26 July 2012

The Last Outpost

I'd like to thank Dave C. for his kindness in lending me his Next Gen DVDs, its certainly sped things up.

Episode: s1, ep 5
It's time to meet the Ferengi, an alien race with very different values to the Federation. If we learned anything from Code of Honour it's that other races are treated with respect and dignity, that certainly has nothing to do with how much they resemble humans... Oh, wait.

What Happens
The Enterprise is chasing a Ferengi ship that’s stolen an energy converter. The Federation hasn’t had direct contact with the Ferengi before and they don’t even know what they look like, though they’ve heard a lot about them. The Ferengi are compared to Yankee traders, which means they’re very mercantile, and it’s clear the Federation (or at least the bridge crew of the Enterprise) look down on this.
The Ferengi ship turns and fires, then the Enterprise is immobilised and the ship’s power is rapidly drained. Picard tries to surrender to the Ferengi, and the Ferengi try to surrender to the Enterprise; it’s clear that both ships are in the same predicament. The planet they’re near used to be part of a huge, advanced galactic empire that fell millennia ago. Both ships agree to a joint investigation of the planet.
The Enterprise away team is separated when they arrive on the planet, then they’re attacked and captured by Ferengis with energy whips. Meanwhile the Enterprise loses so much energy that life support systems start failing. The planet manifests a Guardian figure who tests the Federation and Ferengi away teams. The Ferengis loudly blame and accuse the humans while grovelling to the magical Guardian guy. The Guardian tests and approves of Riker’s mind, so everyone is saved.

Guest Star
This is retroactive, but it’s fitting that Armin Shimmerman plays one of the first Ferengi. His character unsurprisingly looks like a younger version of Quark from Deep Space Nine, presumably before he met Garak and learnt about tailoring.

Picard gets misty-eyed while talking about the French flag and seems to be moments away from saying something about liberté, égalité, fraternité, when Data interrupts him to talk about other flag colours.
When the Enterprise fails an escape attempt Picard swears in French.
I'm still waiting for the beard.

Riker: lover, adventurer, middle-management
Riker has to shoo some small children out of the lounge they aren't supposed to be in. William Riker: child-herder.
Riker leads the away team, finds his fellow crew members on the mysterious planet, fights the monkey-like Ferengi attacks, and then saves them all from destruction, with his brain. Less impressively he asks Geordie if he’s conscious, which is one of the stupidest questions you can ask a human.

Planet Of… Mysterious energy sucking and magical ancient tech.

The Prime Directive is a Harsh Mistress
It’s clear that the Ferengi see the Prime Directive as barbaric because it prohibits profitable enterprise. From a Ferengi point of view this makes a lot of sense.

No Magic Here
The Guardian of the planet appears as a floaty face in the sky, then as a robed and hooded man. He might as well be the Keeper of the Bridge of Death, or something. Like most mystic guardians he’s very powerful. He claims he could have destroyed both ships in orbit, and was clearly able to monitor their activities while sucking their power. He can also see into the minds of those on the planet as he tests and judges them.
At no point does he ask anyone about the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Future Prejudice
From Picard’s throwaway comment in ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ it’s clear that the Ferengi aren’t well thought of, even before this contact.
Worf calls them pygmy cretins, which is harsh.
Riker decides that the Ferengi are like humans used to be and, with their current tech level, this makes them dangerous. He also very patronisingly says that they must be given the chance to learn. So basically it’s not that Ferengi are different, they’re just plain backwards.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. Bridge crew go to the lounge to discuss how they can get away from or combat the Ferengi. Surrender is decided as the best option.
2. Bridge crew got to the lounge  to discuss the planet, how it is holding them, and what they should do about it.

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?
The Enterprise loses so much power so fast that life support is barely functional and families huddle together with blankets to keep warm. Dr Crusher tells Picard she almost gave Wesley a sedative so he can slip away peacefully. This is grim stuff, and clearly space is no place for children. Yet it seems that Star Fleet officers choose to enforce this dangerous lifestyle on their kids, rather than having them live in the utopian safety of the Federation planets.

The End
The Enterprise and Ferengi ship are allowed to leave, the Enterprise gets the stolen goods back. Of course everyone on the Enterprise is too tired to be happy about this because they’re still sleepy from the oxygen deprivation. Riker decides to cheer everyone up by sending the Ferengi some Chinese finger traps as a hilarious practical joke (you see how the Federation are much more advanced).


  1. Just finished watching this one last night. I wonder what the retrospective reasoning is for these particular Ferengis' monkey-like gamboling?

    1. I've heard that Armin Shimmerman said the directions they received for those scenes were to jump like crazed gerbils.
      They didn't look so much like gerbils (I used to own some), but crazed jumping was definitely a theme there.

  2. I seem to remember from my long ago first aid training that you can be in a state of semi-conciousness where you can't respond vocally, but will still react to things, if only by small movements. Therefore asking are you concious can be useful (if not the best way to establish it)

    It's why medics will use a small flashlight on people's eyes for example; if they're semi-concious, the eyes will follow, if not they won't.

    1. Oh yeah. All the First Aid I've done (which has been over a number of years, and Lord knows they keep changing it) has focused on checking consciousness by sound, not light. Amateurs aren't encouraged to touch eyes.
      Though in this case it was still pretty ridiculous as Geordi was suspended upside down and did seem to be moving IIRC.