Two Cardassian women are featured in guest slots for this episode. One, who has less to do, is played by actress Heidi Swedberg, best known for a run of episodes as George’s ill-fated fiancee on Seinfeld. The other is played by actress Mary Crosby, aunt to Denise “Tasha Yar” Crosby. However, they’re both under a lot of make-up, so not recognizing either of them isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I bring that up here because there’s really no where else better to mention it.
So, what does a Ferengi in love look like? Or a Cardassian for that matter? That is, more or less, the question that this episode addresses. Ferengi are classically obsessed with profit and not much else while Cardassians are mostly just militaristic and ruthless. True, Deep Space Nine does a lot to make these races more nuanced, but that doesn’t mean these stereotypes aren’t still there. Quark has, for the most part, been little better than a conniving businessman. While there are limits to what he’ll do to earn a bit of latinum, that’s still basically who he is. Meanwhile, we have Garek and he’s just fairly suspicious. We don’t know his deal, and he isn’t telling any time soon.
So, it may be a bit odd that Quark will give a woman free drinks. Of course, the woman in question is Professor Natima Lang (Mary Crosby), a Cardassian woman that Quark had a fling with back during the Bajoran occupation. She’s come to the station with two students and a claim that her ship was damaged by a cosmic storm of some kind.
It probably took O’Brien about five seconds to see the damage was caused by weapons fire.
See, Lang and her students are looking to make Cardassia something of a free democracy and not so much a military dictatorship. Essentially, these are political refugees, and you’d think that would make them safe on Bajor of all places. Normally it would, and it allows Quark to try to romance Lang all over again in a manner that says “Can’t take ‘no’ for an answer” since she keeps telling him to get lost and he won’t because he’s sure she still has feelings for him. Since she’s devoted to her two students, he even tries to give them a cloaking device so they can sneak off the station on the condition they leave Lang behind.
Granted, she does turn out to care when she accidentally phaser blasts him. It was on the lowest setting, but still…
Regardless, she’ll stay with Quark now…until Odo comes to arrest the three Cardassians because, well, Cardassia promised a prisoner exchange with Bajor. Apparently, there is one thing that could cause Bajor to give up some Cardassian political prisoners. All this seems to have been worked through Garek, the “simple tailor”.
Now, I have found from the very beginning that the one thing Deep Space Nine seemed to get right away is the frenemy sort of relationship Quark and Odo have. Quark is a petty criminal who manages to just barely stay out of prison and Odo is a dogged constable who won’t let Quark get away with whatever he can stop Quark from doing. That may be why, for me, the episode’s highlight was Quark going to Odo to appeal to the security chief’s heart (metaphorically speaking) to get the three released. Quark begs! And he’s short, so Odo can’t see Quark over his desk. Most amazingly, Odo consents. Not because of Quark. He doesn’t see the justice from the Cardassian angle.
But then we learn Garek was promised by a sometime rival, now a Gul, that if Garek kills the three on the station, he can come back to Cardassia. Oh, and since there can’t be witnesses, that would mean Quark too.
Or it would if that Gul didn’t step out, revealing he was reneging on the deal, and giving Garek free range to shoot…the Gul. Served the dude right.
So, happily ever after? Not for now. Lang sees she has to go with her students, and Quark will have to stay behind. At least until Lang successfully changes Cardassia into a more free and open society. That might take awhile.
Then again, this episode was based a bit on Casablanca.
The episode ends with Quark and Garek discussing their motives. Why did Quark go out of his way to help those three? Because he loves Lang. Garek did the same because he loves Cardassia, something that makes no sense to Quark, but he does promise to send every Ferengi he can to Garek’s shop for the tailor’s help.
That, according to Garek, is the greatest thanks anyone could ever hope for from any Ferengi.