Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Body Parts   Rewatch 
March 27, 2016 6:04 PM - Season 4, Episode 25 - Subscribe

Quark is a dead man. No, wait, he's not. Well, then again...

From Memory Alpha:

- According to writer Hans Beimler there is a political metaphor behind Brunt's somewhat irrational hatred of Quark; "Quark grates Brunt because Quark has been able to do things that Brunt doesn't think of as pure or quite right. It's the way certain people view expatriate Americans who may have traveled and had a different life experience. They say, 'How could you leave America?' So he spent fifty-five years in Africa, that doesn't mean he stopped being an American, he's just an American experiencing another life. And that's what Quark is. He's gone out of the Ferengi world, but it doesn't mean he's stopped being a Ferengi."

- The O'Brien baby "transplant" storyline was created as a solution to the production problem of actress Nana Visitor becoming pregnant in real life. The producers decided that they did not wish to go down either of the two other solutions open to them; either having the character of Kira become pregnant by Shakaar, or 'hiding' the pregnancy by shooting Visitor in such a way as to never reveal her midsection, as had been done during the fourth season of The Next Generation with the character of Beverly Crusher and would be done again in most of the fourth season of Voyager with B'Elanna Torres. As such, the producers, thanks to the suggestion of Ira Steven Behr's wife, Laura Behr, came up with the idea to tie in Visitor's real pregnancy with the character Keiko O'Brien's fictional pregnancy.

- Both the writers and actor Armin Shimerman consider this to be a very important episode in terms of Quark's character. According to René Echevarria, "We really dug down to find what this episode was about, and in the process, we managed to find out who Quark is, and how Ferengi he is." Similarly, Hans Beimler says, "The substance is that Quark has a line that we will not cross. He has a very clear ethical code and lives by it. This is comedy, but it deals with some very serious business. Quark is a very complicated guy with a lot of complicated issues. He's not just a silly Ferengi. The more you explore the character, the more you see that he's very sophisticated and complex." Shimerman concurs, "Quark had always believed he's an outsider on the space station, and that the only thing that's his own are his Ferengi ways. He believes in the Ferenginess of himself. So to give that up – because a contract is a contract is a contract – is a major moral dilemma."

"I want to hire you. Not as a tailor. As an assassin."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh yes you do. You weren't always a tailor."
"You're right. I used to be a gardener. Now if you have something you want weeded, you let me know."

- Quark and Elim Garak

"May I have your attention, please? Brunt, FCA. As of this moment, no further Ferengi commerce may be conducted in this bar! No Ferengi may be employed by this bar, no Ferengi may eat or drink in this bar, and no Ferengi... no Ferengi may do business with THAT MAN! Confiscation of assets will begin immediately."
"Ladies and gentlemen, this bar is closed until further notice. Thank you for your patronage."

- Brunt and Quark
posted by Halloween Jack (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm kinda surprised there have not been any comments, yet... Maybe everyone was too busy with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans yesterday! :) I thought the episode was much more engaging than the one prior ("The Quickening"), which, as always, is a real credit to Armin Shimerman. Following our conversation about Weyoun, I spent a lot of time during this episode trying to pull out Jeffrey Combs from Brunt. He is surprisingly disguised and buried within the role!
posted by Slothrop at 9:17 AM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I dunno, sometimes Quark/Ferengi episodes can be hit and miss. I agree that this one was very good, in no small part because of Jeffrey Combs. There's a thing that he does with his tongue--not really licking his lips, but just letting it protrude a little--that no other Ferengi actor does, and that Combs doesn't do with his other characters, that's distinctive and somehow makes the character seem even more unpleasant. But a lot of it is that real hatred that Brunt has toward Quark that's described above; I'm not sure what 500 bars of gold-pressed latinum really translates to in terms of real goods and services (how many bars it would cost for a warp-capable shuttle, for instance, or his cousin Gaila's moon), but it's not pocket change. It's good for Quark to have a formidable adversary that has real power to hurt him.

The episode also has a couple of things that are sort of eyebrow-raising. First, did Garak actually intend to go through with the assassination? As much as Odo pretends to not really care about Quark, I can't imagine that he would just go, "Hmph, probably double-crossed the wrong person", and move on to the next case. Maybe Garak said yes out of politeness, or to protect himself by maintaining his generally-known-but-never-formally-acknowledged reputation as a dangerous dude who would kill a guy just like [snaps fingers] that, and figured out that Quark would probably change his mind anyway? Also, OK, Bajoran physiology is really different from humans, but do Bajoran women really have a uterus that can instantly stretch to accommodate a human fetus just like [snaps fingers] that?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:12 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's a good point about Garak... I think from the standpoint of "DS9-having-any-internal-consistency" we are probably supposed to assume that Garak has ways of just manipulating people so much (and, of course, lying) that they can't be sure whether he did what he said he would or not. So, maybe he had a plan in place to lie and dissemble should Quark start complaining that he was not, in fact, assassinated.

It would be an interesting long running B-side to have Quark and Garak be in near constant low-level warfare now that I think about it. The two most manipulative characters having it in for each other could make for some good, and humorous, plots.
posted by Slothrop at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

The two most manipulative characters having it in for each other could make for some good, and humorous, plots.

Garak manipulates Morn into asking for drinks with ever-less-profitable ingredients. Quark silently waters down the kanar.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:05 PM on March 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

First, did Garak actually intend to go through with the assassination?

I definitely always had the sense that Garak didn't much like Quark. Combine that with his known ability to kill in cold blood and, well, yeah, maybe. OTOH, he may well have suspected Quark wasn't serious enough about it, and was mainly in it to needle him.

As much as Odo pretends to not really care about Quark, I can't imagine that he would just go, "Hmph, probably double-crossed the wrong person"

Although that does sound exactly like a line of Odo dialogue.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:07 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe Garak was just showing off? (Considering the kind of holodeck programs O'Brien et al have been shown to enjoy, maybe an afternoon of pretend-murdering was like getting free tickets to a show.)

Didn't get a chance to watch the show until late Sunday night. Not much to say -- another good Ferengi episode, and an interesting solution for dealing with Nana Visitor's pregnancy.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:22 AM on March 29, 2016

Next week on Deep Space Nine: Quark dies mysteriously. An investigation into the incident reveals he forgot to tell Garak that he changed his mind about dying.

Fun episode. One of the more clever ways to disguise an actor's pregnancy without having to shoehorn a baby into their story. Well, it's still there, but you know, not hers.

As much as Quark rags on his brother about being a terrible Ferengi, Quark's own negotiations with Brunt showed that he's just as awful. And I love love love that being a philanthropist is the worst possible insult for a Ferengi.
posted by 2ht at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2016

Okay, firstly, it's "Brunt, F.C.A." I just love the way Combs spits the letters out.

This is a fantastic episode, everything about it is good (well, almost...) with some great comic lines...

Quark: "What are you doing here? This is a private vision."

Rom: "How are you, brother?"
Quark: "How am I? I'm broke, ruined, destitute, a pariah. How are things with you?"
Rom: "Not bad."

This episode continues both the development of all three main Ferengi characters brilliantly. Compare and contrast this episode with the TNG Season 1 episode "The Last Outpost" where we first meet the Ferengi, they are absolutely worlds apart. The level of detail in the characterisation of not only the characters but in how Ferengi law works is amazing. The conversation between Brunt and Quark in Quarks room detailing how things will go for Quark if he breaks the contract is just brilliantly done, not only in the writing, but also how Shimmerman and Combs play it.

Gotta love how, upon hearing the news about the mis-diagnosis from Bashir, the first thing Quark shouts is: "I get to sue Doctor Orbax for malpractice!" And how Brunt complains that Quark sold supplies to Bajoran refugees at cost. Perfect. Lookout, Syria, I am taking notes!

The only thing wrong with this episode, and this is something that is never explained in all of Trek, is Kira having Keiko's baby. There is a lot of interspecies sex which results in pregnancy, Spock is half vulcan, Deanna Troi is half betazoid. How the heck does that even work? So the idea of having Kira being able to carry another species baby seems absolutely incredible. The cringeworthy scenes with Kira and the O'Briens are terrible, and all that "morning sickness"/"sneezing" stuff just sounds daft.

"I'm kinda surprised there have not been any comments, yet..." - Everytime I watch an episode and come here to comment there is no thread yet, so as they always seem to be behind schedule I have gotten into the habit now of coming here a day or two later.
posted by marienbad at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is a lot of interspecies sex which results in pregnancy, Spock is half vulcan, Deanna Troi is half betazoid. How the heck does that even work?

The short answer is that all the humanoid species in the galaxy have a common genetic basis, despite having very different anatomies and physiologies, even down to having different colors of blood; this was established in canon in TNG ("The Chase", and if that "ancient humanoid" looks familiar, it's because she's played by Salome Jens, who also plays the recurring female Founder in DS9). The slightly longer answer is that a successful cross-species pregnancy usually involves a lot of genetic intervention, which is allowed by an exemption to the ban on genetic engineering; there's a spoken-word Star Trek record from the seventies in which Gene Roddenberry and Mark Lenard (playing Sarek) go into some detail on this. (This, however, ignores a number of unplanned Cardassian/Bajoran pregnancies; in fact, there's a future DS9 episode in which this is a plot point. That could be handwaved away by the suggestion that there was a lot more contact between Cardassia and Bajor in the past than has been revealed, and the implication that the two peoples may be genetically closer than their respective appearances would imply.)

And the obvious answer is that, hey, it's space opera, not hard SF, and once you open that can of worms there are a whole lot more cans waiting.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

or, if you'll permit a truly terrible pun, the even shorter answer is "panspermia".
posted by mwhybark at 6:32 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just find it irritating that the writers assume no advances have been made in treating pregnancy nausea. This storyline was also an interesting chance for them to grapple with some of the issues of surrogacy and they totally failed to do anything with that.

On the other hand, the Quark storyline is great. It's wonderful that all the Ferengi characters exist on a spectrum of how much they buy into their cultural narratives--Quark seems very Ferengi compared to Nog or Moogie, but not compared to Brunt. I think it's far better than the way Klingons are usually written.
posted by chaiminda at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, I don't know if Garak's dialogue in the holodeck scene was an intentional Dorothy Parker reference, but it was very funny either way.
posted by chaiminda at 12:04 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

We just happened to watch this last night, on Christmas, and it really struck us how much it felt like a Ferengi version of It’s a Wonderful Life.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:12 PM on December 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

By the third time they purposefully mispronounced "human", I was crying.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:19 PM on October 3, 2020

At the very end of this episode, when everyone has carried all the donated stuff into the bar, there’s a moment where Quark steps up to give a speech and then just says “ah-“ and then stands there silently beaming, for once unable to come up with anything to say. I have to admit it made me teary.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:33 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

In hindsight, they should have gone all out and done a straight-up adaptation of A Christmas Carol. There’s not even a whole lot that they would have needed to change.

Two episodes in a row about suicide. Were the writers OK?

The pregnancy plot is completely deranged. Even by the standards of all the other dubiously-ethical medical procedures performed by Dr. Bashir, this one is out there, and nobody even comments about how utterly bonkers it is that Bashir stuffed the baby into the nearest woman he could find*, regardless of species (or that the Federation has neither established surrogacy practices nor the equipment to care for a premature baby)?

* It’s also mildly amusing that Alexander Siddig is that child’s father IRL
posted by schmod at 10:35 AM on May 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

> We just happened to watch this last night, on Christmas, and it really struck us how much it felt like a Ferengi version of It’s a Wonderful Life.

I had exactly the same thought, and it's February. I think it was an homage.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:08 PM on February 11

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