Monday, August 19, 2013

5-3. Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places.

Quark fights a Klingon duel to the death!


Quark receives a visit from Grilka (Mary Kay Adams), his Klingon ex-wife. The conflict between the Federation and the Klingons has left her finances in disarray, and she hopes her Ferengi ex-husband can find a way to transform her ledger's red into black. Worf is instantly smitten with Grilka, and is appalled to see that she is genuinely happy to be reunited with Quark.

Worf isn't the only one to be displeased. As Quark grows ever closer to Grilka, her bodyguard Thopok (Phil Morris) insists that she is dishonoring her House by fraternizing with a Ferengi. He challenges Quark according to time-honored Klingon tradition: With a duel to the death!

But with a little help from Worf and Dax, Quark responds according to time-honored Ferengi tradition: By cheating!


Capt. Sisko: Barely present, though his tossing of a baseball to Dax is a nice nod to their long friendship.

Worf: As Dax points out, his near-fanatical adherence to Klingon traditions is a contradiction in a Klingon raised by humans who joined Starfleet (even siding against the Empire), who prefers prune juice to blood wine. He is anything but a traditional Klingon. Tumek (Joseph Ruskin), Grilka's advisor, gives him another reminder of this, responding to Worf's obvious interest in Grilka by politely but firmly reminding him of his official status as a traitor - something that has not been undone by the Klingon/Federation peace talks.

Dax: Gets progressively more irritated at Worf's fascination with Grilka. As Worf describes how majestic he finds Grilka, she finally snaps at him: "It sounds like you're describing a statue. What would you do with a woman like that? Put her up on a pedestal and clean her every week?" Her own interest in Worf, which was clear enough last season, is made even clearer as she pushes him to find someone "a little more entertaining, a little more fun, and maybe even a little more attainable." Worf, stubborn and literal-minded Klingon that he is, somehow manages to miss even this hint, and Dax finally gives up on hinting and goes for the direct approach - sealing their relationship, with her as the aggressor.

Quark: It was clear enough in The House of Quark that he was fond of Grilka. Now that he is reunited with her in a more comfortable situation, one in which he is not a hostage, he finds himself enjoying her company again. Even though he effectively cheats in the final duel, he still shows courage. After all, if he purely valued his own skin over Grilka, all he actually had to do was decline the challenge. Once again, we are reminded that Quark is not a complete coward, nor is he heartless. In the right circumstances, he can risk himself - Though like any good businessman, he has to have enough of an edge for the reward to be worth the risk.

Klingons: The hostility between the Klingons and the Federation is dying down, with peace talks progressing well. It's good that some dialogue is exchanged to let us know that the conflict hasn't been forgotten, and writer Ronald D. Moore uses the conflict of Season Four as the reason for the poor financial condition of Grilka's house. It's also amusing to see Quark deflate some of the Klingon posturing, crying out about how Klingons "have rituals for everything except waste extraction!" As in The House of Quark, putting the amoral Ferengi on a collision course with Klingons is a ready-made source of amusement.


Season Three's House of Quark was to DS9 what The Trouble with Tribbles was to TOS - a comedy episode masterpiece that was perfectly structured, filled with interesting characters, and climaxing in a way that was both enjoyably surprising and completely in-keeping with the basic natures of the characters involved. It remains one of DS9's best episodes, and it's not surprising that the series would enlist original writer Ronald D. Moore to craft a sequel.

Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places isn't anywhere near as good. It's not as fast-paced, it's not as funny, and it's certainly not as tightly-structured. A subplot with Chief O'Brien and Kira getting a little too close emotionally may be thematically linked to the rest of the show, but it's one subplot too many and brings the pace to a screeching halt every time it appears. The main plot also moves along too slowly, with dropped plot elements - notably, Quark agreeing to look at Grilka's finances again, something which is never raised after the first ten minutes.

But this is still an agreeable time-filler, and it gets a lot better as it goes. I enjoyed the echoes of Cyrano de Bergerac, with Worf essentially scripting Quark's pursuit of Grilka, only to feel misery at the success of the efforts he authored. Just as this thread starts to grow stale, the duel brings the episode back to life for a very funny final Act. Quark's way of stalling for time when things (inevitably) go wrong is particularly amusing. Finally, the tag in Medlab, with Julian quickly deciding that he doesn't actually want to know what caused anybody's injuries, is a perfect note on which to close out the show.

The end result is mixed: The story is very slow to get going, and I did not enjoy the Kira/O'Brien subplot one little bit. But I very much enjoyed the last twenty minutes, and the ending is terrific. An enjoyable installment overall, but this one definitely could have been better.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

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