Review: Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4 Episode 6 “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”
Welcome guest star appearances highlight Star Trek: Lower Decks’ visit to the planet of Ferenginar, while the lower deckers face some personal challenges on the surface.
Following another attack by that mystery ship, this time on a Ferengi vessel, Grand Nagus Rom (Max Grodénchik) is willing to open negotiations with the Federation for entry into the interstellar alliance. This is a big deal! Rom and his wife, Leeta (Chase Masterson), have ushered in quite a few progressive changes for Ferengi since Rom assumed leadership in the Deep Space Nine episode “The Dogs of War,” and certainly joining the hue-mons in the Federation is one of them.
Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is working with a Starfleet admiral (who strangely goes unnamed here) on the Ferengi negotiations, and the admiral clearly isn’t cut out for this level of diplomacy and quickly falls into traps laid by Rom and Leeta. Freeman, meanwhile, sees right through the duo’s Ferengi-esque bargaining, and she is ultimately able to use equally tricky and intelligent negotiating tactics to ensure the Ferengi don’t take the Federation for a ride. Rom, lovable as always, is impressed by Freeman’s adeptness and knowledge of the Rules of Acquisition, so Ferenginar ultimately takes its first step toward joining the Federation. We hope Lower Decks or some other Star Trek media revisits this subject, as having the Ferengi part of the Federation is an unexpected and monumental development. Wouldn’t that be cool if, say, Discovery references this galactic progress?
While the Cerritos are parked in orbit, Beckett Mariner (Tawney Newsome), Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), D’Vana Tendi (Noel Wells), and Sam Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) are tasked with updating the Federation’s travel guide for Ferenginar. This involves diving into Ferengi culture in different ways. Boimler is going to assess Ferengi landmarks and other points of interest, while Tendi and Rutherford are tasked with pretending to be a loving couple to review the culture from a couple’s point of view.
“Oh, I’m just so excited to haggle at the Museum of Gambling. Oh! And gamble at the Museum of Haggling!”– Boimler, as he begins his time on Ferenginar.
Mariner breaks off from her assignment to visit an old Ferengi friend, Quimp (Tom Kenny), who we last saw in the season one episode “Envoys,” and she wastes no time getting drunk and generally being rebellious. A bar fight Mariner provokes prompts Quimp to make Mariner ask herself a difficult question: why is she like this? By Mariner’s own admission, her career is going well, and Ransom is letting her be herself for a change, so what’s the cause of Mariner’s angst? This episode doesn’t answer this question, but we bet the next episode will pick up this thread.
Meanwhile, Tendi and Rutherford are initially amused by the idea of pretending to be lovers, with all manner of joking coming from them as they explore Ferengi culture. But things start to get too intimate, and the platonic friends quickly realize romance isn’t in the cards for them. Or, based on their embarrassment, maybe romance is simmering under the surface of their friendship?
Either way, the novelty of pretending to be romantic partners fizzles fast, which leads to some hilarity as their tour of Ferengi life forces them into incredibly awkward romantic situations. The pair only escape the confines of their faux-love thanks to the timely and super convenient entry of Dr. Migleemo (Paul F. Tompkins), which allows Tendi and Rutherford to put on a show about their love being interrupted by the doctor, and thus avoid continued public exposure.
“Wow. Oh, it’s like what heaven would look like if God was stupid.”– Mariner, upon landing on the Ferengi homeworld.
Finally, Boimler’s plot in this episode is a commentary on how poisonous television can be, but it’s framed hilariously within how Ferengi programming reflects Ferengi culture. Whereas Boimler was supposed to visit various points of interest on the planet, he instead falls victim to Ferengi cop shows (we need a real show called Pog and Dar: Cop Landlords in our lives), soap operas, and commercials, which, as you can imagine, is prime Lower Decks parody material.
There’s a lot going on in this episode – four plotlines, to be exact, which makes for engaging and fast-paced storytelling. Seeing how Rom is running the Ferengi Alliance after a few years in the job is a welcome and unexpected treat, and it turns out he’s doing really well – although that’s mostly thanks to First Clerk Leeta, who seems to be the real brains behind the operation. The cherry on top of the A-plot here is a touching tribute to the memorable Deep Space Nine episode “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” as Rom has a lasting fondness for baseball.
The Cerritos’ visit to the Ferengi homeworld shows off more about that species’ culture than any DS9 episode. We loved seeing the tribute to lost profits due to the Dominion War; Quark’s testament to Starfleet in the form of the Federation Experience Bar and Grill; and how everything in Ferengi culture revolves around money. As Mariner notes, the Ferengi do indeed stay on brand. If you’ve missed seeing Ferengi since DS9 went off the air, this episode is for you.
More substantially, “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place” shows us an intriguing look at Tendi and Rutherford’s relationship. The two have been good friends for a long time, and normally screenwriters might try to ship those characters, but not here. We’ve noted before how this pair seem like simply good platonic friends, and that Lower Decks shouldn’t try to force them together. While it’s amusing seeing them squirm under the pressure of being a romantic couple, ultimately writer Cullen Crawford reverts their friendship to what it is: a pairing of two excitable and innocent people who share the same interests and love each other’s company. However, given Lower Decks’ penchant for continuing threads across multiple episodes, we wouldn’t be surprised if this first attempt at romance bubbles up again between the two characters.
- This episode takes place about six years after the end of Deep Space Nine.
- A mini-Genesis device is given a bit of attention in this episode. Will such technology find its way into other Lower Decks episodes?
- If Paramount+ doesn’t market a cutting board shaped like a Federation starship, what are they even doing?
- The Starfleet admiral compares the old and new Ferenginar to outside and inside the dome on Moab IV, respectively, a planet seen in TNG’s “The Masterpiece Society.”
- Just how big of an impact is this mystery alien ship making? The admiral says the attacks are disrupting Ferengi trade routes enough where Rom requests Federation support. Are there more attacks taking place beyond what we’ve seen on screen?
- Is it ever not raining on Ferenginar?
- Quark’s franchise has apparently expanded to include “Uncle Quark’s Youth Casino.” We imagine this expansion may have been inspired by Quark’s nephew, Nog.
- Mariner orders an alcoholic drink called a Dagger of the Mind, which is the title of a TOS episode. It is a fitting name for a drink, as anybody who has had a hangover can attest.
- The picture of a mountain behind Boimler references the Paramount logo.
- If Paramount+ doesn’t license a Ferengi-themed drinking helmet, where the beer cans are held on the two enormous ears, what are they even doing?
- What did the Starfleet admiral do to get assigned this diplomatic mission? He’s a terrible negotiator. Such incompetence makes it easy for Freeman to appear like an expert negotiator.
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