107 "The Last Outpost"

(airdate: October 19, 1987)

Story: Richard Krzemien      Teleplay: Herbert Wright
Director: Richard Colla

Letek: Armin Shimerman
Kayron: Tracey Walter

Mordoc: Jake Dengel
Portal: Darryl Henriques

DaiMon Tarr: Mike Gomez

Stardate: 41386.4

Captain's Log: The Enterprise is pursuing a Ferengi vessel which stole an energy converter from a Federation monitoring post: this is the first direct contact that the Federation has had with the Ferengi, a race of unscrupulous traders. The Ferengi slows near the uninhabited planet Delphi Ardu IV, but when the Enterprise also slow down they find themselves caught by a powerful energy-draining beam. The crew determines that the beam is not from the Ferengi but from the planet, and so they send an away team down to investigate, inviting the Ferengi to join them. There, they find a long-dormant guardian from the now-extinct Tkon Empire. The Ferengi attempt to sell out the away team to the guardian, but the guardian is more intrigued by Riker and his knowledge of the philosopher Sun Tzu; finding Riker to be something of a kindred spirit, he shuts off the energy-draining beam at Riker's request, freeing the Enterprise and the Ferengi.

Whoops!: When the Enterprise databanks are scanned, the information displayed is upside down. [This is corrected in the remastered version.] DaiMon Tarr states his title as if it rhymes with "Simon"; Picard, who's literally repeating it back to Tarr, says it as if it rhymes with "layman". Crusher refers to Picard as "Jean", not "Jean-Luc". And it's not really a goof, but Geordi keeps saying "point three hundred milliseconds" (instead, of, say, "point three milliseconds"), which sounds a little weird. [It's because he was originally comparing it to "point three hundred seventy-two milliseconds", so it makes sense in the scene, but when he repeats it subsequently it seems stranger.]
     There's an odd moment where Troi brings up that they've been neglecting the planet in favor of the Ferengi, which is given great import, but then, although Data does some research, the planet is basically ignored until someone thinks to check that maybe the power drain isn't coming from the Ferengi after all.

Classic Lines: Picard: "He has the right to meet death awake." Crusher, somewhat archly: "Is that a male perspective?"

Cringe Lines: Picard being insufferably French: "Colors representing countries at a time when they competed with each other. Red, white, and blue for the United States. Whereas the French more properly used the same colors in the order of blue, white, and red."

Casualty Report: Riker, Geordi, Data, and Worf get zapped by the Ferengi's energy whips. They also get involved in some hand-to-hand combat with the Ferengi.

Library Computer: Delphi Ardu IV [the name is visible in Data's holographic briefing] was an uninhabited class M planet in the Delphi Ardu system, an unexplored star system with eleven planets. Delphi Ardu IV was a cloudy, bluish-white planet from space, while the part of the surface we see is sandy and craggy, with large, mostly inert (though occasionally glowing) crystals dotted across the landscape and a low-hanging mist present everywhere. There was no [sentient] life on the planet, nor evidence that there had been. (There is vegetation present though.)
     However, despite its lifeless appearance, Delphi Ardu IV was in fact an outpost of the Tkon Empire, which was a huge and powerful space federation with a population of trillions. They were rumored to be so powerful that they could move stars around as a defense system. However, 600,000 years ago, during their Age of Makto, their central sun went supernova, marking the end of the Tkon Empire. Delphi Ardu IV was speculated to be one of their furthest outposts, and therefore had escaped the destruction; the portal guardian (Portal 63) had lain dormant since the Age of Bastu, which was three ages prior to the Age of Makto (with Cimi and Xora being the intervening two ages). Delphi Ardu IV had the ability to capture multiple starships with a powerful field that slowly drained all the energy from the ships, and which couldn't be broken free from; the field provided a counterforce to any action the Enterprise attempted, with a 0.372 millisecond delay. Large crystals on the planet were used to collect the energy, at one point even being powerful enough to draw energy beams from through the air to them; the entire planet became a power accumulator as it awakened. The system on the planet could also scan the computer databases of the Enterprise.
     Portal 63 was the Tkon guardian of Delphi Ardu IV. He manifested as a pink-skinned biped with a shock of white hair, wielding a sort of poleaxe with a blade shaped somewhat like a flame, and which resembles the emblem of the Tkon Empire. Portal 63 seemed pleased to be a biped, suggesting that his manifestation can change [perhaps based on those he's dealing with]. Portal is telepathic: he knows Riker's name and that he's thinking about the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. Portal finds the teachings of Sun Tzu and the actions of humanity (namely, being willing to work with the Ferengi after considering them enemies) to be interesting; he comments that Sun Tzu's philosophies are similar to those of the Tkon. He finds the minds of the Ferengi to be closed and uninteresting, however. After he sets both ships free, he returns to "sleep" until he's needed again.
     The Ferengi are a race of hairless humanoid beings, with light orange skin, light blue fingernails, large and wrinkled bulbous noses, a prominent bulging forehead, sharp pointed teeth, and massive ears, connected to each other via a brow ridge. The ones we see all have a green symbol tattooed onto their forehead's right side, consisting of an oval with a circle removed on the right side, with a smaller pincer shape inside the circle, which is surrounding a small circle. (This symbol is also present on the Ferengi vessel, suggesting it's the official Ferengi symbol.) Two of the Ferengi have crescents to the left of the symbol, possibly indicating rank: DaiMon Tarr has two, while Letek has one. The Ferengi wear a metallic fringe around the back of their ends, running from ear to ear, and they're dressed in brown-grey jumpsuits with shiny black highlights down the sleeves and around the calves, and fur vests that only cover the right shoulder, secured with a thick shiny black belt. They also carry thick blue whips that fire energy bolts, which can incapacitate the target. All the Ferengi we see are male; female Ferengi, it seems, are forbidden to work or to even wear clothing. "DaiMon" [the credits spell it "Daimon", but all the official publications capitalize the M] is a Ferengi title [which seems to correspond with "captain", although that's only made clear in subsequent episodes]. Troi initially is unable to sense their emotions, which she speculates might mean that they can shield their thoughts and emotions; however, she subsequently can sense their feelings. [Perhaps she can only sense their emotions if they're particularly strong or of a certain type, such as duplicitousness?] The Ferengi are particularly sensitive to loud noises, such as thunderclaps.
     The Ferengi are a fairly secretive race; the Federation has known of their existence for a while, but they've never seen a Ferengi or even one of their vessels before. [Well, it'll turn out that's not quite true, both later this season ("The Battle") and in the Enterprise episode "Acquisition", but this is what Starfleet believes at this time.] Ferengi dislike visual communication, as it's against their custom. Ferengi technology is estimated to be generally equal to that of the Federation's. They have a reputation for being traders, albeit ones that are largely unscrupulous; Data described them as representing "the worst quality of capitalists", and that they operated along a principle similar to that of caveat emptor. They value gold [but see episodes of Deep Space Nine, particularly "Who Mourns for Morn?"] and object to seeing it being used for decorative purposes. They had claimed the planet Gamma Tauri IV and objected to the construction of an unmanned monitor post placed there by the Federation, who were unaware of the Ferengi's claim. Upon surrender, Ferengi code offered the lives of a vessel's second officers to the victors.
     The Ferengi vessel [a D'Kora-class Marauder, as we'll learn in "Force of Nature" and the Voyager episode "Inside Man"] is a large, orange vessel, vaguely shaped like a horseshoe crab, with a curved rear tapering down to the front, forming a thick crescent with a pronged neck protruding from the front center and small prongs on the points of the crescent. The top is smooth, but the underside is flat and covered in lots of bumps and ridges. There are orange glowing panels [probably engines] on the underside and the top of the ends of the crescent, and small vertical white lights along the back. The front of the "head" can move forward [although you have to look closely to see it]. The Ferengi can fire an electromagnetic pulse from the rear of their ship [from their engines, probably] which radiates out, draining an enemy's power. Picard thought the ship's design was "very impressive".
     Tarr was the DaiMon of the Ferengi vessel encountered by the Enterprise. He found humans to be ugly. His associates included Ferengi named Letek, Mordoc, and Kayron. They also found humans (and Klingons) to be ugly.
     Unmanned Federation outposts include T9 energy converters. The Ferengi are willing to steal these for whatever reason. [It's not clear if it's a punitive action, if it's because they're valuable, or both.] These posts also include automatic recording sensors.
     Riker's forebears are American. He considers himself to not normally be distrustful at first sight. He's familiar with the teachings of the Chinese philosopher and strategist Sun Tzu, which Picard attributes to Starfleet Academy training. Picard is also familiar with Sun Tzu's strategies.
     The Enterprise has a fusion generator and batteries. There's an acceleration delay of 0.300 milliseconds between slow-reverse impulse and top warp speed. The conference room contains a holographic projector that can display computer records in the middle of the air. Typically, the ship could maintain life support on reserve power for several months. Without power, the temperature aboard the Enterprise in orbital space will get below -200°. [It's unclear if this is Celsius or Fahrenheit.] Children aren't allowed in the conference room.
     The Federation withholds modern technologies from some worlds, allows some civilizations to fall, and the strong to sometimes subjugate the weak [all in keeping with the Prime Directive, presumably]. The Ferengi have no such restrictions, it seems.
     Starfleet communicators include gold as a component.
     Data is unfamiliar with a Chinese finger puzzle or how it works.

Final Analysis: "I wonder, Captain. I'm not usually one for distrust at first sight, but this may be an exception." The Tkon stuff is kind of interesting, although it comes too late to be truly effective, while the Ferengi, though suitably strange, are a little too silly here to be considered formidable adversaries. And there's a lot of standing around discussing things instead of much action. There's not really anything wrong with "The Last Outpost", but it's a bit too dull to sustain genuine interest.

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