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Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places

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"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 3
Directed by Andrew J. Robinson
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Featured music David Bell
Production code 501
Original air date October 14, 1996 (1996-10-14)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Ship"
Next →
"...Nor the Battle to the Strong"
List of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes

"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" is the third episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, originally airing on October 14, 1996 in broadcast syndication. The story was written by Ronald D. Moore and directed by actor Andrew J. Robinson, who played the recurring character Garak. The episode received a Nielsen rating of 5.7 percent, a slight decrease from the previous week.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. In the episode, Worf (Michael Dorn) becomes infatuated with Grilka, but is unable to pursue her as a result of his dishonor among Klingons. In an adaption of the 19th-century play Cyrano de Bergerac, Worf instead helps Quark (Armin Shimerman) win Grilka's love. When Quark—wholly inexperienced in Klingon fighting and mating rituals—is forced to fight Grilka's bodyguard to legitimize their relationship, Worf employs a device to remotely control Quark's body movements in combat, enabling him to defeat his opponent. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) attempts to console the dejected Worf, and becomes the aggressor in a romantic scene between the two. It is revealed that "par'Mach" is the Klingon word for "love" with an aggressive connotation.

Michael Dorn had originally proposed a story along the lines of Cyrano de Bergerac. Writers were deliberately vague in their depiction of the technology used to help Quark defend himself; viewers are shown a transmitting device on Worf's head and a receiver concealed behind Quark's head, but given no indication of its workings. "Looking for par'Mach" has been met with mixed critical reception.


Grilka (Mary Kay Adams), the Klingon ex-wife of Quark (Armin Shimerman) from a "marriage of convenience" (see "The House of Quark"), unexpectedly boards Deep Space Nine. Although her intentions are unknown, Worf (Michael Dorn) is immediately attracted to her, but is dismayed at her friendliness toward Quark. After unsuccessfully attempting to impress Grilka, Worf is admonished by her adviser, Tumek, who says that Worf's dishonor precludes her from mating with him. In pursuing Grilka romantically, Quark finds himself completely unfamiliar with Klingon mating rituals, so he asks Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) for help. Worf, eager to prove himself capable of courting a Klingon woman, joins Dax in coaching Quark to win Grilka's affections. Through diligent efforts to learn Klingon culture, including the holosuite reenactment of an ancient Klingon battle scene, Quark is successful with Grilka. However, her bodyguard, Thopok (Phil Morris), becomes outraged at the unconventional relationship, and challenges Quark to a fight.

Completely unskilled at combat, Quark stands to either lose Grilka or be killed. Worf again helps the Ferengi; using a special device implemented by Dax, Worf is able to control Quark's body movements from an adjacent holosuite and help Quark defend himself with a bat'leth. Although the device temporarily malfunctions, he ultimately defeats the bodyguard. The scene concludes with Grilka and Quark alone and enamored with one another. Worf opines to Jadzia that Quark is unworthy of such a great Klingon woman, and she counters that Worf's interest in Grilka is superficial, asserting that there are better options awaiting him. Observing that Worf still fails to see the subtext in her hints, Dax initiates an aggressive romantic encounter. In the next scene, both couples are shown in the infirmary; Doctor Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) treats their wounds and quickly deduces the source of their injuries.

In a subplot, Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney) is faced with the increasingly uncomfortable situation of Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) carrying his baby and living with him and his wife, Keiko (Rosalind Chao) (see "Body Parts"). The two begin to develop feelings of attraction, which are apparent to both Doctor Bashir and Odo (René Auberjonois), though Keiko remains oblivious. O'Brien and Kira try to avoid growing closer, but Keiko insists that O'Brien accompany Kira on a brief retreat to Bajor. As their shuttle is about to depart, Kira reveals that their destination is in a highly romantic setting, which prompts Miles to back out of the trip; Kira also changes her plans and decides to visit her lover, First Minister Shakaar, instead.

Production and themes[edit]

A man in a baseball cap, glasses and a grey T-shirt.
Actor Michael Dorn, who portrays Worf, suggested the adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac for an episode.

The episode boasts the longest title of the series and the second-longest of all Star Trek television installments, behind "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" of the 1960s series.[1] "Looking for par'Mach" drew inspiration from the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac,[1] in which a brilliant Frenchman, resigned to the fact that the woman he adores will never be able to look past his distractingly large nose, helps another man win the lady's heart by dictating beautiful language from nearby.[2] The idea for a modern adaption of Cyrano de Bergerac was proposed by Michael Dorn.[1] "Looking for par'Mach" was directed by Andrew Robinson, who plays the Cardassian Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This marked the first time that the actor of a recurring (but not main) Star Trek character had directed an episode in the franchise.[1] Having just received two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for theatrical directing, Robinson personally asked executive producer Rick Berman to direct an episode of Deep Space Nine; Robinson was pleased to have been assigned this particular episode.[3]

Challenged with inventing an original way for Quark to survive the fight without directly paralleling prior material, writers devised a "holographic puppeteer" system.[4] Worf is seen wearing a headset which allows him to control the body movements of Quark, who is wearing a concealed receiver.[4] It is not made clear how the "virtual control device" works.[5] Indeed, Ronald D. Moore clarified: "I wasn't interested in explaining it to the viewers. We just buy the premise and move on."[4] However, science consultant André Bormanis agreed that the "web of sensors and actuators" was conceptually sound.[4] Dan Curry, who originally designed the bat'leth and helped developed Klingon fighting techniques, was instrumental in choreographing the combat scene between Quark and Thopok. Despite his character's apparent ineptitude at hand-to-hand combat, Shimerman practiced extensively with a bat'leth to make Worf's influence over Quark seem convincing. Shimerman also enlisted the help of a mime artist to improve his technique.[6]

Guest star Joseph Ruskin played Tumek in "Looking for par'Mach", and had previously appeared in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion" as well as earlier in "Deep Space Nine" in "Improbable Cause". He went on to appear both in the film Star Trek: Insurrection and the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Gravity".[7]

Reception and home media release[edit]

"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" was first broadcast on October 14, 1996 in broadcast syndication. It received a Nielsen rating of 5.7 percent, placing it ninth in its timeslot. This represented a slight decrease in viewership from the previous week; "The Ship" garnered a rating of 6.0 percent. In contrast, "Trials and Tribble-ations" was the most-watched episode of the season, with a rating of 7.7 percent.[8]

Several reviewers re-watched the episode after the end of the series. Zack Handlen reviewed the episode for The A.V. Club in April 2013. Handlen remarked on the episode's farcical title and content, noting that the script was largely without substance. However, he granted that the episode served as a welcome change of pace from the ongoing "agonies of war" in the series. He notes that the main plot involving Grilka was "wafer thin" but nonetheless effective in creating humor and introducing the relationship between Dax and Worf. Still, Handlen thought Worf's strong attraction to Grilka lacked sufficient justification, given Worf's long-standing desire to maintain solitude on the station. In addition, Handlen disliked the subplot concerning Miles O'Brien and Major Kira, suggesting that the romantic tension between the two was forced and inconsistent with their personalities.[9]

On his website Jammer's Reviews, Jamahl Epsicokhan praised the episode as being among the show's "most purely amusing", while acknowledging the weak plot. Epsicokhan enjoyed Quark's interactions with other characters, which were rare in that Quark had other motives than his usual lust for monetary profit. Unlike Handlen, Epsicokhan liked the Kira and O'Brien scenes, especially near the episode's close when the characters were set to depart for Bajor. He gave the episode a score of three out of four stars.[10] For the website TrekNation, Michelle Erica Green wrote that she strongly disliked the episode and considered some of its sexual implications "repulsive". She felt the episode inappropriately objectified its female characters—having depicted both Quark and Worf as "players"—and that Worf had neglected to discuss with Dax the risks inherent to Klingon sex rituals. Green was somewhat more receptive to the O'Brien/Kira storyline, and was fond of the portrayal of pregnancy.[11] Science fiction writer Keith DeCandido reviewed "Looking for par'Mach" for, lauding Ronald D. Moore's sense of humor on display in the episode, as well as the performances by Nana Visitor and Colm Meaney. In contrast with some other reviewers, DeCandido thought the story stayed true to all involved characters.[1]

The first home media release of "Looking for par'Mach" was part of a two-episode VHS cassette alongside "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" in the United Kingdom on October 1, 1999.[12] In the United States and Canada, this was followed by a single-episode release on July 10, 2001.[13] It was later released on DVD as part of the season 5 box set on October 7, 2003.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e Keith DeCandido (May 2014). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"". Archived from the original on April 9, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Cyrano de Bergerac". SparkNotes. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  3. ^ Erdmann & Block(2003): p. 375
  4. ^ a b c d Erdmann & Block(2003): p. 376
  5. ^ Erdmann & Block(2003): p. 374
  6. ^ Erdmann & Block(2003): p. 377
  7. ^ Nemecek (2003): p. 343
  8. ^ "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 5 Ratings". TrekNation. Archived from the original on June 22, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ Handlen, Zack (April 4, 2013). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Looking For Par'Mach In All The Wrong Places"/"...Nor The Battle To The Strong"". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on May 4, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ Epsicokhan, Jamahl. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Heart of Stone"". Jammer's Reviews. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ Green, Michelle Erica (August 30, 2013). "Heart of Stone". TrekNation. Archived from the original on June 1, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Star Trek : Deep Space Nine - Vol. 5.2 - Looking for Par'Mach In All the Wrong Places / Nor the Battle to the Strong [VHS]". Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Star Trek - Deep Space Nine, Episode 101: Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places [VHS]". Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ Ordway, Holly E. (October 9, 2003). "Star Trek Deep Space Nine - Season 3". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2015. 


  • Erdmann, Terry J.; Block, Paula M. (2000). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-50106-8. 
  • Nemecek, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed.). Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-5798-6. 

External links[edit]