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Star Trek: Asterisk "We'll Always Have Paris"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E24
Air Date: May 2, 1988
Written by: Deborah Dean Davis and Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by: Robert Becker

Premise
While Picard investigates some time farts, he's forced to confront a woman he stood up long ago. Probably when he had hair.

Review
The crew of the Enterprise is in need of some shore leave, and they're on their way to do this while Picard practices some fencing with Lieutenant Dean. When they finish, they say some crazy, fancy fencing terms and then solute and they say some crazy, fancy fencing terms and then solute. Hm... that was weird. Both Picard and Dean notice the time fart and Picard calls the bridge to make sure that actually happened. They experienced the time fart, too, so Picard goes to investigate. When he gets to the bridge, they receive an automated distress message from Paul Manheim. Picard immediately recognizes this name as a man who was experimenting with time. So, they go after him.

Meanwhile, Troi notices that Picard got a bit emotional when he recognized Manheim's name. She confronts him about it and, while she doesn't want to pry into his personal life, she encourages him to explore these feelings and work them out before they affect his judgement. He thanks her, but then leaves and changes into his uniform from his fencing gear. Then he goes to the holodeck where he recreates a cafe in Paris as it was 22 years ago. He remembers he was supposed to meet a woman there, but he admits that he never showed up because he was afraid. After a bit of self indulgence, he goes back to the bridge.
Meanwhile, Buddy Hackett, sets up the holodeck for The Music Man.
On the holodeck, Riker says that reports have been coming from around the sector that they're experiencing time jumps and one person described it as a "hiccup". Data is quick to correct him; that "hiccup" is not accurate, but if we're going to stick with a bodily function, a more precise analogy would be--... Picard cuts him off short, but we all know he was going to say "fart". After a bit of a detour, they arrive at the coordinates and Picard hails a lab they found. He's reluctant to say his name, but when a woman answers, he's excited like a little schoolboy to help her out. He instructs her to lower the lab's shields and then beams her and Dr. Manheim directly to sickbay.

In sickbay, Crusher immediately gets to work on Paul while his wife, Jenice, stands by. Picard enters, but he's not immediately interested in Paul. And it's clear when Jenice turns around and says "Jean-Luc!" they know each other... possibly intimately. Which is exactly why Picard gets a hard glare from Crusher at that moment. Picard and Jenice catch up for a while and Jenice tells him that her husband has been working on inter-dimensional stuff and time and gravity and technobabble, yadda yadda, but then Crusher comes in and says she wants to run some tests on Jenice. I maintain she just wants to keep Jenice away from her Jean-Luc.
Cat Claws: ACTIVATED.
Meanwhile, the "Manheim Effect" is steamrolling through the ship causing time farts at more frequent and pronounced intervals. Riker and Data help Picard by telling him they're probably going to have to beam over to the lab to get this all straightened up. Riker suggests sending an away team, but later we'll find that Picard prefers if only one person go: Data. Data has the ability to see time linearly instead of wibbly-wobbly like most humans and Time Lords, so he'll be able to fix it easier.

And then... she walked in. Jenice comes to speak with Picard and confront him about that one day 22 years ago in Paris. She asks why he never showed, and Picard tells her the truth: that he was scared. But she says she didn't want the truth - she wanted a pretty little lie! So Picard says he got the days wrong, he went to the wrong cafe, it was raining and his power went out or something and they have a sad laugh at it. But then they get down to business and Jenice says Picard thought his life would be ordinary with her. Meanwhile, Troi talks to Crusher in sickbay about Picard and Crusher says she's fine. She can't compete with the ghost of Picard's past. Well, then Paul calls on Picard and says that if anything happens to him, Picard should take care of Jenice. Which isn't awkward at all...
"If I die, my wife is your wife."
So, then Data beams down to the lab and actually gets stuff done instead of wallowing in "feelings". He takes a container of antimatter and brings it over to the out-of-control time-distortion field. After telling Geordi to give him a countdown, he suddenly sees two copies of himself in the same room. After trying to figure out which one of him is the real one, they all coalesce into the same Data and dump the antimatter into the time distortion field, thus patching it up. The day is saved!

Meanwhile, back in the holodeck, Picard has set up the French cafe once last time. He meets Jenice in there and they have a final good-bye. She thanks him for Paris and leaves Picard holding two glasses of holo-champagne. A bitter-sweet ending to their story, leading Picard to tell Geordi to set course for shore leave.

Overall Thoughts
This is a good story for getting to know Picard as the solitary man who would rather leave the family line responsibilities to Robert and Renee. Confronting a woman from his past shows the audience that his place is his ship and women can wait. It also shows us that as strong as he seems to be, he has his fears. The fear of an ordinary life; of losing his self-identity. This was a good way to delve into the character of Picard and the time farts were a great metaphor for experiencing a period in time he had forgotten all over again.