Sep 14 2012 4:15pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Time’s Arrow, Part II”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II“Time’s Arrow, Part II”
Written by Joe Menosky and Jeri Taylor
Directed by Les Landau
Season 6, Episode 1
Production episode 40276-227
Original air date: September 21, 1992
Stardate: 46001.3

Captain’s Log: We’re filled in on the salient details of Part 1 before moving on to the conclusion.

Samuel Clemens is walking the streets of 1893 San Francisco, telling a reporter that he has learned of people from the future coming to their era to foul the past, just as Hank Morgan did to the 6th century in one of Clemens’s recent novels. The reporter thinks he’s talking about a sequel to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which annoys Clemens almost as much as being referred to as “Mr. Twain.”

Riker (dressed as a police officer) and Crusher (in the garb of a well-dressed lady) are in a morgue where cholera victims have been taken. The number of corpses is out of proportion to the cholera strain that hit San Francisco, and several of the corpses’ central nervous systems have been drained of all electrochemical energy—and those people did not die of cholera. The Devidians are traveling back in time and using the cholera epidemic as cover to collect human neural energy and bring it back to the 24th century to feed their fellows in the cavern. (Which we already knew, but this is the first time our heroes have been able to put it together.)

Many of the victims have come from a charity hospital, and the same triolic waves they found in the cavern were on the victims—so maybe they can identify the Devidians (who must be disguised as humans to blend in) via triolic waves.

Riker and Crusher return to the boarding house where they all have taken up residence, joining Picard, Troi, and La Forge. They’re interrupted by the landlady, Mrs. Carmichael—prompting La Forge to remove his VISOR and replace it with a pair of sunglasses—who demands the rent of “Mr. Pickard.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

Clemens has convinced Jack to let him into Data’s room, allegedly to find a letter of intent for a business venture. We also find out that Jack’s last name is London, and that he wants to go to Alaska. (Gawrsh.) After Jack departs, Clemens swipes a piece from Data’s machine (which the android is using to track the time distortions) and hides in a wardrobe when Data and Guinan arrive.

They have been able to determine where the cavern is where Data’s head will be found 500 years hence, but it’s in the middle of an army base, so it will be incredibly difficult to get to it. They find Clemens, who has been tracking Data’s movements quite skillfully, and makes it clear that he will stop them from whatever nefarious plot they have to wreak havoc.

Crusher manages to get a job working as a nurse at the charity hospital (one imagines the turnover is significant, and she might be volunteering—the script doesn’t make that especially clear), while Picard is replacing the burners on the gaslamps in case of an earthquake. (The doctor who runs the place finds the idea ludicrous; and boy will he look foolish in thirteen years...)

After the doctor leaves, La Forge, who’s lurking with Troi, puts his VISOR back on, and detects triolic waves with it on one bed. A patient died there the previous night, and he was visited by a strange doctor and nurse, apparently. The two of them leave Crusher alone in the ward, and then the scanners Picard put in with the new lamps go off.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

Turning, Crusher sees the same duo who killed the 49er in Part 1, dressed now as a doctor and nurse. A brief scuffle ensues before they disappear—and Data’s machine back in his hotel room goes nuts—but they leave behind their snake-head walking stick. Riker had to use his phaser on the Devidian—which had no appreciable effect—which leads to the police being called. The cop who arrives doesn’t recognize Riker, and is suspicious of La Forge holding “a gentleman’s cane” (that one line showing more awareness of 19th-century race relations than anything in Part 1), forcing Riker to reluctantly palm-heel the poor guy in the jaw so they can all run away.

As soon as they get outside, Data comes around the corner with a horse-drawn carriage, just as more police are bearing down on them. (If you heard the Mighty Mouse theme in your head when Data showed up with the carriage, you would not be alone.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

The walking stick is also giving off triolic waves, and they’re able to zap it with a phaser to show its true form for just a second: the ophidian the aliens were carrying back on Devidia. It gives off time-distortion bursts (whatever those are)—obviously the Devidians are using it to facilitate their time travel.

Data takes Picard to his hotel room, where Guinan is waiting. (“Do you know me?” “Very well.” “Do I know you?” “Not yet”) She has come up with a way to get them into the mineshaft. When they all arrive, they realize that the cavern has been configured to serve as a lense for the ophidian’s bursts of time distortion.

However, Clemens interrupts, pointing a familiar looking Colt revolver at our heroes. Right after that, the two Devidians show up, and grab the walking stick. Data struggles with them, and the cane explodes into a time portal, leaving only Data’s head behind. One Devidian goes through the portal, and most of the away team goes after him—only Picard stays behind, to tend to an injured Guinan. Clemens also runs through the portal, leaving one Devidian and Guinan (both unconscious) with Picard in the cavern.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

Back in the future on Devidia II, the away team discovers Data’s decapitated body, still clutching the walking stick, as well as Clemens. They all beam back to the ship, where La Forge thinks he can attach the 500-year-old head. Troi offers to keep an eye on Clemens, who is not happy at the lack of cigars, and is quite cynical about the future, thinking it to be as imperialistic as the time he just left (and, in his defense, most of human history). Troi takes him to the lab, where La Forge is trying to reattach Data’s head—and Clemens gets his pocket watch back, which he’d only lost an hour ago, but which is now also 500 years old. Clemens realizes how terribly he’s misjudged the situation in general and Data in particular. Meanwhile, Riker tries and fails to get some guidance out of Guinan about what to do next, since she’s already lived through these events, but she won’t risk damaging the timelines.

Back in the 19th century, Picard is much more cavalier in telling Guinan about her future friendship with him than the older Guinan is with helping Riker. He also checks on the female Devidian, who is having trouble maintaining her disguise. She tells Picard that, if the Enterprise destroys the cavern on Devidia II with conventional weapons, it will only amplify the time distortion, and things will go boom, destroying the Earth in the 19th century. Which would, y’know, kinda suck.

Riker wants to go back and rescue Picard, but Crusher hasn’t completed her study of the ophidian, and both Worf and Troi prioritize stopping the Devidians from their mass murder over rescuing Picard. Riker reluctantly agrees and orders Worf to ready photon torpedoes.

La Forge keeps trying to put Data back together again, but it won’t work. He finds an iron filing in Data’s input polarizers—which, we subsequently learn, was left there by Picard when he used a nail to program a binary message into Data’s head. When La Forge activates Data, he tells them to not fire on Devidia II. They need to retune the torpedoes so they work in the same phase shift as the Devidians. That will take a couple hours to accomplish, leaving Riker with time to rescue Picard. But they’ll only be able to send one person through and one person back. Luckily, Clemens really needs to go home, so they can exchange him for Picard and all will be well.

Clemens arrives back in the 19th century and provides instructions on how to use the walking stick to get home. Picard returns, the Enterprise destroys the cavern, Clemens takes care of Guinan (and also promises Picard to settle up with Mrs. Carmichael), leaving his pocket watch, the revolver, and Data’s head behind in the mineshaft.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Triolic waves continue to serve as the plot-convenient-itis of the week, as our heroes are only able to accomplish—well, anything, due to their ability to detect triolic waves.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi gets to tell Clemens how awesome the future is, and also apparently somehow got a tan in 19th century San Francisco despite wearing a butt-load of Victorian clothing. (In truth, Marina Sirtis got married and went on her honeymoon during the between-seasons hiatus.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

If I Only Had a Brain...: From this point forward, Data is walking around with a head that’s 500 years older than the rest of him. Obviously, Noonien Soong builds his androids to last....

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Upon seeing Worf, Clemens goes white (well, whiter), and mutters, “A werewolf!” Worf shoots Clemens a nasty look, but Riker defuses the situation by saying he’ll explain later. (Worf later refers to “Mr. Clemens” in about as snotty a tone as he can manage.)

Syntheholics Anonymous: Young Guinan manages to figure out a way to get into the mineshaft, because she’s just that awesome. (It’s not entirely clear how Clemens was able to get in, not once, but twice.) Meanwhile, Old Guinan is singularly unhelpful in guiding Riker, her silence enabling the artificial suspense of the climax. This is odd behavior, given how eager she was to influence the timelines in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” (Of course, that was a “wrong” timeline, whatever that means...)

I Believe I Said That: “I just want you to know, I have the utmost respect for the law.”

Riker, speaking very solemnly to a cop right before he palm-heels him in the face.

Welcome Aboard: Returning from Part 1 are Jerry Hardin, continuing to leave no piece of scenery unchewed as Samuel Clemens, and Michael Aron, who is less annoying as Jack than he was in Part 1 solely by virtue of his only having one scene. The remaining guest stars are unremarkable, save for Alexander Enberg as the reporter who follows Clemens around like a lost puppy. He’ll be back in “The Lower Decks” in the seventh season as Taurik, and then have the recurring role of the similarly named Vorik on Voyager. (He’s also the son of co-executive producer and this episode’s scripter Jeri Taylor.)

Trivial Matters: Back in “Booby Trap,” Guinan said a bald man helped her once when she was hurting, and she said something vaguely similar specifically regarding Picard in “Ensign Ro.” Picard’s staying behind in 1893 to help her is likely what she was referring to in both cases.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

Just as Part 1 was iffy on the details of Samuel Clemens and Alfred Russel Wallace, so too is this episode, with its establishing that Jack the bellhop is Jack London. London bought a sloop, the Razzle-Dazzle, in 1889, and after it was damaged beyond repair a few months later, he joined the California Fish Patrol. In 1893, he sailed for Japan and back on the sealer Sophie Sutherland. Because of this, he would not have talked in 1893 about going to sea wistfully as something he might do in the future. After returning to San Francisco, he worked in a jute mill and a power plant, before becoming a tramp on the railways. (He was arrested in 1894 for vagrancy and served a month in jail in Buffalo.) It is, therefore, exceedingly unlikely that he served in a job as nice as bellhop at any point in 1893. He also admitted to wanting to be a writer as a student in Oakland, and he was reading voraciously as a child, so it’s equally unlikely that the notion of being a writer didn’t occur to him until 1893. There is also no evidence that London and Clemens ever met.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

While this episode shows Picard and Guinan’s first meeting from Guinan’s perspective, their first meeting from Picard’s is shown in the Stargazer novel Oblivion by Michael Jan Friedman.

Clemens asks Troi if the Enterprise has ever encountered Halley’s Comet—two of the comet’s appearances on Earth occurred on the years that Clemens was born (1835) and died (1910).

While Joe Menosky, who had been a co-producer on the show in the fifth season, did provide the story outline, he left the staff of TNG between seasons to live in Europe. He would continue to freelance for TNG (his writing credit will show up five more times), as well as Deep Space Nine and Voyager, for the next few years, eventually returning to the states and joining the staff of Voyager in its third season, rising to the level of co-executive producer of that show before departing after its sixth season.

The walking stick changing to the ophidian used a then-new special effect called “morphing,” made popular in the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and used extensively on Deep Space Nine with Odo.

Make it So: “Maybe it’s worth giving up cigars for after all!” Where Part 1 was all dull setup ameliorated by some entertaining scenes here and there involving character interactions and Data’s assimilation into 1893, Part 2 is entirely moving the plot along at the expense of any of those entertaining scenes. We skip over finding out how, exactly, five people from the 24th century managed to get their hands on the clothes they wore or get the jobs they got. (The clothes are particularly odd, since only Picard is wearing working-class garb, which would be easy enough to steal a set of. Troi, La Forge, and Crusher are all wearing high-class clothes, and Riker is in a policeman’s uniform that is authentic enough to fool another cop—it’s Riker’s face the cop has an issue with, not the uniform—and one wonders how they got them, not to mention La Forge’s sunglasses.)

Meanwhile, we’re told that the mineshaft is on an army base and hard to get into, but Data expresses confidence in Guinan’s persuasive abilities. We’re then never shown how Guinan was able to get in, nor how Clemens was able to do so later on. For that matter, the mineshaft was still open and accessible after Clemens and Guinan depart, so why are Data’s head, the revolver, and the pocket watch still there?

After spending Part 1 bemoaning Data’s death, the means by which that is avoided are laughably simple, and the fact that he has a 500-year-old head is never mentioned again.

The absurdities pile up: Picard manages to input a remarkably specific message into Data’s head with a nail. Not satisfied with the contrivance of Mark Twain encountering our heroes, we get Jack London added on. (Though I admit to being amused at London trying the old “I’ve got an idea for a book, you can write it and we’ll split the profits” chestnut on Clemens.) The female Devidian lives just long enough to provide Picard with plot-necessary exposition. The Devidians leave triolic waves all over the place, making it tiresomely easy for our heroes to track them down. Clemens talks to a reporter about the visitors from the future for no obvious reason, and gets cranky when it’s assumed he’s talking about his next novel rather than the truth (which could charitably be called outlandish).

It was odd in Part 1 for Picard to have Worf report back to the Enterprise when it would’ve made more sense to send Riker back, but of course Worf would be hard to disguise in 19th-century Earth, so that’s convenient to the plot. But Picard had no way of knowing they’d be going back there, so why did he send Worf? (We’ve already seen that he looks cool in 19th-century formalwear...)

None of this would matter so much if the story was engaging, but it’s so totally not. Things happen and people do things more because the plot calls for it than for any obvious motivation, situations are contrived, and the technobabble runs fast and furious. The attempts at comic relief (mostly centering on Mrs. Carmichael and “Mr. Pickard’s” theatre troupe that’s putting on a show of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) induce more wincing than laughter. Even the first meeting of Picard and Guinan feels depressingly perfunctory.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor,com: Time’s Arrow, Part II

A cliffhanger with at least a few vaguely interesting ideas has resulted in a sodden mess, elevated only a (very) little by Hardin’s entertainingly bombastic Clemens.


Warp factor rating: 3

Keith R.A. DeCandido is also having a bit of trouble believing that a Samuel Clemens who visited the Enterprise would continue to be as cynical and misanthropic a bastard as he was for his remaining 17 years of life.

1. RaySea2387
I've always enjoyed this one, although you do raise some good points. I will admit, too, that the revlation that Picard is both fluient in binary code and knows enough about Data's brain to perform complex manulpation on it with a nail was, to put it mildly, a bit far fetched. I mean, a nail? That dosn't even seem possible...
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
Yeah, not one of my favorites - I do enjoy this one a bit more than the previous one because at least stuff happens, but I agree it's got tons of plot holes.
3. RobinM
I enjoyed Samuel Clements the most out of this two parter even if he was bombastic. I did spend most of the episode going gee that was handy the entire time because it's very contrived. I did wish the meeting between Picard and Guinan was more substantial it was a missed oppertunity.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
Just remembered that this edit of this episode exists & it cracks me up.
5. Voodoo Ben
Wonderfully written review, as always, even if I don't agree with a lot of what you say...I always found this episode particularly hilarious , myself. Then again, I think nostalgia has a lot to do with that - I was in my early teens when Season 6 started, and Next Gen was hugely influential during my pubesent years. It's hard for me not to love, even if it's a bad example, y'know?
6. StrongDreams
I'm surprised you didn't mention the police officer that Riker lays out, it's William Boyett, Sgt. William "Mac" McDonald from Adam-12. I watched that show every day as a kid after school, and seeing him as a cop was a nice little Easter Egg back in 1992.
7. Don3Comp
"Troi...somehow got a tan in 19th century San Francisco despite wearing a butt-load of Victorian clothing. (In truth, Marina Sirtis got married and went on her honeymoon during the between-seasons hiatus.)"

That's a new one on me: I didn't know there was that long a hiatus between filming two parts of anything. It probably would have been better if they'd filmed the whole story, then given the actors a vacation after part II was finished.

As for the rest of it, I enjoyed Clemens (though even he got a bit wearing after a while), but agree that the rest of it deflated fairly quickly--in other words, it had two-parter-itis. The writers always seemed to have trouble coming up with a satisfactory payoff after the buldup of the cliffhanger episode (arguably, "Chain of Command" was where they started to correct this).

I didn't realize this at the time, but the a problem with this episode is that everyone from the past is reduced to an archetype: crotchety Clemens, eager-beaver Jack London, macho cop, the landlady who's impatient for her rent. The past isn't allowed to feel very three-dimensional or lived-in.

Having said that, I always enjoy period pieces for the visually beautiful sets and costumes, and this story is no exception (the same held true for the 7th season's Orient Express episode).
8. StrongDreams
It probably would have been better if they'd filmed the whole story, then given the actors a vacation after part II was finished.

Or even written the whole story...

This happened with most/all of the TNG two-part cliffhangers. Seems like a ridiculous practice, and I don't think the second part was ever really satisfactory. (BOBW: the Borg take a nap and explode for no reason, for example).
9. Ender's Ghost
This one was always one of my favorites during the original run, but I do see how some of the more contrived plot holes you bring up can bring it down. Maybe I'm just biased since Time Travel episodes are always my favorite!

I do agree that Picard and Guinan's first meeting was pretty much a let-down after Guinan's buildup of it. I mean, they sat in a cave Epic!

Agree as well on the ridiculousness of the crew being able to just jump headfirst into the 19th Century with no money and no backstory at all. At least Data won a card game!
Keith DeCandido
10. krad
Yeah, the second parts were filmed three months after the first parts. You can tell that in "The Best of Both Worlds Part 2" when Riker, Shelby, and Crusher all have different hair. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Michael Burstein
11. mabfan
I love this episode, despite its flaws, but one aspect has always bothered me.

Keith, you noted:

"...and the fact that he has a 500-year-old head is never mentioned again."

In the previous episode, Data talks about how glad he is to know that he will one day die, as it makes him more like his friends. But instead, by the end of this episode, he has discovered even more evidence of his immortality. And yet he never mentions being bothered by it.

Perhaps he was just being nice, or doing a Sergeant Meryll from The Yeoman of the Guard (philosophical about life and death when under sentence of death, but eager to escape and live when he can). Still, it bugs me that Data never seems to go back to this question.

-- Michael A. Burstein
Christopher Bennett
12. ChristopherLBennett
Among the other historical inaccuracies, having the Mark Twain of 1893 visit a utopian future and gain renewed optimism and faith in humanity doesn't work, since in reality, he grew increasingly depressive and cynical after that year. Although I suggested in DTI: Watching the Clock that perhaps the cynicism set in because his real life was so much worse than the future he'd glimpsed.

As I hinted last week, a fair amount of the plot of my TNG prequel novel The Buried Age was shaped by Guinan taking steps to ensure that Picard would end up as captain of the Enterprise so that he'd be in position to save her life when the time came.

Oh, and points to Keith for not capitalizing "ophidian." I originally thought that was meant to be the name of the creature's species, but now I understand that it's just a more technical word for "snake" -- or perhaps in this case for "alien animal equivalent to a snake." Since Data was the one describing it, he called it an ophidian when anyone else would probably have just said "they're holding some kind of snake thing."
13. critter42
The Jack London bit always reminded me of that godforsaken two-part episode of Quantum Leap where they spend TWO episodes playing matchmaking games while this little nerdy kid keeps popping up every once in a while. They resolve the lovers' issue(s) and Sam doesn't Leap. It's not until this kid with the horn-rimmed glasses name Buddy starts singing about a pig that's been in the episode and sings the words "Piggy Sue" to a certain familiar tune that everyone realizes this is what Sam had to fix. If I had had a remote in those days, it would have gone RIGHT through the screen. Two hours of my life wasted :)
14. Christopher Walsh
It's like this episode was trying to be clever in the wrong ways. Oh, well, I still like most of "Star Trek"'s time-travel stories. (Time travel's a weakness of mine.)

Though I more or less liked the episode when it aired, and that's probably partly because I was getting to watch TNG with others, once I was at college (1992-1996). "Trek" became more communal for me then; it's fun with a college crowd.
Keith DeCandido
15. krad
Christopher: You just again proved that nobody ever reads my bios. *laughs* I mentioned that in my bio.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Joseph Newton
16. crzydroid
Darn it, and here I was going to say that maybe Clemens was trying to preserve the timeline by still being cynical, as a jab at the bios thing, but then I wasn't able to leave my comment for a while.

You mean the Vulcan on Voyager was NOT supposed to be the same Vulcan from "Lower Decks"? Huh...I had assumed it was the same character. But every time I watch that episode, that reporter seems familiar to me...I don't know if knowing that he's this Vulcan that shows up later is why. He sort of reminds me of Justin Long though.

The 500-year-old head thing is weird to think about, even though we seem to conveniently forget about it most of the time. To me, it's also like that DS9 episode where O'Brien from a couple of hours in the future comes back and takes the place of the past O'Brien. From that point forward, O'Brien is really few-hours-older alternate timeline O'Brien. It's not the same O'Brien! And so from now on, maybe we should constantly remind ourselves that Data's head is over 500 years old.

The programming Data with the nail thing is interesting...I think I'd only ever wondered about that to the extent that Picard knows binary so well. But now that I think more about it, I'm concluding that the only way he could program a message into Data's memory using that method was if he had some interface (that Picard also knew about) that would allow that kind of manual programming (rather than using a computer link). That sort of opens the door to a whole bunch of problems.

I mentioned this on the part one post, but I get the impression that the ophidian worked--as someone on that thread put it--on "San Dimas time." Meaning that most of the senior officers were gone for a matter of days. So it was pretty much Worf in command of the Enterprise, doing what I don't know.

But I have to say that, I too, always liked these two episodes, mostly because I was also a sucker for any time travel episode when I was first watching these things. Time travel was a subjected I was completely fascinated with to the point where, as a kid, I decided I was going to try and invent a time machine, and grew frustrated when I realized I had absolutely no idea where to begin. I also really loved the Twain character, and though my wife will probably cringe when I say this, I always pictured this image and voice for Thom Merrilin.
17. Sean O'Hara
The thing I hate most about this two-parter is the way it neuters both authors, turning Jack London, who in real life was a firebrand communist (and disgusting racist), into some Horatio Alger character, and having the cynical Twain just accept everything Troi says as gospel.
j p
18. sps49
Did Data's head say "I was enjoying it until you showed up!"
Christopher Bennett
19. ChristopherLBennett
@16: "You mean the Vulcan on Voyager was NOT supposed to be the same Vulcan from "Lower Decks"? Huh...I had assumed it was the same character."

My understanding is that VGR's Vorik (who was introduced in an episode written by the same people who wrote "Lower Decks") was originally supposed to be Taurik, but they changed his name because they thought it was too similar to Tuvok (although it actually sounds more like "Torres" so I would've thought that was why they changed it). Canonically, it's unclear whether Vorik is meant to be a different character or just the same character with his name retconned (the way Monte Markham's character in The Six Million Dollar Man went from Barney Miller in his first appearance to Barney Hiller in his second because the sitcom named Barney Miller had come along in the interim). But both Taurik and Vorik appear separately in the Pocket TNG and VGR novels, respectively, so as far as the book continuity is concerned, they're different people. I tend to assume they're twin brothers, but I don't think that's ever been established in the books.
Jenny Thrash
20. Sihaya
"Meanwhile, Old Guinan is singularly unhelpful in guiding Riker, her silence enabling the artificial suspense of the climax. This is odd behavior, given how eager she was to influence the timelines in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” (Of course, that was a “wrong” timeline, whatever that means...)"

Well, Old Guinan knew that things worked out in the end. If she changed things, they might not, but if she let them play out without interfering, then things would stay as they'd been, which was just fine. Also, I suspect that Old Guinan realized that her future/present self hadn't really leave any thumbprints on the work that everybody did, at least none that Young Guinan could see. In other words, staying out of the way was how she decided to interfere. :)
Christopher Hatton
21. Xopher
The thing I like about this episode is the way it shows how Picard contrasts with Kirk. Kirk would have locked the landlady in a closet* and we never would have heard about her again; Picard made sure their bill with her was settled.

*Except that in the Trashy Old Series she would have been a beautiful YOUNG landlady, and Kirk would have slept with her, and she would have acted like a 1969 woman instead of a Victorian, and she would have said "forget the rent!" before he left.
22. jlpsquared
"None of this would matter so much if the story was engaging, but it’s so totally not. Things happen and people do things more because the plot calls for it than for any obvious motivation, situations are contrived, and the technobabble runs fast and furious."

I think this desribes most of season 6 and 7.
Mike Kelmachter
23. MikeKelm
@ CLB: "But both Taurik and Vorik appear separately in the Pocket TNG and VGR novels, respectively, so as far as the book continuity is concerned, they're different people. I tend to assume they're twin brothers, but I don't think that's ever been established in the books."

Why not write it?

Also as far as Data's head, I sort of get the impression that either a) nobody kept track of what physically happened to Data/ or was capable of between episodes- in this episode he seems to stop because Twain has a Colt revolver, but in the movies he's shot repeatedly to no effect; also he supposively doesn't float (Descent, Part 2) but can be used as a floatation device in the movies or b) they all thought it was a stupid idea and promptly forgot about it.

I keep going back to that comment- without Data they would have died alot... I feel like Data was sort of a deus ex machina that the writing staff leaned on too much. I wonder how the show might have been different had the second officer been not an android.
Rob Rater
24. Quasarmodo
When I rewatched this 2 parter, I thought the first part was ok, but not worthy of being a season ending cliff hanger. The second part I couldn't get through fast enough. I did not remember Clemens being so annoying and on screen so much.
William A.
25. General_Vagueness
re: the signature comment, I imagine if he didn't get it already people on the Enterprise told him not to mess with the timeline. He seems to get that when he puts his watch back where he left it. Why not include his attitude in that principle of not changing things? If it was some random guy I'd mostly discount the butterfly effect of one person's attitude but he's a major figure.
As for the message, I don't think there have ever been many specifics given on Data's architecture, there's nothing to say there couldn't or shouldn't be a means to input information like that, and it's plausible Picard would've known a format that Data could later interpret (the process of inputting it is another matter, but two out of three isn't bad).
William A.
26. General_Vagueness
re: 23. MikeKelm, "also he supposively doesn't float (Descent, Part 2) but can be used as a floatation device in the movies or b) they all thought it was a stupid idea and promptly forgot about it."
I don't remember anything about being a floatation device, but I do seem to remember him walking along a lakebed in ST: Insurrection.
"I feel like Data was sort of a deus ex machina that the writing staff leaned on too much."
The immortal, indestructible, super-strong, stone-faced, ice-water-veined android as a deus ex machina... who would've ever thought of that!
Steve Hussey
27. deihbhussey
"...and the fact that he has a 500-year-old head is never mentioned again."

I just re-watched this episode last night and I noted something I never had before even though this is my umpteenth viewing. His entire body is actually 500 years old. After his head got separated from his body on Earth, the portal opened and everyone jumped through except Picard, one of the aliens, young Guinan, and.... Data's body. They noticed his body lying on the floor in the cave when they got back.

That said, it isn't that only his head is 500 years old that's the issue, it more has to do with the fact that his body should now be lying on the ground in the cave on Earth and not in the Cave the Aliens were using. Still a major hole in the story (maybe even worse then the one you originally noted).

All that aside, I still enjoyed Times Arrow (1 & 2), despite the plot-holes. I didn't have any issues with the fallacies since I always maintain a proper suspension of disbelief while viewing almost any sci-fi since I enjoy the genre so much (most of it anyway) - especially much loved series or movies in the Trek universe.
Steve Hussey
28. deihbhussey
Additionally, I too enjoyed Clemens throughout and I specifically enjoyed his change of heart after the conversation with Troi on the Enterprise. Seemed right in character to me.
Joseph Newton
29. crzydroid
@27: No, when he was wrestling with the alien, and the time portal explosively opened, his body went through to the future with the alien, and his head, somehow being blown off by the explosion, remained in the cave on earth. So when they went through the time portal, they found Data's body which had been transported back to the future.
30. NullNix
Is it excessively pedantic of me to note the implausiblity of a modern electric rotary fan in a hospital using gas burners (13:37 in)?

Yes, I suspect it was. Only... it must have been intentional, since most sets don't have ceilings at all. (This episode was allegedly not shot on location, so that excuse is out.)
Joseph Newton
31. crzydroid
@30 NullNix: A very astute observation. I found that intriguing, so I did some minor digging. From wikipedia:
The first ceiling fans appeared in the early 1860s and 1870s, in the United States. At that time, they were not powered by any form of electric motor. Instead, a stream of running water was used, in conjunction with a turbine, to drive a system of belts which would turn the blades of two-blade fan units. These systems could accommodate several fan units, and so became popular in stores, restaurants, and offices. Some of these systems still survive today, and can be seen in parts of the southern United States where they originally proved useful.
Brickhouse MacLarge
32. Midnightair
Atrocious overacting and make-up, made for an extremely unlikeable and instantly tiresome "Mark Twain". The director and editor should have demanded re-shoots / recasting of that actor. Schoolchildren are expected to give a performance like that. If that actor had some kind of stage play playing this character, then good for him. I would have cared less to have seen it. Atrocious. This episode, and the previous one, is clearly the result of sloppy scriptwriting, and this is evident in the numerous plot holes. Being a season ending cliffhanger and a season premiere does not make episodes good. Talent does. In both the screenplay, and direction, and acting. All were clearly lacking in this episode, with all of the main cast clearly phoning in their performances. The Fan Disservice of Cllr. Troi is starting to wear thin. This is the beginning of the "phoning it in" part of TNG, that will continue until the end of this series. At least, in The Naked Now, the actors were ACTING.
33. scinatfilm
One thing I noticed, and I'm hoping someone can shed light on: when Picard is beaming back at the end of the episode, Riker tells O'Brien to beam him back. That said, we never hear from Colm Meaney, since I assume he was on DS9 by this point. Does anyone know when he leaves the Enterprise from the perspective of the TNG timeline?
Christopher Bennett
34. ChristopherLBennett
@33: This was the first episode of season 6, airing in the fall; DS9 didn't premiere until the following January. So O'Brien hadn't left yet. The premiere of DS9 takes place pretty much right after the "Chain of Command" 2-parter later in the season; the reason they did a big Cardassian-centric 2-parter was as a sort of lead-in to the new series, much like the way the Maquis arc two years later was a setup for Voyager.
Dante Hopkins
35. DanteHopkins
Wrong again. I do appreciate a good sci-fi story, and this oen had a nice predestination paradox, with the added bonus of finally knowing what Guinan was referring to when she says how close she and Picard are. Nice having some of that mystery solved. I don't need to know how they got their clothes, or any of the other irrelevancies you mention. It's an entertaining story, and all involved did well, especially Jerr Hardin's Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain. I liked this one in September of 1992 when it aired, and I like it even more now. I don;t care about historical inaccuracies or any of the rest of it. Its a good story of saving Earth, and I appreciate how the writers made the predestination paradox simple and easy to understand. I give the one a solid 6.
36. StevieTopSiders
So I just watched this, and I have a ~Star Trek~ question. Why are they able to kill the Devidians without any of the ~moral wranglings~ that accompany literally every other decision they make. Is it because humans are threatened? Even that ~evil black blob~ from season one didn't get killed; just the spaceship near it destroyed.
37. yetanotheraustinartist
So great we're all still talking about this! My question- why couldn't Picard have simply told Guinan about adjusting the photon torpedoes instead of the complexity of 'programming' Data's head? Surely a being whose 'perceptions go beyond linear time' could have remembered a simple message for 500 years. Of course that might negate the need for the Data's head plot device... Despite the flaws, I love the show, still!
Christopher Bennett
38. ChristopherLBennett
@37: At the time, Guinan's perceptions didn't go beyond linear time. According to a scene written for Generations but dropped from the final cut, that was an ability she gained as a result of her time spent in the Nexus in 2293.

Besides, with a message this important, it was only sensible to "write it down" securely rather than just hoping someone would remember it centuries later.
39. RKBA
The Colt .45 described by Data in the opening scenes of Part I is a SINGLE action revolver, not does this get missed by the writers and everyone else associated with production? Sheesh!
40. Tom Green
My big complaint is that Samuel Clemens isn't immediately isolated once he's back on the Enterprise. Why are they letting him walk around seeing how things play out 500 years in the future? I would have thought he would have been locked up in quarters and not allowed to know anything else.
Christopher Bennett
41. ChristopherLBennett
@40: Even 24th-century Starfleet officers can gush over celebrities. I mean, it's Mark Twain, for Pete's sake. Besides, if they'd wanted to, they could've wiped his memories before sending him back.
42. uv
The thing I really hated was that they destroyed an entire planet and all the species on it just because one of those species was travelling through time and killing humans who were already sick and may likely have died.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
@42: Err, they didn't destroy the planet. They just destroyed the cave that focused the triolic waves into a time portal. Although I suppose the script's use of the word "habitat" for that location is somewhat ambiguous.
44. RMS81
I just watched this episode for the first time since 1997, and it was every bit as boring and predictable as I remembered. There was very little suspense to it because you already know that everyone is going to end up back in the future or else their presence in previous episodes wouldn't have been there.

Although I have a moderate level of understanding the pseudo-science behind time travel used in this episode, some of it is really mind-boggling. If it is possible for two Guinans to exist in the past and the present, and the past Guinan could be brought into the present time, wouldn't that violate the First Law of Thermodynamics? Guinan's matter would spontaneously reappear in the present out of nothing. The First Law of Thermodynamics says matter cannot simply appear; it has to come from a previous form of energy or matter.

I thought the acting was good overall. Samuel Clemens's character did get a bit grating after a while, though.
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@44/RMS81: Some discussions of the question of conservation of mass/energy in time travel:

Basically, conservation laws don't mean that the mass or energy of a local system has to remain constant; after all, matter can pass in or out of it. They just mean that matter and energy can't appear out of nothing or disappear into nothing. If the system loses mass, then it has to go somewhere, and if it gains mass, it has to come from somewhere -- which it does if it travels through time, the same as if it travels through space.
46. RMS81
@46: I read both links, and I still find the physics behind it mind-boggling. While I knew that the matter and energy in a closed system do not need to remain constant because the universe is expanding, I do know that duplicate matter cannot spontaneously appear. Every single atom in my body has always existed in some form in the universe somewhere, either as other matter or as energy, or both. If you went back 13 billion years, all of the atoms that comprise my body already existed.

Transporting my current body backwards in time seems like it wouldn't be possible because those atoms would be part of something else already and would require a duplicate set of those atoms to appear.

I am not a physicist, so I am by no means a specialist in this area. My field of study is law, so I found the language those links you posted to be a bit too arcane for me to fully understand.
Christopher Bennett
47. ChristopherLBennett
@46/RMS81: There's no such thing as "duplicate" on the level of subatomic particles and physical laws. Or rather, everything is a duplicate. Every proton is identical to every other proton, every electron identical to every other electron, except for properties like spin and energy level and interatomic bonds. So it doesn't matter whether a particle is "duplicated" through time travel. Physically, it would behave no differently than any other particle.

Besides, you aren't an exact physical duplicate of your younger self. Nearly all of the atoms that make up your body would have been replaced in the interim, swapped out for new atoms through your metabolic processes. So you aren't made of the same matter as the you of five years ago, except for some of the stuff making up your teeth and eye lenses and neural and heart cells.

So what you see in something like the current 12 Monkeys TV series or some Doctor Who episodes, where meeting your past self causes a temporal explosion due to the paradox, is just fantasy. There's no physical law that precludes going back and interacting with your past self, as long as the interaction remains consistent (i.e. you cause your own past actions as you remember them rather than preventing them).

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