Episode: "Time's Arrow"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 26
Original Air Date: June 15, 1992
In a timey-wimey romp, Data's severed head is found in San Francisco, evidently buried there in the 19th century. Obviously, the gang has to go back in time to check things out - or at least Data must in this first of two parts. A full-on 1870s costume drama ensues. Those are in vogue of late.
I won't delve into the time travel problems. You already know how I feel about all that at this point. Even so, I can't help finding the 19th century trappings endearing. I also now have a better appreciation for a subtle homage to "The City on the Edge of Forever"
: Data building a futuristic contraption in his hotel room much the way Spock does in the original series classic.
And, of course, I'm always a sucker for Mark Twain, played here by Jerry Hardin.
Thoughts on Season Five
Season Five is the best in the NextGen run. There are still a few clunkers but the best episodes are unforgettable. All of the principals get quality stories, even Wesley.
This was not an easy choice. Both "I, Borg"
and "The Inner Light"
are similarly outstanding. There are other strong candidates, too. It all depends what you're looking for. I imagine a friend asking me what Star Trek
is all about but they only have time to watch one episode. I'd pick "Darmok" every time. (I would add TOS's "Balance of Terror"
if they had time for two if you're wondering.) It is a perfectly contained bottle episode and it provides a distillation of the franchise concept as no other single installment does.
Paradoxically, there's strong competition for this distinction, too. "Cost of Living" focuses on not one but two of my least favorite recurring characters: Lwaxanna Troi and Alexander Rozhenko. It gets the nod.
Favorite Recurring Character: Guinan
Long live the queen! She deserves it for her part in "I, Borg" alone. Her exchange with Hugh is deeply chilling.
Favorite Blast from the Past: Spock
How could I possibly pick anyone else? His entrance in "Unification I"
is worthy of Orson Welles a la The Third Man
Favorite Guest Actor, One-Shot: Jonathan Del Arco
Hugh doesn't count as a recurring character yet. They needed the right actor to make a Borg drone sympathetic and boy did they find him. Del Arco had recently lost his first partner to AIDS and he channeled all of his grief into the role.
Without a doubt, Season Five was the pinnacle but the drop off was hardly severe. Season Six includes some true gems.