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December 17, 2012

Star Trek: DS9 - Ep 10 - The Nagus

When Quark (Armin Shimmerman) was first named as a character on the new Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series, I was a little apprehensive. Everything I had seen of the Ferengi, greedy business-only types who have annoying voices and mannerisms, in Next Generation had not given me the desire to see one of them every week. However, when the show debuted, Quark was one of its better characters. I was somewhat relieved. I was then apprehensive again when I heard there was going to be an episode full of Ferengi. Would my annoyance-meter need to be replaced after it exploded?

Thankfully, no. "The Nagus" is the first Ferengi-centered episode that Deep Space Nine had and it is still the best, even on repeat-viewing. While Ira Steven Behr, the producer of the show, would go on to produce many cringe-inducing Ferengi episodes in subsequent seasons, I can't hold that against this one. "The Nagus" is just a treat from start to finish. Even the B-plot of Jake (Cirroc Lofton) and Nog (Aron Eisenberg) staying friends despite their parents' wishes has some wonderful moments.

Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn) of the Ferengi has come to Deep Space Nine to see Quark, sample his holo-programs and hold a meeting on extending the Ferengi influence (though certainly not the reputation!) through the wormhole and into the Gamma Quadrant. Zek has decided that he's too old to take charge of these new opportunities so he wants to appoint a successor. All of the Ferengi in the room are waiting with bated breath, but it blows out explosively when Zek names Quark. Everybody is outraged, but they soon drop back into the familiar Ferengi pattern of sucking up to the boss. Others may be doing more than sucking up, though, and Zek is surprised that the first threat took so long to materialize. Things get worse when Zek dies right in front of Quark! How will Quark handle all this? Or will he survive to even have to worry about it?

Armin Shimmerman carries this episode, with help from Wallace Shawn (who I loved greatly in The Princess Bride). While "Move Along Home" was a Quark episode, it also featured pretty much everybody. This time, it's all Quark, with the other characters making token appearances or relegated to the B-plot. Shimmerman does a great job with the responsibility. He plays everything perfectly, except the begging for his life. It just goes too over the top and becomes really annoying, rather than funny. Everything else works like a charm, though. He tries really hard to suck up to Zek, he makes some wry side comments to his brother Rom (Max Grodenchik). When Quark becomes Nagus, the power just goes to his head and he's hilarious to watch.

Shawn plays Zek perfectly, just slightly over the top with a sort of shrill voice. It comes *this* close to being annoying, but it doesn't quite reach there (subsequent episodes are good at that). Grodenchik is perfect as the hopeless Rom, removing Nog from school at the first sign that the Nagus disagrees with the notion of a Ferengi being taught by a "Hu-mon female." He does even better when Quark becomes Nagus and enlists him as a bodyguard because he's the only one Quark can trust. The thought of Rom as a bodyguard is enough to initiate chuckles all by itself. Rene Auberjonois plays Odo in another wonderful performance with a mix of cynicism and sarcasm. His scenes with Quark as they try to figure out who tried to kill the new Nagus are priceless.

I have to mention the B-plot in this review as well. Nog gets pulled out of school and both his and Jake's parents have told them that Ferengi and humans have nothing in common and shouldn't be friends. I really love Eisenberg and Lofton's acting in this story. They are quite touching and effective. Sisko (Avery Brooks) doesn't want to try and separate them, despite O'Brien's (Colm Meaney) suggestions, but Jake seems to be misbehaving all the more. The final revelation of what's going on is quite sweet. Lofton and Brooks play the perfect father-son pair, as Jake wants to grow up and Sisko doesn't want to let him. Lofton is the antithesis of Wesley from Next Generation: a typical 14 year old. It was nice to see that Star Trek could actually handle a kid as a character.

There really is nothing wrong with this episode except for the annoying Ferengi laugh. Both Shimmerman and Shawn do it, and it is so forced that it's unreal. I know it's *supposed* to be somewhat annoying, but I found it irritating beyond belief. While I know these two can act, it sounds like somebody who *can't* act trying very hard to make it sound real. It's obviously designed to be a Ferengi mannerism, but I could have done without it. In future episodes, it just adds to the cringing.

This is Deep Space Nine's first attempt at a comedy episode, and it works wonders. As long as they don't overdo it, more of this would be greatly appreciated.

Memorable Quotes:

"You're saying 'Vulcans stole your homework?'" - O'Brien

"All this benevolence wearies me" - Quark

5 Stars


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