Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’- S06E01 – Time’s Arrow, Part II

In the first episode of the sixth season of The Next Generation, time-traveling Samuel Clemens, y’all. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Well, that was a lot of fun! Sometimes, I don’t need a massively thought-provoking story to enjoy this show, and truthfully, the at-times surreal journey at the heart of “Time’s Arrow” is enjoyable all by itself. I don’t think the second half of the episode is as enjoyable or exciting as the first half, especially since there’s no real mystery left. We know who the perpetrators are, we know their motivation and the logistics of how they’re killing people, and the sole tension comes from how the crew will resolve this and get back home.

And since this show is so deliberately episodic, we know everything will be resolved neatly. Still, I like the time travel loop because, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t actually a paradox created here. It’s one of the stronger things I’ve seen in this trope, and it helps that the writers didn’t try to make this more complicated than it needed to be. It’s an aspect of the larger story, as is Samuel Clemens’ role, so neither of them overshadow each other in terms of the focus.

However, Jerry Hardin’s performance as Clemens totally upstages everything in terms of entertainment. He’s so fucking wonderful here, dominating every scene he’s in with that accent of his and his face and being literally louder than everyone else, and it’s just so fucking weird, y’all. Who thought that they needed to have Samuel Clemens in an episode of this show, first as an antagonist, then as a time-traveling weirdo who just wants to go on adventures? BECAUSE I WANT TO GIVE YOU SOME FLOWERS OR A BOX OF CHOCOLATES. It makes no sense while making perfect sense. Is there character development here? Probably not, though Clemens does come to believe Data and his friends, but I wouldn’t count that as “character development.” AND I DON’T CARE. I just universally love his inclusion here, that reference to his obsession with Halley’s Comet, the depiction of his interest in the “supernatural” manifesting as this interaction with time travelers…IT’S SO GREAT.

But my favorite part of this episode was his conversation with Deanna Troi onboard the Enterprise. I’ve had issues with this show’s claim that Earth eliminated all oppressions because some of them still appear in the future. But for someone who was as progressive as Clemens was in his time, it makes sense that he’d question Deanna’s insistence that everything was fixed. Now, Clemens wasn’t exactly the greatest progressive; the man’s dedication to imperialism is pretty disgusting and racist, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But it’s clear that he wanted a different world, and suddenly, he’s five hundred years in the future, and Deanna is telling him that that different world is real. On a superficial level, it’s a cool message: we’re trying to make the world a better place to live.

Otherwise, this is a solid episode, but not necessarily one I’d consider a favorite or anything. I kind of wish that I’d gotten more of Guinan’s story instead of a very simple time loop. Picard had to be there to save Guinan from death, I suppose, but that kind of doesn’t make sense. Would she even have been hurt if Picard wasn’t in that cave in the first place? Regardless, the promise of this plot felt bigger than the execution of it. The same goes for those weird aliens. Their time portal is destroyed at the end of the episode, but…can’t they just make a new one somewhere else? Doesn’t this just delay them rather than stop them?

Well, those questions will go unanswered. I shall move on to season six of The Next Generation!

The video for “Time’s Arrow, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at Borderlands Books, Book Riot Live, and Windycon this fall! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Kings, season 1 of Sense8, season 1 of Agent Carter, seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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