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Star Trek TNG - Season 5 - Episode 09

Star Trek TNG - 5x09 - A Matter of Time

Originally Aired: 1991-11-18

The Enterprise plays host to a visitor from the future. [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.05

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 24 19 15 16 12 20 19 22 41 16 9

- Worf: "There were no phasers in the 22nd century." Uh, sure there were. Humans didn't have phasers, but Vulcans did, and so did Klingons. I guess Worf considers himself more human than he does Klingon!
- Why didn't the time travelers from the future just travel back in time and get their time ship back?


Remarkable Scenes
- Rasmussen's sudden appearance on the bridge.
- Data attempting to weasel information about whether or not he's still alive in the 26th century out of Rasmussen.
- Rasmussen to Geordi regarding his visor: "How do you like it?" Geordi: "It allows me to see. I like it just fine."
- Beverly's response to being seduced by Rasmussen.
- Picard asking Rasmussen to divulge the correct choice of action.
- The Enterprise being a lightning rod...
- Data: "I assume your handprint will open this door whether you're conscious or not.
- Picard to Rasmussen: "Welcome to the 24th century."

My Review
A man from the 2100s encounters a time traveler, steals his ship, and travels to the 24th century where he attempts to steal technology then return. Assumedly for the purpose of profit. We can assume this guy was in this business in the early 2100s before Archer's Enterprise was launched. There would have been much more motivation back then. Besides the obvious logical problem of how a 26th century time traveler could lose his vessel to such a primitive human or why the 26th century time travlers didn't seek the return of their vessel, Picard argues himself into a hypocrite in this episode. Granted an impression is given that retracts his argument (after he makes his "choice"), the hypocrisy is still there. Rasmussen was trying to do exactly what Picard was trying to do when their positions were reversed. Funny how the whole perspective changes when Picard's suddenly in the more advanced timeline position.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-04-16 at 2:10am:
    Worf: "I hate questionnaires"

    I rather enjoyed Picard telling Rasmussen that he doesn't give a damn about his past.

    I also enjoyed the end. "Oh professor: welcome to the twenty FOURTH century." Oh yeah. That's what's up, professor. You just got served. Picard style. Fun episode that I liked quite a bit.
  • From Jeff on 2006-06-03 at 3:17am:
    After arriving on the Enterprise, Rasmussen informs the crew that he is from the late 26th century and has traveled some "300 years" into the past to visit the Enterprise. Well, if he traveled from the late 26th century back to the late 24th century, that's a span of only 200 years.
  • From Sherlock on 2006-10-12 at 2:11am:
    This is another of those episodes were the logic of the plot is bizarre, as Kethinov points out in the comments, but I have to say that I liked Matt Frewer's performance. He's so goofy that it makes the episode fun to watch. And I love in the beginning how he tells Picard to move over! Classic!
  • From DSOmo on 2007-09-09 at 7:17pm:
    - Troi says that she only feels Rasmussen is hiding something. Why can't Troi sense Rasmussen's deception? In "The Battle," Troi sensed "considerable deception" from the Ferengi captain. Troi should be able to sense Rasmussen's deception, but if she did, there would be no show! Then again, why can't Geordi sense Rasmussen's deception? In "Up The Long Ladder," Geordi immediately spotted the deception from the prime minister of the colony of clones. In that episode, Geordi claimed that his visor allowed him to see the physiological changes that accompany lying. He said it didn't always work on other races, but when it came to humans, he had them "pegged." Rasmussen is human.
    - During a conversation with Picard, Rasmussen continues to act out the part of a historian by measuring the width of the captain's ready room. He backs up against the door and methodically paces off the distance to the window. So how did the door know not to open? Rasmussen backs right up to it and it remains closed.
    - During the drilling, Worf tells Picard, "Target fourteen complete, sir." This means there are at least fourteen drill sites. Later, on one of the workstations, Riker shows Picard a graphic of all the drill sites. There are only eight drill sites in the picture. What happened to the other ones?
    - Rasmussen tells Data he intends to take the items he stole from the Enterprise back to the twenty-second century and "invent" them one at a time. Rasmussen's plan simply will not work. Suppose an inventor from the nineteenth century appears in our time and steals a laptop computer. He returns to his century - certain that fame and fortune await him when he "invents" this incredible contraption and markets it to the public. Let's say the "inventor" quickly learns how to operate it. Next, he disassembles the computer and confronts a very big problem. To him, the inside of the computer would be "magic." For the sake of argument, let's say that he figures out how the insides of the computer work. Now the "inventor" confronts an even worse problem. He has no way to manufacture the computer. An invention won't make you any sunstantial money unless you can mass-produce it. The infrastructure of manufacturing technology that allowed the creation of the laptop computer doesn't exist in the nineteenth century. The inventor has nothing more than an interesting artifact.
    - One of the items Rasmussen stole was a Klingon dagger. Don't they have knives in the twenty-second century? ;)
    - At the end of the episode, when Rasmussen begs to return to his own time in the twenty-second century, Picard won't let him. In fact, Picard asks Rasmussen a very peculiar question as Rasmussen continues pleading. Picard says, "Now, what possible incentive could anyone offer me to allow that?" Maybe Rasmussen is the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of Riker. Maybe he helped Cochrane with a few conceptual ideas in the early stages of development of warp drive. Maybe he inspired a whole generation of leaders with his "fictitious tales" of life in the future. No one can know the impact of a single life. Yet Picard, with all his supposed knowledge of temporal logic, rips Rasmussen from the past by refusing to allow him to return.
  • From Remco on 2007-11-10 at 7:37pm:
    I'm not natively English speaking, so I could be wrong, but before the title sequence, Data says: "The odds are extremely unlikely." That's strange, because it's a contamination of "The odds are extremely against it" and "It's extremely unlikely". An android that doesn't produce contractions certainly shouldn't get creative with other parts of the English language.
  • From JRPoole on 2008-07-31 at 8:14pm:
    This one is entertaining if you don't think too hard about the ridiculous plot. Are we to believe that a 22nd century con man plans to steal items from the future by happening by the flagship of federation? Surely there's a better way to smuggle contraband back in time than screwing around with a starship. The post above that mentions the impossibility of "inventing" these types of items out of context is also right on, but maybe he just wasn't a very smart con man.

    This one gets a couple of points for me because Troi is pretty badass for a change, and the humor actually works here. Matt Frewer plays Rasmussen well as well.

    The thing that makes this ridiculous to me, and the reason I don't generally like temporal plots is that it's impossible to figure out the right course of action to keep history intact. What if, in the "real" timeline, many of the innovations common to the 24th century came about as a result of Rasmussen bringing them back?

    Bottom line: utterly ridiculous, but thoroughly entertaining. This is a 3.
  • From nirutha on 2010-09-29 at 4:11pm:
    I think your too hard on Picard in what I consider to be the only redeeming scene of this episode.
    The argument between Rasmussen and Picard spotlights the moral dilemma rather nicely and Patrick Steward delivers it very well.
    He has broken the Prime Directive when the ends justified it, and he's also willing to use information from the future to save lives and possibly change the course of history - but to him, it's the future, and it has yet to be written.
    I don't think it's hypocrisy at all, but it's up to the individual viewer to make a judgement. And I like that even more.

    Apart from that, I found Rasmussen utterly annoying. Would anyone really believe that's how a historian from the future would act?

    And then there's sloppy writing: All Troy can read is that Rasmussen is holding something back. And she really can't tell the difference between holding something back and outright deception - how convenient.
    Then they try to fix the planet's cimate with a procedure that could instantly kill the whole population in a terrible firestorm? And the colony leaders are o.k. with that? Of course, everything works just fine and the huge risk Picard is taking is not really felt.
    In the last scenes, Rasmussen is back in his ship, has taken Data prisoner and is about to return to his time - oh boy, how do we get out of this mess? Luckily, the Enterprise's computer could detect and disable all the equipment in Rasmussen's ship the second he opened the door, including the phaser he was pointing at Data.
    A very, very poor deus ex machina ending, even for ST:TNG.
  • From Doddzy on 2012-07-10 at 10:39pm:
    wat about at the end, his time ships destination was 22nd centuary new jersy, woulnd'nt someone else find it and use it?
  • From ChristopherA on 2019-04-30 at 3:22pm:
    The plot twist (guy from 26th century is actually from 22nd) is clever and I didn't see it coming, but otherwise I agree this episode is bad. Episode spent watching Rasmussen be annoying, then it turns out his plan was poorly executed (there were much easier ways to make a profit with the time machine!) and is solved with a deus ex machina.

    I can come up with some hand waving justifications after the fact. Maybe he chose the flagship of the federation (of all places) to try his con because he is a poor time pilot with a lot less control of the time capsule than he pretends to have. And the ending could have made more sense if they had set it up with Geordi rigging some sort of radiation pulse directed at the time capsule to fry the electronics as soon as the door was opened.
  • From Chuck the Canuck on 2023-07-03 at 8:03pm:
    Rasmussen's behavior is just too intrusively obnoxious while trying to pass himself off as a future historian. He says he just wants to observe, and yet the crew is well aware and annoyed by his continuous comments and interruptions. I have a hard time believing they didn't challenge him sooner. Several of them suspected something was up with him, so it's frustrating to see them all play along.

    I did enjoy Picard's discussion with him when trying to get insight on his decision about the planet. He made some great points, and clearly Rasmussen was not prepared to have a philosophical challenge to his ruse.

    I give this a 3. Pretty silly but at the very least, entertaining.

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