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How is that the Enterprise-D got trapped in the temporal causality loop for only 17.4 days when the USS Bozeman was in that loop for 90 years?

What was keeping the Bozeman inside the loop before the Enterprise-D showed up?

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Kelsey Grammar is used to playing the same role for decades at a time. –  James Sheridan May 17 at 5:07

3 Answers 3

The Bozeman was only in the loop for the same amount of time as the Enterprise: 17.4 days.

  • The Bozeman approaches the rift in 2278.
  • The Enterprise approaches the rift in 2368.
  • The Bozeman travels through the rift and emerges in 2368.
  • The two ships collide and the resulting explosion causes the rift to rupture, resetting the timeline (on both sides of the rift) by 4.3 days.
  • The "loop" happens four times. We see each loop.

The resulting explosion (caused by the two ships colliding) seems to extend to a distance of approximate 3-4 light years in every direction on both sides of the rift. Ironically, this sort of paradox, where a temporal effect precedes a first-cause is almost exactly mirrored in the final episode of TNG.

Per the episode script:

Geordi: Worf refers to a "distortion." If this were a temporal distortion, and if we were close enough to it... it's possible that a large enough explosion might've ruptured the space-time continuum.

We collided... exploded... and got stuck in this repeating loop of time.

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-That both ships were caught in the loop for only 17 days makes good sense and is canonically valid. The Bozeman slips the timeline and collides with Enterprise and the resulting explosion at the end of the Bozeman time-slip causes the loop. That loop actually saves the lives of both crews because it buys the Enterprise crew enough time to figure out what happened and to 'fix' it. –  Morgan May 17 at 6:59
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Yes, the Bozeman's 'time slip' and the Enterprise and Bozeman's 'time loop' are different phenomena, albeit caused by the same anomaly. –  Richard May 17 at 7:41
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That could make sense if you take Geordi's "temporal distortion" as a separate phenomenon from the "rupture" in space-time caused by the explosion, and only the latter caused the loop...in that case, if the Enterprise hadn't been there the Bozeman might have just been thrown forward in time by the temporal distortion but not caught in a time loop. Not sure if the writers had this specific idea in mind but it's a logical in-universe explanation. –  Hypnosifl May 17 at 13:14
    
@Hypnosifl -An entire Galaxy and 90 years of separation and the Bozeman STILL runs into the Enterprise. –  Morgan May 17 at 17:45
    
@Morgan - They were both investigating the same anomaly, following standard Starfleet procedures that (presumably) haven't changed in 90 years. –  Richard May 17 at 17:50

The episode is not entirely clear about whether the Bozeman was caught in the same causality loop for 90 years as opposed to 17 days, or whether it happened into a time warp that landed it in the Enterprise's path 90 years later. In the episode, the Bozeman's captain, Bateson, says that their "sensors detected a temporal distortion. Then your ship [the Enterprise] appeared." While Picard then speculates that the Bozeman may also have been in a temporal causality loop like the Enterprise, this is not explicitly established. (See the script at http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/218.htm, an unofficial script-transcribing site. I don't have access to an official screenplay.)

Rather than assuming that the Bozeman was in a 90-year causality loop, one could just as easily interpret Bateson's statement as evidence that the Bozeman entered into a temporal anomaly and emerged 90 years later in the Enterprise's path, and then spent 17 days in the same causality loop as the Enterprise. Given the equivocal manner in which Bateson explained the Bozeman's presence in Picard's era, and the presence in canon of time-traveling Federation vessels (see, for example, the Enterprise C of Yesterday's Enterprise), this seems to me an equally plausible explanation. This also makes more sense because each iteration of the Enterprise's causality loop was dependent upon the Bozeman's presence and interaction with the Enterprise; the Enterprise was only available to the Bozeman to collide with for 17 days, which means that the Bozeman was in the same causality loop, for 17 days.

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Chakoteya is fine, but st-minutiae.com has a full set of TNG scripts; st-minutiae.com/academy/literature329/218.txt –  Richard May 17 at 6:56
    
@Richard: Does that site have permission from the copyright holders to publish those scripts? The front page says "This website is intended for personal use only, under “fair use” principles of United States copyright law.", but I hardly think "fair use" applies to entire scripts. –  Keith Thompson May 17 at 21:11
    
@KeithThompson - The short answer is no, the long answer is that scripts and trek related properties are considered "fair use" by Paramount as long as there's no attempt to monetise them. –  Richard May 17 at 21:14
    
@Richard: Can you cite a published statement from Paramount to that effect? (I wasn't aware of that, and I flagged your original comment.) –  Keith Thompson May 17 at 21:43
    
@KeithThompson - Trek Minutiae has been around since 2000 and has openly hosted scripts for nearly 10 years. There's a nice quite from the President of Paramount stating that they only want to target sites "who are either selling ads or collecting fees, selling illegal merchandise, or posting copyrighted materials [e.g. episodes and films] on their sites to refrain from these specific activities"... oocities.org/wellesley/garden/6220/trek.html –  Richard May 17 at 22:15

It comes down to the personnel on board the Enterprise and their unique combination of abilities. La Forge and his visor, Crusher and her curiosity, Data and his positronic brain, Troi and her empathic ability all combined their clues and with 90 years advancement in diagnostic ability over the Bozeman helped them to solve the puzzle.

In the end it came down to Data sending the clue to himself in the next loop (the number 3, the number of Riker's rank pips) in order to end the cycle and break the loop. The Bozeman had no such combination of abilities and no Data on board. He was the real key to escaping the loop.

The Bozeman was trapped because they never realized they were in a loop or didn't figure it out in time before getting recycled and forgot all they learned. Even if they came to realize what happened in one loop they wouldn't be able to communicate with the next loop to change a critical choice to break it. The difference was the personnel aboard the different ships. Setting aside the 90 years advanced technology advantage and consider the players. Enterprise has a 1/2 Betazoid, an Engineer with a high-tech prosthetic and an android with a positronic brain collaborating to communicate with next loop.

If not for Data's ability, the Enterprise could have been forever trapped with the Bozeman in that loop.

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I think you're misunderstanding the question--it's not "why weren't the Bozeman crew smart enough to find a way out of the loop" but "why was the Bozeman in a loop at all, if it wasn't crashing into the Enterprise and creating an explosion in every cycle". Geordi said specifically that the explosion had somehow created the loop: "If this were a temporal distortion, and if we were close enough to it, it's possible that a large enough explosion might've ruptured the space-time continuum. We collided, exploded, then got stuck in this repeating loop of time." –  Hypnosifl May 17 at 3:40
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@Hypnosifl -They were trapped because they didn't realize it or didn't figure it out in time before getting recycled and forgot all they learned. Even if they came to realize what happened in one loop they wouldn't be able to communicate with the next loop to change a critical choice to break it. The difference was the personnel aboard the different ships. Setting aside the 90 years advanced technology advantage and consider the players. Enterprise has a 1/2 Betazoid, an Engineer with a high-tech prosthetic and an android with a positronic brain collaborating to communicate with next loop. –  Morgan May 17 at 4:08
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The Bozeman didn't have these advantages. As the Enterprise crew showed, they too would have been caught in the loop along with the Bozeman if not for Data's ingenuity and ability. –  Morgan May 17 at 4:18
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I think you're still not understanding the point--according to Geordi's explanation, there shouldn't even be a time loop if there wasn't a massive explosion. So how could the Bozeman have entered a time loop 90 years earlier if there was no Enterprise to crash into it? –  Hypnosifl May 17 at 4:19
    
"How is that the Enterprise got trapped in the temporal causality loop for only 17 days when the Bozeman was in that loop for 90 years?" I explained why they got out. "What was keeping the Bozeman in that loop before the Enterprise showed up?" They kept making the same choices based on the same circumstances time after time so didn't break the cycle/loop. He didn't ask what 'caused' the temporal loop in the first place, he asked why the Enterprise got out after 17 days and why the Bozeman was still trapped after 90 years. –  Morgan May 17 at 4:30

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