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Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

Production no.: 501
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Andrew J. Robinson
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: October 12, 1996
Rosalind Chao ..........
Mary Kay Adams ....
Joseph Ruskin ..........
Phil Morris ...............

Passing the door to the O'Brien's quarters, Bashir hears shouting through the bulkhead. His curiosity getting the better of him, he stops to try to listen, and is caught by Quark. "Let me guess," the Ferengi says slyly. "Eavesdropping on the battling O'Briens?" Bashir denies it, but eagerly asks Quark what he can hear. Quark is giving him the play-by-play when Keiko arrives and goes into the quarters. "I thought you said the O'Briens were arguing in there," Bashir says to Quark. "Not Miles and Keiko," Quark replies. "The other O'Briens, Miles and Kira." They're both rather disappointed when Keiko stops the argument. "Show's over," says Quark.

Worf and Dax are in the replimat, arguing about a Klingon opera singer, whom Dax finds boring. Worf says he prefers traditional opera performed traditionally. "You know," Dax says, "for a Klingon who was raised by humans, wears a Starfleet uniform, and drinks prune juice, you're pretty attached to tradition. That's okay. I like a man riddled with contradictions." Just then Worf catches sight of a Klingon woman entering the Promenade with a couple of Klingon men (one older, one younger). His jaw literally drops open. "Did you see her?...She was glorious."

Worf gets up and unobtrusively follows the Klingons into Quark's. "Her? She's okay," says Dax rather dismissively, but Worf is obviously smitten. However, he is both surprised and disgusted when the Klingon woman greets Quark with a smile and a hug. "She is a friend of the Ferengi," Worf growls. Dax's memory is jogged. "Now I remember who she is. Her name is Grilka. And she's not just Quark's friend. She's his ex-wife."

Quark brings Grilka a drink under the watchful eyes of her old retainer, Tumek, and the younger man-at-arms, Thopok. "You may not have been the ideal husband, but you are an excellent bartender," Grilka tells him appreciatively. When Quark asks what brings her here, she says that her house has suffered great losses during the recent hostilities with the Federation. Quark is sympathetic. "War. What is it good for? If you ask me, absolutely nothing." Guessing that she's troubled by financial matters, he offers to look at her records, since he knows that she won't ask him directly. "Very well," says Grilka, honor satisfied. "If it pleases you, I'll allow you access to the records." Thopok shoves Quark after Grilka and Tumek go out. "Hear this, Ferengi. Help Grilka, and you live. Fail, and I will kill you myself."

Dax relates the story of Quark and Grilka to Worf as they enter Ops. "He is unworthy of such a prize as she," declares Worf, and Dax gives him an amused look. "Worf, it sounds like you have a bad case of par'mach." She explains the term to a curious Sisko as "the Klingon word for love, but with more aggressive overtones." "Love? Worf?" queries Sisko. Dax smiles. "Stranger things have happened." Sisko can relate to that. "Especially around here," he says.

Bashir gives O'Brien a respirator to help Kira's sneezing, as well as takeo herbs for her swollen ankles. O'Brien says he hopes they taste better than the makara herbs. He also mentions that Kira has a rash on the back of her thighs. "I noticed it yesterday when I was helping her out of the bath tub." Bashir raises an eyebrow at that. "So, did you look?" he asks mischievously. O'Brien says with great dignity that he was holding up a towel in front of her. "How does Keiko feel about you helping Kira out of the tub?" Bashir asks. "Keiko feels fine about it," O'Brien replies. "We are adults, and we've developed a close, mature relationship." But Bashir has to get in a parting shot. "I bet you looked."

Worf enters Quark's, where Grilka, Tumek, and Thopok are sitting. To Morn, he says quietly, "I will apologize for this at a later time," and tosses the surprised barfly off his stool, snarling, "You are in my seat!" Worf proceeds to put on an alpha-male display for Grilka's benefit, challenging Thopok. But Tumek stands up, restraining his fellow retainer, and takes Worf aside.

Not unkindly, the old servant tells him, "Challenging Thopok to a fight is a waste of time. Grilka cannot mate with you, now or ever. Your House is dishonored, your name is a curse." Worf is crestfallen. "I meant no disrespect." "You showed none," Tumek reassures him. "I'm sure your motives were honorable. Do not let it trouble you too much. In truth, I doubt it would have been a good match." In an understanding manner, he reminds Worf of his human upbringing. "How could you know anything about our women?" "You'd be surprised what I know," Worf tells him; Tumek, however, is firm. "Perhaps. But we will not find out here. It is the wish of the Lady Grilka that you leave us now, son of Mogh, and do not return." Humiliated, Worf slinks away.

"I am a fool," he tells Dax later, in the mess hall of the Defiant. "You're in love," Dax says. "Which I suppose is the same thing. You're making too much of this. Tumek said that Grilka wasn't offended. She was probably flattered." "There is no flattery in a great lady being courted by a traitor," Worf says morosely. Dax looks at him. "Is that what's really bothering you? Or is it that Tumek said that you didn't know anything about Klingon women, and you're afraid he's right?"

Just then Quark enters, wanting to talk to Dax. Grilka has invited him to dinner, and he wants to brush up on Klingon manners and protocol. Worf is incredulous. Quark notices, but dismisses it. "When Grilka and I were married, there wasn't a lot of affection involved. So, what does a Klingon woman expect from a man? Are there any secret Klingon phrases I should know? Or do we just leap on each other like a pair of crazed voles?" Dax tries to explain that Klingon mating rituals are very involved, but Quark assures her he's serious. "Grilka and I, we have...something. I'm not sure what, but I want to pursue it." For sex, yes, he admits, but it's more than that. "She's glorious." "So I hear," Dax says drily, glancing at Worf.

She then advises Quark to go slow, and to show respect by asking about her family's history and accomplishments. Suddenly Worf chimes in, telling Quark that in Grilka's home region, it is customary for the man to bring a fresh leg of lingta to the first courtship dinner, sweep everything off the table with it, and declare, "'From this day, I wish to provide food for you and your House. All I ask is to share your company, and do honor to your name.'" "Then what?" asks Quark. "Well, either she accepts your offer," Dax says, "or she has her bodyguard shatter every bone in your body." Quark thinks about that for a beat. "Sounds reasonable."

O'Brien gives Kira a massage, which he tells her is a family survival technique for soothing pregnant women. Keiko brings in some newly altered uniforms, and it's obvious she thinks nothing of walking in on her husband with his hands all over another woman. After Keiko goes out again, O'Brien talks a little about missing Ireland, and Kira suggests that he take some time and go. "If I left, who'd give you foot massages?" he asks lightly. "Take me along," Kira says. "I can think of worse things than spending three weeks in Ireland with you." "Me too," O'Brien agrees, and suddenly a thought hits them both. A thought that makes them very uncomfortable.

Worf is singing along to Klingon opera on the Defiant bridge when Quark comes in to thank him for last night. "Grilka loved it. All of it. Everything I did, everything I said -- it was perfect." "So, I know nothing about Klingon women?" Worf says to himself, feeling vindicated. Quark goes on to say that Grilka said he had the heart of a Basai Master (a poet, Worf translates), and tells him about the rest of the evening, which was great except for the threatening looks from her bodyguard. "That is to be expected," says Worf. "The idea of a Ferengi courting a great Lady is offensive." "You know, it's attitudes like that that keep you people from getting invited to all the really good parties," Quark says. But that aside, he tells Worf that Grilka's response was perfect. "You really have the key to this woman's heart. The question is, can you help me unlock it?" Worf comes to a decision. "Yes. I can. We have work to do."

A bit later, in a holosuite, Quark practices bat'leth fighting under Worf's tutelage. Quark is playing Kahless in a famous battle, and Dax is playing Kahless' love, Lukara. Quark doesn't do too well either in the fight or reciting his lines afterwards. Worf tries to inspire Quark by calling it the greatest romance in Klingon history. "This is ridiculous!" objects Quark. "I'm surrounded by corpses, my shoes are dripping in blood, and you want me to feel romantic? Why am I putting myself through this?" "Because," Dax tells him, "later that night, Kahless and Lukara jumped on each other like a pair of crazed voles. Growrrr." "One more time," says Quark.

While going over reports with Kira, Odo expresses his displeasure over O'Brien's slowness to upgrade the structural integrity field on one of the upper pylons, which has led to various thefts from the cargo bays there. "Look, Miles is a very busy man," Kira protests. "He can't be everywhere at once...He is doing a superb job under very difficult circumstances." This causes Odo to look askance at her. "Ah. Growing fond of the Chief, are we?" Kira gets defensive, while Odo waxes sarcastic. When she says she's like part of O'Brien's family, he waspishly asks, "Which part?...Sister? Daughter? Cousin?" "Could we concentrate on the criminal activities report?" Kira demands, to which Odo says, "Of course. And I'll refrain from making any further disparaging remarks about the Chief. I mean, Miles."

Tumek and Thopok are waiting for Quark and Grilka to come down from the holosuite. "This consorting with a Ferengi is outrageous," fumes Thopok. Tumek reprimands him. "You forget yourself, Thopok. You are the commander of the Lady's guard, nothing more. Do not presume to judge her." Quark and Grilka emerge at that point, and happily sit at a table together, discussing the battle they just fought as Kahless and Lukara. Finally she asks directly, "Why do you pursue me?" "I only pursue those things I wish to acquire," Quark flirts, to which she responds, "Acquire? Now you sound like a Ferengi again." "I am a Ferengi," he reminds her. "That means I have a talent for appreciating objects of great value. And I believe you may be worth more than all the latinum in the quadrant."

When they share a toast, calling each other Kahless and Lukara, it's more than Thopok can stand. He knocks over the table. "Forgive me, mistress! But I cannot watch this any longer. I will not protect a House where you are welcome, Ferengi. You are a coward, and a liar, and you have no honor. So tomorrow you will kill me, or I will kill you."

O'Brien comes home early for the second night in a row and is relaxing with Keiko when Kira walks in, looking tired. The mood subtly alters, with O'Brien and Kira avoiding each other's gazes while trying to act normal. Keiko, all unknowing, suggests a massage from her husband, but they both refuse. Kira adds that she'll be going to Bajor tomorrow for a couple of days, to the house of a friend of hers, in Musilla Province. This sets off Keiko's protective alarms: what if she goes into labor? She insists that Miles go with her. When he tries to demur, Keiko puts on her sternest voice. "Miles Edward O'Brien, are you going to let the woman carrying your unborn child go on a trip all by herself?" Neither O'Brien nor Kira can come up with an excuse to get out of it.

Quark consults with Dax and Worf about this new problem. "What if I just do what I did the last time a Klingon wanted to kill me? I throw my sword away, kneel down in front of him, and dare him to execute me. He'll be humiliated and slink away like a scalded targ." "The only reason that worked was because Gowron stepped in and restrained your opponent before he was able to kill you," Worf says. "No one will stop Thopok. Dax and I aren't even able to attend." Quark doesn't like the options this leaves him with. "There must be another way out of this! You people have rituals for everything except waste extraction. You must have a ceremony or a secret handshake or something I can do." Then Dax announces that she's got an idea.

Dax's idea is to have Quark wear a virtual control device, hidden by a Ferengi headband. Worf wears a similar device, which allows him to control Quark's body and essentially do the fighting for him. They test it out, and it seems to work, though Quark has a few complaints about his "puppeteer". However, he goes off to rest at Dax's suggestion.

"I cannot believe the lengths I am going to for that Ferengi," Worf grumbles. "I am practically giving him Grilka." "What is it you see in her, anyway?" Dax asks. "I mean, she's attractive, but other than that -- " For answer, Worf goes all poetical about Grilka's Klingon charms. "Sounds like you're describing a statue," Dax observes. "What would you do with a woman like that? Put her up on a pedestal and clean her every week?...If I were in your shoes, I would be looking for someone a little more entertaining. A little more fun. And maybe even a little more attainable." She's dropping a fairly big hint, but Worf doesn't get it. "You are not in my shoes," he says. "Too bad," she retorts. "You'd be amazed at what I can do in a pair of size eighteen boots."

The challenge begins, in a holographic Hall of Warriors, with Worf and Dax in a nearby suite. Dax activates Worf's device while Quark, nervously at first, then with sudden confidence, goes through the beginning ritual, stating that he is here "to answer the challenge of Thopok, to prove my honor, and to win the favor of the Lady Grilka." Tumek gives the signal to start, and Worf commences guiding Quark's movements. "Where did you learn to fight with a bat'leth?" Thopok demands of Quark, who replies, "I'm a man of many talents." However, in the middle of a particularly showy move, Worf knocks off part of his device with his bat'leth, losing control over Quark, who looks up in terror at Thopok.

With a Ferengi's finely honed instinct for survival, Quark stalls for time, while Dax starts trying to repair Worf's device. "I claim the Right of Proclamation," Quark calls out nervously, saying it's a Ferengi custom. Thopok says, "It has no place here," and moves to attack, but Quark stops him. "I beg to differ. I am as proud of my heritage as you are of yours, and I will not be denied the opportunity to express myself according to Ferengi custom." "He has shown respect to our traditions," declares Grilka. "We will do the same." Making it up as he goes along, Quark says he has to make a speech about her. He launches into the most verbose poetic nonsense he can think of on the spot. "To this end, my blade soars through the aquarium of my soul, seeking the kelp of discontent, which must be cut so that the rocky bottom of love lie in waiting, with fertile sand for the coming seed of Grilka's affection. And yet, does this explain my need for her? No. It is like a giant cave of emptiness waiting for the bats of love to hang by -- " At that moment, Dax completes repairs and reactivates the device. Quark helplessly whirls around and raises his bat'leth again. "Well, I guess that's enough talking. Now back to the fighting."

The fight continues until finally Quark (or Worf) disarms Thopok and sweeps his legs from under him. He's ready to finish it, but Worf forces him to instead pick up Thopok's bat'leth and awkwardly give it to Grilka. "Thopok," announces Grilka, "your honor is satisfied. I return your weapon and discharge you from my House." Thopok slinks out, followed by Tumek, leaving Grilka alone with Quark. They begin a Klingon mating ritual, gripping each other's throats, until Dax takes the device off Worf. Quark, released, folds under Grilka's strength. However, they're both fired up, and nature is obviously going to take its course.

"What does she see in that parasite?" Worf growls. Dax, however, has had enough of his pining for Grilka. "Who knows?" she replies. "But they're on the same wavelength. And at least Quark can see an opportunity when it's standing in front of him." "He would have to be blind not to see it," declares Worf. Suddenly Dax starts quoting from the scene she played out with Quark earlier, and calls for a bat'leth of her own, looking at Worf with clear intent. Finally, Worf gets it. And another mating ritual commences.

When O'Brien and Kira meet on the runabout, ready for their trip, he asks her to tell him about the house they'll be going to. Kira, sounding as if they're headed off to their execution, describes what must be one of the most gorgeous, romantic spots on all of Bajor. "That's it!" declares O'Brien. "...I don't care what Keiko says, I'm not going." He suggests desperately that she go on, and he can go home and claim to Keiko that there was some miscommunication about their departure time. "She'll probably accuse us of having another fight and behaving like children, but I can handle that. The important thing is that we don't go anywhere near that -- that place together."

Kira is relieved by this solution, and decides she'll go to the capital and see Shakaar. The two of them say their goodbyes, and find themselves looking into each other's eyes. "It would have been nice," he offers at last. "In another life," she agrees. "Miles." "Yes, Nerys?" "Get out." "Right."

Bashir is nonplused when Quark shows up in the infirmary, battered and scratched up. "What have you been doing?" "You mean, what have we been doing?" Quark says, looking lasciviously at Grilka, who grabs his ear as they both laugh. Bashir looks slightly ill. "Never mind. I don't need that particular image running around in my head. I'll just treat you."

Then Worf and Dax come in, both of them also looking definitely the worse for wear. "What happened to you two?" Bashir asks. They both stammer as they try to answer. "We, um..." "Well, um, if you must know..." Bashir holds up a hand. "No. No. I don't need that image either. In fact, I'm going to stop asking that question altogether. People can come in, I will treat them, and that's all."

Worf and Dax go into another room to wait for his attention, and discuss the future. The traditionally prescribed next step, they know, is to get married. "But as you keep insisting, you are not a traditional woman," Worf notes. Dax smiles. "The truth is, Worf, at heart, you're not much of a traditional man." "You might be right," he concedes. Still, he sees many questions to be answered, but Dax doesn't feel like doing that. "Why don't we just take it one day at a time and see what happens?" "I do not like the uncertainty of that arrangement," Worf says. Dax looks at him mischievously. "One thing's for certain -- you've stopped thinking about Grilka." And he laughs in agreement.

  • The plot of "Looking for Par'mach..." was inspired by the famous play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.
  • Phil Morris, who played Thopok, had been one of the candidates for the part of Benjamin Sisko, but was considered too young.