Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places," DS9 Does Romantic Comedy Well!

The Good: Excellent character development, Good acting, Strong sense of serialization in larger story
The Bad: Somewhat simple - and obvious - plot
The Basics: When Grilka arrives on Deep Space Nine, Quark and Worf find themselves smitten and Quark enlists Worf and Dax to help him win her heart. A fun episode!

"Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" is a surprisingly light, but character-filled, episode that follows on the heels of two dark and intense episodes. "Looking For Par'mach In All The Wrong Places" acts essentially as a sequel to "House Of Quark" (reviewed here!) and is hard to understand without having seen "Body Parts" (reviewed here!).

When Grilka, Quark's Klingon ex-wife appears on the station as hostilities with the Klingons ebb some, Worf sees her and becomes infatuated. While this does not do anything for Grilka (she is kept from Worf by an attache to her house), Worf's interest gets Dax's attention. While Quark works on Grilka's financial records, he, too, becomes more infatuated with her. Quark approaches Dax and Worf about helping him get into a relationship with Grilka that will do honor to her and get him a little something something. This whole idea offends Grilka's bodyguard and he challenges Quark to a fight to the death, a fight Worf is in a position to help with . . .

While Quark, Dax, Worf and Grilka sort out their various issues, Kira and O'Brien adapt to the issues surrounding their situation. Kira is carrying the O'Briens' baby as a result of an accident and Bashir's medical genius. With Kira living with Miles and Keiko, the relationship between O'Brien and Kira begins to get emotionally complicated. Keiko, oblivious to any growing attraction between her husband and the woman carrying her baby, continues to encourage the two to spend time together and bond, which becomes problematic for both officers.

The Kira and O'Brien plot is the one that pulls "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" up above a simple romantic screwball comedy and it works so well because it keeps the episode within the emotional context of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Deep Space Nine tends to be a more adult television show and the producers of the series wisely created a character conflict that is remarkably adult alongside the juvenile love triangles that sprout up when Grilka arrives. Kira and O'Brien have always had an easy camaraderie, based in part on their mutual distrust and dislike of Cardassians, and exploring their sexual chemistry through the plot-necessary pregnancy works to both address and disarm it.

For those who might not know, near the end of the fourth season, actress Nana Visitor got pregnant (way to go Siddig!) and rather than ignore the rather obvious pregnancy for the very slight Visitor, it was written into the show. What seems like a pretty straightforward baby swap led the producers to a much smarter use of the issue; utilizing the opportunity as a chance to explore the character issues between Kira and O'Brien. And it works, beautifully.

This is not to say the rest of the episode does not work. The Quark/Grilka and Worf/Dax stories are funny and they play out as an interesting romantic comedy that is rare for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The relationship being forged between Quark and Grilka works exceptionally well and watching the two of them stumble into romance is played out with humor and it is a welcome repast from the prior difficult episodes.

What endures from this episode are the changes in the relationship between Worf and Dax. "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" changes the lukewarm friendship between Dax and Worf into something more and this starts the romance with Dax actively pursuing Worf. And it plays out as a good beginning.

What sells the episode completely is the dialogue. Alexander Siddig's brief appearance in the episode - at the end - is one of the funniest bits of humor presented on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and it comes a bit behind the monologue delivered by Armin Shimerman as Quark. Shimerman works his mouth around a complex and humorous diatribe in the middle of the fight with Grilka's bodyguard that endures as quite easily the funniest bit of dialogue in the series. Seriously, go to any die hard Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan and say "bats of love" and they will crack up even now, years later. It is that memorable.

The acting makes the otherwise comedic episode work as well. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has arguably the most serious and professional cast from a Star Trek series and this allowed them to do stories that were dark and intense. To show many of the cast in a different light works beautifully to explore the range of these actors. While Nana Visitor and Colm Meany deliver their usual dramatic performances with the intensity and greatness of their training, Terry Farrell, Michael Dorn, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig and even Rene Auberjonois have the chance to explore the comedic sides of their characters. Auberjonois's brief appearance in "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" illustrates how woefully misused he was in the second season of "Boston Legal" (reviewed here!) where he was used as a dramatic counterbalance to William Shatner's humor. Auberjonois has a wonderful sense of humor to him and he plays that off Visitor beautifully in this episode.

Farrell and Shimerman play their humorous bits, often off one another, with a speed that illustrates a sense of expert comic timing. They are funny with one another and they manage to keep the humor from overbearing into slapstick or anything that would not fit their characters. Instead, they play it tight and it works because they play it within the bounds of where their characters are at this point in the series. Farrell has slowly evolved Dax into something of a trickster and in "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" it fits that sprightly aspect of her character to aid Quark. Farrell has a wonderful ease with her body language that makes such things as the gossipy conversation she plays with Shimerman have a realism to it that plays well.

And for someone only briefly in the episode, Alexander Siddig makes the most of his three scenes, establishing himself in "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places" as an actor who has the ability to do strong physical comedy and make it work. He has amazing facial expressions for comedy acting in this work and it plays out well.

Who will like this episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Anyone who likes romantic comedies. Anyone who likes a substantive and funny romance story will get a lot out of this. It is funny, it is charming and it has the character moments fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have come to expect from the series. It might be a little inaccessible to those who have no tolerance for a few science fiction conceits (like Kira carrying O'Brien's baby), but for those who do not mind that, the episode is rich an easy to get into.

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


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my Star Trek Review Index Page here!

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Excellent review. Somehow I missed this episode in the original run of the series, but I have it on DVD now. Although this is a rather silly episode, it's a nice break from the serious subject matter in the rest of season five.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed the review! Thanks!