(written from a Production point of view)
Grand Nagus Zek is deposed after he begins to promote female rights; Quark changes his sex temporarily to prevent Brunt from becoming the new Grand Nagus.
Quark is in the bar talking to Aluura, one of his dabo girls, encouraging her to learn oo-mox by reading Oo-mox for Fun and Profit. Rom bursts in to warn his brother that he can't contact anyone on Ferenginar. He tries to brush him off, but later the two begin to believe that the Dominion has invaded their home planet. They rush to Ops to warn the crew, who don't believe it. Shortly afterward, Dax reports that the shuttle of Grand Nagus Zek has requested permission to dock at Deep Space 9 and they're relieved.
At the airlock, Quark and Rom greet the Nagus and Ishka, the mother of Quark and Rom. They explain they had to flee Ferenginar because Zek was deposed by the FCA Commissioners for granting females the right to wear clothes with an amendment to the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities. Zek is to be replaced by Brunt, who has taken over the government as Acting Grand Nagus after financial chaos shook the entire Ferengi Alliance. Zek is convinced his move makes good business sense, and wants their help to "reconquer an empire, or die in the attempt." Quark and Rom share a look and then rush after the former Grand Nagus.
Zek declares Quark's quarters as "the headquarters of the sole legitimate government of Ferenginar" as they walk in. He explains that their plan is for Ishka to convince the Commissioners that Ferengi females are, indeed, intelligent, and that a more prosperous Ferengi economy will result. He's convinced she can win them over. It's clear, though, that Ishka is driving the plan, as she has to remind him of it. She then goes further, saying she envisions a female Grand Nagus in the future. This confuses even Zek, but the moment passes.
Quark, Rom, and Nog agree to help Zek by sending messages to all 432 FCA Commissioners, requesting a conference for Ishka's "demonstration." However, it doesn't go well. Many have choice words for Zek and some even thought he died. All the Commissioners decline – save Nilva, chairman of Slug-o-Cola, who is a conservative man with a lot of influence. After a long session of calls, the group reconvenes in the bar. Zek can't believe it, thinking he would have had better response due to all the business he's had with the Commissioners. Ishka is somewhat optimistic, but just then Brunt walks in, jeopardizing the plan.
Brunt coldly orders an Eelwasser from Quark and proceeds to gloat over his newfound power. The group asks him why he's there, but Brunt continues berating them. Zek says he should never have reinstated him. Quark brings his drink, but Brunt says he's changed his mind and wants a Slug-o-Cola, referring to Nilva's expected appearance on the station. He plans to bribe him, but Quark kicks him out. After he leaves, Quark has to lie down.
Quark doesn't rest for too long before his mother comes to talk to him. Saying he's feeling sorry for himself, she tries to cheer him up, but he's not in the mood. He says she has been manipulating Zek ever since she met him, without caring for the consequences of her motives. She is offended, and retorts that Quark can always go crawling back to Brunt, but Quark wants things back the way it was. The argument gets more heated as he exclaims she's the worst thing to happen to all of them. She now berates him, but then, tries to call him something, but can't get it out. After Quark screams at her to say what she wants to him, she abruptly falls to the floor.
In the infirmary, Bashir determines she had a heart attack and needed a new heart, but she will live after a few days rest. Glaring at Quark, Bashir says she needs to be kept away from him, having overhead Ishka saying "it's all Quark's fault" over and over. The group stares at him, already suspicious at his cover story for what happened. He comes clean to Zek and Rom in the bar and apologizes. Zek says they can't postpone the meeting. Brunt and his servant, Uri'lash, step in to ridicule them. After he leaves, Zek is determined to hold the meeting, as Ishka wouldn't give up. He comes to the conclusion that Quark should impersonate her.
Bashir successfully changes Quark to be more feminine, and he's now fully dressed up, though very uncomfortable and critical of his looks. Zek gives him his mother's notes, full of facts and figures. Leeta also helps him with his walk, but Rom oddly chimes in with several good pointers. Quark quickly wants Rom to take his place, but Zek reminds him he's better with the business.
Nog bursts in and announces Nilva has arrived early. Zek tells him to expect his other female advisor, Lumba, tomorrow. The group reminds Quark all the things he needs to study before tomorrow.
Nog greets Nilva at the airlock. He's an energetic Ferengi who immediately gives Nog a Slug-o-Cola and is insistent on meeting Ishka right away. He leads himself there while Nog trails behind. He runs into Brunt, who insists on a meeting afterward, and Nilva agrees. Brunt attempts to thwart the meeting, saying Ishka is in the infirmary, but Nog is able to tell them both about Lumba, much to Brunt's confusion. Nilva is unphased, and now is intent to meet her instead.
While the group is critiquing Quark, Nilva arrives with a whole bag of Slug-o-Cola. Nilva is excited to see Lumba, and suggests to have dinner with her that night, as he's due back to Ferenginar the next night. The plan is very rushed, and nervous excitement is everywhere. During dinner with Lumba, Nilva is convinced of the opportunities that Zek's feminist approach presents. The main argument of this approach being that clothing includes pockets, and females will thus want to make more money in order to have something to put in those pockets. Lumba further notes that Nilva's sales (which have suffered recently) can be improved if he markets to females. In the process of all the talk, however, Nilva falls in love with Quark. Nilva says it's time for dessert, and invites Lumba to his quarters.
Nilva is very forward, starting to undress Quark and chasing him around the table. He says he needs her and wants to marry her. Quark is increasingly unable to brush Nilva off when Brunt bursts in to announce the truth. Quark then tries to convince Nilva, rubbing his lobes and even taking off his clothes for both of them to see that he is a indeed a female. Nilva is now convinced and agrees to go with Lumba to tell Zek he'll do everything he can for him "because that is what Lumba wants." Brunt can't believe it, shouting out as they leave, "his name's Quark!"
Bashir later restores Quark to normal, though he mans the bar fairly early on in his recovery, as he's still thinking about Nilva. He's holding a ring Nilva gave Lumba. Odo comes by as he usually does to ask about it, however, Quark's hormones get the better of him and he has to cry on Odo's shoulder. Odo lets it happen until he realizes Morn is watching. Zek's group come by to thank Quark and say goodbye before they leave. Ishka forgives him as well, noting Quark made a good daughter.
After Zek and Ishka leave, Aluura also comes to Quark to tell him she has been studying oo-mox. Quark immediately tells her it was wrong of him to make her do that, and instead gives her a raise. Aluura, however, thought it sounded like fun, but Quark still insists it is wrong. As she leaves, though, he comes to his senses and goes after her.
"A Dominion invasion of Ferenginar?"
"Think of the terrible repercussions to the Alpha Quadrant."
"I cannot think of any."
- - Sisko, Rom, and Worf
"Boys, together we're going to reconquer an empire or die in the attempt!"
- - Zek, to Rom and Quark
"Now, tell me something. Doesn't wearing all those clothes make you feel like a deviant?"
"Not really. And I'll tell you why. Because under all these clothes, I know I'm totally naked."
- - Nilva and Quark
"That female happens to be my mother!"
- - Quark
- - Rom, when Ishka and Zek's shuttle arrives at Deep Space 9
"Moogie! I was so worried."
"You're a good son."
"I was worried too."
"And you're a good liar."
- - Rom, Ishka and Quark
"Nagus, you remember my son, Nog, don't you? He's the first Ferengi to join Starfleet."
"I'll try not to hold that against him."
- - Rom and Zek
"His name is Quark!"
- - Brunt, to Nilva who is smitten with Lumba
"And when you sit, make sure your knees are touching, and don't forget to relax your shoulders, but keep your bottom tight." (Everyone stares.) "What?"
"He's the one that should be wearing the dress."
- - Rom and Quark, on the former's imitation at how a "female" walks.
"It's these earrings, they're killing me. Do I have to wear them?"
"No woman is complete without earrings. (Everyone stares.) Why does everyone keep looking at me?"
- - Quark and Rom
"Uh, I don't think your wife would approve."
"Who cares. She hasn't touched my lobes in months."
"I can tell."
- - Nilva and Lumba (Quark)
Story and script
- The original idea for this episode came from René Echevarria. "We were all at lunch, talking about doing an episode about Moogie, the feminist movement, and giving Ferengi women the right to vote," Echevarria recalled. "It was a very preliminary discussion, and I said, 'I have this feeling that Quark ends up in a dress. I don't know why, but I think somehow Quark and Rom have to masquerade as women in order to pull something off.'" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Echevarria's idea was seized upon by Ira Steven Behr, although he knew that the proposed episode carried risks. "The idea was to do a character comedy," he remembered. "We wanted to take this misogynist character and make him into a woman. But it's very difficult, for a lot of reasons, to get people on board with stuff like this, and when they do get on board they tend to go too far, or too broad, or they lose the reality, or they're not comfortable with it. And if any of those things are true, it won't work." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The writers imbued this installment with a couple of elements that Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe had originally created for the book Legends of the Ferengi; these were Slug-o-Cola and Eelwasser.
- The production staff had high hopes for this episode during its pre-production; indeed, after Ira Behr sent the script to Michael Piller, Piller returned it with a memo reading, "This is going to be a classic." (citation needed • edit)
Cast and characters
- Armin Shimerman watched both the 1959 Billy Wilder film Some Like It Hot and the 1982 Sydney Pollack film Tootsie for inspiration on how to play a woman. "The difference between those two films," he observed, "is that Tony Curtis was always winking at the camera, as if to say, 'I'm, playing a woman, but you know I'm really a man.' Dustin Hoffman's performance in Tootsie was, 'I'm playing a woman and I believe it.' And I decided I wanted to do the latter. I tried to be as feminine as I could." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Armin Shimerman reportedly hated the script for this episode, as he felt Quark did not learn anything from his experience as a woman. Indeed, the original script had Lumba crying a great deal, but Shimerman refused to play it that way as he felt it was a negative stereotype against women. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Shimerman commented, "I just don't think Quark learned anything in ['Profit and Lace']. That was disappointing. I didn't mind Quark's sex change, I minded that nothing came of it." ("Boom and Bust", Star Trek Magazine issue 127) Shimerman elaborated, "Quark has been a chauvinistic pig all of his life. He becomes a woman. Should he not learn or realize something from that experience? That would have been a great episode, to see Quark begin to realize the error of his whole culture's ways." ("The Once and Future Ferengi: Armin Shimerman Reflects on Quark", Star Trek: Communicator issue 130) Shimerman believed that, ultimately, the episode failed because it was half serious/half comic, and the two halves didn't gel; "It could have been a more serious dramatic piece or it could have been funnier. But it was neither one nor the other." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Chase Masterson, on the other hand, enjoyed participating in this episode. She commented, "I have to tell you, I had the most fun in 'Profit and Lace'. Teaching Quark how to be a woman – how much more fun does it get than that? ("Leave it to Leeta", Star Trek Monthly issue 46)
- Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
- Director Alexander Siddig endeavored to accentuate serious undertones in this otherwise comic episode. As Armin Shimerman said of Siddig, "He wanted to make it less of a comedy and more of an exploration of the relationship between a bickering mother and son. He tried to push the envelope and take Quark into an area that Quark isn't used to going in. I applaud him for it, although we reshot some of the scenes, like the heart attack, because he had a much darker vision than the writers had imagined." Cecily Adams also referred to the heart attack scene when discussing the episode; "Sid wanted to explore how people who love each other really can hurt one another [….] The first time we shot the heart attack scene, it was very dark and the pace was slow. It was actually disturbing. We wouldn't have played it any differently had we not been wearing rubber masks. Armin and Sid really liked it, but when I watched it in dailies, I didn't like it. Even though it was an interesting exploration of the dark side, I didn't think it was exciting enough. And apparently the producers felt that way too. They wanted it more humorous." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In the end, this episode garnered terrible reviews. In fact, a poll run in 1999 by Sci-Fi Entertainment (which saw "In the Pale Moonlight" voted as Deep Space Nine's best show) voted "Profit and Lace" its worst, followed by "Move Along Home" and "Let He Who Is Without Sin...".
- It is generally accepted amongst the writers and cast that the main problem with the episode is that, whereas the writers wrote it as high-farce, Alexander Siddig, in his directing of the installment, and Armin Shimerman saw it as a much more serious piece, thus creating a mismatch of styles. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In retrospect, Ira Steven Behr considered this episode the biggest disappointment of his entire time at Star Trek. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) "The comedy's too broad," he complained. "We should've played it for drama." (What We Left Behind)
- This episode received Star Trek 101's "Spock's Brain" Award for Worst Episode of Deep Space Nine.
- Luke Snailham, an editor who worked on the documentary What We Left Behind, commented about this episode, "It actually airs better today than when it originally aired." (What We Left Behind)
- The title of this episode may be a play on words referencing the second season episode "Profit and Loss".
- The way Armin Shimerman and Alexander Siddig regarded this episode while it was in development (i.e., as effectively a comedic installment with more serious undertones) was much in the tradition of the season three episode "Family Business".
- This installment continues a multi-episode arc that features Zek, Ishka, and Brunt and can be seen in the episodes "Family Business", "Body Parts", "Ferengi Love Songs" and "The Magnificent Ferengi". In "Family Business", Ishka is introduced as a female keen on earning profit, and Brunt is the FCA liquidator sent to investigate her. Then, in "Body Parts", Brunt takes Quark's business license away from him for backing out of a contract. In "Ferengi Love Songs", it is revealed that Zek and Ishka are seeing each other, and Ishka is actually helping him run the Empire. At the same time, Brunt tries to expose Zek with Quark's help, and he returns Quark's license in an attempt to get his support. Brunt's plan fails, however, and he is subsequently fired from the FCA. A year later, in "The Magnificent Ferengi", Brunt helps Quark rescue Ishka from the clutches of the Dominion, and is rewarded by Zek with his old FCA job.
- The events of "The Magnificent Ferengi" are mentioned in this episode. Leck and Gaila are also both mentioned.
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #94 ("Females and finances don't mix")
- Ira Steven Behr considered this to be the final "Ferengi show", commenting, "If you look through the list, 'Profit and Lace' was really the last Ferengi show. 'The Emperor's New Cloak' is a mirror universe show, and the Ferengi portion of 'The Dogs of War' is only the A-story or the B-story, depending on how you look at it. So this was the nail in that coffin." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.12, 7 December 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Henry Gibson as Nilva
- Jeffrey Combs as Brunt
- Max Grodénchik as Rom
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Cecily Adams as Ishka
- Chase Masterson as Leeta
- Tiny Ron as Maihar'du
- Sylvain Cecile as Uri'lash
Special guest star
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Dorothy Hack as Bajoran woman
- Charlie-Olisa Kaine as Kelly
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers as
21st century; accusation; affection; algae; Alpha Quadrant; amendment; artificial heart; bankruptcy; beetle snuff; beverage trades; chairman; Chamber of Opportunity; chest; Clarus; commissioner; consumer; consumer base; dabo girl; day; Deep Space 9; dessert; Dominion; earring; Eelwasser; empire; employee performance report; eustachian tube rub; female; feminist; Ferengi; Ferengi Alliance; Ferengi Bill of Opportunities; Ferengi Commerce Authority; Ferenginar; financial advisor; Gaila; Grand Nagus; green; gross planetary income; handkerchief; heart; heart attack; hip; hologram; holosuite; hormone; hug; Hupyrian; ice; infirmary; job; latinum; Leck; liquidator; lobeling; Lumba; ice; Irtok; medical log; Milky Way Galaxy; mirror; Moogie; nightmare; oo-mox; Oo-mox for Fun and Profit; PADD; percent; pocket; proprietor; Quark's Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade; Replimat; secret weapon; searing; short-change; slogan; Slug-o-Cola; snail steaks; Starfleet; status quo; subspace transceiver; teeth; tongo; tube grub; Tower of Commerce; tympanic tickle; visionary; walk; workforce; "Zekkie"
Alien freighter; Antares-class (freighter); Bajoran vessel (transport); Danube-class (runabout); Defiant-class; Defiant, USS; Ferengi shuttle (Zek's personal shuttle); cargo management unit (unnamed); Yeager-type; USS Yeager
- "Profit and Lace" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Profit and Lace" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Profit and Lace" at Wikipedia
| Previous episode:|
| Star Trek: Deep Space Nine|
| Next episode:|