The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Nagus

When Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek pays a visit to the station, Quark is worried that he will be forced to give up his bar. In fact, Zek is here to make Quark the new Nagus – but the power of being in charge of all Ferengi commerce comes with the burden of having all your associates out to get you.

This episode is significant in being the first to really explore Ferengi culture, but it’s also unfortunately a dreadful episode in its own right. Whilst they aren’t as laughable as their TNG incarnation, the Ferengi are still portrayed as shallow money-grabbers here. The whole thing seems played for laughs, and we’re encouraged to either mock the Ferengi, or pity their unenlightened nature. We’re a long way off the future developments for Rom and Nog that future seasons will offer, and it’s almost painful to watch.

The Ferengi

  • The Ferengi are ruled by a Grand Nagus, who seems to be in charge of overall financial strategy for his people. The role can be hereditary, unless the incumbent chooses to name a successor other than their son (Ferengi women being not allowed to wear clothes, let alone hold office).
  • This episode introduces the Rules of Acquisition, a set of tenets which Ferengi use as a business code of practice. In previous episodes, Quark has quoted “old Ferengi proverbs” and other pearls of wisdom, but this is the first time they’ve officially been referred to as the Rules of Acquisition.
  • When a high-ranking Ferengi dies, their body is vacuum-desiccated and sold off in discs as a rare item. In Suspicions, Crusher couldn’t perform an autopsy because the body of the Ferengi victim had to be left untouched. I guess he wouldn’t have been vacuum-desiccated as he wasn’t held in high regard in Ferengi society, but surely that just makes his corpse worthless and available for autopsy.
  • In this episode we learn that Nog is illiterate, and see Jake starting to teach him to read. I don’t get why education would be pointless to the Ferengi – sure, there would be subjects that they might deem worthless, but surely maths and economics would be vital subjects? And how can you devise and negotiate contracts without the ability to read and write?
  • It also seems very out of character for Rom to attempt to kill Quark. Of course, Rom’s character isn’t really established yet, but in due course it will be as a talented engineer who is hampered by his lack of business acumen. But for now, he’s a shallow idiot who would kill his own brother in order to gain ownership of the bar.

Summary – The Nagus: The start of a long and painful Ferengi arc that will stretch through the series.

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