The Magnificent Ferengi
Production no.: 534
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Chip Chalmers
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: December 27, 1997
Jeffrey Combs ...........
Max Grodénchik ........
Aron Eisenberg .........
Cecily Adams ............
Josh Pais ...................
Christopher Shea .......
Hamilton Camp .........
Chase Masterson .......
Iggy Pop ...................
Quark triumphantly brings three cases of syrup of squill into the bar -- a commodity that hasn't been seen on the station for over a year. The Ferengi proceeds to tell his patrons the riveting tale of how he learned that the agricultural consortium on Balancar (the planet from which the syrup hails) was stockpiling it to dishonestly boost prices, and how he was able to obtain a supply, through blackmail. The crowd is appreciative. But when a group of Starfleet officers enters, having just returned from a dangerous behind-the-lines mission on the Defiant, Quark loses his audience to them.
Odo notices his disgruntlement with some pleasure. "They're not just Starfleet officers, they're heroes. Let's face it, Quark, there's nothing heroic about earning profit." "There is on Ferenginar," Quark says, but Odo smugly points out, "We're not on Ferenginar." Then a waiter whispers to Quark that the Grand Nagus is calling him.
Sometime later, Quark finds Rom working in one of the conduits, and tells him the news he has just learned. Their mother has been taken prisoner by the Dominion. "It gets worse. The Nagus wants me to rescue her." Rom stares at him. "You? Rescue Moogie? From the Dominion? Uh-oh." "Uh-oh is right," Quark agrees grimly. As they crawl through the conduits, he goes on to let it be known that he wants Rom to come along. Rom demurs -- he's a married man with responsibilities. But then Quark mentions the reward Zek offered: 50 bars of gold-pressed latinum, which he's willing to share, 30/20 (he's got to have his finder's fee, after all).
Rom asks how the Dominion took Moogie prisoner. Quark explains that they had captured the ship she was on, traveling to Vulcan for cosmetic surgery (having been given special dispensation by Zek). Which leads Rom to wonder why the Nagus is being so generous to Moogie. "Brother, there's something I need to tell you," Quark says. He then breaks it to Rom that their mother and the Nagus have been lovers for over a year, and that she is Zek's secret financial advisor. (At this point, Quark opens an access panel, and they find themselves in Sisko's office, with Sisko looking quizzically at them and asking if he can help them. Quark says something about taking a wrong turn, and they hurriedly back out.)
As they emerge into a habitat ring corridor, the two of them decide they're going to need help. Rom suggests putting together a commando team of Nausicaans, Breen, and/or Klingons. But Quark declares that they will use Ferengi. "Then we'll all die," moans Rom. "No, we won't," Quark says. "Ferengi can be just as tough as Klingons...They just need the opportunity, the training, and a couple of bars of latinum as incentive." They will split the reward with the rest of the team -- all 20 bars of it, not telling anyone else of the other 30. "Now the only question is, who's our first recruit?"
"Not me," says Nog, when his father and uncle approach him. He's a Starfleet officer with duties to perform. Then Quark mentions that they were going to make him strategic operations officer, putting him in charge of tactics and training. This gets Nog's attention. "How big is the team?" "Right now..." Quark holds up two fingers. Nog holds up three.
Next, Quark and Rom contact Leck, a Ferengi "eliminator" whose priorities are unusual, to say the least: he doesn't care about latinum. So Quark has to think of something else for incentive. "I've been told you like the opportunity to test your abilities...Then you should know this, that the person we're going to rescue is being held by the Dominion." Leck considers this news, and smiles. He's in. Now the team is up to four.
Quark's cousin Gaila is being held in a cell on a Federation starbase, having been arrested on Thalos VI for vagrancy. Gaila is not pleased to see Quark. "You ruined me. If I ever get out of here, cousin, I'll make you pay for what you did to me." But he's not sure how to react when Quark has the guard lower the forcefield, and Rom informs him that Quark has paid his fine; Gaila is free. He asks suspiciously what he has to do in return. "Earn some latinum," Quark replies. "Tell me more," Gaila says. There are now five members.
Once they're all together in the bar, Nog begins briefing everybody, with a schematic of a Dominion internment center. Nog is ready to resign over not getting the respect he deserves as strategic operations officer, but Quark stops him. There's another problem: they don't have a ship. Gaila and Leck are about to quit too when they hear clapping. It's Brunt, now no longer with the FCA, thanks to Quark. He looks disdainfully at the group. "A child, a moron, a failure, and a psychopath. Quite a little team you've put together." And Brunt is here to sign on. He's hoping that if he helps rescue Ishka, the Nagus will give him his job back. The others refuse, and Brunt shrugs. "Fine, I'll just get in my ship and leave." A knife, thrown by Leck, lodges itself into the door frame as Brunt starts to saunter out. "Did you say ship?" It's decided. "Now we are six," declares Rom.
A holosuite rescue scenario is run for training purposes. Unfortunately, the only thing it proves is that the group is hopeless as a commando team. Dejected, Quark goes back to his bar; it seems Ferengi aren't cut out to be heroes. He remembers his triumph a few days ago, when he was "the king of squill". "Brother," says Rom, "I think we've been going about this the wrong way. We're not commandos, we're negotiators. We make deals. That's what we're good at. The Dominion has something we want. So we need to find something they want." Quark is energized again at the thought. "And then we'll make a trade. That way, everyone goes home happy." "Happy and alive," Rom adds.
In short order, thanks to help from Sisko and Kira (who says it's payback for freeing her from the Dominion), Quark has arranged an exchange. They're going to trade a Starfleet prisoner for Ishka. There is some chafing from Gaila, who wonders why the rest of them are still needed; Leck answers that it's because the Dominion can't be trusted. The site will be Empok Nor, the abandoned Cardassian space station in the Trivas system, with a design identical to DS9. And the prisoner they're exchanging is Keevan, the Vorta captured by Sisko a few months ago, whom Quark brings aboard Brunt's ship. "I'll advise you all to send final messages to your loved ones and make sure your wills are in order," Keevan pronounces. "...Because the moment we leave this station, you'll have signed your death warrants."
They arrive at Empok Nor, and Nog checks it out; there are no other lifeforms present. He orders everyone to "base camp", also known as the infirmary. No one moves until Quark promises two slips to the one who makes it there first. In the infirmary, Nog tells them that this spot was chosen because there are only two ways in or out, it's near an airlock, and it's on the Promenade, where the exchange will take place. Some of the medical equipment is still functioning. Nog will get the external sensors back online, so they can know when the Dominion ship is arriving, and Rom will set up a transport jamming signal so the Dominion can't beam Keevan away.
Keevan isn't thrilled at the prospect of being reunited with his people. "Vorta are supposed to commit suicide when they're captured. I failed to follow that rather harsh policy." All he has to look forward to is an unpleasant debriefing, followed by execution. Quark says it's not his problem. The Ferengi set up a watch.
That night, they're awakened by Gaila's screaming. Keevan is gone, having slipped away when Gaila fell asleep while on guard. Quark realizes that the Vorta is headed for the ship, and they all race to the airlock. Quark is first to the ship, and finds Keevan there, trying and failing to get the impulse engines online. He informs the resigned Vorta that he had Rom disengage the induction matrix, but he still chased him because "sometimes my brother gets things wrong." They meet the others outside the airlock, only to be greeted by an earsplitting alarm, the one that Nog set up to warn of the approach of a Dominion ship. The Ferengi dash back to the infirmary and hunker down, nervously listening to sounds of movement outside.
Finally Nog goes to the door to see what's going on. He peers out and sees dozens of Jem'Hadar troops aiming their rifles at him. "Anybody there?" asks Quark. "You could say that," Nog replies. The Ferengi are frozen with fear for a few more minutes until Nog finally asks why they're hiding. The Dominion was asked to come; now they're here. Everything's going according to plan. Quark is nominated to go out and negotiate. "What if it's a trap?" he asks; Keevan replies, "Of course it's a trap. They're not here to negotiate, they're here to kill us all." He declares he's not just trying to save his own neck, but everyone's.
A voice calls to them, telling them to show themselves so they can trade. Keevan urges Quark to get them back to the ship and escape. Prompted by Nog, however, Quark steels himself. He's not leaving without Moogie. But he makes Rom and Nog come with him.
Out on the Promenade stands Ishka, beside a Vorta named Yelgrun, and flanked by two Jem'Hadar. After the initial greetings, Quark tells Yelgrun that he needs some assurances. He wants all the Jem'Hadar to leave, although the two beside them can stay. They will head back to Dominion territory at warp nine; Yelgrun will be stranded, but only for a few days, until Quark and the others can make good their escape. "On the other hand, I could have my Jem'Hadar storm the infirmary and kill you all," Yelgrun points out, but Quark says in that case Keevan would die. And the Dominion surely won't want to lose the opportunity to find out what secrets he's revealed to the Federation.
"Your people have a reputation for cunning," Yelgrun concedes at last. "I see that it's well-earned. Perhaps one day, the Ferengi will take their place as valued members of the Dominion." He agrees to evacuate the Jem'Hadar. The exchange will take place in half an hour. Nog, however, decides that first they need to check to see if Ishka is really Ishka. He slices her hand with a knife. Furious, she pounds him on the head. It's definitely Ishka. "Family," Quark explains to Yelgrun. "You understand." "Not really," Yelgrun deadpans. "I was cloned." Finally he takes Ishka away, reminding Quark to meet back here in half an hour.
Back in the infirmary, everyone (except Keevan) is relieved that things look like they're going to work out. They look forward to getting Ishka and going home. Then Rom opens his mouth. "I can't believe it. We're actually going to get the reward money. Fifty bars of gold-pressed latinum." Brunt, Gaila and even Leck are incensed; they'd been told it was only 20 bars. Gaila grabs his rifle and points it at Quark. "You've had this coming for a long time, Cousin!" He shoots. Quark dives for cover. The beam hits Keevan squarely in the chest. "I hate Ferengi," Keevan declares, and falls down, dead.
The group tries desperately to figure out what to do: surrender, escape, or hide. "What's wrong with you people?" Quark demands. "Have you forgotten the Battle of Prexnak?" They all recall the most important battle in Ferengi history, in which ten Ferengi stood alone against 273 Lytasians, and were slaughtered. "The point is, we Ferengi are just as tough as anyone in the galaxy. And this is our chance to prove it once and for all." Leck takes up the rallying call. "Quark's right. Let's do it for Ishka. Let's do it for the Grand Nagus. Let's do it for Ferengis everywhere!" "Let's do it for equal shares of fifty bars of gold-pressed latinum," Brunt adds. After all, they're Ferengi. "That's why I love you," Quark says proudly. "Fifty bars it is, minus my usual finder's fee."
During all this, Nog has been ascertaining that Keevan is dead, thinking that perhaps they can revive him. When he puts a neural stimulator on the Vorta's forehead, Keevan's arm swings up and slaps Nog, in a reflex action. This gets Nog thinking. "If you think about it, medicine isn't that different from engineering. It's all about keeping things running, fixing broken parts." He asks for more neural stimulators, while Quark goes out to stall Yelgrun.
Yelgrun tells Quark he's done as he asked. He wants Keevan, now. Quark, vamping, says his brother has to run some sensor scans to be sure the Jem'Hadar have really left. It'll be a few minutes. Yelgrun is starting to lose his patience, and tells the Jem'Hadar to kill Ishka, who orders Quark to give them what they want. Quark says he will, when the sensor scans are complete. "And I thought the Breen were annoying," Yelgrun sighs. "Very well, five minutes. But I will not tolerate any more delays." "Neither will I," Ishka adds, glaring at her son. Quark thinks of one more request, that the exchange take place outside Airlock 3, where his ship is docked. Yelgrun understands this.
When Quark hurries back into the infirmary, Nog has gotten Keevan's body to sit up. They're as ready as they'll ever be. As they wait by the airlock, Ishka chats to Yelgrun, giving him financial advice. Finally Quark appears with Keevan (and Nog around the corner with a medical tricorder rigged up to control the corpse). On the count of three, the prisoners are released. "What have they done to him?" Yelgrun wonders as Keevan lurches stiffly toward him.
Ishka reaches Quark. Keevan veers off course and starts bumping repeatedly into a bulkhead. Yelgrun has just ordered his Jem'Hadar to stop Quark and Ishka from diving for the airlock, when the rest of the Ferengi jump out from behind access panels. In a matter of moments, the Jem'Hadar are dead. Yelgrun drops in surrender. It's over, though Nog can't turn Keevan off.
Yelgrun is captured, as a "gift" for Starfleet. "Ferengi," he growls. "I know, I know, you hate us," Quark says. Leck comes up to him. "This is the sloppiest, most amateurish operation I've ever seen. If you ever do something like this again, count me in." "You'll be the first one I call," Quark tells him, then adds to Nog in a low voice, "If I even think about doing something like this again, shoot me."
Finally Quark and Rom are alone in the corridor. "So, brother, how does it feel to be a hero?" Rom asks, to which Quark says, "You tell me." "It feels...good?" Rom guesses. Quark laughs. "You bet it does." Together, they enter the ship and head for home -- leaving Keevan behind, still walking into the wall.
Ira Behr had wanted for years to cast Iggy Pop in a role, but the rock star's schedule had never been free at the right time, until now. At the time of filming, Pop was still recovering from a dislocated shoulder sustained some months previously. Despite the title, according to the writers, the episode was not inspired by the film The Magnificent Seven. Originally, Zek would have been the one captured by the Dominion, but Wallace Shawn wasn't available. The names "syrup of squill" and "hipecat" were directly lifted from lines in a W.C. Fields film, It's a Gift.