No ideas but in Swamp Thing

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Adam Riggio
    November 22, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    That original setup seems much more fun than the actual episode, which I remember watching, but mostly I only really enjoyed the image of the library of time portals. That alone could have made for a fascinating episode, instead of the nearly pure meh that was actually produced. "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" appears most interesting now because of the meta-implications, as you imply at the end. But there's another potential take on this story that I can't help but consider.

    The Sarpeidons have created a series of time portals so the supernova-vulnerable population can have somewhere to live out the rest of their lives. The end of Sarpeidon culture is literally turning back on itself. The problem with this is that the current generation of this society is interfering with its past by appearing there. Unless, of course, the evidence for their having gone to the past is part of Sarpeidon history. And perhaps a group among the supernova generation is seeding the past with the scientific knowledge required to construct the time library in the first place. So the time library only exists because its builders themselves went back in time and conditioned their planet's history so that it would be able to build the time library at the appropriate historical moment. Essentially, the time librarians preserved the lives of the supernova generation by enclosing their planet's history in a complicated time loop.

    Yes, that's much more interesting than the mediocre story about time-sensitive Vulcan hormones, witch trials, and elder abuse that was actually transmitted. Don't necessarily expect me to write another eight week saga on my blog about this one, though.


  2. Adam Riggio
    November 22, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    And I even misremembered the name of the episode, despite it being at the top of the post. It was that mediocre.


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    November 22, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

    I was a bit confused there for a bit until I saw your second comment! 🙂

    Great reading, though: It certainly would have been considerably more fun than "All Our Yesterdays". I suppose pretty much anything would be, though.

    In case it wasn't already clear, looking at each episode and trying to figure out what would make it good is sort of my whole MO. Which I guess is telling.


  4. 79c62bd8-54f0-11e3-993c-000bcdcb8a73
    November 24, 2013 @ 12:10 am

    I once read one of the Pocket Books Star Trek novels which was, start to finish, a sequel to this episode. Since I can never keep a single detail of this episode in my mind for more than an hour after viewing, it was a fairly baffling book. I thought it must be a sequel to another book from the same author or something and didn't realize what they were sequelizing for years. Obviously the episode means something to whomever wrote that book, bless 'em. I wish I could share their enthusiasm for its pedestrian delights.


  5. Flex
    November 24, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    The quiet bleakness of the episode (both from the story and production standpoints) has always been strangely satisfying for me. I can't particularly argue with any of your critiques, but I guess just given where the show was by this point there was something almost satisfying about an episode that seemed to reflect the way the show felt by now.


  6. Josh Marsfelder
    November 24, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

    I noticed that too, and tried to hint at it a bit in my concluding paragraph. It does feel like an attempt to deal with the inevitable. I just, you know, wish it had been an actually good episode.

    Of course I have something on an unfair advantage: I know TAS is right around the corner and I'm gearing up to launch into that series. But TOS fans in 1969 wouldn't have known another series was on the air, or that Star Trek even had franchise potential.

    All they would have known is that their favourite show was ending.


  7. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    this didn't happen to Spock in “Tomorrow is Yesterday”,“The City on the Edge of Forever” or “Assignment: Earth”, so I'm not sure why it needed to happen here.

    Those were all stories where Spock traveled back to the 20th century, at which point Vulcans were already civilised and logical?


  8. Josh Marsfelder
    December 22, 2013 @ 11:53 am

    OK, if we're gonna pull canon I'm obligated to mention Enterprise establishes that pre-23rd Century Vulcans were viciously territorial, isolationist and bigoted so therefore it was a tremendous oversight on the part of Gene Roddenberry and D.C. Fontana to not foresee what Rick Berman and Brannon Braga would establish forty years later 🙂

    Seriously though, this still doesn't explain why McCoy didn't revert to Stone Age behaviour or Kirk didn't become a 17th Century witch or witch hunter.


  9. Lionel Braithwaite
    March 15, 2015 @ 8:00 am

    Spock probably had a better way to screen out the thought of the Vulcans in the 20th century, and also, he wasn't affected by the time-travel device, which adjusts people to survive [somewhat] in the past by not making them to be overly out of place in the past [with some internal changes, like a decrease of whatever life span they had in the 'future' so that they would die like everybody else did; of course, they'd still remember the future, but they would keep it to themselves and act accordingly).


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