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The Nagus

Production no.: 411
Teleplay by: Ira Steven Behr
Story by: David Livingston
Directed by: David Livingston
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: March 20, 1993
Max Grodénchik ....
Lou Wagner ..........
Barry Gordon ........
Lee Arenberg ........
Aron Eisenberg ......
Tiny Ron ...............
Wallace Shawn ......

As a young Ferengi and a tall Hupyrian escort a small hooded figure through the Promenade, Jake is getting ready for another school day. His father comes in to announce that he's arranged a trip for them to Bajor, for the start of the Gratitude Festival, the biggest Bajoran holiday of the year. While they're on the surface, they'll visit the Fire Caverns, something Jake has been wanting to see. Jake asks when they're leaving; Sisko says right after school, for three days. "Do I have to go?" Jake asks, catching his father off guard. He has plans with Nog tomorrow, to watch an Andorian freighter offload some antigrav tractors. "Let me get this straight," says Sisko. "You would rather hang around a cargo bay with Nog than visit the Bajoran Fire Caverns with the old man?" "Nog's my friend," Jake replies simply.

At the bar, Quark berates Rom for having found a Bajoran lady's currency pouch and returned it intact. Rom is abashed, and Quark makes him recite the first Rule of Acquisition: "Once you have their money, you never give it back." He then orders Rom to polish every rail in the place. "Now get out of my sight before I toss you out the nearest airlock." Rom goes off, finds Nog, and foists the job on him instead.

Quark is sitting at the bar telling Morn a joke when the three figures finally make their way inside. The young Ferengi introduces himself to Quark as Krax; the cloaked person is his father, Grand Nagus Zek. Quark immediately turns obsequious, kissing Zek's staff. Zek is silent as Krax tells Quark that the Nagus desires the use of a holosuite. Quark, at first worried that the "alluring" programs Zek wants may prove too energetic, offers to choose from among five of his personal favorites. Krax says that won't be necessary. The Nagus will try all five.

O'Brien, who has taken over his wife's duties as schoolteacher until she gets back from Earth in another two weeks, arrives for the morning's class, and tells the kids to get out their homework PADDs. Their last assignment was to write an essay defining the term "ethics". Seeing Nog sliding down in his chair, O'Brien calls on him. Nog claims he doesn't have his PADD: it was stolen ... in Quark's ... by Vulcans. As the class giggles, Nog turns to Jake, who reluctantly confirms the ridiculous story. O'Brien doesn't buy it, but doesn't press the issue either.

It's been three hours, and Zek is still in the holosuite, having left instructions not to be disturbed, though Quark is concerned that the old Ferengi may have injured himself. He's even more concerned that Zek may be here to buy out the bar for a fraction of what it's worth. Rom suggests that Quark could refuse to sell, but Quark says the Nagus doesn't take no for an answer. At that moment, Zek finally emerges, swigs from a bottle, wipes his mouth, and says, "Good program." Quark offers him Rom's quarters to stay in, and asks if there's anything else he can do. Zek says, "Invite me to dinner."

Sisko asks O'Brien how school is going. O'Brien replies that they'll muddle through, although kids love to take advantage of a substitute teacher. As for Jake -- well, he's a fine lad, says O'Brien, but if he were O'Brien's son, he'd try to get him away from Nog. Sisko replies that that's easier said than done; the two boys have become inseparable. If he were to get between them now, it would become him versus Nog, and he would probably lose. O'Brien will understand all too well when Molly gets to be Jake's age.

At dinner, Zek chats with Quark about Quark's cousin Barbo, recently released from a Tarahong jail, and praises Quark's cleverness in having sold out his relative. He also calls it a stroke of brilliance to have opened a bar so close to a stable wormhole. "But he didn't even know the wormhole existed," protests Krax. "That's what makes it so impressive," Zek says. "You could learn from his example." Nog, who has been acting as a servant, asks if he can go now; he has homework. Zek is shocked to learn that Nog attends a school on the station, run by a hew-mon fee-male. Rom immediately forbids Nog to go to school ever again. "Now go to your room. And no studying!" Nog walks quickly out.

Zek tells Quark he's come to ask a favor. He needs the bar -- and Quark's services as host, for a conference to be held tomorrow. The conference is about the future, which Zek believes can be summed up in three words: "the Gamma Quadrant".

The next day, the DS9 officers take notice of all the Ferengi ships arriving at the station. "Maybe it's Quark's birthday," Dax says. "My advice is to lock up the silverware," says Kira. And Odo is already keeping a close eye on the visitors, who all make their way into Quark's, where a conference table has been set up. Finally Zek arrives. Quark is about to leave along with Rom and Nog, but Zek tells him to stay.

Nog is moping, in his and Jake's hangout spot (a crossway juncture on the upper level of the Promenade), when Jake joins him and asks where he was this morning. Nog says he's through with school. He doesn't belong there; for him, school is a waste of time, because there's no profit in it. Yet he's obviously angry. "You're a stupid human. I don't know why I bother with you." To his back, Jake retorts, "I'm stupid? You're the one not going to school!"

At the conference, Zek is talking to the Ferengi businessmen about how difficult it is becoming to find truly lucrative opportunities in the Alpha Quadrant, because their reputation has been tainted by the lies of their competitors. However, in the Gamma Quadrant, the potential for expansion is staggering. And best of all, the Ferengi have no reputation there yet, so their word can be their bond, until they decide to break it. But Zek says he cannot lead them in this endeavor. "I'm old. The fire dims. I'm just not as greedy as I used to be." He announces then that he has already picked his successor: Quark. As Quark sits there stunned, the other Ferengi stomp out in disgust. "Congratulations," Zek tells him. "I know you'll do a wonderful job."

At breakfast the next morning, Sisko notices that his son is barely picking at his oatmeal. It's Nog, Jake finally says, going on to tell his father that Nog has been pulled out of school. "It's not fair. Nog can't even read." What's worse, he doesn't think Nog wants to be his friend any more. Sisko says that although it's good to make friends with other cultures, humans and Ferengis have never been able to form a common bond. "These things happen," he says, and offers to play some baseball with Jake after school. Jake says he can't; he has something to do.

Quark is parading down the Promenade in his new Grand Nagus robes when Gral, one of the businessmen at yesterday's conference, calls to him and introduces himself: "I am Gral, your new best friend." Gral says he wants to "protect" Quark from those who are jealous of his position; he won't let anyone hurt such a grateful friend. "How grateful am I?" asks Quark. Gral doesn't want much, just his pick of the most lucrative Gamma Quadrant opportunities. And Quark won't refuse (if he knows what's good for him).

Quark runs to see Zek, who is happily trying to choose between Risa and Balosnee VI for his vacation. Hearing that Gral has threatened Quark's life, Zek cackles. "So he's the first, is he? Well he won't be the last!" The former Nagus is in the midst of giving Quark some sound, time-honored advice from one leader to another, when he suddenly stiffens and goes silent. Zek's Hupyrian servant, Maihar'du, checks him; he's dead. "I didn't do anything!" Quark exclaims, bewildered.

Zek's funeral is held in the bar, and Quark asks Rom to be his bodyguard. There's no one else he can trust. Rom says he had thought since Quark would be so busy as Nagus, he, Rom, could take over the bar. Quark starts laughing, and doesn't stop until Odo comes up. "Not exactly overcome by grief, are we?" the security chief asks dryly. Krax tells Odo that Zek's death was caused by a massive infection of the tympanic membrane, a chronic condition. When Odo says he wants the body examined by Bashir, Krax chuckles and says, "That would be difficult." He shows Odo a disk containing part of Zek; when a Ferengi of note dies, the body is vacuum-desiccated and sold as prize collectibles. "How touching," Odo remarks.

Jake and Nog are sitting at their Promenade lookout, in silence. "I guess humans and Ferengis don't have a lot to talk about," Jake says at last. Nog replies, "That's what my father says." "Mine too. That doesn't mean they're right." The two boys decide that they do want to remain friends. Jake has an idea, and leads Nog off to somewhere private.

At the funeral, a Ferengi drops a coin of gold-pressed latinum, and Quark surreptitiously intercepts it with his foot. As he stoops to pick it up, a glowing sphere zips past his head and explodes, blasting a hole in the far wall.

O'Brien, checking out the bomb site, finds traces of Ferengi explosives, indicating that it was a Ferengi locator bomb, designed to zero in on the target's pheromones. If Quark hadn't ducked at the last second, he would be dead. Quark, meanwhile, has been examined by Bashir and is unhurt though shaken. Sisko and Odo have a talk with him; Quark refuses to tell them anything, saying the Grand Nagus does not look for help from outsiders. But when Odo asks who would stand to benefit the most from Quark's death, Quark finally gives him Krax's name. Rom adds helpfully that it was Gral who threatened Quark. But Krax and Gral were both at the funeral when the bomb went off, as were all of Zek's associates. Yet neither Quark nor Rom recalls having seen Maihar'du there, which Odo thinks is interesting, as Hupyrian servants are renowned for their devotion to their employers.

The next day, Sisko notes to Jake that he didn't come in until after midnight. Jake is evasive, saying he was with Nog -- not doing anything important or wrong, just hanging out. "It's private," he says. Sisko tells him as he leaves that he wants him home in time for dinner.

Quark holds court as a Ferengi named Nava petitions for the chance to introduce synthehol to the Gamma Quadrant. When asked pointedly if he was pleased when Quark was announced as Zek's successor, and if he came to Quark and offered his support, Nava has to say no to both. But since he's willing to split the profits fifty-fifty, Quark agrees. After Nava is gone, Quark decides to retire for the night. "All this benevolence wearies me." He heads off to bed, and Krax and Rom confer together. They're worried that Quark will soon become very popular if he keeps handing these opportunities out. They'll have to come up with something better than a locator bomb. "Something that can't possibly fail to kill my dear brother," Rom says.

When Dax pays Sisko a visit in his quarters, Sisko is waiting at the dinner table, brooding. Dinner is getting cold, and Jake hasn't shown up. "Going through my own adolescence was difficult enough," Sisko says glumly. "Surviving my son's is going to take a miracle." Dax admits that she hasn't been too successful as a parent herself in her past lives, but she advises Sisko to find Jake and bring him home to eat his dinner.

Sisko asks the computer where Jake is, and the answer is in a cargo bay. When Sisko arrives there, he hears voices, Jake's and Nog's. Nog is slowly sounding out words, and Sisko realizes that his son is teaching his friend how to read. He withdraws without making his presence known.

Rom helps Quark gets dressed to leave for a trip through the wormhole. He is going to Stakoron II to complete negotiations that Zek had opened, for the planet's deposits of miszinite ore; though Quark thinks it odd that Zek never even mentioned having gone to the Gamma Quadrant. Rom tentatively asks about the bar: "You have so much, and I have so little." "Which is exactly how it was meant to be," Quark tells him. This strengthens Rom's resolve. Meanwhile, Odo sees Maihar'du on the Promenade, and starts to follow him.

Krax joins Quark and Rom on their way to the airlock. Quark thinks maybe he'll bring a Dabo girl along to add to his prestige, but Krax and Rom convince him not to. Odo is still following Maihar'du, who boards a Ferengi ship. The airlock door closes after him, but for Odo, this is not a problem.

Krax and Rom usher Quark to a different airlock. Quark goes inside, only to find that there is no ship docked there. Seeing the door closing behind him, he bangs on the window, yelling to be let out. "Sorry, Quark, but you've just been voted out of office," Krax says gleefully. "So you were going to toss me out an airlock," adds Rom. "Rom's -- nice name for a bar, don't you think?" His hand inches closer and closer to the control that will open the door on the far side.

Then a voice calls out, "Release him!" It's none other than a very-much-alive Grand Nagus Zek, who has arrived with Maihar'du and Odo. Odo lets Quark out of the airlock, remarking, "Looks like you needed my help after all," then goes away, washing his hands of the affair.

Zek explains that he had entered a Dolbargy sleeping trance, a trick which Maihar'du taught him. His reason? It was a test, to see if Krax was ready to take his place. And in Zek's estimation, Krax failed miserably. Krax protests that he was about to grab power. "You don't grab power!" Zek chides. "You accumulate it, quietly, without anyone noticing." What Krax should have done was buy the bar, use his position to gather up information about the Gamma Quadrant, control everything from the shadows, and when things were running smoothly, then take over. "It's like talking to a Klingon," Zek exclaims in disgust.

Quark later gives the staff back to Zek, who figures he'll have to remain Grand Nagus long enough to establish a Ferengi presence in the Gamma Quadrant. He tells Quark that if he hears of any good deals there that Quark would be right for, he'll let him know. Maybe he'll even come back and buy the bar. Zek leaves with Maihar'du, as Rom tries to slink past Quark. Caught, he pleads with Quark to forgive him. "Forgive you? Why, brother, I didn't think you had the lobes!" To reward Rom's "wonderful treachery", Quark makes his brother assistant manager of policy and clientele -- a title he just made up.

Jake and Nog are on the Promenade, making a date for the next lesson, when Sisko calls out to Jake. He hugs him and gives him a kiss on the head. "You're a great boy, you know that? Now, go be with your friend," he says, and watches the boys run off together.

  • The original title of this episode was "Friends and Foes".
  • This is the episode that introduced the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. They were the brainchild of Ira Steven Behr, who also turned the episode into one about the Ferengi (the original idea was about a business meeting between many different races).
  • The scene in which Quark hears Nava's petition contains many deliberate homages to the movie The Godfather, down to the pet animal in Quark's lap (a Corvan gilvos, first seen in "New Ground" [TNG]).
  • The gold Ferengi head on the staff of the Grand Nagus was sculpted from a photo of Armin Shimerman as Quark.