Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Body Parts"

***

Air date: 6/10/1996
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by Louis P. DeSantis & Robert J. Bolivar
Directed by Avery Brooks

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"If you try the trousers on first, you'll see I've added some extra padding to the seat ... which should make swiveling on your bar stool much more comfortable." — Garak to Morn

Nutshell: A surprisingly decent Ferengi vehicle, and with an amiable subplot.

Well, it's the first one in a very long time, but "Body Parts" is a Ferengi episode that actually works. I guess it's a good indication that the season is going well when the writers can come up with a passable vehicle for Quark.

I'll admit it—I thought we were in really big trouble when I saw the lackluster and unfunny teaser where Quark reveals to Rom that he's been diagnosed with a terminal illness (the deadpan "I did this and that and, oh yeah, I'm dying" was just plain dumb and utterly predictable). Nor were my spirits raised with the absolutely typical reactions both Rom and Quark were making in the early acts concerning Quark's condition (Rom being seriously overstated and dreadfully overacted, and Quark being predictably stubborn). And then when Brunt (that obnoxious FCA guy played by Jeffrey Combs) showed up again, I was almost ready to shut down my brain for another Ferengi outing to go crashing-and-burning down along with the likes of "Family Business," "Prophet Motive," and "Bar Association."

But then a funny thing happened: The show came together and worked on its terms—even with its basic plot that can be summed up in one sentence. That sentence goes something like this: Quark is tricked into believing he has a terminal illness by Brunt, who buys Quark's remains in advance and then reveals to Quark that he's not going to die, forcing him to choose whether to kill himself to satisfy the contract's terms or to break the contract and live the rest of his life as a pathetic Ferengi outcast. The motivation for Brunt's actions aren't really important (he thinks Quark is a—gasp—philanthropist, and wants him destroyed, which strikes me as rather contrived motivation). What's important here is a decent character study for Quark—one of the few times the series actually uses the character in a semi-serious way.

The key words are "decent" and "semi-serious." While the show is an overall success, it isn't really anything approaching compelling or dramatic. And there is a lot of comic relief here—some of it's dumb, and some of it's effective. In any case it's enough to see that the show doesn't take itself all that seriously—which is fine for a comedy episode, but still worth mentioning in terms of comparing this installment to more serious shows.

Again, I found Brunt's presence and the Ferengi culture he represents less than interesting—I still think that analyzing a transparently greed-laden society is more often annoying and obvious than it is funny. Scenes like the one where Brunt is aghast when he learns Quark gives his workers—gasp again—vacation time seem as if they want to be funny based solely on the backward values Ferengi place on doing business at the expense of the individual. But enough already—the joke has been done so many times on DS9, and it was never that great a joke in the first place.

What I did find interesting in "Body Parts," however, was discovering that the show actually matters. Unlike most Ferengi shows, this one seems to have quite an impact on Quark, and a lasting impact at that. Usually, Quark is just a Ferengi caricature, spouting Rules of Acquisition and being greedy just because the guidelines the writers have set down for the Ferengi as a culture demands it. But this time, the writers address Quark's difference from the rest of Ferenginar. The twist here is the question: What if, despite how greedy and conniving Quark seems to humans, he is actually too generous and overly concerned with the well-being of his workers in the eyes of other Ferengi? And because of this difference he has to prove otherwise by killing himself—or live only as a disgrace to his people?

Despite all the comic mayhem the premise is milked for, this is not a lightweight issue. This requires some hard choices for Quark—and, for once, some tough consequences as well. Watching Quark go through his hardship is handled surprisingly well. While I may not like selfish Ferengi customs, it's quite clear that Quark, as a practicing Ferengi businessman, does. He wants to be successful and liked by his peers, but Brunt is determined to see to it otherwise.

So Quark considers killing himself so he can die with Ferengi businessman dignity—or, rather, in one of the season's best turns of comic inspiration, hiring Garak to do it for him (to which, for a rather brief and intriguing moment, Garak smiles ominously). This leads to two of the funniest scenes the series has done in months. First is the scene where Garak practices killing Quark in a holosuite simulation. (Garak: "How was that?" Quark: "No! Snapping vertebrae is out!") Second is the scene where Quark walks precariously into his darkened quarters expecting a surprise assassination. (This was great physical comedy that didn't wander too far into the realm of slapstick, and I was laughing hard.)

But when Quark has a bizarre dream involving Gint, the first Grand Nagus (who looks strikingly similar to his brother Rom), he realizes his life is not worth Brunt's price. This leads Quark to his decision to defy Brunt, accepting the stiff penalties that come with it—including complete loss of assets, exile from Ferenginar, and being forever forbidden to deal business with other Ferengi.

I particularly liked the show's ending. For once, there was no easy fix to the problem. Quark is faced with being completely ruined—period. He sits alone in his empty bar, which has been completely stripped of everything, furniture and all. The only assets he has are his friends—Sisko, Odo, Dax, Bashir, even Morn—who, to help him reopen his bar, donate furniture and supplies out of their own generosity. The final shot is a very reassuring turn of characterization. For once, Quark is actually speechless with gratitude, as if he understands generosity for the first time in his life. Reading into this, I'm hoping this will somewhat change his character's outlook. Being exiled from Ferenginar may cause him to be even more drawn into Federation values; and from now on, maybe he'll think twice before taking advantage of the people around him. That's the payoff of "Body Parts"—one I find quite respectable. Most Ferengi episodes don't even have a payoff, and it's nice to finally see one with some story and substance.

"Body Parts" also has a B-story in which pregnant Keiko O'Brien is injured in a Runabout mishap. As a result, Bashir is forced to perform an emergency medical procedure to save her baby. He has to move the baby to the only other womb available at the time of the accident: Major Kira. Bajoran anatomy complications dictates that Kira must carry the child to term.

I thought this worked quite well. Obviously, the only reason this part of the story even exists is because of Nana Visitor's pregnancy. But, implausibilities aside, I think the writers did the best they possibly could have under the circumstances. The characterizations are surprisingly absorbing, and handled well. There are possibilities here, too. Look for Kira to be viewing life in new ways, and experiencing a very intimate bond with the O'Briens. At the end of the show, Kira agrees to move in with the O'Briens, which makes for a rather fascinating family unit. And I thought the "Aunt Nerys" bit was, well, cute. I hope we see more of this, because it made for great character padding.

Bottom line: While the plot of "Body Parts" isn't the greatest and it takes a while to get going, it ultimately delivers on the character plane. Thumbs up.

Note: After viewing this episode, it came to my attention that many of the DS9 characters are outcasts among their own people. Quark has now been exiled, Worf stands alone against the Klingon empire, Odo is ostracized among Changelings for killing one of his own, Garak is exiled from Cardassia, Dukat is a rogue fighter flying around in a Klingon ship, and even Dax almost made a choice that would have resulted in her banishment from Trill. Most interesting. Perhaps the series is trying to say something about individuality and standing up for one's beliefs.

Previous episode: The Quickening
Next episode: Broken Link

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34 comments on this review

Jasyson - Thu, Jun 19, 2008 - 9:10pm (USA Central)
I have to agree that this was probably one of the best Ferengi episodes in the run of the series except maybe Family Business, one of my favorites. The ending was surprisingly good even if it was very Capraesq. I half expected Quark to turn to Rom and say "Look Rom, everybody gave me stuff because I wouldn't kill my self"

I thought your assesment of exiled or neary exiled characters through the season was interesting. I'v watched season 4 several times and never picked up on that. Its a testiment to the writers that they didn't go out of their way to point that out, good subtle story telling. Btw by the end of the season Odo is not just exiled from his people but from his true nature and oh you forgot Worfs brother Kern who was exiled like Odo, from him self.
dan b - Fri, Dec 19, 2008 - 3:41pm (USA Central)
I really liked this episode. I have it 3.5 stars. I really liked the interaction with garak and the ending was a nice show of friendship
Larrylongballs - Thu, Nov 19, 2009 - 8:42am (USA Central)
It was also avery clever reworking of The Merchant of Venice. It is the Shakespearian Ferengi episode.

Nic - Tue, Nov 24, 2009 - 9:26pm (USA Central)
Definitely the best Quark episode to date. I actually cared about the character for once, and though I admit I half-expected Quark to somehow have his cake and eat it too, I was surprised to see that it wasn't that easy.
Anthony2816 - Fri, Feb 12, 2010 - 1:14am (USA Central)
One problem: Wasn't Quark's contract with Garak left open?
Jay - Sat, Feb 5, 2011 - 9:26pm (USA Central)
Not sure I understand the point of Quark's bar being stripped of everything. Presumably not all of that stuff would be the FCA's to take (surely they couldn't, for example, rip out the holosuites). As far as what Quark did own, wouldn't the donated material at the end of the episode have become Quark's immediately become subject to confiscation as well? Plus, after this episode, it wasn't long before we once again found Quark employing Ferengi and doing business with Ferengi.
Jack - Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - 2:44pm (USA Central)
I thought voles were considered vermin (particularly by Quark, who has complained about them infesting his bar more than once), but here we hear of Quark closing a volebelly deal, suggesting they are a food commodity.
Duge - Thu, Jun 14, 2012 - 11:31am (USA Central)
@Anthony2816: I was wondering about that too. I expected Garak to follow through on his promise to "surprise" Quark after he decided to break his contract with Brunt but it was just like the whole subplot with Garak disappeared by the end of the episode without even a mention. I would have liked to have seen some kind of subtle nod between Quark and Garak that killing him (Quark) was off- though I'm sure that Garak eventually figured it out that Quark had called the plan off when his bar was sacked by the FCA and, well, Garak is smart enough to not want to be open about their plan.
John - Thu, Aug 23, 2012 - 8:39pm (USA Central)
I also like the bit about the Rules of Acquisition being all just a clever marketing ploy.
William - Tue, Oct 30, 2012 - 10:38pm (USA Central)
I'm generally a fan of the Ferengi episodes, but agree with others this is a standout among them.
Arachnea - Wed, Nov 21, 2012 - 6:44am (USA Central)
There is a lot of silliness in this episode, but there's also a lot we learn about Quark. What I liked is the underlining that Quark - despite what we take as obnoxious behaviour - doesn't cheat because he's a bad person, but because he follows a set of rules in which he believes.

And for once, it's nice to see other people and even Sisko being nice to him ! (which is incidentally sarcastic, knowing that they like him here for what they dislike him most: breaking a rule - ok, not a Federation rule, a Ferengi rule, but you get my point :P).
I would have liked more continuity about that in the following episodes.

On a sidenote, the writers don't really know what to do with Rom. In some episodes, he wants his brother dead (even tries to kill him); we see him not caring at all after Quark has been beaten savagely by Nausicaans but in this one, there's not even a hint that Quark's death is what Rom's being dreaming about for a long time.
Chris - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 7:43pm (USA Central)
Oh jeez...a per chance routine doctors appointment happens to reveal a disease (okay so far) that strikes only 1 in 5,000,000 Ferengi (quite a stretch) and will just so happen to kill Quark within six days (ridiculous).

So apparently we are to believe that had Quark not happened to visit the doctor while he happened to be on Feringinar, he would have suddenly dropped dead on DS9.

Oh, but actually it was a misdiagnosis of a disease that rare and that deadly.
Chris - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 7:45pm (USA Central)
and the reason to reject the second opinion from Bashir was ridiculous...we've seen Quark allow Bashir treat him before for myriad things.
lizzyann - Mon, Jan 7, 2013 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
@chris

But did you like it? Did you enjoy the ep? Did it make you laugh? And how about that b-plot?
Kevin - Thu, Feb 28, 2013 - 9:15pm (USA Central)
In this day and age, it's hard to read about the teaser and not mentally hear the line read: "I got the results of the test back -- I definitely have Dorek Syndrome."
Chris - Sun, May 19, 2013 - 12:20pm (USA Central)
This is a different Chris to the one above.

To the commenters speculating on Garak's contract with Quark. I think you are taking it too seriously. I don't believe Garak ever had any intention to kill Quark. Why would he risk getting into trouble with his Federation/Bajoran hosts? To do Quark a favour? He doesn't seem motivated by money. He probably just went through the assassination scenarios for fun and suggesting he could kill Quark at any moment, again for fun. Am I the only one who thought this obvious?
Nick - Tue, Jul 2, 2013 - 12:22am (USA Central)
@Chris. I had the same thought. The notion that Garak would put himself in the position to be tried for murder is ridiculous. In addition to him being one of the first suspects Odo would question (especially if the murder was committed very well) Rom would have been a witness that would have no reason to keep Garak's part in it a secret. I think Garak was just having a bit of fun with Quark while he waited for cooler heads to prevail.

Even if he was serious, just because we don't see Quark tell Garak that the deal was off, it is reasonable to assume that Quark would've done so the moment he decided to break the contract. He's not stupid.
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 6:30pm (USA Central)

Decent Ferengi ep.

5/10
Chris - Thu, Nov 7, 2013 - 2:37pm (USA Central)
"But did you like it? Did you enjoy the ep? Did it make you laugh? And how about that b-plot? "

Well, no, because such a string of convoluted contrivances totally lift you (or at least me) out of the story.
William B - Thu, Nov 7, 2013 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
@Kevin, LOL. I just saw your months-old comment now. I can totally see it. QUARK: "Everything goes wrong all at once. Nobody wants to help me. And I'm dying."
eastwest101 - Sat, Nov 9, 2013 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
I agree - a lot of silliness in this genuinely entertaining episode, Armin Shimmerman and Andrew J Robinson steal the show....

A script with a lot of heart
Jack - Tue, Nov 19, 2013 - 11:41am (USA Central)
I got a kick out of how the opening shot of the station in "The Quickening" was a tight closeup rather than a reveal of the whole station, so they can't be accused of "Voyager rapid repair" after losing the pylon the previous week. The closing scene does it again.

But here, the opening shows the whole station, looking pristine. Still pretty fast to have rebuilt it, considering that it's Cardassian architecture.
Jay - Wed, Jan 1, 2014 - 11:51am (USA Central)
Chris is right...it is pretty absurd that a disease would kill within six days without producing any notable symptom before that. What does Dorek syndrome do?...trigger an event (perhaps a stroke...the way the death unfolds is of course never addressed by the episode) that is at the same time sudden, discoverable ahead of time by a physician, and yet unpreventable by said physician upon discovery. It is just a bit much.
Jay - Wed, Jan 1, 2014 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
And...Brunt shows up almost immediately after Quark learns he really doesn't have Dorek's syndrome. We pretty much have to assume that Brunt was already in transit to DS9 when that news came. It seems to me that one can only conclude that the doctor had to purposely misdiagnose Quark for Brunt. The coincidence is too much (although, the whole episode is too much, so...). If so, the doctor is in on the fraud, and that, I think, should be enough to get Quark out of the contract.
Jons - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 3:29pm (USA Central)
I think it's quite obvious Garak never intended to actually kill Quark nor did he think for a second that Quark actually wanted to go through with it (as he slyly remarks when they're doing the holosuits simulations... And then proceeds to tease telling him that "he won't know what hit him").

I liked that episode, nice ending, very nice acting.
Jack - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 10:23am (USA Central)
Rule of Acquisition #17: A contract is a contract...but only between Ferengi".

That seems like an awfully early number (17) to involve races beyond Ferenginar. Are the rules of acquisition newer than first contact with other races? They've always been presented as being much older than that.
DLPB - Sat, Feb 22, 2014 - 12:35pm (USA Central)
If you ignore the absurdity of how Trek thinks capitalism and contracts work (and how they portray the Ferengi), this is a pretty fun episode.
DLPB - Sat, Feb 22, 2014 - 12:42pm (USA Central)
...though I'm sure that Garak eventually figured it out that Quark ...

=========

This is a work of fiction. Don't talk about it as if it is real. Address the writing and the writers, or it makes you look like an idiot.

The reason Garak wasn't shown is the writers got lazy. The other gripe aside from those mentioned here, is that the contract would be null and void. What advanced society would keep a contract on a man who was misdiagnosed with a terminal illness?

It's just laughable.
Dusty - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 1:22am (USA Central)
Well, that was a jarring opening. I immediately care about Quark's predicament and the way they worked Nana Visitor's real-life pregnancy into the storyline was pretty creative. Keiko's scene with Kira was her best acting yet. And Brunt is still a loathsome stain. xD

If this episode has any weakness it's that the pacing is a tad clunky, jumping back and forth between the A and B plots with little in the way of rhythm or transition. But Shimerman steals the entire show with his performance. The ending was inspiring without being maudlin, and I like the way Garak was used. An outstanding show.
Vylora - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
There's diseases/viruses/parasites in real life that can remain dormant and undetected until they activate or attack. So it's by no means a stretch of the imagination, especially seeing as Ferengi are physiologically different, that they would have potential for illnesses along those lines. Seems to me that Dorek Syndrome is one of those that remains dormant til activation and strikes hard afterwards. Also not all real life illnesses have visual symptoms. In this case it doesn't matter because Quark didn't have it anyway.

The how and why of Brunt getting there is a non-issue as well. Perhaps he was in cahoots with the doctor that made the misdiagnosis? Maybe he found out what was going on by other means? Who cares? Obviously Brunt has been keeping track of Quark since "Bar Association" and very likely before that.

Quark not wanting Bashirs second opinion wasn't a stretch either. The other times Bashir treated him was when he was physically attacked right there on the station. In this particular case, he was diagnosed on Feringinar by a doctor that right there in the dialogue stated he had more faith in because of shared Ferengi principles of money. I personally, in real life, would want another opinion, sure. But that's not Quark and this wasn't a stretch.

I think contrivances are sought after where none exist when one doesn't like an episode.

Speaking of which, I quite enjoyed it. I thought the change of familial situation for the O'briens and Kira was nicely handled and fun to watch. I don't understand how a baby that's obviously noticeable in size can just be transported into a new womb like that. But then I don't know much about Bajoran physiology. The transporter skill alone was probably pretty high for such a procedure, but it fits knowing what we know of Bashir.

The Quark story was fantastic compared to most Ferengi episodes and the scenes with Quark/Garak and Quarks dream were highlights for me. In fact the overall execution was well done and it didn't have the over the top silliness for silliness sake that tends to make these episodes completely face-plant. Loved your review as usual, Jammer, though I actually did like the opening scene, too. (:

Good stuff. Not stellar - just solid entertainment that had consequences for a few characters to boot.

High end of 3 for me.
Eric - Sun, Jun 8, 2014 - 11:28am (USA Central)
Doesn't it bother anyone else that the FCA somehow has jurisdiction over a bar on a Federation station? This keeps happening in this show: "Family Business", "Bar association", but it doesn't make sense. It would be like the Chinese government coming in and closing down a grocery store in Canada, just because the owner is Chinese.
Andy's Friend - Sun, Jun 8, 2014 - 12:34pm (USA Central)
^ The point is that the Ferengi Alliance considers all Ferengi her citizens, subject to her laws, regardless of their place of residence and work. A bit like some states on Earth today will automatically revoke your citizenship if you obtain another, while others will never revoke that citizenship, no matter what ― once you're one of us, you'll always be one of us, even if you live on the other side of the planet and don't plan on ever returning.

Since Ferengi citizens seem to take this very seriously and respect it, it follows that the Ferengi Commerce Authority maintains overall jurisdiction in financial/fiscal matters over all Ferengi everywhere, no matter what.

And apparently the Bajorans respect this practice as well and somehow exempt Quark of taxation, and merely charge some form of fixed rent. Otherwise, Quark would be subject to double taxation, which I doubt he would have agreed to.

So remember: Terek Nor/DS9 is a Cardassian-built, now Bajoran-owned, and partly Federation-operated space station ― with a Ferengi-leased bar, seemingly tax-exempted by the Bajoran authorities and subject only to FCA fiscal and labour law. But I'm betting the Cardassian tailor pays taxes to the Bajorans. Ahh, the intricacies of Alpha Quadrant dealings... ;)
2piix - Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - 1:54pm (USA Central)
I'm not so sure it's that complicated. The FCA probably doesn't have jurisdiction, as such, over Quark's bar. Quark "consented" to have his assets taken, because messing with the FCA would cause him and his family huge problems. Think "extraordinary rendition".

Also, we know the Federation lets Quark have a lease for free.

I don't know about taxation. But it's possible that Bajor and the Federation treat DS-9 as a duty free zone (like an airport, for example)
Yanks - Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - 10:20am (USA Central)
I think your review is spot on Jammer.

Couple points.

It was CLEAR to me that Brunt was in on this with the Doctor from the start. As soon as he showed up to the station and was revealed to be the "highest bidder" I knew this was his plan.

I love to hear Quark talk about Ferengi "heaven" :-)

"QUARK: Yes. And when I arrive at the gates of the Divine Treasury, the Registrar will accept my bribe and usher me inside."

...and of course Brunt played by Combs is great as well. I cracked up at this line:

"BRUNT: What I want is fifty two disks of vacuum-desiccated Quark. Nothing more, nothing less. "

lol

When both these great actors play off each other it really is a treat.

And once again, Garak's mere presence adds to this episode. I ROARED when Garak was demonstrating different methods of murder to Quark. They could have had an interaction between Quark and Garak after he decided he wasn’t going to go through with it, but I think just having Garak smile in the background when Quark tells Brunt he’s going to break the contract would have been sufficient.

Very interesting “B” story as well. Glad they figured out a way to keep Nanna. It’s my understanding that many times if a cast member gets pregnant in TV, they kill off the part.

I also agree; the ending made this episode. For a couple reasons. Quark now realizes his customers are assets, and more importantly he just might be coming to the realization that he IS a community leader as Sisko bribed him into becoming in ‘Emissary’.

The best “Ferengi” episode yet.

3.5 stars from me.

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