Saturday, August 12, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 151 (Timescape)

There are some movies and TV episodes that are best enjoyed when you don’t think about them too much.  When I first saw Timescape, it was a great episode.  It hasn’t aged so well upon repeated viewings.

It begins with Captain Picard, Counselor Troi, Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Lt. Cmdr. Data returning from a symposium.  They’re supposed to meet the Enterprise at a set of coordinates, but don’t find the ship when they arrive.  Instead, they find temporal distortions.  While Troi is talking, Picard, Data and La Forge all freeze for a few seconds.  Moments later, Troi is the one to freeze for a few minutes.  When they go looking for the center of the anomalies, they find the Enterprise ostensibly engaged in battle with a Romulan ship.

La Forge is able to send Picard, Troi and Data to the Enterprise, where they see Romulans boarding the ship.  The catch is that the Enterprise seems to be helping them rather than fending them off.  It also looks like the Enterprise is sending power to the Romulan ship rather than the Romulan ship using disruptors on the Enterprise.  Regardless, the Enterprise is in the middle of a warp-core breach.  Nothing can be done to prevent it; the ship will be destroyed.

After beaming back to their runabout, Picard remains while La Forge, Troi and Data examine the Romulan ship.  The find what appear to be a life form in the Romulan ship’s power core.  They also accidentally send time forward.  Picard witnesses the Enterprise explode before time resets.  So, now they have all the clues they need to fix things.  Since the show goes on for another season, it’s safe to assume that they do so.  The question is how.

One of the things that didn’t stand up is that the physics seem to be a little off.  For instance, those on the Enterprise or the Romulan ship need special armbands.  Without them, they’re integrated into the time frame.  If this is true, how do they displace the air where they’re beaming in?  For that matter, how do the transporters or communicators even work?  Wouldn’t any signal have to go through the air?  Speaking of which, they have to breathe that air.  How are they inhaling it?

One thing that caught my attention the first time I saw the episode was that La Forge had his armband deliberately removed.   Granted, He was in danger, but they didn’t beam him back to the runabout first.  He was left to be integrated into the timeframe, hoping that he’d be safe.  After that, time reverses and goes forward again.  Wouldn’t this have been to a time before La Forge was integrated into the time frame?  If they change the course of events, would La Forge still appear or was he there all along?

Also, why didn’t they call for help?  I get that they have nine hours.  The probability of another ship being in range is low, but they didn’t even send out a message advising anyone of the situation.  If not a call for help, at least a warning to stay away.

We find out that the entire thing is caused by aliens from another time continuum who need black holes to incubate their young.  Don’t they have black holes where they’re from?  Why do they need our black holes?  It’s never really explained what time continuum even means.  I’m assuming it’s an alternate dimension or something.  We don’t get much information out of them.

It’s also awfully convenient that the four of them went to the symposium.  Troi was recently abducted and held on a Romulan ship for a few days, where she apparently happened to pick up exactly enough information to tell everyone what they needed.  This is impressive, considering she was helping dissidents and had no apparent contact with engineering.  What would have happened if they hadn’t gone?  Would the two aliens have been able to fix the problem on their own?

Another thing that bothered me was that both ships were fully engulfed in same time distortion.  I realize that the Romulan ship is the epicenter, so this one is at least plausible.  However, what would have happened if part of the Enterprise wasn’t caught it in?  Could you imagine some poor guy stuck at the tail end of the ship, too scared to go into the affected areas?

It’s one of those episodes that’s enjoyable, assuming you can suspend disbelief.  If you don’t think about it too much, it’s at least coherent and evenly paced.  However, you probably will find a few things that don’t make sense.  You don’t really need to have seen previous episodes, but there are a few references.  Picard references things that happen in Time’s Arrow.  They also mention Troi’s time aboard a Romulan ship.  I still enjoyed watching the episode, even if there were a few issues.

IMDb page

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