The Enterprise attempts to make contact with the mysterious Ferengi, a race known for their deceitful brand of capitalism and known to have technological ability comparable to the Federation. While orbiting a planet that was once part of a long-extinct, massive interstellar empire, the encounter with the Ferengi takes a turn for the worse as the Enterprise becomes ensnared in a powerful forcefield.
For the second time since the premiere, Picard offers an unconditional surrender within the first 20 minutes. (Is this some sort of TNG season one theme?) The Ferengi, meanwhile, believe they are the captives, not the captors, eventually leading both ships to the conclusion that they are being held by a force from the planet. Both send landing parties.
On the planet, Riker's merit is tested by a powerful ancient gatekeeper (Darryl Henriques) who believes his extinct society still exists. It's a familiar theme again borrowed from the original series: that of a powerful superbeing challenging humanity. Fine and good, and there seems to be some substance here. Unfortunately, the dialog between Riker and the gatekeeper is far too obtuse to be useful as philosophical discussion. (Conclusion: "Fear is the only enemy." Huh?) Meanwhile, the Ferengi manage to sabotage any hope of the ending working with their hopelessly hokey and distracting gyrating antics in front of the camera. It just plain looks stupid.
Armin Shimerman plays one of the Ferengi. Fortunately by the time he would play another one (Quark on DS9), his character would at least have depth, even if most of Ferengi society was still a capitalist caricature.
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