Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"A Matter of Time"


Air date: 11/18/1991
Written by Rick Berman
Directed by Paul Lynch

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A cheerful man named Professor Berlinghoff Rasmussen (Matt Frewer, of Max Headroom fame at the time) appears before the Enterprise in a small shuttlecraft and claims he is a historian from the 26th century ... and that he has traveled back to the 24th century to witness history — specifically today — as it unfolds. Meanwhile, the Enterprise rushes to help a planet in terrible danger from atmospheric dust caused from an asteroid impact. A nuclear winter may be imminent. They must figure out a way to save the planet and its population of millions from the environmental catastrophe.

"A Matter of Time" is a story that stares the notion of a time paradox in the face and hope it blinks. The crew wants to know why Rasmussen has picked this day, of all days, to learn about the Enterprise and the 24th century. Rasmussen cites what is essentially the Temporal Prime Directive in explaining why he cannot drop any hints about what will happen or how the crew is involved in it. Could it possibly be tied to the planet facing the imminent catastrophe and the decisions Picard will have to make that could save or doom millions?

There's a scene midway through this episode between Picard and Rasmussen that is clearly meant as the centerpiece of the show, where Picard asks Rasmussen for help, and they argue over the ethics of Picard gaining access to information from the future if it means maybe saving millions of lives. It's one of those earnest Trekkian dialogue pieces that seems to be really striving to get somewhere thoughtful and interesting ... but it doesn't quite find its way to a point. Through all of Picard's pontificating and Rasmussen's evasions, they're ultimately just talking in circles and nothing is gained. Eventually I was waiting for crazed Doc Brown to show up, shouting, "It's your kids, Marty! Something's gotta be done about your kids!"

And if there's a bigger problem with "A Matter of Time," it's Rasmussen himself. It becomes difficult to stand the guy after a while, particularly once we know he's up to something fishy (we see him stealing components from various places on the ship). He's the sort of guy who finds an obnoxious and condescending way to make an allegedly wondrous 24th century historic moment all about ... himself. He claims to be a history buff, but he seems more like an overbearing kid trying to shoplift in a candy store while telling you how awesome you are. I tend to think a real observer from the 26th century wouldn't divulge the truth of his origins to those he's observing, and you'd think Picard would be more skeptical given that logical loophole. How does the saying go? You can't study something without inadvertently affecting its outcome. That goes double for time travel. Hell, just talking to Picard could cause the entire future to be erased (like it was/is/will be in Star Trek XI).

I guess we're supposed to find Rasmussen annoying, so we can enjoy the twist and his undoing; it turns out he's actually a con man from the 22nd century, who stole the time shuttle from a guy who was really from the 26th century and came to the 24th century to steal gadgets he could travel back in time to "invent." The scene where the crew confronts him over his thefts is kind of fun. (Data, making a matter-of-fact threat: "I suspect your hand will activate the panel that opens the door whether or not you are conscious.") But I must protest: If you cause a guy from the 22nd century to become trapped in the 24th century, haven't you just changed the past? Or was it always that way???

Previous episode: Unification
Next episode: New Ground

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28 comments on this review

Nic - Sat, Apr 2, 2011 - 3:43pm (USA Central)
You can tell this part was originally written for Robin Williams. Frewer is a good actor, but he just doesn't have enough bazinga to carry the full hour.
Matt L. - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 8:32pm (USA Central)
Just a little nitpick, but I think it's been well established by now that the future wasn't erased in XI.

Rather the timelines branched off so that you have two separate universes. This is one of the common theories to explain how time travel might be possible without creating a paradox.

This has nothing to do with the problems of this episode of course. I agree with everything you say. Just thought I'd correct the above misconception.
Nick Poliskey - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 10:42am (USA Central)
I always thought this episode was under-rated. This is actually my favourite episode of season 5. I think it is much more clever than people give credit.

First, I here alot of critiscm from the paradox pushers that be being so annoying and loud he was altering the past. I think one thing that never gets mentioned is the obvious fact that if the Enterprise and the Planet are utterly Annihilated!! Right! There is no future to change if no one that meets him is dead. That kept running through my head for the first 40 minutes of this ep when i first watched it. It never gets credit for that.

Second, and following from the first, so what if he steal trinkets? It's not like he was sabotaging engineering. I would be a real historian would find his actions quite realistic, particularily, with the knowledge the Enterprise was in her final hours. I mean seriously, if any of us could Marty McFly back to the last supper of Jesus, we wouldn't try to take a plate or a fork he ate with????

Lastly, I think there is an obsession with robin williams. Look, he is an annoying baffoon. I am so glad he didn't end up being here. If he was here you wouldn't be able to get "Mork on the Enterprise" out of your head the whole episode. Frewer does a fine job of dorky future/past scientist.
Marvin - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 6:17pm (USA Central)
If I Marty McFly-ed back to the Last Supper, I think it'd be his cup I'd have my eye on... ;-)
Elliott - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 6:51pm (USA Central)
Ick. This episode is emblematic of how TNG really had little left to say by this point. This episode is slow, empty and pointless. Picard's speech has none of the staying power of his season 1 speeches, which (though couched in bright, dated and often poorly executed episodes) meant something profound and worthwhile. Stewart as always gives an excellent delivery, but the content is just one big "?"

1 star.
Carbetarian - Tue, May 31, 2011 - 7:19am (USA Central)

Really, season one? I agree this episode goes nowhere. But, really? Season one??? The season that featured such unforgettable writing as Tasha's D.A.R.E. Speech? Ok...
Elliott - Tue, Aug 23, 2011 - 2:47am (USA Central)

EAFP: "The same old story is the one we're meeting now-- self-righteous life-forms who are eager not to learn, but to prosecute to judge anything they don't understand or can't tolerate."

Justice : Data: "Would you choose one life over one-thousand, sir?" Picard : "I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that."

My personal favourite however is "Shut up Wesley!"
TH - Thu, Sep 8, 2011 - 8:30pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: with respect, none of those are "speeches". They are one-liners. Exclamations. He had some good speeches, but few if any in the first season.

I liked this episode; with respect, I note the paradox in your reviews that if you like an episode you will forgive the conceits that you will pick on if you didn't like an episode. In that vein, I say that the whole temporal analysis may be a plot hole or a paradox or unlikely, but I accept that conceit given the plot. Besides, remember that this guy is not, in fact, from the 26th century. He’s just pretending. It doesn’t mean he will get everything right. He (I imagine) picked a random day to come to the 24th century.

I think 2.5-3 stars is a fair rating for this one. As you say, ultimately there is no true moral debate here that goes anywhere, mainly because the Doc doesn’t actually have the answers. The episode becomes more about him than about the ‘nail biting’ problem the Enterprise faces. Probably because we all know that the planet won’t end up destroyed. That’s just not TNG. Because Picard must go without the Doc’s advice, there’s no moral issue because things work out anyway. Had the planet been destroyed or Picard chosen some negative path BECAUSE of the Doc’s refusal to help, there would be consequences, but ultimately it’s all for naught.
Nathan - Wed, Sep 28, 2011 - 3:54pm (USA Central)
Obviously his remaining in the Picard era did change the future, since the events in TOS episode Assignment: Earth never happened.
Kefka - Tue, Jul 10, 2012 - 6:00pm (USA Central)
Boy does this episode suck. The whole conversation with Picard about breaking the time line is totally out of character and the professor is really annoying, this and the wedding episode are the worst of season 5.
Patrick - Sat, Sep 1, 2012 - 12:14am (USA Central)
It's too bad there wasn't a retroactive call-back to this episode in Star Trek: Enterprise what with Rasmussen being from the 22nd century. (They could work "The Pegasus" in, but not this episode?)

Thankfully, ST:ENT stuck with the continuity from this episode in the sense that they didn't have surgical fields and phasers as mentioned by Worf and Crusher. Also in "The Outcast" it was mentioned that the Federation was founded in 2161. which they also kept for Enterprise.
mephyve - Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 9:44pm (USA Central)
Every program has its filler episodes. This is just one of STTNG's. That is except for the fact that Picard ignored the Prime Directive again. Imo he should have ignored it in the episode in which the Crystalline Entity was destroyed. Ignoring it here reeked of unwarranted desperation. His reasoning about taking advantage of all the resources available, rang hollow, especially after Beverly was discouraged about asking if there was ever a cure found for a certain disease.
William B - Sun, Jul 21, 2013 - 5:16pm (USA Central)
Man, early season five kind of sucks -- "Darmok" is a classic and one of the series' best for me, and "Ensign Ro," "Redemption II" and "Unification I" and parts of "II" are quite good (to various degrees). But a lot of this does feel pretty meandering and lukewarm. Fortunately, the second half of the season, while actually much more variable -- "Cost of Living" and "Imaginary Friend" are worse than anything in the first half, I think -- also has so many more highs. I feel like I'm just waiting idly for whenever the sea change is, probably around "Conundrum."

Ultimately, what brings the central philosophical Picard/Rasmussen discussion about temporal ethics down is that we know it's moot anyway -- or at least do on a repeat viewings. Rasmussen is not making an actual argument, or is not supposed to; the conviction in the scene only comes from Picard, and so the whole thing is mostly Picard yelling at himself. There could have been an opportunity to connect in his new knowledge of what happened in "Yesterday's Enterprise" (from Guinan/Sela) and its potential impact -- he actually *did* create an evil maniacal dictator with his choices, at least in the way Guinan framed it in "Redemption II."

Anyway, this is a "comedy" episode so it should get a bit of a wide berth in terms of plausibility; still, the crew looks pretty foolish to go along with Rasmussen as quickly as they do. Rasmussen at least has some personality, but it's repetitive and grates after a fairly short period of time. The episode reminds me a little of Captain's Holiday, wherein the Vorgons claimed to be good time travelers but were actually evil time travelers; it works a little better here in that Rasmussen's coming from the past actually has set-up within the episode (the mystery makes sense in retrospect), so there's that. It's still a fairly weak show -- probably 2 stars or something like that.
Daniel Davis - Sat, Jan 18, 2014 - 11:13pm (USA Central)
You know, one thing always bothered me about this episode (and so many other Trek eps) is how they just leave these threads so unresolved.
What I mean is this- So they've sent the timeship back in time and stranded Rasmussen.
Except that, according to dialogue in the ep, they don't have the ability to break into the ship. The ship will only open up with Rasmussen's handprint. The ship's location is also only known to Rasmussen; being sent back to that location would most likely make it seem like a big immovable rock to the people of that century.
So all he has to do is just find his way back to New Jersey and get back in the timeship and he's back in business. And chances are, at some point he'll have access to a replicator and so be able to remake all things the Enterprise crew indignantly took back from him.
Psteve - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
@Daniel Davis

If he can just get to a replicator and make all that stuff again, it really begs the question why he didn't simply do that in the first place. That's the biggest problem with this episode for me. If the guy was only interested in acquiring technological trinkets so he could take them back to the 22nd century and 'invent' them, why did he try to pull an elaborate scam on the elite crew of a highly secure starfleet ship, when he could just go to Earth and pick up that stuff for free and nobody would even care?
Aytri - Mon, Sep 22, 2014 - 5:00pm (USA Central)
I like this episode a lot and thought Rasmussen was hilarious in an annoying-kind-of-way. I think Robin Williams would have overacted it too much, though it'd be cool to see him on TNG. Lines like "La Forge remained below..." and "Buck up, crewman. You'll be telling your grandchildren you were at Penthara IV", and the way he says he's from New Jersey, always get a laugh out of me. That he's making this fairly routine Star Trek mission out to be some universe-changing epic cracks me up too.

It's not one of my favorite episodes, but it's one I bring up a lot if me and friends are watching random Trek episodes on a drinking night and want something light and funny.
CPUFP - Tue, Feb 3, 2015 - 6:39pm (USA Central)
Comsidering its the importance of the concept for Star Trek, it's really annoying how the meaning of the Prime Directive is constantly changed from episode to episode to whatever the plot demands. Here, it is referenced regarding the Enterprise' changing the planet's environment.

So what does the PD actually forbid Starfleet from doing? Interfering in the cultural development of pre-Warp civilizations? Interfering in the internal affairs of any civilization? Interfering in the natural development of other planets? They really should settle on one definition.
CPUFP - Tue, Feb 3, 2015 - 7:13pm (USA Central)
Also, Matt Frewer does a fairly good job at making Rasmussen one of the most annoying Star Trek characters - he easily tops every Ferengi. I am so glad that they didn't get Robin Williams for the part, because then I probably could not have sat through the whole episode.

Since this is essentially a comedy episode (though the humor here is more likely to make you grind your teeth than laugh), you have to expect the idiot ball to be passed around the bridge. Still, I was surprised how incompetent everybody acted. It has been well established in episodes such as "The Neutral Zone" and "Half a Life" that on the Enterprise, basically everyone can just stroll onto the bridge. But here, Picard even orders his senior officers to give their valuable time and possibly sensitive information to some guy whose whole story hinges on the fact that he owns a ship which is made from materials unknown to Federation scientists. I would really like to know what kind of "credentials" he had with him and which, according to Picard, were "in order". Probably a hand-written note on a greasy napkin, saying: "The bearer of this document is a history professor from the 26th century. Please give him every information he requires." If Picard would have had any sense, he would have ordered a security team to watch Rasmussen at all times, restricted his access to sensitive areas and asked Starfleet Command for orders on what to do with him. I also highly doubt Dr. Crusher's judgment considering how easily she is wood by this sleezeball (again: Pulaski would never have been so easily impressed!), and why the hell did Worf not punch him in the face when he insulted him in front of his fellow officers? The biggest idiot though is Rasmussen himself: Everything he got from the Enterprise, he could easily have acquired on Earth without any risk of being exposed. Need a tricorder? Just steal one from a doctor's practice. Want information about the advancements of starship technology during the 22nd to 24th century? You'll probably find this in any public library on Earth.

There still was one loose plot thread which I found interesting: Rasmussen knew quite a lot about the Enterprise's senior officers, which seemed to validate his claim about being from the future at first. That he couldn't know these things coming from the 22nd century is never brought up again after his fraud has been exposed. I suppose that this is not his first trip to another time, so he probably has been to some point in the future. But unless he gained access to old Starfleet personell files on one of those trips, I think it could be assumed that the Enterprise-D and her current crew are indeed covered detail in history books sometime in the future. Strange that a history buff like Picard didn't notice that. But on the other hand, he wanted to destroy the 21st century ship in "The Neutral Zone" and didn't have the slightest interest in what its revived passengers had to say about life in their era, so his historical interest seems to be very specialized - if it's not British military history or obscure alien archeology, it is not worhth of the Captain's attention.
Grumpy - Tue, Feb 3, 2015 - 8:01pm (USA Central)
CPUFP: "Everything he got from the Enterprise, he could easily have acquired on Earth without any risk of being exposed."

Whoops! That is indeed a plot hole, though of the "then there'd be no story" variety, which is usually excusable. Plus the fact that nobody noticed the problem for more than 20 years...
CPUFP - Wed, Feb 4, 2015 - 2:36am (USA Central)

"Plus the fact that nobody noticed the problem for more than 20 years..."

Credit where credit is due: Psteve already pointed this out in his comment on this very site. I only added the bit about the uselessness of the questionnaires: All the information he would have gotten from them should be publicly available anywhere within the Federation, especially on Earth. As it were, the questionnaires only served to annoy the hell out of the senior officers - which seemed to be a major goal of Rasmussen anyway.

Oh, and let me nitpick one more thing while we're at it: I understand that Picard sends his first officer, chief of security, chief of engineering, chief of medical and head of science on dangerous away missions, because otherwise there'd be no story. But do these people really need to spend hours on a questionnaire about technical and scientific advancements of the past 200 years? Don't they have somebody with a lower rank and less important tasks on their hand to do this for them? Couldn't they just tell the main computer to answer Rasmussen's questions, and let him have a nice conversation with Majel Barrett?

The more I think about this episode, the less sense it makes. And unlike other plot hole ridden episodes such as "Identity Crisis", this one really doesn't have much to redeem itself.
CPUFP - Wed, Feb 4, 2015 - 12:07pm (USA Central)
This episode is still keeping my mind occupied, so it cannot have been all bad.

Some more thoughts:

1) What would Rasmussen have done if Worf hadn't noticed the "temporal distortion" (whatever that may be) and Picard hadn't decided to turn the ship around to look at Rasmussen's shuttle? After all, they were in a hurry to get to their rescue mission. He seemed pretty determined to get to the Enterprise specifically (he had done research on its senior officers), so why didn't he follow the ship or materialize closer to it?

2) Rasmussen had only a basic grasp of how the time machine worked. He said how long it took him to figure the device out, and he wasn't able to change the auto-timer setting. My theory is that "that poor fellow", the original historian from the future, had already planned his trips to various points in time and had programmed the machine accordingly. He indeed wanted to visit the Enterprise on this specific day, and leave after having witnessed their rescue mission on Penthara IV. Maybe he had done the research on the Enterprise and its crew and left his findings in the time shuttle's computer, which is why Rasmussen knew about these things.

This theory has the merit of explaining why Rasmussen ends up on the Enterprise, and not on Earth or anywhere else. I guess if the real historian would have come, he would probably have been smarter than to tell everyone that he is from the future. Maybe he would have pretended to be an alien from the gamma quadrant or something like that, so that the strange construction of his ship wouldn't have tipped everybody off.

Another merit of this theory: After Rasmussen is exposed as a con man, the whole proto-"temporal prime directive" dialog in Picard's ready room seems pointless, since Rasmussen had no knowledge about the future to share in the first place. But if Rasmussen had read the historian's notes about the Penthara IV mission and the Enterprise's role in it, then he would have known the outcome of the mission. This would mean that the dialogue in Picard's ready room is not as pointless as it seemed after Rasmussen had been exposed as a con man. It would mean that he did in fact have knowledge about the future which he didn't want to give Picard, and that maybe he really was sincerely worried about influencing history.

I'll stick with this theory, because it makes the episode a little more bearable. :)

3) In spite of how irritated I was by Frewer, his performance in the last scene was actually quite good. Rasmussen seemed genuinely desparate when he saw the time shuttle disappearing and he realized that he would now be trapped in this point in time, 200 years after his old life and with all his friends and family long dead.

But don't be sad, Rasmussen. You're on the Enterprise now - I can guarantee you that in a few months, they will encounter a "temporal vortex" or some other space-time-plot-device which can bring you back home (or you just wait until the next time they meet Q, it usually happens once a year).

4) This episode could have been vastly improved if it had built on Picard's established interest in history. The reveal could have happened after the first half, and then Picard would have turned the tables: Suddenly Rasmussen would have found himself as the object of historical study, while Picard could act as researcher and question Rasmussen for information about life in the 22nd century. Think about it: If you had an interest in history, wouldn't you be psyched to get the chance to actually talk to a person from a bygone era? Well, as "The Neutral Zone" told us, Picard couldn't care less about oral history (Why should I listen to these stupid past people with their outdated belief systems? It's not like I'm on a mission of understanding and communicating with different cultures...), but maybe Data could fill that role. Maybe get some guest star to play the Federation's chief expert on 22nd century history, who comes around to interview Rasmussen. Imagine: Instead of a cringe comedy about covering up the plans of a time-travelling con man, we could have had an exploration of the experiences and ideas of a person from the past, how they relate to people from the 24th century and how they could understand one another. Wouldn't that be much more in the spirit of Star Trek?

5) If I remember correctly, Rasmussen claims to be an expert on 22nd to 24th interstellar history, which nobody on the bridge finds strange. This is probably just a case of artistic license, but how exactly does the study of history work in the Star Trek universe? How can you cover such a gigantic field of research? The same goes for Picard's archeology studies from other episodes, which seem to cover the ancient cultures of at least ten different planets all over the galaxy. I guess that by the 24th century the study of history has become so complicated that instead of the meticulous analysis of tiny details which is expected from today's historians, they have resorted to "broad strokes" historiography in the style of the 19th century.

1) It should have been obvious from the start that Rasmussen had come from the past and not from the future. His clothes had pockets! :)
Dr. Cox - Thu, Mar 12, 2015 - 9:28pm (USA Central)
I'm pretty sure he'd bust a nut. XD
Troy - Mon, Jun 29, 2015 - 3:16pm (USA Central)
I don't like this episode 1-1/2 stars. I didn't know, until I read the comments, that Robin Williams was the first choice to play the professor. While on the surface it seemed like it might be a disaster, Robin Williams had very good range, look at one hour photo and some other serious roles where he played criminals or other types of marginalized people.
I don't blame Matt Frewer for this episode, just bad writing plain and simple (also great range love him in the Knick). At no point does it feel true. The one shining spot is the confrontation with Data in the time probe.
Luke - Tue, Aug 4, 2015 - 8:38am (USA Central)
"If you cause a guy from the 22nd century to become trapped in the 24th century, haven't you just changed the past?"

I could honestly not say anything else about this dud of an episode. But, of course, I will.

Oh my God! For a franchise full of characters that literally freak out if a single blade of grass is put out of place during a time-travel adventure, that ending was HORRIBLE! It's especially grating when mere moments before the time pod disappears, Picard stands there and smugly condemns Rasmussen for attempting to change the past. Then he goes ahead and does so himself! Because, you know, it's okay when the good guys do it. But hey, at least all of our "heroes" got to stand around and act like arrogant, smug douchebags.

Add to that the fact that Rasmussen is so freaking annoying (was this actually "supposed" to be funny?) that it hurts. Was the whole point of making him this obnoxious so that the audience would cheer at his comeuppance at the end and just forget about how Picard and company massively altered the timeline for no reason at all? I'm not criticizing Matt Frewer here because it's a problem with the character and the writing, not the acting. I doubt that Robin Williams would have been able to do any better.

The only half-way decent part of "A Matter of Time" is the B-plot involving the crisis on the asteroid impacted planet. But even that is just ho-hum. It's greatest strength is that it isn't annoying as fuck like the A-plot and doesn't insult my intelligence at its conclusion.

There is at least an attempt at a good scene in the confrontation between Picard and Rasmussen over the ethics of keeping silent while millions might die. But it's torpedoed by the fact that Picard, who says "how can you be comfortable watching people die?," is guilty of doing that exact thing! He was willing to let Sarjenka's people die until Data essentially forced his hand back in "Pen Pals." And, a little over two years from now, he'll literally stand on the bridge and watch while not only millions of people but AN ENTIRE CIVILIZATION dies in "Homeward." I agree completely with the sentiment. How can a moral person honestly stand by and watch others die? But coming from Picard's mouth, it really rings hollow. But then, maybe this is just my problems with the Prime Directive surfacing again.

Cassandra - Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - 9:02pm (USA Central)
Daniel Davis: "So all he has to do is just find his way back to New Jersey and get back in the timeship and he's back in business. And chances are, at some point he'll have access to a replicator and so be able to remake all things the Enterprise crew indignantly took back from him."

Actually, unless I blinked and missed it, I don't think they *did* take the objects back (other than the phaser). After Rassmusen and Data exit the pod, Data does say to Picard, "I believe you will find all of the missing items in the vessel, sir." However, no one is shown entering the vessel. It is possible that someone (perhaps Worf) went inside and emerged offscreen, but when the camera cuts back to the whole group as the pod disappears, the objects are nowhere in sight. I don't see anywhere an entire tray full of stolen items could have been stashed, especially in a century without pockets. :p

So if I'm correct, Rassmusen did successfully steal the technology (albeit deactivated technology). He just has to get back to New Jersey to retrieve it.
Matt - Wed, Sep 2, 2015 - 2:53pm (USA Central)
If I remember correctly there is a quick shot of Worf carrying the rest of the items out of the time pod.
Diamond Dave - Wed, Sep 23, 2015 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
Rasmussen is indeed a highly annoying character, and the crew's willingness to go along with him seems mildly misplaced from the start. That's not to say there aren't some good scenes - Picard arguing the philosophical position is clearly intended to be the big set piece and pretty much achieves it. There are some nice beats too - Crusher's avoidance of Rasmussen's advances, and Data's interest in his own future among them. The twist of Rasmussen's true origin is also nicely handled.

But overall it doesn't seem to go anywhere, and as with almost any time travel episode the more you think about it the less it seems to make sense. Quite what they would have made of a 26th century time pod in 22nd century New Jersey we do not know, but one would have thought it would have made a bit of a stir when it turned up...

And I couldn't help thinking that "Data on Penthara IV" sounded like something out of Darmok... 2 stars.
Chrome - Wed, Nov 18, 2015 - 4:03pm (USA Central)
Really, no fans of this episode?

I like this episode because presents an interesting dilemma for the crew: if they could find out anything about the future, what would they ask, and would it be right to do so?

Obviously Rasmussen doesn't have a whole-hearted argument as to why he can't discuss the future, but he does put up a pretty good show, playing on the overly-big hearts of the Enterprise crew. I do wonder what sort of "credentials" he passed to Picard to convince Picard to give him free reign about the ship, but considering the amount of temporal anomalies the crew faces weekly, this sort of traveler wouldn't be completely out of the question.

As for Picard's speech, I think it works. Sometimes we're faced with very difficult choices, and during those times people make are willing to try incredible things to get the right answer. The speech also succeeds in putting Rasmussen in a corner as his lies start to become transparent. It seems obvious that Picard doubted Rasmussen before talking to him, but the discussion made him realize the futility in second-guessing his own instincts.

4 Jammer stars from me.

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