Rewatch 192: Cause and Effect

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 5.18 Cause and Effect (3/23/1992)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/1/35

Notable Guest Stars:
Kelsey Grammar (Morgan Bateson) – Grammar is probably best known as Frasier Crane.

Review:

Wow.  First episode in awhile we don’t have to have content warnings.  Or I spend the whole review ranting about bad themes. No, this is a fairly good episode, and its definitely an episode I wouldn’t mind re-watching should it come on TV one day when I’m switching through the channels. Er, flipping through the streams.

This episode starts, oddly enough, with the Enterprise exploding.  It’s a very short teaser, and the actual episode starts with a poker game.  As does each of the time loops.  Which I thought was an interesting way of incorporating what was a side character drop into an actual plot point in the show.

It also is nice to know that the senior staff, particularly Riker, Worf, Beverly and Data have a weekly tournament. It seems not everyone gets every Tuesday off, but they always have a game.  This was shown in the last episode as well (same group oddly enough, but with Deanna filling in for Will).

They are exploring an “expanse” which is apparently key for “something weird goes here.” Because there is a time loop that they get stuck in for 17 days. The loop looks like at least two possibly three days so their loop must only have repeated 8x if 2 days) or six times if 3.  I’m leaning towards the later, because the show actually shows four or five of these loops.  It takes a few loops to figure things out, but it doesn’t seem like it took long for them to realise something was off. 

I find amusing that the “right answer” was being said all along but everyone ignored it because Data came up with a suggestion and Picard regularly trusts Data’s hypothesis.  Data ends up figuring it out in the end, which holds up Picard’s regard, but at the same time I think the fact that no one thought to examine Riker’s idea is odd.

The end is a little amusing too, as Captain Bateson (Kelsey Grammar) appears for pretty much 3 minutes maybe.  He’s the captain of a ship whose been trapped in a time loop for close to a century.  Apparently he doesn’t have a Beverly Crusher onboard who is good at picking up weird stuff.  (er, the candle episode is coming.  Just warning you.)

I think Jonathaan Frakes did a great job in directing this episode, especially as he was required to have new footage for each loop.  He made good use of filming repeat scenes with multiple cameras at different angles to separate the different loops.  It probably saved a little time and effort along the way. Still, the effort to make all new footage probably made this episode pretty expensive for what essentially was a bottle episode.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Brannon Braga
  • Directed by Jonathan Frakes
  • This episode is a bottle show, comprised of almost all ready made scenery and only the main cast and two other reoccuring characters.
  • Kelsey Grammar accepted the role as he was a big fan of the series. They also wanted Kirstie Alley was also wanted to reprise Saavik as Bateson’s first officer, but scheduling difficulties meant they went with an unnamed extra.
  • This episode is often compared to the film Groundhog Day but it actually aired in 1992 while Groundhog Day was released in 1993. That being said, preproduction on Groundhog Day started in 1990.

Pros

  • I find it amusing that it takes them so long to try Riker’s idea.

Cons:

  •  Why does no one ever take a chance on Riker’s idea?
  • Wouldn’t someone on the Bozeman have a theory there was a time loop.

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

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