Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Profit and Lace” (part 6 of 6)

Cut to Nilva and the Quark-thing arriving at Quark’s bar. Nilva orders two snail steaks and asks if “Lumba” doesn’t feel like a “deviant” in clothes. Apt choice of words, Chairman. Quark says that it’s alright because underneath the clothes, he knows he’s “totally naked.” Nilva replies, “I’ll try to remember that.” And you, my friend, are a minority of one. If ten million people saw this episode, then it’s safe to say 9,999,999 of them will not try to remember that.

Nilva demands to know how allowing females to wear clothes will make him richer. Quark begins to explain as the camera tracks up and away. Cut to a reverse angle on the whole Ferengi gang eavesdropping from a balcony overhead. Leeta is exasperated, because she can’t hear anything. The Ferengi folks just shush her. I think that’s another gag about the size of Ferengi ears, inasmuch as it gives them a keen sense of hearing, but I don’t know. And truly, I do not care. So there’s one more piece of filler to toss on the crap heap that is this episode.

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We track back down to Nilva and Quark finishing up their dinner. Nilva is finally putting it together that clothed females can work, get jobs, and spend money, increasing both the workforce and the consumer base. It took him the entire dinner to connect those dots? Quark says this would give Nilva a badly needed stream of extra revenue, because Slug-O-Cola sales have “flattened out”. Perhaps they got caught under somebody’s bike tire. Look, it’s a slug joke. What do you want from me?

Quark says he could increase Slug-O-Cola sales by 50 to 60 percent. Nilva says he’s “all ears”. And you’d think that particular variety of joke had been played out about nine million ways to Sunday after all these Ferengi episodes, but I guess the writers thought differently. Quark says Nilva can increase profits by targeting the female demographic, and making Slug-O-Cola “her drink”. He says the whole “slimiest cola in the galaxy” slogan doesn’t appeal to women. Hey, at least it’s better than their previous slogan, “All the stickiness of semen.”

Quark offers a new slogan: “Drink Slug-O-Cola, and keep your teeth that lovely shade of green!” Ah, okay, so there’s finally a slogan that will appeal to both Ferengi women and people from London. Nilva is overwhelmed by the genius of this, and suggests they have “dessert” now. He takes Quark by the hand and says they’ll be having that dessert in his quarters. Quark looks nervous, but quickly goes with Nilva anyway [?]. I guess Quark’s mind is telling him no, but his body… his body’s telling him yes, baby.

Nilva and Quark enter Nilva’s quarters, and Nilva suddenly declares that he finds clothed females “enticing” and rips off Quark’s shawl. Hey, I think he was lying when he said he only wanted dessert!

Nilva begins slowly coming at Quark, and Quark is slowly backing up, and god help us all, but they’ve actually got Nilva chasing him around a table. A table! Is there any cliché, in any movie or TV show anywhere, that is more overused than the sight of a lusty guy chasing a terrified female (or a man in drag) around a table? I always thought a fusion of Star Trek and Pepe Le Pew cartoons was a super idea, and here’s proof!

Nilva says his “lobes burn” for “Lumba”, and asks Quark to touch them. As we’ve learned from prior episodes, a Ferengi getting his earlobes stroked is the equivalent of a handjob, so… eww. Just, eww. Let’s move on.

Of course, “Lumba’s” reluctance only makes Nilva all the more crazed and horny. They both run behind a curtain, leading to a pathetic attempt at humor as we hear breaking glass, crashing sounds, thumps and yelling. Well, at least the Foley artists got paid that day. So you can’t say this episode was 100% worthless.

The two eventually emerge from behind the curtain, with Quark using a chair for a shield. Nilva cries, “Marry me!” [?!?] Uh, what the heck were they doing behind that curtain, anyway? Quark says Nilva already has a wife, but Nilva says she hasn’t “touched [his] lobes in months”. And considering this was filmed in early 1998, right when the Monica Lewinsky scandal was breaking, that’s almost certainly a Bill and Hilary reference. Oh, goody. Just what was missing from Star Trek.

Quark attempts to turn Nilva off by saying he hates Slug-O-Cola. Nilva cries, “So do I!” and tosses the chair away. In an attempt to escape, Quark grabs onto some kind of beam that stretches across the ceiling, and Nilva hangs onto his body, yadda yadda. These antics continue on in truly painful and predictable fashion until Brunt shows up to interrupt. God, I never thought I would be so happy to see Brunt in all my life.

Brunt has figured everything out, and tells Nilva that “Lumba” is really a man. In response, Quark turns on the seductive charm, calling Nilva “hot lobes”. Quark flirtatiously says he’s “as female as they come”. Naturally, this complete turnaround in “Lumba’s” behavior doesn’t make Nilva the least bit suspicious.

Quark says he’s going to “prove” his femininity, and he takes Nilva by the ears and kisses him. And we just witnessed the very first official male-on-male kiss in Trek history. There really is nothing like a major milestone that makes you want to vomit.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace" (part 6 of 6)

Hey, Armin and Henry, how’d you enjoy doing that take, fellas?

Nilva, however, needs further convincing. So Quark turns his back to the camera, undoes his clothes, and exposes his female body to Nilva and Brunt. No, really. He does that. And with the way this is shot and acted, it’s more than obvious that the entire episode was built around this moment. What does that say about the writers? And more importantly, what does it say about me that I’m actually sitting here critiquing it? It’s rare that a piece of entertainment makes you feel sordid and filthy for just having seen it, but that’s what “Profit and Lace” accomplishes here. I feel icky in a permanent way. When I’m sixty or seventy years old, I will still be shuddering.

Despite Brunt’s continued insistence that it’s a man, baby!, Nilva is convinced. Brunt yells again that it’s not a female, but Nilva replies it’s “close enough” for him. Isn’t that what Eddie Murphy said that one night when the cops pulled him over in Hollywood?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace" (part 6 of 6)

It’s just like The Crying Game, only gayer!

Anyway, even though “Lumba” didn’t put out at all, Nilva says he’s going to help Zek get the title of Grand Nagus back. When Brunt lets out a very understandable, “Why??” Nilva replies, “Because that’s what Lumba wants!” Oh, okay, that makes perfect sense then. Apparently, a little titty flashing is all Nilva really needed in his life. The two walk off together, with Quark blowing a kiss at Brunt.

Cut to Quark, thankfully back in his male form. He’s behind his bar fondling a big jewel-encrusted ring. Odo, the station’s constable, comes along and asks him about it. For some reason, the makeup on Odo is looking really haggard in this episode. His eyes in particular are looking very dark-ringed and deeply set. And come to think of it, Nog was looking kind of stoned, too. What’s that all about?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace" (part 6 of 6)

“Well, it’s off to Massachusetts!”

Quark replies the ring is a gift from Nilva, who’s a “lovely man… but so lonely.” He takes things a step further when he admires Nilva’s “sweetness” and “strength”. Really, guys, if you’re going to put this much gay subtext (and I hesitate to call it “subtext”, because it’s pretty much just text) into an episode, at least make it funny.

Quark begins to speak about the “glint” in Nilva’s eye, but a stern look from Odo stops him in his tracks. Odo says he has no idea what Quark’s talking about, but he’s glad he had a “pleasant evening”. Oh yeah. If your idea of “pleasant” is a visit to a glory hole, then maybe.

Quark gets defensive, but Odo accuses him of being “overly sensitive”. Quark explains that his hormones must still be “out of balance”, and it turns out his emotions are so completely out of whack that this scene culminates with him asking Odo for a hug. Um, yeah. This is another hypothetically funny moment, as Odo sees all the bar patrons staring at them as they hug.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace" (part 6 of 6)

Have you hugged your changeling today?

Zek and Ishka and Rom interrupt, so Odo wastes no time taking advantage of the distraction and getting the hell out of there. Zek says that they’re headed back to Ferenginar, where it seems almost certain that he’ll once again be Grand Nagus. And, of course, it’s all thanks to Quark.

So Moogie forgives him for that whole “causing heart failure” thing. “You may be a lousy son,” Ishka comments, “But you made a wonderful daughter!” And perhaps in a different episode, in another series, in another time period, in another dimension far, far away, that line might have been amusing.

Quark emotes like crazy, claiming the whole female experience made him “more empathetic, more nurturing!” He adds, “I feel like I’m trapped in my worst nightmare!” Wow, Quark must now have the ability to read my thoughts. Zek assures Quark he’ll be back to his old self soon. Moogie kisses Quark on the forehead and they both mercifully leave.

For one last “Rom is gay” moment, Rom calls Quark “lucky”, saying, “No man ever gave me a ring!” Okay, seriously, what is the deal here? What are they not telling us about Rom? Did he spend some time in Oz, or what?

A woman calls out to Quark. It’s Aluura, the Dabo girl that Quark was sexually harassing during the teaser. She says she read the book about oomox, but Quark snatches it out of her hand. He tells her to forget what he said, and he apologizes for coming onto her. He even gives her a raise.

She looks elated at first, but grows morose. “That’s too bad,” she says, “Oomox sounded like fun!” Oh, yeah. Because as we all know, nothing turns a girl on quite like sexual harassment. Am I right, ladies? Oh, and on a related note, “no” doesn’t always mean “no”. And you know which part of “no” that I didn’t understand? Everything after the N, and everything before the O.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace" (part 6 of 6)

“Darn, I guess I have to go work for Schwarzenegger now.”

Quark is resolute; He’s not interested in oomox with Aluura anymore. So she gives him a disappointed smile and walks off. He watches her go, then suddenly yells, “What am I saying?” And hurries off after her. So, it seems like Quark has turned over a completely new leaf, except for the fact that he hasn’t. Great story, huh? I have to say it’s the perfect ending to an episode like this, because after all, what ending to this episode wouldn’t be perfect, as long as it ends?

And would you believe that even after this debacle, they had the balls to do Ferengi episodes on both Voyager and Enterprise?

I was planning to close out this recap by posting a humble request to those with scientific know-how, asking them to get to work immediately on inventing that Trek device that can wipe out a person’s memories, so I can get this awful, repulsive episode out of my mind. But then I realized someone has already invented that device. It’s called a fifth of Jack Daniels.

Of course, not even an alcoholic binge can change one thing: I never want to see another Ferengi for a long, long time.

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "Profit and Lace"
TV Show: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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  • Rasherx

    All the empires that had existed on Earth were composed of only one race, too!

    • Soli

      Not true. The Romans may have been mostly Italian, but citizenship was more important to them than ethnicity, so people from other places could join up as well.

      And since an empire technically includes the conquered as well as the conquerers, that means there have been others.

      • JoJo

        I guess the original poster thought of “race” as in “the human race”. We are all humans after all.

  • Matt Aranson

    Wow. This is a way seriously late addition, but I just had to comment about the ‘Hydrox’ paragraph on page 2. Oreo actually was a ripoff of Hydrox. The company that made Hydrox, their only claim to fame, was so popular, that Nabisco just had to have it too, so they made Oreo, and then used their vastly superior marketing muscle to pummel Hydrox into oblivion. It’s very sad, but it was yet another example of a Goliath company heartlessly crushing its less sizeable competition only because it could. In fact, Hydrox ran ads in the final years pointing out the fact that they were THE original, but people just didn’t know by then, and Hydrox became the ‘cheap knockoff’ cookie and faded away. I’d love to see you add a comment in the article pointing out this fact 🙂

    Great articles by the way. Just found this site and love your writing style

  • Soli

    I suspect that the only person who can make the eye-rolling cliche of “man in drag who has other men fall for him” funny is William Shakespeare. And he succeeded because… he was Shakespeare.

    And allow me to drop an incredibly relevant Pratchett quotation: “One of the minor laws of the narrative universe is that any homely featured man who has, for some reason, to disguise himself as a woman will apparently become attractive to some otherwise perfectly sane men with, as the ancient scrolls say, hilarious results.
    In this case the laws were fighting against the fact of Corporal Nobby Nobbs, and gave up.”

    Such is the case with Quark.

  • BuddyPup

    I find this episode disappointing for a different (though related) reason. Despite all the (at times, heavy-handed) messages about equality among races, genders, creeds, etc that people in Star Trek have dealt with, they still avoided showing any kind of relationships aside from standard man-woman pairings. To watch any of the series, you’d think gay people no longer existed in the 24th century. And they had opportunities, which the producers not only ignored, but actively resisted and denied adding any gay characters (Garak and Malcolm Reed spring to mind here). So this episode not only continues that tradition, but adds insult to injury by making crude, sexist and even at time trans- and homophobic jokes, which don’t even have the saving grace of being the least bit funny.

    I guess the Federation Utopia is only for the “normals”…

    And to be fair, yes, I know the expanded universe novels will deal with this in a positive manner by adding a more diverse cast, including gay and other “non-standard” relationship models. I just think the producers were too damned chickenshit to tackle something “controversial” in a positive way on TV. And frankly, by the time DS9 and Enterprise rolled around, gays on TV weren’t that shocking anymore.

    • Muthsarah

      Out of curiosity, because I’ve heard this argument about Trek’s showrunners’ cowardly aversion to depicting any kind of homosexuality (aside from mild sweeps-friendly les-yay) – and I agree with the criticism, mind – just how common was homosexuality depicted on TV in the 90s? I can recall specific episodes of certain shows that would have a gay character show up, usually to set up a comedy of errors around a mistaken relationship with a regular cast member, but those would just be one-offs. The events in that episode would be completely forgotten about afterwards. Which, technically Trek has done before, even if they were too afraid to commit to it or even to make a deliberate “message episode” out of it.

      How many shows back then had recurring gay characters (which Garak or Reed would have been), or dealt with homosexuality on a regular basis? Before Will & Grace, obviously, whose premise was all about homosexuality, and which premiered only a year before the end of DS9.

    • AlmightyCactuscat

      Surprisingly, there’s an excellent moment of completely casual acceptance in an earlier Ferengi episode of DS9 – Rules of Acquisition, S2E7 – when Dax realises that a Ferengi named Pel is in love with Quark, without realising that Pel is female and in disguise.

      Very occasionally the writers managed to nail these understated moments where you caught a glimpse of a future with more than one orientation, before going back to the tired old state where that doesn’t actually include any of the main characters.

      (Also I realise that it’s over two years since you commented – but it’s a little highlight of DS9 for me, that does quite well to underscore your point, so this reply is here for the interest of anyone else who comes across it…)