Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 5 Episode 17

The Outcast

Aired Unknown Mar 16, 1992 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
203 votes
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • A weak, dull attempt to tackle a then-controversial topic.

    "Issue shows" were not TNG's strong suit and "The Outcast" is no different. The episode is just unbelievably dull, with plenty of turgid conversation between Riker and his androgynous girlfriend and an utterly uninteresting sci-fi subplot involving the "null-space" or whatever it is called. It's the cliche 3rd-tier TNG episode. Riker falling in love (to the point that he needs permission from Troi - what about the previous 250 affairs?) seems completely implausible and contrived.

    That said, I was surprised to awake up from half-sleep due to the actress playing Soren. There's a certain desperate intensity in the character that shows up when she reveals her inner secret to Riker, and then in the trial. It's a shame that intensity is wasted on such a weak episode.
  • The Enterprise crew meets an "advanced" alien race who have forbidden any sort of gender identity or expression. Riker falls in love with one of them, who is part of a downtrodden minority that has a distinct gender.

    The Enterprise crew meets an "advanced" alien race who have forbidden any sort of gender identity or expression. Riker falls in love with one of them, who is part of a downtrodden minority that has a distinct gender. The Star Trek franchise is – in many ways – able to combine cool sci-fi elements, a space western and progressive social commentary together into a great package. Yet, not when it comes to the subject of sexual or gender identity. The attempt was to deal with sexual discrimination, but it plays like some sort of ultra right wing spin machine. There is never any mention of Earth's own gay rights movement, what it means to be gay in the future is avoided and all the asexual aliens come off as fascist lesbians from outer space. The character that Riker falls in love with should have been played by a male actor, to make the connection between the alien race's sexual discrimination and Earth's own modern day homophobia. Beyond fumbling over the social message, the writing often seems to be strictly average fair. Overall a missed opportunity that could have been a classic ep.
  • Wow. This episode really sucked.

    When the episode started, it seemed to have potential. I'm pretty sick of the whole after school special thing, but homophobia was a lot more rampant in the early 90's than now, so I can see the point to making this episode. If only they would have done it well... This episode was so bad I actually thought about skipping it, and I am an advocate for gay rights.

    For one thing, Riker having a relationship with Soren would have been enough. I was digging it until the conversation in the shuttle craft where all subtlety went out the window. Riker developing a relationship with a genderless alien would still be plenty risque, and would touch on the GLBT issue. Well... maybe moreso had they found a male actor to play Soren, but still. Way way way too cliche. We're talking about people from another planet. The writers were creative enough to reverse the bigotry so that the intolerance was directed at straight people, but they couldn't come up with a conversation that didn't sound like it was coming directly from a gay teenager, word for word. This was about as subtle as doing an episode on racism and having the aliens talk about how their people used to work on plantations as slaves, were set free by a civil war, and after that people sometimes burned crosses to scare them. Writers... either go all the way gay or be creative with the androgyny. Both just doesn't work.

    And Riker in love? Pfffff! Riker falls in love every 5 minutes. Forgetting someone by the time the next mission begins... um... not love. It's called a fling. Ensign Ro, Deanna, that lady with all the chickens in season 1... If he's really in love with all these women, then move over Casanova! Here comes Will Riker! It was a stretch to even believe the chemistry between the two characters, let alone love. Also, it seems Riker has some kind of magic in his pants that overrides the Prime Directive. I know they brought it up in the end, but nobody mentioned the fact that hooking up with an alien whose society forbids such relationships was a violation in the first place. When Deanna had her fling with Mr. Selective McBreedingston, she looked like she was about to have a heart attack in anticipation of confessing to Picard. How was this any different? Another small detail I noticed: When did Riker start yelling all the time? He was the same way in the last episode. Riker is usually all calm and collected. That's how he manages to get laid in every other episode. (which I'm getting kind of sick of... Riker was always a stud, but it didn't used to be a plot ALL THE TIME) Now he's a little bipolar. His character is losing his cool, and Picard's is losing his strength. Ready room conversations that used to be thought-provoking are now just Riker yelling and whining about something and Picard saying he can't help or giving him a lecture. My final complaint is the whole Riker going to Deanna thing. Why don't they just get back together already? We've seen from their flashbacks that they were in love and had to be separated for work. Now they work and live together. Is the idea supposed to be no dating allowed between crewmates? Obviously not, seeing as O'Brien is married, and we've seen attempts at serious dating from Geordi, Data, and Worf. Riker is turning from a stud to a slut.
  • riker falls in love with essentially a trans who comes from a planet where gender doesn't exist.

    wow where to begin well riker being in love is decent but sorry that pales in comparison to what is the core of the episode the core of the episode is CLEARLY anti trans this episode like "The Host" makes me ashamed to be a fan in fact it brings forth some worry about the writers or producers not sure which sooo very ashamed the writers or producers whoever has such an influence on this episode once again shame on you for expressing such an opinion and an obvious opinion at that through this episode i can't emphasize enough how ashamed i am of this episode the fact it exists so very ashame.
  • Riker in LOVE?! Star Trek strikes out with yet another "issues" episode.

    OK, first off, I simply cannot believe that Riker was in love during this episode. He tells Picard "this isn't trivial" and "but I'm in LOVE!" Yet, in every other episode where he has a fling, he forgets about her by the next mission! Nothing happened in this episode to indicate to the viewer that he's actually in love. It was just the same old thing of "Riker and love interest work together on a problem. Riker and love interest become infatuated."

    The statements on gay/lesbian relationships within this episode are really weak. I think if the alien race hadn't been played by women, things would be different. As it is, though, the alien counterpart acted very female, so it's not a stretch for Riker to be attracted.

    The sci-fi B-plot was nothing special. I think they come up with this stuff as an afterthought. It's not exciting and it's too much pseudo-science for my taste.

    I love TNG, but some of these Season 5 episodes are very weak!
  • What's the point of this one? Promoting heterosexuality seems stupid and hardly controversial...

    I never cared for the changes imposed into TNG for its 5th season. Nor did I understand this story, which has as much with homosexuality as gerbils have with the production of ice cream. The story's about this race that procreates with test tubes and eugenics; thinking that the spreading of bodily fluids is gross. Riker falls in love with one of the people, who has "womanlike" feelings.

    You can guess what happens - Riker risks all for her and she's re-brainwashed to conform to society.

    The story is also so politically correct, it doesn't even want to address what it claims to really want to address (homosexuality) at all. Pretend this episode was never made and you might feel better.

    Pretend "Encounter at Farpoint" has a better allegory to the sexual preference and everybody can be happy.
  • The “Enterprise” has J'naii people aboard the ship. J'naii people are a asexual race, meaning they are only one gender. The “Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of a J'naii shuttlecraft in a area of null space located in J'naii space.

    The “Enterprise” has J'naii people aboard the ship. J'naii people are a asexual race, meaning they are only one gender. The “Enterprise is investigating the disappearance of a J'naii shuttlecraft in a area of null space located in J'naii space. Riker and Soren are aboard a shuttlecraft in a attempt to rescue the lost J'naii shuttlecraft. Along the way Soren reveals to Riker that she feels like a woman and is attracted to Riker. Riker and Soren save the J'naii people aboard the J'naii shuttlecraft. Soren goes back home and now faces judgement on what she has done.
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