E18, S4: Rules of engagement

I use the part with Quark from chakoteya transcript to expose my doubts.


QUARK (to camera): It was about seventeen hundred hours. I was doing some cleanup work. Doctor Bashir was at the bar talking to Etheria, one of the dabo girls.

BASHIR: Have you ever seen the wormhole open?

QUARK: No, wait. It wasn't Etheria. It was Glidia.

BASHIR: Have you ever seen the wormhole open?

QUARK: Or was it Midia?

CH'POK [OC]: Mister Quark, is this necessary?

QUARK: No, no, no. It was Ralidia and she was with Morn. And he was the one who turned to her and said


CH'POK: Can we return to the matter at hand, please?

QUARK: Oh, right. Well, as I said, I was cleaning up and I saw Mister Worf come in.


CH'POK [OC]: Was there anything unusual about that?

QUARK: No, he comes in here all the time. But he was in a good mood.

CH'POK [OC]: And that's unusual?

The same holds true for the previous part with Dax, and the following with Chief O'Brien.

It seems there is one Quark in the wardroom, and another in a holographic room.

I don't understand:

  1. The reason for this: They may simply answer the question and reconstruct verbally the dynamics of events.

  2. How is it possible to address Quark in the holographic recording, while he is currently present in the wardroom?

  • 3
    OC is probably off-camera. Jan 21, 2021 at 5:10
  • 4
    it's obviously Quark's memory that we are being shown, just like the other characters' remembrances are shown
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 21, 2021 at 5:41
  • 1
    OC is off-camera (but still in the same location as the scene). VO is voiceover (where the speaker is in another location)
    – Valorum
    Jan 21, 2021 at 11:10

3 Answers 3


I see no indication that the shots of Quark in his bar shown during the trial were meant to be holographic recordings or simulations. As you note yourself, he couldn't be in a holosuite and in the wardroom at the same time.

Also, there was no mention of a holosuite or holograms being used, and there were inconsistencies in respect to how holosuites normally work. For example, Quark repeatedly changed his mind about which dabo girl was sitting at the bar with Bashir -- first he said it was Etheria, then Glidia, then Midia -- and the woman instantly changed each time he said a different name. Then he said it was actually Ralidia sitting with Morn (not Bashir) and both characters instantly changed. Normally in a holosuite or holodeck, the computer would need to be specifically instructed to switch one character for another; it wouldn't do so automatically, just because you vocalised the fact that you'd picked the wrong one.

We saw something similar during O'Brien's testimony. He was initially describing the events that took place on the Defiant when Worf made the decision the trial was concerned with. Then the Klingon prosecutor proposed an alternate scenario where O'Brien (rather than Worf) was sat in the captain's chair of the Defiant, faced with the same decision that Worf was, and the scene instantly changed to reflect that scenario, without any instructions being issued to the computer. Again, this is contrary to how holosuites and holodecks are normally shown to work.

Also, there's evidence to suggest that holographic recordings aren't normally made in locations like Quark's. For example, no such recordings were produced or mentioned during the investigation of the scuffle between Quark and a drunken Klingon which led to that Klingon's death (DS9: "The House of Quark"). Quark gave a verbal testimony, and that's apparently all Odo had to go on.

Allow me to propose another interpretation: there were no holograms used during any of the testimonies given in "Rules of Engagement", and the witnesses being questioned were sat in the wardroom the whole time, with no 'duplicates' of them anywhere else. When they appeared to be speaking from other locations, they weren't really in those other locations, nor were they in holographic simulations of them. Everything they said was said in the wardroom, and the visuals on-screen were just a storytelling metaphor; a way of visualising the scenes being described for the benefit of the viewer (and by viewer, I mean us, not the characters in the story).

  • I've carefully read your answer. At first sight I was being attracted by @Valorum one (which remains a good answer), which was supported by strong evidence of the script (thanks for that liink, I ignored it), but your punctual observation in the comment seems clearly deny a classic flashback: It seems just as a way to better visualize the past events; for example, Quark wears another jacket in his bar, but clearly he cannot be the Quark of the past: He is the Quark of the trial "virtually" transposed there. This seems perfectly logic, and satisfies me.
    – Bento
    Jan 22, 2021 at 1:52

These instances are explicitly referred to in the script as "flashbacks" along with instruction (to the cast) that the court dialogue is to be ignored.

He disarms her with a quick move, SLAMS her back into the cave wall and puts his mek,leth to her throat. He glares at her face, breathing heavily, snarling.

Dax then turns to the camera and breaks the "fourth wall" between her and the wardroom.

This is her flashback and Worf pays no attention to the courtroom dialog.

DAX: (breathless) I'm no fool. I can see the killer instinct in his eyes... and I know he can kill me if he wants to...




QUARK is behind the bar, polishing a glass and talking to the camera. Again, no one else in the scene reacts at all to the courtroom dialog.

  • 1
    When the Klingon prosecutor proposed a scenario where O'Brien was commanding the Defiant, and we saw that scenario on-screen, that clearly wasn't a flashback. It was a visualisation of what he described; a theoretical scenario that never actually happened. Even the other scenes weren't exclusively flashbacks, since they contained deviations from the original events. In that respect, the technique used in this episode is markedly different from that seen in episodes like "In the Pale Moonlight", where they used more conventional flashbacks. Jan 21, 2021 at 11:13
  • 1
    Oh sure. Once we (the audience) understand that these are flashbacks, the writers start playing with it a little.
    – Valorum
    Jan 21, 2021 at 15:26
  • 1
    @LogicDictates - That being said, the script still refers to the little interplay between the Klingon lawyer and O'Brien as a flashback, even the part where they're hypothesising.
    – Valorum
    Jan 21, 2021 at 22:36

Most humans (and humans make up the vast majority of TV watchers) are very visual. If I were to ask you to describe a "dog", you would immediately "see" in your "mind's eye" a picture of a dog - maybe the dog you own now, or one you had when you were a kid, or the mean one owned by the grumpy guy down the street.

This is what we're seeing when we're being shown Quark looking at Bashir in the bar. Quark is remembering visually, then, as his memory clears, the picture in his mind changes to match the "updated" or "corrected" memory. Maybe, when you started reading this answer, you immediately envisioned your current dog, then as my question led you, you saw your childhood dog, then finally a neighbor's dog (even if it wasn't a mean one or the neighbor wasn't a grumpy guy), just like Quark's mental picture changed as he thought his way through the scenario.

When the Klingon prosecutor proposed that Chief O'Brien is now in command, O'Brien visualizes himself sitting the command chair trying to make the decision.

No holograms, holodecks, or any other trickery involved, just a simple fact of how (most) humans perceive their memories being projected by the writers on how Ferengis perceive memories.

  • 1
    I've really appreciated your answer -- just to know: I'veI visualized that nuisance dog of my pain in the neck neighbor since it forced me to move my bedroom! ☹️
    – Bento
    Jan 22, 2021 at 2:09

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