Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, April 17, 2017

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Thirteen "Time Squared"

ST:TNG Season Two, Episode Thirteen "Time Squared"
Production Order: 39
Air Order: 39
Stardate: 42679.2
Original Air Date: April 3, 1989

Our cold open for this week starts in Riker's cabin, where he's preparing a dinner party. (At least, I think it's dinner. This ship runs on three eights, so who knows?) He cracks some eggs in a bowl and whisks them. His guests arrive: Data, Geordi, Worf and Pulaski.
Pulaski has brought a kind of ale to go with the eggs, so I guess maybe it is dinner? You don't drink actual alcohol with breakfast unless you work overnights or are having brunch. Actually, I looked up whether or not beer goes good with eggs, and the article I read recommended a light wheat beer, or coffee stouts, and I don't freaking know, I end up looking up a lot of weird shit in the course of writing this crap, so maybe I should just go with it.
They're having eggs and ale.
Data tells Riker that cooking the eggs himself is inefficient, and Riker agrees that the replicator would have done a fine job, but doesn't allow for nuances of fine cooking. Pulaski puts in that "breaking bread together" as a form of comradery and socialization is something they've gotten away from in the 24th century.
Riker starts to cook the eggs, and even though Pulaski mentioned that they were having omelettes, he scrambles them on a little electric skillet thing. They get to talking, and Riker says that he owes his cooking skills to his father, as his mother died when he was little, and his father hated to cook. Character development: score!
Geordi looks unconvinced that the meal he's about to eat will be any good.
"Where'd you get these eggs?" he asks warily.
"At the last starbase we stopped at," Riker replies. "They're 'Owon eggs."
And apparently, they suck. Everyone takes a No Thank You bite, makes a face, and puts down their fork. Except Worf, who inhales them, and then looks up in surprise.
"They're delicious," he says.
Is the joke that Worf just randomly likes what the others don't; that the Klingon palette is different than the human palette (or the android palette); or that Klingons enjoy gross food?
I dunno.
Riker smiles, clearly not put off by the fact that so many thought the eggs were nasty.
But it doesn't matter, because Picard calls Riker, Data and Worf to the bridge.

Seems Picard has found a shuttlecraft out here in BFE, Space, and there's one humanoid on board. The shuttle has no power, so they'll have to go out and get it to ask whoever that is in there just what the hell they're doing.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard's Log 42679.2: "Some rehash, for peeps who got here late and need to know what's going on."

They put the shuttle on-screen when they roll up on it, and it's just out there tumbling in space. They tractor it in. Riker, Worf and Pulaski go to shuttle bay 2.
Riker and Worf make it first. They discuss how a shuttle could be so far out, away from any Federation starbases or ships. Then they read the craft's markings: NCC 1701-D USS Enterprise, Shuttlecraft 05.
The fuck?

Pulaski and her team open the shuttle, and she calls to Riker.
The fuck?

"Captain?" asks Riker.
His comm badge channel opens.
"Sup?" asks Picard, on the bridge.
"Um, get down here," advises Riker. "Also, bring Data, because... I don't know why. Just bring Data."
So Picard comes down with Data and also Troi.
"The fuck?"

Picard looks at Pulaski, who is taking scans.
"What's wrong with him? Why is he unconscious? What's the deal?"
"Dunno," she replies. "Like, his heatbeat is good, but everything else is weird and... off. He's out of phase or something."
"Is he non-human? Artificial?"
"Nope. But I won't know much until we get him to sick bay," she answers, and she and her team hoist the other Picard onto a medical gurney and take him away.

Picard pulls Troi aside.
"Okay, who the hell is that?" he demands.
"You," she says simply.
The look on his face says "cut the shit."
"No, for serious, that's you. My readings are all as messed up as Pulaski's, but it's super you."
Picard instructs Data to get the logs off the shuttle, but Data has no access, because the shuttle has no power. He has to plug it into the E and charge it or something.
Riker smacks his comm badge. "Geordi, get the fuck down here."
"Okey-doke!" replies Geordi.
Then Riker points to what looks like a smear of dirt on the side of the shuttle. "That warp core explosion damage?"
No, it's a smear of dirt.

"Yeah," says Picard. "But like, from far away? Just out of range to take actual damage?"
"LOGS!" Picard barks at Data.
Everybody else leaves as Geordi comes in to join Data.
As Riker passes Geordi, he simply says "lieutenant," but you know he wants to says, "Dude, some shit going down in here!"
Riker and Worf return to the bridge, and Riker tells Worf to put the scanners at max range. He plops down in the captain's chair.

"Man, what the shit?"

Geordi and Data hook the shuttle up to the E, but the shuttle tries to tase Data when he attempts to turn it on.
"It's hooked up right," says Geordi, at a loss.
"Naw, the polarity is all wrong," replies Data.
"What's going on?" wonders Geordi.
"Dunno," Data answers.

Down in sick bay, Pulaski still doesn't have any clue what's going on. She tells Picard and Troi that everything is out of wack.
"Can you wake him up?" asks Picard.
She shoots Other Picard with a stimulant, but it basically kills him. She gives him a sedative instead, and his vitals all go back to the "alive" setting.
"That's fucked up," she remarks.

Data and Geordi have hooked up the shuttle in a way that should blow all of the circuits, but instead, everything turns back on.
"Whoooaaa," says Geordi. "Check out the stardate. It's like, six hours ahead of us." He calls Picard in sick bay. "Dude, the shuttle is six hours ahead of our time. That means Other Picard is too."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "The shuttle and the Other Picard are from six hours in the future. This is hella messed up."

Picard asks Pulaski to wake up Other Picard again. Other Picard wakes up, looks around in terror, but makes no noise or any sign that recognizes anything. Pulaski tries to knock him out again, but Picard asks that she let him stay conscious.
"This is so fucked up," says Pulaski. She looks at Picard. "You okay?"
"Yeah, fine," he replies, unnerved. "Staff meeting in five minutes."
Pulaski says she'll keep her comm open and listen in from sick bay.

At the staff meeting, Geordi announces that he and Data have managed to get some of the logs off the shuttle, and wouldn't you know it, it's not enough to really solve the whole thing... just enough to keep them guessing. Geordi warns them that the first log they have is visual, that it's somewhere in the middle of that six hours, and the video is wonky because they had to get it using a phase inverter.
The video shows footage taken from the back-up cam in the shuttle, of the bay's doors opening, and showing some kind of gaping thing in space. Then we switch back to the drivers seat POV, and see Riker standing in the shuttle bay as it leaves the Enterprise. Then we switch back again, and the video shows the E in the gaping thing, followed by some lightening or something, and the E exploding.

Now Geordi plays the audio of the last log.
"Picard's Log, supplemental: Just watched the E blow up. Everyone who was on board is dead, except for me."

The time stamps are from a little more than three hours in the future, which means the shuttle then moved in the direction of the current E for a little more than 2.5 hours.
"So in about three hours, the E blows up, and we die, and for some weird-ass reason, the captain abandons ship, but not the rest of us," summarizes Geordi.
"Yeah, that's weird," agrees Worf. "Why the hell did he leave?"
"Yeah," says Picard, who looks to be clinging to this one bit of info like it's the one thing that makes sense. "So what's the deal?"
"We're supposed to be in the Endicor system in three days," says Riker. "And there's nothing threatening between here and there."
"There are no other ships, friend or foe, in this area," says Worf.
"I got nothing," shrugs Data. "Not enough info to even guess."

Now comes the part in time-travel shows that I hate: trying to figure out WHEN you are, and what to do about it.
"If there's something between now and then, maybe we should just stop here," suggests Geordi.
"Can't," replies Riker. "We already took the Other Picard and shuttle on board, so we're committed to this sequence of events."
Picard agrees, and Worf brings up Moebius strips. God, what a headache. Please don't be a fucking Moebius strip.
"So we're gonna meet this thing, get blown up, and then the Other Picard in the Other shuttle will get picked up by us six hours later, and we start all over again. Sounds like someones idea of hell to me," puts in Geordi.
Yeah. It's mine. Why the fuck am I watching this episode?
"Okay," says Picard finally. "We can't avoid the future, so we'll just walk right into it. At some point, we'll make a decision that will seem like the right one, but isn't. So we need to watch out for that, and not make the same mistake... once." He flashes a tiny smile.
Riker also flashes a tiny ICWYDT smile.
"Okay, let's figure out what's waiting to kill everyone, cool?"
They all get up to leave.

Riker and Worf return to the bridge. Riker takes the captains chair and looks like he'd rather not.

Picard and Troi return to sick bay.
Pulaski says that she never really noticed how much the body relies on its own internal clock until now, then reveals that the closer they get to aligning to Moment Zero, the better aligned Other Picard's body becomes.
"Sooo... when that happens, there will be two of us?" asks Picard.
"Yep," says Pulaski.
Suddenly, Other Picard starts thrashing violently. Troi does as well.
"He's desperate to leave the ship!" says Troi.

Extremely dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Two hours from meeting up with... us."    

Everyone is on the bridge when Pulaski calls Picard to say that Other Picard is slightly more lucid. He leaves to go to sick bay, and the camera focuses in on Troi, who looks unnerved. After a bit she gets up and follows.
Picard arrives in sick bay. Other Picard looks the same.
"He's better balanced, but I doubt he knows who we are or where he is," says Pulaski.
Picard is angry that Other Picard has no answers for him. He starts yelling at his doppleganger to tell him what mistake he made.
Troi enters. "Quit yelling at him! He won't have your answers. It's like he's looking at us from the other side of a huge chasm."
"This is bullshit!" says Picard. He points at Troi. "Stay with him. You can communicate with him before the rest of us."
He leaves, and Pulaski and Troi argue about how Picard is handling the stress. Troi thinks he's handling it very well, Pulaski not so much. Troi says that Other Picard represents doubt, and hesitating because of that doubt, which she thinks is a healthy thing to worry about, as the captain of a large starship. Pulaski says she's going to watch him, because if it all becomes too much, she has the authority to relieve him. (Technically, Troi has this authority as well.)      
"Bitch, you better not," says Troi.
"I don't wanna, but I may have to," answers Pulaski.
Troi stalks out of sick bay, despite Picard ordering her to stay behind.

There's a brief scene where Picard just goes into the shuttle bay to scowl at the other shuttlecraft for several seconds.                            

Later, Picard and Riker are in the ready room, trying to figure out what the deal is, and how the shuttle ended up back in time six hours. They discuss that slingshot theory that I hate so much, but recall that the shuttle doesn't have warp capabilities, so going beyond warp 10 is not an option here. They bring up The Traveler, and Manheim's experiments with time, but reject both as possibilities. Picard is frustrated. Riker gives him a compliment sandwich.
"Your deal is that you can look at a situation, size it up, then make a preemptive strike," says Riker. "But you can't do that this time, because we're dealing with time instead of a person or thing."
Picard Angry-Sarcastic Moment: "You're saying I should just sit down, shut up, and let it happen."
Riker (smiling): "I wouldn't exactly put it that way."
But they won't have to wait after all, because the ship rocks then, and Worf pages them to the bridge.
"An energy vortex opened beneath us without warning," says Worf.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "I guess I should say something here, but really the only thing to say is that some thing grabbed us."

"The thing is holding us with like, a tractor beam on steroids," says Data at the science station.
Geordi calls to say that engines are holding them in place and trying to keep them from being dragged down, and they're at 30 % already.
"Get up here," Picard answers.
Troi approaches them. "So there's a consciousness here, not like intelligence, but instinct, maybe? It's trying to figure out if we're a life form."
"Let's investigate," announces Picard.
Riker agrees.
"Wait, what if that was where we fucked up all of the shit?" backtracks Picard.
He and Riker go back and forth as to which decision is the better one.
Geordi arrives, and Picard tells them that they need to get the hell out of Dodge, like yesterday.

Geordi puts the pedal to the metal, but they go nowhere. They all listen to the engines fighting the whatever-it-is, but nothing doing. Geordi reports engines being at 90%, and Riker reminds Picard that the ship can't take that kind of pressure. They shut the engines down, and get slowly pulled in backward. Geordi turns the engines back on, but has them running at warp seven to keep them from getting sucked in completely.
"Let's launch a probe," says Picard.
They do, and some lightening bolt inside the thing shoots it down.
And oops, now the thing sends a lightening bolt to zap both Picards at once.
"Ow," says Picard, getting up.
Riker orders Worf to arm the torpedoes, but the thing zaps Picard again.
"It was focused on the whole ship before, but now it just wants you, soooo..." Troi tells Picard.

"What if I get in a shuttle?" Picard asks. "Will it go after me and leave the ship alone?"
"I think so," says Troi.
Picard heads for the lift.
"You're leaving?" demands Riker.
"Might be a Moebius strip," says Picard. He leaves the bridge.
Troi follows.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard goes to sick bay.
"I need to leave the ship," says Other Picard.
"Okay," says Picard. He instructs Pulaski to lift the restraints she's placed on Other Picard, then gives the order for all personnel to leave shuttle bay 2.
Picard follows Other Picard down the corridor, asking him questions. Other Picard basically tells him over and over again that the vortex thing wants him, and that there isn't another way to do this - he has to leave the ship.

"But you had another choice," Picard insists. "What was it?"
"It would never work."
They reach the empty shuttle bay, and Other Picard opens the doors so he can leave.
"What was the choice?" Picard demands. "We can't go forward. It would destroy the ship."
"No," agrees Other Picard. "We can't go forward."
He goes to get into the shuttle, and Picard calls his name so he'll turn around.
"Before we can go forward, the cycle must end." And Picard shoots Other Picard square in the chest.

Then he calls Pulaski to to the shuttle bay and leaves.
Pulaski and O'Brien show up. they see dead Other Picard and Pulaski does a quick scan. She then turns and just... leaves, leaving O'Brien there by himself.

Picard returns to the bridge, where he says that trying to escape is just draining energy, so they need to turn and fly straight down into the center of the vortex.
They all kind of turn and look at him, because why the hell would that be the answer?
So they fly down the center, and for some reason they get spit out the other side.
I... hello? Science?

O'Brien calls the bridge to report that the body of Other Picard and the other shuttle have vanished right in front of him.
"Cool," says Picard.
He leaves Riker in charge and takes off.

A few minutes later, Riker goes into the observation lounge after him.
"What the hell was all that?" Picard asks after a moment of silence.
Riker suggests a solipsistic illusion.
"Maybe he went back in time so we could choose another path," says Picard. "They say if you travel far enough, you'll meet yourself. And now I've done it, and I really don't want to do it again."
Riker smiles, and says he'll be on the bridge, leaving Picard to stare out the window.

Okay, so here's the thing about me: I like time travel stories, but only the ones that are straight-forward. Back to the Future is pretty straight-forward, as is the third installment of that trilogy. BTTF 2 involves back and forth, so not my favorite. Doctor Who is a winner because they go someplace and stay there, have an adventure, then go home. Basically, I don't want to have to take notes on when you are in the timeline, and how many other yous are running around because you yourself can't keep your shit together.
City on the Edge of Forever: A +
Times Squared: C at best.
Along with my personal complaint about time-stricken dopplegangers and crossing timelines like Crossing the Streams, there are some more problems with this episode.
Firstly, nothing happens. Like, they take on an extra shuttle and Picard, but then they spend all episode trying to figure out what's going on and what to do about it. There are no actions taken until the last five minutes. While I have no problem with a talkier episode, they just keep having the same convos over and over here for 45 minutes. "What's going on?" "I don't know."
Secondly, why the fuck would flying through the vortex be the answer? It feels like they pulled that solution out of their butts and it just conveniently worked... because that's exactly what happened. This episode, like "Conspiracy" and "The Neutral Zone" was supposed to lead into another episode, in this case episode 16, which features Q (sorry, spoilers). Maurice Hurley indicated that he meant for Q to have caused them to get stuck in the vortex, but Gene Rod didn't like that, so they turned the ship, and flew straight through the vortex to the other side. Hurley himself admitted that that ending made no sense without Q, but it wrapped up nicely, so it stayed.
Just... this episode is pretty forgettable. It's not fun or funny, and the science doesn't work, and they just keep talking about the same stuff over and over again.
No thanks.

Red deaths: 1 (Featuring Picard as Schrodinger's cat!)
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 11
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 4
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 17
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 14
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 12

Episodes Left Until We Get Rid of Pulaski:

Fun Facts:

- The original title for this episode was "Time to The Second" (or written mathematically with Time and that little 2 that I can't figure out how to type on here). The original title and the one used here both refer to the fact that there are two Picards.
- "Why go back six hours?" Riker asks at one point. "Why not a day or even a year?" Because writer Maurice Hurley was interested in exploring six hours versus the longer period of time that time travel typically encompasses.
- A cut scene at the end featured Riker serving "Alaskan stew" to his dinner party friends, and guess who hated it?
- This is the first time we see the Enterprise-D destroyed. Oops, spoilers.

- The okudagram used in the shuttle was a re-use from the Yamato logs, but the pertinent information was carefully edited into the Blu-ray release version.
- The shuttlecraft is named El-Baz after geoscientist Farouk El-Baz. Rick Sternbach picked the name, not knowing that Rick Berman had worked previously with El-Baz, and the name was approved immediately. Supposedly, El-Baz's kids happened to be watching this episode when it came up and excitedly yelled to their father that the shuttle on Star Trek had the same name as them.
- The El-Baz was the first Type 15 shuttlecraft seen on TNG.


  1. (At least, I think it's dinner. This ship runs on three eights, so who knows?)

    It doesn't help that they always wear their uniforms. I mean, sure, maybe that's appropriate aboard ship, and Starfleet uniforms are supposed to be comfortable, but it does still make every Ten-Forward scene look like a bunch of crewmembers decided to hit the bar in the middle of their shift.

    1. Maybe they're technically on-call during their entire waking hours, regardless of when their shifts begin and end. (I'd hate to work in that environment; back in Kmart, I left the store during my breaks, because I didn't want to be pulled off them to get back on the register).

      Why does ten Forward (or mess halls on other ships) exist at all? Everyone's got a replicator in their quarters. They can have their friends over for a drink or whatever. Why use all of that space for a room where you're served replicated stuff anyway?

    2. Stop! You're both right! :D
      This actually bugged me enough when writing this review that I messaged my cousin Agent K. She was in the navy, and her husband is a career, so anytime there's something that concerns protocol that I'm just not getting, I ask them. According to her husband, bridge officers are indeed on-call, like doctors. So it makes sense that they're wandering the ship in uniform so frequently.
      I think the second half of that has nothing to do with protocol, though - I think it's budgetary. All of the main characters have uniforms already, and it would cost more to create civilian clothing for them to indicate down-time. This way, they can always have those characters in uniform and say, "He/she is just coming off-duty/just going on-duty/is currently on on-call status."
      The Ten Forward queries are interesting, though. In truth, I think Ten Forward is a carry-over from TOS, where they food synthesizers in the mess hall, but not in each suite. (At least I think? I can't recall an instance of synthesizers being in crew quarters on TOS. The ship was too utilitarian.) Therefore, TOS needed a mess hall, which doubled as a rec room. Seems like they made Ten Forward in similar fashion, simply for social interactions with one's coworkers. They also use Ten Forward to entertain dignitaries, and hold some casual concerts. Like, do they really NEED a rec room? Not really. But they don't need a bartender either, yet we have Guinan.

    3. Yeah, that all makes sense. In the case of the Enterprise, I could see it being appropriate for crewmembers to wear their uniforms when off-duty just so you could tell them apart from the civilians (and so civilians could identify crew in an emergency). Naturally, the real reason was both to save on the budget and to help with continuity, since the editor doesn't have to worry about clothing changes, but it's fun to rationalize production decisions in-universe.

      I agree that Ten-Forward is just the equivalent of the TOS rec room, and it is used in much the same way. It's a nice place for characters to have off-duty interactions instead of standing around in a corridor. The bartenders are mostly there for atmosphere, I suppose. And so Whoopi Goldberg has somewhere to hang out.

      I'm pretty sure there was no food service in quarters in TOS. I think those systems used mini-turbolifts to deliver the food from the synthesizer to the terminal (hence how tribbles could get into it), and that'd be unwieldy to route to everyone's quarters. I remember several scenes of crewmembers delivering food to people's quarters, too.

  2. I feel sorry for the poor sap whose job it is to keep the shuttle bay floor so polished.

    1. Deck-swabbing is the bullshit task you get stuck with when you make fun of the security chief's forehead ridges.