Star Trek: The Next Generation

“We'll Always Have Paris”

2 stars.

Air date: 5/2/1988
Written by Deborah Dean Davis and Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by Robert Becker

Review Text

A catastrophe at a science research facility opens a crack "to another dimension" and unleashes strange effects on space and time. The effects are felt more than a light year away on the Enterprise, causing brief moments of time to repeat themselves. The Enterprise investigates and finds that the experiments of brilliant (and single-track-minded) Professor Manheim (Rod Loomis) have gone terribly awry. Only he and his wife Jenice (Michelle Phillips) have survived the disaster. Character twist: Jenice was a former flame of Picard's, whom he stood up on their last date in Paris before he shipped out with Starfleet more than 20 years ago.

This is TNG's first time-manipulation episode (and most definitely not its last), and as Trek time episodes go, it's too simple, straightforward, and arbitrary to really grab our fascination. There are a couple of fun time-related gags, such as when Data, Riker, and Picard wait for a turbolift, only to find themselves waiting for it again, while at the same time on it. But the crisis' solution is too simplistic, with no intriguing puzzles for the characters or audience to work through. Basically, they give Data a canister, which he sticks into a hall of mirrors; problem solved. Talk about your tidily boring solutions for dealing with a "doorway to another dimension."

The character storyline is just a tad more interesting, trying to explore a little bit of Picard's youth. Here was a young man afraid of being tied down by a woman and thus sentenced to a life of ordinariness; I suppose some stories are timeless. But I've had it with Troi's annoying counseling sessions. First she confronts Picard on the bridge about the personal feelings she's sensing from him. Later she asks Crusher (not in so many words) how she's handling her jealousy of Jenice. It's time someone told this intrusive Betazoid to keep out of personal matters that don't affect the operation of the crew.

Previous episode: Skin of Evil
Next episode: Conspiracy

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39 comments on this post

    "I've had it with Troi's annoying counseling sessions. First she confronts Picard on the bridge about the personal feelings she's sensing from him. Later she asks Crusher (not in so many words) how she's handling her jealousy of Jenice. It's time someone told this intrusive Betazoid to keep out of personal matters that don't affect the operation of the crew."

    YES! I am so happy to see that in print somewhere, anywhere and I couldn't agree more! Too bad she never stops and if anything her directness concerning personal matters only gets more pronounced.

    Regarding Troi "confronting" Picard on the bridge - she did no such thing.

    She very clearly indicated she wanted to speak to Picard in private so as not to drag his personal feelings out in front of the crew. He was the one who said it wasn't necessary. It was only once he told her to go ahead that she discussed the matter on the bridge, and then it was in the turbolift alcove out of earshot of anyone else.

    And she also very clearly stated that she was bringing the matter up because unresolved emotional issues can affect a commander's decision-amking process, making this very much a matter that "affects the operation of the crew" and in fact the whole point of Troi's presence on the bridge.

    I barely remember this one! I was afraid it would turn out to be yet another holodeck premise, but there was very little of it. But the rest of the ep was so nondescript that is barely there. The way Data solved the situation left me thinking 'that's it?'. Btw, I don't remember Troi at all, but I can picture what you guys are saying. Being annoying is totally in tone with her character :p

    If this is a two star episode, it must be barely so. The ending is extremely simplistic. More backstory on Picard is good though, so that raises it up some.

    Even though Professor Manheim did some exposition, it either wasn't enough or the wrong info - what exactly did he expect to accomplish? And how is it this effect can affect places in other star systems? And why did he have "aggressive" alarm systems? What if it killed one of his fellow researchers? His facility already has a shield, that should be enough right? Because if it wasn't enough, then no amount of "aggressive" alarm systems are going to be of much use anyways.

    Also, about Picard himself, if he was into women before he got deployed, shouldn't they still interest him, even if he doesn't act on them (say a look, or smile of appreciation). We even learn he had another old flame (I think) in measure of man.

    Anyways, all of this drops it down to 2 stars, so think Jammer's assessment is right on the money for this one.

    As far as these time/space twisting episodes go, I think this is one of the better and more plausible ones, and must be one of the original ones before Voyager made it an almost weekly plotline.

    It's hard to believe that on a ship of 1000, the holodecks would be just sitting there not in use. I would imagine they're booked 24/7.

    I agree with the 2-star rating when compared to all 7 seasons, but as Season 1 goes it's more of a 3-star episode. A bit clunky and dull in spots, yes, but I like how it digs into Picard's past, allowing Patrick Stewart to explore his character a little further.

    To my mind, one of the first episodes that has a strong A and B story and manages to tie them together well to a sensible resolution.

    The back story for Picard is nicely handled - his "enough of this self-indulgence" as he leaves the holodeck after Troi's entreaty for him to address his suppressed emotions is a classic. And I liked the time distortion element too, particularly the lift scene.

    Good episode, I thought. 3 stars.

    I don't like how they use Troi here and in most of the series. It is such a gross invasion of privacy that any emotion or feeling you have is subject to her asking you about it. In the real world, I think successful officers would tell her to piss off. If I come to your office for a session, let's do it. Unsolicited counselling sessions in this series are nothing more than her eavesdropping; and no better than someone putting a bug in your private residence and then approaching you about something that was heard.

    Sure, they made it a tactical advantage when she could say for the 100th time "this alien is holding something back" or "not telling the truth".... however, the invasion of privacy and unsolicited counselling is something that would upset people greatly in the real world.

    like many pointed out :

    The backstory on picard is nice and ageless.

    The "breaking the wall of our reality" storyline oversimplistic and not worked out well at all.
    -the multiverse is a sound scientiffic theory, as are the multiple dimensions, DS9 handled this non-linear time thing a lot better and many cartoons did better (heck even justice league had a proper multiverse episode)

    here are some lines how this story could have been MUCH improved by inserting more sci and less fi.

    *so the prof made a multiverse doorway by tapping into non-linear time.
    (since the multiverse is essentially "everything that can happen, will" going back in time and than back forth, allows one to visit all paralel universes.
    -> the only thing that is known to be able to bend time is a wormhole
    (since time freezes at the event horizon of a black hole, and a wormhole is essentially a tunnel between two event horizons of two black holes)
    the problem being that wormholes are very rare in the universe and often instable, and would only connect 2 timelines, leaving for very little multiverse manipulation.
    -> to be able to finely manipulate time, one would need to be able to create an artificial wormhole capable of projecting itself back in time.
    -> that would indeed require a strong gravity well that has been strong, yet stable for a long period in most paralel universes.
    -> a twin pulsar by nature fits that description, however one also needs somethimg to project that force upon, a fixed location, and thats hard since normally any location would move through space around a star.
    -a neutron star fragment, as the fixit center of a tri-star system with two white dwarf stars both in eclipsical orbit crossing eachohers path would provide that but would a rare phenomene indeed.

    with machinery one could create gravitons and use time dialation and gravity to project that black hole back in time to buit a portal into paralel universes.
    With enough machinery and finetuningg it could even be controlled to step from one universe in some other at will.

    -> however it would NOT be entering the full spectrum of the multiverse nor more than 3 dimensions, it would be like warp is to normal space, it may expand or schrink normal space, one still moves in normal space.

    to enter the 4th and above dimension one would need quantum slipstream drives, and essentially break though the fabric of the universe itself (and for the multiverse, time itself but at that moment they would be the same thing)
    however doing that would require far more exotic means than just a nice planetoid at the center of a pulsar.

    Now if one would not be able to maintain the containment field on the graviton-partical containmentfield, one could have those black hole ripples merge with the natural pulsars radioation and "pulse" into space.
    this could cause a small time-rewind every time the pulse hits, giving the chance to make different decicions, throwing the universe is an alternative path.
    -> this would be no danger in itself, but it could be exploited, imagine knowning the outcome of an event a few seconds in advance and than take another aproach to prevent it, soon nobody would know what the "real" universe was and what was the mirror universe.

    (a few nice battles or spieces that suddenly were not dead, or other chanced events can be trown into the storyline to emphase this)

    as for the scientists illness, there really would be no illness, his illness was bogus.
    but if you want to give him an illness, make it so that because his body absorbed a lot of gravitons during the accidental explosion, his body is "drawn" towards the original spacetimeline, however with every "pulse" the universe is moving further and further into an alterative timeline, without realising it (every chance to chance events will cause some events to be chanced) since all matter has a vibration that gives it a signature belonging to it's own universe, this makes the doctors body slowly growing ever more out of sink, eventually leaving him unable to process out food, water and air, because of a to large atomic vibration difference.
    (sound is an vibration and sound can heal people or make them ill, imagine somebody scratching on a board, and than having that sound played inside every cell of your body.. it would make you sick indeed.

    some explenation around these lines would have done the story tons of good.

    Well never mind the pseudo science, here's another episode that never really gets off the ground.
    The main story would work better it was revamped as a Doctor Who serial from circa 1978 starring Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor:
    Professor Mannheim is conducting unwise illicit temporal manipulation experiments near a pulsar in remote space.
    The High Council of the timelords, always keen to control the use of time travel by inferior species ,diverts the Tardis containing the Doctor, Leila and K9 to the secret asteroid research centre just as a horrific accident occurs turning Mannheim into a transdimensional vampire.
    The hideous virus, actually an effect of exposure to the arcane energies of the other dimensions, gradually spreads to the other members of his research team and the Doctor Leila and their trusty Robot Dog unite the survivors while they try to find a way to shut down Mannheim's experiment.
    In the closing scene of episode 4 after the unfortunate infected scientists are destroyed the survivors promise to close down any further research as the time travellers leave in their odd blue police box. Seconds after they leave a rescue mission led by Mannheim's wife's ex lover transmats down to the planetoid.

    Classic Doctor Who

    Slow-paced episode with a ridiculously simple solution (once Data got the right coordinates and past the obstacles). Picard's old flame B-plot didn't do anything and I agree with Jammer that Troi's prying is tiresome/irritating. Both the incidents with prying into Picard's and Crusher's feelings was useless, got nowhere and added nothing to the story. Picard/Crusher resolved it themselves without Troi's help.
    Some interesting potential with the experiments to meddle with time and the effects it had on the ship's personnel. The best part of the episode, for me, is when Data starts talking about the "hiccup" and when Picard cuts him off when he's going to use another body function as an analogy for another time incident.
    Overall a pretty forgettable episode -- 1.5/4 stars from me.

    Anyone have any ideas what bodily function Data was going to compare the Manheim effect to? Been forever since I've seen it but I'm watching it again with my parents right now, and I'm 99% convinced it's something sexual although they don't seem to think so. I was thinking orgasm, or specifically multiple orgasms, as many women experience?

    I liked the suspense of the set-up: the Enterprise rocked by strange phenomena caused by a brilliant and reclusive scientist who is learning to mangle time.

    The follow-through was weaker than the initial promise, but The A-story was still good enough to hold my interest - and was far.better than most season one plots.

    As for the romance stuff: did anyone else find Beverly's yearning and jealousy a bit out of left field? "How can I compete with a ghost?" she says. We've been told she has a strained past with Picard ("Farpoint") and flirts with him while under the influence ("Naked Now"), but I never got any sense in earlier that she was lovelorn and trying to catch his eye.

    I also found it surprising that she openly admitted her sense of "competing" to Troi . Competing for the sexual attentions of the ship captain - whether with ghosts of mortals - is unprofessional and disruptive. Shouldn't Crusher have been embarrassed and discomfited when Troi confronted her? And shouldn't Troi have firmly told her that ahe shouldn't be chasing after her commanding officer?

    Again, random observations (I'm too addled to pull together a coherent review):

    One: Michelle Phillips is lovely and deserved a better outfit than that loose metallic number. Also, I'm not sure I buy her as Picard's type, though.

    Two: I wish we actually had more Beverly / Paul moments. As the more scientific members of the little quadrangle of love, they actually shared something Jean Luc and Janese didn't. I wish that could have been worked into the plot more. In fact, writing this, I wonder why they didn't make him a doctor, too, and have this be a medical experiment gone bad vs. a physics experiment. That would have added another layer to this.

    Three: Yes, as time travel episodes go, it was a bit simplistic. But threat was great. And that leads me to No. 4.

    Four: They got really lucky that this could be fixed with no real damage. But why would they just leave the Manheims to start right back where they started, giddy at the thought of screwin' with time some more as well as each other?

    Bottom line: Nothing great, but it added to the general tapestry of the show, and I'm glad "Next Gen" devoted some time to backgrounds, family, personal history, romance. I like the variety. Not every episode can or should be epic. That said, I'm glad they didn't do this kind of show too often, either. Over the sweep of seven seasons, they had a decent balance on that.

    Talking about personal unpleasant emotions is something I personally would rather avoid. But sometimes it’s necessary because they can linger in the background for a long time if not properly dealt with. To me it seems that Picard recognizes this or he would have found a way to avoid Troi or send her away. Of course when unpleasant feelings have been resolved it’s best to move on to something more pleasant. :-)

    The reason why Troi is nosy is because Sirtis has a huge nose. She's pretty though.

    Hot Take: after a rewatch of season one I’ve concluded that “We'll Always Have Paris”, while not the most earth shattering story, is the best directed, scripted, edited and acted episode of the inaugural twenty-six episodes; that amongst a sorry slog of poorly directed, written and acted entries this is the only instalment which recognizably strikes the familiar and confident tone and dramatic rhythm of mid-season three onward.

    The writer's strike happened before the script for this episode could be finished. Several scenes (including the entire ending) were ad-libbed(!)

    Amazing that the episode comes off as well as it does.

    I've been rewatching Season 1, and I'd now deem "We'll Always Have Paris" one of TNG's best episodes. People complain that it's dull and nothing happens, but I find it pleasantly low key, moody and contemplative. Like "Casablanca", which influenced the writers, it's all about regret, the "disturbing ripples" of time and memory, and about sacrificing the things you love for a certain kind of freedom. I like that most of the episode is internal, happens all inside Picard's head. And like Gil says, it's arguably the best acted/directed episode of the season. There's a certain confidence about it.

    Watching these old episodes also makes me seriously consider season 1 as being more interesting than 7, especially if you take away "All Good Things".

    This one started out promising with some science fiction. However the mystery was so easily solved and the episode devolved into an episode of Love Boat. I wonder if the music helped make me think of that? Was this supposed to reveal Picard`s personality and history? It didn't really


    I found the sci fun plot in this story difficult to follow. Time loops and paradoxes are always fun, but what exactly what going on here? It could have been bette explained.

    Agreed about Troi, especially regarding confronting Beverly. It really had nothing to do with anything.

    I really want to like this one as I love the premise of the sci fli plot, but it was just so poorly executed and explained and fell flat. 2 stars.

    I liked this one.

    The overall theme, about the relativity of time, the way the past leaks into the present, the way it enhances the present, but living in the past can paralyze us - literally (the time warping machine) and figuratively (long-ago Paris and more)- was a bit heavy handed, but overall it was well acted and well presented.

    I liked getting some backstory on Picard. Patrick Stewart was absolutely excellent, letting us see the very reserved Picard's emotions . . . sort of. Just outstanding.

    The entire cast, regulars and guest stars, did a nice job. I was entertained throughout, didn't get bored or zone out. And I especially liked the three Datas part. Only the one in the present could be effective, but luckily, Android Data knew who that was.

    Winner winner replicator dinner!

    Definitely a season 1 episode, but I actually rather like it despite it being rather forgettable. The slow pace is nice occasionally, it doesn't always have to be phaser fights and big action. Middle of the road for sure, but that's not so bad. There's a fantastically atmospheric and creepy score in the lab scenes which I really like too (Ron Jones of course).

    Found this episode entertaining definitely one of the better in Season 1.

    My only objection is that Picard was not a "young man" 22 years ago (from episode time). According to canon biography, Picard was 59 years old when took command of Enterprise, which would have made him 37 or 38 in this past. Certainly old enough to know his mind, and he would have been Captain of the Stargazer during that period. Maybe not willing to commit to anything other than career - but to my mind, out of character for Captain Picard to stand up a lady. He might have walked out on her in the cafe but he would have shown up. Could have found better plot device to set up premise of "what if."

    Actor Patrick Stewart was 12 years younger than character he played. Writers must have been thinking of his age- 25 or 26 - not Picard.

    Better than I remembered back in the 80s. Was that a twin pulsar system? Very pretty. I'm loving these remastered eps.

    The turbolift scene was all kinds of awesome, especially as it starts with one timeline that ends up not being the one we follow. Good mind screw.

    I didn't mind not getting any real meat in this episode. The ride was fun.

    I like the characters and wish there was less ragging on, for example, Troi. And the Wes hate seems rather mean now, knowing what Wil Wheaton went through with people being assholes to him about Trek. I think it's more fun to rewatch all the great reaction shots littered across the episodes, explore the nature of humanity through a sci fi lens, and be exposed to a hopeful message about the future.

    The resolution was fun but it could have been better. I wish that each Data had been more of a mirror of the previous one with identical movements and words just spoken with a brief delay to really have the tesseract feeling hit.

    Still, S1 is starting to do better than I remembered. My first time watching it through was like a decade ago and I hated pretty much every moment of season 1. Maybe being locked in during a pandemic has made a show like this more comforting, but at this point I'm enjoying it a lot more than I would have expected, warts and all.

    Worf really knocks it out of the park with his first permanent go at tactical. He fits right into the role so easily. Wonder why Yar just wasn't so "commanding" when she executed the same commands on the tactical station? A shame the writing for her wasn't the best too.

    After some consideration I think you will find that the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is impossible.

    They really dropped the ball on this one. Which is a shame, because as @Sarjenka's Little Brother’s says, Mrs. Manheim was very pretty.

    Plus, seeing the cafe in Paris was a real treat! This marks our first view of "contemporary" (read:future) Earth in a Star Trek episode! We only got to see 20th century Earth in TOS.

    Yes, as @Kat S says, 22 years ago, Picard would have been in his late 30’s. For Picard to stand a woman up at 37 is a real dick move. Now if the writers had instead made it 32 years ago, then standing her up would have been understandable (not great, mind you, but at 27, still something you can forgive). Seems the writers were confused about… time ;) Which I suppose was the whole theme.

    And speaking of the theme, here's where they really dropped the ball.

    The three time periods - the 3 Datas - should have been clearly reflected in Picard’s romantic interests over the three stages in his lift:

    - The Past - the memory (“ghost”) Picard had of her in his mind.
    - The Present - the still-beautiful but now married Mrs. Manheim; and
    - The Future - which for Picard, should have been … Beverly! How did they not lock that down?

    No wonder Gates McFadden left in season 2. If they couldn’t even get something this simple done right, what was the point of her staying.

    Oh yeah, and they show Troi bringing Mrs. Manheim to spend some quality alone time with Picard on the holodeck. Like wtf? As a reward, I suppose Picard will have a little fun drinking with Troi - far more fun than Kirk had drinking with Spock,

    PICARD: It's called the Blue Parrot Cafe, and you're buying.

    I would say that this is one of the best Season One episodes. Granted, that isn’t saying much - I would only give it a 5/10 - but still.

    I think the problem you noticed with Picard’s age comes from the fact that Picard is actually supposed to be considerably older than Patrick Stewart. Picard, in this episode, is supposed to be 59 or 60 years old. So yeah, “22 years ago” would put him on his late 30s, which doesn’t make much sense. Stewart, however, was only 48 at the time he played a 60 year-old character. “22 years ago” for him would mean he was only 26, which makes more sense. The writers seem to have based that line on the actor’s age instead of the character’s.

    As for why Crusher wasn’t used as Picard’s “future” love interest.... that’s because the decree came down from on high (I believe from Roddenberry himself) that the show absolutely could NOT have long-term romantic relationships between main cast members.

    Ah, Jean-Luc - dedicated to the one you love, eh? That café should have been in San Francisco not Paris, then you could have been California Dreaming.. Mind you, that time slip should have ensured it would always be Monday, Monday.. (Enough already! I'll get me coat...)

    I've always been quite fond of this episode , especially coming as it did after the awful Skin Of Evil. Somehow it reminded me of the movie 'Casablanca' with Picard as Rick, and his old flame whisked away years before by someone more brilliant and dedicated to a cause. Perhaps they should have had Data or Wesley to tell us that the problems of three people don't amount to a hill of beans..

    It's not perfect by any means. The production is dire compared to the normal slick TNG values, with unsophisticated jump cuts from one scene to another, and the dialogue is sometimes clunky. The actor who plays Prof. Mannheim is just awful, and the scene where Data 'solves' the crisis by grab-handling a plastic container with red lights on it, then manhandling (androidhandling?) it into something that looks like it belongs in Dr Who's TARDIS, is somewhat laughable.

    However, the episode has both holodeck activity, and time paradoxes, both favourite elements with me. And good to see Michelle Phillips offstage. One of the better offerings from Series 1, despite the flaws. I'll give it 3 stars.

    @borusa QUESTION Did tou mean this episode borrows partd of the plot or premise from a Dr who episode or vice versa?? Or neither??

    No comment on Data's use of a contraction? (Says "It's me" when triplicated in Manheim's lab.)

    The first season wasn’t as hard and fast about Data never using contractions as the show would eventually become (though a few slip by throughout the series).

    I am 38 and i can relate to Picards hesitance towards a long term relationship. Like Simon Pegg once said, todays men age and mature slower than previous generations. He referred to manchilds that despite aproaching their forties still behave in a very inmature way, while our grandpas fought in World War 2 in their 20s and therefore grew up much faster.

    Thats the reason why i dont agree with many people here that it is a plothole that an almost 40 year old Picard would not be sure about a long term relationship. My own gramdma was already married at 20, my father with 32, and i am still unmarried.

    Our perception that Picard cant be insecure about a long term relationship in his late thirties is based on cultural Standards of the early 20th century.

    In the 24th century people live longer and age slower (propably one reason why they chose that the character of Picard is older than the actor who is portrying him) and have more time to grow up, so i am fine with an almost 40 year old Picard getting second thoughts about the relationship with Janice.

    Hilarious that after this Professor opens a door into another dimension and nearly wipes out the galaxy in the process Picard is cool with him just returning to the planet and continuing his experiments.

    This episode was a bit better than I remembered. I liked the personal development for Picard and the sci-fi premise was a little creepier than I had recalled. Sort of like Timescape crossed with Time Squared. It still has some of that season 1 strangeness.

    That said, good thing the alternate dimension wasn't the one Sam Neil discovered in Event Horizon.

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