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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S02E07 "Rules of Acquisition"

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Let's play guess the females! note 
It's after hours at Quark's. And the crooked Ferengi and associates (including Dax) are engaged in a friendly game of Tongo. One of these players, a new waiter by the name of Pel, brings Quark aside with a new money making idea. Sand peas. A saliva drying snack food. Replace his usual complimentary nuts with these, and he'll sell twice as many drinks.

Quark is impressed. Soon afterwards, Grand Nagus Zek contacts Quark. He's heading for DS9. With the deal of a lifetime. He's made contact with a Gamma Quadrant species called the Dosi. And he'd like to hold the conference on the station.

After a negotiation with Sisko, they approve. And he reveals the amazing profit idea: Tula Berries! Specifically, Tulaberry wine! He insists this seemingly simple product is the key to business in the Gamma Quadrant. And he wants Quark to headline the negotiation.

Quark accepts, but is warned by Pel of the 48th Rule of Acquisition: "The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife". He thinks Zek is setting Quark up to be the Fall Guy if this deal goes south. Impressed again by his business savvy, and over Rom's objections, Quark makes Pel his assistant for the negotiation.


Well, the Dosi turn out to be rather rude and aggressive people. Basically Klingons with painted faces and without the forehead ridges. Negotiating for 10,000 vats of Tulaberries, the Dosi refuse to hear Quark out, demanding to know why Zek isn't handling this exchange himself.

Returning to Zek with the news, Quark's interrupted by a new request: Zek wants 100,000 vats instead. The Dosi do not take this well, and leave the station for their home-world. Zek is about to tear Quark a new lobe-hole when Pel intervenes, declaring that he and Quark will take the Nagus' ship to the Dosi home planet and negotiate again.

Before leaving, Dax has a sit-down with Pel on the promenade. She's never met a Ferengi like Pel— and has also noticed Pel's obvious crush on Quark— and she's intrigued. Well, there's a reason Pel seems so unique: because she's the first Ferengi female Dax has ever met. She's disguised her gender with a pair of fake lobes and a vest, and she's breaking a lot of laws with this ruse.


On the Dosi home planet, Quark and Pel find out they can't sell them 100,000 vats of wine. But a Dosi named Zyree knows someone that may. The Karemma. A mysterious race working for something called "The Dominion".

Returning to the station, Zek reveals this was the plan all along. He'd heard whisperings of this mysterious Dominion, and he's ecstatic that Quark has managed to start business with them. Quark is about to become a very rich Ferengi.

Well, things go south quickly. While they were away, Rom discovered Pel's fake lobes. He quickly reveals the secret to Quark, who passes out on the spot.

Rom wants to report this to Zek at once, but Quark knows better. A Ferengi female conducting business is a crime. And Rom and Quark would be guilty as well. He manages to talk Rom into keeping this between the three of them.

Well, Pel has different ideas. Marching into the room, she reveals her true gender to Zek. The Nagus is outraged. A clothed female conducting business is a heinous crime, but Pel has him over a barrel.

The leader of the Ferengi Alliance would look pretty dumb if the news of a female doing business for him got out. The Nagus knows when he's beaten, but Quark isn't escaping this unscathed. He will lose all his Gamma Quadrant profits, and the secret of Pel will remain a secret.

Though he considers it, Quark stays on Deep Space Nine instead of following after Pel to the Gamma Quadrant.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: Kira doesn't appreciate Zek's attraction to her.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Rom doesn't take kindly to Pel winning his brother's favor.
  • Hidden Buxom: Pel isn't ridiculously stacked, but still conceals a rather ample bosom with nothing but a vest.
  • Human Aliens: The Dosi have their faces painted...and that's about as "alien" as they get.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This episode has the first mention of the Dominion, and the writers deliberately put it into a goofy Ferengi episode so the audience would not expect it to become a serious threat.
  • Ironic Echo: "Stupidity is no excuse."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Quark is a mean and greedy businessman who follows the strict and sexist rules of his people. However, he’s quick to protect Pel, a female Ferengi who disguised herself as a man, once she reveals her true identity to the Grand Nagus and he ensures Pel safety from a severe punishment by getting Zek to agree to let the incident slide at a financial cost.
  • Mistaken for Gay: A subtle moment, but Jadzia figures out Pel is in love with Quark before Pel tells Jadzia she's a woman. Jadzia expresses surprise when she finds out Pel is a woman, which strongly implies she thought Pel was gay. Quark also assumes Pel is gay after she kisses him, not finding out that she's female for hours (possibly more than a day) afterward. In contrast to Jadzia, Quark takes the experience very badly, denying it happened and getting visibly uncomfortable when Pel wants to talk about it. It's not clear if this mild-to-moderate homophobia is unique to Quark or common among Ferengi.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Zek continues to claim that the Ferengi reputation as lying, cheating backstabbers is unearned. This is after he offers to give Bajor a large amount of fertilizer, then discusses the price, misleading them into thinking it was free.
  • Serious Business: Literally! If you thought the Ferengi take business seriously, the Dosi have them beat. They're willing to kill to get a good deal!
    Zyree: [...]like the Ferengi, the Dosi are very serious when it comes to profit.
    (another Dosi is shot dead a few feet away)
    Zyree: ...very serious.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: This episode fleshes out the Ferengis' deeply-engrained misogyny. We already knew they preferred their women naked and kept home; now we find out that women earning profit, being literate, reciting the rules of acquisition, and even advising males on financial matters are all illegal on Ferenginar.
  • Suppressed Mammaries: In-Universe-Pel conceals her breasts under a form-fitting vest. In fact, the director insisted on Pel having visible breasts as part of her gender reveal because he didn't think just removing the synthetic lobes was enough of a signifier, and later mentioned talking to people who still didn't realise Pel was female until she took off the vest.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Quark denies it, but he's obviously holding a torch for Pel after she leaves.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Pel is female, and has disguised herself as male so she can pursue profit.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Pel is understandably freaked out by this. Especially cause she'd have to share it with Quark.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite the social upheaval around women's rights on Ferenginar that would take place in later seasons of the show, Pel never appeared again- the showrunners thought her character had great potential be a recurring one, but her actress Hélène Udy seriously struggled with the heavy prosthetics, to the extent that they caused her to realise she was actually claustrophobic (she struggled with a manic urge to tear off her face while wearing them for long periods) so it would be impractical to expect her to return. (Of course, they did end up recasting Ishka once and Ziyal twice.
    • Pel did eventually reappear in Star Trek Online, having become a Gamma Quadrant adventuring businesswoman... and severely screwing over the player character in one questline. She's something of a one-shot character as, at the end of the storyline, the player character is urged by the Dominion to destroy her ship, and there's the option to either do so or let her flee.
  • Worthy Opponent: Zek offers to give fertilizer to Bajor, but despite his earlier offer still insists on charging for it. Sisko threatens to forbid him from doing business on the DS9. Zek smiles and happily compliments Sisko on his negotiation skills.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: In response to Sisko forcing him to give a shipment of free fertilizer to Bajor, Zek states his negotiation skills are very impressive for a human.


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