The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Body Parts

When Quark is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he decides to pre-emptively auction off his dead body in order to pay off his debts. But when it turns out that he isn’t dying after all, he finds that he is still expected to deliver his desiccated corpse to his buyer – Liquidator Brunt. Meanwhile, a runabout accident means that the only way Bashir can save Keiko’s baby is to transfer the foetus into Kira.

We’re almost at the end of season four, but there’s still time for one more Ferengi episode, featuring Quark’s nemesis Liquidator Brunt. The crux of the episode might feel a bit shallow to us human viewers – will Quark break a contract to save his own life? Breaking a contract is one of the big Ferengi taboos, and to do so will render his family destitute and his status as a businessman revoked, so for Quark, it’s no small deal.

DS9 often feels like a home for people who don’t quite fit in anywhere else, and this episode really marks Quark out as one of those people. He’s always tried to be a ruthless Ferengi with the lobes for business, but to Brunt, his occasional kind acts make him a despicable philanthropist. Unlike Rom and Nog, who have struck out on very non-traditional paths, Quark has been desperate to adhere to his culture’s ways, but just by living on DS9, his values have changed. He is no longer a typical Ferengi, and in this episode he is forced to confront just that.

Meanwhile, the B-plot allows Nana Visitor’s pregnancy to be written into the story, and although transferring the O’Brien baby into Kira’s womb stretches plausibility to breaking point, it is at least a little more imaginative than having her get pregnant with Shakaar’s child.

Aunt Nerys

The Kira story made me uncomfortable on first watch, because now just being in the same runabout as a pregnant woman might mean that you suddenly become pregnant yourself. Like The Child, it feels like a storyline that robs women of their bodily autonomy, and makes space that much less fun. Having thought about it a bit more, it’s still not a great turn of events, but it’s so ridiculous that I can live with it a little better.

First off, let’s examine the physical aspects. I’d like to think that in the 24th century, there was some kind of artificial womb technology that could have been used to house the baby whilst it continued to develop, although I guess it’s unlikely that such a thing would be present on a standard runabout. But even if we take the “Dr Bashir compensated for Kira being Bajoran” technobabble as believable, then is Kira’s womb really a viable place for the O’Brien baby? At the time of transfer, Kira is not pregnant – her womb is its normal size, and none of the physiological adjustments that take place during pregnancy have occurred. Bashir does stimulate hormone production, but can he stimulate womb enlargement and skin growth?

Then we get onto the emotional aspect. Kira has never been pregnant before, or even discussed becoming a mother – and suddenly she’s pregnant. I don’t think we ever really explore the emotional impact for her, or just how plain weird it must be. Similarly, Keiko is probably feeling very strange about losing but also not losing a baby – there’s a wealth of emotions to be feeling there, but it’s unlikely that a space opera like DS9 would ever delve that deeply into those.

Other points

  • The Bajoran gestation period is a swift five months.
  • Although it was a nice gesture for Dax and Bashir to bring Quark new glasses and drinks, these are things he could easily replicate. I guess the act was enough to literally get him back on his feet.

Summary – Body Parts: Selling your body can have unintended consequences.

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