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Published Jul 7, 2019

Getting into it With the Grand Nagus, Wallace Shawn

We talk to one of our favorite guest stars about his path to 'Trek,' what it's like inside that makeup, and more.

Wallace Shawn Cover

StarTrek.com

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “ The Nagus ” gave fans their first taste of playwright-author-producer-actor Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek. Shawn made the wily Ferengi leader his own over seven appearances on DS9 — that's one each season. The role added to his impressive list of previous and future memorable characters, including Father Abruzzi ( Heaven Help Us ), Vizzini ( The Princess Bride ), Mr. Hall ( Clueless ), Rex (the Toy Story franchise) and Cyrus Rose (The CW's Gossip Girl ).

StarTrek.com at long last caught up with the amiable Shawn, who recounted his Trek experiences, detailed the surprising paths his career has taken, and filled us in on his current projects.

How surprised were you to be asked to do DS9 ?

star trek ds9 zek

I was totally shocked because I've never owned a TV, so I was not really an expert on the show. On the other hand, having spent a lot of time in hotels, I’d sit flipping through channels and I always landed on Star Trek and thought "Oh, this is the one that looks so attractive visually." That would be The Next Generation . I always thought, “Wow, the cinematography is so great and it's so interesting-looking, with these interesting-looking people and creatures.” So, when I was asked to do DS9 , I was thrilled. I loved the idea.

star trek ds9 zek

The character was such a Ferengi, cunning and funny, but also wise. How much fun did you have playing him?

To be in that world and to be in that makeup really liberated me in a way that I never experienced before — or since. I felt completely free, so it was a joyful experience. But it was physically very, very arduous, and I couldn't have done it on a regular basis. Once a year, which is what I did, was basically perfect for me. But to be trapped inside that head for at least 12 hours, not counting three hours to put the makeup on and an hour to take it off, was a little bit disturbing and uncomfortable and exhausting. And if you had to scratch your forehead, you couldn't.

Was that your decision to only do it once a year because of the makeup? Did they want you more often? Or was it their idea to have you on once a year?

I think that that was just the choice of the writers and producers, and it worked out very nicely. That was just how often they wanted me.

How did you enjoy working with your fellow Ferengi, Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik, Tiny Ron, Cecily Adams and Aron Eisenberg?

star trek ds9 zek

I loved all of [them]. I don't know if I ever saw Tiny Ron outside of the makeup. Cecily was enchanting and lovely. Armin, I've seen subsequently and I did fairly soon, I think, see him out of makeup. I guess, ultimately, I saw Max out of makeup, too. But mostly I knew these people as Ferengi, really. Max and Armin, most of our relationship was Ferengi to Ferengi, really, with only these strange glimpses of each other out of makeup. So, the reality seemed in some ways less real than the made-up versions.

You appeared in seven episodes. Was there an episode, a scene, you were most satisfied with?

The first episode was the one where the character was invented. The fake death was an amazing plot twist. The writers invented the character and, basically, I had all of three seconds to figure out how to interpret him based on the script. And the makeup, going through that the first time, that was an unforgettable moment. I also remember that, maybe even on the first day, an executive from upstairs — I don't know what sort of executive he even was — came down and took me aside and said, "Now, you do understand, this is a serious program? Star Trek is not a comedy."

I’m not quoting him exactly because I don't remember his exact words, but in effect he was saying I was being too funny or I was clowning. I was not; it wasn't appropriate for the show. Well, I wasn't an expert on the show because, as I said, I don't have a TV and I never did have one. I really never had seen a complete episode of the show. So, I was a little nonplussed. I told the director, “Wow, a guy from upstairs told me this and I don't know what to do now.” He said, “No, I love what you're doing. So, keep on doing it.” That was fortunate because I really wouldn't have known what to do.

Considering that your seven episodes were spread over seven seasons, the Grand Nagus really had a full arc, even initiating reforms.

star trek ds9 zek

Oh, absolutely. I knew that the writers were taking particular enjoyment out of my character when they presented me with a companion — a wonderful female Ferengi. That was amazing. I knew they were taking my character seriously and giving me great, wonderful stuff to do in every episode. There were no throwaway episodes for me, where I was just there, which sometimes can happen on television. Each episode that I was in I had something fascinating to do.

Your career spans 50 years. When you started out, what did you aspire to?

I began in my 20s as a writer, and at least in my own personal belief, I still am, even though only a small cult of people appreciate my writing. Most people have never heard of it and, if they have, they aren't particularly attracted to it. But I’ve been a writer for 50 years and continue to write.

There was never a time when I thought I would be an actor. It happened before I thought of it. A friend put me in a play and I kept at it because I’d not found a way to support myself, because my plays were odd. It was clear they couldn't support me even in immodest living, much less a bourgeois living. So, when I was offered a part in the play, despite the fact that I was not an actor, I said sure. The play was quite successful and I was, you might say, discovered by Juliet Taylor.

When people recognize you on the street, do they want to talk about your plays, your political writings, or is it usually Clueless, Star Trek, Toy Story and The Princess Bride ?

star trek ds9 zek

Well, a lot of people do speak to me on the street, usually in a friendly way. Sometimes I don't know quite why the person is talking to me at first because I do have the different parts of my life. So, I don't sometimes even know whether someone is complimenting me for an angry political polemic that I've written or for my strange plays, or for being a comical blackjack dealer in Vegas Vacation .

So, you’re saying they don’t come up to you and specifically comment, "Hey, aren't you the guy from…" or "I loved you in…"? Or, “I loved this play or that article?”

Often, they don't.

star trek ds9 zek

Sometimes, and sometimes people think that you are someone who has only done one thing, the thing that they like. So, people have often said to me on the street, "Your film is great," and I don't know what they mean. But the Star Trek fans are a particular group. They're very distinctive as people. There seem to be no evil Star Trek fans. They're a distinctly goodhearted group of people and, in many cases, they are people who have experienced some type of isolation or disadvantage. I’m going to guess that Donald Trump is not a Trekkie. It's an interesting group of people. And, of course, I don't really look like the Grand Nagus physically. I was wearing an incredible amount of makeup, so the people who recognize me from Star Trek really looked closely at that show. Star Trek fans see things again and again, and it’s even easier to do that now because DS9 is on Netflix and there's a whole new crowd of fans.

What are your current projects? Will you be part of Ira Steve Behr’s DS9 documentary, What We Left Behind ?

star trek ds9 zek

Absolutely. Ira recorded me for that, and it should be very interesting and fun when it comes out. My small, very small book called Night Thoughts is available probably still at your local bookshop, if you have a local bookshop, or on Amazon. It’s kind of a long political essay, political in my own style, you might say. Book Club is coming out, and so is Toy Story 4 . I've done a number of TV things. I'm on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, She's Gotta Have It, Mozart in the Jungle and Mr. Robot . I don't know, I seem to be doing an awful lot of these shows. I can't explain it. It's great. And I've got nice parts.

This interview, which originally ran in March of 2018, has been edited and condensed.

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  • Memory Beta articles sourced from eBooks
  • Memory Beta articles sourced from reference works
  • Grand Nagi of the Ferengi Alliance
  • Political leaders
  • 23rd century births
  • 1.1.1 Shrewd Businessman
  • 1.1.2 Social reformer
  • 1.2 Retirement
  • 2.1 Connections
  • 2.2.1 Appearances
  • 2.2.2 References
  • 2.3 External link

Biography [ ]

Grand nagus [ ], shrewd businessman [ ].

Following the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole in 2369 , Zek saw the immense profit to be made in the Gamma Quadrant and created a plan to test his son Krax ' ability to oversee this new venture. He named Quark as his successor and faked his own death. After Krax and Rom tried to kill Quark, Zek revealed he was still alive and decided to remain in power, as he thought his son was more like a Klingon than a Ferengi. ( DS9 episode : " The Nagus ")

Zek continued the business venture in the Gamma Quadrant and became aware that a major power there was known as the Dominion . In 2370 , he opened negotiations with the Dosi , hoping to eventually contact the Karemma , members of the Dominion. ( DS9 episode : " Rules of Acquisition ")

Also in that year, Zek participated in The First Annual Deep Space Nine Poker Tournament , reaching the final round, where he was beaten by Odo . ( DS9 novel : The Big Game )

Also in 2370 , Zek bid in the Zorka auction on Novus Alamogordus, where Wesley Crusher tricked the Nagus out of a latinum counterfeiting device. ( TNG novel : Balance of Power )

In early 2371 , Benjamin Sisko talked to Zek, who wanted Quark to help Starfleet locate the Founders and stop the lucrative business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant from drying up. Zek also gave Sisko his staff to get Quark to go along on the mission. ( DS9 episode : " The Search ")

Several months later, Zek planned to meet with the Prophets and use their existence out of time for information on the future. The Prophets deevolved Zek to a time when the Ferengi were less business motivated. This led to Zek rewriting the Rules of Acquisition to make his people like him. Appalled, Quark, Rom and Maihar'du brought him back to the Bajoran wormhole , where Quark had the Prophets undo their changes. ( DS9 episode : " Prophet Motive ")

Later that year, Zek tried to acquire the Jibetian starship Nibix and its valuable treasures. ( DS9 novel : The Long Night )

In 2372 , when he believed he was dying from Dorek Syndrome , Quark believed Zek was behind a large bid for his desiccated remains, although it was actually Brunt . ( DS9 episode : " Body Parts ")

Social reformer [ ]

In 2373 , Zek met Ishka at a tongo championship, where she helped him to win when he faltered. The pair later began a relationship and Ishka began helping Zek run the Ferengi Alliance. Quark was initially able to break them up, although he helped reconcile them soon after. Ishka told Zek he hoped he would bring in equal rights for Ferengi females. ( DS9 episode : " Ferengi Love Songs ")

In early 2374 , Quark talked to Zek about getting Rom released by the Dominion after he was caught sabotaging station systems. Zek was willing to pay money for his release. ( DS9 episode : " Favor the Bold ")

Several months later, Zek called Quark to inform him of Ishka's capture by the Dominion. ( DS9 episode : " The Magnificent Ferengi ")

Towards the end of the year, the Council of the United Federation of Planets sent Zek a diplomatic message which they had Nog deliver. Jake Sisko thought it was a request for the Ferengi to join the war against the Dominion and hoped to get a story for the Federation News Service about it. ( DS9 episode : " Valiant ")

Several months later, Zek brought about his reforms giving females equality, although it caused widespread panic and chaos throughout the Alliance. Zek was deposed and Brunt was made Acting Grand Nagus. Aided by Quark, Rom and Nog , Zek invited all of the Commissioners to Deep Space 9 to meet Ishka, although only Nilva agreed. Ishka suffered a heart attack and was unable to convince Nilva to vote Zek back into power. Quark was changed into a female known as Lumba and was able to convince Nilva to help Zek regain his position as Nagus. ( DS9 episode : " Profit and Lace ")

In 2375 , Zek and Maihar'du crossed over to the mirror universe , where they were captured by the Alliance , who held them for a ransom of a cloaking device from the primary universe. Quark and Rom later crossed over and brought Zek home. ( DS9 episode : " The Emperor's New Cloak ")

Several months later, Zek had decided to retire and came to DS9 to name his successor. Quark had earlier talked to Zek and believed he was Zek's choice, although it was actually Rom. Zek believed Rom was the best person to lead the new Ferenginar while he and Ishka enjoyed their retirement on Risa. ( DS9 episode : " The Dogs of War ")

Retirement [ ]

Zek briefly left Risa in late 2376 , when Rom was accused of breaking his marriage contract with Prinadora . ( DS9 novel : Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed )

Appendices [ ]

Connections [ ], appearances and references [ ], appearances [ ].

  • DS9 episode : " The Nagus "
  • DS9 novel : The Big Game
  • DS9 episode : " Rules of Acquisition "
  • TNG novel : Balance of Power
  • DS9 comic : " Deep Space Mine "
  • DS9 episode : " Prophet Motive "
  • DS9 novel : The Long Night
  • DS9 comic : " No Time Like the Present "
  • DS9 comic : " The Nagus's New Clothes "
  • DS9 novel : The 34th Rule
  • DS9 episode : " Ferengi Love Songs "
  • DS9 episode : " Profit and Lace "
  • DS9 episode : " The Emperor's New Cloak "
  • DS9 episode : " The Dogs of War "
  • TNG novel : I, Q
  • DS9 - Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel : Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed
  • DS9 eBook : Rules of Accusation

References [ ]

  • ST reference : Star Trek Chronology , 1996 edition, pages 86, 188, 203, 222, 228, 232–233

External link [ ]

  • Zek article at Memory Alpha , the wiki for canon Star Trek .
  • 1 Ferengi Rules of Acquisition
  • 2 USS Voyager (NCC-74656-A)
  • 3 Intrepid class

The 10 Best Ferengi Episodes Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Ranked

Armin Shimerman in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" is unlike any other "Star Trek" series, diverging from franchise creator Gene Roddenberry's vision after his death  and digging into stories and characters that were more morally gray than the original series or "Star Trek: The Next Generation." "Deep Space Nine" took place on board the space station Deep Space Nine, located in a key position near the freshly liberated planet of Bajor and a newly discovered wormhole to another quadrant of the universe. Several seasons are occupied with the Dominion War , forcing "Star Trek" to contend with concepts like terrorism, torture, and more, making it one of the darkest of all of the "Trek" shows. Thankfully, however, the show also has a secret comedy card: the Ferengi.

The big-eared, bulbous headed aliens obsessed with capitalism were something of a bad stereotype in the franchise until "Deep Space Nine," where they finally got a chance to shine and correct earlier missteps by making the Ferengi more complex. It paid off incredibly well, with several Ferengi characters becoming fan favorites by the series' end, especially begrudgingly empathetic bar owner Quark (Armin Shimerman). As a result, there are quite a few great episodes centered around the Ferengi and their various misadventures, and I have collected and ranked the 10 best for your enjoyment. Honorable mentions include "Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places," "Who Mourns for Morn," and "In the Cards," which are all fantastic episodes but weren't  quite as Ferengi-focused as the ones that made the cut. Without further ado, please insert your latinum to the left and let's check out the best Ferengi episodes on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!"

10. Prophet Motive

Throughout "Deep Space Nine," Quark has a complicated relationship with Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn), the supreme leader of the Ferengi people, but things get their absolute weirdest in the season 3 episode "Prophet Motive." In the episode, Zek reveals to Quark and his brother Rom (Max Grodénchik) that he is changing the Rules of Acquisition and completely turning Ferengi culture on its head, embracing kindness and sharing — not exactly well-known Ferengi traits. He even tells a customer of Quark's how to get the item he's trying to sell her at wholesale, which is pretty much a Ferengi hate-crime. It turns out that he found one of the Bajoran prayer orbs and the prophets changed him, so Quark decides to take Zek into the wormhole to confront the prophets directly.

The prophets are basically gods who exist outside of linear time, so having the Ferengi, who are basically just greedy "Star Trek" hobbits, go to confront them is absolutely hilarious. The prophets aren't particularly impressed with the Ferengi and it takes some serious sweet-talking on Quark's part to not be changed the same way Zek was. Instead the prophets "fix" Zek and kick Quark and his ship back out into the Alpha quadrant and tell them not to ever come back, like some unruly house guests no longer welcome at a party. It's  really funny and gives the prophets the chance to be something other than just frustratingly mysterious.

9. The House of Quark

Quark has to be good at talking his way out of trouble ... because his mouth so frequently get him into trouble. When he's not working on various get-rich-quick schemes or ways to smuggle illegal goods through a Federation station, he's lusting after women that are totally out of his league and pretty dangerous for him to be around. Quark loves a feisty woman, and perhaps his most intense romance was with Grilka (Mary Kay Adams). After Quark accidentally kills her husband in a bar fight and then claims to have done it on purpose, he is tasked with marrying Grilka and taking over her Klingon house. That goes about as well as one might expect, since Quark is not exactly up to Klingon social standards.

In the end, Quark ends up saving Grilka and her house in a very Ferengi way, using his wits and knowledge of finances to figure out that Grilka's rival house has been stealing from her, which is a real Klingon no-no. Quark ends up divorced from Grilka but they stay friendly, and he eventually tries to woo her for real a few seasons later in "Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places." Who doesn't love a Ferengi-Klingon episode? That's a match made in "Star Trek" heaven.

8. Family Business

In the season 3 episode "Family Business," three great recurring characters were introduced for the first time, and two of them are Ferengi. (The third is freighter captain Kasidy Yates, played by Penny Johnson Jerald, who eventually goes on to marry Captain Sisko.) In the episode, Rom and Quark are tasked with returning to the Ferengi home planet of Ferenginar because their mother, Ishka, has been charged with the crime of earning a profit while female. It's the first appearance of Ishka, played by Andrea Martin, though in future episodes she would be played by Cecily Adams, and she's a hilarious blessing of a character. Ishka is a brilliant financial mind who wears clothes (Ferengi women are supposed to stay nude) and resists the gendered rules of her society, and that drives Quark absolutely up a wall.

The episode also introduces Jeffrey Combs' character Brunt, who works as a liquidator for the Ferengi Commerce Authority and has it out for Quark and his family. Combs has played a ton of "Star Trek" characters over the years, but as Brunt he gets the chance to be a part of the greater ridiculous Ferengi family, and he's terrific. "Family Business" is great for finally showing us Ferenginar and introducing Ishka and Brunt, but there's another episode that gives them even more to do and it's wonderful.

7. Ferengi Love Songs

Quark can be pretty selfish, and in "Ferengi Love Songs," he puts his own happiness and success before his mother's when it's revealed that she's having a romantic affair with Zek and Quark does everything in his power to drive a wedge between them. The episode introduces Adams as Ishka, better known as "Moogie," taking over the role from Martin. Ishka is a sassy, self-assured woman who ends up being the brains behind the throne, so to speak, helping Zek to right Ferengi finances and become more competitive throughout the universe. When Quark gets in the way, it ends up being disastrous not only for Moogie and Zek but for all of Ferenginar, and he soon realizes that he needs to give his mother a lot more credit than he has before.

The episode is one of the best comedic episodes in all of "Star Trek," with several great moments involving people either hiding in Quark's closet or using it as a place to teleport, leading to some sci-fi sitcom-esque hijinks. Adams and Shawn are fantastic together, calling one another pet names and nuzzling their prosthetic-covered noses, and it's hard not to root for their romance. It's rare to see love between elderly couples on TV, let alone elderly aliens with bulbous heads, making "Ferengi Love Songs" as refreshing as it is funny.

6. Body Parts

"Deep Space Nine" is unique among "Star Trek" shows in that it forces characters who otherwise wouldn't interact to live in the same space station. Quark is, arguably, the greatest character in the franchise because he provides a totally different lens through which to view humanity and the Federation. His episodes run the gamut from zany and irreverent to much more serious fare, and in the episode "Body Parts," we get to see who he really is when things go horribly, horribly wrong. When Ferengi die, they have their ashes pressed into collectible coins to be sold to the highest bidder, and when Quark discovers that he is terminally ill, he begins the bidding. Unfortunately, the medical tests were wrong and Quark isn't going to die, but he's already sold his remains to an anonymous bidder who turns out to be his nemesis, Brunt. He either has to kill himself and fulfill the contract or break it, which will lead to him being cut off from all of Ferengi society and forfeiting all of his assets.

He ends up deciding to live even though it goes against everything he's ever believed, and in the end all of his friends aboard Deep Space Nine help him by replenishing his supplies and helping him to restore his business. Even though Quark thinks he's lost all of his assets, Rom informs him that he's richer than he ever knew because of his friendships. It's a moment that shows how much Quark has grown and changed on account of being surrounded by filthy hu-mans, and it shows how much the people around him have changed too, growing to love the fiscally finicky Ferengi.

5. It's Only a Paper Moon

Not all Ferengi episodes are funny or full of warm and fuzzy feelings. The season 7 episode "It's Only a Paper Moon" follows Nog (Aron Eisenberg), Rom's son and Quark's nephew, after he loses his leg in battle during the Siege of AR-558 and is subsequently stricken with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After years of hard work to become a Starfleet officer, he becomes unable to cope with what happened on AR-558 and seeks solace in the holodeck. He spends all of his time in a well-loved program that hosts Vegas lounge singer Vic Fontaine (James Darren), trying to escape reality through Vic's music and the glittering false world. It's tough to believe that one of the best episodes in all of "Deep Space Nine" features a Ferengi who we were introduced to as a child character and a hologram, but "It's Only a Paper Moon" is truly an all-timer.

Originally, the plan was for Nog to lose both legs , but that was just a bit too much. Even then, "It's Only a Paper Moon" is heart-wrenching stuff that deals with the horrors of war in a very personal way. Eisenberg's performance is nuanced and exquisite even beneath all of those layers of prosthetic makeup, and the episode is even more poignant following the actor's death in 2019. If you can watch "It's Only a Paper Moon" without crying, you might be a Vulcan or a Borg.

4. Little Green Men

Time travel episodes in "Star Trek" can be hit-or-miss, but the season 4 "Deep Space Nine" episode "Little Green Men" is a total blast. After being gifted a shuttle by his cousin Gaila, Quark takes Rom and Nog to Earth so that Nog can enroll in Starfleet Academy. Of course, he also does a bit of illegal smuggling in the process to make things profitable, and that illicit cargo helps send the Ferengi back in time to Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The shapeshifting Constable Odo (René Auberjonois) also comes along, as he hid aboard the shuttle to spy on Quark. The Ferengi crash land and end up waking up in a government facility and Quark sets about trying to swindle humanity as quickly as possible once Rom gets their universal translators fixed. Odo ends up convincing them not to change the timeline or alter Earth's history any more than they already have, though Quark has to really fight against his worst instincts. 

"Little Green Men" is great because it's not just fun "Star Trek" but fun science-fiction, positing that the little green men with big heads and beady eyes associated with the purported Roswell crash were actually Ferengi from 24th century. Not only that, but it's also an episode that forces Odo and Quark to work together, which is always pure gold. "Little Green Men" isn't groundbreaking, but it is a seriously good time. 

3. Rules of Acquisition

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ferengi society throughout "Deep Space Nine" is the way it evolves, especially when it comes to the treatment of women (or "females," as Quark and co. are prone to calling them). Ferengi culture is deeply sexist, forcing its women to stay home, naked. The only men they are allowed to talk to are members of their own immediate family, and they're not allowed to hold jobs or earn profit. While Ishka eventually made major changes to the status quo when she started dating Zek, another Ferengi woman first shook things up in the season 2 episode "Rules of Acquisition."

Pel (Helene Udy) is a Ferengi woman pretending to be a man, wearing prosthetic ears over her own. She works for Quark and falls in love with him, eventually confessing her secret to Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). When Quark discovers her true identity, he is shocked but actually tries to help her, offering her money so she can leave and start a new life. (Sure, it would protect him from the punishment of doing business with a Ferengi woman as well, but he could have thrown her under the bus just as easily.) Quark has feelings for Pel but can't accept them, and though Zek learns the truth, Quark still defends her. Pel ends up starting a new life in the Gamma Quadrant and we never see her again, but she made a lasting impact on Quark, who would develop newfound empathy and become a much better man in time.

2. Bar Association

While Quark learns to be more flexible in his dealings with women, he has a much harder time when it comes to his hardcore capitalist leanings. He treats his employees terribly, even his brother Rom, which leads to poor Rom collapsing at work with an ear infection. In the infirmary, Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) suggests that Rom form a union, something that's extremely illegal among the Ferengi. Rom does it, taking advice from Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney), who tells him about his ancestor who wasn't "just a great man, he was a union man." Rom and the rest of Quark's employees unionize and go on strike, leading to just about everyone boycotting his establishment. The episode gives Rom a chance to really shine, which is great because he's a truly unusual Ferengi man. He's sensitive and caring and in touch with his feminine side, and is more interested in doing the right thing than he is in making profit. (He even gives up all of his wealth when he marries a Bajoran woman, something that's absolutely unheard of.)

The episode doesn't have the same kind of dramatic tension that became the standard on "Deep Space Nine," but the interpersonal character relationships are stellar and it shows that Ferengi are still individuals who can shirk tradition. Despite Brunt showing up and giving Quark a hard time, the bar owner eventually relents and gives his employees raises and time off, as long as they pretend like he "won" to save face with the Commerce Authority. The best part is that Rom ends up taking a job in engineering, realizing his own worth and giving himself a fresh start.

1. The Magnificent Ferengi

What do you get when you task a group of ragtag Ferengi with a hostage rescue mission against the Dominion? You get "The Magnificent Ferengi," an absolute joy of an episode that sees Quark assemble a team of crooks and relatives to rescue Ishka after she's taken hostage. They end up doing a hostage trade, turning over a Vorta named Keevan (Christopher Shea) in exchange for Ishka on an abandoned Cardassian station that looks just like Deep Space Nine. The only problem is that they accidentally kill Keevan before they can do the exchange, and they're surrounded by an army of Jem'hadar under the command of a Vorta named Yelgrun (played by punk icon Iggy Pop). As such, they end up pulling a "Weekend at Bernie's" by rigging electrodes to Keevan that Nog can control via remote, forcing his body to walk. It's  really funny, and while the episode is about as deep as a kiddie pool, it's a much-needed respite from the bleak Dominion War episodes that dominate the later seasons of "Deep Space Nine."

"The Magnificent Ferengi" has it all: Quark being savvy, Nog saving the day, a whole bunch of great in-fighting among the Ferengi, a reanimated Vorta corpse, and some brilliant moments. Keevan's last words might be "I hate Ferengi," but this episode should help anyone who watches fall in love with them.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Nagus (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

The Nagus starts what turns out to be an annual tradition for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . It introduces the concept of a “Ferengi” episode, where once (or twice) a year, the show would take time out from other on-going concerns to focus on the state of affairs in the Ferengi Alliance. In a way, it’s quite like what Star Trek: The Next Generation did for the Klingons, taking an episode every once in a while to delve into the alien culture and offer a bit of exploration of a species originally created as a two-dimensional cardboard stand-in for a philosophy the franchise found unappealing.

Starting with  Heart of Glory , The Next Generation developed Klingons from “those bad guys with the ridges” into a fully functioning and multi-faceted culture, largely driven by writer Ronald D. Moore from the third season. Deep Space Nine did largely the same thing with the Ferengi, largely spearheaded by producer Ira Steven Behr. Although, given the fact that the episodes concerned amoral capitalists instead of imposing warriors, Deep Space Nine opted for comedy as the genre of choice when developing the Ferengi.

He's got the lobes for business...

He’s got the lobes for business…

Here’s a secret: I actually like the Ferengi episodes.

(Well, most of them. Profit and Lace is unforgiveable.)

Rom gets into the ear again...

Rom gets into the ear again…

Why does that feel like such a shameful confession? The episodes tend to provoke strong reactions from fandom, although – speaking on the fifth season DVD – producer Ira Steven Behr suggests that it’s just a vocal minority who object to the humour of the stories centred on the Ferengi:

What I found for the most part was that the more ‘passionate’ fans were not big fans of the Ferengi episodes. The people I’d meet on planes who just watched the show, they loved the Ferengi episodes. They didn’t see it as being untrue to the canon, or as, you know, doing the type of show that Star Trek is not supposed to be doing. They seemed to like them.

I’ve never subscribed to the idea that Star Trek needed to take itself too seriously. This is a science-fiction show, capable of being just about anything. It can do adventure, it can do mystery, it can even do romance and drama. The most successful of the first ten  Star Trek films was a fish (or whales) out of water comedy, so it’s not impossible for the franchise to bring the laughs.

Sticking it to the man...

Sticking it to the man…

So it’s possible, but how likely is it? The original Star Trek probably had the best sense of humour of any of the Star Trek shows. It produced a number of comedy-heavy hours that can be measured among the best in the series (including Tomorrow is Yesterday and The Trouble With Tribbles ), and often ended episodes with a nice scene of the three leads joking and laughing together in an entirely casual manner.

I think it’s fair to say that The Next Generation wasn’t nearly as clever in its application of humour. The cast just seemed too much like straight arrows, and the show’s only truly successful comedy relief – the character of Q – worked because he played so well against that dynamic. While The Next Generation eventually learned to make the most of Michael Dorn as the franchise’s loveable straight man, it never quite pulled off the comedy episodes with anything approaching the success of its predecessor.

He's still got teeth...

He’s still got teeth…

Deep Space Nine , for its part, would feature some of the best dramatic storytelling in the franchise. However, I’d argue that it also had the best sense of humour of any of the spin-offs. It never quite pulled off the casual humour that Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley brought to  Star Trek , but the series could do comedy episodes quite well. Little Green Men , Our Man Bashir and even The Magnificent Ferengi are great fun. It’s impossible to imagine any other cast pulling off T rials and Tribble-ations half as well.

The Nagus is really our first proper look at a Deep Space Nine comedy episode, and it’s not a bad first attempt. The actors are still settling into their roles, and the series never seems quite how far it can venture into the realm of pop culture parody while remaining Star Trek , but it isn’t embarrassing. It is occasionally quite funny, largely down to the skills of Armin Shimerman as Quark and Wallace Shawn as Zek. Max Grodénchik would grow into part of the show’s comic relief, but Rom isn’t quite there yet as a character.

"You don't even think to call me Nagus..."

“You don’t even think to call me Nagus…”

The Nagus is, as David Livingston has confessed, basically an attempt to do The Godfather … with the Ferengi :

The writing talent on that show was extraordinary, and Michael Piller was just an unbelievable mind, and an unbelievable story mind. He’d been a journalist and he had such creativity as a television writer.  So we’re sitting around talking about the business part of the story. Ira Behr was there. Michael was there. I’m not sure who else was there from the writing staff. But Michael said – and I’ll never forget this – “Well, let’s do The Godfather.” Everybody’s eyes lit up and they all said, “Yeah, of course. Let’s do The Godfather!” Michael pointed to Ira and said, “Ira, you write it,” and Ira wrote it. So, we did The Godfather. When I read that finished script I died and went to heaven. And the only thing I contributed to The Godfather part was the name Zek. That’s it.

It actually fits quite well. Gangster stories are traditionally seen as the dark side of the American dream, unchecked capitalist ambition with no concern for society as a whole. The is precisely what the Ferengi came to represent in Star Trek . However, “doing The Godfather” as a first-season comedy episode of a science-fiction spin-off… that takes ambition. And I’ve admitted before that I’ll forgive the first season of Deep Space Nine quite a lot for its ambition.

A hole lot of trouble...

A hole lot of trouble…

And, to be fair, The Nagus doesn’t even try to hide its inspiration. There’s even a scene constructed as a direct homage to the iconic opening of Francis Ford Coppola’s epic, a polite acknowledgement of the episode’s roots, transposed to a science-fiction sitting. As Quark listens to appeals, stroking a… something , he offers sage advice which might seem familiar to any film buff. “Yet, now you call me Nagus. But is it out of true friendship? No. You only pretend to show me respect so I will grant you this immense opportunity.” The production team even put up blinds on the window to complete the reference. It’s a lovely scene.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I tend to do. Let’s talk about the Ferengi. They were originally introduced in the first season of The Next Generation to serve as potential new bad guys to replace the Klingons and the Romulans. They were even name-dropped in the first episode, Encounter at Farpoint , as a potential rival to the Federation, prone to eating their business partners. That’s not bad, a smart way of building the credibility of a threat before a debut appearance.

Heavy are the lobes which wear the crown...

Heavy are the lobes which wear the crown…

It was not to be. Before the credits had even rolled on their first appearance in The Last Outpost , the Ferengi had demonstrated they would never serve as effective foils to the Federation. Wil Wheaton described them as “probably the lamest enemy ever introduced in the history of television.” Even Shimerman himself has acknowledged that his work on  Deep Space Nine was an act of atonement for his involvement in  The Last Outpost . “My agenda in playing Quark was to try to undo the horrible thing that I had done to the Ferengi in The Last Outpost, where I had presented a real one dimensional character.”

The Art of Star Trek takes the criticism a bit further, quoting Shimerman again that the Ferengi were treated as little more than “angry gerbils.” Although the show would make a couple more half-hearted attempts to turn the Ferengi into credible villains (none of them great), it was clear that things weren’t working out. The Next Generation promptly introduced the Borg, who worked much better as the villains of a major science-fiction show, shunting the Ferengi off to one side.

Talk about shady deals...

Talk about shady deals…

So why didn’t the Ferengi work? In Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations: The Multicultural Evolution of Star Trek , Katja Kanzler proposes some theories:

So, again, Star Trek makes it possible for its core group to appear as care-free economic innocents by projecting the traits of greed, calculation and exploitation – which are, extrapolating from the present state of the world, prerequisites for any technologically advanced society with a high standard of living – onto an evil alien. The question remains why this mechanism was so successful with the Borg and why it flopped with the Ferengi. I suspect that primarily the visual coding of the Ferengi made them a failure as villains: their small size, their clumsy looks with bad teeth and big ears, and their armament with whips – vis-a-vis the Federation’s high-tech phaser weapons – make them little convincing as a threat. However, one might also speculate that the Ferengi never came across as all that threatening because the characteristic they personify is not as central to the cultural narratives underlying Star Trek as the ones the Borg stand for. Both American national narratives and many multicultural discourses largely ignore class as a significant social factor. In other words, there is no cultural need for Star Trek to displace class because it has already been repressed by much more basic and overarching discourses.

It’s a fair point. “Evil capitalists” is a tough sell for the antagonists of a science-fiction show, although one senses they might be much more relevant today.

Morn really speaks to me, as a character...

Morn really speaks to me, as a character…

However, as Kanzler notes, there is an altogether more unpleasant subtext to the Ferengi:

Most notably in recent times, the Ferengi are, by some viewers, read as representing stereotypes of Jewish people. Contributors to “Trek Cochavim,” a Jewish Star Trek-discussion group, hotly debated the question whether the program’s portrayal of Ferengi culture – its reverence for money, its clannish structure – is based on anti-semitic stereotypes (Greenwald, 104). Again, Star Trek provides for sufficient estrangement of “real” ethno-racial stereotypes to maintain an air of deniability around such charges of anti-semitism – yet they cannot be entirely dismissed either.

It’s hardly an unreasonable criticism. After all, the Klingons were originally introduced in Errand of Mercy as “hard-faced, Oriental” warriors with Fu Manchu beards.

The tables have turned...

The tables have turned…

Star Trek hasn’t always been the most sensitive of shows when it comes to racial politics, and it’s no surprise that some of the more shallow portrayals tend to provoke this sort of criticism. Imagine the wrangling had Star Trek: Voyager successfully executed its original idea for the Kazon – “at least two gangs, Crips and Bloods, in competition for influence.” Imagine the racial politics that would have popped up there!

However unfortunate some of the implications might have been, Star Trek generally managed to overcome some of the troubling connotations by developing these alien species into more than just a collection of generalised racial attributes. The Klingons become more than just foreign communists over the course of The Next Generation , and the Ferengi would become more than just a bunch of greedy bad guys over the run of Deep Space Nine .

Music to his ears...

Music to his ears…

However, even that show’s bible (written by Rick Berman and Michael Piller) would show hints of that shallow one-dimensionally villainous comic relief portrayal, describing them as “ugly, sexist, greedy little aliens who are interested only in profit and getting their hands on anything of yours they happen to fancy.” It would be another writer who took an interest in redeeming the Ferengi. Ira Steven Behr, a writer who had departed The Next Generation at the end of the third season, had been recruited for Deep Space Nine . Like his contemporary, Ronald D. Moore, Behr had some bold ideas about Star Trek . In particular, he responded to the weird humanity of the Ferengi :

It’s just I thought the Ferengi were really cool characters and gave us a totally different feeling. We had so many f—king heroes. It was nice to have people who were like us, scared and looking out for themselves.

He has a point. In a universe full of idealised characters, the Ferengi are arguably a lot closer to contemporary humanity than we’d like to think.

Business as unusual...

Business as unusual…

The Nagus is a comedy episode, first and foremost. So some plot logic and character work takes a back seat to cheap gags. “I’m old,” Grand Negus Zek laments at one point. “The fire dims. I’m just not as greedy as I used to be.” It’s an absurd line, and one that only exists to underscore how greedy the Ferengi are, and how that is really their sole defining character trait as a race – the pursuit of profit no matter what the cost.

Behr spends quite a great deal of time admitting that the Ferengi have not been well-handled in the past. Holding a big Ferengi business meeting, he complains that their reputation is holding them back. Leaning a bit on the fourth wall, to the point where he might as well ask the audience for a fresh start, he observes, “Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more difficult to find truly lucrative business opportunities here in the Alpha Quadrant. And why? Because no matter where we go, our reputation precedes us.” Behr seems to concede that the Ferengi have been a bit crap in the past, but he’s going to start working on it right now, if you let him.

It's like a really morbid lemonade stand...

It’s like a really morbid lemonade stand…

The Nagus bears comparison with Heart of Glory from the first year of The Next Generation , the episode which really began to develop the Klingons as multi-faceted aliens. As a sign of how well-rounded the Klingons were becoming, we were granted a glimpse at their death rituals, the revelation that the body was nothing more than an empty shell after a warrior died. The Nagus does something similar, revealing that a Ferengi’s  “vacuum-desiccated” remains are sold at auction as “collectibles.”

It originally seems like a nice gag, but it is something a little bit deeper. It’s an insight into just how deeply engrained commerce is in the Ferengi society. It’s one last business deal for the deceased, and a way of measuring their accomplishments in the only way that matters to a Ferengi – monetarily. Just as the Klingon devotion to action is reflected in their rejection of the inert matter of a dead body, the Ferengi capitalist culture finds its ultimate expression in the sale of the body after death. It absurd to us, but it adds a bit more depth to the Ferengi. It starts to hint at some shading and development.

We all have a little bit of Zek inside of us...

We all have a little bit of Zek…

The Nagus also officially introduces the concept of the “Rules of Acquisition” , the laws governing Ferengi interaction. Behr would publish the rules in a little novelty book during the show’s run. I own a copy. It’s notable that the Ferengi are one of the relatively few Star Trek races to support tie-in materials dedicated expressly to expanding their culture, mythology and systems of governance. Only the Klingons can really compete.

Anyway, the Rules are important. They suggest that the Ferengi aren’t simply governed by one-dimensional greed and by pure avarice. The presence of the Rules of Acquisition suggests that an entire culture has grown up around the accumulation of wealth, guided by their own cultural norms and principles. The Ferengi aren’t just money-hungry profiteers, they are an entire society build on the notion that profit is a good thing.

Locked and loaded...

Locked and loaded…

The Nagus also concedes that ruling a society like that is hard work. Zek is portrayed as a canny old man, but one genuinely motivated by what he perceives to be the needs of his people. When he retires, he immediately begins planning a holiday. “My first in eighty-five years!” he explains, implying that ruling the Ferengi Alliance is just as tough as being High Chancellor or Federation President. Indeed, The Negus hinges on Zek’s attempt to determine if his son is fit to succeed him as leader. (Which would come a full circle when Zek repeated the journey to Deep Space Nine to name his stepson as successor in The Dogs of War towards the end of the show.)

Behr would mount several impassioned defenses of the Ferengi over the course of Deep Space Nine . In The Jem’Had ar , for example, he’d argue that a society driven purely by pursuit of profit has no reason for genocide or war – these things disrupt cash flow. You can see hints of that here, when Zek’s plan seems to hinge on his son’s attempts to prove himself worth of Zek’s title. The son opts to kill Quark and claim the mantle of Grand Negus. Zek seems appalled by this. ( “It’s like talking to a Klingon!” he proclaims.)

Sitting at the big boys' table...

Sitting at the big boys’ table…

Ferengi culture isn’t built on violence. In fact, violence is counter-productive. “You don’t grab power,” Zek advises his son. “You accumulate it quietly without anyone noticing.” Referring to Quark, Zek suggests that information and manipulation are the keys to success – implying the Ferengi way is one more shrewd than simple violence or brutality. “You could have let him hold the sceptre while you controlled everything from the shadows. And then, when everything was running smoothly, only then would you take over.” The Ferengi are, in their own way, no more violent than the Federation, they just stick to their own principles.

Behr has always had a knack for playing with and subverting Federation ideals, and one of the nicer touches of The Nagus is the suggestion that the problem in relations between the Federation and the Ferengi is not the Ferengi. Already, Deep Space Nine has begun building up little threads and subplots, and developing characters and attitudes. It is already quite clear, for example, that Sisko has no patience for the Ferengi way of life. He dismissively referred to Nog as “the Ferengi boy” in Move Along Home , and was worried about Jake’s friendship with a Ferengi.

No accounting for taste...

No accounting for taste…

It’s worth noting that Sisko’s attitudes are hardly unique in Star Trek . On The Next Generation , the characters tended to treat the Ferengi with a mixture of contempt and condescension. While Picard and his crew estolled the virtues of peaceful understanding of Klingons and Romulans, there was generally a sense of revulsion towards the Ferengi. Sisko’s prejudice here isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s treated as something of the norm. Until Jake calls him on it.

It’s small scenes like that which make Jake a wonderful character to have around. When Sisko tries to ban Jake from seeing Nog, his son responds by pointing out how hypocritical that is coming from a man who was so excited about first contact in the last episode. “But you’re the one always saying that we should make friends with other cultures.”   Ben responds, “I believe that, and I’m glad you believe that too. But human values and Ferengi values are very different. We’ve never been able to form a common bond.”

A gold-standard ruler?

A gold-standard ruler?

It seems like a reasonable enough excuse, if you don’t think about it too much. Then you start to wonder a bit. Surely the Ferengi are more like modern humans than any other species in the Star Trek cosmos? If we can relate to Vulcans, why not the Ferengi? There’s a lovely little scene where Sisko discovers what Jake has been doing with Nog. Sisko’s son has been teaching “the Ferengi boy” how to read, forging his own common bond. It makes a very clear point. The Federation’s attitude towards the Ferengi has been condescending and patronising, rather like that of the franchise itself.

There are lots of nice touches, even beyond watching the first attempts at rehabilitation of the Ferengi. We get the first real sense that Odo might care for Quark, as he lets genuine concern creep into his appeal for Quark’s assistance in finding the attempted assassin. “When are you going to get it through your twisted little brain that we are trying to save your life?” Auberjones does wonders with the line, which maintains the pretense that Odo is more frustrated than concerned, but still hints at the depths of their relationship.

Class acts?

Class acts?

Rom feels a little strange here, given his later portrayal on the show as a bumbling idiot. Rom’s willingness to assassinate his abusive brother feels quite sinister for a story like this, and it’s really hard to imagine where else that portrayal of Rom could go. Would you still work with him, even if he was your brother? This episode also marks the only appearance of Krax, the son of Grand Nagus Zek, who is never mentioned again. Despite the fact you’d assume he’d be a major part of some of the upcoming Ferengi stories.

Aside from those two anomalies, The Nagus actually feels quite significant in hindsight. In one of those nice father-son conversations that show does so well, Sisko casually mentions the Bajoran Gratitude Festival and the Fire Caves. (Well,  “Fire Caverns.” ) Both would become important, but not in the short term. The Bajoran Gratitude Festival would appear as part of  the third season episode  Fascination . The Fire Caves would next be mentioned in the fifth season episode  The Assignment and would appear in the finale, What You Leave Behind .

Quality father-son time...

Quality father-son time…

The Nagus also marks the only time we hear Morn make a sound ( he laughs! ), and the aforementioned first reference to the Rules of Acquisition. So there is a sense of a building continuity, even though these elements won’t necessarily be developed for quite some time. It is good to get a sense that the show is developing these little themes and ideas that are mentioned casually and then build up over time. It’s still early, but The Nagus feels like a step in the right direction.

It’s not perfect, though. The comedy is a little forced in places. The laughs aren’t belly laughs so much as wry smirks. However, it treats the Ferengi as more than just a stereotype, and represents a significant step forward for Deep Space Nine . Much done, more to do, but this is a good enough start for now.

You might be interested in our reviews of the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine :

  • Supplemental: Terok Nor – Day of the Vipers by James Swallow
  • Supplemental: Prophecy & Change – Ha’Mara by Kevin G. Summers
  • Past Prologue
  • A Man Alone
  • Captive Pursuit
  • The Passenger
  • Move Along Home
  • The N a gus
  • Battle Lines
  • The Storyteller
  • Supplemental: Terok Nor – Night of the Wolves by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
  • If Wishes Were Horses…
  • The Forsaken
  • Dramatis Personae
  • In the Hands of the Prophets

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Filed under: Deep Space Nine | Tagged: Armin Shimerman , deep space nine , Ferengi , Galactic quadrant (Star Trek) , games , godfather , Ira Steven Behr , Last Outpost , Michael Piller , Nagus , Quark , Rules of Acquisition , star trek , Star Trek Next Generation , star trek: deep space nine , star trek: the next generation , StarTrek , Wil Wheaton |

2 Responses

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Worth it to just hear Morn laugh. Great post. I love so many Season One episodes and this is indeed one of them. Long Live DS9! (and the Ferengi of course!)

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The Nagus is one of the strongest of the season, despite the reputation that the Ferengi episodes would earn.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 5, Episode 20

Ferengi love songs, where to watch, star trek: deep space nine — season 5, episode 20.

Watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — Season 5, Episode 20 with a subscription on Paramount+, or buy it on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, Apple TV.

More Like This

Cast & crew.

Avery Brooks

Capt. Benjamin Sisko

Rene Auberjonois

Michael Dorn

Lt. Cmdr. Worf

Terry Farrell

Lt. Cmdr. Jadzia Dax

Cirroc Lofton

Colm Meaney

Chief Miles O'Brien

Episode Info

Memory Alpha

Maihar'du was the Hupyrian servant of former Grand Nagus Zek . Maihar'du had taken a vow of silence and was only permitted to speak to the Nagus. He was very imposing and was not only a servant, but a bodyguard and food taster . He was also the flight control officer to Zek's personal shuttle . ( DS9 : " Rules of Acquisition ") He often provided Zek with his favorite drug , Hupyrian beetle snuff . ( DS9 : " The Nagus ")

He was very concerned when Zek came under the influence of the Prophets and tried to rewrite the Rules of Acquisition . He brought Zek to Quark and Rom to seek their help. For their assistance, Maihar'du presented Quark with an expensive handkerchief and patted him on the head . ( DS9 : " Prophet Motive ")

Once Zek appointed Rom as the new Grand Nagus, Maihar'du pulled Brunt away from Rom and forcibly sat him down to the side. After giving nods of well wishes and farewells to Rom, Maihar'du accompanied Zek and Ishka to Zek's retirement on Risa . ( DS9 : " The Dogs of War ")

  • 1.1 Appearances
  • 1.2 Background information
  • 1.3 External link

Appendices [ ]

Appearances [ ].

  • " The Nagus "
  • " Rules of Acquisition "
  • " Prophet Motive "
  • " Ferengi Love Songs "
  • " Profit and Lace "
  • " The Emperor's New Cloak "
  • " The Dogs of War "

Background information [ ]

Maihar'du was played by Tiny Ron .

According to makeup supervisor, Maihar'du's makeup was based upon that of Pruneface from Dick Tracy . ( Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Two, DS9 Season 2 DVD , Special Features)

The only time Maihar'du spoke on screen was as a representation of himself as a Prophet in the form of the Maihar'du Alien during Quark's visit to the wormhole in " Prophet Motive ".

External link [ ]

  • Maihar'du at Memory Beta , the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
  • 1 Daniels (Crewman)

Screen Rant

I’ve always wondered why star trek: ds9 abandoned their plans for riker’s clone.

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  • Star Trek: DS9 had plans to bring back Thomas Riker, but logistical concerns and the need to move on from TNG cast led to his abandonment.
  • Jonathan Frakes reprised his role as Thomas Riker on DS9, but future episode ideas were scrapped, ultimately benefiting the show.
  • DS9's showrunner made the tough decision to cut ties with Thomas Riker to focus on developing new characters like Eddington.

I've always wondered why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine abandoned their plans for Thomas Riker, the treacherous transporter clone of Star Trek: The Next Generation 's Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes). Thomas Riker was first introduced in TNG season 6, episode 24, "Second Chances", in which he is discovered living in isolation on Nervala IV. This forced to Thomas to see the man that he eventually became, and he found that Will Riker didn't live up to expectations. Thomas was appalled by Riker's rejection of promotion , and left the Enterprise to serve aboard the USS Ghandi as a Lieutenant.

Jonathan Frakes reprized the role of Thomas Riker for Star Trek: DS9 season 3, episode 9, "Defiant", which revealed that he was now a Maquis general. In the opening of the DS9/TNG crossover episode , the audience believes that they're watching Commander Riker seduce Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor). However, in a notoriously silly moment, Will peels off his fake sideburns to reveal that he was Thomas all along, and he's now in command of the hijacked USS Defiant. Thomas Riker never resurfaced after "Defiant", and it's only by picking apart what happened between the episode and DS9 season 4 that I can understand why.

Star Trek Secretly Confirms What Happened To Riker's Clone

William Riker's transporter clone, Thomas was arrested by the Cardassians in DS9, but he was never seen again. Star Trek finally has an update.

Star Trek: DS9 Had Future Plans For Thomas Riker

The book Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman suggests that there were tentative plans to bring back Thomas Riker after "Defiant" . In a quote from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 's showrunner, Ira Steven Behr, he reflects on how they made Jonathan Frakes' character their own. Read Ira Steven Behr's quote about Riker's clone below:

" We'll probably see a return of Tom Riker episode. What's nice is he's not really a part of Next Generation , so he's ours, and we can do what we want with him and not worry about what the movies will do with Will Riker "

With Tom sent to a Cardassian prison at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3, episode 9, the logical follow-up would be a Major Kira episode of DS9 where she broke him out. Jonathan Frakes also felt that the ending of "Defiant" naturally provided an opportunity for a sequel. In an interview on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 6 boxed set, Frakes says he suggested that Tom Riker could aid Legate Damar (Casey Biggs) in his rebellion against the Dominion in DS9 season 7.

I've always thought that Tom Riker had a lot of potential beyond just being an evil Will Riker clone

A fan rumor, debunked by Moore in one of his AOL chats, suggested that Tom would be revealed as a member of Section 31. However, none of these story ideas ever made it to the screen, as by the time of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4, freelance writers were being told not to pitch Thomas Riker stories . I've always thought that Tom Riker had a lot of potential beyond just being an evil Will Riker clone, but looking into why the decision was made not to use him again, I understand why that potential was left unfulfilled.

As well as appearing in "Defiant", Jonathan Frakes also directed three episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3.

Why Star Trek: DS9 Banned The Use Of Riker’s Clone In Scripts

In a 2018 interview with Geek Town , Ira Steven Behr explained why he changed his mind about Thomas Riker in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . Behr acknowledges that his decision may have disappointed Jonathan Frakes and some of the DS9 writers, but I do think his reasoning makes a lot of sense given the show's direction. Read Behr's comments below:

" I thought that character... we could have had fun with that character on DS9. At that time, unfortunately for Jonathan Frakes who really liked doing it, that was the moment where I said, “We have to cut ties with the past, for sure.” As much as I liked that character, I said, 'We can’t bring him back. Sorry'. The guys kept saying, “We can use him.” We could never have used him enough in order to really get the good storyline going, continuing. That was a problem, to be honest, but that’s the character I would have liked to have driven ".

"Defiant" aired three days after the theatrical release of Star Trek Generations , the success of which led to further movies for the TNG cast. The following two TNG movies, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection were directed by Jonathan Frakes . Movies are more demanding than TV, and so Ira Steven Behr is right; Jonathan Frakes wouldn't have had the time to play Thomas Riker in a substantial way . So it makes a lot of sense for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to cut its losses when it comes to Tom Riker, especially as Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) was about to become a series regular.

10 Star Trek Characters Who Met Their Doppelganger

Star Trek has always loved a good doppelganger story, and many characters have met their exact (and often evil) doubles over the years.

Why I’m Glad Star Trek: DS9 Never Reused Thomas Riker

As much as I think Thomas Riker is a fascinating character who had much to offer Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , I'm glad that the decision was made not to use him. Introducing Worf to boost DS9 's ratings in season 4 turned out to be the best thing for the show and the character. However, if DS9 had Michael Dorn as a regular and Jonathan Frakes as a recurring guest actor, then it would look like DS9 was being propped up by beloved actors Star Trek: The Next Generation . Instead, DS9 improved Worf as a character , and Michael Dorn never overshadowed his co-stars.

If Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had used Jonathan Frakes more, then it seems likely he would have become the Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall) character. However, Eddington's betrayal of Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) worked because audiences had spent a season watching the two men get to know each other. Sisko doggedly pursuing Thomas Riker and his Maquis freedom fighters for two seasons just wouldn't have had the same impact . While it's always disappointed me that we never got more from Thomas Riker, I do think that, ultimately, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine benefited from his absence.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

*Availability in US

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, also known as DS9, is the fourth series in the long-running Sci-Fi franchise, Star Trek. DS9 was created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller, and stars Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, and Cirroc Lofton. This particular series follows a group of individuals in a space station near a planet called Bajor.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

Giant Freakin Robot

Giant Freakin Robot

Lord Of The Rings Influenced Star Trek DS9's Most Beloved Character

Posted: June 24, 2024 | Last updated: June 24, 2024

<p>Apparently, getting only three hours of sleep wasn’t affecting his performance all that much (again, channeling the youthful energy of Dr. Bashir), but it did give the actor dark rings under his eyes. This sent some quiet warning bells ringing in the halls of Paramount, and according to Alexander Siddig, “they sent someone down, as the studios do, to quietly inquire if you needed rehabilitation for a drug abuse.” It’s funny in retrospect, but this was a real nightmare scenario for Paramount: the prospect that a lead character on their hot new Star Trek spinoff, a character that early audiences absolutely hated, had a secret drug problem.</p>

Lord Of The Rings Influenced Star Trek DS9’s Most Beloved Character

Over the course of Deep Space Nine, we thought we saw every possible side of the conniving bartender Quark. However, it turns out that a very early episode nearly showed us a side of this Ferengi that would change everything we know about him. According to the writer of the episode “The Passenger,” he originally wrote a song for Quark that would have made him into the space station’s resident Hobbit.

<p>“The Passenger” story was developed by Morgan Gendel, and he went on to co-write the script. This was during the first season of Deep Space Nine and different writers were still exploring hidden facets of each character. </p><p>If Gendel had his way, one of the characteristics of Quark is that he wouldn’t be afraid to burst into the kind of song that would make Hobbits like Biblo and Frodo Baggins proud.</p>

The Passenger

“The Passenger” story was developed by Morgan Gendel, and he went on to co-write the script. This was during the first season of Deep Space Nine and different writers were still exploring hidden facets of each character.

If Gendel had his way, one of the characteristics of Quark is that he wouldn’t be afraid to burst into the kind of song that would make Hobbits like Biblo and Frodo Baggins proud.

<p>What does all of this have to do with Star Trek: Discovery and its portrayal of tribbles? Following his successful mission to the past in “Trials and Tribble-ations,” we learn that Sisko omitted one key detail in his report to Temporal Investigations. Odo brought a tribble back with him, and its ability to quickly reproduce brought these creatures back from near extinction and caused Deep Space Nine to start getting overrun with tribbles, just like K7.</p>

Quark, Lounge Singer

The writer revealed that at one point, he wrote a special song for everyone’s favorite bartender to sing. “I had [Quark] singing a whole little ditty, like a Hobbit. I took a day to write this ditty about making money while he’s serving people and shorting them on their drinks.”

We love the details about this Quark song so much because it really does channel the famous songs from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Gendel didn’t want to just have the Ferengi spontaneously bursting into a song like in Strange New Worlds’ musical episode. Instead, like we see in Tolkien’s famous books, Quark would be singing a song that both describes what he is doing and what some of his motivations really are

star trek quark

Afraid Of Being Laughed Out Of The Room

Why, then, did Quark not end up singing this tune in “The Passenger” and take his rightful place as DS9’s Hobbit? The reason for this is simple: Gendel said that even though he “thought it was hysterical,” he also feared that if he “turned it in, they were going to laugh me out of the room.”

As Deep Space Nine superfans, it’s difficult for us to imagine how different the show might have been if Quark had made like a Hobbit in season one.

Would he have regularly started bursting into song, or would this be a one-time occurrence? And if he began singing in his own bar on a regular basis, how long would it be before characters like Bashir and O’Brien joined in?

<p>Let’s see if we can break this down further. The general idea is that the citizens of the Federation no longer use money because everybody has everything they need, and there’s really no use for it. Different societies, like the Ferengi, however, still use hard currency like gold-pressed latinum. We’ll ignore that for now, though, because we’re mostly dealing with the Federation and McCoy’s secret treasure stash.</p>

It Could’ve Lightened Things Up

If such singing had become a regular thing, it might have kept Deep Space Nine from getting a reputation as Star Trek’s darkest show. It might have also cemented Armin Shimerman as a musical actor if his Ferengi was always leading off with a song.

This may not have exactly hurt his reputation, of course–if Spock actor Leonard Nimoy didn’t hurt his acting career by singing about a Hobbit, we doubt Quark actor Shimerman would hurt his career by simply singing like a Hobbit.

<p>On Deep Space Nine, Armin Shimerman’s Quark was the perfect embodiment of this new philosophy, and his conniving bartender Quark always entertained audiences with his clever schemes, dry wit, and his feud with Constable Odo. </p><p>That’s the real irony of the actor apologizing for his previous performance: he believes he failed the fans of The Next Generation because he had the largest Ferengi role in “The Last Outpost” and fans hated the new aliens, but the real responsibility for the failure lay with the writers, producers, and Gene Roddenberry himself. </p>

Quark Could Always Pick Up The Mic

It may be too much to hope for, but we might yet hear Quark burst out into song. The character already made a cameo on Lower Decks and his successful business has even appeared in Picard.

It seems like Quark has become an acclaimed businessman after all these years, and if the franchise keeps bringing him back, having all that latimum would certainly be something worth singing for.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (TV Series)

Ferengi love songs (1997), wallace shawn: zek, photos .

Wallace Shawn and Tiny Ron in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

Quotes 

Zek : Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.

[Rule of Acquisition 208] 

Zek : Did you see their faces? They thought they had me, but we showed them! I answered all their questions, didn't I?

Quark : You certainly did.

Zek : The state of the trade negotiations with the Breen, why I dumped our lokar bean investments, why I insisted we buy up every bit of jevonite we could get our hands on.

Quark : You were brilliant. You know, for a moment there I actually thought that Brunt's head was going to explode with frustration!

Zek : By the time I'm finished with him, he'll wish it had. Blam!

[laughs] 

Zek : Blam!

[Quark has just entered his room to discover Grand Nagus Zek and his towering assistant Maihar'du hiding in his closet] 

Quark : [in awe]  Grand Nagus?

Zek : [defensive]  Quark, what are you doing here?

Quark : [stammering]  I-I'm just visiting my mother...

Zek : That's no excuse! You've been banned by the FCA. You *must* leave Ferenginar AT ONCE!

[Zek throws Quark's bag into Quark's arms. Quark immediatley runs out of his room. He runs past Ishka, who looks at him worried] 

Quark : [panicky]  Gotta go! The Nagus knows I'm here!

[Quark suddenly stops as he realizes something] 

Quark : [suspicious]  Wait a minute... *What's* the *Nagus* doing in my closet?

Ishka : [innocently]  The Nagus?

Quark : [turning to look at his mother; his eyes narrowed]  *Moogie*!

Ishka : [Ishka sighs; calling out]  Zekkie... You might as well come out!

Quark : [high outraged voice]  *Zekkie?*

[whispers] 

Quark : What's going on?

Ishka : [sheepishly]  Next time you visit, Quark... I'd really appreciate it if you called first.

Quark : That doesn't answer my question.

[Zek and Maihar'du enter] 

Zek : [with piercing eyes; pointing a gnarled finger at Quark]  "Sometimes, the only thing more dangerous than a question is an *answer*"!

Quark : [labeling the rule Zek quoted; breathlessly]  Rule of Acquisition two-oh-eight!

[Quark glares at his mother; frantic] 

Quark : *You're* in trouble again, aren't you? What have you done now?

[to Zek; very frantic now] 

Quark : Whatever it is, I know nothing about it!

[back to Ishka; out of his mind with panic] 

Quark : Tell him, Moogie! Tell him I'm innocent!

Ishka : [calmly]  Relax, Quark. I'm not in any trouble.

Quark : [confused]  You're not?

Zek : [amicable]  Why should she be in trouble?

Quark : [stumbling over his words]  I don't know... I just thought... since you were here... I..

[Quark is at a loss. He rubs his head, defeated] 

Quark : I don't know what I thought. I'm so confused.

Zek : [gently; exchanging a loving look with Ishka]  About what? It's really quite simple... You see, Quark... Your mother and I... . *are* in love!

[Quark staggers back mystified shock and surprise as Zek puts his arm around Ishka, who grins happily] 

Zek : I may have lost my memory, but not my sense of humor!

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IMAGES

  1. Deep Space Nine: Grand Nagus Zek in 2020

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  2. Vintage Star Trek DS9 Zek Action Figure Brand New 1995

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  3. Star Trek Deep Space Nine DS9 Zek Playmates Action Figure

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  4. Pin page

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  5. Jeffrey Combs, Wallace Shawn & Cecily Adams as Ferengis

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  6. Star Trek ZEK grand nagus FERENGI playmates action figures DS9

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VIDEO

  1. ŠTA JE OVO, STAR TREK?!

  2. Rom, Quark, Ezri, and Brunt in A Shuttle to Meet the Alliance's Regent

  3. Star Trek

  4. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl DirectX9

  5. Quark Learns about Tulaberries from Grand Nagus Zek

  6. DayZ Standalone # 9 [Северо-западная ВПП]

COMMENTS

  1. Zek

    Zek was a male Ferengi, who had become Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance by 2369. Zek was one of the most savvy and visionary Ferengi leaders, pioneering business ventures into the Gamma Quadrant and making the Ferengi Alliance the first Alpha Quadrant power that ever learned of the Dominion. In contrast to his cunning business practices, he also became known for his liberal attitudes ...

  2. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" The Nagus (TV Episode 1993)

    The Nagus: Directed by David Livingston. With Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Alexander Siddig, Terry Farrell. The Ferengi leader, Grand Nagus Zek, comes to the station. He seems very interested in Quark's bar.

  3. Wallace Shawn

    Wallace Shawn (born 12 November 1943; age 80) is the American actor and playwright who played Zek on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Outside of Star Trek, Shawn is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Vizzini in The Princess Bride, the acclaimed 1987 comedy/fantasy film co-starring Chris Sarandon and Carol Kane. He is also known for his work in Woody Allen films, for his role in the 1995 film ...

  4. The Nagus (episode)

    With the sudden death of Grand Nagus Zek, Quark becomes the new leader of the Ferengi Alliance, but he also becomes a target for murder. An airlock door opens, and a Ferengi, Krax, steps out and looks around carefully. Once satisfied, he gestures, and a hunched-over obscured figure, Zek, emerges leaning on a taller humanoid, Maihar'du. In his other hand, he clutches a staff with a golden ...

  5. The Nagus

    "The Nagus" is the 11th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located adjacent to a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy, near the planet Bajor.This is the first of several episodes in the series focusing on the ...

  6. Getting into it With the Grand Nagus, Wallace Shawn

    The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Nagus" gave fans their first taste of playwright-author-producer-actor Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek. Shawn made the wily Ferengi leader his own over seven appearances on DS9 — that's one each season.The role added to his impressive list of previous and future memorable characters, including Father Abruzzi (Heaven Help Us), Vizzini (The ...

  7. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" The Emperor's New Cloak (TV Episode 1999

    The Emperor's New Cloak: Directed by LeVar Burton. With Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Nicole de Boer, Michael Dorn. Quark and Rom have to rescue Grand Nagus Zek who's being held captive in the alternate universe.

  8. Zek

    For the mirror universe counterpart, see Zek (mirror). Zek was a 24th century Ferengi male, the Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance from at least 2355 until 2375. He was assisted by his loyal Hupyrian servant Maihar'du. (TNG - The Lost Era novel: The Buried Age) Following the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole in 2369, Zek saw the immense profit to be made in the Gamma Quadrant and created a ...

  9. The Emperor's New Cloak

    The Emperor's New Cloak. " The Emperor's New Cloak " is the 162nd episode of the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The 12th episode of the seventh season. It premiered the week of February 1, 1999 to Nielsen ratings of 4.6. [1] Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the space station Deep Space Nine.

  10. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's 10 Best Ferengi Episodes, Ranked

    Throughout "Deep Space Nine," Quark has a complicated relationship with Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn), the supreme leader of the Ferengi people, but things get their absolute weirdest in the ...

  11. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" The Nagus (TV Episode 1993)

    Zek. Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Scott Barry. ... Bajoran Officer (uncredited) Robert Coffee. ... Bajoran Civillian (uncredited) Brian Demonbreun.

  12. Prophet Motive

    Prophet Motive. " Prophet Motive " is the 62nd episode of the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and is the sixteenth episode of the third season. In the episode, Grand Nagus Zek comes to the station to present Quark with a revised copy of the Rules of Acquisition, which is now a guide for generosity and benevolence.

  13. Prophet Motive (episode)

    When Grand Nagus Zek becomes a philanthropist and rewrites the Rules of Acquisition, Quark worries that he may have gone insane; Bashir is nominated for a prestigious medical award. A young woman named Emi is grasping Quark's ears from behind, presumably giving him or leading up to oo-mox, as he is obviously enjoying the experience. She is attempting to get Quark to finalize a deal whereby she ...

  14. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" The Nagus (TV Episode 1993)

    Zek : You don't grab power, you accumulate it quietly, without anyone noticing. Zek : The Gamma Quadrant, gentlemen - millions of new worlds at our very doorstep. The potential for Ferengi business expansion is staggering. Krax : And best of all, no one there has ever heard the name 'Ferengi'!

  15. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I'm taking a look at the first season. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective. The Nagus starts what turns out to be an annual tradition for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.It introduces the concept of a "Ferengi" episode, where once (or twice) a year, the show would take time out from other on-going ...

  16. List of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine characters

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a science fiction television show of the Star Trek franchise that aired between 1993 and 1999. ... Zek is the Grand Nagus (leader) of the Ferengi Alliance throughout most of the 24th century. He was played by Wallace Shawn.

  17. Can we talk about Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek? : r/startrek

    Yes, the 'inconceivable!' line from Princess Bride is what most people think of when they think of Wallace, but he is truly great in "My Dinner with Andre". 15. TheNamesBruntFCA. • 3 yr. ago. I am the TRUE Grand Nagus! 9. [deleted] • 3 yr. ago. Ironically, Shawn is a self described socialist playing the leader of a hyper-capitalist race.

  18. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

    Watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — Season 5, Episode 20 with a subscription on Paramount+, or buy it on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, Apple TV. Quark returns to Ferenginar for maternal comfort ...

  19. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Rules of Acquisition (TV Episode 1993

    "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Rules of Acquisition (TV Episode 1993) Wallace Shawn as Zek. Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. TV Shows.

  20. Profit and Lace

    Profit and Lace. " Profit and Lace " is the 147th episode of the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 23rd episode of the sixth season. It was first broadcast on May 11, 1998. Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on the space station Deep Space Nine. This episode is one of several episodes focusing on the ...

  21. Maihar'du

    Maihar'du was the Hupyrian servant of former Grand Nagus Zek.Maihar'du had taken a vow of silence and was only permitted to speak to the Nagus. He was very imposing and was not only a servant, but a bodyguard and food taster.He was also the flight control officer to Zek's personal shuttle.(DS9: "Rules of Acquisition") He often provided Zek with his favorite drug, Hupyrian beetle snuff.

  22. I've Always Wondered Why Star Trek: DS9 Abandoned Their Plans For Riker

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, also known as DS9, is the fourth series in the long-running Sci-Fi franchise, Star Trek. DS9 was created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller, and stars Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, and Cirroc Lofton. This particular series follows a group of individuals in a space station near a planet called Bajor.

  23. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Prophet Motive (TV Episode 1995)

    [Zek and Quark exchange high-pitched giggles] ... STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE SEASON 3 (1994) (8.8/10) a list of 26 titles created 11 Aug 2012 TV1990 a list of 625 titles created 09 Dec 2015 Star Trek a list of 872 titles created 03 Oct 2017 ...

  24. Lord Of The Rings Influenced Star Trek DS9's Most Beloved Character

    Over the course of Deep Space Nine, we thought we saw every possible side of the conniving bartender Quark. However, it turns out that a very early episode nearly showed us a side of this Ferengi ...

  25. "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Ferengi Love Songs (TV Episode 1997 ...

    You've been banned by the FCA. You *must* leave Ferenginar AT ONCE! [Zek throws Quark's bag into Quark's arms. Quark immediatley runs out of his room. He runs past Ishka, who looks at him worried] Quark : [panicky] Gotta go! The Nagus knows I'm here! [Quark suddenly stops as he realizes something]

  26. Rules of Acquisition (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. ) " Rules of Acquisition " is the seventh episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It is the 27th episode overall. Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a wormhole between the Alpha ...