the story: Quark reunites with someone he used to know, who just happened to be a Cardassian interested in social reform.
what it's all about: Somewhere along the way, Deep Space Nine's own producers began to dismiss "Profit and Loss" as a failed attempt to recreate the classic film Casablanca. They should beat themselves up so much.
"Loss" is actually a considerable gain, an episode that recasts a lot of Next Generation tried to do with the Romulans, and actually a nice follow-up to Deep Space Nine's first acknowledged classic, "Duet." In essence, it's a valuable deeper look at the Cardassians, a characteristic nuanced perspective on aliens usually easy to dismiss as villains, and as such it's fairly important to the whole series. Like "Cardassians" earlier in the season, it even has the good sense to bring Garak in on the action. "Loss" functions to some degree as a teaser to "The Wire" four episodes later, which remains the definitive statement on the enigmatic tailor, and as such is pretty fascinating.
But this is also Quark's story, one of the handful of episodes where he's unabashedly cast in heroic light. Regardless of how well it works, "Loss" is still a worthwhile addition to a whole season where Quark was the MVP, the most consistent contributor to the emerging tapestry of the series.
I actually think if there's a problem with "Loss" it's that the concept just seems too jarring, and it doesn't help that next season's "House of Quark" is so much more organic, and that "Second Skin" handles the trickiness of Cardassian politics so much better. But "Loss" has its own charms, and they're incredibly unique. The still later "Business as Usual" features a far more conflicted Quark. It's nice to be reminded that he's not always the odious little toad he tends to be depicted as.
- franchise - Begins to help demonstrate how the Cardassians in this series reflect the work done on other aliens in Star Trek.
- series - As such is a valuable episode to remember later.
- character - It's good for both Quark and Garak.
essential- But the series would do better with all these elements later.
Andrew Robinson (Garak)