Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, March 21, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seven "The Last Outpost"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seven "The Last Outpost"
Production Order: 7
Air Order: 5
Stardate: 41366.4
Original Air Date: October 19, 1987

Okay, I've got a bit of a boo-boo here: weeks ago, reader Mark told me that production order and air order for TNG did not go together, much like TOS. This was not super-obvious to me when I went looking for it earlier in Wikipedia and Memory Alpha, so I had assumed that air order/production order were one and the same. I think the difference here comes from TOS fans adamantly insisting that production order should be viewing order, so Wiki and Memory Alpha made a bigger deal of displaying that, whereas it doesn't seem to be as big a deal with TNG (though I could be wrong there.) I made a mental note to check up on it, and then forgot to do so. I got lucky with "Encounter at Farpoint," "The Naked Now" and "Code of Honor" all falling into place in order.


But I remembered half-way through this post write-up that I needed to look up production order, and lo and behold, two episodes fall between "Code of Honor" and "The Last Outpost." I FUBAR'd that a bit. My bad. Next week I'll do "Haven" and pick up with production order instead of air order, and get shit back on track.

*******


You know how, when you've watched every episode in a series a few times, you start to get to know which episodes you really like, and which ones you'd rather not watch ever again? This episode is one that I'd be okay never watching again. I hate this episode. Even when I'm just putting the series on in the background while I craft or something, I skip this episode. It grates on me. A good indicator of such things is the Netflix episode queue. The little red progression line under each episode lets you know which episodes you've watched all the way through last time, and which ones were paused somewhere in the middle. The ones I end up skipping typically have a shorter line under them because it's taken me to the opening credits to sigh and say, "Oh, yeah. This episode." Then I switch to the next one. Generally, all of my red episode bars go a portion of the way across. Except this one. This may be my most hated episode of this season. The bar for this episode is grey, meaning that when Netflix tries to cue it up automatically, I stop it before it reaches any part of the actual episode. I don't want the stink of "The Last Outpost" on my Netflix queue.


But now I get to watch it twice, for the sake of blogging correctly, and that little red line is going to show up on my Netflix queue.
I must like you guys a lot.

*******

Picard's Log 41386.4 "The Ferengi stole some thing from one of our unmanned outposts, so we're gonna track them down and see if we can get it back. We're not super-familiar with the Ferengi, so this could be kind of cool."



Now, I'm not rightly sure what the Ferengi took, but Picard identified it with the phrase "T-9" and in my little world, a T-9 is a fancy-ass calculator, so I'm just gonna say that the Ferengi stole a calculator. (T-9 can also refer to a form of texting used on certain cell phones, or a brand of lubricant. All of these are acceptable when filed under "Funny shit the Ferengi stole that we're gonna hunt them down for to get back.")

So they catch up to the ship in an unexplored system, and check out the ass-end of it. (The ship, not the system.) Personally, I think it looks like an angry pastry with lights, but that's me. The sensors on the E are telling them that the Ferengi ship is slowing down, and that there are energy fluctuations coming from it. Data posits that their engines may have malfunctioned. Geordi makes a sarcastic comment that's pretty funny, but I have to wonder - if no one knows anything about these people, then why is Geordi coping such an attitude? Is he referring to the only thing we know about the Ferengi, which is the rumor that they eat their enemies?


Picard and Riker both find the ship to be cool, and Data, when prompted, says he doesn't know anything about the tech used by the Ferengi, except that there are guesses that their tech is about equal to that of the Federation.
The Ferengi fire on the E, but Picard guesses it's like a warning shot. The E's power starts to fail.
The other ship slows and turns around. The model-work here is really fabulous.



Picard is about to open hailing frequencies when the conn notices that they are being dragged forward. Everything shuts down.
"The fuck?" asks Picard.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

In case you missed it, the opening goes like this:
Two dogs, one wearing a Federation collar, and one wearing a Ferengi collar, approach each other on the sidewalk. They sniff one another, and the Ferengi dog seems to get sick. He barks at the Federation dog, and it seems to paralyze him.



So now the E and her crew are dead in the water, with their power being drained. Picard tries to call Engineering to get some info but isn't getting any response, so he sends Geordi down to get a report. Troi, Picard's secret weapon, is saying that she's not getting anything from the Ferengi, which could mean that they have the ability to shield themselves. 
(An interesting question comes to mind here: what is Troi's range? So far, she's needed to either be close to someone to catch their feelings, or she can do so if the viewscreen is on and they're talking to someone on the bridge, but neither is the case here. It's just one ship floating in the vicinity of another, and given how large those ships are, they must be miles apart. How could she get a reading off of someone that far away? Is that possible?) 


There's a brief discussion that the Ferengi may know as little about the Federation as the Feds know about them, and Riker says that all the Ferengi may know is that the E is in their control. All eyes turn to Data. It bugged me back in TOS when Kirk would have no information and just look at Spock for the answer, because Spock was not a walking dictionary, but was sometimes treated as such. Here, I don't take issue with them doing the same thing to Data. As an android, not only is he a walking dictionary, but a walking set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas of Everything Federation. If Data has no inkling, then you can go on a lengthy search through the computer banks, but a lot of the time you can at least get a clue as to where to look from your friendly local android.
In this case, Data admits that all he has is "hearsay and third-person accounts," most of which conflict. Riker starts to lose his temper, so Data tells him that what doesn't conflict is that the Ferengi are described as being like "Yankee traders of the 18th and 19th centuries," sailing through space looking for business opportunities.


That puts a bit of a spring into Riker's step, as the Ferengi are being described like his own forebears (Americans).
"Naw, these guys are like, the worst that capitalism has to offer," Data corrects.
Robber barons, yo. Pirates. The dicks of society. Fucking Martin Shkreli, the PharmaBro.
"They operate under the philosophy of caveat emptor - buyer beware." Then he adds, "I doubt they wear red, white and blue, or look like Uncle Sam."
After again getting no response from Geordi, Picard sends Riker down to check on him. Everyone discusses Data's allusion to Uncle Sam and red, white and blue that leads to Picard once again getting about prideful about being French. I know that this tiny bit where he states that the proper flag colors are blue, white and red is supposed to be character development, but it's padding, and we all know it. Why the hell else would they be talking about flag colors when it isn't tied to anything else in this episode?

We go down to Engineering, where Riker is talking to Geordi. This part is simultaneously confusing and interesting. They're talking about the current limitations of the ship, but there is no engineering chief in sight. In our first three episodes, there was most definitely a chief, though not the same one each time. (Sarah MacDougal is the Chief Engineering Officer for third shift, and we'll also see Argyle, Lynch and Logan, who probably all cover different shifts as well. Notice something, though? With the exception of Logan, all of our CEOs have Scottish last names. Argyle actually has a slight accent. Is this a cute nod to Scotty, or are the nods to TOS getting old?)

The console they;re using here is known on-set as "the pool table." It's actually a
left-over from The One With the Whales, and this is the first time it's appeared.
It'll be altered a bit over the next few episodes, but will remain in place.

Anyway, Geordi is bustling around Engineering, sans CEO, like he owns the place. He's accessing stuff at panels and explaining to Riker what's going on. It's interesting that a conn officer would know so much about the Engineering department. I know that command officers need to have a basic working knowledge of the engineering section, but Geordi's far exceeds that. Are they foreshadowing this far in advance Geordi's switching to Ops? For that matter, was it always planned that way, or did they just say, "That guy at conn - we should make him CEO"? Right now it seems a little out of place, because we just know him as that one helmsman, but it's possible they had plans for him way back when.
Geordi and Riker exchange some jargon regarding the situation and come up with a plan where they're gonna "downshift and kick it into warp nine," thus escaping. Geordi gives directions to a gold shirt at a nearby console. Seriously, it's like he's already been promoted. This new development would fit better if we'd seen him down in Engineering more often. But as of this viewing, we haven't. It's possible it doesn't make sense to me because the did some stuff in "Haven" and "Where No One Has Gone Before" that pertains to it, but the viewing public won't see those until later.

Back on the bridge, Riker explain the plan to Picard, while Worf suggests that they open fire on the Ferengis. Nobody knows what's going on with the other ship because they haven't spoken to anyone over there. So, armed with a plan, Picard opens hailing frequencies.
"Hey you over there! Give us back our calculator!"
Then he closes them and tells Riker that "sometimes the best way to fight is not to be there."
"He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight," quotes Riker.
Picard is pleased that the Academy still teaches the philosophies of Sun Tzu.
So they have engines ready and weapons as well, and they get things all powered up... and the Enterprise goes goes puttputtputt.


Now they're out of options. Stuck in space with no place to go, a stolen calculator that they can't get back, some dudes who won't talk to them... and now someone has hacked into the E's database and is reading all their files. They assume that it's the Ferengi, because why wouldn't it be?
"Oh, no!" says Picard. "My Troi-Riker fanfic!"
"Um, hey," says Troi. "How about that planet that we're kind of orbiting?"
"Oh, yeah. Hey, Data. Get us some info on that planet," Picard instructs.


Then while Data is doing that, Picard calls a conference in the briefing room to get ideas. It's about what you'd expect. Worf and Yar recommend blowing the Ferengi ship out of the sky.
"No way," replies Picard. "That's an act of war."
"They fired on us first," points out Yar.
Typically, Troi wants to talk to them.
"They weren't answering back," Picard protests.
"We weren't saying anything they wanted to hear," she replies.
These are all good points. He asks if anyone has anything else to say, and they leave. He tells Will that they don't have any more options, and must avoid annihilation.


When he returns to the bridge a moment later, he opens hailing frequencies and tells the Ferengi that he would like to request their terms of surrender.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 41386.5: "Recap."

While they wait for the response from the Ferengi, Worf and Yar busily tell Picard that they have a little power left to fire weapons at the other ship. I get that they're security (or Yar is, anyway), but why is their immediate and only answer, "Let's blow them away!'? Picard tells them to cool their jets, that no one is blowing anyone away.
The audio comes on, and a dude calling himself DaiMon Tarr tells them that unconditional surrender is unacceptable, and that they'll die before that happens. Picard makes a WTF? face at his bridge crew before miming to Yar to close the frequencies.



It's suddenly clear that whatever is holding the E is holding the Ferengi ship as well, but the Ferengi don't know that, and thought Picard was asking for their surrender. He quickly asks Geordi to find out what the hell is holding both ships. Then when he opens the channel again, he starts speaking as though in the middle of a sentence.
"...and also, we can't accept your surrender unless you contact us visually."
"Um, we didn't get the first half of your message, but we don't do visuals," growls Tarr.
Nevertheless, he puts up his visage, while requesting that the E do the same. For some reason, Tarr is huge and the background is blank. But this is our scary pirate alien, friends.


Tarr begrudgingly tells Picard that the E is superior to their own ship. He offers to return the stolen calculator and kill his second officers, as per the Ferengi code.
"Shit, dude. That could be us," whispers Data to Geordi.
"Yeah, lemme talk to my staff," Picard tells Tarr.

They go back into the briefing room again, and there's two little boys in there, playing with models. Riker shoos them out, shrugging it off to Picard as "boys will be boys, Captain." Gross. Is that outmoded "boys will be boys" crap still around in the 24th century? That shit needs to go away. Also, what are those kids doing there, anyway? Riker scolds them, saying that they know that that area is off-limits, but why are they not in school? And how did they manage to get up to that level without adults noticing them?
Picard and Riker, Data and Geordi all go into the briefing room. Geordi has launched a probe at the planet, and Data has been looking at the info. He brings it up and starts to talk while fiddling with a Chinese Finger Trap that the boys left on the table.


The planet and device that is holding them hostage was once part of the Tkon Empire, which contained trillions of people, but has been extinct for 600,000 years. The planet was an outpost. This is where Data stops, because he's stupidly gotten his fingers caught in that dumb trap, which you knew was going to happen the second he picked it up, And let's get real here: there's no way he would have not known about Chinese Finger Traps, and how they work, let alone not see how to keep himself from getting trapped in it. The dude is obsessed with humans and becoming one. He would totes have encountered this by computer already.


He says the solution eludes him. I'm pretty sure you can science your way out of this, Data. Geordi laughs and says "My hero!" before Picard frees him in irritation. Data's been functioning for 30+ years. I can see him getting stuck in one of these in his first few years, but by now, he should have figured out how to free himself with the mass amounts of information he's collected. It's kind of a silly way of adding character development. However, his examination and muttering of "interesting" when Picard frees him is more in-line with further character development of Data.
The info from the probe comes in, and it shows that the force field is definitely coming from the planet and holding both ships. Data reports that, even though the force field comes from the planet, there are no life-forms on it. The Tkon Empire collapsed when their sun went supernova, and this may be their farthest-flung outpost.
Geordi suggests that the Ferengi may have found out about this force field, and will be pissed about having surrendered to the E previously.
"Meh, let's team up with them," suggests Picard. "We're supposed to find out about them, anyway."

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Recap."

On the bridge, Yar tells Picard that she has to shut down the shields to revert the remaining power to life-support. 
Picard gets Tarr back on-screen. He tries to dance around the fact that the Ferengi falsely surrendered to them, but Tarr calls him on it.
"Fine, we bullshitted you," Picard says dismissively. "We have to work together to get the hell out of here."
I'd like to know why there's some kind of IMAX thing going on with Tarr. Why isn't he normal-sized? Is he later going to grind their bones to make his bread?


Tarr argues that he's only gonna do what's profitable, and Data whispers, "Yankee trader." Really, Data? Gossip?
The DaiMon demands to know what a Yankee trader is, and while Geordi is gob-smacked that Tarr heard that, Picard takes it in stride.
"Naw, it's cool. He only noticed that you guys do the profit thing," Picard explains.
Tarr and Picard get into an argument about the stolen calculator, and both claim that the planet it was on belongs to their side, and blah, blah, blah. This argument, in conjunction with the main issue, is like one of those weird side dishes that comes with a frozen tv dinner. The correct response to that is "what?... why?" At one point during this "discussion" Picard looks away to roll his eyes.
He barks at the DaiMon that this is of no consequence while they're both being trapped by this planet, so he suggests that they share information. He uses the word "trade," hella smart because that's a word that Tarr likes and picks up on. They agree to exchange information and beam down to a set of coordinates on the surface to do a joint away mission.

Most of these scenes are Tarr's face looming in the background
with the back of Picard's head in the foreground.

When they end the transmission, Picard's bridge crew all tell Picard that he can't trust Tarr. Data figured out that the visuals Tarr was using of himself were "distorted." I guess that explains the giant face and the blank background. Riker intends to continue with the away mission, but he asks for Worf as well, just to be on the safe side.
The away team goes down to the transporter room, and Data gives Riker a warning about how they won't be able to communicate with the E, based on the power drain.
"Anything else?" snaps Riker.
"Yeah, they won't be able to beam us back, either."
To which Geordi replies to Riker:


Damn, I do not recall season one Geordi being this sassy. He's like Book Harry.
The away team beams down, but Riker re-materializes by himself in a landscape that's rocky with dead trees and huge outcroppings of crystals. There's thunder, lightning, and evidence that the Tkon Empire supported itself by selling vast amounts of fog machines to other systems. Riker walks around yelling for the others.


He finds Data on one of those outcroppings of crystals. The android talks a bit about how they must have gotten separated because of the force fields, then they briefly discuss the crystals.
"Nothing to write home about," Data finishes.
When Riker looks askance at him, Data asks if he used the term correctly. But Last Outpost Riker seems to have zero sense of humor and no time for this shit, so he simply tells Data to get a move on. They find Geordi hanging upside-down from a tree. He materialized this way, his foot stuck.
"What are you doing up there?" Riker demands.
What are you stupid, Riker?



"I'm having a rest," Geordi replies sarcastically.
I think Geordi is the designated comic relief in this episode.
But how does he get out of the tree? He spies a trio of Ferengi nearby, and when he points them skulking behind some crystals, they shoot at him with these energy whip things.


Unfortunately, the others get shocked as well, and everyone collapses on the ground. Brent Spiner remembers that he is playing an android, and falls back with his arms straight up in the air, as they were out in front of him trying to help Geordi when he got shocked. I like that little bit of detail.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "So this sucks. Been six hours since our away team left. Our environmentals are going out. Most of the time, we could survive with life support for a few months on reserve power, but that dumb energy-draining device is taking our back-up stuff, too."

Picard and Troi are wandering through groups of families clustered in the dark in one small area, handing out blankets. Crusher makes her first appearance checking people. Picard says that, even in orbit, they'll hit minus 200 degrees soon enough, and Crusher replies that they won't have to worry about anything past negative seventy. Cheerful.



Downstairs, we see that one of the Ferengi has stolen Riker's comm badge while he was out. I'm curious: is the timeline down here the same as upstairs? Has the away team been unconscious for six hours now? And what have the Ferengi been doing in the meantime, as we see them stealing the badge at the beginning of this scene? They've found Worf and taken him out as well, as they drag his body into the same area.
And there he is, friends. Armin Shimmerman, the most famous Ferengi of them all. He plays Letek here, who is clearly in charge of the Ferengi away team.


One of the Ferengi (Mordoc) wonders aloud if they've broken their promise to Picard, and Letek replies that they'll just say that the humans broke their agreement first. They marvel at the fact that the comm badge is gold, and what a waste it is to wear such a valuable metal. Riker wakes up just as the electrical storm overhead increases, and the Ferengi scream and hold their enormous ears. he argues with them for a second, but they are so busy being angry and deafened, that the rest of the E's away team takes the opportunity to jump up and grab them.
So there's a cheesy fight scene, and the Ferengi act like rabid Pomeranians. It's kind of cute when Riker grabs one in this WWE spinning move and yells that he's got this one. Like, no dude. He appears to be gnawing on your neck. You guys are slow-dancing at a middle school dance when the teacher isn't looking. That's what you're doing.


Yar appears on an outcropping rock like some avenging angel of death, framed by more lightning strikes, and yells at them to stop. You forgot she was on the away team, didn't you? Yeah, I forgot too, and I've seen this episode a bunch of times. She's got a phaser, and the Ferengi know she isn't fucking around, so all of the boys stop rolling around in the dirt and separate.


Turns out they're more concerned about her gender than the damn phaser... just like the Ligonians.
Shit, 1987. Was a female security chief such an issue that you keep having to bring it up?
Apparently, the Ferengi are appalled that humans would choose to "work with females, arm them, and force them to wear clothing". Nice.


Upstairs, Picard breathlessly tells Crusher that he's diverted the last of the energy to the family decks, then asks where Wes is. She tells him that he's in their quarters, and that she was tempted to give him a sedative. They get a bit snippy with each other when he declares that it's better not to, so that Wes can meet his death awake. Oh, hell no. You did not just poke the Mama Bear, Picard.
"Is that a male perspective?" she demands.
He walks away and has nothing more to say than a muttered, "Rubbish."


Yar has decided that she's sick of this misogynistic-space-asshole bullshit, and she fires her stun-setting phaser at the Ferengi. But instead of hitting one of them, the energy fired gets sucked up in some crystal formations behind the aliens. Everybody goes, "Huh?" and then Letek tries to snap that energy whip at the humans. That is also absorbed by the crystals.


The away team is confused, because the whips were working earlier, but they figure out that something has changed. Geordi reports that his VISOR has been picking up strange energy patterns, and they decide that the whole planet is one giant power collector. Then Zordon appears over that bridge to the left and makes them all Power Rangers.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


"Who meets the challenge?" yells Zordon.
Do they have to cross the bridge or something?
Is a little dog riding another dog going to pop out an lash at their shins with a tiny spear?
The Ferengi volunteer Riker for the challenge, and sensing that there really are no options, Riker shrugs and says, "Yeah, okay."
Remember, Riker: the answer you want to give is, "African swallow, or European swallow?"
So Zordon declares that he is Portal 3-6 of the Tkon Empire, and asks who is petitioning to enter it.
Riker yells back that the Tkon Empire no longer exists, and Zordon swirls around and becomes an old dude in some robes. 
He looks down at this new form, and I shit you not, says, "Bipedal. Excellent."


Then he asks why they'd lie about the Empire being gone. The Ferengi are dancing around like gleeful evil children, declaring how the humans are liars.
Data steps forward and says that the Empire fell to a supernova, and that the Portal must have been inactive for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Ferengi move forward and start their arguments about how hoomans are liars and attacked them without provocation. And Riker's just standing there like, "do you believe this shit?"


Letek and his cronies lay it on thick, saying that the hoomans keep weapons away from backward worlds, and destroy commerce opportunities.
The Portal asks if this is true.
"Totes," replies Riker.
Then Letek goes in for the kill, Ferengi-style: he talks about how they clothe their women, and why this is the biggest perversion of all.


Yay, fundamentalist ideals!
Yar nearly breaks Mordoc's wrist when he barks at her to submit.
Riker tells her to knock it off, then says to the Portal, "Yeah, we have more faults to list."
Data lists off that the Federation has sometimes allowed civilizations to fall, and has at times allowed the weak to be overtaken by the strong and powerful. The Portal decides to challenge Riker. Worf wants to do it instead, wants to beat the Portal's ass, but Riker tells him no.
Then the Portal says, "He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight,"
Awww, y'all! It wasn't the Ferengi who snooped through their files!


The Portal comes at him like he's going to chop off Riker's head, but the first officer does not flinch. Instead, he asks how the Portal knows his name. Then he gives this answer:


This is the right thing to say. The Portal says that he likes Sun Tzu, and that the human philosophies are like those of the Tkon Empire. He basically spits at the feet of the Ferengi, and he and Riker talk like they're old drinking buddies. Riker requests power for their ship, and the Portal just kind of waves his hand and says it's done.
A model shot of the ship shows the lights coming back on, and the bridge crew starts waking up at their stations.
Beverly groggily reaches over and touches Picard's neck. You're totes supposed to make the connection between her tenderly touching his cheek and taking his pulse. She accidentally calls him "Jean" before correcting herself and calling him, "Captain."
The writers definitely want you to ship this.

Ship it. Ship it good.

Downstairs, Riker does a walk-and-talk with the Portal, who says he was tempted to destroy both ships when they were doing battle, but then they decided to cooperate, so he decided to watch and see what happened. The Ferengi hop excitedly around them, trying to get their ship turned back on and declaring that they had the same answer, and had given it to Riker earlier. The Portal asks if he should destroy the Ferengi, and it gets a bit preachy and self-congratulatory here.
"No, then they would learn nothing," smiles Riker. "I see them as being the way we were several hundred years ago, only with advanced technology. How can we hate what we once were? They may grow and learn."
The Portal says he will go back to sleep, and vanishes in a puff of smoke.


Upstairs, both ships are seen to have power. Picard gives his compliments to Yar and Worf, then to Data and Geordi. 
"Something to write home about," says Data cheerfully.
"That's pretty human," Geordi compliments him.
Data is wearing another Chinese Finger Trap for some reason. So is Riker.
Riker reports that the stolen calculator is being beamed back to the E, because the Portal told the Ferengi to do so.
"Can I beam over a box of the Chinese Finger Traps as a thank-you?" he asks Picard.


Our parting shot is of Geordi's hands on the console, also caught in the finger trap, because why the fuck not?


Sooo, why does Lady Archon hate this episode so much? Many reasons, but let's start with the first: I hate wasted potential. Hate it. And here, the writers had the opportunity to come up with something awesome for the Ferengi, and they blew it.
"But this was only the first episode that featured them. Cut the writers some slack."
I could, but I've seen the rest of this series, and I can tell you now: the Ferengi do not improve. They continue to be squandered as a new race of alien and as potential rivals. In fact, I've noticed this weird trend that happened at least from TOS to DS9 concerning alien races and how they are handled: each series will present a number of new species, and they will have one they go gangbusters on, and one they fuck up completely. In TOS, they went gangbusters on the Vulcans through Spock, and they built a fabulous world with interesting characters. But they blew it with the Klingons, which were all over the place. They could never seem to nail down what it meant to be Klingon. The awesome part about this trend is that it seems like the following series will pick up that FUBAR and correct it. So TNG, through Worf, makes the Klingons a fabulous race of warriors that struggles with philosophies of death and honor, throwing in some crazy politics and giving them a robust sense of humor. TNG really nailed the whole Klingon thing (with a bit of help from some foundational stuff done in the TOS films). But TNG wasted the potential of the Ferengi as a race of people mostly interested in commerce. In "The Last Outpost" they mention commerce a few times, but they're mostly just short assholes who run their mouths a lot. On DS9, through Quark, the Ferengi become not the laughingstock of the galaxy, but clever and resourceful, frequently operating around the law. Their humorous parts encourage us to laugh with them rather than at them.


My next complaint? This episode is kind of boring. Three-quarters of the show elapses before we even get to see our quarry in person. I never realized that until I watched it carefully all the way through this last time and noted how long it took for Letek & Co to show up. Mostly what I remembered about this episode prior to watching again was the fight scene on the planet, and those dumb whips that look like foam-rubber snakes painted blue. In truth, that fight scene last less than a minute, and you only ever see those whips in action twice. So what's left? A bunch of talking and confusion, a dude in bad "old people" make-up, Geordi being sassy, and the Tkon stuff. I don't mind those last two, though. In actuality, the Tkon stuff was really interesting. I liked the idea of old relics of long-extinct cultures being found... stuff that isn't pottery shards. (I do really like pottery shards, but that's such a small part of a culture, you know?) That was actually my favorite part of TOS' "That Which Survives," where the last piece of an automatic security system was activated and attempted to kill Kirk, Spock and Sulu.


Issue number three: TNG is five episodes in, and with the exception of the two-parter pilot, every episode of this new show has been a rip-off of the old one. "The Naked Now" actually stole their script from "The Naked Time." And "Code of Honor" is a blatant gender-reversed "Amok Time." "The Last Outpost" is "Arena." Think about it, and see how well it matches up: Kirk & Co are chasing some unknown alien through an unexplored area of the galaxy when both ships are paralyzed. Representatives from each ship end up on the surface, where it is expected they will fight. They do fight. Some smarty-pants alien appears to talk to the humans, who have won the fight. The smarty-pants alien admits that he was behind the ship-paralyzing, and he has learned that humans have the potential to be more. The smarty-pants alien then asks the human if he would like it if he destroyed the alien who lost. "No," says the human. "We will be benevolent and let them go." Both parties are released by the smarty-pants alien. The difference between "Arena" and "Outpost" is that "Outpost" then stole their end-gag from not only TOS ("The Trouble with Tribbles"), but also the same gag from TAS ("More Troubles, More Tribbles"). It's a gag that was funny once, became less so the second time, and even less the third. And what was the point in putting those traps on Riker and Geordi at the end? Come up with your own stories, TNG! TOS wasn't that great to begin with, why are you stealing all of their stories as well?


In the end, I just wasn't as impressed by this episode, and I thought it fell flat in many ways.


Fun Facts:
- Armin Shimerman says that he took the role of Quark in DS9 to make up for "The Last Outpost."
- This only one of two times that the energy whip will appear in Star Trek. The other comes during an episode of DS9, when Quark encounters a Ferengi action figure, which comes with a whip.
- The shape of the Ferengi ship is based on the shape of a horseshoe crab.
- Data uses a few contractions in this episode. The fact that, as an android, he is incapable of using contractions, has not been established yet.
- The blade of the halberd held by the Portal is in the shape of the Tkon Empire logo.

*******

I haven't been drinking as much tea of late because I've got this lingering chest cold with a hacking cough, and to be terribly honest, I had had enough of tea with honey. So I switched it up this week and just did honey. Okay, honey and hot water. Honey tea? Anyway, my plan was to essentially spackle my raw throat with sticky goo, and it pretty much worked. It's kind of cloying if you don't like honey, but it's got some cool antibacterial qualities, so I figure that makes up for it.











3 comments:

  1. It's odd that the Ferrengi treat gold as a precious metal in this episode. By DS9, they're all about latinum, which is naturally in a liquid form and is therefore encased in gold, which the Ferrengi don't put much value in.

    How could those kids get into the observation lounge? Don't they have to go through the bridge to get to it?

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    Replies
    1. They do indeed, sir. I had thought there might be another way to get there besides the one exit/entrance onto the bridge, but no. Just one way in and out.
      http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/blueprints/Starfleet-Bridge-Variations/Page_26.jpg

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  2. I mean... technically... the Ferengi and their energy whips were seen in Enterprise... but, like you, I don't consider it to be Trek, so...

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