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Introduction
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Time Squared

Review

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 2
Disc No : 2.3 Episode : 38
First Aired : 3 Apr 1989 Stardate : 42679.2
Director : Joseph L. Scanlan Year : 2365
Writers : Curt Michael Bensmiller Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Colm Meaney as Miles Edward O'Brien
Diana Muldaur as Doctor Katherine Pulaski
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
Moral :
Time Warps : This universe just isn't big enough for two Captain Picards
YATI : I suspect Riker isn't as good at this cooking thing as he claims. He says he is making omlettes at the beginning of the episode. Strangely, what he actually produces looks remarkably like scrambled eggs.

At one point Picard walks out of the shuttlebay and into a turbolift. The label on the door clearly says the lift is on Deck 6. However, the small shuttlebays are well below this on deck 12/13.

Great Moment : I like Riker's little talk with Picard in the ready room - it's rare to see Picard get so down about something.
Body Count : The crew of the Enterprise is seen to be killed in the shuttle log entry, though this is avoided. Picard kills the alternate Picard.
Factoid : This episode was originally meant to be the first of a two parter; passing through the anomaly would throw the Enterprise across the galaxy, leading into "Q Who?" and their encounter with the Borg. Q was the intelligence behind the anomaly which Troi sensed. It was also the first appearance of the Type 15 shuttlepod.

Riker refers to Picard's difficulty with sitting and waiting as his "Persian flaw". The phrase comes from Persia (obviously), which was famous for it's rugs which had fabulously complex patterns stitched into them. The rug makers would often include one tiny flaw in the symmetry of the pattern, to show that nothing except for god is truly perfect. The phrase came to symbolise the idea that even the greatest and most complex things always have some flaw, no matter how tiny.

Quote : "One of your strengths is your ability to evaluate the dynamics of a situation and then take a definitive, pre-emptive step, take charge. Now you're frustrated because you not only can't see a solution, you can't define the problem." - Riker to Picard

"Well, they say if you travel far enough you will eventually meet yourself. Having experienced that, Number One, it's not something I would care to repeat." - Picard to Riker

Plotline

When the crew finds a small shuttlecraft floating in space they retrieve it, only to find that it's one of their own - and theirs is still sitting in the very same bay. The mystery deepens when they open the craft to find an unconscious Picard inside. Although they have trouble with the shuttle's systems, the decipher enough of a log entry to find that a few hours into the future the ship encounters some form of anomaly which threatened the ship; Picard then left in a shuttle, and the ship was destroyed behind him. He apparently survived only to be thrown hours into the past. Picard must wrestle with the idea that he committed an act of cowardice and abandoned his shipmates, whilst trying to find some way to make sure history does not repeat itself.

Analysis

Looking back at this it's hard not to be coloured by the whole "Oh god, ANOTHER time travel episode?" bias... but we have to remember, this was actually the very first time travel plot that TNG ever did. At the time it felt new and different and slightly strange, with the crew grappling with a situation that made no sense, apparently with no way to succeed.

Although really, it should be obvious how to win out in this situation. In all these time loop episodes, at some point somebody says "Well let's go in a different direction," and somebody else says "for all we know, going in a different direction is what makes us hit the problem." Well, no, this CANNOT be true. The FIRST time the ship encountered the anomaly thing there was no reason to change course; they had to be going about their normal business. Therefore, logically, the anomaly must lie on their original course and so a change of course will avoid it. But in every episode they bring out that "maybe changing course is what brought about the problem" argument, and in every episode they decide to go on as usual, and in every episode it turns out to be the wrong thing to do.

But like I say, that's a burden that hadn't already slapped us in the face a dozen times when this episode aired. It's interesting to see Picard wrestling with a situation he really has no handle on, and the episode does indeed give us a convincing reason why he might have abandoned the ship. Having him subvert it as he does is an interesting "cut through the Gordian knot" moment; rare to see Picard just drop the rationalising and resort to a phaser to solve his problems.

Overall not a great episode, but an okay one.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 3,636 Last updated : 24 Nov 2014