(written from a Production point of view)
Grand Nagus Zek has become a philanthropist, and 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 will purchase self-sealing stem bolts from him, but he says it can wait since Emi's family will not return to Deep Space 9 for another week. Rom enters Quark's quarters and ruins the party, telling his brother that they need to leave. However, it is too late; Grand Nagus Zek and his servant Maihar'du enter behind Rom moments later. Maihar'du gestures at Emi to leave Quark's quarters and she promptly does. Although Zek's head is covered and Maihar'du does not speak as usual, it seems the Nagus plans to move in with Quark.
Elsewhere on Deep Space 9, Doctor Bashir is in the infirmary and is called to the wardroom by Commander Sisko, where he learns from the station's commander that, for his work work in Biomolecular replication, he has been nominated for the Carrington Award, the Federation's most prestigious medical award, and finds the entire senior staff waiting for him to congratulate him on being the youngest nominee in the award's history. Despite the honor he seems less than enthusiastic, to everyone's surprise. He later confides in Dax (who submitted his name for consideration) that the Carrington Award honors a lifetime of achievement in the field of medicine and, as such, most people nominated are far older than he is. As a result, he knows he has no chance of winning due to his youth. Bashir excuses himself awkwardly shortly after.
Meanwhile, Quark has moved into Rom's untidy quarters and has found living with his brother unbearable. Nog is visiting his grandmother on Ferenginar, so the place is messier than usual. Quark is further angered that his Aldebaran whiskey and other items such as tables and chairs from the bar have been taken. He decides that the two of them – or rather, Rom – will confront the Nagus to find out what is going on. As soon as he observes that Zek is more than happy to see Rom, Quark comes out from his nearby hiding place and greets the Nagus. Quark and Rom find that Zek has composed his "crowning achievement": The Rules of Acquisition: Revised for the Modern Ferengi. Zek gives them a copy and leaves them to read it; Quark is excited, until he reads the first rule in it: "If they want their money back, give it to them." The two then notice Maihar'du crying in the corner.
Quark attempts to find some sort of master plan in the Nagus' work, looking for a secret code hidden within the "new rules" – he and Rom attempt to "discover" the code by reading one word from each page (which, naturally, translate as gibberish), but the two are hilariously unsuccessful. Still convinced the new rules are part of a scheme, he decides to go along with it for now.
Later, Quark and Rom are in the bar when Zek arrives. Continuing to exhibit his vastly different new personality, Zek buys a round of drinks for everyone, since it will make them happy and, in turn, will make him happy. Quark goes along with it and offers Zek Hupyrian beetle snuff, however, he refuses, saying it's not fun for the beetles. Quark is then horrified to learn that Zek has told Emi where she could buy self-sealing stem bolts at wholesale; much less than what he was offering. He said he was concerned she was taken advantage of. Quark walks off, and Rom expresses his surprise. Zek says it will take time to get used to the "new ways" and asks Rom to walk with him.
Meanwhile, Bashir and O'Brien are playing darts in a cargo bay, as they have been playing much too many racquetball games – 106, to be exact. They're both rusty, but wanting to play some game other than racquetball. To throw Bashir off, O'Brien starts talking about the Carrington competition. Bashir calmly says any of the others would make a fine recipient, and still doesn't assert his worthiness. O'Brien continues his jabs, saying he would vote for Bashir, but that most other people would wonder who he is. Bashir then turns the tables, changing the conversation to Keiko's absence. Now, O'Brien can't hit the board.
Upon returning to his quarters that night, Quark finds Rom busy with several other Ferengi transforming the quarters. Rom explains that it will be the new headquarters of the Ferengi Benevolent Association.
Quark takes Rom into the other room by the ear, having enough of what's going on with Zek. Contrary to normal Ferengi values, the association seems to have been created for the same purpose its name implies: helping other people, free of charge. Rom insists Zek is a visionary and that the both of them are going to be central to his plan. Rom is excited about becoming a "new kind" of Ferengi, though he is not sure what that means at the moment. He continues to repeat concepts incomprehensible to Quark, then tells him they are both co-chairmen of the Association and will accompany Zek back to Ferenginar when he announces to the whole Ferengi Alliance. Now, Quark is alarmed as this will undoubtedly result in the three of them being killed by being pushed off of the top of the Tower of Commerce for the ideas.
Finally, Quark takes Zek to Dr. Bashir, who examines the older Ferengi thoroughly but finds nothing wrong. Quark cannot believe it, and insists on more tests, even insulting him and bringing up the Carrington competition. He eventually relents, and Zek expresses his appreciation with a bar of latinum, suggesting to donate it to charity if Bashir does not want to accept it. Interestingly, Zek mentions that he will be giving a gift to the Bajoran people that night at the Bajoran shrine as a ceremony, and hopes Bashir attends. He leaves, telling Quark there's a lot of needy people out there.
Quark and Rom sneak onto the Nagus' Zek's personal shuttle to find what the "gift" is. They're interrupted by Maihar'du, but, instead, he brings them into the shuttle. He reveals that the gift is a Bajoran Orb.
Quark tries to get some answers, but Maihar'du cannot say because of his Vow of silence. Rom tries to look inside the Orb box, but Quark tries to wrestle it from him instead. It comes open in Quark's direction, and he has an odd orb experience in which he is taunted by Zek's figure about not understanding and being fearful. Afterwards, Quark learns that the new rules were a "gift" from the Bajoran Prophets to Zek. He and Rom discover, through Zek's personal logs, that, as soon as he received the Orb from his contact on Cardassia III, Zek headed for the Bajoran wormhole, apparently intent on using the Prophets' ability to see the future for financial gain. Quark determines to go in himself and find out what happened.
Meanwhile, at the Replimat, Bashir is busy on a PADD. Even Odo is caught up in the craze about the Carrington, and so comes to offer a "revelation" from a distant contact that Wade will not win the award, increasing the odds for the rest. Despite the fact he is apparently certain he is not going to win, Odo manages get Bashir to accidentally admit he's been working on an acceptance speech.
Zek is at a terminal talking to a party who needs Kohlanese barley, and is going out of his way to acquire some. He cuts off the transmission when Maihar'du, Quark and Rom come in, quickly kidnapping Zek and take him into the wormhole aboard his ship. Throughout the ordeal, oddly, he remains extremely pleasant and not disturbed at all.
Once inside the wormhole, Quark opens the Orb of Wisdom (as Zek reveals it is called), instantly gaining the wormhole aliens' attention. The aliens inform Quark that they found Zek's goals to be "adversarial" and "aggressive." As a result, they "restored" Zek to a more peaceful state. Quark demands that they change Zek back, but the aliens decide to change him as well. However, Quark manages to convince them that doing so will only bring more Ferengi who will want to know what happened. He proposes that if they change Zek back, they will never have to speak with his people again. The Prophets agree and set Zek back to normal. Quark is very pleased when states that he plans to sell the Orb of Wisdom to the Bajorans, and intends to make them pay a lot for it.
In the wardroom, people have gathered for the announcement of the Carrington Award recipient and everyone is disappointed to find that it has gone to Henri Roget, someone who was never considered a serious contender. Although Bashir acts like he's not surprised, he admits to Dax even though he felt he wasn't going to win he's still disappointed he didn't.
Zek leaves the station, making sure that Quark and Rom have destroyed every last copy of the new Rules of Acquisition and will tell no-one that he donated to charity. Quark laments that despite going through a lot, he didn't manage to make some kind of profit. Rom admits to having made enough of a profit from both of them by embezzling from the Nagus. Quark congratulates him and says that this piece of theft would make their father proud.
"Are you accusing my son of being a thief?"
"No. I'm accusing you of being a thief!"
- - Rom and Quark
"I can take it. Tell me."
"Rule number two hundred and eighty five. A good deed is its own reward. … Brother, are you all right?"
"I just have to sit down."
- - Quark and Rom, reading over the Revised Rules of Acquisition
"It must be some kind of code. Read me the first word of every Rule."
"If… never… keep… profit… a… good… smile… honesty…"
"Aha! If never keep profit a good smile honesty."
"What does it mean?"
"It means… absolutely nothing."
- - Quark and Rom
"Actually, I've lost my taste for beetle snuff. It might be fun for you and me, but it's no fun for the beetles!
- - Grand Nagus Zek
"There's nothing beyond greed! Greed is the purest and most noble of emotions!"
"'Greed is Dead', that's the tenth Rule of Acquisition."
"No, it isn't! The tenth Rule of Acquisition is 'Greed is Eternal'!"
- - Quark and Rom
"Zek said the new rules were a gift."
"A gift from Zek to the Ferengi people."
"No. A gift from (looking up) them. Don't you see? They did it. They put the idea for the new rules into Zek's head. They changed him somehow."
"They did? How dare they… who are we talking about, brother?"
- - Quark and Rom
"I have a friend at Starfleet Intelligence. And she has a friend who has a cousin who's married to the assistant of one of the members of the Federation Medical Council."
"And according to my friend, her friend heard something from his cousin that his wife heard from this council member that I thought you might find interesting."
"Doctor Wade is not going to win the Carrington."
- - Odo and Bashir
"Yes, the Zek explained the value of gain. How more is preferable to less."
"He taught you about profit."
"We found the concept… aggressive. Adversarial. Dangerous. We could not comprehend how any species could lead such a barren existence."
"It has its advantages."
- - Prophets and Quark
"Your argument is specious; changing you will not result in the termination of all corporeal existence."
- - Prophets to Quark
"Rom! I have got a plan."
"Does it involve me, brother?"
"Ah… I like it."
- - Quark and Rom
"You embezzled money, from the Nagus?"
"Father would be proud!"
- - Quark and Rom
Story and script
- The origins of the teleplay for this episode are to be found in Ira Steven Behr's early career. When he was trying to make it in Hollywood, he wrote a teleplay for the TV show Taxi, entitled "Uncle Sylvester", to try to demonstrate his writing abilities. The plot revolved around Sylvester, uncle to the main character Louie. Sylvester had built up a reputation for being a shameless womanizer and an altogether unpleasant individual, and he was Louie's hero. Louie was dying to meet him to impress him with his own womanizing abilities, but when Sylvester arrives he no longer enjoys womanizing, and now just wants to get back with his wife. Louie is heartbroken and becomes convinced that Sylvester has undergone some kind of deep psychological trauma. The teleplay was not purchased by the producers of Taxi. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- The origins of the plot line involving Bashir's nomination for the Carrington Award are to be found in real life, with this plot actually being something of an in-joke. During its seventh year, The Next Generation was nominated for Best Dramatic Series at the Emmy Awards. Nobody gave it the slightest chance to win, because generally speaking, science fiction shows didn't win awards like that. Everyone expected NYPD Blue to win. However, despite the unlikely event of a victory, some members of the TNG team became convinced that they were actually going to win. As it turned out, they didn't, but neither did NYPD Blue. Instead, the award went to the unexpected Picket Fences. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- This episode introduces the dartboard used by Bashir and O'Brien, which soon became a permanent fixture in Quark's. Originally, the producers wanted to use a pool table, but they were told that Star Trek: Voyager had the same plan. It was next suggested that they play cards, but that had already been done on The Next Generation. As such, darts was settled on as a game the two could play together and still engage in conversation. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- "Prophet Motive" is the first Star Trek episode to mention Andoria, the homeworld of the Andorian species. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (2nd ed., p. 12))
- This is the first episode to be directed by Rene Auberjonois. On his first time directing, Auberjonois commented: "It's incredibly hard work. One has to make so many decisions and I'm not a person who particularly likes to make decisions. That's what you have to do when you're directing. It's like you're answering one question and someone else is asking you another question. It's endless. A bit like leading an army into battle. It's just more than I ever expected". ("The Changing Man", Star Trek: The Official Fan Club of the UK Magazine issue 8)
- To recreate the same visual style for Quark's scenes in the wormhole as had been seen in the pilot episode, "Emissary", director Rene Auberjonois and director of photography Jonathan West went back to the original shooting method as developed by "Emissary" director David Carson and then director of photography, Marvin Rush. As had Rush in the pilot, West overexposed the images and used diffusion filters to create the dazzling white which seems to 'bleed' onto the actors' faces. However, while the white is the same as in "Emissary", there is a subtle difference to the rest of the wormhole footage. Visual Effects Coordinator David Takemura used two versions of every shot: a slightly out-of-focus version, and a clean version. He layered the clean version on top of the out-of-focus version to create an effect that is not quite out-of-focus, but is not quite focused correctly either. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- On the scene where Zek is taken aboard his shuttle, Rene Auberjonois commented "His man-servant is carrying him around the corner in a sack, and as they come around the corner, Quark sticks his head out first, then Rom sticks his head out underneath, and they both tiptoe down the hallway. When we staged it, I thought 'This is so Marx Brothers!' and that Ira [Behr] would be horrified, but in fact he was delighted with it. There were several times that I wondered, 'Am I going too far with it?' because humor is a pretty tricky thing in Star Trek." ("Ferengi Direction", Star Trek Monthly, issue 14)
- Ira Steven Behr commented, "This year we've accomplished two very good episodes for the Ferengi. 'Prophet Motive' was a flat-out comedy with nothing else but humor." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p. 97)
- David Livingston commented, "It was another high-concept show and it was very funny." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p. 92)
- In her book Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before (paperback ed., p. 196), J.M. Dillard commented that the role of Grand Nagus Zek was "reprised brilliantly" in this episode.
- William N. Stape, who concocted the TNG episode "Homeward", was an uncredited story source for this episode.
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #10 ("Greed is eternal")
- For brief time, a new set of Rules of Acquisition replaces the old ones. Some of the new Rules are:
- 1: If they want their money back give it to them.
- 10: Greed is dead.
- 21: Never place profit before friendship.
- 22: Latinum tarnishes, but family is forever.
- 23: Money can never replace dignity.
- 285: A good deed is its own reward.
- Bashir is the youngest of the candidates for the Carrington Prize of 2371. The others are April Wade, Senva, Henri Roget, and Ghee P'Trell.
- After the pilot episode "Emissary", this is only the second time we have seen the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets. They became far more important throughout the sixth and seventh seasons. When the Sisko Alien says that Zek was trying to find out who wins the game before the game begins, it is a reference to the pilot episode, "Emissary", where Sisko teaches the Aliens about linear time by using the example of a baseball game. This is the first episode where the Wormhole Aliens refer to Sisko as "The Sisko".
- This is the only episode in which Tiny Ron, who plays Maihar'du, speaks, albeit as a Maihar'du Alien-version of the character.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.8, 26 June 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Max Grodénchik as Rom / Rom Alien
- Juliana Donald as Emi / Emi Alien
- Tiny Ron as Maihar'du / Maihar'du Alien
- Scott Barry as Bajoran command officer
- Ivy Borg as Rita Tannenbaum
- Avery Brooks as Sisko Alien
- Siddig El Fadil as Bashir Alien
- Terry Farrell as Dax Alien
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Susan Lewis as Bajoran civilian
- Mary Mascari as Bajoran woman
- Michael Prokopuk as Human civilian
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn / Morn (illusory)
- Nana Visitor as Kira Alien
- Michael Wajacs as Bajoran civilian
- Unknown performers as
2265; 2368; acceptance speech; accusation; Aldebaran whiskey; Alpha Quadrant; Andoria; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran sector; Bajoran Shrine; Bajoran wormhole; bar; bar tab; biomolecular replication; Cardassia III; cargo bay; Carrington Award; central nervous system; chirurgeon; Central Hospital of Altair IV (Altair IV); chair; champagne; contract; corporeal (aka corporeal lifeform, corporeal being); cup; Curzon's old friend; dabo; darts; Dax, Curzon; de-evolve; discount; embezzlement; family; Emi's family's ship; Emi's species; endocrine system; exploratory surgery; Federation; Federation Medical Council; Ferengi; Ferengi Alliance; Ferengi Benevolent Association; Ferengi language; Ferengi shuttle; Ferenginar; flattery; gerontology; Grand Nagus; gross; healer; high warp courier; Hupyrian beetle snuff; Hupyrians; insanity; investor; Ishka; Karemma; Keldar; Kohlanese barley; latinum; leader; linguistic communication; Milky Way Galaxy; millipede juice; mucous membrane; Nog; O'Brien, Keiko; Odo's gossip chain; Odo's SI contact; Orb of Wisdom; P'Trell, Ghee; Pakled; plot; Promenade; Prophets; quack; Quark's; racquetball; refuse merchant; replicator; Replimat; reverse-ratcheting routing planers; Roget, Henri; Rules of Acquisition; Rules of Acquisition: Revised for the Modern Ferengi, The; Sacred Marketplace; Saurian brandy; self-sealing stem bolts; senior administrator; Senva; shell; solar flare; spire; Starfleet Intelligence; table; table linen; tarnish; teeth grinding; thief; ton; Tower of Commerce; Trixian bubble juice; University of Nairobi (Nairobi); vascular damage; visionary; vow of silence; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan Medical Institute; Wade, April; wholesale; wormhole alien; wrinkle; Zek's personal shuttle
- "Prophet Motive" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Prophet Motive" at Wikipedia
- "Prophet Motive" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Prophet Motive" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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