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The Outcast (episode)

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"The Outcast"
TNG, Episode 5x17
Production number: 40275-217
First aired: 16 March 1992
116th of 176 produced in TNG
116th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
224th of 728 released in all
Written By
Jeri Taylor

Directed By
Robert Scheerer
45614.6 (2368)
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Riker falls in love with Soren, a member of an androgynous race known as the J'naii, who dares to be female.


"Captain's log, stardate 45614.6. We have been contacted by an androgynous race called the J'naii to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of their shuttlecraft."
"Captain's log, supplemental. The sudden disappearance of our probe suggests that we may have found the first instance of what is called null space, an anomaly which until now had been only theoretical. Commander Riker has been working around the clock with a team of J'naii specialists to formalise this hypothesis."

When the J'naii mysteriously lose track of one of their shuttlecraft within their own star system, they request the USS Enterprise-D crew to assist in the investigation to locate it. A pocket of null space is discovered in the system, which until now had been considered theoretical. Believing the missing shuttle to be trapped inside the pocket, Commander Riker and Soren of the J'naii devise a rescue plan. Soren insists on being involved in the rescue mission, as Soren is a good pilot. Riker suggests they team up.

"Captain's log, supplemental. Commander Riker and the J'naii pilot have set out to chart the null space pocket. If they are successful, we can then proceed with a rescue attempt."

Working closely with the Enterprise crew, and Commander Riker in particular, Soren reveals to be curious about the differences between males and females. Even though there are differences, Beverly Crusher tells Soren, men and women are considered equal. However during a poker game Worf reveals he is bothered by the genderless J'naii, because he still has stereotypical views on men and women and does not know how to relate to the J'naii.

Soren reveals to Riker that the J'naii consider it a criminal perversion for a J'naii to identify as either male or female, but Soren admits to having secretly identified as a female since childhood and having had relationships in secret with those who identify as males. Soren finds Riker attractive and is interested in starting a relationship with him. After the successful rescue of the J'naii shuttle crew using the Magellan, Riker and Soren secretly kiss. The kiss is witnessed by Krite, a colleague of Soren, who subsequently has Soren arrested. At the same time, Riker is discussing with Deanna Troi how it would affect their relationship if he pursues the relationship with Soren. Troi puts aside Riker's fears of losing their friendship, telling him that that will never change.

While walking to Soren's quarters, Riker is told by Krite that Soren is being brought before a tribunal to confirm or deny the charges of perversion. Commander Riker intrudes on the proceedings and pleads to Noor for Soren's release, saying he forced himself on Soren. Soren however is tired of living a lie and makes a plea for acceptance of all those with gender identities. The tribunal, incapable of open-mindedness, sentences Soren to receive treatment on the following day. Riker asks the tribunal for permission to give Soren asylum aboard the Enterprise in lieu of the treatment, but the request is denied, as the J'naii see Soren's condition as a simple sickness they have an obligation to cure.

Picard offers to negotiate with Noor, the leader of the J'naii, for Soren's release. He urges Riker not to take matters into his own hands as he would be violating the Prime Directive if he does, thus putting himself at risk of losing his career in Starfleet. Riker, however, is convinced the J'naii's minds are set and any negotiations would be futile. Worf overcomes his prejudices after hearing of the events that had transpired on the planet. The same evening, Riker and Worf lead a rescue mission together to save Soren. They are able to get Soren away from the security guards, however they are too late. Soren has already undergone the psychotectic treatment and has no more interest in Riker.

After warning buoys have been deployed around the null space pocket, the Enterprise is prepared to leave the system. Picard asks Riker if all their business with the J'naii is finished, and he answers without emotion, "finished, sir". Picard orders Ensign Gates to take the Enterprise to warp six, while Riker stares ahead, distraught.

Memorable quotesEdit

"We prefer to stay warm by sleeping with a friend."
"...I see."
"Not to mate."

- Soren and Riker

"It's hard to grasp the idea of no gender."

- Riker, on the androgynous J'naii

"Tell me... about males. What is it that makes you different from females?"
"Snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails..."
"You have a dog's tail?"

- Soren and Riker, discussing the sexes

"Commander, tell me about your sexual organs."

- Soren and Riker, while in the shuttle

"For Humans, the sexual act brings a closeness and intimacy. It can be a very pleasurable experience."

- Riker discusses sex between a man and a woman to Soren

"The J'naii... they bother me."
"Why, Worf?"
"They just do!"

- Worf and Deanna Troi

"On my planet, we have been taught that gender is primitive."
"Less evolved."
"Maybe so, but sometimes, there is a lot to be said for an experience that's...primitive."

- Soren and Riker

"Then it is up to women to attract the men?"
"Oh no, men want to be attractive, too. Believe me. They just go about it differently. They like to pretend they're not doing anything to attract a woman, even when it's the most important thing on their minds."

- Soren and Dr. Crusher

"That is a woman's game...a man's game has no wild cards."

- Worf, on Troi's use of wildcards in poker

"I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings, those longings, all of my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding. And your compassion. We have not injured you in any way. And yet we are scorned and attacked. And all because we are different. What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh. We complain about work. And we wonder about growing old. We talk about our families and we worry about the future. And we cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All of the loving things that you do with each other - that is what we do. And for that we are called misfits, and deviants and criminals. What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?"

- Soren, to Noor

"You see Commander, on this world, everyone wants to be normal."
"She is!"

- Noor and Riker

Background information Edit

Story and production Edit

  • "The Outcast" was filmed between Monday 6 January 1992 and Tuesday 14 January 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. An additional day of second unit filming was Friday 21 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 9. It was the first episode filmed in 1992.
  • The Pre-Production meeting for this episode was on 16 December 1991 at 2:00 p.m. at the Cooper Building while the Production Meeting was on 2 January 1992 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Like "The Host", DS9: "Rejoined" and ENT: "Stigma", "The Outcast" was one of the few episodes of any of the Star Trek series which brushed on the subject of homosexuality in an allegorical manner. Of the episode, producer Rick Berman said in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, "We thought we had made a very positive statement about sexual prejudice in a distinctively Star Trek way, but we still got letters from those who thought it was just our way of 'washing our hands' of the homosexual situation." The "situation" arose continuously through the run of Star Trek: Enterprise and still does today, with some alleged homophobia on the part of former Star Trek producers. [1]
  • Rick Berman tried not to let perceptions of what the public would find acceptable "influence us too much" in the choice of Riker's opposite, adding "but having Riker engaged in passionate kisses with a male actor might have been a little unpalatable to viewers." (San Jose Mercury News, Grapevine, March 14, 1992) Nevertheless, Jonathan Frakes felt otherwise and would later criticize the decision to cast women in the roles of the J'naii, as a love affair apparently shared between two men would have made the statement of the episode stronger [2].
  • Two lines of dialogue were cut from the final release: Noor explaining to Riker that the J'naii are by all measurements an enlightened race and Riker asking "Then how is it that Soren has no choice about her sexual orientation?" [3]
  • Sexual inequalities were also explored, though secondarily, in "The Outcast", in which Dr. Crusher apparently struggles to recall a time when women were considered to be "weak and inferior". She would assert that those sentiments hadn't been an issue in "a long time", though Worf's statements about a weak hand contributing to a "Woman's Game" of poker indicates this may still be an issue within Klingon society. The dialogue in question is complicated, however, by statements from Worf, earlier in the series, that "Klingons appreciate strong women."
  • The call sheet for Tuesday 7 January 1992 features a note with congratulations to L.Z. and Gaylene for the birth of their daughter Kristin.
  • First UK airdate: April 12 1995

Cast Edit

Continuity Edit

Reception Edit

  • Director Robert Scheerer comments, "The last one I did ["The Outcast", at the time of this interview] was very good. It's about a planet of androgynous people, neither male nor female....Riker and Worf try to save her [Soren], and I shouldn't tell you the ending. It's a unique show in that it's almost two-person; everbody's in it in small pieces, bit basically, it's scene after scene of just two actors, and it's really quite touching." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 20, p. 35)
  • A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 20, pp.54-56.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins and photo double Edit

References Edit

2161; Alaska; androgyny; annular confinement beam; anti-inflammatory; buffer field generator; cheek; civic chamber; cloak; Cochrane (unit); concussion; debris; dexalin; dizziness; doll; Earth; electromagnetic energy; exobotany; eyelids; falla bush; Federation; Federation Day; fingernails; gender; genitals; gravitational field; graviton polarity source generator; head of government; inertial damper; inflammation; J'naii; J'naii (planet); Magellan; magnetic field; make-up; maneuvering thruster; mating; megajoule; menellen tree; microfusion thruster; A Midsummer Night's Dream; mouth; navigational deflector; neutrino emission; null space; Phelan system; plestorene; poker; political asylum; Prime Directive; pronoun; psychotectic therapy; recipe; Riker, Kyle; sanction; sexuality; sexual reproduction; snail; snips; spice; split pea soup; sugar; Taris Murn; Troi, Ian; Troi, Lwaxana; Troi ancestors; type 4 phaser; type 6 shuttlecraft; type 15 shuttlepod; warning buoy; "What Are Little Boys Made Of?"

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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
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