The Cynics Corner



by David E. Sluss

20 April 2002

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: If this pointless, moronic, and continuity-bending appearance by the Ferengi doesn't prove that Enterprise's Powers That Be are contemptuous of their viewers, I don't know what will.


[Why so high? Well, since Cynicette, who generally detested the Ferengi whenever they were spotlighted on Deep Space Nine, seemed to enjoy this episode quite a bit and thought it was funny, I figured maybe there's something here I'm not getting, even after three -- count ‘em -- three painful viewings of the episode. Then again, the show I call That Ally McBeal Drivel is her favorite series, so what does she know?]

DISCONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: It was inevitable, after the name drop in "Dear Doctor," that the Ferengi would appear, even if it's a couple of centuries too early, according to Next Generation's "future history." The fact that the race of the "pirates" is never identified here is barely a fig leaf for rationalizers to cover this up with. With people talking about the Ferengi in the general vicinity of Earth and abundant videotape evidence of the pirates who invaded the Enterprise, it's simply not credible that Starfleet was never able to put it together until two hundred years later, unless you want to believe that Starfleet is the intellectual successor of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Ulis' use of an "energy whip," seen previously only in the Ferengi's first appearance on The Next Generation ("The Last Outpost"), might be charitably viewed as a nod to continuity, but I see it as strong evidence of a deliberate jag-off on the part of the Enterprise staff. After all, if they knew about that fairly trivial detail, they'd have to know how abusive of continuity a Ferengi appearance on Enterprise would be. At the end of the day, the real question is: Why break, or even bend, continuity for the Ferengi, one of the least popular New Trek races?

WELFARE RECIPIENTS OF THE WEEK: It's a tough call, and Star Trek's Welfare Program is seriously over-subscribed as it is. So do I enroll Jeffrey Combs and Ethan Philips, the obvious applicants, or do I sign up Linda Park, John Billingsly, Anthony Montgomery, and Dominic Keating, for literally laying down on the job throughout this entire episode? I don't know that even Andromeda, at its minimalist worst, has ever fallen below the fifty percent mark in terms of regular cast members with speaking parts in an episode. Perhaps coincidentally, this episode played like an Andromeda episode in other ways as well. The ham acting, lame banter, thin plotting, gratuitous fighting, and generally cheapo feel of this "bottle show" are in my view pretty consistent with that other Roddenberry vehicle...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: The artifact that emitted the knockout gas sure had some plot-convenient properties. The gas was so fast-acting that it apparently was able to render the entire crew unconscious virtually simultaneously. Come on -- how could the gas, emitted from one location, have spread so quickly throughout the ship that it allowed for no warning? But assuming that it could indeed be that effective, how credible is it that the Ferengi could shut the device off and then, without performing any kind of ventilation, immediately remove their masks?

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: T'Pol was deadly accurate with the phase pistol -- except for that one shot that just had to hit a "pipe" so that it could emit "steam." Now there's an old stand-by...

STARFLEET INSECURITY OF THE WEEK: A decontamination room that easy to break out of can't be all that effective.

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: Played for laughs or not, the scene in which T'Pol seems to threaten to leave Archer tied up because he insulted her has destroyed what little credibility the character had. She ain't no Vulcan, and that's that.

MORAL OF THE WEEK: Take your pick:

  1. The Ferengi are stupid.
  2. Starfleet and its officers are stupid.
  3. Enterprise's Powers That Be enjoy pissing on the fans.
  4. We're all suckers for tuning in every week.

Just to clarify:

a. The Ferengi have never been portrayed as the galaxy's best and brightest, of course, but this episode made them seem like complete simpletons. Their attempt to speak to Porthos through the UT was supposed to be funny, I guess, but it came across as jaw-droppingly stupid. One of the pirates continually worries that the knockout gas will wear out soon -- why not just turn the "artifact" back on when the time comes? In the end, they walk into a trap that had everything but the word "trap" painted on it. How could these bozos have mastered space flight?

b. But don't think that Our Heroes performed any better. First, Trip retrieves an unknown alien artifact and sets it up in engineering, right next to the warp core. Uh, why? Jon "Stockholm Syndrome" Archer has at least a half-dozen chances to put a roundhouse right on Krem, but doesn't. Trip, on the other hand, actually manages to knock out one of the villains, but doesn't even try to restrain or confine him. The final nail in the coffin is the fact that Archer, who is rapidly turning into a worthy successor (predecessor?) to Janeway in all of the worst ways, allows the pirates to leave after putting all the stolen items back, so that they can get back to sacking other alien vessels. What a sport.

c. How's it feel to be a urinal?

d. Well, all except for me, since I watch only to provide this public service to all of you...

Cheryl M. Capezzuti contributed to this review.

Previous: "Rogue Planet"
Next: "Oasis"
NEXT WEEK: Another appearance by a Star Trek alumnus. Memo to UPN: Sweeps is in May, not April.



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