Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Business As Usual

"Do you think if one of those twinkling little lights suddenly went out, anybody would notice?"

A Quark episode which focuses on Quark's character and his relationship to his own society. It's plagued by some predictable choices, but in the end gives its focus some new life paths to explore.

I thought this episode was very lighthearted in most ways. It was better than most Ferengi-focused episodes for me in that it focuses on Quark and his character development through the series in a more serious way than most Ferengi-focused episodes. It's still, however, a fairly repetitive story with almost no surprises. When it opens Quark is struggling financially because of the blocks placed on working with him in previous episodes. His cousin Gaila comes by with an offer Quark can't refuse – and this is the dreariest, dullest part of the episode, as Quark does business with a man named Hagarth who's the ultimate stereotype of every self-interested businessman we've ever met, unpredictably capricious and absolutely immoral – and quite surprised that anyone would think so. Hagarth is an arms dealer with little in the way of ethics but lots in the way of bars of latinum, and Quark sees an opportunity to completely rewrite his fortunes.

There's a cute secondary plot here revolving around O'Brien and Kirayoshi and the rest of the Deep Space Nine crew which is about as interesting in terms of taking the clich̩ of the exhausted and somewhat incompetent father and revisiting that clich̩ on Deep Space Nine. I thought it was really sweet that the crew was constantly concerned and supportive Рand that Sisko (who understands more than anyone else on that crew except maybe Dax) was the one who ordered O'Brien off duty.



Inevitably, Hagarth reach gets too big – and Quark is faced with the ethical dilemma of continuing to enlarge himself and his fortunes and ignoring the deaths of millions, or finding another answer. By this time in the series, we're not surprised that Quark is Catwoman, the shifty thief with the heart of gold and the furry ears (yes, I just said Quark is Catwoman, and you're now more awake than you were while watching this episode). Quark hasn't, up till now, really admitted to himself what his choices and decisions in life imply about his essential nature. Gaila, his cousin, represents very well what Quark used to be. Quark certainly isn't at the point Nog is – interested in becoming part of Starfleet. He realizes in this episode, however, that he's somewhere in between. When Gaila makes Quark choose between life and money, Quark chooses – life. Quark comes up with an ingenious plan to implode Hagarth's largest deal and make sure Batman, I mean Sisko, doesn't have to get angry.

I have to admit that while it's predictable, the physical comedy of watching Armin Shimerman work to end the deal and their excellent mugging in each scene brings life to the content. The ending punctuates Quark's change and acknowledgement of his own change in a nice one-two punch. That moment with Gaila is one of those life changing moments, however, and the impact of this moment on Quark may make itself felt through the series.

Pulled up on the PADD

Powdered newt supplements? Sounds witchy.

I love how Dax is used throughout this episode – to set the scene, provide moral feedback – which Quark later echoes – and closes the episode in a way that emphasizes how Quark has changed.

The Regent and their staff look like Jedi gone wrong.

Did anyone else want to laugh when he called two Ferengi and an arms dealer 'men of honor?'

I did think the dream sequence was pretty good in terms of revealing to Quark and us exactly where his true loyalties lie.

Seen in the scene

Quark: Who said anything about people dying? The weapons I sell are strictly defensive. To be well armed is a deterrent to war. Don't you know anything about the balance of power?
Dax: Quark, you don't really believe any of that, do you?
Quark: Jadzia, there was nothing else I could do. I was drowning. The waters were closing over my head and just as my lungs were about to burst, my cousin threw me a lifeline. How could I possibly refuse?
Dax: Feeling a little guilty, Quark?
Quark: Guilty? Me? I don't have anything to feel guilty about.
Dax: Then why come to me asking for forgiveness?

Gaila: Stop being so judgmental. It's his bank account, not his mental health you should be concerned with.
Quark: But twenty eight million people. That just seems wrong.
Gaila: If Hagarth heard you talk that way he would toss you out the nearest airlock. Look out there. Millions and millions of stars, millions upon millions of worlds. And right now, half of them are fanatically dedicated to destroying the other half. Now, do you think if one of those twinkling little lights suddenly went out, anybody would notice? Suppose I offered you ten million bars of gold pressed latinum to help turn out one of those lights, would you really tell me to keep my money?

Overall

One of the better Ferengi episodes in the series – three out of five bars of gold-pressed latinum.

1 comment:

CoramDeo said...

Armin Shimerman really is the main selling point of any episode about Ferengi, isn't he?