Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Profit and Loss"


Air date: 3/21/1994
Written by Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus
Directed by Robert Wiemer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Running from their own government, three Cardassians seek refuge on DS9, and it turns out that one of the Cardassians—a woman named Natima (Mary Crosby)—is an old lover of Quark's, who left years ago on rather bad terms.

"Profit and Loss" is a mess of an episode, with convenient turns in the plot that border on storytelling fraud. The episode is really about the relationship between Natima and Quark, but the completely underwritten plot surrounding the reasons Natima has come to the station—to protect two of her students (Michael Reilly Burke and Heidi Swedberg) who are wanted by Cardassian officials—makes surprisingly little sense, especially under any form of scrutiny. They're part of a movement that is "going against" the Central Command, but their motives and goals are so vaguely scripted that it ultimately means nothing.

Then there are the gaping plot holes, like just how Odo would have the arbitrary power to release the wanted Cardassians against an agreement the Bajoran government made with the Cardassian government (whether it's in the name of "justice" or not). There's also the scene where Garak gets away with vaporizing Gul Toran (Edward Wiley) on board the station without so much as a peep from security. None of this is remotely believable.

Character-wise, it was also tough to swallow most scenes featuring Quark and Natima. The first two acts feature Natima scornfully refusing to acknowledge Quark because of something devious he did in the past. Fine. But then, after the scene where she phasers him, her character makes a blatant about-face that practically invites incredulity. Their subsequent scenes are overplayed to the point of soap opera melodrama. The "chemistry" here couldn't be any more forced. The episode's sole saving grace is Garak, who supplies his usual wit, particularly in one unforgettable dialog scene where he uses "tailor allegory" to explain to Quark the nature of Natima's political intrigue. An amusing scene between Quark and Odo is also on the right track. But they're isolated moments in a severely botched episode.

Previous episode: Playing God
Next episode: Blood Oath

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18 comments on this review

Aaron - Thu, Jan 17, 2013 - 10:15pm (USA Central)
I agree with everything you've said except the rating: 1 star at most.

The actress who played Natima was particularly bad. I thought they only got good actors to play important Cardassian roles. She was written badly, too. She should have been eccentric in some way and maybe not so elegant in order for us to believe she could fall for a Ferengi.
Comp625 - Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - 12:15pm (USA Central)
I thought a 2-star rating was appropriate. Despite the plot holes, the episode was at least "somewhat watchable."

I was entertained by Quark's desire for romance. He typically has no luck with women, so it was nice to know that he did have a past relationship, and how he yearned for a rekindling.

The episode would have probably worked better if Natima was introduced as WANTING to rekindle things with Quark, only to find out that she had ulterior motives. Or alternatively, have Natima push away Quark ENTIRELY and have Quark still save the day. Instead, Natima's wishy-washy turn of emotions came across as implausible, and made the episode laughable, at best.

The other plot holes didn't help. I, too, wondered why Odo released the wanted Cardassians. One could argue that this was "somewhat" addressed by Starfleet when they introduced Eddington as punishment for Odo's freelancing actions in the Season 3 opener. It's a stretch but I'm trying to give the writers some slack.

Also, this was probably my least favorite use of Garak, thus far. I understand his motive of wanting to support Cardassia in an effort to regain credibility, but his attempt to stop the Cardassians fugitives was poorly handled. His scenes and storyline placements are SO WELL DONE in DS9 that his appearance in "Profit & Loss" simply felt awkward.

My last gripe was with the decision to have Gul Turan physically present and then vaporized without consequence. Surely, Turan's crew would have wondered why he was missing and opened fire on DS9. Also, the murder of Turan would be caused other political ripples - even if it was Garak who murdered him. This plot hole probably bothered me the most since DS9 episodes revolving around Cardassians have been really good until now. Maybe it would have worked better had Gul Turan been *en route* to DS9, only to find out that Natima & Co. was "never on the station."

My rating: 2 out of 4 stars (leaning towards 1.5)
Kyle - Wed, May 15, 2013 - 2:46pm (USA Central)
I really didn't think this episode was that terrible. I'd have given it a 3, but no higher than that.
nic - Mon, Jul 29, 2013 - 7:13pm (USA Central)
Thought it was a 3 star. Not much of a thinker but entertaining and watchable. Never really slow or dull.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 4:47pm (USA Central)

I like Quark a lot so that saved what might have otherwise been a poor episode for me.

Jack - Sat, Dec 28, 2013 - 6:54pm (USA Central)
Must be before they decided to have Garak be from the Obsidian Order...here he's trying to restore his reputation with the Central Command, which Enabran Tain (or Garak) never had much regard for.
Yanks - Sun, Jun 29, 2014 - 7:12pm (USA Central)
Quark's performance is the saving redeeming factor in this episode. His constant "courting" of Natima from the Ferengi perspective was entertaining.

...that and Garak's mere presence...

Loved the Quark/Garak dialog in Garak's shop.

Love how Garak can always get a point across without mentioning the real point. IS there a term for that?

3 of 4 stars for me.
Filip - Tue, Nov 4, 2014 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
In my opinion, the episode started strong. It really caught my interest, especially the scene where Garak uses a fashion allegory to explain the situation to Quark.

However, after Natima shot Quark, everything fell apart. The change in the story was so strong at that point that I thought Quark started hallucinating due to the phaser blast.

What authority does Odo have to release Bajoran prisoners? If he did it for justice, why wait until Quark came to beg him to release them? What about those Bajorans held by the Cardassians? Are they going back to imprisonment? And wasn't it mentioned in an earlier episode that there is a treaty between Bajorans and Cardassians which prevents Cardassians from having any Bajoran prisoners? Who would anwser for that gul's death?

The end was so rushed, it leaves the impression that the writers didn't even care about the consistency of the episode, or logic for that matter.

Those plotholes wouldn't bother me as much if it had been a poor episode from the start. Like this, the episode just feels utterly wasted. Garak and Quark were its only saving grace. Pitty.
Filip - Tue, Nov 4, 2014 - 3:36pm (USA Central)
I forgot one more thing - if Garak supported the professor's cause, why did he inform the Central Command that they were on the station in the first place?
Dusty - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 3:47am (USA Central)
It's a mess all right. Totally unbelievable. Why would Odo violate all station protocols just to do a favor for Quark in the name of "justice"? His job is to enforce Federation LAW on the station. There are times when justice and the law are not only different things, but mutually exclusive. Surely Odo realizes this, so perhaps he was just using justice as an excuse to do Quark a rare favor.

Speaking of Quark though, him and Garak were the two characters that saved this episode. Their conversation in the clothes shop was particularly fascinating, and Armin Shimerman does all he can with the romantic scenes. I really believed he was a Ferengi in love. Usually Trek romances fall apart because they aren't believable, but he made me believe somehow. For that, I have to give this episode some credit.
Robert - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 8:27am (USA Central)
@Dusty - I think it's because Trek romances always work better with a history between the characters. I mean sure, sometimes the execution or the chemistry falls totally short anyway, but Worf/K'Ehleyr, Dax/Khan, Seska/Chakotay all felt like believable relationships between the characters because we don't need to go from a meet cute to madly in love in 30 minutes. Just by imbuing the characters with some off-screen history it gives relationships a credibility that just isn't typically present in the "hour long romance".

Even the brief romance between Sisko and Mirror Jennifer worked better because they each had baggage with another version of those characters. And we meet Keiko after she's already been dating Miles for awhile. It just works better than Meridian or Second Sight type of episodes do.
Dusty - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 10:40am (USA Central)
@Robert - Well said. I agree that Trek romances usually come off better with a history, though not always. O'Brien and Keiko have the most established relationship on DS9, but I don't find them any more believable as a couple than Dax and Deral from Meridian...maybe even less so, because at least those two were having a good time! Even with no buildup at all, if the characters really seem to enjoy each others' company, that makes a big difference.
Robert - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 11:24am (USA Central)
"O'Brien and Keiko have the most established relationship on DS9, but I don't find them any more believable as a couple than Dax and Deral from Meridian..."

But wouldn't you find them even less believable if they didn't have off-screen history then? :)

I LIKE Keiko, but I know I'm a minority in that around here.
Grumpy - Fri, Nov 7, 2014 - 5:58pm (USA Central)
Dusty: "O'Brien and Keiko have the most established relationship on DS9, but I don't find them any more believable as a couple than Dax and Deral from Meridian."

Maybe that's because Keiko was introduced on the day of her wedding. The O'Briens were a fait-accompli couple that never went away, but they never had any build-up. As I recall, we never learned how they met or why they were attracted to each other. At least the one-episode romances show characters meeting & falling in love. That's more than Miles & Keiko ever got.
MsV - Wed, Apr 8, 2015 - 11:24pm (USA Central)
I am watching DS9 again, from beginning to end this time. Since I got Netflix last year, I have been picking through them and watching what I remembered. So with that said, to Robert, No I still do not like Keiko, but she works very well as a nagging wife.

I didn't care very much for this episode, it was good to see Mary Crosby again. She looked great in spite of all the cardi make-up. I hadn't seen much of her since she shot JR.

methane - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 - 9:08pm (USA Central)
I agree there are many plot holes in this, but I like the characters enough (including the Cardassian woman); I'd probably give it 2.5 stars.

One character item about Garak: I loved his first conversation with Quark, but I would have liked that final scene re-written so that he was much less direct. Would have been more in-character.
Nathan B. - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 - 12:57am (USA Central)
Like Robert, I enjoy Keiko's scenes. I find her true to life, and in real life I know a few people like her. She follows Miles out of loyalty and love, but takes it out on him for this. She can be bitchy, cantankerous, moody. But she's also incredibly loyal, hard-working, and tough as nails. And she still somehow finds the time to make Miles happy to be her husband.
Nathan B. - Tue, Jul 14, 2015 - 1:01am (USA Central)
I do agree with much of Jammer's evaluation of this episode, but I have to say that I found much to enjoy in this episode. The Quark-Natima scenes were believable, and I enjoyed watching them. Natima is so beautiful, too! And anytime you get Garak and Quark together, you know you're in for a treat.

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