"Time And Again"


The following is a SPOILER Review for "Time and Again." If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot given away, stop reading now.

The SASR [Short Attention Span Review] is the creation of Jim Wright, who watches the episode no more than twice before preparing the review. This gives me the opportunity to review and recap with a combination of memory and creativity (when memory fails). The result is an experience that is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the actual episode. Consider it a revival of the ancient oral traditions passed on through the generations. I make no claims as to accuracy, but I hope I got enough of it right to keep your attention.


Voyager stumbles across a planet on which all life has just been destroyed by a polaric energy explosion, and beam down to investigate. Paris and Janeway are caught by a "temporal iceberg" and are taken back one day in time, when there were still people. They stumble into a group of people who think polaric energy is dangerous (well, duh). Meanwhile, the crew valiantly attempts to rescue Janeway and Paris, which--in the convoluted effect-precedes-cause world of ST:V--is what caused the explosion in the first place.

Jump straight to the Analysis


Paris tries to get Kim to double date with him and the Delaney sisters in Stellar Cartography. Paris argues that they're a long way from home and it's just a matter of time before everyone starts pairing off, and he wants to get the cream of the crew. An amusing exchange, with Kim arguing that he's got a girlfriend back home and wants to be faithful, and he's a little irritated that Paris lied shamelessly about him to the Delaney sisters (whom we never see, BTW) about his impressive flying records at the Academy.

As they're arguing, the ship is rocked by a shock wave and the episode begins in earnest. A nearby planet has just gone Foom and they go to investigage. Kes wakes up suddenly; as a telepath, apparently, she heard or felt the death of the planet, and she rushes to the bridge. Janeway is already on the bridge asking Neelix how much he knows about the planet, and he replies that he is "substantially less than familiar" with the area. Kes enters the bridge looking quite visibly shaken and explains what she felt.

Neelix and Kes go to sickbay to have her checked out. Holodoc checks her out, with impolite officiousness, and gripes that her medical records are not on file. Slight inconsistency here, as Holodoc asks for the first time how many people on board DIDN'T have their medical records transferred when they arrived, and the answer is, a whole lot--Neelix, Kes, and the crew of the Maquis ship. This annoys the doctor. He tells Kes she is the healthiest member of her species he has examined, and tells her to drink plenty of fluids and call him in the morning. That's pretty much the extent of his involvement in this episode.

Janeway takes an away team to the planet to investigate. A polaric explosion is like a Neutron Bomb--destroys all life, leaves the stuff more or less intact. It also has some funky effect on the space-time continuum. Paris finds a shattered clock showing the exact time the world bit the big one and immediately sees himself in the middle of the same square, only there are people now. This happens twice, and he reports it. Janeway says, "yeah, right," then thinks better when Torres says "no, he's been time traveling all right" while waving the tricorder over him. A brief burst of technobabble follows, in which Janeway realizes that they're in the middle of "icebergs in time" that could sweep them away if they weren't careful. She prepares to order their beamback...and she and Paris find themselves back in time where they stand.

A little boy sees them appear out of nowhere and cries foul. A constable tells the kid to shut up and go away, and apologizes to Janeway and Paris for the child's behavior. In short order, they learn the name of another continent so they can claim to be from it, they learn how the clocks work, and they are met by the boy again, who claims that they aren't who they say they are. So Paris says they're demons and they eat little children, which causes Janeway to frown at him.

There are two dilemmas here. First, they're on a planet that hasn't made it into space yet, so technically they shouldn't be there--it's against the Prime Directive. But they are here, so they need to be careful. But the planet is going to blow up tomorrow, and Paris thinks they should warn the people. Janeway, the rule nazi, orders Paris to do no such thing. We learn that Paris' father, the big-name admiral, was also a Prime Directive devotee, Janeway is too, and Paris is not.

The argument: you're not supposed to interfere with the natural progression of a society, even if that progression means complete destruction. The idea is, if you save a people that are prone to self-destruction, and they make it into space, they'll be a real headache later on. Better to let them kill themselves off. But that sounds awfully cruel to Paris, which is ironic considering he just threatened to eat a small boy.

Janeway and Paris discover that the likely cause of the explosion was not the detonation of a bomb, but more likely an accident. The planet is powered by polaric energy, which is highly volatile stuff--it's been banned by most of the civilized members of the Alpha Quadrant. This planet either doesn't know any better, or it's got a death wish, or it's stupid, or it's learning. Paris and Janeway don't know exactly which at this point, but they're determined to find out. They trade their uniforms for more traditional clothes--which look a lot like their uniforms, I thought, and which is probably also a violation of the Prime Directive because of their advanced fashion sense and textile manufacturing, but that's another issue, and Sisko and Bashir did it on earth in an earlier episode of DS9 this year.

Janeway and Paris follow the energy conduits to the power plant, where there is a confrontation between concerned environmental citizens and the power plant security, or something. In the struggle which they get unwittingly sucked into, Janeway gets whomped upside the head and Paris scores some major martial arts bootie-fu hits on the security people. They then escape with the concerned citizens to their underground headquarters, which are above ground.

Meanwhile, the away team people who didn't get sucked back in time figure out what happened, and discover a way to (1) locate holes in time, (2) open up a portal for Janeway and Paris to escape back through, and (3) cool armbands that will keep away the timebergs so they don't get sucked in while trying to rescue their crewmates. They go down to the planet, with Kes along to help. What their fancy sensors can't pick up, her telepathic senses can.

While Paris tries to patch up Janeway's gnarly forehead scar, the anti-polaric-energy (APE) people wonder what to do with them. They think our heroes may be government spies sent to infiltrate their organization. In comes one of their motley crue with a struggling kid in his arms; the kid, of course, just can't leave Paris alone, and he lets out all the lies they've told so far. The rebel APEs then decide to move up their schedule, and Janeway apparently decides that they've ALREADY violated the Prime Directive and tells the whole truth while Paris looks on openmouthed. Her explanations do not persuade, however.

The first attempt to rescue Paris and Janeway fails; they break through the time barrier and contact Janeway through their communicator pins, but the rebels will have none of that; they confiscate the pins and toss them aside. The charred remains of the pins were found earlier by the rescue team, which was a clue that they'd been there before and it was possible to rescue them, even though it didn't work out (are you as confused by this time paradox crap as I am?). Paris and Janeway are carted away before the rescue portal appears in the room where they were seconds before (missed it by that much....)

The rebels drag the boy and P&J to the power plant, where they plan to plant a device of some sort; Janeway is convinced that this is what causes the planet to die. She is told to help them get past the guards; she announces, "I am a hostage and these people with me are dirtbags," and a firefight ensues. One of the rebels tries to shoot the kid, and Paris jumps in the way and gets a nice little wound for his troubles. Fortunately (?) this makes the boy like him, so the kid sticks with him as he bleeds and Janeway takes off after the bad guys.

She finds them where they're preparing the device, or whatever it is. She holds a gun on them, saying "don't do it." They say, "what, do you think we're crazy enough to blow this place up?" and laugh at her. Meanwhile, the rescue team discovers this exact place the next day and realizes that it is ground zero, so they figure Janeway and Paris are likely there to be rescued and/or to stop the explosion from happening.

As the clock ticks away towards zero hour, Janeway says, "we'll wait until (their equivalent of) 10:23am" and they agree to wait. Then they see the rescue portal opening, and it comes perilously near the polaric energy conduits. Janeway and the others realize that the combination of the two is probably what caused the explosion in the first place, so she demands and gets her phaser from the rebels and blows up the rescue window. When she succeeds, there's a huge light show, and...

Paris tries to get Kim to double date with him and the Delaney sisters in Stellar Cartography. Paris argues that they're a long way from home and it's just a matter of time before everyone starts pairing off, and he wants to get the cream of the crew. An amusing exchange, with Kim arguing that he's got a girlfriend back home and wants to be faithful, and he's a little irritated that Paris lied shamelessly about him to the Delaney sisters (whom we never see, BTW) about his impressive flying records at the Academy.

As they're arguing, they pass within spying distance of a pretty looking planet. They investigate, find that they don't have interstellar capabilities yet, and are about to pass on by when Kes comes flying up to the bridge and asking if everything's okay. (This brings back shades of Troi and Guinan from TNG, who seem to know when the space/time continuum is out of whack.) They show her the planet, she gets the needed warm-and-fuzzies from its inhabitants to let her know they're not dead, and the episode ends with nobody but Kes having any inkling that they had just had an hour-long adventure.


This was the second straight episode where effect preceded cause. Perhaps they didn't want us to forget this "valid literary technique" so soon after introducing it in the black hole episode. My personal feeling about such things is that it's crap, and when they try to cram too much Trek Science into an episode I lose interest. The more time they waste on science, pseudo science, and other technosputum, the less time they can devote to plot and character development.

Janeway was hard to figure out in this one. The progression from "we can't violate the prime directive" to "well, we already violated the prime directive, so we might as well spill it," was too abrupt and there was little in the way of body language or other cues to suggest that she had made the transition in a plausible way. Paris didn't distinguish himself in this episode, and the little brat looked more mature than he at times.

The rescue team had so much time spent talking techno that there was very little time for character development. They worked okay as a team, and we learned something of Kes' abilities to sense psychic residue and some such, but otherwise they were simply there to forward the plot.

The rebels were one-dimensional at best. They looked completely human, with no "alien noses" to set them apart. Only in their clothing did they look different, but they didn't look wildly different.

I give this episode two stars. There are some interesting moments, some humorous moments, and some crew moments, but for the most part this episode was a waste of time. For me, the best thing about Trek shows--any show, really--is the character development. Star Trek: The Next Generation started out very slowly, but by the end of the seventh season we had come to know virtually every character very, very well. They grew, they changed, they adapted, they struggled. It doesn't matter what they run up against; what we really care about is how (insert plot device here) affects them. How does the character change? In this episode, the only one who registered any change at all by the end was Kes, who had the feeling of danger twice--the first time she was right, the second time she was reassured that the initial feeling was incorrect.

There were several very similar episodes in TNG. Two--Yesterday's Enterprise and the one where Worf went hopping through multiple parallel universes--provide a good contrast. In the first, Guinan realizes the "alternate universe" they are in is not the way things "should" be. By the end of the episode, two people have changed--Guinan has inklings of things being "bad" but is now reassured that things are okay (like Kes), and Tasha Yar changed her future by going back in time, giving her a new lease on life. (That's a long story, and I won't bother to elaborate.) We also got to see the Enterprise crew, whom we've known for several years now, in a very different universe, and we get to gauge the differences in how they react to the new situations. It was a good character study.

In the second, Worf is coming back from a tournament where he won first prize, and arrives to a surprise birthday party. He notices subtle changes here and there; the captain is there where he wasn't before; it is now reported that he came in third instead of first; he didn't get to go at all because he got injured just beforehand; he's now first officer instead of security chief; he's married to Deanna Troi without kids; he's married to Deanna WITH kids. Turns out he passed through a Plot Complication that means he's jumping around between parallel dimensions. Worf is aware of the differences, and he's changing--he sees possibilities he hadn't considered before. By the end of the episode he's back in his timeline, but he has some new ideas to consider, and he asks Deanna to dinner.

These time-twist stories can be effective, but it still boils down to, how does the time-twist affect the characters? How do they react, how do they change? This is what's really interesting. In this Voyager episode, you really didn't see any of that, which is why I was so disappointed.

On a 1-10 scale, I'd give this a 6.25.

(Now you know what I think. So, you may ask, what does Julia think?)

Copyright © 1995 Jim Wright

Star Trek (R) is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
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Last Updated: May 11, 1996
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