Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Prophet Motive"

2 stars

Air date: 2/20/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You better hurry. I got the dampening field on this ship for a substantial discount." — Nagus Zek, regarding turbulent wormhole passage

A lightweight Ferengi comedy that plays its hand with jokes that are far to obvious and quite often hokey. Highly uneventful, "Prophet Motive" further demonstrates its trivial nature with a subplot involving Dr. Bashir and his nomination for a prestigious medical award—some strictly standard filler.

Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn) comes to the station and moves in with Quark. He brings with him a gift (that's right, a gift, not a sale)—a Bajoran orb he obtained from one of his contacts on Cardassia. Zek acts very strangely for the Nagus—he's way too nice and cheery—and before long, Quark and Rom realize he's lost all interest in profit. Zek gives them a copy of his Revised Rules of Acquisition. Rule #1: "If they want their money back, give it to them." The entire rules list goes much like that, 180 degrees from conventional Ferengi thinking. Zek has apparently gone insane.

At first, Quark believes that the Nagus is doing this as some sort of master plan to harvest a killing of a profit. But as the episode progresses, Zek's actions consistently prove Quark wrong. Maybe the Nagus is crazy after all.

What we have here is a predictable comic trifle that fails because we know Quark all too well. We know how he will react to almost every situation to arise in the story, and what he will say when prompted for a one-liner by another character. This episode doesn't work for every reason "The House of Quark" did. In that installment, at least Quark had Grilka and the other Klingons to play off his dialogue, and at least he did something somewhat impulsive and selfless while remaining true to his character. Here, Quark is cardboardedly transparent.

Meanwhile, Zek comes across annoyingly goofy since, as Quark later learns, he has been converted by the wormhole aliens into a fun-loving philanthropist. This leads Quark to take the Nagus back into the wormhole, hoping he can persuade the inhabitants to change Zek back. This standout scene somewhat redeems the episode, giving Quark some much more subtle—and more effective—one-liners. It's also nicely photographed and completely consistent with Sisko's encounter with the wormhole aliens in "Emissary," now over two years old. It's a refreshing change of pace, giving Quark a chance to take a stand for good old-fashioned galactic greed. His exaggeration on the repercussions of eliminating greed is hilarious. Unfortunately, it takes until the final act for this to happen.

The B-story lacks urgency and does very little for Bashir's character. He is nominated for an award that most accomplished doctors can only hope to be nominated for after a lifetime of practice. The entire thread consists of little more than Bashir telling everyone that he has no chance of winning. And in the end when he does indeed lose to another contender just as predicted, it's hard not to wonder what the point of the whole idea was.

Previous episode: Destiny
Next episode: Visionary

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53 comments on this post

Sun, Jan 6, 2008, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
The bashir subplot was intended as a rib by the writers regarding TNG being nominated for an emmy for best dramatic series that year. They explained it in the ds9 companion book.
Mon, Mar 7, 2011, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
So you're not a fan of this episode because Quark acts like Quark? His responses are predictable.

Well that's not a bad thing, I mean, characters do have to act like themselves every once in a while.

I would argue Sisko is always going to do something self-sacrificial and noble, given the chance, Kira will always be hot-headed and aggressive, especially regarding Cardassians. Dax will always be calm, slightly bemused, and ready with a wise-beyond-her-years piece of advice.

So you can, in some episodes, say Quark will be selfish and greedy, farcically so. That's who he is. As Dax said to Sisko, once you accept that's who they are, they're fun to be around.

You seem to dislike most episodes centering on Ferengis on principle. I encourage you to not be so myopic in your reviews of these little republicans, and be satisfied with what is, rather than yearning for character evolution and growth in every single episode.
Sat, Oct 22, 2011, 9:22am (UTC -5)
The very notion behind the B-story seems like it was barely thought out. and just thrown in at the last minute. If we take what Bashir says to be true, the Carrington is the preeminent medical prize in the Federation, so I would think that there would much more pomp and circumstance for it, and that the nominees would make every effort to travel to Earth for at a banquet or something. Here it's an admiral (no indication that its even the head of Starfleet Medical) very unclimactically reading the results in about a minute's time. Also, if it really is, again as Bashir says, meant to be the culmination of a lifetime of medical research and work, then Dax (who in 7 lives should have known that too) was incredibly presumptuous nominating a 29 year old for the award, and that 29 year old thinking he had a chance at it (which he clearly did if he "wasn't taking it well" at the end) was about a hundredfold more presumptuous.
Thu, Dec 22, 2011, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
I can't say this was my favorite episode (though I do tend to agree with an above poster that I don't look for major character developement in every episode). But for me Zek's actor very nearly made the whole epidode worthwhile. In particular, though there was hardly any particular reason for it, I could not stop chuckling during the scene where Zek was being carried around in a sack, humming merrily the whole time.
Sun, Jun 24, 2012, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Opportunity missed in the B story, could have been a nice cameo for Diana Muldar.
Cail Corishev
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
It's not that Quark reacts predictably; it's that it goes on too long. Ok, we get it, the Nagus turned altruistic. We don't need to hear two dozen reversed Rules of Acquisition to drive the point home. After a while, I could recite them as soon as Rom said the first couple words. But with such a weak B story, I guess they had to spend some time on something.

I was a bit disappointed in Quark's little speech to the prophets, because he didn't have to go to the "greed" place. Less "Wall Street" and more "John Galt" would have been better. There's a valid point to be made that if people can't profit from their work, they're much less likely to strive and be productive. That doesn't require that they be greedy; it just requires that they want to provide for themselves and give their families a good life.

It's one of those (many) times when Trek sets up an alien society to look stupid in comparison to the mature, wise, secular humanism of the Federation. But if the Ferengi way is so stupid, how did they develop a space-faring civilization with billions of people spread across many planets? (In TNG, they were said to be about as powerful as the Federation, but that seems to have been toned down by this point. Still, they have a thriving civilization.) Same thing with the Cardassian legal system, and other examples: if their society is so obviously broken in such-and-such a way, how did they build cities and develop space travel and art and culture and so on? Maybe there are other ways of doing things, and maybe those ways are valid (at least for them) despite not fitting the human/Federation mold.
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
I just keep hearing 'Inconcievable!' over and over and over again in my head when I hear Zek anytime Zek is in an episode, I think of 'The Princess Bride'...(or sometimes 'My Dinner with Andre')
Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 2:44am (UTC -5)
I find myself very much in agreement with Jammer's reviews most of the time. I might quibble with a detail here or there and occasionally disagree more strongly on a point or two in a given episode, but for the most part, I consider his evaluations to be well thought out and they often open my eyes to details and ideas I hadn't thought of myself. But we definitely part ways when it comes to these "fluff" episodes. DS9 in particular could be a quite heavy and dark series, ever more so as it evolved. I look at these comedic fluff episodes as a tonic to prepare you for the heavy shit that's about to rain down, and I usually welcome them. Was this the funniest Trek had to offer? Definitely not. Not by a long shot. But criticizing it too harshly seems a bit like "kicking a puppy" to me. Take it for what it is worth. It's not going to ruin the series and it sure as hell isn't going to kill you. 3 stars.
Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
In light of later revelations about Julian Bashir, the B story is fascinating.

He's initially decidedly unenthusiastic about being nominated for the award, and explains that it's normally reserved for great scientists at the end of their lives. Then he explains it away by saying he won't win. Is it that, or is it possible that winning could lead others to discover his secret origins? This explains his relief when he doesn't win and his insistence to Dax that he isn't taking it well - he doesn't want her to suspect anything either.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Not the greatest Ferengi episode.

Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
I'm not usually a big Ferengi ep. fan, but I thought this was amusing enough.

The Quark orb scene with Zek was good, as was the scene with the prophets.

I also agree with Paul above, in light of later revelations about Bashir, perhaps this is an early hint at the direction his story is about to take.

Plus the crew ribbing him is enjoyable to see.
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Not sure why Bashir was working on an acceptance speech, since, as Jay pointed out, the ceremony to announce the winner didn't seem very elaborate.
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Agree Jammer.

Below average episode that except for jotting these reviews is a skipper for me.

2 stars.
Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 12:09am (UTC -5)
Quark had an orb experience. And he talked to the Prophets. Quark. Effing Quark. So of all the people who have gone to the prophets and talked to them directly, we have to include Quark. And Zek for that matter. Just let that sink in.
Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 5:59am (UTC -5)
lol .... thanks Sean.
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Sisko had to explain time and corporeal existence to the wormhole aliens. Now we have Quark having to explain the simple concept of profit to these beings. Shouldn't this have caused some major questions on Bajor about their faith? We know that bajorans pray to their Gods. We can assume they pray about everyday things such as finances. Now Bajorans learn that since the beginning of their existence until quark went into the wormhole the wormhole aliens didn't know about earning profit. It took a ferengi to teach their Gods about earning profit. I wanted a scene where Quark told Kira that he had to teach her Gods about profit so they would evolve the Nagus. The fact is the writers couldn't have created that scene without making Kira doubt her faith because it's so silly. It would make people wonder if the wormhole aliens even hear their prayers or if they would even understand their prayers considering Sisko and quark just taught them about basic things such as time, existence and aquiring profit. The show should have shown a bajorans reaction to hearing about the ferengi bartender teaching their gods about profit
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Really hokey and lightweight, but I gotta say, I really enjoyed it - mostly for the scene with Quark and the Prophets. Silly, but it worked.
Fri, Feb 6, 2015, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Scott wrote:

"Now Bajorans learn that since the beginning of their existence until quark went into the wormhole the wormhole aliens didn't know about earning profit."

You're forgetting that the wormhole aliens don't exist in linear time. They might be learning about profit 'now' but they had just as much access to this knowledge in Bajor's past as they will do in its future.
Tue, Feb 10, 2015, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Sisko - Emissary of the Prophets and first to communicate with the aliens of time.

Zek - Emissary of the Profits and second to represent humanoid species.

Quark - 3rd Emissary and proof that humanoids are annoying.

What have you learned from these three, oh great ones in the hole ?

P.S. - No Bajorians have directly met the prophets in the celestial temple. Hmm ?
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
That is very odd Dimpy, that no Bajorans have directly met the prophets in the celestial temple. But Zek meeting them is even more odd.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:08am (UTC -5)
The Prophets do their first act of divine-ish intervention since "Emissary," and transform Zek into a philanthropist. The horror! Anyway, there are a few funny bits in this episode -- I liked the joke of Quark trying to read the first words of the Updated Rules of Acquisition for a code, at least at first -- but they are spread a bit too thin for the episode's farce to be, uh, funny. The episode's thematic material is largely building toward Quark's Gordon Gekko-style greed-is-good pitch to the Prophets, which I think is meant by the writers et al. as a kind of we're-joking-but-not-entirely sort of message. It is good to want things, so that people achieve and don't sit around lazily, which ties the main plot in with the subplot about how awards recognition does (or doesn't) play into Bashir's achievement. And, well, Quark sort of has a point; remove greed *entirely* and there could be dire consequences, if the ability to find personal drive is removed entirely. However, the episode doesn't actually show most of those dire consequences. Quark's pitch about the Nagus is indeed a specious argument; not only does Zek not starve to death, he seems bursting with energy all episode long, acting with enthusiasm to make the galaxy a better place for everyone and at no point actually running into any real trouble. The biggest flaws of Zek's new outlook are 1) that he looks kind of silly (which he did before) and is a bit annoying at times, and 2) that he unreasonably intrudes, upending Quark's life unfairly just because *Zek* has been born again. And, well, (1) is minor, but (2) is a real problem -- just because Zek is now enlightened does not mean he has the right to reorder everyone else's life, let alone steal Quark's quarters away from Quark so that he can live a monk lifestyle in *Quark's* quarters. Still, Quark, um, doesn't make those arguments.

Zek's interfering in Quark's life is a microcosm of what the big problem with the Prophets' behaviour is. Because Zek seems completely happy all episode long and no ill befalls him and he is helping people, it's hard to say that the enlightenment the Prophets provide is *per se* wrong, though one could imagine a scenario in which Zek became exploitable because his newfound good nature overrided his business sense. The real problem is that the Wormhole Aliens rewrite Zek without his consent, with extremely limited understanding of the species or even the *type* of species they are dealing with. Zek's piously selling all Quark's stuff is the minor version of the Wormhole Aliens' huge transgression, and whether the new Zek is indeed improved or not is rather not the point -- they can't just rewrite lesser beings as they see fit. They need their own Prime Directive. Or, I guess, this episode sort of seems to suggest they can't, though it mostly dodges that argument and instead settles on Quark's reasoning, which goes counter to how the episode actually works. Still, taking the long view of the series (spoilers), Ferengi culture in general and Zek in particular eventually come more or less to the same point as this episode (i.e. in "The Dogs of War") perhaps just less extremely -- even this episode's Zek is still capitalistic, just capitalistic with a bigger emphasis on the role of charity, family and fairness. The Prophets fail to get their own lesson: Zek's failing which started this whole episode off was trying to see the future before it happened, and the WAs rushed Zek to become the enlightened man he is becoming at the series' end, rather than allowing him to develop as himself.

The message that it's important to let things happen at their own pace and not to leapfrog important developmental steps extends to the B-plot, where Bashir tells everyone that he should hardly even have been nominated so early in his life, and tries to maintain that he holds no hope of winning and that he can look forward to a possible Carrington win half a century hence. His maturity is mostly a disguise; Bashir still badly wants to win, and can hardly handle the waiting even as he puts on a front; the kind of maturity that requires waiting for things to develop in their proper time can be maddening. I suspect Bashir is especially conflicted because of (spoiler) the genetic engineering thing, but even without the knowledge that there is something artificial about his brilliance, it has got to be scary too to be standing at a prestigious nomination at 29 with the possibility that that may be one of those people who peak extremely early in their professional lives. While some of the needling Bashir gets from his friends is amusing, I did find myself pretty annoyed that people kept on Julian's case, particularly since he genuinely did nothing to bring about the nomination and tried all episode to tell people to leave him alone; payback for his earlier-in-series arrogance, perhaps? It is thin, but has some nice moments.

Unremarked on but interesting is that while there is some self-interest to Quark acting to restore Zek, especially his fear that the other Ferengi will murder him for being part of Zek's entourage, Quark, Rom and Mai'har'du also seem quite genuinely invested in Zek's welfare, and Quark takes great risks without an unambiguous reward because he...wants the Nagus to be himself? He...cares about Zek?

I don't dislike this episode exactly, and it has some nice thematic stuff, but I do think it's way too thin and not that funny or satisfying -- probably 1.5 stars.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
I've got to add, that Zek *immediately* upon acquiring an orb thinks to try to make contact with the Wormhole Aliens is one thing; that he succeeds well enough that Quark can repeat the experience is another. This retroactively damages "Destiny," by the way, in addition to most future episodes in which people guess about what the Prophets want. "Can we get in touch with these aliens? What is the deal with those Orbs?" are questions Sisko and Dax largely forgot about after "Emissary," and it takes the Nagus and Quark no time to come up with contact strategies. I'll grant that the WAs being unpredictable and temperamental and rewriting people on a whim is a reason to avoid them, but that is a point that should be discussed, and the use of the WAs as comic foils one episode after a show that would fall apart if the crew considered asking the Prophets whether that vedek is reporting their word and what his metaphors actually mean is another instance of really poor episode placement (along with the "Life Support"/"Heart of Stone" issue) and generally frustrating.
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
@William B
I think the show is trying to say that contacting the aliens is a terrible idea. The Bajorans won't do it because they see it as disrespectful. Sisko won't do it because last time he barely made it out alive and then only by arguing for his right to exist and they made it pretty clear they don't like or want visitors. A message he probably relayed to Starfleet. The prophesies are not from the wormhole aliens directly as much as from the orbs which are some sort of nonlinear time message system realted to/created by the WA but not controlled or monitored by them directly. I imagine if you went and asked the WA "hey, are the serpents from this one prophesy the cardassians?" they'd be all "What's a cardassian? also what's a prophesy? also what's a serpent? also how dare you speak to me?"
William B
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
@Easter, that's a really good point. It does bother me though that the "Gods" are *right there* and yet Bajorans persist in making claims about what the Prophets want of them, most of which seem to contradict what little information is available at this time, and that this is so rarely discussed. I think I understand the general psychology of it, but I wish that more of the non-Bajorans (or, better, some but not all Bajorans and some but not all non-Bajorans) would talk more openly about which of their religious traditions make sense in light of the actual discovery of the WAs right there, scientific study of the orbs, etc. That Sisko barely escaped in "Emissary" does help make sense to some degree of why everyone then stopped visiting the wormhole, though I'm not sure why Dax had to drop her "Emissary" task of doing a scientific investigation of the orb.

Thinking about how the orbs are not directly related to the WAs does help make more sense of why the prophesies are treated as completely nonverifiable except through faith (or waiting around and seeing).
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I completely understand that frustration. The orbs are kind of just written off as "foreshadowing plot device X" pretty early despite the fact that they realistically should be a HUGE avenue of study. There is a joke floating around the internet that goes "If you ever feel lazy, just remember that the Ancient Greeks believed their gods lived at the top of a completely scalable mountain but never bothered to go check" and I suppose this may be a similar line of reasoning.

Maybe the idea is that the Bajorans won't because they're too religious and the church (which we've seen have considerable legitimate political power at times) forbids it and starfleet doesn't out of respect to the Bajorans and everyone else doesn't because the wormhole is being held by starfleet and the Bajorans.

A cult of Bajorans deciding to go visit would probably make a pretty cool episode/story arc though. A shame they never followed up on that opportunity.

Ultimately I think the real reason is that the writers didn't want to have to actually explain how the orbs/WA work since they frankly don't know. It's one of the problems with mortals writing a being beyond mortal comprehension, it's creators can't properly comprehend it.
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Easter: "The orbs are kind of just written off as 'foreshadowing plot device X pretty early despite the fact that they realistically should be a HUGE avenue of study."

Indeed, the pilot episode implied (or anyone with story sense inferred) that the Orbs and their recovery from Cardassia would be a series-long arc. Instead, they pop up randomly and play no role in the resolution of the series. We're told there are nine, which suggests a "catch 'em all" angle that went unexplored. Heck, they're not even orb-shaped! DS9 dropped the ball here, as surely as VGR quit counting shuttlecraft.

(Story that should've been told: Bajorans discover a sister race in the Gamma Quadrant, keepers of orbs ejected from the other side of the wormhole. They might even have been the Founders, who rose to power by manipulating the orbs.)

"If you ever feel lazy, just remember that the Ancient Greeks believed their gods lived at the top of a completely scalable mountain but never bothered to go check"

Heh. Never heard that before. :D
Wed, Oct 28, 2015, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Quark represents the exact opposite of Starfleet ideals、and so he makes for an excellent comic foil in which to parody Trek as seen in both in this episode and House of Quark. Shimerman's performance is excellent, and manages to keep these potentially disastrous (these episodes have the potential to be as horrible as a Lwaxana episode) Quark-centric episodes entertaining.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Nov 27, 2015, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
An archetypal piece of lightweight fluff. Nothing wrong with that per se, and there are some nice moments (particularly Rom's parting revelation), but overall it falls very much into the "so what?" category.

The B-story you have to wonder about - Bashir tells everyone he doesn't expect to win an award that he doesn't win but secretly wanted to. Hmmm. 2 stars.
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 7:47am (UTC -5)
Immediately following an episode where the Bajoran religion was used to stunningly great effect, we get the return of the Prophets themselves after an absence of two and a half seasons - in a Ferengi comedy episode. Why? Were they trying to do something similar to what they did with "Rules of Acquisition" - where the Dominion was introduced in a lightweight comedy? Because if that was the intent, it was a horrid mistake. Pairing up Quark and the Prophets is about the most uninspired thing the writers could have managed - especially following "Destiny". What should have been an epic event in the myth-arc of the series is instead reduced to nothing more than a tedious attempt at low-brow comedy. Talk about dropping the ball!

Aside from that woeful misuse of the Prophets, the episode has the same shortcoming as almost all Ferengi episodes. The problem with most of them is that they focus on only two things, Ferengi misogyny and Ferengi greed, and run those "jokes" into the ground. As a result, they're often not funny and come across as tedious (among many other problems). Well, this time they decided to shake things up by eliminating the misogyny and focusing only on the greed. So, instead of tedious, it's only half as tedious! Well done. Somebody really should have told these people that one divided by one is still one. I'll grant that a couple of the jokes do end up working but this is definitely a step down from the previous episodes focusing on the Ferengi.

Meanwhile, over in the B-plot, Dax presumptuously nominates Bashir for a lifetime achievement award and then she (and everyone else) acts shocked when he's not enthralled by it. What the hell did these people expect? It's a lifetime achievement award! Why in God's name would someone be excited about being nominated for such an award only three years into his career?! Not only that but we get "humor" like this....

DAX: I won't mention it again.
BASHIR: I appreciate that, Jadzia.
DAX: So who do you think is going to win? Wade or P'Trell?

*facepalm* So, we're back to having Dax be an insufferable twit yet again, are we? As if the A-plot wasn't tedious enough they felt the need to pad the episode out with this? I seem to be using that word, tedious, a lot here but I really don't know how else to describe "Prophet Motive".

WTF HAIR - 22 (+1)

Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
I, too, thought that Bashir's annoyance/reluctance at being nominated was perhaps indicative of his genetic engineering, which was an issue that would come up in later episodes.

Eh, I liked this episode. The Grand Nagus Zek is hilarious and his voice and laugh are so ridiculous they're good. I also enjoyed seeing the Nagus' bodyguard, Maihar'du. Tiny Ron does a great job in that role and conveys a remarkable amount of emotion for someone who doesn't have any lines (his scenes as one of the Prophets don't count, as it's not him who's speaking).

Improbable Cause this certainly isn't, but it's entertaining enough.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
I slept through most of this episode. The ending was kind of interesting. That "B" story really was a zero. Im begging to dislike Grand Negus Zek episodes.
Thu, Apr 6, 2017, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
I slept through most of this episode. The ending was kind of interesting. That "B" story really was a zero. Im begging to dislike Grand Negus Zek episodes.
Fri, Aug 4, 2017, 10:23am (UTC -5)
2 stars

Not very good.

Sometimes the Ferengi comedies work okay but most times like here they don't

And at least when TNG would do a B story it had some pep. DS9 had a problem doing lightweight mundane B plots that felt like filler. This Bashir award was definitely one of those
Thu, Aug 24, 2017, 8:57am (UTC -5)
I always thought this was a fun DS9 episode. It also does reveal a few things-Dax's playful yet sometimes grating nature-if I were Bashir I'd be livid because I'd want to win but know I'd have no chance so basically Dax just puts me there to see how I react-I mean he gets upset when he loses even though he knows he will.

We get a good idea while going to the wormhole to chat with the prophets/try to get something out of them is a bad idea. They don't like visitors and apparently if they don't like your worldview are more than happy to re-write your brain to conform.

Zek-we get to know that indeed he is as greedy and ambitious as a Nagus should be. I mean he travels to the mirror universe, and visits the prophets-two very dangerous out there things even for a CEO/President to do.

Rom-while he doesn't have much talent for business obviously is capable of stealing money and getting away with it.

The ferengi-we learn their greedy nature was not what it always was, apparently in the distant past they weren't as caricatured capitalists.

Zek's laugh is also fun.

3.25 stars.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Ferengi. Worse, Ferengi with Zek featured. As soon as I realized I'd be listening to Zek, I skipped it. Zero stars.

The Ferengi should be removed from canon.
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 12:07am (UTC -5)
It's annoying that so many of these Ferengi episodes can't decide whether they want to be comedies or dramas-when that happens, they end up accomplishing neither very well. "Prophet Motive" continues that trend, except it also wastes the Prophets. Bashir winning an award was just odd. Not bad, but completely neutral.

1.5 stars.
Mon, Sep 24, 2018, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Oh joy, another Ferengi episode.

Whoever came up with the idea that Ferengi ears are sexual organs should be punished severely.

I like the new Rules of Acquisition--if the Ferengi turn into socialists I might get to tolerate them. But does the Grand Nagus have spiderwebs in his ears?

Would someone please tell me that all the Ferengi die soon? Sigh. I know they don't, but I find them so tedious. If a person is unable to acquire profit, they are useless and reviled. So like out own system, where the only people celebrated are those who can generate revenue.

The Julian story was lightweight--not offensive but not much else--was there a point to it?

I'd give this one zero stars.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : *, 5%

Holy God. Quark is getting Umaks (Ferengi handjob) from an alien while...moaning in ecstasy. Can...can I get my money back? Mid-orgasm, he lets slip to her that he has self-sealing stembolts stored in a carbo bay, running with the stupid gag from “Progress.” Quark is going to sell them to some point this week. Rom enters Quark's quarters, informing him that something important has come up—and sure enough in come Lurch2 and a cloaked figure holding the Nagus' staff. Rom assumes that Zek is moving in with Quark. Cue the sitcom credits...

Act 1 : .5 stars, 17%

Sisko summons Bashir to the Wardroom so the staff can surprise him for having been nominated for a Federaion medical award. He was nominated by Dax—and for some heretofore unmentioned medical jargon, despite the dozen or so times Bashir has demonstrated extraordinary medical ingenuity on the show, like say, when he used android parts to keep Driftwood alive long enough to garner peace between Cardassia and Bajor. Speaking of which, all smiles and congratulations. I wonder if she's asked the Prophets why they instructed her to be with...well, I guess we can call him “Deadwood” now. Anyway, Bashir is a bit overwhelmed, I guess, and excuses himself from his own party.

Dax is frustrated with Julian's lack of excitement:

BASHIR: This isn't about my work. Do you know what the life expectancy of a Carrington Award winner is? Five years. Ten at the very best. And do you know why? Because the Carrington Award is intended to be the crowning achievement for a lifetime in medicine. April Wade is a hundred and six. The last time she was nominated, three years ago, people said it was premature. Dax is “astonished but impressed” with Bashir's maturity in prematurely accepting defeat. Okay. Neat.

Rom's quarters are a sty and Quark is angry about it, having been forced to crash here while Zek occupies his. He discovers that Rom has stolen a number of items from Quark's private store for his quarters. Their clichéd roommate squabble goes on for a few minutes until finally, mercifully, Quark decides to force Rom to ask Zek to return his quarters. Zek exuberantly greets the brothers and leads them into Quark's own quarters, having thrown out all of the furniture. He shows them “the crowning triumph of his life,” a revised/re-written Rules of Acquisition. a couple of Hanna-Barbara villains, Quark and Rom are eager to Get Rich Quick from Zek's newly-penned “wisdom.” The pair are quickly surprised by Zeks' first revision, “If they want their money back, give it to them.” Lurch2 begins weeping. Holy shit, this is awful.

Act 2 : **, 17%

The brothers continue to read the new rules, which are decidedly more New-Agey, less Ayn-Randy than we've come to expect from the Ferengi. They speculate about what has happened to Zek to make him behave this way. Quark considers that maybe there's a secret code or something—licks the fucking, no, I don't want my money back, you have to pay me.

Later, Zek offers to buy everyone within Quark's bar a drink on his account...and he informs the disgruntled bartender that he explained to the girl from the teaser that Quark was gouging her for those fucking stembolts. Zek takes Rom on a stroll to explain the “new ways” he is implementing for the Ferengi.

Bashir and O'Brien are playing a game of darts—Bashir is not playing so well, with O'Brien running some reverse psychology on his friend over this award issue.

Next thing you know, Rom has transformed Quarks' quarters—presumably under Zek's orders—into “The Ferengi Benevolence Association.”

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Quark finally realises that Zek isn't playing some elaborate profit-seeking trick on him. Rom informs him that the Ferengi are going to evolve. Rom is terribly excited about the prospect of being a VIP in this new world order. Quark thinks they'll all be hanged for heresy.

Bashir gives Zek a clean bill of health—the writers ever-so-briefly tying the A and B plots together. Zek plans on giving a special gift to the Bajorans, and pays Bashir for his services.

The brothers break into Zek's ship—with Lurch2's help—to try and discover what has made him go crazy. Lurch2 reveals the gift, one of the missing Bajoran Orbs.

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

Quark is certain that the Orb is responsible for Zek's behaviour. There's some awful physical comedy which leads to Quark being offered an Orb vision. I never thought I would miss the tedium of “The Homecoming”'s orb scenes, but the sight of Wallace Shawn's disembodied head screeching from within the Orb Chest instantly reminds me of the horrifying sight from “Haven” when ol' Armin Shimmerman puked a pile of jewels onto the transporter pad. Okay, I take it back...I'll pay YOU to let me out of this episode.

Quark determines that the Prophets changed Zek into a reformer, and conjectures that the Nagus tried to witness the future via the Prophets' magic. Something “went wrong” with Zek's original scheme, after acquiring the missing Orb from a Cardassian contact. But Quark is going to correct this mistake by talking to them himself.

Odo makes an appearance—oddly in the B plot—to “delight” Bashir with news that one of the prize nominees is definitely not going to win, increasing Bashir's own chances. Turns out Bashir has been working on his acceptance speech, just in case.

Whatever. The brothers and Lurch2 kidnap Zek from his office, cartoonishly hauling off to his ship while Wallace Shawn incessantly sings. Dear god.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

Quark and Zek enter the wormhole—an odd visual confluence of the Ferengi vessel within the swirling mass of energy. Zek tells Quark to open the Chest if he wants the Prophets' attention, and so Quark is treated to “Emissary”-style flashes. The Kira-Prophet complains about “another” corporeal alien, because of course, the Prophets don't experience the passage of time. Right. Anyway, they ask him about The Sisko and the Zek.

The Prophets explain to Quark that they “restored” Zek to a less aggressive state of Ferengi evolution, finding his mode of being offensive. Let's...get back to that. Quark counters with a demand that he be un-restored, getting all Ronald Reagan and proclaiming that Greed is Good. The Prophets see through Quark's specious argument (Prophet-Dax: “That is linear.”) So Quark...sigh...Quark is able to *manipulate* the Prophets into restoring Zek to his greedy self. I...what...?, Bashir doesn't win the award, and his friends console him. He finally confesses to Dax that he is, in fact, not handling the loss well at all. Rom, for his part, embezzled money from the Nagus' FBA, totally invalidating Nog's claim from “Life Support” that his father has no Lobes for business, and the two scamper off.

Episode as Functionary : .5 stars, 10%

The B plot is pretty pointless, but not horribly offensive. Even with the hindsight about Bashir's genetic alterations, this doesn't really add up—what did he make an intentional mistake on his amazing research which he knew would keep him from winning outright? That seems dangerous.

The comedy is all very, very weak. The Ferengi episodes have been quite inconsistent and this one definitely goes for all the sitcom tropes, unfortunately. None of the actors give their best performances this week. A shame.

I am on the fence about how to deal with the Prophets this week. I...I think we're not supposed to think too hard about it, as it's supposed to be a comedy. But the writers chose to involve one of the series' ostensibly serious elements. The Occupation was also mentioned, and managed to retain its status as something serious despite the episode's tone. So, I guess I have to contend with what we have here.

First, lets' talk about the Prophets' ability/willingness to change Zek. When Sisko met them in “Emissary,” they found his attitude equally as adversarial and distasteful as Zek's at first. So why didn't they “evolve” Sisko? If it's that easy for the Prophets to change people, why not haul Dukat into the wormhole and open an Orb? What about the Founders? Why [spoiler] in “Sacrifice of Angels,” didn't the Prophets just evolve the Dominion fleet to be a benevolent force in the war instead of just deleting them out of existence?

Second, how are we supposed to take these ostensible gods seriously when a Ferengi is able to outwit them in their own plane of existence? Seriously. Quark's reverse psychology is about as sophisticated as Odo's was to Bashir, and it fucking works. Are you kidding me?

There was an opportunity here, mixing greed and religion, to create a comedic allegory about televangelism. Zek's encounter with the Prophets could have led him to start marketing belief and charging for miracles or something. That would have potentially been amusing and a worthwhile message to boot. This? This is garbage.

Final Score : *.5
William B
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
"The B plot is pretty pointless, but not horribly offensive. Even with the hindsight about Bashir's genetic alterations, this doesn't really add up—what did he make an intentional mistake on his amazing research which he knew would keep him from winning outright? That seems dangerous. "

Did I miss something? I thought that he didn't win's basically a Lifetime Achievement Award, and they don't give it to rookies. For a rookie to be nominated at all is a sign of Bashir's genius, and I think the push-pull with success -- he can never really fill his spiritual void with accolades, and *knows* that, but still wants it anyway, but won't admit it, but knows he won't get it, etc. -- seems real to me, if not riveting. I didn't think there was any evidence he made an intentional mistake on the research (the "possibly intentional mistake" comes up on his med school final in whatsits, the one with the Lethian).
William B
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
I found your take on this episode funny and I certainly don't mind it being trashed, but I do find that I have a hard time figuring our your act by act ratings -- I mean, what in act 3 warrants 3 stars? This isn't a criticism, I'm just curious if there's something that you liked about it (besides the plots intersecting) that didn't really come through in your writing. I guess act 3, in which Rom recognizes that he'll have an important role in a New Ferengi Order, does double as foreshadowing....
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Thanks—there wasn’t anything overtly annoying in act 3. The comedy was subdued, the plot elements were fine and there were no philosophically absurd bits.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
Sorry—and regarding the genetic engineering thing, my only point was that, in this case, the retcon doesn’t fit the narrative of this story.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Not a true stinker, but close.

It's not a good sign when I'm wondering how much is left of an ep, while hoping it's almost over.

Mostly quite boring.
Peter H
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Gosh, I'm a sucker for Ferengi episodes, and I loved this one.

The Ferengi can't be taken seriously as a race, and are little more than cartoon antagonists at this stage of Trek history... and yet, I still love em. This is a lighthearted romp that had me giggling throughout, especially thanks to all the splendid Ferengi performances which were, as always, on point.

Like Jammer, I felt the scenes with the wormhole aliens / Prophets were the highlight. I loved the consistency with "Emissary", especially with it's references to "the game" and linear time.

The Bashir B story was a bit pointless, but I still found myself enjoying it nonetheless.

A solid 3 stars!
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
Such a stupid episode -- below average for DS9's dumb Ferengi comedies. Was not a fan of sullying the Prophets mystique with Ferengi nonsense. If their communication to Sisko is so cryptic, how can Quark understand and communicate with them so clearly (and even try to bullshit them)? Then he actually convinces them to convert Zek back to being a normal greedy Ferengi after they had done what they felt was best (turning him into a philanthropist). This doesn't sit well with me.

There was absolutely nothing funny here and Zek's super-annoying with his laughing/giggling. Rom is his dumb self -- really a caricature character. And this episode had plenty of him - just doesn't belong on Star Trek.

The Bashir B-plot was also very dull. So Bashir doesn't think he deserves a prestigious award (too young) yet he writes an acceptance speech but doesn't win the award. Then he says he's pissed he didn't win but doesn't show it (perhaps some strange sarcasm that didn't come off). Maybe the only thing to take away from this is his colleagues on the station are all pulling for him / happy for him. Really a throw-away B-plot if a DS9 episode ever had one.

But the big issue that made "Prophet Motive" so difficult to watch is all the idiotic Quark and Rom scheming, going over the "revised" rules of acquisition, Maihar'du weeping etc. This attempt at low quality comedy didn't work at all.

What would have been better is if Zek's philanthropy was allowed to last and he goes about reforming Ferengi society. It might lead to an intelligent discussion about capitalism rather than the parody of it that Ferengi society is. But that would be too much to expect from DS9's Ferengi arc.

0.5 stars for "Prophet Motive" -- this was terrible right off the bat and it never really improved. I didn't like how the Prophets got dragged into this disaster of an episode -- they should be treated with more respect instead of getting associated with idiots like Zek and Quark. They do denounce Zek's aggressive, pronounced greed which is appropriate but this encounter just shouldn't happen -- I'm sure the Bajorans wouldn't be too pleased about it or their orb being traded between Cardies and Zek.
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 9:21am (UTC -5)
I love Quark, he's my favourite! interesting word in the review: cardboardedly.
Sun, May 12, 2019, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
I love Quark and especially Nog, and really enjoy when they are the focus of the B story. But as much as I wanna like Wallace Shawn, these episodes are always kinda a looking at my phone the whole time situation.
Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 1:43am (UTC -5)
Not the best episode but it did make me laugh several. The Grand Nagus humming merrily as he's being kidnapped was hilarious.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 5:47am (UTC -5)
The episode that opens with Quark's O-face.
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 9:20am (UTC -5)
7 out of 10, the fact Qark annoyed the prophets into submission is worth it
Beard of Sisko
Thu, Mar 18, 2021, 9:37am (UTC -5)
An okay breather episode, but nothing special. The B-story was pretty worthless.

Wed, May 18, 2022, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
I don't love this episode, but its certainly watchable. Its not an all time classic ( I don't think a Ferengi comedy every can be), it doesn't move any of the arcs forward in anyway, but I did actually think a lot of the humor did land. I laughed numerous times. I think in a show that is as serious, and sometimes as dark, as DS9, its okay to take a break for a few laughs, especially when there is 26 episodes a season.

I agree that the B plot was pretty worthless. The DS9 writers usually take great care in their stories, so it is unusual for them to actually take a B-plot and not care about it, but they literally just threw this one away.
Sun, Aug 21, 2022, 10:02am (UTC -5)
The Bashir angle was indeed...vapid. In every sense and interpretation of the word.

I like the Quark/Nagus part though. Yes, goofy and, ultimately, a tempest in a teapot, but Quark again showed much greater maturity and wisdom than he's generally given credit for. His speech to the wormhole freaks was particularly good and pretty insightful: "Greed" is a primal motivator and it drives progress. Cooperation is all well and good but it leads to stagnation unless it's underpinned by a foundation of thriving competition.

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