Thursday, November 17, 2011

Success In The Ledgers With "Profit And Loss!"

The Good: Sense of intrigue, Characters, Development
The Bad: Minutia
The Basics: Part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Profit And Loss" is well-paced and well developed telling a political story with an impressive emotional component.

The essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has an oft-overlooked episode in "Profit And Loss." While one might be tempted to view it as a part of the Ferengi subplot - because it focuses on Quark - the episode actually is part of the Cardassian main plot. In fact, it's an insinuative episode that plants the seeds for important future endeavors.

"Profit And Loss" finds a Cardassian shuttle, heavily damaged, docking at the station. The three members of the crew are Cardassian and after a limited investigation by O'Brien of their ship, it becomes clear that they are Cardassian Dissidents. Cardassian Dissidents? Well, back in "Cardassians" (reviewed here!), we learned that the Cardassian government is a balance of a Civilian Government and the Cardassian Central Command, the military. Well, the government appears to have been less stable than previously believed, as evident in this episode.

The catch is that the leader of the dissidents is Natima Lang, a Cardassian who once was romantically involved with Quark. The other catch is that Garak observes the members of Lang's party and makes the association with who they are and why they are there and decides to use it to his own purposes.

The interplay between Quark's arc and Garak's arc is phenomenal in this episode. Quark does something unexpected, putting the affection of a woman above the pursuit of profit. Wow. How uncharacteristic! And yet, it fits Quark; we're learning he has more depth than the average Ferengi. We've seen hints of it before, now we see it in full force. Garak is enhanced by his whole air of mystery. We finally learn some concrete things about who he truly is.

The prize scene of the episode, then, does not have to do with Natima and Quark reawakening their passions or the lead up to the climax where Quark pleads with Odo to release the political prisoners. Instead, the scene that lends itself to many rewatchings is between Quark and Garak. The two meet in Garak's tailor shop and discuss clothing as a metaphor for political revolution. It's a great social science scene that all people who want to change the world ought to sit through. It asks the essential question: What can one person do to change the thrust of current politics. Of course, it answers it with Garak's spin on life and that's rather dark. I also think it applies to today's world and it's worth watching.

Both the plot and the character development in this episode work well. They balance new information with known factors well. The whole episode flows well, keeping the action going and most of that is in the characters. They move the entire episode. That's refreshing.

Despite the heavy Deep Space Nine angle, this episode is remarkably accessible to people who are not fans of the series. It's the universal story of the woman given up years ago who returns fleeing tyranny and must choose between her cause and her love. It's told with an emphasis on the human, or rather character, elements and that works quite well here. “Profit And Loss” is a surprisingly good episode.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, movie or DVD set reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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