False ProfitsBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:27 PM GMT
See Also: 'False Profits' Episode Guide
Voyager finds high-tech materials on a primitive world, and discovers that the two Ferengi who went through the Barzon wormhole on TNG several seasons ago have taken up residence, using a replicator to make the natives believe that they're gods. Conveniently, the local oral mythology contains verses about sages from the skies, so the residents are all too happy to give them gold and luxury in exchange for bad Ferengi advice.
The wormhole bounces around in local space, so Janeway makes plans to track it and send Voyager through the next time it shows up. Meanwhile, however, she decides to undo the damage the Ferengi have done on the planet, conveniently remembering the Prime Directive for the first time in recent episodes. The Ferengi almost convince her that they really ARE a part of local lore and it's none of her business to interfere, but she agrees to let Neelix dress up as proxy to the Grand Nagus and order the Ferengi home.
Neelix gets caught and the locals almost torch all three of them, but Voyager rescues them all. However, they fail to guard the Ferengi adequately, and the two take their ship from Voyager's shuttle bay, beating the starship to the wormhole opening. They get through, but the wormhole begins to jump at both ends, so nobody's sure whether they reached the Alpha Quadrant. Voyager, of course, does not get home.
This was sort of a cute episode if you like Ferengi, which I do not; I've heard enough Rules of Acquisition on Deep Space Nine to last my entire life. Its major redeeming virtue for me was the chance to see Chakotay and Paris in civvies, and barefoot after trading their shoes for information. Neelix was funny and smart as the Grand Proxy, and the references to the Alpha Quadrant didn't hurt the series any. The real problem was that Janeway looked like a raving idiot.
It's bad enough that, after several episodes in which she seemed to be rethinking the value of rote Prime Directive usage in the Delta Quadrant, the writers had her risk a trip home to enforce it in a situation where the natives were adapting to interference by people who aren't even part of the Federation, and therefore not her responsibility. They then had her listen to Ferengi logic and decide NOT to follow her instincts! I don't much care whether we get Rigid Starfleet Janeway a la Picard or Free Thinker Janeway a la Kirk; I just want her to be consistent. I don't see how her crew is supposed to have any respect for her when she keeps blowing chances to get them home in the name of a principle she doesn't always hold to.
And that brings up a major problem with this series: the hung hero premise. We all know they're not going to get home at the end of any episode, so we watch and wait for the crew to do something stupid to screw up their chances. It's hard to have any fun with an episode like this, which had plenty of opportunity for jokes about sex and money, when we know it's going to have a bummer of an ending. We can see it coming, and when it does, it's impossible even to feel sorry for anyone. I think this crew should stop mooning over the Alpha Quadrant and start getting a life.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.