Friday, January 21, 2011

Classics: DS9 5:3 - Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

Overall Rating: 7.0

Guilty little admission - I *love* this episode. I can rationally step back and understand that the writing is very predictable, the resolution is difficult to believe, the message is, at best, jumbled, and at worst, counter to what I believe regarding healthy romance and cross-cultural communication...and yet...for some reason, I love it anyway.

Plot Synopsis:

A good recap can be found at Memory Alpha.

The Skinny:

There's just something about this episode...the rational part of my brain eagerly will concede that the plot is very formulaic. Unrequited love used to help another man win the heart of one's many teen movies have a theme like that? I'd normally be the first person to roll my eyes a bit and accept that such a thing has a limited upside dramatically. I might also, under circumstances less generally likeable than those created by DS9, question whether it was remotely realistic for a Klingon woman to ever find a Ferengi man attractive. Their cultures are just...too different. It does not add up. No matter how much the Ferengi tries to respect a Klingon's culture, when you get down to it, they're different at the point where it could never truly work long term. And there's a bit of a secondary impulse in me to be annoyed with the usual Hollywood "cut to the sex" mentality with starting a relationship. The grand gesture always seems to be all that's needed to get down to bidness (so to speak). In this case...for Dax and Worf AND for Quark and Grilka.

But...I don't know if it's just because I like Quark so much by now...or because I do feel the chemistry between Dorn and Ferrell (and have for a while by now) or because I am impressed that the writers never made a big stink about the hidden message of tolerance and understanding by bringing the cultural differences heavily into the dialogue (Quark may well be the most "colorbline" person ever to appear on Star Trek...he'll try to date any girl that catches his she Vulcan (The Maquis, Part II), Klingon (this one and House of Quark), Trill (Dax, duh), Human (we assume, though he never had a chance with one), Ferengi (Rules of Acquisition), Romulan (stretching from Vulcans), Cardassian (the one with the dissidents), Bajoran (Kira, Leeta, and all manner of Dabo girl), Breen, Vorta (if they had that capacity)...he does not care if you're tall, short, thin, chubby, aggressive, passive...he finds all manner of girls attractive in unique ways. But whatever the reason, this show just feels loaded with pathos and is fun to watch despite its many flaws.

The Dax/Worf relationship will eventually lead to both hilariously terrible moments and genuinely adult, and remarkably heartfelt moments as well. It doesn't start in a terribly effective way, though I do think Jadzia would have to force the issue with Worf...he's not the kind of guy to notice when someone likes him. But I do think that Worf and Jadzia are further proof that DS9 writers do romance way better than any of the other Trek teams because they understand people (and their audience) far better.

Writing: 6.0

The writing is formulaic at best. Most of the dialogue is...well...silly.

Acting: 8.0

On the other hand, I do think Ferrell and Dorn work well together and Shimerman does his usual good work, and I was favorably impressed with Mary Kay Adams as stuff.

Message: 7.0

I can't be too hard on the DS9 writers for falling back on Hollywood romantic cliches...they're working in a world that has certain expectations of its' television's disappointing that they felt the need to give into those expectations, but it is what it is. A fun, message-free episode that gets a bonus point for showing how to be truly color blind.


  1. Good point regarding Quark's "color-blindness". And you know, not only does Quark like his women in all shapes and sizes, but he also likes them strong. He may say that Ferengi women should remain naked and subservient, but his taste in females certainly seems to go in the complete opposite direction. I could go on about Quark's apparent Oedipal complex, but I won't. ;)

  2. LOL...his mom was strong and he likes that in his mates too...didn't think of it that way.

    Yep...he liked the independent and fiercely powerful Kira, the courageous Natima, the warrior Grilka, and the sexually aggressive and experienced Dax...and although he thought at first he might compete for Ezri, we didn't see him pursue her with the same zeal. She was, after all, quite a bit less overtly powerful (though I would argue she had a perceptive power that made her endearing).

  3. By the way, I notice that you didn't really comment on the whole Kira/O'Brien thing. Is that just a hot potato you've decided not to touch?

    A decade or so ago, the Kira/O'Brien awkwardness really, really bothered me, but when I re-watched the episode today, I found I didn't mind it quite so much. Perhaps that's because, to be fair, they really did do the sensible thing in the end.

  4. The Kira/"Miles" thing doesn't bother me...mostly because it is completely natural for the spark of attraction to hit a happily married man and O'Brien proved he was a good man by taking control of himself and getting out of temptation...that could also partially explain my appreciation for this episode...the humor was genuine in that subplot and both characters acted within the bounds of possibility (I could see Kira having a little thing for a man taking care of her in her hour of need and I could see O'Brien misplacing feelings of affection for his family on the woman now carrying his child)...but I opted not to comment because the whole thing was very tangential and never came up again. I just tend not to focus on things that don't have a continuing influence unless the episode is entirely stand alone and forces me to think small. :)