WARNING: "Who Mourns for Morn?" I'm not sure, but I bet they won't want spoilers.

In brief: Lots of hit-or-miss anarchy, with a few more hits than misses.

I must confess that I've never understood what all the fuss is about Morn. Okay, fine, so the existence of a regular barfly makes sense, and the running joke about how talkative this character is has had a couple of moments. On the whole, though, all Morn is is a one-joke character -- perhaps even a one-joke costume, since there's not much of a character there. As a result, I don't understand the Cult of Morn that seems to have cropped up in segments of DS9 fandom. Add in the "Quark falls afoul of people after his money" idea which we've seen several times before, and I wasn't particularly overjoyed with the episode going in.

I wound up being pleasantly surprised. "Who Mourns for Morn?" wasn't by any means the full-fledged comedy riot it could have been -- in particular, it felt lacking next to last season's In the Cards, which had the same events-spinning-out-of-control feel to it -- but it generally managed to get more interesting as it went in rather than less. A slow start and a lackluster ending hurt it, but the middle section came off reasonably well.

The early stages of the episode, however, did very little for me, probably because I'm not a member of the Cult of Morn. Various scenes dealing with his existence as Quark's "mascot", his untimely demise, and the lead-up to the funeral came off as cute, but felt more like fluff than anything else. I particularly liked the exchange between Worf and Dax about Dax's crush on Morn ("can we PLEASE drop this?"), and wondered a bit why no one saw fit to mention that Morn was instrumental in retaking DS9 from the Dominion. Later, when Quark discovered Morn had left everything to him, the running thread of "he must have money *somewhere*" started to chafe pretty quickly, with only the odd observation from Odo here and there ("That, I believe, is a matador") helping to keep things at least somewhat interesting.

Adding Morn's ex-wife Lorel to the mix helped matters along slightly, but only slightly. As I've said many times before, I'm not overly fond of characters whose sole purpose is to vamp their way through every scene, and popping up naked in a mud-bath is certainly likely to fit that bill. As usual, it meant that Quark was going to be listening to his libido while remaining suspicious -- and as usual, it meant lots of breathy suggestions from Lorel about what they could do with the money. None of it particularly annoyed me, but none of it particularly intrigued me, either. The further addition of the Brothers Dopey (for want of a better name) also didn't help; we've seen bumbling crooks before, and the fact that at least one of them seemed to be trying to play Jack Nicholson tended to make me realize I was looking at actors rather than paying attention to the story.

What finally *did* make me warm up to the hunt for the latinum a bit, and to the episode as a whole was the arrival of Hain (Gregory Itzin), the alleged head of Lurian royal security. Hain himself wasn't anything particularly special (although I remembered Gregory Itzin back from the first season's "Dax" and looked forward to seeing him again), but his arrival and his description of Morn as a member of the royal family who'd renounced his throne was a turning point. It showed that the episode was, like "In the Cards" before it, basically going to see how ridiculous it could get before the audience shouted "no, stop!" That sort of full-on goofiness has its charms, if the writing is snappy enough to pull it off -- and the greater part of the episode's last two acts was.

From there, the situation just grew increasingly (and entertainingly) more bizarre. We first saw O'Brien and Bashir actually doing their bit to keep Morn's old chair warm, thus proving that they can be amazingly daft given the right setup line. The kicker, however, was getting all of Quark's pursuers together in the same room, in what one might call a "Janet!/Dr. Scott!/Janet!/Brad!/Rocky!/" moment a la Rocky Horror. The fact that no one except Quark was actually telling the slightest bit of truth was perhaps expected, but the "what are you doing here?" "Me? What are YOU doing here?" sense of the scene was entertaining enough. The subsequent debate about what to do with Quark (and one Brother Dopey's idea to cut off Quark's thumb) was amusing as well.

After that, it was simply a matter of how the situation was going to resolve itself, and who would eventually wind up with the latinum. Given all the double-crosses and double-double-crosses the episode had already had, it was pretty much a given that the shipment from the bank wouldn't be the real thing -- which is why I was so surprised when it actually seemed to be at first glance. Having all four of Morn's business partners put each other out of action and into prison was a little over-the-top (one wonders how they managed to put together such a solid operation as the bank robbery in the first place if they were this inept), but Quark's glee and subsequent dashed hopes were definitely fun.

The very end, however, proved something of a letdown. Morn's return from the grave wasn't surprising, but it was something of a cliche -- given the long and involved memorial ceremony, I'd like to know how everyone else felt when Morn turned up alive and well. The revelation that Morn had been carrying the latinum around for ten years in his second stomach was entertaining (and set up by the clue that latinum was a liquid), but still something of a letdown. I would have found it more entertaining had it turned out that the latinum was in the mud-bath Quark drained -- imagine Quark realizing he'd vented his fortune out into space, or imagine Morn going back to his quarters and relaxing in his mud-bath with a knowing eye after Quark's yelled at him. Having him vomit some latinum up for Quark was perhaps kinder, but it was a good deal less fun.

Other moments:

-- The casual "so, which one of you killed [Morn], anyway?" banter among his former partners was entertaining, but the fact that no one had made it seem far more likely that Morn was about to come back. I almost expected Morn to be inside the bank shipment.

-- Dax's "don't be fooled by a pretty face" was well taken, given both her past and her subsequent trouncing of Quark in tongo.

-- "Think of me as Morn. I don't *believe* I just said that." :-)

That about covers it. "Who Mourns for Morn?" wasn't a standout DS9 offering by any stretch of the word, but managed enough moments of amusing chaos to provide an amusing hour, particularly in the second half. Don't expect a lot of lasting memories, but there are worse ways to spend an hour.

Wrapping up:

Writing: At its best, lots of great twists. At its worst, not enough of them and too many cliches. Directing: A few entertaining camera angles, particularly of guns pointing at each other while Quark's looking at the money. Acting: The regulars were fine; apart from Gregory Itzin, most of the guest stars seemed off to me, particularly those playing the Brothers Dopey.

OVERALL: 6. Nothing earth-shattering in either direction.


Sisko takes a little jaunt to the Twilight Zone.

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tlynch@alumni.caltech.edu	<*>
"What's that?"
"That, I believe, is a matador."
			-- Quark and Odo
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