“Star Trek: TNG” – S3, E15 (“Yesterday’s Enterprise”)

This is one of the top-rated (also fan fave) eps of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG); I’ve seen it 3x over the years. At the 50th anniversary Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August 2016, fans voted this the 5th best ep of the franchise. It’s well-written (despite having 6 different writers- incl. a young Ronald D. Moore), tense (w/ great music and innovative direction), thrilling, and includes an element that Star Trek doesn’t usually do well (romance). Our heroes on the Enterprise-D see a “temporal rift” opening in space, which Data (Brent Spiner) thinks could be unstable. Lt. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) is alive in this alternate timeline where the Federation is in a 20+ yr. war w/ the Klingons! Lt. Worf- being a Klingon- is not there; Michael Dorn had a fun scene in the opening of the ep w/ Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). This is the ep where he gets introduced to “warrior” drink (prune juice)- LOL!

Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) don’t like each other. I esp. liked the (dark) lighting used on the bridge. The uniforms are a bit different (militaristic); the crew wears silver belts on their hips (which holds phasers). We hear “battle alert” followed by a “condition” (either yellow or red). Unlike the Captain’s log and Stardates, Picard records a Military log using “combat dates.” This is the first time Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) is seen wearing a Starfleet uniform.

The world we know changed when the Enterprise-C traveled 22 yrs. in the future commanded by (a lady boss) Capt. Garrett (Tricia O’Neil). The actress does a terrific job; many fans noted that she paved the way for Capt. Janeway on Voyager. Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) tells her to rest longer in sick bay, but she’s a tough cookie (insisting that her crew needs her). I esp. liked the scene w/ Garrett and Picard on her ship’s bridge; he lowers his voice at one point to admit that the war is going worse than commonly known. O’Neil later played a Klingon in TNG (Suspicions) and a Cardassian in DS9 (Defiant).

Lt. Castillo (Christopher McDonald), the helmsman under Garrett, is wowed by the tech, incl. modern weaponry. He learns much from Tasha as they spend the day together; they start to develop feelings for each other. As some viewers noted, their relationship happens naturally (unlike what you’d expect from episodic TV). I learned that McDonald was one of the top actors vying for the role of Riker- no wonder he fits in so well in this episode! The costumes worn by the crew of the Enterprise-C may look familiar to movie fans; these are similar to designs on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (which I watched recently).

Guinan knows something is wrong, though she can’t explain exactly what to Picard (who gets rather mad at her). After seeing Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in TOS as a young girl (and getting very inspired), Goldberg vowed that she’d be part of the Star Trek world someday. Tasha notices that Guinan is acting weird around her; it’s b/c they were never meant to know each other. In time, Picard realizes that the Enterprise-C must return to its own time/place to restore the original timeline. They would (most likely) die defending a Klingon outpost against the Romulans, but could prevent a war.

We brought Denise Crosby back to kill off Tasha Yar a second time. It was a great opportunity to send the character off in a big heroic sacrifice because nobody was really happy with the way she left the series in the first season. Nobody on the show really liked it, the fans didn’t like it, I’m not sure even she really liked it. So “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was a chance to kill her right. -Ron Moore

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