Lower Decks’ “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place” in Review
Jeef, a crew member aboard a Ferengi ship, is annoyed about dumping profitable weapons because Grand Nagus Rom thinks hospitality is more profitable in the long run. The ship is then attacked — right on time, according to Jeef. The assailant is none other than the mystery ship seen repeatedly this season.
Ferenginar wants to join the Federation because their trade routes need more protection from the mystery ship’s attacks. The Cerritos has joined the USS Toronto, where Admiral Vassery thinks it’ll be easy negotiating with Rom and First Clerk Leeta – until he gets surprised by the ceremonial bust of friendship… of himself… and the ceremonial invoice for it.
Meanwhile, the regulars are repairing a shuttlecraft and are assigned to write up a travel guide about the Ferengi homeworld (which sounds like a fun reference book that could really exist). The assignment involves checking out all the bars, nightspots and museums. Boimler freaks, eager to do so much that he won’t enjoy any of it.
Tendi and Rutherford will play a married couple — there are none aboard — to test out the Ferengi newlyweds’ discount honeymoon package. Rutherford and Tendi are the most initially-enthusiastic-but-then-extremely-nervous fake couple ever.
Boimler discovers that everything on Ferenginar is profit-oriented, even the toilet and the machine that charges for the other for-profit things. Before he can visit any of the amusing Ferengi attractions, he gets hooked on watching commercials on TV. Mariner meets up with old friend Quimp and orders drinks, then somehow casually knocks one back before the waiter even has a chance to bring the beverages. (This animated equivalent of breaking the fourth wall is a good gag, not a blooper.)
Rom and Leeta fool Admiral Vassery into reopening Ferenginar’s membership application to add baseball and increase bribes and tariffs. The reopening of the contract is much to Captain Freeman’s annoyance, as she could see this coming.
Boimler is finding out about lowest-common-denominator Ferengi TV shows, which he says won’t work on him — but he feels he’d better watch it all, so he knows what to warn people about. Tendi and Rutherford are given a makeover, which pleases them a lot more than the accompanying embarrassing photo session or offer of Madonna-style conical lingerie. Meanwhile, Mariner and Quimp have gone to the public library, which has been a Dabo parlour for a thousand years. There, a drunk Mariner starts a fight with a biker gang led by the screen’s politest-ever gang leader.
Rom and Leeta decide to finalise the signing at their palace, as it’s a better photo-op for the occasion. Admiral Vassery agrees, despite Captain Freeman warning that they’re winding him up to manipulate him into signing anything they want.
Tendi and Rutherford visit Quark’s Federation Experience Bar & Grill, a Starfleet-themed restaurant with appropriate theme music, replicas of the Enterprise-D and Voyager, and waiters dressed in flammable velour uniforms. They reckon it’ll make them feel like friends as usual and are just about to confess to the concierge, Parth, to not being married when a red alert sounds at a neighbouring table; a fake couple has been detected and Parth sentences them to life in subaquatic sulfur mines for defrauding the honeymoon company out of a discount. Tendi and Rutherford then have to eat “sexy” chocolate statues of each other and tell the entire restaurant nice things about each other after every bite, while attached to lie detectors.
Quimp talks to Mariner about her apparent need to start fights so she can be hurt. He worries that something is up with her.
Rutherford and Tendi pass the test but are then interrupted by Doctor Migleemo, who claims to be on a mission seeking out strange new meals and refers to the pair as the strongest platonic friends on the ship. Tendi and Rutherford quickly pretend that he’s the third in a polygamous marriage between them, trying to wreck their relationship because only two could take the Ferengi newlywed discount, and that they’ll now divorce. Parth offers Migleemo the homewrecker package, which he gratefully accepts.
At the palace, Admiral Vassery has given Ferenginar use of any Starfleet ship and holonovel royalties in perpetuity. Captain Freeman, however, has thrown in a bonus of a huge amount of cash and a condition; all signing bonuses are contingent on the Ferengi recruiting a planet to the Federation — specifically, according to the fine print, Qo’noS. Delighted that she has swindled them with masterly use of the 8th Rule of Acquisition (“small print leads to large problems”) and so showed respect for their culture, Rom signs up to the original terms.
Back aboard the Cerritos, Tendi and Rutherford are glad to believe they have no chemistry, even though it’s basically undeniable. Ransom meanwhile sends local security to return Boimler to the ship…
Mining the rich streams of Berman-era Trek again, we have a hilarious Ferengi-themed episode with plenty of great dialogue, gags, and the welcome return of Max Grodénchik as Rom and Chase Masterson as Leeta from Deep Space Nine. Much of the action takes place in locations owned by Quark, though he doesn’t appear this time.
It’s true, and obvious, that a lot of the gags are simply emphasising the established Ferengi theme of everything having a charge or a con. There is some more originality too, with their TV being a mix of 1980s and today’s styles, both as appalling when taken to extreme.
Quimp is a fun character and brings a surprisingly serious moment or two to analysing Mariner’s personality, though the most heartbreaking thing in the show is Tendi and Ruthford being so blind to their chemistry as to reject it from themselves when forced to display it. If only they could be freed to explore it naturally; hopefully they will in future.
Obviously there are plenty of easter eggs, both Ferengi and otherwise, with Genesis devices and Mugatos making appearances, as well as musical references including the TNG theme. We also have some progression in the mystery ship story arc, with the Ferengi crew member Jeef apparently knowing what’s happening and working with it…
A great standalone that still leaves the audience wanting more from the character relationships and the mystery ship arc.
David A McIntee is a writer and historian who has written for properties such as Doctor Who, Star Wars, Final Destination, and Stargate, as well as having written several adventures in the Star Trek franchise for Pocket Books. He has contributed many pieces to the magazines Star Trek Explorer (née Star Trek Magazine) and Star Trek Communicator, as well as having written nonfiction books about Star Trek: Voyager.