This one is a tough one to write about. I had heard some things about this episode, nothing really too major but there had always been rumblings about what an instant classic this episode was. I’m still amazed while thinking about the greatness of this episode so I definitely am on board with its instant classic status. Whether we’re talking about books, movies or TV episodes, what first catches your attention is that title. A good title can do so much and instantly grab your attention. ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise?’ Well, I’d have to say that, that’s a pretty great title.
I actually didn’t know that Whoopi Goldberg, who plays Guinan, was in this episode. I find that Star Trek is at its best when it doesn’t feature huge actors providing distractions. At least Goldberg is restrained as Guinan and doesn’t distract from the story being told. I guess it helped that Whoopi was such a huge Star Trek fan and actually petitioned to be on this show. Now, try to stay with me since I’ve only seen a couple of TNG episodes and am by no means an expert. I might mess up some names or not get the deeper meaning to some of the things that happen, but I will try my best.
I was actually a bit confused and initially disappointed when the Enterprise-C emerged from the past. Seeing Picard and the rest of the crew suddenly change, I had thought that they would meet alternate versions of themselves; something akin to the mirror universe. Well, ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’ has bigger and more ambitious things in mind. The second that the Enterprise emerged from the past, the Enterprise-C being the Enterprise built right before Picard’s Enterprise-D, things changed and suddenly things were a lot darker. How darker?
Well, the Enterprise-D was now a war ship and Starfleet and Earth were now at war with the Klingons. It was a war that has taken place for almost 20 years, and has cost close to 600 million lives. I believe that was only on Earth’s side of things. So, why the change in history? Well, the Enterprise-C was not there to prevent the Romulans from causing destruction on something belonging to the Klingons. I’m being quite vague since I’m not an expert on the episode and have only seen it once.
Whether the Enterprise-C lived or died was not the point, but just the fact that they attempted to help the Klingons was what mattered. Well, since the Enterprise-C disappeared from their timeline, that never happened and well, history was changed. So now Whoopi’s Guinan pleads that Picard must send the Enterprise-C back to where they came from, even though everyone involved knows that it would mean certain destruction for yesterday’s Enterprise. ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,’ yeah that’s what this is in a nutshell. The close to 200 lives that are a part of the Enterprise are likely to die and Picard sending them back would share some responsibility in their demise, but it would also stop a war from ever taking place and save the lives of over 600 million people. So Picard, Riker and everyone involved is conflicted but when you really think about it, they know what choice must be made.
Tosha Yar was not really a name I was familiar with, but I had did some research and figured out that she had been killed off in season 1. I had watched the episode not really knowing who she was or why the events involving her were so meaningful. Watching it again would certainly give me a different feeling and I find it amazing what they had done. They turned a character’s meaningless death into a death that actually meant something, and all while acknowledging how meaningless that death was in the first place. I loved how they didn’t take the time to explain anything which I’m sure will make this episode that much greater for me on repeat viewings. Being at war with the Klingons would remove Worf from Starfleet and being the tactical officer on the Enterprise, that’s a given but I also love how subtle some of the other changes were.
Picard and his crew had dealt with years of war and you could certainly see it in the way the characters acted. There seemed to be way more tension between Picard and Riker among other things. The moment that Picard’s crew boarded the Enterprise-C, I gave away all hesitations or doubts and fell in love with the episode. A lot of that had to do with how much I liked Captain Garret’s crew. Garret was the skipper of the damaged Enterprise and also happened to be female which I thought was a nice little touch. I also found Lieutenant Castillo, which I assume was the first officer, very likeable, and have never liked that actor more than in this part. I say ‘that actor’ since he is a somewhat famous face even though most people, myself included, don’t really know his name. The romance between Castillo and Yar was a bit sudden but I don’t really feel like it was forced.
This is turning out to be my longest ‘Star Trek-A-Day’ and that pretty much tells you why this is such a great episode. There is so much to talk about and I’m certain that I’ll still manage to leave out so much. It’s always fun being in an alternate reality and being able to kill off your main characters, all the while knowing that it won’t stick and they’ll be right back. Seeing Riker die, well I’m pretty sure not too many were mourning since it was a guarantee that he would be right back. It was still pretty cool to see that neck wound, especially since we knew things would be fixed.
Picard was also amazing in this episode. His small line directed towards his crew about ‘Never letting history forget the name…Enterprise,’ was chills-inducing and something I could watch over and over. The same goes for Picard’s actions once his first officer is killed. Jumping out of the Captain’s seat and manning the weapon’s controls himself, well that will certainly pump anybody up. Also, anytime a Starfleet ship destroys an enemy ship, yeah that will also make scream ‘F—Yeah,’ which happened as the Enterprise-D took out one of the Klingon ships.
Anyways, of course the Enterprise-C went back to where they came from, and…Tasha Yar went with them. Her death would now mean something and would also make things right. There would be no way of knowing whether the Enterprise-C survives in their battle with the Romulans or if they were destroyed, though one could almost be certain that they were overmatched and killed in seconds. But still, there would be no further exploring what happened. There would be no further exploring since of course things were now back to normal. The Enterprise-D had no idea of anything that happened and instead we pick up right where we left off, on the bridge with Picard addressing his tactical officer Worf. I really can’t wait to watch this episode again. This is certainly The Next Generation at its finest and ranks among one of the greatest things I have ever seen…period.