Holy crap! A feature-worthy Ferengi episode? How is this even possible?
Actually, the answer to that last question is pretty simple: The writers - Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, in this case - carefully avoided all of the tired jokes which dominate every other Ferengi episode. There's not a single "Moooooooooooogie!" to be found here. There's just a damn good story about the ever-present temptation to take the easy road.
Memory Alpha has a summary here.
Stephanie S.: As you've probably noticed by now, both SABR Matt and I like Quark. We think he's a great character who is frequently - and unfortunately - saddled with writers who don't care for him and want to use him and other members of his race as instruments for their anti-capitalist venting. Generally speaking, for each additional Ferengi that is added to an episode, the general intelligence quotient of the whole piece is halved. And yet - and yet - Quark still manages to rise above it all in large part because of episodes like this one -- episodes that take Quark seriously and don't warp him into a caricature. Yes -- Quark loves latinum, and he would like to have a lot of it. But even he has lines he will not cross.
"What have I got to lose?" Quark asks at the beginning of the episode after Gaila makes his dirty offer. Well, self-respect, for one -- and the respect of your friends for another. And as it turns out, those two things do matter to Quark more than naked avarice. Consider Quark's desperate attempts to justify his actions to Dax, the woman he has always not-so-secretly loved. Consider too his ultimate decision to trick his clients and screw Hagath. There have been times when Quark's unique sense of morality has given one pause, but the viewer cannot - and should not - therefore conclude that he has no moral compass whatsoever.
And I think it is anti-Ferengi bias to say that Quark is horrified by the likes of Gaila and Hagath because "the Federation has rubbed off on him." Before the Federation even had a presence on DS9/Terok Nor, Quark offered Bajoran women on the station a means to escape the crueler jobs in ore processing. Moreover, he sold foodstuffs and other necessary items to the local Bajorans at wholesale prices. Quark didn't need Federation busy-bodies to tell him to do any of these things; he was naturally inclined to be at least semi-charitable from the very beginning. Does it help that Quark is shunned by his Federation compatriots the moment they learn of his dealings with Hagath and Gaila? Certainly. But I think we need to give Quark a little more credit; he's never been as greedy as he looks.
The appeal of this story is pretty straightforward...there's no need to waste a ton of words expounding on the basic truth that's in the opening comment. I think this episode would have failed miserably if Wolfe and Behr had written it, so I'm glad that the story was pitched and executed by a couple of freelancers who lacked the primary staffers' bias against the Ferengi. I think the thing that really makes this work, aside from an obviously strong moral concept is the acting of Armin Shimerman. His reaction to the outright rejection of his friends and compatriots to his dirty dealings...especially to Dax...is both emotionally high-impact and filled with subtlety and professional skill.
Writing: 9.5 / 9.5
Stephanie S.: This is probably the series' best Quark vehicle. Not only does it reveal that Quark truly has a heart of gold, but it also uses Quark's crush on Dax to great effect.
Acting: 8.0 / 9.0
Stephanie S.: If there's a weak link in this episode, it is probably the acting. At times, I feel the members of the guest cast go a little overboard with their mafia personas. Still, Armin Shimerman does an excellent job portraying Quark's discomfort with his new job.
SABR Matt: I'm a tad more forgiving here because I don't want the rating to reflect poorly on the lead actor...or his romantic interest (Ferrell does a very nice job here as well...most of the regular cast has a nice moment or two).
Message: 9.5 / 10.0
Stephanie S.: Quark tries to extricate himself from his financial hole through cheating and learns quickly that crime only pays in the short term. At the very least, this episode should be required viewing for prison inmates who've been incarcerated on drug trafficking charges -- and for those disgraced Enron bigwigs.
SABR Matt: I don't think the message is just that cheating and scheming your way to riches (the easier path in life) is only good in the short term. I think it also brings back memories of "Body Parts"...a reminder that the real assets in life are the friends you make..the people who will help you when you're down.
HAGATH: Well, I'm glad I came. This solves many of our problems.
GAILA: It certainly does. No actual weapons coming in or out, so we don't break any local laws. All shipping happens outside Federation space, so Starfleet can't touch us. And since all we're demonstrating are holograms, we can even show off the specialty items.
HAGATH: Gaila, well done.
GAILA: It was all Quark's idea.
HAGATH: Quark. You really are a find. I'm sure we're going to accomplish great things together.
QUARK: I can't wait.
HAGATH: Just one thing. Don't cross me, Quark. Don't ever cross me. (Gulp!)
SISKO: Let him go.
ODO: Let him go?
SISKO: Major, tell the Constable what you told me.
KIRA: The Bajoran government insists that Deep Space Nine not interfere with the lawful transactions of Hagath or his associates. Hagath supplied arms to the Resistance. Without him, or people like him, we'd all be dead. The Cardassians would still be in power. We owe him.
SISKO: I don't like it any more than you do.
QUARK: Better luck next time.
SISKO: You better hope there isn't a next time, mister. I have cut you a lot of slack in the past. I even looked away once or twice when I could have come down hard on you. But those days are over. Now, we may not be able to get you for selling weapons, but you so much as litter on the Promenade and I will nail you to the wall. (Okay then!)
GAILA: Evening, cousin. Business always this good?
QUARK: I haven't had a single Starfleet customer all day. Come to think of it, nobody from the Federation has come through those doors. I must be off limits.
GAILA: Quark, as long as we keep the holosuite busy, you've got nothing to worry about. Which reminds me, we have a very special client arriving next week. The Regent of Palamar.
QUARK: Never heard of him.
GAILA: He's very, very wealthy.
QUARK: Can't wait to meet him.
GAILA: He's also very particular about how he's treated.
QUARK: As well he should be. After all, he's a Regent.
GAILA: I have to say, cousin, you've done well. And it couldn't have come at a better time for both of us.
QUARK: Why's that?
GAILA: I'm thinking about stepping back, taking it easy for a change. You could take my place, run things with Hagath. You'd be earning a bigger share of the profit.
QUARK: Have you spoken to Hagath about that?
GAILA: He likes you, Quark.
QUARK: And I like him. I'd also like a bigger share of the profits.
GAILA: Then everyone's happy. Except for Farrakk.
QUARK: What about Farrakk?
GAILA: Didn't you hear? His ship blew up shortly after he left the station. Warp core breach. That Hagath, what a temper.
QUARK: Are you saying Hagath killed him?
GAILA: You heard what he said, cousin. He doesn't like to be crossed. Just make sure you don't forget that. (GULP!)
QUARK: Good morning, Commander. Mind if I join you?
DAX: Actually, I do.
QUARK: That's okay, I won't take it personally.
DAX: Quark, I'm busy.
QUARK: I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in you. I thought you, of all people, would understand.
DAX: Understand what? That you've finally shown how despicable you truly are? That you don't care how many people die as long as you make a profit?
QUARK: Who said anything about people dying? The weapons I sell are strictly defensive. To be well armed is a deterrent to war. Don't you know anything about the balance of power?
DAX: Quark, you don't really believe any of that, do you?
QUARK: Jadzia, there was nothing else I could do. I was drowning. The waters were closing over my head and just as my lungs were about to burst, my cousin threw me a lifeline. How could I possibly refuse?
DAX: Feeling a little guilty, Quark?
QUARK: Guilty? Me? I don't have anything to feel guilty about.
DAX: Then why come to me asking for forgiveness? (Ouch.)
BASHIR: I've got good news, Chief. Your son is fine.
O'BRIEN: Except that he cries constantly unless I'm holding him.
BASHIR: I've given him every imaginable test. Eyes, ears, digestive, pulmonary and nervous systems. There's nothing medically wrong with him.
O'BRIEN: What are you telling me, my baby's just sad?
BASHIR: Perhaps he's become prematurely aware of life's existential isolation.
O'BRIEN: You sure it's not a rash? (LOL!)
REGENT: Nassuc was the best officer I ever had. I took her out of the ranks and made her a general. In time, she would have inherited my entire empire. And how did she pay me back? By declaring independence for her homeworld.
HAGATH: Betrayal. It's the one unforgivable sin. Especially when it's committed by someone you trusted implicitly.
REGENT: Most arms dealers wouldn't understand such considerations. They have no ideals, no passions except for lining their own pockets. I always felt you were a man of honour. You're all men of honour.
GAILA: How very perceptive of you, Regent.
QUARK: Now, how can we help you?
REGENT: I want to make an example of Nassuc and her followers. I intend to eradicate her entire city.
GAILA: What kind of casualties are you looking for?
REGENT: Seven or eight million.
HAGATH: We can help you there.
REGENT: But that's just the beginning. Over the next couple of months, I would like the death toll to rise slowly but steadily.
GAILA: Can you give us a figure?
REGENT: About twenty million.
(Quark is shocked at this idea.)
HAGATH: Now, what would be most effective? Prions?
GAILA: Either that or a mutagenic retrovirus. What do you think, Quark?
QUARK: Twenty eight million dead? Can't we just wound some of them? (You're really in it now, Quark.)
GAILA: Quark, maybe I didn't make myself clear. I've been in the weapons business forty years. I want to retire.
QUARK: I don't blame you.
GAILA: But I'm not going to be able to retire if my hand-picked successor can't control his conscience.
QUARK: The Regent is insane.
GAILA: Stop being so judgmental. It's his bank account, not his mental health you should be concerned with.
QUARK: But twenty eight million people? That just seems wrong.
GAILA: If Hagath heard you talk that way he would toss you out the nearest airlock. Look out there. Millions and millions of stars, millions upon millions of worlds. And right now, half of them are fanatically dedicated to destroying the other half. Now, do you think if one of those twinkling little lights suddenly went out, anybody would notice? Suppose I offered you ten million bars of gold pressed latinum to help turn out one of those lights. Would you really tell me to keep my money? (Yes. Yes, he would. Because deep down, Quark is a decent guy.)
SISKO: Chief, why is the baby in the pit?
O'BRIEN: It's kind of hard to explain, sir.
O'BRIEN: As soon as I took him down there with me, he fell asleep. Could be the pattern of the lights, the hum of the optronic emitters, the vibrations of the ODN relays, I'm not sure. But the point is, he's not crying.
SISKO: Yes. Chief, why don't you take off for a few days off until Keiko gets back? I think we can manage without you for that long.
O'BRIEN: That won't be necessary, sir. I have the situation well in hand.
SISKO: What I'm trying say is that keeping Kirayoshi in the pit is not an acceptable solution. Find another one.
O'BRIEN: Yes, sir. Sir?
SISKO: Yes, Chief?
O'BRIEN: Could we wait till he wakes up before we move him? (Hee!)
DAX: What the hell are you doing in here?
QUARK: I want you to have this.
DAX: You broke into my quarters to give me a tongo wheel? Get out before I call Security.
QUARK: I'm going.
DAX: And take that thing with you.
QUARK: I can't. It's a gift.
DAX: Think you can buy back my friendship?
QUARK: It's not a bribe. Chances are I won't be needing it anymore. Goodbye, Dax.
DAX: Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
QUARK: Don't you want to know where it is I'm going?
DAX: Not really.
QUARK: What if I said it was dangerous?
(Dax goes into the bedroom and closes the door.)
QUARK: Figures. Doesn't matter. Where I'm going you can't follow. What I have to do, I have to do alone. One man who's had enough, who's going to stand up and say --
DAX: Goodbye, Quark. (OUCH.)
SISKO: You're facing some serious charges here, Quark. Incitement to riot, endangering the public safety, disregard --
QUARK: How was I supposed to know everyone was going to start shooting? I just wanted them to cross paths so that the deal would fall through.
SISKO: It fell through, all right. Hagath and Gaila barely managed to get off the station alive.
QUARK: I hear General Nassuc sent a purification squad after them.
SISKO: I wouldn't count on seeing your former business partners again.
QUARK: I can live with that.
SISKO: What about the Regent's death?
QUARK: The Regent's dead?
SISKO: A purification squad caught up with him this morning.
QUARK: I can live with that, too. And I can think of twenty eight million other people who won't mind either.
SISKO: Twenty eight million and one. (Heh.)