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Star Trek TNG - Season 5 - Episode 17

Star Trek TNG - 5x17 - The Outcast

Originally Aired: 1992-3-16

Riker falls for a member of an androgynous race. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 6.16

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 37 12 12 9 18 23 25 15 13 16 93

- I find it hard to believe that Worf has recovered from his injury in the last episode so quickly.

- According to this episode, the Federation was founded in 2161.
- This is the first of only a few rare episodes in which Geordi has a beard.

Remarkable Scenes
- Soren's attitude changing when Krite entered the room.
- Soren discussing sex with Riker.
- Soren discussing the female gender with Beverly.
- Worf: "That's a woman's game. All those wildcards. They support a weak hand."
- Worf's chauvinist attitude.
- Soren coming out of the closet with Riker.
- Riker taking the fall for Soren and Soren refusing to let him.
- Riker rescuing Soren only to find out that she had already been treated.

My Review
A species without gender is an interesting concept and certainly well examined in this episode. I like the idea proposed in this episode that gender is primitive and that species will one day evolve into a higher form. However the real world issue this episode was attempting to examine appears to be homosexuality. This episode essentially flips the coin and puts the viewer in the sexual minority. This is supposed to stress a viewpoint of sexual tolerance. IMHO on that front this episode largely fails, because it is up to the J'Naii society to govern their gender. Ultimately I found the ending to be largely inappropriate. The episode should have been over when Soren was taken away.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-18 at 9:44pm:
    The only flaw in this episode is the obvious recasting of the captain who dies in Yesterday's Enterprise. Couldn't she have used a different voice? Dr. Evil and Austin Powers had different voices. Other than that this episode represents all the things that Star Trek is about: the human condition.

    The B plot about the shuttle stuck in a pocket in space was way off to the side in this episode. It should be, because it allows more depth for the rest of the show. There is also a very emotional ending where you really feel for Riker. Everything works really well. This episode gets a 9.
  • From MGinevra on 2007-05-09 at 9:49pm:
    This may sound melodramatic, but this is the only piece of television that I can say changed my world-view. I was a Mormon teenager when this episode aired, all I had ever been told was that gays were evil and unnatural. This was the first time I could look at the issue of homosexuality from a sympathetic viewpoint. I'm glad that this episode helped me to see the other side of things, which definitely helped me accept some dear friends who came out in the following years. Thanks to Star Trek for teaching a bit of tolerance.
  • From James on 2007-06-29 at 8:26pm:
    "On a planet full of butch lesbians, Riker falls for the femmist one."
  • From DSOmo on 2007-09-30 at 5:35am:
    Picard knew Riker would try to rescue Soren. Picard knew that was a violation of Starfleet code, but he quietly lets Riker proceed. Picard makes no effort to stop Riker. On the other hand, Picard severely reprimands Worf in the episode "Reunion" when Worf - acting within the bounds of Klingon culture - departs from the Enterprise and kills Duras. Doesn't this seem backward?
  • From Fenix on 2010-10-17 at 7:41pm:
    To respond to DSOmo, Picard might have similarly reprimanded Riker if Riker had succeeded in bringing Soren back to the Enterprise. As Riker left his meeting, Picard warned him not to risk his career.

    Picard's respect for Riker allowed him to give Riker the space to make the decision for himself. If Riker had successfully chosen Soren over Starfleet Code I think Picard would be hard pressed to ignore it.
  • From gopher on 2011-03-21 at 9:58pm:
    Riker would never fall in love with a hermaphrodite. That he would is simply embarrassing, not to mention extremely contrived. Soren had no personality, no spark that Riker always finds attractive. They might as well have written an episode in which he falls in love with a penguin. Plus I doubt she had a vag. Did he do her in the butt or something?
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-30 at 9:46am:
    This episode is basically 100% morality play, it has no substance beyond that. But I think it is a pretty good morality play, for the most part.
    - You are absolutely right that the episode should have ended when Soren was taken away. I thought that when I was watching it.
  • From tigertooth on 2011-08-19 at 3:36am:
    @DSOmo: Not sure why it would be backward that Picard would be more lenient towards an officer who is motivated by love than one who is motivated by hate.

    Anyway, along the lines of what MGinevra said above, the following was posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

    The episode is about a species without gender, that views gender expression as an abomination and an illness to be cured. It's powerful because there's nothing foreign about it. I was raised in a conservative, devout evangelical home with pretty standard anti-gay attitudes (hate the sin, love the sinner). I saw this at a young age. What I saw was Riker, a manly guy I respected and could relate to, falling in love with a woman (no learned moral outrage alarm bells there!) and losing her to the tragedy of an intolerant society.

    I absorbed it as a tragedy, but didn't understand why a society would do that, even as I went to a church that behaved that way. The episode wasn't one of my favorites, and it perplexed me deeply. It was years before I made the obvious connection to homophobia and the ex-gay movement. That realization was profound, and it changed my life. My ability to judge and exclude and cast people out was cast down so completely I'm embarrassed to even talk about it in this anonymous email. The change was so complete and sudden, I almost literally felt as though scales fell off my eyes.

    To this day, I don't think my parents have any idea the shape or size of the impact Star Trek had on my moral compass and political choices in this area and others. That's all to the good; they'd never forgive themselves for letting me watch it.

    I found the episode kind of ham-fisted and unconvincing, but I'm glad that the episode moved some folks to think more deeply about an important topic.
  • From Michael Jackson on 2020-05-22 at 1:03am:
    Picard: "Data, what happened?"

    Data: "At the last moment I speculated that 'three' might refer to the number of female crew members with whom Commander Riker shared carnal relations this week. That indicated to me that his solution might be the correct course of action."

    Troi: "What the fu--"

    Picard: "Well, it seems your promiscuity has finally paid off for the ship, Number One."

    Riker: "Data, how do you know about that?"

    So the point of my ridiculous alternative script is that I, too, was puzzled why they simply chose to say "3". If it does have to be a single digit, which they never specified, then it's lucky Riker did his Captain Morgan lean on Data's console so he could look over and see the pips on his collar. They could've just as easily chosen "1" since Picard calls Riker "Number One" or since Riker's solution was the first offered.

    But that aside, they did a fantastic job of making this episode intriguing and not boring, considering it has so much repetition.
  • From Mark on 2021-02-23 at 1:56am:
    Cons: *The idea that would find Soren attractive is ludicrous. She appears as a pale, plain Jane, with a bowl haircut, dressed in a onesie. Soren talks in a monotone and is devoid of any exuberance. Compare Soren to the females Riker usually pursues. Soren and Data would at least be believable.
    *Episode was created to preach not to entertain. Sci Fi writers please stop the perpetual search for alleged victims.
    *One of the worst episodes of TNG.
    Pro: *Worf punching out J’Naii security guards.

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