March 20, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Bar Association”

Quark's bar workers, led by his brother Rom, go on strike.

I have said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, but Deep Space Nine really excelled on developing and expanding upon what in any other show would be one-note supporting characters that only appear sporadically.

Case in point:  in this episode, that would be Rom.

As much as this series has really expanded upon the Ferengi in ways that other Trek shows just plain didn’t, the biggest beneficiary of that expansion could arguably be Rom.  Yes, his son Nog shows a lot of growth himself, but considering where Rom started from, it’s actually rather noteworthy that Rom is a lot more than he used to.  Rom, in the earliest episodes, was mostly just a very stupid character, one Quark frequently berated and one that (usually) didn’t even object to the insults.  The only times up until now that Rom ever seemed to really stand up for himself is when he defended Nog’s own ambitions to Quark.  The show did reveal that Rom isn’t really stupid.  He’s actually brilliant with machines of all kinds, but that sort of brilliance isn’t valued so much in the profit-driven Ferengi society.

So, naturally, Rom will be the one to outright rebel against it.

It’s a Bajoran festival month, so business at Quark’s is way down, and Quark decides to cut everyone’s salaries without any sort of advance warning.  Rom had already collapsed at work due to an ear infection he never had time to get checked out due to Quark’s demands, and while in the Infirmary, Bashir had made an off-hand comment about forming a labor union.  Rom, at first, doesn’t want to because that goes right in the face of Ferengi culture and tradition. He instead figures he can just talk Quark out of the pay cut to the relief of dabo girl Leeta, a whole lot of Ferengi waiters, and whatever other employees Quark has.

By the by, don’t think I didn’t notice how sweet Leeta is to Rom in this episode.

So, when Quark says no, Rom does indeed form a union, and then everyone goes on strike.

Ferengi…just don’t do that sort of thing.

It’s moments like this that show some interesting allegiances.  Bashir only planted the union idea in Rom’s head.  He didn’t have any other advice from there.  O’Brien, by contrast, says he comes from a long line of union men, and he has plenty of ideas.  Then again, O’Brien also claimed he was descended from Brian Boru in this episode, so I am not sure how much I trust the Chief’s claims about his family tree.  On the other side, Worf breaks a picket line for unknown reasons, leading to an off-screen argument between Worf and O’Brien that only got Bashir hurt and had all three in a holding cell overnight.  Most surprisingly, but then again maybe not, is that Odo is on Quark’s side, mostly because he doesn’t like the idea of more chaos on his station than he already has to deal with.

And then Liquidator Brunt shows up.

Oh, that guy is a creep, but he’s played by Jeffrey Combs, so it comes with the territory.

See, this isn’t Ferengi space, but Ferengi can’t unionize, so Brunt is there to fix things.  He does eventually, mostly by having Quark beaten up as it is the one person Rom cares about that an attack on wouldn’t make Brunt’s position weaker, and the two brothers work out a deal:  Rom will “officially” disband the union, keeping its existence a secret, and Quark will meet all of their demands while keeping his books hidden from Brunt, something he was probably doing anyway.

But really, this is just a great showcase for how much Rom has changed.  He’s a lot smarter here than he has been in the past while still basically being Rom.  He tried to negotiate with Quark, and only did the union thing when that failed.  He knew the right Rules of Acquisition to site to support his cause.  He held firm on the union’s demands.  He even didn’t buckle under Brunt’s demands.  Brunt’s threat to cut the Ferengi in the union off from their bank accounts was neutralized pretty quickly when Rom reminded all of them that if they had anything in those accounts, they wouldn’t be working for Quark in the first place.  He even quotes Karl Marx, and if there’s one hue-man philosopher bound to go against all things Ferengi, it’s probably the author of The Communist Manifesto.  And when it’s over and Rom has basically won in a way that allowed Quark to save face…he quits working for his brother and takes a technician job with the station.  Why not?  He’s good with machines.  This is some high quality Rom advancement, and he can only go further from here.

And in the B-plot, Worf is tired of life on the station and eventually moves onto the Defiant.  He and Odo clashed a little over security concerns, but it wasn’t too serious.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

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