Monday, November 7, 2011

Enter The Dominion In "Rules Of Acquisition"

The Good: Funny, Socially Conscious, Good Character
The Bad: Predictable
The Basics: Essential in the larger plots, "Rules Of Acquisition" is fun and meaningful for all audiences.

It is the hallmark of a truly great show to be able to take the established pieces of the "mythology" and turn them on their ear while still making the show make a great deal of sense. The X-Files did it largely unsuccessfully because Chris Carter did not begin the show knowing where it was going. Conversely, in the second season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the writers and producers knew exactly where the show was going and as a result, they planned ahead.

When Grand Nagus Zek, leader of the Ferengi, returns, Quark fears he has come to buy his bar and we, the viewer, fear the episode is going to be a lame attempt at humor that will fall flat. Instead, "Rules Of Acquisition" continues the Ferengi subplot while making the first major turn in the Gamma Quadrant/Dominion plot. "Rules Of Acquisition" marks the first reference to The Dominion, which is the essential shift in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine storyline.

When Zek has Quark negotiate in the Gamma Quadrant for Tulaberry Wine, Quark takes his new assistant - a real business whiz - Pel with him. Pel proves to be an exceptional business partner and Quark takes a real liking to the other Ferengi. Pel also has a secret and it's ruined if you read the back of the video box and I'm not going to tell you what it is.

Pel's secret is a violation of one of the Ferengi's greatest cultural aspects and it puts Quark in a tight spot and the Grand Nagus in a similarly bad jam. Far more interesting than the Ferengi social problems (which are always thinly veiled commentaries on human social dynamics) are the negotiations and the sinister feel of the episode. Throughout the episode, there is a current of intrigue and it is played out effectively.

The acting is competent with Pel being played very well. As well, Armin Shimerman as Quark is excellent in this episode, especially when he is acting non-intimidated by one of the aliens who is played by the neckless Brian Thompson (the Alien Bounty Hunter from The X-Files). Shimerman is usually used as comic relief and in this case, using the somewhat smaller actor to stand up to a massive character like Inglatu (Thompson) forces Shimerman to illustrate Quark's courage. Shimerman does this adeptly through the use of his expressive eyes and adding presence to his voice. This may well be Shimerman's best performance to date on the show.

Part of what makes "Rules Of Acquisition" rewatchable is the elements of character in it. Unlike a lot of the Ferengi episodes that are put in the series for comic relief, "Rules Of Acquisition" tries to be less funny and evolve the characters more. While there is some slapstick humor around Pel wooing Quark, the real meat of the episode is in how Quark must adapt to the changing business frontier he finds himself in.

Moreover, it is intriguing that Quark may be so social conservative on one front, protecting Ferengi business laws and practices, but very liberal on another front; he is not bothered by another man hitting on him. It speaks a lot to the character of the Ferengi; homophobia clearly is not profitable.

The episode has remarkably little resolution, but that's a plus here because both the subplot and the main plot are ongoing. Part of the essential Star Trek Deep Space Nine but very entertaining for those who are not.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek review, please check out my index page!

© 2011, 2007, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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