Time’s Arrow

Whatever happens to Data’s head in the future is going to happen in the past… which hasn’t happened yet. It’s time travel in search of neural vampires, plus Mark Twain in search of a decent cigar. Time’s Arrow and Time’s Arrow, Part II go into the Mission Log.

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  • CmdrR

    Halley’s Comet. It’s /ˈhæli/, rhymes with valleys comet. Don’t worry, you won’t have to know that for another forty-something years. I only know because I’m older than dirt and remember the last go-around.

    • We were both here for the Halley’s comet sighting in 1986. In the show, we’re using Twain’s pronunciation.

      • CmdrR

        Of course. I keep thinking I’m the oldest dino on the planet. Always enjoy the ‘casts!

    • AMAZING video – Dana is awesome!

  • Wildride

    Solved the problem of letdown two parters by not bothering to have a particularly compelling part one.

  • Steve Sheridan

    Check out Ken and John’s Mission Log Morals, Meanings and Messages summary as of TNG’s Season 5 conclusion here:

    • Holy cow, Steve. That’s like the Mission Log Cliff Notes there. Really impressive!

    • A massive undertaking, and so greatly appreciated! Thank you again, Steve!

    • Muthsarah

      Looking this over, I gotta wonder: Is “Up the Long Ladder” REALLY Ken and John’s pick for worst episode of TNG (if not of all Trek) thus far? Sure reads like it.

      • Steve Sheridan

        Kind of depends on how you access “worst episode”. For instance, there is only one TNG episode I could find where both Ken and John felt the production didn’t hold up AND the messages didn’t stand the test of time, and that was The Dauphin.

    • WOW! Now that’s Impressive!

    • Awesome! Thanks. ^_^

    • Thorsten Wieking

      Awesome, thank you!

  • I hate to be that “The Simpsons already did it!” guy, but Doctor Who had already met H.G. Wells… in a 1985 two-parter that is not exactly well-loved by fandom. Probably best that they decided Twain was who the crew would meet…and better still that they picked Mark instead of Shania. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/436d619a89c9e7a3a4fb3ed7729ba66596a45c57cc04183f80f2b2b25539a630.jpg

  • Wildride

    “What are you doing?!?”
    “Scratching a message into Data’s head.”
    “Wouldn’t it just be easier for me to relay that message at the right time?”
    “Probably, but this is way funnier. Tell you what: If they don’t figure it out themselves, you can let them know. But wait and say, ‘I can’t interfere in the past’ until you’re sure they won’t figure it out.”
    “You’re a strange dude, sometimes, Picard.”

  • gizmochimp

    You can currently see Data’s head at the “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds” exhibit at the MoPop in Seattle. It’s displayed appropriately in a hole in the ground.

    I really like Jack Murdok as the Old Forty Niner. It’s a small part, but he plays it really well and has a heartbreaking moment that gets me every time.

    • always thought it was odd, “Nemesis” revisited that concept…

      • nathankc

        ‘always thought it was odd: “Nemesis”‘ – fixed that for ya 😉

      • Konservenknilch

        Ooh, a second android! Lore? What’s a “Lore”?

    • Dave Steph Taylor


  • Danny-wa

    Really appreciated the discussion. I haven’t rewatched these episodes as a person who purports to adult. I was not satisfied with the explanation offered as to how Guinan and Captain Picard met. It doesn’t explain the whole, “We are more than family,” remark from Best of Both Worlds. It does explain the bald man thing but barely.
    Also, the interactions our crew had with the people in the 19th century didn’t feel right, somehow, especially with the boarding house lady. Thank you again for your discussion, really enjoy it.

  • Muthsarah

    The episode was fun, I guess.

    I dunno. I just felt like Mark Twain was a bit OVERplayed, y’know? Especially in this scene:

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Ya, watching both back to back he is a bit much.

      • Matt Bell

        I seem to remember that SFDebris had quite a bit of info on the depiction of Twain in this episode (http://sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/t226.php episode 3). Apparently the distinctive voice originated with actor Hal Holbrook in the 1950s. Is this the same chap mentioned in MissionLog? I can’t seem to find that section again! 🙁

        • Holbrook did the definitive Twain show for a number of years, in fact he’s still doing it to this day at the age of 91! The sound recording we were talking about is that of actor William Gillette. You can hear it here: https://youtu.be/mqHPN4lW6tI

          • Matt Bell

            Thanks John, it is fascinating to hear that! I wonder if Holbrook ever heard the recording prior to developing that now oft-imitated Twain voice?

    • Matthew Saxon

      My personal favourite TNG Edit

  • Durakken

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I keep on getting the feeling of “oh that’s in the last few seasons?” This stuff, in my head, feels like it was all done earlier in the show’s timeline, and season 1 feels like it is a smaller part than it is.

    The thing with Next Phase, it again brings up the thought that we don’t know how much people know about what really is going on. So from Warf’s perspective it was that Geordi was dead, then he was a ghost, then he was alive, and only him, Ro, Data, and Picard know what happened…

    Also, with Warf, you ever think he’s like, “Sorry, right now is not a good time to die, cuz I’m off duty!”

  • Konservenknilch

    Funny – I liked the (made up) “Next Phase” quite a bit more than you guys, this time it’s the other way around. I don’t have any specific complaints about the episode, I just found it… dull. Like, if I happened on it channel-surfing, I would keep going dull. Didn’t care much for Twain either, I think he was played too broad (though maybe that was what he was like). I might have liked it more as a single episode, TNG two-parters almost never do it for me. Probably because they are usually not quite thought through in advance, see Best of Both Worlds – first part yay, second part meh. All Good Things is easily the best they did.

    What I did like was the timey-wimey stuff and the aliens. Those gave the ep quite a Doctor Who feel IMO (not a bad thing). The time travel part is obvious, but the aliens – weirdo phasing space-time vampires basically – could have fit anywhere in old or nuWho. Again, not a complaint.

    • Muthsarah

      It IS the two-parter issue. BoBW is the only one that needed to be that long. Yes, I’m including All Good Things. There is so much in all the other episodes that distracts from what could be a fast-paced, tight story.

      Time’s Arrow is a…comfortable episode. There’s a lot going on, certainly, but a lot of it is in service of throwaways comedy bits or unnecessary foreshadowing. The first part doesn’t even have a passable cliffhanger, let alone a good one. It’s probably to my benefit that I hadn’t been a fan back then.

    • Roger Birks

      TNG episodes are produced singular. They finish filming Part 1 and after a two or three week hiatus the writers get back to work on the new season with Part 2. TNG was always an episodic show and the two part episodes prove it. They are always somewhat tonally different. The first part is the build up. Tension episode. Part 2 is the action and movement episode.

  • Matt Bell

    Regarding Picards over-enunciation of “Type-R”: I think Picard is just trying to make it sound like he knows what he’s talking about! After all, as Captain you do not have the luxury of being anything less perfect (according to Spock, anyway). I think the exchange went like this:

    DATA: …My brother’s positronic brain has a type L phase discriminating amplifier. Mine is a type R.
    (Picard thinks “crap, I know nothing about phase dissecting thingies. Ur Oh, Riker’s looking at me; I need to say something. Anything!”
    PICARD: Type R?
    DATA: Yes, sir.
    (Picard thinks “great! The one time I need Data to rattle off exposition is the one time he keeps his trap shut! Time to change the subject before anyone notices)
    PICARD: Can you predict how long this has been in the cavern?

  • Matthew Saxon

    I might have a newly discovered nit! (I don’t have copy of Phil’s TNG guide so I can’t check).
    The ‘mile below the Presidio’ must not been literal or even close as there were no mines anywhere that deep in the 1890’s. In fact there are no mines even now that deep so close to the sea. (Deepest mine with respect to sea level today is 400 metres)

  • John Anderton

    “DATA: It provides a sense of completion to my future. In a way, I am
    not that different from anyone else. I can now look forward to death.”

    I think Ken said that this is one of the theme’s of the show. But is it? Or is it a throw away line of exposition? Isn’t this episode really about following our characters along while they figure out a technical way to get back to normal?

    I was constantly reminded how much better similar scenes were handled better in City of the Edge of Forever. Kirk and Spock lands in the Great Depression, and remarks how horrible the economy is – which is made even more sobering considering today’s homelessness problems are still not solved. In Time’s Arrow it is all in exposition – Troi tells Twain that ‘poverty is solved’. Great. While Kirk talks with Kheeler about the future – and both characters are essential for the plot and character development – Troi and Twain have almost nothing to do with the story. Data gambles in a card game to get money? Kirk and Spock humbly ask to help out at a soup kitchen. Spock works on his 20th century tricorder with sparks and real smoke. Data has a nice fake looking light bulb and must tell us “I require a low intensity magnetic field core”. Spock’s tricorder might tell us “Edith Kheeler must die”, and Data’s machine…just solves the time travel problem.

    This show does bring up some interesting ideas – no question about it. But it does nothing with them. And most of it does nothing to the plot. Did any character learn anything? Twain found out about the future (wouldn’t it have been great to learn that he would write King Arthur’s Court because of it?). Instead, it seems to have no effect on him. And no one was worried that he might change the future (even though that was a worry when the plot made it necessary). And Jack London? Why? Why introduce more characters when you are not dealing with the ones you have? Shakespeare? “Again with the Shakespeare”!.

  • Robert Hackett

    I’m still confused why Gul Dukat is playing poker on Earth in the 19th century.