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TNG 5-09

TNG 5x09
"A Matter of Time"

Original airdate: 11/18/1991
Rewatch date: 4/3/2012


A man who claims to be from the 26th Century comes aboard the Enterprise and witnesses a mission to restore the climate of a planet hit by an asteroid.

Spoiler-free notes:

The role of Professor Berlinghoff Rasmussen was written for Robin Williams, who is apparently a Trekkie. However, he opted out of doing the episode in order to work on Hook, which is how Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) got the job. Trying to imagine Williams in a TNG episode is pretty difficult, but considering the shoes he is filling, Frewer does a good job.

They give this guy way too much leeway. Though they remain skeptical and they eventually catch on to his deception, they grant him access to all parts of the ship, including Engineering, they let him barge into the bridge whenever he feels like it, and they don't even try to keep an eye on him.

When Rasmussen says "Data at Penthara IV," it reminds me of the Tamarians from just a few episodes ago ("Darmok"). I guess in Tamarian "Data at Penthara IV" would be translated as "a completely commonplace occurrence that is hyped up by a conman."

The greenhouse effect in this episode happens ludicrously fast.

When Data says, "Music, Professor," I get this song stuck in my head.

"A cascading exothermal inversion"?! That sounds unpleasant.

The long scene between Picard and Rasmussen is the best part of the story, because it looks at the potential ethics of time travel from a completely serious perspective. Whenever we get to see Picard grappling with his own sense of duty and morality, it's good television.

Rasmussen reminds me of a psychic who tags along on police investigations. He's really annoying, acts like he knows everything, and talks in deliberately vague riddles, but when push comes to shove, he is of no use whatsoever and his only real motivation is greed.

The deflector beam effect is pretty cool. I like how the pinpoints match the map we saw earlier of where the earthquakes occurred.

So did the time pod return to the 22nd Century? Um... Isn't that kind of a problem?

"A Matter of Time" is another lighter episode without resorting to anything too goofy. It's essentially a puzzle show, because you know from the get-go that Rasmussen is lying, though you don't know the details. There's a clever sci-fi story in there, a meditation on Hawking's time traveller paradox with a fun twist to it, but that's about it. There isn't much in the way of character development for our heroes, and the whole thing hinges on a guest star who is on screen for ninety-five percent of the episode. It's not bad, but it's not great either.



Spoiler section:

Picard talks about a temporal equivalent to the Prime Directive, which exists in the near future as, predictably enough, the Temporal Prime Directive, first mentioned in VOY's "Future's End, Part II," I think.





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