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Star Trek DS9 - Season 2 - Episode 11

Star Trek DS9 - 2x11 - Rivals

Originally Aired: 1994-1-2

Synopsis:
Quark feels threatened when a charming swindler arrives on Deep Space Nine and opens a competing bar. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.1

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 18 2 12 9 4 12 19 24 16 11 2

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.

Problems
- The luck-altering devices featured in this episode are tough to swallow. To wave away their capabilities you have to imagine that they produce some kind of localized effect on the nature of quantum physics itself, but that doesn't explain why the "extremely improbable" events the devices induce are so frequently linked to the subjective wants and needs of individual observers throughout the station. Perhaps the devices have some sort of telepathic component as well to explain how they can seem to analyze intent, but, as you can see, this rationalization is getting pretty silly.

Factoids
- Mazur is the first El-Aurian we meet other than Guinan.

Remarkable Scenes
- Bashir's tennis exercises. Hysterical.
- Bashir presenting O'Brien with quite a challenge at the game.
- O'Brien: "'I guess you prefer old style rules!' Like I was some kind of fossil! In my day I coulda wiped the court with'em!"
- Bashir talking to Dax about O'Brien having severe high blood pressure problems during the game.
- Bashir throwing his second game with O'Brien.
- I like the scene where Quark is pleading with Sisko to get Mazur off the station. They got on the turbolift. The door closes. The camera pans down. The door opens. You can barely hear Quark rambling on to Sisko behind the closed door. Hilarious detail.
- Quark: "You owe me! You begged me to stay here when you first came on board! And I did! Against my better judgement." Sisko: "I didn't beg, I blackmailed you. And don't pretend it hasn't paid off for you either!"
- Scene begins with O'Brien on the floor. Bashir: "I am so sorry!" O'Brien: "What happened?" Bashir: "Well, you served, I returned low, you slipped on the ball." O'Brien: "I slipped on the ball!?" Bashir: "Stepped right on it mid-flight, never seen anything like it."
- Keiko: "Kick his butt!"
- Quark trying to get Bashir to throw the match.
- O'Brien being able to pull off impossible shots and Bashir not being able to "hit the broad side of a Plygorian mammoth."
- Dax and Sisko phasering the luck devices.
- Rules of Acquisition; 47. Don't trust a man wearing a better suit than your own. 109. Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.
- Morn appearances; 1. Plays Quark at prosecco and loses. 2. Sleeping at the bar when O'Brien enters Quark's. 3. At Quark's when Quark gives his commercial speech to the crowd advertising a Racketball match he conned Bashir and O'Brien into. 4. Watching the match between Bashir and O'Brien.

My Review
This episode features an original plot and a charming concept for a character: an El-Aurian (Guinan's race) who uses his species' talents to make profit. The title is a reference to the rivalry between Martus Mazur and Quark, as well as the rivalry between Bashir and O'Brien playing Racketball. There are a great number of small details in this episode that make it a fun ride and the character-driven nature of the episode is entirely to its advantage. The science fiction regarding the luck changing devices is outright horrendous, but it's easy to overlook. They were quite literally plot devices, pun intended. Bashir and O'Brien have a developing friendship now, which is a step up from O'Brien's expressed irritation with spending any time with Bashir last season. But as the time passes, you can tell they're becoming more and more fond of one another.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From JRPoole on 2008-12-10 at 8:15pm:
    Isn't Malcolm McDowell's character in "Generations" another El-Aurian?
  • From Paul on 2010-09-18 at 10:23am:
    Generations came out after this episode
  • From Bernard on 2011-02-15 at 7:32am:
    I do have a soft spot for this episode, but it is fairly predictable and ultimately only serves to continue the Bashir/O'Brien friendship story that runs throughout the series.

    My favourite moment is when O'Brien walks into the racketball court to find Bashir squatting on the floor showing him the 'V-sign'. Probably not funny to Americans but Colm Meaney's expression has me in hysterics every time I watch it.
  • From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-19 at 8:48am:
    Obvious perhaps, but I enjoyed the appearance of Chris Sarandon (possibly best known for his role as Prince Humperdink in the Rob Reiner film "Princess Bride" who played Martus in this episode.
  • From Selador on 2013-01-21 at 6:09pm:
    The luck devices were preposterous, but not actually impossible so the episode wasn't spoilt. I'm starting to like Bashir, he's irritated by the strangest things. Saw the twist coming a mile away, strange that the conman didn't, but on the whole a solidly fun episode with good dialogue that asks the viewer to suspend just a little too much belief.
  • From AW on 2015-12-01 at 2:31am:
    "Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack." I think this might might be my favorite rule.
  • From Mike on 2017-05-19 at 10:39pm:
    What I've always liked about Star Trek science fiction is that it offers some ideas that are plausible, some that are annoyingly ridiculous, and some that are implausible but entertaining or interesting. This episode falls in that last category. Sure, the devices are nonsense, but the attempt at explaining how they work, as well as the plot of the episode itself, are all just good fun. The Martius/Quark rivalry is enjoyable, as is that between O'Brien and Bashir. This episode strikes me as being more of the DS9 trademark standalone episode. The crew isn't out exploring the galaxy; instead, the galaxy's intrigue comes to them. Usually it's serious, but occasionally it's lighthearted. A well done episode, worth watching a second time.

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