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Cause and Effect (episode)

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"Cause and Effect"
TNG, Episode 5x18
Production number: 40275-218
First aired: 23 March 1992
117th of 176 produced in TNG
117th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
225th of 728 released in all
USS Enterprise-D explodes, 2368
Written By
Brannon Braga

Directed By
Jonathan Frakes
45652.1 (2368)
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The destruction of the Enterprise near a distortion in the space-time continuum causes a temporal causality loop to form, trapping the ship and crew in time and forcing them to relive the events that led to their deaths.

Summary

Teaser

The Enterprise has sustained a direct impact to its starboard warp nacelle and it is venting warp plasma. A warp core breach is imminent and efforts to eject the core have failed. Captain Picard orders all hands to abandon ship, but it is too late, as the Enterprise and everyone aboard are destroyed by a warp core breach.

Act One

Despite its previously depicted destruction, the Enterprise, intact and undamaged, is traveling at impulse through space.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 45652.1. The Enterprise has entered an area of space known as the Typhon Expanse. We are the first Starfleet vessel to chart this unexplored region."
Beverly Crusher wins at poker

Dr. Crusher wins the hand

Data, William Riker, Worf, and Dr. Beverly Crusher are in the first officer's quarters to play a game of poker. Data shuffles the cards very fast because of his android nature and Riker and Worf question whether Data is truly randomizing the deck. Data deals the cards and Crusher has the highest hand. The four officers play and eventually a standoff occurs between Riker and Crusher. Crusher calls Riker's bluff and wins the hand, somehow knowing that she would win. After winning, she is called to sickbay. Upon arriving at sickbay, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge tells her that he is feeling dizzy. Crusher finds that although he has the symptoms of an inner ear infection, there is nothing physical to suggest that he has such an infection. After examining him, she prepares a hypospray of vertazine when she has the odd feeling that she has already performed this examination. La Forge has no recollection and suggests that she was talking about another patient but Crusher is insistent that it was La Forge whom she treated. She shrugs off her déjà vu and administers the hypospray. Later that night, she gets ready to go to bed and shortly after she does, she starts to hear a voice and that voice soon becomes many voices, which are completely undecipherable. As Crusher puts the light on, the voices stop and she accidentally breaks her cup which was next to her light switch. There is a symbolic meaning involving the continuous breaking of the cup in the subsequent loops, signifying that the destruction of the Enterprise is inevitable, as evidenced in the Battle of Veridian III.

The following morning, the senior staff (except for Worf) are briefing each other on the vast undertaking of charting the Typhon Expanse. As they are about to return to duty, Dr. Crusher reports the voices that she heard the previous night. The other staff are curious about her report and they are interrupted when Worf reports from the bridge that there is a distortion in the space-time continuum in the vicinity of the Enterprise. The staff return to the bridge. Picard orders Ro to back the Enterprise away slowly but she can't as the maneuvering thrusters fail to respond. The distortion begins to fluctuate and power levels drop. Counselor Troi warns the captain that they must leave immediately.
USS Bozeman emerges from a temporal causality loop

A starship emerges from the temporal distortion

Data reports that something is emerging from the distortion and an unidentified starship emerges. The ship is on a collision course with the Enterprise, just thirty-six seconds from impact and the helm still fails to respond. There is no response when the Enterprise hails the other ship. Picard asks for suggestions. Riker (standing closely to the left of Data) suggests decompressing the main shuttlebay allowing the explosive reaction to push them clear and Data suggests using the tractor beam to alter the ship's trajectory; Picard opts for the latter. The Enterprise emits a tractor beam but it is insufficient as the ship collides with the Enterprise's starboard warp nacelle, causing it to explode. The events portrayed in the teaser replay themselves and again the Enterprise is destroyed by a warp core breach.

Act Two

Once again intact, the Enterprise is traveling at impulse through a familiar region of space.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 45652.1. The Enterprise has entered an area of space known as the Typhon Expanse. We are the first Starfleet vessel to chart this unexplored region."

Data, Riker, Worf, and Dr. Crusher are in Riker's quarters playing a game of poker. Data shuffles the cards very fast because of his android nature and Riker and Worf question whether Data is truly randomizing the deck. Data deals the cards and Crusher once again has the highest hand. Each player bets and as Data is about to deal another round, Riker now feels déjà vu and eyes Crusher, having a strong feeling about the outcome of the game and he folds, telling her that she will call his bluff. Crusher eyes Riker back in surprise and asks him how he knew. Riker replies that he "just had a feeling", as did Dr. Crusher. Crusher is called to sickbay and, upon arriving at sickbay, La Forge tells her that he is feeling dizzy. Crusher finds that although he has the symptoms of an inner ear infection, there is no physical evidence of one. After examining him, she prepares a hypospray of vertazine, but she has the odd feeling that she has already performed this examination. When she asks La Forge if she did this examination before, La Forge says he too has the feeling that she has, but they cannot remember when. Crusher checks the medical logs on La Forge and finds that although La Forge recently had complaints about pain with his VISOR, he had none regarding dizziness. La Forge suggests that it was déjà vu but it was unlikely, since both of them had the feeling.

Picard and Crusher discuss déjà vu

Picard and Dr. Crusher share their recent feelings of déjà vu

Later that night Crusher is in her quarters getting ready for bed and as she does, she hears whispers becoming louder and more frequent. She gets up and calls Captain Picard and at the same time, breaks her cup which was next to the light switch. In the ready room, Picard and Crusher share their recent feelings of déjà vu; while reading, the captain started to feel as though he had read certain paragraphs before but dismissed it (assuming he must have read that same book years ago). Picard orders a ship-wide diagnostic with a report to be made in the morning. At 0700 hours, the senior staff (except for Worf) discusses the results and finds no anomalous readings in the diagnostic, although Crusher discovers that ten other people aboard the Enterprise heard voices at the same time of the night as she did. Worf interrupts from the bridge and reports that there is a distortion in the spacetime continuum in the vicinity of the Enterprise. The staff returns to the bridge. Picard orders the Enterprise to back off slowly but maneuvering thrusters fail to respond. The distortion begins to fluctuate as power levels on the ship drop.

USS Enterprise-D nacelle explodes

The fate of the Enterprise is sealed once again

Counselor Troi warns Picard that they have to leave now. Data says that something is emerging from the distortion and a starship appears. The ship is on a collision course with the Enterprise, just thirty-six seconds from impact and the helm still fails to respond. There is no response when the Enterprise hails the other ship. Picard asks for suggestions. Riker suggests decompressing the main shuttlebay allowing the explosive reaction to push them clear and Data suggests using the tractor beam to alter the ship's trajectory; Picard opts for the latter. The Enterprise emits a tractor beam but again it is too late – the ship collides with the Enterprise's starboard warp nacelle, causing it to explode. The previous events replay themselves once more and again the Enterprise is destroyed by a warp core breach.

Act Three

The Enterprise is traveling at impulse through space.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 45652.1. The Enterprise has entered an area of space known as the Typhon Expanse. We are the first Starfleet vessel to chart this unexplored region."
Worf and Riker experience nIb'poH

Worf experiences nIb'poH

Data, Riker, Worf, and Crusher are in Riker's quarters to play a game of poker. Data shuffles the cards very fast because of his android nature and Riker and Worf question whether Data is truly randomizing the deck. Data deals the first set of cards, face down, and Worf is agitated, having the feeling of having done this before, quoting nlb'poH, the Klingon equivalent of déjà vu. Riker says that they have done this before, last Tuesday for the previous poker night but Worf means déjà vu and Crusher has the same feeling. Data now deals the cards face up and Crusher predicts that she will get a queen; she does. She then predicts that Data will get a four; he does. She then tells Data to deal the cards and she, Riker and Worf are overcome with feelings of déjà vu, flawlessly recalling the order of the cards that would be dealt. They all wonder how they knew. Crusher interrupts the puzzlement and calls sickbay asking if La Forge is present but is told he isn't. La Forge soon arrives in sickbay and the CMO leaves. Picard arrives in sickbay seeing Crusher and La Forge – La Forge's VISOR is being examined with a diagnostic tool while a test is being done on his visual receptors. Crusher asks Picard if he has been experiencing déjà vu as of late; he has, as have many other people aboard the ship. Crusher has foregone running a standard test on La Forge in favor of running an optical diagnostic where the results came back positive for a phase shift in his visual receptors, which caused his dizziness as the phase shift was projecting images that didn't exist. Small distortions were found in the surrounding dekyon field and La Forge's VISOR was converting these distortions in to the images that he was seeing, causing his dizziness.

Later that night, Crusher is getting ready for bed (dressed in her uniform) and puts her cup on a table rather than next to the light switch. As she goes to bed, she starts to hear voices again. She immediately gets up, prepared with a tricorder and records the voices. She calls La Forge, reporting the voices and La Forge reports that something strange happened as well. As she goes out, her coat hits her cup which falls and breaks. Crusher joins La Forge and Data in main engineering. La Forge reports that there was a distortion in the dekyon field. They analyze Crusher's six-second recording, and Data discovers that there are over one thousand voices, all from the crew of the Enterprise.

Act Four

Crusher calls all of the senior staff (Worf is now present) to the observation lounge early in the morning with a suggestion as to what was causing all of the unusual events that happened recently on the Enterprise.

La Forge explains causality loop

La Forge describes the causality loop

La Forge reports that the Enterprise has most likely been caught in a temporal causality loop, where they have been repeating events over and over again but they have no knowledge of how many times they have repeated events or how long they have been stuck in the loop. Crusher feels that if La Forge is correct, then the voices that she heard may be "echoes" from previous loops. Picard inquires how the Enterprise may have been caught in the loop. Data hypothesizes, from the recording, that the Enterprise had encountered a disaster so serious that the captain would order all hands to abandon ship and replays three segments of the recording – Worf's report of the distortion, Data's report on the collision course and Picard's call for all hands to abandon ship. The staff are clearly disturbed by what they just heard. La Forge suggests that if the distortion was a temporal distortion then the destruction of the Enterprise may have caused a rupture in the space-time continuum, catching them in the loop. Worf suggests that they reverse course to avoid the disaster, but Riker points out that reversing course could be what causes the disaster. Picard decides that they cannot start second-guessing themselves; he orders them to remain on course. La Forge warns that if the disaster is not averted they will forget everything that they learned in this loop. La Forge and Data suggest modulating a dekyon emission which, if done correctly, would set up a resonance in Data's positronic subprocessors, leaving a message. However the message would be very short (a few characters or a word at most) and Data would not know what the message is immediately; it would be more like a post-hypnotic suggestion.

Data's modifications

Data and La Forge perform the modifications

La Forge, Data, and Crusher are in main engineering where La Forge is making some modifications to the circuitry in Data's head, and he attaches an emitter to Data's right arm. Neither La Forge nor Crusher recall having done this before so they feel encouraged. La Forge tests the modifications and finds an active dekyon field. Red alert is called and the three officers return to the bridge. The distortion is present again and the same events happen like before but this time Data is able to input a message on the emitter on his arm just before the Enterprise is destroyed.

Act Five

The Enterprise is traveling at impulse through space.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 45652.1. The Enterprise has entered an area of space known as the Typhon Expanse. We are the first Starfleet vessel to chart this unexplored region."

Data, Riker, Worf, and Crusher are in Riker's quarters playing a game of poker. Data shuffles the cards in his typically fast android fashion and Riker and Worf question whether Data is truly randomizing the deck. Data deals the first set of cards, face down, and Worf is agitated having the feeling of done this before. Riker says that they did last Tuesday, but Worf means déjà vu and Crusher has the same feeling. As Data is about to deal the next set of cards face up, Crusher attempts to predict the order of the cards the way she did in the previous loop, but this time, they are all threes. Crusher is surprised, as she was certain she knew which cards would be dealt. Worf shared the same surprise and conviction. Data deals three more rounds and this time all four officers are dealt three of a kind. They are all surprised with the improbability of what just happened. Crusher is then called to sickbay. When she arrives at sickbay, La Forge complains of dizziness and she performs an exam and the results came back negative. She then runs an optical scan and calls Captain Picard down (while he experiences his déjà vu while reading), reporting to him her findings as she did previously. La Forge then leaves and returns to engineering.

Number 3 on LCARS display

One of many anomalous occurrences of the number three

Data and La Forge are in main engineering and Data runs a diagnostic on the warp subsystems. When he finishes the diagnostic, the results come up entirely as threes. Data says that he has encountered the number three "an inordinate number of times" in the past two hours. La Forge receives an alarm of a distortion in the dekyon field on Deck 9. Crusher (from her quarters) calls La Forge and reports the voices while La Forge reports the dekyon distortion. Crusher leaves her quarters and heads for engineering. As she leaves, Data and La Forge hear a glass shatter, and after asking if everything is okay, Crusher reports that she is fine and continues on her way.

Some time later, the senior staff is in the observation lounge, half-way through discussing the theory of being caught in the causality loop. La Forge and Data report the many sightings of the number three occurring all over the Enterprise, knowing that it is more than a coincidence. Nothing was wrong with the ship, but a diagnostic revealed that there was a dekyon field modulation in Data's positronic subprocessors. They didn't know what caused it, but La Forge said that if he wanted to send a message, he'd do it in a similar fashion. The staff discuss the significance of the number three and they are interrupted by Ensign Ro on the bridge. The staff return to the bridge and once again the distortion is present. Picard orders the Enterprise to back off slowly but maneuvering thrusters failed to respond. The distortion begins to fluctuate and the Enterprise's power levels drop. Counselor Troi warns the captain that they have to leave immediately. Data says that something is emerging from the distortion and a starship appears from within it. The ship is on a collision course with the Enterprise, just thirty-six seconds from impact, and the helm still fails to respond. There is no response when the Enterprise hails the ship. Picard asks for suggestions and Riker suggests decompressing the main shuttlebay, allowing the explosive reaction to push them clear, while Data suggests using the tractor beam to alter the ship's trajectory; Picard opts for the latter but just as Worf engages the tractor beam, Data is struck by a moment of realization. He deduces that using the tractor beam will not succeed and quickly decompresses the main shuttlebay. In space (now in view of the main shuttlebay of the Enterprise) the bay door opens with gas violently rushing out, pushing the Enterprise out of the path of the other ship.

Pips on Riker's collar

Data realizes the significance of the number three

Power is restored and Picard asks Data what happened. Data speculates that "three" referred to the number of rank insignia on the neck of Riker's uniform, indicating that his suggestion would be the successful course of action. Red alert is canceled and Picard orders Worf to access a Federation time-base beacon to ascertain how long they have been in the causality loop. The beacon confirms that the Enterprise's chronometers are off by 17.4 days and Data resets them accordingly. The Enterprise is then hailed by the other ship, which the Enterprise identifies as the USS Bozeman, a Soyuz-class starship, a class which had been out of service for more than eighty years. The Enterprise opens a channel and the Bozeman's Captain Morgan Bateson offers assistance while Picard was going to offer assistance as well. Bateson is unfamiliar with the configuration of the Enterprise and he explains that they found a temporal distortion inside the expanse, then the Enterprise suddenly appeared with the Bozeman stuck on a collision course with it.

Picard tells Bateson that the Enterprise was caught in a temporal causality loop and suspects that something similar happened to the Bozeman but Bateson dismisses Picard's suggestion, claiming that the Bozeman left starbase only three weeks previously, but when Captain Picard asks Bateson what the year is, Bateson replies saying that it is 2278. Realizing the Bozeman has been thrust a full ninety years into the future, Picard suggests that Bateson beam aboard the Enterprise as there is much to discuss.

Memorable quotes

"All hands, abandon ship! Repeat - all hands, abandon –" (the Enterprise explodes)

- Picard, mere seconds after the Bozeman collided with the Enterprise (multiple times)


"Still no help for the Klingon."

- Data, dealing cards in one iteration of poker games


"How'd you know I was bluffing?"
"I just had a feeling."
"I guess it's better to be lucky than good."
"It's the way your left eyebrow raises when you're bluffing." Riker looks shocked. "Just kidding, commander."

- Riker and Crusher, playing poker


"This is highly improbable."

- Data, after Crusher, Worf and Riker successfully predict ten successive deals.


"This is going to sound pretty wild."

- La Forge, before explaining what's causing the déjà vu


"Back us off, ensign. Nice and slow."

- Picard, to Ro (many times)


"Captain... do you know what year it is?"
"Of course I do – it's 2278."
(pause)
"Perhaps you should beam aboard our ship. There's something we need to discuss."

- Picard to Bateson

Background Information

Story and production

Frakes, Stewart and Sirtis

Frakes, Stewart, and Sirtis on set

  • "Cause and Effect" was filmed between Wednesday 15 January 1992 and Thursday 23 January 1992 on Paramount Stage 8 and Paramount Stage 9. Second unit inserts were filmed on Friday 14 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8 and on Friday 21 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 9 and Paramount Stage 10.
  • The production meeting for this episode took place on Tuesday 7 January 1992.
  • Writer Brannon Braga came up with the story while thinking of ways to avoid standard time travel cliches. "I love time travel stories and I don't know who doesn't. We wanted to do a time travel story that had never been done before. Being trapped in a time loop is one I've never seen before." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Taking the decision to incorporate the Enterprise's destruction as the climax of each time loop enabled Braga to begin the show with, as he described it, "the ultimate teaser." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • The story was still missing some elements. According to Braga, "I came up with the poker game while I was eating pancakes and pouring syrup. I had no idea how it happened – because it was before the sugar rush. I knew then that the poker game would somehow be utilized for once, and lay it in so the viewer thinks it's just a poker game and it turns out to be the key to saving their entire existence." Initially, Riker was going to win the hand with three aces, as an additional indicator that Riker's suggestion should be followed. Rick Berman nixed the idea, arguing that Data could program in "three", but not give Riker three aces. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Due to the nature of the episode, the production staff were careful to make each iteration of the loop unique. Braga commented, "In a way, doing the same scenes over was comforting; it was fun to come up with different takes and to think how I could get that glass to break each time. It wasn't until I got to the final draft that I thought to have the glass break over the intercom on that final loop through. So it was finding those little nuggets and pathways and weave through as we were structuring it. That was a terrific challenge." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Herb Wright noted, "It's a helluva challenge because when the audience has seen it once and you show it to them the second time, the temptation for them is to jam the button on the remote. The challenge is how do you keep them excited, motivated and involved and wondering what the fuck is going on. And in the teaser you're starting off and you've destroyed the ship so if that isn't going to get you to tune back in, I don't know what will." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
Frakes directing Cause and Effect

Director Jonathan Frakes with two cameras rolling at the same time

  • To ensure that the episode was not misinterpreted as a clip show, Rick Berman instructed director Jonathan Frakes not to reuse any footage and ensure every loop was filmed in a different way. As such, some of the scenes in this episode were shot using multiple cameras in order to prevent having to shoot the same shot twice at different angles. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • This episode features one of the few appearances of the main shuttlebay, seen as a miniature. According to Ed Miarecki, the two shuttles are named Berman and Piller, after the show's producers. [1]
  • For this episode, it was felt that the special occasion of the Enterprise-D's destruction warranted a more realistic and impressive explosion. At the time, the standard technique was to superimpose an image of an explosion over stock footage of a physical studio model of the ship in post-production. In this case an actual model was filled with firecrackers, and blown up while shooting it from multiple angles. Typically, the debris of the model was discarded after use, but in this case the debris was gathered up on a hunch by Effects Supervisor Gary Hutzel. Hutzel recalled, "[W]e blew up a model for the Enterprise, by dropping it from the ceiling of the sound stage toward a high speed camera while timed charges went off to blow it up in mid-air. I went around with a cardboard box and picked up all the pieces of the model I could find, because I knew they would come in handy someday." (Cinefantastique, Vol.25 issue 6/Vol 26 issue 1, p. 109)
  • Originally, the USS Bozeman was going to be a TOS era Constitution-class starship, however, the episode's already stretched budget required the ship to be changed to Soyuz-class, which was a slight modification of the USS Reliant miniature and utilized sets and costumes from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, the staff wanted Kirstie Alley, who played Grammer's Cheers co-star Rebecca Howe, to reprise her role as Saavik as the female bridge officer standing next to Captain Bateson on the Bozeman, but scheduling conflicts prevented this from happening.
Morgan Bateson

Captain Morgan Bateson is unaware that the Bozeman was caught in a causality loop

  • First UK airdate: 19 April 1995

Continuity

Reception

  • Brannon Braga commented that this episode is one of the most popular episodes he wrote personally. ("Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Cause and Effect"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)

Apocrypha

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins and photo doubles

References

2336; 2353; 2357; 47; African Confederation; Bozeman, USS; catwalk; dealer; dekyon; dizziness; drive plasma; escape pod; explosive decompression; Federation; headache; Klingon; main shuttlebay; plasma; poker; positronic net; red alert; Soyuz class; Starfleet Academy; temporal causality loop; time-base beacon; tricorder; vertazine; VISOR; warp core breach; warp core ejection system; warp nacelle


Previous episode:
"The Outcast"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
Next episode:
"The First Duty"

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