WARNING:  This post contains heavy, industrial strength mega-spoilers for "Yesterday's Enterprise".  Stay far, far away unless you want to know what happened long, long ago.

Last chance to bail out.

This was a lousy time for the VCR to break, lads. A truly venomous time. Otherwise, I would've watched it another, oh, twenty or thirty times.  Or maybe I should say "we would have".  This is a momentous occasion:  the first (and probably last) edition of the LYNCH-SHAPPE Joint Spoiler Review.  Right, Mike? [Huh...what...sorry...I was thinking about rabbits...oh...hi, folks.]  Be it
noted that any remarks ONLY from the above hairy-faced one will be prefaced by the []'s, just as they were there.  [Which hairy-faced one?]  Anyway, on to a synop, before we hit the really good stuff:

The Enterprise finds something which both is and is not there (well, yes and no), and might be a wormhole, but looks more like a temporal rift.  They see something come through...maybe a ship...that they cannot identify.  It comes within range to be identified by Worf, and...fade to...

...Darker, greyer bridge.  Closed-collared uniforms.  Phasers on every hip. Tension so thick you could cut it with a spoon. [A SPOON?]  Picard sits in the bridge's ONE chair (aside from Con and Ops), while Riker glowers at the screen from above.  The identification is completed, by Tasha.  Yes!  Tasha!  Worf is no longer there, nor is Troi.  Guinan suddenly gets a "oh, something's definitely not right here" look on her face, and the ship is identified as NCC...1701... C:  USS Enterprise.  (And that's only the teaser!)

Questions abound.  The Ent-C is known to have disappeared 22 years ago.  No one knows how it vanished, or how it got here.  An automated distress call is heard, audio only:  Capt. Garrett, Ent-C:  the ship was attacked by 4 Romulan Warbirds, and is heavily damaged.  Picard grudgingly allows Riker to beam over damage control teams, with strict instructions that no one is to mention where or when they are.  Riker beams over, with LaForge, Tasha, Bev, and many others.

Aboard Ent-C, all the bridge crew is dead, sans Capt. Garrett (and Lt. Castillo, whom Tasha finds buried under some wreckage).  They are wearing old, STII-IV type uniforms, minus the turtlenecks.  Bev examines the captain, and beams her directly to sickbay.  Riker reports to Picard (from Geordi's report to him) that, although heavily damaged, the ship could be repaired, "and we all know Starfleet could use another ship, no matter how old."  Tasha reports that several Klingon ships have been seen massing in the area, and Picard gives Riker nine hours to get Ent-C in shape to travel.  Otherwise, they must evacuate and destroy her.  Then, Guinan comes to Picard (in his ready room, also vastly changed and somehow darker...perhaps more "military"?).

She says that all this is "wrong."  She cannot defend her position, for she has no facts, but she knows in her heart of hearts that this situation is wrong. The bridge, Picard, everything--it's just not supposed to be this way. The Ent-C's disappearance from its own time and sudden appearance here has caused the past (and therefore, the present) to be irrevocably changed.

Cut to Ent-C bridge.  Yar is assisting Castillo in making repairs, and informs him of the approaching Klingon vessel.  "Klingons?", he says.  "Weren't we negotiating a peace with them?"  "A lot has changed, Lieutenant...a lot of changes."

Cut to sickbay.  Capt. Garrett has regained consciousness, and Picard comes in to speak with her.  He, trying to find out how the rift happened, asks her what the last thing she remembers is.  She intercepted a distress call ("surely you heard it!") from a Klin outpost and went to aid them.  She remembers lots of photon torpedoes flying, a brilliant flash, and there they were.  Picard tells her where and when she is, and states that it's a pity they vanished.  "A Federation starship, going to help a Klingon outpost--if you'd succeeded, you might have entirely prevented this war."  Yes...war.  ["What is it good for?"]  In this timeline, the outpost was destroyed, and war broke out as a result. (Exactly how is debatable.)  

Cut to Picard's ready room.  Guinan comes in and says that the Ent-C must be sent back.  Picard says that they can't spare the people and the ship--they are at war.  She says that's exactly her point--"this war isn't supposed to be happening!  You've got to send those people back to correct this!"  Picard is moved, but not agreeable--he demands to have more to go on than her intuition. She brings up their long association, and says that, in all that time, he has never known her to base a recommendation on anything vague or trivial. She says that she _knows_ this must be done, and he just has to recall his trust for her to carry it through.

Now, we see Garrett in sickbay. (Castillo has beamed aboard by now.)  He reports that the ship is back up to minimally functioning levels, and Garrett immediately goes back to her, over Crusher's vehement objections. Yar shows Castillo around, they wind up in 10-Forward (the only brightly-lit place on the whole ship), and Guinan looks at Yar real funny-like.  Yar notices, and shortly after is recalled to the bridge for a senior officers' briefing.

This briefing is short and clipped.  Picard has come around to Guinan's viewpoint, and is going to send the Ent-C back through the rift. Riker objects strenuously, to which Picard replies that this is a briefing, not a discussion. Period.  Riker continues to argue, saying that they'd be sending 120 people to their deaths needlessly.  Picard says that, if Guinan's right, and they avert the war by doing this, they'll be trading 120 lives for forty billion. End of discussion.  LaForge remarks, on the side, to Crusher, that if this is so, Lord only knows if any of them are dead or alive in the "real" timeline.  The significance of this is not lost on Yar, who seems to be starting to realize just why Guinan's been looking at her so strangely. She takes the lift down with Data, who's on his way to Engineering.

She confronts Guinan, who, although she doesn't have "alternate biographies of the crew", when pressed tells Yar that she died--and what's more, it was an empty death, without meaning.

Cut to Picard, on Ent-C, telling Garrett what the story is.  She agrees, though she wishes the Ent-D could come with them to make the battle a little more hopeful.  (Picard tells her that the war is not going well AT ALL, and they expect to have to surrender within six months, so this is, in many ways, the only hope of both ships.)  Picard heads back, but Yar requests a minute or two to say goodbye to Castillo.  During this, a lone Klingon vessel decloaks, takes several shots from the Ent-D head-on without blinking (shield technology improves lots when you have a real enemy to worry about), and hits the Ent-C with a couple of force-bolts before vanishing again.  Picard asks Capt. Garrett for a damage report (the Ent-D's damage is minimal), but Yar answers, telling him, "Captain Garrett is dead."

Castillo comes back aboard the Ent-D, saying he wants to assume command of the Ent-C.  Riker objects, but Castillo says he has good people, and knows how important the mission is.  Picard agrees, but points out that there isn't much time before more Klin arrive.  Castillo leaves (after giving Yar a LOOOOOOOONG kiss goodbye) ["Aw, you don't haveta tell them about that!"]  {Yes, I do.  
Shaddap.}, saying that he'll get 'er ready in time.  Yar, shortly afterwards, goes to Picard and asks him for a transfer over to the Ent-C.  He indignantly refuses, and says she's needed here.  She says, "I'm not supposed to be here", and tells Picard what Guinan said.  She says that she knew the risks when she put on the Starfleet uniform, and if she has to die, she wants it to have meaning.  Picard approves.
We come to the last mile.  The Ent-C is powering up, making its way to the rift, and the Ent-D has to provide enough cover for it to get away, despite the three K'Vort class Klin vessels who will be arriving any second.  He says (I'm going to try as near a quote as possible),

"As you know, we could outrun the three Klingon vessels, but we need to allow enough time for the Enterprise-C to make it through the rift. (...)   Let's make sure no one ever forgets the name...Enterprise."

["I think you should stop there.  Why tell them the ending?"]  {They'll kill us, that's why.  Besides, I can't stop now.}  ["Coward!  Drink your prune juice!"] {Shaddap, Grotto.}

The Klin arrive, and the attack is on.  Geordi is running like a madman, trying to keep everything functioning (and mostly succeeding).  As before, though, the Ent-D's shots seem to have little to no effect on the Klin vessels.  A nasty hit gets through, and Geordi loses control of the containment fields.  He estimates about two minutes before a complete warp-core breach.  58 seconds remain
until the Ent-C makes it through the rift at this time.  The Ent-D gets lucky, and manages to destroy one of the three Klin ships, providing enough time for Ent-C to get away--

--and Worf says that it seemed to be a sensor glitch, looking perhaps like a ship for a moment, but then vanishing.  Picard orders a Class-1 probe to be sent around to monitor the closure, and they head out.  Guinan checks in with the bridge to make sure everything is all right, and then sits down with Geordi, saying "Tell me about Tasha Yar."  End credits.

Phew.  Review to follow.  Right, Mike?  ["Huh?  Oh.  Yeah.  Right.  Huh?"]
{Shaddap, Grotto.}

Tim 'n' Mike

WARNING:  More spoilers cometh.  'Nuff said.

Hokay.  We're back.  ["Huh?  What?"]  {For the last time, Mike, wake up.} ["I'm awake, I'm awake."]  On with the review, now--

This, folks, was blissful to the extreme.  It had nearly everything anyone could wish for.

For example, it's the closest we'll ever get to seeing:  1) a TNG-TOS crossover; 2) a TNG "mirror" story on film; 3) a look at a more militaristic, "action-first, talk second" Federation.  ["Yeah!  A meaner, nastier, nation!"]  All of these things would be interesting to see (particularly the first two, I think), but this is the closest we'll come.

It has also opened up whole new lines for fan fiction.  As a public service, we wish to provide a few springboards here:

--the obvious; stories about what Mike has named the "war" universe. -

-if the other timeline continues in some form after the battle of the Enterprises, it's likely that the Federation would fall within a month.  (After all, it was probably six months before, and now the flagship has been lost.) So, stories about the fall of the Federation could now abound (particularly if you somehow ally them with the Romulans to fight the Klin oppressors--oh, this already sounds like fun!)

--an interesting tangent:  Wesley is 17 years old.  The war is 22 years old. Therefore, everything about his life was altered.  So, I put it to you:  IS JACK CRUSHER DEAD?  If not, we've got lots of story fodder there.

--stories of the Ent-C just prior to this situation (and just after, with the impetus to design and build Ent-D).

--an alternate history for Worf (including, if you wish, putting HIM at the helm of one of the K'Vorts attacking Picard).

--or, rewriting the history of Ent-D from day 1. --etc., etc., and so forth.

Even beyond that, I don't think I can find anything done wrong here.  Can you, Mike?  ["One thing...more a question.  Why is Yar still only a Lt., especially in a military situation?"]  Good point.  More of a conversation piece than an error, though.  

The plot:  hey, it was perfect.  We had a much more grim tone, and a definite sense of desperation, far beyond the norms.  Very nice.  Now, I'm going to briefly turn things over to Mike, who wants to babble about the sets and the lighting:

The Sets, etc.: Thank you, Mr. Goat-beard {Goat-beard?! Same to you, you git!}. It's amazing what the right crew can do to make old sets look new again. We're all very familiar now with the Ent-D bridge--so much so that we notice with ease the minor changes from season-to-season. The TNG crew have turned our impressions of that bridge set inside out, without making any obvious structural changes. The old streamlining and consolidation of control is gone, to some degree, and enhanced in others. There is only one center-seat, but there are two extra stations that weren't there before. The aft stations, normally idle except when clearly being used for something specific, are constantly bright and active. The once bare panels on the sides of the bridge are now also active stations.

More interesting is how much difference the changes in color and lighting make to the feel of the bridge. The normally spacious, almost cavernous chamber looks somehow claustrophobic, and, as one other reviewer has said, almost submarine-like--made so by the darker lighting--blue instead of white. The color scheme of the control panels is changed--sharper, brighter colors, more red and yellows. The minute I saw it, I thought, "This is no ship of exploration. No peaceful mission for this beast. This is a warship. Plain and simple."

To add to this, there are subtle changes to almost every aspect of the ship. Picard's office has charts of fleet positions and telemetry all over it. The briefing room, rather than having a round table, has a raised desk, and the crew all sit facing Picard like a lecture room, in several rows. The corridors are somehow less plush, and while I don't really think the lights were any dimmer, they have a darker *feel* to them. Ten-Forward, usually a cozy, dark, cocktail-lounge-like room, is now the brightest spot on the ship {much like Vicki Vale's apartment was the one bright spot in all Gotham in Batman}. Again, it's not necessarily that the lights themselves are any brighter, but they *seem* that way because the room has less of the "cozy" accoutrements. Even the wet-bar is gone, replaced with a blank, light-grey wall with the ship's logo behind Guinan.


A-hem.  Thank you (I think).

Characterization: Very, very nice. Guinan persists in being the most mysterious being we've seen in a good long while (and it's a sure bet that she knew more than she was telling here), and her long relationship with Picard was openly mentioned, finally.  Picard of the alternate timeline was perfectly done: ruthlessly efficient, and not letting his concern get in the way of doing exactly what was necessary to further the Federation's interest.  Riker was far more hostile, which sort of makes sense when you consider that his primary function, protecting the Captain, is far more difficult in this timeline.   Wesley seems more mature, having had to grow up faster.  Data, on the other hand, is less human, having neither the inclination nor the time to pursue training in humanity the way we've seen him do.  LaForge is all seriousness here, only letting his wit blossom in highly acerbic remarks.  As for the guests, Capt. Garrett did a good job for the short time we saw her, and Castillo was wonderful.  He actually managed to strike me as someone who's dedicated his life to the service, and is quite prepared to sacrifice his life for what he thinks is right.  And lastly, there's Tasha.

It was wonderful to see her again. The biggest problem with her presence in the first season was that it created an imbalance on the bridge, not Yar herself. (She simply left Worf nothing to do but snarl and make comments like "Nice planet.")  Tasha, in those rare moments when she was properly written (like the beginning of "11001001" and her death and funeral in "Skin of Evil"), was a joy to watch.  Here was no different.  She fit in perfectly to the "war" universe:  dedicated, efficient, devoted to the Fleet ["and eminently jumpable", saith Mike].  Wonderful though her funeral was in SoE, I didn't feel cheapened by this show.  In fact, it hurt to see her leave to face a certain death for the SECOND time.  To repeat J.L. Picard way back when, "Au revoir, Natasha."  I, at least, shall miss you.

If we want to round this out with a quick discussion of the special effects, they were FAN-Tastic.  It was jarring, to say the least, to see a Klin ship literally shrug off phaser and photon blasts from the Federation flagship. Add that to the fact that we saw a real, hard-fought space battle (which, pacifist though I am, I'd really been looking forward to), expertly done, and you have a lot of fun.  'Nuff said.  (Who is this 'Nuff guy, anyway?)  ["And what did he say?"]

Now, time for the ratings, I suppose.

Plot:  10.  Anything with that much potential for spinoff stories...
Plot Handling:  10.  ["Mmmph!  Yes!  Like that!"]
Characterization:  10.  Words fail me.  ["and that's rare, lemme tell you!"]
Technical:  10.  The dispersal pattern Sierra for the photons made a great start, and the rest followed suit.

TOTAL:  Let's see...the average of 10, 10, 10, and 10.  I'd say we have-- eleven!  Yes, dammit.  This was, at least to me, the best damned episode of any Trek I have ever seen, so it gets an eleven.  You agree, Mike?  ["You see this knob here?  It goes to eleven."]  {Thank you, Nigel.}  Th-th-th-that's all, folks.


Tim Lynch (Cornell's first Astronomy Major)
UUCP:  ...!rochester!cornell!vax5.cit.cornell.edu!h52y "Captain Jean-Luc Picard--I'd like to say you've been like a father to me...but I've never had one so I don't know what it feels like.  But if there was one person in this universe who I would want to be like...who I would want to be proud of me--it's you.  You, who have the heart of an explorer, and the soul of a poet.  So, you'll understand when I say--Death is that state where one lives on only in the memory of others, and so it is not an end.  No goodbyes--just good memories.  Hailing frequencies closed, sir."

Mike Shappe (Uncle Mikey)
"I find my thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking...how empty it will be without her presence....Did I miss the point?" "No, no you didn't Data. You got it."

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