The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Time Squared

When the Enterprise retrieves a stray shuttlecraft containing a duplicate Captain Picard, it is clear that something is amiss. Logs reveal that this shuttle and this Picard are from the future, but a future in which the Enterprise itself has been destroyed. What happened, and can the Enterprise avoid it from happening again?

This episode feels like one that has not stood the test of time – at least as far as my opinion is concerned. Even though it comes so soon after the previous “Picard and spacetime” episode We’ll Always Have Paris, I had looked upon it quite favourably, only to find that this time around, it didn’t live up to expectations.

The “characters meet themselves from a dystopian future and wonder how they can avert it” trope is so overused that it’s appeared in everything from Dragonball Z to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and when I have to admit that My Little Pony did it better than TNG, you know something is wrong. Most of this episode is about Picard’s angst over his other self, whilst Other Picard remains conveniently unconscious in sickbay until the denouement. He then gets shot by Our Picard, who randomly decides to solve everything by flying right into the Random Space Phenomenon of the Week. Somehow this works (although I suppose if it hadn’t, time would have looped and a new Picard could have tried again). This could have been so much deeper, perhaps showing increasingly hopeless Picards trapped in a seemingly inescapable loop, but for a story more in that vein we’ll have to wait until season five’s Cause and Effect.

Life on the final frontier

  • Just in time for Riker’s reunion with his father next episode, we learn that Riker grew up in a single parent home after his mother died. Will did the cooking and even now he enjoys whipping up a culinary delight instead of relying on the replicator. Although of his friends, only Worf actually seemed to find it delightful.
  • Riker picked up fresh ingredients from Starbase 73 so he could cook instead of relying on the replicator. I wonder if people sometime replicate ingredients instead of finished meals, so they can do the cooking part themselves. Isn’t it dangerous to be using ovens and hobs aboard a starship, in case it all catches fire? If you cook something really tasty, can you then have the replicator store the pattern so you can duplicate it without further effort? Are all Nigella’s recipes in there?
  • According to Worf, in human society it is customary for the woman to share in the cooking in the family unit. Way to embrace diversity, 24th century – keep the women in the kitchen.
  • Surely connecting the rescued shuttlecraft to the Enterprise computer systems is a security risk? What if it had been a Romulan trick, for example?
  • I can’t run any experiments to say for sure that Other Picard and his shuttlecraft wouldn’t be somehow “out of phase” if they went back in time, but this isn’t something that has affected any other time travel situation.
  • Here we see that the Enterprise-D shuttlebay has a forcefield over the entrance that retains the atmosphere even when the doors are open and a shuttle is being brought in (some sort of responsive and selective permeability, no doubt). This is in contrast with the original Enterprise shuttlebay, which had to be pressurised and depressurised.

Summary – Time Squared: Double the Picard does not mean double the quality.

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