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Star Trek TNG - Season 5 - Episode 18

Star Trek TNG - 5x18 - Cause and Effect

Originally Aired: 1992-3-23

The Enterprise is trapped in a time warp. [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 8.17

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- Kelsey Grammer plays Captain Morgan Bateson in this episode. Grammer is well known as Dr. Frasier Crane on the TV shows Frasier and Cheers. He also plays the voice of Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons.

Remarkable Scenes
- The opening scene. Wow! :)
- Data's fast shuffling.
- Riker and Worf's suspicions that Data is stacking the deck.
- Worf getting emotional at the Poker game.
- Watching the collision and the Enterprise explode never got old.
- Beverly, Worf, and Riker predicting the hand Data will deal.
- Beverly knocking over her wine glass over and over again serving as a bad omen.
- Data replaying recordings of the disaster.
- Data stacking the deck with threes.
- Data realizing Riker's suggestion is correct.

My Review
Dr. Frasier Crane is to blame when weird stuff starts happening to the Enterprise... This episode is a TNG classic and truly memorable. Some people object to its repetitive nature, but I think it was well done. Nicely repetitive but not overly so. The only improvement I can think of is to perhaps cut one of the repetition scenes so that some time could be spent exploring Captain Morgan Bateson and his crew's culture shock as they come back to their lives in the Federation. Saving that, an exceptional episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-04-22 at 11:38pm:
    problem: How the HELL can casualty reports be coming in from all over the ship a mere 2 seconds after impact?? A little ridiculous.

    Some of the stuff in this episode is just chilling. Like hearing Picard order all hands to abandon ship, while he's sitting there at the table

    I love how they refuse to reveal the actual year at the end. Picard just craftily tells him to beam aboard, but doesn't say "well its actually ____ A.D." I thought I could finally know, but I guess we're just damned to deal with their stardates.

    Wonderfully directed, Jonathan, wonderfully directed
  • From DSOmo on 2007-09-30 at 3:15am:
    - At the end of the show, Worf checks with the nearest starbase and discovers that the Enterprise has been stuck in the loop for more than seventeen days. If that is true, the crew hasn't been repeating the same fragment of time. If they were repeating the same fragment of time, the ship's chronometer would line up with the starbase's chronometer, since the entire universe would get reset at the beginning of each loop. Instead, the crew of the Enterprise must have been repeating the same actions, and somehow everything on the ship - including the crew's memories and the ship's chronometer - got reset at the beginning of each loop.
    - The episode never adequately explains where the other ship came from. The show implies that the USS Bozeman has been caught in a loop for eighty years. If so, how did the Bozeman get started with its loop? According to Geordi, the Enterprise began its loop when the ship exploded. The captain of the Bozeman made no mention of any explosion before seeing the Enterprise. He simply said the time-space distortion appeared and was followed by the Enterprise. The Bozeman could have jumped forward in time eighty years when it entered the time-space distortion. It could have exited the distortion and collided with the Enterprise. That would explain the lack of explosion for the Bozeman. If that is true, Picard should be treating the Bozeman the same way he treated the Enterprise-C in "Yesterday's Enterprise." Just after the Enterprise-C came through the temporal rift, Picard realized that disclosing information to the crew of the Enterprise-C could fundamentally alter history if the Enterprise-C ever returned to its own time. In this episode, Picard's behavior is quite the opposite. He immediately invites the captain aboard for a conference.
  • From djb on 2008-04-16 at 6:05am:
    I love this episode, and always have, and the one thing I think that's lacking was already brought up: what the deal is with the other ship and why it's 80 years off, where the enterprise is only 17 days off.

  • From online broker on 2009-10-04 at 5:17pm:
    I love this episode, its my favourite of TNG, and has been since I was 12 and saw it on TV. I always thought it is called "Deja Vu"!
  • From musterpuffer on 2010-03-04 at 4:11pm:
    One of my favourite episodes ever, I love the repetitions which are slightly different from time to time. Jonathan Frakes is such a talented guy!

    I think Data should have found the way out of the loop though: At one critical point they discuss whether to change course or not. Picard speculates that altering course might have caused the problem in the first place. But, the single reason the discussion arises is because they have become aware of the loop by now - hearing the echos etc. The very first time around there was no loop and no echos or other pointers so therefore there would have been no reason to change course. From which they might have concluded that there was no course change in the original timeline. But then the episode would have been a lot shorter so it's not meant as a criticism! Great stuff.
  • From Jason on 2011-01-05 at 11:06pm:
    My question: how can the crew program the number 3 (recognizing Riker to be correct in his strategy for avoiding the collision) when they have no tangible memory of these (for them) still future events? The crew has no idea what is coming through the rift and yet they retain memory of who had the correct strategy of how to avoid it? Seems far-fetched and certainly not adequately explained

    Otherwise an excellent episode and a season (and series) highlight
  • From CAlexander on 2011-03-07 at 1:27pm:
    When I think of my favorite TNG episodes, this always comes to mind first. Really skillfully done.

    In answer to Jason's question: Seconds before the Enterprise is destroyed the last time, Data realizes his strategy was wrong, looks at Riker's 3 rank buttons, and sends the message to the next iteration. This is clearly shown, but easy to miss since it happens so fast and with no verbal explanation.
  • From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 9:27am:
    I don't like this episode, not just because it indeed is very repetitive, but because of a couple of other reasons too:
    1. Timeloops dont make any sense and the technobabble explaining them is complete bullshit, period.
    2. Moreover there is no believable explanation for why they have memories of past runs through that loop. Dekyonparticles interfering with their brains or what? Where did I hear that before? ... Ah, that's it! I bet Geordi is wrong and the midi-clorians told them what happened last time! That's where the whispering came from too! Midi-clorians, Dekyon-Particles, both just pathetic excuses for magic mumbo jumbo, nothing more. Star Wars was about magic, at least before George Lucas screwed it, so at least they have an excuse.
    Doesnt make sense at all. If I want to watch magic mumbo jumbo then Star Wars does a better job.
    3. Why do they remember some unimportant things like the cards they got dealt but not important ones like using the tractor beam doesn't work? Very easy answer, plot convenience, that's why.
    4. The story they repeat over and over again ... *headdesk* ... it's just boring as hell!
    You might argue: "But the Enterprise explodes!"
    Sorry, still boring, taking into account the poor special effects of that explosion and the annoyingly stupid explosion sound they play every f***ing time when a ship blows up in Star Trek.
  • From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 9:57am:
    @ Jason:
    Since CAlexander didnt really understand your question, here's the explanation:

    They altered the dekyon grid last time they went throught the loop and that alteration manipulated Data (his Brain seems to be sensitive to these dekyon field emissions) into unknowingly placing that 3 everywhere he went this time.
  • From Zaphod on 2011-04-12 at 12:20pm:
    Sry, it's me who didnt understand Jasons question. ^^
    He asked for the message, I explained the delivery method. CAlexander is right of course.
  • From Robert Koenn on 2011-04-19 at 7:39am:
    I only rated this a 6 as I found the episode beginning to get repetitive and a bit boring as a result. Certainly there were minor differences each time which managed to hold my interest a bit but I told my wife, one more repetition and I'm giving up on it. Now at the same time I did find the idea somewhat interesting although flawed a bit but then while being fairly good technically ST still deals with some of these things as magic rather than technology. The crew interaction was good and that also kept me from turning it off. Still, one more time through this loop would have been it for me.
  • From Rache on 2012-05-03 at 4:29pm:
    My favorite TNG episode too!
  • From Keith on 2013-08-21 at 4:46pm:
    Love the episode, but absolutely hate the poker. Once a pair of queens is showing everyone should have folded, looking at the cards there is no conceivable way that Worf or Data should have stayed in for as long as they did, that is lousy poker, and while Riker may have wanted to bluff Crusher should have bet whatever the limit is before the last card giving him a possible straight. Finally, poker in general in STNG is silly. Poker only works if there are stakes or consequnces to betting, i.e. losing money, if played for points nobody folds and it is just a silly game of luck.
  • From Daniel on 2014-05-03 at 6:10pm:
    This episode brought about two questions for me; one purely hypothetical. First - Riker orders all crew to be ready at the escape pods, then Picard orders all hands abandon ship. Now, admittedly, there is no time for anyone to actually escape the ship. But, suppose a few crew members did manage to escape in time. What would happen to them in the repeating time loop? Would they be out of the loop and adrift in their escape pods? (Just a hypothetical.) The other question for me regards the habit that Riker has of putting his foot up on the console and assuming a pose like that. Like when he is standing next to Data at the helm and props his leg up on Data's console. Is it okay for a Starfleet officer to use ship equipment as a footrest?
  • From tigertooth on 2017-07-04 at 10:31am:
    I loved this back when it first aired and have considered it my favorite episode since. Watching it now, it didn't hold up for me. Without the mystery, it loses the effect.

    I found it funny how useless they made Nurse Ogawa seem. She has to call Dr. Crusher away from her off-duty hours just because Geordie comes in feeling dizzy?

    Also, I know why it had to be this way, but the reactions of Picard and crew when the impact is 30 seconds away seem awfully slow. If they'd fired up the tractor beam a few seconds sooner, they might have deflected the Bozeman successfully.

    And Riker's solution seems pretty goofy, really. You couldn't control how the decompression would move the ship. I'm not even convinced that it would move the ship very much. That said, why not do both? Use the tractor beam *and* blow the shuttle bays!

    Finally, I get why the writers went with "three" as the message to be sent -- to add to the mystery. But I'd think Data might have sent "Riker" or "shuttle" or something instead.
  • From Chris on 2018-04-03 at 12:50pm:
    Did I miss something? The Bozeman apparently is stuck in the 24th Century from here on out?

    Since that seems to be the case, They would've done well to keep Grammer on as a semi-regular who was re-learning updated Ster Fleet protocols and tech! Or perhaps as a history teacher? He's a great actor and his cameo in this episode was wasted I think...

    I liked this episode when I first saw it, but thank god for Netflix to allow me to kick through the repetitions! ;-)

    Also, 10 'right arrows' on your keyboard allow you to skip the main intro after the set-up intro!

    Personally, I think the message I might have sent to myself if I were Data, would have been simply "Wrong". Three or 3 would have simply been way too arcane a reference to have figured out so abruptly or quickly. In fact, by this point, I'm thinking that once the drama began to unfold, and them all having a good idea that bad things were afoot, whatever command Picard designated as make-it-so, would've been the incorrect one.

    My guess is that they figured they could only send a single character and not a word... I don't recall them specifying.

    Why was 'Sideshow Bateson' unaware of what was happening to his ship and crew who surely must've been getting the same deja vu feelings!
    Made me think of the Darmok episode or others, where the Enterprise crew is filled with geniuses compared to the boobs in the rest of Star Fleet who no matter how much time they have, are unable to figure things out for themselves! It's a little irritating.

    Still, a great episode!

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