“Business as Usual”
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Siddig el-Fadil
Season 5, Episode 18
Production episode 40510-516
Original air date: April 5, 1997
Station log: Quark is distracted from his tongo game with Dax because he’s been completely financially wiped out. He made three investments, and they all crapped out, leaving him broke. Then, to add insult to injury, his cousin Gaila shows up—but he has an offer. He wants Quark to join him in his weapons business, doing what he does best: show the customers a good time, and also use the holosuites to demo the weapons without ever actually bringing them onto the station (thus avoiding the long arm of the law). Gaila offers five percent, and Quark sees the actual figures, and realizes that even that small a percentage will wipe out his debt in no time. After a few months, the FCA will be begging Quark to be reinstated.
Having no real choice, Quark says yes.
Keiko is on Bajor helping fix a blight, and Kirayoshi will not sleep unless O’Brien is holding him—otherwise he cries, as proved when he tries to hand him off to Jake to babysit while O’Brien reports for duty. As soon as O’Brien takes him back, he stops crying. So O’Brien takes him to work. He continues to carry the baby around, even while playing darts. Bashir does every possible test, and he’s fine, just sad unless he’s being held by his father.
Gaila introduces Quark to his associate, a human named Hagath, and together the two Ferengi show Hagath Quark’s holosuites, demonstrating how they can be used to demo the weapons they sell. Hagath and Gaila reminisce about a time they sold weapons to both sides in a war, which Hagath admits is risky, as you have to keep each side in the dark about your selling to their enemies, but very lucrative.
Quark takes to selling weapons like a duck to water—it’s just like selling sandwiches, he realizes. Hagath, however, won’t actually pay Quark directly until all his creditors are paid off. But by way of apologizing, he gives Quark some very valuable beads.
Naturally, Odo arrests Quark for dealing weapons, though Quark defies him to find any weapons on the station. However, the Bajoran government insists that Hagath and his associates be allowed to do business without interference. Hagath sold a lot of weapons to the resistance, and the Bajorans owe him a debt. Hagath and Gaila later say how everyone thought they were crazy for selling to the Bajorans, but Hagath saw the Cardassians’ defeat coming, and knew that the Bajorans being in his debt would one day be useful. Gaila admits that it’s not very Ferengi, but it’s smart business.
Quark’s free for now, but Sisko, Kira, and Odo all make it clear that they’re done cutting him any slack. He so much as litters on the Promenade, they’ll nail him. And then Hagath fires an associate for slacking on the job, and then blows up his ship. Also, Federation customers have been avoiding Quark’s. However, Gaila tells Quark that he wants to retire and he’s grooming Quark as his successor in Hagath’s little enterprise.
Dax refuses to let Quark sit with her in the replimat, to Quark’s disappointment. Quark insists that he has nothing to be sorry for, prompting Dax to tartly ask him why he’s asking her for forgiveness.
Hagath meets with the Regent of Palamar, a very wealthy man whose protégé General Nassuc has betrayed him and declared independence. Quark prepares a feast of the Regent’s favorite foods. The Regent wants to make an example of Nassuc, and wants casualties of upwards of twenty-eight million people.
Quark is devastated at the number they’re talking about. “Can’t we wound some of them?” he asks plaintively, which only serves to anger the Regent and Hagath both. Gaila tries to convince him that it’s just business and he shouldn’t think about the deaths, but it doesn’t work. Quark has an awful nightmare, and realizes that he has to stop this. He gives Dax his tongo wheel, as he’s convinced that he’s going to die and wants Dax to have it. Dax, for her part, is less than impressed.
O’Brien finally finds a place he can put Yoshi: in the pit in Ops. He actually falls asleep, though whether it’s the pattern of the lights, the vibrations, or what, O’Brien can’t say. Sisko puts the kibosh on keeping him there, though O’Brien talks him into letting him stay until he wakes up.
Quark tells Hagath that the mutagenic weapon he was going to buy isn’t available, but he has an alternative, an experimental weapon that will “only” kill seventeen million. Hagath has to convince the Regent to stay on the station and see a demonstration of the experimental weapon.
He then takes Gaila to a room where Nassuc is waiting, Quark having contacted her. Quark claims he’s going to sell weapons to both sides behind Hagath’s back. Gaila is frightened—Quark’s behavior is near-suicidal, but Quark insists it’ll be fine as long as they don’t get caught. Nassuc is just as crazy as the Regent, and she’ll jump at the weapons. Quark convinces Gaila to think of all the latinum that they’ll make, throwing Gaila’s own words back in his face from earlier.
Quark tells Gaila to bring the general to Cargo Bay 5. He then sets the Regent up there, and pretends that the code sequencer doesn’t work, leaving the cargo bay to supposedly get a tool just as Gaila and Nassuc arrive. A firefight breaks out between Nassuc and the Regent while Quark escapes to the Promenade, just as Odo orders a huge-ass security detail to Cargo Bay 5 to investigate the multiple phaser shots they’re detecting.
Worf goes to O’Brien’s quarters to check on him. O’Brien hands Yoshi to Worf—and the baby doesn’t cry. Either he’s over his phase, or Worf has magic baby-soothing powers. O’Brien then sets him down in his crib—and he still doesn’t cry. O’Brien is hugely relieved. He falls asleep, too, exhausted, and Worf leaves him to it.
Sisko meets with Quark, who is facing serious charges of reckless endangerment and incitement to riot. Quark didn’t think they’d start firing on each other, he just wanted the deal to fall through so twenty-eight million people wouldn’t die. However, Nassuc sent a purification squad after Hagath and Gaila and the Regent. The squad has caught up with the Regent—he’s dead, and Quark says he can live with that. Sisko agrees to drop the charges if Quark will pay for the damages to the cargo bay, which Quark promises to do in installments. He’s out of debt, but he never got to make any actual profit off Hagath, so he’s back to square one.
Dax and Quark play a game of tongo, friends again. Quark tries to take the tongo wheel back, but Dax insists that he gave it to her, so she’s keeping it.
The Sisko is of Bajor: There are several occasions when Quark is frightened in this episode, but the moment when he gets his ass reamed the hardest is when Sisko lays down the law for him. It’s a beautiful moment of Sisko’s burning anger.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira puts a nice cherry on top of Sisko’s threat, and Nana Visitor also sells Kira’s great reluctance in admitting that Hagath is, in essence, a hero of the resistance.
The slug in your belly: Dax wants nothing to do with Quark when he becomes a weapons dealer, but forgives him when he trashes the Regent’s deal.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf expresses regret that he never got to know his son Alexander at the age that Yoshi is now, and declares O’Brien to be a very lucky man.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: When he’s waiting for Hagath to show up, Quark keeps sitting on chairs and shaking them for fear of Odo being one of them in disguise to eavesdrop on the meeting.
Rules of Acquisition: Gaila quotes Rule #62, “The riskier the road, the greater the profit,” and Quark tries to throw it back in his face later. Gaila is also willing to violate the FCA ban on doing business with Quark that dates back to “Body Parts.”
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: At one point, Hagath’s female companion is giving Quark oo-mox, and he tells her, “Don’t stop until you see smoke.”
What happens in the holosuite stays in the holosuite: Hagath, Gaila, and Quark use the holosuites to get around the laws against bringing weapons onto the station.
Keep your ears open: “Look out there. Millions and millions of stars, millions upon millions of worlds. And right now, half of them are fanatically dedicated to destroying the other half. Now do you think, if one of those twinkling little lights suddenly went out, anybody would notice? Suppose I offered you ten million bars of gold-pressed latinum to help turn out one of those lights. Would you really tell me to keep my money?”
Gaila’s variation on Orson Welles’s speech in The Third Man.
Welcome aboard: The great Josh Pais, one of the finer character actors of our time, makes the first of two appearances as Gaila; he’ll reprise the role in “The Magnificent Ferengi.” The great Steven Berkhoff plays Hagath. And the great Lawrence Tierney plays the Regent, having last been seen as Cyrus Redblock in TNG’s “The Big Goodbye.”
Trivial matters: After being mentioned in “Civil Defense,” “The Way of the Warrior,” and “Little Green Men,” Gaila finally shows up in person. In addition to his two appearances onscreen, Gaila also appears in your humble rewatcher’s Demons of Air and Darkness (where it’s established that he survived the purification squad by supplying Nassuc with a ton of weapons, thus negating a lot of Quark’s good work in this episode, something Gaila throws in Quark’s face in the novel) and Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed (the Ferenginar portion of Worlds of DS9 Volume 3), as well as David A. McIntee’s “Reservoir Ferengi,” the greed story in Seven Deadly Sins.
This is the first episode directed by Alexander Siddig, who used his birth name of Siddig el-Fadil for his directorial credit.
Lawrence Tierney had recently suffered a stroke before filming (which you can kinda tell), and while it didn’t affect his performance much, it did affect his ability to remember his lines, which added to the stress for first-time director Siddig.
Siddig is the nephew of Malcolm McDowell, who starred with Steven Berkhoff in A Clockwork Orange.
In addition to the Third Man riff in Gaila’s speech, the script also references Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, as one of the weapons Quark demonstrates is a Breen CRM-114—CRM-114 is the device found in the B-52 bombers in the movie.
Walk with the Prophets: “You’ll take five.” Even if the script was horrible—and, while it is a bit simplistic, it isn’t at all horrible—it would be worth it just to have an episode that puts Steven Berkhoff, Josh Pais, and Armin Shimerman together as often as possible. Pais and Shimerman are old pros at the character-actor game, and while Berkhoff is almost comically over-the-top it’s just enough to keep him legitimately scary. The whole episode’s worth it just to watch these three work together. Pais deserves particular kudos, as we’d heard a lot about Gaila, and it’s to the actor’s credit that the real thing more than lives up to the hype, as it were.
And then as an added bonus, we get Lawrence Tierney! It’s just a couple of scenes, but Tierney sounds like the angel of death himself with a voice that comes from the grave, and it’s just a beautiful performance. This is definitely a monster, and you feel the fear Quark does when he talks casually about murdering twenty-eight million people.
Here we finally get the answer to the question of “how far will Quark go?” The show has danced on the edge of Quark’s criminality, but he’s always been pretty small-time, limiting himself primarily to victimless crimes (or at least crimes in which the victim only suffers financial loss). This kicks it up a level.
Still, the script ties everything together a little too neatly. Quark’s at his lowest ebb, so his going for Gaila’s offer makes sense. His words to Dax are absolutely right: he was drowning. And then he works for Hagath just long enough to clear out his debts before the enormity of the Regent’s psychosis makes him realize just what he’s become (something Dax figured out right away). And then he gets away scot-free, and everyone forgives him. Quark’s desperation makes it hard to be too disappointed in his behavior, but his setting Nassuc and the Regent at each other in the cargo bay doesn’t entirely make up for his turning his bar into a weapons depot, either.
Having said that, it’s a great vehicle for some fine actors, especially Shimerman, who magnificently sells Quark’s desperation, the awakening of his usually dormant compassion, and his great salesmanship—he really does a superb job of selling weapons and of being a good host. Best of all, the episode isn’t a comedy, allowing Shimerman to play Quark as a dramatic role, which he doesn’t get to do nearly often enough.
The comedy is saved for the fluffy B-plot, which is mostly there to give the rest of the cast something to do. The part that works best is the scene in Ops when Sisko orders O’Brien not to keep his infant son in the pit while the entire crew goes all gooshy-eyed over the adorable sleeping baby. A close second is the scene when Worf expresses regret at not being able to be with his son when he was that young (as well as the beautiful moment when O’Brien moves to take the baby back and Worf almost refuses to relinquish him).
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that The Klingon Art of War is still available at finer bookstores everywhere (and probably the crappy bookstores, too), as well as online via Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Amazon, and Kobo. You can also preorder Keith’s Sleepy Hollow novel Children of the Revolution, due out in September—ordering links can be found at Sleepy Reads.