Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 3, Episode 23
Production episode 40512-469
Original air date: May 15, 1995
Station log: Sisko is making chicken paprikash for dinner, which indicates to Jake that his father’s latest mission went well, since he only cooks Hungarian food when he’s in a good mood. Jake also tells Sisko that Kasidy Yates—the freighter captain he’s been trying to set him up with since last episode—is on the station.
Business is booming in Quark’s, which makes the proprietor that much crankier when Rom tells him that he gave Nog the night off to study for his Starfleet exams. Then a liquidator from the Ferengi Commerce Authority named Brunt shows up and places a writ of accountability on the bar. Quark and Rom are devastated, and the bar is quickly closed and evacuated. Brunt is doing an audit. After Quark bribes him, Brunt explains the charges against him: poor supervision of a family member. Quark probably thinks it’s Nog at first, but it turns out to be his and Rom’s mother, Ishka, who is earning profit. (Ferengi females are forbidden from earning profit.) Quark is responsible for getting her to confess to her crimes, make restitution, and reveal her accomplices. Quark and Rom are on the next transport to Ferenginar (with Quark asking Odo to keep an eye on the bar while he’s gone, which is hilarious). Quark doesn’t want Rom along, because he always takes Ishka’s side, but Rom insists.
Quark is not at all happy to be home, and he’s even less happy to see Ishka wearing clothes and addressing Brunt, a stranger. Brunt gives Quark three days, at which point she will be sold into indentured servitude and Quark will have to make restitution (though her profit is only three bars of latinum, so Quark can probably afford it, but still…). After Brunt leaves, Ishka makes it clear that she’s not signing the confession, nor removing her clothes.
It becomes apparent to Sisko that Jake has told everyone about Yates—he’s asked about her by Dax in Ops and by O’Brien and Bashir as they’re trying (under Odo’s watchful eye) to break into Quark’s (still closed by the FCA) to retrieve their lucky dart board (though O’Brien insists they never called it their lucky dart board).
Rom serves dinner because Ishka isn’t feeling well. Quark is bitter about how she never chewed their food for them, not even when they were kids, and how the other children would make fun of them because their mother talked to strangers and didn’t masticate their dinner. Their father never earned much profit because he was so worried about Ishka’s eccentricities. Over dinner, Quark and Ishka argue and then Quark actually gets down on his knees begging her to confess for the sake of the family’s reputation. Later Rom tries his hand at asking her less confrontationally. But it’s too important to Ishka to be able to earn profit—she doesn’t care about the money as such, it’s the principle of the thing.
Sisko finally goes to meet Yates in the cargo bay. They’re both amused by Jake’s matchmaking attempt, and agree to meet for coffee.
Quark discovers, to his dismay, that Ishka has earned a helluva lot more than three bars of latinum. She’s made so much profit that Quark couldn’t begin to make restitution. While Rom’s impressed that she has such good lobes for business, Quark is devastated. He screams at Ishka, who screams right back, revealing that her husband didn’t have the lobes for business, but refused to listen to Ishka’s advice, because she was a female. Quark storms out to inform the FCA about Ishka’s financial empire, but Rom stops him, telling him what Quark never knew, because Rom stayed home for ten years after Quark left Ferenginar: Keldar was a failure at business. “He couldn’t hold onto latinum if you sewed it into his pants!” They break out in a spectacularly lame-ass fight, which Ishka breaks up.
Quark goes to the Tower of Commerce (he walks up all 40 flights of stairs, unwilling to pay the seven strips of latinum for the elevator). While waiting to see Brunt (and after paying bribes to the secretary both to let Brunt know of his arrival and to be allowed to sit—sitting is three slips, but if you stay standing it’s one slip), Rom shows up with an offer from Ishka: splitting the profits 50-50. This intrigues Quark, and he puts off seeing Brunt. But Rom just said that to get Quark back to the house. He forces Ishka and Quark to sit and talk and work things out, pointing out to Quark that he treats Cardassians with more respect than his own mother and to Ishka that, if Quark can find her hidden profits, so can the FCA eventually. After yelling at them to work it out, Rom goes off to take a nap.
Ishka tells Quark that he’s too hard on Rom, but he replies that he had to be because she was too easy on him. But even if she’d pushed him, it wouldn’t have helped. Rom is like his father, with no lobes for business. Quark is more like Ishka—he not only memorized the Rules of Acquisition (one of Ishka’s proudest moments was when he got through all 285 without a mistake the first time), he understands them. Ishka is willing to give in and sign the confession for her son.
Sisko and Yates’s date goes okay, but Yates is preoccupied because she forgot that she was getting a transmission from her brother on Cestus III: an audio recording of a baseball game he’s playing. To Sisko’s joy and delight, they’ve revived baseball on that Federation colony, and they go off to listen to the game together.
Ishka signs the confession (while naked) and Brunt happily goes off, a hush bribe from Quark in his pocket. What Brunt doesn’t know (and neither does Quark, though Rom does) is that Ishka only admitted to about a third of what she actually made to the FCA.
The Sisko is of Bajor: After a huge nudzh from Jake, aided by the latter informing the entire senior staff about her existence and how he wants them to get together, Sisko meets up with Yates, and they hit it off, particularly once they discover a shared love of baseball.
The slug in your belly: Dax’s opinion of Yates after meeting her: “If I were Curzon, I’d have stolen her from you by now.”
Rules of Acquisition: Standard operating procedure for pretty much any official conversation on Ferenginar involves a bribe. When you enter a Ferengi’s house, you sign a legal waiver and deposit an admission fee; the owner says, “My house is my house,” to which the visitor replies, “As are its contents.”
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Jake’s matchmaking finally pays off, as Sisko and Yates have a coffee date.
Keep your ears open: “How do you get to be an FCA liquidator?”
“Hard work, bribes, sucking up to the boss—just like any other job.”
Rom asking Brunt about his work.
Welcome aboard: Three recurring characters make their first appearance in this episode.
Penny Johnson (these days credited as Penny Johnson Jerald), last seen as Dobara on TNG’s “Homeward,” plays Kasidy Yates, who will remain Sisko’s sweet baboo (with some ups and downs) through to the end of the series. She’ll next appear (with a much less ridiculous hairstyle) in “The Way of the Warrior” at the top of the fourth season.
Jeffrey Combs, last seen as Tiron in “Meridian,” makes the first of eight appearances as Brunt. This is the first of three recurring characters for Combs, two of which are on this show, Weyoun being the other. He’ll also recur as Shran on Enterprise. His next appearance as Brunt will be in “Bar Association” next season.
And the great Andrea Martin of SCTV fame appears as Ishka. This is Martin’s only appearance in the role—in all future appearances, starting in “Ferengi Love Songs” in the fifth season, Ishka will be played by Cecily Adams.
Plus we have Max Grodénchik as Rom.
Trivial matters: This episode marks the first appearance of Ferenginar, with its very humid weather and the hobbit-like dwelling places, as well as various and sundry customs of the homeworld, most of them involving bribes.
Brunt and Ishka also appear in Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed, your humble rewatcher’s contribution to Worlds of DS9 Volume 3. Brunt additionally appears in the novella Reservoir Ferengi by David A. McIntee in Seven Deadly Sins and as a younger man in Robert Greenberger’s Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Buying Time. Ishka also appears in Greenberger’s Doors Into Chaos and in the Terok Nor novel Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison.
Cestus III was established as a Federation colony that intruded upon Gorn space in the original series episode “Arena.” Apparently in the century since, it became a Federation colony once again.
Yates’s brother playing baseball on Cestus III will be a recurring theme. Your humble rewatcher fleshed out the Cestus Baseball League in A Time for War, a Time for Peace and Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny. The brother in question is named Kornelius in Articles.
The Pike City Pioneers’ home city is presumably named after Christopher Pike, Kirk’s predecessor as captain of the Enterprise from “The Cage,” “The Menagerie” two-parter, and the two JJ Abrams Star Trek films.
This episode formally establishes what was already obvious: that the runabouts are named after Earth rivers. In addition, Sisko is the one who picks the names when new runabouts are assigned. He dubs the newest one Rubicon (amusing, given that the last one was destroyed in “The Die is Cast,” a quote from Julius Caesar right before he crossed that river).
Walk with the Prophets: “Moogie!” First of all, I just have to say how much I absolutely adore the entire conception and design of Ferenginar: the tiny houses with rounded doorways that even the shrimpy Ferengi have to duck to get through, the constant rain, the ritual for entering a house involving fees, waivers, and a pile of towels to wipe your head of rain, and of course the bribes everywhere.
We also get an episode that challenges Ferengi sexism far more effectively than “Rules of Acquisition” did, as Ishka is obviously a revolutionary, one who sees no reason why her gender should affect her ability to make profit—especially given how good she is at it.
There’s also a genuine family crisis here that’s compelling viewing. The relationships among Ishka, Quark, Rom, and, as discussed, the late Keldar, are well drawn out, well portrayed, and help flesh out both Quark and Rom nicely. We already knew from “Civil Defense” that Quark left home at an early age, and we find out now that it was two decades ago—and Rom stayed home for another decade. Rom really gets to shine here—presaging his future career as a politician by manipulating Quark and Ishka into talking to each other—without ever losing his innate Rom-ness. I particularly love how he lectures his brother and mother, and then announces he’s going to take a nap.
In general, this episode works well as a Ferengi comedy episode because the comedy isn’t unnecessarily broad. It doesn’t always take the Ferengi entirely seriously as a culture, but doesn’t entirely mock it, either, and more to the point it takes the characters seriously.We get such great insights into Quark and his family. It’s particularly fascinating to see that he was raised by a strong-willed woman, given that the women he’s been attracted to (Natima Lang, Pel, that Boslic freighter captain, not to mention Kira and Dax) have also all been strong-willed.
And, not only do we get Ishka, we also get Brunt, who will be a delightful recurring antagonist, played with magnificent snottiness (and hilariously small lobes) by Jeffrey Combs. The whole concept of the FCA is a brilliant one, the perfect boogeyman for the average Ferengi.
Elsewhere, we have Jake’s entertaining matchmaking, made all the more delightful by the fact that Yates and Sisko hit it off pretty instantly when they meet in the cargo bay babbling about transporters, and then the deal is sealed when they bond over baseball. A pleasant start to what will be a cornerstone relationship in the series.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel, Gryphon Precinct, is now on sale from the fine folks at Dark Quest Books, and also via Amazon (trade paperback, Kindle, audio), Barnes & Noble (trade paperback, Nook), Indie Bound, or Kobo. This is the fifth book in the acclaimed “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals, following Dragon Precinct, Unicorn Precinct, Goblin Precinct, and Tales from Dragon Precinct.