Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Five "Conspiracy"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Five "Conspiracy"
Production Order: 25
Air Order: 25
Stardate: 41775.5
Original Air Date: May 9, 1988

Let's be honest: I could have posted this for the last 49 weeks, and it would still be true.


Riker's Log 41775.5: "Going to this one planet  - Pacifica - with a bunch of beaches. Gonna do some science stuff, yeah, but also, gonna do some swimming and tropical vacay things while we're there."

So right off the bat we know two things:
1. They're not going to Pacifica.
2. What they're going to be waylaid with is going to be unpleasant.

Because this is Star Trek, anytime they tell us that they're going on shore leave, or they're going to be visiting someplace nice, you know they're going to get side-tracked. There isn't money in Star Trek's ever-shitty budget to ship them all to some lovely place where they'll film on location, and there also seems to be some kind of weird formula that states that the nicer their intended location, the worse the actual destination will be. For instance, last week the E was headed for some bona fide shore leave, and where do they end up? Some rock out in BFE.

Down at the front of the bridge, Geordi tells Data a joke. We only hear the punchline, but it doesn't sound like it's all that great a joke, so no worries. What we're supposed to be looking for here is Data's reaction - how does a dude with no sense of humor, but a sense of irony, deal with a joke? He dissects it. And in this case, he decides that it's probably funny, and he starts laughing. It's the fakest, creepiest laugh ever.
Data, I love you. Never make that noise again.

Troi tells Riker that she's looking forward to a moonlight swim at Pacifica, and Data relays back that the holodeck has programs that she can use to get the same effect. She says it isn't the same and tries appealing to Worf, who looks disgusted and states that swimming is too much like bathing.
And you know, I feel like that's kind of a cheap shot to insist that Klingons (or even just Worf) is anti-hygiene because he's a big warrior-type. Seems like a stereotype, and one that's kind of tired.

Data suddenly reports that he's getting a Code 47 message, and because we need to know what that is, Troi gives Riker a worried look and says "Code 47 - for Captain's Eyes Only."
He wakes up Picard to alert him to the message, which Picard accepts in his quarters.
Apparently, we need further exposition, so Majel Barrett spells it out: the captain can't discuss the message with other officers. Also, there won't be a record of the message, and it's on a secure channel. Picard has to agree before he can see it.
When the computer screen clears, it's his friend, Captain Walker Keel. They greet each other warmly, but then Keel switches it up and says that he needs to see Picard about something. He's being super mysterious, and refuses to say what this is all about, even on a secure channel. He tells Picard to meet him immediately on Dytallix-B before signing off.
Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard enters the bridge and immediately asks Data about Dytallix-B in front of everyone. Data relays back that it's in a nearby system, and that it's one of several planets that was mined by the Dytallix Mining Company. Picard tells Geordi to plot a course there, and that there will be no record of them going there. Riker objects - they're supposed to be going someplace else, but Picard shuts him up and locks himself in his ready room.
Later, on their way to this new destination, Data tells Riker that he has pulled up the info he requested on Dytallix-B. It's the same info, just some more about the set-up of the mines, and how there isn't anyone left there. Data tells Riker that it is a worthless hunk of rock, ect. and gets a "Thank you, Data" for his troubles. Riker informs Picard that they have arrived. When Picard comes back onto the bridge, Worf reports that there are already two frigates in orbit around Dytallix-B, and that a third ship is coming into orbit, Walker Keel's ship.
"Oh, hey," says Riker. "Isn't that your buddy?"
"Um, yeah," says Picrad shiftily. "I'm gonna beam down for a few. Hold down the fort."
Riker is a smart officer who knows the rules, so he tries to object, but Picard puts the smack-down on him and climbs into the lift.
The bridge crew exchanges looks.

Picrad had Data scan for life-forms, and when Data found three, Picard has the transporter chief plug those in as beam-down coordinates. He re-materializes in the entrance of a creepy old mine shaft.

I'm really digging this mine shaft set.

Picard descends down the ramp, and three people come out of the shaft toward him: Walker Keel, Tryla Scott, and Captain Rixx, an alien. Rixx and Scott have their weapons trained on him.
"What the hell?" Picard asks Keel.
"Where did we meet?" responds Keel.
"Tau Ceti III. It was a bar, and quite an exotic one, if I remember. What do I win?" he asks sarcastically.
"What about the night you introduced Jack and Beverly Crusher?"
"I didn't introduce them. You did."
"Um, it was my brother," puts in Keel.
"You don't have a brother!" roars Picard. "WTF, Walker?"

"It's cool," Keel says to the others, and they lower their weapons. He introduces Rixx, but Picard says they met at some conference. Apparently, he gets this right, because Rixx nods.

Then Keel introduces Tryla Scott, but Picard knows about her: "It's said you made captain faster than anyone in Starfleet history, present company included. Are you that good?"
Scott smiles. "Yes, I am."
Fuck, yeah! Get it, girl! I love the fact that she doesn't pull out some bullshit modesty thing here. She knows she's good, and she admits it.

We finally get around to the reason they called him there: something weird is going on with Starfleet command. They can't prove anything, but there's been some strange things happening - an evacuation of a starbase with no explanation, the moving of personnel, a handful of deaths chalked up to accidents. Picard admits that this is news to him, as the E has been on the "outer rim." They tell him that they think the E will be targeted. Keel says some top officers at Starfleet are acting weird, and Rixx puts in that they "tested" Picard because these changed officers often don't have complete memories, and try to "bluff their way through talk of old times."
Picard is skeptical.
Keel says he doesn't trust his own crew anymore, that he feels several of his own crew are changed as well.
Scott begs him to keep on the lookout, and Picard agrees.
Keel tells him to say hi to Beverly for him, which is going to be difficult, seeing as how he then tells Picard not to say anything to anyone about this meeting.
Picard agrees to think about it, and beams out.
And so, the formula works: they were headed for paradise, and they ended up on another rock in the middle of nowhere.

Upstairs, Picard decides to tell Troi. He starts out by talking about his own Three Musketeers: Jean-Luc Picard, Walker Keel, and Jack Crusher. This is why he trusts Keel implicitly - they're hella old friends.
Troi plays Devil's Advocate and points out that Picard risked his career by meeting with the others, that they were breaking a ton of Starfleet regulations. He counters by telling her that, if this thing goes all the way to the top, then they'll need to break some rules and ignore some orders to find out. When she asks if he plans to tell the crew, he declines - he doesn't want to drag them down with him if it's all crap.

They go back out to the bridge, and Picard tells Geordi that they should head off for Pacifica now. Then he tells Data that he's going to give him a special assignment. Data seems as pleased as he can for a guy who is trying to fake all of his emotions.
Data sits at the ready room computer and asks it to give him all of Starfleet's communications from the last six months.
Crusher enters the bridge and says she heard the Picard met up with Keel's ship.
"Did you see Walker?"
"No,"lies Picard. "No time."
"Aw, too bad," she sighs, and sits in one of those non-seats to the left of Troi's chair.
Oops, now there's a "disturbance" in a nearby quadrant. They're already ten hours late arriving at Pacifica, what's a few more hours while they rubber-neck?
They come up on some wreckage, and Worf guesses that it could only be Keel's ship, completely destroyed.

Picard's Personal Log 41776.1: "This sucks. Like, a lot. And now I'm wondering if Walker was right. I told Riker about Walker's suspicions."

Picard and Riker meet up in the observation lounge. Riker is also skeptical.
"Okay, yeah, I get that," admits Picard. "But remember when Admiral Quinn was here before, and he was all like, "something weird is going on" and we weren't quite sure what the hell he was talking about? What if that's the same thing?"
Riker is still not buying what Picard isn't sure he wants to sell.

Back in the ready room, Data is still scanning through all of those Starfleet communiques.
He starts whispering how they're "fascinating," and the computer is all, "Huh?"
Data corrects himself: "Sorry, computer. I was talking to myself." Then he pauses. "Dude! I was talking to myself!" He's pretty stoked that he picked up another human idiosyncrasy and was using it without thinking.
"Huh?" asks the computer again.
Data begins listing off all the reasons why a person might talk to themselves, and the computer interrupts him with a "Thank you, Mr Data."
Damn. Twice in one day.

Data busts in on Riker and Picard, who are now arguing over whether or not Keel's ship was destroyed by sabotage.
"I found that thing you asked me to look for," Data tells Picard.
He busts out another one of those laptops, and shows them how there's been a weird "reshuffling" of Starfleet personnel, usually at command level, and all of the new people have spent time with the upper echelons of Starfleet command. These people were all sent to take over command of starbases, colonies and ships within a certain cone-shaped area.
"Dude... like, an invasion?" asks Riker.
He now believes because... well, they put an android on the case. If you want yourself some truth, you get an android.
"Possibly," says Data. "But there isn't enough info to say who's behind it."
"We can't just walk into Starfleet Headquarters and demand to know what the fuck is up," says Riker reasonably.
Data considers it. "Porque no?"
"Yeah, why not?" asks Picard. "If shit's going down, then sooner or later we're going to have to walk the fuck in there and find out what the deal is."

Picard's Personal Log: "Going to Earth. Told the rest of the bridge crew."

Dude, there's an awesome shot here, where the E flies between Earth and the moon.

Starfleet headquarters calls. It's three admirals, including Quinn. The other human is Aaron, and the Vulcan is Savar.
"Hey, whut up, Enterprise. Fancy you, in this neighborhood."
Picard and Quinn exchange pleasantries.

"Sooo, what's the deal?" asks Savar. "You guys are supposed to be at Pacifica, but the guy in charge there says you guys canceled."
"Yeah, I wanna talk about that in person," answers Picard.
Wait, WTH? What is that dumb motherfucker doing here?

Remmick slides in and whispers some sweet nothings into Savar's pointy ear, then Savar is all, "Gotta go. Gotta talk secretly for a few."
When he signs off, Riker is immediately behind Picard. "What's that little brown-nosing asswipe doing here?"
Picard asks Troi what she thinks, and she says someone is hiding something, but it's super-vague. Everyone agrees that the admirals are all acting pretty normal, but Geordi thinks it's weird that they're not getting the smack-down for canceling on a mission and just randomly going home.
The admirals call back.
"Okay, cool. Let's do dinner, in like twenty minutes. Bring your first officer. It'll be fab."
"Sweet," agrees Picard.
"Oh, hey," adds Quinn. "I can't go to the dinner, but I want to beam up to see the E again and say hello."
Picard agrees and they all sign off.
"Well, that's good news at least," remarks Picard. "If Quinn wants to talk to us without the others there, then it means he's still on our side."

Another sweet-ass matte painting here of Starfleet Headquarters. Some real nice establishing shots in this episode.

Quinn goes into the transporter room and opens what looks like a Trapper-Keeper on steroids. There's this weird, wiggly Play-Doh bug inside. Then he closes the Trapper-Keeper when Remmick walks in, and the admiral says he is ready to beam up.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Quinn transports up with his bug-thing, where Picard and Riker meet him.
Picard and Quinn greet each other warmly, and Picard says he looks great, not tired like he was complaining about before.
"Naw, I was tired of the same old-same old," says Quinn. "Feeling energized now. Pep in my step."
They're walking through the corridors, and Picard brings up what Quinn said earlier, about thinking that there was a vague threat to the Federation that would destroy everything.
"Aw, man. You took me literally! I'm sorry about that," says Quinn. "I was just talking about bringing new worlds into the Federation, and how stressful that can be."

"Oh, okay," replies Picard.
But you can tell he thinks Quinn is full of shit. A guy complains that there's a threat that may destroy their organization, but then brushes it off by saying he just meant that it was stressful bringing new people in? That's not even the same thing, not by a long shot.

"So I want to freshen up, then look around," says Quinn.
"Okay," answers Picard. "How about I go downstairs to Headquarters to meet the others, and Riker can stay here and give you a tour?"
Riker seems surprised, and Quinn says he totally doesn't have to stay, but Picard insists, and says that Riker can pop down when he's done.
They all agree, with Quinn adding that he might want to stay awhile.
Yeah, that's not fishy as fuck. You can't make a dinner in twenty minutes, but you have plenty of time at the exact same time to freely roam the Enterprise?

Quinn goes off to his quarters, and Picard pulls Riker down the corridor and back into the transporter room.
"So that's not Quinn," Picard tells him. "I want you to watch him like a hawk, and see if you can get Crusher to do a full medical eval on him."
"Um, that's an admiral," Riker points out.
"I don't give a shit if he's the queen," argues Picard. "Get some info on him, then come downstairs."
"...are you beaming down unarmed after giving me that warning?" demands Riker.
"I can watch out for myself," he replies.
Then he looks beyond Riker and says "Energize," which means that they just had a super-secret talk in front of a transporter chief.
...I don't even know what's going on with this organization.

Picard meets Admirals Aaron and Savar, and freaking Remmick.
He questions the lack of activity in the space where they're meeting, and Remmick says pleasantly that it's a quiet night.
Okay, seriously: why do evil people make the worst small talk ever? It's not enough that Picard has to deal with these people at all, now he also has to suffer through crap small talk as well.

Upstairs, Riker reports to Quinn's quarters and asks if he's ready for his tour. Then he asks what Quinn has in his Trapper-Keeper.
"It's this cool thing," says Quinn. "I brought it for Dr Crusher to check out. Maybe you want to see it, too. It's this life-form we came across while checking out planets in uncharted territory. It's a superior form of life."
Wait, how do you know? Did this life-form tell a human that it was a superior form of life? Did a Vulcan agree with it, even if no Vulcan was around a moment earlier? Those are really the two things one needs on this show to confirm a superior life-form, Quinn.
Suspicious, Riker says that maybe the science officer would want to take a look at it instead.
Quinn gets aggressive and grabs Riker by the wrist. "It won't like your science officer! It will like you!"
Wow, look who's declared himself the eHarmony of aliens. The science officer does not Match, Riker. Only you and Crusher.
Quinn then proceeds to beat the ever-loving shit out of Riker.

Riker manages to comm for security, but he's knocked out and crushes a glass table before anyone arrives.

Downstairs, Picard and the admirals come upon a little table set with glasses and Andorian tea. Remmick excuses himself and disappears into another room. Aaron and Savar toast to Keel's destroyed ship. Picard doesn't so much drink the tea as regard the glass suspiciously. Probably smart - it could contain iocane.
"Oh, um. I wanted to talk about that ship," says Picard. "Do we know what caused it be destroyed?"
"Yeah," replies Savar. "Implosion. Extreme negligence of the captain."
Picard knows that that's crap.
Aaron talks about the tea, because again, terrible small talk.

Upstairs, Worf races through the corridors, going to the call that Riker made for security. Geordi is hot on his heels because, I dunno, in addition to being the ship's pilot and also frequently the chief engineer, he's also security?
When they make it to Quinn's quarters, he lies and tells them that Riker slipped and hit his head. They call Crusher. Quinn tries to excuse himself, and when Geordi asks if he shouldn't stick around for the doctor to show up, Quinn just fucking throws him through the doors.
I mean they weren't open. Geordi's body flew through the air and knocked them over like cardboard. (Okay, technically they were, but still.)

"WTF?" asks the look on Worf's face.
"Let's go, bro," Quinn says to him.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Worf fights valiantly, even actually using that two-handed punch that Kirk liked so much. Nope. Quinn has apparently been taking Geezer-Fu classes at Starfleet's Rec Center, and he beats the snot out of Worf as well.
So who takes his ass down? Beverly fucking Crusher, that's who. She shoots him with her phaser set for some kind of heavy stun - a bunch of times - and he crumples on the carpet.

Our boys get up and Crusher scans Riker to make sure he's okay. Then they haul Quinn's Chuck Norris-channeling carcass back to sick bay.
Crusher runs some tests and confirms that it's actually Quinn, but Geordi points out before he leaves that Quinn just beat the shit out of the three of them.
She's administering some kind of hypospray on the unconscious Quinn when she finds something squirmy sticking out of his neck.

Downstairs, the admirals start talking to Picard about conspiracies in general.
Aaron says something pretty interesting: "When a machination is real, no one knows about it. And when it's suspected, it's almost never real."
That's true, Admiral Creeper. What about it?
"Except of course in paranoid delusions, for those who believe," adds Savar.
Ohh, I see. You guys plan to gaslight Picard.
Remmick comes out into the corridor to let them know that dinner is served.
While the others go in, Picard stays in the corridor to call Riker and let him know that he should beam down.
But instead of Riker, Crusher picks up, asking first if she can speak freely - smart! Then she gives him a quick run-down: Riker was attacked by Quinn, who is currently being piloted by some weird bug-thing that's wrapped around his nervous system. The bug-thing breathes through that tail that hangs out of a hole in the back of the human host's neck.
"Look for that," she says. "Should be visible on anybody with a bug. It messes with the adrenal gland, which makes that person extra-strong. But so far, I don't think I can remove it without killing Quinn. You're gonna have to set your phaser on kill. Sorry."
"Not as sorry as me," replies Picard. "You don't beam down to Starfleet Headquarters armed."
*cough,cough* warned by Riker *cough, cough*

I'm pretty sure this animation is part of the remastering. Looks a bit too snazzy for mid-80's.

Picard gets called into dinner. He loudly tells Crusher to tell Riker to join them downstairs when he's ready. Then he goes in to dinner.
From the look of the cool little pot in front of Picard, they're having pho - yum!
But no. The lid comes off, and -

Mmmmmm, mealworms!
The admirals pop open their own bowls, and start eating handfuls of worms. (For the squeamish in the audience, you can tell they're actually eating sauteed onions.) The random security Gold in the corner takes an empty seat, and they gorge themselves like zombies on brains.
Picard pushes the bowl away in disgust, and tries to leave, but Riker comes up behind him.
"You're not going anywhere," says Riker, pushing Picard forcefully back in the room.
Aaron is pissed off. "You were meant for the doctor!"
He checks the back of Riker's neck, and finds that tail thing.
"Nothing to be done," replies the first officer. "Riker walked in on us."
"Whatever," shrugs Savar. "The doctor will be here soon, anyway."
Wait, how? Quinn only took one upstairs with him. They'll have to get another and sneak it back up on the E.
The door opens again.
Aww, man. Not her.

They all sit down to dinner again, and the admirals tell Picard that they were aware that he knew something was going on.
Savar also says that they let him come to them, rather than go after him.
Scott then says that their two species both appreciate theater, and that Picard put on a good show.
"What species are you?" asks Picard.
She deflects. It doesn't matter, apparently.
Savar starts talking about how they've been going slowly for a while now, and then they strike when it's too late.
So they're like... monologuing, but it's being done by several of them at the same time... dialoguing? I dunno. Anyway.
Riker chimes in every now and again, with a "yeah, that's right" or "you'll soon find out."
Savar encourages Riker to eat, and Riker takes a whopping handful of mealworks. He's just about to dump it down his gullet, Picard cringing, when Riker uses the action to cover up the fact that he's reaching for his phaser.
Riker takes down the security Gold before anyone can react. A fight breaks out, and he manages to nail Scott right in the chest.
Maaaan, I really liked her, too.
Then, because this shit wasn't fucked up enough already, Scott's mouth opens and the bug crawls out. The bug animation is very Ray Harryhausen, making it all the creepier.

Savar attempts to pinch Riker all Vulcan-style, but Picard grabs the fallen Gold's phaser, and tags Savar in the chest. In the meantime, Aaron has taken off down the corridor. 
Interesting. The superior life form with the strength of ten men is now fleeing the scene. Did the bugs have a staff meeting before their invasion?
"Don't piss this species off. They used to be really brutal to one another a long time ago, and they could revert back if you make them angry."
Every now and again, it totally works in humanity's favor that we can be complete dicks to each other.
So the next part makes me think that these bugs are totally not superior: Aaron is running down the corridor, and he actually has a phaser. Picard and Riker are on his heels, and Picard yells out, "Aaron!"
That dipshit stops and actually turns to look back at them.
Then he fires at them, but hits a painting on the wall behind Riker.
And you can guess what happens now - they both fire at him, killing him instantly.
They run up to Aaron's body, and the bug crawls out of his mouth, but this time, they watch where it goes.
It crawls under a nearby door. (Pretty convenient that all of the doors in this show go all the way to the floor, but this one has a gap sufficient enough to fit a bug under it.)
Let's see what's behind Door Number One!

Aw, shit. It's the booby prize.
I would have been happier with a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni. (The Starfleet Headquarters Treat - ding, ding!)
Remmick is all Happy Helper Cog and good customer service toward the upper officers.
Picard spots the bug crawling across the floor, and he tries to warn Remmick, but then that motherfucker swallows the bug WHOLE. Like, he lets it crawl in his mouth.

WTF? Is this Intergalactic Fear Factor?
Then his neck starts doing this bulgy shit.

He starts monologuing about not meaning them any harm, and then he yells, "WE SEEK PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE!"
The hell you do.
So Riker and Picard do they only thing they can do: they tag-team him with phasers.
The death of Remmick is not only satisfying, but special-effects-wise, it's actually pretty fantastic.
First, we get some Indiana Jones face-melting action:

Then the head completely explodes.
And somehow, he hasn't disintegrated like other people hit by phasers set on stun. Instead, he starts burning from the inside out.

Annnndddd, cue the monster popping out of the chest!

"Oh, fuck THIS shit," says Picard.
He and Riker fire on the Mecha-bug.

Mecha-bug disintegrates, and it seems that Remmick was filled with the little bugs, like Oogie Boogie. Gross.
Also, I think his wrist might be broken. It lost like Harry Potter's arm when all of his arm bones disappeared.

Picard's Log 41780.2: "So that sucked. We had to kill those people. But here's the good part: when that Mecha-bug died, all of the little ones did too, so Quinn is fine again."

It's real crappy that they didn't discover that before they shot Scott. Remmick, though... he was a real douche bag, so who gives a shit about him?

Up on the bridge, Riker tells Picard that Crusher was the one who suggested the fake bug tail in his neck to fool the others. Picard says it was effective.

Data approaches The Chair.
"So, um, I took a look at the message that Remmick was sending when you interrupted him. I think it was a beacon."
"A beacon?"
"Yeahhhh... a homing beacon, sent from Earth..."
And instead of going straight into the ending credits music, we see the Enterprise slowly fly by, then the camera pushes just as slowly into the stars, with a background noise that sounds tinkly, mechanical, and like some kind of code. It's creepy. And highly effective. Good ending.

So every time I watch this episode, my reaction is the same: why is this a one-off? Why is this not an arc or a cliffhanger season finale? It bothered me so much that, instead of just complaining about it in my review, I went looking for the answer in Memory Alpha. It gives a decent explanation, but the overall feeling remains - this really needed to be a longer story.
Okay, here's the deal. Writer Tracy Torme originally wanted to do an episode that was commentary on the Iran/Contra Affair that involved treason within the Federation and higher-ups violating the Prime Directive. Both ideas were nixed. The Iran/Contra comparison was thought to be too controversial, and Gene was really, really opposed to the idea that the Federation was less than perfect. I have problems with both of this dissensions. Firstly, it's Star Trek. Star Trek is famous for getting away with commentary on current events and controversies. Why the hell stop now? Secondly, no governing body is perfect. They all fuck up sometimes. Except maybe Canada. But the idea of the Federation as untouchable is not only unrealistic, it closes the door on what could be some really killer episodes. (Not to worry, friends: DS9 gives the finger to this idea, and does a two-parter that covers it.)
Torme starts looking around, because he's got some story, but no substance. Gene adds in the alien bit. Now we have the outline of the problems-within-Starfleet story, but instead of the issue being corrupt Starfleet officers, it's that those officers are playing host to some kind of invading alien race. It was followed by idea of "Eh, let's tie it back to what Quinn said to Picard in "Coming of Age." He said he was worried about issues within the organization, so let's make it this alien thing that he was referring to."
But then they left it unresolved. No mention of the actual alien race - that question was deflected by Infected Scott. And the ending was fabulous, but there was never any follow-up. No invasion came about. It's never mentioned again, save to name the admiral who discovered the parasites. This open-endedness actually drove enough people nuts that several forms of Star Trek fiction have been written about it, either ending the story arc, or suggesting where the bugs came from and what purpose they served.
The whole thing feels a bit... sloppy. Tying it back to "Coming of Age" was pretty smart, because that establishes a continuity that we haven't seen much of yet. But it never goes anywhere. They figure out why certain people in Starfleet are acting weird, but beyond the initial bugs, there isn't any real threat. No bugs ever show up at Earth for the take-over, and presumably, no more Mecha-bugs implant in Starfleet officers for another attempt to take over. What a waste of a possible story arc. Nobody stepped forward with that idea? That's really annoying. I detest wasted potential.

Red deaths: 5
Gold deaths: 1
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 2 - once by the computer!
I think this might be the most TNG deaths we've have so far.

Fun Facts:
- Rixx marks the first appearance of a Bolian on TNG, though the race won't be given a name until a later episode. The name Bolian comes from Cliff Bole, who directed this episode.
- That awesome matte painting of Starfleet Headquarters was a re-use from The One With the Whales.
- Remmick's chair is a redress of that hella-expensive wheelchair they made for the Mark Jameson character in "Too Short a Season."
- This episode marks the only time the computer speaks in the first person. (She seems annoyed with Data's meandering explanation of "talking to oneself" and replies "Thank you, sir. I understand.")
- This is the last episode with this particular admiral's uniform, with the triangular pips. We'll get a different one in season two, then the ones worn in season three will become the permanent uniform.
- The star chart behind Remmick's chair shows several star systems mentioned in TOS and TAS. This is the first time it appears in TNG, and it will later be used in the pilot episode of Doctor Who's spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Chronicles.

- This episode won an Emmy for make-up. No surprises there.
- The first time this episode aired in the UK, several minutes were cut, most notably Remmick's death. Don't know how they might have resolved the episode without it, though.
- This is the only episode of TNG that Canadian sci-fi channel Space precedes with a viewer discretion warning.

Sleepy stripe-amese Caymin

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Four "We'll Always Have Paris"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Twenty-Four "We'll Always Have Paris"
Production Order: 24
Air Order: 24
Stardate: 41697.9
Original Air Date: May 2, 1988

Okay, so that was bullshit.
Pretty much the single second I completed my October project, I catch the plague. Out for the count. As I'm starting to get over said plague (I still, weeks later, have the lingering, hacking cough leftover), I get what I think is food poisoning. Only it wasn't food poisoning, because that also included lingering affects.
This is why I did not post on the 7th or 14th, as I had intended.
"But Lady Archon, could you not have written while sick?"
Friends, this is what my brain looks like with a fever:
I'm lying on the couch, half-dead, and Roomie is talking to me, but I have no voice, so I'm texting her my responses. Uhura runs across the keyboard of my laptop, pausing my Deadpool DVD.
"You can't yell at the cat," my brain reminds me. "You have no voice."
I reach for my phone.
"No, no," chimes in the brain. "You can't text the cat, either. You don't have her phone number."
I don't have her phone number. I don't. Have. Her phone number.
Wow thanks, brain. That's almost as helpful as the time you tried to tell me that my tea tasted like toys and candy.


Picard's Log 41697.9: "Heading for some shore leave. Been trying to get myself some down-time ahead of it."

We're treated to a scene of a couple of fencers engaged in a fight, and we have no idea who they are, because we can't see behind their masks. One person takes a hit and both masks come off. One is Picard, and the other is some unknown that Picard refers to as "lieutenant." The lieutenant has scored the point against Picard, and I can't help thinking, "That dude is brave - who the hell would agree to competing against the head honcho, especially given that this guy is a little better than Picard?" So the lieutenant tries to apologize, but Picard waves him off, because the lieutenant's shit is legit.
I kind of like that. It's a tiny bit of character development. Picard gives credit where credit is due.
Anyway, they go at it again, and Picard manages a hit. They end the fight. The lieutenant attempts to very carefully kiss Picard's ass.
"Interesting move, sir. What technique was that?"
"The technique of a desperate man."
Then, their actions are slowed down, and the convo repeats itself verbatim.
Picard looks at the lieutenant. "Was that kind of fucked up?"
"It was," replies the lieutenant.

Picard goes to the bridge in his fencing clothes. Riker tells him they experienced the same thing, like a two-second repeat in time. Worf says other decks have reported the same thing, and Data states that it also affected the computer system, which means that it actually happened, and was not a weird thing that just affected the crew.
Worf picks up an automated distress call from Dr Paul Manheim. Picard sits up and takes notice at this name, then orders Geordi to take them to coordinates mentioned.
"Do you think this is connected to that time lapse for a few minutes ago?" Riker asks him.
That's kind of a reach, Star Trek. Riker is clearly not familiar with that name or the time anomaly that just happened, but somehow he thinks that Picard thinks that they're linked? I mean, they are, but there's no way for him to have to any evidence to put those things together, just by the look on Picard's face. And frankly, Picard could have been frowning at just the distress call.
Picard answers, "I do. Fifteen years ago, Dr Manheim left Earth with some other scientists. They were going to do experiments on non-linear time. Looks like they were successful."
NOW, Star Trek. NOW would be a good place to insert Riker's question. AFTER he's gotten some exposition.
Anyway, dramatic music! Opening credits!

Ugh, I forgot. Cold-hearted bitches intentionally left Denise Crosby's name in the opening credits for the remainder of season one. "Don't forget! We killed somebody in the worst episode ever!"

When we return, Geordi announces that it's a four-and-a-half hour trip to get to the place where the distress signal originated, and Picard calls on Data's massive positronic brain to give exposition to the bridge crew on Manheim.
Seems that Manheim was considered brilliant in the scientific community, and had several cool theories on time, but none were widely accepted.
Picard then adds that Manheim was teaching at the university in Paris while he was there, but he never met the man. Picard is fidgety, and excuses himself to go change out of his fencing clothes.
Troi catches him on his way into the lift. She says he seems emotionally all over the place, and was triggered by Manheim's name. She offers to talk to him professionally in the time before they reach the coordinates where the distress signal was coming from.
He blows her off. He's captain. Captains don't need safe spaces and shit.

Instead, he decides to go to the holodeck, and he tells the computer that he wants to go to a certain cafe in Paris, as it would have appeared twenty-two years earlier. He checks out the view from the cafe's balcony, a sweet matte painting with some shuttles flying by. (I can't be certain if those shuttles were models filmed during the original run, or if they were digitally added later, as I believe the TNG episodes on Netflix are all digital remasters.)

Picard ends up telling the maitre d' that he was supposed to have met a girl at this cafe twenty-plus years ago, and he never showed up. He kind of always imagined that she had, but he never bothered to check. The maitre d' says he will bring Picard something to drink while he watches the scenery and thinks.

That diamond shelf in the background came out of Kirk's apartment in
Wrath of Khan. It also appears in Troi's quarters in Encounter at Farpoint.

The focus shifts, and we listen briefly to an argument at the next table: the girl in pink is in the same boat as Picard's girl twenty years ago, and her friend insists that some guy isn't going to show. Pinky is certain that this guy will show, and her friend gets frustrated and leaves. Pinky catches Picard watching her.
"Why the hell are you staring at me?"
"You remind me of someone, sorry."
Pinky says out loud what her friend had been saying all along: that her dude was probably not coming. She then laments that she might have done something to "drive him away."
Picard, being "that guy" in another time, suggests that maybe her guy was afraid of commitment, or that he didn't know what he wanted because he was young.
Pinky looks at him like she can't quite believe this shit. Who's this old dude, telling her that her guy is afraid of commitment because he's young?

Picard gets mad at himself for engaging in "self-indulgence," and leaves.

You know, I gotta wonder at the holodeck, placing Pinky and her friend there with the same problem as Picard has right at that moment. Does this technology have the ability to figure out a person's problems, and then manifest a way for that person to work through those problems? I mean, Yar demonstrated earlier that a self-defense program could anticipate attacks and alter the program slightly to match its human counterpart - could an program be written where the NPCs anticipate what that other person needed, and then provide it? Here, probably not. It's most likely a coincidence. But a program like that could be really beneficial to someone like Troi.

Picard returns to the bridge. Riker reports that they've talked to a ship nearby and a farming colony, and both have said that they've also experienced that brief repeat of time. Riker says the ship captain referred to that moment as a "hiccup." Data butts in to say that this analogy isn't quite correct, and Picard asks what might be better, with interest. But when Data tries to pick a bodily function that would fit the bill, Picard cuts him off with that polite way of telling Data to STFU, as they all use: "That's enough, Data." 
I would like to point out, Picard, that you asked for more information this time.

So they arrive at the coordinates given in the recording, but instead of finding Manheim, there's just another recording, sending them to the far reaches of the galaxy. I guess Manheim is into astral-geocaching or something? So they trek all the way out to the new coordinates (because what choice do they have?), and they end up at some hunk of rock orbiting a binary star system.

They open hailing frequencies, and Picard starts in with his standard, "This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise..." but then he switches mid-sentence and goes with "This is the Captain of the Enterprise..."
Geordi and Data exchange looks.
A woman responds, saying it is just the two of them, and that "he's having convulsions." Just to add to the suspense, there's a force field around the hunk of rock that she has to drop in order for the E to beam them out.
Spoilers: she drops the force field.
They beam her and Manheim to sick bay.
Picard goes to sick bay, but at the last moment, asks for Riker and Data to go with him.

So Dr and Mrs Manheim appear on the sick bay floor, and she tells Crusher that he's been convulsing for hours. (Holy shit, hours?) They get him up on the bed, and Picard awkwardly enters sick bay. So now it's clear that he only asked Data and Riker to come with him as his bros, because he appears to want to sink into the floor.
Mrs Manheim smiles at him like her husband isn't possibly dying on the bed behind her, and she says, "I thought that might be you. Always knew you'd come to my rescue."
Really? You don't see him for twenty years, but you expect him to come riding to your rescue?
Riker and Data exchange looks.

Do you know Jenice Manheim? Maybe. That's Michelle Phillips, 25% of the singing group "The Mamas and The Papas." She looks too young for Picard, but I guess she was in her mid-forties here, and Patrick Stewart is only four years her senior, so the timing works.
Anyway, after a brief commercial break, Picard introduces her to Data and Riker, and they go into Crusher's office to talk about all the shit that's going down on this tiny rock.
She tells him that there were a bunch of other scientists working in a second lab on the other side of the planetoid, but there was some accident there a few weeks ago, and everyone died. Now it was just them. Data asks about her husband's work. She says she doesn't totally get it, but explains in layman's terms that Dr Manheim believes that portals can be opened into other dimensions by screwing with time in a certain way. They reveal that brief repeat in time to her, and tell her that it was felt light-years away.
She says she didn't think any of the experiments were dangerous, but says that maybe Manheim did - he put in the force field and a crazy security system, and made her hang out in "a protected room."
Picard says he wants to send some people down to the lab to check it out, but she says that the security system will keep them from going in.

Crusher comes in to say that Manheim is stable, but that she wants to run tests on Jenice. After Mrs Manheim leaves, Crusher tells Picard that Manheim is dying, but she doesn't know why. She gives him a few days until he'll kick the bucket, and says that Picard can't talk to him yet.

Picard, Riker and Data leave sick bay, talking about this new problem. They get into the lift, and then this shit happens:

Both Datas state that they feel no difference or ill-effects. The camera leaves the lift to stand next to the group in the corridor, and the lift door closes. Data uses the term "The Manheim Effect" and says that it is getting stronger.
"Which one was us?" demands Riker.
"Both," replies Data. "That was us on a different timeline, a little bit into the future."
The lift door opens again, and they all peer cautiously inside before getting in to go to the bridge.

Later, Picard is in his ready room, when he is joined by Riker and Data again. They've been studying the planetoid, and report that they discovered the other, destroyed lab on the other side, but there's nothing to be learned there. They also say that there's an energy source coming from the surviving lab, that they think that Manheim has figured out how to harvest the energy from the pulsar star, but that there's no way to confirm any of this without talking to Manheim or going to the lab to check his notes. They discuss the possibility that the security system was tied into the force field, and that Mrs Manheim turned it off when she turned off the force field. Picard tells them to put together a team.

They choose Worf along with themselves, and attempt to beam down. However, the beam goes awry, and they are not able to rematerialize in the lab. The beam just kind of fizzles out.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

A few agonizing seconds go by, with the away team fizzling out between locations before finally solidifying back on the E transporter pad. The chief tells them that they're lucky to be alive.

Down in sick bay, Manheim awakes abruptly and demands to know where he is. Jenice tells him he's on the E, and that he sent a distress signal for someone to come help them. He doesn't remember sending any distress signal, but the dude seems manic at this point. He clutches at Jenice and tells her that he's gone to the other side, that part of him is still there now, and that everything that has happened or will happen was totally worth it.

Picard enters with Data and Troi, and introduces himself. Clealy, the Manheims have discussed Picard, because Manheim knows who he is already. Picard says things are bad. Manheim says they will get worse. He is asked how to stop things, and Picard tells him to talk to Data, an android.
"I know all your stuff," says Data.
"How?" asks Manheim. "I don't even know all of my stuff, and it's my stuff.  Also, the stuff I'm doing now totally makes all of my early stuff obsolete."
"It's cool, I'm an android."
Data fangirls about Manheim's work for a moment, in that way that one kind of expert fangirls to another, talking in jargon, and Manheim guesses that maybe Data does know what he's talking about. He's horrified to find that the time blip has moved beyond the planetoid, and tells them that he and his team opened a crack in the fabric of time, allowing him to slip through.
"It seems that I fucked up all of the shit. We gotta stop it. I'll give you the codes to beam down and get past the security system so you can shut it down."

Picard calls a meeting of the senior officers, and Data, having checked out Manheim's stuff, tells them that he thinks it'll be possible to shut that shit down, but it has to be timed perfectly with another time distortion, or there isn't any point in doing it. He thinks they can predict the timing. Picard assigns Worf to making sure the security measures are completely turned off.
Door opens. Not another senior officer, but Jenice Manheim.
"I was told I could find you here."
Um, yeah. But you're interrupting a meeting.
Excuse much. Rude or anything?
Picard declares that the meeting is over, and that she isn't intruding, and I guess old friends of the captain can just go wherever they want on this ship for whatever reason. Maybe next she'll wander down into Engineering and play with the dilithium crystals.
Okay, I'll stop bitching. This scene is actually really well done.
Everybody leaves so Picard can have a private chat with Jenice. She gets right to the point:
Jenice: Why didn't you come to meet me that last day in Paris?
Picard: ... I was afraid.
Jenice: (scoffs) I didn't want this.
Picard: What?
Jenice: The truth.
Picard: Oh, you want me to lie.
Jenice: Of course. A nice soft, painless lie.
Picard: Oh, I got the days confused. I thought it was Tuesday when it was Wednesday. I went to the Cafe Moulin instead of the Cafe des Artistes.
Jenice: Ah, that's better. It was raining, and you couldn't find a cab.
Picard: Mm-hmm.

Up until now, their conversation has been light and breezy, and there's less Captain Picard and more Jean-Luc. Because here's the thing: Patrick Stewart plays Picard in a certain way, a way that tells you that Picard is always cognizant of who he is in comparison to who he is speaking with. We only ever see Captain Picard, or just Picard. Even when he lets his guard down when he's speaking frankly with Riker, the crew member he seems closest with, there is still a tiny sense of formality. He's aware the whole time that he is Riker's superior.
But here, he's Jean-Luc, that twenty-something kid that skipped town two decades ago. Jenice Manheim represents something we rarely get to see in relation to Picard: he's vulnerable. He feels guilty for walking away and never contacting her again.
The first half of the conversation is airy. They are joking, and Picard lets his guard more than usual. I think it's a combination of good acting and good writing, but it's believable.
They continue on, and the conversation gets a little heavier:
She did wait all day for him at the cafe, and then she checked with Starfleet Headquarters, but he'd already shipped out. And he admits, again, that he was afraid of meeting her, and changing his mind about leaving with Starfleet, and staying behind, and becoming complacent.
She guesses that his biggest fear was that staying with her would have made him ordinary, and he actually laughs in this really genuine way.
"You're wonderful. And am I that transparent?"

Down in sick bay, Crusher is scanning Manheim when Troi comes in.
Troi asks how Manheim is doing, and Crusher starts to respond that he's about the same, but then she guesses that Troi has not shown up to ask about the scientist.
Troi follows Crusher into the office. Crusher desperately tries to do some busy-work to avoid having That Conversation with Troi, while Troi insists.
"I can't compete with a ghost from his past," Crusher says firmly before exiting back into sick bay.
(Hint: this scene mostly exists to remind you of the will they- won't they subplot present with all Picard-Crusher episodes.)

Later, Manheim calls Picard down to sick bay to talk to him alone. He starts giving Picard some cover story about how he couldn't remember all of the codes to shut off the security system completely.
"Also, I want to talk to you about my wife."
"Dude, seriously?" balks Picard. "Be professional."
"I want you to take care of her, in case something happens to me," says Manheim.
"Oh. Okay, that's cool," replies Picard.
Wait, are you kidding me? An old girlfriend you haven't seen in twenty years rolls into town or whatever, and her husband asks you to take care of her after hanging out for like, ten minutes? Would you honestly agree to that? Like, even if the husband wasn't dying? I don't know about you, but there's no way in hell I'd "take care of" my ex from twenty years ago.
Oh, wait. There's more.
Now Picard is suddenly the Manheims' couples therapist, because Manheim starts telling Picard that Jenice has been unhappy for the last few years while he's steadily becoming a workaholic, living in the middle of nowhere.
Again, I'm thinking about the spouse of my ex, telling me about their marital problems. 
No. Fuck off.
Manheim starts crying about how he doesn't deserve Jenice, and Picard is like, "No, I'm out," and he takes off.

Picard and Data are walking through the corridor, discussing the away mission. Picard tells Data that he wants him to go alone, that he doesn't think they should risk anyone else.
"Oh, that's cool," says Data. "I get it. I'm a machine, so I'm dispensable."
Picard realizes that what he's said was phrased in such a way as to come off whatever the android version of racist is. He back-peddles.
"Okay, no. Let's try this again. I don't think you're dispensable. Just the opposite. But in this case, I want it to be just you, because you ride out the time distortions better than your human crewmates."
Data agrees with this assessment, so now he's the only guy going on the away mission.

Data beams over, where he discovers that there are parts of the security system that Manheim forgot to mention. He pulls out some Bond moves getting away from lasers. (Sadly, I did not see any ill-tempered sea bass.) He leaves his comm badge open so the bridge crew can hear him get carved up by the lasers. Data manages to phaser the security system and get into the lab.
And now, my favorite sound effect description of season one TNG:

WTF does a chiming roar sound like? you may ask. Like a roar of loud-ass chimes. I know that sounds like a dumb tautology, but that description is actually pretty apt for that sound.
Backstage, writing the closed-captioning:
Writer 1: "How should I describe this sound?"
Writer 2: "Hmmm... a chiming roar?"
W1: "What the fuck is a chiming roar?"
W2: "...that."
Man, I love closed captioning.

So Data is now in the lab with these huge sheets of glass (which are engaged in a chiming roar), and they're sort of rotating. Not spinning, but like, moving around one another (which is causing the chiming roar). That's the thing that's fucking up all of the shit. Data checks the computer and says that it predicts there will be another time distortion in 90 seconds. He has to dump anti-matter into the roaring, chiming glass panels or something.
"Will that plug the hole?" asks Picard, because we've determined that the shape of the thing is now a hole instead of a crack. Or maybe we're just fishing for analogies. Whatever.
"I guess?" replies Data.
Man, if Data doesn't know, you could be screwed.
So he's talking to the others on the comm badge (because how else are we gonna get that exposition?), and he tells them that when the time distortion comes up again that it'll open that crack to the other dimension, and then he has to pour the anti-matter in to seal it back up.
He goes to another station and takes out a canister using a pair of tongs because Manheim just randomly keeps anti-matter in his lab.
Data requests a 27-second countdown from Geordi, which he is granted. The countdown has a weird echo as time distorts around Data, and oops. Now there's three of him.

"Fuck," says the Data on the dais. "Which one of us is supposed to drop this shit in the hole?"
The three Datas all think for a moment while Geordi's voice continues its echo-y countdown.
Then Star Trek makes a pair of snafus in one sentence.
"Me!" yells the Data in the middle. "It's me!"
Firstly, this group of Datas seems awfully emotive. We know that Data is not supposed to be emotive, because he hasn't reached this stage of development yet. I mean yeah, Data could conceivably destroy life as we know it by doing this incorrectly, and I get that that's stressful and everything, but androids do not emote, even when doing stressful things. Their roller coaster of life contains no hills or valleys, just straight road.
Secondly, Data uses a contraction here: "It's me!" Since determining that Data is not advanced enough to use contractions (one of the differences between himself and Lore), Star Trek has been pretty consistent about always giving Data lines that contain no contractions. If you see them here, it's because I'm paraphrasing and dicking around. Contractions actually spoken by Data stick out like sore thumbs.
Come on, Star Trek. Pay attention.

So Data #2 determines that he is in the correct time stream, and he steps forward and dumps his anti-matter into the crack-hole. (That's...that's just wrong. It even feels wrong typing it.) There's a bright flash of light, and then all of the chiming-roaring glass slabs disappear with the extra Datas, and he's just left standing on the dais.

"Are you there?" asks Picard. "Is it closed?"
"Um, it's patched," says Data. "But closed? Eh, that's not something I can promise."
"Close enough," shrugs Picard. "Beam back, please."

Down in sick bay, Manheim has made a full recovery. He tries to describe to his wife what The Other Side is like, but he doesn't have the words. She is hesitant to go back to the lab, but he talks her into it. Picard tells Manheim that the Federation will probably want to help them.
Read: "You kind of fucked up all of the shit here, Manheim. The Federation will probably send you some scientists to work by your side to ensure that you don't almost destroy the universe again."
Anyway, the Manheims are all lovey-dovey again, and Picard sees that he probably won't be getting any on the side, especially as they're going back to that hunk of rock in the middle of nowhere.

A little later, Troi shows Jenice to the holodeck, and she enters into a program that is already running. Surprise, it's the cafe! They have champagne, and he says he wanted to say goodbye for realsies this time.
She responds by saying that she expects him to "always come charging to my rescue." Sooo, not your husband, then? He's not allowed to "rescue" you? It needs to be the guy who ditched you 20 years ago? Girlfriend: it is the 24th century. Rescue your own damn self.
They say their official goodbyes, and she leaves the holodeck.

Picard returns to the bridge sometime after they've dropped the Manheims back on their rock. He remembers that they're supposed to be going on shore leave. (Why the hell does all of this stuff crop up shortly before they're due for shore leave? Like, every time?) He has Geordi set in the coordinates for the planet they'll be visiting, and then settles in for the ride.
Riker starts chatting about some bar on this planet where they make some kind of cocktail. (Narrows it down, dude. Thanks.)
But Troi knows where he's talking about, and offers up a nearby landmark as a way to find it again.
"It's called the Blue Parrot Cafe," says Picard. "And you're buying," he adds to Troi.

Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 1

Fun Facts:
- The maitre d' is the only TNG actor to have a French accent whose first language is actually French. (Everybody else was faking.)

- Some of the writers wanted Picard to hook up with Jenice over a commercial break, but they were shot down by other production workers and Patrick Stewart. Good thing, too. Picard hook up with a married woman? Tacky.
- The name of this episode comes from the movie "Casablanca." The mention of "The Blue Parrot Cafe" was another callback to that.
- An early shot from this episode actually features the arm of Tasha Yar in the background.

- Listed on the cafe menu: Tribbles in a blanket and Antimatter Flambe.
- Filming had to be shut down on this episode so that the ending could be written, as this episode had been affected by a writer's strike in 1988.

Lord, can we talk about Jenice Manheim's outfit here?

Holy shit, dude.
Costume designer 1: "You know how, in the future, everybody thinks that we'll all be wearing unisex silver unitards and boots?"
Costume Designer 2: "Yeah?"
CD1: "What if we do that, but instead of the stretchy spandex, we make everything billowy? Also, kind of holographic. And the shirt should be a front panel, a swingy panel with a dropped neckline in back, and some billowy sleeves. But no sides. Michelle Phillips is in her forties, so I want to see some side-boob, but it needs to be tasteful side-boob. Like, church side-boob."
CD2: "There's no such thing as church side-boob."
CD1: "Then figure it out, and invent it. This is Star Trek: somebody needs to be showing side-boob, but it can't be any of our main ensemble, because we have to show that we respect women by not showing any of their side-boob. Only guest side-boob will do. Oh, also, her boots should be suede and not quite match her outfit, and even though we're putting her completely in cool colors and pastels, she should be wearing really bright red lipstick."
CD2: "Tasteful side-boob and clown lipstick. Got it."

So let's cut to the chase here: like a lot of season one, this episode is forgettable. Not great, not mind-bogglingly awful, just forgettable. It has good points and bad, and they're all linked..
Good points:
- The science fiction part is actually pretty interesting. A dude moves to the middle of nowhere to experiment with time, but something goes awry, and he accidentally opens a rift in it, causing himself to partially slip through and be in both places at once. That's pretty good. Worth exploring.
- The scene in the observation lounge between Jenice and Picard actually rang pretty true for me. I believed that he was on friendly terms with this woman, and I liked to see that looser version of Picard, the one where he feels comfortable enough to joke with someone else.
Bad points:
- The science was the B-plot instead of the A-plot. The sci-fi was interesting, but went nowhere because we were too busy focusing on whether or not Picard could survive an encounter with an ex.
- With the exception of the observation lounge scene, I wasn't sure I ever fully bought the idea that Picard and Jenice were a couple. I bought her with Manheim, though. Their brief scenes worked well.

Bottom line: not enough sci-fi, which was buried under a Picard romance. I do not like Picard romances. It is not helped by the fact that I ship Picard and Crusher, as the writers want us to do, and it is also not helped by the fact that Picard is a difficult character to write romances for. The person at the top is typically set up as being alone, because it's a bit of a truism that it's lonely at the top. Why did we need a Picard romance at all? It swallowed the sci-fi whole, which was the more interesting plot of the two.


Teeny Zealand