This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Brunt, one of the many highly powerful Ferengi making multiple appearances on Deep Space Nine.
("Is that a Dominion spy?")
Brunt is a liquidator for the Ferengi Commerce Authority, which is basically the IRS on steroids thanks to the stringent Rules of Acquisition all Ferengi businessmen subject themselves to. He first appears as an investigator working to punish Quark's mother for being a female making profit, and then to investigate Quark for causing a worker strike at his bar.
He finally is able to revoke Quark's business license for breaking a contract with the FCA, but the story did not end there for this micro-managing FCA agent. Instead, Brunt then tasks himself with bringing down Grand Nagus Zek to try and make himself the new leader of the Ferengi universe. Of course, Quark foils these plans because he can't bear to work with Brunt as a Grand Nagus, and also because Zek is a friend of Ferengi women's rights, important to Quark's mother.
Quote: "I want you back in business. It gives me an opportunity to keep my eye on you, because one day you are going to make a mistake, and on that day, you're going to lose more than your business license." (from Ferengi Love Songs).
But Brunt temporarily gets his way after the FCA deposes Zek following his bold reforms to give equal rights to Ferengi women. Quark again gets the best of Brunt by convincing enough FCA commissioners to return Zek to his position, a move that makes Zek indebted to Quark and his family forever. Which eventually leads to Quark's brother Rom becoming Grand Nagus, but that's another story. Why this plot twist required a story of Quark becoming a woman is beyond me, but it's not as if the Ferengi are taken terribly serious to begin with in Star Trek.
Brunt did return to his job as a FCA liquidator following his failed attempts to become Grand Nagus. One would expect he returned to his paper-pushing bullying ways with the small amount of power granted by his original position. This character would be more interesting if it weren't for the whole Ferengi culture and storyline being so ridiculous. With that as the backdrop, he simply becomes an irritation that leads to dumb things like Quark with boobs.
No, I take it back, an annoying inflexible tax man is never terribly interesting. At least, assuming the show writers don't surprise us (and a bully with delusions of grandeur is not surprising in this role).
Jeffrey Combs played Brunt, and he is likely better known for his role as Weyoun of the Dominion in this same series. He played nine different roles in all his Star Trek time, which ranks among the top five for recurring character actors, and he continues to do a lot of cartoon voice work now.
Until next time, live long and prosper...