Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TNG Ep. 39: Time Squared

You can tell by the name that this episode will have something to do with time. I'm a sucker for wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff! Er, even when it's not Dr. Who. ANYWAY.

The Enterprise runs across a damaged shuttlecraft, which upon rescue, turns out to be an Enterprise shuttlecraft with Captain Picard in it. That makes two of them - both the shuttlecraft and Captain Picard were already on board, and it turns out that the new Captain and shuttlecraft are from six hours in the future. The crew also recover, with some difficulty, a partial video and log from the future shuttlecraft which shows the Enterprise being shot to pieces inside of some kind of vortex. The crew debates about fate and whether a time loop can be broken. In the meantime, the future Captain Picard is unhelpful because being out of time has put him in a kind of half-coma-nightmare state which only wears off as the Enterprise reaches his rightful time. The Enterprise encounters the vortex, which seems to be sentient, and all attempts to escape fail. Picard confronts Picard in his attempt to define his options and chose the best one. He choses to send the Enterprise into the vortex, and it works - unfortunately he has to shoot himself to do it, but at least the dead Picard and the future shuttlecraft disappear, leaving only O'Brian and the Doctor as the wiser. (Haha, the Doctor...)

I like that Picard decides to continue on their previous course, knowing that time loops aren't so easily avoided as simply turning around. Or maybe they are, but we don't get to find that out. Kidding, kidding. Picard seems to have learned from all his encounters with super powerful alien beings that like to run experiments on the Enterprise and so forth. The universe isn't that simple or that easily foiled, otherwise the episodes would be much shorter.

This episode doesn't connect much to the emerging overall plot of TNG, but I still felt that it was done well. The episodic quality is used to emphasize that "where no man has gone before" feeling. The Enterprise meets something strange, but it's a short encounter, and they don't have to learn everything about the vortex-creature for the episode to end. They're mostly just glad that they survived!

Except for future-Picard. He did not survive. Even if you take into account that he no longer exists because the time loop was broken, for a moment there, present-Picard shot him and he was dead. I have to say, that's pretty ballsy. It's one thing to know intellectually that you have to shoot someone who is, in one sense, you, and quite another to actually do it. On the one hand I'm willing to bet that Picard has personally shot people to death before. We know that he's at least ordered the destruction of a hostile Ferengi ship, but I mean that he's probably killed people in one-on-one combat. How else would he have survived so long in such a dangerous line of work? But then add on top of that the fact that it was himself that he shot, and... Well, I wouldn't want to be him. Or at least, I wouldn't want to be the sacrificed future-him!

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