In Ops, O’Brien frets to Dax about his very pregnant, very active wife’s latest outing to the Gamma Quadrant.
Quark, having just returned from a visit to Ferenginar, seems unusually happy to be back, but blurts out just before the opening credits that he’s dying.
While on Ferenginar, Quark was diagnosed with the rare and incurable Plot Contrivance Syndrome, and given a week to live. This is the A plot, so there’s plenty of time for Rom to try to comfort his brother, time for conversation about paying off final debts, and time to reflect on Quark’s personal accomplishments.
Rom encourages Quark to list himself on the funeral relics market, suggesting his body will attract huge bids. Quark is touched: “You’re a liar, but I love you.” When someone does makes a huge bid, Quark eagerly accepts, having convinced himself that the bidder is the Grand Nagus, the Ferengi financial/spiritual leader. In short order we learn that Quark was misdiagnosed and isn’t actually dying, and that the mystery bidder is in fact Quark’s nemesis, Brunt of the Ferengi Commerce Association.
Quark insists that, as a respectful and traditional Ferengi (unlike his iconoclastic mother and commercially incompetent brother), he will deliver his corpse according to the terms of the contract, and enlists Garak’s services as assassin.
Meanwhile in the B plot, we learn that after a PCF (plot contrivance field) incident, a runabout’s technical wibblers got wobbled in such a way that, as we are told through dialogue, Keiko’s baby had to be transferred into Major Kira’s womb. The O’Briens are grateful, and Kira is pretty humble and matter-of-fact about it, but warms up when she’s accepted into the family as little Molly’s Aunt Nerys. (The real-world reason is of course that actor Nana Visitor is really with a child by Alexander Siddig, who portrays Dr. Bashir, and the baby transfer is a convenient sci-fi way to write her pregnancy into the show.)
Quark dreams he is in the Great Treasury of the Ferengi afterlife, where a vision of the first ever Grand Nagus (the author of the holy Rules of Acquisition) gives him permission to break the contract. For Quark, not dying means being banned from his homeworld, barred from doing business with other Ferengi, and forfeiting all his property to Brunt (played with cackling glee by the versatile Jeffery Coombs).
I always find myself resisting the Ferengi-centric episodes, but the farcical and grotesque plot sets up a surprisingly earnest and touching finale. Sitting in his shuttered and now unfurnished bar, Quark is miserable, and even Rom realizes brotherly love falls short of solving his problems. Things look bleak until Bashir drops by with a case of “undrinkable” brandy he was going to throw out. Dax also offers a box of “ugly” glasses her sister sent her. Quark scoffs at their charity, but when Sisko announces he needs “a place to store some extra furniture” and leads in a crowd of happy extras who start setting up tables and chairs, Quark starts to bounce back, and gets the idea to charge a storage fee. When Sisko tells him to send him the bill, Quark has an “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment, realizing his many friends are valuable assets.