The Ferengi make a surprise appearance in the episode that originally aired on October 2, 1996. This is False Profits.
Captain’s Log Stardate 50074.3 False Profits
After discovering a wormhole that could potentially get them home, the crew of Voyager is surprised to find that someone has already used it…for a profit.
After finding evidence of a stable Wormhole in the vicinity, Voyager finds that a nearby planet has signs of Alpha Quadrant technology being used despite the fact that it’s people are still in the Bronze Age. Confirming that the wormhole does indeed lead to the Alpha Quadrant, the team on Voyager begin to determine how to reopen the entrance in their area while other head to the planet to investigate the strange energy discharge.
Investigating the planet, Chakotay and Paris beam down to discover the citizens are obsessed with buying and selling things in accordance to their seers and sages. Soon They are surprised to find that the two Sages being worshiped are actually Ferengi from the Alpha Quadrant. It is soon apparent that the Ferengi have subjugated these people for their own personal gain and Voyager may have to intercede.
Back on Voyager, Janeway discovers that these Ferengi are likely the same ones who disappeared into the Barzan Wormhole some seven years prior during a trade negotiation involving the Enterprise. The Ferengi, Arridor and Kol, used a cultural myth to convince the people that there are their Gods taking advantage of these primitive people. While they certainly want to get home, Janeway is determined to not let these Ferengi continue to exploit the Takarians even if that means taking these Ferengi with them on their journey home.
At their first opportunity, Janeway beams Arridor and Kol to Voyager and confront the two concerning their exploitation of the Takarians. The Ferengi argue that they may indeed be the Sages in the Takarian mythology and, should Voyager simply make the Takarian Gods vanish, Janeway might indeed be doing additional damage to the people of Takar. Janeway reluctantly concedes to their wishes and beams them back making them believe they have indeed won.
Soon Janeway and team come up with a plan to make the Ferengi’s stay less profitable enticing them to leave. Disguising Neelix as the Grand Proxy to the Grand Nagus, Neelix informs them that they have been recalled to Ferenginar, much to their servant’s delight. He informs them that they are expected to relinquish all of their profits and that the Nagus wishes that they announce their departure to the people of Takar. Upset, Arridor and Kol decide to take matters into their own hands by killing the messenger.
Things look promising as Neelix beings dolling out profits to the people but soon finds himself in danger when the two Ferengi attack him with swords. Admitting his true identity, Neelix is left to return to Voyager reporting his failure to remove the Ferengi, however, it may have worked for the better after-all.
While on the planet, it seems that a Bard they met earlier took Neelix’s arrival to signify that the Holy Pilgrim had arrived. This character is to arrive at the end of the Sage’s appearance signalling their imminent departure. Learning more of the legend, Voyager sets things into motion to convince the people of Takar that the Sage’s will indeed be leaving after-all.
Setting himself up as the Holy Pilgrim, Neelix announces to the Takarians that the Sages will be leaving. After attempting to discredit Neelix, Kafar, their servant, takes advantage of the situation and sites the fact that the Sages are expected to leave ‘on wings of fire’ and begins to prepare to burn the three Sages at the stake. Unfortunately, the Ferengi had placed a dampening field preventing their removal by transporter.
Just as things look bleak, Paris and Chakotay manage to destroy the field generator allowing their rescue freeing the Takarian people from their plight.
With the Ferengi back on board Voyager, the crew and the Ferengi begin their attempt to pass through the wormhole. Claiming their shuttle from Voyager’s shuttle bay, the two Ferengi manage to escape the ship and get through the stabilized Wormhole but in doing so also cause the wormhole to destabilize leaving Voyager behind. Voyager is stranded once again knowing that they rescued a civilization from subjugation.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
If you have been following my reviews of DS9, you will know that I love a good Ferengi episode. So, when a series utterly devoid of Ferengi finds a way to bring these salacious beings into their story, but also make it a sequel to an STNG episode, I am all in.
If you are not already aware, False Profits is a direct continuation to the 1989 Third Season Star Trek The Next Generation episode, The Price. While the STNG episode is one of the worst episodes of that season, it did manage to set itself up as a great prelude to one of my favorite Voyager Episodes by introducing both the existence of the Delta Quadrant AND the two Ferengi, Arridor and Kol, who appear in today’s episode.
Throughout the Star Trek franchise we are warned time and again about how the Prime Directive protects innocent cultures from abuse by those who possess higher technology. Without the Prime Directive, Star Fleet could easily claim thousands of systems as their own, subjugating their peoples to use as labor. While the Federation is certainly not going to go that route, what of cultures who do not possess such a policy?
Enter The Ferengi. From the start, the Ferengi have been one of the most ruthless and self-serving races ever created in this franchise. As we learned more of this culture, we soon discovered that their only motivation is that of Greed, they are the ultimate Capitalists, seeking to make a profit no matter the ultimate cost, unless of course, that cost is in the profits themselves. So what do Ferengi do when they have an opportunity to take over an entire culture? Well, they do it of course!
This is where Arridor and Kol come in. As two very traditional Ferengi, it is no surprise that this is how their story ended up. When we last saw them, most viewers probably assumed that they simply tried to make their way home…nope. Not these two entrepreneurs, they did what any self respecting Ferengi would do and they looked to improve their situation as best they knew how, through the teachings of the Rules of Acquisition. Armed with the rules and their lust for wealth, the two not only found quite the perfect situation for themselves, they excelled at it. To be frank, you have to almost admire what these two Ferengi managed to pull off, not only did they make the best of a situation, they managed to make themselves better off than they were when they first left. If anything, these two are the ultimate Ferengi…however, as with nearly every Ferengi plan…it never lasts for too long. These Ferengi may have forgotten a key rule and overstayed their welcome. ( #75 Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum.) Enter, Voyager.
From the start Janeway has made it clear that she will do all she can to defend the Prime Directive, even if that means breaking it from time to time in order to defend it… I know…I know. So when it is revealed that these Ferengi are exploiting an innocent people, there is no way she can let that happen, even though their jurisdiction technically doesn’t extend to the Ferengi since….the Ferengi are not in the Federation themselves. What good Captain doesn’t work in a loop hole? Well, no Star Fleet Captain I know would ignore a chance for one. And boy does she ever. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree with her position in this one. The Ferengi are doing terrible things to these people and causing undo suffering, while significantly altering a cultures path. That in and of itself is worth stepping in. The thing is, were the Ferengi right in their interpretation of the Takarian legends? If you were to ask Bajor the same thing concerning the Emissary wouldn’t you get the same answer? Were these Ferengi as justified in their position as Sisko was when he finally accepted his place as The Emissary for Bajor? It’s an answer I don’t have but worth asking nonetheless. On the flip side, you could also argue that Voyager fulfilled a part of the legend as well, whisking these Sages away. So, was this a preordained point in time and thus null of the Prime Directive itself?
All that aside, this is by far one of the most fun and enjoyable episodes this season, making it one of my favorite. While everyone does a fabulous job, I particularly loved Ethan Philips in this one as he gets a chance to return to his Ferengi makeup this time as the first Talaxian to pretend to be a Ferengi. Philips makes a marvelous Ferengi and really steals the show in his portrayal.
Overall, I love this episode. While it may not be one of the best of the series or even really move the overarching story forward, it gives this season a much needed levity for a change.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 1 photon torpedoes fired, 28 remaining. yes, Photo ‘bursts’ count, how else do you get photon bursts if you don’t use photon torpedoes? For the sake of fairness, I will say they used one with a split because they would likely not have wasted more.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
- We never find out what happened to the Takarians.
- A keen eye might recognize actor Leslie Jordan as the Ferengi Kol.
- It is apparent that the Takarian’s have been influenced by their Ferengi ‘Gods’ with their new love of commerce and even in the clothing they wear.
- Dan Shor returns to his role of Arridor having also played him in the TNG episode this story continues from.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Remember
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Late To The Game 7/17/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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