“Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”
Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4, Episode 6– Debuted Thursday, October 5, 2023
Written by Cullen Crawford
Directed by Brandon Williams
A satisfactory, if predictable, episode indulges in some fun with a visit to an iconic Star Trek location.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“We’re not dealing with the old Ferenginar anymore.”
Things kick off with a couple of Ferengi lower deckers sorting cargo, plotting how to make more latinum, and complaining about how their captain has fallen in with Grand Nagus Rom’s vision of “equality and hospitality,” which includes getting out of gun-running. No surprise, there is an alert, but curiously, one of the Ferengi (Jeef) appears to have expected it. On the bridge, the captain wants to avoid the mystery ship and senses that Jeef is up to something, but before the conspiring Ferengi can be pushed out of an airlock, the season’s mystery threat destroys the Ferengi ship. Cut to Ferenginar, where the USS Cerritos has joined the USS Toronto to assist with the Ferengis’ formal application to the Federation. Admiral Vassery anticipates “the quickest signing in Starfleet history,” but Freeman expects the Ferengi to be Ferengi when it comes to negotiating. Vassery thinks it will be a “cakewalk” because the Ferengi Alliance is under new leadership and the ongoing attacks (from the mystery ship) are hurting commerce. He also points to the “progressive change” brought in by the Grand Nagus and his First Clerk. Things start off nicely when Rom and Leeta show up to present the admiral with the ceremonial bust of good fortune (and traditional ceremonial invoice). Rom distracts the admiral by acting silly and talking baseball while Leeta convinces him to allow the Nagus to “shuffle around a couple of numbers.” Ignoring Freeman’s warning this is a classic “dumb cop/ reasonable cop routine,” he allows renegotiation, and (as expected) Leeta pounces. Soon enough, Vassery is giving in to demands and even agreeing to finish things up at the palace, again ignoring Freeman’s warning it’s another ploy to delay so he will sign anything. He meekly counters with “I… I can do this.” But, can you Admiral?
“Pretending to be married is kind of weird.”
On the Cerritos, Rutherford and Tendi work on their never-ending shuttle project with their uncanny synchronicity. Mariner is glum because she can’t seem to accept having “total autonomy and zero complaints.” She is even pissed when Ransom shows up, having pulled strings to give the lieutenants the coveted (and even mythological) duty to update the Starfleet Travel Guide, which he admits is mostly about reviewing bars. Eager to prove he deserves his promotion, Boimler is excited for a schedule “so full that I do everything and enjoy nothing.” As for D’Vana and Sam, they are surprised to be assigned the job of pretending to be newlyweds, as there are no actual married couples on the Cerritos—which (according to Ransom) is “the horniest and least romantically committed crew in Starfleet.” Soon enough, they arrive on rainy Ferenginar, and after Brad and Beckett go off for their own adventures, Tendi and Rutherford practice their cute couple talk with dubious nickname attempts like “pudding bear” and “muffin skunk.” As they’re in line to check in, they start realizing all that is required for this fake romance, and the awkwardness has them considering a return to the ship, but it’s too late when Parth [hey, that’s in the episode title] their “hug-cierge” shows up to announce the Starfleet VIPs to the whole hotel with great fanfare. “These young lovers are getting a great deal.” You are in it now, you two.
“You can still drink an alarming amount of glowing alien liquors.”
Boimler checks in and quickly gets distracted from his “unforgiving” itinerary by Ferengi TV, starting with commercials—“They just lie to you? Hilarious!”—along with programming he deems “like a holo-novel, but way sleazier.” So he begins a binge of shows like Pog & Dar: Cop Landlords and The Office knockoff Will They, Won’t They? As for Beckett, she meets her old friend Quimp at a restaurant, where she immediately starts ordering a serious quantity of alcohol including a “Dagger of the Mind” on the rocks, even though it’s only 10 AM. Later, they end up at a casino (The Ferengi Library) playing Dabo, where she ignores her friend’s suggestion of calling it a night and ratchets things up with more drinking, then starts a brawl with a Ferengi biker gang. Cut to Quimp bailing Mariner out of jail with some serious bribing. Between barfs, Mariner defends herself, declaring “I’m a wild rogue, living on the edge of chaos.” But her old friend calls her out for being “angry about nothing” and picking fights “to make sure you get hurt.” In response to her accusation that he has changed, Quimp drops some truth on Mariner about how “That’s what happens when you’re not stuck in a perpetual state of immature rebellion.” He is also concerned about her living long enough to pay him back; he is a Ferengi, after all. She eventually gets the message and apologizes for the lost latinum and getting him punched, as she ponders his suggestion to figure out what is going on with herself. Oh no! Self-reflection? This bar crawl is turning out to be an existential buzzkill for Beckett.
“Now, let’s commemorate your love!”
The “newlyweds” get even more awkward in the very romantic honeymoon suite as Rutherford tries to ignore Tendi’s “kissy lips” and “gorgeous green eyes.” Parth shows up to break the tension, but the pair then has to face a playful photo session, complete with wardrobe. Tendi finds Rutherford “handsome” in his suit and he finds her “captivating” in her dress, but they draw the line and escape when the “hug-cierge” brings out sexy lingerie. They have dinner at Quark’s Starfleet Experience Bar & Grill, hoping the 23rd-century kitsch would feel more like home (aka work), where the staff wears “those old velour uniforms that used to catch fire all the time.” Their hopes of just acting like friends again are dashed when Parth shows up as part of the “deluxe romance package.” They are about to confess the truth, but change their minds when they find out that defrauding for a discount is one of Ferenginars worst felonies, and witness another fake couple sentenced to a lifetime working in the subaquatic sulfur mines. So it’s back to the cutesy names: “That’s right, schmoopy.” But Parth isn’t done yet! He presents them with sexy chocolate statues of each other that are part of a game show-like thing, where after each bite they have to tell the whole restaurant what they find attractive about each other. Oh, and the chairs can detect if you’re lying. Sticking with safe compliments about hair, they pass that challenge, which leads to the part where they are expected to consummate their marriage. But don’t worry, they don’t have to do it where everyone can see them… just in the provided Starfleet shuttle recreation where “we can hear it.” Gulp. And if things weren’t tense enough, Dr. Migleemo shows up to review the restaurant and he spots the fake couple, proudly exclaiming “These are, famously, the two closest platonic friends on my ship.” Parth calls for security (who are in TNG uniforms, BTW). Double gulp.
“You swindled like a true Ferengi.”
In the Ferengi throne room, the admiral is getting worked over by Leeta and Rom, agreeing to anything they ask, including the use of any Starfleet ship and “ten points on the back end of every holo-novel program in perpetuity.” When Vassery debases himself to dance on Rom’s command, Freeman steps up, suggesting they add a billion bars of gold-pressed latinum as a signing bonus with the only catch that the Ferengi have to recruit just one more planet to the Federation. Rom is elated and quickly signs, thinking they pulled a fast one: Many worlds are in debt to the Alliance, so this will be easy. Freeman suggests they read the fine print, which says they have to sign up a specific planet: the Klingon homeworld. The admiral tries to stop all this until Rom and Leeta show they are elated, as the Ferengi can’t just “sign with a bunch of suckers and rubes.” Carol’s move showed them she respects Ferengi culture, especially Rule of Acquisition #8: “Small print leads to large risk.” The Nagus agrees to restart things with the standard application and the admiral admits to Freeman he should have listened to her all along and promises to relay her “acuity” to Starfleet Command.
Tendi and Rutherford have their own bluff to get out of their Ferengi jam: accusing Dr. Migleemo of trying to break up their marriage and declaring that they are both in love with him. “Just because the Ferengi newlywed discount can only be used by two out of the three of us, you have the nerve to come down here and try to ruin our marriage?” Rutherford declares he wants a divorce and all this drama satisfies Parth, who lets the pair return to the ship as Migleemo happily settles down for the “homewrecker package” meal. The duo tell Ransom that faking romance isn’t for them and quickly return to working VERY closely with their obviously perfect chemistry. As for Brad, he’s still in that epic TV binging session, now down to his undies and surrounded by Ferengi junk food. Turns out Ransom is proud of him for breaking out of his usual routine, and suggests Brad “just go limp” as he has called in the local cops to drag him back to the ship. Cue the Boimler scream as the whip-wielding Ferengi burst in. Glad things are back to normal.
The visit to Ferenginar was a lot of fun, with plenty of nods to canon as well as the creation of new canon. It also presented the opportunity for some key character development, especially for Mariner, Freeman, and Rutherford/Tendi. “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place” pushed the limits of the show by juggling a number of different stories, which created some pacing issues along with leaning on sitcom-y tropes, like the stupid boss (is “dumbiral” the new “badmiral”?), Dawnn Lewis still shines as she continues to show that Freeman is a good captain. This story also brought some great legacy character returns with Grand Nagus Rom (Max Grodénchik) and his wife Leeta (Chase Masterson) finally showing us how their more progressive idealism (as seen in DS9 episodes like “Bar Association”) has translated after a few years in charge of the Ferengi Alliance. It was great to hear Chase as Leeta outsmart the admiral, and Max as Rom plays up his “dumb bartender” persona before pivoting to heartwarming diplomacy with Captain Freeman over shared cultural respect. However, the episode might have spent a bit too much time with Rom playing dumb; it would have been nice to see more of real Grand Nagus Rom. Regardless, fans of Deep Space Nine should delight in this follow-up, and all the love for that show seen in this episode. The Ferengi retain their status as a means of reflection on our current culture of greed with some pointed commentary; the show about cop landlords feels a bit too close to real for comfort.
The Ferengi TV show that was most on the money for the episode was The Office knockoff Will They/Won’t They, a sitcom about how everyone is in love with everyone else. This was one of the lanterns hung on the Tendi/Rutherford dynamic as Lower Decks used the fake newlyweds’ setup to finally address fan questions about their relationship. And even though the USS Cerritos is now officially the “horniest ship in the fleet,” shipping fans who wanted to see them hook up may feel let down—but hey, there’s always season 5. Still, this story was cute and fun and had just the right level of awkward cringe to keep it interesting. This story also pays homage to Jean-Luc Picard himself who had to convince a Ferengi of his romantic love of Lwaxana Troi in TNG’s “Menage a Troi.” One of the best parts of this storyline was Parth, delightfully voiced by Kids in the Hall vet Dave Foley, who made you believe this “hug-cierge” loved his job.
While Freeman continues to grow as a captain, her daughter continues to regress as a lieutenant. Bringing back Quimp was more than a nod to his appearance in the second episode of the series; it offered the perspective of someone who can see through Mariner’s constant self-sabotage, which has been a recurring (if perhaps too often repeated) theme of the season. Tom Kenny was great in his return as Quimp, this time getting to add some depth and empathy with the character while he and Tawny Newsome kept the gags coming during their descent through Ferenginar. Hopefully, Mariner can come to grips with her pattern soon and do that self-reflection recommended by her Ferengi friend, as the character is starting to feel like she is constantly resetting and not evolving (which perhaps, was the point of this storyline). As for characters needing to get out of their patterns, Boimler’s subplot was mostly in the background, but his binging session may have offered the best gags, especially the Ferengi TV shows.
Now that we are past the halfway point, this episode also took a big step for the season arc, with the Ferengi conspirator Jeef apparently working with (or at least in contact with) the mystery ship. The regular attacks were also the background that brought the Ferengi to the table to apply for Federation membership (something we know eventually happens, at least by the 32nd century). So the season arc is now starting to move closer to the front burner while still not getting in the way of the rest of the satisfying meal being served up, assuming you like tube grubs.
While not the best of the season and falling into some sitcom clichés, the sixth episode still had enough laughs, lore, and lessons learned to be entertaining and satisfying for fans of the show and these characters.
- The episode title is a Ferengi twist on the title of the cult British comedy Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
- Stardate 58901.5
- Admiral Vassery’s ship is the USS Toronto (NCC-70494) a Parliament-class ship first introduced in season 1.
- Rutherford says he and Tendi “finish each other’s… Diophantine equations,” which is a real thing.
- Sometime in Mariner’s past, she crashed an Oberth class ship.
- The design of Quark’s Starfleet Experience Bar & Grill had many elements of the former Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas.
- When Boimler says “They put commercials in the shows? It’s like mind control,” the painting behind him (which looks strikingly like the Paramount logo) sparkles. The Ferengi viewscreen itself also resembles the CBS Logo.
Activities listed on Boimler’s Itinerary (V02.1.03)…
- Drop off bags
- Hotel Room Inspection
- Mini Bar
- Pay Wall
- View Screen Inspected
- Museum of Bribery
- Ferengi Center for Forged Arts
- Ferengi Hall of Fame Gift Shop (Hall of Fame Coming Soon)
Lots of Ferengi Easter eggs! We will pick up on all the Rules of Acquisition, Uncle Quark’s Youth Casino, and other nods in a follow-up Easter egg analysis.
More to come
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