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The obligatory time travel episode!
By kimmy on March 7, 2019
 (9/10)

At this point TNG has already made a number of time travelling or rather time rift shows: Yesterday’s Enterprise, Cause and Effect, even TOS‘s The City at the Edge of Forever. The writers devised of a story ambitious enough for two episodes, and it’s clear that everybody is enjoying themselves here, taking the time to make the most of the “Data in 19th century San Francisco” story!

That part of the episode is exactly what you would expect: Data like a fish out of water but not being particularly disconcerted. He uses his skills in poker, gained with so many games on the Enterprise, to get those little bits of paper everybody’s crazy about: money. He spends some time explaining technology to his hotel valet that I get the impression that the second part will reveal that this will become some famous inventor. The science enthusiast Mr. Clemens also seems to be set up so as to reveal him as a well-known historical figure (otherwise why the makeup?) but I don’t know who that could be — at the time of writing this I haven’t seen part 2.

We finally get some more background for Gainan, who has been a mysterious character from the start. She has a father, and has been an envoy on Earth or observer of some sorts; the Borg haven’t still destroyed her civilization. I hope we’ll learn more in the next episode! So there were Ancient Aliens in Star Trek’s Earth!

I have to say that the concern that the Enterprise crew showed towards the certain death of Data is in stark contrast with the external impassiveness for the death of Geordi a few episodes before (The Next Phase). At this stage of the series, there might still be occasional episodes focused on such or such character but the series has arranged itself around the emotional core of Picard and Data.

The time-shifted aliens look like something magical: stealing life “energy” or “spirits” and swallowing them through their third eye, Star Trek had not accustomed us to something so supernatural-looking! (Nice special effects, though.)

In short, an excellent first part to a big adventure, perhaps less galaxy-spanning than previous season cliffhangers like The Best of Both Worlds and Redemption, but it definitely made me look forward to next season!

The quote:
Troi (impersonating Data defining friendship): “As I experience certain sensory input patterns my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The inputs eventually are anticipated and even missed when absent.”

Alumni-spotting:
Behind that makeup (why the makeup?), Mr. Clemens is Jerry Hardin – a.k.a. the Deep Throat from The X-Files!

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All in all, an excellent season that is hard to distinguish in my mind from Season 4 in terms of quality. The production values are undeniably higher to earlier seasons, the actors are all on top of their form, and episodes vary from high adventure to experimental. There is little repetition (at least from the episodes I’ve seen) and when the series falls into a routine (e.g. with the Romulans and Sela) it has much to offer besides. This is the season during which Gene Roddenberry died (pictured: Roddenberry at the shooting of the 100th episode, Redemption Part 1) and the last movie with the TOS crew was released (The Undiscovered Country); it is the last season before another spin-off series is launched (DS9); at this stage, The Next Generation is Star Trek’s proud flagship. With no transition, let’s plot a heading to Season 6!


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