Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S05E20 – Ferengi Love Songs

In the twentieth episode of the fifth season of Deep Space Nine, this was cute. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For misogyny

So, I think I’ve figured out another reason why I’ve not been a huge fan of the Ferengi episodes: they’ve got the slowest-moving serialized plot in the whole series. While stories involving the Dominion, Cardassia, all of the main characters, and even smaller side plots have all come, gone, advanced, or jettisoned into a higher plane of existence known as NOT OKAY, the Ferengi story has barely progressed beyond the obvious. There’s a hint here that Quark is finally realizing he can’t cling to Ferengi ideals, but in the end, Ferengi society is still just as virulently misogynist as it was in the beginning.

It’s only in Rom that we get something approaching real growth, and I’ll admit that even as short as his plot is in “Ferengi Love Songs,” it packs a bigger punch. Yeah, it’s pretty saccharine, but at least we get a character willing to grow beyond what he was taught. It’s not like this is the first or second season of the show; we’re nearly on season six, and Quark is only now acknowledging his conscience. Which is a good thing! But the lack of growth leads to a lot of repetition, and that’s the main flaw I see here. This felt like most of the other Ferengi-based episodes, and I’m at a point where I need something different.

There was the hope of that. I wondered if Ishka’s secret romance with Zek would provide him with the motivation to change how Ferengi society operates. In hindsight, maybe that was a lot to expect of him and a lot to expect of an episode that is only forty-five minutes long. In one sense, you could instead read this as a commentary on how often women are the true power behind a political force. And maybe there will come a day when this show will move beyond this! But as Rom moves far beyond all the other Ferengi in terms of romance and sacrifice, the rest of the characters just inch forward. It’s the disparity between these stories that makes the lack of growth more glaring.

Now, I’m not necessarily referring to Ishka here, since she’s the most dynamic of the characters in “Ferengi Love Songs.” She’s working within a system that actively discriminates against her, yet she still recognizes how she can help someone else. It’s sad to think of how quickly Zek turned against her because she would never do the same to him. But that’s why this kind of bigotry can last so long; it’s easy to rely on it any time there’s doubt or fear. That’s precisely what Zek does. He knows that his memory is failing, and yet he still torments the very person helping him. It’s way simpler for him to believe that Ishka is in it for her own gain. I mean, that’s the Ferengi way, isn’t it??? SOME PROJECTION GOING ON THERE, Y’ALL.

I guess I want Ishka to be vindicated on a personal level, but I’m also exhausted by seeing this culture’s misogyny on display all the time. Yes, the show portrays it negatively (especially since Leeta is not forced to sign that ridiculous document), but at the same time, I need something new.

The video for “Ferengi Love Songs” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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