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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59 comments on this post
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
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)
Wed, May 15, 2013, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 28, 2013, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 29, 2014, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
...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.
Tue, Nov 4, 2014, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Nov 4, 2014, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 3:47am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 8:27am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 11:24am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 8, 2015, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 8, 2015, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
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.
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.
Sat, Aug 8, 2015, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Fortunately, the season takes a turn for the better starting with "Blood Oath"....
Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 9:12am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 10:43am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 6:55am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 8:22am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
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!
"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
"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
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 19, 2018, 7:20pm (UTC -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?
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.
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
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
Garak’s second phaser was Quark’s phaser, we saw that happen.
The “romantic” scenes are terrible as they tend to be in Star Trek but I did actually buy the chemistry between Quark and the professor, just not when it’s about glueing butterflies to noses which is not charming or sexy or whatever they were trying to go for but borderline horror. Knowing Ferengi eat a lot of insects I was actually expecting Quark to say he ate it off her nose...
I found Garak’s motivations interesting, believable and relatively easy to follow (considering he’s supposed to be mysterious so they don’t spell it out). The parallel between the professor and Garak taking the easy way out or doing the right thing for Cardassia was well done. Garak’s clear but hidden delight at one of his enemies delivering himself into his lap was great. He’s very scary but I like him a lot. I’m glad to hear he has more stuff with Quark later as they’re quite similar in some ways. I liked Quark in this, the way we did know like the professor that he may have meant what he was saying as he said it but would probably not have stuck to it.
Some people are asking why Odo was allowed to let them out, to me it’s clearly another one where Sisko “scolds” a naughty underling and is not so secretly pleased that they did what he legally could not. Yes perhaps they should have shown us that explicitly but this is a recurring problem with DS9, not just in this episode.
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
The female student stomps around like she’s 12 and wearing her big brother’s football gear. It’s too deliberate to be accidental. Perhaps to contrast and highlight Natima’s elegance?
Let’s retitle the episode “The Long Goodbye.”
Sun, Nov 24, 2019, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
A dissident teacher and her two students flee to DS9. For some reason, the students are essentially under a death sentence while their teacher isn't - despite both guiding and protecting them.
And thenn in an amazing turn of events it turns out that the teacher is Quark's ex-lover, whom he can't live without, despite the fact that he's never mentioned her before nor has he kept track of her activities.
Better yet, Quark just happens to have a miniaturized cloaking device - handily small enough to fit in the palm of his hand - which the dissidents could use to escape.
From there, this rehash of Casablanca plays out in a clunky way. Natima starts out absolutely hating Quark for his past betrayals, but then does a spectacular about-face after "accidentally" shooting him. Quark professes his undying love for Natima throughout the entire episode while simultaneously insisting that he will only give her the device if she chooses to stay with him for the rest of her life.
Control freak, much? It's not the most positive presentation of love - though to be fair, ST has always been distinctly hit and miss when it comes to depicting romance.
From there, the clunkiness continues.
For instance, Garak. To be fair, there is a nice set-piece between him and Quark in Garak's tailor shop, where Garak manages to maintain his nominally benign ambiguity, which he's maintained for two full seasons.
But then at a stroke, Garak's background story is made clear: he's out of favour with Cardassian's leaders, and is in voluntary exile while acting as an unofficial conduit feeding information back to Cardassia in the hope of getting back into favour.
Ambiguous no more.
From there, there's an oddly cringeworthy scene where Quark pleads with Odo to help the dissidents escape, only for Odo to arbitrarily decide to assist of his own free will. And then there's the dramatic finale, where Garat initially appears ready to carry out his instructions, before making an abrupt about-face to throw his support in with Quark with no more than a little smile and a comment which attempts to restore some of his ambiguity.
It's all a bit of a mess, and arguably it's because the writers tried too hard to stick with the Casablanca template.
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
Nope. No holosuite. Just bad.
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Yes, as far as Casablanca homages go, Quark is no Bogie, that's for sure. Play it again, Rom.
(BTW, perhaps you may want to skip the opening titles for the season 4 and 7 premiere episodes when you get there)
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
As others have mentioned, this is DS9 doing "Casablanca". In that film, resistance fighters are pursued by various governments as they pass through occupied Morroco. They're ultimately helped by an expatriate played by Humphrey Bogart, who has a romantic history with one of the fighters.
In this DS9 episode, you have Cardassian resistance fighters pursued by the Cardassians, Federation and Bajorans, as they pass through DS9. They're ultimately helped by Quark, who has a romantic history with one of the fighters.
The problem is, this episode has three Humphrey Bogarts. Quark, Garak and Odo all "pull a Bogart" and heroically risk their lives to save the resistance fighters.
What the episode should have done is revolve the episode around Garak. Give Garak the Quark roll. Give Garak the romantic history with a resistance fighter. Have Odo, the Feds and Bajorans hunting Garak, who outsmarts everyone by using a cloaking device acquired from Quark. Have Quark rat out Garak, have Odo hot on Garak's tail, but have a fake-out ending where Garak, revealed to have been always one step ahead, outsmarts them all. Close with Odo congratulating Garak for outsmarting him, and feeling no regrets; he wanted the resistance fighters to make it off the station anyway.
This all solves another big problem: Quark's romance with the resistance fighter, filled with lots of badly written Old Hollywood dialogue, is never believable. Garak and a Cardassian woman, however, might work. And if you don't want a conventional heroic ending, have Garak give up the resistance fighters or kill them outright.
Either way, this shouldn't be a Quark story.
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Mary Crosby looked good. Definitely the better Crosby acting wise as well. That other Carsassian woman, though, sheesh. Supposedly it's Susan from Seinfeld. It's hard to believe the quality drop between the two roles.
So what happens when the Cardassian crew learn their leader was vaporized? That the prisoners were given a cloaking device, which is a violation of Federation Law, and set free? Do they just ago "aw shucks" and head home? Seems like the episode ended right before it got interesting.
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 8:08am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Odo suddenly has the power to defy the Bajoran government and releases the prisoners? What about the prisoner exchange?
Zero consequences for the prisoners escaping and a missing captain? The episode needed another 60 seconds to tie up this loose end such as Sisko telling the Cardassians that there was a firefight and the gul was killed along with the prisoners.
Mon, Jul 5, 2021, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 7, 2021, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
But now, reading the review, I'm thinking back and it does strike me as odd that Political Prisoners were released from the Brig by the Station Constable and no red alerts were given by Toran and/or anyone else
This would've turned into a hostage situation on later DS9. Here it's treated like the Station and the Cardassian ship are just asleep and their laundromats say "Sorry We're Closed."
That's not how you run a space ship or a space station, no, heavens no
Thu, Sep 16, 2021, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Casablanca rip off yes, but I liked it. I did not love it, but I liked it. More than 1.5 points, even more than jammers 2. It was theater and it worked quite well. Quark and Garak are very theatrical. I like when Quark get serious, here he somteims becomes the ferrengi again and it takes the note down slightly.
Perhaps Odo left his character a little to much refusing to follow the orders. As it was theather I buy it.
@Mike no, using the casablanca phrases would have been to much
Tue, Jan 18, 2022, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Especially since it would have prevented Rom from eventually getting to say them.
Fri, Jul 29, 2022, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
I liked Quark from the early days but here he really cemented his status as my favorite character on the show. He is much, much more complex than the two-dimensional image of an annoying, avaricious buffoon commonly ascribed to him. Here, especially, he showed himself as a mature adult who doesn't just live in the moment looking for the next big lucrative break.
Whoever experienced unrequited love or heartbreak--and if you've not, are you even human!?--surely must have felt deep affinity toward Quark. That alone propels this episode to 3+ stars; the actual plot be damned!
Sat, Nov 26, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
The whole “Bajoran station under Federation administration” was always a little murky, but here it’s downright opaque. Sisko is awfully reluctant to follow even direct Starfleet orders when it violates his sense of Justice, now apparently he claims his hands are tied when the Bajoran government wants to arrest innocent people on his station? What even?!!
We’ve seen previously that Bajoran authorities of course try their own citizens, decide on their own consular issues, and grant commercial concessions on the station. But suddenly they can also arrest people there on no charges whatsoever and extradite them against the will of the Federation, despite not even having a treaty with Cardassia at this point?
And Sisko is so low-energy here. He claims he’s “trying everything” to free them, but we’ve seen how much passion Sisko can channel when he’s morally offended - Avery Brooks literally chews the scenery when that happens. And now he throws up his hands here, even against a backdrop of being threatened with a Cardassian warship - it doesn’t feel true to character.
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 7:27am (UTC -5)
There were some technical issues as well with this episode.
1) Who administers DS9 (Bajor or Federation) seems to be inconsistent and varies depending on what the story of the week needs. Previously Siskso overrode Bajorian interests/requests because while the station is Bajorian it is under Federation administration. But this time he simply yields to Bajor.
2) Why wasn't Garek prosecuted for obvious espionage?
3) This episode casually talks about the return of Bajorian prisoners, but in previous episodes there was apparently an agreement the Cardassians signed that had them hand them over. When remaining prisoners were found (then) it was a big deal. Now it is just assumed there are many outstanding remaining prisoners?
4) A Gul was executed on DS9...and nobody seemed to care? That could start a war!
5) Was Odo countermanding Siskso to release the prisoners? If not, why wasn't Odo punished. If Siskso wanted them released he would have ordered it himself. What does Starfleet think of all this? What does Bajor? Did all those Bajorian prisoners have to go back to Cardassia?
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Regarding Quark's characterization, Shimmerman has said that they intended his part in the episode to be comedic (or so he believes), but he chose instead to read the lines earnestly rather than as a pastiche. As a result it ends up being a somber tribute episode rather than a mixed genre bit of fun. I personally like it better this way, but maybe more to the point, he loved that it was allowed to go this way. It's easy to criticize Shimmerman for playing a 'generic' leading man except when you realize that he isn't a leading man at all. So for him (and in that costume) to pull that off is a worthy exercise in itself.
Mon, Apr 24, 2023, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Nothing particularly attracted me to DS9 when I was younger (I only watched the end credits while waiting for Voyager). It was only a chance conversation with a fellow SF fan where I mentioned that the only thing I really liked was "that tailor." The enthusiastic conversation which ensued convinced me to give the show another chance.
As Jammer rightly stated, the plot is a mess. I think it could have been re-edited, but I say that a lot. The dress allegory was well-written and nicely acted.
It was hard to find interest in the story about the Cardassians and their underwritten explanation for fleeing Cardassia. I have much less interest in Quark: a superb performance of a disgusting character, both morally and physically. Nothing about the love story seemed...lovely.
Some of the dialogue in the love story plot is almost unbelievable. Quark said he saw an opportunity for profit, so he "so he took it" by stealing her access code (credit card). She tells him she knows he will betray her again given the chance. Fiction works because you're led to care about the characters, amongst other things. I don't care at all about these people.
The highlight of the episode is Odo reading Mickey Spillane's *I, the Jury.*
I'm not sure what his deputies were doing and during this episode, as it's full of illegal activities.
What did not work is everything else, and by the end it's almost to the level of a Marx Brothers movie, with various people grabbing phasers out of the hands of those threatening to kill them. Any intended dramatic tension was spoiled by these silly scenes. While I could relate to Garak and his pain of being isolated from his home world, those particular emotional beats felt more like a footnote.
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