the story: A man claiming to be a time traveler visits the ship.
similar to: "Cold Front" (Enterprise)
my thoughts: I just described "Disaster" as the last slice-of-life episode inspired by the run of similar stories from the fourth season, but all in all, that's what "A Matter of Time" is, too. Aside from the con artist (which is itself a Star Trek trope, covering everything from Harry Mudd to "Devil's Due") aspect, most of the episode is really about a fairly routine rescue operation that we track without it being the main source of the drama, and yet we follow the crew as it goes about its efforts to prevent the catastrophe. Then again, it's also another in a series of episodes where the most extraordinary member of the crew is kidnapped (covering everything from "Spock's Brain" in the original series to "Think Tank" in Voyager and even "The Most Toys," where it's previously happened to Data) (spoiler alert).
Yet it's also, and first and foremost, a time travel episode, which obviously one of the most popular franchise tropes, and a clever entry at that, featuring someone who claims he's visiting the crew because something historic is about to happen. That is, in fact, nearly exactly what the Temporal Cold War subplot in Enterprise is all about, as (to my mind) most memorably explored in "Cold Front."
So it's an interesting episode, going over what was already and would become even more familiar territory, and because of its odd mixes of tropes, remains interesting despite ultimately adding very little to any of them. It's just a fun episode to watch, and let's go ahead and leave it at that.
criteria analysis: franchise - series -