Written by David Livingston and Ira Steven Behr
Directed by David Livingston
Season 1, Episode 10
Production episode 40511-411
Original air date: March 21, 1993
Station log: Sisko wants to bring Jake to Bajor for the gratitude festival, and also to visit the Fire Caverns. Jake begs off, though, as he says he has plans with Nog to check out an Andorian freighter. Sisko is perplexed, since Jake has been bugging him about going to see the caverns.
Quark is pissed at Rom because a customer left her money pouch behind and Rom gave it back to her with all the currency. Quark punishes Rom by assigning him to polish all the railings in the bar. The abused kick downward, so Rom immediately goes to Nog and tells him that he has to polish all the railings in the bar.
After Quark finishes telling Morn a joke, Grand Nagus Zek, the ruler of Ferenginar, arrives, announced by his son Krax, and accompanied by Maihar’du, his Hupyrian bodyguard. Quark asks if he’s on the station for business or pleasure, and Krax asks if there’s a difference. While Zek spends some time in a holosuite, Quark is apprehensive, convinced that the nagus is going to buy the bar for a fraction of its worth, putting him out of business.
O’Brien is substitute-teaching for Keiko, who’s still on Earth with her mother for two more weeks. Nog hasn’t written his essay on ethics, and he says it’s because his padd was stolen (and apparently not backed up anywhere) by Vulcans, and he tries to prove he’s been paying attention by saying that they stole it because they don’t have ethics. Jake reluctantly backs his friend up to an incredibly skeptical O’Brien. Later, O’Brien tells Sisko that he’s concerned that Nog’s a bad influence on Jake, but Sisko doesn’t see any way to get between them that wouldn’t result in Jake resenting his father.
Zek invites Quark and Rom to have dinner with him and Krax. He compliments Quark on his instincts in opening the bar near a stable wormhole—even though he opened it several years before anybody knew the wormhole existed—though he’s less than impressed that Nog is attending a school run by a human female.
Finally, Zek comes down to business: he wants Quark to host a conference about business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant. Several Ferengi arrive at the station—piquing the curiosity of the station staff, especially Odo—and Quark closes the bar, kicking poor Morn out.
Zek starts the meeting. Quark and his staff move to leave, but Zek wants Quark to remain. He compliments several of those present on their recent business successes. But he’s concerned that the Ferengi have gained a reputation in the Alpha Quadrant as being untrustworthy. The Gamma Quadrant, however, is a place where no one knows the Ferengi, so they can start anew. The Ferengi are thrilled. “Our word can be our bond.” “Until we break it!” “It’ll be the good old days all over again!”
But Zek laments that he’s growing old. He’s not as greedy as he used to be. But he’s chosen his successor: Quark. This comes as a huge surprise to both Krax, who expected to be so named, and Quark, who expected the same. Everyone stomps out of the meeting in disgust at the outrageous declaration. But Quark is thrilled.
Jake and Nog get into an argument after Nog announces that he’s not staying in school, but they eventually make up, even though both Sisko and Rom tell their sons that humans and Ferengi don’t have much in common.
Quark is loving being Grand Nagus, at least until Gral, one of the busnessmen, threatens him. Quark runs to Zek, but in the midst of giving Quark advice, Zek dies. At the funeral ceremony—during which Krax sells containers of the vacuum-desiccated remains of Zek—Quark asks Rom to be his bodyguard. Rom, however, was thinking he could now run the bar, which prompts a spit-take and raucous laughter from Quark. Odo has questions about Zek’s death, but Krax insists it was from a chronic condition he had. Quark also gleefully tells Odo that from now on if Odo wants to talk to him, he has to make an appointment, and also has to kiss Quark’s scepter. Odo snorts and walks away. Quark sees a coin on the floor and bends down to pick it up—which is all that saves his life from a locator bomb that was cued to Quark’s pheremones.
Odo and Sisko question Quark, who is less than forthcoming in discussing an attempt on his life, but he and Rom do reveal that Krax stands to gain the most by Quark’s death—he’d become Grand Nagus, then—and that Gral threatened Quark. Odo is also suspicious of the fact that Maihar’du didn’t attend Zek’s funeral (Hupyrian servants are renowned for their loyalty, apparently).
Sisko then gets to question his son, because Jake was out after midnight the previous night with Nog, but won’t say what he was doing. That night, Jake doesn’t come home for dinner, and—on Dax’s advice—Sisko seeks Jake out, finding him teaching Nog how to read in the cargo bay.
Nava goes to Quark to try to grovel for the rights to introduce synthehol to the Gamma Quadrant, to which Quark agrees for half the profits. Krax is concerned that Quark is going to become immensely popular if he keeps making all these good deals, which will make it even harder for him and Rom to kill him, especially since their locator bomb attempt didn’t work. So they make up a business deal in the Gamma Quadrant that Zek allegedly started that Quark will get to complete. Quark is looking forward to his first trip through the wormhole.
But there is no trip through the wormhole, as Rom and Krax lead him to an empty airlock, which they then close. Quark begs for his life, but Rom and Krax are gleefully ready to send Quark to his death—before Odo shows up with Maihar’du and Zek. Zek faked his death to test Krax. Instead of quietly gathering power at Quark’s side, using the bar as a source of intelligence gathering while Quark was the figurehead, Krax went for the blunt response of grabbing power. “It’s like talking to a Klingon,” Zek concludes in disgust.
Quark turns the scepter back over to Zek, who says that Quark has done an excellent job. As for Rom, Quark is actually impressed, not realizing that his brother had the lobes for such treachery, and buys Rom a drink.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko comes around to the notion that Nog and Jake’s friendship may not be such a bad thing, going from disapproval to approval—at the end of the episode he embarrasses Jake in public by hugging and kissing him and calling him a good son, and then sends him off to be with his friend.
The slug in your belly: Dax mentions that she’s been a mother three times and a father twice.
Rules of Acquisition: The Rules are first established in this episode, and will become a cornerstone of the series going forward (and also be used on both Voyager and Enterprise). We learn the First Rule, “Once you have their money, you never give it back,” and the Sixth Rule, “Never let family stand in the way of opportunity.”
This episode also establishes the Ferengi use of “lobes” as a metaphor for, among other things, virility, guts, greed, and other manly (Ferengi-ly?) attitudes; and also the funereal customs of high-ranking Ferengi, selling their vacuum-desiccated remains.
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Quark offers Zek his choice of his five favorite holosuite programs. Zek decides to run all five, leading to Quark’s genuine fear that the elderly Ferengi may become exhausted or worse.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo turns to liquid in order to board Zek’s ship, which means the portal isn’t water tight, which is kind of a problem for a spacefaring ship….
Keep your ears open. “So, you were going to toss me out an airlock?”
“I never meant it!”
“Well, I do! Rom’s—nice name for a bar, don’t you think?”
Rom, growing some lobes while Quark grovels.
Welcome aboard: Lee Arenberg makes the first of half a dozen appearances on Trek, though his only one on DS9, as Gral. He’ll appear as two other Ferengi on TNG, Prak in “Force of Nature” and Bok in “Bloodlines,” as a Malon in Voyager’s “Juggernaut,” and twice as a Tellarite, amusingly also named Gral, in two Enterprise episodes.
Lou Wagner makes his second appearance as a Ferengi, having previously played Solok in TNG’s “Chain of Command, Part I.” Barry Gordon plays Nava; he’ll appear on Voyager’s “Author Author” as a Bolian.
Finally, Wallace Shawn and Tiny Ron debut their recurring roles as Grand Nagus Zek and his bodyguard Maihar’du, and Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg appear in their recurring roles as Rom and Nog (as does Mark Allan Shepherd as Morn). Shawn and Ron will return in the second season’s “Rules of Acquisition,” and appear once in each season but the fourth, though they will appear twice in season seven.
Trivial matters: This is the only time Krax ever is seen or even mentioned. However, your humble rewatcher did bring him back for the Ferenginar portion of Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Volume 3, in which Krax aids Grand Nagus Rom with a threat to his rule. (And he does it by finally learning the lesson Zek wanted him to learn in this episode.)
The scene where Nava meets with Quark is a riff on the opening scene of the 1972 film The Godfather, complete with blinds and an animal for Quark to pet.
This is the first time the same person has been in both the writer and director credits of a Star Trek episode, as the story was pitched by David Livingston, who was then tapped to direct.
Molly O’Brien is described as being three years old, which is a neat trick since she was born only a year previous, in TNG’s “Disaster.”
Morn laughs at Quark’s joke about Andorians, which is the only time he opens his mouth and makes a noise at any time during the series run.
The Bajoran Gratitude Festival mentioned by Sisko at the top of the episode will actually be seen in both “Fascination” and “Tears of the Prophets.” The sentence Jake teaches Nog to read says that the Bajoran system has fourteen planets and that Bajor itself has three moons—the latter will later be contradicted, as Bajor will be established as having five moons.
Zek also appears in several works of tie-in fiction besides my aforementioned WoDS93, including The Big Game and The Long Night, both by Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch; Balance of Power by Dafydd ab Hugh; The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman, David R. George III, and Eric A. Stillwell; and I, Q by John deLancie & Peter David; and two issues of Malibu’s DS9 comic book.
Walk with the Prophets: “You failed! Miserably!” A delightful little episode that sets the tone for future Ferengi tales—for better or worse—aided by the letter-perfect casting of Wallace Shawn as the Ferengi leader and a superb performance by Armin Shimerman as a normal person being given absolute power and not having the first clue how to handle it. We also get our first look at Rom’s potential, as he shows a heretofore unknown capacity for treachery. There are no real surprises here—we know that Quark isn’t going to stay Grand Nagus, nor that he’s actually going to be thrown out an airlock—but it’s fun getting there, mostly due to Shawn and Shimerman (with some good supporting work by Max Grodenchik and Lou Wagner). Also the Godfather riff is hilarious.
But what gives the episode its heart is the B-plot with Jake and Nog. Up until now, the friendship has mostly been there because the scripts say it’s there, but this is the first time the relationship has been given any kind of depth. The revelation that Jake is teaching Nog how to read is heartwarming, and every scene between Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton just glows with wonderfulness.
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido specifically asked to write the Ferenginar part of Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because, after years of writing Klingon fiction, he wanted to do something that was 180 degrees from that.