“Who Mourns for Morn?”
Written by Mark Gehred-O’Connell
Directed by Victor Lobl
Season 6, Episode 12
Production episode 40510-536
Original air date: February 4, 1998
Station log: Morn has gone away on business for two weeks, and so Quark has replaced him with a hologram. It’s better for business if customers see Morn in his usual place at the bar, and the last time he was away from the station for an extended time, profits were down 5%. The hologram isn’t interactive, as that would be more expensive—besides, Quark prefers this version, as the real Morn just never shuts up.
Sisko and Dax enter the bar, taken aback by the sight of Morn, and relieved when told it’s not really him, as they just got a report that his transport was caught in an ion storm, and Morn was killed.
The funeral is held at Quark’s. Per Lurian tradition, everyone brings a gift of food and drink to sustain the dead in the afterlife. Quark delivers a touching eulogy, talking about the first day he came in ten years earlier. Back then he still had hair. Quark ends by encouraging people to respect Morn’s memory by keeping the bar warm and his stool occupied forevermore.
Sisko then informs Quark that Morn’s will declared that he left everything to Quark. However, “everything” consists of four crates of Livanian beets, a matador painting, and a giant mudbath. However, there’s a woman in the mud named Larell, who claims to Morn’s ex-wife. She also claims that Morn won a thousand bricks of gold-pressed latinum in the Lissepian lottery. “Now that he’s gone,” Larell says, “it’s all ours.”
To Larell’s disappointment, Quark has no idea where the bricks are. (She insists on getting 10% of the latinum, otherwise she’ll contest the will and tie Quark up in court.) Quark searches everywhere, even having Rom use the station’s internal sensors, but he can’t find it.
When Quark returns to his quarters, two brothers, Krit and Nahsk, are waiting for him, claiming to be former business associates of Morn’s, and to whom Morn owed one thousand bricks of latinum. (Quark is totally not surprised to learn that that was the amount.) Quark bluffs, saying that he knows where the money is, but there are more creditors than there are assets, so he can only give them a percentage. They ask for 80%, Quark manages to negotiate them down to 50% (after Nahsk hits him with the matador painting).
In the painting, Quark finds a claim chit for a storage locker in the assay office. The locker contains one brick of latinum, plus a note on the bottom of the brick, saying that the rest of the bricks are in the Bank of Bolias and gives the account number. Quark pockets the brick and then bumps into Larell, who lifts the brick from his pocket. Quark’s not worried, though, as the bank will only give the money to him, as Morn’s rightful heir, and he’s memorized the account number.
Then he’s waylaid by Krit and Nahsk, and—under the guise of apologizing to him for whacking him on the head with the painting—threaten him once again. He arrives at his quarters, sets up to make the withdrawal, only to be held at gunpoint by a human named Hain, who flashes a Lurian security badge. He says that Morn was a prince, and the thousand bricks was a gift from the Lurian royal family. Hain is there to arrest Quark for possession of stolen property, to wit, the thousand bricks. Now that Morn is dead, the money belongs to the royal family.
However, Hain gets nervous when Quark mentions that Morn’s ex-wife Larell is on the station. (He asks Hain not to tell her about the royal family, as he’ll need some oo-mox later.) Hain now claims that she’s been after that latinum for years. He offers Quark a substantial reward for helping to imprison Larell. Quark also mentions the two brothers, and while Hain claims not to know who the brothers are, he obviously recognizes them. For his part, Quark just cares about a) getting a reward for helping imprison Larell and b) not being arrested for trying to steal the royal family’s money.
Hain tells Quark to proceed with the retrieval of the latinum, and to have the bank send it to the station. He’ll take care of the rest.
O’Brien fixes a part at the bar, keeping Morn’s seat warm as Quark requested. He explains that to Bashir, who says, “Good man.” When O’Brien goes off to test it, Bashir figures he should take over, so he sits in the seat. O’Brien nods and says, “Good man.”
Quark arrives in his quarters to find Larell there, to his total lack of surprise. She says she’s being followed by two men. “Brothers?” Quark asks, and her face looks like she’s about to answer in the affirmative, but then she quickly recovers and asks how she should know if they’re brothers.
Sure enough, Krit and Nahsk arrive. When Quark refuses to answer the doorchime, they pick the lock. Quark has dimmed the lights and is hiding with Larell when they enter, Quark muttering that he should invest in a better lock. Quark comes out of hiding and assures the brothers that the latinum will be there tomorrow. The doorchime then rings again. The brothers tell him not to answer it, at which point the lock is again picked. Nahsk tells Quark he should invest in a better lock, and then he and Krit go hide in the bedroom.
It’s Hain this time. Quark covers his non-answering of the door by saying he dozed off. “It’s been one of those days.”
It quickly becomes clear that all of Quark’s harassers know each other and that at least two of them are full of it. Larell isn’t Morn’s ex-wife, Hain isn’t a security agent for Luria, and the two of them, Krit and Nahsk, and Morn all worked together in the past: they committed the famous Lissepian Mother’s Day Heist nine years earlier. Morn made off with the latinum, but it wasn’t an issue until the statute of limitations on the theft ran out. That happened two weeks ago, so the others all came after Morn—and, once he died, his heir. Now, though, the latinum’s en route anyhow, so they can just split it four ways—once they dispose of Quark.
Quark reminds them that they need Quark to take delivery of the latinum. He’s the rightful heir, and if he’s dead, they get nothing. Quark proposes that he gets Morn’s share, which seems only fair, and the others reluctantly agree. But they stick by Quark, giving them a chance to see where Morn spent all his time. None of them are willing to admit to killing Morn, at which point Hain laughs and, surprised, says, “It really was an accident!”
Odo stops by, and Quark tells him the bar is closed. The others are friends of Morn’s, and they’re commiserating. The bar will be closed until 1600 hours tomorrow (which is when the latinum arrives). At Odo’s look, Quark just says, “We have a lot to commiserate about.”
The next day, the five of them go to the cargo bay, Quark puts his thumbprint on the padd, he opens the container to find 999 bricks of gold-pressed latinum. The four thieves all then pull their weapons on each other. Nahsk winds up pulling on Krit, to the latter’s shock—“We’re family!”—and then all four start shooting. While the thieves go all last-scene-of-Reservoir-Dogs on each other, Quark dives into the container to wait out the shootout. Eventually, Odo shows up, and arrests the foursome. This leaves Quark with all the money—
—except it turns out that it isn’t gold-pressed latinum. It’s just gold—the latinum (which is liquid, and which is suspended in gold as a delivery agent only) has been extracted. Quark now has 999 bricks of “worthless gold.” Odo just grins and says, “And it’s all yours.”
Later, Odo shows up at Quark’s with a surprise guest: Morn. He faked his own death, leaving everything to Quark so he would send for the money at the bank, knowing that Quark would keep the other four off-balance long enough for them to eventually turn on each other.
Quark says he just has one question: “What happened to the latinum?” In response, Morn coughs up liquid. He extracted the latinum from the gold and stored it in his second stomach all these years. Quark is impressed—“No wonder your hair fell out”—and Morn gives him about 100 bricks’ worth as payment for what he went through.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? We finally find out what gold-pressed latinum is: a rare and valuable liquid suspended in gold. As Dax explains, the gold is there to keep people from having to make change with an eye-dropper.
The slug in your belly: Even though she’s an old married lady, Dax still plays tongo with Quark.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf apparently has weekly sparring sessions with Morn. Who knew?
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo takes great joy in snarking off Quark throughout the episode, from making fun of his Morn hologram to making fun of his status as Morn’s heir meaning he hasn’t actually inherited hardly anything except for some stinky beets to his kicking Quark when he’s down when he realizes that the latinum’s been extracted from the gold.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark gives a eulogy that was probably legitimately heartfelt, as his love for Morn was as much related to the consistent presence he left as well as his considerable bar tab. Morn also knows him well enough to know that he’ll take care of business after he faked his death.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Larell uses her naked body and oo-mox to get Quark to cooperate with her, though Quark doesn’t fall for it nearly as much as she thinks he does—he’s mostly in it for the oo-mox. Also Dax makes the supreme tactical error of telling her new husband that she used to have a crush on Morn (something she also once confided to Kira).
Keep your ears open: “…”
Welcome aboard: While I’ve never really mentioned him in this section of any other episode, Mark Allen Shepherd has been playing Morn pretty much since the beginning of the show (and he also appeared in “Birthright” on TNG and “Caretaker” on Voyager). In this episode he does double duty, as Morn and also as the Bajoran to whom Quark instructs to keep Morn’s seat warm during the funeral. Hilariously, Shepherd is not generally credited as Morn, since he’s an extra with no dialogue (his not having dialogue being part of the joke), and that extends to the episode named after the character. You’d think for this one at least, they’d give the poor bastard a credit…
The guests who actually are credited include the great Gregory Itzin—last seen as Tandro in “Dax”—as Hain, Brad Greenquist—last seen on Voyager’s “Warlord” as Demmas—as Krit, Bridget Ann White as Larell, and Cyril O’Reilly as Nahsk. Itzin will show up on Voyager’s “Critical Care,” and twice on Enterprise, as a Vulcan in “Shadows of P’Jem” and an evil admiral in “In a Mirror Darkly, Part II.” Greenquist will appear as two other types of aliens on Enterprise in “Dawn” and “Affliction.”
Trivial matters: The producers had been struggling for years to figure out a way to do a Morn episode that would retain the gag that the character never speaks on camera (but can’t shut up off camera). It was Mark Gehred-O’Connell who came up with the scenario of a Morn-focused episode in which the character is mostly absent. However, Rene Echevarria did a page-one rewrite of Gehred-O’Connell’s script, changing it from a search for Morn, who has disappeared, to the aftermath of his apparent death.
Armin Shimerman has said many times in interviews and in person that he always made an effort to be friendly to the guest stars and the extras. This included Shepherd. Shimerman’s solicitousness was part of why Morn became something like a breakout character (or at least an entertaining running gag), which led to this episode happening.
The matador painting that Nahsk smashed over Quark’s head was purchased by Morn at the auction held in “In the Cards.”
Walk with the Prophets: “There’s nothing here but worthless gold!” This is a cute little caper episode, with the biggest problem being that it requires Quark to be really stupid, mostly in his dealings with Hain. He’s smart enough when dealing with Krit and Nahsk to ask for documentation—which they don’t have, of course, but at least Quark asks—and he plays along with Larell for the oo-mox, but when Hain shows up, he misses the obvious clues that he’s full of it. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that Quark knew what he was in for with both Larell and the brothers, so why did he just go along with Hain? It’s not like he automatically trusts authority as his every interaction with Odo proves.
Hain’s con almost works because after everything else we’ve gotten in the episode about Morn, him being a prince is just the latest absurdity in a series of them.
But that’s ultimately the problem. Morn is a gag character. The episode is an extended version of that gag, but once you get past the entertainment value of everyone mourning someone whom they know all about but about whom we know nothing, there really isn’t a lot of there there.
Having said that, the episode has its moments. All the actors do superbly, from the always charmingly smarmy Gregory Itzin, to the hilarious double act of not-so-charmingly-smarmy Brad Greenquist and the dumb-but-disloyal Cyril O’Reilly, to the sultry Bridget Ann White (who’s actually most effective when slinking around in the mud bath; once she has to stand up straight, she loses a lot of her appeal—her body language while rolling in the mud is most of what made that scene work).
But ultimately, I would rather have seen Quark as, well, smarter than this. Morn used Quark for this scheme because he figured that the Ferengi would be able to bring about the end result we saw, but that result pretty much only happened by accident. I think it might’ve been more fun if Quark actually served as a mastermind who saw through all the thieves’ deceptions (it’s not like they were particularly good deceptions) and set them all up for the fall.
Still, this is, ultimately, a gag episode about a gag character, and the gag loses steam at the end when we get the full story, but Quark has to say all of it in order to keep the gag going. It doesn’t work at that point, and the ending falls flat because we can see the strings.
Warp factor rating: 4
Keith R.A. DeCandido is at RocCon in Rochester, New York this weekend, alongside Trek actors Brent Spiner, Vic Mignogna, and Tim McCormack; fellow authors Lois Gresh, Michael Joy, Megan J. Parker, and Nathan Squiers; artists Rick Stromoski, Alex Saviuk, Ray McCarthy, Matt Keenan, and Salvatore Otero; actors Alaina Huffman, Billy West, and Bonnie Piese; autism advocate Alec Frazier; wrestler Brimstone; musicians The Adarna; cosplayers The 501st Legion, Ace Fett Cosplay, and Alanaleilani R & Duplicitous Dichotomy; filmmaker Nate Sorrentino; the Geek Girl Project; and the Starship Horizons Bridge Simulator. Keith will have a table in the dealer’s room, where he’ll be selling and signing books (including Star Trek: The Klingon Art of War and Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution), and also doing a Q&A tonight at 7:30pm and a panel on Trek (with Gresh and McCormack) Saturday at 11:30am.