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TNG 3-15

TNG 3x15
"Yesterday's Enterprise"

Original airdate: 2/19/1990
Rewatch date: 10/7/2011


When a predecessor to the Enterprise emerges through a temporal rift from the past, it has a dramatic and chilling effect on history.

Spoiler-free notes:

Worf lets out a great Klingon belly laugh when talking with Guinan and drinking his prune juice. Good scene.

I love the redress: darker lighting, slicker uniforms, more bridge stations, more people, extra hair gel.

This is the first time somebody has suggested time travel as a possibility and wasn't met with incredulousness. In this alternate future, people are apparently much more accepting of the possibility of moving through time. Either that, or since the Enterprise-C only moved forward through time, it is an easier pill to swallow.

The Enterprise-C looks a lot like it came from the same time period as the Enterprise-A. The uniforms and the sets all look relatively the same. I guess the jump from C to D is the most dramatic change between ships.

They don't have families on board, and yet Wesley's still at the helm.

Nice reference over the intercom to Dr. Salar from "The Schizoid Man."

I love how methodically the story lays out the conundrum. You see the ship come from the past has changed things, but the only person who knows that is Guinan, who insists the ship has to go back. You then are told that they are coming from a fierce, hopeless battle and that, if they go back, they will certainly die. Then Picard explains that the battle they left from had the potential to prevent 22 years of war. Then you find out how desperately Starfleet could use the Enterprise-C and her crew. Then, just when the decision has been made, Captain Garret is killed, changing the equation. As the audience, we know what has to be done, but if you put yourself in the shoes of alternate-Picard, you can see how difficult a decision it is.

Why does Picard meet with the senior staff in his ready room? It's awfully crowded in there, and they have a conference room for that sort of thing. Perhaps, in this timeline, the conference room has been turned into a war room or armory or military barracks or something like that.

The writers of Star Trek don't like breaking a story that doesn't develop one of the main characters, and so almost every episode can be seen as focused on one or more of them. This episode is unique in that it develops a main character who died almost two years earlier. You could also argue that it is developing a recurring character, Guinan, but that's not the main thrust of the story.

"Let's see to it that history never forgets the name Enterprise!" Man, now I want to see Patrick Stewart do Henry V.

This is a great episode, one of the best. It's a unique spin on time travel--which is hard to do--and it has a dire sense of urgency that we don't see much in this show. It's dark and brutal, but at its core is an important character story for Yar. Time and expectations have not diminished my appreciation of it. Still, the writer in me wishes there were an explanation for why the temporal rift just happens to appear in the middle of such an important historical event and why it just happens to send the Enterprise-C to an exact point in spacetime where it can meet up with the Enterprise-D. Such coincidental storytelling would be unforgiveable if this weren't Star Trek.



Spoiler section:

Whenever time travel or alternate realities are brought to bear, there's the inevitable problem of having the entire crew back together again. In this episode, it seems logical to see Yar on board, but it would be highly unlikely that the rest of the crew would remain the same. (Granted, there's no Worf or Troi.) I know you have to suspend disbelief for stories like this, but it reminds me of 2009's Star Trek in how ludicrous the coincidences have to be in order to get the right people in the right places at the right times.

The messed up thing about this episode is that it is yearning to give Yar a death that is heroic, but as we will eventually learn, the Yar who goes back in time in this episode survives the battle at Narendra III, only to die in a futile attempt to save her daughter from the Romulans who imprisoned her. It seems that, no matter what, Yar is doomed to die a pathetic death.





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