**** **** **** **** (4 repeating stars out of 5)
If there's ever been a more shocking opening teaser in Star Trek I can't name it offhand, because this one starts 'Once upon a time, KA-BOOM!' The Enterprise just exploded, bitches!!! Hope you like 'Married With Children' because this time slot just opened up...
You've seen the premise since then. Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, or Source Code which, by a weird coincidence, I saw for the first time yesterday. It was diverting. But Brannon Braga did it first, nerd peeps! (Tell me I'm wrong. There's got to be SF stories like this, but I don't remember any earlier ones on TV. Scratch that, I just remembered Tom Baker & Lalla Ward fighting clear of a chronic hysteresis in seventies Doctor Who. Ten points to the Whovian who can tell me the episode...)
Time is continually resetting within The Tyhon Expanse, and the crew begins to develop very pronounced deja vu. Just as they are coming to terms with this feeling, they collide with an old-style starship that pops out of nowhere, and wotta revoltin' development- they explode once again!
And again! Eventually, acting solely on hunches, they figure out that they are trapped in time like a skipping record (that's like a skipping CD, kids, or a corrupted music file, never mind, I'm sure that never happens anymore). Geordi sends out a signal that only Data's subconscious mind might 'hear'. Much like I hear my subconscious mind right now telling me: 'eat a pizza, or you'll explode'. Which is self-fulfilling, actually. It must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays...
Guided By Voices, Data makes different choices. Disaster is narrowly averted, and cheers ring out for the Captain of the other ship. (Because everybody knows his name.)
Captain Morgan Bateson of the Bozeman has been doing exactly the same thing every day for 80 years.
Sadly, I know how that feels.
"Cause and Effect" is super-cooled and retro-fueled. Impossibly, it's so well done it lends itself to REPEAT VIEWINGS even though, essentially, each time is like watching it FOUR TIMES. So unlike other TNG episodes, I've seen it FOUR thousand times. It still rocks.