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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Yesterday’s Enterprise (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

Yesterday’s Enterprise is one of the best-loved pieces of Star Trek ever produced. Its inclusion is a given in absolutely any “best of” poll being run for Star Trek: The Next Generation or even the franchise as a whole. A rather thoughtful piece of high-concept science-fiction exploring the importance of the right people in the right time, Yesterday’s Enterprise is proof that The Next Generation has truly come of age. After two years of wandering in the wilderness, the show has finally found its feet.

Of course, the production of Yesterday’s Enterprise was quite traumatic. The story and script went through multiple iterations between the original pitch and the version presented on the screen. The episode was written by pretty much the entire writing staff over the Thanksgiving weekend, racing against the clock to get it finished. Due to scheduling issues with Denise Crosby and Whoopi Goldberg, it was filmed in late December instead of early January.

As with so much of the third season, there’s a sense that the episode was held together by chewing gum and rubber bands. However, also like most of the third season, that sense only comes from those delving into the behind-the-scenes stories. Looking at the episode itself, this was a show on the top of its game.

The battle bridge...

The battle bridge…

One the audio commentary, Ronald D. Moore provides a necessary sense of context for the production of Yesterday’s Enterprise:

The context of when this thing was done is important. We were behind. All the episodes were behind. We were completing things pretty much just seconds before they were shot. … So we were right up against the wall on this one. We’d just broken the story and we all jointly wrote it together.

Rather than the zenith of the season, there was a clear sense that the writing staff were fighting against time in order to get the episode finished, just trying to churn the script out.

A Yar(d) stick for the show's development?

A Yar(d) stick for the show’s development?

Director David Carson, who was responsible for The Enemy and would go on to direct the pilot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Emissary) and Star Trek: Generations, explains that nobody really had any idea that they were working on anything special, while giving a sense of the working conditions:

Yesterday’s Enterprise is widely regarded as one of the single best episodes of TNG, if not the best of them all. How much of a clue, going into it, did you have that it could turn out to be something special?

I had none, really. I think when you come in as a visitor, as a guest to direct a series like Star Trek, which has a vast universe that you’re trying to plug yourself into, you don’t have the opportunity to compare what you’re doing to what other people have done. You have to be guided by Rick and David and the people who are actually there all the time working on it. In my case, they encouraged me to work with the material in the way that I used to in Europe and give them that thing I was supposedly bringing to them. But I did know that Yesterday’s Enterprise started off under extraordinarily unusual circumstance. Having done The Enemy, they asked me to come back and do the next show, which wasn’t Yesterday’s Enterprise. It was a different script altogether. But when I arrived for the first day of eight days of prep, they told me that they’d just discovered that Whoopi Goldberg was available and they wanted to use one of the stories that she featured in.

But there was no script…

So, with eight days to go, we all gathered around this big conference table in the Star Trek offices and looked at an outline, and this outline was Yesterday’s Enterprise. But it was incredibly complicated, this outline, because it involved having two bridges of the Enterprise, turning everything around and making it a completely different parallel universe, and building up ships and things like that. So we had this extraordinary situation where we on the production side went ahead with our plans. The set builders and everybody else went ahead and built these sets whilst the writers were writing. And the two, luckily, matched together completely. But we had no way of knowing that we weren’t going to go off in completely divergent paths. Fortunately, the story we were going to tell was so interesting and I think it was the first time the TNG actors were stepping into a completely different universe to their own. And they, as actors, really loved doing it. Patrick Stewart loved playing that war-like captain in a war situation after 20 years of war. So it was nerve-wracking at times. We built all these sets, and the scenes and the dialogue just fell perfectly into that.

It’s phenomenal that Yesterday’s Enterprise worked as well as it did.

Purple haze...

Purple haze…

In hindsight, it’s very easy to point to Yesterday’s Enterprise as the point at which the tide had turned on the show. The third season had been pretty strong up to this point, but Yesterday’s Enterprise opens a stretch of the season including The Offspring and Sins of the Father. Putting Yesterday’s Enterprise in that context, it would seem to be the moment at which absolutely everything changed on the show, as if everybody working on the series realised the full potential of the spin-off.

And it’s clear that somebody at Paramount believed in Yesterday’s Enterprise. The episode’s production values are through the roof. Although it’s clear corners have been cut to save costs (the old Enterprise crew wear movie-era uniforms, the old Enterprise bridge is a re-dressed battle bridge set), the episode features a whole host of re-designed sets, adjusted costumes, special effects and model work. Although David Carson’s direction and Marvin Rush’s cinematography contribute to the episode’s cinematic feel, along with sterling work from the production design team, there’s a sense that somebody knew the episode was a winner.

"Okay! Who has been filling the consoles with rock again?"

“Okay! Who has been filling the consoles with rock again?”

That said, that somebody wasn’t necessarily working in the trenches. On the episode’s audio commentary, Ira Steven Behr and Mike Okuda remark that Yesterday’s Enterprise didn’t seem like a big deal in the early phases of production:

That’s the part that always drives to me to distraction, this idea that it was the renaissance. I wish we could have enjoyed it. I wish we knew it at the time. It was so not the renaissance within the Hart Building. It was literally “I gotta get through the day.” I don’t know what anyone else was thinking but for me…

Even in the art department, as you said, it was just another script. And it was a huge amount of work. This episode killed us. And I didn’t think that there was anything special to it until a few weeks after principle photography. Ron Moore, the effects supervisor, came up and he showed me the rough cut of the episode. I had no idea.

On that commentary, Behr and Moore talk about the stress of corralling the writing staff into working over Thanksgiving to get the script done on time. (And Behr fondly remembering Moore’s eagerness to write not only the teaser, but the final act. “Put me in coach!”)

Apparently, the teaser was pruned quite a bit...

Apparently, the teaser was pruned quite a bit…

Of course, Yesterday’s Enterprise has a very mixed-up and convoluted production history. Eric Stillwell was able to write an entire book about the production of the episode, and his initial pitch and the initial pitch from Trent Ganino were both quite different to what ended up on screen:

Trent had submitted a speculative script called Yesterday’s Enterprise, about an Enterprise from the past coming through a time anomaly into the TNG present day. There was no altered universe scenario, just Picard confronted with the dilemma of sending these people back to their own time to fulfil their own destiny and avoid any possibility of altering time. Problem was, we knew from the history books that their fate ended in death and destruction. But do we tell them this and give them a fighting chance for survival, or do we avoid telling them to prevent any possible alteration of history and send them back to a certain death? This is the ethical dilemma that confronts the crew throughout the story.

Simultaneously, I’d been working on my own story for a pitch about bringing Sarek on the show. Gene Roddenberry had circulated a memo saying it was unlikely they could ever afford to bring Leonard Nimoy on the show, but that Mark Lenard might be interested in making a guest appearance. I’d been working on a story that would’ve involved the Guardian of Forever and a Vulcan archeology team doing historical research on ancient Vulcan in the days of Surak, the founder of modern Vulcan philosophy. The Enterprise takes Ambassador Sarek to the Guardian planet to retrieve the archaeological team, but an accident occurs and Surak is killed. Suddenly all of history is changed when the Vulcans fail to follow the peaceful, logical path, and the present-day Federation finds itself at war with the Vulcan-Romulan Empire. Sarek, who was on the planet at the time, realizes what has happened and must convince Picard to send him back in time to repair the damage caused by Surak’s death. In effect, Sarek becomes Surak.

Some of the core elements are there (altered time line, old Enterprise), but they still needed to be fused into one cohesive story.

Somebody hasn't been taking proper care of their ship...

Somebody hasn’t been taking proper care of their ship…

It’s worth pausing here to note that Yesterday’s Enterprise could also be seen as something of a companion piece to Harlan Ellison’s acclaimed The City on the Edge of Forever. Ellisan’s original draft for the episode included several elements trimmed from subsequent drafts for various reasons. Some were cut for budget, some were cut for time, some were cut in order to make the script run a bit smoother.

One of those elements removed from Ellison’s original story was the idea of time travel altering the present. In a way, it remains in the finished episode – McCoy allowing Hitler to win the second world war effectively destroys the universe. The Enterprise crew can’t pick up any sign of civilisation in the cosmos. However, Ellison’s original idea was that the Enterprise would be morphed into the Condor, a pirate ship that had led a much harsher life. It’s not too difficult to imagine the alternate Enterprise from Yesterday’s Enterprise as a spiritual successor to the Condor.

You'd imagine the Enterprise could really use some proper fuses...

You’d imagine the Enterprise could really use some proper fuses…

As if the writing team didn’t have enough to contend with inside the episode’s running time, it also brought back Denise Crosby, who had departed the show in the first season’s Skin of Evil. In The Making of Yesterday’s Enterprise, writer Eric Stillwell recounts how he came to incorporate her in later drafts:

As we were talking later, Denise – who never admitted that it had been a mistake to leave the series – did admit that she missed being a part of the show and suggested, “Why don’t you write a script to bring me back.” I hadn’t really given much thought to the idea before that, but suddenly the famous words of Leonard Nimoy filled my mind: “Nobody ever dies in science fiction.”

This added quite a lot to Yesterday’s Enterprise, on top of the time travel story, the changing history story and the old Enterprise story. Ronald D. Moore added the extra element of the Federation being at war with the Klingons in this alternate time line.

Again with the Klingons!

Again with the Klingons!

The script for Yesterday’s Enterprise is just this incredibly collection of different elements added at different points by different people for different reasons; it’s a wonder the script works at all, let alone that it turned out to be one of the best episodes of the franchise. Stillwell compared the writing process to “a jigsaw puzzle”, and it doesn’t sound too much like an exaggeration of what was going on behind the scenes.

By all accounts, the script should have been an unholy mess, but Yesterday’s Enterprise turns out to be something of a perfect storm. It was the right combination of the the right people at the right time. In a way, it almost mirrors the tragic story of the Enterprise-C, given a doomed mission that actually makes all the difference in the world. It’s an episode that genuinely deserves its place among the mostly highly regarded episodes of Star Trek ever produced.

Into the void...

Into the void…

In Star Trek FAQ 2.0 (Unofficial and Unauthorized), Mark Clark makes a compelling case for the episode’s high profile:

Many fans and critics now consider it the single greatest episode of The Next Generation. It was selected as such in six different fan polls taken over the years and was named one of the series’ best instalments by both TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Rick Berman lists it and The Measure of a Man as his personal favourite Next Gen episodes. Yesterday’s Enterprise also earned three Emmy nominations, winning for Outstanding Sound Editing and losing in the categories of Sound Mixing and Music (score). By any yardstick, it stands among the greatest works in the history of not only The Next Generation, but the entire franchise.

While any concept like “the best” or “best of” will inevitably be subjective, it’s hard to argue with that much evidence.

"That'll be the day..."

“That’ll be the day…”

There are a lot of reasons why Yesterday’s Enterprise works. The most obvious is the sheer weight of the world crafted in forty-five minutes. Thanks to the writers, the actors, and the wonderful production design team, it’s immediately clear that we’ve shifted over to a dystopia. Picard is frequently reviewing tactical data charting Klingon fleet movements; everybody carries phasers all the time; Picard keeps a “military log” and refers to the Enterprise as a “battleship”; the lighting is darker; the camera work is a bit more claustrophobic.

The script for Yesterday’s Enterprise is very good at suggesting things without stating them outright. There’s a lot to unpack about the interpersonal dynamics on the alt!Enterprise, but not a lot of time in which to do it. So the script hints and prods in particular directions, trusting the viewer to reach their own conclusions about interpersonal dynamics on board this ship that looks so familiar and yet feels so strangely alien.

Getting Picard on board with this idea...

Getting Picard on board with this idea…

Where is Troi? The obvious implication is that there’s no room for that sort of glad-handing on the alt!Enterprise. Worf’s absence reinforces the idea that this is dystopia. The teaser gave us our first glimpse of Worf laughing, reminding us of how the Klingon had integrated so completely with the crew that he could drink prune juice and talk candidly about sex. So his absence from this most brutal of timelines demonstrates that the very real cost of the war between the Federation and the Klingons.

What is up between Riker and Picard, for example? The nickname “Number One” isn’t uttered in the script. The two seem to be at odds. When the Enterprise-C arrives, Riker has no time for Picard’s caution. “Respectfully, if I may suggest regardless of where they came from, they are here now and they need our help.” Picard, on the other hand, is decidedly more cautious, “Commander, we will handle this one step at a time.”

Shedding some light on the matter...

Shedding some light on the matter…

It becomes even more obvious in later scenes. In Piacrd’s briefing (held in his ready room), Riker sits at the back of the room, as far from his superior as possible. When Picard outlines his plan, Riker responds, “Sir, if you’d like my opinion…” Picard coldly and matter-of-factly cuts across him, “I think I’m aware of your opinion, Commander. This is a briefing. I’m not seeking your consent.” We never find out what’s at the root of this personality clash, and it’s much better that way – it’s up to the viewer to try to piece it all together.

Indeed, this ambiguity permeates the episode, which makes sense when Picard is asked to sacrifice his universe on Guinan’s gut instinct. The relationship between Guinan and Picard would remain ambiguous throughout the show’s run (even after Time’s Arrow), but it’s most potent here. We already know that Guinan would follow Picard around the galaxy, but here we discover that Guinan would follow Picard to war; and also that he would allow her to join him on the frontier.

Ghost ship...

Ghost ship…

The script for Yesterday’s Enterprise is deliberately ambiguous about the relationship between Picard and Guinan. Their friendship and trust is treated as absoluter. When Garrett asks Picard about Guinan, he avoids specifics, “I discovered long ago that she has a special wisdom. I’ve learned to trust it.” The script doesn’t give us too much to go on, but it’s shrewd enough to trust Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Stewart to carry the material, and they do so.

(The casting on Yesterday’s Enterprise is also top notch. Supporting characters like Rachel Garrett and Richard Castillo barely exist on the page. However, veteran supporting performers Tricia O’Neill and Christopher McDonald breath a tremendous amount of life into the only two staff members of the doomed Enterprise-C that we get to know. It’s a demonstration of just how perfectly attuned every aspect of Yesterday’s Enterprise actually is.)

A kiss at the end of the world...

A kiss at the end of the world…

The script for Yesterday’s Enterprise is extraordinarily structured. It’s a story involving concepts like alternate universes and temporal causality. Although these had been staples of science-fiction for decades, they weren’t really part of the mainstream vernacular in the early nineties. So the fact that Yesterday’s Enterprise is able to unfold across two timelines with a minimum of exposition is quite remarkable.

The script is surprisingly lean. The episode never confirms through dialogue that alt!Data’s supposition was correct and that the Enterprise-C led to peace with the Klingons. The episode trusts the audience to be able to keep up with that internal logic, without too much hand-holding. That’s an extraordinary amount of confidence in the audience, and a sign of how The Next Generation was growing in confidence and charm.

Stuck in a time Worf...

Stuck in a time Worf…

In Living with Star Trek: American Culture and the Star Trek Universe, Lincoln Geraghty argues that Yesterday’s Enterprise is an example of how The Next Generation helped to popularise multi-form narratives in popular culture:

With Star Trek the multiform story works because it has a narrative history which serves as a basis for many of its episodes; there is already a narrative framework in place for multiple plots to expand upon and characters to harmonise with. For fans, its ‘alternate versions of reality’ are part of the way they experience their own world and, as a result, part of how they identify themselves and want to imagine the future. As ever, science fiction succeeds in extrapolating ideas about the future by using contemporary methods of storytelling very much grounded in literary tradition. Rather than being a twenty-fourth-century tale about the future, Star Trek can, and may well always, be considered a story about contemporary society and how we deal with our own past and present.

In Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, actor Jonathan Frakes joked about the complexity of the show’s narrative. “To this day I do not understand Yesterday’s Enterprise. I do not know what the f%$@ happened in that episode. I’m still trying to understand it – but I liked the look.”

Picard's attempts to save on the Enterprise's electricity bill were a constant source of frustration to Riker...

Picard’s attempts to save on the Enterprise’s electricity bill were a constant source of frustration to Riker…

While Frakes may well be joking, it’s easy to understand how the show could be confusing. It’s a testament to the writers involved that Yesterday’s Enterprise is structured so clearly and that it’s all easy enough to follow for most of the viewers at home. (At least, based on the episode’s reputation and popularity.) Yesterday’s Enterprise is an ambitious piece of storytelling. The fact that it has become a fan favourite means that it has been discussed and watched and re-watched and picked apart time and time again, but it still holds up, despite all the potential complexities in the script.

That said, the episode is assisted by the willingness of the writers to delve into the franchise’s history. A lot of Yesterday’s Enterprise relies on a casual understanding of how Star Trek works. There’s no real in-depth or insider knowledge required, but it trades off the franchise’s iconography. The show casually mentions the Romulans and the Klingons, without having any (save Worf) appear on screen. It plays off the idea that even the most casual viewers will accept the possibility of the Klingon Empire and the Federation being at war with one another.

The empty chair...

The empty chair…

As an aside, it’s interesting that the Klingons are winning the war. Most portrayals of the Klingon Empire in the nineties tend to portray the Empire as a spent force, a political entity rotting away from the inside. Sins of the Father will reveal that the Empire is inherently corrupt and decayed, suggesting that the Romulans have managed to reach the highest levels of influence and that the Empire is just going through the pantomime of honour and strength. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country reveals that the Klingons sued for peace after an economic disaster in the late twenty-second century.

Of course, neither had aired when Yesterday’s Enterprise was written. Although Star Trek tends to suggest the Klingon Empire stagnates in times in peace, with decay setting in quite quickly, the implication is that the Klingon Empire thrives in war. That is part of the reason why Gowran is so keen to invade Cardassia in The Way of the Warrior, with a Changeling influencing him. In contrast, the Federation is a political entity ill-suited to long and protracted warfare. Quite simply, Yesterday’s Enterprise suggests that Picard and his crew simply cannot exist in a warlike universe.

Core values...

Core values…

In terms of the wider context of Star Trek, it’s worth noting that Yesterday’s Enterprise is an episode that revolves around the Enterprise-C, a missing link between the Enterprise-A appearing in the big-screen adventures of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise-D featured in The Next Generation. So far, The Next Generation has been somewhat reluctant to explore the big gap that exists between the classic Star Trek and The Next Generation.

The show has been unwilling to commit to any concrete facts about lifespan of the Enterprise-B and the Enterprise-C. In fact, up until Yesterday’s Enterprise, we could only infer their existence from the registry number on this Enterprise. That ambiguity extended outwards to the wider fictional universe. We were told (in The Neutral Zone) that the Romulans effectively entered hibernation between the two eras. Episodes like Heart of Glory and Samaritan Snare can’t seem to decide whether the Klingons have joined the Federation.

Everything is in flames...

Everything is in flames…

So Yesterday’s Enterprise features an attempt to fill that lacuna in continuity. It demonstrates a growing sense of comfort with the history of Star Trek, as if The Next Generation is comes to terms with its place in the larger franchise. This is an idea that is inevitably building towards the broadcast of Sarek near the end of the season and the guest appearance of Spock in Reunification; it’s a process that will be far from painless, but is a necessary part of The Next Generation growing up and coming into its own.

The script even manages to touch upon all the necessary big ideas in the time allotted. At one point, Picard even questions the assumption that his timeline is somehow inherently “wrong.” It’s something that alternate universe stories tend to take for granted, assuming that the universe we are most familiar with in inherently correct. “Who is to say that this history is any less proper than the other?” Picard challenges. While Yesterday’s Enterprise never really delves into that barrel of worms, it is great to see the topic broached, even fleetingly.

Ships named Enterprise...

Ships named Enterprise…

Of course, despite the literal and metaphorical darkness on board the alt!Enterprise, it’s worth noting that Yesterday’s Enterprise remains inherently optimistic. Despite the fact that it’s set in a universe where the crew of the Enterprise is brutally gunned down by marauding Klingons, and the Federation itself will soon be overrun by the enemy at the gates, Yesterday’s Enterprise is built on the idea that the right person at the right time can change the flow of history. It’s not even about winning; the Enterprise-C is almost definitely going to be destroyed in the fight. Making the attempt is enough. Trying to help is what matters.

“One more ship will make no difference in the here and now,” Picard tells Garrett as he attempts to convince her to journey back into the fray. “But twenty two years ago, one ship could have stopped this war before it started.” There’s an incredible nobility to that sentiment, and a charming optimism to the idea that even an ill-fated rescue mission is important enough to change the course of history so profoundly. It’s small acts of decency, even those doomed to failure, that make the world a better place. That’s a very Star Trek idea.

All the cool kids sit in the back...

All the cool kids sit in the back…

Which brings us to Yar. Yar is a bit of a problem character, although less so here than she has been or will be again. Yesterday’s Enterprise is quite brutal in calling out the first season death of the Enterprise’s Chief of Security. When she presses Guinan for details of her death in the original timeline, Guinan insists that she doesn’t have the details, “But I do know it was an empty death. A death without purpose.” That’s a pretty cold thing to tell a work colleague, and also a bit of scathing self-criticism from the show itself.

Skin of Evil was a pretty terrible episode, for any number of reasons. However, the decision to kill of Yar so suddenly wasn’t inherently a poor choice. It could have been executed better, and it was arguably a little overly ambitious. It wasn’t a decision that the show was mature enough to carry off at the time, certainly. However, this idea that space could carry dangers real enough to kill the Chief of Security at any time over something relatively trivial is not completely without merit.

Garrett, we hardly knew ye...

Garrett, we hardly knew ye…

After all, the moral of Yesterday’s Enterprise is that even doomed acts of bravery and compassion are worth something. Given that Yar was killed while trying to save Troi, surely the same logic applies. Yar died randomly and senselessly, but while doing her duty and trying to help somebody in need. The only difference is that Yar’s death didn’t bring galactic peace or anything like that, but the moral of Yesterday’s Enterprise would seem downright cynical if it were to become results-orientated.

The problem with Skin of Evil was the execution, rather than the core idea. It feels a little gratuitous to bring Yar back and offer her a more “meaningful” death. Of course, this becomes an even bigger problem in retrospect. Upgrading Yar from “random senseless death” to “meaningful television death” might be a little ham-fisted and might serve to undermine the one interesting aspect of Skin of Evil, but at least the episode’s heart is in the right place.

Taking it home...

Taking it home…

However, Redemption, Part II later clarifies that Yar survived the ambush and was taken captive by the Romulans, where she gave birth to a child. So, in effect, what we’ve actually shifted from is “random senseless death” to “rape victim murdered off-screen.” And all in service of a soap-opera-esque “identical relative” plotline that doesn’t ever seem to go anywhere. Again, this might not be particularly problematic on its own terms, but in the wider context of how The Next Generation tended to treat its female leads, that revelation can’t help but sting.

Still, all of this is over a season away. As far as anybody was aware at the time, Yesterday’s Enterprise had given Tasha Yar a much more “important” death than the one depicted in the first season. It is really the only point where Yesterday’s Enterprise veers towards cliché, but it’s not necessarily a poor decision. It’s a piece of self-criticism that stings, because it feels like criticism misses the point of the earlier episode. Skin of Evil was an absolutely dire piece of television, but not because Yar’s death was too random or senseless; but because the show hadn’t yet figured out how do “random or senseless.”

Back to normal...

Back to normal…

That’s a very minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, and it’s a criticism that can be easily dismissed. Regardless of how “random or senseless” Yar’s death was in Skin of Evil, it didn’t serve Denise Crosby well as an actress, and it didn’t serve the viewers particularly well either. So it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that this revision is fair game. And it is nice to see The Next Generation willing to engage in self-criticism and self-analysis. Much like the attempts to undermine the show’s over-confidence in the second season, this sort of self-reflection is undoubtedly a good thing.

Yesterday’s Enterprise is a phenomenal piece of television. It is superbly crafted at every level of production. David Carson’s direction, the script, the production design, the performances… everybody knocks it out of the park. A fantastic job from all involved, and a demonstration of just what The Next Generation was capable of at this point in its  life cycle

Read our reviews of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation:

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11 Responses

  1. Great review.

    This season in general and episodes like this in particular was the first time Picard’s crew felt like human beings – in some ways the Federation humans of the early show felt far more alien than the Cardassians or Klingons, with their cold arrogance and holier than thou hyperrationalism (a trait which was present as late as ‘The Bonding’.)

    One aspect that I’ve always had difficulty with is the existance of Guinan on the Enterprise in this altered timeline. What is a civilian bartender even doing on the flagship at such a desperate moment in a long running war?

    • Yep, that is admittedly a minor problem.

      Although I can justify it by arguing that she was somehow Picard’s confidante in this time line as well, and that he insisted she be assigned. (Besides, the bar is easy enough to justify on a war ship assigned to deep space with over 700 people on board. One imagines shore leave is a low priority.) Then again, given it’s unlikely that Time’s Arrow happened in this alternate universe, one wonders how Picard and Guinan became so close. Time travel and alternate universes make my head hurt.

      Then again, as you said, the episode really is strong enough to justify such a leap of faith.

  2. My personal favorite episode of all of Trek I admit, though honestly I don’t really know why, to this day I’m not sure. Even after reading this and a bunch of other reviews, just not sure 😛 I just really like it, and it seems to have had a huge impact on the franchise, being the basis for later episode (like ENT’s Twilight and I’m sure a bunch of other episodes I’m sure but can’t remember atm :P) and was cited even by the AbramsTrek writers as a major influence.

    • (like ENT’s Twilight and I’m sure a bunch of other episodes but can’t remember atm :P)*

  3. So didn’t Star Trek 09’s premise of a portal sending a ship back to time, changing the timeline get ripped off from this episode? I think it’s the producers of the Abrams Trek’s favorite episode. Also apparently Parallels was a favorite of theirs, and the Unification two parter, which it all draws from. Strange that a TOS reboot draws so much from TNG.

    And yeah, excellent episode, prob my personal favorite. Though superficial, my favorite part is the bridge. It still stands the test of time and looks 100 times better than the normal bridge. I love the lighting.

  4. Too bad the Wesley decapitation scene never got filmed, that would have made this perhaps the greatest thing to ever be filmed for all of eternity. Oh and Worf I believe was originally going to be the one leading the Klingon attacks. So it would have had Worf murdering all his friends. Fucked up…

    • I don’t know. I think having Worf murder his friends would be took much of “it’s a small universe” thing, although you’re right that it would convey how “broken” the universe was.

      • Then again he becomes a weird BDSM stock cartoon villain in the DS9 mirror universe episode….

      • Wouldn’t the Enterprise C appearing just where the Enterprise D is be too much of “its a small universe” to you?

      • I don’t remember who said it, but I once read a quote that argued in fiction you get one big “get”, one massive contrivance that starts off the story – maybe it’s the characters being in the right place at the right time, maybe it’s the fact that only they have the ability to help. After that, you’re at the audience’s indulgence.

        I’d argue that the Enterprise-D encountering the Enterprise-C is the episode’s big “get”, if that makes sense. It’s the entire plot of the episode, so it’s a contrivance that the script can get away with.

  5. While I do not find this episode as overwhelming as the consensus demands, the style and Picard’s line “The war is going very bad for the Federation” alone gives me the creeps. This whole episode, showing only a glimpse of another universe and the Klingon war, felt A LOT more believable than the whole of ST:Discovery’s attempt at this Klingon war-issue.

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