Warp Factor Trek

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The USS Cerritos is arriving at Deep Space 9 when Captain Freeman is told that the Federation representative who’s supposed to be overseeing negotiations with the Karemma, a mercantile race from the Gamma Quadrant (and members of the Dominion in the DS9 episodes “The Search” and “Starship Down”), is suddenly unavailable. Freeman, with no preparation, will have to oversee the negotiations instead. She’s more annoyed about the stopover than the junior officers, who are mostly keen to visit the famed station.

It’s a hilarious opening too, with the station appearing just as it does in the DS9 title sequence, complete with wormhole. The bridge crew’s reaction to having to buy time for Freeman to research the Karemma? “Just circle around and pretend we’re in awe of the pylons….

The Cerritos, docked at DS9 (Paramount+)

As with last week, there are a couple of fairly distinct storylines within this episode, but the stories are more obviously connected this time. After the opening titles, Captain Freeman arrives on the station and is surprised to discover that Shaxs and Kira know each other and are in a bizarre life-debt contest of having frequently saved each other’s lives.

At Quark’s, Boimler is naïve enough to not believe that cheating could happen there. While Boimler happily goes off to gamble, Tendi and Rutherford meet Mesk, another Orion in Starfleet. He irritates Tendi by his continual boasting and obvious obsession with doing illegal Orion Piratey stuff, despite the Starfleet uniform. Tendi nonetheless finds herself and the excitable Rutherford lumbered with Mesk’s “help” and attention.

Tendi and Rutherford with Mesk (Paramount+)

Remaining aboard the Cerritos, Mariner meets the friends of her Andorian girlfriend Jennifer at one of their hangouts (aka “salons”). Mariner has a night with the girls, bonding over candle-making and expressive performances.

As the negotiations with the Karemma get underway, the life-debt contest between Shaxs and Kira becomes a running gag. Meanwhile, Boimler starts annoying the Ferengi staff of Quark’s by being incredibly lucky. After Tendi volunteers herself and Rutherford for cargo duty to get away from Mesk, he reveals that he has arranged to be assigned as their security cover.

Quark turns his back on the visiting Karemma (Paramount+)

Quark reacts unwelcomingly to the Karemma, despite having tried to interest Captain Freeman in helping franchise a new replicator, the Quark 2000. The Karemma set off an EMP that shuts down the station and the Cerritos. They abduct Quark and head for the wormhole in their ship. Tendi, Rutherford, and a suddenly confused and petrified Mesk are also trapped on the Karemma ship.

Mariner’s night with Jennifer and her friends goes about as well as you’d expect, especially when they realize that the EMP has caused the room full of candles to deplete the oxygen. As the girls panic, Mariner, having tried to fit in with the candle-making, goes on a rant and points out that people use less oxygen when unconscious. She then stuns everyone with her phaser.

Mariner with Jennifer and her friends (Paramount+)

It turns out Mesk has never done anything piratey, never been to Orion, and grew up in Cincinnati. In case you hadn’t predicted it already, Tendi is revealed to have all the pirate skills, which she had left her family to get away from. She hijacks the Karemma ship, preventing its escape before it can enter the wormhole.

It turns out the Karemma were arresting Quark, because his Quark 2000 was built around stolen Karemma technology. Freeman manages to arrange Quark’s release in return for the Karemma receiving the majority of his franchise’s profits. And speaking of Ferengi, the fact Boimler doesn’t care about money winds them up even more.

Rating: 4/5

Despite the episode’s predictability, there’s so much to love here – continuity, Ferengi gambling dens and sending up the comedic Ferengi side of DS9, a great CG model of the station, the theme tune played over our first sight of the station, the running gag about Kira and Shaxs… And of course, it’s awesome to hear Nana Visitor back playing Kira, and Armin Shimerman playing Quark. Nana’s voice sounds older, as is the character, but Armin’s voice hasn’t aged in the slightest. He does sound a little different because he’s obviously not wearing Ferengi teeth in the recording booth. Overall, though, a good episode, with plenty of fun and a solid, if predictable, story. Good stuff.

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