WARNING: This post contains spoilers for "The Nagus", the latest episode to come from DS9. Those sentients not wishing to have advance knowledge should remain clear.
When I first saw the preview blurbs for "The Nagus", I thought to myself, "Self, this is going to be either utterly hilarious or the most wretched thing since 'The Royale'." Fortunately, it was almost entirely the former.
Gods above, I enjoyed myself with this.
The look into Ferengi culture wasn't particularly enlightening, but it did at least point out that there are *differing* business styles and personality traits in the greed-before-all culture we're meant to see. Most of the
Ferengi we saw here were somewhat two-dimensional, true, but that's two more dimensions than the whole damned *species* had for the first few years of its existence. Quite a step up, I think.
In general, though, what the "Grand Nagus Quark" plot was trying to do was make us split our sides laughing. And for once in quite a long while, it managed it with me, in spades. (Okay, I grant that the onset of spring break may have a *wee* bit to do with that. :-) ) Most of the "Ferengi business ethics [a subsidiary of Well-Known Oxymorons Anonymous]" bits had me rolling, even the all-too-expected ear jokes. (*Especially* the ear jokes, in some cases; Quark's compliment to Rom about "I didn't think you had the LOBES!"
worked quite well.)
The weak point in this part of the story was, as in "Move Along Home", Quark's groveling under pressure. I'll say it again: even if it's true to the character (which in this case it probably was), that doesn't mean it's something I want to see. In this case, however, it was far less annoying than the previous episode, for two reasons. First, it *was* true to the character here, and that at least makes things more palatable. Second, it
was a lot shorter. :-)
Much of the amusement value of the episode must be credited to Wallace Shawn, who had a wonderful role to play in Grand Nagus Zek. Although he was physically unrecognizable with the makeup job (a little surprising, since I think he looks half-Ferengi *normally* :-) ), that voice was unmistakable. I've always thought Shawn would be a good choice for a Ferengi, and he apparently thought so too -- and had the time of his life.
There's not much else to say about the comic side of "The Nagus". A lot of it will, as usual, probably come down to individual senses of humor. This time, mine meshed nicely with those of David Livingston and Ira Steven Behr (the story and teleplay writers, respectively). Yours might not.
(There are some plot elements that don't make sense, though, even given that nothing was taken seriously. Odo letting Rom and Krax go after finding out their parts in attempted assassination is *not* sensible, for instance.)
However, there's still the Sisko/Jake/Nog area to consider. This was the one attempt at serious characterization the show had, and almost surprisingly, it did just fine. I'm becoming more and more impressed with Cirroc Lofton's ability to play Jake *realistically*; as I've said often in the past, he sounds like many of the kids I see every day. (However, as I don't think I've said before, he seems too young for a convincing 14. A precocious 12 or 13, yes, but not 14 most of the time.) His argument with Nog and their
subsequent actions rang quite true, and Sisko's worry about turning the situation into a "Sisko vs. Nog" contest for Jake was a *very* smart bit of parenting. In addition, although I should've realized that Jake was doing something like tutoring Nog, I hadn't actually caught onto it beforehand -- nicely set up and then camouflaged on their parts.
And, of course, we have O'Brien returning to the fold, only to be roped into playing substitute teacher. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I don't think he seemed nearly stressed *enough*. On the other hand, this was clearly several days into his stint, so maybe he's finished all the fingernail-biting and started on the kids instead. :-) In any case, I once again enjoyed the school-related bits, for extremely selfish personal reasons. So sue me.
There really isn't that much to say. The show was fluff through and through, and had one or two bits of "off" characterization (mostly Odo's nonchalance, as I mentioned), but generally was a nice piece of frivolity that didn't expect to be taken seriously, and had a good time in the process. I'm
Some short takes, then, including some of the more amusing quotes of the show:
-- Love that sceptre.
-- To those who may be wondering about the implication that Ferengi can't read, given the whole Nog issue: I don't think it's implied that *all* Ferengi can't read, but I wouldn't be overly surprised to find out that *Rom* can't and doesn't care to. As Odo's already pointed out, "Rom's an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent."
-- One of the subjects in school is Comparative Xenobiology? Yeesh; what happened to straightforward fifth-grade calculus? :-)
-- "Is the Nagus here on business, or pleasure?" "Is there a difference?" Heh.
-- "And remember: When in doubt, be ruthless." "I can DO that!" :-) (Me, I wanted to hear "oh, and never get involved in a land war in Asia." or "Never go in against a Ferengi when *death* is on the line!", but that's just me.)
-- I particularly liked the Sisko/Dax conversation about Jake, but for some reason the most vivid image I have of it is Dax sticking around to eat the stew afterwards. I've no idea why.
-- "Kiss my sceptre"? Why, Quark, we've hardly met...
-- Zek's final motivations worked nicely, especially his point about "you don't _grab_ power, you accumulate it slowly!" That seems very Ferengi to me.
That should do it. A nice, relaxed bit of distraction, and nothing more.
So, the numbers:
Plot: 8. Might've been higher, but Odo's goof at the end *does* hurt here.
Plot Handling: 9. Nice.
Characterization: 10. Very nice throughout.
TOTAL: 9. I'm satisfied.
NEXT WEEK: TNG returns with new episodes, and DS9 takes a rerun break.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"I didn't think you had the LOBES."