quote:What is harder to swallow is that a) for the duration of the loopings, they were totally out of contact of any Starfleet beacons which would have pinpointed the chronological discrepancy; and b) the complete absence of any such contact (update pings, message transfers etc.) wasn’t noticed or identified by Starfleet either. It’s the bloody flagship not a deep-space explorer.
Regarding the beacon, this could easily have been addressed. When they realize they're in the loop, Picard orders Worf to check the nearest Federation time beacon (presumably, this is not automatic). Before Worf can do this, WHAM!, Bozeman!
Regarding Starfleet, for all we know, Starfleet Command was wondering why the Enterprise kept sending the same status update, was unable to reach the ship via subspace (for "reasons"), and was sending ships to investigate. Picard does state that the Typhon Expanse is previously unexplored, so it may be quite some time for a ship to arrive. I believe at the end of the episode its revealed they've been in the loop for about two and a half weeks, so if we assume it takes Starfleet maybe about a week to realize something's fishy with the Enterprise, it may take them a week or two to get another ship or two out to look for her.
And then, if those ships are within the geographical "region" of the time loop, they may themselves wind up caught in it!
Yeah, the Bozeman was kinda screwed. In fact, the Enterprise's loop may suggest the Bozeman folks were *never* repeating any pre-loop activity on their side of it.
As for subspace, we basically have to assume they weren't connected for the plot to work. Otherwise someone would receive a reply like "dude wtf you sent this yesterday". They were close to the Cardassian border shortly before this, so perhaps this lack of signals outbound or even inbound (the time check requiring an order) was intentional SIGINT / anti-hack stuff.
Of course, by the next episode they were back at Earth, just a few stardates later, so YMMV.
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Have we ever found out how subspace communication works?
Like, maybe if a starship is within range of a communication relay, they get real-time updates when there's a subspace transmission for them.
But if they're out of range, maybe they have to proactively reach out and establish comms with the nearest beacon, and then find out if they've got any messages waiting for them. If this were the case, of course, it would make sense to be doing this on an almost hourly basis, so it's hard to figure out why no one at Starfleet was trying to hail them.
How long was each loop? 18 to 24 hours ish? I suppose if they were expecting to be out of range of normal handshake connections and data transfers then the lack of communication wouldn’t be a noteworthy issue. But once they figure out they’re in a loop, they don’t try to signal for assistance, suggesting perhaps they knew they were out of range of any subspace relays )and could only correct that by reversing course, something they’d already talked themselves out of doing).
I don't think we know how long the loop was. My sense was, if not a full day, then "the bulk of a day." With a 17 day discrepancy noted by Worf at the end, that implies either 17 loops, or 22/23 (if we go with 18 hours per loop).
Once they figure out in the loop, they're already pretty close to colliding with the Bozeman. Story wise, this could be handled by Picard ordering Worf to check the nearest time beacon, and to establish subspace communication with Starfleet, during the briefing scene ... which of course gets interrupted when they encounter the time distortion.
This assumes that, in theorizing they're in a loop, Data doesn't proactively order someone to establish subspace comms. Of course, no one tries to access a Federation time beacon, which seems like it would've provided some necessary information to give to the captain when briefing him.
I think the loop could be even shorter, though the previous thoughts are certainly plausible. The captain’s log and poker game are probably close to the start of the loop, because it’s when we see the characters reacting to familiar events. And the poker game is probably in the early evening (say 2000h), then Crusher is getting ready for bed (say 2300h). The briefing room scene is probably early morning (say 0800h). In act one, that scene feels like an early morning meeting as they’re starting their day. That gives the characters time to research overnight once they start figuring things out.
That points to a loop that could plausibly be as short as 12 hours.
That also could provide an excuse for why they didn’t contact Starfleet for a regular check in, maybe at that distance it only happens once every 24 hours. If their scheduled ping was for 1200h, there was never a chance for it to happen inside the loop.
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quote:That also could provide an excuse for why they didn’t contact Starfleet for a regular check in, maybe at that distance it only happens once every 24 hours. If their scheduled ping was for 1200h, there was never a chance for it to happen inside the loop.
But to be affected by the loop, you have to be caught within its sphere of influence. If Starfleet is sending a subspace transmission, it should still be able to reach the Enterprise, regardless of where the ship is in the loop.
For example, let's say Starfleet can't raise the Enterprise (maybe the loop is causing interference with long range communications). So they send the USS Ranger to go to the Typhon Expanse and look for her.
The Ranger enters the Expanse (let's say on day 14 of the loop), and detect the Enterprise on long range sensors. They proceed to start warping to the Enterprise --
-- and the Bozeman collides with the Enterprise.
Now the Ranger starts experiencing the loop, but only from the point of time when they first entered the loop, so they're only experiencing a few instances of a few hours each time.
Hmm. This hypothetical ship sent to investigate could be a potential solution. A second ship dropping out of contact while investigating the first's disappearance would likely cause Starfleet to escalate to a broader but more cautious response.
Making the "USS Ranger" almost akin to Wigner's Friend in this scenario!