It begins with a confused Captain Picard approaching Counselor Troi and Lt. Worf, asking them what the stardate is. He tells Troi that he had just come back from the future. He tells Troi that he was in a future
time, doing something he can't remember and that it was not a dream. As he's talking, he's suddenly in the future.
Now, he's working in the vineyards and Geordie LaForge, who has new eyes, is paying him a visit. It seems natural to Picard, even talking to Geordi about his wife and kids. As they walk, Picard sees strange people ahead, waving and yelling but they're unseen to Geordi.
Back to the present, he's in sickbay telling Dr. Crusher about his strange experiences and then gets a call from starfleet ordering his ship to the border of the neutral zone. The Romulans are up to something and they want federation ships to investigate. There's also some strange anomaly in space within the area.
Now, in the future again, Picard wants to visit Data, where the android is now working as a professor at Cambridge. Picard knows if there's anyone that can help explain or find out what's going on, he can.
Then, he's back in the past and embarking on his first voyage on The Enterprise with Tasha Yar at the helm of the shuttlecraft that's taking him to the shuttlebay of the ship. He's a bit confused at first but falls into the role as being the new captain. As he's about to announce his new commission, he sees the strange people again shouting and jumping. He orders the crew to battle stations. He is given orders to study the anomaly but instead chooses to head toward Farpoint in hopes of meeting Q again. His hunch was right. He goes to his ready room and finds himself on trial once again just like he was 7 years ago on the ships first voyage to Farpoint.
Q stands before him once again and tells him that the trail is still ongoing. The Q Continuum is still testing humanity to see if they're worth saving and this time Picard is told that he needs to correct a wrong concerning his actions in regards to the anomaly. Apparently, his actions regarding the study of it leads to the ending of humanity. The strange people we see jumping and yelling earlier are part of the crowd at the trail.
Throughout the episode, we see Picard jumping from the present, to the future, and to the past and we learn Q is responsible for this. His reasons become clear---he's giving Picard a second chance to right his mistake and save humanity.
In the past, Picard finds the anomaly very wide and taking up a vast amount of space. He has the crew launch a tachyon beam. In the present, he has the crew do the same, but now the anomaly isn't as large. Data's analysis of the anomaly show it's made up of anti-matter and anti-time, causing fluctuations in the space-time continuum. In the future, the anomaly is very small, barely taking up any space.
In the present, when the tachyon pulse is sent into the anomaly, the crew begins experiencing a reversal of aging in such a way that old scars are reappearing, Geordi's eye cells are forming, and Ogawa's fetus is dissolving because her uterine wall is forming new cells, going to the state it was before the pregnancy. Dr. Crusher tells Picard she fears that soon, everyone will revert back to an earlier stage until they are non existent.
In the meantime, we learn that in the future, Deanna Troi has died. Her cause of death isn't stated, but we're lead to believe that certain events lead to her early death and Riker, who is now an admiral, and Worf, who is now working at the border of Klingon territory in space, are on the outs because of her death, each one blaming the other.
Meanwhile, back to the future, Dr. Crusher now mans a spacecraft suited for medical emergencies and that she and Picard had gotten married and divorced.
Picard talks her into going toward the anomaly to study it and probe it with the tachyon beam. The Klingons, who now occupy that space and are no longer on friendly terms with Starfleet, attack her ship. The crew is beamed aboard the Enterprise at a critical moment before the ship explodes. They were rescued by Admiral Riker, who tells Picard that he knew he wouldn't give up his idea of trying to get to that area of space. He is manning the Enterprise. He later tells Picard that the ship was docked but reinstated and upgraded.
Then Picard finds himself with Q again, this time all the way back to the beginning. Q shows Picard a small pool of amoeba, the start of life. The anomaly now takes up most of the sky. Q warns Picard that the life in the pond of "goo" is no more, making Picard realize that his actions concerning the anomaly up to that point have been counter productive.
He is sent back through the 3 time lines to correct the mistake. Now he must stop the tachyon beams into the anomoly and seal it with a "static warp shell."
In each timeline, Picard orders the Enterprises to fly into the center of the anomaly and proceed with the experiment to stop it from expanding. When he does, each ship is thus destroyed along with the anti-time anomaly.
Finally, Picard is before Q again and is told that he succeeded in saving humanity and that the Q Continuum are most impressed and have decided that humans are a worthy species afterall.
Back on the present day Enterprise, Picard approaches Deanna and Worf to find out what the stardate is. He is pleased to be back where he belongs and that the timelines with the anomaly have not occurred. He later joins them, for the first time as captain, in a game of poker.
********************************************************************************* I liked this episode because it was fun to see possible future scenarios for the characters (with the exception of poor Deanna). We got to see the return of Q, Tasha Yar, and Chief O'Brien. The episode brought us full circle, from the ship's first voyage and it's encounter with Q, to the end with the Q Continuum finding humanity worthy (with the help of Picard's "buddy," the individual known as Q.)
One thing I didn't like and that I found archaic was how Riker blamed Worf for his not getting together with Troi. But as we've seen, Riker chose his career path without the consideration of her in his life. And now he blames Worf? As if she was supposed to wait around for his approval to see others and wait until HE was ready to include her in his life's decisions, especially when it comes to romance or marriage.