Hello and welcome to To Boldly Go, where I weekly review every episode of Star Trek over the next few years.
TOS: For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky
So this is about half an hour of plot in an hour long episode… Funnily enough, this would probably work better as an episode of the Animated Series than an episode of The Original Series, if only because it won’t be so padded.
The plot is pretty dull: A giant asteroid is on a collusion course with a planet, and it turns out the asteroid is actually a giant spaceship run by an evil computer. As such, Kirk and co must turn it off in order to save the day. Also McCoy gets a disease that’ll kill him in a year, gets married to a woman on the asteroid, and then is saved by a cure found in the asteroid’s instruction manual. The end.
The reason this feels like it could be a TAS episode is because the central plot (‘giant asteroid is actually spaceship controlled by a computer and worshipped by the people who live in it who don’t know that they’re in a spaceship’) is something that show would have excelled at. It’d have been short, sweet, and to the point. Instead we get it stretched out for over an hour, and it really doesn’t hold up that much. Part of it isn’t helped by the McCoy dying/falling in love angle, which is… There, but certainly doesn’t feel earned. It’s not a very convincing romance, and only exists to further the plot a little, but like McCoy’s illness it’s entirely superfluous. McCoy dying and having Kirk search for a cure would make an interesting episode in of itself. But what we have here are two separate story ideas that ultimately just drag each other down and make the film less than the sum of its parts.
At the end of the day this is an episode that can be skipped, and is only worth remembering because of how absurdly long the title is (and yet, inexplicably, they manage to weave it into the dialogue in a way that works). Do yourself a favour and skip this one. You’re not missing much.
TNG: Yesterday’s Enterprise
This is, quite simply, one of the greatest premises ever used in Star Trek. No question.
The premise is simply beautiful: The Enterprise is exploring a rift in space-time, and out comes the Enterprise C, a ship twenty-two years in the past. The modern battleship Enterprise assists the old starship, while trying to avoid being destroyed by the Klingons. Tasha Yar falls in love with one of the crew members on the opposite ship, and decides to help pilot that ship back in time while the Enterprise holds off the Klingon battleships. The battleship is destroyed, but the older Enterprise gets home safely. As such, Picard dismisses the wormhole and the starship Enterprise goes on its way.
The recap sounds confusing, and it was deliberately designed to be so, because what I say next does spoil the entire episode. It’s such a great twist right at the start that shocks the viewer and turns everything they thought they knew on their head. Because when the older Enterprise, the Enterprise C, comes through the rift, we suddenly switch to an alternate present where the Enterprise is in a war against the Klingons. It’s a classic case of someone going to the past and back again to see how bad the future gets, but told from the perspective of the future. In this case it’s someone altering the past that affects the present, and we get to see the present being altered right in front of us. In many ways this is the ‘Mirror, Mirror’ story that TNG never did, but it certainly feels like it. That sort of alternate universe where everything seems similar, but at the same time there’s a lot different as well.
Simply put, this episode is great because doing the whole ‘alternate timeline’ thing is a joy to watch. We see new interpretations of these characters, acting in a completely new scenario. It’s just brilliant all told. Seeing Guinan talk about how wrong the universe is does echo how the viewer must feel at this point, especially since she’s arguing that the Enterprise must go back in time to die in a suicide mission. It’s hard to know if the characters should treat her seriously or not, especially since there’s little proof that what she’s saying is true. Seeing Picard decide that the Enterprise C must be sacrificed is a powerful one.
Then there’s Tasha Yar, brought back in order to give a better resolution to the character. Admittedly Yar is symbolic of everything that’s wrong with the first season of TNG, so seeing her come back isn’t something that necessarily excited me. Indeed, the entire episode seems to be written with the express purpose of re-killing her, but in a more decent way. It’s fine, I suppose, but since I never cared for her I can’t say I was too engaged with her story. It’s nice, but not what I like about this episode.
At the end of the day, I can’t recommend this episode highly enough. It’s just fantastic. Do yourself a favour and check it out for yourself.
Who likes temporal mechanics? I mean it just makes things so unnecessarily confusing. Recapping this one is going to be a pain.
The plot is a bit too clever for its own good: O’Brien absorbs some radiation that allows him to jump five hours into the future and along the way learns not only that he’s going to die twice (and averting it each time), but that DS9 is going to blow up. So he jumps forward three and a half hours to work out why it happened, only for future O’Brien to jump back instead. Turns out the Romulans have been planning on blowing up the wormhole and DS9 to stop the Dominion from invading. The end.
This episode is… Well it’s fun, but confusing. As O’Brien himself states, ‘I hate temporal mechanics’. The crux of this episode is that this isn’t so much time travelling, as it is universe hopping, otherwise the death of the past O’Brien would have killed the future O’Brien. So once you look at it as more as someone going through parallel universes rather than time travel, it makes a bit more sense.
But even then, the crux of the episode is the mystery, and it holds up pretty well when you get right down to it. Odo does a great job as detective, as per usual, and the rest of the cast get a few good moments here and there. The main thrust of the story is that something bad is going to happen, and they have to work out what it is in order to prevent. Simple, but effective.
At the end of the day this would have probably been the top of the week if not for the TNG episode. It’s a fun episode to watch, especially if you like time travel stories. Do yourself a favour and check this one out.
VOG: Before and After
In which time travel is involved… again… I swear to Q if the next episode is about time travel.
The plot is pretty simple: Kes is dying of old age, but the Doctor has a treatment that should keep her alive. Unfortunately it’s sending her hurtling back through time, as she keeps waking up in an earlier version of herself. As such, she desperately tries to get everyone to understand before she de-ages out of existence. Fortunately she survives.
This episode is… Eh, it ain’t terrible, and any other week it’d probably be the best episode. But three episodes about time travel in a row leave it ending up looking a bit thin. On the one hand, it’s a pretty interesting idea. Voyager works on the theory that we don’t quite know how it’ll end, so having them still be in space that many years on is an interesting idea. And the twists of who dies and who is where are interesting, even if we know they’ll ultimately go nowhere. But on the other hand, this episode is all about Kes, and Kes… Isn’t that interesting of a character. Not a bad character, per say, but not a very interesting one.
Sadly, this reminds me of the Enterprise episode a bit too much, but without the ticking clock element that one brought. Aside from knowing that it’ll be resolved soon enough, the confusing part is how no one seems to remember what Kes is doing, even though she keeps telling earlier versions of the crew. Surely if, in year one, she told the Doctor something, he’d remember it all those years later. As such, the episode suffers from Kes having to constantly repeat herself to crew that should have figured out what was going on by now. But then again, who knows how temporal mechanics really work in this series.
At the end of the day this is a perfectly good ‘what-if’ episode that does a lot of good at exploring Kes as a character. The premise is neat, and the scenario put forth is interesting. I’d recommend checking it out. It ain’t really that bad.
ENT: Carpenter Street
In which Archer and T’Pol time travel… back to 2004… Okay come on, there’s no way we can have four episodes about time travel, is there?
The plot is pretty simple: The Xindi have gone back in time to create a plague to wipe out mankind, and Archer and T’Pol have to go back in time to stop him. And they do. The end.
I’ll admit, the recap is pretty short, but really there’s not a lot to be said about this episode. It’s the standard ‘characters go somewhere to stop bad thing from happening, stop it’. The fact that it occurs in the past is, at this point, more a creepy coincidence than anything else. Having four time travel stories in a row does a disservice to all of them, because eventually one gets tired of seeing the same thing over and over again.
Nevertheless, this is an okay episode. It’s not going to blow anyone’s socks off or be well-remembered, but it’s not bad. Whenever Star Trek goes into the past (aka in the current present of the show), it’s clear they do it to for budgetary reasons. Of course, this makes the canon a bit wonky, since at this point I’m sure the world is suppose to be up to World War IV at this point or something. Trying to make sense of a timeline in Star Trek is a thankless task. But as I said, this is an okay episode, and at the end of the day you can’t say fairer than that.
First: TNG “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
Second: DS9 “Visionary”
Third: VOY “Before and After”
Fourth: ENT “Carpenter Street”
Fifth: TOS “For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky”
First: TAS 67%
Second: DS9 66%
Third: TOS 65%
Fourth: VOY 61%
Fifth: ENT 57%
Sixth: TNG 45%
So there you have it. Another week of Trek. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.