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REVIEW – Star Trek: Lower Decks “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”

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Another week, another episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks! We’re in the middle of the fourth season, and it’s time for some Ferengi stuff! This week, Lower Decks “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”. This show’s got a real affinity for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so hopefully, their Ferengi episode is anywhere near as good as ones from the old series. As a comedy, I was also really excited going into this episode. Ferengi have long been a comedic race, so seeing what they could have the power to do with them here is particularly interesting.

This week’s episode is entitled “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”, written by Cullen Crawford. Regarding Ferengi episodes, this one gives us quite a few good reasons to be excited. As was unveiled in the season’s trailer, it features the returns of Rom (Max Grodénchik) and Leeta (Chase Masterson). It’s a great opportunity to look at Ferenginar through an explicitly comedic lens. I wonder if it will be able to hold its weight compared to the satire DS9 presented. Let’s find out in this review of the latest Lower Decks escapades!

WARNING – The following contains spoiler discussions for Star Trek: Lower Decks, Season 4 Episode 6, “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”. If you’ve not seen Lower Decks “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place”, this is probably a good time to turn away. You have been warned.

L-R Jack Quaid as Brad Boimler, Noël Wells as D’Vana Tendi, Eugene Cordero as Rutherford and Tawny Newsome as Beckett Mariner in episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Season Arc

I’ve opened just about every review for this series like this, and at the halfway point, why stop now? The season has mostly settled into a formula with how they do this. As the season’s progressed, the way they incorporate it into the episode has evolved slightly. Like last week, when they explicitly incoporated it into the episode’s plot. They do the same sort of thing this week, but it feels different this time.

In this episode, our mysterious alien enemy destroys a Ferengi ship. If you’ve seen one of these scenes, you’ve seen them all. Although one of the Ferengi seems to know what’s going on, arranging a meeting with someone under the guise of profit. If these aliens are able to communicate and set up this sort of thing, that makes them far more menacing. Destroying ships easily is one thing, but drawing people to their doom like sailors to sirens is something else.

Their identity remains a mystery, but leading speculation at the moment is around the potential returns of Badgey, Peanut Hamper, or AGIMUS. The Federation have a dangerous enemy heading their way, whose actions are conveniently affecting the USS Cerritos. I really can’t wait to find out what’s going on and who’s behind it all. I’m also glad that they’re holding out until the real end of the season, it’s actually doing a good job at creating tension.

L-R Tawny Newsome as Mariner and Jack Quaid as Boimler in episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Same Old Caricature

The Ferengi have always been a stand-in for the most extreme, laissez-faire capitalism you can imagine. A free for all of dishonest trade, their homeworld essentially a wretched hive of scams and villainy. However, things seem to have changed somewhat since the end of DS9. There have been a few government reforms, and of course the Ferengi weren’t left untouched by the Dominion War.

Speaking of, that one war memorial joke irked me. It lingered a bit too long and that made me uncomfortable. The whole experience really took me out of the episode. It’s not a subject I’m qualified to speak on, but it felt a little disrespectful as well. As far as complaints go, that’s just about it. The other 25 minutes of the episode were the closest the series has come to laugh a minute. If the old school Ferengi stuff was in need of anything, it was a slightly more timely update. This week gave me everything I wanted in this regard.

In 25 minutes, they touch on all the different locales you’d probably want to see. I would’ve loved to find a way to go into the Ferengi Commerce Authority, figure out what happened with all those government reforms. That being said, what we got was really nice. I hope we get to see more of Ferenginar in the future, because it feels like there’s more to attack than ever before.

Episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Love and Marriage

One of the funniest plots this week involved Tendi (Noël Wells) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero). They have to pretend to be in love with one another as part of their assignment. There’s no real purpose to it, no real stakes, and they’re clearly just having a bit of fun. Of all the different subplots on Ferenginar this week, it’s easily the best. While there isn’t much in the way of stakes, there’s enough character development here to keep people satisfied.

This season has been a very transitory one. The characters have been promoted, they’ve moved quarters, even settled disputes Mark Twain style. Now, some of the characters might actually be falling in love? I’m not usually one for character romances in Star Trek, but they make a surprisingly cute couple. Hopefully they’re able to confront whatever it is they were feeling this week soon.

The funniest bits were definitely at that restaurant. All the chocolate stuff was just great, with some hilariously excessive high stakes. I would’ve liked to hear more of that compliment list than we did, but that’s okay. Their strange meet up with Migleemo (Paul F Tompkins) made it funny enough. His vain focus on the realisation they like him was genuinely hilarious, he’s easily my favourite side character on the show.

L-R Noël Wells as D’Vana Tendi and Eugene Cordero as Rutherford in episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Bars and Resorts

It’s not just Tendi and Rutherford out having fun on Ferenginar, though! Boimler (Jack Quaid) is off doing his own thing in a hotel. Sure, he’s got a stringent task list, but just becomes so engrossed in the hotel that he just ignores it. So many people these days can probably relate to the allure of media content and binge watching tempting us to shirk real responsibilities. It’s funny, it’s relatable, and nothing short of comedy gold.

The fake shows they create on Ferengi TV were like something out of Inter-Dimensional Cable, and I actually found myself strangely engrossed in them. Sitcoms and detective dramas are pretty common on TV, and they tend to be very formulaic. Parodies of them are thus a little easier to write, recognisable imitations of long term television staples. If Trek could find another way to do this with holo-novels, I’d be very interested.

Mariner (Tawny Newsome) is also off galavanting, but doesn’t quite get as much as the other characters. She gets a great joke about gambling and haggling early on, but that’s about it. The rest of it’s nothing we haven’t seen her do before, starting brawls, and trying to be insubordinate and get demoted. In a season where everyone else is growing and changing, it’s a little annoying that the series lead isn’t really doing anything too fresh. Hopefully that’s something the back end of the season’s able to remedy.

L-R Jerry O’Connell as Jack Ransom and Jack Quaid as Boimler in episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

The Grand Nagus

Long gone are the days of the old Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn). By the end of DS9, the Grand Nagus is Rom, who’s not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. While I think perhaps he was written a little too stupidly here, it was pretty funny. Having Leeta essentially do all the work as Rom hits himself in the head with a baseball was incredibly amusing. As we see further down the line, she’s actually quite capable and level headed.

Their returns perhaps shouldn’t have been as publicised as they were, their roles in the episode are actually quite small. Although I did enjoy the move to Rom’s space on Ferenginar as it “makes for a good photo op”. In a probably deliberate twist, a photo of them in that space is what was shared in the trailer. I’m not quite sure if it was intended in the episode as a joke, but it did make me laugh!

Toying with the Ferengi by using some fine print and obscure rules of acquisition was an iconic power move on Freeman’s (Dawnn Lewis) part. I would’ve liked if she had more to do, but wrangling the Ferengi into the Federation would be quite a big part of her legacy. How long it lasts, I’m not too sure, but it’s a great bit of diplomacy. She continually proves herself as a real asset to Starfleet, so seeing her have a battle of wits with Leeta was fun. They’re both incredibly determined.

Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman in episode 6, season 4 of Lower Decks streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Conclusion

Was Lower Decks “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place” the weakest episode of the season? Absolutely not. The comedy was really on point for the most part. Also, not only did the story arc inch forward, but there were some real leaps and bounds in terms of character development. Tendi and Rutherford are great platonic friends, but perhaps it’s good that they’re able to confront their potential feelings for one another. I’m not sure if I’m on board with a romance, but the pair make a great couple.

There was some great comedy as well, which was greatly enhanced by the episode’s setting. Ferenginar is an extreme version of where we are now, so spending time there is always good fun. I’d love to have more Ferengi episodes in future Trek series, perhaps getting into some of the actual changes that Rom’s made as Grand Nagus. Whatever the future holds for Ferenginar in the Federation, I hope we get to see it!

You can find Star Trek: Lower Decks streaming every Thursday on Paramount+ in the US, Latin America, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Each episode is also broadcast on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The season will also stream in South Korea on Paramount+ later in the year when the service arrives there. For more reviews, news, and general geeking out about Star Trek, follow Trek Central!

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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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