With a title taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth ("And all our yesterdays have lighted fools"), this time travel story, written by the same librarian who penned "Is There in Truth No Beauty", takes place exclusively off ship with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the guest stars. Starting with the big three before branching off into A/B stories that separate Kirk from his shipmates, the plots that subsequently form play against expectations by having the captain suspected for being in league with the devil while Spock hooks up with a cute and willing woman.
For an amateur writer, Jean Lisette Aroeste invents a very good science fiction idea: the notion of people escaping into their world's past to avoid the inevitable destruction of their world by its star is not only an interesting concept, but one that lends itself well to interesting stories. Unfortunately, it seems to have only been invented as a platform for a lonely, banished woman (who spends her days alone with perfect hair and a skimpy outfit) to get Mr. Spock all to herself. (Between this and "Is There in Truth No Beauty", we get a telling look into Aroeste's psyche!)
The romance itself is rooted in Mr. Spock's primitive emotions, brought to the surface under the flimsy reasoning that the story is taking place in the past when Vulcans were passionate. But with no foundation for the relationship, we don't understand why Spock is so smitten with her or why she matters so much. It's as if the episode wants to be a Spockcentric "City on the Edge of Forever" but refuses to invest the time needed to pull it off.
Instead, Kirk gets a B story by himself in another setting. There's actually very little story here, but it does allow for some intermittent action as Kirk shows that it's easier to escape from a Sarpeidon jail than to see up Helen Noel's skirt.
All the same, the crosscutting between the stories helps keep things moving, and the diverse environments (including a frozen wasteland that Star Trek, based in California, rarely uses in any of its incarnations) make this one of the most visually unique episodes of TOS. With two main guest stars giving fine performances (Mariette Hartley brings a girl next door quality to her lonely character and Ian Wolfe gives Mr. Atoz a humorous urgency), "Yesterdays" is compelling enough to merit a look.
A. C. Crispin wrote two unofficial sequels to this episode, Yesterday's Son and Time for Yesterday, published in 1983 and 1988 by Pocket Books. (The first made the New York Times Bestseller List).
Remastered: This is another basic upgrade, with a new ship, a new planet (replacing the original's reuse of the "Operation: Annihilate!" sphere) and a new star.
Did you know? In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mariette Hartley costarred with James Garner in wildly successful series of "husband and wife" commercials for polaroid. Years later, she interviewed Brent Spiner for Good Morning America, with Spiner teasing her about "All Our Yesterdays".