new quadrant need to have not only one single major
power, but one single major power that seems belligerent? Given all the
different powers we've seen in the Alpha Quadrant (the Federation, the
Klingons, the Romulans, and the Cardassians, just for starters), it seems
overly simplistic to create a One True Gamma Quadrant Power. I'll wait and
see what happens, though -- for now, the foreshadowing was good.

As for the whole issue of "Pel, the Fantastic Ferengi Female", I was rather
underwhelmed. Let's put it this way: it was a way to handle the issue of
gender equality, but did so with all the grace of "The Outcast" handling gay
rights or "Melora" handling issues about the disabled, and only slightly
better than "Angel One" from TNG's first season handled gender issues. In
other words: I don't care for being hit with a sledgehammer once ("I'm as
capable as any man."), and when the powers that be feel a need to do it twice
on the _same point_, I have to wonder when they think I had myself
lobotomized. Thanks, but no thanks.

One final large point: I find it very interesting that Dax realized Pel was
in love with Quark without even considering the idea that Pel was a woman.
That was a very offhand "oh, I thought you were gay" line, and was done so
with more subtlety than I think Trek has ever dealt with the issue. It
probably didn't get by the average nitpicking fan, but it might have slipped
by the average viewer. Most intriguing.

That's about it. Now, a few short takes:

-- Apparently, the FX for Ferengi transporters have changed recently. Too
bad: I enjoyed the swirling transporters we saw for them in early TNG.

-- It was rather amusing to find that, for a change, the "alien but humanoid"
Dosi appeared to me to be completely human, with the differences being purely
ornamental for a change. Cute. It does rather make them look like overgrown
Oompa-Loompas, though...

-- Where did that Odo/Rom scene come from, and can we please put it back
there? I don't know what pod person Rene Auberjonois was playing there, but
it definitely was _not_ Odo.

-- I have to admit that I got a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach
when I noticed that they'd misspelled the *title* of the show on screen.
You'd think that would be the sort of thing they'd make sure to check if they
cared at all about the episode...

In closing, then, "Rules of Acquisition" was something with a few moments
here and there, but mostly a failed attempt to recapture the hilarity of "The
Nagus". Next time keep it to the fluff -- the Ferengi as a race simply are
not geared for anything even remotely resembling a serious show.

So, to wrap up:

Plot: Solid, but also extremely heavy-handed. The foreshadowing was cute.
Plot Handling: The Dax scenes had a nice touch to them, but for the most
part this was direction by sledgehammer.
Characterization: Good on Dax, and actually fairly decent Quark, but
everybody else was a one-note except Odo, who wasn't even that
strong.

OVERALL: Call it a 4. Mostly nondescript, with a slight lean to the bad.
I hope this and "Melora" aren't an indication of the average quality we
should expect for a while...

NEXT WEEK:

Kira's past catches up with her, and we apparently see what it was like when
the Cardassians ran the station. Looks mighty interesting...

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.ca...@hamlet.caltech.edu
"Stupidity is no excuse."
--
Copyright 1993, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...

Si Rowe

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Nov 16, 1993, 5:30:40 AM11/16/93
to
In article <2c9a25$c...@gap.cco.caltech.edu>, tly...@cco.caltech.edu
(Timothy W. Lynch) wrote:

> Pel's reinvention of peanuts was
> cutely done, if somewhat implausible -- I have difficulty believing that such
> a simple thing hadn't been invented by the Ferengi several centuries back.

Wha? I must be particularly thick tonight-- I have no idea what you're
talking about. The fake ears? Why "peanuts"?

> All the foreshadowing about the Dominion as *the* new heavy race in the Gamma
> Quadrant was actually done fairly well. My main concern about it is the very
> premise: why does this new quadrant need to have not only one single major
> power, but one single major power that seems belligerent? Given all the
> different powers we've seen in the Alpha Quadrant (the Federation, the
> Klingons, the Romulans, and the Cardassians, just for starters), it seems
> overly simplistic to create a One True Gamma Quadrant Power. I'll wait and
> see what happens, though -- for now, the foreshadowing was good.

I think you're jumping to a few conclusions here, Tim (unless you know
something I don't...). First, we don't know that they're the *only* major
power in the Gamma Quadrant; just the most important one. For all we know
there are half-a-dozen powers out there, and the Dominion are the most
central one (as the Federation seem to be in the Alpha Quadrant). And why
do you say they seem belligerent? All I got from "Rules" was that they are
*extremely* influential, possibly a bit heavy-handed, but I saw no evidence
of belligerence. (Now, the *Dosi* were belligerent.) The only other thing I
know about them is from an interview with Rob Berman, in which he said they
had a Prime Directive of their own, that they *must* interfere if at all
possible. Now we don't know that this interference is necessarily military
or belligerent (although the hints from "Sanctuary" do seem to suggest
it...). Perhaps your view is correct-- but I don't think there was much
evidence for it in "Rules of Acquisition".

Yours, Si Rowe
--------------------------------------------\ sir...@minerva.cis.yale.edu
"Wooly thinking, Doctor!" \--------\
"Yes, but very comforting when worn close to the skin."| Si Rowe: not just
-- the Master and the Doctor, _Logopolis_ | a couple of Greek
**November 23, 1993: 30th anniversary of _Doctor Who_**| letters!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rebecca Drayer

unread,
Nov 18, 1993, 12:12:29 AM11/18/93
to
In article <sirowe-16...@stiles-42-kstar-node.net.yale.edu> sir...@minerva.cis.yale.edu (Si Rowe) writes:
>
>I think you're jumping to a few conclusions here, Tim (unless you know
>something I don't...). First, we don't know that they're the *only* major
>power in the Gamma Quadrant; just the most important one. For all we know
>there are half-a-dozen powers out there, and the Dominion are the most
>central one (as the Federation seem to be in the Alpha Quadrant). And why
>do you say they seem belligerent? All I got from "Rules" was that they are
>*extremely* influential, possibly a bit heavy-handed, but I saw no evidence
>of belligerence. (Now, the *Dosi* were belligerent.) The only other thing I
>know about them is from an interview with Rob Berman, in which he said they
>had a Prime Directive of their own, that they *must* interfere if at all
>possible. Now we don't know that this interference is necessarily military
>or belligerent (although the hints from "Sanctuary" do seem to suggest
>it...). Perhaps your view is correct-- but I don't think there was much
>evidence for it in "Rules of Acquisition".

I could be completely off base, but I got the impression that the Dominion
was the Gamma Quadrant's version of the mob. Just a feeling, but the way
the female Dosi spoke of them (in a hushed, conspiratorial voice) made me
think that this might be the case.

******************************************************************************
Rebecca A. Drayer, EMT-A | dra...@minerva.cis.yale.edu
(a.k.a Organic Lass of the LNH) | Silliman College, Yale University

"Back to work! This isn't a summer camp, this is RESEARCH!!!!"
- A grad student in the lab down the hall
******************************************************************************

Ted McCoy

unread,
Nov 20, 1993, 7:46:58 PM11/20/93
to
In article <2c9a25$c...@gap.cco.caltech.edu>,

Timothy W. Lynch <tly...@juliet.caltech.edu> wrote:
>[Note: Sorry for the delay. Our news software died over the weekend and
>had to be revived. -- TWL]
>
>WARNING: This article contains spoiler information regarding "Rules of
>Acquisition", the most recent DS9 episode. Proceed at your own risk.

>In brief: Lightning doesn't strike twice. "The Nagus" was fun; this was
>sledgehammer moralizing combined with not-all-that-funny comedy.
I liked this almost as much as "The Nagus." I particularly appreciated
the more serious side (although there was still lots of humor) -- this is
one of the first episodes that has protrayed the ferrengi as more than
comic relief and done so successfully, I think...well maybe there were a
few others, but this one stands out for me.


>Last season, we had "The Nagus", which never fails to be a polarizer:
>everyone I know either thought it was hilarious or thought it
>was one of the worst Treks ever made). I loved it, but it had several saving
>graces. First, the Ferengi side didn't try to be anything other than a
>complete farce, and poked fun at behaviors without being tasteless about it.
>Second, the Ferengi side was only half the show -- we had something "real" to
>balance it out.

I loved "The Nagus." And I agree with your reasons...

>"Rules of Acquisition", unfortunately, didn't have either of those two
>influences on it, and suffered quite a bit as a result. I don't think the
>show was particularly bad; bits of it made me wince, yes, but it wasn't as
>downright rotten as "Melora" was the previous week. I just found myself
>wondering when it was over "so, why was this made?" I was left feeling a
>strong sense of indifference.

Hmm, I liked Melora too...and nothing made me wince in "Rules...". Why
was this made? Okay, I'd say (1) it made the ferrengi, to me at least, a
lot more believable than I thought they'd ever be. I actually enjoyed
watching ferrengi interact and the enjoyment wasn't purely based on comedy
value. Also, it was a set-up for the Dominion, plus I liked whatever that
new race in the Gamma Quadrant was (I forget the name...).

>Let me cover the bright spots of "Rules of Acquisition" first. First of all,
>the Dax portions were probably the highlight of the show. It's interesting,
>and a bit disheartening, that Dax seems to get the best treatments in shows
>that aren't directly about her (here, "The Circle", etc.). Just seeing her
>interact with the Ferengi socially *at all* is a nice side of her to see (the
>"I don't particularly care what people think -- I've outlived opinions that
>were in vogue before you were born" idea), as is her skill at probably any
>game of chance she's had the chance to play in seven lifetimes. :-)

I thought it was a nice side of the Ferrengi to see too, actually -- that
they could interact with another race in a way that wasn't just comedy and
wasn't unpleasant to watch...but I agree, Dax was the highlight of the
episode...

>Second, there were *some* bits that were well done. The end of act four was
>one of them, where Quark gets to do a dead man's faint after finding out
>about Pel. Telegraphed or not, it was fun. Pel's reinvention of peanuts was
>cutely done, if somewhat implausible -- I have difficulty believing that such
>a simple thing hadn't been invented by the Ferengi several centuries back.
>In addition, the depiction of the Dosi center wasn't bad, and the more
>scheming aspects of the plot were nice: the "you weren't really after the
>tulaberries" scene and the bits of the final "confrontation" between Quark
>and Zek that weren't over the top, for instance. There was enough energy in
>the good scenes to keep them flowing nicely.
>
>Alas, there was also enough energy to make the scenes that were off extremely
>annoying at the same time. In particular, the whole "Zek goes after Kira"
>subplot had me cringing at virtually any available opportunity. The one
>saving grace of it was the Kira/Dax conversation, but it wasn't nearly enough
>to make up for more leers than anyone should know what to do with. In
>addition, there's the general observation that every single major character
>in the episode spent virtually the whole time sneering, snarling, smirking,
>or whining. All the Ferengi, the Dosi, even Kira for most of the show -- all
>of them were simply unpleasant people to be around for the duration of the
>program. There's a difference between keeping characters imperfect and
>making them people you want to put a gag on, and this episode appeared to
>blur that boundary rather considerably. Oy.

Okay, you're right, Zek goes after Kira was pretty bad. I forgot about
that part. But, considering that it's been established that Ferrengi lust
after human women, it was nice to see it done in a way that didn't seem
completely brain-dead for once (because of the Kira-Dax conversation, and
what I felt was overall an added depth to the ferrengi...). But I
would've been perfectly happy if they'd dropped the whole subplot.

The snarling didn't bother me. I particularly enjoyed the Dosi. I guess
it makes sense for Ferrengi to snarl, it makes sense for Kira to be
snarling considering what was happening, and I just plain enjoyed the Dosi.

>All the foreshadowing about the Dominion as *the* new heavy race in the Gamma
>Quadrant was actually done fairly well. My main concern about it is the very
>premise: why does this new quadrant need to have not only one single major
>power, but one single major power that seems belligerent? Given all the
>different powers we've seen in the Alpha Quadrant (the Federation, the
>Klingons, the Romulans, and the Cardassians, just for starters), it seems
>overly simplistic to create a One True Gamma Quadrant Power. I'll wait and
>see what happens, though -- for now, the foreshadowing was good.

I think (hope?) that we know almost nothing about Gamma Quadrant politics.
First season just showed snippits of different cultures...the Dosi were
the first race that I felt I would recognize if they reappeared (like we
recognize the ferrengi, klingons, romulans, etc.). I mean, they didn't
just seem like generic aliens-of-the-week, they seemed like a part of the
Gamma Quadrant. Maybe because of the context in which they were presented
(trade relations instead of aliens on the station with a problem-of-the-week).

>As for the whole issue of "Pel, the Fantastic Ferengi Female", I was rather
>underwhelmed. Let's put it this way: it was a way to handle the issue of
>gender equality, but did so with all the grace of "The Outcast" handling gay
>rights or "Melora" handling issues about the disabled, and only slightly
>better than "Angel One" from TNG's first season handled gender issues. In
>other words: I don't care for being hit with a sledgehammer once ("I'm as
>capable as any man."), and when the powers that be feel a need to do it twice
>on the _same point_, I have to wonder when they think I had myself
>lobotomized. Thanks, but no thanks.

Well I really liked Pel, mostly because it showed that there's a little
more to Ferrengi culture than we know about (in the sense that it's not
completely uniform, there are rebels). I don't think it was really
handling questions of gender equality -- the things it talked about
applied to ferrengi but not really to humans. I thought it was finally
showing another side to the ferrengi than just Yankee Trader.
(Incidentally, I liked "The Outcast" too...). I guess I think you put
more emphasis on the gender thing than was really there. To the point
that there was a parallel between humans and ferrengi on this issue, I
think it was mostly making it easier for us to understand ferrengi
feminists because we understand human feminists.

>One final large point: I find it very interesting that Dax realized Pel was
>in love with Quark without even considering the idea that Pel was a woman.
>That was a very offhand "oh, I thought you were gay" line, and was done so
>with more subtlety than I think Trek has ever dealt with the issue. It
>probably didn't get by the average nitpicking fan, but it might have slipped
>by the average viewer. Most intriguing.

I loved that scene -- it really caught me by surprise.

>That's about it. Now, a few short takes:
>
>-- Apparently, the FX for Ferengi transporters have changed recently. Too
>bad: I enjoyed the swirling transporters we saw for them in early TNG.

Yikes, I don't even remember the swirling transporter effects.

>-- It was rather amusing to find that, for a change, the "alien but humanoid"
>Dosi appeared to me to be completely human, with the differences being purely
>ornamental for a change. Cute. It does rather make them look like overgrown
>Oompa-Loompas, though...

8-)

>-- Where did that Odo/Rom scene come from, and can we please put it back
>there? I don't know what pod person Rene Auberjonois was playing there, but
>it definitely was _not_ Odo.

Um...I guess I don't remember this scene...(I saw the episode two weeks ago)

>-- I have to admit that I got a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach
>when I noticed that they'd misspelled the *title* of the show on screen.
>You'd think that would be the sort of thing they'd make sure to check if they
>cared at all about the episode...
>
>In closing, then, "Rules of Acquisition" was something with a few moments
>here and there, but mostly a failed attempt to recapture the hilarity of "The
>Nagus". Next time keep it to the fluff -- the Ferengi as a race simply are
>not geared for anything even remotely resembling a serious show.

Well, I think it tried and succeeded at more than just humor...although, I
can understand how anyone might hate a serious ferrengi episode...

>So, to wrap up:
>
>Plot: Solid, but also extremely heavy-handed. The foreshadowing was cute.
>Plot Handling: The Dax scenes had a nice touch to them, but for the most
> part this was direction by sledgehammer.
>Characterization: Good on Dax, and actually fairly decent Quark, but
> everybody else was a one-note except Odo, who wasn't even that
> strong.

Pel wasn't nearly as one-note as you're claiming, I don't think...and for
me, that was the heart of the show.

>OVERALL: Call it a 4. Mostly nondescript, with a slight lean to the bad.
>I hope this and "Melora" aren't an indication of the average quality we
>should expect for a while...

I'd call it an 8, although an 8 probably means different to me than it
does to you.

Melora and this episode weren't as good as the previous half-dozen or so
episodes, but they were still better than most of first season, I think --
and still on par with average season 3 through 6 TNG, I think. We're
being spoiled by all of DS9's incredible episodes (like Necessary Evil)!

>NEXT WEEK:
>
>Kira's past catches up with her, and we apparently see what it was like when
>the Cardassians ran the station. Looks mighty interesting...
>
>Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
>BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
>INTERNET: tly...@juliet.caltech.edu
>UUCP: ...!ucbvax!tlynch%juliet.ca...@hamlet.caltech.edu
>"Stupidity is no excuse."
>--
>Copyright 1993, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
>


--
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Campus Office for Information
Technology, or the Experimental Bulletin Board Service.
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