DS9: S5E18: “Business as Usual”

In which Quark gets shot, and a conscience.

I like to think that exotic dancers in Ferengi culture slowly and seductively put on a blocky pantsuit.

I like to think that exotic dancers in Ferengi culture slowly and seductively put on a blocky pantsuit.

Jadzia Dax is the only person we ever get an establishing shot of a Tongo Wheel, but sadly Quark is distracted by a disruption to the feldomite market. He’s broke now due to market volatility, and since he used the bar as collateral, he’s going to get bought out. If he’s lucky. ‘Luckily’ for him, his cousin Gaila (the weapons merchant who owns his own moon) is in town, and aside from touching himself while staring at Jadzia’s clothes, he’s got business to do. He’s here to ‘help’ despite last time when he tried to get Quark killed. In fact, he’s here to make Quark sell weapons for him.

The clever bit is that he’s hiring Quark to be a salesman and customer relationship manager. Wining and dining the clients, using Quark’s skills as a people person. It’s a lucrative business – at 5% commission on sales, Quark will be able to buy a moon in a year. It does make one wonder – if Ferengi society is universally the way it’s been portrayed to us so far, what pressures exist that prevent everyone from trying to get into the business?

Miles is taking care of the new Baby Yoshi amidst a veritable showroom of pastel-colored plastic toys. Miles is taking care of him solo because Keiko is helping deal with a plant blight on Bajor and his babysitter is dealing with a family emergency, so Jake offers to help. Unfortunately, Yoshi (sometimes known as Kirayoshi, in honor of his godmother/incubation/birthmother) has other plans. This scene clearly exists so that O’brien will have to carry around a baby all day to the general amusement of others.

The holosuite safeties are a far less visceral experience than the Delos Westworld park.

The holosuite safeties are a far less visceral experience than the Delos Westworld park.

While working with Gaila, Quark makes sure to test all the stools, the drinks, and the customers for Odoishness when Gaila’s business partner and arm candy show up to see what Quark brings to the table. It’s the holosuite. The holosuite allows faithful reproduction of all of the weapons on offer, including a slight pull to the right on a beam weapon. And of course, with the holosuite safeties there’s no risk of a double-cross. Sometimes the company sells weapons to both sides of a conflict, but they do recognize the danger. And since no physical weapons are changing hands except well outside of Federation-controlled space, Starfleet can’t really interfere. Any bets on whether Odo will let that bother him? In demonstrations, Quark shows off his people skills and demonstrates some of the war platforms that exist outside Starfleet’s clean little world of ship engagements and habitual avoidance of infantry battles. Hovering platforms and power armor are very much present in this universe, we just never see them because the Federation doesn’t do hostile territorial acquisition.

The Big Boss, Hagath, has his fingers in all sorts of pies. He’s also a hands-on kind of boss, and pushes the first of Quark’s wages directly to his creditors, which honestly seems a sensible precaution. Even if Hagath does deliver the line as smarmily as humanly possible.

Miles and Julian are playing darts. Still carrying Yoshi. When Julian objects, Miles shows him exactly why he can’t put the kid down. This little diversion is smash-cut to Quark getting a handjob from Hagath’s consort, interrupted by Odo, and bailed out by the Bajoran government, via Sisko and Kira. The Bajoran government owes Hagath for supplying them with weapons during the resistance, even if Sisko and Kira don’t like it personally.  All that slack they’ve cut him in the past because ‘harmless old Quark never does anything really bad and he’s a useful point of contact’ is going up in smoke, just when Quark had finally learned the value of local reputation.

Hagath and Gaila were originally scoffed at by their peers for selling to the Bajorans, but Hagath had the foresight to know that the Cardassians would leave eventually and decided to make a friend. This convivial explanation session is interrupted, however, by Hagath firing one of his employees for taking a vacation on Risa and losing a big client. Remember, kids. Always declare your days off in advance, to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Quark’s bar is a bit slow since he started selling weapons. His business is embargoed by Sisko to all Starfleet personnel and Federation citizens, although I assume that what’s keeping the private citizens out is a note on the station directory and their consciences rather than an enforceable directive. Also, you wouldn’t think Bajoran traffic would have slowed down too much, if Quark’s new backroom business is common knowledge. Gaila drops by to brief Quark on a new client and mention that he’s thinking of retiring with his earnings and leaving Quark with the reins. He might’ve even brought Quark in specifically to replace him, so as not to leave Hagath high-and dry and suffer an unexpected warp-core breach.

Quark’s been able to deal with shunning from everyone so far, except from Dax. He desperately wants to justify himself to her, and she’s not listening. On the other end of the station, Bashir finds nothing wrong with Yoshi except an early recognition of the fundamentally-uncaring nature of the universe and sapient life’s place in it. This show clearly has the best writing out of all of them.

Quark’s prepared an elaborate meal for their new super-client, including all of his favorite foods on glowing plates, and Hagath seems super pissed. This is by way of one of those bait-and-switch things where Hagath is definitely going to make him Employee of the Month. During the negotiations themselves, it turns out that the Regent is at war because his chosen heir declared independence for her homeworld instead of waiting and inheriting everything. And he’s doing business with Hagath because Hagath is known for his adherence to ideals like loyalty. Thus, he’ll do a deal with them to inflict 7-8 million casualties and wipe out her home city, as a lesson. And a prelude to the main event – 20 million deaths. This runs aground of Quark’s conscience. A more charitable interpretation is that Quark is finally forced to confront the reality of what the weapons he helps sell will actually be used for, or that up until now he’s been supplying armies against other armies, rather than despots against civilians. Gaila has to take him aside and give him a little pep-talk. That night, Quark has a dream that ensures he remains a redeemable character, in the form of all the named characters blaming him for their deaths.

The stripes and aluminum chassis make him nap faster.

The stripes and aluminum chassis make him nap faster.

Miles has found the only place on the station where Yoshi won’t cry constantly- the maintenance pit in Ops, and the entire crew comes by to watch him sleep. Sisko orders O’Brien to take some more time off to get the Yoshi situation sorted out. Meanwhile, Quark is attempting to apologize to Jadzia by giving her a tongo wheel. He’s clearly making a shot at redemption by sabotaging the deal, but Jadzia’s not interested in his Big Gesture speech.

His Big Gesture is to finagle things with Hagah to make the failure to deliver not look like his fault. Blame it on the suppliers, and offer an experimental counteroffer. He does a pretty good job of pretending he’s over his little attack of conscience and looking forward to getting his first actual paycheck. Meanwhile, he sets up a buy with General Nassoc, the leader of the planet the Regent wants to kill. They do sell arms to both sides, after all. Quark’s arranged to have the Regent and the General both on the station at the same time, and is clearly using Gaila as a fall guy to get the Regent and the General to kill each other directly, saving 28 million people plus however many deaths were going to happen on the other side. He has some trouble with the lock on the chest of bioweapon and leaves the cargo bay to go get an unlocker, just when Gailia’s getting there with the General. Cue the shouting, weapons fire, and emergency security response.

If Quark is exceptionally lucky, none of the deputies and Starfleet Security rushing in to pacify the situation will get killed – I have a feeling Sisko wouldn’t be in the mood to listen to escuses. But on the other hand, what with the changeling threat, they should all have phaser rifles modified to do a wide-band beam, so there’s literally no reason not to stun everyone and have them wake up in separate cells.

Now that O’Brien’s been ordered leave, Worf is a bit upset that work hasn’t begun on the Defiant, which is when we learn that Kirayoshi doesn’t cry when Worf holds him. Or maybe he’s just done with his crying phase. Worf waxes poetic about his own son, and O’Brien finally gets some sleep. Meanwhile, Sisko dresses down Quark for causing a shootout in the cargo bay. The charges will be dismissed as long as Quark starts paying back the damage to the cargo bay, but really I just think Sisko wanted to make sure Quark was willing to accept responsibility. Quark’s gotten his leeway with the Federation back, at least. And his friendship with Jadzia. But not his tongo wheel. That was a gift.

Did we miss something awesome?