“The House of Quark”
Written by Tom Benko and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Les Landau
Season 3, Episode 3
Production episode 40512-449
Original air date: October 10, 1994
Station log: It’s 2100 hours and Quark’s is empty save for Morn—who leaves with an attractive woman—and an exceedingly drunk Klingon named Kozak. Fear of the Dominion is keeping people away from the station, which keeps them away from Quark’s. While Quark laments his decision not to go into insurance—“better hours, more money, less scruples”—Rom brings Kozak his thirteenth bloodwine. But the Klingon’s out of money and wants to be extended credit, and his and Quark’s discussion on the subject turns ugly when Kozak unsheathes his d’k tahg and makes a very clumsy attempt to stab Quark. They roll around on the floor for a bit, and the blade winds up embedded in Kozak’s chest.
Bashir examines the body while Odo questions Quark and Rom. Quark, though, sees the crowds gathering outside wanting to know what happened, and sees an opportunity to get people back in the bar with the story of his magnificent bar brawl with the cunning Klingon. (Rom’s protestations that it was an accident and the Klingon was drunk fall on very large, very deaf ears.)
Quark starts weaving quite an impressive tale for Odo that exaggerates every single aspect of the story, particularly the actual killing blow. Bashir and Odo’s facial expressions display the absolute height of dubiousness and disbelief, but the crowd outside eats it up, which is all Quark cares about.
O’Brien comes home to see Keiko playing with a plant. He talks about his day, but when he asks about hers, she announces that she closed the school. Jake and Nog are the only students she has left, with all the other children having left the station. O’Brien tries to comfort her, but she brushes him off, since she never intended teaching to be her permanent career. But it’s also obvious she’s upset—probably because she’s back to where she was when they came to the station, with nothing useful to do, which is why she opened the school in the first place.
Odo informs Quark that Kozak was the head of a very influential House in the Klingon Empire. Despite the threat of Kozak’s family coming to find out what happened to their House Head, Quark sticks by his story, especially since the bar is packed with people. It’s not just about profit anymore, it’s about respect. He’s not just the venal Ferengi who runs the bar, he’s Quark, slayer of Klingons! And if someone from the House of Kozak comes by for vengeance, he’ll stand up, look them in the eye, and offer them a bribe.
Sure enough, D’Ghor, Kozak’s brother, accosts Quark in a corridor and demands to know how Kozak died. A frightened-to-death Quark is more than happy to tell the truth, but D’Ghor makes it clear that if Quark says Kozak died in an accident—a death without honor, that would disgrace his entire House—he’ll kill the Ferengi. But if Quark says that Kozak died as a warrior in honorable combat—the very story Quark’s been telling—then all is well, and no one will seek vengeance.
O’Brien prepares a huge meal (complete with champagne) for Keiko for “I’m Married to the Most Wonderful Woman in the Galaxy” Day, an old Irish tradition that he just made up. It cheers her for a while, but the next morning when O’Brien goes off to a day of work and she’s at home with nothing to do, the depression comes back.
Quark is visited by Grilka, Kozak’s widow. Quark sticks to his story—but the second she unsheathes her own d’k tahg, Quark dives behind the bar and hides behind a serving tray. In light of this response, she’s somewhat skeptical that he managed to kill her husband in combat. He admits that it was an accident, and she’s impressed that he lied to Odo, to his customers, and to D’Ghor. Quark smiles and says, “It’s a gift,” at which point she announces that he’s going to use that gift to her benefit—right before she sedates him with a hypo and beams him and her to her ship.
He wakes up on Qo’noS, where he’s faced by Grilka’s advisor, Tumek, who explains to Quark that D’Ghor is an enemy of the House of Kozak. Since Kozak died without a male heir, the House would go to D’Ghor if he died in honorable combat. But if he died in an accident, then Grilka could petition the High Council for special dispensation to make a woman the head of the House because of the unusual circumstance of a warrior dying by accident.
Grilka’s plan is to marry Quark, thus making him the new head of the House, cutting D’Ghor’s plan off at the pass. (She doesn’t explain this part to Quark until after Tumek performs the ceremony that marries them.) Klingon tradition holds that a warrior may take the position and wife of the warrior he slays in honorable combat. Since D’Ghor testified before the Council that Kozak died in honorable combat with Quark, that enables Grilka to pull this little trick.
The situation is sufficiently complicated that Gowron declares that the Council must deliberate on the matter. Until a final decision is reached, the House of Kozak is officially (if temporarily) renamed the House of Quark and D’Ghor may not take action against Quark until the Council makes a determination.
Grilka wants Quark to stay quiet and do as he’s told, but when he asks what the next move is, Grilka has no idea, because she’s following the Indiana Jones playbook (“I don’t know, I’m making it up as I go”). Quark suggests an equal partnership, or at least to be given the entire story as to what the hell’s going on.
The House of Kozak was weakened by Kozak’s gambling and drinking, and a lot of his debt is to D’Ghor. Quark asks to look at the financial records of both Kozak and D’Ghor to see if he can find a Ferengi way out of this, which Grilka only very reluctantly accedes to. (Klingons don’t concern themselves with filthy ledgers…)
O’Brien asks for Sisko’s permission to convert a cargo bay to an arboretum for Keiko to care for, which Sisko happily grants. But Bashir points out to O’Brien that creating an arboretum as something for her to do reduces her profession to a hobby. Botany can’t be something she does for lack of anything better to do, she needs to actually be a botanist.
It takes Quark all of five seconds to figure out that D’Ghor has been manipulating things financially to weaken Kozak’s House and strengthen his own. Rather than make a declaration and meet Kozak’s forces in battle, he’s plotted and schemed behind the scenes like a Ferengi. Grilka is disgusted, while Quark is just smug as all heck about it.
Quark shows the details of D’Ghor’s financial trickery to the Klingons, who struggle with the minutiae, but get the gist: D’Ghor used money (yuck, poo) to bring down a noble House. D’Ghor responds with anger, saying Quark has dishonored him, and challenges him to honorable combat. To back it up, he now says he has “new evidence” that Kozak died in an accident, to wit, the only other witness: Rom.
At this point, Quark and Rom are done—they did their bit, and now D’Ghor wants to kill Quark, to which Quark’s response is to run away very fast. Grilka is disgusted and lets him go. The next day in Council Chambers, when Quark doesn’t show up, D’Ghor asks that the House of Quark be dissolved and its lands and holdings be transferred to him.
But then Quark walks in, wearing a cassock and holding a bat’leth, and announcing himself as Quark, son of Keldar, and he’s there to answer the accusations of D’Ghor, “son of…whatever.”
They face each other, bat’leths raised. Gowron declares combat to begin, at which point Quark throws his weapon to the floor and gets down on his knees. This was never anything more than an execution, and he refuses to play along by fighting back to make it look honorable. Instead he sits and waits for D’Ghor to rise to power by executing an unarmed Ferengi half his size. D’Ghor is actually all too happy to do that, at which point Gowron stays his hand and discommendates him for such dishonorable behavior. After D’Ghor is cast out, Gowron grants that there are whole bunches of unusual circumstances, and grants Grilka special dispensation to lead her House.
Grilka asks how she can repay Quark, and he says he’d like a divorce, please, at which point she smacks him, declares “Our marriage is done!” in Klingon, and then spits on him. “You’re a free man,” she adds, and then kisses him passionately.
Back on DS9, in a crowded Quark’s, O’Brien tells Keiko about an opportunity on Bajor for a mountain survey that needs a chief botanist. It’s a six-month expedition, and she can bring Molly along, and it’s only a couple hours away.
At the bar, Rom tells Quark how magnificent he was in the Great Hall—and then asks him to tell the story again. Quark says everyone’s sick of it, but Rom says he wants to hear it. After saying he’ll take the time to tell the story out of Rom’s pay, Quark stands up and starts spinning a yarn….
The slug in your belly: Dax recognizes that O’Brien is having wife trouble just from the look on his face, as she’s been both a husband and a wife, and she recognizes his facial expression after having seen it from both sides.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark makes up a 286th Rule: “When Morn leaves, it’s over.” He also says that “discretion is the better part of valor” is an old Ferengi saying. Oh, and he gets to be the head of a Klingon House for about a day or so….
Victory is life: The threat of the Dominion has scared people away from DS9. Many Bajorans, especially those with children, have left the station to move back to Bajor, and Quark’s bar is empty at 2100 hours.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Apparently “I’m Married to the Most Wonderful Woman in the Galaxy” Day ends with a great deal of sex, based on the O’Briens’ morning-after conversation.
Meanwhile, the first time Grilka kisses Quark, after Tumek marries them, she is disgusted and spits on the floor in revulsion afterward. The second time is after the divorce, and is a genuine passionate thank-you for everything Quark did.
What happens in the holosuite, stays in the holosuite: Another part of “I’m Married to the Most Wonderful Woman in the Galaxy” Day is moonlit walks on the holosuite, apparently.
Keep your ears open: “I really am grateful for all you’ve done, Quark. That’s why I’m going to let you take your hand off my thigh, instead of shattering every bone in your body.”
Grilka, setting boundaries.
Welcome aboard: Robert O’Reilly, who had the recurring role of Gowron on TNG, reprises the role for the first of many times on DS9 (he’ll actually wind up appearing more times on DS9 than he did on TNG). Mary Kay Adams makes the first of two appearances as Grilka (she’ll return in “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”), while Carlos Carrasco plays D’Ghor, the first of three appearances he’ll make on the show (he’ll play another Klingon in “Shattered Mirror” and Krole in “Honor Among Thieves,” and he’ll also play a trader in Voyager’s “Fair Trade”) and regular stunt double John Lendale Bennett plays Kozak. Plus we get recurring regulars Max Grodénchik as Rom and Rosalind Chao as Keiko.
Finally, the magnificently voiced Joseph Ruskin makes his first of two appearances as Tumek (he’ll also reprise the role in “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”). Ruskin is the only actor to have physically appeared* in stories featuring all five crews (while he never appeared on TNG, he was in one of the TNG feature films), having played Galt in “The Gamesters of Triskelion” on the original series, and going on to play a Son’a officer in Insurrection, a Cardassian informant of Odo’s in “Improbable Cause,” a Vulcan tutor of Tuvok’s in Voyager’s “Gravity,” and a Suliban doctor in Enterprise’s “Broken Bow.”
* Majel Barrett also appeared with all five crews, but her appearances on Voyager and Enterprise were only vocally as the voice of Federation Starfleet computers.
Trivial matters: This is the first and only time DS9 will feature scenes set on Qo’noS—surprising, given how important Klingons become to the ongoing storyline starting in the fourth season. It’s the last time we see the Great Hall in the 24th century (it’ll next appear on Enterprise, taking place in the 22nd century, starting in “Broken Bow”).
With his story credit for this episode, Tom Benko became the only person in the history of Trek to serve as a writer, a director (of TNG’s “Transfigurations” and “Devil’s Due”), and an editor (he edited 40 episodes of TNG) for the franchise.
This episode was directed by Les Landau, who also directed the first episode to take place on Qo’noS in general and in the Great Hall in particular, TNG’s “Sins of the Father.” He shot the Great Hall scenes very similarly to the way he did them in the TNG episode, thus proving Karl Marx’s adage that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
Your humble rewatcher had the High Council hearing three requests for special dispensation to make a female the head of a House in the novel A Burning House. The divorce ritual was also seen in that novel.
While Tumek is simply identified as an advisor, it is likely that he is the House gin’tak, the same role that “K’mtar” claimed to have for the House of Mogh in TNG’s “Firstborn.”
Professor Stephen Hawking visited the set during the filming of this episode. No word on whether or not he looked at the wormhole and said he was working on that….
Walk with the Prophets: “A brave Ferengi—who would have thought it possible?” What a magnificent gem of an episode. The Ferengi and the Klingons are pretty much 180 degrees from each other in terms of philosophy, so dropping Quark into the middle of a Klingon blood feud is comedy gold.
There are several things that make the episode work, starting with just some superb performances by Armin Shimerman and Mary Kay Adams. We already know after two-plus seasons how magnificent the former is, but the latter is excellent as well, creating a fully realized character in a remarkably short time. Grilka is smart, quick on her feet, passionate, and clever. Just a joy to watch, and her interactions with the other characters are excellent.
The familiar face of Gowron is nice to see, also and Carlos Carrasco is perfect as the blustery D’Ghor. He pretty much is the stereotypical Klingon blowhard, but that’s what the role actually calls for, so it works. Add Joseph Ruskin’s great voice to the mix, and everything is set.
Luckily, the script lives up to the people speaking it. The intrigue is compelling as hell. So much of Klingon honor is artifice, but so are most social constructs, and there actually is a certain logic to it. Having said that, it’s an interesting question, as the entire episode hinges on how Kozak died. If he died by accident, one thing happens; if he died in glorious combat, something else happen. Yet ultimately, what difference does it make? Kozak’s just as dead in the end either way.
I like the fact that, on one hand, Quark exposes the artifice in the climactic scene, but on the other hand, D’Ghor didn’t exactly behave in a Klingon manner, either. The only difference between Quark and D’Ghor is that Quark isn’t pretending to be something he isn’t. Of course, what’s really hilarious is that Gowron and Grilka are disgusted by the pollution of matters of honor with something so base as money (which gives us the classic scene of Klingons staring incomprehensibly at the ledgers and accounts Quark has given them, which remains one of the ten funniest scenes in Star Trek history), but money is truly what it’s all about. They call it “lands and holdings,” but that’s just a euphemism for moolah.
And it cuts the other way, too. The Ferengi way—for all that they rely on deception and misdirection in their business dealings—is actually pretty straightforward in that it’s all about profit. All the Rules of Acquisition, all the lies, all the scheming, it’s all in the service of dying with the most toys. (But again, by that time, you’re dead…) Yet when Quark starts telling the story of his epic battle against Kozak, he loves the respect he’s suddenly accorded. Even at the end, Rom looks upon him admiringly and asks him to tell the story again, because he wants to hear it—that’s a Klingon request, not a Ferengi one.
On top of all that, the B plot is kind enough to right a wrong that has been a blight on the show since “A Man Alone,” to wit, the absurd sledgehammering of Keiko into the role of schoolmarm. I especially admire that they cop to the mistake, with Bashir pointing out to O’Brien that Keiko is a botanist and that she won’t be happy until she actually is a botanist. The character only appears occasionally anyhow, so sending her off for six months isn’t much of a hardship on the show’s structure, and she hasn’t gone far.
It’s a good Ferengi episode, a good Klingon episode, a good bit of intrigue, and even a couple of good love stories (the O’Briens, as well as Quark and Grilka).
Warp factor rating: 9
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at the Morris County Library in Whippany, New Jersey on Saturday the 26th for an all-day celebration of the 20th anniversary of DS9by the U.S.S. Justice fan club. He’ll also be one of the instructors at the Pocono Writers Conference on Sunday the 27th, an all-day workshop being held at the East Monroe Public Library in Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania; other instructors include Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kathryn Craft, Mike McPhail, Bernie Mojzes, and Michael Ventrella.