A shuttle from 6 hours into the future is found by the Enterprise. Brought on board, we find a second Captain Picard, and some log files detailing the circumstances that prompted him to leave the ship.
This is very cleverly plotted; not only to make use of Picard's character and mannerisms, but as an inventive piece of science fiction. When it is revealed, the entity that ensnared the Enterprise, and Troi reveals an intelligence albeit an in instinctive form only, one has to wonder if this is a twisted game engineered by Q. (As much as they try to suggest, a galactic tornado that can suck down a ship traveling at warp 9 can't be a natural occurring act). Either way, it's cool, but fathoming Q only makes it icing on the cake.
Just four questions:
1. How do they tractor beam the shuttle in? The first tractor beam is at a vertical angle. (an extension pole lifts out of the hull to assist). The second one is positioned at an angle in the shuttle bay, rather than straight ahead to assist with the laws of physics (the tractor unit in the shuttle put at an angle to make it look less crowded on the screen by the director; it's a small nitpick)
2. When Geordi laments the inverted power connections should blow up the circuitry, everything powers up. Yet on the initial attempt, circuits were overloaded. Do shuttles have self-healing capability?
3. Why does the entity fire lightning at both Picards? (it thinks both of them are the 'brains') Of course, the other Picard becomes fully conscious and mobile once hit. That's the bit that doesn't add up; at least on initial observation.
4. Once they pass through the entity, it vanishes. Without much an explanation, which seems odd given how Riker wanted to stay and study the thing in the first place, and how Picard would have too if he didn't meet himself from the future. Still, add in the theory Q was behind it all and it works.
As usual, this episode exemplifies what makes Star Trek great -- especially the second season, which is grossly underrated. The episode hooks you in with a novel idea, plays it out on both sci-fi and character-based terms, and follows through without cheating along the way when the plot becomes more difficult. Definitely a must-see.