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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S01E11 "The Nagus"

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The Grand Nagus is aboard DS9. The head honcho of the entire Ferengi Alliance is there to examine the possible business opportunities that the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant can provide.
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Meanwhile Sisko worries that Jake's friendship with Nog is a bad influence on him. Nog, however, is getting dragged out of school by Rom, because the Grand Nagus disapproves of a Ferengi attending a human school. Nog tries to reason that as a Ferengi, maybe he doesn't need school, but this causes a spat between him and Jake. Jake is worried that him and Nog's friendship is dissolving, but Sisko, relieved that Jake getting some distance between himself Nog, tells him that maybe Ferengi and human culture just have their differences. Jake doesn't buy this, however.

With every greedy and backstabbing Ferengi of note gathered at Quark's for a conference, Zek announces he won't be the Ferengi overseeing the new business chances the wormhole can provide. He plans to retire, and name a successor as Nagus. And much to the anger of his son and the other visiting Ferengi, he chooses Quark.

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Quark is as surprised as anyone else there, but more than relishes the new found promotion... until a Ferengi named Gral approaches him and makes a thinly veiled threat against him if he doesn't give Gral a good cut of the Gamma Quadrant business. Naturally freaked out, Quark seeks advice from Zek.

Zek tells him being the Nagus comes with people threatening your life. The secret is to surround himself with loyal (but not too loyal) men and be utterly ruthless. A few seconds later, Zek keels over dead.

At Zeks funeral, Quark just ducks a homing bomb that would have left him a smear on the wall. Thanks to bending over for a coin another Ferengi dropped.

Jake and Nog decide to patch up their friendship, both concluding that it doesn't matter what their respective fathers think. Sisko catches a glimpse of them running around the station together and assumes they are up to trouble. His worries grows when Jake stops coming home after school, first sneaking in late at night. He confronts Jake about staying out late, telling him to come straight home after school from now on.

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After striking a deal with a Ferengi named Nava, Quark heads off for a little rest. Leaving Rom and Krax to opine that killing such a benevolent Nagus would be suspicious. They need a new plan.

Meanwhile, Sisko notices that Jake is still coming home late for dinner. On Dax's advice, he decides to find out what Jake and Nog are up to. Using the ship's computer, he finds Jake in the cargo and sneaks in to eavesdrop on him. He discovers, however, that Jake is teaching Nog to read, and decides not to interrupt them.

Rom and Krax goes ahead with their plan which involves tricking Quark with a fake negotiation on Stakoron II. Arriving where his ship should be, Quark realizes he's about to be killed and usurped by Rom and Krax. As the two debate on who should do the honor, someone orders them to stop.

Turns out it's Zek! Who was never dead to start with. He'd entered a sleeping trance (taught by his loyal servant) to test his son. And he failed. As Zek puts it:

Zek: You don't grab power. You accumulate it!

Krax was supposed to subtlety seize control of Quark's from the shadows, eventually leaving him in control of a valuable hub of information. With his test over, Zek resumes his position as Nagus, and departs the station.

Back at Quark's, Rom cowers when his brother confronts him over his attempted assassination attempt...but Quark is proud! So proud, he promotes Rom to Assistant Manager for Policy and Clientele...a position he made up on the spot.

Sisko goes to see Jake while he is hanging out with Nog. Jake gets worried about this, but Sisko just happily tell his son that he is proud of him and to be with his friend.


This episode provides examples of:

  • Absence of Evidence: One of the things that tips Odo off that Zek is not dead is the absence of Mairhar'du at his funeral.
  • Almighty Janitor: The Grand Nagus argues that this is what his son should have been aiming for, letting Quark think he was running things while Krax ran events from the shadows.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Clearly, you have to be good at this to be Nagus; when Quark asks him for advice after someone threatens him, Zek is surprised it hasn't happened more than once by now.
  • Blessed with Suck: Quark is Grand Nagus. That means almost every Ferengi of note wants him dead, especially Krax. Rather tellingly he doesn't mind giving the position back to Zek when he reveals he was alive.
  • Brick Joke: After Nog tries to claim that some Vulcans stole his homework, he actually gets to see a Vulcan, specifically a Vulcan female, at the end of the episode.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Zek is a very old man who is hoping to retire as Grand Nagus. To his disappointment he finds his son Krax doesn't meet his lofty standards enough to be worthy of the position.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jake mentioned that he wants to see some place on Bajor called "the fire caverns." He won't get to see them, but we'll be hearing more about these caves in Season 5...
  • Continuity Nod: At one point, Quark is seen stroking a pet Corvan gilvo. Of course, they're critically endangered, but that probably doesn't bother him (in fact, it would just make it more valuable as a possession).
  • A Day in the Limelight: This is the first episode focusing on Quark, and by extension, the first Star Trek episode focusing on a character who is not in or associated with Starfleet.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Zek belief system for what makes someone worthy to Grand Nagus. He doesn't want a successor to try and take the position through assassination, he wants them to earn it subtly and manipulation, a path to much greater profit. He encourages treachery and betrayal but he wants them executed through ways more subtle than murder.
  • Dirty Old Man: Grand Nagus Zek enjoys a marathon of Quark's five best holo sex programs as soon as he arrives.
  • A Dog Ate My Homework: Nog claims that a group of Vulcans stole his homework pad.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Rom uses Quark's temporary promotion to Nagus to try and off his brother. Turns out Quark is actually proud of such attempted treachery.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first and only time Morn is heard making a vocal noise of any kind. In this one-time instance, a laugh.
    • It's also hard to imagine the Rom of later seasons repeatedly attempting to murder his own brother. Or being so hard on Nog.
    • The Ferengi repeatedly use "ears" rather than "lobes."
    • That the Ferengi engage in assassination attempts of Grand Nagus Quark is unusual based on their later portrayals as well - the commonly accepted practice of removing a business rival is to ruin them financially, not murder. (Granted, this IS part of Zek's lesson to Krax, but still, it's a bit of an oddity overall.)
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Dax turns her chair around when she's commiserating with Sisko over the difficulties of parenting a teenager, which fits with her laid-back, slightly rebellious persona.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Zek doesn't approve of how his son tried to take the position of Grand Nagus. Not because he doesn't approve of betrayal, but because he doesn't approve of moving up the ranks though assassination.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Zek complains about how the Ferengi's reputation has been smeared by lies about them being treacherous greedy backstabbers. He immediately follows it up by saying that the Gamma Quadrant is now ripe for exploitation.
  • Karma Houdini: The worst that happens to Krax is a severe tongue-lashing from his father, and Rom actually earns a degree of respect from Quark. You'd think they'd both be in rather more serious trouble after Odo caught them red-handed in an attempted murder.
  • Klingon Promotion: Quark isn't Nagus for a day before someone attempts to assassinate him and assume his position. Lampshaded when Zek complains, "It's like dealing with a Klingon!" in response to his son's ham-fisted attempt to seize power.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Zek calls Krax an idiot for trying to get a Klingon Promotion when more devious (and profitable) options were available.
    Zek: You don't grab power. You accumulate it, quietly without anyone noticing.
    Krax: But...but I don't understand.
    Zek: The bar, you fool! That was the key. All those visitors stopping by on their way to and from the wormhole. You could have sat there quietly at your leisure and gathered up all the information you needed about the Gamma Quadrant.
    Krax: But what about him? (indicates Quark)
    Zek: You could have let him hold the scepter while you controlled everything from the shadows. And then, when everything was running smoothly, only then would you take over.
  • Moral Luck: The Nagus calls Quark brilliant for opening a bar at the mouth of a stable wormhole. When his son protests that Quark had no way of knowing the wormhole was there, the Nagus says that it shows Quark had "the ears" to sense opportunity. As a Rewatch Bonus, once you know Zek's plan it's obvious he was dropping hints about how Krax can undermine Nagus Quark.
  • Non-Promotion: Rom gets one to a position Quark just made up, but he seems happy with it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Quark, when he realizes that Rom and Krax are about to kill him.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Quark is telling Morn the punchline to a joke when the Nagus walks into the bar.
  • Reality Ensues: Part of the point of the episode is that the Ferengi's card-carrying villainy makes them a bad Proud Merchant Race. The Nagus notes that their reputation has made it hard to run their operations in the Alpha Quadrant because their corruption, double-dealing, and shortsighted avarice makes other businesses not want to deal with them.
    • Quark quickly sees that being the Grand Nagus, the head of state for race of greedy backstabbers is a dangerous position since every Ferengi under the sun wants to kill him. Especially Zek's son, who was expecting to inherent the position.
    • Zek was sincere about his desire to retire. Ferengi are greedy but at some point even they reach a point where they want to enjoy life rather than focusing on profit.
  • Secret Test of Character: Zek was hoping his son would be smart enough to take over Quark's after his supposed death, giving him access to all the information he would need to set up trade with the Gamma Quadrant. "And you failed! Miserably!"
  • Shout-Out: One scene of a Ferengi coming to Quark for help is shot exactly like the opening scene of The Godfather. Quark's dialogue is also inspired from that scene.
  • Spit Take: Quark, when Rom says he wants to take over the bar, followed with a bout of uproarious laughter.
  • Staff of Authority: The Scepter of the Grand Nagus. Supplicants have to kiss the head in submission.
  • Teasing the Substitute Teacher: O'Brien gets this while filling in for Keiko. He also admits doing this when he was a schoolboy.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Quark constantly threatens his incompetent brother with this, which comes back to bite him when Rom and Krax attempt to toss him out of one.

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