Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Business as Usual   Rewatch 
June 2, 2016 6:09 AM - Season 5, Episode 18 - Subscribe

There are some things latinum can't buy. For everything else, there's weapons dealing. As Quark struggles with his penury, his conscience, and his brother Gaila (who owns his own moon), O'Brien must suffer the wrath of Kirayoshi. (Directorial debut of Alexander Siddig.)

Business, as usual, from Memory Alpha:

- Bradley Thompson and David Weddle based the outline of this episode on real life events. As Weddle explains, "We'd heard that Russian scientists were pulling plutonium out of warheads and selling it. Knowing that Cardassia was, at this point in the series, falling apart, we wondered what would happen if the planet decided to sell off its weapons."

- When asked if he thinks Quark would have gone ahead with the deal if fewer people were going to die, Bradley Thompson replied "We just found one line of Quark's greed that he wouldn't cross. We haven't found the bottom line yet."

- Of Lawrence Tierney's appearance, Ira Steven Behr enthuses "It was one of the highlights of my year to have him on the show. He's one of my icons." Unfortunately, Tierney had suffered a stroke shortly before shooting this episode, and although he could deliver his lines perfectly, he had trouble remembering them. This caused quite a bit of stress for first-time director Alexander Siddig, but in the end, Tierney's performance was one of the highlights of the show. As assistant director Louis Race points out, "He really came to deliver one line: 'I'm here to buy weapons; are you here to sell them?' And he delivered that line like somebody calling to you from the other side of death. It was just chilling. So when the guy had to deliver, he did, and when he did his close-up, nobody stayed in their trailers. They all came over to watch."

- This episode is a favorite of actor Armin Shimerman. "I'm perhaps the proudest of 'Business as Usual' because that, I believe, was the most three-dimensional performance I've given as the character. It was actually a combination of elements. It had a well thought-out script, a non-comic script for Quark. Sid directed it and he was very amenable to my making changes in the focus, in the thrust of the character. We also had terrific guest stars. It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience for me. It's the single show, of all of them, I'm most proud of".

- Alexander Siddig was "relatively" happy with the episode. Siddig commented "There's a hundred thousand things I'd love to go and do again but by and large I was very happy with it. Armin was fabulous. It was a technically complicated part for him. Thank God for him or I'd have been in all sorts of trouble!"

- Quark mentions his futures in quadrotriticale, a reference to TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles". The Metron Consortium may also be a reference to TOS: "Arena".

"You really are quite a find! I'm sure we're going to accomplish great things together."
"I can't wait!"
"Uh, just one thing. Don't cross me, Quark. Don't, ever, cross me. "

- Hagath and Quark, while testing Gaila's weapons in the holosuite

"You'd better hope there isn't a next time, mister. I have cut you a lot of slack in the past. I even looked away once or twice when I could have come down hard on you, but those days are over. Now we may not get you for selling weapons, but you so much as litter on the Promenade and I will nail you to the wall!"
"Something to look forward to."

- Benjamin Sisko and Kira, to Quark before letting him go

"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
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This was another slow sort of episode with nothing but 42 minutes of dialog, yet it came across a little more compelling than the one previous. A crisis of character is much better suited to DS9 than a sappy romance.

Quark was as good as always, but two things really dragged this one down.

First, it was pretty clear from the start that the episode would be resolved with Quark clearing his conscience. Quark is about as ambiguously rotten as Star Trek gets with its main characters, but there was no way they were going to turn him into a corrupt weapons runner. His means of escaping the life were clever. So the payoff was good, if expected.

Second, the guy who played Hagath was so over the top silly. I didn't recognize him from anything else, but he must be a stage actor because that's how he played this role. And it didn't work at all. It might have worked as a bad guy in a 60s James Bond movie. It possibly could have even worked across from Shatner in a TOS episode. Here it pulled me completely out of every scene he was in.
posted by 2ht at 6:40 AM on June 2, 2016

I actually really liked Hagath. Over-the-top, yes, but something about the combination of his eyes, his vocal quality, and of course the British accent made him still scary despite his flamboyant performance. According to Memory Alpha, the actor wasn't in any other Trek episodes, but he actually did play a Bond heavy. Hitler also, speaking of over-the-top.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:13 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Let's not forget Victor Maitland.
posted by selfnoise at 7:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Steven Berkoff has a really interesting résumé; he's an avant-gardish stage director, actor and playwright (he directed a version of Oscar Wilde's Salome that was staged in slow motion), and does these character actor roles for film and TV (he also played a Russian officer in Rambo: First Blood Part II) purely to subsidize his non-commercial stage work. I'd also remembered him from Beverly Hills Cop, so just seeing him was a signifier that he was a Bad Guy with a capital B.

And the first time I watched this, I wasn't at all necessarily expecting that Quark wouldn't become a gunrunner, because that's a legal occupation that people and governments in our world actually do. Folks, one of the things that got buried in the election nonsense recently is that the U.S. lifted its arms embargo on Vietnam[NYT], meaning that we could be sending some pretty heavy guns and stuff to a former enemy that we had a pretty awful war within living memory for some of us (and certainly within the real-life run of Star Trek; "A Private Little War" is about as blatant a Vietnam allegory as you get this side of Aliens.) Of course, the 24th-century Federation wouldn't get up to that sort of thing, we're supposed to understand, and Kira's reaction signifies that at least she feels the same, although the provisional government thinks differently (and I wonder if she and Shakaar had a difficult conversation about that). But, of course, they're out on the borderlands of the Federation's influence. I'm sure that at least some of our world's arms dealers use a similar rationalization to Gaila's. I'm also reminded of the casualty figures listed in Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebas [spoilers for same] for the Idiran-Culture War (considered a minor conflict by galactic standards); no official figures were ever given for the Dominion War, but even 28 million civilian casualties are small potatoes by those standards.

But that's just not how Quark rolls; for all of his occasional interpersonal ugliness (as with the comments about Leeta's "brains" a couple of episodes back), he's also the guy who provided his own kind of aid to the Bajorans during the Occupation. And crossing these guys isn't an insignificant risk for a guy who's already been targeted by the Orion Syndicate.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:17 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Suppose I offered you ten million bars of gold-pressed latinum to help turn out one of those lights.
Shades of The Third Man.

also the guy who provided his own kind of aid to the Bajorans during the Occupation.
At cost, no less.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't have anything substantive to add, but I'm just bothered that DS9 doesn't appear to have any form of daycare.
posted by riruro at 7:06 PM on June 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I really liked this episode, and have to say that Siddig did a decent job directing for his first time out. I remember the first time I saw this and it said it starred "Steven Berkoff" and I thought wtf? Are you kidding me? But it was true - there he was. To be fair I liked the way he played it: I think applying how we feel a modern day gun runner would behave to someone living in that time just doesn't work - the galaxy is way too cosmopolitan at this point, so unusual people and unusual behaviour is more commonplace. And he has an edge to him, switching between nice and nasty at the drop of a hat.

For e.g. the scene with Quark and the food, where he acts like he is angry, but is just playing what he feels is a joke is scary as heck.

The whole idea is nice, that Quark is stuck and in financial trouble due to what has happened before on the show - this is one of the great things with DS9 - things have consequences further down the line that they never really did in Trek before. So when he is offered the chance to make a lot of money and get rich quick, he jumps at the chance, and at first everything is cool, his debts get paid off and he is about to make it rich big time. And then the turning point, where the Regent talks about how many deaths he wants, and Quark realises he is in way way over his head here, and makes his "can't we just injure some of them?" comment. And now we see Hagath for what he really is - someone who doesn't care about the life or death of anyone, as long as he is making a profit out of it - such an interesting character for Trek, and very unlike almost everyone who has gone before (the closest I can think of off the top of my head is the guy who kidnaps Data for his little museum in "the most toys." - He also plays the role eccentrically, switching between joy and laughter and crazy deadpan in an instant, which again I think works for the character.)

The ending, where Quark sets things up to try to get out of it, is a nice touch, and to have Sisko talk with Quark and agree with him as to how things should go sits well with how Sisko is as a character.

The B-story, about the Chief and his crying baby is a bit weak, but it seemed like it was there mainly to break up the A-story plot, and give a little light relief as otherwise it might have gotten a bit too dark. Some nice touches in the direction of that B-story as well (the shot of everyone looking at Kirayoshi in the Ops room is great.)

And the icing on the cake: Tierney as the Regent is magnificent!
posted by marienbad at 8:09 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thread necro: I just realized I referred to Gaila as Quark's brother in the original post, rather than his cousin. I hang my head in shame.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:37 AM on July 19, 2016

Minor trivia: Although he's been listed in the opening credits as "Alexander Siddig" since the start of season 4 for the role of Dr. Bashir, Siddig's director credit here is "Siddig El Fadil." He also directs the sixth season episode "Profit and Lace" but is credited there for directing as "Alexander Siddig." I haven't been able to find a reason given for this in an (admittedly brief) search.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:32 PM on July 28, 2017

I read somewhere that switching to Alexander Siddig was a straight-up tactic on his part to advance his career with a more anglo-sounding name. Why the switch when directing versus acting, not sure.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:41 AM on July 29, 2017

The baby B-plot is a bit weak, but the scene at the end with Worf and the baby is really sweet and has some lovely acting from Michael Dorn. You can see all the complicated emotions Worf's feeling.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2023

Yeah, the bit where O'Brien goes to take the baby back, and Worf actually recoils a bit like he doesn't want to give him up is a great little acting choice from Dorn.

But in general, the b-plot is indeed kind of pointless, just there because they needed to break up the A-story a bit. And I guess this gave them a way to get Jake on screen, however briefly. I feel badly for Jake. They really have no idea what to do with him most of the time. (The Visitor notwithstanding.)

(And upthread CheesesofBrazil calls a post a month after the original thread launched thread necro. Hah!)

posted by Naberius at 5:43 AM on October 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

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