Plot Synopsis: A Ferengi DaiMon kidnaps Riker, Deanna, and Lwaxana Troi. Wesley Crusher contemplates his imminent departure from the Enterprise for Starfleet Academy.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser is almost as unimportant as the rest of this episode. The setting is Ten Forward: Commander Riker outwits a Ferengi at chess (how hard could that be?), Lwaxana–Deanna’s mom–is mildly annoying as a meddling mother, and then she gets hit on by a Ferengi DaiMon (equivalent to a captain) and tells him off. Plot A follows the misadventures of Riker, Deanna and Lwaxana, plot B is about Wes and his impending departure to finish testing for Starfleet Academy. Riker and Troi are vacationing on Betazed for some reason, and bump into Lwaxana again, for no reason, and are kidnapped by the same horny Ferengi we saw earlier. He beams them aboard his ship. The rest of the episode is about how they break free, which seems to follow one unlikely event after another. There is no real tension, no real humor, but thankfully it doesn’t go on forever and eventually ends. Plot B barely exists, but it’s superior to plot A. It ends with Wesley being the one to actually save the trio, and he gets promoted.
Favorite Scenes: The only scene in this episode not completely full of donkey crap is at the end, in which Wes is promoted to full Ensign and gets his red shirt. It’s a natural and deserved next step for his character, though I’m sure half the fans would have liked to see him leave.
Use of Cast/Characters: Picard doesn’t do much for most of this episode except “captain things.” At the end he makes an incredible fool of himself in one of the most embarrassing displays you could imagine. It’s the godawful low point of a godawful episode. Riker has a lot of screen time and gets to outwit one of the many stupid Ferengi in this episode. This is probably more a Troi episode than anyone else’s. She stands up for herself to her mother (good), kisses Riker (inexplicably, given what she herself says about their relationship), but still manages to not really contribute much. Data, Geordi and Worf are in this episode but don’t really have much to do. Doctor Crusher is in this episode but if you blink you’ll miss her, she has one scene. Wes doesn’t save the ship, exactly, but he does save several Enterprise crew. Following his first promotion in episode 5, here he gets promoted again, and in doing so gets the only character development in the episode. Frank Corsentino plays the Ferengi DaiMon, and is believable I suppose. Ethan Phillips plays Dr. Farek and is probably the best of the bad bunch.
Blu Ray Version: Nothing special here.
Nitpicks: Why does the Ferengi even like Lwaxana? Not only do the other Ferengi not find her attractive, but other than Gene Roddenberry no humans do either. Speaking of Ferengi, if Betazoids can’t read their minds at all, how was Troi able to sense Bok back in The Battle? Why does Picard suggest shore leave for Riker, is there any indication he needs it? When Riker and Troi are on Betazed, what’s he doing kissing her? Five minutes earlier she was telling her mom they were ‘just friends,’ and there’s been no romantic subtext the whole season. It’s out of character. And yes, Ferengi are stupid, but it’s still ridiculous Riker is able to trick his way out of his cell that easily. Finally, if an episode is going to waste our time by showing us the ship mapping a nebula where nothing occurs, at least make the nebula look visually interesting!
Overall Impression: This is a prime candidate for the worst episode in all of TNG. The title alone is ridiculous, a hair’s breadth away from telling us this episode will be about a three-way. A three-way would be a huge improvement, even if Majel Barrett had to be involved. The plot is meant to be lighthearted but is instead amateurish and full of plot holes. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanted to see the dumbass-ery that takes place on the Ferengi ship. There’s no comedy, no drama, no threat to the characters anyone takes seriously, and the only punch thrown occurs off-screen. The Enterprise action is almost as bad, mapping a boring-looking nebula. For those who haven’t seen this episode let’s conduct a visual exercise. Imagine a mule comes up and kicks you right in the balls. What’s worse, at the time you are giving birth and simultaneously trying to pass a kidney stone. All of that is nothing compared to the pain of watching this episode. Aside from Wes getting promoted there is nothing salvageable here. I rate this episode 0.5 out of 5 stars instead of 0 out of 5 for the promotion alone.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: First off, body doubles were used for Marina and Majel in the nude scenes. Sorry. This episode was written by Roddenberry’s secretary. His secretary! *face palm* This time we get three kidnappings–season three is really living up to its reputation as the kidnap season here. You may recognize the voice of Ethan Phillips, the Ferengi doctor, as he will go on to play Neelix throughout Voyager. The security code the DaiMon gives are actually the names of the two main characters from the manga/anime Dirty Pair, which we’ve seen referenced in other episodes. Some staffer really loved their anime. The USS Bradbury is a reference to sci-fi great Ray Bradbury. This is the first time we hear about oo-mox, the Ferengi erotic art of ear-massage that will be littered all through DS9. The most interesting tidbit is that after Wil Wheaton got promoted on this episode, Gene Roddenberry gave him his own Lieutenant’s bars from WWII when he served in the Army Air Corps–Colin Powell, who was Chair of the Joint Chiefs at the time, even showed up for the occasion. That would be pretty awesome, I admit.
Missable/Unmissable? In the name of all that’s holy, miss this episode. The next one is bad too, but anything is a step up from here.