The Ferengi are one of the coolest races in Star Trek. They rank up with the Klingons, the Vulcans and the Bajorans as one of the most fascinating alien species out there, with their culture being richly explored in the series Deep Space Nine. With regulars Quark, Rom and Nog as our most frequent guides, we got to see their world and how their society functions. There were entire episodes dedicated to exploring what makes them tick, and their set of business/ethical guidelines, “The Rules Of Acquisition” , has been published for all to enjoy. The Star Trek universe would be a less interesting place without them.
But it wasn’t always that way.
When they were first mentioned in TNG’s Encounter At Farpoint, they sounded mysterious and Picard hinted that they may be cannibals. Hardly surprising, since the Federation knew little about them, and Picard’s only dealings with them were in battle. Then we met them in The Last Outpost, and… well, they were goofy little fellows. They may be deceptively strong and are certainly cunning, but the ones we saw weren’t anywhere near the smooth-talking businessmen we’d later come to know and love.
As viewers, we know why: they were a race of beings newly-created for TNG, and like the Klingons in the original series, they hadn’t been fleshed out as characters. But the episode The Last Outpost exists, and nothing can change that. So there has to be another reason why they were hunched over and waved their hands above their heads. So from logical explanations to the downright silly, here are 10 of the best.
1) Rule 22:The Rules Of Acquisition is a great set of guidelines, and the 22nd states that a wise man can hear profit in the wind. The planet they beamed down to had thunder billowing constantly as lightning storms raged. They clearly didn’t like this, and maybe they were taking the rule literally, trying to streamline the sound waves around them so
they could hear potential business.
2) Big for Bears: When confronted with bears, some people try to make themselves look “big” and show they’re not intimidated. Maybe the Ferengi viewed humans in the same way, and were waving their arms high to try to fool them? It’s a similar trick to showing their heads up close on viewscreens, they want people to think they’re bigger than they are.
3) Fast and Furry-ous: Those fur skins they wore at the time were just awful, and PETA would have been angry at them. It looked like they made them from giant tribbles, and we’re glad they later switched to business suits. It’s possible that they were uncomfortable too, and they may have contained fleas, so it’s hardly surprising the Ferengi were moving the way they were. There’s nothing worse than an itch you can’t scratch.
4) Ola Mexicana! : Some things are universal no matter what, and just because humans didn’t know much about the Ferengis doesn’t mean the Ferengis didn’t know anything about humans. After all, they did bump into Archer and his crew years before. Maybe they learned of the custom of the Mexican Wave somewhere, and thought the humans would appreciate their efforts?
5) LWS: Even after years of getting to know them, we still don’t know everything about the Ferengi. Given their less-than-successful tactics in making a clean getaway with the T9 energy converter, they may have been suffering from a severe lack of profits. This can trigger LWS – Latinum Withdrawal Syndrome – which results in manic behaviour and lots of arm-waving. It may sound far-fetched, but they’re a very curious culture. …
6) The Smell of Success: Ferengi don’t really mind how they make their money, because the justification for profit is profit (Rule 202). What we didn’t know is that DaiMon Tarr’s cousin ran a deodorant company on a moon near Ferenginar, and they were doing product testing. The crew of the D’Kora-class Marauder were just trying to keep their armpits dry in exchange for a small percentage of possible profits from future sales. Yes, they were professional deodorant testers. Obviously.
7) Shields Up: The Ferengi don’t believe in taking chances. They came armed with energy whips, and who knows what trouble they were expecting to find? One of the weapons they’re familiar with is a locator bomb, which targets an individual through their pheromones before detonating a sodium argine explosive. Perhaps all of the arm-waving was defensive, trying to dissipate their pheromones?
8) Put your hands in the air… : …and wave ’em like you just don’t care. That hunched body language, that rhythmic swaying from side to side, those floppy overhead arm movements, we’ve seen them all before. Based on their body language, those Ferengi clearly enjoyed dancing, and just couldn’t stop themselves. We don’t know what they were listening to before they beamed down to hang out with the Enterprise’s Away Team, but it looked like they’d have fitted in at any Goth club.
9) The Greater the Mind: The Ferengi can be very competitive, especially when a profit is on the line. During their time in orbit, they must have been quite bored. Little did we know that to pass the time, they began a game of Nagus Knows Best, which is similar to Simon Says, only played for Latinum. They were busy following the command of Nagus Says “Pretend you’re a small tree with waving branches” when they headed down to the planet, and not wishing to lose out, they kept following the command the whole time. It makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it? No? Nagus Says “Believe it!”
10) Look! A Distraction! : Rule Of Acquisition number 85 says that you should never let the competition know what you’re thinking. They’d been fooled by Picard once, and may have believed that Troi wasn’t the only one on the Enterprise who could read emotions. They were moving like they did as a distraction technique against possible emotion/mind readers. While they didn’t need to do it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if it made them look like idiots.