Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992) – The Outcast, and Cause and Effect

Captain’s log: stardate 45614.6

I love that The Next Generation did this episode. I just wish it had been better written.  Penned by Jeri Taylor, this episode debuted on 16 March, 1992.

Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) finds himself involved with an androgynous life form, Soren (Melinda Culea), during their visit to the planet J’Nai.

The Enterprise has arrived to help them find a shuttle disappearance, but the crux of the story centers on Riker and Soren. The two of them have a strong connection, and pursue a relationship, causing ripples on Soren’s planet, as she begins to identify as female.

She is arrested and subjected to perversion therapy, because her government believes she is sick, that this choice can be cured.

The series, as gently as it can, takes on gender issues, trying to make its point as subtly as it can, but I think more could have been done with the story itself.

Star Trek has a long history of dealing with social issues, and this episode very much has the best of intentions in doing so. It no doubt helped to create a lot of dialogue for people who were starting to identify as homosexual, or trans.

Even the cast felt more could have been done to deal with the themes at work in the episode, but I will give the series credit for addressing it at all. This was not something that happened a lot on prime time television.

As a side note, this is one of the only episodes that features Geordi (LeVar Burton) with a beard!

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Captain’s log: stardate 45652.1

First airing on 23 March, 1992, this is a favourite episode of mine, and was penned by Brannon Braga and was directed by Jonathan Frakes.

The Enterprise is caught in a time loop that’s conclusion sees the Enterprise explode, each and every time.

When the starship comes upon a temporal anomaly, they are stunned to see another Federation starship coming out of it. Their evasive actions result in them being destroyed time and time again.

Soon, members of the crew begin to have a serious case of deja vu (especially through the regular poker game), and Data (Brent Spiner) may be the only one who can get them out of it once and for all.

Crusher (Gates McFadden) is the first one to notice that something is wrong, but soon the others start to suspect something is afoot.

I love time loop stories, especially when they are done well, like this one. Watching things repeat over and over, with subtle changes, and then, as the crew start to figure things out. I love it.

And how can you top a teaser that sees the Enterprise blow up before the opening credits and then again at each act break until the episode’s climax.

Frakes keeps the episode fresh by shooting the repetitive scenes from different angles, so even though some of the dialogue remains the same, each time through the loop looks different.

The crew figure out, and find a way to save themselves, letting both ships survive the encounter, and allows Kelsey Grammer, a huge Trek fan make an appearance as the other starship’s captain, Morgan Bateson.

The Human Adventure continues Thursday…

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