Voyager rewatch 3.05 – “False Profits”

Capitalism is bad … but is this episode worse?

(No, but there were moments when I wondered.)

Back in season 3 of TNG, there was an episode called “The Price”, in which various parties — including the Ferengi — competed for control of an apparently-stable wormhole.

It also featured some semi-explicit love scenes between Deanna Troi and some sleazy guy, so my main recollection is of my dad, midway through a terribly uncomfortable foot oiling scene, angrily saying, “The kids shouldn’t be watching this!” And to bed we were sent.

I had to resort to the Star Trek Encyclopedia to find out how it ended: the wormhole turns out to be unstable and worthless, and the two Ferengi delegates wind up trapped in the delta quadrant.

“The Price” did not need a sequel. But if it had to have one, there was no need for it to be this … bad.

I don’t really want to dwell on this episode, so here’s a list of my problems with it:

  • The Ferengi characters are totally generic. They present a mildly amusing double act, but it’s basically a pale imitation of early Quark and Rom.
  • Their victims, the nice human-looking aliens who have accepted the Ferengi as their prophesied gods and adopted the Rules of Acquisition accordingly, are also generic. Aside from their weird shoe fetish.
  • The Voyager characters could be anyone, and their excitement over being moments away from home/sense of loss when the Ferengi destroy the wormhole, is replaced with technobabble. The closest we come to acknowledging these characters as individuals is Tuvok praising Janeway’s logic, and Tom making a sleazy remark about the scantily-clad women enslaved by the Ferengi.
  • The Ferengi’s slave women are sexy lamps and nothing more. Star Trek loves to demonstrate that the Ferengi are terrible because they objectify women, by objectifying women. But it’s not usually this blatant. The audience becomes complicit, so, thanks, I hate it!
  • Janeway is out-argued by a Ferengi buffoon, and that’s embarrassing.
  • Why is Neelix — who has never even heard of the Ferengi before now — the one chosen to impersonate the Grand Proxy? (Answer: Ethan Philips is Prosthetics Guy, and the only man in the regular cast short enough to pull it off.)

In short, this feels like a pretty desperate attempt to capture casual TNG fans who maybe wandered away from Voyager because it was all too unfamiliar. And also the lowest common denominator of male viewers, this being the season where UPN realised that Voyager‘s audience was predominantly women (which is bad).

There is one single delightful moment in this whole episode, and, of course, it goes to Tuvok: not only does he praise Janeway’s logic, but he uses the word “nefarious” in casual conversation. Although I’m sure he would not demean any conversation by regarding it casually.

In conclusion

One ear out of five; let’s all pretend this never happened.

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