Welcome back to Underrated Trek,where I take a special look at Star Trek episodes that I love…which may not bethe most popular or even liked by most. Today I wanted to take a look at anepisode from the dreck of Season Two TNG that I always loved. Even though itmakes NO SENSE AT ALL!! But does that mean it’s bad? Let’s talk about:

 
This was the 13th episodeof the second season, and one which the creators even admit did not work out asplanned. It was supposed to be a Q story which would lead into the very goodepisode “Q Who?” However, Gene Roddenberry nixed that idea. What we are leftwith is an episode with some good idea that never really get developed. Let’stake a closer look:

Plot Synopsis:
After a pointless teaser where Riker makes dinner, the Enterprise picks up a distress signal from a Federationshuttlecraft. Odd since they are the only vessel in the area. When they bringthe shuttle on board the mystery gets even deeper. There is a duplicate of Captain Picard on board!!
While Pulaski and Troi work to get the second Picard back to his senses, the others try to determine what happened. In the briefing room Laforge reveals that the shuttle came from six hours inthe future, after the destruction of the Enterprise. As the time gets closer, the second Picard becomes more aware of his surroundings. And if it seems likeI am rushing this synopsis it’s because the episode is basically everyonesitting around talking.
Finally, the Enterprise encounters agiant vortex and gets sucked into it. There doesn’t seem to be a way out and then the vortex starts attacking Picard personally. The second Picard is now fully aware of where he is, and determined to escape via shuttle again. The two Picard’s discuss this and the first Picard realizes that the second escaping would only keep this cycle going, so the first Picard kills the second Picard.He then takes the Enterprise into the heart of the vortex, which somehow works.
The Enterprise is free and Picard isleft to ponder the very unique encounter he just had.
 
Guest Star:
No real guest stars in this one, so instead let me take this opportunity to discuss the worst character TNG evergave us. Dr.Pulaski was just awful! I mean no disrespect to Diana Muldaur, she was fine, but man was this character irritating. She was meant to be a foil for Data in the same way McCoy was a foil for Spock. Problem was Spock could giveas good as he got. Data couldn’t which make Pulaski out to be a bully, or maybethat other “B” word. She was just so unlikable and I was so thrilled that Crusher was returned in season 3. As SF Debris noted, it’s bad when you makeWesley Crusher seem tolerable in comparison. By the way, where is Wesley in this episode?
 
Episode Pro’s:
The truth is, the scene where the two Picard’s are talking and walking down the hallways is very well done. They did a very good job with the split screen and the scene has lots of suspense and drama.
I also like the way we see how hard this is for Picard, to deal with the knowledge that his actions were in error and he failed the Enterprise. Patrick Stewart gives a very good performance here.
The briefing room scene is really good, as we establish whathappened and the time frame. It really creates a nice sense of dread, as we wonder how they will avoid something which has already happened. It’s a good discussion, too bad it goes on for half the episode.
There is a conversation between Troi and Pulaski which makes Pulaski to be a horrible person. But Troi comes out well. Pulaski is worried Picard will be unable to handle the situation, and is even willing to removehim from command if she sees signs he can’t. Troi basically tells her to calmdown and stop being a bitch in one of Troi’s better scenes.
The final scene with Picard and Riker is good, and I like how he admits there were very few answers to what happened. At least the episode admits it.
 
Episode Con’s:
Of course this episode has one huge problem. It makes no sense! As I noted this was supposed to be a Q episode andreally when that idea was killed they should have reworked the script better.The idea is sound, someone going just a few hours in the past rather than decades, but it is just not executed well.
They talk waayyy to much about what is going rather than doing something. Then the action takes place in the last ten minutes. And when we finally get the action stuff…it’s kind of boring. Just the Enterprise struggling against the vortex while LaForge whines. And why does Picard get attacked??? And why does he make achoice he knows full well was the wrong one? Thankfully he realizes this himself.
There is a scene where Data and Geordi check the shuttle out which makes no sense. For some reason the systems are working backwards. Now I may able to buy that Picard is physiologically off (we do get jet lag after long trips so I can buy that being thrown back in time could have a similar effect on us) but why in the world is the shuttle working backwards???
Man does this episode get padded. After the briefing room scene, we follow Riker and Worf to the bridge. There, Worf stands at his station and Riker sits in the command chair. They say nothing and the scenechanges to sick-bay. What was the point of that bridge shot??? All it did was kill another minute or so. Another shot has Picard walk into the shuttle bay,look at the shuttle craft, and walk out. Yeah that was really needed. Finally,after the second Picard is shot we get a scene where Pulaski and O’Brienappear, and Pulaski basically suggests he is dead. Um, and we needed thatmoment why? The second Picard vanishes a few seconds later.
Finally, during their talk the second Picard explains that the vortex is a life form who has identified the Enterprise as an entity and Picardas the “brain”, and that is why he is attacked. Ok, how did Picard figure this out the first time? Or is he just assuming? Why would the vortex perceive the Enterprise as a threat? What would killing Picard accomplish? How did the second Picard determine going forward was an option? What made him discard that option? Why in the world does going forward work anyway? Man I bet this made more sensewhen Q was still part of the script.
 
“Fast Forward” Moment:
That opening teaser with Riker making dinner is boring. Yeah we learn Riker grew up without a mother but the whole “everyone hates them but Worf” is just a cheap gag and a waste of time. You could also skip the whole middle of the episode and miss nothing really.
 
Final Thoughts:
We all know the second season, while a little better than the 1st, was still stuck in the early days of TNG. This episode is a bit better than some other episodes that year (like the god awful “The Ourtgeous Okona”;). There is a good idea here, what would happenis someone was just thrown back a few hours. but it is not well thought out.The episode is also really padded, like they didn’t know how to fill the hour. Not great but not the worst either.
Join me next time for another edition of “Underrated Trek”

 

By richb

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