Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Yesterday's Enterprise"


Air date: 2/19/1990
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Richard Manning & Hans Beimler & Ronald D. Moore
Story by Trent Christopher Ganino & Eric A. Stillwell
Directed by David Carson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

There aren't many episodes that announce themselves as instant classics, but "Yesterday's Enterprise" was one of them. It was an instant classic when it aired, and in the years since it has become an enduring one. It's one of the franchise's very best time-travel stories. (Every Trek series has had at least one that vied for similar thematic territory, whether it was TOS's "City on the Edge of Forever," DS9's "Children of Time," Voyager's "Timeless," or Enterprise's "E2.")

A rift in space and time allows the Enterprise's predecessor, the 1701-C under Captain Rachel Garrett (Tricia O'Neil), to emerge in an alternate version of the future and come face-to-face with the 1701-D. In this much different timeline, Starfleet has been at war with the Klingons for 20 years. The Enterprise-C's passage through time allowed it to escape a deadly battle with the Romulans after the Enterprise-C had come to the aid of a besieged Klingon outpost.

When the writers' were making their decisions in creating this story, perhaps the most crucial was their use of Guinan, who has a perception that transcends the timeline. She knows, with every fiber of her being, that the timeline is not right and that the Enterprise-C must go back, even if that means certain death for its crew at the hands of the Romulans. Because even their deaths could change history, as a gesture seen by the Klingons that could ultimately pave the way to peace rather than war.

What this does for the story is turn it into a moral quagmire with massive implications, where the characters must make impossible decisions. What we're really talking about here is playing God. More than 40 billion people have died in the Klingon/Federation war, and returning the Enterprise-C's to the past could prevent all of it. Picard, as one man, holds the power to make the decision. In a compelling exchange, Picard flat-out asks Guinan who's to say whether one timeline is more "proper" than the other? Her reply: "I suppose I am." To frame this as a 20th-century question: What if you could go back in time and kill Hitler? History would be, in Picard's words, irrevocably changed, but that would also mean undoing everything else that has happened since. Who knows whether you're alive or dead in the other timeline, and what implications that has on everything else unrelated to the variables you intend to change? (Of course, dramatic license means that this alternate timeline parallels the real one more closely than it ever possibly could; I myself subscribe to the chaos-theory/butterfly-effect school of thought.)

The question is of particular poignancy to Yar, who is alive in this version of the timeline and learns from Guinan that she died a meaningless death in the other one. This, along with her newfound camaraderie with Enterprise-C's Lt. Castillo (Christopher McDonald), prompts her to go back with the Enterprise-C and die a death that serves a purpose. It's impressive how much ground this episode seems to cover in a single hour. In addition to the moral and cosmic questions, it provides an interesting Trek history lesson that fills in gaps about one of the Enterprise's mysterious predecessors, and it manages to somewhat mitigate the effect of the ignominious death that befell Yar in the first season.

As an exercise in tone, the episode is remarkable, featuring a stark contrast to the other timeline. The lighting, uniforms, and performances all indicate a darker military existence. Picard, in particular, is notably more grim and intense; Patrick Stewart conveys a different and powerful urgency but never goes overboard. The last act, in which the Enterprise-D must protect the Enterprise-C from Klingon attack as it returns through the rift, is one of TNG's most intense and memorable battle scenes. As the Enterprise takes a pounding, it becomes clear that they cannot survive. Only by sacrificing the Enterprise-D does the Enterprise-C have a chance to rewrite history. Picard's announcement to the crew says it all: "Let's make sure that history never forgets the name ... Enterprise."

Previous episode: A Matter of Perspective
Next episode: The Offspring

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58 comments on this review

Lee Roberts
Tue, Nov 27, 2007, 7:38am (UTC -5)
I've not had the opportunity to watch these episodes for many years, but whenever I think about the best that Star Trek (any flavour) has been able to offer, I always come back to the masterpiece that is Yesterday's Enterprise. I still remember the power of the scenes between Picard and Guinan ("Not good enough, damn it! Not good enough!"), my genuine unease as Picard revealed to Enterprise C counterpart Rachel Garrett that "the war goes very badly for the Federation - far worse than is generally known" and the iconic image of our good captain manning the phaser controls to the last, with everyone around him dead and the bridge burning in the background. Simply magical.
Sun, Mar 7, 2010, 6:17am (UTC -5)
Yesterday's Enterprise - I do agree that this is one of the epic TNG episodes, deservedly a classic. However, I do find a couple of things problematic.

How many times in the past have we had main characters taken over by an alien presence or behave erratically due to some kind of infection or other? Lots. So now we have to take Guinan's word for the fact that 'something' doesn't feel right and that the new ship needs to be sacrificed to correct things, based on no evidence whatsoever. Despite Picard's so-called protestations, he nevertheless decides that Guinan's gut it right. Didn't even request a medical scan first.

It just smacks too much of a belief in mysticism. Somehow Guinan transcends time itself. She's conveniently vague on specifics and yet knows that Tasha died a meaningless death. Hmmm.

Adding to the mystical mumbo-jumbo is the notion of preferred destinies. Things weren't 'meant' to be like this. According to whom? If things are 'meant' to be in a certain way, then it means that we have no free will, that everything is preordained and we're just going through the motions.

It is the use of these metaphysical plot devices which sours my enjoyment of what is otherwise an excellent episode.
Thu, Sep 15, 2011, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
RE : "Yesterday's Enterprise"

I've never understood the stance that YE is an "instant classic" as you say. It's a decent episode to be sure, but there are some big problems with it. The largest has to do with the central moral dilemma you praise. You frame it in 20th century terms (if one could kill Hitler, etc), but this is a non-issue. Such an action is impossible. It is interesting from a purely tech/timeline perspective, but it has no real relevance.

The issue becomes, is our future defined by our choices or by the random concurrence of events? Guinan's stance (and the episode's) is that the 24th century "correct" present is based largely upon a minor detail in the plot of its past rather than the espoused view that humanity worked its rear end off to build a quasi-paradisiacal future.

Picard's choice to respect Guinan's intuition as some sort of trans-temporal mystic goes against character like few other things I've seen in TNG. And what is the lesson here? To whom are we supposed to allegorise her? It's a lot of new-age preachy nonsense about "trusting one's feelings" which distills the power of the Star Trek universe.

I don't mean to imply I don't like the episode. The rĂ´le of Yar in particular was excellent as were the mood and pacing, as you mentioned. I'd say it's a 3 star episode--solid and entertaining and thought-provoking, but hardly a classic.
Tue, Jun 12, 2012, 11:00pm (UTC -5)

I've endured your 'comments' on these threads long enough-for you to call this a 7/10 ( on a conventional scale) episode s really the final straw -unquestionably in the top three episodes across the board, I'd suggest you post on a 'Sesame Street' page as that seems more your style....
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
@Van-Patten :

Yes, indeed, your heroic ability to endure opinions clearly demonstrates the hyper-maturity to denigrate others for thinking that an episode is good but not great, rather than just great. That's some high-level thinking. I can see why you feel justified in equating my "style" with a children's programme.
Van Patten
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 11:21pm (UTC -5)

Apologies - think I'd got carried away and I should have more respect given how many reviews/comments you have put in. What I am curious about (and please indulge me on this) is to why you have such a downer on DS9 in particular but also other episodes that are considered seminal. I take your point that it's possibly somewhat out of character for Picard to make a risky decision based solely on Guinan's intuition but the episode is (primarily) set in a parallel reality-hence why it's so powerful. The change of tone, character and performances are noticeable and the guest cast is outstanding. I just don't see his thus can be anything under 4 stars on the Jammer scale.

That said, I apologise again for the flippant comment ( sadly you can't delete it once it's there) and any subsidiary comments will be in the realms of genuine questions/debates ather than cheap jibes.
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for the apology, Van Patten. Heartily accepted !

In response to what you say ...

"What I am curious about (and please indulge me on this) is to why you have such a downer on DS9 in particular but also other episodes that are considered seminal."

...I'll answer by quoting one of my favourite authors, theatre critics and philosophical chroniclers, Bryan Magee from his book "The Tristan Chord." His text is referring specifically to a particular kind of vitriol spouted by Nietzsche against Wagner's last opera "Parsifal," but the anecdote is perfectly suited to express my feelings about DS9's and other series' so-called "seminole" episodes (and he's a much better writer than I):

"[Nietzsche's criticism] is splendid stuff to read, but it is not so much uncomprehending as rejecting of understanding...They are profoundly disappointing, in fact; one would have hoped for the perceptive exposure of real faults and shortcomings, criticisms that strike home, palpable hits; but very few such are to be found. To anyone whom Wagner's work really speaks, none of Nietzsche's criticism of it has much validity or even a great deal of interest as serious criticism. Nietzsche rejects the pre-adopted Schopenhaurian attitudes and values with which Wagner's maturest works are saturated and attacks them with the same animosity as he attacks the philosophy of Schopenhauer--for the same reasons and with the same arguments. It is rather like a militant athiest of a music critic mounting an onslaught on Bach's 'St Matthew Passion' on the ground that it is saturated through and through with loathesome religious nonsense, and is for that reason a hateful work.
Such criticism is not so much inadequate as superfluous, irrelevant, however brilliantly written it may be. It embodies a fundamental non-comprehension of what art is. As a result, what Nietzsche says about Wagner could be read as even remotely plausible only by someone who is either unacquainted with Wagner's works or is impervious to their artistic merits...The resulting situation puts me in mind of the illuminating experience I had, at one point of my life, of being a theatre critic. Having been to all the theatre press nights myself, I was in the unusual position of having already seen the plays when I read reviews of them. And I discovered, perhaps not surprisingly, that one or two of my fellow critics were consistently penetrating judges of plays, productions and performances, while rather more of them (in my opinion, at least) were not, and kept missing the point or getting things wrong. However, some of the latter were brilliant journalists, and wrote articles that were a delight to read, whereas the best of the former was a pedestrian writer, and wrote dull articles. And I found that the ninety-nine per cent of readers who were in the position of reading the reviews without having seen the plays tended to assume that the brilliant writers were the best critics. In the absence of independent knowledge of what was being written about I suppose this was inevitable. Even I sometimes got great pleasure from reading their articles, when I knew these were being grossly unfair to a particular performance (as John Gielgud once said about reading Kenneth Tynan's reviews, 'it's wonderful if it isn't you') or were completely failing to give a true impression of the artistic merits of the play....[The criticisms'] decisive flaw lies in the fact that he never addresses himself to Wagner's works as works of art. He engages with them, at least when he is criticising them, only on the level of conceptual thinking, as if the works were first and foremost vehicles for ideas."

To translate into Star Trek terms (and I have insisted on this point repeatedly), to underrate a show or and episode because one does not agree with its ideas is both useless and cruel, but, conversely, to praise a work because one agrees with its ideas or its subversion of ideas with which one does not agree is equally useless and cruel. I do not idolise Star Trek because I am a communist or even because I hope for a future in which discrimination, poverty and greed-centric existence is all-but fossilised (although I happen to), but for the mythical resonance of this universe which happens to include those ideas. DS9 (and, to a lesser extent, "Yesterday's Enterprise") capitalised on the subversion of ideas integral to the Star Trek universe. If you remove those subversions, in some cases you're left with still great material (for example in DS9, Odo's character arc, or in YE, as I said, Tasha's character arc). In DS9's case, without those subversions, the series would collapse in on itself with insufficiently substantial characters or motivations. In YE's case, I don't believe that to be so. Nonetheless, it keeps the episode from being truly "great."

You did not bring up Voyager, but this ties in rather presciently. Those who criticised the show (including Jammer) harp continuously on what are perceived to be the series' "failed" ideas rather than its artistic merits. "Reset button" complaints and missing continuity, etc are endlessly ridiculed because they conflict with assumed ideas about what TV and that show in particular were supposed to convey.
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
I thought "Yesterday's Enterprise" was the apex of great Trek. Every single moment is wisely utilized. The confrontation between Picard and Guinan is riveting. I'm surprised they didn't do a two-parter, but I'm glad it was contained in one episode. Brilliant how they worked that.

Loved the ending, too, with Guinan and Geordi. "Tell me about Tasha Yar."
Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Interestingly, I think something was cut from this episode that could have made it even stronger.

There's a LOT of tension between Riker and Picard, but there's never a full-blown confrontation. I think one was cut ...

Watch the scene with Yar, Castillo, Riker and Picard. As Castillo and Yar leave, the camera has a brief shot of Riker looking at Picard. It LOOKS like he's about to start talking -- possibly objecting to the captain's decisions.

Obviously, the episode is amazingly good, but Riker and Picard butting heads might have made for interesting watching. The Picard/Riker dynamic in the first half of the series is one of TNG's strengths, and I think Riker's marginalization in the latter seasons (particularly season 7) is one of the reasons TNG really ran out of gas.
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm sorry, I just can't get behind the idea of this being a "classic." Are we to believe that in an alternate timeline, with years of terrible bloodshed, the Enterprise would be built entirely the same and with mostly the same crew? Preposterous! I give this one and a half stars, mostly for the performances.
Tue, Dec 25, 2012, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
I just rewatched this episode, and it is a classic - very good story, music and execution.

The plot has its problems, as do most episodes dealing with time travel.

Regarding the "mysticism" behind Guinan's hunches, I find it easier to accept than some other similar issues I've identified in my recent rewatching of the series. In the end, I conclude that Star Trek, TNG at the very least, is not Science-Fiction. It's Fantasy. It occurs in the future instead of the past, like other science fiction shows, but its mechanics are more akin to pseudoscientific fantasy mumbo-jumbo than more serious Science-Fiction.

Take as an example the workings of the sensors. They can scan ships going at warp speed that are light-years distant? In seconds? Not only does this make no sense in a relativistic Universe, it's not even self-consistent!

And Troi's "empathy" isn't more believable either, she might as well have magic powers! She can feel a person's emotions over light-years or in front of her at the same speed? How does that work exactly?

So I take it as fantasy and enjoy the show.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
I'm with's ludicrous that the greater setting is so different, but the immediate setting and the cast of characters are all the same.

It's the same thing that makes the mirror universe episodes ridiculous.
Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
I strongly believe that "Yesterday's Enterprise" was an instant classic in the true sense of the term. I am coming from the angle of the time in which it aired.

I am a real old time Trekker. I was born in 1955, so I was old enough to remember first hand the original series first run, (on an old dial-in-the-color TV). I really became a follower in the beginning of the 70s when ST was carried daily on
syndication. I was in my late teens going to the first ST conventions (accedently bumping into
Gene Roddenberry backstage behind the curtain just before he was about to go on.....I was lost..really!)

When the movies came out, we were in line for hours before showtime. I watched grown men crying when Spock died...which I thought was silly! That was until I was at the drive-in watching the Enterprise blow herself up...I was standing up in my sun-roof shaking my fist and yelling "you cant do that!!!"

So when STNG premiered in 87, me and my friends where hoping for the best, watching each and every episode. However, the first 2 seasons did not really seem to be Trek. There were some episodes that where OK, but nothing that could compare with earlier TOS or movies. People were wondering if the series would actually stay on.

Season 3 came along and there was a gradual improvement. When we arrived at the week before the showing of YE the commercials of the preview alone had us anticipating this episode more than all the previous ones put together. When it aired, we were not at all dissipointed. The story, characters, acting, music and special effects where so much better than anything previous on STNG. For the very first time, here was a Next Generation story that could hold its own against anything the original series had to offer. I still get chills listening to Picard proclaim " Never let history forget the name Enterprise".

Next Generation took off from that and never looked back. By the end of that season, radio stations were debating whether Patrick Stewart would return for season 4 after the Best of Both Worlds. TNG was truly accepted as Star Trek. Shortly thereafter, I was at a ST convention at the Shrine in LA, which was the last time all the original cast gathered as one including Gene Roddenberry in a wheel chair. There was just as much next gen fans, merchandice, excitement there as was the orginal. I believe the turning point was Yesterday's Enterprise.

PS...Van Patton and Elliot...thank you both for showing class in coming together to discuss your differences....refeshing in this age of dissing each other on the net

Ye Olde Fort
Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 4:46am (UTC -5)
unlike others, I have no problem with the so-called improbabilities of Picard making the monumental decision to send the Enterprise-C back through the rift based solely on Guinan's intuition. All it takes is adherence to the temporal prime directive. Guinan is right. That ship does not belong here. That alone justifies the decision to send it back. What doesn't make sense is that Picard allows Tasha Year to go back with the Enterprise-C. Picard resists all of Riker's protests against sending the E-C back but then gives into Yar? All that aside, yes, this is a classic and not only that, but essential viewing if you're to understand why there is a half human half Romulan commander name Sela seen later in the series. There is one minor goof. At the very end when all is well and Guinan asks Geordi about Tasha Year, Geordi is wearing the uniform from the alternate timeline!
Mon, Mar 18, 2013, 12:00am (UTC -5)
YE is one of my favorite episodes of TREK and possibly my favorite episode period. It's always a toss-up between it and the first part of The Best of Both Worlds. I remember reading in a print interview where Rick Berman wish he had saved the idea of YE for a feature film. I'm sure that would have been awesome but as it is it's still a perfectly crafted dramatic hour of television.
The Romulans
Sun, May 5, 2013, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
I remember watching this episode when it first aired. I walked away on a high, wishing I could discuss it, or share it with someone. There aren't many episodes of any show that have made me feel that way. This episode has certainly stuck with me over the years since, a true stand out.

The only episode, to my mind, that has approached this same level of quality so far is Q Who and A Measure Of A Man. Although I am just starting Season 3 now, so maybe there are a few other gems in there.
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
For an episode that begins with Worf dealing with constipation, it turned out ok. But the presence of Yar is an instant removal of 3 stars. Ugh, imagine how terrible this series would have been if Crosby stayed on.
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed the female captain of the Enterprise C. I think she was marvelous in her role. Does anyone else also believe she could have made a good enough Captain Janeway? I wonder if she was ever mentioned as a possible candidate for the captain role on ST Voyager?
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
dipads... I'll second your nomination of Tricia O'Neil as Janeway. While she may have been among the contenders, those specifically named in Poe's "Star Trek Voyager: A Vision of the Future" are: "Blythe Danner, Linda Hamilton, Patsy Kensit, Kate Mulgrew, Susan Gibney, and--among the men--Nigel Havers of Chariots of Fire fame" (267). The possible confusion from O'Neil having played a different Trek role would not have been a strike against her; Susan "Leah Brahms" Gibney was Berman's favorite, even as a back-up for Genevieve Bujold. (The Paramount suits thought Gibney was too young. But that's another story.)
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Jay said:

"It's the same thing that makes the mirror universe episodes ridiculous."

Well, "Crossover" was great...the only character we see "both" of is Kira, which makes a bit of sense since it's Bajor and one could accept that she would have the roles she played in each. We don't see mirror Julian because he'd have absolutely no reason to be near Bajor in that universe.

Beginning with "Through The Looking Glass, though, it all becomes ludicrous as you state, with Benjamin and Jennifer married in both universes, and everyone in the cast (plus Tuvok!) coincidentally gathered together in both, which would simply be absurd.
Sun, Oct 6, 2013, 4:41am (UTC -5)
@Sintek Really? I thought her perfomance in this episode was great.
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 8:26am (UTC -5)
What a fantastic episode! So far the only other ST episode that blew my mind in a similar way was The Menagerie. I'm still in awe.

I think this would have made a great movie. For me, there are not enough stars for this one.
Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
& Jack

Actually, even Crossover is a bit absurd, since mirror O'Brien and mirror Sisko are there and would seemingly have no reason to be near Bajor in that universe. Mirror Odo is a little more plausible, but hard to imagine a Mora counterpart would have taken the time to raise him.
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
Well since "our" Sisko was later shown to have been brought into existence by the very specific machinations of "Sarah Prophet", the notion that this Sisko would exist in another universe stretches all credibility.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
Maybe I need to watch it again, but I couldn't quite keep up with this particular episode's technobabble. I love Guinan's mysticism, that she for some reason knows what is and what is not supposed to be. Granted, this doesn't really go with the whole "alternate dimensions" thing, as in alternate worlds technically speaking all choices would be fate.

Either way, this episode is fun to ponder over, and it was great to see Tasha Yar again.
Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
I remember considering this episode as overrated. Not bad, of course, or even good. I thought it was a very good episode but not quite legendary, mainly because it seemed to try so hard for it. Like Jammer said, it seems to be written to be a classic, bringing back on old character and redesigning all the sets and having big explosions and showing an old Enterprise and just in general trying too hard to be epic. Well, after watching it again, I still think a lot of that. But I found the episode much better than I remembered.

There's still some annoying parts. To some extent, they tried too hard to make things different ("Military log, battle date 43xxx.x" and such), although I liked some of the subtler aspects to make the ship look more militaristic (appearing much more crowded). There's also the oddity of Worf getting called to the bridge because of the big importance of the magic anomaly of the week, but apparently Geordi's still hanging around 10-Forward in order to talk with Guinan afterwards. More importantly, the romance between Tasha and Castillo was a bit forced and seemed unnecessary. I guess it was an excuse to give Denise Crosby more screen time, but it distracted a bit from everything else. But the rest of the episode works.

To me, it seems to mirror Defector in some ways. Both episodes to some extent ask the question of what is worth dying for. In Defector, Picard was willing to die for the Federation, but was fortunately able to convince Tomalak that an escalation of the war was not worth such a sacrifice on his end. Here, he is willing to sacrifice his life, both in battle and in its very existence, in order to change the past and prevent a war from ever starting. In both cases, he gives a short uplifting message of bravado that makes one realize that they are a part of something great, something more important than one's own life. The bravery of Capt. Garret and her crew was similar. There's a real sense of honor and virtue in these episodes, which helps them along. And a real sense of things and events being important. "Let history never forget the name Enterprise."

While the method of the Enterprise-C changing history was probably necessary to enhance the theme of sacrifice, it also works in this case. I'm glad Data brought up the (likely) method of how the Ent-C saved the peace between Klingons and Federation. Presumably, the Klingons were having quite a bit of problems with the Romulans at this time (isn't this roughly the same time as the Khitomer attack?). Presumably they solved that issue, as the Romulans were insular for another 20 years. So the Klingons now had a choice of what to do with the Federation. But the Ent-C displayed a tremendous amount of personal honor, something the Klingons would undoubtedly have respected. It was the Federation's committment to justice and mercy even at the expense of their own lives that led to a lasting peace. Regardless of the differences between the Klingon moral ethos and the Federation's, the Klingons could recognize that honor. And honored it in return. So I disagree with Elliott that this episode suggests "random chance" led to the wonderful future. It was a committment to values. Both in the past and in the alternate present. That still seems pretty optimistic to me.

I do think that it was somewhat of a cheat to have the Federation on the verge of losing the war. To go back to the Hitler analogy, it would make more sense for us to go back in time to try to stop WW2 if the Nazis had won than the outcome we know. So it lessens the impact of Picard and Garret's decision a bit. On the other hand, it provides an in-universe reason for Picard and Riker to be so angry in the episode (great acting by both of them by the way). It may even be the reason behind their antagonism towards each other; Picard might know that the Federation is doomed, while Riker may think that there's still a chance and thus an extra ship would be useful.
Stelios Arianoutsos
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
Ethical bug: What if Federation was winning the war?
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Count me in the "What a great classic" side. I loved almost every moment of it. From the difference in tone with your usual Enterprise crew, lighting, and the dialogue of everyone.

Even Yar! She was pretty good here and I was glad to have her back (just for one episode). This is probably Denise Crosby's best performance so far (up to mid S4, I'm aware she comes back later on).

I was also bugged a bit by the mystical reasons Guinan gave in order to come back to the "right" timeline.

I'd have liked some more details, like "I can't say what's right or wrong, but I feel like there's a time when this war didn't happen, and the Federation is in an alliance with the Klingon empire". Well, maybe that's too specific, but still sounds more serious than just a feeling, no matter how strong.

Now, it seems to me that Picard decision to follow through with Guinan's idea wasn't all that out of character, in this context. Everyone was so pragmatic and moody in that universe than when somebody came in and say there's a better way, even when it applies more to emotion than reason, Picard must have thought: "Ok, it's worth a shot since we're losing the war, anyway."

Picard has a strong respect and trust in Guinan's words. And that's not out of character at all. Just remember the climax of "A Matter of Honor", when the Enterprise "surrenders" to the Klingon Ship. There was an unspoken pact of trust betweeen Captain and Number One for that to happen. This isn't any different.

It's a leap of faith, but based on mutual respect and that's very Trek, imo.
Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
This is traditional Star Trek's high point, a classic of hope, choices that matter, and the human spirit.

@Elliot, Nietzsche's flaw was his unrelenting need to prove self despite the overwhelming truth of the "whole", not the group or the selective distinction human's place on their own beliefs and taste, but existence itself in his pursuit is pushed aside for a view. I want to warn you that applying Nietzsche without understanding his flaw to accept existence will reduce your ability, not expand it.

In essence, TV shows are singular, but must also be valued with the sum of their parts.

Yesterday Enterprise represents the sum of Star Trek in the 1990's TNG. There is a certain parallelism that holds the story together, but something that is parallel does not need to be different in order to be enjoyed. A parallel is a self-reflection and introspection on things familiar; though different based on perspective.

If the Federation had been at War with the Klingons for 20 years, the war would have forced certain things to happen on a different path. However, based on Star Trek's own predestination paradoxes, there is an innate natural movement towards certain things and certain groups. The Enterprise exists as an anchoring point for this universe (In a fact, it is, since the show revolves around this ship and other ships like it. In essence, if one assumes the writers are God-apparent in the Star Trek universe, then the ship and crew will always come together to fit the meaning, which God, the Writers, would designate).
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like this episode. First, I'm not a big fan of time travel stories. They tend to be full of paradoxes. At first, Picard is wary of interacting with the other Enterprise, stating that it may lead to a time paradox, but they do it anyway and there are of course no time altering consequences, as is usual in those types of episodes. Everything's back to normal at the end, ready for the next show.

Kurgan said: "Are we to believe that in an alternate timeline, with years of terrible bloodshed, the Enterprise would be built entirely the same and with mostly the same crew? "

Absolutely true. It reminded me of the DS9 alternate universe, which I hate.

I can't say that I liked the idea of having Guinan's intuition play such an important role here. I like it better when the characters solve their problems through logic.

And the episode never addressed the question that Picard 2.0 might not want to go back to being old Picard. Presumably, he's lived a completely different life and the Enterprise has never done anything featured in past episodes because the timeline is completely different and the Enterprise is a warship. So, wouldn't Picard 2.0, who has no idea who Picard 1.0 is, really want to go back to his original reality? He would be destroying himself and his memories. The more you think about these time travel episodes, the less sense they make. The alternate timeline is just treated as the gimmick of the week.

And there's Tasha Yar. She's not horrible here, just bad, but we are reminded that TNG is much better without her. Her wooden performance doomed the little love story. I noticed that we don't see her face full on after the kiss scene, probably because the director noticed that she was completely incapable of conveying emotion. I also didn't like that the episode felt like a forced attempt to give Tasha a meaningful death retroactively.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
@Trekker :

"...applying Nietzsche without understanding his flaw to accept existence will reduce your ability, not expand it."

I find this warning rather dubious considering I used Nietzsche specifically to demonstrate what Magee called the "rejecting of understanding." I applied Nietzsche in the negative which is perhaps still relevant, but I'm afraid I missed something in your post.
Wed, May 21, 2014, 5:16am (UTC -5)
This episode's ability to instigate a debate on Nietzschean aesthetics is a clear testament to its status as a classic.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
I remember vividly watching this in 1990 when it first aired. At that time I was pretty down on STNG as were most of my friends and family (big fans of the original series and who had high hopes for the new series). This episode totally blew the roof off STNG up to that point and really showed how good the program could be. I really see it as the turning point for STNG. After that, the series became much more interesting to me.
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
First off I enjoyed this episode thoroughly and have seen every TNG DS9 Voyager and Enterprise episode including all movies.
The flaws:
Space is vast. No one seemed intrigued that it was the ENTERPRISE D and no other starship that "happen to come upon" the ENTERPRISE C at that point in time in the vastness of space? Uncanny no one pointed this out.

Secondly, why would a Federation battleship in a time of war be traveling alone and not part of a squadron or small fleet(4-10) vessels like a powerful navy would utilize. Apparently the Klingons use a squadron of vessels 3 vs 1 Federation vessel.

Third, the way the ENTERPRISE D utilized it's firepower. Firing photons only once? If anyone watched episode 51 The Survivors the Enterprise D unleashed quite a volley on the mysterious and powerful attacking vessel.
A couple volleys like this would disable or destroy 2 Klingon ships in the first 2 volleys leaving it as a 1on1.

Any thoughts feel free to comment I look forward to replies.
Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Wow, finally someone, with my same name, that pointed out my biggest gripe of this show! You're tell me that the flagship of the Federation after episodes like the survivors, q who, the best of both worlds, couldn't mop up three 20 year old warbirds?

Don't get me started on Generations...
Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 1:39am (UTC -5)
They looked like warbirds but they were heavy battle cruisers.
Why the Enterprise did not use photon torpedoes after the first spread?
Perhaps the rift in space....they did not want to destabilize it?
They knew the Klingons were on the way. No other Federation vessel could assist? Yes it is a time of war but this was an unusual event to put it mildly!!
Comments welcome
Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Actually I distinctly remember the Enterprise-D firing a 3-torpedo volley at least once during the battle. And since Starfleet had suffered such severe losses they likley didn't have enough ships to put Enterprise in a squadron. But all that is secondary to the big moral question- If Enterprise-C did go back in time they *might* save a lot of other people's lives, but they'd be all but guaranteeing certain death for themselves. A lot of people couldn't make that kind of gamble.
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
I have to admit, this one baffles me. I hate to be such a dissenter, but I'd have a hard time giving this one more than 2.5 stars. I do think there is a decent idea at the core of this episode. But both the writing and the execution are just not good.

You have Guinan driving the entire conflict of the plot. It's one thing for Picard to listen to her (even if he adamantly refuses at first, and is offered no reasons for changing his mind). But how is Picard listening to Guinan (or not) related to the EntC crew deciding/agreeing to return? There were lots of interesting ways this decision could have been reached, but what we actually got fell flat to me.

Beyond that decision, the rest of the episode is fluff. The battle is intense, but it can have no lasting consequences for its characters if it's won. It's also a bit contrived for the warbirds to show up at the last minute, but not before. Minor complaint, but still there. Much worse is the decision by someone (writer? producer?) to give Yar the love story that eats so much of the screentime. The poor girl isn't an ATROCIOUS actress, but she's definitely not good, and putting her into such an emotionally complex situation only highlights her lack of acting abilities. And to what purpose? Yar deciding to go back would have worked just as well with nothing but the Guinan conversation (which itself was somewhat sloppy writing). Why did this love story need to be there?

I'm sorry to rant so much on what seems to be such a beloved episode, but I honestly cannot for the life of me see why this one gets as much acclaim as it does.
Jack O
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
So the Enterprise D, "our" Enterpise shifts into another timline. But the people on board are still of the same age. Wesley Crusher wears a Starfleet uniform, so that means a underage kid is a full member of a warship? Who would have thought Starfleet would make military use of children....
Kid Marine
Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Surely "Twilight" would be Enterprise's equivalent, not E2.
Fri, Jan 2, 2015, 2:49am (UTC -5)
A splendid episode with an epic story. Of course it's full of holes--you can't really do a time travel or "temporal rift" story without them, because the whole idea doesn't make sense anyway. I had to go back in the beginning to try to wrap my head around what I was watching: a darker-looking bridge, a similar yet very different ship, Tasha Yar standing where Worf was a second ago. Once I realized the ship had just entered an alternate existence simply by approaching the rift, I was riveted.

I imagine the the impact of this episode was greater in its time, when it was a new high for TNG in many ways. It's clearly not perfect--the way Guinan convinces Picard to send the ship back on no evidence is weak. Why would Picard act solely on her gut feelings if he and others did not also sense something deeply wrong? But it's still a pleasure to watch. Memorable, emotional, and daring. I'd give it three and a half.
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Michael, you're really gonna nitpick the battle based on how many photons the Enterprise fired? That's the worst attribute of Trek Fandom right there, thinking that technobabble should drive the story rather than serve the story.

You can justify it easily enough, the limits of a TV budget and special effects technology at the time, but why bother? The ultimate point is that the Enterprise is fighting a hopeless battle for a greater cause. Three on One are long odds, she's doomed the minute they decide to stand rather than run, but they survive long enough to accomplish their mission and even take some of the bad guys with them.

If you think this episode would have been better with a drawn out CGI rendered wank fest like Nemesis (or, dare I say it, Sacrifice of Angels) I'm afraid you've missed the point entirely.
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 10:17am (UTC -5)
I'm not a huge fan of this episode I'd say good not great. Time travel always loses a bit of luster and Denise Crosby was never a favorite of mine. It does have an epic quality to it. Patrick Stewart has some great acting in this, I also like the actress Enterprise-C captain. I do give credit for having an episode where the stars align; Tasha Yar's death and a temporally aware Guinan were well used. I know some people think this would make a good two-parter. Not really, a lot of it is padding to establish the Yar relationship anyway. I suppose they could have had Worf as one of the attacking Klingons as well as scenes in the time rift but I think a one parter is enough.
Mon, May 25, 2015, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
I love this episode as well, though there are a few plausibility issues.

Many commenters have mentioned Guinan's "mystic" perception that the timeline is not right. But the question that I had on my mind is why Picard never bothers to ask her a very simple question: "Why haven't you had this feeling before? Why now?" After all, from Picard's and Guinan's perspective, they've lived in that timeline their entire life. Guinan suddenly deciding that the timeline is incorrect when the Enterprise shows up would seem odd to me, if I were Picard.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
All right, let's just get it out of the way, shall we? I have a major problem with this episode. In fact, I've always thought that this was one of the most over-rated episodes in the entire franchise. Is it good? Yes, undoubtedly. Is it great? No. Is it the best of the best? Hardly. From some reactions to it I've seen and read (not just here but from other fan sites as well), you would think people would be willing to give this episode an infinity out of ten score.

The reason I have such a problem with "Yesterday's Enterprise" is quite simple - what they did with Tasha Yar in it. Yar's meaningless death in "Skin of Evil" was easily the best moment in the god-awful first season and possibly one of the gutsiest decisions in all of Trek. Having a main character die a senseless death is something Trek writers seem adamantly opposed to doing. Spock gets a hero's death. Data gets a hero's death. Jadiza Dax gets a hero's death. Kirk gets a hero's death. Even nu-Kirk gets a, admittedly short, hero's death in "Star Trek into Darkness." You can say that you don't like the way in which those deaths were executed (no pun intended) but I can't see how anybody can say that they weren't intended to be chances for the characters to go out in blazes of glory.

With Yar, on the other hand, we were given something we were never given before and haven't been given since. Her death was simple; it was common and ordinary. She didn't get to go out with guns blazing and she didn't get the hero's send-off. In my mind, that makes her much more of a relatable character. Not everyone gets to have a cliched hero's demise. In fact, it's pretty rare. Death can take anybody at a moments notice without warning. You can be completely at unawares and then BOOM - you're dead. That's life and I wish Star Trek (which prides itself on examining the human condition) would show that more often. A huge part of the human condition is senseless, meaningless death.

Now, this isn't to say that Yar's death was handled perfectly in my opinion. "Skin of Evil" is by no means a perfect episode. Far from it! But the idea that one of the main characters could have a senseless death has always appealed to me.

Then along comes "Yesterday's Enterprise" and completely ruins that. We can't, simply can not, have one of our main characters have that meaningless death. So, let's do a time travel story where she's still alive in an alternate timeline and gets to charge into battle with guns blazing and get that noble, heroic death that apparently every single person deserves. Well, every person except Captain Garrett and alternate-Riker, who die simply because they were near exploding panels. But not Yar! Oh God, not Yar! She MUST have her noble self-sacrifice! This absolutely destroys the one humanizing aspect they gave the character (because, let's fact it, they really didn't do anything else of note with Yar while she was on the show).

I realize that most people don't share this opinion of mine and think that Yar's death in this episode is one of the things that elevates this into all-time classic territory. But, I'm sorry, this REALLY annoys me.

Now, like I said, this isn't a bad episode, far from it. The acting is top-notch across the board (yes, even from Denise Crosby). The contrast between the peaceful Enterprise and the more militaristic Enterprise of the altered timeline is very well done and gives the episode an unbelievably evocative and memorable atmosphere. The question of whether it's preferable for 100+ people we know to die in order to save 40 billion people we only hear about second-hand is fascinating - a wonderful moral dilemma for our heroes to face. And the world-building of how the Federation and the Klingon Empire came to be allies is nicely executed (but then, I'm a sucker for world-building).

If they had just let the Yar subplot out, then I probably would rate this episode close to a 10 out of 10. But, as it sits....

Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 10:15am (UTC -5)
You could say that Jadzia's death was pretty pointless. I mean she just happened to be standing in the way of Dukat and the Orb, not really a hero's death IMO.

And because of this, Worf and etc. went on a dangerous raiding mission just a couple episodes later- because to him Jadzia lacked a death worthy of Sto'vol Kor.

Other than that, I agree with you.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
She died while attempting to capture a war criminal. I'll agree that the execution of the idea was lacking (couldn't they have had her put up something of a fight) but it's still something of a hero's death. She didn't just get zapped to death out of nowhere.
Fri, Jun 5, 2015, 6:58am (UTC -5)
For what it's worth I think Jadzia was straight up murdered and that this episode doesn't take away from "Skin Of Evil", even though I totally agree with you :)

Having a main character die the kind of death that is usually fit for a "red shirt" shows that this job is DANGEROUS. That's a good thing.

That said... Tasha is still dead. She wasn't resurrected and made to die a new death. It didn't rewrite her death. And actually... if you think about fate... if Sela's story is true, this Tasha was straight up pointlessly murdered also :-(
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 11:51am (UTC -5)
I still remember when I first saw this episode. I remember being completely and utterly confused. Apparently I wasn't paying very close attention; I missed the start, the setup for it. And then the whole thing was lost on me. But I remembered it for being "very different" and not boring.

Years later I got to see it again, and I was able to absorb all the subtleties of the plot in context. This is one of my favorite episodes of the series, namely because it was ballsy. It was ambitious and risky, and generally well written. I agree with a few commentator, few moments of screen time were wasted. But I strongly disagree in calling this a "time travel" episode. There was no time travel, just a giant, universal paradigm shift.

I admit I'm easy to please. I tend to take the shows like STTNG that I watch at face value. As a viewer, the show is dictating the canon, and up to me to take it and interpret it for what it is. Over-thinking entertainment seems self-defeating to me. It's pretty hard for a plotline to "jump the shark" for me, or otherwise sever my suspension of disbelief and common sense. My least favorite episodes (e.g. Emergence) are few but demonstrate crossing that line. This episode never gets close. I even found the the "instant" return of Yar a delightful surprise (shock?), though I was never one to hate her character as others have. I think she was expertly weaved into the plot.

In hindsight, is it logical that things would be so similar to how they were in the "normal" timeline? Probably not. But with all the strange things I've seen in my life, it doesn't press its luck with me. The only thing, in hindsight, that bothers me is that (in the "normal" timeline) it sets up Star Fleet going without a ship named Enterprise for nearly 20 years. That strikes me as grossly unlikely.

The other-timeline Yar being captured by the Romulans is an intriguing concept in the context of the physics of universe and time. Unfortunately, I see it as in vain as Crosby's subsequent appearances didn't bold well with me. I guess that suggests to me she should have not traveled back wtih "C" to begin wtih.
Sun, Aug 9, 2015, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
I was blown away by this episode when i saw it over christmas when i was 16, it was episodes like this that turned me into a Star Trek fan for life, i think this episode works best when you watch it after the earlier episodes.
Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode would have made a great two-parter WITHOUT GUINAN.

I'm probably one of the few Trekkies who never liked Guinan. But this episode would have been decidedly better without her.

Picard is already speculating that a Federation starship being destroyed in the defense of a Klingon outpost could have prevented the war BEFORE the second confrontation with Guinan. And Data is making that observation as well in the briefing.

What Guinan effectively does it not so much advance the story by telling Picard something is wrong, rather she is ultimately giving him the moral cover he needs to make the decision to send the Enterprise-C back.

I would have loved a more pacing revelation of things. While they're getting the Enterprise-C ready for battle in the 24th Century -- which is futile, they already mention that if the Enterprise-D went back to the battle with 4 Romulan warbirds they'd have no chance against her weapons - so how is the Enterprise-C doing to make a dent into a modern Klingon warship?! -- they begin to discuss the possibility that escaping the battle caused an alternate history.

Picard and Captain Garret will then have to make a truly brave decision to go back - not because some supernatural bartender tells them it's the right thing to do, but because logic dictates it. And logic is a cold mistress.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:36am (UTC -5)
I think Guinan was probably necessary for Picard to think that the plan had any merit in the first place. I don't see Picard as someone who would normally endorse the notion of using time travel to undo an unfavorable event or series of events. Guinan made the case that sending the Enterprise-C back was actually *reversing* an accidental manipulation of the timeline rather than initiating the manipulation.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 11:06am (UTC -5)
@ Roman / "so how is the Enterprise-C doing to make a dent into a modern Klingon warship?!"

That's not the point though, it's to show the Klingons that a Federation ship would be willing to fight to the death in a lost cause (something most Klingons would respect of course). If you can respect your enemies, that might open the door to future negotiations for peace which is what likely happened.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio - Agreed. I always thought it was a butterfly effect story, not a direct cause->effect thing. Like, one Klingon ship found the wreckage of a Federation starship, pulverized with Romulan disruptor fire, found the "black box", figured out what happened and was impressed enough to collect the bodies and deliver them back to a Starfleet ship.

The Captain of the Starfleet ship had a brother on the Enterprise C and the Klingon Captain and he share a moment of mutual respect. Years later they are both stodgy Admirals and meet to fight over something or other, remember each other and take a different path. One stone plopped in a lake makes a billion ripples and all that.
Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 9:26am (UTC -5)
@Roman - I think you underestimate the trust Picard has for Guinan. Guinan's "hunches" are always spot-on, which I've always assumed, for lack of a better explanation, is because of the species she comes from.

I honestly don't think Picard would have gone through with the Enterprise-C going back in time if it hadn't been for Guinan saying it was absolutely necessary. This nagged at him, and changed his perception enough that instead of sending the Enterprise-C into battle (which it was clear they WERE going to do, whether or not the ship would have been "hopeless" in such a battle), he actually took time to think about his decision at many levels, and then finally decided that if there was a chance that the Enterprise-C could "fix" the timeline, it should be sent back.

As someone on the thread said before, the temporal prime directive would apply here, even if the concept itself didn't really exist at this point in Trek. Because Picard had an idea that he was FIXING the timeline rather than deliberately changing it, he was willing to do it. And the idea of fixing the timeline came directly from Guinan. Logic, in this instance, could have gone either way. It was Guinan's certainty that made Picard decide to do what he did.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 6:50am (UTC -5)
Playing on those classic Trek themes of hope and nobility and self-sacrifice this is utter genius, establishing a pitch perfect alternate reality in which the standard contrivances of week to week TNG can be credibly tossed aside and we can watch our heroes fight and die for a greater purpose.

While many have criticised Yar's return for giving the character a "TV death", for me it is worth it for the wonderfully queasy first scene with Guinan. There is a lot of quality acting going on here too - the tense, snappy, pressurised Picard standing apart from his command staff a particular highlight. Garrett and Castillo are also strong supporting characters (indeed, if there is one shame in the episode it is that Garrett is killed off too early).

We're also given a wonderful battle scene conclusion, finally seeing the VFX fully step up to the plate, culminating in Picard leaping to the phaser controls as the bridge burns around him. The sets and lighting wonderfully portray the military Enterprise, not least of which for the single Captain's chair front and centre - this is not a command staff democracy, and there is no place for a ship's counselor...

And, lest we forget in what follows, we have probably the funniest cold opening yet as Worf discovers prune juice ("a warrior's drink!") and laments the fragility of the crew's female contingent.

With Q Who, this for me was the episode that re-defined what TNG was capable of - an unreserved 4 stars.

Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 8:23am (UTC -5)
The storytelling, acting, pacing, and especially, the music here are absolutely incredible. This is the apex of science fiction television.

For those quibbling about time travel or Guinan's so-called "mysticism", well, respectfully, it's science fiction! Of course there are some logical flaws. Mysticism and the supernatural are inherent to the genre. This is a story with heart. One of the best ever for the series.

"Geordi, tell me about...Tasha Yar."
Ben Franklin
Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure why people have a hard time with Guinan's ability to consciously transcend space-time and to have a glimpse of a parallel universe. The writers have consciously chosen to keep Guinan a mystery... a special character if you will... instead of giving her a proper backstory and character arc of her own. She is not a primary character, after all. The Q are able to do things that no one in the Trek universe can comprehend, yet we all love the Q episodes (most of them) and Q in general. The fact that Q and Guinan seem to have a very adversarial stance towards each other coupled with the fact that Q considers her to be "a very dangerous creature" tells me that Guinan simply has abilities that we, and the Enterprise crew, cannot readily comprehend.

I love this episode. We get a little more Tasha, we get some play with dimensions and time. We get some moral ambiguity. And we get some great performances. The one thing that always irked me is the fact that Guinan was on the alternate-universe Enterprise *at all*. What was a bartender doing on a warship? They didn't even have access to the replicators (eating rations etc), what use would they have for a bartender? I was in the Navy and you better believe if there was a civilian on our boat, it wasn't a bartender... more likely to be CIA or something like that. Guinan should not have been on board the alternate-universe Enterprise at all. The story could've moved forward with Picard and Data's usual deference to logic and logical thought. As some posters have mentioned previously, Picard had already alluded to the possibility that the presence of Enterprise-C could have messed up their time line. Data could've assuaged any moral dilemma that Picard was dealing with.

Again, I'd give this episode a solid 4 stars but I am definitely irked by the very presence of Guinan on a Federation warship during wartime when things are so bad that they have shut down replicators and are living on rations.

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