Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992): S05E26 – Time’s Arrow, Part 01


Introduction

“Time’s Arrow” comprises the 126th and 127th episodes overall, and is the 26th episode of the fifth season and the first episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

A two-part episode of Star Trek: TNG, the first episode was a cliffhanger season finale for the fifth season and the second episode was the premiere for the sixth season.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, an engineering team finds evidence that aliens visited Earth in 19th century San Francisco: Data’s severed head, buried five hundred years ago.

The second part of the episode was nominated for three Creative Arts Emmy Awards, winning two: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series, and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.

Outline

The Enterprise is recalled to Earth on a priority mission pertaining to evidence of aliens on the planet 500 years before. They are shown a cavern near Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco containing relics of the 19th century, and the severed head of Data. The Enterprise crew finds evidence pointing to a race of shapeshifters and cellular fossils native to the planet of Devidia II. Taking Data’s second head, the Enterprise travels to the planet, and discovers a temporal disturbance on the planet. Though no life forms are visible, Deanna Troi senses the presence of suffering humans, and the crew work out that the aliens are slightly out of phase with time. Data notes that his android body has a phase discriminator that would allow him to see the aliens, and Captain Picard reluctantly allows him to do so. Once in phase with the aliens, Data describes them to the crew as absorbing strands of light from a device in the centre of the cavern but otherwise appear benign. However, as he observes, two aliens enter a time portal that he is drawn into; Data finds himself on Earth in San Francisco in the late 19th century, 11 August 1893.

Data quickly surmises that he needs money to operate, and is able to win a sizable amount beating card sharks at their own game in poker. Taking residence in a local hotel, Data claims to be a French inventor, befriending the bellhop (future author Jack London) for help in acquiring parts to build a detector to find the aliens, using 19th century technology. Data finds Guinan, the bartender from the Enterprise in a newspaper photo, and goes to a reception she will be attending. As she is speaking with Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Data attempts to ask her questions about the future believing her to have followed him back in time, but discovers that she is native to 1893 and has yet to meet the Enterprise crew; Data’s language intrigues Clemens and he begins to follow Data and Guinan around.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew has determined how to build a similar phase discriminator to allow them to also see the aliens and go back in time to rescue Data. Guinan urges Picard to go along with the away team as, otherwise, they will have never met in the past and could change history. Picard and the rest of the away team activate the phase discriminator and see the same aliens as Data described, but discover that the strands of light they are consuming are human life forces, taken at the moment of death. The away team uses the time portal to travel back to the past to put a stop to the aliens.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Les Landau.
  • Writer(s): Joe Monesky and Michael Piller.
  • Release Date: 15 June 1992.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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