What’s this? I get two episodes in a row with Jeffrey Combs? And he’s playing a different character? This must be my lucky day.
Actually, anytime the series takes a look at Ferengi life, it really is my lucky day. Considering how awful they were initially set up as villains when they first appeared on Next Generation, Deep Space Nine really has gone the extra mile if not the extra marathon to make them and their culture interesting and amusing, mostly by turning them from evil to comic relief. Yeah, they are for the most part still a despicable bunch of people who put profit above all else, but they also still have other sides to themselves.
For example, how does love work with the Ferengi?
When last the subject of Rom and Leeta came up, there was that nice conversation between Rom and Quark about how, among other things, Rom’s first wife took a lot of Rom’s profit and only left him with Nog. Rom isn’t really all that good at generating profit. If anything, I was mildly surprised in this episode to learn he had any. His big issue here is since he and Leeta are getting married and Rom initially is learning a lot of Bajoran customs to make his fiancee happy, something he wants more than anything, as soon as it is pointed out that he should retain some sort of Ferengi culture, he goes with…the prenup. This one says Leeta won’t own anything, and she doesn’t exactly go for that and the wedding is off. That lasts until O’Brien, wise married man that he is and someone Rom respects, asks Rom if he’d rather have Leeta or his profit. The answer is Leeta, and there’s no issue if Rom doesn’t have any profit, so he gives it all away to a Bajoran charity. The two make up, all is well and happy, the end.
That’s the B-plot.
The A-plot has Quark’s return to his mother’s house when he’s feeling particularly depressed, and there’s a running gag where Quark keeps finding people in his closet. The first is Grand Negas Zek because, well, he and Moogie are dating. Zek doesn’t mind that Moogie wears clothes and earns profit. He’s smitten.
By the by, Andrea Martin was apparently unavailable to return to the role, so a younger actress, Cecily Adams, took over the role for the remainder of Ishka’s appearances. Apparently, her face was similar enough to Martin’s in that she basically wore the same prosthetics, and she may have had a leg up because she was good friends with Quark actor Armin Shimerman’s wife, and he was able to loan her a tape of the episode with Martin in it. As for her performance…it’s good. She’s not Andrea Martin, but I won’t really hold that against her. She has the voice and the body language more or less down, and the key is to remember Moogie is a loving mother in the Ferengi mold. That means that calling your son an underhanded, ruthless sneak isn’t necessarily an insult.
Well, old Ferengi in love isn’t necessarily something Quark wants to think about, especially when Zek won’t help Quark get his license back from the Ferengi Commerce Authority…for a good reason, one Moogie agrees with. It’s political. I can’t argue with that. Quark will need to work it out with the FCA.
Enter Liquidator Brunt…also from Quark’s closet. He’ll give Quark his license back as long as he breaks up Zek and Ishka. Brunt says Ishka will probably be a bad influence on the Negas. And does Quark know how to play Zek and Ishka like a fiddle? In this instance? Sure he does. He even feels a little bad when he sees how heartbroken his mother is. He does have his license back, and he’ll even keep it by episode’s end.
Then again, Brunt being Brunt has a different agenda. It seems Zek is becoming forgetful, and all of his sound financial advice of late has come from Ishka working from the shadows. Brunt really wants to force Zek out of power to take it for himself, and in what was one of the best lines from the episode, Quark and Moogie figure that out, and while both agree that makes Brunt a fine Ferengi, Quark further concludes it would make Brunt a bad Negas because the Negas looks for profit for the people, not just for himself.
That…is actually an interesting observation. Zek is, like most Ferengi, a ridiculous figure, but having him be the guy who makes profit for the Ferengi as a whole and not just for himself puts a new spin on the Grand Negas’s job.
Anyway, Quark and his mother somehow figure out a way to keep Zek in office, and yes, Quark can keep his license. That way Brunt can keep a closer eye on him. Heck, Moogie even had Quark’s old toys stashed away. Quark’s happy to see ’em…because they’re valuable and will make him more profit. Too bad he didn’t listen to Moogie when she told him as a child that the toys would have been even more valuable in the original packaging.
That’s a Ferengi mother alright…