Original air date: October 12, 1992
The Enterprise finds the USS Jenolan, a ship that was missing for 75 years, crashed on the surface of a Dyson Sphere. An away team of La Forge, Riker, and Worf beam over to the transport ship, which amazingly still has power. Although life support is working, the ship seems deserted. Just then, La Forge notices that the transporters on-board have been modified somehow and that there's still a pattern stored in them. The teleporter is activated, and who else materializes on the pad but Scotty himself!
Scott explains that he was on his way to retirement when the ship crashed, and he and the only survivor, Franklin, had too few supplies to wait for rescue. Franklin's pattern has degraded too much for revival. When Scott learns that his rescuers are from the Enterprise, he assumes that Kirk has come to save him, but once he sees Worf, he realizes that he's been away much longer than he'd thought.
On the Enterprise, Scott gets introduced to the crew and is instantly fascinated by the advances in technology that have been made. Although advised by Crusher to rest, he quickly gets into Geordi's hair and insists on helping him man engineering, stating that his 52 years of experience should be worth something. Unfortunately, Scott is too unfamiliar with 24th Century technology and starts to get in the way. Geordi's patience wears thin, and he finally snaps at Scott to go away, causing the old man to leave in a huff.
Scott wanders into Ten-Forward, where he samples some synthehol and nearly spits it out. Data serves a real alcoholic drink to Scott, which Scott likes, though he mutters to himself about the future being full of "synthetic alcohol and synthetic people." After getting drunk, he stumbles to the holodeck and recreates the bridge of the original Enterprise. Scott wistfully recalls his glory days while drinking a toast to his absent comrades. But his pity party is interrupted by Picard, who downs shots of Scott's whiskey and commiserates with him. Scott says that the original Enterprise is the only ship he misses, and Picard admits that he misses his first command, the Stargazer, even though it is completely outclassed by the current Enterprise. He offers to let Scott peruse the modern tech manuals, but Scott refuses, saying that the time comes when every man has to know when to quit. He shuts off the simulation and leaves.
The following day, Picard suggests to La Forge that Scott could help recover the logs from the damaged Jenolan. He also makes a personal request that La Forge personally accompany him to make Scott feel useful again. Geordi agrees. After the pair beam over, the Enterprise moves to investigate a communications array on the Dyson sphere and gets pulled inside by automated tractor beams. The ship's systems get overloaded in the process, causing the ship to start hurtling toward the central sun with minimal power.
In the Jenolan, Scott speaks with disgust at the ship's out-of-date technology, calling it a useless relic (much like himself). Geordi counters that many principles of spacecraft have remained the same for decades and that the ship might even still be in service had it not been damaged. "Just because something's old, doesn't mean you throw it away," he says. Scott is heartily reencouraged by Geordi's arguments. When they try to contact the ship, however, they get no response. Scott realizes that the ship might have entered the sphere, so the two engineers set about repairing the derelict ship to go after it.
The Enterprise crew manages to use their remaining impulse power to enter an orbit around the star, but its violent solar flares will destroy them in three hours if they don't find a way to escape.
La Forge and Scott work on repairing the Jenolan's engines. Geordi is cautious about exceeding Starfleet regulations on deuterium, but Scott reveals that he wrote those regulations and knows exactly how far he can push them. They get the ship running, and Scott offers Geordi the command in spite of technically being the senior officer. He explains that even though he's a captain, he only ever thought of himself as an engineer. With Geordi in command, they track the Enterprise trail into the sphere. Scott proposes entering the sphere and holding the doors open with their shields to let the Enterprise out. Geordi is leery of such a cockamamie idea, but Scott assures him that it will work, so Geordi agrees.
The engineers wedge the Jenolan between the doors, the shields hold and La Forge manages to open a communications channel to the Enterprise. The starship receives the hail and sets a course for the hatch. The Jenolan suffers heavy damage while the craft is wedged in the hatch and La Forge tells Picard that the Enterprise will have to destroy the ship to escape. When the Enterprise is in transporter range of the Jenolan, Picard gives the order to beam La Forge and Scott back on board (with the Jenolan's shields still raised) and fire photon torpedoes, destroying the Jenolan. The doors continue to close, but the Enterprise manages to exit the sphere. As La Forge and Scott walk off the transporter pad, Scott is cheerfully relieved to be returned to safety.
Later, La Forge tells Scott about the Enterprise's encounter with a newborn life-form. It is obvious that a strong bond has formed between the two engineers. Scott was expecting La Forge to take him for a drink, but La Forge had different intentions. As they walk through the doors to Enterprise's shuttlebay, the senior staff is revealed, standing in front of a shuttlecraft, the Goddard. Picard offers Scott the craft on "an extended loan" basis in thanks for sacrificing the Jenolan to save the Enterprise. Scott says that he won't be going to the Norpin colony as he had first planned. The senior staff bids Scott farewell. Scott reveals his approval of the Enterprise-D and the starship's engineer. After shaking La Forge's hand, he departs the ship in his new shuttlecraft.
This episode contains examples of:
- And the Adventure Continues: The Enterprise crew loan Scotty one of their shuttles, allowing him to depart for more adventures in the 24th Century.
- Ascended Meme: Scotty commenting to La Forge, "You cannae change the laws of physics, I told [Kirk]..." Of course, during the events he's describing, his actual comment was "I can't change the laws of physics", but fans have been quoting it as "cannae" ever since "Star Trekkin'" by The Firm.
- Data's "it is green" line in Ten Forward is almost the same as a line Scotty uses in the TOS episode "By Any Other Name".
- Scotty also mentions events from the episodes "The Naked Time," "Wolf in the Fold," and "Elaan of Troyius".
- Geordi returns the favor by relating the events of "Galaxy's Child". Scotty notes, "You soured the milk!" which was exactly the line Geordi and Brahms used to describe their ploy.
- A very minor one from "The Galileo Seven"Spock and Scott had a similar discussion about using a backup deuterium tank, which Scotty said was too delicate to take the pressure.
- Scotty is surprised that a Klingon (Worf) is serving in Starfleet. The last time we saw Scotty (at this point in the franchise) was Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, when the Federation had just made peace with the Klingon Empire. Even better, the Klingon who acted as Kirk and McCoy's defender was actually Worf's grandfather.
- Cold Sleep, Cold Future: After a while, Scotty starts to feel he has no place in the 24th century.
- Conflict Ball: Even though he's on a tight schedule, it seems odd for a Nice Guy like Geordi to get angry to the point of snapping at him within ten minutes. Particularly at Montgomery Scott, who is to engineers what Kirk is to captains. But it pushes Scotty into Ten Forward and then the recreated bridge on the holodeck.
- Dyson Sphere: The setting for the episode (though, technically, it's a Dyson Shell). Whoever built it has long since abandoned it, as the star within is no longer stable enough for humanoids to survive within. The characters themselves, even with all their advanced technology and having encountered far more advanced aliens, are astonished that anybody would be capable of building such a thing.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Scott initially drives Geordi crazy, but after working together to save the day, they've become two peas in a pod.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Both La Forge and Scotty for their respective eras.
- The Ghost: A scene takes place in Ten Forward, and Guinan is referenced several times, but she doesn't make an appearance.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: After an argument with Geordi, he goes to the bar to get drunk. He ends up drinking the Aldebaran whiskey that Picard provided Guinan.
- Like a Duck Takes to Water: Scotty tries to show that his engineering expertise is still useful in the 24th century. He doesn't do so well on the state-of-the-art Enterprise, but his Damage Control gets the much older Jenolan flying again.
- Nostalgia Filter: Invoked by Picard and Scotty. Picard in particular muses that his first command, the USS Stargazer was an "overworked, underpowered vessel, always on the verge of flying apart at the seams" and that the Enterprise-D is in every way superior, but that there's times where he'd give anything to be commanding Stargazer again.
- Passing the Torch: Invoked when Scotty says goodbye to La Forge, with Scotty observing that, while the Enterprise is a credit to her name with a fine crew, in his experience a ship is only as good as the engineer who takes care of her, and he is confident that the Enterprise-D is in good hands with Geordi.
- Red Shirt: The guy who went into transport suspension with Scotty. Died without appearing onscreen. Scotty is found with his injured arm wrapped in an improvised sling...a sling consisting of a strip of torn red fabric.
- Retirony: Not even Scotty was immune to it, since his transport to a retirement colony crashed on a Dyson Sphere.
- SciFi Writers Have No Sense Of Distance: When the Enterprise is pulled into the sphere, it's clear that the speed at which the ship is moving is very slow. Once inside, Data states that the ship is 90,000,000 kilometers from the star's chromosphere. The helmsman then states that the residual inertia from the tractor beam is causing them to drive towards the star. They treat this as being a dire emergency, but at the speed the ship is shown to be moving, it would take days, if not weeks, to actually reach the star. Sure enough, in what is clearly a matter of no more than an hour, the ship has come within 150,000 kilometers of the star and is at risk of being destroyed.
- Scotty Time: The Trope Namer himself discusses it with Geordi.Scotty: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. But the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.Geordi: Yeah, well, I told the Captain I'd have this analysis done in an hour.Scotty: How long would it really take?Geordi: An hour.Scotty: Oh, you didn't tell him how long it would really take, did you?Geordi: Well of course I did.Scotty: Oh, laddie, you have a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker!
- Later, when Geordi suggests they repair the Jenolan to look for the Enterprise, Scotty says it'll take a week just to get started. But, they don't have a week, so better get to work!
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Scotty tells Geordi to shunt some pressure to a reserve tank. Geordi replies that the regulations state the tank can't withstand that much pressure. Scotty points out that he wrote the regulations in question (Regulation 42/15, "Pressure Variances on IRC Tank Storage"), and "A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper." note Thus explaining every single piece of technology based Plot Armor and Never Tell Me the Odds! in Star Trek franchise with one easy to miss line.
- Starship Luxurious: Scotty is completely astonished by the size of the Enterprise-D, especially his guest quarters.Scotty: Good Lord, man, where have you put me?
Kane: These are standard guest quarters, sir. I can try and find something bigger if you want.
Scotty: Bigger? In my day, even an Admiral wouldn't have had such quarters on a starship.
- Technobabble: Plenty re: the jury-rigged transporter.Geordi: Commander. The transporter is still online. It's being fed power from the auxiliary systems.
Riker: The rematerialization subroutine has been disabled.
Geordi: That's not all. The phase inducers are connected to the emitter array. The override is completely gone and the pattern buffer's been locked into a continuous diagnostic cycle.
Riker: This doesn't make any sense. Locking the unit in a diagnostic mode just sends the matter array through the pattern buffer. Why would anyone want to—
Geordi: There's a pattern in the buffer still.
Riker: It's completely intact. There's less than .003% signal degradation. How is that possible?
Geordi: I don't know. I've never seen a transporter jury-rigged like this.
- Technology Marches On: Happens In-Universe. Many engineering issues Scotty was proud to have handled during the 23rd century have been long resolved when he's found again.
- Though also inverted — Geordi mentions that some designs and theories aren't all that different than they were in Scotty's day, and had it not been for the structural damage the Jenolan would probably still be in Starfleet service.
- To Absent Friends: During the holodeck scene, Scotty raises a glass on the original Enterprise bridge."Here's to ya', lads."
- Picard soon joins him, and the two offer a toast to their absent ships: the Enterprise and the Stargazer.Scotty: Ah, it's like the first time you fall in love. You never love a woman quite like that again. To the Enterprise and the Stargazer — old girlfriends we'll never meet again.
- Picard soon joins him, and the two offer a toast to their absent ships: the Enterprise and the Stargazer.
- Understatement: Scotty mentions that the first time he visited Argelius, he got into "a wee bit of trouble". (He was framed for murder.)
- Unwanted Assistance: Anytime Scotty tries to help Geordi in Engineering. Makes you feel bad for Scotty. The poor guy is really out of touch with the 24th century technology and he wants to do what he can to help the Enterprise.
- What Year Is This?: Naturally, Scotty wants to know how long he's been in transporter stasis.
- While You Were in Diapers: Scotty is pissed when Geordi tells him that he's in the way:Scotty: I was drivin' starships while your great-grandfather was still in diapers! I think you'd be a little grateful for some help! I'll leave ya to work, Mr. La Forge.
- He also tells the bartender in Ten Forward that he's been drinking Scotch a hundred years before he was born. This bartender is not Guinan, so in this case it's true.
- Wrote the Book: Geordi cites some Techno Babble regulations that Scotty quite literally wrote.
- Scotty: Shunt the deuterium from the main cryo-pump to the auxiliary tank.
La Forge: Er, the tank can't withstand that kind of pressure.
Scotty: [laughs] Where'd you get that idea?
La Forge: What do you mean, where did I get that idea? It's in the impulse engine specifications.
Scotty: Regulation 42/15 - Pressure Variances on the IRC Tank Storage?
La Forge: Yeah.
Scotty: Forget it. I wrote it. A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper. Just bypass the secondary cut-off valve and boost the flow. It'll work.
- You Are in Command Now: Scotty tells Geordi to take the Jenolan's conn. When Geordi points out that Scotty's the senior officer present, he brushes it aside saying that he may be a captain by rank but he's happier being just an engineer.