We'll Always Have Paris
Perhaps because of the episode's title, it is unfortunately
best known for its rather lacklustre relationship situation
for Picard which makes terribly uninspiring viewing.
"Why did he fail to show up for his café meeting
with the main guest star 20 odd years ago?" the narrative asks.
Perhaps because he realized they had no chemistry!
Patrick Stewart and his love interest guest actress both
seem fine enough on their own, but really don't spark well
together in the ways the script seems to want them to,
making it seem that the story and dialogue spends way too
much time stirring hot porridge without eating and ignoring
the obvious, when the writers probably envisioned something
What is perhaps sadly less well remembered is that this is
the Next Generation's first actual time travel story,
which is a great pity since this section of the story works
quite well and is quite interesting. Even if it did only
come up with this angle because the guest star's husband needed some
obsessive and remote sci-fi occupation, it really turns
out to be one of Star Trek's better and more respectful
forays into this arena.
Part of the success here is that these short time loops
are always a surprise and
never take the characters back further than about a minute,
which doesn't really give them a chance to start uttering any
remarks about not changing what happened. Thankfully,
that never seems to cross their minds anyway, and they
stay focused on other things.
Another part of the success stems from most of the "temporal talk"
in the episode being experiential and coming from characters
who admit they are way out of their depth. This allows great
space for audience members to fill in the gaps in ways that
they feel they can accept. I can watch the characters' doubles
crop up and think to myself "parallel universes", without there
being any contradictions. Thus the episode successfully
explores the concepts while keeping possibilities open.
If you haven't seen this one in a while, and didn't remember
the time travel aspect, haul it out and have another look.
This is an enjoyable episode. If only its title had emphasized
its better half.....