Plot Synopsis: Trapped in 19th century San Francisco, the crew of the Enterprise must locate Data, prevent his death and return him to the 24th century while stopping the Devidians from destroying Earth’s history.
Plot A and B Analysis: After the lengthy 90-second recap we get to the teaser: Samuel Clemens is convinced Data has come from the future to wreak havoc in the past, and sets himself up in opposition. Plot A is about the Devidian threat, there is no plot B. We solve one mystery right away: Beverly and Riker realize the Devidians are traveling to the past during a time of an epidemic, so they can kill unnoticed to feed themselves. Data and the Enterprise crew are searching for the Devidians, and they meet up after almost cornering them in a hospital. The pace is brisk throughout, and the plot twists about halfway through when the Devidians ambush them in the cavern to steal back the cane and escape: Data’s head flies off, the crew (except Picard) follow him back through the time door, and Clemens dives through with them! They return to the future with Data’s headless body (which is holding the cane) to return him to life with the head from the past, send Clemens back with the cane to get Picard back to the future (who leaves a helpful message in Data’s head), and wipe out the dirty hole-in-the-head people. Everything gets tied up neatly.
Favorite Scenes: I’m not sure how many favorite scenes I have, the overall quality of the episode is consistent, but nothing stands out as amazing. Picard and Guinan together in the past is nice, and how Picard handles their landlady is pretty funny. The confrontation in the cavern is good because a lot of important things happen all at once, it’s the turning point of the episode. Worf does has a scene where he gives Riker a nudge in the right direction, it takes place in the ready room:
Worf: Sir, permission to speak frankly.
Riker: Go ahead.
Worf: Our priority is to stop the aliens from any more incursions to Earth. Any delay is unacceptable.
Riker: If I can save Captain Picard, I consider that very acceptable.
Worf: The captain would not. I recommend we target photon torpedoes on the alien habitat and destroy it. Immediately.
Troi: He’s right, Will.
Use of Cast/Characters: The entire ensemble gets used here. Picard is pretty active here, leading the team in the past and getting some Guinan time. Riker gets to punch a guy, then mostly gets impatient in the future, as he is willing to do whatever he can to get Picard back. His devotion to his captain we’ll see more of in Chain of Command. Data is center stage again, tracking the Devidians, getting into a bit of a tussle with one, getting his head blown off…some nice development. Marina definitely got a tan over the summer between seasons, she is darker than I’ve ever seen her. She got married, so it was probably from her honeymoon. She gets a scene convincing Clemens the future turns out well, and getting Riker to do the right thing. Geordi gets a bit of play, knocking a hole-in-the-head guy down and then putting Data back together. Worf gets almost nothing except talking some sense into Riker, but it’s a good scene. In fact it’s one of the few times in the series he makes a recommendation that gets followed! Beverly has a pretty good scene in the hospital early on. We learn the bellhop’s name is Jack London, the famous novelist, though he doesn’t have much in part two. Jerry Hardin is back as Samuel Clemens, and is just as good as in part one. Even Pamela Kosh as Mrs. Carmichael does a good job.
Blu Ray Version: There is one deleted scene. It takes place right after Clemens tells Data and Guinan he intends to stop them. Beverly is working in the hospital and gets told off by the doctor, who just asked her for her advice, lol. The Asian patient in the hospital actually has some lines where he tells them about the strange doctor and nurse. Frakes has fun twirling his nightstick on the street. I’d be fine with it being included, and having a less lengthy recap at the beginning.
Nitpicks: I’m not sure why Riker fires a warning shot at the alien in the infirmary. Why would he just shoot the alien? In the 24th minute Data walks up to Clemens, easily close enough to grab the gun right out of his hand without effort, but Picard waves him off. Why? Take the gun away and the threat is removed. The 29th minute tells the audience a bit too much of the obvious: that she can’t tell Picard what happens when they meet in the future due to him not knowing about it yet.
Overall Impression: Overall this two-parter is a bit better than Unification, the low-water mark thus far in two-parters. This is one of the best ensemble episodes in the series, as almost every single member of the cast gets used to good effect and contributes to the story. It’s not without weaknesses, however, as the aliens are pretty poorly drawn. They’re time-shifting aliens who feed on us. Okay. They can only feed on our brains, that’s how their biology works. Really, because that seems extremely specific for a distant planet. We blow up their little cave, but is that all of the aliens that exist? There’s only a dozen in existence and we wipe out the species? If there are others can’t they just do the same? Overall it is a good episode, not great but better than average. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars, the same as part one.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: You may notice San Francisco looks completely different in part two than it did in part one. This is because the San Francisco street scenes in part one were filmed at the historic Pico House and along Olvera Street in old Los Angeles. By the time part two was filmed, the New York Streets set on the Paramount Pictures lot had been completed so the second part was filmed there. The week this episode was shot was the same week the cast and crew of DS9 were shooting their pilot. You may recognize Alexander Enberg who played the reporter as Vorik, a recurring character on Voyager for several seasons.
This is definitely not the story of how Guinan and Picard formed their intimate relationship, though their first adventure here would likely dispose Guinan to Picard’s help when whatever happens between them happens in a few hundred years. Note that from now on, Data’s head is not technically the same one he’s had, but is one 500 years older. I guess he’s lucky it’s replaceable! This episode won two Emmys: one for Costume Design and another for Sound Editing.
Missable/Unmissable? Unmissable if you saw part one, or love time travel stories. Otherwise, missable. The next one is about the same.