209
Episode

209

The Outcast

The J’naii are a race that have sworn off gender. No males. No females. Just J’naii. But there is one J’naii that loves the way Riker moves her. Yes, her. Also, what happens when you clip null space? Find out when welcome The Outcast into the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    Damn Riker. Even on a Gender Neutral Planet he finds someone to get it on with. 😉

    • yeah, “Any starbase/planet/ship/colony in a storm”- Will Riker

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        The idea that he was so willing to marry her after only 2 days or so it a bit of a stretch.

        • AGREED! dang, Riker seemed pathetic…w his “I love you…”- they should have played it like, Riker just wants her to be free and choose, even if it means leaving her planet. “She’s my friend!! I can’t just leave her down there to be brainwashed!! I don’t care if anything happens between me and her, but she should be allowed to live her life how she sees fit!!”-

          • Dave Steph Taylor

            Ya I could see that playing better

      • Any shapely husk in a storm.

  • Occasionally the value in posting these is in watching Paramount’s TV syndication division tiptoe lightly around the edges of what this week’s show is really about…
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6e882c8bfed701e92ae7a243391cd1543f6b29e34b1d88590bb95dfd5c614eb.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2a1eab8e066809353152b5bbd795a4c4ccb2ade4719850e6a41cf99dfe8b4cb3.jpg

  • CmdrR

    All snarkiness aside (for the moment) gay rights is an important issue for Star Trek to address. HOW it does that is still an issue. I really don’t like the allegorical elements in this episode. That is, if they wanted Riker to have a gay friend, that’s one thing; if they wanted Riker to be gay, that’s fine, too. Falling “in love” in 42 minutes — with anyone — is a tough sell. It’s tougher as the series goes on and we see characters fall in love over and over and then forget that lover the next week. I don’t believe the depth of Riker’s commitment; that he would risk his career and an interplanetary incident to save Soren. That’s the part that doesn’t work for me.

    Well… that and Geordi’s beard.

    • Agreed – Riker suddenly wanting to hand out exclusive access to the Full Riker to one person makes about as much sense as…well…Kirk and Flint’s robot girl whose name I forget? And The Outcast unfolds in a pretty concentrated time frame, this isn’t like Paradise Syndrome, where Kirk is missing from the Enterprise for a period spanning weeks or months.

      I’m proud of Worf for setting aside his personal distaste for an alien culture so long as there’s a chance he gets to beat someone up (man, this new spine is AWESOME!). Reminds me of the “Fistful of Yen” sketch in Kentucky Fried Movie: “Your western money means nothing to me!” “But you’ll get to kill 50, maybe 60 people.” “COUNT ME IN.”

      • his new spine IS awesome…like it never even got injured! wow imagine that!! hahaha…..

        • If Worf ever goes into slo-mo during a fight and we hear Six Million Dollar Man sound effects, then I’m gonna consider my theory from last week proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

          • hahaha, not till he fights Big Foot and a lunar/Mars rover!!

    • Also: I seem to recall reading that LeVar was growing the beard for his own real-life wedding, so for the duration of the handful of episodes where he had it, the producers just kind of had to grit their teeth and write it in. Now, they missed a trick by not having Geordi try to steal Riker’s mojo (a phrase that works a lot better if you say it out loud like Dr. Evil).

    • as someone who has made gay jokes and laughed at them as a 20 year old in 1992, I am glad to say I have changed. Not easily and not overnight, but I am definitely not as much of an asshat when dealing w gay issues. An Army buddy of mine let me crash at his place in DC, and I had not seen him in 10 years…I noticed a few rainbow flags etc…but I didn’t say anything, until a few days later when I phoned from home to say thank you and then we awkwardly discussed it. It was educational and transformative for me. I think the best way for Trek to introduce gay characters in Starfleet in the Prime Universe would be to just show them and NOT make a big deal about it….then after a few episodes or even a year or so, visit a planet or ship or culture that still has some bad habits.

  • It’s kind of interesting… I think it was way back in the Star Trek VI podcast that Ken was upset that people other than Kirk exhibited openly racist, intolerant attitudes toward the Klingons… and yet here he’s lamenting the fact that Worf is always cast in the Archie Bunker role. I don’t disagree that it would indeed have been more jarring to have Geordi be the one to have a problem with this week’s alien monoculture – that would have been jarring. It’s just kind of an interesting evolution of his view on how evolved and enlightened the characters in Star Trek are allowed to be.

    Star Trek VI was on my mind throughout this episode, because I kept waiting for someone to bring up this quote where the subject of gay rights, expanding definitions of gender identities, etc. are concerned: If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it. Yes. We’re going to totally misfire on personal pronouns. We’re going to struggle with defining and understanding these things and relating that to our personal lives. We have to keep being like Riker – well, okay, maybe just in this one respect – and keep asking questions and seeking to expand our understanding. It’s when we stop seeking that understanding that we begin to be fixed and stuck in our attitudes. I have been an ally my whole life, because as an outsider due to my chosen enthusiasms, I got my face shoved into many a locker to the sound of the word “NERD!” (guess I’m giving away my age there – I don’t think this still happens, or at least I hope it doesn’t), and it made it much easier for me to empathize with others who were outside the norm. It’s that empathy and compassion that I think is in dangerously short supply these days.

    I have long had very, very conflicting feelings about The Outcast. I’m one of those who feels that it didn’t do enough – it takes the issue and puts it at such an oblique angle that it nearly obscures the actual issue being discussed. I almost want this to be as bonk-bonk-on-the-head as Last Battlefield. Because, like Last Battlefield, we’re talking about a kind of intolerance that is costing people their *lives*. The time for subtlety is over, full stop.

    But that’s now. In 1992, TNG was doing good to sneak this issue in under the door like this. And as has already been pointed out on the Facebook page, DS9 hit things much more head-on just a few years later, and we’re all waiting to see what Discovery does with it. And yet, in between DS9 and Discovery, Enterprise completely, miserably fumbled a “non-binary gender” story and did not recover the ball.

    It’s still important to discuss. And the time to be subtle and oblique about it is more over now than it has ever been. It’s time for people to not have to fear for their lives anymore because of their sexual or gender orientation. It’s time for people to stop having to keep their entire lives under wraps.

    BTW, guys, something weird about the computer this week. Did the Binars sneak in a mighty OS upgrade on you or something? Might want to see if there’s a way to roll that back… in the meantime, I’m gonna go try to purge the mental image of Worf sitting at a piano with Jean Stapleton, singing Klingon opera.

    • Konservenknilch

      Well said, Earl. Well said.

  • Konservenknilch

    Great episode – both of TNG and Mission Log. We shouldn’t forget that this was late 80s, early 90s. Discussions about gender issues were pretty radical back then. I really, really enjoyed Ken’s exploration of these issues, and it makes me, quite frankly, somewhat proud to follow your show.

    Admittedly, it would have been more fun to have an androgynous male actor, but this was fine. Like, Tilda Swinton was so awesome in “Orlando”, which everyone shouold watch.

  • Wildride

    To address comments by Mike Piller, just showing two gay background characters would’ve been a far bigger and more powerful statement than anything they could’ve come up with as an allegory. By making no deal about it whatsoever says, “This is normal.”

    The biggest failing of this episode is the down ending. Stopping at, “See, we fixed her and now she’s better” is not acceptable. If an alien parasite takes over the body of a crewman and uses their voice to say, “I’m much happier this way” Star Trek doesn’t say, “Well, Ok, if you say so.” Star Trek says, “No, screw you alien parasite, we’re doing anything we can to get our crewman back.”

    By choosing this episode to say, “Well, there’s nothing we can do” tacitly approves of it, even if they don’t mean to. That they couldn’t figure out how to write themselves out of a relationship with Riker, otherwise, just means it’s bad writing.

    This is another sledgehammer episode, just like last week. They spent all their time saying things but forgot to actually show those things.

    • I don’t mind a bummer ending – Charlie X is kind of awesome – but yeah, sometimes “Our hands are bound by the Prime Directive!” = “Well, we mentioned the issue this week. Outta time. Bye!” This episode really needed more than one hour to play out, but I’m afraid that stretching it out would’ve gotten us another Unification – i.e. half of the story isn’t what you came to see at all. (Maybe a bad example; I’m that guy who actually likes Unification Part I.)

      • Derek

        I don’t mind a bummer ending, I mind this bummer ending. A bummer ending would have been that she commits suicide because the retraining doesn’t work. Instead of confusing the issue of brainwashing with should the crew interfere, make the message “Being gay is okay, forcing people to stop being gay is bad”

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      I think they wanted to show the frustration by “fixing” her.

      Another episode where Star Trek approaches a timely sensitive subject without actually presenting it.

    • agreed. I saw a post about how should Star Trek Discovery address the gay topic and I think the best thing to do would be just show a gay couple and NOT make a big deal about it…… I did not like the retcon deal w Sulu though..seemed forced and obligatory.

  • Troy Brooks

    I hate to be that guy, but,
    OK that’s a lie, I love being that guy,
    Nobody ever said in Star Trek Beyond that Sulu is gay, only that he’s in a relationship with another man
    the B in LGBT doesn’t stand for badass

  • Louis Muhawij

    My perspective of the LGB community has changed for the better since middle/high school when “gay” was synonymous with “lame” or “bad”. I still have misgivings regarding the T group, which is ironic in that this episode was sort of ahead of its time in focusing on the present gender issue rather than the sex factor that defines a gay relationship.

    Rather than the doomed romance plot with Riker, perhaps the opinionated Worf would have been better to play off Soren. Not that he would fall in love or renounce his views but that he would gain some understanding, empathy, and tolerance to this group he’d looked down upon. To the point that he would beam down to the planet not for backup, or for his lover, or to test drive his new spine, but to help someone in need.

    As a big A-Team fan, I can’t believe now is when I realize that Amy was that character.

    • LOL- that make up does a lot to obscure her roots from “The A-Team”- I asked my gay buddy if it was mean/hurtful if when I said something that was broken like my computer or phone “was gay”- he said he didn’t get bothered by it, but some might… I recall an episode of Simpsons where Barts bully friends Dolph Kearney or Jimbo were upset one of their own chose to hang out w a girl instead of them, and kissed a girl. Nelso kissed Lisa? I think…and Dolph says…”You kissed a GIRL!! That is SO GAY!!”- LOL, it was a funny illustration of how we just get say some dumb nonsensical things….

      • Durakken

        The thing with saying that saying “gay” is a slur is yet another lack of understanding what the word means and where it comes from. Gay, Queer, and Faggot are not slurs nor about homosexuals in origin.

        Referring to things as “gay” as bad is the same thing as calling things “bad” that are good/cool, because “happyness” is an annoying trait when someone is overly so or fake.

        Queer is just a general statement that something is strange. Faggot means that someone is being flamboyant, not homosexual.

        Being flamboyant as a homosexual is a stereotype and people saying they’re associated is actually buying into that they are which is actually hateful if you consider those traits bad.

        I consider flamboyancy and unwarranted or false positivity as annoying as do many people do and so it’s really not hard to see why those are associated with insults and negativity.

        The question is where did the gay/faggot terms get linked to homosexuality as stereotypical? and why if you don’t have those traits would you care to associate with the terms and take offense at someone using them in the right historical context?

  • Hauke Fischer

    I rewatched the episode before listening to the podcast today. Hadn’t seen it since I rewatched TNG as the blu-rays came out.
    The ending is still as devastating as ever, but I noticed something that completely went over my head on all previous viewings:
    I don’t think Soren was actually “treated” by the end of the episode, but chooses to pretend to have been to give Riker an out. By lying to Riker she prevents Riker from being thrown out of Starfleet, and all sorts of other diplomatic problems between J’nai and The Federation.
    The judge ordered Soren’s treatment to begin the next day, and Riker’s rescue attempt happens that same evening, so she couldn’t have been “cured” yet.

    Regarding Soren’s speech during the trial, I get the problem with asking for compassion (for something that isn’t a disease ect in the first place), but I think the writers were actually addressing parents today (or back then). Coming out wasn’t easy and isn’t easy, and for most kids there will be some form of fear of disappointing their parents, in addition to all the societal problems that we unfortunately still face.
    Dan Savage mentioned in his recent book American Savage how the son he and his husband adopted felt he had to come out to them as straight. And Dan felt terrible about this. Not because his son is straight obviously, but because somehow he hadn’t imparted onto his kid that they’d love their son no matter what, even though he was sure he had.

    And if Dan Savage can “fail” in this regard, most parents likely will.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Interesting idea of Soren faking having had the treatment. I too was wondering, “Did they do it early?”

  • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5cd45f7c913d0b963a05ad2554aae33b3dca86c68625905a44d990a194a570e8.jpg
    1 bar of gold pressed latinum if you can name this Asian security guard from S2/3. This scene is from S3 E1 “Evolution”- I have looked and just can’t find him….

  • Geordi’s beard…just a sign of poor planning/ lack of anything better to do w this character…smh

  • Durakken

    This episode I like, but there are so many things wrong with it…

    The J’naii have 2 sexes and 2 genders, just that they are forced to be androgynous and genderfluid. This is shown by they say “the taller one takes the lead” and “there used to be 2 sexes” because evolution doesn’t work that fast. And for some reason there is a problem to have sex with with/be attracted to Riker for Soren even though there is supposedly no gender. She should view him as attractive regardless of whether she views herself as a she or not…

    The “genderless pronouns” thing is just writers being dumb and not understanding that “he” is the genderless pronoun in english, just like all the people that have tried to come up with new (and usually terrible sounding [like you mentioned ze/xe/whatever… just listen to how they sound in actual sentences. They don’t flow and don’t fit which means even if I agreed with the concept I’d never use them because it doesn’t work with the language]) words that are unneeded.

    The idea of “women are weaker” is not an outmoded thought. It’s a fact. Women are physically weaker, but not as weak as some people seem to think. And not weak in all the other various ways that people can be weak. Crusher is saying physically in which case she’s giving wrong info which is just her being a bad doctor. From what I remember and infer, you are assuming that Worf is saying this game is bad because it is a woman’s game and it is weak when I can make the argument that a card game with wild cards is much harder and thus Worf is backing down because he recognizes that.

    This does not do a good job of displaying gay rights imo, at least not at that time (as far as I know).because the issue here is that you’re not allowed to express your gender/sex but you can have sex with anyone… where as the main issue then is the marriage and the violence issue neither of which is (technically) happening here. It does do a much better job moving it up a short bit of time after this where people were sending people into seminars and therapy sessions to attempt to make gays straight, but even then the issue in the show doesn’t line up with real life gay issue because it’s a matter of expression of gender, not sex.

    Also… this episode in my head gets mixed up with the Enterprise episode where there are 3 sexes and Trip “uplifts” the 3rd sex.

    And I feel very much the same way that this is a “mind your own business” issue, especially with future tech that will let us switch between bodies in whole. And I think I get more angered with this issue is because the language is being screwed up massively dishonestly largely for attention and saying “I’m special” and then those people are then trying to force others to conform to their sickness which is then a violation of me, not them. (btw when I say sickness, the people I am referring to are mentally ill, not transgender, there are transgenders who just prefer whatever, and then there are people who are legit mentally ill and it’s expressing in a given way because of how society is which is really terrible, because they aren’t getting the proper treatment)

    Lastly (unless you say something in the last 20 mins) the idea that I should go around asking “hey you, what’s you’re preferred pronouns so i can talk to this person about you” is ridiculously idiotic. It is brain dead to think that is appropriate, how it would ever work in real world, and no I’m not going to let any one damage commucations just because they are uneducated about how the language and reality actually works. You even show it in this episode where you say “and i know these terms are offensive to someone” and that’s the problem. When your preferences that there is no way I can practically know and you have so many and you keep changing, the answer is “no. I don’t care about your labels. I will call you what I want to communicate appropriately to the person I am talking to what I am thinking. If you wish to take offense at that. You can sit at the childrens table until you grow up and learn that we are trying to work with everyone, not just your petty nonsense” and this applies to races, sex, gender, religion, etc. When your petty nonsense done largely so you can feel offended, and that is what it is, I stop caring about your feelings and I refuse your manipulation.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      It is never answered, what do they use as a pronoun?

      • Durakken

        My pronouns are yogsoth, metrion, and mxyzptlk…

    • It kinda annoyed me that they were like ‘Hey, androgynous aliens. That’s weird! We don’t have anything like that on Earth.’ Rather than going: “Actually some people on earth are born intersex, some are transgender and identify as a different gender to the body they were born into. Some identify as agender or genderfluid.” And go onto say that they are equal and valued members of society because it’s Star Trek damn it!

      • Durakken

        intersex – Terms wasn’t used then, and isn’t now other by a few people.

        agender or genderfluid – They would, rightly to some degree, look at you stupidly because those are made up nonsense words that aren’t a real thing despite what some people think.

        • On intersex, sure, they may not have had this term, so they would use the 90s term. Hemaphodite presumably. (And sure it’d be obvious to us now that the term was out-of-date but it’d hardly be the first or last time we saw something like that).
          They could have talked bout Polynesian fa’afafine or the Asian hijra These are considered to be a third gender neither male of female, I believe. There’s also the American-Indian Two-Spirit (they are both gender roles I think).
          As it stands the episode seems to represent humans as cis-gender and straight. This tends to be how it is in Star Trek: until they outed Sulu LGBT folk were all aliens. It would have been nice to have some acknowledgement in the episode towards human diversity (as they do towards other groups in other episodes – including frickin’ terrorists in The High Ground so don’t tell me ‘Controversy!’)

          • Durakken

            Hermaphrodite is not out-dated. It’s the proper term for what people think they mean when they are talking about intersex. Intersex however tries to broaden this into deformities that manifest on someone of one sex or the other that is a feature of the other.

            As far as agender and genderfluid not being nonsense. No. While I know what they think those words mean the word gender they are misusing the word gender to begin with, but both the correct and incorrect definition, those, as well as all the other genders these nuts have come up just do not work. It’s the same as the idea of a square circle. I can understand the idea and what people are trying to say, but the actual concept is illogical and irrational.

          • Hermaphroditism refers to one medical condition amongst several which would be considered intersex. Although hermaphroditism is the correct term for the condition I believe I’m correct in saying that it is now considered offensive to refer to people as ‘Hermaphrodites’ in a similar way to calling someone with Schizophrenia ‘Schizoid’ is offensive.

            As far as agender or genderfluid are concerned I suppose you would probably understand them more as people who are trans (to a degree), so they feel some ‘body dysphoria’ but may have partly accepted their bodies or just don’t want to ‘present’ (socially) as anything in particular and be somewhere ‘in between’ just ‘them’. Of course it’s more complicated, because we don’t actually know the cause of gender identity. Some science suggests it’s hormones in the womb.

  • The writers need not have had Soren identify as female to be attracted to Riker. Soren could have identified as male and still have been attracted to him. The person would still have looked the same. Would it have made the point better that the gender is not relevant?