Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Profit and Lace
September 19, 2016 8:38 AM - Season 6, Episode 23 - Subscribe

When an unexpected development shakes up the Ferengi government, Quark has to... I mean, he decides... folks, I'm sorry. This is just the worst episode. I really can't think of anything clever or cute to put here, I could barely make it through the episode as it was. Sorry. No, I'm not sorry; this one made "Move Along Home" look like "The Visitor." Sheesh.

Even Memory Alpha can't even:

- The original idea for this episode came from René Echevarria; "We were all at lunch, talking about doing an episode about Moogie, the feminist movement, and giving Ferengi women the right to vote. It was a very preliminary discussion, and I said, 'I have this feeling that Quark ends up in a dress. I don't know why, but I think somehow Quark and Rom have to masquerade as women in order to pull something off." Echevarria's idea was seized upon by Ira Steven Behr, although he knew that the proposed episode carried risks; "The idea was to do a character comedy. We wanted to take this misogynist character and make him into a woman. But it's very difficult, for a lot of reasons, to get people on board with stuff like this, and when they do get on board they tend to go too far, or too broad, or they lose the reality, or they're not comfortable with it. And if any of those things are true, it won't work."

- Armin Shimerman reportedly hated the script for this episode, as he felt Quark did not learn anything from his experience as a woman. Indeed, the original script had Lumba crying a great deal, but Shimerman refused to play it that way as he felt it was a negative stereotype against women. Shimerman commented: "...I just don't think Quark learned anything in ["Profit and Lace"]. That was disappointing. I didn't mind Quark's sex change, I minded that nothing came of it".

- The production staff had high hopes for it during preproduction; indeed, after Behr sent the script to Michael Piller, Piller returned it with a memo reading "this is going to be a classic". In the end however, the episode garnered terrible reviews. In fact, the poll run in 1999 by Sci-Fi Entertainment which saw "In the Pale Moonlight" voted as Deep Space Nine's best show, "Profit and Lace" was voted its worst, followed by "Move Along Home" and "Let He Who Is Without Sin...".

- It is generally accepted amongst the writers and cast that the main problem with the episode is that while the writers wrote it as high-farce, director Alexander Siddig and actor Armin Shimerman saw it as a much more serious piece, in the tradition of "Family Business"; a comic episode with serious undertones. As Shimerman says of Siddig, "He wanted to make it less of a comedy and more of an exploration of the relationship between a bickering mother and son. He tried to push the envelope and take Quark into an area that Quark isn't used to going in. I applaud him for it, although we reshot some of the scenes, like the heart attack, because he had a much darker vision than the writers had imagined."

- In the end, according to Shimerman, the reason the episode ultimately failed was because it was half serious/half comic, and the two halves didn't gel; "It could have been a more serious dramatic piece or it could have been funnier. But it was neither one nor the other."

- In retrospect, Ira Steven Behr sees this episode the biggest disappointment of his entire time at Star Trek; "If you look through the list, "Profit and Lace" was really the last Ferengi show. "The Emperor's New Cloak" is a mirror universe show, and the Ferengi portion of "The Dogs of War" is only the A-story or the B-story, depending on how you look at it. So this was the nail in that coffin."

- This episode received Star Trek 101's "Spock's Brain" Award for Worst Episode of Deep Space Nine.

"Moogie! I was so worried."
"You're a good son."
"I was worried too."
"And you're a good liar."

- Rom, Ishka and Quark
posted by Halloween Jack (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"Move Along Home" is worse IMO. Not sure why I think that. Maybe it's because this episode, for all its flaws, at least partially accomplishes what it set out to do. It's not, in other words, a complete mess. "Move Along Home" is.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:48 AM on September 19, 2016


I will tell you what's good about this episode: 1) Rom being much more observant about gender differences than Quark; 2) Maihar'du and the other Hupyrian glaring at each other in the background; 3) a few of the lines. But, goddamnit, Quark. I think that Nog got some of his previous crappy attitudes about women from his uncle, not his dad.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well this is going to be another one of those episodes that everyone thinks is crap and I love. Honestly, Move Along Home, If Wishes Were Horses and StoryTeller are way worse than this episode and that's just off the top of my head.

I know what the MA review is saying, but I think it sorta works - there is the comedy element but it is takling a difficult subject, so the direction and the way Shimmerman plays it works - if it is just farce it looks like it is mocking, and too serious would put people off. To me it is interesting in terms of thinking in terms of LGBTQ issues. So for example there is a scene where Quark, while Genderswapped (by Dr Bashir) kisses Nilva on the lips. And this is after Brunt enters and calls Quark a man. So we have issues like "misgendering," or it can be seen as a man-on-man kiss, as we know Quark is still a man, he is still Quark in a sense.

And the bits where Rom knows how to walk and sit as a woman are hilarious, and again can be seen as a joke around feminisation, but the are not knocking it, it is just the idea that Rom, who has never given any indication of femininty turns out to have a deeper understanding than Quark.

This has some great moments, the "acting Grand Nagus" running gag is excellent, Grodenchick gives a great comic performance (when Quark leaves with Nilva he raises his bottle and calls out "have a nice evening.") Everyone shows some cool comedy chops, even Lita with her few lines works well.

One more thing is that no-one in the main group makes any comment about Quark being genderswapped, and then to have Zek be attracted ("You have beautiful eyes") is great - it is like when gay people were portrayed as having relationships on TV and now its almost like no big deal, and this is like transgender sexual attraction being subtly shown and show as a normal thing - Ishka tells Zek off for being attracted to Lumba, because he is her partner, and not because she sees anything intrinsically wrong with it.

Anyhow, I am a sucker for Ferengi comedy episodes, so may be completely mis-reading this, if so, flame away! Other than that, I wil restate my case: this is a great episode that tackles some deep LGBTQ issues in a light and entertaining way without going too far and mocking people for their sexuality, gender, and the types of people they are sexually attracted to.
posted by marienbad at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this one in a couple of years, but from what I remember, the worst thing about it is the very last scene. Quark goes into the experience sexually harassing his female employees, and then at the end, they make a point of showing that he is still sexually harassing his female employees. And it's not treated seriously at all!

It's also pretty awful to have an episode about feminism where everything is accomplished by men, some of whom are pretending to be women.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:54 PM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Agree re the last scene - if they had ended it 30 seconds earlier it would have been perfect though.

Also re: everything accomplished by men - well, it is all sorta accomplished by Ishka - even the things Quark says to Nilva is stuff Ishka wrote down for him to say (Zek even tells him to "learn his lines" at one point.) So I can see your point but I think it works in a different way to that, because when he is changed, the subject of Quarks gender identity at that point is a complicated one.
posted by marienbad at 1:05 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


when he is changed, the subject of Quarks gender identity at that point is a complicated one.

Is it really, though? His body changes but his GENDER doesn't change - he's still Quark, a male, who has gotten temporary body modification to appear female. Given the ease of plastic surgery in the Trek universe, all this really means is that Quark is in drag.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


all this really means is that Quark is in drag

Cannot favourite hard enough. There was zero actual gender bending beyond momentary self examination and the conclusion was that he was still cis het.

I remember thinking that this episode was cheesy but gave me a few <snort>'s. Re-examining it, the episode director - Alexander Siddig - treated this old comedy trope with respect.

Regarding Quark continuing to be a harasser after experiencing it himself is a commentary on the character. Sure, they didn't grow, but that's part of their failing of character. Besides, it calls out real-life irredeemable harassers.

no-one in the main group makes any comment about Quark

!! thumbsup.gif
posted by porpoise at 5:46 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I watched this Sunday morning, so as to give myself plenty of time to watch other de-enraging things afterwards, since there had been a bunch of mentions in previous threads of how awful this episode was, but, ye gods and little fishes was that vile.

I think the Tor recap summed up my feelings pretty well:
"but otherwise this is an attempt to show how important it is for women to be treated equally by indulging in every sexist stereotype in the book, culminating in Quark learning absolutely nothing by still going after Aluura. To make matters worse, Aluura actually gives in to the stereotype, her response to Quark’s sexual harassment forcing her to read up on oo-mox is to actually say that oo-mox doesn’t sound that bad. It’s impossible to convey just how despicable this is, and whatever good the episode might do—and it does almost none anyhow—is flushed away by the ending.

An absolute blight on the entire Star Trek landscape, is this."


I think it's a sign of the kind of misogyny going on behind the camera at DS9 (and Paramount, and the industry) that they could think that those Aluura scenes were funny. I've been seeing this post on tumblr recently, detailing the sexist bullying Rick Berman pulled on Terry Farrell during this season. I'm not sure what publication the quotes are from (I saw it sourced once I think, but lost track of the post), but I don't doubt any of it considering the writers & producers thought this script was fit for production.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:57 PM on September 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sorry, I don't mean to derail and I don't have an extended argument to make (thankfully!), but dammit I love Move Along Home! Don't quite get all the hate. Don't remember this episode at all, fwiw.
posted by comealongpole at 6:34 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait, I have NetFlix, and NetFlix has DS9. I will watch this episode tonight, bad though it be.
posted by comealongpole at 6:35 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah!, I haven't read the second volume of The Fifty-Year Mission: An Oral History of Star Trek yet, but I think the photographed pages must be from that -- it matches the format from the first volume.
posted by thesmallmachine at 7:04 PM on September 19, 2016


This was a better than "Move Along Home" and many other season 1 and 2 episodes. At least the show was in its groove by this point and we could get an episode centered on Shimerman and a bunch of non-regulars. This episode was not great, but many worse episodes are long behind us and more forgettable.

There were parts that were among the funniest in the series. I'm thinking of Quark and the others phonebanking for Zed, or when the Ferengi mindlessly sang that soft drink jingle. Those moments should keep this from being the worst episode ever.

However, it was weird that as soon as Quark was in drag, the humor didn't work. It was particularly disappointing since parts of the script seemed to be inspired from Some Like It Hot.
BRUNT: I tell you -- that is not a female!
NILVA: She's close enough for me.
is so very much like
JERRY: I'm a man!
OSGOOD: Well, nobody's perfect!
I think the problem is those scenes went too far from being fun and too close to 'maybe the writers have a dim view of women'. I wish we had gotten to watch Leeta teach Quark. Leeta is the most feminine character in the show and was clearly delighted by the opportunity.

On an unrelated note, Rom having surprising insight into female mannerisms made me think of the fun Boy Meets World episode "Chick Like Me", because that is how Shawn ended up in a dress. Veronica Wasboiski was so pretty.
posted by riruro at 7:25 PM on September 19, 2016


Watching it I honestly thought for the first half-hour (well, 27 mins) that it must be an episode which I missed on first [UK] airing. Then I recognised Quark-as-Lumba though, so I must have seen it. I can't believe so little of the episode was devoted to its ostensible device!

So much about this episode is bad, objectively so, even by (remembered) '90s standards that I don't know where to start. It doesn't even make sense within the established canon, let alone in the context of contemporary real-world politics. Arrggh! Did DS9 have worse episodes? Maybe. This late in the series? I definitely don't think (read: recall) so.

I did like Leeta's silent reactions as well as some of the early Ferengi interplay. I would have accepted a more huggy Odo at the end.
posted by comealongpole at 7:47 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know which Ferengi episode dealt with gender and sexism issues pretty well and even with a decent amount of humor, albeit from a completely different angle? "Rules of Acquisition." This episode could have even worked if it had been reworked as a sequel to the previous episode, with Pel coming back from the Gamma Quadrant and working with Ishka.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


(I should say that I just rewatched "Rules of Acquisition", and it stands up very well for an early-second-season episode. It also has the first mention of the Dominion on the show.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 PM on September 19, 2016


I think I've seen every single episode of every single Trek show multiple times... with the exception of this one, which I've somehow never seen once. I watched the series when it was new and in summer reruns and I watched it in late-night syndicated reruns years later and even watched a couple of seasons on DVD, and somehow I never got to see this one. I'm a Trekkie and a DS9 fanatic and I have all sorts of transgender weirdness going on, so it's kind of annoying that THIS is the one I always miss somehow. People say it's just awful, but from what I have seen I suspect I'd like it more than a lot of you. It sounds like goofy fun.

According to Memory Alpha Quark's sex is changed, although his gender identity isn't. So, you can factor that into your debates! I've wasted entire weeks of my life arguing about gender and Trek on Metafilter, but having never seen the episode I'm forced to sit out this dance.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:10 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I don't mean to derail and I don't have an extended argument to make (thankfully!), but dammit I love Move Along Home! Don't quite get all the hate. Don't remember this episode at all, fwiw.

I don't love Move Along Home, but I have some fondness for it.

UH: I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the episode if you find a way to watch it. I'm another trekkie with gender weirdness going on, and I haven't always agreed with your takes but they've always been interesting.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:20 PM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


UH: I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the episode if you find a way to watch it.

Same. I thought of you when I saw this was the episode we had going this time. I'd be fascinated to hear your thoughts about it.

I've been seeing this post on tumblr recently, detailing the sexist bullying Rick Berman pulled on Terry Farrell during this season. I'm not sure what publication the quotes are from (I saw it sourced once I think, but lost track of the post), but I don't doubt any of it considering the writers & producers thought this script was fit for production.

Yikes. Thanks for sharing that.
posted by mordax at 11:33 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm sure I'd just piss everybody off. These days I still scrap about the Trek stuff some, but I've cut way, way back on arguing about gender on Metafilter... if for no other reason than I've just seen too many of my comments get deleted two minutes later.

As for the Berman stuff, I will say that Wil Wheaton has made it very clear that he also thinks Rick Berman is an asshole, and the anecdotal evidence is really adding up.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:28 AM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


An absolute blight on the entire Star Trek landscape, is this.

But not an unrepresentative one.

I'm watching TOS all the way through from the beginning for the first time. (I even intend to watch TAS when that's done!) In coming across a few episodes I've missed, I've been gobsmacked by how consistent the misogyny is. Like, even for the '60s, it's ghhhuhhh. Mrs. CoB has violently erupted off the sofa on at least three occasions and we're not even done with Season 1 yet. It's really impacted my feelings toward the Kirk character, honestly.

In other words, we shouldn't forget how rocky the Trek treatment of gender stuff has frequently been on-screen. Considering how ahead of its time Trek has so often been, it's really a glaring blind spot—not an altogether surprising one, perhaps, since most of these writers have been huge dude-nerds (is there a better term? and don't say MRA!). But sheesh, we're only getting our first gay character in 2017 (or 2016 if you count the latest J.J. thing with Sulu, which from what I've heard sounds so perfunctory that I'd bet he just did it to beat Fuller to the punch). Combine this with the reprehensible treatment of Farrell and McFadden (and of course Grace Lee Whitney), and…there's really just no excuse.

Thus, "Profit and Lace" seems tame by comparison with the franchise as a whole (especially if you include behind-the-scenes), but I wonder if the degree of venom people have for it is because of viewing it in comparison with just the rest of DS9.

And Ursula, I too hope you watch it and let us know what you thought. There IS goofy fun in the episode, without a doubt; how far it remains goofy and fun is I guess just a question of individual tolerance level. E.g., my two cents, I think Shimerman's performance was as respectful as the material permitted, and they did get in a few limp but decent "Women be different from men" jokes—but the part where I really just can't even is when Nilva's chasing Lumba around the table. That cliche, in my mind, is so entangled with the early-20th-century sexual-predators-are-fun mentality (as riffed in the Onion's Our Dumb Century in the comic "Take a Letter, Miss Boozom") that I am downright disappointed in really everyone involved. Maybe it needed a non-Ferengi in that scene, say Kira, to kick Nilva in the ears.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:59 AM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm watching TOS all the way through from the beginning for the first time. (I even intend to watch TAS when that's done!) In coming across a few episodes I've missed, I've been gobsmacked by how consistent the misogyny is. Like, even for the '60s, it's ghhhuhhh. Mrs. CoB has violently erupted off the sofa on at least three occasions and we're not even done with Season 1 yet. It's really impacted my feelings toward the Kirk character, honestly.

Have you been reading any of the Fanfare TOS re-watch threads? I'm sure you'll find angry comments by me & others at those sofa-erupting scenes if you need to commiserate. Overall, I do give TOS something of an 'it was the 60s' pass, mainly because the women of the time supported it -- the show wouldn't have been renewed for S3 without the fan write-in campaign spearheaded by women like Bjo Trimble, the conventions, the fanfic, etc. TOS wasn't as feminist as it could/should have been, but I do feel that it did better comparatively than TNG/DS9 did. Anyway, Benway did a good job posting all those episode threads, it would be a nice surprise to have any of them pop up in Recent Activity.

Maybe it needed a non-Ferengi in that scene, say Kira, to kick Nilva in the ears.

But then they would have had to acknowledge that they were depicting a scene of attempted rape, not just 'wacky shenanigans.' I think it's kind of telling that Kira doesn't intersect with the plot this episode; she was consistently more well-written than Dax, and trying to fit her into this plot would either hold a mirror up to how awful it was or commit character assassination.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:46 AM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons why I prefer "Rules of Acquisition" to this episode is that both Kira and Dax have significant parts in it; Dax explains why she likes Quark despite how his culture treats women (although their friendship doesn't extend to his resting his hand on her thigh when they're playing tongo, as she makes abundantly clear), and Kira resists Zek's "charms" as he's assiduously wooing her, although she (with Sisko's aid) uses the opportunity to negotiate some much-needed agricultural chemicals from Zek. (Another interesting thing about that episode: when Dax is talking to Pel, she doesn't react negatively to Pel's confession of love for Quark, even though Dax (and everyone else) thinks that Pel is male.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on September 20, 2016


Also, the link that oh yeah! posted above is from The Fifty-Year Mission, the two-volume oral history of the franchise (specifically, the second volume, which covers the spinoff series, the TNG movies, and JJTrek). Quite a bit of the gossip and insider info has already been told in various other books, but quite a lot of it is new, or expands on earlier stories (e.g. Roddenberry being a jerk, and in particular on TNG). Terry Farrell's story is probably the worst thing to come out of the DS9 section. In general, although there's lots of sniping at Roddenberry, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga do not come off well, and quite a bit of that is from their own words.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:21 AM on September 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


After reading that Farrell stuff, I'm moved to observe that I associate the egregious introduction of the Vegas / Fontaine nonsense with Berman, but I don't actually know that for a fact. It just seems like his thing, this Hollywood-bro thing, thinking that's cooler and more interesting than you know, Star Trek.

Maybe this comment belongs more in a Fontaine episode thread, but the other thing I wonder about is when did the Star Trek Experience attraction open in Vegas? Wasn't it after the end of TNG at first-run but while DS9 was on the air?

Finally, that tumblr post seems to contradict the other thing I had heard regarding Farrell's departure, that her wage base was lower than all the other players and that she and her agent were asking for parity. I suppose that could still be true if a reduced appearance schedule wouldn't have involved a pay cut.
posted by mwhybark at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2016


Well, again, I haven't seen the episode, but my thinking is that they'd subject Quark to the "being chased by some horny creep" scenario as a comeuppance, a comic punishment for being a sexist creep. In other words, I don't think it's a celebration of sexism at all, and if anything it was assumed that the women in the audience would be delighted to see a sexist dude being subjected to this sort of thing. The writers wouldn't subject Leeta to this as a gag, or (in a gender-bending story) they probably wouldn't do it to O'Brien or Jake or somebody. But Quark is a scrappy and generally rather comic character, and he's suffering the kind of sexism he's used to dishing out. (Well, kind of. He has some really gross attitudes, but it's hard to picture him chasing a woman around like that.)

Also the Ferengi are kind of parodies of mid-20th Century male attitudes and tropes. They're (usually) supposed to be kind of ridiculous and non-threatening, and like those "zany" old comedies where bosses would chase their secretaries around the desk, I don't think we're supposed to assume that if this guy caught Quark he was actually going to rape him. It's playing off that old-time sex farce stuff, but with a sexist man as the put-upon damsel.

But Quark is a tricky character for something like this, because he always walks this edge between the sleazy Ferengi he wants to be and the more progressive, Federation-esque attitudes he thinks he despises. He respects women a lot more than he thinks he does. He'll talk the Ferengi talk about women, but his crush on Dax isn't all about her looks and he is terrified of/admires Kira. It might have been more true to his character if he'd come out of this with a new respect for women, or (more likely) if he insisted he hadn't learned a damn thing but in the last moment he subtly demonstrated that he did see women differently now.

That's a lot of blather from somebody who never saw the freakin' episode!

I'm sorely tempted to pick up those Fifty-Year Mission books, but as I get older and keep having to purge my possessions to clear space I find myself really distressed by the piles of Star Trek (and Buffy, and X-Files) books I'm sending off to Out of the Closet. I look at Trek books now and it seems inevitable I'll end up packing them up in cardboard boxes in 20 years.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:16 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's a lot of blather from somebody who never saw the freakin' episode!

Yeah, sorry, you really need to watch the episode if you're going to defend what you imagine the writers' intentions to have been.

Also the Ferengi are kind of parodies of mid-20th Century male attitudes and tropes. They're (usually) supposed to be kind of ridiculous and non-threatening, and like those "zany" old comedies where bosses would chase their secretaries around the desk, I don't think we're supposed to assume that if this guy caught Quark he was actually going to rape him. It's playing off that old-time sex farce stuff, but with a sexist man as the put-upon damsel.

But that assumes that the men making those old-time sex farces understood what was and was not rape, and/or weren't actually pulling the same Roger Ailes act on women when the cameras were off. Considering that the 'was it really rape?' rules-lawyering continues to this day (in fiction and reality), I don't see any reason to give the benefit of the doubt to them or to the DS9 writers/producers of this episode. (Other than it being near the end of the season and maybe a lot of them have reached the temporary-insanity point from sleep deprivation, I'll give them that.)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:12 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


But that assumes that the men making those old-time sex farces understood what was and was not rape (...)

I don't agree with that at all. I think that the people writing this TV show in 1998 (or whenever it was) were probably a lot more aware than people writing a scene for some sitcom in 1955. The DS9 people weren't going to write a scene where Kira was getting chased like that, and treat it as a sex farce joke. I think they wrote that stuff in this episode AS A COMMENT on those old tropes, taking a sexist guy and sticking him into the role of the girl getting chased around the desk by a lecher. (It's also worth noting that those scenes in old shows were probably meant to be sexy as well as funny, and I really doubt they were trying to get anybody off here.)

Quark is a sexist creep, but he is also a comic character and a scrapper. We don't pity him in a scenario like this, it's a comic comeuppance for him, a karmic joke. This is humiliating for him, but it's probably not supposed to seem truly dangerous. These are Ferengi, who are often used to satirize 20th Century America in a big, broad, goofy way. If Quark is going to become a woman and be subjected to sexism, it's no great surprise it'd be handled this way.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:17 PM on September 20, 2016


I think they wrote that stuff in this episode AS A COMMENT on those old tropes, taking a sexist guy and sticking him into the role of the girl getting chased around the desk by a lecher.

That's certainly a very kind interpretation. It's maybe a meta-grade beyond what I think is actually accomplished in any Trek episode, and certainly not the kind of ironic pomo comedy the franchise trades in. This argument can be carried out with respect to any number of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes, but looking for a similar accomplishment here requires a particularly rich strain of bean and extremely fine china plate.

Not that the dish shouldn't be attempted!

I'd also urge you to watch the episode, even and especially now that you have a thesis, but, um... some things cannot be unseen.
posted by mwhybark at 12:05 AM on September 21, 2016


Yeah, I have to back out here, given that I have strong opinions about gender stuff that often put me at odds with the folks on Metafilter, I have great respect for the DS9 creators... and I haven't seen the freaking episode. By all accounts it's awful. Maybe I'll find out for myself one day.

I will stand by the notion that the folks creating this show were knowingly putting Quark into an old girly trope in the big scene with the horny creep. (And I HAVE seen that scene from the episode, so at least I can say that.) It just seems like obvious parody to me, it doesn't have to be some super-clever meta thing. It's very easy for me to imagine them laughing, saying, "Christ, it'll be like one of those old scenes with the secretary fending off her boss... only with Quark!"

(I'm pretty sure Behr came up with the Vic Fontaine stuff. And a fair argument could be made that he WAS trying to un-Trek-ify Star Trek in some ways. But I think he really engaged with Trek and bent it into fascinating shapes, seeing all the weird things he could do with it. He didn't just smash the whole thing with a big hammer and then try to build Star Wars on the ruins, like a certain fanboy who must not be named.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:05 AM on September 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess the way I'd put my dislike of this episode, UH, is to quote your earlier comment: "Quark is a tricky character for something like this, because he always walks this edge between the sleazy Ferengi he wants to be and the more progressive, Federation-esque attitudes he thinks he despises. He respects women a lot more than he thinks he does. He'll talk the Ferengi talk about women, but his crush on Dax isn't all about her looks and he is terrified of/admires Kira. It might have been more true to his character if he'd come out of this with a new respect for women, or (more likely) if he insisted he hadn't learned a damn thing but in the last moment he subtly demonstrated that he did see women differently now." I just don't buy that he would have gone there in the first place, for the reasons you state above; if for no other reason, he'd fear the disapproval of Dax and Kira, if not their wrath. It's one thing to have a movie like Switch, a stand-alone story where the dude getting his comeuppance isn't someone with several years of backstory; it's just way too far into the series for Quark to be that guy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 AM on September 21, 2016


Slowpoking here, but it's odd when you think about it how many of the reference/viewpoint alien characters in Trek are exceptions. Spock, the ur-Vulcan who is actually half-human. Worf, raised by humans and over-compensating with his Klingon heritage. Quark, his rigid cultural adherence to the Rules Of Acquisition weakened by interaction with hu-mans, root beer and Morn's ceaseless opinionating 🍔.

Quark's male-to-female (and vice versa) physical swaps in this episode are really perfunctory, occurring during voiceover and ad-break fade-outs, rather than on-screen acting. It is bizarre. Then Quark seemingly gets a pass for wearing-clothes-whilst-female. The episode doesn't seem to know what it's doing, nor why. To me it came across as badly conceived and realised, plus a bit nothing-y, more than Worst Evar. Ursula Hitler, you aren't missing much having not seen it.
posted by comealongpole at 9:38 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't get the feeling the people here hate the episode because they're uncomfortable with gender-bend-y stuff, but I do wonder if it might have something to do with the general fan reaction. Is this episode really THAT bad, or is it kind of mediocre and a lot of Trekkies just felt cringe-y about seeing Quark with boobs?

I wouldn't blame them for avoiding the whole issue of Quark wearing clothes. It's not like they could have him running around with his rubber knockers out! (I suppose they could have dropped in a line about the Federation requiring everybody on DS9 to wear clothes, but maybe it was better to just avoid the whole topic.)

I think Move Along Home is probably the worst episode, but even that isn't so bad. It's like a first season Next Generation episode that somehow ended up as a DS9 episode instead.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:02 PM on September 21, 2016


I ruminated on for a while sitting on my Thinking Chair about why I dislike the episode. I'm not offended by the humor, though I can understand why others are. To me, it's a failure of the presentation.

While Quark is the character you'd want to put in this situation, the Ferengi aren't a good species for this. The humor of a man in a dress comes from the contrast between masculinity and femininity. But we've only met two Ferengi women, and they are both extremely atypical females. So we the audience have very little baseline for what Ferengi women like. It's like if an alien met several humans, but the only woman among them was Annie Oakley. Also, the Ferengi appearance is very masculine: bald heads, leathery skin, small eyes, and pronounced brow ridges. There is nothing soft or feminine about lady Quark.

The concept doesn't work visually as well as it would with a human, at all. I think that's why the why the writers thought they needed to hammer the point by having lady Quark behave really hormonal, which in turn offended a lot of DS9 fans.

Finally, in this episode's defense, it was not the worst of season 6. "Sons & Daughters", "Resurrection", "Honor Among Thieves", and the upcoming "The Sound of Her Voice" were worse.
posted by riruro at 8:05 PM on September 21, 2016


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