The Nagus

Quark enjoys being the Grand Nagus

It’s good to be the Nagus.

Episode: 11

Original air date: March 21, 1993

Notable guest stars: Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek (recurring), Lou Wagner as Krax, Barry Gordon as Nava, Lee Arenberg as Gral, Tiny Ron as Maihar’Du (recurring), Max Grodénchik as Rom (recurring), Aron Eisenberg as Nog (recurring)

In a nutshell: The leader of the Ferengi arrives on the station, presenting Quark with both opportunity and danger. Meanwhile, Jake and Nog take part in an after school special.

Say hello to: Grand Nagus Zek, and his silent man-servant, Maihar’Du

Say goodbye to: Grand Negus Zek (but don’t worry)

Missing in action: Nobody. The gang’s all here!

Words of wisdom: “Once you have their money, you never give it back.” – First Rule of Acquisition

How to succeed to in business without really dying

As an airlock opens, a Ferengi looks around suspiciously. Deciding that the coast is clear, he signals to his fellow traveler, a very large man with a wrinkly face, who escorts a hunched figure in a cloak. The cloaked figure moves slowly and carries a staff topped with a golden Ferengi head.

Grand Nagus Zek

Nagus! Meet the Nagus! He’s the modern greed guru!

In Sisko’s quarters, the commander talks to his son as he gets ready for school. He’s arranged for a three-day vacation for Jake and him on Bajor to check out the Gratitude Festival and the Fire Caverns. Jake, however, isn’t thrilled and doesn’t really want to go. He’d rather stay on the station and hang out with Nog.

At the bar, Quark scolds Rom for returning a lost purse to a customer with all of its money intact. He punishes Rom by telling him he’ll have to polish every rail in the bar that night. Rom quickly passes this punishment onto Nog after he discovers his son goofing around and being generally unproductive.

As Quark tells his patrons a joke, the mysterious party from the airlock walks into the bar. The uncloaked Ferengi announces that he is Krax, son of the Grand Negus Zek. The cloaked figure is then revealed to be the Grand Nagus himself, a very ancient-looking Ferengi with some impressive ear hair. Quark quickly kisses the golden staff head and cowtows to the leader of his people. Krax demands the use of a holosuite for his father, and says he’ll try all five of Quark’s most “exciting” programs.

OPENING CREDITS

Chaos reigns in the schoolroom as Chief O’Brien enters. While Keiko is still on Earth for another two weeks, he’s filling in as the substitute teacher, in addition to resuming all of his normal duties. When he asks for the students to turn in their homework assignments, Nog concocts a thoroughly ridiculous story about Vulcans stealing his homework and gets Jake to hesitantly go along with it.

Zek chows down on some tube worms

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

As the Nagus continues to hog the holosuites, Quark confides to Rom that he fears the Nagus will force him to sell the bar to him at a great loss. Zek finally emerges from the holosuite and thirstily drinks to help restore his energy. Krax says he needs to rest, so Quark generously offers up Rom’s quarters for the Nagus’ use during his visit. As he leaves, Zek insists that Quark invite him to dinner.

Sisko and O’Brien have a brief conversation about how things are going at the school. O’Brien says it’s going as well as could be expected, but after a few moments he hesitantly suggests that Sisko find a way to get Jake away from Nog’s influence. Sisko agrees with him, but fears that he’d lose if he forced Jake to choose between Nog and him at this point.

At dinner, Zek praises Quark and his intuition which has led him to profitability at the gateway to the Gamma Quadrant. He also berates his son for not having similar “ears” for business. Zek find out that Nog is attending a human school, and Rom quickly forbids Nog from ever returning to it. As the dinner continues, Zek tells Quark that he’s come to ask for his bar, but only to host a conference tomorrow morning about the future of the Ferengi and business in the Gamma Quadrant.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

In Ops, Kira and Sisko monitor all the Ferengi ships arriving at the station. Curious as to what’s going on, and a bit suspicious, Sisko orders Odo to keep an eye on the situation. Not surprisingly, Odo is already on the case.

Nog storms away from Jake

Can this marriage be saved?

Quark scrambles to finish the preparations for Zek’s conference as the guests begin to arrive. After denying a very forlorn Morn entrance to the bar, Quark begins to clear out when the Nagus arrives and demands that he stay.

On the promenade, Jake tracks down Nog and asks him why he wasn’t at school that morning. Nog tells him that he’s through with school and that it’s a waste of time for a Ferengi since there’s no profit in it. Jake suspects that Nog’s sudden hatred for school is the work of Rom, but the discussion ends with Nog angrily walking away and calling Jake a “stupid human.”

The meeting at Quark’s continues, with Zek praising the recent business successes the guests have achieved, while lamenting the increasing difficulty of doing business in the Alpha Quadrant due to their sullied reputation. The Gamma Quadrant, where no one has heard of or dealt with the Ferengi, is their future, Zek says. He then says that he’s too old to lead the charge into the Gamma Quadrant and has decided to appoint his successor. Much to everyone’s surprise, it’s Quark.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

As Jake pouts over his breakfast, he tells Sisko that Rom has pulled Nog out of school. Sisko tries to explain to him that humans and the Ferengi have always had a hard time seeing eye to eye because of their radically different values. He says it may not be possible for Jake and Nog to continue their friendship.

Quark walks along the promendade, enjoying his new stature at the Grand Nagus. He’s approached by Gral, who offers to protect Quark from his new found enemies if he offers him lucrative business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant in return. It becomes clear that Gral’s “offer” is really more of a thinly veiled threat.

Zek's remains up for sale

Welcome to Zek’s funeral! All Zek must go!

Quark runs to Zek for help, but the former Nagus is busy trying to figure out where to take his first vacation in over 85 years. He counsels Quark that he needs to surround himself with loyal men to protect him, but not too loyal since anyone who doesn’t value his own profit above all else can’t be trusted. And he shouldn’t hesitate to be ruthless now and then. Quark asks him for more advice, but Zek dies suddenly.

At Zek’s funeral, Krax auctions off his father’s ashes in accordance with Ferengi custom. Quark asks Rom to serve as his bodyguard, but Rom tells him he had hoped he would be able to take over the bar. This sends Quark into a fit of a laughter. Odo comes in and tries to start an investigation into Zek’s death, but immediately encounters a stumbling block when it is revealed the Zek has already been cremated and his body won’t be able to be examined.

At the promenade railing, Nog and Jake reunite and decide to patch up their friendship, despite the feelings of their fathers. Jake suddenly has an idea and the two rush off to do something.

As the funeral continues, Odo asks Quark what his elevation to Grand Nagus means. Quark makes it clear that he expects Odo to treat him with reverence and deference, which Odo has no interest in doing.

As Odo leaves, a gold coin rolls across the floor of the bar. Quaks bends over to pick it up as a hovering object buzzes in above him. The object suddenly explodes, leaving Quark unharmed but cowering in fear under a table.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Sisko, Odo, and O’Brien investigate the crime scene at Quark’s, determining that the weapon used was Ferengi in design. It’s a bomb designed to home in on a specific person’s body odor – there’s no doubt it was a targeted assassination attempt on Quark. As they head to the infirmary to question Quark, Sisko spots Jake and Nog running around the promenade’s upper level.

Quark, the business maven

“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

Quark refuses to answer Sisko and Odo’s questions, saying that they’re interfereing with Ferengi internal matters and he can’t rely on outsiders for help. Odo points out that his assassins are probably counting on that. As they leave, Quark and Rom let it slip that Krax has the most to gain from his death and Gral has threatened his life already. Since they were both present at the funeral, though, Quark rules them out as suspects. Odo notices that Zek’s faithful servant, Maihar’Du, was absent from the funeral.

The next morning, Jake is getting ready for school when Sisko asks him what he was doing last night. Jake didn’t return home until after midnight, but he claims he wasn’t doing anything wrong. When Sisko presses him for details, he refuses to answer, claiming it’s a private matter. Unsatisfied, Sisko sternly warns him to be home in time for dinner.

Quark holds an audience with Nava, a Ferengi seeking a lucrative synthehol monopoly in the Gamma Quadrant. Quark makes Nava sweat it out, pointing out that Nava didn’t seem too pleased about his ascension to Nagus. When Nava offers to split the profits with Quark right down the middle, Quark agrees to let him proceed.

After Quark leaves the room and heads to the bar, Krax and Rom have a hushed conversation. Krax is worried that all of the lucrative contracts Quark is handing out will make him immensely popular. Rom responds that they’ll have to find a more reliable method of killing him than the odor-seeking bomb.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Sisko sits at the dinner table, angrily pounding a baseball into his glove as he waits for the late Jake to arrive for dinner. Dax walks in and the two have a conversation about guiding children through adolescence and setting boundaries for them. She advises Sisko to find Jake and make him come to the dinner table.

Sisko tracks his son down to a cargo bay. As he enters, he can hear the two children talking and he sneaks in closer to see what they’re up to. He discovers that Jake has been spending all of his mysterious private time teaching Nog how to read.

Rom and Krax trap Quark in an airlock

“Et tu, Rom?”

As Rom helps Quark get ready to leave for a trade mission to the Gamma Quadrant, he tries again to get the bar from his brother. Quark once again refuses, and suggests that he might have one of his dabo girls come along on the trip. Krax talks him out of it, and the pair of conspirators are relieved when Quark agrees to go on without her. Meanwhile, Odo tracks Mairhar’Du as he enters an airlock.

Quark, Rom, and Krax arrive at the airlock, but the ship is missing. The two conspirators seal up Quark in the airlock and tell him that they’re going to launch him out into space – his time as Nagus has come to a quick end. As Rom vacillates about pushing the button and killing his brother, Zek suddenly appears with Odo and Maihar’Du in tow and commands them to stop.

Zek explains that he faked his death as a test for Krax. He wanted to see if his son “had the lobes” to succeed him, and he failed miserably. With no one ready to assume his throne, Zek reluctantly becomes Grand Nagus once again and takes on the task of leading the Ferengi into the Gamma Quadrant. Before he leaves though, he jokes that he might come back someday and buy Quark’s bar from him.

Far from being mad at Rom, Quark is impressed by his ruthlessness and dedication to profit. He promotes Rom to assistant manager of the bar and buys him a drink.

On the promenade, Sisko runs into Jake and Nog at a concession stand. He tells Jake to come over to him, where he hugs him and tells him that he’s a good kid, before letting him run off with Nog.

Thoughts and ruminations

  • Sitting around waiting for the new antigrav tractors to come in? Sisko shouldn’t be worried that Nog is turning his son into a miscreant; he should be worried he’s becoming a nerd instead.
  • Morn laughs! I think that’s the only sound he makes during the entire run of the series.
  • It’s odd that Krax never returned to the screen since his father was featured in several stories hereafter. But I guess he fell out of grace after this one and is presumably peddling for minimal profit somewhere in the galaxy these days.
  • So after being away from the station for weeks, Sisko is letting O’Brien fill in for his wife at the school? He really is committed to this whole education thing.
  • Damn those homework-stealing Vulcans!
  • The “tube grubs” look an awful lot like the things the co-opted officers were eating in the TNG episode “Conspiracy.”
  • The sudden arrival of multiple Ferengi ships points out that the DS9 doesn’t really know what to expect from day to day. This isn’t Starfleet, where ship comings and goings are all scheduled and reported well in advance.
  • I love how the Ferengi knock on the table instead of clapping. A subtle, but recognizable way of making them seem just a little more alien.
  • If Nog can’t read, how could he possibly be expected to write an essay on ethics? Maybe Keiko and Miles should do some aptitude testing on their students before they start making assignments.
  • Wallace Shawn does a great job playing Zek. Just the right amount of ludicrous.
  • And for once, Dr. Bashir isn’t the horniest guy on the station.
  • Auctioning off Zek’s ashes is another nice little touch.
  • If they have weapon-detecting sensors at all of the airlocks, how does one get a hovering bomb past Odo’s security screens?
  • Why couldn’t one have the funeral’s attendants set off the bomb? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. If anything, it seems like they would all be prime suspects.
  • Staying out after midnight is even worse than it sounds since the station uses Bajor’s 26-hour day.
  • The “Yet now you call me Nagus” scene with Quark and Nava is a howlingly clever Godfather homage.
  • How does the computer locate Jake? He doesn’t have a comm badge, and we already established that the computer can’t track someone’s location without it when Dax was kidnapped a few weeks ago.
  • The scene where Sisko discovers his son teaching Nog to read is a wee bit touching. It gave me feels.
  • I love Maihar’Du holding Zek as he walks down the hallway, reinforcing the notion that Zek really is elderly despite his lust for life…and lust.
  • Those lollipop things that Nog likes to buy still look disgusting. Like a meat pop or something.

The verdict

This episode did a really good job of redeeming the Ferengi in my eyes. Ever since their introduction in TNG, plotlines and performances involving the species had been handled badly and ended up coming across as painfully inept attempts at comic relief. They’re still comic relief here, but they’re handled much more adeptly and almost have a feeling of weight and respectability to them. They make sense in their own weird little way and aren’t just snarling, greedy morons.The story with Nog and Jake, and Sisko trying to make sense of it all is a nice little B-story too. Three out of four Odo buckets.

The Odo Scale

The Modernish Father

Your guide to DS9 is a father of two, husband of one and inspiration for millions of sardonic bald guys. A Texas native who recently moved to San Francisco, he loves baseball, history, most science fiction and generally all things nerdy. Find out more on his blog.

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