|Quark's pursuit of fortune puts him an awkward situation.|
The entire station is stunned when reports come in that Morn's ship was destroyed in an ion storm. Quark is crestfallen - Morn is a fixture in his bar, and whenever he goes away profits tumble. He rallies quickly, however, giving an inspiring speech and sales pitch at the memorial service: "Wherever he is, I'm sure he'd want to know that his favorite bar still echoed with the laughter of his dear friends. This was his chair and I think the greatest tribute we could ever pay him would be to make sure that it's never empty. Keep it warm for Morn!"
When Morn's bequest is read, Quark learns that he was left everything his ex-customer possessed. He heads for Morn's quarters to search for something valuable - and finds the seductive Larell (Bridget Ann White) waiting for him. She introduces herself as Morn's ex-wife, revealing that he had been in possession of a thousand bricks of gold-pressed latinum - Enough to qualify as a fortune. Quark recognizes that she is angling for a share of money he doesn't even yet possess, but that's not going to stop him from enjoying her attentions in the meantime.
Things take a turn for the worse when a pair of brothers, Krit (Brad Greenquist) and Nahsk (Cyril O'Reilly), show up looking for their share of the money. Another man, Hain (Gregory Itzin) tries to manipulate Quark into giving him the entire fortune, minus a finder's fee. All four are actually con artists and criminals, double-crossed by Morn years earlier. Now that Morn is dead, they want the money he took from them - and they're perfectly willing to kill Quark to get it!
Capt. Sisko: Barely present, though Avery Brooks puts a nicely appalled tone into Sisko's voice when he sees a holographic Morn sitting at Quark's bar. Brooks puts enough emotion into "Turn it off" to make Sisko's very brief presence memorable.
Quark: Is at his greediest, reacting to Morn's death by manipulating the mourners into patronizing his bar even more. He pursues the thousand-brick pot of gold with the glee of a leprechaun, and enjoys Larell's seductive wiles even though he recognizes her as the con artist she is. He continues to exult in the potential payoff even after Kirt, Nahs, and Hain show up, angling for an even split of the profits and talking them out of killing him practically in the same breath. This could reduce Quark to a caricature, but Armin Shimerman puts enough sincerity into Quark's self-serving speech at Morn's wake to indicate some real mourning beneath the avarice, and he plays Quark with just enough shrewdness and humor to keep him... well, human throughout.
Odo: Seems amused by Quark's pursuit of Morn's fortune. He acts as a foil to Quark, voicing his skepticism of the bartender's chances of finding a fortune. He does get to act as the cavalry at the end, though, hauling the bartender out of his hiding place after the villains have, for the most part, defeated themselves.
Hot Alien Space Babe of the Week: A heading I rarely use for DS9... But with Larell introduced naked in a mud bath, and wearing not much more than that in the rest of the episode, it fits too well to pass up. Larell is the classic femme fatale, using her physical charms and wiles to coax Quark into cooperating with her obvious con. Bridget Ann White has good enough comic timing to make her scenes enjoyable, particularly after all the con artists have been brought face-to-face.
Waltz was a heavy dramatic episode, one that had the feeling of an Act change. I would rank it among the series' best episodes, serving as a superb exploration of Sisko and Dukat while at the same time being a perfectly-judged epilogue to the Dominion Occupation arc that opened Season Six.
Which is exactly why it was such a good choice to follow it with a comedy caper. Any dramatic episode would have felt like an afterthought in Waltz's wake. By moving in a completely different direction, the series avoids leaving the feeling of a letdown.
This could have gone very wrong. The central gag, that this entire episode is built around Morn, who is quite literally an extra who has simply received a lot of face time over the years, is one that could become overly precious very easily. Thankfully, Mark Gehred-O'Connell's script keeps the momentum up, shifting gears with every Act change. Some of the twists are easy enough to see coming - but it moves so swiftly from one to the next, that even the most expected reveals remain engaging.
Armin Shimerman is terrific, as always, keeping Quark just likable enough even at his greediest. Quark is the antithesis of the Starfleet ideal. He's venal, he's lustful, he's religiously dedicated to advancing his own desires. But he's so human in all of that, we still want to see him come out on top.
All of this makes Who Mourns for Morn? a refreshing breather. It may suffer a little from coming so soon after the superior The Magnificent Ferengi. But it's a sprightly and enjoyable piece on its own terms, and I came away from it smiling.
Overall Rating: 7/10.
Previous Episode: Waltz
Next Episode: Far Beyond the Stars
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