In which we meet the Ferengi, and Data is wearing his sassy pants.
Memory Alpha says: In pursuit of Ferengi marauders, the Enterprise and its quarry become trapped by a mysterious planet that is draining both ships’ energies. (For detailed information, please click the Memory Alpha link.)
‘Code of Honor’ was (generally unintentionally) racist about black people. Now we have ‘The Last Outpost,’ which manages the interesting feat of being racist about people who don’t even exist, the Ferengi. It is understandable that the Ferengi are not everyone’s cup of tea, but at least in DS9 they are developed into an internally consistent, relatively plausible culture and we get to know some likeable individuals. I find Rom more tiresome than anything else, but I love Quark and Nog, and Liquidator Brunt is one of my favourite antagonists. The Ferengi in DS9 are portrayed as cunning, devious, amoral, sly, shifty little bastards (stop, I’m making them blush) – but also as people who care about their families and friends, and at least don’t have any genocide on their collective conscience.
But in their first appearance, ‘Code of Honor,’ they are prancing, jabbering idiots, to the extent that it’s hard to understand how such a species of utter gobshites ever managed to get off their own planet. The Ferengi were supposed to be major antagonists in TNG, as you may have surmised from the sinister terms in which Picard mentions them in ‘Farpoint,’ but after this episode, the staff were forced to admit that this just wasn’t going to work. They did appear again, but from then on were played for laughs rather than with any sincere attempt to suggest that they posed a challenge. Fortunately for all of us, they thought of the Borg who are WAY scarier, and maintained the Romulans and dickhead factions of Klingons, and invented the Cardassians, and it was all good.
I suppose one explanation for the vast difference in intellect between the ‘Code of Honor’ Ferengi and the DS9 ones could be that only fuckin’ idiots sign on as marauders, while sensible and intelligent people go into business. Well, anyway, let’s go, Marauder Mo.
The Enterprise is chasing some Ferengi scamps who have stolen a ‘T9 energy converter.’ Not only do they want to get the T9 back, they’re also keen to get a good look at the Ferengi, who so far are known to them chiefly through rumour. (One of those rumours, I suppose, being that they’re cannibals, as Picard hinted in ‘Farpoint.’)
The Ferengi ship comes into view, and surprisingly, begins to slow down. Data suggests that there may be something wrong with its engines, and Geordi snarks ‘Breaks my heart,’ and ten points, Geordi, that was actually a humorous line. They creep up on the ship. Picard thinks its design is impressive, but they don’t know very much about the Ferengi’s technology. The Ferengi shoot at them, with big flashes of blue-white light, and Data actually squints. This is the first indication of how amazingly out of character he is going to be in this episode. Picard chooses not to fire back, but to keep following at a more prudent distance.
The Ferengi ship turns around to face them, and begins to drag them forward by some unknown means, and drain the energy from their ship. (Data contraction alert, ‘This shouldn’t be.’) Worf mutters ‘Immobilised by the damn Ferengi,’ as if there were something particularly galling about this, which doesn’t make sense when the Ferengi are such an unknown quantity. Don’t misunderstand, it is embarrassing to be immobilised by the Ferengi, but he shouldn’t know why yet. Everyone is a bit worried, and the teaser ends with a nice two-shot of Riker and Picard staring out at the mysterious ship.
Theme music of ADVENTURE!
Picard stalks around the bridge, asking for status reports from different departments. He can’t raise an answer from Engineering, though. I blame Shimoda. Geordi is dispatched to find out what’s up in the engine room, and Deanna anxiously reports that she gets no psychic impression from the Ferengi. They’re not answering any hails. They’re kind of stuck.
Picard asks Data if he has any information about the Ferengi. Data says that it’s only hearsay and third-hand reports, most of which conflict. Riker asks in an unnecessarily cross tone which ones don’t conflict. Data says that the Ferengi are analogous to the Yankee traders of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Riker anvils that those are his forebears – of course Riker would have foreBEARS), and noodle around the galaxy looking for mercantile or territorial opportunities. Further, they are nasty little capitalists and believe in Caveat Emptor – which he then glosses as ‘Let the buyer beware,’ for those of us who have no Latin. Riker, however, says he likes the sound of Yankee traders, and Data has a bizarrely unDatalike line, ‘Well, sir, I doubt they wear red, white and blue or look anything like Uncle Sam.’ He semi-smiles on the name Sam and it’s just wrong. Worf wants to know, Uncle Who? (I wonder what the equivalent is in Klingon culture of Uncle Tom; I imagine he’ll get called that a lot.) Data doesn’t explain, but again, looks inappropriately mildly amused.
Tasha wants to know what ‘bright primary colours’ have to do with anything, which is another spectacularly clunky line as we look around the bridge at people in bright red, yellow and blue uniforms. Picard explains that competing nations used to identify themselves with colours, and as he walks towards the viewscreen talking about this, Data is freakin’ smiling again – not a big smile, just a little Mona Lisa one, but it’s there. Was Brent Spiner newly in love or something? Picard has one of his little Season One bursts of French chauvinism, saying that the United States used red, white and blue, while the French ‘more properly’ used blue, white and red. What does that even mean. You could easily argue that the French flag is more elegant and less busy than the US one, but the order in which colours appear – look, the US flag doesn’t even read from left to right! Data, clearly thinking ‘ooh, I have relevant knowledge and can contribute,’ starts reciting the colours of various nations before Picard cuts him off, rather grumpily. Data begins ‘It was you who -‘ but Picard claims they were talking about the Ferengi. No… you hadn’t been talking about them for a few minutes, because you were teaching a history lesson. If you want to keep doing that, put on a cardigan and get in line behind Dr Linus.
Riker has joined Geordi in Engineering for some technobabble about what’s wrong. I think Geordi suspects that Riker can’t understand something this technical, because he then simplifies with hand gestures, ‘We push, and they push back – sir.’ (I liked the way that ‘sir’ was delivered. It is hard talking to someone who ranks higher than you but knows less about your speciality without sounding cheeky.) Riker goes and looks at the warp core, then comes up with an idea, which Geordi really likes, to the extent that he actually says ‘Woo-wee!’ and it is ridiculous. The idea is that if they suddenly and without warning accelerate to top speed, they may be able to break away from however the Ferengi are holding them before it can adjust to restrain them.
Worf just wants to fight, because if they get destroyed by a superior foe there’s no shame in that, but Picard feels there’s also no shame in a strategic retreat. How very French of him. Picard gives the Ferengi one more chance, and hails them in a fine stentorian voice commanding them to return the T9. Because he’s still in a teacherly mode, he tells Number One that sometimes the best way to fight is not to be there, and Riker quotes Sun Tzu back at him, and gets a gold star. (Data thinks ‘How come it’s all right when he does it?’)
They try Riker’s plan. It is an abject failure. Picard says ‘Shit’ in French, to get past the censors. I would quite enjoy it if this had become a running gag, with Picard saying increasingly filthy things week by week. At least it would enable him to call Lwaxana a putain or tell Q to va te faire foutre. Data notices that their computers are being accessed – reading everything they’ve got. Even Wesley’s self-insertion Doogie Howser fan fiction.
At this point Deanna earns her paycheck by standing up and pointing out that, while focusing all their attention on the Ferengi ship, they’ve been ignoring the planet that is right beside them. Her horrid pink belt has been changed to a horrid green belt. Picard tells Data to pull up all available information on this planet, and calls a conference to discuss their options.
Tasha and Worf want to use the last of their power to shoot the shit out of the Ferengi ship. Picard doesn’t like that, because it’s dangerous and ‘provocative.’ Tasha’s like ‘They started it!’ and looks petulant, but Picard points out that they were chasing the Ferengi to begin with. Well, yeah, because they stole something. Deanna says all the Ferengi have done since immobilising them is scan their computers for information, which is not very hostile. She wants to talk to them – but that’s no good if they won’t talk back. She suggests that they haven’t told the Ferengi ‘anything they want to hear.’ Okay… hail them and invite them over for worms and tongo.
Picard asks for any other suggestions, and nobody has any, so he dismisses them. But then, he asks Riker again, calling him Will. It’s starting to look as if their only remaining option is ‘the one that leads to total annihilation,’ and that will be Picard’s call alone.
Picard makes one more effort to contact the other ship, very reluctantly offering to negotiate. He invites them to present their terms. The music swells up and we go to an ad-break.
Picard is fretting about what those terms might be, and whether he can ask his people to submit to them, when the Ferengi ship moves. Tasha and Worf are still spoiling to fire, because their shields are running out of power, and Riker agrees.
A cartoonishly mean and nasty voice comes on the line, giving its name as Daimon Dar and asking if Picard wants to discuss surrender. It becomes apparent, though, that Dar thinks the Enterprise is asking him to surrender. Bizarrely for a Ferengi, he says that’s unacceptable and they prefer death to such dishonour. (Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack, Dar.) A very startled Picard makes a ‘cut’ gesture across his throat and Tasha hits the mute button. This means that the Ferengi ship is also being held immobile, and he orders a probe to find out what the heck is doing it. He has Tasha unmute the audio channel and picks up as if he had been talking the whole time but the sound cut out. He insists on visual negotiations, but Dar says that’s against their custom. Picard, bluffing his pants off, says Starfleet doesn’t accept a surrender otherwise, and is that the way they want to play it?
So we get to see our very first Ferengi, and he looks like he’s talking into a webcam, in front of a white wall, as opposed to the full bridge view the Enterprise gives others. (Was this a way to avoid building a Ferengi bridge set?) He gets a clunky line about ‘the ugliness of the oo-man’ (not ‘hew-mon’ yet) because haha! The ugly alien thinks we’re ugly! But we’re not ugly, we have Marina Sirtis and Patrick Stewart! We’re totally hot! I don’t know, I’ve never thought Ferengi are that ugly, they just have bad teeth. Okay, Rom’s ugly, but he’s Rom. Dar thinks the Enterprise has him over a barrel and offers the return of the ‘worthless’ T9 plus the lives of his second officers, according to ‘the Ferengi code,’ which is presumably not the same as the Rules of Acquisition. Data leans over and murmurs to Geordi ‘Fortunately Starfleet has no such rules involving its second officers.’ That line is just far too wry for him, particularly given last week’s emphasis on his lack of humour.
Picard, hanging onto the advantage with both hands, says that this offer may be inadequate, but they’ll consider it.
Going through to the observation lounge, Riker finds two little boys playing with the golden model starships on the wall. During a red alert, these kids are just wandering around and can get into areas that should be crew only – Riker tells them they know the room is off limits. He calls them both by name as he shoos them out, and I think it’s pretty lovable that he’s learned the names of children on the ship, but really, either they or their parents need a smacked bottom. It’s a very awkward shift of tone from suspenseful to comic.
As Picard, Geordi, Riker and Data sit down at the table for Data’s presentation on the planet next to them (I don’t know where everyone else is at the moment), he picks up a toy left behind by the boys, a Chinese finger trap, and examines it, peering through it. Again, during a red alert, which I don’t think Picard has called off yet. I know they’re not so worried about annihilation just at the moment, but this is not the time to begin idly fiddling with things you find lying around, and idle fiddling is simply not androidy behaviour. As he talks about the extinct civilisation that used to be based on this planet, he absent-mindedly slips the trap first onto one of his index fingers, using it to point with, then the other, and absent-mindedness is not androidy behaviour either! In mid-narration, he realises his fingers are stuck, and his speech becomes halting as he tries to get them free while continuing to talk (as if he finds it difficult to multi-task). His expression becomes visibly sheepish and embarrassed, and Riker and Geordi exchange smirky looks. It’s awkward and cute, but it’s not Data. Actually, I think it might be Barclay, but he doesn’t exist yet. Picard asks him what he’s doing and Data admits that he’s stuck. Geordi calls him ‘my hero’ and openly laughs at him, because Geordi’s such a great friend, you guys!
Picard has to reach over and remove the trap for him, and Data murmurs ‘Intriguing’ and almost gets distracted into further investigating the toy before remembering that he’s giving a presentation. You know how I said last time that I liked it when TNG dropped hints that Data was more human than he realised? That wasn’t one of those times. I’ve heard this scene objected to as ‘Data wouldn’t get stuck in a simple toy like that.’ I don’t think Data would have picked up a toy while working in the first place! There’s a big difference between mentally multi-tasking, as we know he constantly does, and just getting distracted by random crap.
ANyway, this exinct T’kon empire used to be pretty badass and could even move stars around to form defensive outposts, solar systems right where they wanted them. Just then Tasha reports that their probe down to the planet has revealed that it’s sending a forcefield out to both the ships. Geordi whistles to show he is impressed; it is corny. (I’m just hating on Geordi right now because he didn’t try to help his supposed best friend avoid fucking up in front of the captain.) The empire is extinct, because their sun went supernova (you’d think people who can move stars would be able to deal with that, or at least to see it coming and relocate in time), but this may be the most distant surviving outpost, hence the title. However, Data finds no sign of life down there.
Picard wants an away team to head down and check it out, and decides they should invite the Ferengi to join them in this (partly just in case the Ferengi figure out the forcefield too). They leave, Geordi throwing the finger trap to Data on the way out and patting him on the back. He’s such a turd.
Picard recaps for people who just tuned in halfway through the episode. Tasha says that their power reserves are so low that she has to shut down shields to maintain life support. It must be killing her and Worf that they can’t shoot anyone. Picard hails the Ferengi again and Dar bitches some more about how ugly Patrick Stewart supposedly is. Rubbish, as the fact that Patrick Stewart is a handsome man has actually been the subject of a newspaper correction. He’s withdrawing their surrender, because they sent their own probe out and realised they were being played. Picard suggests a more ‘productive’ relationship, and Dar says he’d rather have a more profitable one.
Down front, Data whispers ‘Yankee trader’ out of the corner of his mouth to Geordi. Who are you and what have you done with the real, sensible Data? Dar demands to know what that means (I think he thought Data said ‘traitor,’ which is understandably insulting; although I suppose ‘Yankee traitor’ will only bother you if you’re from Dixie) and Geordi whispers back ‘He heard that!’ Duh! I suppose this is a ‘big ears’ joke, but Data didn’t say it all that quietly. Picard explains away the remarkably immature behaviour of grown-up bridge officers (seriously, they are like kids at the back of a classroom today, and I bet he’s starting to think about giving Data to the Ferengi after all), saying it just means the Ferengi are interested in profit; is that accurate?
Dar claims they’re only interested in what is ‘equitable,’ which, okay. You can say that if you like. He accuses the Enterprise of attacking his ship first, and says the T9 is theirs anyway; it was in their territory, not that anyone else acknowledges it as such. They argue a bit about this, and there are a lot of shots of the back of Picard’s head superimposed on huge images of Dar’s face, just to make sure we understand Dar is grotesque. Picard says he’s not interested in accusations or recriminations; they are in the same boat and it makes sense to co-operate. He proposes a ‘swap’ and for some reason the UT doesn’t convey this to Dar in terms he can understand; Picard has to explain that it means trade. He offers Data’s information about the planet in exchange for whatever the Ferengi know about it. To prove that they can trust each other, they should make a joint exploration of the planet. I note that Dar keeps calling him ‘Picard Captain,’ just to make the Ferengi seem stupid. Actually, I’m starting to wonder if the Daimon’s name is Tar, because that’s how Picard pronounces it. I’m just going by what I can hear. Picard offers the use of their transporter, but Dar is like SHUT UP WE’VE GOT OUR OWN and Picard rather abruptly rings off.
Riker doesn’t trust the Ferengi, and both Data and Deanna think Dar is hiding something (in part because of the MySpace angle of his webcam). Riker asks to take Worf along in case some asses need kicking. He and pretty much everyone except Deanna and Picard leave for the away mission. Entering the transporter room, Data points out that with power low, they may have trouble communicating with the Enterprise. ‘Understood!’ barks Riker. ‘Anything else?’ Well, there’s the fact that there isn’t enough power left to beam them back up. Geordi: ‘Oh, you had to ask.’ Five points, but only five. They beam down.
Now we have a pretty classic polystyrene rocks alien planet set, with a stormy sky above and lots of dry ice smoke underfoot. Riker materialises alone and walks around shouting for the others. Eventually he just shouts ‘ANYBODY’ but anybody doesn’t answer. Riker eventually finds Data perched on a large cluster of crystals, and asks what the fuck he’s doing up there. Data thinks a transporter problem caused by the planet’s forcefield is to blame, and hops down. They set out to look for the others, while thunder and lightning go on in the sky. Data describes the crystal clusters as ‘nothing to write home about.’ Riker excuse mes him, and Data explains that he’s using slang. Yeah, don’t do that, it bothers me. Also, that wasn’t actually slang, it was just colloquial (especially by the 24th bloody Century). I have to explain the difference to kids all the time. You have now guessed which subject I teach.
As they wander around in the thunder and lightning and dry ice smoke, they spot something and both shout ‘Geordi!’ Geordi is dangling upside down. Riker, utterly unhelpfully, asks him ‘Are you conscious?’ You know, my first aid trainer recommended ‘Can you hear me?’ If they say no, pinch ’em. Geordi snots ‘Do I look conscious?’ His foot is stuck somewhere above him, and their tricorders are useless. Data is just about to try to help him down, when Geordi spots something – three Ferengi guys coming over an outcrop of rock, carrying the most ridiculous weapon in Star Trek, and yes I include lirpas and that poison gauntlet from last week’s episode in that assessment: the energy whip.
And yes, that’s Armin Shimerman wielding that thing. They whup it at Geordi and he falls down, probably quite painfully, knocking Data down with him. I don’t mind, because I don’t like Geordi today. I mind a little bit for Data but I’m not even sure he’s Data at the moment. This is like watching ‘The Cage’ and seeing Spock smile and giggle when he and Pike find the plant that wiggles when you pet it. Adorably, though, Data falls with his arms stuck straight up and just lies there rigid like a Ken doll. Riker gets whupped as well and falls over and gets a mouthful of sand. This reminds me of the time Jack got blown up on the beach in Lost and so I laugh. I do like Riker a lot better than Jack, though. Actually, it’s completely unfair to even imply that I think of them in the same category, because Riker is lovely and his beard is full of mana, whereas Jack is pathetic and horrid and his beard is soaked with tears of failure.
Six hours later, things are going to shit on the Enterprise; it’s getting really cold and the forcefield is still draining power. (I guess Enterprise is not very well insulated, if she can’t hold on to much of the warmth inside after they have to turn the heaters off. They should look into double glazing for the windows.) Picard, Deanna and Bev are wrapping people up in blankets. I don’t quite understand why people have gathered in a common area for blankets, since surely everyone has bedding and changes of clothes in their own quarters, but okay, it lets us see what’s going on. I note that Bev has her dowdy doctor coat, but Picard and Deanna are not rugged up and I guess have to pretend they’re not feeling the chill, to make others feel better.
On the planet, a sneaky little Ferengi hand (with blue nail polish, which is nice continuity as Quark always wears it) reaches out and snaffles a commbadge off a red-clad chest. I always wonder what holds the badges on, since there is no visible pin, or Velcro dot, or anything. Riker, Data and Geordi are lying in a pile, and I just want you to see where Riker’s head is.
Even when unconscious, Billy T. gravitates to the groin.
The Ferengi guys have found Worf, either unconscious or having knocked him unconscious, and they drag him over, so he was pretty much worthless on this trip. They discuss what they’re going to do, and the apparently smartest one, played by Shimerman, says that they’ll say the hew-mons ambushed them, not the other way around. (Just in case you’re not sure, this character is not meant to be a younger Quark. I don’t believe Quark would ever get involved in something this silly, no matter how much he liked Marauder Mo as a kid. The other two Ferengi are played by actors who later, I believed, played waiters in Quark’s bar. One thing I do like is how consistently they cast actors of a particular physical build for Ferengi; they are all shaped like bullfighters, little and neat and spry with narrow hips.)
Riker starts to wake up about this time, gets his face out of Geordi’s business and gathers his wits. Notquark (I’m not learning names, I don’t teach these people) examines the badge, declaring that it looks like gold, and (lick lick) it tastes like gold.
‘It is gold,’ declares Riker, discarding any advantage he had in terms of the element of surprise. He squats in the dry ice fog like some kind of ape, and thunder crashes, and the Ferengi guys hold their ears and howl, because BIG EARS. Riker says this is nothing compared to what Picard will do once he knows the Ferengi broke the landing agreement. (I imagine Picard YELLING SHAKESPEARE STRAIGHT INTO THEIR EARS IN HIS MOST PROJECTED AND STENTORIAN VOICE, and it brings me pleasure. When he gets a sore throat, he gets Brian Blessed to spell him, and they die.) Notquark protests ‘What part of the agree-mont? You appeared and attacked us!’
While all this is going on, Worf is waking up, and he hops to his feet and attacks the Ferengi, and suddenly Data jumps up to join in, so was he conscious all this time and just waiting for the opportune moment? Riker, with a kicking and biting Ferengi on top of him, shouts out ‘I got this one!’ Data, who is holding Notquark at arm’s length without apparent effort, responds ‘Yes, Commander, they are much stronger than -‘ when Riker’s Ferengi punches him to the ground, and Data gives a sympathetic wince, and STOP DOING THAT, WHO DIRECTED YOU TO DO THAT. SEND THEM TO ME FOR CHASTISEMENT.
My God, this episode. Thank heaven I know it gets better, that this is a show that will make me laugh and tear up (if you don’t get a bit verklempt for Data’s little girl Lal you are officially dead inside; even hardcore Kohl-i-nar Vulcans and big hairy Klingons start mumbling that there’s something in their eye at the end of that episode) and sit bolt upright in my seat because shit just got real and Riker’s beard is everywhere and think about the story and the characters and what it all meant for years afterwards. I absolutely love Star Trek: The Next Generation, so let’s please not lose sight of that in my criticism of these ricockulous early episodes.
There’s more fighting, and Geordi is waking up but being about as much use as a chocolate kettle, and even Data is getting pushed over – but then they’re all stopped by Tasha, who arrives in the nick of time, and armed, which is helpful. ‘Good,’ she says, ‘you’ve heard of phasers.’
Notquark marvels at the fact that this is a human female, and that she doing a job, armed, and forced to wear clothing. Sickening!
It’s jolly interesting that he would put it in terms of force. I wonder if there are actually Ferengi women who are like ‘Gosh, it’s such a relief not to have to wear clothes like the men do. I don’t have to think about what to put on in the morning, or what my clothes say about me, or keeping up with fashion.’ Kind of like the way I’ve always been happy that I don’t have to make a decision about facial hair, whether to grow it and how to maintain it. (In case it ever matters, if I were a man, yes I would grow a beard. Riker has a beard, Captain Haddock has a beard, Jet Black has a beard, my dad as it happens has a beard, that’s enough for me. My dad notwithstanding, I have a distinct preference for being kissed by men with beards, because beard hair is softish at the ends, whereas the stubble of men who shave is harsh and scratchy, and I have sensitive skin.)
On the Enterprise, everyone’s jolly cold, and Picard orders the last of the power to be redirected to the family decks. He thinks to ask Beverly where Wesley is, which is kind considering that he can’t stand the kid. She says he’s in their quarters, and she was tempted to give him a sedative. Picard says it’s good she didn’t, and she says yes, but she’s his mother, she loves him. Picard says Wesley has the right to meet death awake, which is kind of Spartan of him. She asks ‘Is that a male perspective?’ and he walks away growling ‘Rubbish.’
You know, I continue to be incredibly indignant that these two never got together. I can only suppose that the prospect of being Wesley’s stepfather so repulsed Picard that he actually cut himself off from being loved and comforted and supported for the rest of his life by a smart, kind-hearted, generally awesome redhead. Idiot.
Although I’d say he’s still in with a chance if he has the nuts to try. GO FOR IT YOU OLD FART. THERE DON’T HAVE TO BE NO MORE PICARDS; JAMES DOOHAN HAD A KID IN HIS SEVENTIES, AND YOU CAN’T BE LESS OF A MAN THAN SCOTTY.
(Meanwhile Wesley is all alone ‘facing death’ without his mother or any friends to comfort or encourage him. I imagine he’s making his Picard Voice Machine say ‘It will be all right, Wes. Don’t worry. Whatever happens, your mother and I love you very much. Clearly, I should have let you play on the bridge more.’)
The Ferengi guys are darting around like gerbils, despite Tasha telling them to hold still. When she fires a phaser on stun, the beam just goes into one of the clusters of crystals, and the same happens when Notquark tries to use his energy whip. Data twigs that the crystals absorb energy, Riker adds that that’s what the whole planet does, but Geordi points out that the whips worked when they first encountered them. Tasha says that means something new is happening. Geordi gets a brainwave – this is what he’s been seeing through his visor, ‘patterns of force’ (that’s the best TOS episode for perverts, because Kirk and Spock wear Nazi uniforms and spend some time in jail in manacles with their shirts off and Leonard Nimoy has a really really nice chest) – the whole planet is a big power accumulator.
(Look, it’s borderline irrelevant, but here are the chests. They were supposedly just whipped by the Space Nazis, which is why Shat has stripes of red lipstick on him – that’s meant to be blood.
Oh hey, I just got some very complimentary email from firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Just then, weird things happen and blue ghosty energy wraithy things fly around. A voice calls them barbarians and commands them to speak, and there’s more thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening the Ferengi.
WHO MEETS THE CHALLENGE. WHO WILL IT BE? asks the voice. Tasha immediately puts her thumb on her forehead and shouts ‘Bags not!’ because it was her turn last week. Notquark points at Riker and Gollums ‘Himmmm!’ The voice, which appears to be attached to a blue hologrammy face in the mist, declaims that they have awakened Portal 6-3. Do they petition to enter the Empire? It’s a Guardian of the T’Kon Empire asking. And then an old hooded man appears on a bridge, and asks Riker what is his name, what is his quest, what is his favourite colour. Riker asks why they’d petition to enter an empire that no longer exists? He informs the portal-man that the empire fell to a supernova, although he insists ‘The empire is forever.’ Riker asks Data to tell him, as if the old man has any more reason to believe some really pale polite guy than a manbear. Data updates the old man on the T’Kon calendar – he has no idea how much time has passed.
The old man still refuses to believe any of this, despite being told that he’s been asleep for a long time. Notquark slithers in and says that deception is the way of the hew-mon, that the Ferengi petition, that if Portal returns control of their ship to them they’ll gladly destroy the hew-mon vessel. Worf is standing in the background with his hair hilariously messed up, thinking ‘Fuck you, it is not just a human vessel. There’s me, and Data, and that blue hairdresser…’ Just to put the tin lid on it, Notquark says that the Feds have come to loot the empire.
Portal asks if Riker gives himself up for judgement, and Riker is like sure, fine. Notquark slags off the Federation some more, saying that they withhold technology from developing worlds, which Riker admits (without mentioning the Prime Directive as justification). ‘You cannot believe the business opportunities that they have destroyed!’ one of the waiters says, and I really like him for that.
Notquark says it’s disgusting how humans misuse gold by adorning themselves with it (the whole latinum thing clearly wasn’t nutted out at this stage, because Real Quark considers gold worthless except as a container for latinum) and ‘they shamelessly clothe their females, inviting others to unclothe them, the very depth of perversion!’ Look, even if they are idiots, I do enjoy the way these Ferengi talk. There’s some mutual snotting with Tasha, and an odd bit of shot-to-shot discontinuity regarding where Data is standing, as if he somehow teleported over towards Tasha. Well, maybe he did; just because she dumped him doesn’t mean he’ll let Ferengis hassle her.
Riker and Data continue to admit ‘crimes,’ like allowing civilisations to fall. It’s probably a really good thing that Riker wasn’t present when Q first came up with his trial idea, isn’t it? Anyway, Mr Portal declares them all barbarians. The word ‘barbarian’ derives from the fact that the ancient Greeks thought languages they didn’t understand sounded like ‘barbarbar,’ so you could also translate it as blahblahrians. I like that. He declares Riker the worst barbarian, and challenges him. Worf wants to fight him, but Riker sends him back, despite the fact he brought him down here to kick asses. Mr Portal asks him a riddle, which sounds pretty close to that Sun Tzu stuff he and Picard were chatting about before, and honestly, there’s a lot of wank here, I think the old man is reading his mind or something, and suddenly he’s not mad any more, and this part just doesn’t make sense, and he releases the Enterprise and restores all her power, and there’s a nice shot from space of the lights coming back on all over the ship. This old fart is a lot easier to satisfy than Q.
On the bridge, Beverly says ‘Not a moment too soon, Jean,’ as she checks his pulse or perhaps just touches his neck because it’s nice-looking, then ‘I mean, Captain.’ Which is just as well because his name isn’t Jean, it’s Jean-Luc. It’s French.
I just don’t understand/care what is going on down on the planet, and the Ferengi are capering around ‘like crazed gerbils’ (Shimerman) and Riker and Portal talk portentously about progress and they patronise the Ferengi like crazy and THIS IS SO FREAKING LAME. So Mr Portal just goes off into the dry ice ‘to sleep until needed again.’ Mr Portal? Nobody needed you here in the first place. You interfered in a situation that the Enterprise could easily have got under control, you complicated matters needlessly, and you put a lot of blameless people in fear for their lives. I guess what I’m saying is, fuck off back to your hole.
Back on the bridge, Picard praises Tasha and Worf for… whatever they did, I didn’t actually notice them helping much. Data and Geordi enter, and Data has got his fingers stuck in that fuckin’ finger trap again, because apparently he doesn’t learn. Picard praises them too, and Data says ‘something to write home about,’ which Geordi says is ‘very human.’ Yeah, is it very human to keep sticking his fingers back in that damn thing? Also, if Data writes home, there’s nobody alive to read it. (All right, not canon yet.) Riker has got the T9 thing back and Picard tells him he’s a good boy and Riker asks permission to beam a box of finger traps over to the Ferengi as a thank-you. Picard thinks that’s just fine, and not incredibly immature and dickish at all, and the episode closes with a shot of Geordi’s hands stuck in the finger trap and Data reaching over to press a button on his control panel for him.
OH my goodness I’m glad that’s over. What can I say? Well, obviously the Ferengi have been rehabilitated since then, as they deserved to be, and that’s good. Full credit to Armin Shimerman for the role he played in making that happen – literally, he took the role of Quark to make it up to the Ferengi for ‘The Last Outpost.’ Which is a very kind thing to do for fictional people.
Data had better be back to normal, or at least establishing his normal parameters, next episode, or I may have conniptions. Although, of course, in the pattern I’ve established, I’m not doing a TNG episode next: it’s ‘A Man Alone,’ in which Odo is suspected of MURRDERR.
Time to Check In With O’Brien. So what were you doing this week?
‘Keeping Wesley company when he thought he was dying. God, that kid can cry!’