Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Profit and Lace” (part 2 of 6)
The episode begins in Quark’s Bar. The owner of the bar, a Ferengi who coincidentally is named Quark, exclaims, “I am truly impressed!” What’s got Quark so impressed? If you said “the script”, I am hereby revoking your Homo Sapiens Membership Card.
No, what’s turned Quark’s head is a “glowing employee performance report” for one of the Dabo girls in his bar, a brunette named Aluura (with “Dabo” being a roulette-like form of gambling, not to be confused with the Bond Girl in The Living Daylights or Kevin Arnold‘s sister.)
Aluura (played by the gorgeous Symba Smith) has these rhinestone thingies embedded in her face all around her eyes. So, either she’s some alterna-raver chick, or there was an accident several years ago with a briefcase full of diamonds and some C4, and Aluura doesn’t know any good doctors.
During his praise of Aluura, Quark mentions the full name of his establishment, which for the first time in the series we learn is “Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade”. So stop complaining; this episode is brimming with useful information!
Aluura insists her high level of performance is due to her love of the job. Quark continues raving about how all the other Dabo girls love her, how the Ferengi waiters love her, and how all the customers love her. Aluura turns in her stool to reveal her ample cleavage, and now I love her. So put that in her performance report, too, Quark.
Quark says that she’s nice, but suddenly his voice gains a bitter edge as he gripes that she’s nice to everyone but him. She insists she’s nice to him, but Quark thinks she “could be nicer.” She’s confused, so Quark hands her a small coffin-shaped handheld device which I’m assuming is the Cardassian equivalent of a palm eBook reader.
Aluura reads the title. “Oomox for Fun and Profit?” Even after half a dozen of these Ferengi episodes, I’m still unclear of exactly what “oomox” is supposed to be. Are those the cookies that were like Oreos, but a lot cheaper? Oh, no, that’s right, those were Hydrox. Man, what was up with those cookies? I’d really like to know how the Hydrox Corporation got away with ripping off Oreo like that for so many years. I mean, they were like the exact same cookie. What’s that? Oh, yeah, right. This episode.
I guess “oomox” is really Ferengi for “blowjob in the storeroom”, because Aluura suddenly gets it. She says, “You want me to be… niiiiiice.” Quark then not-so-subtly tells her she’ll be fired if she doesn’t put out. Meanwhile, the tiptoeing strings on the soundtrack are walking circles around a clarinet, desperately trying to convince us that Quark acting like a total scumbag is somehow funny. Sorry, but the guy is only about two steps up from being Kobe Bryant here, and hauling out the Clarinet of Spock is not going to make this charming.
Before this picture of sexual slavery can be fully painted, the door swishes open and Quark’s brother Rom enters. Rom is a retard, or at least that’s what his voice would seem to suggest. I mean, which way did he go, George? Rom will get a rabbit, and hug him and hug him and pet him and pet him. Quark tries to blow off Rom and continue his harassment, but Rom insists it’s important. He says it’s about their mother.
Quark tells him not to bring up “Moogie” when he’s “working”. Working at being an asshole, he means. Hey, no problem, Quark, I’m more than happy to finish your sentences for you. Nevertheless, Rom is panic stricken because he can’t reach Moogie. Quark says their mother is probably off with the “Grand Nagus”, who from prior episodes we know to be the Ferengi High Exulted Poobah.
Rom says he tried to contact the Nagus in the “Tower of Commerce”, but there was “no answer”. Well, hey, there was also no answer to the query, “Who wants to see Quark in drag?” but that didn’t stop anyone from making this episode. Quark again tries to explain it all away, but Rom says he couldn’t reach anyone on the whole planet of Ferenginar. He yells, “Something’s very wrong!” Oh, Rom. If you only knew.
This gets Quark’s attention and he and Rom leave. Not before Quark reminds Aluura to continue with her reading, of course. As they leave, Rom gleefully says hello to Aluura and calls her “nice”. Hah! Okay, a minute ago he was all panicked about his mom, so what gives?
The two Ferengi are soon in Ops (DS9’s “bridge”) with the senior staff. This is primarily to give them all their thirty-second cameos for the episode, for which they were all probably paid the same salary as a full episode, so weep not for the DS9 cast.
Rom and Quark tell Captain Sisko that they suspect the Dominion has invaded Ferenginar. Oh, episode. Don’t tease me like that. The only news that would make me happier than learning the Dominion had laid waste to Ferenginar would be the news that the Dominion had laid waste to Ferenginar while Lwaxana Troi and Wesley Crusher were paying a visit.
Rom suggests there could be “terrible repercussions” if the Dominion invaded their planet. Worf gets the first of two lines when he yells, “I cannot think of any!” I can think of one. There could be no more Ferengi episodes, which would have massive terrible repercussions on fans of suck.
And yeah, that’s the same Worf from The Next Generation. After TNG went off the air, Worf was added to the cast of DS9 as a blatant ratings ploy. But as far as blatant ratings ploys go, I admit this was an inspired one, because it allowed the character to grow in ways he never could when he was the growling, anal-retentive straight man to the laid back TNG crew. But of course, we won’t be seeing evidence of that growth anywhere in this particular episode, that’s for damn sure.
Major Kira points out that none of the “surrounding systems” were invaded, so a Dominion incursion into Ferengi space is highly unlikely. (She specifically states that “Clarus and Irtok” weren’t invaded, and Clarus was also mentioned in the episode “The Nagus”, so for those of you following shit episode continuity, this is your birthday.) Worf gets one more line, assuring Quark and Rom that there’s no sign of Dominion activity in that sector.
Captain Sisko promises to look into it. Yeah. Put that on your “to do” list, right after winning the war against the Dominion, preventing escalating tensions with the Romulans, and revealing the End Times prophesy to all of Bajor.
Before Sisko can get out of there, Dax gets a line informing him that a Ferengi ship is requesting permission to dock. She says it’s the Grand Nagus Zek and Quark’s mom. Rom loudly brays, “They’re alliiiiiiiiive!” Then he follows this up with, “Nice work.” Who he’s talking to, or what he’s referring to shall thankfully remain a mystery.
Waltzing strings and oompah-loompah tuba work scores an FX shot of the Nagus’ ship docked with Deep Space Nine. And the ship looks just like a giant pink earplug. Is that supposed to be a joke, what with the size of a Ferengi ear? I really wouldn’t put it past them.
Anyway, we cut to Quark and Rom in a docking tube greeting the Nagus, a Ferengi with a more wrinkled complexion than Barbara Bush. Also there is the Nagus’ bodyguard, a tall bouncer type who never speaks. (Perhaps he knows something we don’t.)
Then Quark’s mom Ishka steps into the corridor, and she is a horrifying vision. She is old, wrapped tight in purple spandex, her massive, matronly (and I hope padded) bosom fully exposed to all. (And in case you’re wondering, female Ferengi, just like male Ferengi, are orange, wrinkled, hairless, and fang toothed.)
Ishka is pure grotesquerie in a tight purple package. She’s played by the late Cecily Adams, daughter of Get Smart actor Don Adams, and with all due respect, after seeing her in the Ferengi makeup, I’d much rather do Don. (A few seasons back, Ishka was played by SCTV alum Andrea Martin, but the part had to be recast when Andrea found the makeup and prosthetics to be more than she could handle. Or at least, that’s her official story, and she’s sticking to it. I’m certain it had absolutely nothing at all to do with the quality of the scripts.)
Rom is overjoyed to see his mother. He runs toward her, calling out “Mooogieeeee” like some wounded animal. She immediately reminds us that Rom is her favorite son, and since, generally speaking, there can only be one favorite, Quark is obviously not. Adams speaks here with an overly precious and mannered voice straight out of an old 70’s children’s film. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing a Ruth Foreman voiceover, then you’re already familiar with her style of speaking.
Rom is taken aback that his mom is wearing clothes in public. You see, it’s Ferengi law that their women must always be naked. Or at least, it was until now. Ishka explains that she’s proud of her decision to wear clothes, and tells Grand Nagus Zek, or as she calls him, “Zekkie”, to explain.
The Nagus, as played by Wallace Shawn, delivers each line like he’s right in the middle of taking a crap and desperately trying to squeeze out a turd. If you’re not familiar with Wallace Shawn, he was the “my” in My Dinner with Andre and the voice of the dinosaur in the Toy Story movies, but is undoubtedly most famous for playing the short guy in The Princess Bride who ran around saying, “Inconceivable!” So just imagine his voice from that movie, only magnified a billion times in the squealing department, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Grand Nagus Zek sounds like.
Zek explains that he added an “amendment” to the “Ferengi Bill of Opportunities” that allows females the right to wear clothes. And I swear, in this scene the acting is like some horrible outtake from Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Strike that. Upon further contemplation, I don’t even think Paul Reubens would’ve wanted actors on his show to play things this obvious.
Upon hearing the news, Quark puts it all together. If women can wear clothes, he surmises, this means they can also participate in Ferengi business as employees and consumers. Oh, and I doubt anyone needs reminding, but all of Ferengi culture is centered on profit, finance, and capitalism. So it’s exactly like the United States, only they’re less ashamed about it. (If such a thing is possible.)
Zek insists that female equality is good for business, because women make up half the planet, and now they can contribute their fair share to the economy. He says, however, that his decision caused “financial chaos” to erupt all over the planet, and all the business transactions caused the communications grid to shut down. Or perhaps there was just a Ferengi Idol vote that night.
Due to his decision, Zek was “deposed” as Nagus, and the new Nagus is a Ferengi by the name of Brunt. A dismayed Rom says, “Grand Nagus Brunt?” and Zek yells, “Acting Grand Nagus Brunt!” This will be the most repeated sentence in the whole episode, and I’m seriously not kidding about that. And it will get less and less funny with each iteration. Considering just how not funny it is to begin with, you’d think there wouldn’t be far to fall. But just you watch.
Brunt, a Ferengi Commerce Authority agent, is a character we’ve seen in a few previous Ferengi episodes. The short version (believe me, you don’t want to hear the long version) is that Brunt hates Quark and is a sworn enemy to Quark’s entire clan for various reasons that really aren’t interesting enough to get into.
Anyway, it turns out Brunt hasn’t been “confirmed” as Nagus yet. And maybe he never will be, if they ever learn about that incident with the pubic hair on the can of Coke. Zek says there’s three days until the confirmation, meaning they have that long to retake the, er, Nagus-hood. (Actually, considering the increasing puny-ness of Ferengi episode titles, I’m surprised this one wasn’t called “There Goes the Nagus-Hood”.) Anyway, Quark and Rom just give each other wary looks, and it’s off to the opening credits.