Star Trek 356: Family Business

356. Family Business

FORMULA: Rules of Acquisition + The Icarus Factor + Lessons

WHY WE LIKE IT: Brunt. Ferenginar. Ferengi wrestling. Andrea Martin.

WHY WE DON'T: Naked Ferengi make for awkward cameras.

REVIEW: A lot of additions to the show in Family Business, mostly to the Ferengi side of the equations. And they're all quite good. For one thing, it's the first time we see Ferenginar, a rainy world, special because it actually has atmospheric conditions. The usual layering in of (silly) Ferengi customs is expected, and we get to see a Ferengi home, the Tower of Commerce, etc. etc. More important to the story are new recurring Ferengi. First, there's Brunt, another Geoffrey Combs creation, the nasty FCA agent who may or may not take pleasure in auditing Quark. Not much about him this time, but it's fun to see the evil Ferengi tax man, and a surprise no one thought of it before.

Quark and Rom's mother Ishka is the greater creation, and Andrea Martin is a real joy in the part. So how do you present a Ferengi female without the filming problems her nakedness would create? You make her an emancipated female like Pel (so it seems that's all Quark ever comes across), which either informs Rules of Acquisition or destroys it, I'm not sure which. Females thinking they're equal to men? It was bound to happen in a Federation-contaminated world.

What's important here is that we learn something about Quark and Rom and their family dynamic. There's great shame associated with the father's financial failures, and though Quark takes after his mother, shame associated with that too. He's an old-fashioned Ferengi closed to his mother's "new ways" and at odds against a brother he feels responsible for, because his parents certainly did a bad job of preparing him for the galactic marketplace. Rom, his father's son, places family above profit, something we'll see again and again when dealing with Rom and Nog. The brothers' differences come to a head in one of the most savage fights this side of a Klingon battleground, with fruit bowls flying at the camera. Nice touch.

When the Ferengi are driving a mostly comedic plot (still, with earnest family drama), it wouldn't do for the rest of the crew to be a dire straights. So it's with a light touch that the show introduces a romantic heroine for Sisko in the form of Kasidy Yates. She seems nice enough, but once she mentions baseball, you know it's going to work out. Geek points for starting a league on Cestus III (of Arena fame), and having of the teams be the Pike City Pioneers. I wonder, do the Gorn play? Sisko's reaction to Jake's matchmaking is bemused and open, and there's certainly some laughs coming from his having told everyone on the station. O'Brien and Bashir in particular are starting to gel as a double act.

LESSON: On Ferenginar, it costs twice as much to sit as to stand, but it still costs something. Only the richest Ferengi ever lie down.

REWATCHABILITY - High: A key to Quark and Rom's characters, plus the introduction of three recurring characters and a recurring planet. Sadly, Andrea Martin never plays Ishka again, which makes this the only place you can enjoy the character.


De said...

I remember Ferenginar being one of the first non-traditional planet archetypes. Aside from Kamino in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, I can't think of another planet where the predominant climate was rainy.


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