Some episodes are there just for character development and that is okay. I would much rather have some good solid character development in an okay episode than just a forgettable episode all together. With that, I give you We’ll Always Have Paris, originally airing May 2,1988.
Stardate 41697.9 We’ll Always Have Paris
The Enterprise is heading to the planet Sarona VIII for shore leave when they encounter an odd time loop causing everything aboard to repeat a moment in time. They soon receive a distress call from a nearby system begging for help. The call is made by a scientist named Paul Manheim who left earth to experiment on nonlinear time. Concerned that these experiments may be the cause, Picard orders the ship to investigate.
While heading to Pegos Minor to respond to the distress call, Picard realizes that he needs some time to cope with the emotions brought up by the name Paul Manheim. Troi points this out to him and he goes to the holodeck to take a moment for himself. Recreating the Paris of his past, he enters and it is revealed that years before he stood up a young woman in Paris because he was scared to settle down and, all these years later, he still wonders what would have been if he had arrived.
The Enterprise arrives at Pegos Minor only to find two survivors remaining, Paul Manheim and, the very woman Picard stood up all those years ago, Jenice Manheim. She reveals that Paul and his team had discovered the existence of possible alternate dimensions in time and space. Soon after, an accident occurred that removed his team from existence and had hurt Paul in a way that may be fatal.
After the meeting Picard, Riker and Data encounter another time hiccup when they encounter themselves boarding the turbolift. This is now apparently becoming a bigger problem than they had once thought.
Locating the second lab, the Enterprise discovers that it has been destroyed by an unknown cause. An Away Team comprised of Riker, Data and Worf beam down to the site only for their transporter signal to become jumbled and they are unable to get them on the ground.
Paul wakes up in sick bay and starts rambling about touching another dimension and that things have, will and are happening to him at once. He talks with Data about his theories and discloses what they did to cause the accident. They mistakenly opened a crack into another dimension that is causing issues with time and space. He begs Picard to retrieve his notes and asks that they try to fix what he has done. Time is now, literally, of the essence.
Before sending down an away team, Picard talks with Manheim and he begs Picard to take care of his wife should something happen to him. He loves his wife but knows that he has neglected her with his dedication to his experiments. Picard decides the best person to go on the away team is Data, on his own. Being an android, Data is far less affected by the time flux and would be much more effective on this mission.
Data beams down and works his way to the laboratory in order to stop the distortion. While there time splits and he is faced with two other versions of himself and they must determine which one is the ‘current’ version so that they can disrupt the antimatter flow. They quickly choose and close the rift.
As soon as the rift is closed Paul Manheim is back to health and seems to be fully healed. He has had amazing experiences
in the land of Oz and, knowing what he knows, he wants to continue his experiments with his wife’s blessing.
Picard meets with Jenice on the holodeck in a recreation of Paris so that he can properly say goodbye and get some closure. Although they both have feelings for one another their lives have gone separate ways and they both quietly acknowledge that this is for the best.
The Enterprise continues on to their much needed shore leave on Sarona VIII.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a solid entry this season. Good time disruption ‘A’ story and a solid lost love ‘B’ story. It is not the action packed episodes that are to come in future seasons but it really gives some solid character development for Picard, someone who really hasn’t had too much development this season.
We also learn that Dr. Crusher truly has feelings for Picard and this makes it hard for her, knowing that she is competing for his affection against a living ghost of Picard’s past.
The image of three Data’s helping each other has been burned into my brain from the first time I saw it. I don’t know why but I always thought it was a cool moment and would have loved to have seen it explored more. Three Datas! Think of how cool that is for a moment!
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We learn much more about Picard in this episode and more about a future for him that could have been.
We get to see Picard in one of his hobbies, fencing! This will be revisited in future episodes.
Riker Beard Countdown B minus 3 Episodes until Beard Emergence.
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Late To The Game 5/11/19 (originally published 02/21/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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