The TREKKER Reviews

The Next Generation

Picard, Data, La Forge and Troi are on their way back from a convention discussing the long-term effects of deep space assignments. I wonder if the main speaker talked about losing the plot, and trying to explore social conscience issues rather than doing good SF? But wait, you know what this mean? The party's been split! That means that one side is going to have all the fun, while the other side sit around and get bored - you watch. Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Riker intercepts a distant Romulan distress call, and goes to investigate...

The crew on the runabout are discussing their exciting seminars, when suddenly everyone but Troi freezes for a moment. The tricorders show nothing, and Data's internal chronometer and the ship's agree, so maybe she was just imagining it. Nope - there it goes again! This time Troi froze, and during that time, she didn't age. Time had literally stop

ped! I hate it when that happens. This is too weird for the lads and lasses, so they call up the Enterprise for some mutual support. No response. Oh well, maybe Worf's on a break. To the rendezvous point! I don't think so - one of the warp nascells fails. It's run out of fuel. You keep leaving it just one more day, hoping the prices will drop, and betting that the red line doesn't really mean empty. Trust me, it does. Strangely the engine sensors show that it has been running continuously for 47 days.

I'm sorry, the Enterprise is not here right now... Answering machines can be a real pain, and rather than leave a simple message, the runabout goes looking for them. What have they been doing? You leave the ship for a moment - or is it longer now, it's so hard to tell - and when you get back, the Enterprise is engaged in a timestopped battle with a Romulan warbird.

If they beam over, they'll almost certainly join that timeframe and get stuck too, so what we need is a neat little piece of TrekTech™ that will change the laws of physics. Oh look, here's one conveniently lying around in the shape of an emergency transporter armband! After a little clever modification, they beam over to the Enterprise bridge, to find...

Romulans! Lots of Romulans. Way too many Romulans to make you feel sure of your situation. One has knocked Riker down on the bridge, another is shooting Bev in sickbay, and lots more are in the transporter room, with Worf bringing them aboard! Mutiny, or just poor judgement? While everyone else is frozen in time, one of the Romulans moves!

It looks bad Cap'n. The engines canna' take this any longer. Specifically they're blowing up, and nothing can stop the process of a warp-core breach now. Why? Doesn't the flagship of the Federation have some safeguards? Apparently not - the power transfer to the Romulan vessel set up a feedback loop that overloaded them. This exact same thing happened the last time they went to a Romulan's aid. Why don't they ever learn?

Wow, this is way too serious, it's time to lighten the mood. The Chrome Dome Gnome does his jester impersonation, and to make the children laugh he draws a smiley in the exploding engine cloud! Is it temporal narcosis, or just a neat party trick? Either way, he isn't going over to the Romulan ship, as he might do rude things to the little goblins. Geordi goes over in his place, and discovers that they aren't at battlestations, they're evacuating. So why the phaser attack?

Do you know how embarrassing it is to stall your car? Now imagine how much worse it must be for a Romulan commander to stall a warbird, especially when it's powered by an artificial black hole! What could it be? Data scans the engine core and finds a concentrated temporal distortion! What's more, time restarts, but no-one notices them. It's probably because they are all watching the Enterprise explode! Boom! ...then time reverses... !mooB

One of the Romulans reaches out for Geordi, and zaps him. He's dying, and since Bev isn't here to kill him right now, Troi removes his armband to reintegrate him with the ship's timeframe. There'll be plenty of time for her to kill him later! The Romulan is still alive, although a quick scan shows he might not be a Romulan at all. What is he then? How about something corny like a trans-temporal lifeform that needs to raise its young in a black hole. Nah, no-one would believe anything that silly!

Just before it finally disperses, it admits that the power transfer was killing its young so it instigated the warp core breach to save them. How nice. They stop the transfer, and they can't beam the core out into space, but maybe they can go back in time to before it all happened, and kill their own fathers. No, sorry, wrong paradox. Data sets his tricorder to modulate the core again...

It worked! Data goes to Engineering to stop the power transfer, and Troi heads to sickbay to save Bev - although I'm not sure why. Time starts again...

It would have worked perfectly, but for the other alien reaching out and zapping Data before he could disengage the beam. He puts a containment field up around the core, but the transfer is still taking place, and they are all still destined to die, but for... The Bald Avenger! He remote pilots the runabout into the transfer beam and aborts it! The space-time continuum is restored! Yay! The Romulans weren't really being nasty, it just looked that way.

Roll Credits...

Not bad at all. For a while it looked like it was just going to be a rehash of "The Next Phase", but instead of Romulan deception we had protective aliens. At least it had a solid SF theme, and didn't dip into character development.

This review is Copyright © 1995, Phil Kernick.
Permission is granted for anyone to electronically distribute it - details available on request.