In the twenty-fifth and penultimate episode of the fourth season of Deep Space Nine, Quark is dying (not really) and Kira is pregnant. (REALLY.) Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Well, that was a weird one.
I’ve never seen a consensual mystical pregnancy ever until this episode. I don’t even know what to do with it. I’ve gotten so used to writing critical analysis of that bored trope that now? I feel useless. HOW DO YOU CRITICIZE THE SUBVERSION OF IT??? Kira consented to taking Keiko’s son during a shuttle accident, and she actually seems to be enjoying it, and everyone is happy given the circumstances and WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE. Beyond it being surprising – trust me, I’m still floored by the very idea of consensual mystical pregnancy – it produces a largely frictionless plot for the O’Briens and Kira. There’s some awkwardness, especially since the writers address the fact that Keiko was pregnant one moment and then not. That’s a traumatic, bizarre thing to go through!
But the arrangement that these people come to is so adorable. Kira moves in! Molly gets a new aunt! Everyone is joyous! THERE’S NO DARK AND GRIM TWIST TO THIS, IT’S ALL GREAT. And honestly, that’s kind of the thematic point of “Body Parts.” Good things actually happened.
I know it’s not a secret that I have a hard time with Ferengi-centric plots, and there were moments when this episode tested my interest. It’s a bizarre story because of how often the focus changes. First, Quark is dying of an incurable disease in six days. Then, Quark isn’t dying, but gets to sue a doctor for malpractice. Then this is dropped once Brunt shows up to demand Quark honor the contract made when he was dying, but which now requires his death. Then we learn that Brunt purposefully exploited the situation so that he could either embarrass Quark or make Quark die. Which is… kind of complicated. Was Brunt just waiting for a situation in which to go after Quark???
The impetus might have been confusing to me, but ”Body Parts” became interesting to me once Quark was faced with a genuinely difficult conundrum. Did he break the contract with Brunt and face ostracism and exile? Or did he prove himself a loyal, obedient Ferengi and let Garak kill him? Now, I couldn’t seriously entertain the idea that Quark would die at the end of this episode, so it was hard to believe the tension. Quark was going to survive somehow; that was a given. Yet the way in which the episode reached that conclusion was more satisfying than I expected. It was through the story in “Body Parts” that I realized that despite Quark protesting to the contrary, he hasn’t been a model Ferengi up to this point. Over the four seasons of this show, he’s compromised his morals multiple times, and many of those instances are named outright by Brunt. He spared his mother; his nephew is in training for Starfleet; his brother, who started a union, is still working alongside him.
He never even knew that he disagreed with the strict rules of Ferengi society. Like I said, he protested the very idea that he wasn’t a perfect Ferengi businessman. But his actions speak so much louder than his words, as did his sense of self-preservation. That is where “Body Parts” was most intriguing: Who is Quark without the Rules of Acquisition?
I don’t know that the episode fully answers that question, but we get a hint of it after Brunt orders the complete liquidation of Quark’s bar. It’s an odd sight on the show, and I admit that even though I figured Quark wouldn’t die in this episode, I was still unnerved by the imagery. However, over the years, Quark has made an impact on the people around him, enough that many of his patrons and much of the DS9 staff decide to “store” supplies in Quark, providing him with exactly what he’d need to operate his bar. But he’ll be doing so detached from Ferengi culture. How is that going to manifest in future episodes? Will he rely on his own business sense or the rules he was brought up to obey?
I can’t say. But I was touched by the end of “Body Parts.” Like the O’Brien/Kira plot, I thought it was nice that there was no cynicism here. Which means the finale is probably going to destroy me, isn’t it?
The video for “Body Parts” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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