Star Trek: Yesterday's Enterprise Almost Had a Much Darker Ending
Star Trek: The Next Generation's Captain Jean-Luc Picard is back in Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access. One of Patrick Stewart's most memorable Next Generation adventures almost had a much darker conclusion. "Yesterday's Enterprise" first aired 30 years ago in 1990. Some consider the episode to be the moment that Star Trek: The Next Generation reached its full stride after two seasons of struggling to find its voice. The episode involves the Enterprise-D encountering the Enterprise-C, the previous iteration of Starfleet's flagship vessel. But that ship had been destroyed years earlier in an attempt to save a Klingon outpost from a Romulan attack.
The Enterprise-C's sudden reemergence causes a shift in the timeline. Instead of being allies, the Federation and the Klingon Empire are in the midst of a long, drawn-out war. Only Guinan senses that anything has changed. The Enterprise-C crew is forced to choose between staying in this war-torn future or returning to their own timeline knowing fully that they will die in order to set things back to the way they were.
Playing in an alternate timeline granted the writers certain liberties they didn't normally have with the crew. Ronald D. Moore wrote the episode's final act. He imagined a sequence where the entire Enterprise bridge crew would die before the timeline reset itself.
"My memory is that Rick Berman [TNG executive producer] pushed back on that and didn't want to see everyone on the bridge die," Moore tells The Hollywood Reporter in their oral history of the episode. "So I pulled back on what my original intention was, but [writing it] was a ball."
Ira Steven Behr, who also co-wrote the episode, recalls having filmed those death scenes, but that they were cut because "they were too violent and didn't really sell as well [the drama] in the final cut." He also remembers Berman no liking the scenes because they "could have felt too depressing for the fans."
Instead, the episode ends with the Enterprise-D on the brink of destruction as the Enterprise-C makes its way back through time. Tasha Yar, the Enterprise-D's security chief who had died in a previous episode, was resurrected in the darker timeline and still aboard the Enterprise-C as it made it returned to its own era. This led to the birth of her half-Romulan daughter, Sela, who would go on to antagonize Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew on several occasions.
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