When people talk about when Star Trek the Next Generation got good, they often say it happened in season three. While Jimmy and Tom have noticed an upswing in the quality of the show of late, it’s hard to argue that the series didn’t make a grand leap forward with this one, the alternate history that was “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.
A temporal anomaly changes history when a previous Enterprise from the past appears!
jimmy: Damn. I love this episode.
tomk: And it almost ended with the violent deaths of Data and Wesley.
jimmy: I was a little curious why a ship without children still had Wesley at the helm. He’s special in every timeline I guess.
tomk: He had a contract.
jimmy: It didn’t help Worf and Troi.
tomk: One early draft had Worf being the Klingon who ordered Picard to surrender, but that was rejected as too much a coincidence.
jimmy: That crossed my mind too, but a good cut, I agree. And apparently war ships don’t need counselors. Or Troi’s dead. Or elsewhere. Maybe not part of the Federation.
tomk: Troi was watching all the children.
jimmy: Somebody had to think of the children.
tomk: Not sure why Guinan was still on the ship though.
jimmy: Even soldiers gotta eat. (But good point.)
tomk: She needed to be there. Someone had to sense something was off, and not just how Riker sounded like he wanted to punch Picard with every line.
jimmy: You’d think in the situation they’re in, with the war going as badly as it is, that Riker would have been off commanding his own ship anyways. Maybe that’s why the angst.
tomk: Or maybe he can’t hit on the ladies as much as he’d like.
jimmy: Probably not as many around since a) they’re dead or b) there are no families on the ship.
tomk: He likes married women?
jimmy: Could be single mom’s too.
tomk: By the by, the same day I watched this episode, I saw the first DS9 episode to go to the mirrorverse, so that was a good day to see alternate reality Trek.
jimmy: I bet someone evil had a goatee.
tomk: No, but Kira wore an evil headband.
jimmy: That’s the female equivalent.
tomk: That was my thinking.
jimmy: Back to Guinan…I know Picard trusts her, but it does seem like an awful leap of faith for a Starfleet Captain to believe her and send the Enterprise-C back through the rift based on “a feeling”.
tomk: Data backed her up and Angry Riker didn’t. That would have been good enough for me.
jimmy: It was a 50/50 shot really. And given the way the war was going, maybe he felt like it was worth it if Guinan was actually right. Picard even says in the episode that one old ship is not going to make a difference in the war. But if they go back…
tomk: Exactly. Klingon gratitude extends to a good effort.
jimmy: So, I wasn’t sure if they said this or not, but was the Enterprise-C destroyed with all hands on deck when it went back? I guess it wouldn’t come up in the normal timeline since they wouldn’t need to say it. One imagines they were, or there might have been more than a few questions asked about Tasha.
tomk: If I remember right…there are some questions about Tasha in future episodes.
jimmy: The interwebs says the C was destroyed and the Klingons were impressed. Not all the crew were killed…but that’s a conversation for a future date.
In either case, a much better send off for Tasha.
tomk: I strongly suspect that was one of the big reasons this episode even got made.
jimmy: There are two commentaries on the Blu-Ray for this episode that will probably give insight into that. My watching them before we move on is a different story. I am curious about the sequence of events to bring Denise Crosby back. Was this an idea they had and approached her and she said yes? (I do think the show could work if she had said no. It wouldn’t need to be restructured all that much either.)
tomk: I do know she returned a couple times over the course of the series. She must not have hated it that much.
jimmy: It probably didn’t take long for her to realize she had bailed too soon.
tomk: Well, Patrick Stewart’s continued involvement was still a big question mark even by this point.
jimmy: I vaguely remember that. Which was what added to the tension of the finale. Which we’ll get to in good time.
tomk: But also somewhat soon since we’re past the halfway point.
jimmy: Time flies.
tomk: Still, as much as I love this episode, there is a part of me that’s surprised Geordi has the same Visor and everyone else has the same haircut and almost the same uniforms.
jimmy: That did cross my mind too. Outside of Worf and Troi and Tasha being alive, it does seem a stretch that everyone ended up exactly the same except Wesley got a proper uniform.
tomk: Also, the lights were dimmed. Like, everywhere.
It was probably a budget thing. Save the money for the big expensive Borgish episodes. For something like this, elevate the Captain’s chair, give everyone a cheapish belt, and turn down the lights.
jimmy: I dunno…there was a lot of set redesign that probably wasn’t cheap. Like, someone had to pay for that extra station for some random guy to stand behind Data.
tomk: Hard to say though when everything was darker.
jimmy: War is dark, Tom.
tomk: Bad for your eyes if you’re reading, that’s for sure.
jimmy: So we’ve both stated that we loved this episode and have picked on a few things but nothing major. Was there anything that really stood out as bad? And why was it Beverly Crusher being dunce?
tomk: It was her turn?
jimmy: Was it her first day?
tomk: It was in that reality.
jimmy: lol…you’re right!
tomk: Wesley started there first.
jimmy: Since it’s a time travel episode, they always have paradoxes. This one comes out fairly well. The Enterprise-C enters the rift, immediately returns to her timeline. For the Enterprise-D, a ship briefly appears in the rift and then is gone. There appear to be repercussions later, but self contained, this one isn’t too bad.
tomk: And Worf got his prune juice.
jimmy: A warrior’s drink!
tomk: If he says so.
jimmy: That’s not a great endorsement for prune juice.
tomk: I’ve had prune juice. It is…not good.
jimmy: I can’t say I have.
tomk: Don’t bother.
Now, if I did have a criticism, it would be I would have hoped Tasha had better taste in men than some guy who messes with Happy Gilmore.
jimmy: Blondes love Shooter McGavin.
So I watched one of the commentaries. I should have taken notes, but some things that stood out.
The original version of the story had no time shift. The D crew knew that the C shouldn’t be there and needed to be sent back to be destroyed, but trying to keep that information from the C crew.
Another iteration had the time shift with Tasha returning but Riker and Geordi who were off adventuring in a shuttlecraft somehow never “shifted”.
They praised the lighting or lack there of. 🙂
Originally all the main characters except Picard were supposed to have bloody Riker-esque deaths at the end.
They mentioned when they were brainstorming the film Generations that they wished they had this episode back to use as the storyline with Kirk and crew coming through the rift.
They also thought it should have been flushed out into a two part episode, but production of the season was so chaotic it really wasn’t feasible at the time.
Unfortunately, no one had any real insight into Denise Crosby’s return.
In the last scene with Geordi and Guinan, Geordi still has his alternate timeline uniform on.
tomk: You mean…they didn’t fix everything?
Dum dum DUM!!!
tomk: Still, it did give Tasha a better send off.
jimmy: For sure.
tomk: And without whiny space blobs.
That said, episodes like this is really a sign the series has improved greatly.
jimmy: Because they turned the lights down.
tomk: Hey, simple solutions can be very effective.
jimmy: Jokes aside, this was one of the all time greats.
tomk: It was. I feel really good about projects like this when we watch episodes this good.
And episodes involving the Space Irish or the infamous sex ghost that romances Doctor Crusher in a late season does the opposite.
tomk: But that’s for later. Anything else to add here?
jimmy: Did we talk about the lighting?
tomk: I dunno. It was kinda dark…
jimmy: It was. Made it more cinematic.
tomk: True. And unlike the Battle of Winterfell, I could still see what was going on.
jimmy: Excellent point. Shall we see what’s going on in the next adventure of our crew?
tomk: How about something more low key and the directorial debut of Jonathan Frakes?
jimmy: Oh? Interesting. Have seen the cast praise Frakes’s direction a lot. And he did direct my favorite Trek film.
tomk: Insurrection? Really?
jimmy: So good.
tomk: Well, it’s no First Contact. But up next is a Data episode.