Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Time Squared"

3.5 stars

Air date: 4/3/1989
Teleplay by Maurice Hurley
Story by Kurt Michael Bensmiller
Directed by Joseph L. Scanlan

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

If "The Measure of a Man" plays as a rebuke to "The Schizoid Man" in terms of artificial-intelligence themes, then so "Time Squared" plays as a rebuke to "The Royale" in terms of procedural sci-fi mysteries. The crew is stunned when they discover a duplicate of an Enterprise shuttlecraft adrift in the middle of empty space, and inside the shuttle is a duplicate of Captain Picard.

Strangely, one of the reasons "Time Squared" works so well is because it comes fairly early in the series' run, at a point when the show hasn't been time-traveled to death. Here's an episode of TNG that is not jaded by the fact that a duplicate of Picard has crossed through time and brings with him crucial information about the Enterprise's near future. The story depicts the duplicate Picard as a harbinger; Picard himself is unsettled by the sight of his twin lying in sickbay, to the point that early on he flat-out refuses to accept that the doppelganger is in fact the same person. When the crew discovers the duplicate Picard's shuttle log, they determine the duplicate is from approximately six hours in the Enterprise's future; there's a disturbing video recording that shows the Enterprise being destroyed.

The episode is a triumph of mood and tone, in no small part because of Dennis McCarthy's ominous musical score, but also because the crew reacts with genuine awe and concern to this bizarre situation. The way the mystery is slowly broken down allows us to become fully immersed in the story. The notion that the duplicate Picard has an internal biological clock that is knocked out of whack is intriguing, even if it is the only such example in Trek time-travel annals. The closer to his time we get, the more normal he becomes, and yet we always get the sense that he's trapped in an unalterable loop where his actions have already been preordained.

Best of all, the episode is content to let a mystery be a mystery. The vortex that traps the Enterprise (which resembles an inside-out tornado in space) seems to be governed by some form of intelligence, but the story never spells out exactly how or why. And unlike "The Royale," the episode is able to make unanswered questions part of its appeal, rather than a lumbering mess.

Previous episode: The Royale
Next episode: The Icarus Factor

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98 comments on this post

Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
The ultimate, looped reset button. And how could a nonintelligent vortex focus so personally (by the episode's own reckoning) on Picard. The episode never addresses it.
Sun, Dec 16, 2012, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
Jay, don't blame this episode for the unsolved mystery; blame the follow-up plan that was scrapped (at GR's insistence). As the story goes, Hurley intended this as a lead-in to "Q Who?" -- making Q responsible for the vortex. Still not the greatest idea, but at least it's something. And, I must admit, had that plan been carried out, it would've injected much-needed energy into S2 (more than "Q Who?" by itself).

As it was, I found this episode terribly boring, so I'm surprised by the high rating. However, I'd be willing to re-view it with different expectations.
Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 10:09am (UTC -6)
Well, I liked 'Time squared' and I 'd like to consider it one of the highlights of season 2. It has nothing to do against better eps in the same line like 'Yesterday's enterprise', thought.

But, Jammer is right when he said this ep comes so early that feels different, intriguing and even good. After season 3 this would have been quite boring.

I particularly liked the not-so-happy ending, music and Picard vs Picard action.
Fri, May 10, 2013, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
I liked Picard's loss of self-confidence. That was old fashioned drama, sitting easily with scifi. Quality stuff. Patrick Stewart is a fine actor. I liked that scene where Riker and other guys enter the shuttle bay with the strange shuttle being pulled in, and then it's in, and the tractor beam is shut down. It's an ordinary sequence of events but it has great dramatic value in anticipation of the unknown drama ahead. Whoever directed this episode seems to have done a better job than usual.
Sat, May 25, 2013, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
Agree with istok... it was great to see Picard unsettled by himself and applying his usual high standards to himself, a good character examination of Picard and how his strengths could well be flaws, and how such exacting standards also have their negative side. Pulanski's concern and soft side were also appealing, especially faced with "tough cop" Troi.
Mon, Sep 23, 2013, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
It was a good episode, no doubt about it. Although I'm not sure if it's worth 3.5 stars. On the plus side, the eerieness and mystery surrounding the whole thing works well. I like the fact that we have no freaking clue what happened or what that thing was, even after the episode ended. For all of TNG's episodic nature and need to solve problems, they occasionally do have the totally bizarre thing that never explains anything (Conspiracy and Schisms are two others). Why did this thing go for Picard, other than that it is the Enterprise's "brain"? Why did Picard go back in time? Who knows? Who cares? It's more about the whole WTF factor more than to have any conclusions.

Instead, we got a good Picard piece. He's thrown into a situation that is both personally and professionally uncomfortable. I was a bit concerned going into this episode, as I remembered Picard's anger at the end bit wasn't sure if it was handled well in the episode or not. Fortunately, it was. He didn't really act too irrational, just whenever he was around his future counterpart. And the theme of self doubt and second guessing played out well. Pulaski and Troi's conversation made it a bit heavy handed, but only a little bit. I thought that scene worked well.

So basically, the plot worked for me, as did the basic theme and the characters. For the most part, so did the pacing. I think we had just about the right amount of time dwelling on each of the mysteries (what's with the shuttle and the new Picard? Whoa, the Enterprise is about to go boom? OK, the weird energy thingy is here, now how are they going to solve it?). I'd say, essentially, the "macro" aspects of this episode were great.

Unfortunately, some of the "micro" aspects kept taking me out of the show a bit. None of my complaints are big deals, and none of them really impact the episode as a whole. But they still annoyed me:

- The whole aspect of the future shuttle and future Picard being opposites of normal shuttle and Picard. This was particularly ridiculous with the shuttle, when Geordi and Data had to do the opposite of what was needed to get the logs. Why would time impact it like this? The "internal clock" for Picard was silly too, especially when Pulaski said it would get better the closer they got to his time period. Except, of course, the future Picard would always be 6 hours out of time. This is probably the biggest issue.

- Picard tells Troi to wait in sickbay because future Picard would be able to talk to her first or something. Troi and Pulaski have their little argument about whether or not Picard's orders still need to be obeyed. And then Troi leaves. I guess she thinks everyone should obey Picard except for her.

- Early on, the music disappeared for about 5-10 minutes. This was in a fairly slow, talky part of the episode (right after the shuttle came aboard I believe). When I said the pacing was good for the most part, this was the only part it wasn't. It seemed to drag on a bit, and scenese were a tad silly.

- Picard shot future Picard to kill, not to stun? That seemed very unPicard-like. I'm not sure what the intention was, but it did hurt the show.

- Pulaski then walked in, checked on dead Picard, and left. So, she just left the dead body sitting there? Waiting for someone else to take out the trash? Kinda dumb.

These seem to be the kind of mistakes that simply aren't present in season 3, at least based on what I remember. But they're far less aggravating than the mistakes of season 1. For a show still trying to find its legs, it does a good job here.
Nick P.
Mon, Sep 30, 2013, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
OK, this is one of my favourite TNG episodes all time. I realize I am in the minority, and sure there are little problems with it (Pulaski leaving the body in the shuttle for no reason), BUT, I think this is sci-fi at its purest. A pure mystery that may or may not even have a reason. I LOVED there was no explanation. If this was a season 7 episode, the entire 3rd act would have been data spouting nothing.... I love the music, I love the premise, I love the eerie build-up to the end. I absolutely love the scene where they are watching the enterprise blow up, they act like real people, again, compared to season 7 where everyone seems to act like they are cashing in a check.

I actually think later star trek lost something by not having more pure mysteries like this.
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 6:03am (UTC -6)
I think the opening scene deserves a bit of credit, too. Riker's "defense" ("A cook is only as good as his ingredients.") upon noticing the reactions of LaForge and Pulaski to his scrambled egga (Owon eggs, nonetheless) and Worf's most cautious approach... followed by "Delicious." - one of the better character scenes in TNG.
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 11:21am (UTC -6)
Pulaski seems unfamiliar with Riker's father here (your father...liked to cook?), but they later very much retcon that in "The Icarus Factor".
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 11:25am (UTC -6)
As for the underpinnings of the episode itself, the concept of "catching up" with the future Picard's time (and that making the future Picard increasingly coherent) struck me as ridiculous. The future Picard continues through the normal time continuum with everyone else...he "stays" 6 hours off indefinitely.
Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
I was unimpressed by this episode. It was a fairly obvious concept and I had an idea of where this was going the moment the other Picard arrived on the Enterprise. It might be because I've seen this type of story done many times before, or at least I think I have. The phenomenon was never really explained and we have to just accept that things somehow worked that way. There's no moral debate about zapping the other Picard.
Sun, Oct 5, 2014, 7:41am (UTC -6)
This is a strong episode. I haven't seen it in years and I really, really enjoyed the cosmic horror element of the second Picard and the vortex. The episode's tone is perfect, reminding me why I loved Star Trek to begin with. Later Treks, rehashing this idea, would need to add some self-awareness or self-referential humour. DS9's "Visionary" does a similar idea, but it never really feels all that threatening because of lines like "Oh, I HATE temporal mechanics!" Interestingly, that episode stars O'Brien, who's the one standing in the shuttle bay watching the Picard double vanish.
Tue, Nov 25, 2014, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
The neatest aspect to the story for me is that the Enterprise only gets sucked in to the vortex because Picard decides not to sit quietly and investigate slowly but tries to warp out of there ... and he only decides to warp out because he has been freaked out by future Picard ... whose only there because Picard got the Enterprise sucked in ...
Jonn Walsh
Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 11:03pm (UTC -6)
Never cared for this one....
At one point Present Picard requests Deanna remain in sickbay, with Future Picard under her observation. Only moments after Present Picard departs sickbay, Deanna has a disagreement with Pulaski and what does she do?
She leaves sickbay!! (defying a direct order)! Doesn't really matter though....after that, Present Picard never asks Troi anything about this observation of Future Picard.

Picard KILLED his future self? What? Awful episode.

@ Jack re: "your father liked to cook?"
I always heard this as Pulaski, to herself, finishing the thought with something like, "the bastard never even made a slice of toast for me!", or "I knew that arrogant pr**k was keeping secrets"....Perhaps ol' Kyle hid this idiosyncrasy so that Dr. Kate would handle all of the culinary responsibilities. He was, after all, characterized as arrogant, secretive and manipulative. And a tad chauvinistic....Actually, I rather enjoyed this as a positive continuity point, not the opposite.
All in all though, this episode is a heavy slab of dead weight.
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 9:52am (UTC -6)
There is a creepiness factor to this episode that was unfortunately never seen in future time-travel episodes. But that alone does not save it. There are too many scenes of characters in angst about whwat to do; not enough material here for a full episode especially considering the mystery is never resolved

The notion of the biological clock being out of whack is interesting, but why would Picard-2 get more coherent as the hours passed? Wouldn't he always be six hours ahead of everyone else?

2.5 stars
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 10:55am (UTC -6)
They could have changed things as soon as they left the staff meeting in the observation lounge. Order a saucer separation and take one or the other of the pieces a distance form the other, and then just wait out the clock. There weren't two vortices.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
@Jonn Walsh - The only problem with your interpretation of the Pulaski-Riker scene is that right after she asks, "Your father liked to cook," Riker responds, "Hated it. Left me in the kitchen alone." But the continuity you point out still works because she is, I agree, asking because Kyle never cooked for her. And now she knows why--he hated to cook.

I hate this episode, I think mostly because future Picard acts like such an idiot. I do not agree that Stewart showed good acting here. I really just wanted to slap him and tell him to answer the questions!

And then Picard shoots himself. Why? He has zero evidence that doing so will fix the problem--I thought it was a really stupid moment. He honestly doesn't know what is going to happen--it's a wild shot in the dark. And the way they solved the problem--by going into the vortex instead of fighting it--could have happened whether or not future Picard had left the ship in the shuttle.

I enjoy time travel episodes--this one left me flat and I didn't find the mystery compelling in the least.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 5:47pm (UTC -6)

I thought Pulaskis comment (Your father liked to cook?) implied that she knew him, why else would she be so surprised about Rikers father.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure this episode was deserving of a 3.5 rating - I think it's more like a 3. A much better episode along the same lines of "trying to alter a future outcome" was the one where the ship was stuck in a never ending loop (can't remember the name).

By the way, I find the early shuttle pods from the first few seasons to be ugly and very TOS-like in design. Considering what a gorgeous and sleek ship the Enterprise D is, the art department really let us down when it came to her shuttles. In the shuttle bay, the thing looks like it's made of cardboard - a real embarrassment.
Wesley C
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 7:55pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my truly favorite episodes. Like Nick P, I think there's something astonishingly awesome about letting the unknown remain unknown. Really glad Maurice Hurley didn't get his way about the ending! Jammer is right on for pointing out the pay-off of unexplained mystery in this episode as compared to "The Royale." I agree with others who said that this adds a layer of creepiness to the episode and to the idea of space travel.

As much as I enjoy the clean, technical, explanatory sci-fi of TNG's later seasons, I've also been a big fan of the way the series explores human consciousness as a complicated thing, and have always thought Troi was used to some very good effect in her confident, advisorly (versus strictly therapeutic) role of the early seasons. In this episode, the writers make her the pivot-point between the unknown event "out there" and the unravelling of real-Picard inside himself. He has a naturally difficult time confronting his own weakness, what he thinks is the cowardice of the other Picard who's only six hours older than he is. His cautious, cool-headed patience in "Where Silence Has Lease" is contrasted against Picard's second-guessing of himself in this episode. As digitaurus points out, the uncertainty leads Picard away from his natural instinct to stay and explore, and by pulling away, the ship gets sucked in. Danger increases with every effort they make to force their release. There's a kind of folkloric, even spiritual, message here about giving in, letting go, finding release ultimately by setting resistance aside. Such an interesting antidote to the idea that exploration equals acquisition. And yet, Picard kills his future self -- maybe for good reason so that the space entity doesn't think he's trying to escape (?), but which still adds a flavor of mystery to a captain celebrated for being so measured and humane.
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
I just love this episode - it's got time travel (including a character meeting himself), mystery, creepiness, a sense of impending doom, suspense, a tight script, and good acting. It's one of my favorites (top 20 for sure), and I enjoyed it more than the famous 'Cause and Effect' a few seasons later.
Twisty Necco
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 9:24pm (UTC -6)
I think this would have been a better episode if ''future Picard'' killed ''present-day Picard'' because he knew how he would react (has reacted repeatedly) and could only break the cycle by being his murderous opposite. In the final scene only he would know the true nature of his solution.
Paul Davis
Mon, Nov 21, 2016, 1:39am (UTC -6)
As much as I love the story and its elements I'd personally give this one three or even 2.5 stars - and for one and only one reason: Picard acts like a complete Dick in this episode - not just in general but to other people as well.

His short little condescending remarks to the crew when they note that they can't imagine any reason he'd leave the ship is just one example.

The other problem with him being an asshole is in the way it's portrayed: it's not consistent with his character. After getting more than enough evidence that this is indeed him he keeps behaving as if he doesn't believe it. That's not how Picard would normally react.

He's also an introspective man who is comfortable with his strengths and weaknesses so for him to act so threatened by his other selves odd behavior is... not necessarily jarring but, I guess, against the grain. It rubs the wrong way and laces the entire episode with a bad taste.

I remember watching this when it aired and being angry because this is exactly the kind of story I love and it ruined it for me.

All these years later and I find my reaction is the same.
Mon, Dec 26, 2016, 6:16am (UTC -6)
The premise and the set-up promises so much but I think the resolution was way too weak. Future Picard isn't Picard at all. We see just a facet of his personality and is so single-minded in intent. It would have been a lot more interesting to see something play into Picard's forward thinking instead of just basically asking "whats the opposite of going away?"
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
A very good episode. The suspense and mystery are ratcheted up and up, largely by the stress and fear shown by present-Picard as he deals with his situation and the copy from the future. His brittle desperate line: "aside from his features, there is NOTHING about him I recognize!" Is brilliant.

A let-down, though, at the end. PIcard executes his double emotionlessly - like a hit man taking down a mark. This iciness is weird - DUDE YOU JUST MURDERED A MAN, and HE HAS YOUR FACE!!! - and deflates the rising tension of Picard-present's impending mental breakdown which has been teased all episode (Pulaski to Troi: "There's only so much stress a man can take,").

I would rather have seen the episode play out like this:

Present-Picard becomes increasingly edgy as the destruction of the Enterprise nears. He is worried about saving his crew; but more is going on: he is suffering "survivor's guilt in advance" and loathes future-Picard for having apparently done something both stupid and cowardly - run from the ship and left his people to die while saving his own ass. Present-Picard develops a mounting hatred of future-Picard which becomes unbearable as he sees the man once again trying to board the shuttle. He tries to restrain his double while shouting at him: "Why are you abandoning your crew? They're about to die, you fool! What's the other choice, damn you!" They struggle. Present--Picard kills his double in a moment of rage and terror. Then he stands over the corpse. Horrified.

He pulls himself together somewhat and returns to the bridge, where he hits on the idea of taking Enterprise into the vortex. It's hinted that this is a nihilistic act rather than a heroic one: "I'm a murderer and we're all going to die. So okay, we can't run from fate. Let's do this."

They survive. Corpse-Picard vanishes and no crew member learns what Picard did in the shuttle bay. Picard is relieved but still has a burden of guilt: He knows he cracked under pressure and acted like a murderer. (Meanwhile everyone on the crew is hailing him a hero).

Last scene: he withdraws to his ready room and sends Troi and Pulaski and Riker away as each of them knocks on the door and tries to find out what's eating him.

Episode ends either depressingly (lonely Picard looking out the window, bearing his burden of command and imperfection alone) or upbeat-ly (Picard chooses a Shakespeare play off the shelf and gets some solace from lines he loves that shed light on human frailties... Then he looks up from the book and sends for Troi or Guinan)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 5:26pm (UTC -6)
So I guess what I am saying - wordily - is that I did like the mystery/suspense and ship-in-jeopardy aspects but I think an opportunity was missed to make it a better-realized character show:

Picard is responsible for the safety of a thousand people, and yeah he's used to that, but he knows what's at stake. This is his worst nightmare: he has lost his ship. He has screwed up and all these people who trusted him are dead. In thenother Picard, he sees in front of him the self he is most afraid of: himself as a failure ,the captain who Made the wrong call and let everyone down. Worse still, he somehow saved his own neck while getting all the others killed! He should be looking at future-Picard with horror, thinking "What kind of man am I? Did I lose my nerve? Did I lose my mind? Is my great career about to end in disgrace and horrific tragedy six hours from now?"


But instead we end up getting superchill always-right Picard again. Which isn't terrible but isn't anything new.
Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 11:43am (UTC -6)
Why is Data eating eggs? Do androids eat? Apparently, that's all I got from this show.
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 1:06pm (UTC -6)
Superb acting from Stewart in this episode. Was good to see Picard outside his comfort zone.

Kudos as well for referencing Star Trek IV when Picard and Riker are discussing attempts at time travel (slingshot around a star)
Wed, Apr 19, 2017, 4:07pm (UTC -6)
I think this was a steaming pile of poop .
Allowing a mystery to remain a mystery?
Oh, you mean lazy writing.
Superb acting?
Just a lot of typical pompous posturing.

Why did the future shuttlecraft systems need reverse polarity power supply-my guess would have been because it comes from an anti matter universe but no the real answer is-oh yeah-the writers didn't bother to explain it-its just a mystery.

How do we get to plan B-got it just drive this thing right down the space entity/wormhole's throat-it worked for Kirk in the Doomsday machine-oh yeah-the Constellation was blown up.
Oh well never mind everyone can jig about a bit in their seats like this was an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and then reality can reset.

Yuk-cancel the series time again.

3 wormholes for this one from me.
Fri, May 5, 2017, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
Going through TNG again, the tightly scripted thriller episodes like this are the only ones that really bore me. Even the objectively bad episodes will entertain if they at least have a lot of crew interaction. With an episode like this it feels like the emphasis is taken away from the characters and ideas (why I like Trek), and put into a one-off mystery that feels too arbitrary to be that compelling.

In a more grounded science fiction show it might be interesting to see a duplicate of a main character show up in the first act, but in Trek you're just like "God-like being or magical space anomaly, got it".
Tue, May 9, 2017, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
An interesting sci-fi-ish episode that I enjoyed. No issues with some questions being unanswered. Yes, some can blame that on poor (or lack of) writing or writing that tries to explain everything making things worse. I think it's about the effect an episode has - and that is clearly different for different people.
The early part of the episode is pretty solid - with future Picard as a harbinger as Jammer says.
One of the things that stands out in certain episodes is the musical score and in this episode, it is great. The whole first 30-40 mins. does build a creepy, impending doom atmosphere.
As far as Picard's role - got to see a different side, one dealing with doubt, frustration. Some may say it's out of character but I'd put it on confronting the future Picard in such a strange state.
I also didn't see or like the need for Picard to kill future Picard or why the future shuttle needs to work on reverse power etc. How does that jive with time shifts? Some small points that could have been sorted out to make the episode marginally better. But overall, a good episode - 3/4 stars for me.
Mon, Jun 12, 2017, 12:19am (UTC -6)
It annoys me that the writers made a feasible sounding scenario for a time-loop, however they messed up in that they allowed for Picard to escape it. A time-loop is ever repeating so it would be physically impossible for it to ever end. The loop will always end the same way and begin the same way, and to anyone stuck in the loop they would appear to have free will over their actions but they would be repeating exactly what happened to everyone before them down to the sub atomic level. no matter what anyone does the cannot change the future; this is even mentioned by Riker to the Captain. If Picard decided to go have an adventure on the holo deck instead of attending to the situation, then something would have happened that would then out him in a time-loop. What ever he does, it will always end with him in the shuttle-craft, starting the loop over. I'm slightly annoyed that there is barely a single show that attempts paradox free time travel without messing it up, but I respect the writers for trying.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 4:45am (UTC -6)
Three and a stars? Wow. This should be a 1 star at best.

One of the worst episodes ever.

You are so biased when it comes to Voyager and giving three and a half stars to dribble like tells me everything I need to know.
Fri, Jul 14, 2017, 8:36am (UTC -6)
Good vibe, holds your attention - yes. Solid execution, suspension of disbelief, plausible characterisations, satisfying conclusion - not so much.

In season 1 or 2, I'd say 2.5 stars. Seasons 3-7, more like 1.5.

As an aside: What was with the Riker-makes-"gourmet"-scrambled-frickin-eggs scene? I'm guessing the story ran about 5 mins short...
Fri, Jul 14, 2017, 10:40am (UTC -6)

There was a closing scene for this cut from the script that had Riker make an apology dinner, Alaskan stew. Pulaski and Geordi love it, while Worf says he wishes he could have another omelette. I think the scene is just trying to reinforce Worf's foreigness, much like the tea scene in "Up the Long Ladder".
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 4:01am (UTC -6)
Picard killed the duplicate Picard because he was boarding the shuttle and about to leave. Killing P2 was the most direct action he could take up to that point to ensure the cycle didn't repeat. A shot in the dark to some degree, to be sure.
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 10:27am (UTC -6)
I find the positive reviews for this episode baffling. Nothing that happened in it made any sense whatsoever.
Derek D
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
3 stars
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 12:15am (UTC -6)
1.5 stars

That ending sank the episode. Too bad Maurice didn’t get to do what he originally planned and have Q to do this for a reason and lead into Q Who
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 7:31am (UTC -6)
Why did Picard have to commit murder? Why is this not addressed by the crew, particularly by Troi, who should have picked up on Picard' s shock and sorrow. I was shocked and disturbed myself by this needless turn of events. Don't phasers have stun settings at this point? This doesn't seem to be addressed by the review or the favourable comments either.

Also, I'm all for sci-fi weirdness and mystery, but some kind of answers would have helped. And it seemed fairly obvious to try flying straight through the anomaly, it wouldn't have taken an act of murder and six hours of buggering about to sort this one out.
Peter Swinkels
Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 9:26am (UTC -6)
Fine episode. No comments. Oh wait, Worf being the only one to enjoy commander Riker’s egg dish heee :-)
Tue, Apr 10, 2018, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Wow, most of the comments here are very negative. I thought this was an excellent episodes, made better by its sense of cosmic dread, gloom and its moody score. Indeed, I would go so far as to say this is Trek's best horror episode; doppelgänger Picard - unsettling, his features contorted - is like something out of Lovecraft.

Thematically, I read this episode as a comment on death and mortality. We open with youthful eggs and then jump to Picard confronting his corpse-like double and news that his ship and crew will perish. These deaths, he learns, are a certainty. Inesapable. Fated. Picard's means of evading this fate? He will abandon the ride and go backwards in search of an out. This doesn't work so he metaphorically faces his mortality instead; he kills his corpse and goes fearlessly forward.
Peter H
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 7:12am (UTC -6)
This episode was technically competent, and really sold the sense of mystery and dread in a way I don't think any other time travel episode did.

Unfortunately the end was beyond the pale; Picard killing himself completely pulled the episode over the edge. I suppose you could say that phaser was on stun, and that in his fragile state Picard-2 simply couldn't take it, but I'm not convinced.

As others have stated this episode would make far more sense tied to Q Who, but as it is presented to us there is no such explanation and therefore feels completely arbitrary. I prefer to think of this episode as something that never even happened.

2 stars from me.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 7:36pm (UTC -6)
For me the only detriment to this episode was Pulaski was in it.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 8:16pm (UTC -6)
Lighten up folks. You can't kill yourself if you're still alive after the fact. Picard2 was merely a phantom from a possible future. He was doomed as soon as he caught up with himself. Just because they surmised that it was a time loop, doesn't make it so. Nothing looped here so there's no reason to accept that it was. The explosion threw Picard2 back in time. Picard1 prevented a loop by doing something different.
Ari Paul
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 10:43pm (UTC -6)
Excellent episode. But that opening scene where Riker is making eggs is just gross. I mean, watch him cracking that egg...he gets slime everywhere and on his hands. And then the end product looks so...bland...
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
I too am baffled by the praise this episode gets. The plot is so incoherent and nonsensical, and yet it still manages to be boring. There's no explanation or payoff for the reversed polarity of the shuttle and Alternate Picard's reactions to medication, which should be part of what's going on, but instead it's just padding. Also, what was that energy beam that zapped both Picards after they get partially sucked into the vortex? Why does going through the center of the anomaly work? Why is Alternate Picard even there in the first place? The Q theory doesn't explain any of it either. Normal Picard's intransigence and hostility also feels very misplaced. It makes this feel like a season 1 episode, in fact it reminds me of Lonely Among Us in a lot of ways.

I think what bothers me most is that Alternate Picard is a completely outside influence. If he wasn't killed, then he would go into the shuttle and record the logs and then show up in the next iteration. That means the "real" Picard stays on the ship in all instances, so where did Alternate Picard come from? I'll admit I'm having a hard time explaining this, but it's like Alternate Picard is just an interloper hopping around the multiverse but not really doing anything other than being there. If Normal Picard tried to get on the shuttle and Alternate Picard took his place, then I think that would make at least a little more sense as Twisty Necco suggested.

I don't think this is an awful episode, it's just meh. I do really enjoy the teaser in Riker's quarters. Worf's initial suspicion of the eggs and then ravenous eating are great, as is Pulaski's genuine attempt to give the meal the benefit of the doubt which ultimately fails when she takes a bite. I didn't think the music stood out all that much, except when they were watching the shuttle's recovered visual logs in the observation lounge, that was great. The vortex itself is quite beautiful as well, especially in HD.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 2:37pm (UTC -6)
As much as I am intrigued by time travel/loop paradoxa and distortions of time and space phenomena, the plot of the episode just makes no sense. It's baffling how good this episode gets rated here.

The concept of a second Picard of the future is admittedly intriguing, and the creepy atmosphere could have made a great episode, but then all goes down with the staff meeting.
We have just seen that the enterprise gets destroyed in six hours by an unforeseen incident when it was probably ongoing on its present course. What should we do? Should we stop? Take another route to avoid it? No way! Because we cannot change the future and the chain of events! ugh!!
First, this is an contested assumption in time travel theory, the alternative assumption would be that you're in a new timeline because of the time jump and you -can- alter the future. And if you cannot change the future, - because of chain of events - you cannot do anything anyway and can only prepare yourself to die in 6 hours... but NOT changing the course of the enterprise and at the same time trying to change something LATER... that is a completely insane decision from the crew. (It would have been a lot better if they stopped and the surge appeared anyway, this would have been consequent if you going on this "everything is predetermined and we cannot escape our fate" route)

Second, if this fatalistic assumption would have been taken seriously, Picard should not have been able to break the loop by killing his former self. (btw. great moral choice and so necessary... how about stunning? ah yes, we need only one Picard at the end of the episode, so the second one has to die for some reason, great writing! leave the body just there Pulanski, it will conveniently disappear with the shuttle two minutes later)
And... if the future is not changeable, the former Picard must have seen another Picard in the past before the incident, and must have had the same information regarding the future, and must have made his mistakes anyway (or because of the time jump) and left the enterprise on a shuttle... so obviously we are in a new timeline and the enterprise should have just stopped.

Third, the whole second Picard is in a delirium state and cannot communicate is convenient and ridiculous too. But even if we accept this concept, that he gets better when he approaches his appropriate time, how can he stand up and run to his shuttle to leave the enterprise, while not seeing (at least at that point of time) that a second Picard is running along with him? And communicate at least now with his former self? And shouldn't he know about the second Picard? And realize he is now the second Picard? ugh!!

And the solution too fly into the center of an powerful energy source which magically disappears without any logical explanation is unbelievable lazy writing. Logical would be... anything... else... But hey, lets make it a mystery, because we, the writers have no clue how the enterprise can escape this!

Do we have any ethical dilemma? nothing. Picard shoots himself. This is B-Movie Sci-Fi, another time travel paradoxon which is not thought out at all.

And the first half of the episode is filled with Picard playing two Picards by changing camera shots. so obvious... and cheap... I cannot understand why they did this, because in the second part of the episode they were able to shoot with two Picards in the same picture...

Zero Stars. Threshold level. No, too harsh. Some stuff was good, and the atmosphere is good if you can ignore all the logical plotholes... but not satisfying episode in the end. 1,5 Stars.
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed the suspense of this.

I did find it a little bit of a let down once Picard started making decisions at the end and the wrap up. He as guessing by the seat of his pants? not that I blame him, what choice did he have. I would have done what others suggested and changed course. Or go somewhere where there was help. separated the saucer?

the Pulaski, Troi exchange was a little weird but okay I guess. In general I am with Pulaski, it was something for them to watch out for. the feelings of guilt could have interfered. Why not discuss it instead of getting defensive as Troi did. Although genuine anger like that was well acted. Troi was supposed to stay with the other Picard in sick bay and instead left in a huff unable to handle a frank discussion with a senior officer who wanted to discuss what would was her responsibility. Maybe Troi felt Pulaski was stepping in her territory?

Not sure to give this a 7 or a 8 out of 10
Thu, Jul 25, 2019, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Anyone else think future Picard who is catching up with himself and current Picard switch as they walk to shuttle bay 2? I'm pretty convinced they do, or they seem to.

I do like the moment in shuttle bay 2 when one Picard tells the other to 'stand aside'

Great episode 👍
Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 10:44pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting

--I find that the opening scene is never frivolous, no matter how much it may seem so. It sets a tone and hints at the theme. So here we have a scene about consumption and community and sharing - - individual differences, as our characters react differently to Riker's egg dish. Motherless Riker cracking an egg and talking about how he adapted to motherlessness. I dunno. So let's see what's up . . .

-- Now they're cracking open a shuttle. PICARD! Two Picards! One unconscious, one conscious. "That person is you," says Troi to Picard1. Picard1 protests. Only he can be he. He's an individual. He doesn't like that idea challenged.

--Picard2 and Shuttle2 both react in unexpected, opposite ways to stimuli.

--Picard1 calls Picard2 his "facsimile." He's having a difficult time processing.

--"We have to not make the same mistake once." Easier said than done, mon Capitan..

--Picard insists that there can't be more than one Picard!! Not possible, he says. He clings to his individuality like a tick on my dog.

--Picard being really hard on his semi- unconscious self. He doesn't like or want to recognize this part of himself (fears, doubts, anxieties, his unconscious)?

--An energy vortex, a sort of whirlpool, appears. Troi senses a consciousness.

--Loads of technobabble. Nonsense stuff.

--What is this? Picard1 kills Picard2, and fearlessly makes a different decision. Pretty harsh and jarring.

-- I suppose the suggestion is that you can't break out of your lifelong patterns unless you kill that part of you -the fears and delusions - that keeps you on that loop, that Mobius strip.

--Talk of moving forward and backward, learning from mistakes, adapting, returning to your true destination.

Decent ep. Average offering.
Peter G,
Sat, Aug 31, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -6)
@ Springy,

Aha! So the teaser is about Picard's final choice in the end. The crew is dumbfounded by the idea of cracking an actual egg compared to replicating it. What's the difference, they wonder. Riker brags about his 'cooking skills' by knowing how to fry an egg. Putting aside how unintentionally hilarious this is, and more worthy of Neelix than Riker (especially since he served a horrible plain egg with no seasoning at all), I think the moral is this: in order to make a 'real egg' he had to break it first; that way it could be uniquely his. Whereas a replicated egg is just someone else's version copied over and over. And the episode is about how the more personal a decision is the less we can tolerate the idea that we're just copying a procedure that's already happened. Picard 2 is the one who already did all this, and Picard 1 is the one who refuses to accept a replicated sequence of events. So he 'cracks' Picard 2 in order to make it his own. That old baseball slogan, I suppose. And yeah, I suppose the metaphor of the 'cracked eggs' in terms of psychology would be destroying your habituation to repeating things that have worked before, and even destroying your habituation to your own habits or your own self. Real exploration requires growth and risk, so I agree with you Q quote, Springy (mon capitain), since it would seem that Q's lessons mirror this one a bit.

Great analysis!
Sat, Aug 31, 2019, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Especially love the connection you made between the replicated eggs vs the real eggs, and Picard1 and Picard2.
Ulrich P.
Wed, Oct 2, 2019, 1:13pm (UTC -6)
I'm pretty shocked by the high rating.

I'm on a TNG rewatch right now and this has been the first episode I skipped after 5 = 10 minutes. There have been others I somewhat fast forwarded through but not outright skipped.

I have the feeling this episode gets more grating to me with every rewatch.

I'm at a point now where I actively loathe it. Compared to it I'm even watching forward to "Shades of Grey"...
Wed, Feb 5, 2020, 12:26am (UTC -6)
I remember liking this episode as a kid when it first aired, I remember liking it later on as an adult. Just watched it for the first time in at least 5-10 years and was surprised to find, it actually makes no sense plot-wise.

Jammer is right that it's strong points are mood and tone.

Lots of people here don't like how Picard behaves. Part of this, I always liked, because he was clearly put off by meeting himself. The rest of it never sat well with me. It makes a little more sense as an early-season not-yet-settled-into-character thing.

it now, what really explains Picard's inconsistencies is the early TNG tendency to behave like TOS. We think we know Kirk and Bones in broad strokes, but episode-to-episode, they were whatever the writers wanted them to be. This feels like that. In fact, I could see this being made as a TOS episode, and Kirk acting the same exact way. A lot of these early TNG episodes (seasons 1 & 2) feel like that.
Sun, Apr 12, 2020, 9:53pm (UTC -6)
It's said here that a shuttle "doesn't have warp capability".

But later, in "Relics" they give Scotty a shuttle.Wouldn't that pretty much strand Scotty in the solar system with the Dyson sphere?
Sun, Apr 12, 2020, 11:31pm (UTC -6)
It's a different kind of shuttle. Some have warp drive and others don't.

Looking through memory alpha, it seems that the shuttle from "Time Squared" is a Type-15 shuttlepod, while the one from "Relics" is a Type-6 shuttlecraft.
Mon, Apr 13, 2020, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Looking at some slight charring of the paint on the shuttle, and the diagnosis is "a nearby antimatter explosion" (!) was, intentionally or not, rather hilarious.
Sat, Jun 13, 2020, 2:12am (UTC -6)
> Anyone else think future Picard who is catching up with himself and current Picard switch as they walk to shuttle bay 2?

Yes. I'm surprised you're the only one that mentioned this in this thread. The Picards change right/left positions just as they enter the final hallway before reaching the shuttle bay. Seconds later, they both respond to the same communication. Seconds after that, in the shuttle bay, one says the other is trying to confuse them. Since all 3 things happen at the same time, I don't think the right-left switch was a continuity error. I always assumed the Picards changed places the moment that their time phases came back in sync with one another, which would explain the reason behind that whole time phase shift premise. It also makes the killing of the (original) Picard more unsettling because the duplicate Picard takes over unceremoniously afterward, with no one being present in the hallways or shuttle bay to tell which Picard actually lived.
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 10:11pm (UTC -6)
Time travel is really only secondary here. The Episode is about Picard being in crisis, and is essentially about a weakening of his self-confidence.

Its basic spirit owes a lot to TOS' "The Enemy Within", which has Kirk divided into two parts in a transporter fowl-up. One part contains compassion and intellect, but no power of decision (moral Kirk) while the other has strength and audacity, but no courage and no scruples (savage Kirk).

Moral Kirk is disgusted by savage Kirk, who is really just a horny child, but needs to rejoin with him if he is to save the landing party, which is freezing its butt off with no hope of transport assistance.

Riker in preparing the eggs speaks of individuality and flair, Picard loses both the moment the shuttle is brought on board. (And for the record, the shuttle looks perfectly fine!).

Picard is disgusted by that out-of-phase version of himself from 6 hours ahead (because he was, and will be, such a dammed loser!). Patrick Stewart is great at showing this can barely hear him because he is so angry at himself. His whole ego is subdued by the fore-knowledge that he if allowed to survive that version of himself will will not only kill his whole crew, he will outlive it to feel nothing but shame.

The choice to phaser himself to death is a simple one. Once alone again his resolution returns and the vortex is properly confronted.

IMO the most economical interpretation of the vortex is as a psychological complexity brought into existence by disturbances emanating from Picard's own mind.

The episode is an allegory of a divided self endangering those nearby. There are overtones of parts of the Book of Jonah, "the storm will cease if you throw me overboard", but the lesson is that this cannot work if the source of that storm is inside yourself and yourself alone.
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 10:22pm (UTC -6)
Correction of garbled section in previous post:
*His whole ego is subdued by the fore-knowledge that if he allows that version of himself to survive, he will not only kill his entire crew, he will outlive it, to feel nothing but shame.*

Thu, Jul 16, 2020, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Overall I like this episode, but a few things nag at me.

As other folks have pointed out, Present Picard flat-out murders Future Picard in cold blood without so much as a, "Sorry about this, fellow human, but it has to be done". Why not just stun him?

Also, it was weird that Troi totally disobeys a direct order from Picard when he orders Troi to stay in sickbay with Future Picard before leaving. Moments later Troi simply waltzes right out of sick bay after a short disagreement with Pulaski. Wait, what?

Then there's the energy vortex. The ship is cruising along at high warp and suddenly.... just suddenly stops dead when the vortex appears? Not even a tiny jolt to indicate that the ship has just gone from a gazillion miles per hour to 0 mph in an instant? It would have been nice if they had provided a line of technobabble to explain that.

The last thing that bugged me was not the fault of the show per se. The remastered version of TNG available on Netflix has amazing detail for a 30+ year old tv show, and on a large-screen TV it's quite obvious the producers used a stunt double actor for Patrick Stewart in some scenes (it was probably easier/cheaper than using extra VFX maybe?). A minor gripe to be sure, but it took me out of the moment while watching.
Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 1:15am (UTC -6)
I'm dreading seeing this again in rewatch because I remember it as grim, moody and depressing.

I remember only liking the eggs scene. I love the family vibe in these little moments. And now we know Worf likes plain eggs and prune juice.

Worf was so much fun on TNG. Much as I enjoy DS9, Ron Moore seemed to drain all the fun out of him.

I also assumed that was good set up for Pulaski knowing Kyle Riker in the next episode. It's the right amount of surprise in her voice about not knowing something you would have expected to in your ex-lover. Also, with ubiquitous replication tech, it's not surprising most people don't even know how to scramble eggs. It underlines how rare and precious Joe and Benjamin Sisko's cooking skills were.
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -6)
I like Picard killing his future self but I just wish we had gotten more explanation as to why it might make sense.

At first I thought it was stupid and bizarrely heartless but the more I think about it I think I get it. If we imagine ourselves moving through time as some sort of "Droste Effect" - sort of similar to the multiple Datas in a previous episode - then in this instance a particular one of Picard's future iterations had become desynced with time and was either caught in or causing a loop.

Present Picard killing Shuttle Picard isn't a very clever solution but it removes this weird out of sync future Picard and restores the current linear path.

But why explain that when, instead, we can spend valuable time with Troi telling us how Picard feels despite the fact that Stewart had done a perfect job of already showing us via, you know, acting.
Mon, Mar 15, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
I really liked this one. Granted, it would have worked better if it had remained part of the Q story.

But it has a very creepy foreboding feeling, and they actually discuss whether they even can prevent the destruction of the ship. I liked the way Picard was losing it while dealing with his doppelgänger.

Troi and Pulaski had a great scene where they discuss relieving Picard. It’s a nifty scene and I also helps paper over the problems of Lobely Among Us.

It is absolutely NOT murder for Picard to shoot the other Picard. Aside from philosophical issues of him killing himself, he had very good reason to believe if that Picard left it would result in the destruction of the Enterprise. It was his DUTY to shoot Picard.

It’s not perfect. The ominous nebulous way he tells Riker that they may be on a trip with no turns when he leaves the bridge is inappropriate. Frankly, Riker should have followed him. Whether or not he should be relieved, they definitely should never have left him alone.
Wed, Mar 17, 2021, 12:15am (UTC -6)
Just watched it again.

I can see why it isn’t everyone’s bag. It bears more than a passing similarity to Where Silence Has Lease. And there’s no explanation for what happens.

It’s kind of cool that there’s no explanation considering 99.999% of the time, Trek Explains Absolutely Everything. The Enterprise really should encounter lots of unexplained phenomena.

But I really like the creeping anxiety here. It starts with a lone shuttle mysteriously tumbling through space. They bring it onboard only to discover it’s a duplicate of their own shuttle. Turns out the shuttle contains a duplicate Picard.

The icing on the cake is when they recover the shuttle logs and find Picard leaving the Enterprise with Riker seeing him off. Then the Enterprise being destroyed.

Very creepy.
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 5:41am (UTC -6)
The episode where Rikers lays his own eggs and Data breaks himself by eating them. 2 stars.
Frake's Nightmare
Wed, Apr 28, 2021, 4:30pm (UTC -6)
It feels like the crew has started to come together even if the stories are still just as silly silly.
If I killed myself in the future could I be found guilty of my own murder?
Fri, Apr 30, 2021, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
Eh, why not? DS9 established that killing your own clone is still murder after all (just don’t tell Riker or Pulaski).
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 30, 2021, 4:46pm (UTC -6)

It wasn't murder when they killed O'Brien's clone on DS9.
Tue, Jun 1, 2021, 6:07pm (UTC -6)
Dave: maybe, but that O'Brien was considered to be some sort of replicant.

Luke: the DS9 clone murder took place on the station, which is Bajoran territory. Could be Bajor considers killing one's clone a murder, but the Feds don't.
Ari Paul
Thu, Jun 10, 2021, 11:15pm (UTC -6)
I love the surrealist aspect of this episode. It's really unique in the franchise. Surreal imagery, surreal staging, surreal dialogue. Yet somehow it works and it's captivating.

This episode captures why I really like the 2nd season. You could tell the writers were really trying to do all sorts of different things, taking risks, to make the series unique and pull it away from the original series 2.0 that the 1st season was shaping out to be. A lot of people talk about the third season as being the first real season when things come together and become the TNG we all love. But for me it's really the 2nd season when this happens....albeit still with those spandexy uniforms...
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 7:20am (UTC -6)
Some good points, Ari. I think TNG's second season did have some great episodes - including one introducing arguably the greatest Star Trek villain(s) ever. But it had a lot of forgettable or worse episodes, too. Other than the important exceptions of Q Who and Measure of a Man, I can't say it had a single great episode.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 7:44am (UTC -6)
"But for me it's really the 2nd season when this happens....albeit still with those spandexy uniforms..."

Agreed, Season 2 has some of that offbeat weirdness that hadn't yet been stamped out as the series homogenized. And with two bona fide classic episodes (Measure of a Man / Q Who) I cannot understand why Season 2 is so casually dismissed as terrible by fans.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 8:05am (UTC -6)
Tomalak sorry I missed your earlier message.

It is true that there are "only" two great episodes. But I'd argue that those two aren't just great in the vein of the Survivors or the Defector (two other four star episodes from season 3) but absolute classics, of which even the beloved third season only has two as well (Yesterday's Enterprise and Best of Both Worlds). Now are the middling Season 2 episodes equal to the middling Season 2 episodes? No. Season 3-5 are unquestionably better overall.

But I will take Season 2 any day over Seasons 1, 6 and 7. And while the lower tier episodes are bad, excepting Shades of Grey, there are no genuine stinkers on the level of Code of Honor (Up the Long Ladder is debatable).

Season 2 just doesn't deserve the hate it gets. And ya, I am on team Pulawski no question.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:08am (UTC -6)
The Defector is my favourite episode of TNG, but your mileage may differ. Of course, truly great is only one measure and as you say, the average quality did rise after Season 2, at least in most fans' eyes. It would be interesting, actually, to compare the median episodes of each season, too. :-)

There is also the fact that the season only had 21 episodes plus a clip show - so had less chance than any other season to impress. All the other seasons had 26.
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:17am (UTC -6)
I did a tally just for fun and the average Jammer star rating for Season 2 is 2.45 compared with 2.9 for Season 3. Not exactly a massive difference.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:20am (UTC -6)
Hilariously so did I just now! I got these numbers:

Season average
3 2.90
4 2.81
6 2.75
5 2.69
2 2.57
7 2.44
1 2.20
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:22am (UTC -6)
Sorry, the 0 for the clip did funny things to my Excel but once you put it in properly the numbers are the same as yours:

S Average
3 2.90
4 2.81
6 2.75
5 2.69
2 2.45
7 2.44
1 2.20
William B
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -6)
"I did a tally just for fun and the average Jammer star rating for Season 2 is 2.45 compared with 2.9 for Season 3. Not exactly a massive difference."

Jammer has said that he rates relative to expectation/season to an extent, so that the 3 stars for The Icarus Factor doesn't actually mean he thinks it's equally good to season 4's Family. So perhaps his actual opinion would show bigger spread.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 11:21am (UTC -6)
I think looking at the average rating for a season relative to another isn't really useful for determining anything. A simple (but perhaps a bit extreme) example is if a Season A has 4 episodes, and all of them are 2.5* but Season B has 2 episodes that are 3.5* and the other 2 are 1*, I'm calling Season B the better season even if its avg. rating is 0.25 less.

I think, in terms of quantitative measures, looking at how many 3.5* and 4* episodes a season has as being more telling. It's like when you rewatch a season, how many episodes do you watch in their entirety? How many do you skip outright? There are qualitative considerations as well of course.

For me, TNG S2 is a pretty weak season -- another one of transition and finding footing with Geordi now the chief engineer and, of course, Pulaski coming in for Crusher. I prefer Pulaski, but there's still need for time to be spent on background etc. Still far too many weak/terrible episodes.

TNG S3 is fantastic and achieving a level of consistency really is when it made its mark.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, the number crunching, while fun, is rarely a good reflection of the gut feelings (art translated to data loses a lot of ambiguity in the process), but I must say the rankings themselves of the seasons are pretty spot-on of what I feel for TNG. 1 and 7 are clearly the worst. 2 is probably ranked where it belongs relative to the others, but I never considered it bottom tier like 1 or 7. Didn't know that was a general consensus among the fandom.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
Thanks, Jammer. To be clear, I think an average is just that: one data point. Clearly it is telling in this case but no one would sensibly claim that one simple average for each season tells you everything you need to know.
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 7:20pm (UTC -6)
Gor me, as I was going through and curating a watchlist for my friend, TNG S2 was the easiest for me to nail episodes down, even though it has far fewer episodes than other seasons. I didn't have to reckon with poor to middling episodes that are pseudo- relevant to later developments, or bad episodes with iconic moments. The only one I hemmed and hawed on has been "Unnatural Selection" for it's focus on O'Brien. Otherwise, pretty much every episode is either relevant but at least average, or a standout/iconic. Basically, the episodes in S2, for me at least, are extremely easy to define as "worth it" or "skippable" something most seasons of Star Trek don't have, even if my list only ended up with 10 out of 22.
Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 3:43am (UTC -6)
10 out of 21 actual episodes is quite a long watchlist!
Ben D.
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 12:43am (UTC -6)
I like this one a lot. It has a lot of the elements that are later used in Cause and Effect, and in retrospect at least one member of the crew in C&E should have made reference to the happenings in this episode.

But this is more mythical in scope. There is definitely a Jonah aspect here as someone else mentioned, the "first" Picard sacrificing himself to save the ship. The whole thing strikes me as an experiment conducted by the vortex, to see if humans had the capacity to learn from past mistakes. It's nice that it's not spelled out precisely so we can come to our own conclusions, and that's mine.

I generally thought Patrick Stewart did an outstanding job as both Picards. I would normally find it gimmicky for the same actor playing two roles simultaneously, but it didn't bother me here. The other Picard's facial expressions and reactions were fantastic, and "our" normally unflappable Picard very credibly became quite flappable without straying out of character. But I was surprised that "our" Picard killed the other Picard -- it seemed a bit harsh, and I'm not sure that was required to solve the riddle. That other Picard seemed to have met the definition of a sentient being with human rights, as per Measure of a Man.

Other pluses, I liked Riker cooking eggs for the crew and their reactions. I also liked Pulaski considering deposing the captain (or whatever the word is). I liked that Troi didn't follow Picard's orders to watch over the "other" Picard. And the music was great.

3.5 stars sounds about right.
Sat, Jul 10, 2021, 2:54am (UTC -6)
One of the great episodes. There’s a scene which characterises the quality of the direction: from above, we see the door of the shuttle bay open, and a shadow - unmoving - looms into the bay; we know it’s Picard, we know what’s driving him to go there, and yet despite what we know, there’s something a bit sinister, unsettling, about that shadow. It represents the dark mystery at the heart of the story, and is one of the great production moments in all of TNG, in my opinion. It shuns the obvious, adding a rare Hitchcock touch. The fact that the mystery ends up unexplained, adds to the sense that we’ve been drawn into something, and escaped from it, leaving us with the same puzzled questions plaguing the crew.

On a lighter note, I loved the opening scene, where Riker pompously lectures his dinner guests about the flair involved in making food by hand which transcends the computer’s efforts - then proceeds to serve up disgusting scrambled eggs instead of an omelette, which is so bad that only Worf enjoys it!

Slightly slow moving in the middle, so 3.5 stars seems right.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 3:04pm (UTC -6)
Never seen basic scrambled eggs billed as an omelette before...
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
Hi folks. I just watched this episode for the first time, and while it isn't bad I think the basic structure could be improved. I see that Twisty Necco posted this idea back in 2016, but why not switch the roles and have future Picard kill present-day Picard ?

As it stands, the episode doesn't make sense because future Picard seems to be intent on leaving the Enterprise, an act that he already knows will lead to its destruction. It'd wrap up the story more elegantly if present-day Picard makes the rash decision to hop into the escape pod, leaving future Picard with no option but to kill him to prevent the loop continuing. Future Picard lives on, but he'll forever carry the memory of losing his ship the first time round the time loop.

Which reminds me of something. If I'm in Pulaski's shoes and an exact replica of the captain turns up in sick-bay, the very first thing I'd do is draw an obvious black mark on his forehead. Or maybe just stick a Post-it note on the back of his head. Anything just to make it obvious which is which !
Sat, Feb 26, 2022, 3:33am (UTC -6)
This is one of the most boring episodes of TNG.
Fri, Mar 25, 2022, 8:50am (UTC -6)
Had only seen this once a long time ago. I kept expecting the solution to be that the present day Picard would realize he’s the one who needs to go to the shuttle and into the past, to later (or earlier to be exact) become “future Picard” and later remain on board as the “new” captain. The Picard from the future would take his place as the real Picard in the present time of the episode. That would’ve been a shocking yet stylish conclusion.
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
I'm okay with the mystery being unresolved, but the episode was too long.

Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
@Ari Paul,
Agreed, season 2 definitely has its quirky charm. They were trying hard to find themselves, but hadn't yet. As great as 3-6 became, 2 had gotten to the point where it wasn't mature but was very clever and mostly stopped picking poop out of its diaper.

@Jillyenator (Worf on TNG bs DS9)
Absolutely agreed! It sounded so great when Worf was coming to DS9, but it darn near ruined the character. I absolutely despise Worf on DS9. An often fun, if confused, character on TNG becomes a relentlessly whinging judgmental dour on DS9.

Riker scrambling eggs is one of THE MOST hilarious scenes Trek because of his little jazz (??) sing song as he's doing it. "Deet do do deet doot BOOM" when he cracks the egg. Sheesh.
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
That was personal.
Fri, Dec 9, 2022, 4:20am (UTC -6)
Three and a half stars? Really?
Gorn with the Wind
Fri, Dec 9, 2022, 11:15am (UTC -6)
What's the problem with the rating?

This is one of Season 2's best episodes and one I return to on a regular basis. Tonally it calls to mind one of those vivid dreams that linger with you upon waking: a mounting sense of dread, bizarre yet consistent internal logic, and an inescapable feeling of claustrophobia.
Mon, May 22, 2023, 6:24pm (UTC -6)
Just saw it for the first time, and I was riveted. Sure, I figured the answer was The Costanza (, but Stewart's future self acting was excellent as always -- really felt his out-of-phase-ness on the sickbay table. And present Picard's discomfort was just perfect.

Also, I so adored the opening scene of Riker cooking omelettes for the crew, and Worf chowing down was hilarious. This is the crew jelling in the best possible way.
Thu, Jul 20, 2023, 1:41am (UTC -6)
This episode is very good, and has stuck with me longer than most. It has an excellent creepy, cosmic horror vibe, and feels almost like a sci-fi short story. Like a Quatermass story or similar. The out of phase Picard, jabbering and muttering, looking right at you but in another... place, or state of existence... creepy! And the lack of explanation cements this feeling. Good to have an episode like this in the collection.

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