Tomorrow is Yesterday
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
26 Jan 1967
Season Ep :
When they beam the pilot from the cockpit of the plane he appears on the transporter pad stood upright. Shouldn't he be in a seated position?
Great Moment :
The look on the guard's face when he gets beamed up the Enterprise.
Body Count :
This episode was originally meant to follow directly on from "The Naked Time". The time jump experienced by the ship at the end of that episode would originally have been the event that threw the ship back to 1960s Earth.
The radio news intercepted by Uhura states that the a manned Moon shot is departing Cape Kennedy on the following Wednesday. In reality, the Apollo 11 mission was indeed launched on Wednesday the 16th of July, 1969.
This episode was first aired on the 26th of January 1967, one day before the tragic fire that killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
Talking about the Enterprise, Kirk tells Christopher that there are "only twelve like it in the fleet". This could be interpreted to mean there are twelve such ships in total, or twelve plus the Enterprise.
The first ever Star Trek technical manual, written by Franz Joseph, references this episode by claiming that the Enterprise computer accidentally transmitted a copy of technical information about Starfleet to a US military computer system in Omaha. This was claimed to be the source of the information in the manual, which officials had determined to be a hoax.
The Enterprise has been catapulted through time and space after an encounter with a black star. The ship is disabled and falling into the atmosphere of a planet. As they struggle to regain power a fighter aircraft rises from the surface on an intercept course, investigating the mysterious craft which has suddenly appeared in the sky. Onboard the Enterprise Uhura is able to intercept transmissions from the surface indicating a startling truth - the planet is Earth, in the 1960s! The ship struggles to reattain orbit, but the fighter is closing fast. Spock states that military aircraft of the era could carry nuclear weapons, and if one should hit the Enterprise when the shields were not functioning great damage could be caused. When an order to fire on the Enterprise is picked up Kirk has a tractor beam locked onto the fighter. Unfortunately the comparative fragility of the aircraft means that it begins to break up in the beam. With the pilot at risk, Kirk has the transporter lock on and beam him aboard.
The pilot arrives on board in obvious confusion, but when Kirk talks to him he falls back on his training by giving his name rank and serial number - Captain John Christopher, 4857932. Kirk assures the pilot that they mean him no harm, and takes him to the bridge. Christopher is suitably amazed by the size of the Enterprise, along with the fact that there are many female crew aboard. He is even more surprised to arrive on the bridge and see Spock present.
The ship releases the destroyed fighter, allowing it to fall back to the ground. With power restored they accelerate up into orbit, raising the deflectors to prevent detection by the crude radars of the day. However, they are left with a problem given the presence of Captain Christopher. If he is returned his first duty will be to report on what has happened, an action which will change the course of human history. Kirk gently breaks the news to Christopher that he cannot be allowed to return. Christopher wonders whether the problem doesn't cut both ways, with his absence changing history just as much, but a search of the records indicates that he never made any significant contribution to history. When Scotty reports that the warp engines should be operational shortly, Christopher comments that with nowhere to go, Kirk is just as isolated as he is.
Shortly afterwards, Christopher makes an escape attempt. He manages to overcome a security guard and steal a hand phaser, and makes his way to a transporter room. He holds the weapon on Chief Kyle, demanding to be transported down to the surface. However Kirk arrives in time to get the drop on him and knock him out. He is taken to sickbay and Kirk and McCoy discuss his predicament, noting that even if they find a way to return home the pilot would be a man out of time, in a culture where everything he knew was centuries out of date. Worse, he would be cut off forever from everyone he had ever known, including his family. Spock arrives with bad news. In his earlier search he neglected to check for historical contributions made by Christopher's descendants. In actual fact he will father a son, Colonel Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, who will head the first mission to Saturn. Keeping him captive will thus cause just as big a problem for history as returning him. Christopher is delighted to learn that he is going to have a son.
On top of these problems comes yet another one. Christopher's fighter crashlanded in Southern Nebraska, and will easily be recovered by the military. Not only will they discover that Christopher was not in the plane when it crashed, they will also recover the film from his wing cameras, film that contains excellent images of the Enterprise. Along with their recording of his radio communications describing the ship, the US military has proof positive of a real live "UFO".
Kirk decides that they must recover the film and recordings at any cost. Without evidence to support him, Christopher can be returned to Earth and will just become another person who thought he saw a UFO. With the prospect of returning Christopher agrees to co-operate, and sketches a layout of his base showing where the tapes and film will most likely be kept. Kirk and Sulu beam down, quickly finding the correct room and locating the tapes. Unfortunately they are caught by a security guard. He confiscates a communicator, only to have it beep as the ship hails to check on Kirk's progress. The guard opens the communicator and presses a button at random, prompting the ship to beam him up. The stunned man is quickly disarmed and held in the transporter room.
Kirk and Sulu go to the photo lab to find the films. They succeed in finding them, but accidentally trip a silent alarm. Kirk is able to delay the security team long enough for Sulu to beam up to the ship with the evidence. Kirk is questioned, but provides little in the way of answers.
Spock decides on a rescue mission, but Christopher insists on accompanying him this time. They beam down and disable the guards holding Kirk, but Christopher grabs one of their guns and attempts escape. Unfortunately for him Spock suspected such a trick and is able to approach him from behind and render him unconscious. The whole landing party then beams up, Christopher included.
Spock suggests a solution to their problem. It was a combination of warp drive and the gravity of the black star that threw them back in time. He suggests that they might be able to recreate the effect by warping around the sun. The effect will throw them back in time and then forward again as they escape. They can use the transporter to beam both the guard and Christopher back into their own bodies at the moment they were first beamed up. Whilst both men will remember what has happened the actual events themselves will be effectively removed from history, leaving them nothing to report about. Although the plan seems ideal there is one potential problem... the ship will have to do extreme speed to sling itself forward in time, and there may not be enough braking control to stop at the right moment. They could end up overshooting their own time, or even be torn apart as they try to stop the ship.
With no other choice available Kirk decides to try the procedure. The Enterprise warps away from Earth, with Kirk pointing out to Christopher that nobody in his time has had a chance to fly this far into space. They warp around the sun and break away successfully, beaming both men back at just the right moment. The ship flies on into the future, and is able to successfully stop at just the right moment in time.
A good episode, this one, and the first where they really explored the idea time travel. Seeing the crew struggling to contain the damage they have done to the past is interesting, especially as their problems mount with Christopher aboard, then the revelation about the tapes and film, then the guard beamed up by mistake and the ugly fact that they are essentially screwed whether they return him or not.
The main weakness is the resolution. Frankly it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. They go back in time to the point where they beamed Christopher up, and then they... what, exactly? Beam him into
himself somehow? How's that supposed to work, really? I mean, wouldn't there be two Enterprises in existence at once in this scenario, the version that arrived there first and then the second from when they went back in time again? And wouldn't his cameras still have the pictures of that original Enterprise on them? And whilst it's implied that Christopher will remember what happened, he actually acts as though he has no idea. It's like their passing through the second time meant that they'd never arrived the first time. But if they were never there in the first place then who was it that went back in time at the end to be there the second time... time travel stories rarely make any real sense.
Still, despite that this is a good episode with some fun moments. I enjoyed it a lot.
One of the more heavily altered episodes, this. We have a vast improvement in the opening sequence of the Enterprise struggling in Earth's atmosphere as Christopher's fighter approaches. There's the usual improved planet orbiting shots, too. But by far the most improved sequence is the final slingshot around the sun, which is really impressive stuff.