All Tomorrow’s Parties

I watch a lot of Star Trek. I love that show—in all of its forms. I know I’ve said it before that I’d rather watch an episode of Star Trek then pretty much any other TV show out there. That’s why I was glad when “Star Trek: Enterprise” was renewed for a fourth season. It’s also why I love the fact that you can get every episode of every show (nearly) on DVD now. Ok, so they’re about half-way through the “Voyager” release schedule and “Enterprise” hasn’t started to show up yet. Still it’s pretty awesome for Trek fans.

I’ve been making my way through season 3 of “The Next Generation” recently, and tonight I hit the episode. There are many good ones from that season and of course many would point to the Borg-intensive season finale “The Best of Both Worlds” as the point at which the series got really good. But for me, the episode is “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

Yes, it is a “reset switch” episode where the hackneyed “it was all just a dream” story point is resolved through time travel, but it still stands out as one of the truly great episodes of any Trek series.

The Enterprise-D encounters a spacial anomaly and the Enterprise-C, thought lost 22 years before, appears through the rift. Suddenly everything is different. The Enterprise-D is no longer a ship of exploration. It is a battleship. The families are gone replaced by troops. And the Federation has been in a bloody war with the Klingons for 20 years.

This is one of those episodes where strong characters, a tight script and good acting evoke an emotional impact that is not often seen on television. Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes both display a subtly different Picard and Riker on the batteship, both with stronger personalities, more opinionated, which clash more often.

The true gem of course is the return of Tasha Yar. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” took a big step forward in world of television when it premiered in 1987. Sure there was a female doctor and ship’s counselor but that wasn’t stretching things particularly far. Tasha though was a different matter. She was the security officer and martial arts expert. How many TV shows or movies for that matter had a female action hero in 1987? It’s too bad that Denise Crosby decided to leave the show by the end of the first season so Tasha had to be killed off by an evil black ooze.

Seeing Tasha Yar back on the bridge, if only in an alternate reality, is a real joy in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. Seeing all the characters deal with the decision to send the Enterprise-C back through the anomaly and face certain death is probably the strongest point of the entire show—particularly with Tasha. Her decision to go with them so that she wouldn’t have a meaningless death (via evil black ooze) is one of those times where even the strongest viewer gets a little misty-eyed.

If you haven’t seen this episode before, I would strongly encourage you to take a look. It’s truly a fine piece of television. And if you have, maybe it’s been a while. Maybe it’s time to enjoy it once again.