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Season Six:
-226-227: "Time's Arrow"
-228: "Realm of Fear"
-235: "The Quality of Life"
-236-237: "Chain of Command"
-241: "Tapestry"
-248: "Suspicions"
-249: "Rightful Heir"
-251: "Timescape"
-252-253: "Descent"

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(Star Trek - The Next Generation episode production code 251)
  • written by Brannon Braga
  • directed by Adam Nimoy
  • music by Dennis McCarthy


Once more, Brannon Braga sets out to find some new ways of manipulating time to create an interesting story, and in this case I think it's largely a success. There are some obvious parallels between this story and Doctor Who's massively popular "City of Death" story, in that we have time running at different speeds in different areas of space, which is a nice concept. Where the Doctor Who version says that is pretty much a useless thing to create because one timestream has no way of interacting with the other until the one snaps back into perfect sync with the other like an elastic band that had been stretched too far, Braga here delves into the Trek warehouse of technobabble and devises a way to make that interaction happen which works for the episode. I'm not going to say it's scientifically airtight, but I think the mechanisms for making it work are fleshed out and visually demonstrated well enough that we can go with the premise for the episode.

And what Braga seems to have achieved here where so many other writers failed is to realize the time travel fantasy so popular in Star Trek and American sci-fi of the "rewind machine", where you can roll time back and have another go at something. I usually balk at these sorts of things, but by the time they get around to that concept in this episode, enough groundwork has been laid for it to fit in really well and in quite an acceptable manner.

If there's a drawback to the scientific concepts here, it is perhaps that they seem to get a bit too cerebral and intangible at times while the technobabble goes into overdrive. Thankfully, there are good visuals like the black spots in the singularity, and the recurrence of frozen people all through the episode helping to keep the main ideas clear. And there is a healthy palette of interesting ideas all through the piece, including non-scientific freak-out moments where the characters deliver strange emotions or other responses, helping to keep things lively and unpredictable. Nice.

Two minor aspects of the main plot seem a bit out of place. Why does the second alien try to stop Data's plan to fix everything, other than to artificially create a bit of extra excitement in the climactic moments? If he/she had been on the ball and truly known what he/she was doing, surely he/she would have helped him instead of hindering him.

Secondly, there is a curious vagueness to astronomical geography in this episode. Specifically, where is all this supposed to be happening? We ask because it seems like we're on the Federation side of the neutral zone, particularly after the clue we get in the dialogue in the wrap-up, and we don't see a way for a Romulan ship to innocently be here without violating the treaty. Even if it isn't on the Federation side, there isn't really any space where both of these ships could be innocently engaged in helping each other out. This episode seems to echo "The Next Phase" from the previous season a bit too closely, while ignoring the political ramifications a bit too completely.

There is a bit of a B-plot here exploring the human condition, specifically how the passage of time can be viewed differently based on perception - and the A-plot has certainly worked extremely well in externalizing a sci-fi metaphor for that. Interestingly, this B-plot only really gets two scenes. The first one comes before the titles before the main story kicks in, but sadly I think the point is a little too lost while the characters seem to be rambling on about nothing in particular. You have to wait until the very last scene of the episode before any sense is made of why we had all that rambling at the beginning in the first place, after which it is all tied up rather nicely. It would have been nicer to get a stronger immediate reason for that first scene, like better humour, but at least these are fun characters that we don't mind spending extra time with anyway.

I've always taken issue with Riker's statement that "humans don't have an internal chronometer", which stuck out for me as I had recently taken courses teaching people how to focus their mental powers to, among other things, use internal biological rhythms to keep track of the passage of time, and to know internally when to wake up or how to stay in sync with the natural world. In fact, check out the female lead of the TV series "JAG", Major Sarah Mackenzie, who is as human as ever and boasts an internal chronometer that is never more than 30-seconds off. With training, we could all do that. "Humans don't often become aware of or learn how to use their internal chronometer" is probably a more accurate statement. But of course, we're splitting hairs over one line, while the rest of the scene works really nicely.

As time travel episodes go, "Timescape" is one of the better ones. It's fairly unique, full of interesting ideas, and makes fair and poignant comment on the human condition. When all is said and done, this one gets my blessing.

This Next Generation Season Six story is available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six (1992-1993):

Includes 26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for more information:

DVD Canada

7-disc DVD set

DVD Canada


DVD Extras include:

  • Mission Overview: Year Six (17 min.)
  • Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data (18 min.)
  • Bold New Directions (17 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Production (15 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Dan Curry Profile (19 min.)
  • Select Historical Data (17 min.)
  • Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props (12 min.)
  • Bonus Trailers: Star Trek Nemesis
    & Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on DVD
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
June 3, 2014.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
June 3, 2014.

Season 6 (Bilingual)

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • 3 Audio Commentaries:
    • "Relics" by writer Ronald D. Moore and
      scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "Tapestry" by Moore and the Okudas.
    • "Frame of Mind" by director James L. Conway and director of photography Jonathan West.
  • Three-part documentary "Beyond the Five Year Mission - The Evolution of ST:TNG" (HD, 84 min. total) with all seven regular castmembers, plus Colm Meaney (O'Brien),
    Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), John de Lancie (Q), writer/producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Naren Shankar, Frank Abatemarco, director of photography Jonathan West, and many others.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 min.)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Episodic Promos
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.
  • Main audio tracks in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

Article & reviews written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Descent"

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