The Rewatch 191: The Outcast

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 5.17 Outcast (2/17/1992)
Rating: 3.5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1/35

Notable Guest Stars:
Callen White (Krite) – White has appeared with various roles in several Soap Operas, including The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and Loving.

Megan Cole (Noor)- Cole had a reoccuring role on ER as Dr. Upton during the second season of the show. She will also appear on DS9 as a separate character.

Melinda Culea (Soren) – Culea is most known for her role as Amy Allen in the A-Team.  She is currently focusing on her work as an author and illustrator.

Review:

CONTENT WARNING: Contains discussions of Conversion Therapy.

This is another of my not-so-favorite episodes. Season 5 seems to have a lot of them. In this case, the writers were attempting to establish that homosexuality was accepted in the future and bigotry was not. I do not think they understood what they were writing about because until I read the background information, I felt sure this episode was on gender identity (which would have been very progressive for a 90s tv show).

Within 7 minutes of the episode, the idea of a gender-neutral pronoun comes up. (Hey Riker, “they” is available.), they talk about the differences between genders. Beverly talks about the equality between genders. This episode is heavily about gender. I’m not sure what they thought was homosexual about this episode.

While reading background on this episode it is very heavily stated by Jeri Taylor and Rob Berman that this episode was meant to show homosexuality, and against biogotry to those who are gay. Yet this whole episode there is not one mention or showing of a homosexual couple. In fact, Soran, who is the one questioning her orientation, seems particularly focused on what Riker wants in a woman. They (Soran is non-gender to begin with) eventually explain that they have the urges to be a female.

She then tells him she is attracted to him, but that she can’t openly show it because she runs the risk of being discovered and given “psychotectic treatment” which I suppose was an analogy to conversion therapy.

This episode is hard to really give a grade to, considering the mixed messages that seem to be sent out. On one hand, it does (progressively for its time) talk about gender identity and neutral pronouns. On the other hand, it was meant to show gay relationships, and yet it did not.

There seems to be a large amount of talk that Berman himself vetoed a lot of the homosexual content from TNG. In fact, he admits to deciding the public would not want Riker kissing a man, so a woman it became. Which defeats the purpose of an episode meant to show that homosexuality is okay in the future. Frakes has been quoted as saying he thought it should have been a man, which I thought was interesting. I also have now felt free to label Riker as a bisexual character. His actor seems to think so anyway.

I will give them some points, in the scene where Worf is actively bigoted towards women, and towards non-gendered people, the others call him on it. Worf eventually seems to learn from his mistake and actively tries to help Riker save Soran from the J’naii’s version of conversion therapy.

I’ve decided to give this episode a 4/5. I believe Jeri Taylor tried, although perhaps not entirely the right direction for the subject needed at the time.  Gender Identity is an important issue, and Trek to this point had been progressive.  They had already shown a trans-gender species called The Trill whose symbiotic relationship with a parasite causes the parasite to live in various people, of all genders and sexualities.

However, it looks like we will have to wait till DS9 to see active discussion on sexual orientation.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Jeri Taylor
  • Directed by Robert Scheerer
  •  This episode was written as a direct response to letters written into the Star Trek production staff to include material for the LBQT+ community. Before his death, Roddenberry had suggested an episode showing two people holding hands (men) and Berman didn’t like the idea, preferring to go another way: This episode.
  • This episode is about homosexuality, and apparently Trans-gender was not meant to be a theme, but I always thought it was about transgender topics. I think the message they wanted to give got a little bit hidden.
  • Berman wanted female actors to play the part of the androgynous people as he thought people would balk at Riker kissing a male actor. Jonathan Frakes on the other hand thinks that they should have hired male actors. I agree with Frakes, as if this episode is meant to be about homosexuality, then it would have to include the two actors being the same gender.

Pros

  • I guess they tried.
  • Worf got called out on his misogyny and bigoted comments
  • Worf being a good friend (better then the last episode by far)

Cons:

  •  Conversion Therapy/Psychotectic therapy. You can not “treat” the gay/gender away.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s