The Good: Good acting, Interesting enough plot, Special effects
The Bad: Pointless belaboring of science, Lack of genuine character development
The Basics: A fair episode, "Time Squared" is a science-heavy episode that explores a Picard that arrives in the past after the Enterprise has been destroyed.
"Time Squared" is an episode that can be somewhat annoying to the fans of Star Trek The Next Generation who actually read TV Guide; every now and then, TV Guide lists an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation called "Time To The Second." Alas, there is no lost episode of Next Generation, For some reason, TV Guide calls "Time Squared" by that other title. Go figure.
"Time Squared" finds the Enterprise flying through space when it encounters a shuttlecraft. The crew is surprised to realize that the shuttlecraft is one of the Enterprise's own and it also appears that the vessel is still aboard the starship. They bring the shuttlecraft aboard (next to its counterpart) and open it up to discover . . . Captain Picard is aboard. Picard (our regular Picard) is baffled by the presence of the duplicate and strangely disturbed by the man. As the Enterprise crew works to determine where this came from, Picard becomes reclusive. The crew discovers that the Enterprise, a few hours in the future, will be destroyed. And the episode then goes from there, trying to piece together how and why Picard left the Enterprise before it was destroyed.
The problem is that the alternate Picard is not conscious. He becomes more awake and more aware the closer to the time of the Enterprise's destruction. In the process, the Enterprise encounters a big hole in space that seems to be the cause of the destruction. The amount of time belaboring the scientific anomaly is incredible and distracting. That is to say that outside the anomaly, this episode isn't terribly much.
But it tries to be and that gets some points. The relationship between Picard and the alternate Picard is an odd one; Picard becomes moody and angry at his other self, believing that the alternate lacks his values. He seems very troubled by the duplicate and that part tries to read as real. Why does it fail? I think it fails because every opportunity to expand on that, to delve into the meat of Picard's difficulties with himself, the show shifts to a scientific explanation or a medical review. It loses the momentum for character development at every turn.
What saves the episode from obscurity and the trashcan is the acting. Patrick Stewart goes all out as both himself and his duplicate. His facial expressions and mute horror in the eyes that Stewart portrays is amazing. He performs here and he makes an uncertain character position much more believable.
The special effect of the malicious hole in space (is it an entity? Is it a spacial phenomenon? Who knows?) is pretty unique. It looks good and it adds believability to the episode.
And the plot, despite being a bit tech heavy, is paced in a way that is enough keep the viewer interested. For a second season of Star Trek The Next Generation episode, sometimes that's the most you can hope for.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!
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© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.