In which we get a crash course in Ferengi history and not much else happens, all things considered.
Quark is teaching one of his prospective business partners about how to give a good handjob while they talk about how his self-sealing stem-bolts will help her family produce more reverse-ratcheting routing planers. He’s delaying sealing the deal as long as he can continue to get ear sex out of it, when his brother shows up to ossicle-block him. The Grand Nagus is here, in a full robe, to move in with Quark.
Bashir is called up to the wardroom for a party in honor of his being nominated for the Carrington award. Jadzia submitted him for the award based on some of the research he’s been doing when he hasn’t been desperately trying to befriend O’Brien. He’s… less than excited about the whole thing, mostly because he knows he’s not going to win, since the awards are… political, kind of. It’s the most prestigious medical award in the Federation, so it’s one of those things where you only win it when they can’t be sure you’ll be alive and doing research by the time they’re ready to give out the next one. It’s like that time that actor or director should’ve won an Oscar for that movie, but they had to give it to some old person for a mediocre film because they should have won it ten years ago for that other film, but they had to give it to someone else for the same reason, and so on. Bashir, in his early thirties, doesn’t want to get his crown jewel to arrive early.
Zek is settling in to Quark’s quarters, which means Quark has moved in with Rom, and is making him do all the chores. Rom is standing up for himself, though, even after Quark realizes Rom’s been stealing from him. He makes Rom go and kick Zek out, but Zek is not in fact, being a dragon. He’s having some sort of ascetic awakening, and his manservant Maihar’du is pretty traumatized by the whole thing. Zek has revised the Rules of Aquisition to be basically the opposite of their original intent.Quark is convinced this is some sort of test, trick, or cipher. There’s no way such an august personage as the Nagus would adopt business policies that someone in the Federation might approve of. It’s not as if reputation could be considered a currency worth hoarding that makes it easier to get latinum in the future, after all.
The Nagus is buying everyone a drink and tells Quark that he just scuttled the deal with the young lady. Meanwhile, Julian and Bashir are playing darts, and Miles is obviously trying to get under Bashir’s skin about the Carrington. Screwing with people’s heads is a time-honored tradition in darts.But no time for that, back to all the Ferengi Zek has bullied into setting up a benevolent foundation. Then he’s going to take the new rules back to the homeworld, where there will be a critical mass of people there to lynch him.
Quark takes Zek to Bashir on the assumption that he’s gone insane. As there’s nothing physically wrong with him, Quark calls Bashir a quack and they leave to go make preparations for Zek to give a gift to the Bajorans at the shrine aboard the station. This prompts Quark to break into the shuttle to find out what it is. They’re caught, but Maihar’du wants to show them anyway. It is, of course, an Orb of the Prophets. Zek must have had a Vision that caused him to change his ways.
Quark and Rom scuffle over it and Quark accidentally gets a faceful of Revelation. He’s not having a good trip at all, but he does decided that the Wormhole Aliens changed Zek’s brain. He got the orb, went into the wormhole to ask the Prophets for financial advice as perceived by beings not limited to linear time, and came out a changed man.
Odo is offering some intrigues about the Carrington to Bashir, who’s given in and is starting to work on an acceptance speech, just in case. This is a minor aside, because we’re getting a creeper shot of the boys sneaking up on Zek, putting him in a bag, and abducting him back to his shuttle. As kidnapees go, he’s very good-natured about the whole thing. The humming is the best.
The Orb is apparently the Orb of Wisdom, and in between tremors of the ship, Quark opens the orb in the wormhole, which is enough to incite a meeting. They’re somewhat exasperated to see another corporeal being stuck in linear time, and they explain, in their own idiosyncratic way that because Sisko taught them about linear time, they considered Zek’s request to know the future confusing and his profit motive (title drop!) barbaric, so they fixed him. Ferengi weren’t always as… laissez-faire as they currently are. Now Quark has to teach the prophets the value of individual freedoms and the value of struggle for personal betterment. He pulls a little bit of scarcity economics into it, but it doesn’t work. His backup plan is that if they value their privacy they should undo what they did and just never interact with Ferengi again.
So that works, and all is as it should be. The Nagus is back to being a belligerent little goblin. And as expected, Bashir doesn’t win. He’s trying not to be to upset about it, but failing, and nothing of value was accomplished, except that Rom embezzled a bunch of money from the charity.