The Ferengi get a much better outing here, so much so that this should have been their introduction (for me it was I didn’t see The Last Outpost until 1993)
The episode gives some history on the Captain. 10 years prior the ship he was serving on (the Stargazer) was attacked by an unknown enemy, killing his captain and forcing the rest of the crew to abandon ship.
It turns out the enemy of that battle was the Ferengi who have arranged to return the Stargazer to Starfleet, while it appears that the Ferengi are being generous and diplomatic their leader Bok is actually plotting revenge using some kind of freaky mind control device to manipulate Picard.
There are some nice moments in this, the Ferengi are much more menacing than their first outing. Picard is made the focus for the first time and his backstory is quite engaging and a lot of people forget this episode was the origin of the ‘real’ Picard Manoeuvre.
Two words: Wesley Crusher.
First of all, they’re able to find The Stargazer adrift in space because Wesley was “boosting the range of the long-range sensors” this is just dumb for numerous reasons, the kid is only a handful of weeks into his stint as an acting ensign, given he hasn’t been to the academy I would imagine that his job at this point entails training, observing and listening to his superiors – not modifying complex machinery, secondly The Enterprise is how many months old? Not many – why on earth does anyone need to improve the operation of a brand new piece of equipment?? Thirdly its not like they wouldn’t have discovered the ship anyway – the Ferengi obviously wanted them to find it, so this whole plot point is a waste of time.
But it doesn’t stop there – the Ferengi are controlling Picard with these glowing bowling balls causing Picard a constant headache and a tendency to forget what year/ship it is. Late in the episode Wesley sees a brainwave scan from Picard and picks up that the pattern matches a weird transmission coming the Ferengi ship – now that’s a whole world of wrong, putting aside that it should take medical training to be able to interpret medical scans such as C.A.T. Scans, E.K.G.s and the like but here you have supposed professionals who made to look like fools by the precocious kid running around the ship! It’s just silly.
The other major criticism I have is the ship’s log subplot where the log shows Picard attacked the Ferengi without provocation – IMO they were to quick to resolve this when it was actually one of the more interesting aspects of the story – it should have been left for the final act.
Finally – The Picard Manoeuvre: Apparently the trick with it is that the ship appears in two places at once and you cannot figure out which one to fire at, wouldn’t you reference the point the ship started at and then fire at the other point? Seemed simple to me but that could’ve been due to the special effects which probably didn’t properly convey what the writers may have been going for.
3 Stars – overlooking the Wesley Crusher moments which detract from the show the rest of it motors along nicely, hits a few bumps with the woolly Picard Manoeuvre theory but generally is among the better first season installments.
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