A damaged Cardassian ship enters the Bajoran sector and is rescued by the crew of DS9. On board are three Cardassians: Rekelen, Hogue, and Natima, an old flame of Quark’s. When Quark catches sight of Natima, he is eager to rekindle their previous relationship, but Natima will have none of it; years ago, it seems, Quark stole money from the Cardassian Communication Service using Natima’s personal pass-codes, and Natima has never forgiven him for this “betrayal.” Natima treats Quark coldly, but this hardly discourages the Ferengi; he dogs her at every turn, refusing to believe that the old love has died.
Meanwhile, Natima and her companions also catch the attention of Garak, who recognizes Rekelen and Hogue as members of the Cardassian underground – political radicals who wish to end military rule on Cardassia. In a thinly veiled conversation, he warns Quark not to get involved with such people, but Quark is less than impressed with Garak’s threats and continues to pursue Natima regardless, eventually forcing Natima to admit she still has feelings for him. Natima, however, is committed to her political cause and is reluctant to abandon her companions for Quark.
After a Cardassian warship enters the system and, through Garak, relays a message from Central Command demanding that Rekelen and Hogue be returned to Cardassia, the Bajoran government agrees to turn over Natima and the others in exchange for the release of six Bajorans in Cardassian custody. Sisko reluctantly orders the Cardassians’ arrest. In the meantime, an old nemesis of Garak’s, now Gul Toran, informs Garak that he has convinced the Central Command to order the assassination of Natima and her companions in lieu of the arranged prisoner exchange. Garak balks, but Toran seemingly convinces him that arranging the aforementioned assassination will end his enforced exile on DS9.
Quark begs Odo to help him help Natima to escape, and Odo agrees – in the name of “justice,” of course. When Quark and Natima get to her ship, they find Garak waiting for them at the airlock, prepared to open fire. Garak is interrupted, however, by Toran, who arrives to show Garak up. Garak kills Toran and allows Natima to escape.
Overall: 6.5 – If it weren’t for some incredibly lame dialogue between Quark and Natima, this would’ve been a pretty good episode.
There are two things this episode gets very, very right. First, the Garak scenes were all strong to fantastic (as Garak scenes frequently are). My personal favorite is the scene between Garak and Quark in Garak’s shop (see below). One of the things I have always enjoyed on DS9 is the frequent double-talk – the innuendo-laced conversations that take place whenever one character finds another annoying and/or contemptible – and the scene in question is a very good example – not the best example in the entire series, mind, but noteworthy nonetheless.
Secondly, despite what Ira Steven Behr may think about Quark’s characterization in this episode, I like what is done for our “little troll” here. There is something weirdly admirable in his pursuit of Natima – his relentless persistence in the face of repeated rejection – because it is, in a strange way, very selfless. Quark is willing to do absolutely anything to make Natima happy, up to and including letting her go. Put this beside what we’ve learned of Quark through his infatuation with Dax – in particular, what we learned in Rules of Acquisition regarding Quark’s grand romantic childhood bedroom reconstruction – and what we see here is a very nice bit of character continuity. So nuts to you, Mr. Behr – Quark is not “too heroic” here; he is who he is – a scrappy survivor with a heart of gold.
Unfortunately, the really awful love scene between Quark and Natima detracts from the all of the above. I’m sorry – I was rolling my eyes so hard during said scene that I very nearly caught a glimpse of the back of my eye sockets.
When the writing is good, the acting is respectable, though not astonishing. When the writing is poor, not even the talented Armin Shimerman prevents the episode from sliding into ludicrous melodrama.
This episode does not have a terribly remarkable message, but it does, laudably, advance the idea that true love involves sacrifice - that if you genuinely love someone, you should be willing to do what is best for that person and not simply what is best for you.
ODO: “I heard an interesting rumor.”
QUARK: “Only one? I started at least twelve.” – Heh!
BASHIR: “Wait, wait, wait a second. Are you telling me you agreed with General Yiri's decision to execute his brother?”
GARAK: “Of course I agreed. Yiri's brother was a traitor to the Trelonian government.”
BASHIR: “The evidence is all circumstantial!”
GARAK: “It all comes down to a question of loyalty. My dear Doctor, Yiri had to choose between protecting his brother and protecting the state. He chose the state, as would I, every time.”
BASHIR: “I suppose that's one way of looking at it. But then again, before you can be loyal to another, you must be loyal to yourself.”
GARAK: “And who can we thank for those misguided words of wisdom? Sarek of Vulcan?”
BASHIR: “Actually, it was Bashir of Earth.”
GARAK: “With sentiments like those, you wouldn't last for five seconds on Cardassia.” – Ah! Garak’s twisted morality!
NATIMA: “Commander, I hate to be an imposition, but I need my ship.”
SISKO: “That's not possible. Mister O'Brien is still working on it. Your ship sustained more damage than we originally thought. In fact –”
NATIMA: “You suspect that our ship was damaged by Cardassian weapons. You're right, of course.”
HOGUE: (intervening) “Professor –”
NATIMA: “It's all right, Hogue. I should've told them the truth in the first place.”
KIRA: “Then why didn't you?”
NATIMA: “Because Cardassians don't involve outsiders in their internal politics. Especially Bajorans.”
SISKO: “Being shot at by your own people goes a little beyond politics.”
NATIMA: “We take our politics very seriously.” – LOL! I love the way this line was deadpanned.
QUARK: “I'm no expert on Cardassian fashions. What do you think?”
GARAK: “I don't know. It's been so long since I've had a Cardassian customer.”
QUARK: “Then you're in luck. There're some board on the station right now.”
GARAK: “Now that you mention it, I think your lady friend may find this style very appealing. You're old friends, aren't you?”
QUARK: “You're very perceptive, for a Cardassian.”
GARAK: “It would have been hard to miss the way you were looking at her.”
QUARK: “It would've been hard to miss the way you were looking at her.”
GARAK: “Personally, I find this style a bit too radical, but your friend seems the sort who appreciates that kind of thing.”
QUARK: “Different tastes for different people. Nothing wrong with that, is there?”
GARAK: “Oh, you'd be surprised how detrimental a poor choice of fashion can be. Take this dress. It may be all the rage now but in a very short time it can become tiresome, an affront to the eyes. Certain people might even think it's objectionable. And then…” (Garak tears the dress.) “… nothing but rags.”
QUARK: “I see.”
GARAK: “Mister Quark, might I offer you some free advice?”
QUARK: “As long as I'm under no obligation to follow it.”
GARAK: “I've been in this business a long time and I know there's nothing worse than following the wrong trend. Now you're a smart fellow, with your own inimitable sense of style. Perhaps you should mention this to your lady friend. I'd hate to see her fall victim to fashion.”
QUARK: “Would you like to explain that?”
GARAK: “She's chosen to associate herself with some rather flamboyant companions. It would be a tragedy if she got in the way when her friends go out of fashion.”
QUARK: “If anyone tries to harm her, they're going to have to deal with me.”
GARAK: “What're you going to do, short change them at the dabo table?”
QUARK: (coolly) “I think I'll buy this dress after all. See that it's mended.” – As I said above, this is a great DS9-style two-layer exchange.
QUARK: “Now, Odo. Don't allow my greed to keep you from doing the right thing.”
ODO: “I know you better than you think, Quark. This isn't about Cardassia, and for once, it's not even about profit. This is about Professor Lang.”
QUARK: “You're right. It is. Her life is in jeopardy as long as Rekelen and Hogue are on the station.”
ODO: “Why didn't you tell me that before?”
QUARK: “What was I supposed to say? That I love her? That I would do anything for her? That without her, my life would be meaningless? Sure, I could say those things, but what good would it do? How could I expect you to understand? You've never had those feelings. You don't know what it means to really care about another person. You've never been in love. You've got all the emotions of a stone.” (A beat.) “No offense.” – Oh, the irony!
ODO: “Go on.”
QUARK: “Listen to me, Odo. You do this for me, and I promise you there'll be no more secrets between us. I will tell you about every underhanded deal, every lying scheme, every dirty trick… my brother Rom's involved in.” – LOL!
ODO: “Well, since you put it that way, I'm not interested.”
QUARK: “Okay, okay, let me put it another way. Do it for me.”
ODO: “For you?”
QUARK: “That's right. For all the years we've known each other. For everything we've been through together. You say you know me better than anyone else? Well, I know you. Sure, sometimes we're on opposite sides, but that doesn't mean that we aren't close. I never told you this, Odo, but I consider you as dear to me as my brother.”
ODO: “And I've seen how well you treat him.” – Snerk!
QUARK: “Odo, look at me.”
(Odo turns round but cannot see Quark.)
QUARK: “Look at me. I'm on my knees. I'm begging you. I don't care why you do it. Pick any reason you want. But please, let Natima and the others go.”
ODO: “All right. I'll do it.”
QUARK: “You will?”
ODO: “But not for you. Turning Hogue and Rekelen over to the Cardassians would mean their deaths. I've read their files and nothing they've done warrants that kind of punishment. I'll free them, Quark, but only in the name of justice.”
QUARK: “Justice. That was going to be my next suggestion.” (He gets up) “So, you're not really doing this for me?”
ODO: “That's right.”
QUARK: “Then I don't owe you a thing. Thank you!”
(Quark hugs Odo.)
QUARK: “You'll never know how much this means to me.”
ODO: “Let. Go.” – LOL!