Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, December 11, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Sixteen "The Offspring"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Sixteen "The Offspring"
Production Order: 16
Air Order: 16
Stardate: 43657.0
Original Air Date: March 12, 1990

Picard's Log  43657.0: "Riker is on leave. That's not really all that important, but it is the set-up for a joke later on, so now you know. In the meantime, we're gonna go check out an asteroid belt."

Geordi, Wes and Troi are walking trough the corridor, discussing how secretive Data is being lately. Seems everybody's favorite android went to some conference, rejoined the ship, and spent all of his extra time locked in some lab. Now he's asked his friends to join him in that lab, and they're wondering what the heck is behind Sliding Door #1.
When they arrive, Data is not ready, and closes the door on them. They exchange WTF? glances. In the lab, Data connects a foot to a leg. The toes flex. Then he hits some buttons, and the legs, standing upright on a platform, travel up into the ceiling.

Data lets his friends in.
"I brought you here to meet someone," he announces.
Turns out his raising the platform was Data's version of dramatic flair. He didn't really need to raise the platform into the ceiling for any reason other than a Ta-Da! moment.
When he drops the platform, he introduces them to a person he calls Lal (Lawl). This is who the feet belong to.

"Lal, this is Counselor Deanna Troi. Say hello."
"Hello, Counselor Deanna Troi."
She isn't sure what to expect, so smiles and asks, "How are you, Lal?"
"I am functioning within expected parameters."
Then Data starts to introduce Lal to Geordi, but Lal asks, "Why are they wearing cloth coverings, Father?"
"Peeps get cold, so they wear clothes," says Data in reply.
"The hell?" asks Wes. "It called you Dad!"
"Well, yeah," says Data. "Lal is my offspring."

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Just found out abut Data's new project."

In the lab, Data explains that when he went to the cybernetics conference, he got so excited about some new technique that was introduced that he pretty much went back to his room at the the hotel and started building a positronic brain like his own. Then he transferred a bunch of his own information into this new android.
Dude, I love that. I love when people are so inspired by things that they just can't wait to get into a project of their own.
Anyway, it worked well, and he brought it back to the Enterprise and built a body for Lal.
Picard is circling Lal while listening to Data, looking the new android over. At last he stops.
Picard: "Data... I would like to have been consulted."
Data: (frowning) "I have not observed anyone else on board consulting you about their procreation, Captain."
Okay: I get where Picard is coming from. Androids have the potential to become a race of expendable slaves and/or weapons, and creating a new one means that Lal falling into exactly the wrong hands could have overreaching consequences in a big way.
BUT: fuck the fuck off, Picard. What kind of creepy backwater politician are you? You don't get to tell a crew member that he can't have kids.

Picard sighs in a big way. He knows this is bigger than telling a ten-year-old that he can't build a nuclear reactor in the shed out back. Part of him seems to acknowledge both sides of this equation, even if he still thinks he is right. Data doesn't view this in the same way that he does, which will make this issue all the more delicate to deal with.
Troi breaks the silence by asking Data why he gave Lal a very alien look.

Wait, android rights of procreation and gender politics?
Daaaaamn, Star Trek! Taking it all on!
Picard tells Data to report to the principal's office soon, and he asks Troi to walk with him.
In the corridor, Picard tells Troi that he wants to discourage the idea that Lal is a child, because an android is an invention. Troi's facial expression says that she's so not doing that.
Troi: "Why should biology rather than technology determine whether it's a child? Data has created an offspring - a new life out of his own being. To me, that suggests a child. If he wishes to call Lal his child then who are we to argue?"
"Whatever. He can call it anything he wants, but it has the strength of ten men, and that doesn't say "little kid" to me."
"You've never been a parent," she replies.
And here's her point made clear: Troi was only a parent for a few days, impregnated by an alien who was also his own father, and who then died in order to save the ship. One might make the argument that she was not really a parent because it all took place in less than a week, but one would be wrong. Parental feelings cannot be determined by time. You feel how you feel. And Data feels that this is his child, even if he claims to not have feelings. His point of view is valid.

Later in the ready room, Picard explains that Data's dabbling could have "serious ramifications," and that he really wishes that Data would have mentioned to someone what he was doing before he did it.
"Sorry," Data replies. "I did not realize you would have a problem with this. Do you want me to shut down Lal?"
"NO! That's a life! You can't just shut it down!"
I like the fact that Picard has really complicated feelings about this. Remember, this is the same guy who had similar feelings during "Measure of a Man" and defended Data's right to exist as a living being.
He brings up an added complication: Starfleet.
Data shrugs. "I followed all of their regulations. I figured they would be happy about this."
He then goes on to say that he prepared for this project by scanning a bunch of parenting books.
Picard appears to be slowing losing his mind while Data compares and contrasts parenting techniques. There's a fundamental difference here: Data sees this as a very simple situation, while Picard sees it as particularly complicated.
In the end, Data explains that, as the only one of his kind, if he were to be lost, that would be the end of it. He's seeking to continue his existence through Lal... like a parent.

Data and Troi are escorting Lal to the holodeck to choose a gender and appearance. Lal can already tell the difference in appearance between at least the human gender binary, and has dubbed themselves to be "inadequate." Troi explains that the gender and appearance that Lal selects will be with them until the very end, and will affect how people interact with them. Lal attempts to choose Troi's look, but Data tells them that this would be confusing.
"I have put together a program to help you choose from several thousand appearances," Data assures his child.

On the holodeck, Data shakes Troi awake to tell her that Lal has narrowed down their choices:
Andorian female

Human male

Human female

Klingon male

After each choice is presented to her, Troi makes a short comment. With the Klingon her comment is "A friend for Worf."
Girl, how do you know that? You don't know who Worf wants to be friends with. Also, it's a bit racist to suggest that the lone Klingon on this ship will automatically want to be friends with this new android, simply because it looks like him.
Lal makes a choice.
In the lab, Data tells Troi that he was able to give Lal skin and eye color that is more realistic than his.
"Congrats," says Troi. "It's a girl!"

Uplifting music! Commercial break!

Data takes Lal back to their quarters, explaining that this is home, and that home is where families live.
"We are a family," he tells her.
He explains chairs and paintings, and much like any parent who hopes that their kid will share their interests, he starts telling her how he's going to teach her how to appreciate paintings. She wanders away to discover the couch.

Data's Personal Log, supplemental: "Gonna talk about how I am training my new girl to be a humanoid while we do a montage of me showing Lal how shit works."

They go to Ten Forward, and he teaches her how to drink liquids. She splashes her drink down her front the way you do when you try to drink something right after leaving the dentist with a numb mouth. Later, she is reading a screen in his quarters, and he turns her toward himself to teach her how to blink to keep up the impression that she is human.
Wes tosses Lal a ball. She responds fairly late, putting up her arm long after the ball has sailed past her. Data gives her a reassuring smile.
He notes that it's interesting to see her exploring the world, remembering what that's like, and sort of re-experiencing it.

In the lab, Lal is turned off while Data and Wes talk about how Data needs to download his brain's info into hers in installments. He also tells Wes that Lal studies in their quarters while he is on duty.
"You should send her to school so she can be with kids her own age," suggests Wes.
Data Sassy Moment: "She is only two weeks old."
Dr Crusher calls Wes to ask why the fuck he isn't getting the haircut he's supposed to be getting right now. He rolls his eyes and leaves.
Data turns Lal back on, and tells her that the transfer is complete. She bursts out of what I can only explain as a floating android cage, and begins asking a bunch of philosophical and existential questions. (At one point, she asks, "Why is the sky black?" Lol, I see what you did there, writers. ) He answers a few as best he can while following a busy Lal around the lab, then he puts her back in the android cage and shuts her off.
"Tomorrow you go to school," he tells her as he sends her up into the ceiling.

In the ready room, Picard is talking to Admiral Haftel via Skype, and trying to convince him that Data is doing a good job with Lal. Looks like somebody spilled the beans, and now we have to do bureaucracy and red tape. Yaaay.
Haftel, who is this weeks' villain, starts to talk about how everyone in Starfleet is proud of what Data has achieved, but you get the feeling like he's just this side of calling either Data or Lal "it."
"We have better facilities on Galor IV," he replies. He's trying to make an argument that Lal should be moved to a Starfleet lab, that her being on a starship is no good. He's got a distinct "I know better than you" patronizing attitude.
Picard pauses, and makes a concession: "After a while, I would totes consider giving you both of them so he could continue working with her at Galor IV."
 And now we find out that Picard has definitely been swayed in favor of #TeamDaddyData: "Admiral, you may think of Lal as "the new android," but Data thinks of her as his child, and I respect that. They stay here."
"Whatever. You're an idiot, and I think this is going to come back to bite you in the ass. Haftel out."

Data is stuck in a rough parent-teacher conference.
It seems that because Lal got a perfect score on the placement tests, they decided to put her with older kids. But she couldn't figure out how to relate to them, because she was lost on the nuances of human interaction. So Lal was placed with younger kids.
Data agrees that this sounds reasonable.
The teacher tells him, rather sadly, that things aren't working out with the littles, either. They look at the classroom through a window, to see that the kids are all gathered around a table, interacting with one another and ignoring Lal, who is standing near the wall across the room.
"They're afraid of her," says the teacher.
Maaaan, I relate to this teacher so much.

And now Data gets to explain this to his kid. They get in the lift, and she asks about laughter.
"The human response to humor," he replies.
"So the other kids found my remarks hilarious. Without understanding humor, I have mastered it." She seems pretty proud of this.
Oh honey, no.
"They were not laughing with you, but at you," he explains.
This has to suck. You know he probably has some memories of the same thing happening to him, and while he doesn't have the capacity to process emotions, he still knows how uncomfortable that is.
"What is the difference?" she asks.
"One is meant kindly, the other is not."
"Why would they wish to be unkind?"
"You are different."
"I do not wish to be different."
He has no answer for that.

Data seeks out Crusher, to ask her about her parenting techniques. She's flattered and a bit humbled.
"So Lal is passing into sentience, and she wants to be more like the other kids, but she is realizing that she is different," explains Data. "I am not sure how to navigate this part."
"Ah," says Crusher. "Yeah, Wes went through that. He was also pretty smart for his age, but had trouble making friends. I remembered how hard it was for me to make friends at that age, and I shared it with him, to let him know that I understood what he was going through."
Data considers this. "I had a really hard time with sentience, but I had not told her about it because I thought it might discourage her. But you think if I share that with her, it will be helpful?"
"Yeah. And give her love and attention when she needs it."
"I can give her attention, but I am not capable of giving her love," he replies quietly, before leaving.
Oh, my sweet cinnamon bun! I want to hug Data, and I do not even like hugging.
"I don't think that's totally true," Crusher remarks after he leaves.

Picard is sleeping when Worf calls.
"Hey. Starfleet is sending you a priority one Skype."
He gets out of bed in his oddly sexy jammies (I have never understood these PJ's), and turns on the monitor. It's Admiral Evil.
"Hope I'm not disturbing you."
"Not at all," says Picard in a voice that says, "Bitch, I was sleeping. I don't want to make small talk."
"I'm going to come visit the ship," says Haftel. "And I'm gonna evaluate the new android's progress."
Asshole, her name is Lal. LAL. Not "new android."
"Also," adds Haftel, "If I don't think Data is doing a good enough job, Starfleet says it's okay for me to kidnap his kid. I'm out."
"Aw, fuck," mutters Picard.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "So we're sat here in space, waiting for Admiral Asshat to show up. Data is doing his last transfer. I learned that "lal" is Hindi for "beloved.""

Data takes Lal to Ten Forward.
Guinan: "Hello, Lal. How are you?"
Lal: "I am functioning within normal param... I am fine, thank you."
After the way that school went sideways, Data would like to get Lal a job at Ten Forward to get her the human interaction she needs. They've put in the research for this job as well.
"I've been programmed with a shit-ton of drink recipes," says Lal.
"Say fucking what?" demands Guinan. "Did you use a contraction?"
"Whoa. You surpassed my programming," Data tells Lal. "I mean, I do not have a problem with this, but... how the hell did this happen?"
Picard pages Data to the ready room.
On his way out, Data pauses to look back at Lal and Guinan. Guinan gives him a knowing look.

Data goes to the ready room, where Picard issues him a warning: Data has been sending Admiral D-bag regular updates on Lal, but Haftel is coming to check things out because he wants to move Lal to the Daystrom Annex on Galor IV.
"Both of us?" asks Data.
Picard shakes his head. "Just her. Not you."
Data being Data, instead of lashing out, he gets all logical. "I do not favor that idea. She still has a lot of things to learn, that she can only get from me."
Worf interrupts to say that Riker has come back, and Picard tells him to tell Riker that he'll meet with him in an hour.
They go back to the Lal convo.
"Haftel thinks Lal would be better off with scientists," says Picard.
"So the admiral questions my parenting."
"Kinda, yeah."
"Does he have kids?"
"I think so. Why?"
"Because I wonder how much experience he had when his first kid was born."
And Data drops the fucking mic and walks out.

Lal and Guinan are people-watching behind the bar in Ten Forward. There's a couple across the way who are canoodling, and Guinan is explaining their strange behavior to Lal. They talk about how humans like to hold hands to show affection.
"He's biting that female!" Lal suddenly shouts in alarm.
"No, they're kissing," says Guinan. "Now they're leaving."
"Ask your father."
Guinan walks away to help a customer, and the door to Ten Forward hisses open. It's Riker, back from leave. Lal wipes down the bar with a rag like a good little bartender.
"Hello, are you new?" he asks.
"Yes," she says coquettishly. She grabs the front of his uniform and kisses him.
"Lal! Put him down!" snaps Guinan.
The door hisses open again, and it's Daddy Data.
"Commander, what are your intentions toward my daughter?"
Riker splutters, mumbles, "Nice to meet you," at Lal, then books it out the door.
And there's the pay-off for that earlier joke set-up.

Lal is having an existential crisis. She and Data go back to their quarters, and she laments that she can do the same things as humans, but cannot make the leap to actually being one because she has no emotions.
"I am incomplete."
"That is true," says Data. "But I have figured out that, even though emotions are the end game, and I will never get there, it is not the destination that matters, but the journey. The journey is where you learn and grow, and that in itself has merit."
She praises him for being wise, and he tells her that this wisdom comes from experience rather than knowledge. He has experience, she has knowledge. This is important.
"Today I learned that humans hold hands to show affection," she says.
She reaches over and takes his hand, and I walk away to ugly-cry in the corner.

When we come back from commercial, we see that Admiral Asshole has arrived. He and Picard are having tea in the ready room while he slowly grows into more of a person you'd like to punch.
The low-down: he's here to collect Lal, not to check on her.
"Leave her here with Data," Picard suggests. "He can take care of her formative years, and then deliver her to Starfleet Research later."
"No, that could leave her with irreparable damage," the admiral argues.
"Um, pretty sure that damage will occur if you separate them."
"Are you suggesting that I'm breaking up a family?" Asshole demands.
But then he continues: "Isn't that a rather sentimental attitude about androids?"
Ugh, fuck you and your robophobia. You sound like a pre-Civil War slaveholder.
And here's where Picard gets pissed. Sure, he was on the fence at the beginning of the episode - just like with Measure of a Man - but now he's a full-fledged member of #TeamAndroid.
"Listen, Admiral Motherfucker: androids are living, sentient beings. They have rights, rights that I helped define."
"I acknowledge that," says whatever-the-fuck-his-name-is. "But Lal is a technological step forward, and her development needs controlled measures."
"Data is following those measures."
"But in isolation. Starfleet doesn't like that."

In the lab, Data completes the last of his neural transfers, and explains to Picard and Admiral Jack-off that Lal now has all of the info that he has learned thus far, with a small, but significant difference: Lal can use contractions. The admiral reacts to this news as though it's bad:
"What are you doing about that?"
"Keeping an eye on it," is the gist.
Picard spins it: "Sounds like you improved upon yourself."
Data: "Is that not the goal of any parent?"
The admiral decides that he's going to also put things in parenting terms, but he's patronizing about it.
"As her father, don't you think it would be better to have her watched by trained professionals who follow strict guidelines?"
Data sees through that shit right away: "I am programmed with those guidelines. And you need a model for a basis of comparison. I am the only one."
"But you haven't mastered human and cultural norms."
Sure, throw that in his face.
Admiral Awful asks where Lal is, and we jump-cut to Ten Forward.

The admiral is unimpressed with Lal's job.
"She's capable of running over 60 trillion calculations a second, and you've got her working as a cocktail waitress?"
"It gives her a chance to interact with her crewmates, and learn human behaviors," Data explains.
"And she's under the guidance of someone very wise," adds Picard.
Guinan joins them. "She's doing really well."
Picard puts in that Ten Forward is the social center of the ship, and everyone comes here.
Admiral Half-Ass remains unconvinced. He wants a meeting with her.

Lal arrives at the Obs Lounge for her meeting with Picard and the admiral.
The admiral starts out with some small talk about how he's been excited to meet her, and how important she is to Starfleet Research, and how awesome the facility at Galor IV is.
Picard cuts to the chase: "They want to move you to the research facility."
Lal immediately asks if she has done something wrong.
"No," says Admiral Ass-bar. "We think your experiences here on a starship are limiting."
"That's true," says Lal. "Okay, I agree to go to Galor IV, when I've learned all I can on a starship."
"Um, no? We're thinking now." The admiral has already started typing up the paperwork to move her.
"That's not the logical conclusion," says Lal. "You do not speak with respect."
"She's really adversarial," the admiral tells Picard.
Translation: this little android needs to shut her bitch-ass mouth and learn her place.
Picard's face lights up. "Hey, let's ask her what she wants to do. We've all been talking about her future, but no one has asked what she wants."
"I want to stay here," she replies firmly.
"Too bad," mutters the admiral.

I like this shot. Did not know the carpet in the Obs Lounge was two-toned.

Lal gets up and leaves. She stands just outside of the Obs Lounge door for a moment, looking confused. Then she takes off, finally ending up at Troi's door. Troi grants her entry.
Troi greets her, and asks how she is.
"Admiral. Admiral. Starfleet admiral coming to take me away. I am scared."
There is clearly something wrong with Lal.
Troi frowns. "You are scared." She was not expecting to read emotions from an android.
Lal presses her fingertips into her solar plexus repeatedly. She is panicking. "Feel. I feel it. This is what it means to feel."
She turns and leaves Troi's quarters. Troi rushes after her.

Data meets with Picard and Admiral Punchable in the Obs Lounge.
The admiral decides to be patronizing again, telling Data that he's "gotten Lal off to a wonderful start," but that every parent knows that you eventually have to let your children go.
After two weeks? Fuck right the fuck off.
His reasoning is one that hasn't been brought up before, which tells me that he's running out of reasons to seize Lal: he now appeals to the fact that there are currently only two Soong-type androids in existence (Data and Lal), and having them both in the same place could be disastrous.
"One blast from a Romulan warbird, and it's all over."
Okay, Admiral Infected Sphincter. I'll play your little game.
Let's say a female is orphaned. Her whole family dies. She is the only remaining member. She has a child. There are now two members of her family. Would you take her baby away from her to ensure the survival of the family line? No? Why? Because her baby isn't important to an organization. Try as he might, the admiral cannot get around the fact that Starfleet Research wants to get its greedy paws on Lal. They want to use her as a guinea pig, most likely taking her apart, mess with her brain, and using her as a model to make more. A whole research facility of Bruce Maddoxes. SS-type doctors for the modern automaton.
Picard objects right away. "It seems really, really wrong to separate Data and Lal. She should be allowed to develop here, with him to guide her."
"You're not a parent, Captain."
There are two times when this phrase comes up in real life. The first time is when someone without kids will say to a person who does have kids something insensitive or outrageous, or make some kind of awful comment like, "Whatever, you can still go out clubbing at 11 pm on a Tuesday. Just find a sitter, or call your mom or something," or "You're a jerk for bailing on our Girls' Night, just because your kid is sick." In this case, the childless person is a d-bag without empathy or a clue. In the second case, the childless person does have empathy for the person with kids, and can see that the parent is about to make a terrible choice in the case of the child, and is trying to steer them away from that. This is where the parent is a d-bag. Here, the admiral is the latter. He's using Picard's childless status to justify his shitty choices. And he can get fucked sideways with a katana.
Picard isn't about to let him get away with that.

"Dude, even I can tell that's bullshit. She clearly depends on Data."
Admiral Shithead decides to ignore Picard and manipulate Data. "So hey, Lal would agree easier to this if she thought you were onboard."
And Data gives a great response: "Admiral, when I created Lal, it was in the hope that someday she would choose to enter the Academy and become a member of Starfleet. I wanted to give something back in return for all that Starfleet has given me. I still do. But Lal is my child. You ask that I volunteer to give her up. I cannot. It would violate every lesson I have learned about human parenting. I have brought a new life into this world. And it is my duty, not Starfleet's to guide her through these difficult steps to maturity, to support her as she learns, to prepare her to be a contributing member of society. No one can relive me from that obligation, and I cannot ignore it. I am... her father."

Picard is looking like he definitely picked the right side in this fight, but the admiral is unimpressed by Data's thoughts. In fact, he sets his jaw in a way that says he really was hoping Data would "be more cooperative," but now he's going to have to force his hand. He pulls rank, and demands that Data hand over Lal.
Data pauses, then stands to fetch his daughter.
"Oh, hell naw!" says Picard. "I'm taking this shit to Starfleet."
"I am Starfleet," Haftel puffs.
Like hell you are. There's nothing worse than when a representative of an organization declares themselves to actually be the organization. What the fuck is above vice admiral? Fleet admiral? Can we report his ass?
He then tells Picard that he's currently putting his career on the line.
Picard nods. Of course he knows that: "There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their sentience, but ignore their personal liberties and freedom. Order a man to hand his child over to the state? Not while I am his captain."
Troi interrupts the meeting. "Mr Data, come to the lab! There's something really wrong with Lal!"

They all rush down to the lab. Lal is in that little corral, seemingly non-functioning, and Troi explains that Lal came to see her, full of fear and confusion. Then she left Troi's quarters and returned straight to the lab, with each step more difficult than the last. Data explains that Lal was programmed to returned to the lab in the case of a malfunction.
"Emotional awareness... a malfunction," says Picard quietly.
Lal wakes up and asks for Data. He assures her that he is there for her.
"I think she has cascade failure," Data assesses. "I have to initialize the base matrix without wiping out her higher functions."
The admiral agrees with this diagnosis, then offers to help Data.
The others leave the lab to stand out in the corridor, much like family members waiting for news on an ailing loved one.

Sometime later, Haftel exits into the corridor, and in a thick voice, tells Geordi, Troi and Wes that Data isn't going to be able to save Lal. He speaks of Data's hands moving so fast that they become a blur, or polarizing one part of her brain, and watching helplessly as another collapsed.
"It just wasn't meant to be," he says quietly.
And he walks away, presumably to call his kids.

In the lab, Data tells Lal that he was unable to fix the problem.
"I know," she says. "I love you, Father."
He pauses, probably wanting to go with the automatic response of "I love you, too," but goes with the truth: "I wish I could feel it with you."
"I will feel it for both of us," she smiles. 'Thank you for my life." A pause, then... "Flirting. Laughter. Painting, family. Female. Human..."
And she's gone.

Data enters the bridge. His friends stand and turn to him.
"Lal suffered complete neural failure at 1300 hours. I have deactivated the unit."
"The crew is saddened by your loss," says Picard.
And they are. They look like they've been gutted.
"I appreciate that," says Data. "But she is not gone. She enriched my life so much that I reintegrated her program back into mine, so I can carry her with me always." He touches his temple.
Data takes his place at the conn, and Picard gives the order to start off to someplace new.
Data will be okay.


I feel like I could write twelve different essays about this episode and still not cover all it has to say. Early on, Data's admission that he will allow his child to select their own sex and appearance leads one to possibly believe that this episode will be about trans rights. Though this is not the direction is chooses to take, the handling of Lal's gender is interesting and did not come off too badly. None of the four final selections that Lal makes fall outside of the male-female binary; however, it is easy to assume that some non-binary choices were made available, as the gender-and-appearance database that Data set up had at least 2000 options. Would have been awesome to see some non-binary choices in the top four, though. (While the trans-based story ends here for this episode, more trans-type stories are available in both Star Trek and non-Star Trek sci-fi formats: TOS' "Metamorphosis" deals with Zephram Cochrane being stuck on a planet with an amorphous ball of energy, whom he considers a friend. He freaks out when a piece of equipment assigns a female voice to his friend, and must decide if he can still accept his friend. The New Frontier book series (also Star Trek) feature a non-binary species crew member among the senior staff. And most surprisingly, the new sci-fi series from Seth MacFarlane, The Orville, offers up as it's third episode a storyline in which a female is born into an all-male society, and the child's parents debate the merits of getting her a sex-change operation as an infant. It's well-done for a show that's best described as a Star Trek spoof.)

Where this episode might have fallen short (but thankfully didn't) is in it's use of two major Star Trek plot devices, that of "Captain vs Bureaucrat" and "killing off a new character to harvest feels from your audience." Both of these devices have been used to death, and have gotten a bit boring. With the first, some bureaucrat or admiral insists on getting all up in the sitting captain's business, questioning their every move, quoting procedure, and pulling rank. Often, they threaten to pull the captain's commission because the captain does not agree with them. They also tend to grossly overstep their bounds, something that comes back to slap them in the face when it is proven that the captain was correct all along. Here, Haftel is in charge of Starfleet Research, and is basically a Bruce Maddox with power. He also starts out sounding like your Basic White American Male during Jim Crow: "Sure, I acknowledge that they're sentient, but they're really lesser beings, subject to my whims." Gross. Art imitates the worst of life. His mind finally changes at the end when he sees Data desperately attempting to save his daughter, and Haftel draws the comparisons that Data and Picard had always said were there in the first place. The frustrating part? Haftel may very well still be that same Jim Crow-era asshole. Often, these people will change their viewpoint only to include the people they know personally. "These particular Mexicans are not rapists or drug lords, because I know them. They're good, hard-working people. Can't say the same for the rest, though." The refusal to extend the benefit of the doubt to anyone beyond their own inner circle keeps them mired in this small world-view. If Haftel were to report back to Starfleet Research that their insistence to simply seize any and all androids in the future is in line with cruelty, then he may have changed his mind for the better. But we'll never know. There's no follow-up on Haftel, so we're forced to extend the benefit of the doubt that he started out not extending to Data and Lal.

The other plot device employed here is that of "killing off a new character just to give your audience the feels." This isn't strictly Star Trek, as I've seen it used in other shows, but Star Trek is rather fond of it. It involves introducing a character who is the BFF of someone (but who has never been mentioned before), or someone's sibling, or a crew member that everyone knows and loves, but who has never been seen on screen. We get to know this character and establish their relationship to other principal characters, and then we're upset when they die at the end of the episode, and when we see how upset our principals are. These characters and their deaths are designed to tug at the heartstrings, and you can kind of see them coming a mile away. With Lal, this set-up is a bit more subtle. There's a chance that she might be a new permanent member of the cast for a while, and you decide that yeah, it could be okay having two androids on board the ship. She's kind of fun, and she enriches Data's character that much more. So when her death occurs, it is not unexpected, but maybe less likely. And it does not occur the way one thought it might. Perhaps the audience suspects that she might die from sacrifice, taking one for her father. But death by emotion? No. What's more, that opens the door for Data to suffer the same fate, and now the stakes are higher.  Lal's death has more emotional pull. The audience gets "sentimental about androids." They were #TeamDataTeamLal, and now there's no more team for that. What's more, it comes hot on the heels of last weeks' episode, where Tasha Yar gets to die a better death. This show is not playing around.

So what are the major themes at play here?
How one acclimates to becoming a parent.
Children being raised by their parents versus being raised by the state.
The current status of the rights of androids.
That last one is of particular importance to me, as it mirrors the rights of minorities in the US. First, these people have no rights. They are property ("Data is a toaster"). They protest at this, but no one listens - who pays attention to the protestations of property? Someone in power takes on their cause, and after much slogging through much muck, basic rights are established. But they are often not respected, and people are forced to begrudgingly accept them when called out on it (early season two Pulaski and Admiral Haftel). "Oh yes, I forgot you weren't considered property anymore." There are growing pains. And here is where we find ourselves. Data's rights and personal freedoms have been established, and people get used to it, especially those in his immediate vicinity. But he was one android at the time, so only about 1000 people could say they personally knew an android. Haftel felt no compunction for simply strolling onto the Enterprise and demanding that Data hand over Lal, because he wasn't acquainted with any androids (again, the whole "the ones I know are hard-working and honest, but not the others" comes into play here). A toaster built another toaster. He doesn't care, and neither does Starfleet Research. In Haftel's conference with Lal, he offers as a throw-away comment that he has great respect for Data and what he's done. Lal correctly assesses that he does not speak with respect... because he doesn't. The toaster is impressive, and something to be admired, but he is certainly not a person. And so here we are, much the same as the civil rights movement: I acknowledge that you exist as a being of intelligence, but that doesn't mean I have to respect you. You have rights in name only. I don't have to make you a wedding cake, and I can certainly feel free to gun you down in cold blood and claim self-defense. It's a bit chilling to consider that we still haven't gotten our shit together by the 24th century.

There's one last thing I'd like to address that didn't fit in anywhere else: Lal's age. When Data and Lore were created, Soong made them look a bit younger than middle-aged. Certainly older than teens, probably in their early-to-mid thirties. At this point, Data actually is in his early-to-mid thirties. Lal is only a few weeks old, but looks older. Late teens, early twenties? A bit older? Her "age" is never given. Actor Hallie Todd was 28 when this was filmed, but she presents as a bit younger than that. Humans often judge how to act around another person by judging their age, treating elders with respect, watching their language around small children. But Lal has the mind of an adult, the development of a child, and the body of someone easily in her twenties. How should humans treat her? Picard objects to the use of the word "child," but Troi points out that "child" can also refer to adult children. Why do I bring this up? She kisses Riker. While his greeting of "Hello, are you new here?" might be taken as flirtatious by one person, it might be taken as simply friendly by someone else. Add the fact that her development at that moment is that of a child, it's a bit off-putting. Riker, for his part, only sees a twenty-something bartender, and is thrown for a loop when informed that she is Riker's daughter. He exits quickly, possibly because he's been burned by dating a coworker's daughter before. Or maybe he hasn't, and it seems like a bad idea. Either way, it might get a bit uncomfortable for him later on, being informed of Lal's chronological age. Does the chronological age count? Possibly. I suppose it's up to the other person involved. "You're a really cool person, Lal, but you're like, two months old, and I'm kind of hung up on that."
It's a weirdness.

Fun Facts:

- This episode started out as a spec script by Rene Echevarria, who would go on to be a story editor and producer for both TNG and DS9. This was his first Star Trek script, and initially included very little of the principal TNG characters.
- In the scene where Guinan tells Lal about flirting, the original line was about men and women specifically. Whoopi Goldberg protested, saying that sexuality would have come farther at that point in time, and made it gender non-specific. Gay couples were then planned to be seen in Ten Forward, but someone put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, and the hetero couple stayed.
- This episode is a bottle show.
- Why was Riker gone for most of the episode? Because this was Jonathan Frakes' directorial debut. When he approached up producers about directing, they sent him to "director school," making him spend 300 or so hours in the editing room and doing dubbing before they gave him an episode.
- The painting that Data shows Lal in his quarters is Tableau I by Piet Mondrian. (Of course he has a Mondrian. Not only would the ordered nature appeal to Data, but also the difficulty of formal painting.)

- In both Measure of a Man and this episode, Data deals with his rights: firstly as an android, and secondly, as a parent. In each instance, he is defended by Picard against Starfleet.
- While most of the cast and crew loved this episode, writer Melinda M Snodgrass did not. She considered it to be too close to Measure of a Man.
- Consideration was given to having Lal return in the fifth season, in a story that would involve Lore (spoilers) stealing her body and reactivating her. It was scrapped for unknown reasons.
- Leonard Crofoot plays an uncredited original form Lal. Recognize him?

Crofoot was personally selected by Jonathan Frakes to play Lal's unfinished form. His Lal make-up was done by Michael Westmore, and mostly consisted of sculpted buttocks and chest piece, then a lot of gold paint on his bare skin. He once spent 14 hours in the costume, not eating or drinking, in order to avoid having to use the bathroom. 
- We'll see Leonard Crofoot again in Voyager.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 5
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 10
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 8
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 1
To date: 5
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guinan Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 8
To date: 21
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 21
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 0
To date: 21
Tea, Earl Grey: 1
To date: 3


Monday, November 27, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Fifteen "Yesterday's Enterprise"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Fifteen "Yesterday's Enterprise"
Production Order: 15
Air Order: 15
Stardate: 43625.2
Original Air Date: February 19, 1990

Okay, sorry for the hiccup. That would be one trip to the ER (friend Gimli is fine), one bad experience with socialized feral kittens (both kittens and I are fine), and an angry, frustrated cry and admission at blog deadline time that no, one cannot do all of these things and still write 1667 words per day for NaNoWriMo.


Worf is sitting at a table in Ten Forward when Guinan sits down with two glasses and tells him to drink what she's offering. He's suspicious, but does so. He actually really enjoys it, and she tells him that it's prune juice. She then says that she's noticed that he always drinks alone, and that maybe he should be looking for some companionship.
Oh, Lord. This isn't OkKlingon, Guinan. Let the man find his own dates.
He tells her delicately that he'd need a Klingon woman for that, because human females are too fragile.
"You don't know that," she prods. "There are some human females here who might find you tame."
He laughs.

His response to her goading him into trying is that he will never know.
"Coward," she teases.
Sassy Worf Moment: "I was merely concerned for the safety of my crewmates."
Sassy Guinan Moment: "Drink your prune juice."
They glance out the front window, and there's some kind of mysterious thing outside.
Worf gets paged to the bridge.
He leaves and she goes to the window. Clearly, she knows something.
"That's not right."

Worf enters the bridge, where Picard is asking Data for information.
"It's like... a wormhole thing? But it has no center or edge? It's weird. I've never seen anything like it."
Dude. Data's pretty much a walking Encyclopedia Britannica. If he encounters something he's never seen before, they're kind of screwed.
Wes' two-cents: "Yeah, it's weird."
The wormhole thing phases, and a ship starts to come out of it.
Then there's a strange visual effect that's supposed to represent some kind of shift.

The uniforms on the bridge crew are slightly different. The bridge is dark, like a car driving down the highway at night, and the only lights are coming from the dashboard display.
"What ship is that?" asks Picard. "Enemy ship, Lieutenant?"
He turns around.
Whoa, nelly.

"Dunno," says Yar.

Guinan turns away from the window. Ten Forward is now awash in people, while the PA system calls out assignments overhead. Not knowing what else to do, and maybe because the act is comforting in a jarring situation, she scoops up the nearest abandoned plate and cup and starts looking around while walking toward the bar.
"Not right," she repeats.

"The ship is getting clearer," says Yar, watching her instruments. "I can see the call numbers now. It's NCC 1701... C. It's the Enterprise."
Zoom-in on Picard!

Dramatic music! Opening credits!

Military Log (military log?!), Combat-Date 43625.2: "Whoa. Checking out some kind of anomaly, and out of the mist comes the Enterprise-C, predecessor of this battleship."

We're on the bridge, but not the bridge? There's a dais with just the captain's chair, and some stations behind Data and Wes, and whoa, Wes is a full ensign now! Noice!

He and Data talk about how the E-C was supposed to have been lost 20 years earlier with all hands near the Klingon outpost of Narendra III.
Picard postures that it may he been adrift all this time, and Data puts forward the hypothesis that the weird wormhole thing it came out of was a temporal rift. Picard thinks that theory is interesting.
"Yeah (science) means it might collapse at any time. Not stable," adds Data.
Yar suddenly announces that she's getting some life signs from the other ship. Riker immediately calls Crusher to request medical personnel to help out with the E-C, but Picard stops him. They get into an argument. Apparently, this Picard and this Riker are not bros.
Anyway, Picard's point here is that they could fuck up all of the temporal shit by interfering with the E-C. A distress signal comes in.
"Hey, this is Captain Garrett from the Enterprise. Got into a bad fight with some Romulans, and lost warp drive and most of our life support. Looking for some help."
"Uh, there's no record of that ship ever having gotten into it with Roms," Riker points out.
Yar says the live distress signal is gone, and she's just getting the automated one.
Picard decides to act after all. He calls the E-C and tells them he's from "...a Federation starship..." and that he's sending emergency medical teams to them.
"Get them up and running again and tend to their wounded," he tells Riker, "but don't talk too much. Butterfly effect and all that."
Riker takes Yar and they leave. Wes says Starfleet is reporting Klingon cruisers nearby.

Riker and Yar beam over with Geordi and Crusher. Everything on the E-C bridge is a mess, with actual burning fires in places. They find the captain, who is in bad shape, and Crusher takes a scan.
"Fractures and internal damage," she announces. "I need to beam her back to the sick bay on the Enterprise."
Dammit Doctor, you had one job!
"Where?" asks Garrett.
Riker tries to brush her off, but she insists. He gets away with a "tell you later" before she and Crusher beam out.
The rest of the bridge crew is dead, but Yar unearths the helmsman, Lt Castillo.
The crew of the E-C are all wearing Wrath of Khan uniforms, which is a nice continuity touch.

Riker calls Picard to say that life support on the E-C is back up, but it'll take time for Geordi to fix things right with the warp drive. He reports 125 survivors, and mentions that he'd hate to have to scrap the ship, because they're at war and need everything that flies on their side. Picard agrees and gives Geordi nine hours to fix it. If that works, they'll take it to the nearest starbase. If not, they'll take the survivors, and blow up the E-C.
"Understood, sir," barks Riker.
Dude, he and this other Picard hate each other or something.
Guinan enters the bridge and looks around, nonplussed. She goes straight to Picard.
"Everything is wrong, and we need to talk."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard and Guinan go into the ready room, which now features a lighted map on the wall showing locations that either belong to the Klingons or the Federation.
"So what's wrong?" he asks.
"You. The bridge, the uniforms, everything."
"It's the same bridge."
"Yes and no? Also, families. There should be kids on this ship."
Picard is appalled. "This is a war ship! We're at war!"
"But we shouldn't be. The Enterprise is a ship of peace. Everything went wrong when the E-C came out of that wormhole thing."

Picard goes to sick bay to see Rachel Garrett.
Once she finds out how her ship is doing, and the status of her crew, she gets down to business.
"Okay, where the hell am I? Who are you guys, and what ship is this?"
Picard tries to brush her off like Riker did, but she isn't having any of it.
"Okay, so... this is the Enterprise D, and you're 22 years into the future. We think you came through a temporal vortex."
"You're shitting me."
"Nope. What do you remember right before you got here?"
"So we got this distress signal from a Klingon outpost, Narendra III," she begins. "And we go to defend it, but four fucking Romulan warbirds come out of nowhere, and that's absolutely not a fair fight. But we're in it anyway, and there are all these phaser volleys, and bright flashes, then we end up here."
"That sucks," he sighs. "If a Starfleet ship was seen helping a Klingon outpost, it might have prevented twenty years of war. I bet the temporal rift opened with help from the phaser fight."
(Okay: that's a weird theory. How exactly would a bunch of phasers open a temporal rift? Did they cross the streams? And if that happened every time the Roms got into a firefight, wouldn't they know they could secretly open temporal rifts? And maybe use it as a really inaccurate weapon?
"Tactical, we're outnumbered, so signal to the other warbirds that we're going to cross the streams and send this ship into a temporal rift. They can deal with the future."
"Where and when in the future, sir?"
"Eh, how should I know? Just do it."
Or is it just a question of crossing the streams near some piece of space that's ripe for temporal rifting?)

We go back to the E-C, where Yar and Riker are heading up the repairs with Geordi. Castillo is trying to talk himself around into this "being in the future" business and having limited success.
"My family is probably dead," he laments.
"Dude, it's only 22 years. They're most likely alive," Yar reasons.
She continues trying to fix the ship while he ruminates aloud.
"What's different in the future?" he finally asks.
"A lot of stuff. Long-ass war with the Klingons. We lost half of Starfleet to them already."
"Oh, we were working on a peace treaty with them in my time."
"Some crap has gone down since." She's still plugging away at the consoles, trying to make things work.
"...if we get a break, could you tell me about those changes?"

On the E-D, Data and Picard are discussing the temporal rift at the science station.
"Can we send the E-C back through that thing?" asks Picard.
"We could," says Data. "But it would put them right back where they started from."
So, in the middle of an unfair fight with four warbirds.
"They have no chance of surviving," Data replies.
"It's a death sentence," Picard agrees.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

I guess they've decided to skip being careful, because the butterfly was already out of the bag, and now they'll go whole-hog and just show the E-C crew everything, because they're either staying here in the future, or going back to die instantly, sooo...
Yar and Castillo are walking through the E-D corridors, which are hideously crowded because, as Yar tells Castillo, the E-D can move 6000 soldiers. She tells him that she's been on the E-D since she graduated from the Academy. She says she was lucky to get the assignment on the Enterprise.
"Me too," says Castillo. "Well, I mean, my Enterprise."
She smiles at him.
They go into sick bay to talk to Garrett.
Garrett makes Castillo her liaison to the E-D, as he is currently the senior-most bridge officer on the E-C. And she wants him to focus on tactical because Picard has told her that they need help in this timeline with the Klingons. She gets out of bed, and is immediately stopped by Crusher.
"My crew needs me," Garrett argues.
"You need 24 more hours in sick bay to heal," Crusher responds. "Why do captains always insist on pushing it?"
"Why do doctors always try to baby captains?" Garrett counters.
Really, Crusher has the authority to keep Garrett, but she decides to just let it go.

Guinan is summoned to the Obs Lounge to talk to Picard. All the little Enterprise models are gone, replaced by tactical maps and shit. And that long, black, shiny table with the office chairs? The chairs are gone, and the table is now standing-height.
"I need more info," says Picard.
"Wish I had more," she replies.
"You say they need to go back, but as soon as they get back, they'll all die. I can't just do that. There needs to be justification."
Guinan gets angry. "Dude, what do you want me to say? Not only do I not have info on why this is wrong, I can't even prove it, or prove why they shouldn't be here. All I know is that all the shit is fucked up. That's it. Have you ever known me to just screw with stuff? To tell you to change your plans based on a whim?"
"No. But it's still bullshit that they should die."

Castillo and Yar have ended up in Ten Forward, talking about deflector shields.
Guinan returns to Ten Forward and is immediately put off by Tasha Yar at the bar. She stares at Yar for a while, then takes their order. Apparently, in this timeline all energy is needed for war stuff, so no food replicators are in use. Everyone eats food prepared in Ten Forward. Yar orders rations for herself and Castillo after introducing him to Guinan. When Guinan leaves, Yar says she's never seen Guinan so put off.
Well no, Tasha. You and Guinan shouldn't exist on the ship at the same time. Interesting that Guinan knows enough about you to just go with it.
Castillo asks if he can call Yar Tasha, and she agrees. He says everyone calls him Castillo, and his mother calls him Richard.
"Okay, Castillo."
"...on second thought, call me Richard."
Picard pages the senior officers to the ready room. Yar and Guinan share one more uneasy meeting of the eyes as Yar and Castillo leave.

In the ready room, Picard announces that he's going to send the E-C back through the temporal rift. The others question his decision, seeing as how the crew of that ship have survived, just to be sent to their deaths. Riker is especially vocal.
"Look," says Picard. "You're not gonna change my mind. Why does Guinan think everything is wrong? Dunno. She doesn't either. No one is really sure why she noticed a change and none of the rest of us did. We don't know anything about her species, they may not see time as linear as we do. But she thinks this timeline shouldn't exist, and that sending the E-C back could fix that, could make this war non-existent."
"It's possible that in the other timeline, the Enterprise C was destroyed defending that Klingon outpost," reasons Data."That would have been viewed favorably by the Klingons, who would have seen their deaths as honorable. It could have kept us out of a war 22 years ago."
This is an interesting thought to the others, and when Picard dismisses them, they all get up talking to one another.

"This is so messed up," Crusher remarks as she and Geordi go into the corridor. "Who's to even say which of us is dead or alive in that other timeline?"
Yeah, guess who's standing behind them when Crusher says that?

Yar and Data get into the lift, and he correctly guesses that she's preoccupied with something bad.
She confesses that she's been working with an officer from E-C, and she's worried about what will happen to him.
"We'll never know," Data points out. "If we send them back, and switch over to the other timeline, none of this will have happened."

Back on the E-C, repairs are under way. Garrett is back on the bridge.
"So your bartender says we have to sacrifice ourselves?" she asks in disbelief.
"Yeah, I don't know what the deal is with her species, but they have this intuition, and she's never lead me astray."
"We kind of don't have a chance in hell of surviving," Garrett muses. (Guess Picard never mentioned Data's theory about Klingons and honor.) "Maybe if you came back with your advanced weaponry..."
"You know we can't."
"Yeah, it was a long shot." She pauses. "A lot of my crew have said they want to go back, either because they don't like living without loved ones, or because they dislike leaving in the middle of a fight. But I told them that if we stay here, you need us to fight the Klingons."
"Yeah, here's the thing... " he lowers his voice "...we're hella losing this war. Like, within six months, we'll have to surrender. One more ship fighting now... meh. But if you go back, you could stop this war in your time."
Garrett tells Castillo to tell the rest of the crew that they're going back through the rift.

Picard is ready to leave, but Yar requests a moment more, o he beams off without her.
"Good luck," she says to Castillo.
He looks at her like she just said "good luck with dying and all," because she really did.
"I'll... try to put your tactical advice to good use," he says in reply.
She attempts to reason with him about how his ship has better maneuverability that their Romulan counterparts, but then trails off.
He suggests that maybe someday they'll both make it back to Earth, and they briefly entertain the thought before the ship is rocked suddenly.
Oops, the Klingons have shown up. Yar and Castillo dash to the conn centers, and the E-D reports one Klingon cruiser.

The E-C takes another hit, and Garrett tumbles out of her chair amid some debris.
The cruiser re-cloaks, and Picard calls Garrett for a report.
"Um, this is Yar. Captain Garrett is dead."
Oh, fuck you, Star Trek. You had that cruiser come out of nowhere just to take out Garrett, then had it go away for no reason.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Castillo goes back to the E-D Obs Lounge, where he tells Picard that he's perfectly willing to take the ship back, the way it was planned.
Riker is unusually combative, arguing vehemently against it, as the ship was never meant to be commanded by a lieutenant.
Dude, this is war, Riker. Sometimes shit happens and the senior-most officer is like an ensign or something. Deal with it.
"We can make repairs for the shit that was broken in this last firefight, and then I can take it back through and fix all this," Castillo says stubbornly.
"Either way, that cruiser is now reporting where we are to Klingon High Command, and they'll be back with reinforcements," Yar points out. "We have to get the hell out of here."
"Repair the ship. We'll cover you," Picard tells Castillo.

Yar takes Castillo back to the transporter room.
"We keep saying goodbye," he jokes.
"Wish we had more time."
"I think we've had all the time we can handle."
They make out in the transporter room. Good for her. Tasha Yar has had a pretty shit life, and she deserves to have a nice, normal.... never mind.
Castillo gets back on the transporter pad and beams back to his ship.

Yar goes to Ten Forward, which is surprisingly empty. She cuts right to the chase.
"What happens to me in the other timeline?"
"I don't really know," admits Guinan. "It's all kind of fuzzy for me. But I know that you shouldn't be here."
"Where should I be?"
"Dead. I know you, but I shouldn't. And I hate to break it to you, but your death sucked. Like, no meaning in it whatsoever."
Yar considers this, then leaves without another word.

Yar heads straight for the ready room.
"I wanna transfer to the E-C."
He frowns."What the fuck for?"
"They need a tactical officer."
That's true.
"I'm not supposed to be here. I should be dead."
And he knows who she has been talking to. He's pretty pissed at Guinan. "Why did she think it was appropriate to tell you that?"
"I guessed, and asked her. She said it was true."
"The E-C could totally fail."
"Yeah, I know."
"But it could succeed, and you could stay here and live a long life," he says.
"I know that it's important for the E-C to succeed, which is why I want to go. They need me there. It's kind of logical."
"Bullshit, that's not logical!" He pauses."They'll probably fail."
"Probably. But I could give them a fighting chance, even if it's a few seconds. Guinan says I died a senseless death in the other timeline. If I'm going to die in a Starfleet uniform, I want it to count for something."
He considers her. "Permission granted."

Castillo is on the bridge of the E-C, handing out assignments when Yar approaches and reports for tactical. He pulls her aside.
"What are you doing? This is a suicide mission."
"I put in for transfer."
"I don't want you here." He's clearly torn between being glad to see her again, and not wanting her to die.
"I'm the best person for the job, and you need me here."
"...okay. Report to tactical."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Military Log, supplemental: "Tasha Yar has transferred over to the E-C. Klingon cruisers on long-range, headed straight for us."

Three Klingon ships are headed their way, not even cloaked. Bold as brass.
Picard climbs on the PA system. "Okay, we could totally outrun the Klingons, but we need to stay and cover the E-C as she goes back through the temporal rift. We need to make sure that happens."
The Klingons come out, guns ablazin'. The E-D fires back as the E-C turns toward the rift. Two cruisers attempt to draw the E-D off the E-C, while the third goes for the E-C. Damage reports coming in, Geordi is having some trouble with the power couplings, and Riker makes a quick remark about losing anti-matter containment. More hits taken, and they blow up a cruiser.

"Bridge, we have a warp core breach in two minutes!" yells Geordi.
He starts evacuating Engineering.
"Fifty-two more seconds until the E-C enters the rift!" calls Data.
Shit starts failing on the bridge. More hits. There's an explosion, and Riker goes flying.

Picard vaults over the partition and heads up tactical himself.
"Federation ship, surrender so we can board you," comes a Klingon call.
"Fuck right off," mutters Picard.
A fire has started on the E-D bridge.
Both cruisers are now firing on the E-D while the E-C slips unnoticed into the rift.

Picard in a regular slip-collar uniform says, "Lieutenant, wtf was that?"
He turns.

"Like, a ship came out of that wormhole thing for a split-second, then went back in? I don't really know," says Worf. "Space weirdness."
"The wormhole thing is closing in on itself," reports Data.
"Maybe we should send a probe in," shrugs Picard. He looks at Wes. "Set course for (location where temporal-shift Riker claims they kicked some Klingon ass)."

The comm channel opens. It's Guinan.
"Hey, Picard. Everything okay up there?"
Picard glances at Riker, and they both shrug. "Yeah, should it not be?"
"Naw, we're good." Down in Ten Forward, she gestures at a waiter to bring a drink, and she sits at a table with Geordi. "Tell me about... Tasha Yar."

Oops, they forgot to switch out Geordi's uniform.

This episode is fantastic. Rough-going, but good all the same.
I'm not a huge fan of time-travel stories (with some exceptions) because they tend to get very convoluted very fast, but this one managed to keep each strand separated and clear so that the audience doesn't have to struggle to keep up with where or when the story takes place. I always appreciate that.
Guinan being the only person that recognizes that something is wrong worked really well here. Her species (she's an El-Aurian, but we won't hear that name for quite some time) being mysterious and having powers not readily talked about works here. She doesn't have set boundaries to work within, and when time shifts, it somehow seems believable that she would move between the two realities (at least, more believable than a human crew member). This is also helpful as she's particularly trusted by Picard - would he honestly trust anyone else's opinion to possibly kill two ships' worth of Starfleet personnel? (This further explains Troi's absence, story-wise: she might have also felt the shift, even if she had not shifted the way Guinan did, and one person arguing for the sacrifice of a ship adds a bit more tension than two. This explains why she is ostensibly missing from the ship. I do wonder where she ended up in the alternate timeline, though - where did Betazed fall in this war?)
Some changes that I liked that marked the difference between the two timelines:
- The uniforms were similar, but not terribly different.
- Wes was made a full ensign. He was probably rushed through the Academy to get him into the field quicker. However, this does make him more likely to die in battle. (Written but unfilmed: Wes' death in the final battle scene by decapitation. Really glad that didn't make it in.)
- Guinan understanding who Tasha Yar is, but also not knowing her. In this period, they are shipmates, and the time shift seems to have given her information about her own timeline, as well as the alternate, as though she's watching both timelines overlapping on the same television screen at once.  Fully returned, she retains the knowledge she had, but requests more from Geordi.
- Alternate timeline Picard and Riker do not like each other. Alternate Riker seemed more tightly wound, probably a product of coming of age in the middle of a war. If his mother still died when he was an infant, and his father still abandoned him at fifteen, then Riker's survival of the fittest young adulthood would have been much bloodier. Picard, being older, has spent much of his life in relative peace compared to Riker, and I thought it was interesting to see where this difference cropped up. However, despite having a slightly harder edge, Picard has not much changed.
- The sets and lighting are marvelous. The bridge, ready room, Engineering and Obs Lounge all feature darker, duller blue lighting that has a more ominous feeling, while Ten Forward was brightened to accommodate a busier feeling, rather than a relaxed one. The bridge has a dais for Picard's chair and more work stations. With the command chairs missing from either side of the captain's chair, Riker was relegated to the station next to tactical, further separating him from Picard. The corridors bustle with people, to prove Yar's explanation that the E-D can carry up to 6000 troops.

It feels like, in some cases, the backstory and behind the scenes circumstances are important to an episode, and this episode fits well into that category. With "Yesterday's Enterprise," this seems very much like it. This episode actually originated as two scripts. The first, a spec script written by Trent Christopher Ganino, was only about the E-D encountering a ship that had slipped into their time, making no changes to the future, and Picard's dilemma as to whether or not to tell the other ship's crew about their fate before sending them back. The second script (written by Eric Stillwell) involved the Vulcans, Sarek (father of Spock) replacing Surak (father of Vulcan philosophy) in one timeline, and Tasha Yar. It relied heavily on time travel and alternate timelines. Stillwell had met Denise Crosby at a convention and mentioned how much he disliked Yar's death in the first season. They discussed bringing her back to kill her off properly. Michael Piller, having heard Stillwell's idea, suggested that he combine the "characters taking the place of other characters in other timelines" story with Ganino's time-swapped ships. Everyone was on board with killing Yar in a better manner via talking oil slick.

So what changes here? The E-C moves through the temporal rift into a time 22 years into the future, changing that future. In the past, the E-C coming to the rescue of Narendra III sort of sealed the deal between the Federation and the Klingons, despite being lost with all hands (or in this case, probably because of it). The sacrifice do not go unnoticed by the Klingons, who Castillo claims were in peace talks with the Federation. The destruction of the E-C told the Klingons "Got your back, bro." When the E-C disappears into the rift, either it remained a mystery as to what happened and the peace talks broke down, or the Klingons viewed this as the E-C taking off and abandoning the colony, allowing it to be destroyed by the Romulans, and causing the Klingons to start a war with the Federation. By sending the E-C back to it's own time to die defending the colony, they stopped the alternate timeline from happening, and stopped the war with the Klingons. In the regular timeline, Yar has died. In the alternate timeline, she is alive and well, and might have continued to live a long time. Her getting on the E-C sealed her fate there, ensuring she would die in the past with her adopted crew. Had she stayed behind, she might have died on the E-D, helping to ensure that the E-C get back through the time rift. But when the E-C goes back through the rift, it changes the alternate timeline back to the regular one, and the alternate E-D no longer exists. Yar escapes from a non-existence to a certain death. And that's the change: Yar gets a better death.
Had this episode been a bad one, the roller coaster they put us through might not have been worth it. But given that the writers, cast, Denise Crosby, and the pretty much the entire fandom hated Yar's death to begin with, the ride and the wait were worth it.

(This episode left me with one burning question: what happened to Worf? Did Khitomer occur in the alternate universe? If so, did Worf die in the wreckage with his parents? Was he rescued by other Klingons?)

Fun Facts:

- Along with Riker and Wes, Data was also supposed to "die," by electrocution.
- In Ganino's original script, the captain of the E-C was Richard Garrett, named after a pizzaria in Ganino's hometown of San Jose.
- Guinan was brought in at the last minute during script writing, and because of scheduling conflicts between Whoopi Goldberg and Denise Crosby, filming was pushed forward, and the writers had to push to complete the script over Thanksgiving weekend in order to film in early December. The writers were not completely satisfied with the short schedule, but enjoyed being able to write a darker episode.

- The special effect in the beginning of the episode which marked the change of the timeline was forgotten at the end of the episode.
- The shrapnel that killed Capt Garrett was a wing from the VF-1 Valkyrie model kit from the anime "The Super Dimension Fortress Macross." Interestingly, parts from the same model kit were used to build Constellation-class models.
- Tricia O'Neil, who plays Capt Garrett, will show up again as a Klingon in season six, and as a Cardassian in DS9.
- Christopher McDonald, who plays Castillo, had auditioned for the part of Riker.
- This is the last episode to feature all of the original cast. Wil Wheaton and Denise Crosby will show up again in other episodes, but never together.
- Denise Crosby cited this as her favorite episode. Jonathan Frakes was never able to get a handle on it.
-This is the only episode to feature the encounter of two ships named Enterprise.
-The Enterprise-D from the alternate universe has been in service at least a year longer than the one we are familiar with. Yar tells Castillo that the E-D is the first Galaxy-class warship.
- Castillo tells Yar that the Federation is in peace talks with the Klingon Empire. However, the follow year (1991), Star Trek will establish a different canon, one where peace treaties with the Klingons were signed over 50 years earlier (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).
- The PAs on the E-D call for Lt Barrett (meaning Majel), and for Dr Selar.
- This episode won an Emmy for sound editing, and was nominated for sound mixing.
- The apocryphal novel "Q-Squared" set up that Troi did not exist in the alternate universe, as the Klingons had wiped out the Betazoids.

Red deaths: 0 (Alternative universe Riker technically never existed)
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 126 (I couldn't find original numbers for the E-C)
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
To date: 5
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 10
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 8
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guinan Moments: 1
To date: 4
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 13
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 20
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 21
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 2

Avery looks like a kitten calendar model