Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Tapestry"

***1/2

Air date: 2/15/1993
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Picard is critically injured in an attack during a diplomatic mission, where he (apparently) dies on the operating table because, in part, he has an artificial heart. He finds himself in a white expanse where he is greeted by Q, who informs him wryly, in what Picard can only comprehend as a cosmic joke: "You're dead, this is the afterlife, and I'm God."

Q explains to Picard that his death might have been avoided had he had a real heart. Picard, of course, had that transplant as a result of being stabbed by a Nausicaan in a bar fight when he was a just-graduated ensign, a piece of backstory established in a small subplot way back in second season's "Samaritan Snare." Picard has numerous regrets with how he behaved as a young man, so Q gives him the opportunity to go back in time and live those crucial days over again and perhaps change the course of his life. (Naturally, Picard objects over the possibility that changing the past could have severe consequence on the future, so Q promises that any changes to the timeline will affect Picard alone.)

"Tapestry," like a lot of good stories, takes a simple premise and executes it straightforwardly. It twists It's a Wonderful Life around, while allowing Picard to rewrite his own origin story (and, yes, you might as well call the run-in with the Nausicaans the Picard origin story, given the significance it ends up having). The story wisely and crucially casts Patrick Stewart as the 21-year-old version of himself rather than going with a younger actor, which is a key decision for the story's impact (so key, indeed, that it was honestly the only viable option and thus shouldn't be seen as having had an alternative). The point here is that the older intellect of Picard has gone back to his youth with the benefit of perspective (though that perspective ends up being a liability instead of a benefit).

The story takes us back to a revenge plot involving Picard's friends, Cory (Ned Vaughn) and Marta (J.C. Brandy), who were cheated by the Nausicaans in a billiards-like gambling game. Instead of leading the charge in the revenge plot, however, Picard this time does everything he can to stop it, since that's what set the dominoes in motion for the fight and his nearly fatal injury. Meanwhile, Picard also realizes he has a do-over opportunity with Marta, who was a close friend but also stands in his mind as another regret because they weren't more than just friends.

Throughout all this is Q, who provides a running commentary on everything Picard once upon a time did and now attempts here to undo. John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart have perhaps never been so perfectly in sync as they are here, which is not surprising, since the stakes are so personally focused on Picard's character. Q's sardonic edge is in fine form, and their dialogue is both thoughtful and funny, even in its broader moments, as when Q poses as a florist ("Flowers! Is there a John Luck Pickerd here?").

The funny thing about do-overs, though, is that they don't necessarily lead to the outcomes you expect, even if you are able to successfully pull them off. Picard is able to parlay his friendship with Marta into romance, but finds the next day that in her mind it has only wrecked their friendship. Meanwhile, Picard has to completely betray Cory as a friend to stop him from starting the fight with the Nausicaans. And when Picard is able to stop the fight that got him stabbed and thus save himself from the injury that almost killed him...

Picard is whisked back to an alternate version of the present, where he finds he is alive, but is now a lowly lieutenant (junior grade!) who has lived a life and career of safe choices, nonexistent ambition, and unfulfilled goals. When he asks Riker and Troi to assess him as an officer, their praise, while sincere, is almost painful to hear. After letting Picard stew for a moment, Q tells him that not having his youthful brush with death made him a fundamentally different man who didn't take the risks that would've made his career, because he didn't view life as nearly fragile and finite. I guess that's the trouble with changing the past; you might just end up unraveling the tapestry of your life when you least expect it.

"Tapestry" is an essential Picard story. But I do have one problem with it, which is that is posits a lesson that seems sort of ... well, obvious. The message is that sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. But Picard to me has always seemed like someone with the wisdom to know that who he once was — even if it was a guy he doesn't much respect now — made him what he is today. "Tapestry" tells a story that, in a way, reveals exactly the opposite of that notion. I suppose that's the point, and I guess if you're dead, you might reach into the past to see if you could take a different fork in the road. But this is a story that seems to regard an obvious lesson as a revelation that required Q, of all people, to teach Picard. Don't get me wrong; I like that Q is a teacher here. But this lesson is one Picard should've seen coming.

Previous episode: Face of the Enemy
Next episode: Birthright, Part I

Season Index

46 comments on this review

Carl - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 12:30am (USA Central)
It's ok, Jammer. I don't hate you. Ha. You do have a good point. I wouldn't detract a half star for that myself, but then again, I think "The Search, Part II" and "The Ship" are an easy 3.5 myself. I tend to agree with you on 90% of your reviews anyway.

Regardless, thanks for the new reviews! I literally check this site several times a day hoping for a new batch, and it's always a thrill to see new ones. Keep 'em coming!
Patrick - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 1:03am (USA Central)
Jammer, you are full of surprises and its nice to see you back thoughtfully deconstructing Trek.

I would have expected to see this one be an easy 4 star winner, but you make a cogent point. But this is the part where I disagree with your half star demerit: Picard wasn't just trying to change his destiny for the heck of it--his very life was at stake. Q had him in a metaphysical pincer move--"change your destiny or hang out with me for all eternity." He thought by avoiding his run-in with the Nausicaans, his life would continue relatively as it had before. Picard, while a very wise man, isn't always 100% sage all the time. (Like in the first half of "I, Borg")

In fact "Tapestry" is very organic to "Samaritan Snare" where, if you recall, Picard berates himself about his behavior with the Nausicaans in front of Wesley.

ALSO: I like how Picard and Q's situation beautifully ties into the series finale, "All Good Things...". Q (appearing only to Picard in both episodes) would once again try use his incredible power to bend time and space for the simple reason of getting Picard to see things just a little bit differently--but only through Picard's volition. Q would joke around a bit in "AGT" as he does in "Tapestry", but underneath in both episodes, he was deadly serious. In "Tapestry" it was Picard's life at stake. In a way the situation in that episode could be looked on as Q warming up Picard, for the big test in "All Good Things..." when the stakes would be much, much higher...
Latex Zebra - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 2:54am (USA Central)
I wonder what Captain Thomas Halloway is up to in the 'proper' universe.

Brilliant episode that links well back to the Samaritan Snare story.

I think regardless of the obviousness of the lesson, going back and changing the past is something most of us have thought about in the past. Seeing it realised so well here certainly makes me think that things happen for a reason.
One of the TNGs best 4 Stars from me.
Andrew - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 3:05am (USA Central)
Well when I saw the note on the blog about your review, I was thinking it was going to get like two and a half stars or something!

I do really like this episode, and would four star it myself, though in the grand scheme of things I don't know how it would rank in my top 20. Towards the bottom?

It's a really good episode, but there are better, so at least I understand where you're coming from.
Tim - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
Great episode (4 stars from me, as had me thinking hours after it had ended), although if I was Picard, I'd be tempted to contact that woman to see if anything happened between them, thus work out whether it was all a dream..

Good to see more revires - cheers!
Elliott - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 3:11pm (USA Central)
@ Patrick: the way I would put it, there is nothing in preceding episodes to suggest that Picard was playing it safe (naturally in a series for which continuity is not a major player [which, by the way, is not a problem], this is to be expected). Not is there anything in Picard's character to suggest he needed this lesson. So there's something strange in the overall effectiveness of the episode; how is Picard different at the end? Honestly, I think the episode is more suited to Riker who still refuses to take a command of his own. However, that does not hamper the enjoyment of the episode or the power ( and occasional humour) of it. 3.5 stars seems just right.
Elliott - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 3:14pm (USA Central)
*that should be "Nor" not "Not". Ah, reasons for not posting uneditable comments on smartphones...
bigpale - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 3:57pm (USA Central)
Well it was a good review. I guess that's the thing about reviews; they are just well written opinions.

In my opinion this is one of Trek's shining moments. It's a study of the human condition, told in a way only a sci-fi backdrop could allow. That's Star Trek in a nutshell.

I think this is the finest "Q" story there has ever been(and I suppose, will ever be). I think it's the 2nd best Picard story (after The Inner Light), and one of the best Ron D Moore Trek stories he ever wrote.

4 stars for me.
David - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
Tapestry is vastly overrated. I actually thought it was boring--I'd only have given it 2-2.5 stars.

Marta and Corey were bland, I couldn't stand Stewart kanoodling with yet another young actress aas opposed to a contemorary like Beverly or Neela Darren. I hated that the cast were MIA. And I've seen this type of story so many times this felt totally derivative. MEH
Patrick - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 5:56pm (USA Central)
@Elliott
I think you misunderstood what I was saying. Picard was not one to play it safe, and he was aware of that. *However* he did express regret at the loss of his heart in "Samaritan Snare" to Wesley. I just don't think it was as clear to him how much that incident forged the person he became until Q basically tricked him into taken an alternate path. Once he was in that blue uniform with a go-fer job, the situation "got real" for him.

And as for continuity, TNG had damned good continuity for an episodic program. Compare how they utilized things from their past (be it a whole storyline or a throwaway bit of technobabble) regularly with say...Star Trek : Voyager. Thats why TNG feels like a 7 year long story as an organic whole, despite very few arcs, and Star Trek Voyager seems like 7 years worth of disjointed episodes that didn't really culminate into a bigger story--unfortunately. But, I digress.
William B - Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - 9:52am (USA Central)
The criticism is a very good point and one I hadn't considered before. That said, I do think that it's well established within the show that Picard has always had issues regarding 1) children and 2) his past. One of the first things we learn about Picard is that he hates children. In season two he's somewhat proud when telling Wesley about the incident, but it's also a little...well, I think he does regret it. Not only is he acting to save his life here. But he basically still doesn't like kids. In fact, we could say that his hatred of kids stems from his hatred of his own youthful impetuosity. He still hasn't forgiven himself for his being a jerk of a kid, in other words. In Family he made some reconciliation with his family. In some other episodes he found he could actually look carefully at his decision to forgo romance. This one is about being a jerk of a kid and having to live the rest of his life with a fake heart. The lesson is perhaps obvious -- but it's also one that strikes me as one that Picard really could/should learn.

Picard does have a character arc in the show, though it's not as flashy as it would be if the show were more deliberately continuity-intensive. And most of it involves reconciling himself to the things he left behind to be a starship captain. In season one, he mostly deals with it by hating all traces of who he was before becoming the awesome guy he is now and all traces of the life he left behind. Eventually he is willing to admit that there is a hole in his life, and forms a makeshift family with the Enterprise crew in All Good Things.... I think reconciling himself to the fact that he was a brat makes a lot of sense as part of that.
Latex Zebra - Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - 10:05am (USA Central)
Have to agree with Patrick.
This, to me, is about Q taking advantage of something that is one of the (unbeknown to Picard himself) defining moments of Picard's life and exploiting it for his own entertainment, and also because of his (secret) respect for Picard, a chance to make him question it less. To appreciate it for what it is. The moment that made him the man he is.
Prior to that, this had been an annoyance, inconvenience and sign of weakness.

I also love the Kirk era costumes.
Ospero - Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - 4:38pm (USA Central)
@Latex Zebra: The short story collection "The Sky's the Limit" actually gave an answer to that. Long story short, he's not among the living anymore in "Tapestry"'s timeframe.
Paul - Sat, Jul 14, 2012 - 2:57am (USA Central)
@Latex Zebra
"I also love the Kirk era costumes."

They are great, but for some reason looked pretty bad in this episode under a more bright TNG lighting.

Anyway, a fantastic episode. Q and Picard were at the top of their game. But that's par for the course for Stewart and deLancie, isn't it?
Luiz Castanheira - Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - 8:01am (USA Central)
TNG's finest hour. Simple as that.
Howard - Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
@Paul:
The actors can be "at the top of their game" only as much as the writing lets them. Witness the godawful Q episodes of Voyager (except for "Death Wish"), which not even John DeLancie could save.

The only thing about "Tapestry" that rubbed me wrong is that Picard dies at the beginning but doesn't die at the end. Same injury, different outcomes. Obviously his death at the beginning was necessary (to set up the whole story in the first place) and not dying at the end also was necessary (for the Happy Ending and continuing as normal into next week's show), and I'm not sure how that might have been avoided, but the whole deus ex machina nature of that plot ruined the story for me at the end. Maybe some dialogue from Q that Picard didn't really die but was pulled into the void by Q might have helped.
Sanagi - Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - 4:30am (USA Central)
I agree that the moral of the story is problematic(particularly "Your life will be enriched by getting into fights with giant spiky-faced aliens"). But Q and Picard are so good in this one, I'd give it four stars anyway.

I love that the Nausicaans are presumably named as a reference to the classic sci-fi anime Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, to which Patrick Stewart later lent his voice when it was given a decent English dub.
Sam S. - Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - 11:27am (USA Central)
Jammer, I see the story differently: Picard is so well-tuned as a result of his experiences, yet there are things about his own character that should be obvious to him--that the audience sees--that he is actually blind to. Of course, every character has a blind spot: this is so true as to be a trope. What makes this episode good tragedy--in that it features the death of a man and, with the man hypothetically rescued, the death of that man's career and resolve--is that Picard's blind spot is essentially a tragic flaw. My central criticism for this episode is that that tragic flaw revealed here did not appear in any significant form in another episode or feature.
Weiss - Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - 12:37pm (USA Central)
a younger Picard played by an old picard,
reminds of Its alwys sunny, a young Danny Devito played by old DeVito.
sunny was better because DeVito wore a god awful wig and played it up as if he was a young man...

im looking at you picard where is the wig!!!!!!
dan - Fri, Jul 27, 2012 - 6:13pm (USA Central)
4 star episode. I am dismayed
Gianni - Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - 9:49am (USA Central)
I find this episode to be far too heavy handed, predictable and 2 dimensional to be worth 3.5 stars.

The consequences are portrayed as completely black and white. Maybe Picard would have remained a junior officer if he'd avoided a pathetic fight. Maybe he would have found love and not ended up so incredibly lonely.

And Picard and his young friends are lifted straight out of 1950's America not 24th century Starfleet.

John - Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - 7:56pm (USA Central)
A good idea that doesn't bear too much scrutiny and ultimately left me a little annoyed at some of the simplistic conclusions.

The Picard/Q repartee is clearly the highlight.

I reckon Ron Moore must have just watched Back to the Future II and disagreed with one of the subplots.. Seems the lesson is that Marty (Picard) should indeed get impulsive and belligerent whenever someone called him 'yella'..
Patrick - Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - 10:54pm (USA Central)
@John

Yeah, and as I recall Ronald D. Moore was also the one who pushed for Wesley Crusher to stick with the cover-up with Nova Squadron in "The First Duty" and *never* confess. RDM sounds like one jaded dude--which is why nuBSG was what it was.
Jay - Sat, Aug 18, 2012 - 11:22pm (USA Central)
@ Latex Zebra

indeed...Q sez that the change of futures will affect no one but Picard, but clearly it affects Captain Holloway as well. Further, it would surely effect a great deal of the people involved in the missions of the Enterprise up until this point...Holloway wouldn't have made the same decisions as Picard did in every circumstance. For starters, Picard would no longer have been Locutus.

Rachel - Sat, Sep 1, 2012 - 9:21am (USA Central)
For many years since I first saw 'Tapestry', it became easily my favourite episode of TNG, along with 'Timeless' from Voyager and especially 'In the Pale Moonlight' from DS9 (in my opinion, 'Moonlight' is the best Trek episodee of them all).

Much like Picard, I too refuse to believe that in the Trek Universe that Q could run it! But I'm more inclined to believe that Q perhaps showed the Captain this alternate version of his life for a reason - a lesson in humility, perhaps? Picard has always seemed to me to be a bit too arrogant, but that's not a bad character trait - I think all Captains need that.

I agree that Jean-Luc's friends seem right out of the 1950's...but the episode has to have its lighter points amongst the heavier message...which is what, exactly?

That in order to get ahead in life, you must take risks. Stating the obvious, possibly, but this episode is done so well, frankly, I don't care.

Some episodes of Trek really make you think about life...this is one of those for me. Wonderful...and the easiest of four stars too!
Cail Corishev - Sat, Oct 13, 2012 - 4:11am (USA Central)
I think 3.5 is right on the money, docking it half a star for the obviousness of the message. Picard surely knows that who you are has a lot to do with the mistakes you've made in the past and how you learned from them. He may not have realized that this one experience was so pivotal for him, but then that's probably a stretch anyway.

I think what bothered me was how Picard was so passive throughout the experience. After all, the Picard we're watching has been through that near death and all his other life experiences, and does know how to tackle risky situations with ingenuity and courage. But in this case he mostly sits around with his mouth hanging open, letting his friend seduce him without much struggle, and being unable to come up with any better alternative to the fight except to turn coward. There was no other way to handle it? Not ambushing them later when there would be more favorable conditions, or bringing a few more friends, or even just going to the fight wearing some body armor? He just didn't seem to be trying.

The point I found most interesting was the way Picard loathed the idea of being just a hard-working cog in the wheel that is a Federation starship. It makes sense that, for him, because he's used to a different life, it would be hard to settle for that. But to say that he'd rather be dead was kind of striking, because he does realize that most people don't ever get to be captains, right? They get decent jobs that they plug away at, day after day, and manage to enjoy life somehow anyway. His instant rejection of that kind of life was interesting, as it showed off his arrogance (humility certainly wasn't the lesson Q was teaching here). It didn't make him more likable, but that wasn't the point.
Rosario - Thu, Nov 8, 2012 - 4:56pm (USA Central)
Good point on how passive Picard is. Never really noticed but now that I think it over Picard really did not command this situation and just let himself be blown along by events...

Now that I think about it more, perhaps because by sleeping with Marta he *had* tried to alter events and it had backfired so badly that he became meek in the face of anything else. Probably he will be this meek, accepting of what fate brings him - passive - for all his days, ending up as a junior-grade science officer.

Had some issues with the pacing as well but 4-stars all the same. It moved me.
Snitch - Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - 11:52pm (USA Central)
I really liked this episode, it reminds me of my choices in life. I moved from Europe to the United States and took a chance, the marriage did not work out, and sometimes wonder how life would have been if I would not have taken the chance. The 1/2 star deduction is for putting violence as the motive for being successful, kind of anti-trek.

In the end it is like that, if you never take the chance, you might regret that you never tried for the rest of your life.
Jay - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 11:13pm (USA Central)
@ Cail....yeah that was what I thought too...Picard, knowing his fate already, could have worn something that would deflect the knife from impaling him (if it was good enough for Doc Brown and the Libyans...), which would have left him with a real heart, which dialogue from Q had already stated would mean he'd have surived the injury that opened the episode and spun the subsequent plot. Picard would have gotten to outsmart Q.
Seriously? - Sat, Feb 23, 2013 - 12:31am (USA Central)
Everyone who keeps saying that Picard should have worn armor or something is forgetting two things:

First of all, Q's line just before the scene happens. Picard needed that brush with death to become the person that he became in the future. Unless he gets stabbed through the back, looks down, and sees the blade sticking out of his chest, he never has that realization.

Secondly, Picard came back to the past mere moments before the fight began. . . he wouldn't have had time to put on a protective vest.

Also. . . there's a really easy way for Picard to get some idea of whether or not it was a real incident or just a Near Death Experience. Why not call up Marta and ask, "Marta. . . do you remember the night before I got stabbed in the chest?"
BirdSong - Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - 3:20am (USA Central)
In the top ten Treks (any series) of all time. Q and Picard at their best. Story is deeply thought provoking and hilarious at the same time. Not an easy feat. This is Star Trek at the top of its game for sure. Another episode that reminds us of why we are fanatics.
BirdSong - Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - 3:27am (USA Central)
PS - This episode also has the most hilarious one-liner in Star Trek history (from Worf):

Picard: "Mr. Worf, what is my rank and position?"
Worf: "You are Lieutenant, Junior Grade!"

Hehe. I'm laughing out loud right now just thinking about it. I wonder how many takes it took for them to do this scene without busting out laughing.
Sintek - Fri, Jun 7, 2013 - 2:13pm (USA Central)
Star Trek does Quantum Leap. Fine episode, but the friends are intolerable.
navamske - Sat, Aug 10, 2013 - 10:29pm (USA Central)
@Tim

"if I was Picard, I'd be tempted to contact that woman to see if anything happened between them, thus work out whether it was all a dream."

In "Bloodlines," when the Ferengi tells Picard he's going to kill his son and Picard is like, "WTF? I don't have a son," I thought the son's mother was going to be the Marta chick from this episode.

On a separate note, I had the great misfortune to have initially seen this episode on a black-and-white TV, so I didn't get the shock of seeing (in the altered timeline) Picard in the blue uniform rather than the red one.
mephyve - Mon, Sep 2, 2013 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
And all is well with Q again. After the blandness of 'True Q', it was great seeing Q back as Jean Luc's mischievous mentor. Jean Luc appears to see it like that as well in the end.
The humor was great throughout but the ultimate joke of the show is that either Jean Luc owes Q a debt of gratitude or Q is the god he'll spend eternity with.
What I didn't like was the insinuation that you have to be reckless to get ahead. There was a snobbish air to Jean Luc concerning his alternate existence.What was probably meant as a self assessment came across as disdain for certain stations in life. Does he actually perceive the guy who has a menial job as a miserable human wreck who'd be better off dead?
dregj - Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - 9:27pm (USA Central)
this ep was horsesh*t
made no sense the picard already established in loads of episodes that the was already very driven winning the academy marathon,dumping girlfriends,etc he didn't need this stabbing thing because he was already that man
how in the hell would getting stabbed make him take more risks?most people would find being a cocky up start gets you stabbed so be more careful next time
Trent - Wed, Dec 4, 2013 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
Anyone notice this: this episode insults anyone ranked lower than Captain. It says being a science officer is a "lowly" and "pathetic" and "unfullfilling job" and "not as good as being Captain". It promotes heirarchial thinking.
Nissa - Sat, Jan 4, 2014 - 3:27am (USA Central)
Um...I hated this episode. Q forces Picard into his past for no reason. For what? To learn that risks are good? To make him behave like his dumb younger self again? To take advantage of his old friend? Picard has learned and gone past his old self. Why would he need to go back unless something from his past could help his present? It's just Q toying with him again for no reason. It wasn't enjoyable.
Grumpy - Wed, Jan 22, 2014 - 11:22pm (USA Central)
Trent, I just noticed that, too, as did Cail Corishev a while back: "...most people don't ever get to be captains, right? They get decent jobs that they plug away at, day after day, and manage to enjoy life somehow anyway."

But Picard's all, "I'm a dreary man in a tedious job!" C'mon, Jean Luc, tell us how you really feel about the astrophysicists it's your invigorating pleasure to haul around the galaxy.
Smith - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 6:13pm (USA Central)
Worst Q episode for TNG. Basically focuses on Picard's ego and need for career/sex/violence. Q is just an anthromophic prop to facilitate Picard's ego trip and is hugely underutilized. Huge shame the other two lost Q episodes didn't get green lit instead (Q-Olympics and Q Makes Two). Huge mistake by Jeri Taylor who didn't understand them, but were great concepts.

I'm not sure I understand the moral of the story. Would have been funny if Q actually did something spontainous (like normal) in the episode and FORCED picard not to do the fight to restore his future. The moral seems to be "take risks"...with no focus on reason nor consequences.
snitch - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:44am (USA Central)
the moral of the story is that in life you will make mistakes and learn from it and grow up to be a responsible adult. If you never take chances you might live a dull but average life.
Robert - Tue, Apr 8, 2014 - 12:29pm (USA Central)
I would actually argue that the moral of the story is plainly stated by Picard at the end.

"There are many parts of my youth that I'm not proud of. There were loose threads, untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads it unraveled the tapestry of my life. "

The point of it is self acceptance. If you like who you are and you like your life you should also accept that you would not be you or have your exact life if you had taken another road.

I don't think the point is that if you don't take risks you'll end up at a boring job or anything so mundane as that. I think the point was that the incident with the stabbing so radically altered Picard's appreciation/outlook on life that if you got rid of it he was a different person.

He might be embarrassed by the stupid impulsive kid that got into a fight with a Nausican, but without that kid there is no Picard. The moral of the story is to be less hard on the messy parts of yourself, because without them you aren't you.
AnchorintheStratosphere - Sun, Apr 13, 2014 - 5:03pm (USA Central)
This is one of my favorite episodes. If you like it too I recently wrote a post on my blog inspired by this episode and it's lesson and I'd love for you to check it out!

www.anchorinthestratosphere.com
Pollyanna - Tue, Apr 29, 2014 - 6:50pm (USA Central)
I remember liking this episode when I first saw it but on rewatching I find it very slow. I am also surprised that none of you mentioned the links to an early TOS episode, The Enemy Within. We again find the captain being forced to accept the darker parts of his personality. In many ways, I like that episode better because the stakes are more real. And the insights come from Kirk's friends and colleagues.
SkepticalMI - Thu, Aug 7, 2014 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
I am of 2 minds here. On the one hand, this plot makes little sense for several reasons:

1) As others have pointed out, Picard was already driven before this event took place (his marathon victory). So why was it this event, or lack thereof, that made him a drifter and lazy and all?

2) More importantly, he already had a life-changing event in his academy days (whatever it was that Boothby gave him advice about). Shouldn't that have had some impact on the tapestry of his life?

3) Also, as others have mentioned, if this was really about saving his life, why was he still alive afterwards? Q was just messing around with him, apparently.

4) Which brings me to the next point: Why the heck was Q doing this in the first place? Unless he really does run the afterlife, this was completely out of the blue?

5) Do we really want to have the aesop of this story be "Be stupid and reckless as a kid or you will grow up a loser"? After all, the examples Q gave later that got Picard to where he was (leading an attack on some planet, taking command of the Stargazer) showed Picard was a man who lept forward with decisive action during a crisis. And yet, in the alternate timeline Picard created, that is exactly what he did! A weak-willed man wouldn't stand up to his best friend like that. He wouldn't punch out his friend in order to save his life. Picard saw a crisis, and acted on it. Exactly the sort of man he would become. So why does it make him a drifter later?

But besides that, the episode is thoroughly enjoyable, so let's try to solve these problems.

First of all, I don't think Picard was really dead. Or possibly even dying. Or maybe he was, and Q just cured him at the end. It was always Q's intention to teach Picard this little lesson and to bring him back to life at the end. Of course, being Q, he had to do it in a roundabout why while snarking at Picard the entire time.

And why did he do it? Because of All Good Things. Q, being nonlinear in time or whatever, knew that the trial was still on and that Picard would eventually face the anti-time paradox. And Q, given his fascination for humanity, wanted Picard to win. So somehow, in some subtle way, this lesson must have been needed to prepare Picard for his later test. Perhaps it had to do with expanding his conscienceness, allowing him a better understanding of the subtleties of cause and effect across decades. Perhaps it was to simply get him used to travelling through time. Perhaps it was to reinforce the message of standing up in a crisis, so that he would risk everything to solve the mystery of the anomaly. I don't know. But Q never came to the Enterprise for no reason. I'd like to think there was something more subtle going on here. It just seems more satisfying to me that Q was doing this for a larger purpose, and not just for fun.

So that solves 3&4, what about 5? I think Q was wrong about the lesson. We know OldPicard changed his past because he knew what was happening. But what was YoungPicard's rationale for breaking up the fight before it began and sleeping with Marta? After all, after Q snapped his fingers, YoungPicard would be back in that role, so what does he remember about that event? Surely he doesn't remember Q! So I'm assuming YoungPicard did exactly what I said earlier. He stepped up and took risks. And both of those risks ended up backfiring on him. His actions lost him his two best friends.

YoungPicard didn't know that he would have been stabbed if he didn't do that. So he may have second-guessed his actions there. Did he really see a knife? Couldn't the three of them have beaten the Nausicaans? Likewise, he ruined his friendship with Marta. And regretting those actions (not the "never faced death" bit) is what caused him to drift in his career. He always second guessed himself afterwards, hesitated rather than leaping forward in a crisis. And not only during crisises, but in life as well. He never took risks, never tried to move forward. And so he never made new friends, never fell in love, never advanced his career. So he was as defeated a person as he appeared to be.

That explains why Q kept pushing Picard to sleep with Marta. He knew that that was also part of what would unravel the tapestry, and so needed Picard to screw up there as well.

I still think it's silly that a single event will define your life like that, but whatever. If that's the way it must be, then it is slightly plausible.

In the end, though, it almost doesn;t matter, because the Q/Picard relationship here is as great as everyone else said. It was interesting to see Picard be almost friendly to Q, opening up and sharing his feelings, his regrets, and his deepest thoughts with Q. Regardless of what Picard was saying, he did appear to believe that he was dead and this really was the afterlife. He knew that there was no way out of this except through Q, and thus clung to him. In some way, it was a bit out of character for him. But in reality, it made sense given the situation. What else could Picard do?

I have a hard time rating this as an instant classic like so many do. It's a lot of fun (as everyone already knows), but it just seems somewhat meaningless and disconnected. I had to really stretch things in order to have it make sense for me, which probably is not a good idea in a show.
dregj - Fri, Aug 8, 2014 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
I've never seen an episode of television drama that had such a tenuous handle on its staring character.
Like the other fella said he was driven from child hood to be a star fleet captain spending nights staring at the stars and days aceing school and wining the blue ribbon.
he wins the academy marathon as a freshman and as the only first year to EVer do it gets the undying respect of admiral hanson.
He then stands up a smoking hot woman in his early star fleet career (manhiem's wife)due to his utter commitment to the job.This is not a man who was coasting through anything at any point in his life,ever.He certainly didn't need a violent knifing to get him to the captains chair.

The worst part is ron d moore later said its was a parallel of his life ,dropping out of college and somehow getting into writing for star trek .So the mistakes in his life somehow putting you in to the right path(ie picards fight with the bon jovie predator clones/nausicans.


So the premise is this obsessed,driven, marathon winner who wanted to be an explorer from childhood would have somehow,magically been a loser if he hadn't been skewered by alien heavy metal fans and taught some humility ???

This ep ranks up their with Masks for worst episode ever.

good god ron be ashamed

and for the 3rd season of battle star

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