On Stardate 43625.2 Guinan introduces Worf to Prune Juice in ten-forward. Worf declares it "A Warriors Drink." As they discuss Worf's sex life, a strange phenomenon appears outside the window and Worf is called to the bridge.
While investigating what appears to be a gravitational anomaly, the bridge crew realizes that something is about to emerge from it.
A Starship breaks free of the phenomenon and approaches the Enterprise D as the uniforms on the D's bridge crew changes in subtle ways. "Is that an enemy Vessel?" Picard asks. "I'm getting too much interference," Natasha Yar replies.
Guinan walks through ten-forward past armed Star Fleet personnel in unusual uniforms, stops and says aloud, "This isn't right, it's changed."
Tasha identifies the emerging vessel's registration as NCC-1701-C, the USS Enterprise C.
The bridge crew speculates on how the C arrived in their time. Tasha scans the vessel, finds much damage but some life signs. The bridge crew are discussing the ramifications of helping the C when a distress call is received. Tension builds as Riker and Picard disagree on how to proceed. Picard answers the distress call, careful not to identify his ship.
A rescue team is assembled and sent to the C as a report comes in of a Klingon battle cursor heading their way.
The rescue team transports the wounded survivors to the D and inspects the damage. They find 125 survivors. Riker discusses the situation with Picard and is given nine hours to get the C on-line or destroy it.
Guinan warns Picard that "This is not the way things are supposed to be." After much heated discussion Guinan tells Picard, "That ship from the past is not supposed to be here, it's got to go back."
In sick bay, Captain Garrett, of the C, is approached by Captain Picard. Picard explains that they have come 22 years into the future. Garrett tells Picard that the C -- answering a Klingon distress call from Narendra III -- fell into battle with four Romulan ships. "It's regrettable that you did not succeed," says Picard. "A federation Starship rescuing a Klingon outpost might have averted 20 years of war."
Tasha and Lieutenant Castillo, a bridge officer on the Enterprise C, review the C's weaponry and discuss the recent history of the Federation in the current time line.
Data and Picard discuss the ramifications of sending the C back to their time. Data contends that if the Enterprise C had been destroyed defending a Klingon Outpost, they would have seen it as an honorable act which may have avoided the current war.
Captain Garrett reviews the status of the Enterprise C with Tasha and Lieutenant Castillo. Garrett announces that she will return to the C over the protest of Dr. Crusher.
Guinan confronts Picard and tells him that he must send the C back through the rift to restore the time line.
Tasha and Castillo are discussing tactics in ten-forward when Guinan walks by giving Tasha a strange look. They engage in small talk as Guinan continues to eye Tasha. Castillo asks Tasha to call him Richard.
Senior officers are called to the bridge for a briefing. Picard cuts off Riker during another heated exchange and informs the crew that he has decided to follow Guinan's recommendations and send the Enterprise C back through the rift.
Data and Tasha discuss the situation and wonder what will happen to Lieutenant Castillo if the C goes back to their time. "We may never know what happens," Says Data. "If they are successful, we will not even realize that these events occurred."
Picard and Garrett discuss why the C must go back through the rift. Garrett is convinced that they should stay and help with the war. Picard tells her that one ship will make little difference in the here-and-now, for the war is going badly, and the Federation will be defeated within the next six months, but 22 years ago one ship could have stopped the war before it started.
Captain Garrett informs her crew that they are going back. Castillo says goodbye to Tasha as the C is attacked by a Klingon Bird-of-Pray. Picard returns to the D, and Captain Garrett is killed in the ensuing battle.
Lieutenant Castillo, now acting Captain, reports to Picard and informs him that he intends to return the C to its time line. Picard pledges to provide cover for the C until it can return through the rift.
Tasha and Acting Captain Castillo kiss goodbye in the D's transporter room.
Tasha asks Guinan what will happen to her if she returns to the alternate time line. Guinan Says "Tasha, you're not supposed to be here." That she died "... an empty death, a death without purpose," in the alternate time line.
Tasha asks Picard for a transfer to the C. She tells him that she is supposed to be dead. Picard reluctantly agrees.
Acting Captain Castillo is giving bridge assignments to his crew when Tasha beams over. She convinces Castillo that he needs her on tactical, and he accepts her transfer despite his concern for her life.
Long range sensors pick up three Klingon K'Vort-class Battle Cruisers approaching at high-warp. Picard informs the crew that they could outrun the Klingons but they must stay and protect the C. As the D battles the Klingons, one ship breaks and heads for the C. The D destroys it but is heavily damaged. In engineering Geordi struggles as the D's antimatter containment field starts to collapse.
As the C reenters the temporal rift the D comes under continues fire, Riker dies and Picard defiantly refuses to surrender as the two remaining Battle Cruisers close in on a crippled Enterprise.
Back in the present, Worf reports "Readings fluctuated momentarily. It appeared to be a ship, but then it vanished." Data reports "The phenomenon is closing in on itself, Captain." Picard orders Riker to launch a probe to monitor the closure when Guinan calls the bridge and asks "Is everything all right up there?" A confused Picard tells her "Yes, everything is fine, is something wrong?"
In ten-forward Guinan asks Geordi to tell her about Tasha Yar.
I liked this story with its harder Enterprise and edgier crew where tension has replaced tact and diplomacy. I also like the way the story unfolds without any extraneous comment or explanation of what's going on. You, the audience, must figure out the situation and fill in the blanks. In this way the story works on several levels: It shows how 20 years of war has hardened the crew, how a small change in time has affected the future, how there is always time for love even amiss the strife of battle, and how, under difficult situations, people's basic humanity remains true.
To me, this is one of the best episodes. Above all it's a war story. (Yes, I know. It's a man thing.) The story line is much closer to the original series with greater tension among the crew as they battle a superior enemy to once-again save the Federation. Every time I watch it, I discover subtle nuances that bring an inner glow and a chuckle or two to the surface. It's a fun flick, one of the few I can watch over and over again while still discovering new pearls to ponder. If you have only seen it once, you have yet to truly see it.
What would I change? Not much. When time changes as the story begins there is a special effect that fades the crew into the new time line. I would have used the same effect to fade back into the original time line. As it stands, you miss most of Worf's dialog before you figure out what is going on.
I would love to see the original, uncut episode again. I seem to remember mention of a Shuttlecraft Pike on the Enterprise C, but it's not in the (-$ Commercially Enhanced $-) version I have on tape. Maybe I just dreamed it, but, well, I will probably never know.
Original Air-date: February 17, 1990.
Written by Ira Stephen Behr, Richard Manning, Hans Beimler and Ronald Moore.
Story by Trent Christopher Ganino and Eric A. Stillwell.
Directed by David Carson.