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Prophet Motive

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WARNING: This article contains heavy spoiler information regarding DS9's "Prophet Motive". Those whose motives do not involve being spoiled are likely to run into trouble.

In brief: Well, I'll quote Quark: "It means ... absolutely nothing."

Brief summary: Quark is shocked to find that the Grand Nagus has rewritten the Rules of Acquisition, and intends to find out why.

This is likely to be a short review -- partly because I'm low on time, but mostly because there's simply very little in "Prophet Motive" to comment on, pro or con. Parts of it were mildly pleasant, parts of it were mildly unpleasant -- but most of it simply sat there waiting for something to happen.

"Prophet Motive" had two different attempts at comedy in it: one going for belly laughs, and one going for quiet chuckles. As is probably not too surprising, I think the former one came off rather badly and the latter came off rather well.

The latter concerned Bashir's nomination for the Carrington Award and everyone's preoccupation with it. While I think it treaded ever so slightly past the point of being overdone, certain moments in it, such as the entire darts game with O'Brien and Odo's "just a guess" that Bashir was working on his acceptance speech as the hours wound down, worked extremely well for me. (His speech to Dax about the average life expectancy of Carrington winners was cute, too: "April Wade is a hundred and six, and when she was last nominated three
years ago, people said it was premature!" Grin.)

The attempt for all-out guffaws, however, was in the Quark/Rom/Zek plot, and frankly I didn't see much in it. While the Rules of Acquisition themselves weren't a bad idea when they were first born, I'm getting very tired of stories where new Rules (or revised ones, in this case) are simply being cited for their own sake. Some of them are cute, yes; but rules aren't stories, any more than pithy human quotes would be. They've turned into a crutch, and are nearing the stage where they'll start sounding like a merchandising ploy; could a collected Rules of Acquisition from Pocket Books be far off? [If it's not currently in the works, this is NOT meant as a suggestion.] As such, this entire plot, while not leaving me totally cold, had me on the cool side of lukewarm.

The general Quark story itself wasn't all that bad, I suppose, but it was really just there. Brothers forced to move in together and relive old fights? (Standard sitcom moment #29Q) Check. Character shocked by someone's abrupt about-face? Check. A radical change in personality being caused by an outside force? (Standard Trek moment #85H) Check. Any sense of novelty in the story? Not particularly -- and that's too bad.

The main reason I think that's really too bad is that it was, in some ways, a waste of the Prophets. They were fascinating in the glimpse we got of them in "Emissary" through Sisko that I've been looking forward in the back of my mind to seeing them again at some point. Truth be told, I did enjoy seeing some of it here, too -- but they were being used almost as comic foils for Quark to speak against, not as much more than that. Granted, they weren't exactly made total fools of -- the fact that they didn't fall for Quark's arguments speaks to
that point. But they were much more willing to deliberately act against another being than they appeared to be in "Emissary". One would think that if they were really taken aback by a species in the wormhole, they'd simply close it and shut themselves away rather than acting against the species. (Of course, they may not have seen it that way.) In any event, this didn't quite feel right -- particularly after the very reverent tone taken towards the Prophets and prophecies in last week's superb "Destiny".

In the like vein, I wasn't all that enthused about Quark's vision in the Orb of Wisdom, either. Every vision in an Orb we've seen before has been both allegorical and very pertinent to the character in hindsight. Kira's visions of herself and Bareil, of Dax, of Winn ... Bareil's visions of Kira stabbing him and of Opaka telling him to face his destiny ... these are things that meant something in the fabric of the episode. Quark's vision, unless I'm totally dense, was more in the lines of Gratuitous Weird Stuff [tm] than in something truly explicable. A few moments within it made sense at the time, but I never got any sense of what the vision there was connected to. As such, it fell flat. [I do like the fact that we're seeing a second Orb, however -- I'd like to see what sort of differences there are between the two and why.]

That really covers the main points; there's not much to "Prophet Motive" to recommend strongly for or strongly against. So, some short takes:

-- Nog's off visiting his grandmother? Fine and dandy in terms of keeping him off the station; but given the general Ferengi concept of women as property, I'm surprised female relatives are paid any sort of attention at all, even grandmothers.

-- Self-sealing stembolts again, eh? Cute. [I don't think they're the same ones as mentioned in "Progress" two seasons ago, though; if memory serves, Jake and Nog actually managed to get rid of those...]

-- The show started off on a bad note with me with the Quark/Emi scene. As I said back when Vash did something similar in "Q-less", what we're seeing here is the Ferengi equivalent of Emi fondling Quark's crotch. The fact that this is a "clean" way to show it strikes me as being irrelevant; it's still tacky. Am I just a prude, or does this seem needlessly crude to other viewers, too?

-- There were a few good Quark/Rom moments: the revelation at the end that Rom had actually managed to embezzle from the Nagus was one of them, and "he says I'm malleable" had to be one of the plot's best lines.

-- Rene Auberjonois directed the show; and, following Jonathan Frakes's lead, appeared to choose an episode which kept his own screen time to a minimum. Wise choice, methinks.

That's about it. So, wrapping up:

Writing: Sedentary. Some cute moments with Bashir, and the occasional nice line in the remainder of the show ... but not much.
Directing: It's tough to gauge given the quality of what Auberjonois had to work with. The show did come off as awfully slow, though.
Acting: Wallace Shawn is entirely too annoying as Zek to be fun; everyone else was fine, particularly Colm Meaney.

OVERALL: A 4; not appalling, but definitely on the weak side. Too bad.

NEXT WEEK:

O'Brien peers into the future himself, and doesn't like what he sees...

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tly...@alumni.caltech.edu
"Right. So throw a dart."
-- O'Brien

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