Rules of Acquisition (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 7) Plucky waiter Pel offers Quark sound financial advice

Rewatching ST:DS9

After-hours at Quark’s, Dax is gambling with the Ferengi and casually challenging their uber-patriarchy. A spunky young waiter named Pel makes a business suggestion to Quark; Rom is envious.

The Grand Nagus Zek (Ferengi financial leader) makes a video call, offering Quark an “opportunity.”

Zek negotiates with Sisko for permission to hold a conference on the station, and sweetens the deal with an offer of fertilizer for Bajor.

Zek’s plan is to have Quark negotiate for tulaberries from the other side of the wormhole.

Rom is proud of his brother, but Pel advises caution, and winds up a junior partner with Quark (who passes over the frustrated Rom).

In private, we see that Pel has been playing Cesario to Quark’s Orsino.

Quark frets about starting negotiations with the aggressive Dosi, but the Grand Nagus is more interested in Kira’s butt. (I can’t believe I actually wrote that sentence.)

When the Dosi are about to walk out, deeming Quark unimportant, plucky Pel gets them to take his offer seriously.

Kira is annoyed by an extravagant gift from Zek, and is amazed Dax is so friendly with the Ferengi.

DAX: I admit they place too much emphasis on profit, and their behavior toward women is somewhat primitive.
KIRA: They’re greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls, and I wouldn’t turn my back on one of them for a second.
DAX: Neither would I. But once you accept that, you’ll find they can be a lot of fun.

Pel admits to Dax that she’s female, and that she’s fallen in love with Quark.

When the Dosi leave the station in a huff, Pel encourages Quark to go after them, and Zek loans them his ship.

During the trip, Pel seems about to confess something to Quark, but Quark assumes its going to be a request to renegotiate their percentages.

Odo encourages a distraught Rom not to let anyone come between him and his brother. This motivates Rom to search Pel’s quarters, where he finds evidence of Pal’s disguise. 

After Quark manages to assert himself, the impressed Dosi agrees to a deal for 10k vats of tulaberry wine, but balks when Quark reveals his employer now wants 100k.

When Quark and Pel are booked into a room with just one bed, comic shenanigans ensue, including an awkward kiss. Before Quark can fully process that, they are interrupted, so we don’t really see Quark’s reaction.

While rewatching this episode I had to tip my had to the writers, because it’s during this farcical scene that we get our first reference to “The Dominion,” a ruthless empire that will drive many story arcs in the coming years.

Back on the station, Quark confronts Zek over the real reason he was chasing tulaberries —- to make the first business connection with the Dominion.

Rom gets Pel to confess her secret, causing Quark to faint. (Played for laughs — he’s shocked the business partner who kissed him is female.) Later, Quark offers to buy Rom’s silence by giving him the bar, and offers Pel money to start a new life. She invites him to run away with her to the Gamma Quadrant, where nobody would care that she’s not playing the role of a traditional Ferengi female. “I’d care,” says Quark, sadly.

But this is episodic TV, and we can’t have Quark leaving the station so soon, so a final appearance by Pel prompts Zek to withdraw his offer to Quark, and Quark to withdraw his offer to Rom, and the figurative “reset” button is hit, restoring the way things were at the start of the episode.

The final scene, in which Dax acknowledges Quark’s loss, is a good exploration of both characters.