(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 3x05|
Production number: 144
First aired: 2 October 1996
|←||43rd of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||46th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||428th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
|←||Arc: Arridor and Kol (2 of 2)|
Voyager discovers a pair of Ferengi who control the economy of a primitive world; nearby is an unstable wormhole that leads back home.
While following a wormhole, the USS Voyager discovers a primitive planet with its civilization in a Bronze Age type civilization, where there is evidence of a modulated energy discharge consistent with those that come from Alpha Quadrant replicators. Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant jg Tom Paris are sent to the planet to investigate, where they learn that a pair of Ferengi, Arridor and Kol, crash-landed and exploited a local myth about the Great Sages who were prophesied to come from the sky in a ball of fire (which was covered by burning plasma). The Takarians worshipped the Ferengi as gods. Voyager beam the Ferengi aboard to try and take them back to Alpha Quadrant to end the exploitation, but – after a lengthy speech from one of the Ferengi – they realize that they can not just kidnap the Takarians' gods, and as such send them back to the surface.
Neelix then attempts to imitate the Grand Proxy, representative of the Grand Nagus, but to no avail – the Ferengi on planet invoke the 'unwritten rule' – if no rules apply, make one up. The Ferengi discover his plot due to this rule (the new rule was if the Proxy attempts to take them to the Nagus, kill him). However, his Ferengi disguise would still pay off, as he was believed to be a "holy one", or "Greater Sage." Once Chakotay paid off the Takarian bard who tried to collect money from them before for the tale of the fate of the Sages, Neelix was able to enact a plan. Posing as the Holy Pilgrim, Neelix drew on myth in the Song of the Sages about their departure. Voyager utilizes three photon bursts to further fulfill the part about the appearance of three new stars in the sky. the Takarians attempted to burn Arridor, Kol, and Neelix at the stake, as the song states that the Sages will go "riding on the wings of fire". Fortunately, Voyager beamed them out in time, fulfilling the Takarian prophecies about the Sages returning to the skies.
Voyager is now ready to pass through the wormhole and return in the Alpha Quadrant, but Arridor and Kol manage to overwhelm two security guards and to escape from the ship with their shuttle. Voyager tries to beam them back, but they emit a graviton impulse in order to avoid transport. The two Ferengi are pulled into the wormhole, Voyager tries to pursue them but soon discovers that the graviton impulse has definitively destabilized the wormhole, knocking it off its axis so that it begins jumping erratically on both ends. This not only allows the Ferengi to flee, but also leaves Voyager and its crew stranded in the Delta Quadrant.
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- "Captain's log, stardate 50074.3. We have detected evidence that a wormhole recently appeared, and then disappeared, in a nearby solar system. We're on our way there to investigate."
- "Captain's log, stardate 50074.5. Based on information provided by the probe, we have replicated local attire for Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris. They have gone to the surface to investigate."
- "Captain's log, supplemental. I've been asked to join Lieutenant Torres and Ensign Kim in the science lab to hear what they've termed as 'very exciting news'."
- "Captain's log, supplemental. The away team has returned with some very disturbing observations about the situation on the planet."
"My sandal shop is failing. I can no longer feed my family."
"Same old song."
"My wife and her mother, my five children, the baby."
"That's seven employees - eight, if you count the infant. How can your shop be failing?"
"You're not paying them, are you?"
- - The sandal maker, Arridor and Kol
"What are we going to do?"
"What a Ferengi always does in a situation this grave."
"No, you idiot! He goes to the Rules of Acquisition. Unabridged and fully annotated with all 47 commentaries, all 900 major and minor judgments, all 10,000 considered opinions. There's a rule for every conceivable situation."
- - Kol and Arridor
"Grand proxy, avoidance of... Mm-mm."
"Grand proxy, censure by..."
"Grand proxy, encounters with..."
"See... 'hopeless situation.'"
- - Arridor, trying to find a way around following the Grand Proxy's orders
"I told you there was no rule."
"Then it's time to invoke the unwritten rule."
"The unwritten rule?"
"When no appropriate rule applies... make one up."
"That's a very good rule."
- - Arridor and Kol
"Who's to say we aren't their sages, captain?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"You mean... we really are the sages?"
- - Arridor, Captain Janeway and Kol
"We won. We won!"
"No, my friend. Not exactly. To be precise... we won again."
- - Kol and Arridor
"But how do we get two Ferengi to just walk away from a monopoly on an entire economy?"
"What motivates a Ferengi?"
"Then we must find a way to make it more profitable for them to leave."
"Or less profitable to stay."
"How do we do that?"
"We have to out-Ferengi... the Ferengi."
- Tom Paris, Captain Janeway, Tuvok and Neelix about the plot with Neelix pretending to be Grand Proxy
"And may I say gentlemen, you both have very fine shoes."
"Well, the sages say you can tell a great deal about a man from his shoes, and I can tell from your shoes, you're men of refinement."
- - Merchant to Tom Paris and Chakotay
"What is it now?"
"We had seven years of pure profit."
(laughing) "We did, didn't we?"
- - Kol and Arridor while being burned
- This episode is essentially a sequel to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Price", which also features the characters of Arridor and Kol.
- This episode was the second (in production order) of four episodes that were written and produced during Star Trek: Voyager's second season but intentionally held back for inclusion in its third season, the other episodes being "Sacred Ground", "Flashback" and "Basics, Part II". (Star Trek: Voyager Companion)
Story and Script
- This episode had the working titles "The Visitors", "Penitence" and "Untitled Ferengi Story". 
- This was the first episode that returning Star Trek staff writer Joe Menosky was involved in writing after a four-year stint of working and living in France, he having previously served as a staff writer on Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Star Trek Monthly issue 20) In fact, this Star Trek episode was one of several that Menosky wrote while still in Europe, prior to him joining the writing staff of Voyager for its third season. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 90)
- The development of this episode was an attempt to appeal to the popularity of the sinister Ferengi and to utilize their comedic potential. Director Cliff Bole explained, "This was the producers' attempt to get some of the little, evil Ferengi into the series because they're so well-liked and accepted by the fans. We call them the 'Peter Lorres of space,' you know? The producers wanted some lightness, some comedy." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- This episode's final script draft was submitted on 15 March 1996. 
Cast and Characters
- For this episode, the producers of Voyager went to the trouble of bringing back actor Dan Shor to reprise his role of Arridor but – because Kol is portrayed, in "The Price," by uncredited, non-speaking extra J.R. Quinonez – the role had to be recast; actor Leslie Jordan plays Kol here.
- Because Neelix poses as the Ferengi Grand Proxy in this episode, Neelix actor Ethan Phillips portrayed the faux Ferengi. Phillips previously played a real Ferengi, Dr. Farek, in TNG: "Ménage à Troi", and would later play another one, Ulis, in ENT: "Acquisition". Phillips said of this episode, "It was a lot of fun to do. I actually played a Ferengi before [...] so it was funny to get the Ferengi make-up on again." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20) On the other hand, Phillips also recalled, "I was sick as a dog right throughout the filming of that episode, which was a shame because I wanted to have more fun with it than I did." (Star Trek Monthly issue 21) Cliff Bole said of Phillips' performance here, "Ethan was fun as a Ferengi." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- Other than appearing as Kafar here, actor Rob LaBelle also portrayed two Talaxians in Star Trek: Voyager, portraying an unnamed Talaxian prisoner in the first season episode "Faces" and Oxilon in Season 7's "Homestead". LaBelle, who had been an avid watcher of original series Star Trek reruns while in graduate school, enjoyed appearing in this installment. "It was terrific yet again to be part of the show," he said. (TV Zone, special #23, p. 17)
- The marketplace set for this episode was built on Paramount Stage 6. According to set designer Richard James, the set was "practically constructed in 24 hours." (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #111, p. 54)
- The exterior of the Ferengi shuttle in this episode was a reuse of the Ferengi shuttle studio model. (Delta Quadrant, p. 141)
- According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 141), most of the Ferengi props in this episode were also reused items – specifically, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Richard James and Star Trek: Communicator visited the marketplace set during a break from filming, at which time the actors wearing Ferengi makeup were reading magazines, the scantily-clad female extras playing the Takarian females were anxiously waiting at the sides of the set, and main cast members Robert Beltran and Robert Duncan McNeill were standing around, laughing and playing practical jokes such as McNeill making rabbit ears over James' head at one point. (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #111, p. 54)
Continuity and Trivia
- This episode's in-universe connections with the other Star Trek spin-off series do not only include the fact that Arridor and Kol appear in both this episode and "The Price"; the Barzan wormhole also features in both episodes, whereas the Rules of Acquisition and the Divine Treasury were introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It should also be noted that much of the premise of Voyager is based on references from "The Price", the first show to use the term "Delta Quadrant" and establish its extreme distance (and tendency for unstable spatial phenomena, like wormholes). Furthermore, the concept of Ferengi posing as gods harkens back to "Ferengi Gold", an abandoned two-parter planned by Gene Roddenberry to be included in Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season. (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 27)
- It is revealed here that there are 47 commentaries on the Rules of Acquisition.
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #95; a #299 was referenced but is fake.
- Arridor's Unwritten Rule of Acquisition: When no appropriate rule applies, make one up.
- The events of this episode represent the seventh time (aside from the series premiere) that the Voyager crew has a possibility of returning home.
Reception and Aftermath
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.3 million homes, and a 7% share. 
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 1 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 90)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 2 out of 5 stars, defined as "Impulse Power only". (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 59)
- The book Delta Quadrant (p. 143) gives this installment a rating of 8 out of 10.
- After having directed this episode, Cliff Bole came to the opinion that he had made the installment somewhat too silly. "That one is 'Cliff's Folly,'" he said of the episode. "In fact, everyone should join in on that." Moments later, Bole remarked that this episode's level of comedy "went overboard." He continued by saying of the installment, "I don't think the studio was too happy with it, but they did get a lot of positive mail on it. It's not one of my favorites [....] It just got a little bit too silly. I'll take the hit for it, because I let everyone go a little too far. We were all enjoying the fact that it wasn't another new villainous character. And those damn Ferengi are so much fun to work with." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (Robert Blackman).
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay is a Ferengi ear jewelry lot.  
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.3, 24 February 1997
- As part of the VOY Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Dan Shor as Arridor
- Leslie Jordan as Kol
- Michael Ensign as the bard
- Rob LaBelle as Kafar
- Alan Altshuld as the sandal maker
- John Walter Davis as the merchant
- Christine Artecona as Takarian female #3
- Kimm Collinsworth as Takarian female #1
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Shepard Ross as Murphy
- Unknown actress as Takarian female #2
47; Alpha Quadrant; annular confinement beam; Barzan wormhole; Bronze Age; Class M; concussion; containment field; dampening field; Delta Quadrant; Divine Treasury; Enterprise-D, USS; Epic poem; Federation; Ferengi; Rules of Acquisition; Ferengi shuttle; frang; Ga'nah Province; Grand Nagus; Grand Nagus's staff; Grand Proxy; gravimetric shift; gravitational eddy; graviton; Great Sages; Holy Pilgrim; Impulse burst; ionic disruption field; logic; metallurgical analysis; Milky Way Galaxy; mining; phase profile; photon burst; plasma; pre-warp; quadruple lobe rub; reconnaissance probe; replicator; sandal maker; solar flare; Song of the Sages; subspace axis; subspace carrier wave; subspace instability; Takar; Takarian; Talaxian; verteron; wormhole; Zek
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