Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Body Parts

Quark: "I’m a joke on Ferenginar – Starfleet’s favorite bartender! The synthenol king! What a legacy!"
Rom: "You’re not a joke here. You’re a respected businessman, a pillar of the community, a man with many friends."

In which Star Trek Deep Space Nine steals heavily from the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life and adjusts the lives of several characters to reflect the fact that Nana Visitor, the actor who plays Major Kira, was pregnant when season four was being shot.

Quark returns from Ferenginar in a strange mood, pouring his brother Rom a tall glass of snail juice and treating him with affection. Then we learn the real reason behind Quark’s fraternal generosity: he has been diagnosed with Dorek’s syndrome, and can expect to die within a week.

Quark is naturally depressed, especially as he thinks his life has amounted to so little, and as he will die deep in debt. Rom tries to comfort him, telling him he that has lots of friends and that he should offer his body on the Ferengi Futures Exchange. Quark does so, and receives an incredibly good offer (500 bars of gold-pressed latinum). “If an offer is too good to be true, it isn’t true” isn’t listed among the Rules of Acquisition that I have been able to find online, but it should be among them. It turns out the offer comes from Brunt, who knows that Quark does not have Dorek's syndrome, but who is going to try to get Quark to kill himself anyway.

This episode’s plot borrows heavily from It’s a Wonderful Life. In the movie, Jimmy Stewart is facing bankruptcy, which has been inflicted on him by the evil Mr. Potter who stole his money at an opportune moment, and considers killing himself because his life insurance policy means he’s worth more dead than alive. In “Body Parts,” Quark has to choose between ruin or death because of the wicked Brunt. Quark, too, is worth more dead than alive.

In It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart's life is shown, especially the many times that he sacrificed his own happiness (especially not leaving town) for others. In "Body Parts" Brunt gives a litany of the offenses of Quark's life: all instances of generosity or tolerance, including having supplied Bajorans with food at barely above cost during the occupation.

Jimmy Stewart is persuaded not to kill himself through a vision of what his town would be like if he had never been born, shown to him by the angel Clarence (gosh, such an on-the-nose name, as Clarence helps Stewart see more clearly), proving to Jimmy Stewart that his life is worth living. However, “Body Parts” gives Quark a different type of vision. Quark has a dream, in which he meets Gint, the First Nagus, played by Max Grodénchik, the same actor who plays Rom. Gint helps Quark see things clearly, and points out that the Rules of Acquisition are just guidelines. Calling them Rules of Acquisition was a marketing ploy, for who would buy a book called Suggestions of Acquisition?

Brunt closes down the bar and confiscates all Quark’s assets. Quark is sitting with Rom when something wonderful happens – just like it does in It’s a Wonderful Life, when all his friends give Jimmy Stewart money and prove to him that he has made a difference. In “Body Parts,” one person after another shows up with gifts for Quark to help him reopen, including Sisko with a whole bunch of furniture that “needs” to be stored somewhere.

The B story is about how Keiko O’Brien was injured in the Gamma Quadrant and how Bashir transferred her baby into Major Kira’s womb. It is done with tenderness, and it’s lovely to see how Kira is taken into their home. They were all friendly before; now they are family. I’m glad to see this, because Kira has been so traumatized by the war that she really could use some family on the station.

Title musings: "Body Parts" is the name of the episode, and it suits both stories. Quark is under contract to sell the parts of his body. Kira is now serving as the gestational mother of the O’Briens’ second child. At first everything seems fractured, and there are real losses. But in the end they come together. Kira moves in with Miles and Keiko; the whole station comes in with various gifts for Quark. They are there are for each other; they are part of what makes the family – or the body – of DS9. The title truly works.

Bits and pieces

Major Kira – or rather the actor, Nana Visitor – was pregnant in real life during this and is the reason the thread was introduced. The father of that baby was Alexander Siddig, in other words, Dr. Julian Bashir.

Brunt says that if Quark breaks the contract, that his mother will be forced to live on the streets, begging for scraps of food. But I don’t think this happens; in later episodes we see that Quark’s mother somehow retains her home.

The excuse for Quark’s not going to see Dr. Bashir is weak. Sure, he doesn’t charge, which discounts him in Quark’s eyes, but Bashir has treated Quark successfully before. The better reason for Quark’s not going to visit Bashir is that Bashir is in the Gamma Quadrant when Quark comes back.

Worf only appears at the beginning and Odo only appears at the end, meaning that Michael Dorn and Rene Auberjonois had to spend less time in make-up while this episode was being shot. On the other hand, whenever there’s an episode with several Ferengis, you know the make-up people had plenty to do.

The scenes in which Quark asks Garak to kill him are really funny. It’s also fun after Quark asks Garak to “surprise” him with death, to see how terrified Quark is every moment, as he expects Garak to pounce.

Quotes

Chief O’Brien: It’s as if I have to remind her that she’s pregnant!
Jadzia Dax: Yeah. I guess the extra weight, the morning sickness, the mood swings, the medical examinations – they aren’t reminders enough.

Rom: But that’s incurable.
Quark: That explains the dying part.

Rom: Rule of Acquisition 17: A contract is a contract is a contract – but only between Ferengi.

Kira: Your son’s living here now.

Quark: It means I get to sue Dr. Orpax for malpractice! And I’m going to live!

Quark: Maybe I wasn’t clear. I’m not dying.
Brunt: Maybe I wasn’t clear. I don’t care.

Quark: I want to hire you, not as a tailor, but as an assassin.
Garak: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Quark: Oh, yes, you do. You weren’t always a tailor.
Garak: You’re right. I used to be a gardener. Now, if you have something you want weeded, you let me know.
Quark: Not some thing. Some one. … I want you to kill me.

Garak: For a man who wants to kill himself you are strangely determined to live.

Dream Gint, the first Grand Nagus: Why not? They’re just rules. They’re written in a book, not carved in stone. And even if they were carved in stone, so what? A bunch of us just made them up.

Quark: If I ever see you walk into my bar again…
Brunt: Yes?
Quark: You won’t walk out.

Molly: Are you my aunt?
I’m including this because this really touched me.

Overall Rating

This is a nice episode without a war or people going insane or the space station being danger. Quark is forced to review his own priorities, and I admit that I got kind of teary at the end. Three out of four bottles of really bad brandy.

Victoria Grossack loves math, birds, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

2 comments:

Gary said...

In the original script for this episode there was a scene between Odo and Kira when she is checking out her figure in a mirror, and says that human babies are larger than Bajoran babies. Odo does his best to reassure her she looks fine, before she gets a call from the O'Brien's asking her to come to their quardters. It's a cute scene and I'm sorry it didn't make it into the final cut.

Victoria Grossack said...

Although it sounds cute, it seems out of character for Kira to worry about her appearance, so I think cutting it out sounds right.