Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 39 (Time Squared)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

The Enterprise is going through a region of space that it believes is devoid of any other ships. That’s why it’s strange when sensors pick up a shuttlecraft with one occupant. Even stranger is that there are no other ships within sensor range. Stranger yet is that it’s one of the Enterprise’s shuttlecrafts. When the shuttlecraft is brought onboard and opened, everyone’s in for a bigger surprise: Captain Picard is the sole occupant that sensors picked up. The Picard in the shuttlecraft is unconscious. Commander Riker contacts the bridge to find that Captain Picard is safe on the bridge. What the heck is going on here? Who is this imposter and why is there now a duplicate shuttlecraft?

Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge is able to work with Lieutenant Commander Data to access the logs. They retrieve two video images and an audio recording. One image shows Riker standing in a shuttle bay watching the shuttlecraft departing. The other image shows the Enterprise being it by something and subsequently exploding. The audio recording is Picard saying that he had to watch the destruction of his ship and the deaths of all hands. The shuttlecraft’s clock is six hours ahead of normal time, so whatever’s going to happen is going to happen soon.

There’s some debate, but there’s no way of knowing where it is that they’ll be when the future unfolds itself. Before any conclusion can be reached, the ship gets caught in a vortex – the same one that was seen in the video image. It’s taking everything that the ship has to not get dragged in. The alternate Picard is of no help. He was revived, but he’s out of it. He seems to know who and where he is, but he can’t identify the other Picard. Eventually, he comes around and tells the normal Picard that he has to take the shuttlecraft through the Vortex again. Fortunately, the normal Picard is able to figure out what to do in time.

When I first saw this episode, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Even now, I can’t say that it’s anywhere above average. It was original in terms of time-travel stories, but I don’t get what the point is. Events from previous episodes are mentioned, but this episode doesn’t seem to have any impact on the rest of the series.

I really think that more could have been done with this episode. It was almost too simple in nature. No one thought to put any sort of information, such as mission reports or more log entries, on the shuttle? Why not leave a note saying where not to go? Why exactly six hours? From what I read on TV Tome, more was supposed to have been done. The vortex was supposed to have been the work of the Q, but the idea was dropped. At least that might have given some purpose to the episode.

I’d give it two stars. It’s interesting to watch and see how the Enterprise gets out of this. That’s the only reason I didn’t give away the ending. However, I still can’t recommend it unless it comes on TV. This and a few other season-two episodes seem to be nothing more than an attempt to add to the season’s episode count.

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