Time Is The Fire In Which Generations Can Burn – Part 2
78 years later, on board the HMS Enterprise, Worf is being promoted. This calls for a bit of fun on the holodeck as we finally give Worf the Lieutenant Commander rank. About time too, now jump for that hat. Never under-estimate a Klingon. Or Riker’s sense of humour as he removes the plank. Sorry, retracts the plank.
Data, of course, doesn’t see why Worf falling in the water is funny. That I can understand, he’s an emotionless android and proved in the Outrageous Okona that he doesn’t understand humour at all. What I couldn’t possibly understand though was why no one else thought Data pushing Dr Crusher into the water – and in the process knocking Worf back into the water after he was starting to climb back up again – was just as funny, if not more so.
Data, that was not funny, that was hilarious. Never mind those killjoys.
Of course, this is all a plot device to get Data to finally plug in that emotion chip he first found out about in the episode Brothers and later retrieved from Lore in the two part episode Descent. Good continuity there though guys, we’ll just pretend that the giant emotion chip you plug into Data’s head in this movie is the exact same thing as that tiny little disc shaped thing Data almost took a phaser to at the end of Descent. But that’s nitpicking.
Did they check that the emotion chip was actually going to work though? It spent a good few years in the wrong android, and was later used to remotely control the right android to the detriment of his duties on the Enterprise. I’m assuming this was also sanctioned by the Captain? After all, we can’t have the third in command of the ship being remote controllable and an emotional wreck, can we?
No, of course it wasn’t sanctioned. By this point in the movie, Captain Picard is an emotional wreck himself. Having spent the terrific episode Family showing us Picard’s brother and family, the writers of this movie decided to kill him and his son off to screw up Picard for the movie. That’s pretty harsh, but we’ll run with it.
The Captain clearly isn’t up for running the ship at this point in time. After all, the fun on the holodeck was interrupted shortly after Picard got the message from home by a red alert as the Amargosa Observatory was under attack. It turns out to be Romulans, who appear to have just given up and left the area. Well, we have to assume so as they are never referenced in the movie again.
Taking a tricorder from a dead Romulan back to the Enterprise-D, Worf later informs Riker that they were hunting for Trilithium which can stop all nuclear fusion within a star. Riker’s reaction to this suggests he’s never even heard of the stuff, despite the fact that the Enterprise engines actually produce the stuff as a by-product and it is stealable when you stop off to have a baryon sweep. Maybe Riker should pay attention next time and worry less about infinite small talk with people called Hutch. Sadly though this won’t be the last time in the movie that Riker appears to suffer from amnesia.
Hang on though, why is Worf telling Riker about this? Did he suddenly get promoted to Chief Engineer? Isn’t this usually the kind of thing Data and Geordi would be investigating? Oh no, wait, they’re too busy fitting Data’s emotion chip. Right in the middle of a situation with the Romulans that is so big Picard tells Riker to inform Starfleet that they might be upping the ante in the sector. Never mind, you two pursue your own goals, I’m sure it won’t affect the mission in any way, shape or form.
Of course, the other odd thing in all of this was Riker being told to call Starfleet by Picard. That’s usually the kind of thing the Captain would do, but he’s not up for it. Despite this, Riker also tells Picard that there’s a scientist they found on board the observatory who would like to meet with him. Despite not being up for doing his job and putting in a call to Starfleet, he bizarrely decides that he will go and chat with this scientist.
Wouldn’t you just leave that up to Riker as well? I dunno about you, but when I’m not feeling my best I’m far more likely to talk to someone over the phone for a couple of minutes than I am to meet someone face to face. I know Picard’s messed up at this point in time, but he isn’t even acting like a messed up person would do at the moment.
So Picard goes to meet this scientist, Dr Tolian Soren, in Ten Forward and as we all know it’s the same guy who was rescued by the Enterprise-B and was ranting about wanting to go back. We also know that Guinan was another person rescued from that ship, so it’s not much of a surprise that Soren looks a little shifty when he leaves Ten Forward as he catches sight of Guinan.
This is after he’s hit a few raw nerves with Picard of course. “They say time is the fire in which we burn”. Well that phrase makes no sense until we find out exactly what happened to Picard’s brother and nephew later on. I’m not sure we ever got an answer for why El-Aurians have some magic power to sense just what to say, but Guinan was pretty good at it throughout the series as well so we’ll just assume they have a gift. That whole “race of listeners” thing perhaps.
Soren wants to go back to the observatory as he’s left a few experiments running that need critical timing. Picard doesn’t care though as they haven’t finished investigating the attack yet. Tough titties Soren, you’ll need to slum it on the Enterprise instead. Picard says he’ll see what he can do, but it’s left at that.
Meanwhile, Geordi has brought Data to Ten Forward to get him drunk. Or at least to try out some drinks. Is that really the first thing you do to try out emotions? You couldn’t tell a few jokes first? Show Data some pictures of puppies, kittens and fluffy bunnies to see if he goes all gooey over them? No, lets buy him a drink! Which he hates. Something that delights Data no end. The chip is working then.
So having established that the emotion chip works, but having not yet tested it to any limit whatsoever, Geordi and Data suddenly remember there’s important stuff happening and get back to work. As such, they are sent over to the observatory to look for the Trilithium that the Romulans may or may not have found. What, is Worf now too busy? Is it shift change time? Or have you suddenly remembered that there might be Romulans in the vicinity and decided Worf is needed at Tactical now? If that’s the case, why has your Tactical Officer been in Engineering all this time and no – you know – at Tactical?!
Honestly, Picard has a few personal issues and suddenly his entire ship is an utter shambles.
The good news is, sending Geordi and Data pays off. Geordi’s visor lets him see the hidden compartment and one of Data’s servos is modified to open it up. “OPEN SESAME!” exclaims Data as the doors open to reveal solar probes loaded with trilithium. Data cracks a joke about having a magnetic personality before whipping out Mr Tricorder. Not a euphemism. Sorry Data, but you were funnier when you were pushing Crusher into the water.
Unfortunately for Data, something isn’t quite right and suddenly his emotion chip is taking over. The bad jokes keep coming and he goes into a laughing fit at the most inappropriate time. Geordi gets angry at this at first but on realising it’s serious he calls for backup… which can’t get through a dampening field.
But just then, Soren arrives! Did Picard really sort him out after all? Or did he sneak off the ship? Well, it seems odd that anyone would authorise Soren’s return when there’s such a crucial part of a dangerous investigation going on, but Picard has gone a bit mental by this point so it wouldn’t surprise me. You can imagine someone objecting to it and Picard barking at them to “just do it” like he did with Riker on the Bridge when they first arrived at Amargosa. That certainly seems more likely than him sneaking off the ship without anyone noticing. No one seems at all worried that an unauthorised transport or possibly an unauthorised shuttle launch has taken place after all. Including Data and Geordi who you’d think might have been alerted that they were about to be joined by the scientist. Maybe that happened just before we viewers joined them on the station. Although that wouldn’t explain why Geordi seemed slightly surprised to see him. Only slightly though, he quickly accepts that Soren is there and could be of use.
No, sorry, I’m not buying this. Geordi and Data are on that station looking for Trilithium just as the Romulans were. The station is, at best, a crime scene. At worst, someone who was on the station may or may not have been hiding Trilithium, and yet the crew allowed a member of that station to beam over without any form of escort as they had some crucial experiments to tend to? I don’t think so. This seems like the kind of thing Worf would definitely have objected to. I’m surprised he didn’t have Soren in for questioning never mind letting him roam the ship – and apparently the station – freely. At the very least, Worf would have sent a security detail with Soren to the station. Or maybe he’d have escorted him personally – it’s not like being at Tactical was all that important after all.
Anyway, Soren is only too happy to help Geordi understand what’s going on with the hidden Trilithium-laden solar probes he’s just stumbled across. And by only too happy he means not at all and proceeds to knock him out. One phaser pointed at Data later and the shit-scared android is effectively useless. How’s that emotion chip experiment working out for you now? So glad you did this during an important time guys, it’s really worked out well.
Back on the Enterprise, we have a scene with Picard and Troi in which we find out what’s happened to his family. Of course, we’ll get the payout from this scene later on. Picard tells Troi how there will be no more Picards because his only brother is gone and Jean Luc doesn’t have any kids of his own. What, you couldn’t go and start a family now? I know you’re busy, but if it’s that important I’m sure you could “make the time” and find someone willing to settle down with you. Clearly Jean Luc Picard has never heard of Hikaru Sulu. Besides, you’re a guy in the 24th century, I’m sure you can father children even at your age. Hell, at Picard’s age you could father a child when this movie came out at the end of the 20th century!
But before Troi can raise this obvious flaw – well, I’m assuming she was about to tell him the truth about the birds and bees anyway – the Amargosa star flashes and dims. Well that can’t be good. The two head for the Bridge where Worf – who actually is at Tactical and not off duty – tells us that a probe was launched from the observatory moments earlier and that the star’s fusion reaction had stopped.
Okay, I know a bit about about how stars work so lets examine this. Somehow the magic Trilithium has stopped the star’s ability to fuse Hydrogen into Helium. Or possible Helium into further heavier elements, I’m not quite sure what stage the star was at. The energy from that is certainly why stars shine, so we’ll accept that it’s dimming. We’ll also accept that it’s probably now shrinking as the fusion reaction is what keeps a star from collapsing in on itself under it’s own gravity. Which it might just have done is got to a point where it can’t collapse any more and then “bounced” causing a shockwave which we now have heading towards the observatory and the Enterprise.
Yeah, I’m happy with this bit. I can accept the slight leap of faith about trilithium here as the rest seems to fit with what I know about stars, and specifically supernovae. This is how good science fiction works!
Riker and Worf head for the transporter to go and see why they can’t get in touch with the observatory – they have to get Geordi and Data back before that shockwave hits after all – but you’ll note at no point does anyone say “oh you’d better get that scientist guy as well since he beamed over there as well”. Either they don’t care about him – unlikely – or they really don’t know he’s there. Which goes back to what I was saying earlier about whether he was allowed to go or not!
Oh yes, and suddenly it’s not important for Worf to be at Tactical again. Maybe they’ve decided that the Romulans have probably legged it before the shockwave hits and they’re definitely no longer a threat. Or they’ve just forgotten all about the Romulans completely.
Of course, Worf and Riker don’t get it easy and are soon under fire from Soren. We’ll see as the movie progresses that Soren couldn’t hit the side of a barn if he was standing next to it, and as such neither are actually in any danger. Honestly, watch him throughout this movie, Soren has all the shooting prowess of an Imperial Stormtrooper. I know, that Star Wars, but if the shoe fits…
Riker quickly scurries over to Data to see if he can get to Geordi, but our poor emotional android is still checking to see if his bowels are fully functional and is of no use to anyone.
Meanwhile, Soren has arranged his getaway. A Klingon Bird of Prey makes contact, decloaks and quickly beams him and Geordi away before warping out of the system. With no one left to rescue, Riker, Worf and Data beam back to the Enterprise just in time to warp away themselves as the shockwave reaches the station – destroying it in the process.