Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 5

The Last Outpost

Aired Unknown Oct 19, 1987 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
266 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 41386.4 A powerful entity disables the Enterprise and a Ferengi ship. Their only means of escape is if they can correctly answer the riddles he asks.

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  • History is made as the Enterprise makes shaky first contact with a mysterious race called the Ferengi.

    It's the debut of a race that was mentioned in the pilot episode for a reason; the Ferengi were supposed to be the big villains for this incarnation of Star Trek (sort of like the Klingons in the original series). Here we get the big reveal… and the new race falls flat on its face. The episode also has some script issues, and the end result is a bit painful to watch. Armin Shimmerman, who played the first Ferengi, felt so bad about the damage he did to the race, he was determined to give the aliens a better legacy on Deep Space Nine and did so, playing Quark.moreless
  • The Enterprise is in pursuit of a Ferengi vessel that has stolen an energy converter from a Federation-protected planet, but the two ships become locked in a powerful grip that slowly drains their power. Hardly classic, but better than the previous eps...moreless

    The Pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint", was passable, but after the terrible "The Naked Now" and the corny, un-PC "Code of Honor", viewers would have been forgiven for questioning if it was worth sticking with this new incarnation of the beloved 'Star Trek'. Well, "The Last Outpost" is by no means a classic (in many ways it's very bad), but at least it finally gives a decent plot, and raises the bar for the series *ever so slightly* at this stage.

    Of course, the main thing of note about the episode is the introduction of the Ferengi, promoted at the time to be TNG's "big enemy race", taking over from the Klingons of the Original Series. (Something says to me the big heads behind this one had "merchandising" on their minds). Either way, there is some mystery at the beginning of the story as to what this new race, previously unseen to the Federation, would be like. As soon as they appear… one would be forgiven for rolling around on the floor laughing. They're just too comical to be taken as a serious threat.

    The producers and writers soon recognised this (some even referred to this episode as "a disaster"), and for subsequent appearances quickly reworked the race into the more comical beings they were obviously suited to being (finally introducing The Borg as the show's big enemy in series two), and creating some discontinuity with the version of the Ferengi we meet in this episode. Of course, I don't have to tell you that one of the Ferengi here is played by Armin Zimmerman, who would go on to play 'Star Trek's most well-known Ferengi, bartender Quark, in' Deep Space Nine'.

    This is a story of two halves – the first being the two ships unlocked in an unknown force and each blaming the other; and the second set down on the planet below.

    The first half begins with some genuine mystery, but is padded out too long, and I feel that more time should have been given over to the planet below and the mysterious Guardian.

    The story, although still much clunkier than later episodes, does feel to be slightly slicker than the rather dud first two hour long instalments (part of me would like to think that the production crew realised they really needed to pull their socks up, fast!), and sets in motion the improvement in quality that would gradually emerge over the next few episodes.

    There are some good character moments – the planet surface (dubbed "Planet Hell" by production staff), while maybe looking a bit ropey by nowadays standards, looks good enough considering the era and budget, and – overlooking how the supposedly menacing Ferengi backfire comically – there is a decent story in here. Heck, Geordi even gets something to do in Engineering, giving him good practice for the position he would hold from the second season onwards.

    I always liked as a kid when Riker would lead an Away Team (for my young back mind then, Picard was a bit too staid; Riker had a vague Kirk-like quality to him), and whenever I think of this episode, I always think of the recurring gag with Data's Chinese finger trap, and beaming them over to the Ferengi ship at the end (almost reminiscent of Scotty beaming some Tribbles over to the Klingon ship at the end of the Original Series classic "The Trouble with Tribbles").

    One minor thing that did stick out to me – the crew failing to recognise references to Earth's national flags, suggesting they have long been abolished. While I can get that the show was trying to promote a "in the future we'll settle our differences and all be as one", I'm not sure that I like the thought of us losing our individual cultural identities (in a way, surely that's one thing that the Federation is all about protecting?)

    All-in-all, definitely not the classic and the big introduction of a new enemy that the series was clearly hoping for, but at the same time, a definite improvement over the previous two episodes. It's not worthy of an outstanding score, but my 7.0 reflects the improvement over those two weak (and low-scoring) instalments.moreless
  • The Ferengi are introduced as the Federation's archenemy, with embarrassing results.

    This episode begins with a popular, and solid, Star Trek premise: the Enterprise encounters a mysterious, more powerful alien entity that overpowers the ship. Some suspense is built as we are led to believe that the Enterprise has been overpowered by the mysterious Ferengi.

    Much of that promise is wasted as soon as we see the Ferengi captain on the screen. Yes, he's mildly sinister, but nevertheless hard to take seriously. And the story really goes to the dumpster as soon as the Enterprise and Ferengi crews meet. How the writers ever envisioned that the Ferengi would be a convincing "enemy" on the show, I don't know. What I do know is that the Ferengi on this episode are just as ridiculous as they would be on later ST episodes, but without the humorous slant and personality that made them entertaining. Here they are just lame.

    Also, the Guardian or whatever-it's-called on the planet -- not necessarily a bad idea in principle, but the execution is just awful. However, the sequence where he does some crazy proto-Matrix thing with his axe -- that was something else, horribly executed and hysterically funny at the same time. Something straight out of a B-film!

    The two main redeeming features of this episode, as on many other 1st season TNG stories with lame storylines, involve Data gags. The "red white and blue" joke, involving Data, Tasha and Worf is extremely funny. And Data with the Chinese finger toy -- hilarious.moreless
  • Pointless.

    Notable for introducing the Ferengi seemingly as Star Trek’s new Big Villains in a role in which they fail miserably. Their appearance and entire physicality are far too ridiculous to make them a credible threat (Armin Shimmerman does give a slightly better performance than his other large-eared cohorts). The plot is a huge disappointment building ultimately to nothing. At least it wasn’t completely the old original series cliché of a superior power pitting two lesser species against each other. Also disappointing is that twenty years after the original series the production values haven’t improved sufficiently so the planet of the week doesn’t look like a cheap set.moreless
  • And It Is Also A Fine Example, Since Even If The Ferengi Are Stupider Than Usual, They Have The T'Kon Empire. I Like The T'Kon Empire, And I Also Like The Ikonian Empire...moreless

    This Episode Is Well Written... And It Is Also A Fine Example, Since Even If The Ferengi Are Stupider Than Usual, They Have The T'Kon Empire. I Like The T'Kon Empire, And I Also Like The Ikonian Empire...

    The Ferengi Steal A T-9 Engergy Converter... And Are Introduced As Another Possible Enemy For The Federation... But They Weren't Since The Federation Had To Deal With The Q, And The Romulans, And The Borg... I Don't Like The Ferengi In This Episode... They Are Wierd... But They Did Say That They Tried To Hide Their True Image...

    But I Like THe T'Kon And The Ikonian Empires... Both Are Very Powerful, The T'Kon Can Change Planets And Move Stars... The Ikonians Can Use Gateways To Travel Everywhere... Both Empires Seem To Be Dormant, But It Would Be So Cool To See Them Come Back...moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When Doctor Crusher says that they "...won't have to worry past 70 below...", Picard replies that "It feels like that now." One would expect that if it feels that cold, their breath would be visible.

    • Trivia: Near the end of the episode, Dr. Crusher calls Picard "Jean" instead of "Jean-Luc." This is the only time she uses the shortened form of his name.

    • How is it with such advanced technology that they can't even keep 6-year-old boys out of restricted areas? Surely the computers can be set to only open the Observation Lounge for authorized personnel.

  • QUOTES (8)

  • NOTES (5)

    • The stormy planet that the Away Team and the Ferengi beam down to was used, in various guises, in a number of future episodes and--due to its appearance--was dubbed "Planet Hell" by the production crew.

    • Wil Wheaton does not appear in this episode, but his character Wesley Crusher is mentioned that he is in his quarters.

    • This episode marks the first appearance of the Ferengi. They were initially intended to replace the Klingons as the major adversaries of the Federation (as the Federation and Klingon Empire were now friends). However, when they failed to live up to their expectations, the Borg were developed to take their place.

    • The Ferengi were initially conceived as key recurring opponents for the series, but it was felt that they came across too comically, so they soon evolved from the rather savage race presented here into the more comical, money-obsessed race typified by Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The "main" enemy of this series turned out to be the Borg, introduced in the 2nd season episode "Q Who?".

    • Armin Shimerman, more commonly known as the Ferengi barman Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, makes a guest appearance as the Ferengi Letek.


    • Ferengi
      The word "Ferengi" comes from the Afghani and Farsi word for "westerner" - "fereng." The writers intended Ferengi to represent western supposedly more material-oriented cultures: European, American, etc.