Monday, January 23, 2017

Deep Space Nine 4x25 "Body Parts"

rating: ***

the story: Quark auctions off his body when he thinks he's dying.

what it's all about: This is probably the episode to watch if you want to see the extremes of Ferengi society, to see just how far their greed really goes, and how far Quark is willing to go...and how he's ultimately not as stolid a member of that society as he might sometimes think...

When it comes to aliens in Star Trek, it's kind of expected that if the character's in the main cast they're going to represent a fairly traditional member of the species, even if there are extenuating circumstances that otherwise present them as outsiders.  Spock, for instance, was half-human as well as half-Vulcan, but he seemed to only take his Vulcan half seriously, except his bond with Kirk (and McCoy) that betrayed a certain illogic that crept into his life over the years.  Worf was certainly Klingon, but he was raised by humans and thus actually associated better with humans than Klingons, even though he took Klingon culture very seriously. 

This was different in Deep Space Nine (as with pretty much everything else).  Kira was definitely Bajoran through and through, but it didn't take long for her to be able to accept Starfleet ideas that didn't always align with Bajoran orthodoxy, or to question decisions her people made that she didn't always think were in their best interests.  But Quark, he seemed as Ferengi as they could possibly come, certainly compared to his brother Rom and nephew Nog, both of whom eventually made a complete break from Ferengi norms.  Quark seemed to cling to tradition almost out of protest.  And yet, loathe as he would be to admit it, he was greatly influenced by Federation ideas.  He became less and less apt to sacrifice all for the sake of Ferengi tradition.

That's basically what this episode's about, regardless of what else may be going on.  In some ways it's the logical conclusion of all his experiences from the past two seasons, what his brother and nephew had decided, and his mother, and whether he in the end was what he thought he was.  And "Body Parts" seems to agree that he is as Ferengi as possible, but then Quark kind of has a Frank Capra moment.  He realizes his friends aboard the station are probably better than whatever he might get from the likes of the very Ferengi Brunt, for whom this is a culmination, too, for two seasons of demonstrating how much Quark does stray when it's so clear he doesn't.  So this is their epic showdown, once and for all, and so if you really want to know all about Quark, all about Ferengi, this may be the perfect episode to catch.

Also factored in is the funny subplot where Kira ends up carrying O'Brien's baby.  No, not because they have an affair, but because this is sci-fi and they literally transplant it from O'Brien's wife Keiko to Kira.  Nana Visitor was pregnant, but Kira was hardly likely to become pregnant (her lover, even if she doesn't know it yet, is a shapeshifter who couldn't help with that even if he wanted), so they came up with a solution that's pretty unique and actually helps soften the character further from the hardcase she'd been at the start of the series but really hadn't been for a long time.

So it's pretty appropriate to have these stories converging, if only for one episode.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - General audiences need not necessarily apply.
  • series - Important moment in the arcs of two characters.
  • character - Who would be Quark and Kira.
  • essential - You caught "important," right?
notable guest-stars:
Max Grodenchik (Rom)
Jeffrey Combs (Brunt)
Rosalind Chao (Keiko)
Hana Hatae (Molly)
Andrew Robinson (Garak)

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