Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Who Mourns For Morn?" Is A Fun, But Insubstantial Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Farce!

The Good: Amusing, Moments of performance.
The Bad: No real character development, Utterly inconsequential.
The Basics: “Who Mourns For Morn?” provides a real opportunity to explore the character of Morn, but ends up being a mediocre Quark farce.

The first Star Trek convention I attended as a dealer was Farpoint in Hunt Valley, Maryland. After years of attending various Star Trek conventions as a fan, I decided to turn my love of conventions, trading cards, and Star Trek into a viable (I hoped) business and set up a table at Farpoint. I rented a car (which I slept in one of the two nights of the show), drove down to Hunt Valley and came across as terribly desperate to almost all of my potential customers. What made that very first convention the one I made the leap for? Mark Allen Shepherd was there. At the time, I used to stump people with my trivia question of “Who were the first three characters to appear in exactly three series’ in the Star Trek franchise?” Many correctly got Quark and some even managed to get Gul Evek, but no one ever seemed to guess Morn! Mark Allen Shepherd played Morn and the Farpoint show he was at was one of the few I have ever seen him listed as a guest for.

The only major episode to ever focus on Morn was “Who Mourns For Morn?” The sixth season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode trumps “Our Man Bashir” (reviewed here!) as the episode that came closest to having Morn speak (he was supposed to have a line in “Our Man Bashir,” was fitted for a tux, but then the line got cut!). Ironically, Morn barely appears in the episode and, like most Morn interactions, has people speaking about Morn rather than the character doing anything to characterize himself.

Quark is chiding Odo for not observing earlier that the bartender has been running a holographic Morn for several days. But Odo’s complaints of rotting beets in the cargo bay are quickly shoved aside when Sisko and Dax arrive to inform Quark that Morn’s transport ship has been destroyed and Morn is dead. After throwing a funeral for Morn (while instructing his waiters to sell the worst drink Quark is overstocked on), Quark learns that he is the sole beneficiary of Morn’s estate. This windfall looks less impressive when Quark discovers that all he appears to have inherited is a huge shipment of rotting beets and a pool that Morn used as a bed.

But when Larell, Morn’s lithe ex-wife pops out of the poolbed, things begin to get interesting for Quark. Larell claims that Morn has a thousand bricks of gold pressed latinum stashed away and in exchange for him giving her ten percent, she won’t tie the money up in court for years. As Quark begins a diligent hunt for the missing money that Larell insists must be on the station, he is intimidated by two alien brothers, Krit and Nahsk, who insist they were Morn’s business partners and he owes them money. Quark’s attempt to stay alive gets even more complicated when Hain arrives. He claims to be with the Royal House Of Luria and that Morn inherited the royal family’s wealth as a prince who abdicated. Amid the conflicting reports of who Morn was, Quark comes closer and closer to discovering where Morn stashed his riches and just who the people are who are now hunting it and him!

“Who Mourns For Morn?” is essentially a farce episode and it is easily the weak link of the sixth season (so, on the bright side, they all get better from here!). Even so, it is entertaining and amusing, even if it is not at all substantial. By the time Hain makes his appearance, the viewer pretty much expects him (the rule of three) and we have the idea that there is something going on much deeper with Morn’s money than just business partners and a heretofore unknown ex-wife. The problem is, it is hard to care. And I write that as someone who slept in a car in February to meet the guy who played Morn!

In “Who Morns For Morn?,” Morn becomes like the Breen. The Breen are an alien race in the Star Trek franchise who are alluded to frequently as part of lists of aliens. When characters refer to aliens who have certain properties, it always seems like the Breen are thrown in there (i.e. “This style of disruptor is only used by three races: the Klingons, Romulans and the Breen.”). At this point in the series, the Breen have only been seen in their cooling suits from afar in “Indiscretion” (reviewed here!). In a similar fashion, in this episode, Morn suddenly becomes important to everyone. Sure, Dax once talked flirtatiously about him with Kira and O’Brien, Quark and Bashir who spend a lot of time at Quark’s should all reasonably know him pretty well. But the idea that he was a sparring partner for Worf just seems ridiculous. Even Worf’s worried reaction that Morn had rejected Jadzia back in the day seems forced.

And as far as Quark episodes, “Who Morns For Morn?” is disappointingly low on character development. Quark has always been a character guided by avarice, so the idea that he would relentlessly hunt down Morn’s fortune, regardless of the threats upon his life, is hardly a character revelation. In fact, it is pretty insulting to the audience that Quark is in the same place at the beginning and end of the episode.

What saves “Who Morns For Morn?” from the lower ratings is the acting. Guest actors like Gregory Itzin (Hain) are alternately funny and menacing, making for a great range in the performances. Itzin, Brad Greenquist, Bridget White and Cyril O’Reilly all give more than the usual guest stars are asked to by playing characters that are more multifaceted than most one-shot characters. And they all live up, with both wonderful vocal performances and great body language that makes “Who Mourns For Morn?” fun to watch.

Ultimately, much of the episode hinges on Armin Shimerman and once again Shimerman delivers a convincing performance. “Who Mourns For Morn?” might have worked better as a second or third season episode by virtue that Quark’s character is largely motivated by greed in this episode, but Shimerman gives a decent, comfortable performance of Quark. Like many of the early episodes, the episode does not make many demands on Shimerman to play the character with much range, but for what there is to do, Shimerman performs well.

“Who Mourns For Morn?” is a bottle episode and one that does not in any way build toward anything in the Star Trek universe. It is fun, but if one had to skip a late-series episode, it is easy to see why this would be one of the top ones fans could fell they could afford to miss (though, “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” in season seven would easily top that list for me!). If you’re looking for fun in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine universe, “Who Mourns For Morn?” fits the bill. If you’re looking for more, you’ll have to look past this episode!

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

For other works with Gregory Itzin, be sure to check out my reviews of:
The Ides Of March
The Change-Up
Original Sin


See how this episode stacks up against others in the Star Trek franchise by visiting the Star Trek Review Index Page where the reviews are organized best work to worst! Check it out!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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