“Ferengi Love Songs”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 5, Episode 20
Production episode 40510-518
Original air date: April 21, 1997
Station log: Quark’s has been closed for three days due to a vole infestation. He’s miserable, and Rom’s attempt to cheer him up with the news that he and Leeta are getting married is an abject failure. Rom suggests he go home to Ferenginar to be with his moogie.
Against all odds, Quark actually takes this advice, travelling home to a very surprised Ishka. She doesn’t seem entirely thrilled to find Quark there, but while she says it’s because they’ve never gotten along all that well, there’s another reason, as Quark learns when he goes to his room and sees Grand Nagus Zek and Maihar’du in his closet. At first, Quark runs from the room scared, because Zek says he shouldn’t be on Ferenginar because of his FCA ban, and it takes him until he runs to the living room before he realizes that, well, the grand nagus is hiding in his closet.
Turns out that Zek and Ishka are dating. They met at the Global Tongo Championship, where she gave him advice on how to fix his game. They corresponded, and eventually met, and fell in love. However, their relationship is a secret, and Quark promises to stay quiet.
Rom has started wearing a Bajoran earring and is learning all about being a Bajoran, as he proudly proclaims to Dax and O’Brien. However, Leeta has shown no interest in learning about being a Ferengi woman, which Dax thinks is to her credit. But Rom suddenly starts worrying about whether or not he can trust a non-Ferengi woman. So he decides to ask Leeta to sign a waiver of property and profit, which means that she gives up all rights to his money if the marriage ends. She of course refuses to sign it, at one point calling the Rules of Acquisition stupid. They fight, and the marriage is off.
Quark tries to get Zek to reverse the FCA ban, but he refuses, to Quark’s annoyance. He retires to his bedroom, only to hear a muffled transporter. He opens his closet to see Brunt there. Brunt knows about the relationship, and he offers Quark his business license back if he poisons the relationship quietly. He wants to spare the nagus embarrassment, but he needs to stop her whispering female depravity into his oversized ears. Quark agrees in a heartbeat, going to the nagus and telling him all about those rumors about how she earned more profit than she gave back to the FCA (which is true) and is starting a revolution to give women equal rights (which is nonsense), which poisons the well nicely.
Sisko and Odo find Rom crying over his work. He unconvincingly insists they’re tears of joy. Meanwhile, Leeta insists to Kira that she’s well to be rid of Rom, which Kira doesn’t believe, and Leeta breaks down crying.
Quark pretends to be shocked when a crying (lot of crying in this episode…) Ishka says that Zek left her, accusing her of all kinds of awful things. Quark then contacts Brunt, who reinstates his license. (“You’re a Ferengi again.” “I always was!”)
The next day, Quark, having packed to head home to DS9, is summoned by Zek, who offers him the position of First Clerk, as a reward for warning him about Ishka. However, it quickly becomes clear that the fives and tens are missing from Zek’s deck. He’s suffering from Space Alzheimer’s, and Ishka was the only thing keeping him together. Now the market’s down 199 points, and Brunt is giddy as a schoolgirl. Turns out he wasn’t trying to protect Zek, he was trying to expose Zek’s infirmity so he himself could become nagus. The FCA is going to question Zek which will put Brunt in the nagal seat.
O’Brien comes to Rom’s quarters to get a tool back that Rom borrowed. Rom’s considering bribing Leeta to sign the WP&P, but O’Brien points out that if she signs it, she doesn’t even get to keep the bribe. Rom finally admits that he’d do anything to get Leeta back. So Rom gives all his profits, such as they are, to Kira for the Bajoran War Orphans Fund, so he has no profits for the WP&P to affect even if she did sign it. Which she doesn’t. And then they smooch.
While Quark could easily go back to DS9, he’s discovered to his horror that he has a conscience. He blames exposure to humans. So Ishka gives him advice to tell Zek when he’s questioned by the FCA. When he passes the inquisition with flying colors, Zek thanks Quark, but Quark explains that it was really Ishka who helped him get through it. Zek takes her back and fires Quark for lying to him about Ishka. Back home, as Quark’s packing, Brunt beams into his closet knowing that he’s lost. He even lets Quark keep his business license so he can keep an eye on him and nail him when he screws up. But for now, Quark tosses him back in the closet, then starts playing with the Marauder Mo action figures that Ishka returned to him earlier.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: When Rom gives all his profits to the Bajoran War Orphans Fund, Kira kisses him. We do not get to see this, which is actually kinda too bad.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo arrests General Martok for tossing an officer over a railing. Worf insists it was a standard disciplinary matter, but Odo points out that the falling officer almost landed on a Bolian ambassador, and Sisko adds that it isn’t a Klingon space station. Odo also is told to let Martok out of his holding cell.
Rules of Acquisition: We get four Rules this time around, one we’ve heard before (#18: “A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all”) and three new ones (#94: “Females and finances don’t mix,” #208: “The only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer,” and #229: “Latinum lasts longer than lust”).
We also have Quark and Ishka discussing what sets the grand nagus apart from other Ferengi: His personal greed must reflect the people’s greed. That’s why they say that Brunt is unfit to be nagus.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Zek and Ishka are the most revoltingly cutesy couple in the history of Trek, so cloying that they actually make Rom and Leeta’s super-sappiness kind of restrained in comparison.
Keep your ears open: “Have you ever looked at latinum—I mean, really looked at it?”
Rom having a stoner moment regarding his pile of profits.
Welcome aboard: Hamilton Camp debuts the character of Leck, who will return (and be much more interesting) in “The Magnificent Ferengi.” Cecily Adams takes over the recurring role of Ishka from Andrea Martin (who was uncomfortable with the prosthetics and declined to come back after “Family Bsuiness”). And we’ve got other recurring regulars in Max Grodénchik (Rom), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Tiny Ron (Maihar’du), Jeffrey Combs (Brunt), and Wallace Shawn (Zek).
Trivial matters: Cecily Adams is, in fact, nine years younger than Armin Shimerman, and yet was still cast as his mother.
This episode had working titles of “How Quark Acquired His Groove Back” and “Of Love and Profit,” before settling on the riff on Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs.”
The Marauder Mo action figures that Ishka returns to Quark (and that he plays with as we fade to black) are retrofitted Superpatriot figures from the SpawnSeries 6 line of Image Comics-based action figures from the mid-1990s. They carry energy whips like the ones used by the first Ferengi we saw in “The Last Outpost.”
Starting in “Soldiers of the Empire,” the next episode, the FCA notice on the walls of Quark’s that have been there since “Body Parts” will no longer be present.
This is the first of several times that Brunt will make a play for becoming nagus.
Walk with the Prophets: “What are you doing in my closet?” A slight, absurd, ridiculous, hilarious, awful, delightful, funny, wretched, stupid, silly episode.
I mean, you know what you’re getting right there in the title and everything. And the actual love stories here are enough to make you want to throw up, y’know, a lot. Zek and Ishka’s mushy talk is particularly vomit-inducing, not aided by Wallace Shawn’s screech and Cecily Adams’s bellow. (The recasting is unfortunate here. The late Adams does the best she can, but Andrea Martin is an impossibly tough act to follow.) Rom and Leeta are only marginally better, and it mostly works because nobody says “Aw!” more adorably than Chase Masterson and Max Grodénchik cries exactly like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
On the other hand, this episode is hilariously funny. Armin Shimerman, having proved his dramatic chops in “Business as Usual,” reminds us that he’s a master of comic timing, from his befuddlement at the presence of Zek in his closet to his desperate attempts to keep Zek on point as First Clerk to his depression in the teaser to his gleeful “I always was!” after Brunt reinstates him to playing with his Marauder Mo action figures at the end.
And I’m sorry, but I found the running gag of people constantly showing up in Quark’s closet to be uproariously funny. I have no idea why.
In the end, we have both a return to the status quo—Quark is a proper Ferengi again—and a change to it—Rom and Leeta really are getting married—and getting there is an hour of television that makes you laugh. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be the guest speaker at the July meeting of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society tonight at 9pm at the International House at 3710 Chestnut Street. Keith will have books for sale (including The Klingon Art of War), and there will be an informal dinner at a local eatery afterward that all are welcome to join. Also, please support his Kickstarter for a new story in the Dragon Precinct universe! Details can be found here…