Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Nagus   Rewatch 
May 27, 2015 6:35 AM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

The Ferengi's greatest politician and leader, the Grand Nagus, comes to the station. He seems very interested in Quark's bar....

Notes
* David Livingston pitched the original story idea for this episode, dealing with Quark acting as some sort of a businessman, with the B plot having Jake teaching Nog how to read. The producers liked the B story idea, but disliked the A story. Finally, on a story meeting, Michael Piller came up with the idea of "doing The Godfather", and Ira Steven Behr was assigned to write the script. Livingston's only contribution to "The Godfather story" was the name Zek.

* Ira Steven Behr commented "David Livingston pitched me an idea for a meeting of the great criminal minds of the galaxy, similar to The Godfather. I said to him, 'Maybe we should do a Ferengi episode', so his idea evolved into "The Nagus". I looked through the thesaurus for a good expression for leader and found negus, an Indian word, which I changed to nagus and Grand Nagus Zek, leader of the Ferengi empire was born. With the Ferengi being intergalactic capitalists I also knew that we needed a financial bible for them and after some thought I came up the Rules of Acquisition".

* The scene where Quark meets Nava is an homage to the opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 movie The Godfather. Quark's Corvan gilvo, the way he scratches his ear, the blinds on the windows, even the dialog ("Yet now you call me Nagus") are all allusions to the 1972 film.

* Armin Shimerman cites "The Nagus" as the episode that convinced the producers that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would be able to produce comedic episodes as well as serious ones. Shimerman commented: "'The Nagus' was interesting, but also nerve-wracking for me because it was the first episode where they told me, 'OK, you're going to shoulder this; everybody else can go home', and it was my responsibility to make the episode work. Suddenly, I was the key member doing the work. Since that time, there have been many Ferengi episodes where it has just been me, or Max and me, and it works out that way now. We have sort of a wheel, where in every episode, one of the characters shoulders the load, and everybody else gets the time off. Whatever success we had on 'The Nagus' convinced the writers, and, more importantly, the producers, that we could have purely comic episodes and the audience wouldn't leave us in droves. There are probably many people who grimace when they see there's going to be a Ferengi episode next week, but I think there are even more who are looking forward to the comic episodes, and that was something Rick Berman and company learned from 'The Nagus'. William Shakespeare taught us that - whenever he had a history play like Henry V, he made sure to have a character like Falstaff in there to lighten it up".

* This episode features the first appearance of Wallace Shawn as Zek and Tiny Ron as Maihar'du.

* The Rules of Acquisition are mentioned for the first time in this episode. The two Rules mentioned are the first, "once you have their money, you never give it back" and the sixth, "Never let family stand in the way of opportunity". That last one is maybe the most broken rule in the show.

* This episode also establishes the Ferengi use of “lobes” as a metaphor for, among other things, virility, guts, greed, and other manly (Ferengi-ly?) attitudes; and also the funereal customs of high-ranking Ferengi, selling their vacuum-desiccated remains.

* Morn laughs at Quark’s joke about Andorians, which is the only time he opens his mouth and makes a noise at any time during the series run.

* Oops: Odo turns to liquid in order to board Zek’s ship, which means the portal isn’t water tight, which is kind of a problem for a spacefaring ship....

--
Grand Nagus Zek:"You failed! Miserably!"
--
posted by zarq (11 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I cannot stand the Grand Nagus. I know I'm in the minority. But I always have to skip these eps so I don't smash the tv out of annoyance.
posted by double bubble at 10:45 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know I'm in the minority.

I suspect you're wrong about that. For me, the highlight of Nagus episodes is seeing "Tiny Ron" in the guest credits.

I do appreciate the depth Armin Shimerman brings to Quark, and how he single-handedly redeems the Ferengi as a Star Trek race. But I don't think we need the Nagus episodes for that to happen.
posted by rocketman at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Ferengi on DS9 are all over the place, but some of the ideas in later episodes are inspired. I love how their government is basically a never-ending grift.
posted by drezdn at 11:26 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I do appreciate the depth Armin Shimerman brings to Quark, and how he single-handedly redeems the Ferengi as a Star Trek race.

It's jarring to watch any Quark-centric DS9 episode back-to-back with a Ferengi episode from TNG -- particularly the earlier ones. Not quite as severe a shift as the Klingons from TOS to TNG, but it's a considerable change in tone, and (to my taste) all for the better.
posted by cjelli at 11:35 AM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Any ideas where the strange model fossil is supposed to be on the Promenade? I don't think it's seen in any other episode, and it's such an odd thing to have there it makes me wonder if it's the sign to a shop, or something.

The Nagus has the most annoying laugh I've ever heard. It's also carrying quite well from the holosuite, which is very close to to the rest of the bar. If folk are in there having sex, everyone outside is going to be able to hear.

How would the Nagus know what homework is? Presumably they're all speaking Ferengi, so the word would be unintelligible, I would have thought.

Whose dessicated remains were they sitting on the table?

I love the way Rom goes "Ah ah ah! Grand Nagus Quark".
posted by Solomon at 1:40 PM on May 27, 2015


Having loved My Dinner with Andre and knowing Wallace Shawn is a respected playwright, it always made me a little sad that he ended up typecast as a little nebbishy weirdo in so many lowbrow comedies. It's made him famous enough that he's not broke anymore (he was broke for a long time) but I knew it also had to bother him a bit. For a guy that smart, arty and self-analytical, guest starring as the silly school principal in some sitcom isn't a very fulfilling gig.

So I was pleased to read some interview where he talked about how much he enjoyed playing Zek, citing the fine satirical writing he was given to work with and how the part gave him license to just ham it up to high heaven. And he was right, Zek is a great character. The Ferengi episodes are goofy, but they're goofy in such a smart, rich way. They're like fables, set in this world of greedy little goblin men.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:55 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Joined the DS9 rewatch over the holiday weekend, nice to be caught up now.

I haven't watched the show since the original broadcasts, and I never did see how it ended, though I think I only dropped out in the last season or two. I was really into Babylon 5 back then, and in my circle of geekdom it felt like you had to pick sides in the B5 vs DS9 question.

I got a huge nostalgia kick from this episode. A convention buddy of mine used to break into Nagus voice, specifically the "You failed...miserably!" line, at any random moment, for ages after this aired. I had completely forgotten about it until the rewatch. So I can't not love this episode.

Morn laughs at Quark’s joke about Andorians, which is the only time he opens his mouth and makes a noise at any time during the series run.

Does anyone else feel compelled to say "Morn!" whenever you see him? I know his name is a deliberate play on Cheers' Norm, but it's like a Pavlovian response, I always get a happy "Morn!" moment when he appears.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:50 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


How would the Nagus know what homework is?

Private schools are big business. The Nagus knows business.
posted by juiceCake at 7:30 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's fascinating that, in re-watching this show so many years later, everything seems to orbit around the Odo-Quark dynamic (also as a proxy for the tension between the militaristic bureaucracy of Starfleet and the more uncontrolled interactions of civilian life). Honestly so far in this season, most of the plots and scenes with the officers feel pro-forma, this-has-to-be-here-because-its-Trek.
posted by dry white toast at 4:29 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Morn laughs at Quark’s joke about Andorians, which is the only time he opens his mouth and makes a noise at any time during the series run.

There is one other. In fact until now I thought that was the only time.
posted by vanar sena at 3:12 PM on May 30, 2015


Does anyone else feel compelled to say "Morn!" whenever you see him? I know his name is a deliberate play on Cheers' Norm, but it's like a Pavlovian response, I always get a happy "Morn!" moment when he appears.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:50 PM on May 27


Eponysterical. And yes.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:11 AM on June 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


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