TNG: S1 – E5: The Last Outpost

The Last Outpost
The Last Outpost | Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

As the new series began, we got to know the new crew and the ship that they ran. But what would a Trek series be without a bad guy, or in this case, a new bad “race” of aliens to contend with? Many would cite the Borg as Picard and company’s primary foe, but before that, the show debuted a new race, which was supposed to be TNG’s main adversary — the Ferengi. “The Last Outpost” featured the very first appearance of the Ferengi, and the traits of their character did not suit them to be a villain, but rather, someone who could work at a bar in a space station serving Federation personnel a few years into the future.

STARDATE: 41386.4

We began this episode in hot pursuit of a Ferengi ship, which had stolen some Federation tech on Gamma Tauri IV. The crew was excited to meet the Ferengi, as they had never actually encountered the race before. They caught up with the Ferengi ship in the Delphi Ardu solar system, which was an unexplored system.

Suddenly, their ship reduced speed; the Enterprise matched. Data speculated that the Ferengi might be experiencing engine malfunction. Data also said that Ferengi technology was thought to be roughly equivalent to Starfleet’s own.

The Enterprise-D
The Enterprise-D, the most beautiful… I mean powerful ship in the fleet. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

The Ferengi fired two electromagnetic pulses, which caused minimal damage to the Enterprise. The ships were both locked into a powerful force, which drained their energy, including shields and offensive weapons. Troi could sense nothing from the Ferengi. Picard said that the Ferengi had the Enterprise right where they wanted them!

Data said all of the available records compared the Ferengi to “Yankee Traders,” who sailed the seas of 19th Century Earth in search of mercantile deals.

In engineering, Geordi figured that there was a .300 millisecond delay in between the time the Enterprise’s engines pushed, and the counter from the unknown force. Riker ordered that they use this .300 millisecond delay to break free from the grip of the power.

Data, Riker, Geordi, and Picard, met to discuss the information that Starfleet had on the planet, which they currently orbited. It was once part of the Tkon Empire, which had a population of trillions, but the Empire has been “extinct” for 600,000 Earth years.

Picard hailed the Ferengi ship and demanded that they return the energy converter. No response. Oh, and the .300 millisecond attempt did not work. Data alerted Picard … someone was scanning all of the Enterprise’s files. Troi pointed out that they had only been concentrating on the ship, not the planet.

Picard called a meeting and asked for suggestions. Yar and Worf suggested an attack with everything; Picard dismissed that idea. Troi wanted to talk to the Ferengi and noted that so far, the Enterprise had not sent the Ferengi anything they wanted to hear.

Picard hailed the Ferengi and asked for their “terms.” Of surrender? I guess that’s what he meant.

After a long wait, a strange voice finally did respond to Picard.

“The quicker we can come to terms, the better NCC 1701-D,” said the voice. Picard asked who was speaking.

“I am Tar, Daimon of the Ferengi,” said the voice. Tar told Picard that unconditional surrender was not acceptable for the Ferengi and that they would die to the last man rather than do that. Picard looked shocked and cut off communications.

The Ferengi ship
The Ferengi ship. This is the first time we’ve seen a ship created by the Ferengi. Looks pretty cool. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

They realized that the same force was holding the Ferengi. Picard ordered a probe be sent to discover the source of the “something” holding the ships in place.

Picard demanded that the Ferengi show themselves on screen. They said it was against custom but eventually agreed.

The Ferengi finally appeared. They were an orange-skinned humanoid race, with beady eyes, no hair to speak of, large protuberances above the eyes, and gigantic ears that wrapped from forehead to jawbone.

The effects and makeup people must have enjoyed creating this new alien for TNG. But I wonder why so many Trek aliens are known for their ears? Vulcans, and now Ferengi, with very distinct ears. Fascinating…

The Ferengi said the reports of human ugliness were not exaggerated, but they conceded that the Enterprise’s power was superior to their own. Tar said they’d return the stolen T-9 device and offered the lives of their second officers “as required by the Ferengi code.”

Picard said that he’d think about it and ended communications.

Data, Riker, Geordi, and Picard, met to discuss the information that Starfleet had on the planet, which they currently orbited. It was once part of the Tkon Empire, which had a population of trillions, but the Empire has been “extinct” for 600,000 Earth years.

As he spoke, Data got his fingers stuck in a Chinese finger puzzle toy, which children had left in the lounge. Picard grew frustrated with Data as he fiddled with the toy. Eventually, Picard freed Data, who went on to say the Tkon Empire was highly advanced and was said to have been able to move stars.

Yar interrupted the meeting with an image from the probe, which revealed energy from the planet holding both ships in place.

Data said the Tkon’s empire ended when their sun went supernova, and that the planet they were in orbit around may have been a distant outpost. Picard decided to ask the Ferengi to join Riker and an away team onto the planet’s surface to try to understand what was happening.

Yar reported that due to the power drain, the ship would have to lower shields. Picard contacted the Ferengi again, who withdrew their surrender. Picard suggested they work together; Daimon Tar countered by asking for a “profitable” relationship. Data whispered “Yankee trader” to Geordi and Tar heard.

“Explain what means ‘Yankee traders’!” Tar exclaimed. Picard said it was a reference to the Ferengi’s interest in profit. Tar noted that the Enterprise attacked his ship… Picard said that they were only trying to recover Federation equipment. Tar said that the T-9 was theirs now since it was put on a Ferengi planet. Picard said that all “civilized” worlds recognized that Gamma Tauri IV is

“The Ferengi are not uncivilized hu-man,” said Tar. “Are you suggesting otherwise?”

The two bickered for a moment until they agreed that both were stuck in the same situation. Picard offered an information trade on what both peoples knew about the planet below. Tar scoffed. Picard then suggested a join expedition to the planet’s surface. Tar agreed.

Riker, Data, and Troi all cautioned the captain against trusting the Ferengi. Troi sensed that Tar was hiding something. Riker, Yar, Data, Geordi, and Worf beamed down. Before they left, Data informed them all that due to the power drain, there was no way to beam back to the ship.

On the planet’s surface, the crew experienced lightning and loud crashes. When they materialized, they appeared scattered in different locations. Riker, Data, and Geordi found each other and then were attacked by the Ferengi, who used “whips” to fling some sort of energy attack at the crew.

Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Troi passed out blankets as the ship started to cool. Picard said that it could go down to minus 200 degrees (F). My thought was, don’t they have sweaters on this ship? Only Dr. Crusher has a coat.

The Ferengi surprised all the crew and stunned each of them (including the mighty Worf). The Ferengi made a pile of the crew, took off their combadges, and agreed that they would say that the crew attacked first.

They agreed that the combadges were made of gold. Riker came to and threatened the Ferengi with Picard’s anger. As he spoke, Worf regained consciousness and attacked. Riker and Data joined in as well, but Yar ended it all by aiming her phaser at them from on high.

The Ferengi — in person
The Ferengi — in person. This is also the first appearance by this new alien race. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

The Ferengi were shocked by Yar’s appearance and ability. When they continued to disobey her orders, she fired on them. Her phaser rays were sucked into giant crystal-like structures. The Ferengi also fired their whips, whose shots were also absorbed by the crystals. Data said the crystals were energy collectors, which was not unlike the power holding the ships in place.

Geordi said that he could see the energy flowing all around them. It then became visible to all and created a Wizard of Oz-type of face, and asked (in English) them all to “speak.”

“Who meets the challenge?” the face said. “Who will it be?”

The Ferengi pointed at Riker.

“You have awakened Portal 6-3… do you petition to enter the empire?”

Riker asked, who was asking. The face said it was a guardian of the Tkon Empire. The portal image then became a humanoid form holding a long spear. Riker asked why they would try to join an empire that no longer exists. The Portal said the empire was “forever.” Data recited the known information about the Tkon… and the Portal argued with Data on the actual time and era they were in.

Data and the Chinese game
This Chinese finger puzzle game confused the most advanced positronic brain in the galaxy. Courtesy of CBS / Paramount

The Ferengi, angling for some sort of profit, then asked the Portal for entry into the empire. The Ferengi asked for control of their ship, so they may destroy the humans who came to loot the Tkon Empire.

The Ferengi also told the Portal how the hu-mans hold back technology (ala Prime Directive), wear gold, and clothe their females.

The Portal said they were all barbarians. The Portal said he would take on Riker for the lives of them all. Worf tried to accept the challenge, but Riker made him back down. The Portal asked a riddle:

“He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”

He raised the spear above his head and told Riker that he was being tested. He then whirled his spear above his head and lunged at Riker, stopping it next to his ear. The Portal was impressed when Riker did not flinch. Riker then responded to the question:

“Fear is the true enemy… the only enemy.”

The Portal seemed satisfied. They then discussed the philosophy of Sun Tzu. Riker asked for the Enterprise to be restored. The Portal agreed.

On the bridge, Crusher felt Picard’s face and said, “not a moment too soon” when the power came back on. I wonder how much energy is required to keep the artificial gravity on. They could have shut that off and saved quite a bit of power. Hmmm!

On the planet, the Ferengi jumped around the Portal and said that they had given Riker the answer to the riddle. The Portal asked if he should destroy the Ferengi, but Riker said they would never learn if the Portal did that. Riker said the Ferengi were like humans, several hundred years back.

The Portal said he would sleep until needed again. He walked away from Riker and faded into the mist. When that happened, the power was restored to the Ferengi as well.

As I watched this episode, I wondered to myself if the guy who played Portal was also the guy who played Zorn on “Encounter at Farpoint” (Michael Bell). Their voices sound similar. But I was wrong. Portal was played by Darryl Henriques, who was also the Romulan Ambassador in ST:IV, so I guess I was onto something.

Back on the Enterprise, Riker told Picard that the T-9 had been returned by the Ferengi, and asked if they could share some of the Chinese finger puzzles over to the Ferengi as well. Picard agreed.


I really liked this episode, even though the Portal very much reminded me of Zorn (as mentioned). It was an excellent way to introduce a new race, which was supposed to be the new villain… instead of a knock-down, both groups had to work together to survive. I also liked that Armin Shimerman appeared for the first time in Trek as a (duh) Ferengi. He would later star on DS9 and become to the Ferengi what Leonard Nimoy was for Vulcans — the actor who set the standard for all others to follow when portraying one of their race.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Executive Producer … Gene Roddenberry

Co-Producers … Robert Lewin, Herbert Wright
Producer … Maurice Hurley
Supervising Producer … Robert H. Justman, Rick Berman
Teleplay by … Herbert Wright
Story by … Richard Krzemein
Directed by … Richard Colla

Associate Producer … Peter Lauritson
Story Editor … Johnny Dawkins

Music by … Fred Steiner
Main Title Theme by … Jerry Goldsmith, Alexander Courage
Director of Photography … Edward R. Brown, A.S.C.
Production Designer … Herman Zimmerman
Edited by Tom Benko


Patrick Stewart
Jonathan Frakes


Levar Burton
Denise Crosby
Michael Dorn
Gates McFadden
Marina Sirtis
Brent Spiner
Wil Wheaton


Darryl Henriques as Portal


Mike Gomez … Daimon Tarr


Armin Shimerman
Jake Dengel
Tracey Walter

Unit Production Manager … David Livingston
First Assistant Director … Charles Washburn
Second Assistant Director … Babs Subramaniam
Costumes Created by … William Ware Theiss, Executive Consultant

Associate Producer … D.C. Fontana
Art Director … Sandy Veneziano
Post Production Supervisor … Brooke Benton
Visual Effects Coordinator … Robert Legato

Set Decorator … John Dwyer
Make-Up Supervisor … Michael Westmore
Make-Up Artist … Werner Keppler
Hair Supervisor … Richard Sabre
Hair Stylist … Carolyn Ferguson
Production Associate … Susan Sackett
Consulting Senior Illustrator … Andrew Probert
Illustrator … Rick Sternbach
Scenic Artist … Michael Okuda
Set Designer … Richard McKenzie
Script Supervisor … Cosmo Genovese
Special Effects … Dick Brownfield
Costume Supervisor … Elaine Scheideman
Property Master … Alan Sims
Chief Lighting Technician … Richard Crown
First Company Grip … Brian Mills
Sound Mixer … Alan Bernard
Music Editor … John LaSalandra, S.M.E.
Supervising Sound Editor … Bill Wistrom
Sound Editors … James Wolvington, Mace Matiosian
Program Consultant … David Gerrold
Casting Executive … Helen Mossler
Production Coordinator … Diane Overdiek
Construction Coordinator … Al Smutko

Lenses and Panaflex Cameras by … Panavision
Special Visual Effects by … Industrial Light & Magic, a Division of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Video Optical Effects by … the Post Group
Special Video Compositing … Composite Image Systems
Editing Facilities … Unitel Video
Post Production Sound by … Modern Sound

Casting by … Junie Lowry

© Paramount Pictures Corporation