Synopsis: We open on Odo doing what I presume to be his usual late-night hobo-check on the promenade. He finds Morn, everybody’s favorite Space Barfly, sleeping on a bench, and gently shakes him awake to send him home. Morn must still be a little disoriented about what time of day it is, though, because he staggers over to the bar just to make sure it hasn’t magically opened again. But, no such luck, the doors fail to open automatically for him, and he stares mournfully inside at the group of Ferengi engaging in some friendly after-hours cutthroat gambling.
I sort of assume that all games played by Ferengi are cutthroat, like, I wouldn’t want to play Monopoly with these guys. Or would I? Ferengi do seem like the only group of people who could make Monopoly legitimately interesting.
The game they’re playing now seems extremely complicated, featuring dice, a spinning pot of money, and cards (which are round because we’re in SPACE). The Ferengi are playing with absolute concentration and coordination, moving like a cors d’ballet and communicating only in grunts. Suddenly, the spinning apparatus stops, and the Ferengi all look over at the offender who is taking too much time to strategize: Jadzia.
Quark leans over to helpfully remind her that it’s her turn, and she tersely responds that she could think better without his hand on her thigh. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it: Quark would be an amazing guest star on Mad Men. He could accidentally get himself transported back in time, get stuck there, and tell everyone that he was horribly deformed by some sort of depression-era farming accident, perhaps blackmailing Don and taking on the identity of Dick Whitman, thus ensuring his spot at the ad agency. I’ve given this a lot of thought, but Matthew Weiner refuses to answer any of my letters.
Quark is all, “how did THAT get there?” and the Ferengi Bros all giggle to themselves. Quark asks Jadzia what her move’s gonna be – confront, evade, acquire, or retreat. It seems like a trick question, I would assume the correct answer is always “acquire,” with these guys. Jadzia goes with “confront,” and all the Ferengi Bros throw down their cards in disgust as Jadzia collects the giant pot of money.
“Doesn’t she ever lose?” someone wails despairingly (I think it was Rom). Jadzia says that Curzon used to play this game (Tongo) all the time, and Rom relaxes a little and says, “oh, that explains it, it was Curzon who beat us, not this female.”
Jadzia coolly says that she’s a better player than Curzon ever was, and Quark – who somehow still thinks he has a chance to score, here – says she’s a prettier player, too. Rom, though, prefers Ferengi females, waxing rhapsodic about their constant nakedness, submission, and avoidance of Tongo. Rom. Jadzia’s all, “don’t you just wish I was like that, Quark,” and Quark is all “YES,” and Jadzia is in no way threatened by this banter because she’s kicking their asses at Tongo, and could easily kick their asses literally should it come up.
She proposes another game, and as everybody prepares, one of the Ferengi Bros offers Quark some mystery pills that he says will “double his beverage profits.” Quark tries one, and as soon as he puts it in his mouth he unconsciously picks up his mug and takes a sip. He tries another one, with the same result, and is super pumped. The Ferengi Bro explains that they’re Verillium Sand Peas, which inhibit your salivary glands and dry out your tongue tissues, and suggests that Quark put them on the bar instead of nuts.
Quark seems intrigued, but quotes the 59th Rule of Acquisition: “Free Advice is Seldom Cheap.” The Ferengi Bro quotes back with Rule 22, “A Wise Man Can Hear Profit in the Wind.” Ferengi have this in common with evangelical Christians: any conversation that goes past a certain point deteriorates into quotes from their common text to support their positions. Quark is impressed when the Bro says that he knows all 285 Rules by heart, plus relevant commentary. The Bro says he doesn’t plan on being one of Quark’s waiters forever, which makes Rom feel threatened enough to yell, “good! You’re fired!” I should note that Quark and the Bro are actually leaning over Rom to have this conversation, and he looks very uncomfortable about it.
Quark tells Rom to shut up, and that he has the “lobes of a female.” He asks the Bro why he took a job there in the first place, and the Bro says he wanted to learn from the best, a sentiment that causes the two to quote the 33rd Rule (“It Never Hurts to Suck Up to the Boss!”) in unison.
Just then, Grand Nagus Zek’s personal subspace ringtone starts wailing in the corner, and Quark runs over to see what’s up. Zek tells Quark that the Ferengi expansion into the Gamma Quadrant is about to begin, and he wants Quark to be his chief negotiator. He also calls Quark “the perfect little toady,” which Quark finds extremely flattering.
After credits, Grand Nagus Zek has arrived on the station and is trying to interest Sisko and Kira in some beetle snuff. When they politely decline, he snorts some by himself and has a sneezing fit as only Wallace Shawn can have a sneezing fit (i.e., as though all three stooges had been reincarnated as Steve Carrell), complete with elaborate nose-blow. Sisko and Kira collectively sigh and rub their temples until he finishes, and then Sisko asks about Zek’s plans to have a Ferengi business conference on the station.
Zek explains that the whole thing is about profitable opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant, and Kira comments that they’re profitable for the Ferengi, but perhaps not for the Gamma Quadrant individuals on the other end of their opportunities, and Zek gets very indignant about what she’s implying. He protests that “you always know what you’re getting when you do business with a Ferengi,” and Kira snaps back, “which is why if you’re smart, you don’t.” Sisko calmly says that he thinks she’s made her point now – I was wondering when he was going to step in, while Zek is hilarious, it seems like bad form to let your first officer berate visiting dignitaries.
Zek says his business is his business, but Sisko says that they’re conducting it on his station, which makes it his business. Apparently the station has some extremely stringent anti-trust laws, because Kira gets right up in Zek’s face and says if he cheats anyone she’ll personally see to it that he never sets foot on the station again. Zek responds by hitting on her and then bribing her with a lot of free fertilizer that Bajor apparently needs. Sisko says that that’s very generous, but Zek had still better watch himself.
Zek is all, “good, that’s settled, I’ll behave myself and give you the fertilizer for 25% off,” and Sisko is all, “you just said free,” and Zek is all, “you’re right, you can have it at cost,” and Sisko is all, “how about free.” Zek says that doesn’t sound very profitable, and Sisko says that depends on if he wants to conduct business on the station. Zek is delighted, all like, “you’re NEGOTIATING with me!” and agrees to give them the fertilizer as a gift. He departs telling Kira to ask for anything else she wants personally. Sisko tosses and catches his baseball, looking extremely pleased with himself.
Later, Maihar’du is cleaning Zek’s ears with a brush that is, hilariously, a tiny replica of Zek’s cerimonial staff. Zek and Quark are discussing the business opportunity, which Zek thinks could be the biggest business opportunity in Ferengi history. It all has to do with tulaberries, which they are going to purchase from a Gamma Quardrant group called the Dosi (DOE-sigh). Then they’re going to make tulaberry wine, and launch a huge marketing campaign to make it the drink of the Gamma Quadrant. This will theoretically establish a Ferengi presence in the Gamma Quadrant, turning them into the filthy rich merchant class of that quadrant as well.
Later, at the bar, Quark and Rom are giddy over the opportunity and Quark’s role in it, when the Ferengi Bro Waiter comes up to get some drinks and reminds them of the 48th Rule: “the Bigger the Smile, the Sharper the Knife.” Rom thinks the Bro Waiter is overstepping and being insolent, but Quark is all over it, asking him to explain. The Bro Waiter is all, “well, why would the Nagus put you in charge of this,” and Quark is all, “because I’m awesome,” and the Bro Waiter is all, “don’t you think there might be another reason?” and Rom is all, “YOU’RE FIRED,” and Quark is all, “shut up, shut up.”
The Bro Waiter points out that the Nagus may want Quark to be the fall guy if the negotiations don’t go well. Rom suggests that Quark may need someone to advise him, and Quark agrees. “Someone like me!” Rom adds. Quark does not agree, and asks the Bro Waiter instead.The negotiate him a 20% commission, and Quark forces Rom to take over his waiting duties.
Later, in his quarters, the Bro Waiter briefly contemplates himself in the mirror, looking proud. Then he pulls a mysterious suitcase from under his bed, from which he pulls a tool that looks like a putty knife. With it, he removes the fake ears he apparently had on over his own ears – which are actually quite small and dainty. Then he takes off his jacket to reveal…boobs. The Bro Waiter is a lady Ferengi, who, it should be noted, is neither submissive nor naked, and appears to occasionally play Tongo.
Later, the combined Federation/Ferengi welcome wagon is standing at attention to meet the Dosi delegation. Quark is in his fanciest flamboyant suit, which he keeps fidgeting with and adjusting. When Sisko asks if he’s nervous, he denies it, and Kira (who is having way too much fun with this business) adds that it’s Zek who should be nervous to have Quark negotiate for him. Zek (who is also having way too much fun) responds to this by not-so-subtly slapping Kira’s ass, causing her to threaten him with physical violence. Sisko watches this passively. Kira and Zek are the sort of people who don’t really get along with anyone, so maybe it’s not worth the managerial effort to try to make them get along with each other.
Quark hisses to everyone that the Dosi are coming, so for god’s sake try to hold it together and look functional for fifteen minutes. This scene reminds me a lot of The Birdcage, I really hope there’s a scene later where they serve the Dosi misguided “sweet and sour peasant soup” out of obscene bowls. Hey, the Ferengi Bro Lady is already in drag, we’re halfway there.
Quark may not have needed to worry so much about looking like grownups, though, because when the Dosi enter the station, one of them is airborne: thrown violently through the airlock over what one of the Dosi explains was a “minor disagreement.” So now it’s less like The Birdcage and more like when your freak-show cousins (everybody has ’em) show up at a family barbeque and you suddenly feel really good about your own immediate family.
Later, at the negotiating table: Quark seems really intimidated by the Dosi, but I’m having some trouble taking them seriously. Yes, they look like they’re having some societal problems with ‘roid rage, and, yes, they walk around wearing what appears to be space chain mail, which cannot bode well. However, their primary “oh-look-it’s-an-alien” factor, their alien d’etre, if you will, is the fact that all their faces are painted in a way that I’m sure is meant to evoke tribal war paint – but in fact just makes them look like people about to fail their final exam for Makeup 101 in clown college.
Quark is failing this negotiation hard, nervously asking if they want food or whatever, as the Dosi, who are clearly from the Jack Donaghey school of negotiation, just stare him down. The Ferengi get to the meat of the deal, offering the Dosi a shitload of stuff for 10,000 vats of Tulaberry Wine – but the Dosi are only interested in giving them 5,000 vats, and they imply that they would be extremely willing to continue this negotiation with their fists should Quark try to budge them.
The Main Dosi’s crony (who is also a lady, interestingly) speaks up in what sounds like the world’s worst impression of Deanna Troi’s worst accent to ask why they’re wasting their time on these “insignificants” when they ought to be speaking directly to Zek. The Main Dosi is angry that Quark emasculated him in front of his lady-crony, and, before long, everyone is leaning over the table and pointing fingers in each other’s faces. But Quark and the Lady Bro don’t back down, even when the Main Dosi threatens Quark’s life, and they finally get the Main Dosi to acknowledge that they’ll “think about” giving them the 10,000 vats.
In Ops, Maihar’du appears in the turbolift, and silently strides over to Kira and places a box in front of her. Kira handles it warily, as though worried it will explode, but when she opens it, it’s a pure latinum necklace, a gift from Zek. Maihar’du is already leaving on the turbolift by the time she yells that she can’t accept the gift.
Kira turns to Jadzia to express her astonishment that Zek thought this would successfully get him into her pants, and Jadzia sort of shurgs and is all, “can’t blame a dude for trying,” an attitude which I suppose explains how she’s put up with Bashir’s stalking so long (Tim points out that she has also actually been “that dude” before).
She reveals to an incredulous Kira that she sort of admires Ferengi tenacity, and says that of all the species she’s met over seven lifetimes, the Ferengi are the most fun to hang out with, their greed and misogyny not withstanding. Kira says that Ferengi are “trolls,” and that she “wouldn’t turn her back on one for a second.” It’s been a while since we’ve had a “hey, everybody, Kira is a total racist,” moment, I guess.
Later, in the bar, the Ferengi are having another Tongo night, although now Zek is playing, too, and he is not happy that Jadzia won’t let him take his moves back (“Did I say acquire? Because I MEANT evade.”). Grumpy, he asks Quark what his negotiation strategy is. Quark says he should have the whole thing wrapped up by tomorrow, and Zek tells Quark to up their demand to 100,000 vats of wine, which Quark thinks is a terrible idea. Zek tells him to do it anyway, and Bro Lady chimes in that raising the stakes is a great idea, because it’ll show the Gamma Quadrant they mean business. “No wonder Quark always says you’re a genius,” s/he adds, somehow pulling off ‘demure’ while still convincingly playing a dude. Zek, intrigued, sends Quark off to get him another bowl of grubs, and Bro Lady dashes off to help.
“Such loyalty must be expensive,” Zek murmurs to Jadzia.
Lady Bro assures Quark that he’ll be able to meet the Nagus’s demands, as unreasonable as they are, because he’s awesome and with his/her help, he’s even more so. S/he says s/he’s only helping Quark for 20% of the profits, of course, and they share an adorable little bonding moment and an elbow nudge. When they come back to the table, Jadzia gives them an appraising look like she suspects something.
Later, Jadzia insinuates herself into the Lady Bro’s meal at the Holiday Inn Express Breakfast Buffet. The Lady Bro is trying new foods, which Jadzia says is unusual for a Ferengi. The Lady Bro notes, not unkindly, that a Tongo-playing Trill is a rare sight as well. Jadzia mentions that the Lady Bro’s defense of Quark last night was remarkable, and that s/he isn’t like any other Ferengi Jadzia has ever met. The Lady Bro tries to deflect by saying that Quark is extremely fond of Jadzia, which somehow segues into an extremely creepy story about this one time Quark lured Jadzia to a holosuite in which he had recreated her childhood bedroom, which he had overheard her describing to Kira. Jadzia categorizes this as “sweet.” If that helps her sleep at night, OK, I guess.
She says that she loves Quark, no matter what anyone says, and she can tell the Lady Bro does too. “Does he know?” she asks, and the Lady Bro whispers, “he doesn’t even know I’m a female,” and Jadzia is all, “YOU’RE A WHAT?” I sort of love that this was a classic Yentl/Mulan/Tootsie/Much Ado About Nothing/She’s The Man/Victor Victoria/Albert Nobbs drag situation, and Jadzia went with Occum’s Razor and decided it was a gay crush. Welcome to SPACE, where Things Are Usually What They Seem to Be.
Jadzia says she knew there was something weird about the Lady Bro, but she’d never met a Ferengi woman before, so it didn’t even occur to her to wonder. The Lady Bro reveals that Ferengi women aren’t normally allowed to leave the house, wear clothes, or even learn to read, and she’s as smart as anybody and wanted more. She came to the station to acquire profit, but she didn’t count on falling in love. Women who dress in drag to alter their social circumstances never do, even though it happens LITERALLY EVERY TIME.
Jadzia says she doesn’t know what the Lady Bro should do, but she does know that there’s more to life than profit. Just then, Quark runs in to get the Lady Bro for the next round of negotiations, and Jadzia watches them go with that know-it-all smirk she gets when she’s playing consultant to other people’s drama.
Zek is drinking a Bloody Mary out of a curly straw and watching all the fine asses go by on the promenade when Kira interrupts him. He asks if she’s there to thank him for the fertilizer, and taps his knee and says “have a seat.” I couldn’t find a clip of him saying that, but if you can imagine Wallace Shawn saying it in his pinched, nasal Zek voice, you will probably work yourself into a fit of laughter the way I did.
Kira declines, and returns the necklace – she actually manages to do it politely, and doesn’t even bristle when Zek rather sadly asks if this means a night of wild, passionate romance is off the table. As she leaves, he smacks her ass one more time, and she gasps and mutters, “Dax must be crazy,” before beating a hasty retreat.
Quark and the Lady Bro jog up to inform the Nagus that they asked for the 100,000 vats of wine and then the Dosi walked out. Zek starts yelling at Quark, and then Lady Bro gets in between them and indignantly informs Zek that they’re going to get him his damn tulaberries (Quark: “we are?”). She says they’re going to take Zek’s ship to the Gamma Quadrant, find the Dosi, and get them to sign the contract there. Zek reluctantly agrees to let them use his ship, but tells Quark not to fuck this up, or he’ll be a bartender his whole life.
On the ship, the Lady Bro and Quark discuss Zek’s motivations – is he purposely trying to sabotage the negotiations? What does he know that he isn’t saying? There’s a conversational pause, and Quark says, “the only thing I’ve done right is pick you for my consultant,” and the Lady Bro says “I’m glad you feel that way,” and they look into each other’s eyes, and it’s honestly super romantic. I would just like to make the point that I believe in this romance and the actions of these characters more than I ever believed the bullshit romance in “Melora” last week, even though Bashir knew Melora was a lady the whole time.
The Lady Bro says there’s something she has to tell Quark, and Quark says he knows what she’s going to say, but a 20% commission is all she’s getting. The Lady Bro is visibly disappointed, and decides to keep her ladyness to herself a while longer.
Back in the bar, Odo visits to comment upon how badly Rom’s running the place by himself. Rom is all like, “I know, right?” He says he doesn’t know when Quark is coming back, and Quark is too interested in the Lady Bro to even insult him anymore. Rom tries to explain to Odo what it is to lose a brother, and Odo has a really good imagination, because as he says, “if I did have a brother, I wouldn’t let anything come between us,” creepy music starts playing and Rom looks at Odo like he’s a serial killer. Maybe it’s a good thing Odo doesn’t have a brother, he’d probably keep him locked in the basement or something.
This conversation seems to have strengthened Rom’s resolve to do something stupid, which I’m sure won’t end well. He goes to the Lady Bro’s room to look for something to use against him/her, and eventually finds his/her ear box. There are still some ears in it, actually, so I guess she has a selection in case some of her fake ears get dirty or whatever.
On Planet Dosi, Quark and the Lady Bro are hanging out in the Dosi’s wreck room, where theyu have a drink fountain and lots of curtains and seem to enjoy diverse activities such as yelling and shoving each other. The Lady Crony with the ridiculous accent comes over to ask if they’re enjoying themselves, and the Lady Bro asks her to explain where they are, either for the benefit of the audience or because they were brought there blindfolded. She says this is where oppurtunities are made, like it’s the Willy Wonka factory of profit, and that they take profit very seriously. Her point is emphasized by someone on the other side of the room being shot dead, presumably over money.
Just then, the Main Dosi comes in, and Quark says he’s going over there. The Lady Bro does not seem to think this is a good idea, but Quark does it anyway. Quark says he isn’t going home until he gets the Main Dosia’s “thumbscan” on the contract (I guess amputees can’t sign contracts in SPACE), and when the Main Dosi tries to ignore him Quark taps him on the shoulder and forces him to pay attention. When that doesn’t work, he turns around and defiantly overturns their drink fountain, fulfilling the main Ferengi purpose in life: annoying their opponents into submission. The Main Dosi says he should have killed Quark on the station, and Quark is all, “but you didn’t! Sign here.”
The Main Dosi agrees to 10,000 vats, but Quark says he isn’t leaving until he gets 100,000 vats, and the Main Dosi is all, “fine, then, stay, see if I give a shit.” Quark finds a room for them for the night, which makes the Lady Bro panicky. I guess she can’t sleep in her fake ears? She keeps trying to find an excuse to get Quark to go sleep on the ship, where presumably there are separate quarters.
Quark starts stripping down for bed, and she becomes increasingly insane as she realizes that she’ll reasonably be expected to do the same. She resorts to trying to keep him awake, finally suggesting a toast. Quark agrees, and after they toast to how awesome Quark is (several times) she starts letting her comments drift in what must seem to Quark to be an increasingly homo-erotic direction. She tells him he has a nice smile, and, strangely, he isn’t weirded out by that at all – until she kisses him, real fast-like. Then he’s pretty weirded out. He retreats, and she climbs on top of him in her eagerness to explain, and just then the Lady Crony walks in to be coldy bemused and ask if she’s interrupting anything.
She almost walks out, but Quark gets her back, and she explains that the Main Dosi will never sell them 100,000 vats of wine because there aren’t that many on the whole damn planet, but if they really want that many she can put them in touch with the right people if Quark can see his way clear to greasing the wheels a little bit. Quark is all over that shit, and the Lady Crony explains that they have to see someone called Karemma, who is an important power in something called the Dominion. She says that if you want to do business in the Gamma Quadrant, you have to do business with the Dominion.
If I could possibly put that last sentence in neon for you, I would. I won’t go any further than saying it would probably be wise to file that away for future reference.
Back on their ship, Quark and the Lady Bro are delighted that they now finally know what Zek was planning: he sabotaged negotiations on purpose to in order to use the Dosi to open negotiations with the Dominion. The Lady Bro says they need to talk, and asks if Quark is interested in why she kissed him. Quark, bless him, has already locked that memory deep, deep in his subconscious, and cheerfully says, “What? You never kissed me.”
The Lady Bro doggedly tries to bring it back up, and Quark firmly nixes it, and suggests they brainstorm about what the Dominion could be. The Lady Bro posits that it could be a planetary alliance, or a trading consortium, and Quark says it doesn’t matter, because whatever it is, it’s important, and he wants a piece of it.
Back on the station, Zek is grumpy that Quark has returned sans tulaberries, and Quark is all “we both know my trip had nothing to do with tulaberries *eyebrow wiggle*” and Zek is all, “it didn’t?”
Rom runs up to tell Quark the Lady Bro’s secret, and Quark blows him off, asking Zek if the word “Dominion” means anything to him. Zek is all, “what do you know about that?” and Quark is all, “you first,” and Rom is all, “OMG Quark this is super important!” Quark actually elbows him in the chest before returning to his conversation, at which point Zek explains what he knows about the Dominion. He says that he’s just heard whispers, really, but he knows enough to know that whoever finds out the secret of the Dominion finds out the secret of the Gamma Quadrant. He was hoping the Dosi would know something, and Quark is all, “and how much would that information be worth, exactly?”
Quark says he can set up a meeting between Zek and a powerful member of the Dominion, and Zek says if he comes through he’ll get a cut of all Ferengi Gamma Quadrant ventures.
Quark appears to have an orgasm just thinking about it.
Quark gives Zek the name, and Zek says he’s always known Quark had a nose for business. Rom swoops in, and Quark finally grants him an audience. Rom hustles Quark away from the Nagus, and we see him, without sound, drag the Lady Bro over and tell Quark what he knows. You can see that Quark doesn’t believe him, but then the Lady Bro whispers in Quark’s ear and he literally faints.
He doesn’t wake up in sick bay until after the commercial, where Bashir says that there’s no serious damage, even though he had a nasty head bump. Quark says he wants to rest for a few minutes, so Bashir leaves him alone with Rom, who he immediately grabs violently. He asks if Rom has told anyone else about the Lady Bro, and when Rom says he hasn’t Quark is all, “and you aren’t going to, either.”
Rom has his panties in a wad because she has to be stoned in the town square, or something, and he wants to tell everyone. They discuss the merits of telling Zek – if Quark tells him, he’s ruined, if Quark doesn’t tell him and he finds out later, he’s ruined. Quark successfully bribes Rom to keep quiet by telling him he can have the bar when Quark becomes a Gamma Quadrant millionaire.
Later, he goes to visit the Lady Bro, and is extremely disoriented by her small ears, undisguised voice, and visible boobs. He actually makes her put her dude disguise back on before he can have a conversation with her. He tells her to go away from the station, and when she protests that he needs her, he denies it. He tries to give her 10 bars of gold-pressed latinum to “start a new life,” and she says it isn’t about profit anymore, but about love. Quark actually cringes and says, “spoken like a true female.”
She says she loves him, and she thinks he loves her, and Quark says it doesn’t matter if he does because she’d never be a real Ferengi wife. She asks him to run away with her to the Gamma Quadrant, where no one cares if she wears clothes or not, but Quark just looks at her sadly and says, “I’d care.” She agrees to go.
Later, Quark and Rom are eating dinner with Zek, and Quark is visibly bummed. Just then, the Lady Bro enters, in her disguise, much to Quark’s dismay. The Nagus is glad s/he is there, and says s/he will go far, because s/he certainly has the lobes for it. The Lady Bro is all like, “you like my lobes, huh? GOOD, take them.” She whips her fake ears off in one sharp pull. Rom long nos and Quark slaps his hands over her ears to hide them. Zek is shocked, and Rom runs up to Quark and whispers “does this mean I don’t get the bar?”
Zek angrily asks Quark what the hell’s going on, and the Lady Bro is all, “leave him out of this, old man,” and the Nagus can’t believe this fucking woman is trying to give him fucking orders, and he says she has no future. Quark, in a surprisingly noble move, steps in between the two to protect the Lady Bro and says, “no.”
Zek reminds Quark that it’s against the law to take business advice from a woman (OK, that’s pretty fucked up, maybe Kira’s right), and Quark says he didn’t know she was a woman. The Nagus threatens to lock Quark up, too, and Quark says he’d better make sure it’s a big cell, because he just can’t imagine what people will say when they find out the Nagus let a lady represent him in a negotiation. The Nagus concedes that the Lady Bro’s ladyness will remain a secret, but Quark will lose all the Gamma Quadrant profits. As he leaves the room, he yells “shame on you!” at the Lady Bro as though she’d broken his heart.
Quark sadly asks the Lady Bro if she’s satisfied, and she apologizes, but says that women are just as capable as men. “Do me a favor,” Quark says, “and don’t tell anybody else.” She says that she has to go, and that Quark could still come with her. “I can’t,” he says. “I know,” she says. And then they kiss.
She pulls away and gives his ear a gentle stroke, saying, “if I can’t have you, I guess I’ll take those ten bars of latinum after all.”
Later, Quark invites Jadzia to the next Tonga game, and Jadzia asks if Quark hasn’t lost enough for one day, saying she saw the Lady Bro before she left. Quark tries to laugh it off, but Jadzia gently says, “nice try, Quark, but I know you better than that.” She walks away, and Quark is left looking wistful and vulnerable.
Meredith’s Analysis: I know I said last week that I dislike these guest star romance episodes on principle, but, honestly, this is how you do it right, and it provides a stark illustration for what was wrong with “Melora.” There, the romance was so cutesy and unnecessary that it was actually hurtful to the overall point of the episode. Frankly, it would have been way stronger if they’d left the romance and the “strong but secretly vulnerable woman” vibe out of it. A woman confined to a wheelchair, who isn’t a bitch, who Bashir tries to “cure” not out of love, but because of his own hubris – and then she turns him down because she has a strong sense of who she is and doesn’t need his bullshit? That’s an episode I wouldn’t mind seeing.
Here, the romance is fully integrated into the story, and it provides believable motivation for the characters and the events of the episode. I truly believe that Quark and the Lady Bro have something special, and, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I literally squealed when they kissed at the end. It was like I’d spent a couple of hours with them instead of forty-five minutes, and that’s good storytelling.
Additionally, we get some really great development on Ferengi and their gender politics. All this information on Ferengi ladies is new, and it’s presented really, really artfully.
Also, Wallace Shawn is hilarious as always.
Tim’s Analysis: Apparently, this episode started life as a TNG idea. Pel was involved with Riker and confided in Crusher instead of Dax. I’m not sure I have words to describe how bad that would be. It’s certainly no secret that I don’t like Crusher. What we actually got is much better. We learn a ton about Ferengi gender roles, we get to see a softer side of Quark and we get some seeds planted for more Ferengi episodes later.
The episode really conveys the pressure on Quark not to rock the boat with the Nagus and in several scenes you really get a sense of how torn he is between tradition and principle. An internal conflict in Ferengi philosophy is presented to him. Pel’s business abilities are very strong and supporting her has obvious financial advantages, but Ferengi tradition dictates otherwise. This conflict is something that Quark spends a lot of time purposefully not thinking about and when something forces him to address it, we get very good television.
This whole story really goes right along with what I said earlier about the Ferengi being stand-ins for present day humans. You can take any number of 20th century social issues and make a Ferengi episode and it works fine.
My one big complaint is Rom. The Rom in this episode is still “Asshole Rom” for the most part. You may remember “Asshole Rom” from A Man Alone where he didn’t want his son learning from a human female. Rom softens over time during the first few seasons, but not because he develops or learns, rather because the writers decide to retcon him into a nicer person. He’s originally a bit of a lackey in Quark’s operation, but as the series goes on, it’s more obvious that he’s incredibly smart and friendly and endures Quark’s abuse out of brotherly love. You don’t really notice the first time through that the change isn’t natural, but when you go back and rewatch, his early character just seems bizarre. In this episode, he’s about halfway through the transformation, so he’s still really cutthroat, but they’ve turned up the goofy. He provides some bits of comic relief here that I suspect convinced the writers they were going in the right direction with him.