** (2 stars out of 5)
In the Delphi Ardu system, Enterprise makes Starfleet's first close contact with the Ferengi (apart from rumours) to the satisfaction of very few.
Data uses the contraction "this shouldn't be" and as they will later tell us, that should not be. I again bring up the slip of the tongue: Data doesn't use contractions, but he DOES screw up.
Counselor Troi can't sense Ferengi thoughts. Data likens them to Riker's Yankee forbears, sailing the galaxy in search of mercantile and territorial opportunity. Displaying the worst traits of capitalism. And the worst teeth this side of UK VII.
Despite his command uniform, La Forge plays Chief Engineer here with great enthusiasm.
"He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight," says Riker, quoting Sun Tzu.
"Merde," says Picard later, quoting a lot of people. The universal translator couldn't have rendered THAT one on eighties TV!
One of the strengths of Picard's command style is his expressed interest in everyone's opinion. Unless it's THE BOY. Somehow Wesley is THE BOY now. Did he earn this disdain when he saved all your damn lives?
Stuck fast in space and losing power, thinking the Ferengi have trapped them, Picard speaks too vaguely of terms for Enterprise's surrender. When Daimon Tarr surrenders instead, Picard realizes nobody has the upper hand. Both are trapped. The Ferengi offer to give back the stolen energy converter and throw in the lives of their second officers. Picard would settle for a muffin gift basket. Or fire nine warning torpedoes and wait a day.
Delphi Ardu was "The Last Outpost" of the mighty Tkon Empire, extinct for 600,000 years, but once capable of moving stars.
Tarr's idea of "a science team" makes me wonder about him. Plasma whips, fur togas, and an insidious bite attack. 'PYGMY CRETINS!' growls Worf.
Letec and his cronies steal Riker's gold communicator badge. They'd heard "hu-mons" force their females to wear clothing, and now Yar has proven it. "Sickening!" Wearing clothes invites others to unclothe them- the depth of perversion! You gotta love Ferengi logic...
The Ferengi explain humans to recently awakened Tkon Portal 63. "You see, they are demented. Their values are insane. You cannot believe the business opportunities they have destroyed!"
Portal 63, however, is more impressed by Riker's courage than by Ferengi posturing.
Portal's not the only one: the capering antics of the first three Ferengi failed to make them into a threatening new enemy race, but as comic foils they're not going anywhere!
Riker might put it best: "We can hardly hate what we once were."