Yesterday’s Enterprise

Star Trek The Next Generation’s Season 3 has some of the greatest episodes of Star Trek ever and one of them is the very memorable and often mentioned “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. The crew of the Enterprise comes across a temporal rift in space and while investigating it unwittingly a ship from the past comes through it and crosses over to the current time. The displaced ship is the USS Enterprise C which was thought to have been lost & destroyed in battle by Romulan ships while attending to a distress call at Narendra III, a Klingon outpost – 23 years ago! The crossing of the Ent-C forwards in time 23 years has also had a change in the present timeline. We see the Enterprise D change from that of a pristine ship of exploration to that of a battle worn warship. The crew uniforms have changed and both Deanna Troi & Worf are not members of the crew in this timeline. But Tasha Yar is, as her role as tactical officer!

Timeline changes and alternative timelines are complicated things but this episode is done so well and it has a great story. You see all the changed on the Ent-D and even the characters mannerisms have changed to being that of a crew in battle. Turns out that in this timeline the Federation is at war and has been at war with the Romulan empire and the Klingons. Picard has an away team beam onto the Ent-C and help the survivors of which there are slightly over a 120 and has the injured beamed over to the Ent-D and treat them. Ent-D’s Guinan, who takes care of 10 Forward, is the only one who realizes that something is wrong. Her ESP abilities as an El Aurian made her sense that this timeline is all wrong and that the Ent-C must go back through the rift, back to 23 years to their own timeline as things are very bad here. If the Ent-C goes back and face the 4 Romulan warbirds, they will be destroyed but their heroism is what causes a shift in the balance and have the Klingons, who greatly admire their attempts to rescue the Klingon outpost at Narendra III and solidify the bond of alliance between the Klingon Empire and the Federation – meaning the Romulans would not go to war with the Federation fearing the strong alliance!

Captain Picard arrives in sickbay to meet Captain Rachel Garrett, who commands the Ent-C and who has just undergone surgery. She has no idea that she & her crew are now 23 years into the future. Garrett asks where they came from, but Picard deflects it with wanting to know how her ship ended up here. Garrett tells Picard that they were responding to a distress signal from the Klingon outpost on Narendra III and asks if Picard heard it, but he says they didn’t. Picard tells her that she is aboard the Enterprise, 1701-D, a revelation that stuns Garrett. Picard tells her they have traveled 22 years into the future. Although he does not really want to do so, he asks Garret is she & her crew would go back through the rift and face the Romulans. Their death would be certain but that could prevent over 20 years of war, a war that the Federation is losing. Picard tells her that in 6 months the Federation may have to surrender.

The moral dilemma that Picard is in is done well. With barely restrained anger, Picard tells her the Enterprise-C crew would die moments after returning. Guinan tells Picard that she wishes she had more information but she doesn’t. She only has a very strong feeling that this is wrong. Picard then asks who decides which timeline is the right one? Guinan says she does. That isn’t good enough for Picard. He will not allow one hundred and twenty-five people to sacrifice their lives on her “feeling.” Forty billion people have already been lost in this war, Guinan snaps back, a war that isn’t and shouldn’t be happening. She repeats that the only way to save those billions is to sacrifice that small group of people. But there is no guarantee of success, and everything Picard is tells him that the idea is wrong, dangerous and futile. Guinan tells Picard that in all the years he’s known her, she’s never forced herself on anyone, or to take a stand based on whimsical triviality. Guinan tells Picard that she’s told him what he must do and Picard only has his trust in her to base his decision on. After debating it out & briefing his senior staff, Picard goes to Garrett.

Garrett knows there is no chance for survival, and suggests the Enterprise-D return with them, and Picard says he can’t. Garrett accepts that, saying Picard doesn’t belong in her time any more than she belongs in Picard’s. She then tells Picard how many of the Enterprise-C’s crew want to return, some for not wanting to be without their loved ones and some because they don’t like the idea of sneaking out in the middle of a fight. Picard says that one starship can make no impact in the present… but twenty-two years ago, one ship could stop the war before it starts. As the C is about to leave, a Klingon ship decloacks and attacks them; Garret is killed in the attack! Her next senior officer Lt. Richard Castillo takes over and Tasha Yar – who was informed by Guinan that she too does not belong in this timeline and that her death in the original timeline was meaningless – joins the crew of the C as Tactical officer. As three Klingon vessels decloack to attack them, the Ent D offers cover to the Ent C as it enters the rift. The Klingon ships batter away at the now-helpless Enterprise-D, and just before the ship is destroyed, the Enterprise-C flies back through the rift….

….And the timeline is restored with things back to normal on the Ent D and Picard not having known the alternate timeline or their encounter with the Ent C. Worf is back, as well as Troi. Worf reports that his sensor readings fluctuated and what appeared to be a ship has now vanished. Data reports that what had appeared to be a rift has closed upon itself. Only Guinan has realized the change and she keeps it to herself. What an amazing episode with all the elements that we so love about what makes Star Trek so great. This episode is a 9 outta 10!

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