Star Trek: The Next Generation: We'll Always Have Paris   Rewatch 
June 22, 2020 12:36 PM - Season 1, Episode 24 - Subscribe

After obsessive scientist Dr. Paul Manheim steamrolls his way through a transdimensional barrier, the aftermath causes temporal flashbacks light-years away…and emotional flashbacks for Picard.

The problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy fan wiki:

• This episode was affected by the Writer's Guild strike of 1988, with the result that filming had to be shut down while the show's ending was written.

• Its title was a direct reference to the classic 1942 film Casablanca. Indeed, Riker recalls a bar on Sarona VIII, and Picard recalls its name – the Blue Parrot Café. This is the name of Signor Ferrari's bar in Casablanca.

• In the original draft, writers Deborah Dean Davis and Hannah Louise Shearer wanted to create a romantic mood with the insistence that Picard do "the wild thing" – discreetly, during commercial – some time in the course of the episode. The idea was vetoed by a number of men involved in the production – most notably Patrick Stewart.

Michelle Phillips (Jenice Manheim) is best remembered as one of the four members of the '60s music group The Mamas & the Papas, who had such hits as "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday".

Rod Loomis (Paul Manheim) played Sigmund Freud in the time-travel comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

• According to Jenice Manheim, Paul Manheim's theory is that there are infinite dimensions, with the constancy of time holding individuals within one particular dimension. Season seven's "Parallels" would establish that there are in fact numerous alternate quantum realities, each with differences based on decisions made, and that a rupture in time could cause one to shift between those realities.

"Oh, we are us, sir. They are also us. So, indeed, we are both us."
- Data, on duplicate versions of the crew

"Are you all right?"
"Why wouldn't I be? I've got one of the medical wonders of the galaxy dying in my sick bay!"
"That's not what I meant."
"I don't think I want to talk about what I think you mean!"
- Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher

Poster's Log:
The core of this one is whether or not we get genuine-seeming emotions between Jean-Luc and Jenice, and I thought we got some—though not quite as intensely as the circumstances seemed to warrant (and I'm not even factoring in the thwarted boning). Also, in retrospect, I feel like we ought to have learned a little bit more about Picard here than we did, considering the plot. More deleterious to the story itself is that we learn almost nothing about Jenice.

But I've always enjoyed the climactic scene with the three Datas, and I appreciate that the script leaves it to us to intuit why the Middle Data is the real one—he's the "Present" Data, and the other two are Past and Future. I also always liked it when TNG took the time (and it did often) to establish daily life routines on the Enterprise—in this case, Picard's fencing, which we'll see a couple more times.

Otherwise, though, this one's quite slight compared with the fairly momentous episodes it falls between. On this rewatch, though, I sadly think I enjoyed it more than the next episode, "Conspiracy," which bugs ( >.> ) me more every time I see it.

The exchange between Crusher and Troi in sickbay might be the last overt reference to…BeverLuc?…that we'll get before season seven's "Attached."

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The Cafe des Artistes menu contains a number of in-jokes.

There is no frickin' way the French would ever permit a giant unsightly tube to run under the Eiffel Tower like that.

Sadly, the franchise has yet to depict the apparently-famous Zanza Men's Dance Palace. I imagine a lot of skants for some reason.

I happened to spot the name "Lorca" on the MA page!—it turns out to be the last name of the actress who plays Gabrielle.

In this installment, the Greatest Generation guys make the general joke I was going to make regarding the method by which one apparently plays the alleged musical instrument in the cafe. They also cover the fraught writing process in more detail.

Ya know who ELSE will "always have Paris"? Garrett Wang!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like this episode in particular has so much background behind the scenes stuff influencing it that it's one of the ones from season 1 that isn't... bad really, but it's not really good either and you can sort of see the better episode peeking through. I will say that the general plot is very star trek and while not all the season 1 effects have aged well quite a lot of the tricks used here are solid and pretty cool. That fucking accordion tho.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:30 PM on June 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would describe this one as slight, but sweet. And that's fine--after a couple of stinkers, and before "Conspiracy", it's fine to have one that's just about old regrets. Maybe they could have had Paul Manheim's invention tease the possibility of Picard's making a different decision in the past (but then what would they do for Generations? I dunno), and it's a little alarming that this scientist puttering around in a not-very-big lab could accidentally trigger a time-loop effect that extends over light years--one wonders if Section 31 has a secret enclave/prison for geniuses whose work could be potentially catastrophic on that scale (if they did, David Marcus might still be alive)--but that's neither here nor there. The cafe menu was funny (looks like Edward Larkin was right!), and Michelle Phillips was quite nice.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:36 PM on June 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Couple of thoughts on this one:

The notion "the captain leaves a trail of old girlfriends around the galaxy" is very Star Trek, but it really is more Kirk than Picard.

The idea of a slightly mad scientist with a German name and a vaguely eastern European accent is very 1950s sci fi.

The idea of waves of time displacement is nice, and very Trek, reminiscent of the Guardian of Forever. Nice scene with the doubling of the characters at the turbolift.

The soundtrack is odd and occasionally somewhat intrusive but that's true of much of the first season. And like all of Season 1, much of the acting is outstandingly wooden.

The only thing that annoyed me was Manheim's thing to Picard about his wife – "If anything should go wrong, please, take care of her for me!" Jenisse is an adult and we've not been told of anything that should make her incapable of looking after herself. But Picard just says "Of course." Enh.
posted by zadcat at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

There is no frickin' way the French would ever permit a giant unsightly tube to run under the Eiffel Tower like that.

I don't know about that -- it's pretty famous history that the French hated the Eiffel Tower at first and hoped to dismantle it, gradually coming around to loving it. And there's a lot of history between our time and this future, including another World War, a Eugenics War, first contact with aliens and the reorganization of human civilization into a unified world government, with Paris in fact becoming the capital of Earth.

So I can easily see some unholy offspring of Robert Moses and Elon Musk managing to get an "efficient" supertube installed somewhen during all that chaos, and the thing is grandfathered in as part of the history of the city.
posted by traveler_ at 3:39 PM on June 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

some unholy offspring of Robert Moses and Elon Musk

Talk about your forbidden science! *rimshot*
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:31 PM on June 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

This one could have been so much more.

I think the single best example from the episode itself is the final meeting at the cafe. They show up, have a sip of champagne and then that's it. "Be well, Jean-Luc." The premise is great, but they really didn't do a good job of fleshing it all out. If that's due to the strike, that's too bad. And yeah, Picard and Beverly, what a wasted opportunity to do something with Crusher over time.
posted by Fukiyama at 5:37 PM on June 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thank you for the Mannheim Steamroller joke
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:46 PM on June 22, 2020 [5 favorites]

I don't have a ton of thoughts about this episode as a tv thing - I definitely remember it as fodder for its role in the Star Trek game they made to cash in on Magic: The Gathering, which I played a ton of.

Cards of the episode: Security Precautions, Manheim's Dimensional Door, Anti-Matter Pod, Janice Manheim, Paul Manheim were all released in the third expansion set, Q-Continuum, in October 1996.

As one might see from that site, the game has community support to this day, though it's been out of print since 2007.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I spent waaay too much money on that card game as a teenager.
posted by EarBucket at 12:49 PM on June 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

The core of this one is whether or not we get genuine-seeming emotions between Jean-Luc and Jenice, and I thought we got some—though not quite as intensely as the circumstances seemed to warrant

I didn't think we got any, and that's down to Michelle Phillips being a terrible actor.

SO annoying how bad she is. Especially noticeable because Patrick Stewart has chemistry with basically any human being who comes near him, and yet none here.
posted by tzikeh at 2:24 PM on June 23, 2020

My personal experience with this episode is I spent like two years trying to watch it again because I only remembered the climax with Data at the dimension door and nothing about the episode description clued me in that this was the one I was looking for. Part of the problem was me deciding to just watch every episode until I came upon it but then opting to skip the first season since it surely was made later than that.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:58 PM on June 23, 2020

I spent waaay too much money on that card game as a teenager.

I was a regular but by no means legendary player, I probably have a state championship certificate somewhere.

The characters in TNG may have been more cooperative post capitalists, but the cash-in products certainly weren't!
posted by StarkRoads at 9:31 PM on June 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was mostly confused by Jenice’s oh-so-practical-for-science-and-asteroid-living jumpsuit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2020

I thought this episode was really good. A lot of good Picard character development - light on details but I enjoyed the focus on the emotions.

Some really good Troi moments; we see her actually doing her job as ship's counselor in a pretty nice way. Concerned for Picard and checking in on Crusher. A couple episodes ago she gave a really great pep talk to Geordi, and we see her again here picking up on specifically how the emotionality of the crew might be impacting their ability to succeed in their mission, and trying to intervene there. More successfully in Geordi's case than Picard's. I'm finding it interesting to compare her to Wendy from Billions - she's the in-house therapist for a hedge fund, and explicitly frames her job in that kind of way on a couple occasions.

Crusher and of course Data get some nice moments as well.

Space actually feels big, for once. Four hours from where they are to the coordinates, which gives Picard enough time to go change, maybe take a shower, and then spend a little time back on the holodeck. It's done for storytelling reasons, but I loved the sense of travel time there.

The turbolift hiccup was absolutely great, and the climactic Data one was pretty good. Reminded me a little of Rey in the cave.

One final detail: After Data is introduced to Manheim, Manheim says "Androids in Starfleet" in a way that I read as him trying to remember if that was a thing that existed in his dimension/timeline prior to recent shenanigans, or if that might be a sign that he's not actually in the same timeline he started in.

Data being the first, and Manheim (I imagine) probably not keeping up on much news allows for the possibility, but I think it's more fun to imagine that actually the Manheim we meet in sick bay is from a timeline where Data hasn't been found by Starfleet yet. Manheim just rolls with it for lack of any better option.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:13 AM on August 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

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