Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Outcast

*** (3 stars out of 5)
The J'naii, an androgynous race, have lost their probes. And before you suggest checking down the front of their pants, don't bother.

That's what Will Riker's here for!

J'naii, rather than calling each other 'it', use a neutral personal pronoun that probably doesn't translate. But since the pilot Soren doesn't say what that is, I'm going to assume it's 'Smizmar' from here on in.

"Commander, tell me about your sexual organs," Soren asks Riker, and smizmar couldn't sound less interested.

Which is good, because Riker doesn't get around to his description. I'll leave it to your fertile imaginations and the sweet, nourishing Internet.

Soren does describe J'naii genitals, obliquely. Since the J'naii parents inseminate a fibrous husk to create a child (after a pleasurable ritual) it stands to reason that they... stand to attention. So to speak.

The idea of human gender is offensive to the J'naii, who apparently evolved out of dual sexes.

Worf thinks women are weak (or he's just having a bad spine day) and is bothered by the strangeness of the J'naii.

Geordi has grown an awesome goatee! It proves his maleness, just in case Riker gets any funny ideas.

Some poor smizmar bastards are born with gender urges, and if they get noticed they are shamed, beaten up, and if they're 'lucky', they're forced back to 'normal'. It is dangerous to be different on this world.

Soren thinks of herself as a she, having lived a terrified life of pretence and lies. Riker makes no attempt to dissuade Soren's interest in him, even though (despite smizmar's inclinations) it's very unlikely to be anything other than a dingus down there. Will seems very open-minded this evening!

"We have many varieties of plant life," offers Soren. "Perhaps you would like to inspect some of them?"

Whatever Riker discovers in Soren's garden, it's good times.

He tells Troi about it, and she assures him she is still his friend. And they kiss. You know. Like friends do.

Soren's mentor Krite has the smizmar arrested and put on trial. Riker publicly declares he was at fault, the sole instigator, and that nothing happened. Even the photographic evidence he brought in was faked! Soren does not want this lie to stand: and Soren's plea for compassion and tolerance is a good one:

"What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?"

The powers that be are not dissuaded. Let's see you behave deviantly in jail, missy!

Riker and Worf make a covert rescue attempt despite the Prime Directive. Yes, it's hard to believe, but Worf would break the PD just for the chance to sneak through hedges dressed in black and beat up J'Naiis. Unheard of!

But Soren has already been rendered normal. Victory for the moral majority!

"The Outcast" is quite a tragedy, and despite my flippancy, it was a tad eye-opening when I was a lad. When it comes to the brittle cruelty of short-haired career women, trust Jeri Taylor. Of course, the J'naii aren't women. Not if they can help it.

No comments:

Post a Comment