** (2 stars out of 5)
The theme of today's story is 'you can't make an omelet without stinking up the joint'.
Riker tells his friends how he learned to cook: his mother died and his father hated cooking. Great story. His scrambled eggs are a hit- with Worf only.
But the looks on Geordi and Pulaski's faces fall further south when they stumble across Enterprise Shuttlepod #5- and it hasn't launched yet. Also, it has an extra Picard aboard. Nobody remembers ordering one...
The Shuttle and the Picard are incompatible with the power systems and medicines of this Enterprise. The mystery shuttle logs show Enterprise blown to smithereens by a space vortex.
Can this be their destiny? And in a mere three hours?
Picard is upset that his doppelgänger would abandon his ship and crew for any reason. "Except for his features there is nothing about him that I find familiar."
Troi and Pulaski argue over whether the original Picard will crack up, or boil over. (See, I did the egg thing again, there.)
A hole in space appears (much more dynamic than Nagilum's hole for whatever that's worth). At least it's a pretty special effect to die inside. Like a tornado full of lightning! Troi thinks it might be alive? The Picards are both hit by lightning.
Now the 'Future' Picard is confused but making for the shuttle. FP believes he can sacrifice himself to the entity and save his ship. Past Picard believes there is another choice. PP therefore shoots FP dead!!! Whoa! What the H? Are stored phasers set on KILL? Why would Picard shoot to kill? It's out of character and so unnecessary that I choose to believe the impostor just reacted badly to a stun beam like he did to the stimulant.
In an absolutely GORGEOUS effects sequence that doesn't change the fact that nothing makes any sense, Picard takes the Enterprise into and through the tornado-being. O'Brien helpfully stood over Corpse Picard long enough to see him and his asynchronous conveyance vanish into the ether. Other than to serve the plot, why was O'Brien standing there? Seriously, once Pulaski leaves shaking her head, just steal the dead Captain's boots and run, man!
"A lot of questions, Number One. Damned few answers." Ain't that the truth.
Another dimension? Time travel? An illusion? It's just going down in the log as one big 'Huh?'.
"Time Squared" was meant to lead into a story that blamed the whole mess on a prank by Q. Take away that, and it's just a bizarre non-event. "Stardate: Tuesday. Received video of own death. Cause unknown. Motive unknown. Somehow we avoided it. Shrug. Set course for some other damn thing."