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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S7 E24 "All Good Things..."

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The sky's the limit!

Original air date: May 23, 1994

Worf and Counselor Troi are just coming off a date, and Worf brings up his unease over the Riker situation, when suddenly Captain Picard rushes in demanding to know the date. When Worf tells him, he announces that he’s become unstuck in time. We soon see that he's shifting between three different time periods: past, present, and future. The past timeline begins as he's traveling to first take command of the Enterprise, and the future time is twenty-five years after he left the Enterprise. He feels like he belongs in each time once he’s there, and has trouble remembering what happened in the other time periods after he’s left them, as if they were dreams. He relates his concerns to Troi but jumps to the future before he can finish.

In the future, Picard is an old man, retired to his vineyard. Geordi, now much older and sporting a pair of bionic eyes, greets him after a long time apart. Geordi reveals that he's now an author and married to Leah Brahms. After Picard presses him, Geordi admits that he came to visit because Picard has recently been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease called Irumodic Syndrome. In the middle of their discussion, Picard sees three people in strange clothes standing in the vineyard, taunting and laughing at him. A moment later, both Geordi and those people are gone, and he's in the past, flying to the Enterprise aboard a shuttlecraft with Tasha Yar. He then shifts back to the present with Troi.

Doctor Crusher runs some tests on him, finding no indications of anything that would cause hallucinations, or any evidence of temporal displacement. She then reveals that a deep brain scan has has revealed that he has a brain defect that could develop into Irumodic Syndrome, but Picard is confident that he has a long, full life ahead of him. Worf then contacts Picard to tell him that Admiral Nakamura is waiting to speak with him. Nakamura informs him that the entire fleet is officially on Yellow Alert, as the Romulans have recently started acting aggressive in reaction to some sort of spatial anomaly that has appeared in the Neutral Zone. Picard is ordered to investigate the anomaly without entering the Neutral Zone.

Picard shifts back into the future, and the shift leaves him confused. He starts to rant, trying to remember what happened in the present. Geordi interprets this as an attack of his Irumodic Syndrome, but Picard angrily tells him that what’s happening is real. He insists on talking to Data, who now holds the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge. Data admits that he has not dismissed the possibility that Picard is simply going senile from his disease, but he also says that nothing has disproven Picard’s claims either. He announces his intention to get to the bottom of the mystery and prepares to run some tests on Picard’s brain. At this point, Picard shifts into the past, to the point at which he officially took command of the Enterprise and met his crew. As he makes his introductions, he again sees a number of strange, barbaric people laughing at him. He orders the ship to Red Alert.

A security sweep turns up nothing, and Troi can’t sense any sort of alien presence on the ship, but strangely the ship gets word from Starfleet about the same spatial anomaly that appeared in the present. Starfleet orders the Enterprise to the Neutral Zone, canceling its mission to Farpoint Station, but Picard ignores the command and orders the ship to Farpoint anyway, refusing to explain why for fear of revealing too much about the future. He shifts back to the present, where Crusher scans his brain again to find that he’s accumulated two days’ worth of memories in what was, to her, a matter of minutes.

Picard finds that he remembers more about the other time periods the more he shifts, and he remembers a few specific details from his last few shifts. None of the other crew remember the changes in the past timeline that he cause, so Data concludes that Picard’s time shifting is not actually changing the course of history. The anomaly in the Neutral Zone seems to be the only connection. Geordi suggests that it might be some kind of time disturbance. Picard turns over the bridge to Riker and heads to his ready room. Doctor Crusher follows him, ordering him to drink some warm milk and get some sleep. As they talk, she admits that she’s worried about him getting Irumodic Syndrome in the future, but Picard tells her that he doesn’t look at the future as something set in stone, and that anything could happen. She kisses him tenderly.

Back in the future, Geordi tells Picard that the brain tests are ready, but Picard says that now he wants to go see the anomaly in the Neutral Zone. Geordi reminds him that there is no Neutral Zone anymore. In the future, the Klingons have conquered the Romulan Empire and are now at a standoff with the Federation again. But Geordi gives in, and gets Picard in touch with now-Admiral Riker in hopes of finding a ship. Riker refuses, saying that the area has been scanned and no anomaly was detected. Picard is hurt that Riker wouldn’t pull any strings for him, but Data suggests they can get around the rules by hopping onboard a medical ship. Picard tells Data to contact the USS Pasteur, under the command of Captain Beverly Picard.

Picard and Crusher were married and are now divorced, but she's kept his name. While they’re understandably a little awkward around each other, they’re evidently on pretty good terms. The collection of old comrades discuss how to get into Klingon territory, so they decide to get a hold of Worf. As Picard heads off to get some sleep, Beverly, Dara and Geordi all note their skepticism over Picard's story, but they're willing to indulge him.

Back in the past, the Enterprise reaches the coordinates where they first encountered Q. Picard orders a scan shouts for Q to show himself, but there's no sign. Picard retreats to his ready room, at which point he finds himself back in the courtroom where Q put him on trial for humanity’s crimes. Q appears as judge, just like he did before, and Picard demands to know what's going on. Q wants him to figure it out for himself and only agrees to answer ten ten yes-or-no questions.

During questioning, Q denies creating the anomaly but admits to being the one responsible for shifting Picard through time. He then states that humanity's trial never ended, and he's reached his verdict: for failing to show any sign of improving themselves, humanity will be erased from existence. Picard says that he doesn't believe even Q would be capable of such an act, but Q replies that he isn’t the one that will do it. Picard is. He refuses to explain and plops Picard back in the present to wonder just what the hell any of this means. Picard holds a conference where it’s decided they can’t second-guess themselves and should just do whatever they were going to do for the time being.

In the future, Beverly makes contact with Worf, who is now a high-ranking Klingon governor and former member of the High Council. He takes some persuading, but Picard knows him too well and soon convinces him to let them cross the border on the condition that he accompanies them. Beverly gives the command to cross the border, then decides to give up her captain’s chair to Picard "for old time’s sake." Back in the past, Picard orders the Enterprise to head towards the anomaly as well. In the present, he finds himself negotiating with his old pal Tomalak, and they agree to send one ship from each side to investigate the anomaly. In the present, and again in the past, the Enterprise encounters the anomaly and begins to scan it. Picard notices that it’s larger in the past. In the future, he finds no anomaly at all.

Picard demands that they search the area until they find the anomaly, but the Klingons are getting antsy, and Beverly doesn’t want to egg them on. Data concludes that the best way to search for temporal anomalies is to emit an inverse tachyon pulse, and Beverly gives him six hours to give it a shot. Picard demands more time, but Beverly refuses, chastising him for questioning her orders and reminding him that this still could all be a hallucination brought on by his mental disorder. Back in the present, the scans of the anomaly aren’t turning up anything useful, so Picard suggests the inverse tachyon pulse to Data. As soon as they begin the pulse, Geordi feels an intense pain in his temples. He’s taken to Sickbay, where Crusher finds, to her astonishment, that his eyes are spontaneously repairing themselves. Data explains that this is because the anomaly is a collision of time and "anti-time" and is thus emitting waves that disrupt the normal flow of time. Geordi's eyes are reverting to how they were before they went blind.

In the past, Picard again orders an inverse tachyon pulse to be emitted into the anomaly so that they might find the cause of the time/anti-time collision. Back in the future, the Klingons attack the Pasteur, easily overpowering it. They are about to destroy the ship when the Enterprise, commanded by Riker, decloaks and scares them off. Riker hails them, saying he had a feeling Picard would find his way across the border, then he beams them all aboard the Enterprise before the Pasteur is destroyed by a warp core breach and turns back for Federation space. Picard shifts to the present, where he orders Data to find a way to collapse the anomaly. Q appears, taunting him with the conundrum he’s faced with: collapsing the anomaly could be what destroys humanity, or maybe leaving it alone is what does it. Q takes Picard back to primordial Earth to show him that the anomaly fills the entire quadrant of the galaxy in that time. Then he points to a puddle of goop, telling him that it is where life on Earth first formed, but that because of the anomaly it has failed to happen.

When Picard returns to the present, he has Data scan the center of the anomaly, and Data finds three identical tachyon pulses converging. Picard realizes that the three pulses are from the three different time periods. He shifts to the future and explains to Riker that it was the pulse from the Pasteur that started it all. Data catches on, putting together that the converging tachyon pulses caused an anti-time reaction, which due to the nature of anti-time happened in reverse to the normal timeline – getting larger as it moved backwards in time. They convince Riker to head back to the anomaly. When Picard shifts back to the present and the past, he orders the tachyon pulses to be stopped. This isn’t enough to collapse the anomaly, though. In the future, Data says the only way to stop it is to send the ship into the anomaly and create a static warp shell. It has to be done in all three time periods, so Picard gives the order in the past, but the past crew is getting tired of his seemingly irrational orders and refusal to explain himself, so he has to give them one last brilliant speech to convince them.

He gives the order in the present as well, and all three Enterprises head in. The warp shell begins to collapse the anomaly, but the strain it puts on the ships is intense. The past Enterprise experiences a warp core breach and explodes. The present Enterprise soon follows. The future Enterprise begins to lose containment as well, and as all seems lost, Q shows up to say goodbye and remind him, "All good things must come to an end". As the final Enterprise explodes, Picard appears in the courtroom again. Q congratulates him on saving humanity. Picard thanks Q for helping him, and Q admits that he did go out of his way to give them a fighting chance. When Picard says that he hopes never to find himself in this courtroom again, Q tells him that the trial never ends. He goes on to say that the exploration that awaits humanity isn’t space travel, but exploring the possibilities of existence, as Picard did when he realized the paradox. He then fades away, promising to watch over humanity and maybe drop by from time to time, "See you, out there...".

When Picard returns to the Enterprise, he finds that he’s been returned to the point in time just before all this time travel business started. Relieved, he decides to get some sleep. In his final log entry, he reports that no anomaly was ever reported and everything’s peachy. In the final scene, we return one last time to that familiar poker table. Riker, Geordi, Crusher, Data, and Worf play their usual game, eventually joined by Counselor Troi. They wonder why they were told about the future by Picard, to which Data theorizes that the timeline is already changing and the Captain told them about it to prevent them from drifting apart.

Then Picard comes in, asking if there’s room for him to join them. They welcome him warmly, and he remarks to himself that he should have done this years ago. He then delivers the last line of the series: "Five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky’s the limit."

Tropes featured in "All Good Things...":

  • And the Adventure Continues: In the post-courtroom denouement, Q informs Picard that the trial still has not ended, and that the nature of the adventure is not merely plotting stars and charting anomalies, but the expansion of the mind and humanity's horizons.
  • Alternate History: The 2395 timeline presented a possible look into how the TNG cast may have been over 25 years later, but it wound up playing out far differently than what the four feature films and Star Trek: Picard presented.
    • Picard retired from Starfleet to his vineyard, but rather than resigning in disgust over Starfleet's abandonment of the Romulan people in their hour of need, he simply chose to retire of his own will. He's still dealing with Irumodic Syndrome. Additionally, he and Beverly got married in this timeline, but eventually divorced, whereas their Prime selves failed to reconcile their relationship, which might explain why she never told him about the child they conceived together.
    • Riker was promoted to Admiral and kept the Enterprise-D from being decommissioned by making her his personal flagship, refitting her with a third nacelle and heavier-grade weapons, rather than the D crashing into Veridan III and spending the next 30 years undergoing a heavy restoration back into service. He never married Deanna and had children like in the Prime reality, as she died under unspecified circumstances—the fact that both he and Worf were courting her caused a strain on the two men's relationship, and they've hated each other since.
    • Worf never lost his standing with the Klingon High Council for standing in opposition to them, but they did diminish his role to a small governorship over the years.
    • Crusher never left Starfleet and instead became Captain of the Pasteur.
    • Geordi still got married and had children, but he married Dr. Leah Brahms and had three kids instead of marrying an unseen wife and having two daughters, like he did in the Prime Reality. Instead of becoming Curator of the Fleet Museum and being promoted to Commodore, he became an author. Despite this, he is one of the only characters who actually has anything in common with his counterpart from this timeline: both of them have a pair of daughters named Sidney and Alandra.
    • Data never perished on the Scimitar and had to be resurrected twice over, instead holding the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge. He still evolved to become more human-like, and even added a grey streak to his hair to experience aging, but it was his own personal evolution and not the result of a merged Golem of him and three other personalities in a body designed to look older.
    • The Romulan Empire was not destroyed by the Hobus Supernova, but instead conquered by the Klingons and left victim to a plague on their capital. And unlike in the Prime Timeline, where relationships with the Klingons are seemingly okay for now, the Klingon Empire of this future is on the verge of another war with the Federation.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Data says that he keeps his housekeeper around because she makes him laugh. We never see Data laughing in the future, but he does use contractions, so it's not clear whether he has evolved to be able to laugh or if he's just using an expression to fit in.
  • Amicably Divorced: Picard and Beverly in the alternate future. She even keeps his last name, leading to a moment where a Bridge Bunny says "Captain Picard" and both she and Picard respond, "Yes?" (This moment is revisited in Picard Season 3.)
  • Apocalypse How: Class 5 or (implied) a Class 6. Due to the size of the anomaly in the past, Q points out that the first proteins never formed and as a result, no life evolved on Earth. It's not mentioned whether this affected other planets in the quadrant, but definitely no humans.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Next Generation has never shied away from using some pseudo-science when it's plot-convenient, but even within the show's standards the whole concept of "anti-time" is slightly ridiculous.
  • Artistic License: As with the Enterprise's sick bay, the medical ship SS Pasteur is adorned with Caduceus emblems, a symbol of commerce, negotiation, and trickery that is frequently confused with the Rod of Asclepius, the actual symbol of medicine.
  • As You Know: Geordi reminds Future Picard that relations between the Klingons and the Federation are not good. Picard snaps that he already knows that. Justified in that everyone in the future timeline thinks Picard has gone senile
  • Back for the Finale: Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar (and Colm Meaney too for the 2364 sequences). Also Andreas Katsulas as Tomalak, in a brief cameo.
  • Back to the Early Installment: We see Captain Picard travel back to the events of the series' pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint." Tasha is still alive, Data is still acting spritely, and everyone is wearing the old uniforms.
  • Bad Future: While things turn out fine for Data and Geordi in the alternate future, Picard and Beverly are divorced, Picard is suffering from Irumodic Syndrome, Troi is dead, Riker and Worf's friendship has fallen apart, and war looms between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
  • Batman Gambit: Invoked by Future Worf, when he grumbles that Picard always used honor to get him to do what he wants. Picard barks back that the reason it works is that Worf is one of the few Klingons who really do believe in honor.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The future Enterprise saves the Pasteur from Klingons.
  • Book Ends: Invoked, as the last episode of the series shares much with the first. Additionally, as he got the first line in the first episode, Picard gets the last line here.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Picard takes command of the Enterprise, the signature on the orders is of Admiral Norah Satie, the same rear admiral who tried to destroy Picard's career in "The Drumhead".
    • In the past, Picard persuades past O'Brien to work with him in engineering by mentioning his love of making ships in bottles, in reference to the season 3 episode "Booby Trap". He tells him that he found this out from reading Capt. Maxwell's log entries for the USS Rutledge.
    • The Bozeman is one of the ships deployed to the Neutral Zone.
    • Picard finds himself once more brought before Q in a show trial modeled after the Post-Atomic Horror, just like in the series premiere.
    • Geordi is married to "Leah" in the future, a reference to his would-be girlfriend Leah Brahms from "Booby Trap" and "Galaxy's Child."
    • The remodeled Enterprise bridge seen in the future resembles the one seen on the last two alternate Enterprises in "Parallels".
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • In some ways the Bad Future resembles the one seen in Peter David's (non-canon) novel Imzadi, especially Future Riker's appearance and characterisation.
    • Arguably also the future Enterprise, which appears to be based heavily on the Dreadnought class ship shown way back in 1975's Star Fleet Technical Manual.
  • Cassandra Truth: None of the future or past Enterprise crews can see the Q-Continuum yelling at Picard, and the future crew think he's just going senile. At first.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: "All Good Things" ... must come to an end.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: When Picard visits primeval Earth. Justified as he's with a Reality Warper who can cancel out whatever laws of physics he likes.
  • Cool Ship: The refit future-Enterprise is some kind of Galaxy-class Dreadnought, with a powerful phaser pulse cannon beneath the saucer, extra phaser arrays, three warp nacelles and a cloaking device; the Klingon attack cruisers also count, the model even made its way into Deep Space Nine as the Klingon flagship Negh'Var. Finally, Captain Beverly Picard's hospital ship, the USS Pasteur with its unusual spherical primary hull instead of the usual saucer section is worth noting for being one of the more unique Starfleet ships depicted on-screennote .
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Klingon attack cruisers deliver one to the Pasteur, right before the Enterprise arrives and dishes out one of her own.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: After sharing a romantic holodeck program with Worf, Deanna is annoyed that he can't come up with a better way to describe it than "stimulating." (Well, it was "very stimulating"...)
  • Dare to Be Badass: Future Picard goads Future Worf into letting them cross the Klingon border.
    Picard: Well, I know that I am an old man and I am out of touch. But the Worf that I remember was more concerned with things like honor and loyalty than rules and regulations. But that was a long time ago, and maybe you're not the Worf I once knew.
  • Disposable Pilot: The Red Shirt flying the Pasteur bites it when the helm console explodes.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": In the alternate future, Geordi asks Picard if he prefers being called "Captain" or "Ambassador", or possibly "Mr. Picard". Picard asks him to call him Jean-Luc. Geordi decides that he couldn't get used to that, and he and Data both default to "Captain".
  • Doomed by Canon: An In-Universe example, and discussed by Bev who notes that while present!Picard isn't showing signs of Irumodic Syndrome, his brain shows that it is a high probability in the future, and distressedly sighs that Picard has proof it's going to happen, having seen the future.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Picard has two re the Negative Space Wedgie. The first is when he sees what it will do (and already did) if left unchecked, and the second is when he realizes how it was formed.
  • Exact Words: Q offers to truthfully answer ten yes-or-no questions. The wording of one of Picard's questions causes Q to regard it as two and he ends it the moment Picard asks "why," as it's not a yes-or-no question.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: When the Pasteur is attacked, the helm console explodes and kills the Disposable Pilot. She has the "honor" of being the last Red Shirt killed on TNG proper (not including the movies).
  • Finale Production Upgrade: Compared to the start of the show, the final season and episode gained a softer and more-even lighting scheme, higher-budget special effects, and for this episode alone, gained a two-hour timeslot, upped the stakes to the fate of the entire galaxy, as well as also bringing back dearly-departed characters, seeing the past and a possible future, and closing the original storyline that started the series: humanity on trial.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There is a plaque on Beverly's medical ship that has the Hippocratic Oath inscribed on it ("I swear by Apollo the healer, by Aesculapius, by Health and all the powers of healing...")
  • Funny Background Event: Future Data’s office is loaded with cats, and it’s even rumored that more were added between each shot. Made funnier by how Picard and Geordi don’t even seem to notice, like they’re well used to it by now.
  • Grand Finale: Though everyone knew the cast would continue on in movies, the series goes out with a bang.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Riker reveals that he really is uncomfortable with Worf dating Troi in spite of his protestations in previous episodes.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: Aboard the Pasteur, Future Picard and Beverly, being divorcees, have trouble picking whether they should hug or shake hands, with Picard saying "Let's just pick one..." and they hug.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Collapsing the anomaly results in the destruction of all 3 iterations of the Enterprise. Slightly averted in that collapsing the anomaly hits the Reset Button, but none of tem knew going in that it would happen.
  • Hypocritical Humor: On the Pasteur, Picard snaps at Beverly when she tries to get him to take a nap in his quarters, going on a diatribe about how he's not an invalid and won't be treated like a child. Then he finishes it off by saying he's going to get some rest.
  • I Can't Hear You: After Beverly Crusher/Picard tells the elderly Picard that she'll give him six more hours and tells him that if it were anyone else, they wouldn't even be there, an elderly Q appears and pulls this on Picard.
    Q: (holding ear trumpet) Eh? What was that she said, sonny? I couldn't quite hear her.
    Picard: Q? What is going on here? Where is the anomaly?
    Q: Where's your mommy? Well, I don't know.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: The anomaly causes Ogawa to suffer a miscarriage of sorts (the fetus keeps growing younger, eventually seperating back into a sperm and ovum). When everything is reset, she's pregnant again, since none of it ever happenend.
  • Instant Sedation: Picard falls unconscious immediately when he's given a sedative by Beverly mid-rant.
  • I Should Have Done This Years Ago: Picard, when joining the poker game for the first time.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: In the future, Data keeps at least a dozen cats around his home.
  • Layman's Terms: Crusher asks Data to translate his Techno Babble regarding anti-time.
    Data: It appears to be a multispectral temporal convergence in the space-time continuum.
    Crusher: In English, Data.
  • Loophole Abuse: In the final scene, Riker and the rest of the command crew wonder why Picard told them all about the future he saw (and how they all drifted apart and/or became estranged after leaving the Enterprise). After all, under normal circumstances, Picard would be breaking the Temporal Prime Directive by sharing such details. It's Data who realizes, just as Picard did, that this is actually a unique situation. Because the Anti-Time Anomaly now never came into existence, events are already diverging and unfolding differently. What Picard saw is thus only a possible future and so he can safely share those details without any fears of contaminating the timeline.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "It's time to put an end to your trek through the stars..."
  • Manipulative Bastard: Future Worf calls out Picard on this. Picard doesn't deny it.
    Worf: You have always used your knowledge of Klingon honor and tradition to get what you want from me.
    Picard: Because it always works, Worf! Your problem is that you really do have a sense of honor and you really do care about trust and loyalty! Don't blame me for knowing you so well.
  • Meet Your Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first season Enterprise is recreated pretty well, with Troi in her miniskirt "skant" uniform and a less-socially adept Data, though Worf is seen with his season 2+ forehead ridges, however he still wears the TOS-era Klingon sash.
    • During a briefing, Picard mistakenly orders past Worf to conduct a security scan, which makes Tasha mildly annoyed, since she was the security chief toward the beginning.
  • Men Get Old, Women Get Replaced: In the Bad Future, Will, Geordi, and the other male members of the core cast are older, wrinklier, and greyer of hair; Deanna is dead. (Beverly, who was already a widow of mature years with visible signs of aging, survives and is in command of her own starship, which suggests something about how this trope is applied.)
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The future Enterprise-D is revealed to have been outfitted with a number of new features, most notable a third nacelle and a mean looking "phaser lance" that runs most of the undercarriage of the saucer. Dialogue indicates Starfleet was ready to decommission it but Admiral Riker personally oversaw the refit and kept it as his flagship.
  • Moment Killer: Picard is this to Troi and Worf with his What Year Is This? question at the beginning of the episode. (And then he relives that moment again at the end.)
  • Mythology Gag: The shuttle Picard and Yar take to first approach Enterprise is the shuttlecraft Galileo. Galileo is the best known of the shuttlecraft in Star Trek: The Original Series, but this name had never been used on The Next Generation before.
  • Non-Linear Character: The Q. Q invokes it when Picard states he and his crew were put on trial seven years ago.
    Q: "Seven years ago". Must you be so linear, Jean Luc?
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The Future Enterprise-D was modified with a third nacelle with added stardrive space, an underslung "phaser lance" and bulbous devices mounted near the bridge. All of this goes against standard Starfleet ship designs, which tend to favor smooth hull lines and even numbered nacelles. Being a one-off design of questionable canonicity, it's generally overlooked.
  • Noodle Incident: Troi is dead in the alternate future, though the exact circumstances remain unknown.
  • Off the Rails: Picard being informed not to head to Farpoint Station tips him off to something being very wrong.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Worf loudly curses in Klingon when Picard starts guilt-tripping him.
  • Pet the Dog: By his own admission, Q gave Picard a helping hand in the test to give him a better chance of passing it.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: In the alternate future, Picard brings the Enterprise crew together, except for Troi, who's been dead for years.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: In the future, Data holds the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge. This post has been held by such real-world luminaries as Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, and Charles Babbage.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Q: The trial never ended, Captain. We never reached a verdict, but now we have. You're guilty.
    Picard: Guilty of what?
    Q: Of being inferior. Seven years ago, I said we'd be watching you, and we have been—hoping that your ape-like race would demonstrate some growth, give some indication that your minds had room for expansion. But what have we seen instead? You worrying about Commander Riker's career, listening to Counselor Troi's pedantic psychobabble, indulging Data in his witless exploration of humanity.
    Picard: We've journeyed to countless new worlds. We've contacted new species. We have expanded our understanding of the universe.
    Q: In your own paltry, limited way. You have no idea how far you still have to go. But instead of using the last seven years to change and to grow, you have squandered them.
  • Rebuilt Set: A subtle example, as the set hasn't exactly been "rebuilt", but several set dressings that were seen only in earlier seasons are reintroduced during the 'past' segments, such as the original brown colored bridge lockers and the "ships of the line" in the briefing lounge. However, the Captain's Chair lacks the flip panels that it has in Season 1.
  • Relationship Upgrade:
    • In the future, Picard and Crusher got married... and divorced.
    • While it was implied in "Genesis", this episode confirms that Worf and Troi are dating. However, in the future Picard sees, it's revealed that it never went anywhere due to Riker's jealousy, which ended up destroying his friendship with Worf.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We don't find out how Troi died in the future timeline. She doesn't seem concerned about it in the present, so we might assume that it wasn't some unavoidable health issue.
  • Ripple-Proof Memory: Toyed with. When jumping through time, Picard is aware of the discrepancies between the time periods, i.e. Data remembers the Farpoint mission as it happened as opposed to Picard changing the events. However, when he jumps to the future, he has memories of 'past' events such as Data teaching at Cambridge and his marriage and divorce with Beverly.
  • Rousing Speech: How Picard convinces the past Enterprise crew to enter the anomaly.
    Picard: Now, this will put the ship at risk. Quite frankly, we may not survive. But I want you to believe that I'm doing this for a greater purpose and that what is at stake here is more than any of you can possibly imagine. I know you have your doubts about me... about each other... about the ship. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet and I would trust each of you with my life. So, I am asking you for a leap of faith... and to trust me.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Picard states that Q Continuum have no right to judge whether or humanity should live or die. Q responds that they do.
  • Secret Test of Character: The whole ordeal was a test to see if Picard could solve the puzzle and open his mind to new possibilities.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Picard tells the senior staff everything he experienced in the alternate future to ensure they don't drift apart.
  • Stock Footage: When Picard contacts past Riker to inform him the Enterprise will be delayed from Farpoint, a close-up of a beardless Riker from "The Arsenal of Freedom" was reused. In the original edit of the episode, you could still see the hologram of the other guy behind him, making it even more obvious, yet for the Blu-Ray they digitally painted him out of the shot to make it less so, since he shouldn't have been there.
  • The Summation: Data takes Picard's clue about the three pulse beams and explains the mystery to everyone, having solved it. Sherlock Holmes would be proud.
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe — in the past, Data mentions a device called the tomographic imaging scanner, said to still be a prototype at the time. When Picard shifts to the present, he asks again and Data mentions that they have one on board now that they can use.
  • There Is No Cure: Picard's older self in the Bad Future is suffering from Irumodic Syndrome, a degenerative neurological disease which causes delusions, and which has no known cure.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The effect of jumping through time periods can leave Picard in any time period he left possibly looking like this. In a time jump back to the present, Commander Tomalak had to get Picard's attention when he initiated a conversation with him through the viewscreen to snap him out of the daze.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Long-term exposure to the anomaly causes Present Geordi to have his sight restored.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Future Picard sports a beard, and Future Geordi has grown a mustache.
  • Title Drop: The first for the franchise itself, though a more straightforward one would be made in Star Trek: First Contact.
    Q: It's time to put an end to your trek through the stars.
    • Another for the episode itself:
      Q: Goodbye, Jean-Luc. I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential, but then again, all good things must come to an end.
  • Trickster Mentor: Q keeps popping up to offer Picard cryptic clues about the anomaly. He was directed by the Continuum to put Picard through this ordeal.
    Q: The part about the helping hand, though... was my idea.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Happens between the three Enterprises when they enter the fissure.
    Tasha: The temporal energy's interfering with main power. Switching to...
    Geordi: ...auxiliary power. I'm having trouble keeping the impulse engines online. I've got power fluctuations all across the board.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Picard is manipulated into triggering the events that will doom humanity.
    Q: You're doing it right now. You did it before, and you'll do it yet again.
  • Warm Milk Helps You Sleep: Crusher replicates Picard a glass of warm milk with nutmeg while ordering him to get some sleep.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Riker and Worf in the alternate future. Riker opposed Worf's budding relationship with Troi because he wanted to get back together with her, which made Worf back off. As Troi later died, both blamed the other for preventing a relationship. Riker noted that he tried to mend fences at Deanna's funeral but Worf refused to talk to him. Both quickly blamed the other for putting the rest of them at harm's way.
  • We Will Meet Again: A friendly variant at the end:
    Q: In any case, I'll be watching. And if you're very lucky, I'll drop by to say hello... from time to time. I'll see you... out there!
  • Wham Shot: Picard figures Q is behind everything, angrily yelling so on in the bridge. Nothing happens, and he storms off to his ready room... only to find himself in the Q court.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Picard and Tomalak agree that each side will send one ship into the Neutral Zone to investigate the anomaly. However, we never hear about a Romulan ship entering the Devron system, and they disappear from the story after this.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The usual inversion by the Q. They claim to have deemed humanity unworthy of even existing. Q also has a little fun with it when he takes Picard into the past.
    Q: A group of amino acids are about to combine to form the first protein; the building blocks (chuckles) of what you call 'life.' Strange, isn't it? Everything you know, your entire civilization, it all begins right here in this little pond of goo. Appropriate somehow, isn't it?
  • What Year Is This?: Picard asks this of Troi and Worf at the beginning of the episode, and again at the conclusion, forming a set of Book Ends. The first time, he's distressed; the second time, it's a sign to him that all is as it should be.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: Humanity is on trial again by Q. Picard thinks he's The Chew Toy but Picard is a representative of humanity. Picard wins the trial by winning the heart and mind of the judge and Q views Picard as a Worthy Opponent.
  • You Are Not Alone: Q reminds Picard of this.
    Q: You're not alone, you know. What you were, and what you are to become, will always be with you.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Played straight and then gradually averted over the course of the episode.
    • Picard first figures out the tachyon pulses are causing the anomaly in the future. Unfortunately, Future Picard is an old man struggling with the beginnings of dementia, and his wild ravings about "everything starting here in the future" are less than convincing to his old shipmates.
    • Something similar happens when he goes back to the past, in that he knows he is time-travelling, but his new shipmates aboard the Enterprise have had no time to get to know him, and all they see is an unfamiliar captain acting irrationally.
    • On the other hand, it's solidly averted in the present, where the crew more willingly accept what Picard is telling them — especially when he reveals that Q is involved, meaning that absolutely anything is possible.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Of a sort. In the future, Picard is suffering from a dementia-like condition known as "Irumodic Syndrome". Crusher's scans of him in the present indicate that he does indeed have a high probability of developing it, although Picard replies that he would prefer to think of the future as something not written in stone.

Picard: I should have done this a long time ago.
Troi: You were always welcome.
Picard: So, five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky's the limit.