Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 5 Episode 17

The Outcast

Aired Unknown Mar 16, 1992 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
193 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 45614.6 While investigating the disappearance of a J'naii shuttlecraft, the crew finds reason to believe the missing ship is stranded in an abnormal pocket called "null space." Riker and Soren, a member of the J'naii race, begin preparing to rescue the craft, and the two strike up a friendship. Their relationship develops quickly as the pair question each other about mating habits, since the J'naii are androgynous and do not identify themselves as either male or female. Despite this difference, sparks begin to fly between them.moreless

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  • Soren used the expression "more superior" and I lost all respect for her.

    However, I didn't hate this episode like most fans. I thought it was quite good, actually. But even in the 24th Century, the characters with gender explain concepts of gender in ways that indicate they don't have a really good grasp on it themselves. I thought this episode was more about "transgenderism" than "homosexuality". Nonetheless, somewhat progressive for 1992.
  • A homosexual story where Riker falls for... a girl?

    This Riker episode, blatantly dealing with sexual prejudice, is often cited as one of the worst in the series, being a combination of preachy and dull. (It doesn't help that the episode follows the equally preachy episode "Ethics".) The inherent problem with the concept here is that having Riker and a somewhat female-like thing that's not supposed to mate fall in love doesn't create a dilemma for him but for her. Because we don't really know her, and we don't care about her as much as we would a regular cast member, the drama falls flat. Had the plot been used as a B or C story for another episode, the show might have gotten away with it. However, we're forced to endure it as the standalone plot for the hour, which is a somewhat cruel and unusual punishment.moreless
  • Still No Queers in the Future

    Still No Queers in the Future

    Star Trek writers take a queer-themed storyline, then back away from it by giving all the words to an androgynous race. Riker and one of the aliens have a spark, and the alien confesses to being a genetic throwback -- someone who identifies as female. She has a revelatory speech about living her life in hiding, and what it's like to be an outsider.

    Would have been stronger had they gone ahead and just did the queer episode that Star Trek writers promised for years, but producers never had the guts to air.

    Unfortunately, the energy drains from the episode, and it all starts to seem like an afterschool special. The performers get points, though, for trying to make it all work.

  • Riker and an androgynous alien who dreams of being a female get romantic. Meanwhile, her society makes test tubes mandatory and even thoughts of old-school procreation are forbidden and subject to punishment and/or mind control.moreless

    This episode was claimed to be the "GLBT-themed" episode to appease critics of the time that "there are no gay people in space", but would only come across as such if the androgynous person wanted to be a male.

    As a result, we have an empty argument (mortar and pestle vs swapping DNA and staining bedsheets), with an empty point of view to preach (the GLBT claim clearly doesn't exist), with an empty romance (We all know Riker's love would be re-programmed at the end), complete with an empty solution (Riker risks all for what?). In short, there's nothing about this episode that stands out or is even worthy of a first viewing. It's pablum that can't be bold enough to take such a risk on a controversial subject. Even "Ethics" had more solid substance to work with, but it is a fine example of what TNG degenerated into.moreless
  • Didnt feel any connection with this storyline

    *Some SPOILERS*

    So in this episode Ryker is faced with a dilemma not of his choosing. A sexless alien falls in love after she admits that she doesnt conform to her planets evolved regime.

    Frankly, I couldnt have cared less. I didnt feel any sympathy for the alien or the storyline. Furthermore, this being another prime directive episode, at this stage of the shows 7 season run youd have thought that storyline would have been exhausted and the crew experienced enough not to fall into these little plot devices.

    Putting that aside, the rescue of the trapped alien shuttle crew brings up the only real interesting part of this episode. This being the encounter with NULL space. Then it was all new. Only one other thing made this a 6+ score. This was the raid by Worf and Ryker to try to liberate the alien before she was to undergo mental realignment so that she would return to her races conforming laws of being neither male or female. Anytime Worf goes commando (:D) is a good episode.

    Frankly if you miss this episode you wont have missed much.moreless
Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • In the scene on the J'naii planet where Riker and Soren plead their case to the council, the Enterprise's rumbling sound plays in the background. It is the same low frequency sound heard in many scenes on the Enterprise.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Troi: All right... this round, the game is Federation Day.
      Worf: (with a growl) What is that?
      Troi: The Federation was founded in 2161. So twos, sixes, and aces are wild.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Levar Burton was allowed to grow a beard to try out a new look for LaForge, but the producers felt it didn't work, so they asked Burton not to grow it back. He did however grow back his beard in two season 6 episodes, "A Fistful Of Datas" and "The Quality Of Life." Burton did however grew a goatee instead of a beard later on in the feature films beginning with Star Trek Insurrection followed by Star Trek Nemesis.

    • In this episode, it is stated that the Federation was formed in the year 2161.

    • One of the only episodes of Star Trek to ever deal with issues of sexual identity and orientation. Roddenberry promised to introduce a gay character soon after but after his death the idea was shelved by Rick Berman