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Star Trek: The Next Generation – We’ll Always Have Paris

March 29, 2013

It’s Good Friday, so I had no class today. Woot! Anyway, review. Originally aired May 2, 1988. Stardate 41697.9. The Enterprise is on its way to start some shore leave. Picard’s started his early, by doing some fencing with another crewman. A moment repeats itself. Picard heads to the Bridge to investigate. Data says the computers were affected, as well. They get an automated distress signal from a Dr. Paul Manheim in Pegos Minor. Manheim apparently went off to do experiments in time. Picard says he seems to have succeeded.

After the credits, Data explains who Manheim is. Picard goes to get changed, but Troi talks to him about the fact that he seems to have some unresolved emotional issues concerning Manheim, and offers some advice. It’s a nice scene – it shows her doing what she’s supposed to do. After Picard gets changed, he goes to Holodeck 3. He programs a Paris cafe, 22 years ago. He tells the waiter that he was supposed to meet a woman at that cafe, but he never went. He sits down, and sees two women arguing at a table about a man not coming. One leaves, and Picard talks to the remaining one. He tries to explain to her why her man didn’t show up, then gets frustrated and leaves. He returns to the Bridge, and Riker tells him a freighter and a mining colony reported the same time distortion, with the captain of the freighter describing it as a hiccup. They reach the coordinates from the message, but there’s nothing there. They get another set of coordinates, taking them to Vandor IV. When Picard hails the facility on the planet, he omits his name, and a woman asks for their help. He orders the two survivors on the planet beamed to Sickbay, then heads there himself with Riker and Data. Dr. Manheim’s having convulsions. The woman recognizes Picard.

Afetr a break, he talks to Jenice to get some information. She explains there was an accident that killed all the other scientists, and talks about Manheim’s interest in time. He believed he could open a window to other dimensions. Picard wants to send someone down to the planet, but Jenice says it’s protected. Crusher comes in to talk to Picard, and once she sends Jenice out to get some scans started, she tells Picard that Manheim is dying. In the turbolift, Picard, Riker and Data talk. The door opens and see themselves approaching the turborlift. Data deems it the Manheim Effect. Riker beams down to the planet with Data and Worf, but something’s going wrong, and they start losing integrity.

After a break, they’re brought back. Manheim wakes up, and says he touched another dimension, and part of him is still there, and that he can’t tell the difference between the realities. He explains what happened, and says he’ll give them the coordinates to beam down, and to shut off the security systems, and how shut down his experiment. Jenice talks to Picard in the observation lounge, about their unfinished business. It’s a very nice scene, well-acted by both of them, and very touching.

After a break, Troi visits Crusher in the sickbay, but Crusher doesn’t want to talk about what Troi wants to talk about. Crusher says she can’t compete with a ghost from Picard’s past. Manheim wants to speak to Picard alone. He wants Picard to take care of Jenice if anything goes wrong. Manheim regrets taking her for granted. Picard sends Data down alone, since he can better deal with the time distortions. After thrashing a couple of security guns, then enters the lab.

Another break. He grabs an anti-matter container, and heads to the window. The time distortion creates three Datas, but they manage to figure it out and get it patched. Manheim recovers completely. He wants to go back down. Picard meets Jenice in the Holodeck, at the cafe they were supposed to meet at so long ago. They say a proper goodbye. Back on the Bridge, he sets the ship back on its course for shore leave.

It’s a nice episode. Michelle Phillips, playing Jenice, delivers a solid performance. She gave a good, conflicted performance. Phillips was a member of the ’60s band the Mamas and the Papas. She has a good chemistry with Patrick Stewart, who also delivers a fine, conflicted performance.

The episode’s main weakness is with the time distortion plot. It’s a great concept, and done right, could’ve made for a really interesting and tense episode. But it didn’t. We only see two distortions, not counting the one at the end. So we never get a true sense of danger from it. They also could’ve done a better job connecting the time distortion A-plot with the romance B-plot. They’re both about time, but that connection never really goes anywhere. And the resolution of the A-plot is unsatisfying. The scene with Data in the distortion looks pretty cool, but it’s not very exciting. And then Manheim wants to continue his experiments, which struck me as silly. I would hope that he would at least get someone to rein him in a bit, so he doesn’t cause another dangerous accident. In the end, this episode is forgettable. It’s not bad, but neither is it great, and there’s little to truly remember.

Overall, I’d give it a 2/5. It’s forgotten as soon as it’s over.

  1. timbarjenbruch permalink

    Yeah, totally. Forgettable. The whole data-time-distortion thing baffles me, I think, because I have no idea how all the Datas figured out who was the correct one (and did that matter, anyway?). I never at all thought about both the A and B plots being about time, but it’s interesting: the A plot is about past-present-future (literally), while the B romance plot is about past-present-future (thru memory, but literally, too, as Picard literally recreates the past, is dealing with the present, and is trying to explore the future). yeah whatever: you’re right, it doesn’t go anyway, and the idea fails.

    Had no idea about the Mama and the Papas. That’s weird and interesting and kinda awesome, but I wish they had had a better episode for her.

    Yeah totally agree with the forgotten part.


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