WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for DS9's "The House of Quark". Please proceed no further without awareness of that basic truth.
Well ... basically a sitcom plot, inanities intact -- but it was cute.
But first, a summary:
While O'Brien deals with family problems, Quark finds himself caught in a bind when he falsely boasts about killing a Klingon.
Well, there was good and bad in "The House of Quark", which is to be expected. I think I liked it a bit better than part 2 of "The Search", however; this show had far less lofty goals, yes, but it managed to achieve a
reasonable number of them without too many plotting goofs.
First, some continuity notes on the new season's changes. I'm pleased to see that the Defiant is not being shoehorned into every plot simply because there's this neat new set to play with. I'm also very pleased to see that the Dominion remain a giant question mark -- no one knows quite what they are or what's going to happen, and people are frightened and jumpy as a result. That makes a great deal of sense, and is a good sign. [It also suggests that the ID of the Founders is a well-kept secret, given everyone's lack of reaction to Odo. That's also sensible.]
Some of the other plot threads set up in the season opener, however, seem to have magically been cut away, which grates. We've just found out Odo is a member of the race that created the Dominion, for heaven's sake. Starfleet isn't worried about this? The lack of reaction of general station personnel to Odo is sensible -- but the lack of senior people checking up on him, and in particular the spontaneous disappearance of Cmdr. Eddington (who was there because Starfleet wasn't happy with Odo before, remember), is not at all sensible. Not good.
Okay, enough of the presence/absence of past stuff. What about the stories we saw this time?
For the Quark-centered story, I enjoyed myself almost without wanting to. I occasionally had the feeling "wait a second; this is almost making the Klingons comic foils. I shouldn't be liking this", but somehow ended up
chuckling anyway. Things like the looks of Ultimate Skepticism [tm] on Bashir's face during Quark's story were enough to keep me entertained early on.
The main plot made sense (mostly), and actually does fit in with the idea that the Klingons boast about honor, but rarely embody it. It was more than a bit overdone, though -- in particular, D'Ghor did everything except twirl
his mustache and tie Grilka to the nearest runabout track. He was a combination of Stock Bad Klingon and Klingon Parody, and frankly was more boring than anything else.
Given that the plot was really almost sitcom level ("Quark's lies get him into a wedding full of wackiness!" :-) ), though, it's a good thing that the dialogue was a lot of fun. Even though I knew Quark's talking the Klingons through the financial dealings wasn't going to work, and I groaned in anticipation of what was coming ... I still grinned when I saw Gowron trying desperately to wrap his neurons around an increasingly untenable situation.
While Quark's return to save the day was roughly 800% predictable (after a very run-of-the-mill guilt sequence, too, saved only by Quark's "okay, let's go" as soon as Grilka finished), his gambit was awfully nice thinking on
his part, and did take at least a few guts (which were almost strewn all over the Great Hall ... but I digress). Nothing special, but fun. (D'Ghor's willingness to eviscerate Quark right after the speech was fun, too -- it's
nice every so often to see a villain who really doesn't care whether he/she looks like slime doing something.)
The story wasn't without its flat-on-its-face moments either, though. In particular, I found the discommendation way* overdone. I've always had the impression that discommendation was only used for the Really Big Stuff, like betraying one's family to the Romulans, not simply financial stuff. This just felt pretty much wrong. [Some of Grilka's stuff also felt a bit like "woman who can't get out of a problem without a man", which tends to get my
teeth on edge.]
All in all, though, Quark's story was a by-the-numbers plot, but pretty smartly executed.
O'Brien's subplot, on the other hand, was very interesting. Not so much because of the marriage problems (though they weren't bad), but because of the ever-persistent rumors of Colm Meaney leaving the series. If they turn out to be true, this would be a nice way to lead into it -- O'Brien decides he really can't stay on a station where his wife is so unhappy, and opts out for another location. We'll see.
The subplot itself was nicely done as well. As before, the strength was in the execution rather than the story itself (though this one had an ending that wasn't quite so obvious). I particularly liked the turnabout of having
Bashir give O'Brien advice on women -- after "Armageddon Game", it must've been hell for O'Brien to have to sit there and listen to it. What's more, the premise made such sense given the Dominion that I was surprised no one had thought of it earlier. Of course the tension will make people leave the station, and naturally that will lead to the lack of children.
It's worth noting, though, that that will lead to a lessened cultural tie between the Federation and Bajor. This might cut down on some of the types of shows I've really enjoyed from DS9 in the past, but it might also open
up some new types of stories. It depends on what people do with it, I suppose.
[Besides, the line "you can't ask her to turn her profession into a hobby" was also extremely right for its situation.]
There's really not much else to say. Which means, of course, that it's time for a few short takes. :-)
-- "You are on Kronos." Hel-LO! After three years of debate over whether the Klingons moved off Kronos for good after ST6 or simply evacuated and returned, we know. Thanks, guys. :-)
-- You know, that marriage ceremony was pretty wimpy for a Klin ceremony. I mean, this is a culture that hits its teenagers with pain-sticks. No blood at a wedding? No physical pain?
-- Rom's newfound respect for Quark will be an interesting new wrinkle to their relationship; assuming, of course, that it lasts. Ferengi do tend to fall into the "what have you done for me lately?" concept quite easily, even ones as thick as Rom.
-- And, of course, there's always got to be one dialogue "oops". Kira had it this time, with her one line. :-) While I loved the sentiment of her "hmm; must be some kind of human thing" reaction to Dax suggesting they leave the boys alone, Dax isn't human, and she's the one who made the suggestion. I think "some kind of Federation thing" might've been better -- but hey, that's me.
That's about it. "The House of Quark" certainly didn't fascinate me or keep me riveted -- but it was diverting for an hour, which isn't a bad thing in itself. So, to close:
Plot: Solid, but by the numbers. Not a lot of holes (other than lapses from previous stories), but not much of interest either.
Plot Handling: Very cute.
Characters/Acting: Leave D'Ghor out of it and we can cut a deal. :-)
OVERALL: Hmm ... let's say a 6. Decently done fluff.
Dax has some weird dreams...
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"How can I repay you?"
"I would like a divorce, please -- no offense."
-- Grilka and Quark