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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S3E5 "False Profits"

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It's 90s Trek, you gotta have that Ferengi episode!
"We have to out-Ferengi... the Ferengi."note 

Voyager detects a wormhole near a primitive planet, which is currently being exploited by a pair of Ferengi. It turns out to be the same wormhole that the Ferengi pair traveled through in the Next Generation episode "The Price", which was thought to be unstable, and so while Voyager tries to use the same wormhole to get back home, they also deal with the Ferengi on the planet they landed on.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Neelix tries to pretend he's the Ferengi Grand Proxy to make the Ferengi stop. Ethan Phillips also played the Ferengi Dr. Farek in TNG's "Menage a Troi" (also from its third season), and later plays another Ferengi in the Enterprise episode "Acquisition".
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Koll getting oo-mox!
  • And Then What?: The Ferengi argue this point when Janeway just beams them out, saying the whole society will collapse because their gods have disappeared. The argument is less than convincing, given that the only response we saw to the Sages being beamed up was their minion eagerly helping himself to their couch.
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  • Ascended Extra: In his first appearance, Kol was just a Silent Bob who hung around with Arridor for most of the episode and never did anything of any real importance. Here, he gets dialogue and plays a far bigger part in the plot.
  • Burn the Witch!: Unfortunately the locals decide to take the verse about the Sages 'ascending on wings of fire' a bit literally.
  • Call-Back: We finally see what happened to the Ferengi from TNG's "The Price."
  • Changed My Jumper: Averted; the away team scan and replicate some local clothing before beaming down. It helps that the locals are Human Aliens too.
  • Clarke's Third Law
  • Eyepatch of Power: Unfortunately the poet forgets which eye he's supposed to be wearing it over.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama
    Neelix: I am the Holy Pilgrim, and I have come to tell you there's another verse to the song. It's err... please, don't burn the Holy Ones.
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  • Failure Is the Only Option: Voyager is unable to use the wormhole in time to get home before the Ferengi use it themselves.
  • Fanservice Extra: The Ferengi's maidens.
  • God Guise: The two Ferengi.
  • Idiot Ball: Voyager's crew missing a chance to get home because they were outwitted by a pair of Ferengi did not put them in a good light.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: The Ferengi suspect that Neelix is not who he says he is when he quotes the (non-existent) 299th Rule of Acquisition. However, Neelix is able to maneuver this by implying that new rules have been added during their absence.
  • Kill The Messenger: For once they've got a good excuse.
  • Kneel Before Zod: The Sages expect the requisite groveling. They do likewise when the 'Grand Proxy' turns up. Neelix tells them to save it for the Grand Nagus.
  • Large Ham: Kol is quite moved at his partner's plea regarding the devastation the sudden disappearance of the Sages would cause. "That was beautiful."
  • Layman's Terms
    Torres: If we could somehow amplify and polarise that instability, we might be able to get the wormhole to reappear.
    Janeway: Sort of like using a magnet to move a compass needle.
  • Loophole Abuse in the Alien Non-Interference Clause: If the Ferengi leave of their own free will, Janeway won't have violated the Prime Directive.
  • Money to Throw Away: While posing as the Grand Proxy, Neelix nicks a couple of cash bags and hands them out to the populace.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Lacking a legal solution to stop the Grand Proxy shutting them down, the Ferengi decide to just kill him.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Parodied to Hell and back, however, with a Bronze Age civilization venerating two Ferengi refugees as their sages (sort of ersatz deities) because their crash-landing's appearance was a lot like something prophesied in one of their sacred poems. All efforts to remove the Ferengi failed until the Voyager's crew realized the same poem ended with the appearance of certain easily-arranged celestial signs and the ascension of the sages back into the heavens, all of which could be arranged using some futuristic flares and transporter technology. Since technically this means every one of the prophecies came true, there was arguably nothing to outgrow about these people's "silly superstitions" at all!
  • Pun-Based Title: False Prophets (Profits).
  • Read the Fine Print: A Ferengi should know better.
    Neelix: I am indeed the Holy Pilgrim. And just as the Song of the Sages promises, I have come to lead you back, high into the sky of black.
    Crowd: Lead them back! Lead them back! Lead them back! Lead them back! Lead them back! Lead them back!
    Kol: What do they mean, lead us back?
    Arridor: I don't know. It must be part of the song. I told you we should have listened to the whole thing.
  • Rules Lawyer: What does a Ferengi do in a desperate situation?
    Kol: Panic?
    Arridor: No, you idiot! He goes to the Rules of Acquisition. Unabridged and fully annotated, with all forty seven commentaries, all nine hundred major and minor judgements, all ten thousand considered opinions. There's a rule for every conceivable situation.
  • Running Gag: The away team having to barter their shoes.
  • Skewed Priorities: As they're about to be burnt to death, the Ferengi comfort themselves with the thought that they made seven years pure profit.
    • Even by Ferengi standards this is rather silly. Since they possess a working replicator, all of the local goods and currency they've accumulated is worthless monopoly money that they could have reproduced on their first day if they so desired. They were just messing around to amuse themselves.
  • Stylistic Suck / Milking the Giant Cow: The bard singing the Song of the Sages.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Voyager's security is overpowered by two unarmed Ferengi, who then proceed to escape to parts unknown in their shuttle.
  • Teleportation Rescue: As the 'Sages' and Neelix are about to burn, Voyager beams them out, making it look like they really did ascend.
  • Time for Plan B: Having decided they can't just make the Sages 'disappear', Janeway decides to bluff them into leaving voluntarily by having Neelix pose as the Grand Proxy (messenger of the Grand Nagus), come to take over their operation and order them back home. When Neelix is forced to reveal his true identity to avoid getting murdered, he tells the locals that he's a Holy Pilgrim come to announce the Sages imminent departure, with Voyager faking the requisite portents.
  • Unusual Ears: You can even buy your own lobes!
  • Verbal Backspace: Tom is saying he doesn't like this planet when a couple of scantily-clad temple girls appear. "On the other hand..."
  • We Will Not Use Stage Make-Up in the Future: Neelix disguises himself as the Grand Proxy.


Example of: