What’s this? A Ferengi-based episode that isn’t being played for any kind of laughs? Did such things even exist? Well, yes since this episode actually exists and I’ve seen it and all.
This episode basically asks if Quark has a conscience. There have been episodes that have suggested as much, but this one asks for it more directly. See, Quark is deep in debt, no doubt not helped much by his status as someone cut out of Ferengi culture thanks to the fact he doesn’t crack down on people as ruthlessly as the Rules of Acquisition say he should. Among his many debtors is his cousin Gaila, and when Gaila shows up in the bar, it isn’t to collect. He has an opportunity. See, Galia is working with a (presumably since it’s hard to tell sometimes with Star Trek) human arms dealer named Hagath. Hagath wants a place where he can sell weapons. Odo would never allow weapons to be sold on the station, but Quark can use his holosuites to set up holographic versions of Hagath’s merchandise where purchases can be made and delivery picked up elsewhere.
And sure, Odo can bring Quark in, but it turns out Hagath sold the Bajorans weapons during the occupation, so they let him come and go as he pleases. That actually leads to first Sisko and then Kira to issue stern warnings in rapid succession. Apparently, everyone would look the other way, but selling weapons doesn’t make too many friends on the station. Even Dax won’t have anything to do with Quark, and it never occurred to me before how…bad it is when Dax gets angry at someone. Dax seemed to be Quark’s only friend, and it occurred to me that when he went to her to try and explain that he was probably gonna die because Hagath, he doesn’t take well to people who try to slip out of his employ or disappoint him in some other way, and Dax shouts at him to go away.
What does it take to make Dax unfriendly? She’s everybody’s buddy. And Quark can’t even get her to listen long enough to explain how much trouble he was in even if he was finally out of debt.
Yeah, all of the money Quark made went to his creditors.
However, what really changes him is the Regent of Palamar. He’s played by Lawrence Tierney, and every thing I know him for, I heard he was an absolute horror show of a human being. He threatened Quentin Tarantino on the set of Reservoir Dogs. He drove the producers of The Simpsons crazy when he did an episode of that show with his own bizarre ideas on what was funny. And he became Larry David’s go-to threat while he was making Seinfeld if people were screwing around too much by simply saying he’d bring Tierney back for a second episode as Elaine’s father. Did he do anything on the set of Deep Space Nine? Damned if I know, but somehow I suspect he must have done something.
His character, it should be noted, is genocidal. That is a bridge to far for Quark. He can’t explain away that the purchases were for self-defense if he needs to, but to wipe out a whole race of people? Nah, that won’t work. The only thing to do is invite the Regent’s enemies to see his wares at the same time the Regent is there, getting rid of the Regent (who conveniently dies later off-screen), the Regent’s enemies, and Gaila and Hagath all at once. Oh sure, Quark is back in debt again because of the mess in a station cargo bay, but Dax is being friendly again, so he probably learned a few things about how far he’s willing to go to make a profit.
In the B-plot, O’Brien can’t get his infant son Kirayoshi to calm down without holding the baby. That is interfering with his work and his sleep. Fortunately, he has a lot of understanding people at his job, but the conclusion comes when there is one other person whose presence can calm the boy: Worf. Sure, given Worf’s history with the O’Brien children might lead this to be some sort of punchline, but instead, Worf reflects on how he wasn’t around to see his own son as a baby and that is one of his biggest regrets…yeah, that was something I didn’t really see coming, and it was nice.
So, Worf reflects on missing his son’s infancy and Quark learns what he won’t do for profit. I’d say that makes for a memorable episode.