Star Trek The Next Generation: Timescape

Picard, Troi, Geordi, and Data head back to the Enterprise after three days away, only to find that time seems to have stopped in the middle of an emergency.

"It would seem that time is what we have plenty of."

This is the penultimate episode before the end-of-season cliffhanger finale, so it's not surprising that it's small scale and quiet. It's almost a bottle episode, taking place on the Enterprise, a shuttlecraft, and a Romulan ship, with just a few guest stars.

The story involves time stopping, which is always good for some striking visuals. The reveal of the Enterprise apparently mid-battle is impressive, but the standout visual is probably Dr Crusher apparently about to be shot at point blank range by a Romulan. Marina Sirtis does a good job of selling Troi's conflicted feelings about discovering both Crusher and Riker (probably the two people she's closest to on the ship) both in extremely vulnerable/injured situations.

The story itself is simple and fairly forgettable. The twist is that all the problems have been caused by an alien using Romulan form. On the one hand, it's a nice twist that the Romulans are not the bad guys here and are actually, with the Enterprise, trying to help. On the other hand, the idea that our four heroes have wandered into a serious conflict with the Romulans in a strange and possibly advantageous position was, to be honest, more interesting.

There's an odd moment where Picard gets 'temporal narcosis' (like deep sea divers' nitrogen narcosis) and goes a bit loopy, laughing maniacally and shouting. Otherwise, everything proceeds in a fairly by the numbers way. It's a pleasant enough way to spend an hour, but you can tell the creative team are saving the good stuff for the following week (something of a contrast with the previous season's penultimate episode, the much more ambitious 'The Inner Light').

Bits 'n' pieces

 - In the cold open, Riker has been injured badly enough to go to sickbay while trying to feed Data's cat Spot. What on earth did he do to the poor cat?!

 - Nice callback to Troi's experiences in 'Face of the Enemy'.

 - Having been to many academic conferences, I was really feeling the conversation about the boring papers that nearly put Troi to sleep. Best part of the episode!

 - To be fair, the conference on the psychological effect of long-term deep space assignments sounds really interesting - I'd actually have happily watched an episode about that.

 - The opening scene also contains Picard's line about a speaker who was 'quite hypnotic', much sampled on You Tube. That conversation really is the most interesting part of the episode.

Quotes

Picard: There was no opportunity. There was no pause. He just kept talking in one long, incredibly unbroken sentence, moving from topic to topic so that no one had a chance to interrupt. It was really quite hypnotic.

Fine, but no more than that. Two out of four boring academic conference papers.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

It isn't a bad episode, I agree. Lots of cool stuff, and I particularly liked the surprise that the Romulans weren't the bad guys here. But yeah, it could have been better. Excellent review, Juliette.