When the Ferengi make an overture of friendship, Picard is surprised to be presented with a gift – the hulk of his old ship, the Stargazer. Since the Ferengi never do anything that doesn’t bring profit, it seems there must be some hidden catch to their generosity, but what is it? Does it have anything to do with the so-called Battle of Maxia, when Picard was forced to destroy a Ferengi ship? And is it related to the mysterious headaches Picard has recently started suffering from?
As a vehicle for further developing Picard, this is a serviceable episode. We get to see a little more into his past, and even humanise him a bit – the scene where he looks through his old stuff in his Stargazer cabin is somewhat poignant. There’s also some decent bonding between Riker and the Ferengi first officer. Unfortunately, the whole ‘science’ bit is again a bit silly, and doesn’t bear up under close scrutiny. So, without further ado, onto the details.
The Ferengi thought-maker is a forbidden device that lets the user manipulate the thoughts of another. Damon Bok has two, which he uses against Picard – one is in Bok’s possession (later left with Picard aboard the Stargazer), the other is left in Picard’s Stargzaer cabin and then taken aboard the Enterprise with his personal effects. This device raises many questions:
- Were two devices needed, or was that just to amplify the effect? It’s clearly not a case of having a ‘send’ handset and a ‘receive’ handset, because it worked in the following cases:
– Bok has Device A, Device B aboard Stargazer, Picard aboard Enterprise: Picard feels some effects as Bok controls the unit.
– Bok has Device A, Device B aboard Enterprise, Picard aboard Enterprise: Picard feels effects as Bok turns up the unit (did the Enterprise unit amplify this?)
– Bok leaves Device A on the Stargazer bridge, Device B aboard Enterprise, Picard aboard Stargazer: Picard suffers major hallucinations which are cured by destroying Device A. So what was B for, except to allow Geordi to look at it and figure out how it worked?
- How was the device tuned to Picard’s “thought wavelengths” as opposed to anyone else’s? How did it stimulate particular memories (or did it only do that because the Stargazer was a trigger)?
To boldly go…
- As usual, Wesley makes key discoveries by boosting the ship’s sensors in a way that no one else thought to do before. What are we not paying these qualified Starfleet officers for? Are they so tired and blasé about their jobs that they never bother to do any innovation?
- Picard was unfamiliar with the “Battle of Maxia” as to him the event didn’t have a specific name, but surely the words “Battle” and “Maxia” would remind him of the important life event of destroying an unknown starship and then having to abandon his ship. Is it just that forgettable, or did he not want to remember?
- The science of the Picard Manoeuvre is dubious, but we have to assume warp drive works for the purpose of the series, so we have no choice but to accept it. That being said, if it’s such a simple yet awesome manoeuvre that cannot be defended against (until Data comes up with a counter-strategy in the space of about two minutes), why aren’t people using it all the time?
- Why are the Ferengi beamed directly to the bridge? Don’t take them to the top secret operations centre of your ship – host them in a location more suited for receiving potentially hostile alien visitors.
- For that matter, how are the Ferengi able to hack the Stargazer computers. Either they have some awesome hackers and reverse engineers on their team (in which case, due respect to the Ferengi), or Starfleet uses poor encryption and authentication schemes.
Some things I forgot to mention from “Justice”
- Worf claims that human women are too fragile for sexual intercourse with a Klingon, which of course got me thinking about Klingon genitalia. Does Worf have a mighty penis that would rip apart a human woman? Is it ribbed for a Klingon woman’s pleasure? Or is the whole macho warrior culture just one massive compensation for being underendowed? Let’s ask Jadzia Dax and Counsellor Troi what they think.
- If the greenhouse that Wesley broke was in a forbidden area, because it’s not allowed to disrupt new plants, who is allowed to tend the plants? Do gardeners have special dispensation?
- The populace don’t know where the penalty zones are going to be, but presumably the security forces who administer them (and show up to lethally inject transgressors) must know this information. Either that or they are on call for the Edo equivalent of 24/7, waiting for a call from ‘god’ to tell them someone has broken a law?
- Does the Prime Directive mean the Enterprise must always respect local laws, no matter how ridiculous, or is there some leeway for a captain to exercise their common sense?
Summary – The Battle: I used to have a spherical puzzle game that looked a lot like the Ferengi thought maker.