Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Profit and Loss"

2 stars

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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35 comments on this review

Aaron
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)

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

5/10
Jack
Sat, Dec 28, 2013, 6:54pm (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
@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 (UTC -6)
@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 (UTC -6)
"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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
William B
Sat, Aug 8, 2015, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
"The Nagus" was a Quark story that's a comic take on "The Godfather"; this is a somewhat more serious-minded homage/rip-off of "Casablanca," so much so that it was originally titled "Here's Looking at You." Spoilers: "Casablanca" takes place in Morocco in WW2, currently under French control but outside the zone of German occupation, and before the American entry into the war, and the title location becomes a kind of quasi-neutral environment standing at the intersection of so many different powers and interests that personal, individual actions can more or less affect the outcome of the world; American bartender Rick happens to have letters of transit which can (somewhat improbably) help someone escape to any part of the world, has to choose whether or not to help ex-girlfriend Ilsa get her current lover Victor Laszlo, a leader of anti-Nazi resistance, out to freedom, while oily French police chief Renault's loyalties seem set on collaborating with the Germans but waver. A DS9 version actually seems kind of inevitable, since DS9, like Casablanca within that film's universe, is similarly posed at a strategic point at which many diverse interests intersect and decisions affecting the fate of whole civilizations in two quadrants of the galaxy are ultimately made. Quark more or less plays Rick, his cloaking device the analogue of the letters of transit; the Cardassians more or less represent Europe, positioned between totalitarian rule and civilian resistance, with Natima as Ilsa, her students as Victor (the future of Cardassia/Europe), Gul Toran as Nazi rep Major Strasser, and Odo and Garak take on different parts of the Renault character, Odo being the lawman with a type of frenemy relationship with the bartender and Garak the wildcard with some loyalties to the totalitarians that are tested as things go on. Some of the pleasures in the episode actually lie in recognizing the choices in adaptation; by having Lang be the teacher and her students the pupils, it gives more agency to the Ilsa character, which is interesting, and particularly notable is the phasering scene. While awkward in effect, there is something quite funny about having "Ilsa" *actually* shoot "Rick" rather than just threatening to.

I am a fan of "Casablanca." Despite having its moments, the emotional dynamics and deep veins of conflicted emotions that make "Casablanca" so successful (or, for people on whom the film's charm is lost, we can at least say "popular") are largely ignored or flattened by the adaptation; Quark has no broken heart about Lang's leaving him, and nor is he ever *really* tempted to do "the wrong thing," and Lang is never really tempted to stay with Quark -- so that there are very few "real" decisions made as the story goes on by these characters. The people who *do* make the key decisions are Odo and Garak, both of whom make the call to let Lang go even though it defies their official duty (Odo) and their possible exit from exile (Garak). I should say that Garak actually fulfills aspects of both Renault and Rick, here -- Rick is the one who is in exile for America for unexplained reasons, and the one who (MAJOR "CASABLANCA" SPOILERS FOR REST OF PARAGRAPH) shoots Strasser at the end, though it's Renault whose turnabout is the last and most surprising in the film. The problem is that by having Garak be both the shooter and the "round up the usual suspects" last-minute surprise, it sort of leaves open the question of what Garak thought he was doing all episode.

I have been trying to piece Garak's actions in the episode together. He sees Lang and the students. He warns Quark away from Lang. He tells the Cardassian government about the students/terrorists (confirmed by Toran), and then explains to Sisko the presence of the warship. He (as we later find out) suggests the prisoner exchange, which sees several Bajorans released. Then Toran tells him to kill Lang and her students directly. Then he holds Lang and the students at phaser point for a while, until Toran shows up and Garak kills him, after which he says that he is acting out of love of Cardassia. Now, it could be that Garak really did not want Lang et al. to be martyrs, as he claimed to Toran, and it could also be that Toran's statement that Garak will never be let out of exile was what did it. But those motivations do seem pretty small. If he wanted Lang et al. to escape, why call the Cardassians to the station? The best I can think of is that maybe Garak was operating out of a high-level Magnificent Bastard playbook -- he calls the Cardassians to the station so that he can offer a prisoner exchange/release of some Bajoran prisoners, and he may well have known that Toran was the Gul that would be sent (or even requested him) and expected that things would play out more or less the way they did, so that Garak could assassinate Toran, while doing so in an "off the books" way (since Toran would not officially have any reason to be at those docks). But that is too many steps to be plausible, particularly since I can't see Garak actually making those levels of play to have Bajoran prisoners released. That still seems to be the best explanation I have, though, in that I think that if Garak believed that the students should be killed or imprisoned, he would not have aided their escape no matter how much Toran personally offended him, nor do I believe that he would change his mind based on the little information he is given. The Magnificent Bastard interpretation is unsatisfying but it's about the best explanation I can come up with. That being the case, warning Quark away from Lang would have had the effect of mostly avoiding getting an unstable element put in the situation; a man motivated by love rather than pure ideology or personal gain is harder to predict and so it would really not do to have Quark mucking up Garak's big plan. The Garak scenes are fine on their own, except for the least convincing standoff ever at the episode's end; the clothes-metaphor tailor scene is indeed "unforgettable" as Jammer says and is by far the episode's highlight.

Anyway, as to the romance itself, well -- I find Shimerman completely convincing and Mary Crosby entirely unconvincing. The dialogue lacks wit and polish and so comes across as pure melodrama, with endless repetitions on the "I love you I love you I love you" stuff without the chemistry to back it up. I like the idea of Quark having had a life-defining romance in his past, and (admittedly transposing some "Casablanca" thoughts to this episode) that Quark may indeed have been a more open-hearted, and even a nobler, sort of person than he is now; that even then he hid behind "profits" as his sole reason for operating and selling food to Bajorans, but that he perhaps chose the less profitable route one too many times for it to be clear that he was motivated by nothing but profit, and that Lang's departure broke his heart and made him retreat a little to the greedy, Ferengi persona that we largely know and love. At the same time, I don't really find this element of backstory all that convincing. I found a quote from Ira Steven Behr on this episode on Memory Alpha which I think gets at the problem, to a degree, where he talks about feeling that the episode makes Quark too heroic; once it becomes possible to argue that Quark is actually incredibly brave, standing up for political dissidents and full of selfless(-ish) love, then it's harder to sell how hard it is for Quark to come around to do the right thing in later seasons. On the other hand, I do quite like this exchange:

QUARK: Then let me make it up to you. Let me help you. I ask for nothing in return.
NATIMA: Nothing?
QUARK: Except that you stay with me forever.

Ha. Anyway, I should say that the episode doesn't make Quark *that* heroic; he is a guy in love, and that is fine. But the episode then lives or dies on how convincing that love is, especially since Quark is not really significantly changed by that experience. And overall, yeah, I'd say that it dies on that. I appreciate the homage to a movie I love which simultaneously attempts to give greater agency to the female lead, but the result is lackluster. I'd say a low 2 stars.
William B
Sat, Aug 8, 2015, 8:41pm (UTC -6)
Actually, yeah, I'm going to go down to 1.5. The handling of the Garak thing was particularly disappointing because it really does come across as inscrutable, and not in a "what is this guy's motivation?" mysterious way but in a "this plot makes no sense" kind of way. The romance is wan. Odo's releasing the prisoners, as others pointed out, doesn't work; even if we accept Odo's releasing the prisoners because of his passion for justice, it doesn't make sense that he would wait until Quark begged him. (It might have played okay had Quark openly revealed that he had the cloaking device before that point, so that Odo knew that there would be a point in releasing the prisoners.)

Fortunately, the season takes a turn for the better starting with "Blood Oath"....
Bryan
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 9:12am (UTC -6)
Regarding the Garak thing, it is left somewhat inscrutable, but Garak has always been somewhat inscrutable up to this point in the show, so that is no strike against it. It it was nonsensical that would be bad, but it does make a kind of sense. It appears that what Garak really wants is to send a message to the "underground" that he, Garak, would kill a gul and allow their people to escape. That's the message the "students" are going to take away from the station -- a message about Garak. WHY Garak wants to send this message is left inscrutable -- but all his actions do make sense if sending this message was his goal all along (he draws the gul to the station just so they can see him kill him!). In the dock he obviously is stalling, talking with the "students" with no intention of shooting them, just waiting for the gul, all so they can see him shoot the gul to the greatest dramatic effect before releasing them.
There is obviously a greater play at work (is Odo in on it somehow?), but the story is mainly from Quark's love-blinded POV, and Quark doesn't know, so we don't know. You could say it is rather like "Whispers", where everybody knows something except the viewer's O'Brian-clone POV. But this was much more fun to watch.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 10:43am (UTC -6)
DS9 does Casablanca. With Ferengi.

This does some things very well. As an insight into a slightly greater depth of character for Quark it works well, and moving Garak slightly out of the shadows was always going to be worthwhile. His advice on fashion to Quark may be one of the best scripted scenes yet in any Trek episode.

On the downside, this does slow up considerably and a lot of time is spent standing around talking without really moving the plot along. Some characters seem to have strange motivations at times (Odo/Garak). And you have to wonder why no-one came looking for Toran...?

But Quark does get pimp-slapped by a woman. What's not to like about that? 2.5 stars.
Luke
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
I kind of like "Profit and Loss". Granted, it has it's problems, most of which Jammer has spelled out. But it does have three things I genuinely like about it - the introduction of the Cardassian Dissident Movement, Garak (who always elevates any episode he's in) and the wonderful use of Quark.

Is Quark the universe's ultimate materialist? No, he isn't. The fact that there are things he'll gladly take over profit doesn't come out of left field. "Rules of Acquisition" established that when he gave up his massive Gamma Quadrant profits in order to keep Pel out of trouble. So, the fact that he's willing to go to such extremes here for the woman he loves really rings true to me. Granted, this is essentially another romance-of-the-week story, but it's far superior to tripe like "Melora" and "Second Sight" - mostly because Quark and Natima have a back-story and Shimmerman and Crosby actually have some good chemistry together - so I'll give it a pass on that account. I'm a big fan of Quark, as you've probably no doubt gathered by now, so it's really nice to see the writers treating him the respect the character deserves again.

Of course, however, the best part of the episode is Garak. Even though this isn't one of the better uses of the character, Robinson always delivers the goods - the two scenes where he subtly threatens Quark and Natima with tailor symbolism and where he "delivers a message" to Sisko make up for all the oddness he engages in elsewhere. Seriously, what was his plan at the end? I always thought that he killed Toran with a second phaser he was keeping hidden, - because, you know, he always plans five steps ahead of everyone else. But, this time I finally realized that he uses the phaser he took away from Quark. In other words, he was gullible enough to be played by Toran and was only saved because Quark happened to bring a gun. Also, why did he let them go? Because he loves Cardassia, but what does that mean? Does he agree with the Dissident Movement or does he just want to poke the eye of the Central Command? Oh well, it doesn't really matter, because, like I said, Robinson does deliver. I just hope Rekelen doesn't go around licking wedding invitations, those things can be killers - bonus points if you got that reference :-).

While it could have been better - a little more development of of the Dissident Movement and a better handling of Garak's motivations would have been nice, "Profit and Loss" is still much better than the run of the episodes Season Two has been giving us lately.

6/10
Vii
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 6:55am (UTC -6)
Regarding all the former posters who have speculated on Garak's motives - I thought that it was pretty obvious that he'd wanted to curry favour with Cardassian Central Command and was even under the impression that his turning in Natima and her students, could buy him out of exile. When Toran laughed scornfully at him and told him that this 'favour' was still woefully insufficient and that he still wouldn't be able to return to Cardassia, he changed his mind immediately and killed Toran, and allowed Natima and co. to escape.

It was rather clear that Garak harboured no ill will towards Natima and her students, indeed his dismay when Toran instructs him to assassinate them is very much evident. More interesting I thought was the fact that he specially arranged to have the Cardassian government turn over the Bajoran prisoners in return for Natima. When I compare this action with his behaviour towards Kira in the S7 episode arc (ie jumping to her defence whenever Rusot and the other Cardassians start goading her, and then in the final showdown when he draws a phaser on Rusot and threatens to shoot the latter if he doesn't desist from trying to kill Kira), it strikes me how he alone, out of all the Cardassians we've ever seen, has consistently tried, in his own covert manner, to keep the Bajorans from harm, without asking for anything in return. He was even the one to suggest to Sisko that Kira get her Starfleet commission as commander!

Under different circumstances I even think that he and Natima would have made a charming couple, but I digress.
Peter G.
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 8:22am (UTC -6)
@ Vii,

I would consider the possibility that Garak engineered the entire affair with the sole intention of using the "escaping dissidents" as a pretext to kill Toran and get away with it. If he had eliminated him without pretext his safety on DS9 might be in question, but in the presence of Natima and the others he created his smokescreen so that Central Command could never be sure exactly under what circumstances Toran died. From the minute Toran walked into Garak's shop it was clear they had been enemies before, and after the two of them 'agree' to capture the dissidents Toran walks out, and you can see a little smile appear on Garak's face. One can perhaps interpret this as him hoping to go home, but my guess is that he had just come up with a way to eliminate one of his enemies safely. From what we later see in the series (SPOILER) between him and Tain, eliminating enemies seems to be a premium pleasure for them. I don't think Garak would have trusted Toran for a moment anyhow to follow up on his offer to help him get home. I do think the initially Garak notified the Central Command to curry some favor with them, and also to effect a prisoner exchange in order to curry favor with Bajor, Sisko and Kira. But once Toran came on board his plan changed altogether.
Vii
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Peter G, apologies for the late replies.

Your hypothesis is a sound one, and you're right that Garak wouldn't have trusted Toran if he said rain was wet, let alone ensure his re-integration into Cardassian society. I especially agreed with your observation: 'From what we later see in the series (SPOILER) between him and Tain, eliminating enemies seems to be a premium pleasure for them.' I definitely think that what you say may have been very true, that Garak basically used the Natima Lang business as an excuse to do away with Toran. There's obviously bad blood between them. This way of eliminating his foes also falls in line with Second Skin in season 3, where Garak manages to get rid of someone whom he also did not part amicably with, whilst using another, bigger 'affair' as a smokescreen.

With Garak, it's basically what he doesn't say that speaks volumes. As Andrew Robinson put it, 'the substance of Garak is what you don't hear. It's what he doesn't say.' Filling in the blanks, if you will.
grumpy_otter
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
I'd rank this even lower than Jammer did--a completely boring and unbelievable episode.

It seemed to start out interestingly with the arrival of Natima and her students, but they sure didn't do anything with them. And the female student's acting was really lame. (Apparently that's Heidi Swedberg, who played Susan, George's fiancé, on Seinfeld. She was okay on that--maybe wearing Cardassian makeup turned off her acting ability. "They've already tried to kill us once; they're sure to try again." Blech. As a shy student her line delivery was okay--as a supposed revolutionary leader it was laughable. )

What was it they were supposed to have done, anyway? I might have gotten so bored I drifted off and missed it. Or are we just supposed to believe that anyone wanted by Cardassian authorities must be a good guy? Apparently Odo and Sisko can simply tell a good guy by smell or something.

I enjoyed Garak, but am getting a bit tired of his hints about all he knows. Slow reveals of a character can work well, but in his case I am getting tired of it. Just come out and say what you mean, dude!
@Aaron

"The actress who played Natima was particularly bad. I thought they only got good actors to play important Cardassian roles."

That was Bing Crosby's daughter, Mary! I found her acting to be better than the other Cardassians, but the dialog she was given in her "love affair" was appalling.

@ William B

"Spoilers: "Casablanca" takes place in Morocco in WW2, currently under French control . . . "

I don't think we've needed a spoiler warning for Casablanca since about 1950, lol


@Kotas

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

I hate Quark a lot so that ruined what might have otherwise been a decent episode for me. lol

Startrekwatcher
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
3 stars

I enjoyed this
Rahul
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
What a mess of an episode -- Jammer's review nails my sentiments well. There's a potentially intriguing story here but it gets washed away by so much Quark/Natima romance BS and some poor plot work that this one just screams out that it was written/produced by idiots.

Quark is super-annoying here with his mad love for Natima who makes it absolutely clear she has no feelings for him, but then after she phasers him, she does a 180 inexplicably. Like WTF??? Quark is a cartoon character here and the episode went on far too long with whatever was between him and Natima, which I couldn't give 2 shits about.

And did Natima's 2 students come cross as idiots or what? They even say "our crimes" at one point yet they believe they are the future of Cardassia -- some kidn of democratic departure from the central command. These 2 students could have been made to be more intelligent, politically savvy etc. Instead they are paper-thin characters.

Overwhelmingly the best part of this episode is the terrific scene where Garak tells Quark quite discretely and cleverly to not get involved with Natima. Loved the lines like following the wrong trend, don't fall victim to fashion. Garak really carried this episode -- although I wonder how he got to relay a message from Cardassian central command. Maybe he still has connections -- at the start of the episode Bashir was trying to figure him out some more.

And Odo just releases the Cardassian prisoners?? And he calls himself a real security chief and is doing justice? This was a heinous violation of his character for me. How was he supposed to explain to Sisko about no more prisoner exchange mandated by the Bajoran government? The scene with Quark pleading with Odo was meant to be somewhat funny but I was already sick of Quark's episode-long pleading.

The ending was also a mess with Garak phasering Gul Toran and the 3 Cardassians escaping -- what about the ramifications of everything? I guess Garak seals his fate that he'll never be in Cardassian central command's good books ever again. What was even the point of Gul Toran showing up? Just for another attempt at a good plot twist? Didn't really work.

2 stars for "Profit and Lace" -- would have been good to get a better understanding of how Natima and the students want to change Cardassia, instead that's just a convenient excuse for them to be on the run. Some really bizarre character moments here -- Quark is beyond obnoxious, Odo's judgment is shockingly poor. But Garak is brilliant as usual.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

You made a funny typo in your last paragraph, calling it "Profit and Lace". It takes an error like that to remind us how brilliant an episode like this is in comparison to that one.

That aside, the "victim to fashion" scene is not only the best in the episode, but is one of my favorite scenes...period. In anything. It's so clever, both because of Robinson elevating it as he always does, but also because it's both subtle and yet obnoxiously unsutble at the same time. Could Garak rub it in any more? And yet he persists in his 'metaphor', most likely just to amuse himself.
Rahul
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -6)
@ Peter G. -- thanks for pointing out my typo. I obviously meant "Profit and Loss" -- which, even being a weak episode, is infinitely superior to "Profit and Lace"!

Coming to think of it, Garak really did persist with his 'metaphor' for quite a bit in that scene in his shop -- and I loved it! He loves being the mysterious character that he is on DS9 clearly.
Dkeppens
Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
Granted. There's a lot of holes in this one, but i kind of enjoy it. Let's be honest here for a second. We all know it's considered correct to evil-eye the ferengi-heavy episodes, but i can't be the only one who secretly enjoys their quirky ambiance. Also, to add to that justified statement about robinson's potrayal of garak, how brilliant is shimerman as quark, no matter the episode ? It could have used a deeper delve into cardassian politics (am i really saying this ?), the romance acting was cardboard, and the writing generally sloppy, but i just can't turn off an episode that has a lot of quark :-)
Elliott
Thu, Jul 19, 2018, 7:20pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

To the accompaniment of the generickest of generic “doo...doo doo doo” wallpaper music, a damaged Cardassian vessel is tractored to DS9. Emerging from the craft are, unless I'm mistaken, the first Cardassian woman in the canon. Professor Lang and her students ask for help with repairs, and recognises the political/personal problems that their presence might cause on a Bajoran station.

Meanwhile, my fanfic is finally picking up where it left off. Garak and Bashir aren't whispering sweet nothings to each other, though. Damn it. Instead, they are discussing history. For about 15 minutes, I scoured The Argonautica for a reference I thought I had forgotten to Yeri from near the Tralonian Lake—turns out it's a fictional planet called Trelonia. Womp womp. Garak and Bashir have very different takes on the same history—Garak's point is that a good Cardassian is loyal to the state first and foremost. What I like about this is that it plays the typical Planet of Hats game that Trek often does, but humans are just another one of those hat-people. Our hat is Roddenberryan humanism, which is a sensible way to go about exploring any sociopolitical question in the Trekkian fashion. Finally, we get:

GARAK: Maybe, I'm an outcast spy.
BASHIR: How can you be both?
GARAK: I never said I was either.

File that one away.

Odo pays Quark one of his usual cordial visits—accusing him of having an illegal cloaking device. The Cardassian professor (Natima) makes her way into the bar and Quark trips over himself with glee to get to her. She recognises him. And she slaps him. And walks away. Quark says it's the happiest day of his life.

Act 1 : ***.5, 17%

Quark chases after the angry Natima. Through Quark's charms, some convenient comments from her students, and prodding from Odo, we get some quick and dirty back-story: she and Quark are old—er, friends (the love of her life, in Quark's estimation), and she is a teacher of political ethics whose ideas are controversial but promising, and she used to be a correspondent for the military well before the Bajoran revolution.

Natima is clearly torn between a genuine affection for Quark and a persistent knowledge that she hates him for some reason. But...when Garak and Bashir pass by, they exchange a look suggesting...something. This does not go unnoticed by the constable. She leaves quickly, citing the fact that she believed there were no other Cardassians aboard DS9. This whole scene is paced really well, and enjoyably stacks different nascent plot threads together, while showcasing DS9's better actors (and a good guest star) effectively.

In Ops, Miles reveals that his repair requires fixing damage from Cardassian weapons. Natima is forthcoming; she is smuggling her students away from Cardassia, and they represent the planet's political future.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

Natima explains. She and her students are leading a movement to overthrow Cardassia's stratocracy. Now, Sisko is on the line of violating the Prime Directive in aiding fugitives from a government with which the Federation has an uneasy peace. But, I think this approach is fair—he's going to see that their ship is repaired quickly and that they be on their way. They aren't allies with Cardassia, so I think this neutral port idea is about right. A wrinkle in this is the sighting by Garak. We remember spent the teaser explaining that a true Cardassian is loyal to the state first. But Garak's true nature is, as Sisko notes, a mystery to them.

Speak of the devil, Quark pops into Garak's shoppe, providing us their first interaction in the series together. This scene has to be one of my favourites of the series so far—the two conmen use the euphemism of ladies' fashion to discuss the volatile situation with Quark's old flame. Garak makes it clear that associating with Natima means getting mixed up in a dangerously subversive political movement. He plays on Quark's expected nature as an opportunist to suggest not making this mistake. Quark, enamoured as he is with her, briefly breaks quickly breaks character and pledges to keep Natima safe. Garak is understandably suspicious that the little cheat has the will nor the means to follow through.

In Natima's quarters, we get MORE backstory. Quark sold food to the Bajorans during the Occupation and Natima helped keep him safe from the authorities for this transgression. This scene is far less artfully done. The substance is good, but it's very clumsy the way the characters reveal information to each other that they already know. Unfortunately, this falls more into the realm of soap opera.

Quark wants to rekindle their romance, even going so far as to offering total selfless aid to her if she would agree to stay with him. Of course, she's dedicated to her cause, and more to the point, she knows that this altruism in him is being fuelled by fresh and ardent emotions. As soon as they faded, his Ferengi nature would lead him to betray her again.

Before Miles can finish repairs on Natima's ship, a Cardassian warship locks appears and locks weapons on the station, but something really surprising happens, too: Garak steps into Ops.

Act 3 : .5, 17%

Sisko gets all blustery demanding to know what's going on. Garak is apparently a representative of the Central Command (though a simple tailor), and assures Sisko that Natima's group are terrorists. He points out that the conflict between the two groups is an internal matter, thus impelling the Commander to obey the Prime Directive and let the two settle their dispute without interference. But...there's still just enough wiggle room because Sisko has no reason to believe that Garak is authorised to speak on behalf of the Cardassian government. If the officials on that ship conquer, however, Sisko ought to be bound to comply. Okay? Okay?

[[[[[[[long sigh]]]]]]]]]

SISKO: Tell the Central Command if anyone attempts to take Hogue and Rekelen by force, I will respond in kind. Am I clear, Mister Garak?

Great. Just fucking great. Tell the tailor claiming to be an ambassador to tell the government of a volatile nation that they can go fuck themselves. Brilliant as always, Commander Asshat.

Quark is trying his luck getting to Natima through her students, or terrorists or whatever. They are resistant, but can't ignore his offer to get them safely off DS9—framed as their only option. Er—possibly. Armin Shimmerman gets to be hilarious again as he starts smacking and tasting the furniture trying to ferret out his Changeling nemesis. Turns out—try not to be surprised—Quark DOES have that illegal cloaking device. And he'll sell it to them—no wait, give it to them—no wait—trade it, for Natima. Okay, then.

We get an exterior shot of the Cardassian warship just hanging out. I guess Garak really does hold the cards here. Quark and Natima go back to the heavy melodrama. The character motivation works for me in theory—Ferengi treat everything as transactional, so I can buy that he would see BUYing his true love as a genuine expression, but the way the scene is played is so hammy and unbelievable, that I have a really hard time. Finally, mercifully, Natima pulls a gun on Quark and demands the cloak for herself and the students. He doesn't believe she'll fire, but in the end, she does. Eh. At least he didn't get strangled.

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

Then, we find out—she fired by accident.



NATIMA: I love you, Quark! I've always loved you, even when I hated you!

Okay, there went the last shreds of my patience with this crap. Here's looking at you, episode.

But seriously, this whole scene is one of the most uncomfortable things I can remember sitting through on Trek, and I include watching Kirk beat up a dinosaur and Tasha be kind of into her would-be rapist. If you sat down, wrote down the most hackneyed over-the-top lines you could think of, and strung them together randomly, I don't think you could come up with dialogue this ridiculous.

NATIMA: You painted my face with honey.

Ew. Just. Ew.

Anyway, they make the same point to each other over and over—he wants her to stay 'cause they're SO IN LOVE, she insists that THE MOVEMENT NEEDS HER. And she even fucking agrees to stay on DS9. Oh my Tap-Dancing Christ.

Odo arrives and breaks up this tedium to arrest her. Later, in the brig, Sisko explains to her and her students that he has to return them to the Central Command. And this is because the Prime Direc—oh, wait, what? Oh, apparently the Cardassians are also going to trade for them, in the currency of Bajoran prisoners (I assume previously occluded ones like those on Cardassia IV during the Circle Trilogy). Yep, can't give Commander I-Love-Starfleet-So-Much-I-Ignore-All-Its-Rules-And-Principles a clear motivation, can we? It has to be for the poor faceless Bajorans. Okay, in fairness, Sisko is being compelled to take this offer by the provisional government which he apparently serves *before* the Federation.

A man called Gul Toran lets himself into Garak's shoppe. He's disdainful, and we learn that Garak is indeed living in exile. The mystery is revealed completely—Garak offered up to the CC news of Natima and her group in the hope of returning to Cardassia. Toran says that the transaction needs a bit of gilding, namely, Garak has to kill them. Toran believes—and Garak doesn't seem to disagree—that arranging their deaths should be a wholly familiar task for the tailor.

Act 5 : zero stars, 17%

Quark confronts Odo and begs him to have the trio free. He frames the success of their political movement as being “good for business,” but Odo sees right through it. Quark furthers his plea by accusing Odo of having “the emotions of a stone,” of not understanding what true love is. And, based on what we've seen this episode, neither do the writers. Quark keeps trying to bribe, but finally appeals to his and Odo's friendship—because as someone who has the emotions of a stone, overt sentimentalism is bound to be effective. Finally, he's on his knees again—like in the one redeeming scene of “Move Along Home,” weeping and begging for Odo's help.

And then—grrgh—Odo decides he WILL free them “in the name of justice” (they would be killed for their crimes). AND he's going to let Quark use his illegal cloak to do it. This startling decision can be read one of two ways; 1. As in “Necessary Evil,” Odo's sense of justice is more important to him than the letter of the law, in which case, why is he only deciding to let them go NOW?, or 2. Odo is doing this for Quark, because he cares about him, and needs an excuse, in which case, this is a character moment that could have used a little fucking build-up. And to add to this scene's schizophrenia, the camera decides to show Quark getting to his feet as though he had just performed oral sex on Odo. Wow.

Quark gets them to their ship, but an armed Garak is waiting behind door #1.

So there's some more schmultzy crap with Quark and even poor Garak behaving entirely out of character. And then—I kid you not, a laughed out loud at this next bit—Toran steps out from behind door #2 and proclaims “What do you believe in Garak?” It's like a community theatre production of Rent in here. So, Toran shows up to make sure Garak kills them, but no wait he's going to do it himself because it never really mattered, because they were never going to let Garak go home, so of course he had to bribe Garak into agreeing to kill them because, in the end he knew it wouldn't matter. Of course. So, Garak pulls a second phaser from...somewhere and vaporises Toran instead. More maudlin crap, goodbye kiss and thank God it's over.

Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

GARAK: Never let sentiment get in the way of your work. A bit of a cliché but true, nonetheless.

Seriously.

DS9 has a habit of starting out promising and ending in disappointment, but this episode takes the cake. There are exactly two good things to take away from this; the intrigue around Garak's back-story and the world-building regarding Cardassian politics. Until the final acts, every scene with Andrew Robinson is really spectacular, and the opening bits before the romance was vomited into the plot were good as well. But oh my god, the scenes between Natima and Quark are worse than the hop-scotch in “Move Along,” worse than the Sisko whoops in “Emissary,” worse than the screeching of the Skreeans in “Sanctuary.” Between Sisko, Quark, and Odo, the only series regular who was in character at all was Sisko, and that's only because he was being bad at his job again. Without the Andrew Robinson bits, this is the absolute worst dreck DS9 has put out so far. Which is why, just like in the previous couple episodes, I have to apologise to the viewers, because the Garak bits are necessary to the series continuity, and mostly wonderful, so this one can't be skipped. But do yourself a favour; after Act 2, smoke a very large bowl. There might be some it's so bad it's good after that, but that's about it. Oh and the music is particularly sucky.

Final Score : *.5
Iceman
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
This episode is riffing on one of the all time greatest films in history, Casablanca. It could have been a lot better. Still, I think the episode is pretty okay, and a bit better than Jammer's review implies. It adds depth to Garak, and it starts off pretty strongly. Though the scenes between Quark and Natima are very weak.

2.5 stars.
Springy
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 9:11pm (UTC -6)
In the hands of a lesser actors than Shimerman and "Natima," this could have been a total disaster, but I somehow came to believe Quark and Natima were truly in love.

Garak was great, as always, and I liked getting a little more info on him.

Storyline and dialogue had some plotholes and awkwardness, but entertaining overall.

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