The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: A Matter of Time

When a small ship emerges from a temporal distortion, the occupant claims to be Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a time travelling historian from the 24th century. Rasmussen says he is here to observe an important event in Enterprise history, which only piles on the pressure as the crew tries to save a colony from atmospheric pollution.

This is an odd episode. There’s a germ of a good idea here, and Rasmussen is well played, but it all hinges on one implausible thing – that Picard and the crew seem willing to believe Rasmussen’s story when he’s an obvious conman. Are enlightened 24th century humans really that gullible? Am I just a petty, mistrustful 21st century person in comparison? I mean, this is a society that doesn’t seem to grasp the need for access controls, so maybe there has been a fundamental shift in attitudes. Nonetheless, it’s a bit too much to swallow, and it colours the entirety of the episode.

A matter of security

  • As per usual, an untrusted visitor is allowed free run of the ship.
  • Picard postulates the idea of a temporal prime directive – later in the franchise, we learn that such a thing does indeed exist some centuries in the future. Although of course, Captain Braxton and other timeship captains have yet to show up to solve any of the temporal issues that the Enterprise and Enterprise-D encounter. Slackers.
  • Everyone has very stereotypical historical interests – Crusher is into medical advances, whilst Worf knows all about the history of phasers.
  • Even though the Pentharan atmosphere is saved, the fact that it involves basically setting it all on fire would surely irreparably damage any life on the surface.
  • If Rasmussen were a real time travelling historian, he would surely not be so open about it, to avoid altering the course of history in any way. The people of the 24th century may be considered advanced, but as we see from Picard’s speechifying, they aren’t above temptation.
  • Why aren’t the timeships better regulating all these 26th century historians?

Sheer filth

“There hasn’t been more than a quiver down there in over a century.”

“Let’s take a look at Mr Worf’s distortion.”

“What are you getting from him?”

Summary – A Matter of Time: Someone get proper security aboard the Enterprise.

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