7/16/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Acquisition"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E19
Air Date: March 27, 2002
Written by: Maria & André Jacquemetton
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.

Premise
A crazy, "unknown" huge-eared alien race knocks out the entire crew of the Enterprise in order to raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer their weasely black guts out.

Review
The first shot of this episode is of something that shouldn't be there. A Ferengi crew. Now, maybe it's just me... and maybe it's because I haven't watched all of Deep Space Nine yet, but I was under the impression that when Picard met the Ferengi in "The Last Outpost," they were relatively new to space travel. That would mean that here, more than two hundred years earlier, they would still be a pre-warp civilization. But here they are... drooling over the adrift Enterprise NX-01 like it's made entirely out of gold-pressed latinum.

Most of this episode is just the Ferengi going around the ship, stealing things and just... being Ferengi. It's great if you're amused by the squabblings of greedy, weasely space pirates. Not so great if you're into plausibility. The idea is that before the episode began, Trip brought back a relic from some random moon and when T'Pol opened it, it released a gas... a gas that somehow affected... THE ENTIRE SHIP... without anyone noticing. Until they all blacked out. This is dutifully explained later in the episode, but for the sake of this review I'm putting it up front.

For the first part of the episode, the Ferengi speak their native language, so we really aren't sure what exactly is going on. But while the gas knocked out the crew, Trip was busy in the sexy, sexy decon chamber, so he wasn't affected. Unfortunately, Phlox was affected, so Trip had to force his way out of the chamber. So now he's still in his decon-ready underwear trying to save the ship from Ferengi. Because... for some reason... he can't find his uniform?
Nope! I just really always wanted to do this.
Eventually the Ferengi find Archer passed out in the captain's chair. They drag him down to the cargo hold and wake him up. And then this alien race that's not supposed to be in space yet whips out their own handy-dandy universal translator and tries to learn English. They ask Archer where the vault is and when Archer says he doesn't have one, they don't believe him. So Archer plays along. He says he'll show them where the vault is in exchange for half the loot. Buuuuuuuuut that doesn't work, so the Ferengi go off to find it themselves. And since Archer is now awake and otherwise useless, they decide to make him do the heavy lifting.

Ever the thoughtful guy, that's when Archer tries to divide and conquer. He convinces one of the Ferengi that the rest think he's a bad businessman. He tries to encourage this one to stand up for himself and take what he deserves. A tactic of genius... that's used millions of times in these situations.

Well, Trip got tired of just lurking around in his underwear, so he decided to make himself useful and finds a hypospray to wake up T'Pol. When she comes to, she awakens to the sight of Trip's half-naked rear-end. Obviously she liked it... but she's Vulcan, so she can't say she did. With all this lust building up inside of her, though, it's going to take more than a cold shower to bring it back down. Oh, how about this?! A creepy Ferengi lustfully caressing her ears while talking about taking her as a sex slave. That'll just about do it.
My precioussss
Now that there's a woman on the ship that's awake, Trip decides he really needs to find a uniform. So he steals one from a science officer who's a little smaller than him. /facepalm. Where are your quarters, Trip? Where is your closet full of uniforms?? Did the Ferengi take those, too??

Some more hilarious Ferengi hyjinks ensue... At this point, the crew members who are awake, Archer, T'Pol and Trip, are basically just playing around with them. Making them doubt their own sanity and their partners' loyalty. Eventually Trip leads them down some corridors making them believe they're on their way to the vault, but he ends up taking them to the bio-matter resequencing center. There's no gold here. Only weapons fire. T'Pol shows up and stuns them all and - hurray! - the good guys won!

After a while, the rest of the crew wakes up, and the Ferengi are forced to bring everything back onto the Enterprise under armed guard. There has been no mention of their race's name, no mention of where they're from. Archer, who's job it is to seek out new life and new civilizations and make first contact with as many different alien races as possible, doesn't think it necessary to, oh, I don't know, jot down a phone number or something... keep some line of communication open? No, instead, he warns them that if they come within one light year of an Earth or Vulcan vessel again they won't know what hit them. This is good for continuity, bad for plausibility, and bad for business.

The story ends with the underdog Ferengi taking command of the ship while the rest of the crew are tied up around the Ferengi bridge. They all offer him bribes to let them out of their bondage, but the underdog likes the captain's chair. With a pointy-toothed smile, he disembarks the ship from the Enterprise and warps away. And they all lived happily ever after and learned a valuable lesson about... sharing?

Overall Thoughts
As I said, this episode was bad for business. Mike Sussman, one of regular writers for Enterprise, admitted that this episode may have been a misstep. If they wanted to introduce some Ferengi just for fan-service, there are probably better ways to do it without making them the main focus of the episode. If they wanted to do a "Die Hard" kind of storyline where an unlikely hero defeats the terrorist in his underwear, they didn't have to use Ferengi to do that. Continuity has not been broken - the writers took care to make sure of that. What has been broken is character and plausibility.