Sunday, October 11, 2009

Classics: DS9 2:11 - Rivals

Overall Rating: 8.4

Often uproariously funny with well crafted dialogue and the highlighter on some of DS9's most fun relationships. I can overlook the goofball "science" in the name of tasty fluff humor. :)

Plot Synopsis:

When an El-Aurian named Martus (you may remember them from The Next Generation - this was Guinen's race) arrives on the station and chats up the first girl he meets in Quark's, Odo has his eyes and ears open. He watches Martus broker a deal to partner up with the woman (named Alsia) and invest in an asteroid mining project. No sooner are the conning words out of his mouth than Odo's hand is on his shoulder, escorting him to the security office. El-Aurians - gifted with intuitive abilities to gain the trust of others - are not to be trusted, he grouses, and an elderly Pythron couple is pressing charges against him for bamboozling them out of their life savings and investing it in his own failed company. In his holding cell, he meets a sickly old alien man named Cos who complains about his run of rotten luck and demonstrates the source of his aggravation - a hand held device that he blames for his misfortune. When he finally wins a game, he dies on the spot, leaving Martus in possession of this trinket.

When he is released from security (the Pythrons decided not to press charges), he heads to Quark's, intending to sell his little gaming device to get back on his feet, but Quark tries to lowball him with an insulting offer and Martus decides to expand the hand held unit on his own. He rents space on the Promenade from a Bajoran woman who he impresses with his listening talents and the two of them open "Club Martus"...featuring huge versions of his gambling trinket. Quark is furious and tries to get the club shut down on the grounds that he has an exclusive gambling license (brokered during the Cardassian administration of the station). Failing that, he seizes on a seething racquetball rivalry between Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien to draw in a crowd, tricking them into an appearance at his bar for the announcement of the match and guilting them into agreeing to the game with a promise that half of the proceeds will go to the Bajoran fund for war orphans.

Meanwhile, a series of highly improbable events on the station lead the Ops crew to believe that something is not right with the laws of probability. Many trip-and-fall accident victims fill the infirmary, including Kira, systems failures and runs of strange luck abound. When O'Brien - after losing many consecutive games to the superior skills of Bashir in previous meetings on the racquetball court - starts mopping the floor with him by making impossible shots while Bashir's racket snaps in half and he falls all over himself on the court, he becomes convinced that the deck is stacked, stops the game and contacts Ops. The crew realizes that an improbably high percentage of the neutrinos on the station are rotating in the same direction, and tracks the source of the oddity to Club Martus. His machines are altering the laws of probability station-wide and must be destroyed. Martus - having invested what little profits the club made in Alsia's mining operation - watches his business implode, gets arrested by Odo (the Pythrons had a change of heart and have formally pressed charges) and then learns that Alsia was also a con artist and he was now penniless. Quark bails him out and he leaves the station with his tail tucked between his legs.

Writing: 8.5

This episode is a rollicking good time, spearheaded by clever dialogue and a lot of good old fashioned light-hearted comedy. We're not talking about Pulitzer Prize brilliance here, but there's nothing wrong with some fluff if it's well done - and what could be better than a little Quark-centered showmanship and taste of what's to come between O'Brien and Bashir. Not to mention seeing the skeezy con man get what he deserves while the significantly more sympathetic con man rides to triumph. :)

Acting: 8.5

Chris Sarandon (Martus) was the key guest star, obviously, and I thought he did a marvelous job playing Conman T. Ripoffer. The contrast between Shimmermin (Quark) and Sarandon (Martus) in performance was necessary and well carried out. The two women (Alsia and Roana) in Martus' life weren't very impressive in their roles, but Rosalind Chao did her usual adorable job as Keiko, so that made up for it. Colm Meaney was downright hysterical! And for once, I don't have a discouraging word to utter about Alexander Siddig either.

Message: 8.2

The not so subtle difference between Martus (intended never to be seen as anything other than a slime ball) and Quark (intended to be viewed as an untrustworthy, but basically harmless git with a heart of gold) is one I think needed to be displayed. The reason Quark is tolerated on DS9 is because he's not heartless and selfish the way a real con artist is. He does have a moral compass and there are lines he won't cross. He's also earned what business success (as small-time as it might be) he has with real acumen. The old saying "it's better to be lucky than good" is mostly untrue and it's fun to watch Martus get all full of himself when he has a run of luck and then fall on his ass when the luck vaporizes, revealing his complete lack of business sense. The reason capitalism works is because you can't luck your way into sustained have to have some real marketable skill or product. Quark has that...Martus never did. All in all, for a fluff piece, this one was unusually fun for the capitalist in me.


QUARK: The 49th rule of acquisition states, 'Never trust a man wearing a better suit than your own. He's either a con man or he's covering an empty coin purse.' In your case, I happen to know it's both!" - so true!

BASHIR: Chief! I see you got the court finished. I hope you don't mind me testing it out.
O'BRIEN: Not at all. I didn't know you played.
BASHIR: Captain of the team at Starfleet Medical. We won the sector championship my final year.
O'BRIEN: Well, I've never had any formal training, but I've been playing for years.
BASHIR: Oh, some of the toughest opponents I've faced were amateurs. There was a Rigelian nearly twice your size that gave me a run for my money.
O'BRIEN: And you won? (looking a little terrified)
BASHIR: Took him on a back ball riser shot. Care for a game?
O'BRIEN: Serve.
BASHIR: I gather by the lines that you prefer the old style rules.
O'BRIEN: I can play any style you like, Julian.
BASHIR: Ah...old style it is. Always prefer the classic game, myself.
O'BRIEN: SERVE. (while thinking..."oh yeah...well bigger than yours!!!") - Early Bashir/O'Brien goodness

BASHIR: I'm telling you, Dax, I thought he was going to have a coronary!
DAX: I'm sure you're exaggerating, Julian.
BASHIR: No! He face was flushed, he was dripping sweat...I could have taken his pulse just by looking at the side of his neck throbbing!
DAX: So why didn't you stop it?
BASHIR: I tried! He kept insisting on a rematch. I told him I had an appointment - he wouldn't believe me! And then, during the third game, his racket broke and I thought 'finally! It's over!' but he made me wait while he replicated a new one!
DAX: So what did you do?
BASHIR: While he was gone, I called Nurse Palmer and told her to contact me with an emergency in five minutes.
DAX: That's horrible! (while laughing)
BASHIR: I suppose I'm exaggerating the health risks a bit, but that's not even the point. Chief O'Brien is a man I really respect! I don't want to humiliate him..."

and meanwhile...

O'BRIEN: (sarcastic tone and affected Bashir accent) 'I suppose you prefer the old style rules...'
KEIKO: Miles...
O'BRIEN: 'Captain of the team, Starfleet Medical' - I was making shots like that before he was old enough to hold a racket!
KEIKO: Well maybe that's a point,'re not a kid anymore, it's nothing to be ashamed of. People just naturally slow down!
O'BRIEN: Oh great, wonderful, I'm a worn out has been...THANKS! He's vulnerable to every one of my best shots! I just couldn't GET them there!! (Keiko realizes he's too pissed off to reason with and walks away) Sector champion - my eye! I just need to get me wind back, you'll see!

I can't help but giggle at this stuff...LOL

DAX: That's strange...I've been looking for this code buried in the deep level for weeks. All of a sudden it just appeared.
KIRA: Well you're having a better day than I am. My terminal just self-destructed. I lost a report to Minister Toran that I was working on for over a week!
DAX: You know, I've been hearing a lot of reports of bad luck from aroud the station. People tripping and falling, running into turbolift doors before they open, that sort of thing.
KIRA: Are you suggesting they're somehow related? Don't be ridiculous, Dax, these things are just coincidences! Everyone knows you make your own luck. (Kira walks away and we hear her fall flat on her face and moan in pain - LOL)

QUARK: If it's action you want, you've come to the right place! Excitement? Look no further! Thrills, spills, we've got it all!
O'BRIEN: What's going on here, Quark?!
QUARK: Here he is now! A legend on both sides of the wormhole - the aging champion - Miles 'the Mechanic' O'Brien!
BASHIR: I got an emergency call, but there's obviously no emergency!
QUARK: And he challenger! He's young, he's fast, he's deadly, he's Julian Bashir! They call him 'The Doctor!" And this event is for a worthy cause! These noble competitors insisted that I donate half the house's winnings to the Bajoran fund for war orphans! The grudge match of the galaxy! The Mechanic vs. the Doctor! Betting is now open, so pick your man! And in the meantime...all the Dabo tables are open! (rampant applause)
O'BRIEN: Quark, we haven't agreed to anything!
QUARK: As your promoter, I have a right to arrange matches as I see fit. (LOL...he just appoints himself promoter...)
BASHIR: Now wait just a minute, Quark...
QUARK: Doctor, please...think of the children. (won't ANYONE think of the children!!) The monks have already made a down payment on blankets for the winter. Oh well...I suppose the little ones can huddle together for warmth. (LOL!! evil...)

ROM: I still think it's not fair.
MARTUS: What's not fair?
ROM: You giving all my profits away to that Alsia.
MARTUS: YOUR profits?
ROM: You promised me 25% of all profits!
MARTUS: 25% after expenses.
ROM: Expenses?!
MARTUS: Overhead, maintenance, personnel, re-capitalization...
ROM: That does it! I'm going back to Quark! At least then I'll get cheated by family! - LOL

MARTUS: Alsia! I knew you'd come for me.
ODO: Inside. (escorts Alsia into a holding cell)
MARTUS: What's the meaning of this?
ODO: You should ask her. (Quark arrives)
QUARK: Your lady friend here just tried to scam me. Asteroid mining - to think anyone would be foolish enough to fall for that old trick.
MARTUS: I suppose you've come to gloat.
QUARK: On the contrary, Martus...I've come to get you out of here.
MARTUS: In exchange for what?
QUARK: Nothing! Out of the kindness out of my heart. (Odo loudly scoffs in the background)
MARTUS: You're enjoying this, aren't you?
QUARK: Taken in by one of your own victims and no one to turn to but me? (laughs loudly) I can't remember when I've been so entertained.
MARTUS: Glad to be of service. Now how about giving me 2000 issics to book passage out of here?
QUARK: You want give you money? Of all the ungrateful...(still said with a smile)
MARTUS: Unless you'd like me to stay...
QUARK: Very well...I' you 500 issics. You can book passage on a cargo ship.
MARTUS: 1500...that's the best I can do...
QUARK: You can take 600 before my generocity fades.
MARTUS: Very well...1200 issics...I still have my dignity, you know.
QUARK: Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack. Rule of Acquisition number 109.
MARTUS: (sighs heavily)...800.
QUARK: I'm listening...

The science is patently ridiculous (the idea that there's a physical force which can govern the law of probability - a non-physical theory invented by statisticians to explain chaos and random chance is just preposterous), but who cares when the entertainment is golden. :)

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