STAR TREK REWIND: “Tomorrow is Yesterday”

“The truth is, I’m a little green man from Alpha Centauri. A beautiful place. You ought to see it.

Time travel. We hinted around with it in “The Naked Time,” flirted with it a little, but the top-notch science fiction writers of the time knew that theme could be a crutch if over-used. The majority of Twilight Zone episodes revolved around the idea of time travel. Parallel worlds and alternate dimensions ranked second in popularity. Body snatcher scenarios came in third.

We don’t see the accident that causes the Enterprise to travel back in time some 300 years. Instead we look at it from the point of view of our time. Air Force pilot, Captain John Christopher (Roger Perry) on Bluejay 4, an interceptor style aircraft that resembles an F-106, spots the Enterprise in flight, achieving escape velocity and registers it as a UFO. The Enterprise locks on a tractor beam which destroys the aircraft, so Kirk rescues the captain by transporting him to the Enterprise. That is Kirk’s first mistake.

Sharp Trek enthusiasts have pointed out the ship could’ve been docked in the flight deck. Where’s the NX-01 grappler when you need it? This is an episode, like “Space Seed,” where Kirk makes one bad decision after another. I can’t fault him. This is a whole new experience for everyone, although Spock does give him fair warning. At first, Christopher thinks this whole thing is an incredibly expensive practical joke of some kind, and then he gets angry.

It seems a “black star” pulled the Enterprise toward it, requiring the ship to use a lot of warp power to get away, thus … time travel. I don’t quite understand the explanation, but they do surmise that a reverse application of the effect will enable them to return to their own time. Nevermind. This isn’t an episode about science. It’s a comedy of errors.

Captain Christopher is taken aback and pleasantly surprised to discover the ship’s crew is made up of beautiful females with long legs and hourglass figures in micro mini-skirts. This episode was written by a woman. Kirk’s second mistake in the episode is giving Captain Christopher a tour of the bridge, instead of, you know, tranquilizing him and putting him in sickbay with a full security detail until they can figure out what to do.

Adding insult to injury, Kirk decides not to return Christopher to his own time because, according to Spock, no member of his family will make a significant contribution to the future. What? Did he not account for people who may have changed their names? He obviously did not account for females, as Christopher has two daughters. This episode was written by a woman!

Later, Spock reverses his position because it turns out Christopher and the IMPORTANT-BABY-MAKING Wife will have a son who will make a significant contribution to the future. Okay. Let’s forget (or pretend) that Christopher’s daughters will be nothing more than baby-makers and “home-makers” in the future, but the very fact that they are baby-makers means they are vital to the future, for crying in the beer! Of course we know none of this is true. According to my research, women served in the Armed Forces as early as 1914. This was common knowledge.

Why are we pretending (for the benefit of a television audience) women served no purpose other than housekeeping, making babies, and some light typing and filing when we know the reality? Hell, my mother was in the Army in the late ’60s! She served her tour and got a Honorable Discharge. Writer D.C. Fontana does get one shot in across the bow when she makes reference to a planet dominated by women, but it’s a throwaway line of dialogue at best.

Back to the story. Kirk and Sulu beam down to the base to remove audio and visual evidence of the ship. If they’re going to go back in time anyway, why would there be any evidence to remove? This is usually when you get some too-cool-for-school smart-ass telling you it’s just a TV show. This is filler. We need to put Kirk in jeopardy so that a rescue can be mounted, but it’s shocking that nobody thought about this.

They’re spotted by a security chief Sergeant (Hal Lynch) who is then transported to the ship, but at least they keep him in the transporter room, where he is surprised with a bowl of chicken soup simply because he wanted it. Has he never been to an automat? Seriously, he’s behaving like this is some kind of witchcraft. Kirk and Sulu are caught breaking into the photo lab. Kirk provides a distraction so Sulu can transport back to the ship with the incriminating (and pointless) evidence.

Captain Christopher provides Spock with an ultimatum. He will help the landing party rescue Kirk only if he is permitted to accompany them. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what he’s planning, but Spock takes him along anyway. I thought they had scanning equipment that could “pinpoint a match.” Why do they need a guide? I know it sounds like I hate this episode, but I don’t. It’s a lot of fun, but unfortunately (as with most of Fontana’s work) you pull one thread and the whole damned tapestry crumbles into clashing pieces.

They rescue Kirk and, of course, Christopher pulls a gun on him. Luckily Spock neck-pinches him and they return to the ship to start their time odyssey. A slingshot around the Sun – the same contrivance they will use in “Assignment: Earth” and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. They manage to clean up their mess, beam the Sergeant and the Captain back to where they’re supposed to be, and go home in … record time! Thank you. I’m here all week. Yes, “Tomorrow is Yesterday” makes very little sense, and is incredibly sexist, but it’s a lot of fun.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Pike, Kirk to Picard, and Sisko to Janeway— boldly read what no one has read before!

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