Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Last Outpost"


Air date: 10/19/1987
Teleplay by Herbert Wright
Story by Richard Krzemien
Directed by Richard Colla

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise attempts to make contact with the mysterious Ferengi, a race known for their deceitful brand of capitalism and known to have technological ability comparable to the Federation. While orbiting a planet that was once part of a long-extinct, massive interstellar empire, the encounter with the Ferengi takes a turn for the worse as the Enterprise becomes ensnared in a powerful forcefield.

For the second time since the premiere, Picard offers an unconditional surrender within the first 20 minutes. (Is this some sort of TNG season one theme?) The Ferengi, meanwhile, believe they are the captives, not the captors, eventually leading both ships to the conclusion that they are being held by a force from the planet. Both send landing parties.

On the planet, Riker's merit is tested by a powerful ancient gatekeeper (Darryl Henriques) who believes his extinct society still exists. It's a familiar theme again borrowed from the original series: that of a powerful superbeing challenging humanity. Fine and good, and there seems to be some substance here. Unfortunately, the dialog between Riker and the gatekeeper is far too obtuse to be useful as philosophical discussion. (Conclusion: "Fear is the only enemy." Huh?) Meanwhile, the Ferengi manage to sabotage any hope of the ending working with their hopelessly hokey and distracting gyrating antics in front of the camera. It just plain looks stupid.

Armin Shimerman plays one of the Ferengi. Fortunately by the time he would play another one (Quark on DS9), his character would at least have depth, even if most of Ferengi society was still a capitalist caricature.

Previous episode: Code of Honor
Next episode: Where No One Has Gone Before

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17 comments on this review

amdirable chrichton - Sun, Mar 15, 2009 - 3:28pm (USA Central)
It can be quite contrasting how slow and preachy TNG aactually was in the begining, compared to the high points from seasons 3 to 5. The Last outpost seems to consist of about 56 years just gawping at the big Ferengi ship on the viewscreen! The "Tashas drugs speech" in Symbiosis really has to be seen to be believed though.
Nathan - Wed, Sep 28, 2011 - 9:03pm (USA Central)
The Chinese finger trap would have worked much better in an episode like Booby Trap (rather than its appearance in The Last Outpost).
NCC-1701-Z - Sat, Mar 24, 2012 - 12:10am (USA Central)
Sigh...this ep had so much potential,, but unfortunately it got ruined by a bad ending.

The first few acts are, admittedly, very well done. The chase/get caught in tractor beam/other subsequent scenes work very well. The cast's acting still lacks energy and urgency, and feels a bit flat, but I could tell that it was improving. And, heck, I kinda liked the first Data finger trap scene. The early moments on the planet, just before the away team encountered the Ferengi, were really well done too. The ep was on its way to becoming a 3 star ep...

At which point the Ferengi showed up and completely derailed it. Klingons, they ain't. I'm glad they got replaced with the Borg later as the main villains for the TNG crew. I'll leave it at that.

And the actual ending with the Portal guy felt anticlimactic and muddled. It just fell completely flat. Too talky even by my standards, and this is a person who enjoyed some of TOS's more "talky" moments. I think the problem was the acting, again, to me at least, J. Frakes was not as dynamic as the scene needed him to be. But the scene was just badly written, too. Sigh...

I keep hoping this series will get better, and I can tell it is slowly getting onto the right track, but it's taking a bit too long for my tastes.

2 or 2.5 stars.
Rikko - Sun, Apr 15, 2012 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
As NCC-1701-Z said, this ep had so much potential, totally ruined by Season 1's awful writing and odd plot-choices.

What do I mean by plot-choices, you say? Think about this. The first half of this ep builds tension between the Enterprise and the yet-to-be-known Ferengi ship, it works quite well, you're tense, anxious to see the real enemy and then...they appear on screen.

To say they are a total joke it's to put it mildly. Total waste of most of this ep's lenght here. If they knew the Ferengi were going to be so pathetic, they shouldn't have created any tense atmosphere to begin with.

The rest of the ep feels very rushed, and by the time "The Last Outpost" finally appears, there are only 10 minutes left. That's not enough time to develop an interesting character, and even less time to go from nothing to BFF with Riker (Quoting what the very Wil Wheaton had to say about this).

Van_Patten - Sun, Jul 22, 2012 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
So, the oft- hinted at Ferengi finally make an appearance, and considering where the franchise would go with them (remember 'False Profits', 'Profit and Lace' or 'Acquisition' - or on second thoughts, don't) this episode has some curiosity value. It's also interesting to read the Production notes from Larry Nemecek's guide to the show for the backstory here. Obviously designed to replace the Klingons as a 'clear and present danger', they sadly end up sinking the episode.

It's a shame, as the concept is not without merit -I liked the genuinely Alien feel of the 'Portal' character, but have to agree with Rikko. The end of the episode felt like the writers, having wasted so much time with the Ferengi scenes, realised "hey guys, we only have ten minutes left - we need to wrap it up, " so the conclusion is wholly unsatisfactory. The early part of the episode is actually reasonable and the Ferengi commander's scenes across the view screen, although over acted are alright. The scenes on planet with the Ferengi are pour rire, unfortunately, leaving me agreeing with Jammer's 2 star rating as on the money....
xaaos - Sat, Oct 27, 2012 - 9:18am (USA Central)
It's hardly believable that these "gyrating antics" Ferengi could have developed warp technology... What a boring, alien race!
William B - Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - 8:01am (USA Central)
This episode is really goofy. Two favourite moments:

1) Picard's unlikely phrasing of his offer of surrender so that the Ferengi think that he is telling them to surrender;

2) the Ferengi on the landing party attacking the Enterprise crew so that they can steal their communicators (with gold in them!), apparently believing that the amount of gold in those communicators is a higher priority than protecting themselves against certain death if they don't get out of the planet's tractor beam thing.

The tension in the first half of the episode is fairly effective, but the second half alternates between flat-out silly and (as Jammer puts it) impenetrable. 1.5 stars from me.
istok - Tue, Apr 2, 2013 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
Just watched this last night and searched for reviews to see if anyone else thought this first season was godawful and whether to expect better things and watch on, or quit.
Yeah first half quite watchable, second half horrible. Important episode though for introducing the Ferengi. Was that Armin Shimerman? So he was there from the start. On DS9 I thought he was magnificent. He pretty much played the role with his eyes and the tone of voice under all that makeup.
Chris Harrison - Fri, Aug 30, 2013 - 12:40pm (USA Central)
Didn't Quark later mention "worthless gold"? Yet here the Ferengi describe gold as a "valuable metal".
Jack - Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - 11:37am (USA Central)
Gold was protrayed just about everywhere other than "Who Mourns For Morn?" as being valuable. That atrocious DS9 episode also is the only one that presents latinum as being some clear liquid. DS9's "Dogs of War" has Quark saying he'd replace gold pressed latinum fixtures with solid latinum ones, and other episodes mention it likewise, so latinum is some kind of valuable solid, not clear goo.

Probably best to discard "...Morn?" altogether. In just about every way.
213karaokejoe - Tue, Jun 10, 2014 - 10:32pm (USA Central)
Just saw this episode for the first time in several years. Didn't remember Picard using profanity before. Little risque for a family show.
Entilzha - Fri, Jul 25, 2014 - 6:20am (USA Central)
Just notice how in each episode Troi's neckline is a little bit lower.

Also, the notion of women being 'less than' seems to be a universal one as it is presented by most of season one & two. Almost every single race sees females as a stereotypical weaker sex, or something to be viewed sexually. Really annoying. Seems the only true feminists on Trek so far are the Klingons. (Later there'd be the whole House of Duras inheritance that would wreck that :/).

This episode works if you see the first half as an action with a mystery story and the second as a comedy. It feels as if the director had a Jekyll and Hyde mental breakdown while working here.
Taylor - Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - 12:51am (USA Central)
The Ferengi literally act like monkeys in this episode. Not a good look.
Vylora - Mon, Dec 29, 2014 - 8:37pm (USA Central)
Definitely a skip-able episode though it is not bad by any means. The Ferengi come across as worse than in the worst DS9 Ferengi episodes; which comes off as a bit ironic considering this is the source material of said species (yes I know they were spoken of in previous episodes, but this is the first encounter). The last few scenes on the planet, while very "Star Trek" in its search for the unknown, collapses under it's own weight of contrived dialogue and cringe-worthy Ferengi antics.

Most of everything else this showing has to offer is pretty good by early TNG standards and still rather decent today. The first 75% of it includes some nice execution, pacing, and okay dialogue. Nothing stood out as hit or miss either way. The scene with Data and the finger-torture device was a little too cloying, but cute. I would also imagine he would have the strength to break it, but maybe he didn't want to?

Also the send-off to the episode of Riker wanting to beam over a gift to the Ferengi ship was one of those awesome little moments that I had completely forgotten about until I watched this again. Loved it.

All in all, this was the very definition of middle of the road. Just enough there to warrant a peek but not quite much beyond that.

2 stars.
Bernard Sussman - Sat, Jul 11, 2015 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
This very first sight of the Ferengi - and supposedly the first sighting of Ferengi by anyone in the Federation, although that seems improbable . The Ferengi were mentioned in the very first ep, Farside, with a comment that maybe someone isn't "to the Ferengi's taste" -- which sort of hinted that the Ferengi were some sort of cannibals. Here they are sort of malevolent munchkins, with really nasty whips. The whips disappear permanently after this ep. Within a couple of seasons, Ferengi have learned to speak more clearly, stand staighter, and generally behave.

This is a prime example of a franchise reordering a recurring character or feature after its first appearance.
Diamond Dave - Sun, Aug 9, 2015 - 9:39am (USA Central)
An interesting set-up, then drops the ball completely as the capering monkey antics of the Ferengi lead into a lightning and incomprehensible resolution that fails even as a philosophical statement.

Still, it's interesting to see the Ferengi (and Armin Shimmerman) in their earliest development. I enjoyed the Chinese finger trap scene, but it did come a bit out of left field in the overall context of the episode. For the first half, 2 stars.
Rick Taylor - Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - 11:44am (USA Central)
I remember watching this with my friends when it came out. We were all excited to see the new alien race. We'd heard somewhere the Ferengi were to take over from the Klingons as the federations new menacing adversarial race. There'd been that ominous line from Picard in the first episode when Zorn threatens the station might ally with the Ferengi: "Fine, let's hope they find you as tasty as they did their past associates." Ohhhhhh, we didn't know what that meant, but the Ferengi sounded evil and dangerous.

So we were all worked up. And then we saw them. As my friend put it, "Mutant hobbit accountants from outer-space." Oh well. By the end of the season, it was established that the Romulans would take over from the Klingons as the new as the federation's new menacing adversarial race.

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