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I have seen this episode a number of times. I believe while it is mentioned that the Typhon Expanse (as being explored in the episode) is largely unexplored, there does not appear to be any issue restricting communication with the Federation or Starfleet.

As the Enterprise continues to loop, the crew slowly becomes aware that they may have been stuck in this loop for an indeterminate amount of time.

I believe Geordi even says something to the extent of "Days, Weeks, Months... who knows?"

However, it isn't until the near-collision with the Bozeman at the end - that Picard finally orders computer clock synchronization with that of a nearby Starfleet time beacon (or something to that extent) to find out that they had been stuck for about 17 days.

Is there an in-world explanation as to why they would have not either tried the synchronization earlier, or even communicated with Starfleet for guidance on the situation? Presumably, someone at Starfleet would have noticed they haven't heard from the Enterprise for 16 to 17 days.

  • They're on a long-term survey mission. It's certainly not unheard-of for a starship to be out of contact for weeks or even months. – Valorum Aug 5 '16 at 18:40
  • @Valorum - But immediately after they avert the collision they are able to check the signal from a Federation time base beacon without changing their position in space. This suggests that it wasn't being physically far away from Federation territory that was the problem, but that it had something specifically to do with being caught in the temporal loop. – Hypnosifl Aug 5 '16 at 20:24
  • @Hypnosifl - I suspect that this is simply a writing oversight. I can think of a dozen reasons why they wouldn't but none of them are borne out by what happened in the show. – Valorum Aug 5 '16 at 20:27
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Geordi refers to being stuck in a "fragment of time" in the dialogue:

LAFORGE: This is going to sound pretty wild. Somehow, we've entered what seems to be a temporal causality loop. We think we're stuck in a particular fragment in time, and we've been repeating that same fragment over and over again.

And then a little later he says it "might've ruptured the space-time continuum":

LAFORGE: 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, then got stuck in this repeating loop of time.

He also says that everything "resets" with each new loop:

LAFORGE: Our theory is this. Every time the loop begins again, everything resets itself, and starts all over.

So my guess would be that this "rupture" has created a localized chunk of spacetime (a 'fragment') where everything keeps resetting, so it's not just limited to the ship itself but includes all the other stuff inside the chunk, including any signals from the "Federation time base beacons" mentioned at the end of the episode.

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    This certainly explains why it (probably) wouldn't work. It doesn't explain why they didn't at least try. – Valorum Aug 5 '16 at 20:28
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    @Valorum - Yes, that's true; in-universe we could imagine that they did try off-screen (and maybe Geordi discussed in the conference room in an off-screen scene). Out-of-universe, either the writers just forgot, or they figured an explanation would take up unnecessary time and be boring/confusing, so they figured viewers would either not notice, or would infer that checking the time base beacon immediately after escaping the loop implied that for one reason or another this wouldn't have worked while inside the loop. – Hypnosifl Aug 5 '16 at 20:42
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Do we know that they didn't?

Do time beacons continually broadcast time, or do you have to ping them for a response?

If they continually broadcast, then I would expect their time pocket to include signals corresponding to when they thought they were. If they had checked the clock, nothing would have seemed out of the ordinary.

If you have to ping it, I would expect either a correct time or no response at all.

Either way, that's not necessarily something they would have bothered putting on screen.

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