The fun of Star Trek the Next Generation is that there was a ton of opportunity to introduce new and unique aliens and ships. This episode is unique in that it marks the first appearance of a race that, although meant to be more of a replacement for the Klingons, ended up becoming a very different species all together over time. So, without any further delay, first aired on October 19,1987, I present The Last Outpost
The Last Outpost Stardate 41386.4
We find our intrepid crew in hot pursuit of a Ferengi vessel in an attempt to recover a Federation device called the T-9 Energy Converter. In addition to the attempted recovery, this give the Federation an opportunity to meet the Ferengi first hand, something that has yet to be accomplished.
Soon they are both faced with confronting a being that will not let either of them leave the orbit of an unknown planet. Both ships have been drained of energy and are facing the threat of death the longer they remain trapped.
This is the first real episode of TNG we get. It starts to feel more like its own than just a clone of the Original Series. I think the introduction of a new species and foe really helped this one out as it starts to give it its own voice.
You really get to see how the crew work together. Diana uses her abilities to reach out and get a sense of the enemy ship. Picard confides with Riker (still beardless) and actually discusses strategy with the rest of the Bridge Crew. It is clear that he feels that he had a capable crew and he listens to them.
So what is the episode about besides The Ferengi appearing?
In its pursuit of the Ferengi, the crew suddenly discovers that the ship is completely nonfunctional. Fearing that the Ferengi have a new weapon, the try all they can to escape without letting on that they are, indeed, trapped. They soon discover that the Ferengi vessel is indeed trapped as well when the Derengo Captain contacts them willing to surrender. It is then only a matter of time until they all realize that it is the planet below that is holding BOTH ships in a form of stasis and they each send a team to the plant to investigate. There they find a mysterious entity known as Portal 63, the guardian of the Tkon Empire. Soon Riker realizes that he can negotiate with this being and eventually talks it into letting them all go.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Like I said earlier, this is the first episode, outside of the pilot, to feel like it’s part of its own series. It sets up threads for many more stories in the future. From the exploration of new planets and meeting new species to allowing some tender moments between Dr. Crusher and Picard. Overall this one is a terrific representation of the potential of the series.
The Last Outpost shows how this series is much more than a sci fi about space battles and action, it helps to provide a sense that ultimately the Federation strives for peace, even under the toughest situations. Even when the ship is facing death with the lack of power, Picard goes through the ship and makes sure everyone is safe.
Ultimately it is an episode about potential and growth so that speaks for itself.
The introduction to the Ferengi in this fascinated me. I liked them as a villain but I would get to love them in later iterations.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Armin Shimerman plays one of the for Ferengi we meet in this episode. He would later go to play one of the most famous Ferengi on the series Deep Space 9.
One interesting bit is, being the first appearance of the Ferengi, they appear much more feral and violent compared to the later more ‘civil’ versions.
Data gets stuck in a Chinese Finger Trap. It’s rather amusing.
La Forge had a larger role and it is becoming apparent that he is the ship’s navigator who, for some reason, goes to Engineering with Riker to fix things at one point. I guess Chief Engineer MacDougal was on break?
I do find it interesting that this place is never mentioned again. I wonder if they sent anyone to explore it more?
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review. I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!
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Late To The Game 01/08/18
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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