The Enterprise investigates some mysterious temporal anomalies that are caused by dangerous experiments being performed by the husband of an old flame of Picard’s. Picard must deal with the strangeness of seeing her again while shutting down the injured scientist’s research before he is killed and more damaged is done. With the help of Data, whose android nature allows him to perceive time as more constant than his human crewmates, the experiment is shut down successfully, and the scientist is saved.
Written by Deborah Dean Davis and Hannah Louse Shearer. Directed by Robert Becker.
This is definitely not the big one! Unlike the prior episode, or the following one, nobody could argue today that this episode had any lasting impact – or even threatened to have any lasting impact – upon the series. The plot itself is very thin, and with all the talk about how dangerous things are, actually solving the problem is not very complicated. There are some trippy moments as the Enterprise crew encounter the temporal anomalies, but no more trippy than we’d already seen in Where No One Has Gone Before. In the end, Data has to dodge a few lasers to save the day, which is kind of fun, but the last moment time distortion doesn’t prove to be much of a complication.
The weight of the story is taken up with Picard being all discombobulated to see Jenice Manheim again. This allows for a bit of character exposition as we see that Picard denied himself a chance to get together with this beauty because he basically feared it would tie him down to an ordinary life, but that’s about as far as it goes. Frankly, it’s not very interesting development for Picard. Actually, both of the episodes that have really focused on Picard as a character (this one, and The Battle), have done so by talking about things from his past. They have relied on revealing the Captain’s history as a way to move him forward, rather than actually just giving him deal with compelling circumstances in the present and allowing us to see him act and react. It makes these stories less interesting than you want them to be.
I’m remember tuning into this story wondering if there’d be any further reference to the recent death of Tasha Yar. There isn’t. Instead, Worf simply operates at the tactical console on the bridge, though he’s still in his red uniform.
In the end, the only thing really notable about this story is that we’re back on the Holodeck again, and nothing goes wrong with it (less usual than you’d like to think), and that we have Next Generation’s first time-travel related story. It’s pretty minimal time travel, but it’s funny to me that this is the only episode this season to feature any sort of temporal hullabaloo at all, considering how prominent it became in later seasons.
• Michelle Philips, who plays Jenice Manheim, was famous as a member of the Mamas and the Papas, and has appeared on many TV shows, including a main role on Knot’s Landing.
• Lance Spellerberg plays Chief Herbert, uncredited, and reprises the role in The Icarus Factor.
• Wesley Crusher does not appear in the episode. Neither does Tasha Yar, of course, even though Denise Crosby continues to appear on the credits for this episode and the rest of the season.
• “The way you look at me – do I remind you of someone?” says Gabrielle, the Holodeck woman. Err, no, it’s just that you’re barely wearing any clothes.
• I was grateful when Picard left the holodeck, with his crack about self-indulgence. It felt very true. Very self-indulgent meandering in the past.
• Everyone is quite mellow in their catching up and chatting as Dr. Manheim is being treated. Jenice is positively glowing to see Picard again, which makes their history all the more obvious, but it’s strange that this is going on while her husband is possibly dying. In fact, I find the whole intimacy between Picard and Jenice to be a bit disturbing, considering that she’s married. Actually, considering that he stood her up and they apparently haven’t spoken in all those years, it might have been interesting if she’d been a bit more angry with him.
• I first thought that Jenice Manheim seemed a bit young to have been involved with Picard, but looking up the actor’s ages I find that Michelle Phillips is only four years younger than Patrick Stewart. Really, she is about as old I’d have guessed, but it turns out that Patrick Stewart is lot younger than I thought (about 47 when this episode was made).
• Even though I’m not crazy about this relationship, it’s a funny moment where Jenice tells Picard she didn’t expect the truth, and Picard responds with a bunch of silly excuses.
Dialogue High Point
It’s a nice moment when Troi and Crusher acknowledge Crusher’s feelings for Picard in light of Jenice’s presence.
Dr. Crusher: I can’t compete with a ghost from his past. No one could.
Troi: She’s not a ghost. She’s here right now.
Dr. Crusher: She may be in the here and now, but it’s the ghost he sees.