The episode title filled me with apprehension, which the open rapidly converted into dread. I really do not like Quark as comic relief in small doses and the prospect of an entire episode based on Armin Shimerman being Quark to the nth degree is more than somewhat unpalatable. I just can’t be objective about such things, and what few good things there were in this week’s programme were pretty much lost on me.
Basically: Nog’s induction to Starfleet Academy is due and he’s going away, breaking up the easy-going relationship with Jake that’s sustained both boys for so long, a moment that was touching. Quark is still violently opposed to the idea, but volunteers to take Nog, and Rom, to Earth in his new personal space shuttle, the repayment of a debt by Cousin Gailo.
The ship is perfect in every respect but one: the controls have been sabotaged to stop it ever coming out of warp-drive. But Rom’s mechanical genius enables hiom to get round that, using the shipment of contraband Kemocite that Quark is smuggling. There’s an unfortunate side-effect: the ship is blasted back four hundred years in time, and crash-lands on Earth. At, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Roswell.
What followed was, if I could have gotten over my prejudice, a pretty good encapsulation of American Cold War paranoia, militarisation, suspicion, you name it. And the programme was almost gleeful in its swipes at such crude and primitive hu-mon traits like Atom Bombs and smoking (everybody was like chimneys!). The military was paranoid, the scientist thoughtful, his nurse/fiancee equally open-minded, as well as being as beautiful as they only ever were in B-movies (she was Megan Gallagher, who appeared in s02e04, and whom I clearly recognised, though I had to check to remind myself that she’d been a late-series cast member in Hill Street Blues).
But Quark was being Quark, and having no regard for the established timeline in plunging forward with the idea of advancing earth four hundred technological years overnight (it’s never that simple), and created a vast, Quadrant-wide Ferengi economic Empire with him at the top.
Fortunately, the Alsatian dog hanging around the Military base like he belonged turned out to be Odo, who’d stowed away, suspecting Quark of malfeasance. He ends up helping the Ferengis to escape, with the aid of the Farseeing Scientist and the Beautiful Fiancee, not to mention a handy A Bomb test and Rom’s mechanical genius.
So Quark has to sell the shuttle to pay for salvage and tickets home, Odo arrests him for smuggling, despite all the Kemocite having gone up in a blaze of glory, and despite the good bits, I heaved a sigh of relief. Next week’s episode has got to be better. I just don’t like Quark.