(written from a Production point of view)
A group of interstellar thieves stun the Enterprise crew and begin looting the ship. Trip Tucker is the only one left to stop them, but can he do that in his underwear?
An unidentified alien vessel is closing on Enterprise NX-01, which is drifting in space. The crew of the approaching vessel, speak in an alien language, although they seem to be discussing the Starfleet craft. The captain smiles and orders the ship to dock with it, targeting the starboard docking port.
The aliens board the ship, each wearing a gas mask, and begin exploring the ship. Oddly, they find the Enterprise crew unconscious, but apparently having been in the midst of going about their normal routines. While they are not too particularly impressed with the Humans' ears, one of them seems rather fascinated by T'Pol's. They disable a device in engineering, apparently the source of whatever knocked out the crew as they safely remove their gas masks shortly afterward. They proceed to a turbolift, heading for the bridge, where they find Captain Archer and other bridge officers unconscious. One of them calls their ship on his communicator, reporting to someone he refers to as Ulis.
Meanwhile, Trip Tucker is in the decontamination chamber, lying on the floor and wearing bright blue Starfleet-issue underwear. He gets up and calls Dr. Phlox on the com: he's been in there for at least an hour, but it was only supposed to be twenty minutes. But Phlox, like the rest of the crew, is lying unconscious at his post in sickbay. Hearing no response, Tucker breaks out of decon by shorting out the door panel, and discovers unconscious crewmen throughout the corridors and turbolifts.
Meanwhile, the aliens get to work ransacking Enterprise, starting with wheeling trolleys on board via the airlocks. Tucker arrives in sickbay and discovers Phlox unconscious. Hearing them coming, he hides via a ladder exit to an access tunnel, and quickly takes a glance to see them taking much of the sickbay equipment. He exits in a corridor, discreetly seeing two others taking a spatial torpedo.
The aliens continue taking items ranging from bridge chairs to clothes, food, and even the Enterprise's dedication plaque. Soon, not content with taking only inanimate objects, the aliens drag all of the ship's females to the launch bay. They also remove Captain Archer from his chair and take him to the launch bay, which is seen by Tucker via a security monitor in engineering. They handcuff the captain to a handhold in the bay, and wake him up; as soon as their universal translator manages to decipher English, they demand that he tell them where the ship's vault is. Archer is at first confused by their request, and tells them that there is no vault on the ship – that as a ship of exploration, not of commerce, they would have no need for one. But the aliens can't believe that there would be no valuables of any kind stockpiled aboard, and are convinced that he's lying. They discuss among themselves how to proceed, revealing the name of one of them to be Krem, a cousin of Ulis'. While they are talking, Archer spots Tucker up on the second level of the launch bay, unbeknownst to the aliens.
Krem mentions taking the females to a slave market on Stameris, which prods Archer to do something to prevent this. He decides to play along with the aliens' idea that there must be a vault on-board, saying it is full of gold. The aliens ask if he means gold-pressed latinum, but he hasn't heard of that, and says "gold bars". They are still interested, so he offers to show them where to find it if he can keep half of the gold. The aliens are not satisfied with that; Archer makes a final offer of 35% for himself, with the rest going to the aliens, but they decide to proceed without his assistance and find the vault themselves. Ulis orders Krem to begin loading the booty onto their ship, eliciting protests from Krem, at which Ulis suggests he make Archer do it.
While loading the booty onto the aliens' ship at gunpoint, Archer engages Krem in conversation, learning a bit about the aliens' philosophy of "a man is only worth the sum of his possessions", embodied in the Rules of Acquisition. Archer also learns that Krem is rather at the mercy of his cousin in all his business dealings – as the Rules put it, "Never allow family to stand in the way of profit." Krem seems to accept this as the way things are supposed to be, believing that his cousin is going to help him acquire a ship of his own one day. Spotting Tucker around a corner, Archer asks Krem to get him a glass of water and some food from the mess hall. Krem handcuffs him to a nearby hand grip and goes off to get the food. Tucker fills Archer in on the situation, and that the aliens have looted the ship so thoroughly that there aren't any phase-pistols left for him to get his hands on – not even a hypospray with which to wake the rest of the crew. Archer tells Tucker to get the hypospray the aliens used to wake him up, which they left in launch bay 2. Just then, Krem returns, prompting Tucker to leave so he isn't spotted.
Tucker finds the hypospray and injects T'Pol with it. He then tries repeatedly to inject Hoshi Sato, but nothing happens. T'Pol immediately wakes up, at first startled by Tucker's mode of dress, then she deduces that the crew was knocked out by gas emitted by an artifact they had retrieved from the surface of a moon when T'Pol examined it; it must have been placed there intentionally by the aliens. Tucker had been isolated from the effects of the gas due to his being sealed off from the rest of the ship in decon. Just then, the door to the launch bay opens, admitting Krem and Archer. T'Pol pretends to still be unconscious, while Tucker hides. Krem is fascinated by T'Pol, asking Archer questions about her. Despite Archer's attempts to convince Krem that she's not very interesting, Krem isn't dissuaded, though he is torn away from admiring T'Pol when Archer needs his help to move a heavy cabinet from the launch bay. After Archer and Krem leave, T'Pol expresses her irritation at Krem's attention, and discusses with Tucker how to proceed. As Sato still hasn't woken up, Tucker realizes that the hypospray is empty; he, T'Pol, and the captain will have to take back the ship with no help from the rest of the crew.
Tucker heads to a crewman's quarters and puts on a slightly too-small sciences division uniform before proceeding any further while T'Pol observes the aliens in sickbay via a security monitor. There, Ulis and Grish are convinced that the imaging chamber must be the vault, though Muk is more skeptical. Confounded by an apparent lack of locking gear, they eventually manage to activate its opening mechanism, triggering the built-in gurney to slide out and nearly slam straight into the aliens, sending them scrambling. To Ulis and Grish's shock, there is no loot inside, though Muk seems more impressed with an unidentified medical gadget, which he insists on keeping for himself, despite their earlier agreement to split the profits of this endeavor between them. Ulis eventually agrees, but only after saying that he'll deduct the gadget from Muk's share of the gold.
Meanwhile, Tucker attaches a security lock to the door of the bio-matter resequencer, which also serves to cover the label on the door. T'Pol proceeds to an area just outside the bridge, where she monitors the aliens conversing in the situation room. Muk has collected various gadgets from around the ship (including a number of scanners) to add to the booty, while Grish finds the captain's quarters on a map of the ship and suggests to Ulis that the vault might be there. But while they are discussing how to get there, T'Pol sends an ear-splitting squeal out of the com system at the aliens, who, with their sensitive hearing, are quite keenly affected by this. They pull out their weapons and search for the source of the sound; meanwhile, T'Pol sneaks out onto the bridge and takes the scanners Muk had collected. By the time Muk shoots the science console and stops the noise, T'Pol is gone. Muk then notices that his scanners are gone, for which he blames Ulis. He demands that Ulis open his bag so he can prove his innocence, but Ulis refuses, claiming that he wouldn't be interested in some "worthless" scanners. T'Pol, however, remotely triggers one of the scanners to make a beeping noise – revealing that they are in Ulis' bag. Muk is outraged, and Ulis claims ignorance, when Muk notices that there were only two of them in Ulis' bag, whereas he had three of them. He immediately turns to Grish, who runs away with Muk in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, T'Pol monitors the unfolding events from her post outside the bridge, holding the third scanner in her hand.
In engineering, Krem is directing Archer to remove parts from the warp core. Archer attempts to convince him that the only way he can ensure he gets a fair share of the vault's contents is to see the vault for himself. He offers Krem a deal: Krem helps him put the rest of the aliens in the brig, and Archer gives him half of the money. Though clearly tempted by the offer, Krem refuses and tells Archer to get back to work.
Grish and Muk, meanwhile, are attempting to interrogate Porthos as to the location of the vault. Porthos, not understanding a word they're saying, happily wags his tail and woofs. They realize that he's a lower lifeform, speculating that he might be the captain's next meal, but Grish isn't so sure, noting Porthos's large ears. Muk takes Porthos to the launch bay and puts him in a cargo container, but spots Tucker hiding elsewhere in the bay. He chases him out into the corridors to the mess hall, alerting the others via communicator that one of the crew members is awake. In the mess hall, Tucker tries to blend in with the rest of the sleeping crewmen there, but is spotted by Muk, who attacks him. Tucker gets Muk's weapon and makes a run for it, only to be stopped by Ulis with an energy whip.
In the launch bay, Krem and Archer are still at it, loading items into the aliens' ship. Archer is still trying to work on Krem, trying to convince him that he's being treated unfairly by his partners. The other aliens enter with Tucker, after which they start discussing the possibility of other crew members being awake, and consider taking what they have and leaving to avoid tangling with them. They almost come to blows, Muk and Ulis even pulling weapons on each other. Muk, while still quite angered at Ulis, calms down and gets to work with Grish to haul the females to the ship. Tucker, however, tells them to wait – he'll show them to the vault, provided they leave the females. Archer, realizing that Tucker has a plan, plays along, ordering him not to reveal the location of the vault no matter what. Tucker pretends that Sato is his wife, and that he doesn't want the aliens to take her – thus, becoming increasingly angered when Archer threatens to throw him in the brig for insubordination, he launches himself at Archer and begins wrestling with him until the aliens pull them apart. Ulis accepts Tucker's offer, and the aliens, knowing that they all need to see the vault for themselves to avoid being cheated by the others, all follow Tucker, with the exception of Krem who is told to stay behind and finish loading the ship. Krem, inspired by Archer's words, stands up to Ulis, insisting that he's tired of doing the menial work and wants a chance to prove he has the "lobes for business". Eventually he backs down, however, and he gets to work with Archer. Archer fakes a flare-up of an old water polo injury, leading Krem to handcuff him to a hand grip and continue loading the ship himself.
While Tucker leads Ulis, Muk, and Grish to the bottom deck of the ship, Krem encounters T'Pol aboard his ship. She claims that she's a prisoner aboard the Human ship, and begs Krem to take her with him. Krem is mesmerized by her and asks her to perform oo-mox on him. She begins to perform it on him per his instructions, at which Krem melts in ecstasy, allowing her to knock him out with a Vulcan nerve pinch. She takes the keys to Archer's handcuffs, as well as a phase-pistol from a case, and leaves.
Via an extremely circuitous route, Tucker leads the aliens to the bio-matter resequencing section, finally announcing to them that they've reached the vault and releasing the lock. Tucker offers to go in first and scout out any booby traps, which makes the aliens suspicious; they all enter simultaneously, each one wanting to get to the gold first. Upon finding the bio-matter resequencing center empty of gold, they realize it is a trap, but it is too late – T'Pol springs out from behind the door and stuns them with a phase-pistol.
After T'Pol releases Archer with the key, the crew supervise the aliens as they unload their booty back to its rightful places; now the tables are turned, with the aliens under armed guard by the Humans. Archer frees Porthos from the box in which Muk put him, and once all is back where it belongs, the aliens are all manacled on board their ship except for Krem, who is informed by Archer that he's going to contact the Vulcans and Starfleet to warn them about the aliens, and that if they come within a light year of an Earth or Vulcan ship they won't know what hit them. Krem readily promises that they won't ever see them again. Archer suggests to the others that they might try showing Krem a little more respect if they'd like to be released, eliciting scowls and insults. After Archer and T'Pol leave, Krem, clearly enjoying the situation, sits in the captain's chair, smiling as the others offer him bribes for their release. Krem takes the controls of the ship, disengages it from Enterprise, and flies off into parts unknown.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Who we are is unimportant."
- - Archer and Ulis
"This is a vessel of exploration, not a cargo ship. We don't do any commerce."
- - Archer, to the aliens.
"Why am I always stuck doing the menial labor?"
"Make him do it!"
- - Krem, to Ulis who then suggests Archer load the stolen goods to their vessel
"If you're gonna make a habit out of this, you might wanna get a bigger ship."
- - Archer, on the amount of stolen items from Enterprise in Ulis' starship
"What do you need all this for, anyway? You seem to already have plenty of technology."
"One can never have too much! The Rules of Acquisition say 'Expand or Die.' "
"Rules of Acquisition?"
"That's rule number forty-five. I've memorized all one-hundred and seventy-three, including the most important one: 'A man is only worth the sum of his possessions.' "
"Back on my home world that kind of thinking almost destroyed our civilization."
"You should've managed your businesses better."
- - Archer and Krem
"Come on! We have a lot more moving to do."
- - Krem and Archer
"'Never allow family to stand in the way of profit.'"
"Another one of your rules?"
- - Krem and Archer
"Just because a guy's in his underwear you think the worst."
- - Trip, to T'Pol, when he sees she's startled by his lack of clothing
"This female… is different from the others. What species is she?"
"She's a Vulcan."
"They're really not all that interesting once you get to know them."
"I'd like to get to know this one. Maybe I won't sell her… not right away."
"Trust me. She's got no sense of humor. She's always complaining."
- - Krem and Archer
"There are times I wish Vulcans hadn't learned to repress their violent tendencies."
- - T'Pol
"Rule of Acquisition number twenty-three: "Nothing is more important than your health… except for your money.""
- - Ulis, to Muk and Grish
"Do I look like a Menk to you?"
- - Muk, to Ulis
"Are you calling me a thief?"
"Everybody knows you'd steal the wax out of your own mother's ears."
- - Ulis and Muk
"I'm surprised your friend didn't get electrocuted. You can't just yank out an antimatter injector like it was a light bulb!"
- - Archer, to Krem
"Where is the vault? Do you understand me?"
- - Grish, interrogating Porthos
"I can't lock onto its language."
"It's a lower lifeform, you fool! Probably the captain's next meal."
"Don't be so sure. Look at the size of its ears!"
- - Grish and Muk, sizing up Porthos in the captain's quarters
"Sorry fellas… bank must be closed today!"
- - Tucker, to the newly-incapacitated scavengers
"What's your wife worth? Five bars of gold, maybe six? Let them take (her), and I'll give you ten."
"All right, fifteen!"
- - Archer and Tucker, attempting to deceive the aliens
"Do you have the key?"
(T'Pol shows Archer the key, but hesitates to use it)
"'Not that interesting. No sense of humor. Always complaining'?"
"I'll make it up to you."
"Five bars of gold? (He pauses.) Open these things, Sub-commander. That's an order!"
- - Archer and T'Pol
"Isn't there a more direct route?"
"That's the beauty of this thing. It's impossible to find unless you know exactly where you're going."
"How much further?"
"Keep your shirt on, it's close."
- - Grish, Tucker, and Ulis on their way to the "vault"
Story, script and cast
- The final draft script of this installment was issued on 14 January 2002.
- This episode features actors who have guest-starred on every previous Star Trek series (in addition to several starring and recurring roles):
- Clint Howard previously played Balok in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" and Grady in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense, Part II".
- Ethan Phillips (Ulis) previously starred as Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager, in which he also appeared as the Ferengi Grand Proxy (actually Neelix in disguise) in the episode "False Profits". He also played Dr. Farek in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Ménage à Troi" and the holographic maitre d' in Star Trek: First Contact.
- Jeffrey Combs had previously played several other roles, most notably Brunt, Weyoun, and Shran. Combs guest-starred on Star Trek: Voyager as Penk in the episode "Tsunkatse". This was his only appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise not playing Shran.
- This episode goes out of its way to not reveal the name of the race to which the marauders belonged, since official contact wouldn't occur until well over two centuries later in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Last Outpost", though the closed captions on streaming platforms do caption their dialog as "Ferengi language". The Borg were similarly not named in dialog in the episode "Regeneration".
- Muk references the episode "Dear Doctor" when he asks, "Do I look like a Menk to you?" In "Dear Doctor", the Valakian astronaut informs Archer that his people had made contact with the Ferengi, a species unknown to either Humans or Vulcans, and who had refused to help the Valakians and Menk cure the genetic plague devastating their planet.
- The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition which are referenced herein consist of numbers six, twenty-three, and forty-five. We learn there are only 173 Rules of Acquisition at this point in history, as opposed to 285 by the 24th century. By that reckoning, 112 rules will have been added by the time of TNG and DS9.
- This episode states that the sixth Rule of Acquisition is "Never let family get in the way of profit." By the 24th century, it will have changed (slightly) to "Never let family get in the way of opportunity," as is revealed in DS9: "The Nagus".
- The energy whip is seen here for the first time since its introduction in TNG: "The Last Outpost".
- T'Pol's masquerade as a "Vulcan love slave" might be the genesis of the Ferengi fascination with the idea, and the resultant holosuite program. DS9 relaunch's novel This Gray Spirit claims that Krem, who received oo-mox from T'Pol, is one possible author of the original Vulcan Love Slave novel.
- We learn that there are fourteen weapons lockers on Enterprise.
- The Ferengi PADD used in DS9 appears here, with added LEDs, as a Ferengi scanner.
- Being without his own uniform, Tucker borrows a junior science officer's uniform and wears it throughout the episode. Tucker is the only crew member to wear all three division color versions of the Starfleet uniform in the series as he later wears the gold, command division uniform in the episode "Twilight".
- This episode was criticized by some fans for allegedly abusing established continuity. In an interview, series writer Mike Sussman responded to these criticisms, remarking, "Meeting the Ferengi was probably one of the more controversial choices this season, but I think we structured the show in a way that preserves Picard's first contact with them. Besides, every Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan knows Earth's real first contact with the Ferengi was in Roswell in 1947 [in the episode "Little Green Men"]." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 50)
- Brannon Braga admitted "There's no excuse for the Ferengi, no excuse. That was an act of desperation. I hated it." ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part III: First Flight", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
- On the first broadcast of this installment, the episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.4 and was watched by a total of 5.45 million viewers. 
- Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 4 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 79)
- The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 366) comments about this installment, "An episode that starts with the Ferengi being rather sinister, like they were originally designed to be – but which soon reverts to a fun story about outwitting them. Leaving aside the objection that the Ferengi really shouldn't be around this early in Star Trek history, it's a fun episode that gives Scott Bakula the chance to be funny for once."
- The Ferengi vessel later reappeared in "Stigma", as a Dekendi ship that carried one of Phlox's wives, Feezal, to Enterprise.
- Several costumes, props, and items from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including the Starfleet document box carried by Muk  and a script for this episode. 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.10, 23 September 2002
- As part of the ENT Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the ENT Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Cecilia Conn as command division crewman
- Amy Kate Connolly as science division crewman
- Mark Correy as Alex
- Stacy Fouche as operations division crewman
- Hilde Garcia as Rossi
- Peter Godoy
- Glen Hambly as operations division ensign
- Bryan Heiberg as operations division crewman
- Aldric Horton as operations division crewman
- Cheri Isabella as operations division crewman
- John Jurgens as command division crewman
- Martin Ko as command division ensign
- Bobby Pappas as operations division crewman
- Monica Parrett as command division crewman
- Prada as Porthos
- Thelma Tyrell as operations division crewman
- Cynthia Uhrich as operations division crewman
- Gary Weeks as operations division crewman
- Todd Wieland as operations division crewman
anesthesia; antimatter injector; armory; bark; beetle snuff; bio-matter resequencer; Bolian; booby trap; businessman; Chef; cook; cousin; crowbar; DaiMon; dedication plaque; dog; double cross; earwax; Earth Starfleet; energy whip; Ferengi; Ferengi gas canister; Ferengi language; Rules of Acquisition; filtration mask; Gavarian ship; gold; hand scanner; handcuffs; injector assembly; insubordination; latinum; latinum pen; lemon meringue pie; light bulb; lock pick; lower lifeform; lunar survey; Malurzian Zoo; micro-charge; Muk's Bolian acquaintance; NX class; oo-mox; phase-pistol; pecan pie; pointy-ears; rob; scanner; sense of humor; serving case; slave market; spatial torpedo; Stameris; trinket; Ulis' starship; underwear; vault; vessel of exploration; Vulcans; Vulcan High Command; Vulcan nerve pinch; warp core; water; water polo
- "Acquisition" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Acquisition" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Acquisition" at Wikipedia
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