Star Trek: The Next Generation


3.5 stars

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

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177 comments on this post

Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 12:30am (UTC -6)
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!
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 1:03am (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 3:05am (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
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!
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
@ 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.
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 3:14pm (UTC -6)
*that should be "Nor" not "Not". Ah, reasons for not posting uneditable comments on smartphones...
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 4:49pm (UTC -6)
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
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 5:56pm (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
Fri, Jul 13, 2012, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
@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.
Sat, Jul 14, 2012, 2:57am (UTC -6)
@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 (UTC -6)
TNG's finest hour. Simple as that.
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
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.
Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 4:30am (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
Wed, Jul 25, 2012, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
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!!!!!!
Fri, Jul 27, 2012, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
4 star episode. I am dismayed
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 9:49am (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 7:56pm (UTC -6)
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'..
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 10:54pm (UTC -6)

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.
Sat, Aug 18, 2012, 11:22pm (UTC -6)
@ 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.
Sat, Sep 1, 2012, 9:21am (UTC -6)
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 (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
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.
Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 11:52pm (UTC -6)
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.
Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
@ 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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 12:31am (UTC -6)
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?"
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 3:20am (UTC -6)
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.
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 3:27am (UTC -6)
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.
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
Star Trek does Quantum Leap. Fine episode, but the friends are intolerable.
Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 10:29pm (UTC -6)

"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.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 2:38pm (UTC -6)
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?
Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 9:27pm (UTC -6)
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
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
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.
Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 3:27am (UTC -6)
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.
Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 11:22pm (UTC -6)
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.
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
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.
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 12:44am (UTC -6)
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.
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
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.
Sun, Apr 13, 2014, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
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!
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 6:50pm (UTC -6)
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.
Thu, Aug 7, 2014, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
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.
Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 1:24pm (UTC -6)
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
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 11:59am (UTC -6)
Before I get a reputation of being a Trek hater, I think it's time to come to a positive episode. One written very well and that has a message. It's also one of the few episodes where Q is being Q.

It's a lovely story that doesn't need ANY stupid writer Trek babble, mysticism or cop-out writing. That's why it works and why it is good. We have a mechanical heart that fails (plausible), a being that is far advanced and appears to us god-like (perhaps not so plausible, but it works here- Picard doesn't buy for a second that Q is a god), and a story about how doling things differently and what you now belive to be for the best, can actually end up with a negative result.

Trek, for the most part, ignores this type of thinking. In Trek, usually I find myself ready to punch the screen when good outcomes happen all the time by "doing the right thing". Real life isn't like that. I could give numerous examples, but that would lead to another political argument here, which I am not in the mood for. In any case, this episode had the balls to see things differently. That gets it a lot of respect from the start.

But it's not just the story and the message, it's the whole package that is done correctly. It makes sense, it works within itself, and it doesn't need any stupid bad science or crummy explanations. It is what it is, and you can suspend disbelief to it and enjoy it. It's good television. Next up, I'll tackle another of my favourites: Cause and Effect.
Wed, Jan 7, 2015, 10:34am (UTC -6)
Q: "FLOWERS! Is there a JOHN LUCK PICKERD here?!"

Hahaha, best line and mangling of Picard's name.
Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
Favorite episode of Star Trek TNG of all time and arguably favorite episode of star trek period. So many deep relatable topics in this one and pretty much perfect from beginning to end. Amazing episode and fully worthy of a 4 star rating.
Tue, Jul 28, 2015, 10:50am (UTC -6)
Best use of Q, and never finding out if it was a dream or the actual Q is a nice touch. Good moral and great Picard back story. I wondered about the old vs young Picard. He is old for the benefit of the audience, you're correct Jammer a necessary tactic.
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my favorite TNJ episodes. Maybe it's because I myself would love nothing else to do than to go back to 20s as the 50 year old I am now (very different) and relive my life. So many regrets and things I would do differently! That has always intrigued me.

As for the episode itself, I love how Q and Picard interact. I have to say that as I'm watching it I'm not impressed with Picard's "friends". They aren't very good friends at all. Sleeping with one (who was obviously seducing him to begin with) and the "betrayal" of the other (who seemed like an immature, hot headed fool that wasn't much of a friend at all since he was so quick to just write Picard off) shouldn't have ended what should've been a true friendship. It didn't seem like all that much of a loss.
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 9:05am (UTC -6)
So.... "Tapestry."

SFDebris gave this a score of 10. Given that he grades on a curve for each series, that means he thinks "Tapestry" is among the elite of the elite for TNG. And, if I'm not mistaken, he also said that it was among the finest episodes of the entire franchise. Well, I'm not prepared to go that far. It's a damn fine episode, but it's not that good.

If were grading this on nothing but the interactions between Q and Picard, then I would unhesitatingly give it a 10. Stewart and de Lancie are in absolute top form here. And they finally have Q acting the way he should have been acting from the get-to in "Encounter at Farpoint" - as a teacher/wise guide instead of a problem-provoking imp. Also, I love the treatment of religion (or at least the idea of an afterlife) here. You knew I was going to bring that up, didn't you? :P When Picard thinks he's in the afterlife with Q (and for all we know, he very well may have been) there is no condemnation of the idea like we would undoubtedly have gotten in earlier seasons. There's even the hint that Picard actually believes in an afterlife, just not run by Q. Nicely done. However, there are three things which really harm the episode, in my opinion.

First, "Tapestry," more than any other episode thus far, perfectly encapsulates my problems with Picard as a character. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Picard is rather boring! I'm completely on Q's side when he says that Young Picard is a much more interesting person. He's a cad, he gets into fights, he gambles, he's egotistical, he's hot-headed, etc. You know who he reminds me of? Kirk. Maybe a less refined Kirk (Kirk was, after all, not just a hot-headed cad; he could also be cool, dispassionate and analytical), but Kirk none-the-less. Old Picard is just so dull and often lifeless. Now, don't get me wrong, Picard is a likable character in the sense that I can look up to and admire him. But in terms of simple likability (would I ever want to know someone like this or be friend with him), he's easily the worst captain character in Trek. Kirk, Sisko, Janeway, even Archer are much more relatable (or, dare I say it, human) characters. Picard is more of an archetype. That's fine for what it is - Superman is also an archetype as a character (but he's also not very relatable). I would much rather spend time with that "hell-bent for leather young officer." Just saying. I mean, for crying out loud, he calls an older woman who wants him "handsome." Damn, I'm not exactly a ladies man myself (in fact, I've never had a girlfriend - God, I'm depressed now) but even I know not to do that. Seriously, she looked old enough to be Young Picard's grandmother and he calls her "handsome"?! Again, Q is right on the money when he laughs at him for that.

Second, Picard's two friends really don't seem like friends at all. They both treat him like shit. At the slightest provocation (a slight change in Picard's attitude) Cory is willing to completely abandon the friendship and declare that he doesn't know who Picard is anymore. Well, pal, you were just trying to get your friend into a needless fight that could have serious ramifications - like, I don't know, GETTING STABBED THROUGH THE HEART! He doesn't seem like a good friend, does he? The other one, Marta, straight up seduces Picard (and let's not kid ourselves here - she was the one doing the seducing) and then dumps his ass literally the next morning. So, he's got one friend who demands that he act a certain way and another who uses him as a sex object. Am I supposed to like these people? And, speaking of things I simply can't believe, am I supposed to find it believable that the rather dull 63 year-old Picard (which this episode establishes his age as) was able to so impress the 21 year old Marta that she would literally throw herself at him? I mean, look, if some 21 year-old woman wants to be with a 63 year-old man (or vice-versa), I say knock yourself out - it's your life - but I'm sorry, that really breaks the suspension of disbelief for me here.

Third, the message. What exactly is the message here? You have to be reckless to get ahead in life? Look, I like hotheadedness from a character standpoint, but that seems rather dubious. Is it "it's better to be dull than interesting"? Is it "you can never be happy unless you're achieving at the top of your abilities"? Again, that's rather dubious. Maybe Alternate Old Picard was perfectly happy being a Junior Grade Lieutenant. How come that is never entertained? Never be happy with who you are - always strive to be something else! Um, what?! "We seek to better ourselves" and be open-minded, unless we don't like how you choose to better yourself; in which case do as we tell you to do! Um, what?!! Is it "you have to understand that who you were made you who you are"? Well, as someone else has already pointed out, I would have thought that Picard was smart enough to already know that.

So, "Tapestry" is a rather flawed piece that's buoyed up by some absolutely splendid performances from two masters at that craft.

Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -6)
"I simply can't believe, am I supposed to find it believable that the rather dull 63 year-old Picard (which this episode establishes his age as) was able to so impress the 21 year old Marta that she would literally throw herself at him?"

Yeah but she's developed feelings for him over time, way before the old Picard jumps into his younger self. It just happened then is all.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 8:22am (UTC -6)
Eh, I don't know. She didn't seem to have any actual feelings for him beyond using him for sex.
Sun, Oct 4, 2015, 12:00pm (UTC -6)
I'm watching this series for the first time on Netflix, so I don't have the insight that many of you have, nor am I able to draw comparisons between TNG and the other spinoffs. I've been reading Jammer's reviews and the comments as I've been viewing the episodes, and I feel that doing so has helped give me more insight into the Star Trek universe while showing very valid alternate interpretations to stories which I would not have found on my own.

The moral this story attempts to put forward bothers me greatly because it simplifies the consequences of our actions rather than acknowledging how complex they actually are. Picard's life decisions are painted as being "correct", and he dismisses his life as a science officer as being not worth living. First of all, if Picard had really grown so adverse to risk, it begs the question of why he choose to be on a starship.

Second of all, I have a difficult time accepting that the risk adverse Picard doesn't have things in his life that Captain Picard doesn't. Perhaps the blue shirt Picard has a loving wife and family. Maybe this Picard isn't so distant from people and has been able to form friendships that the captain couldn't.

Third, Picard seems to be out of character. He always struck me as a compassionate man with an understanding that the world is made of different viewpoints. Just because he moves from being a captain to a science officer, shouldn't lower his opinion of himself. It also just feels like he holds a disdain for the low ranking officers which is out of character.

Also, the episode paints Picard as being cowardly, but I'd think having the courage to stand up to your friend to stop a meaningless fight and taking a chance with a good friend to move from a comfortable friendship to something more does take courage. He did some very risky things, and somebody who would make those difficult decisions sounds to me like someone who would also make decisions that would attempt to advance his career. Even with different decisions, this is the same Picard.

The word Tapestry invokes the images of multiple threads sown together in intricate patterns to produce an entire picture. There is something that strikes me as truly banal about saying if one thread were removed and replaced with another the result is not only different but worse. All of our lives are the product of our decisions, and almost certainly some of our decisions have led to different outcomes than others. However, we don't know how the decisions we make truly effect us and for us or the authors to make the presumptions that "risky" decisions lead to better outcomes strikes me as hollow. The core message, that Picard being stabbed in the heart made him in the man he is today, does illustrate the chaotic nature of how are decisions can lead to outcomes that appear completely unrelated. But it fails in that the outcomes seem to be stratified in a Better/Worse framework rather than a Same/Different one.

Often I read the comments here that TNG presents things in "black and white", and generally I find myself disagreeing. At its best TNG presents a dilemma, ex. "do you kill or communicate with the crystal entity" or the I Borg dilemma, but I feel that as the show matured it became good at not showing one particular opinion as being "correct". While morality is painted in simple terms in Justice or Angel One, Silicon Avatar and Chain of Command give much more latitude to multiple interpretations. This episode feels almost regressive.

While I did not agree with the themes of this episode, I would still say it was an entertaining, thought provoking and competently produced hour of television.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
This does a wonderful job of taking an aside from way back and building a story around it. The interaction between Picard and Q is a highlight. But overall, I find it less convincing than many. In fact, I find the most intriguing element of the story the possibility that it was a dream and not something concocted by Q at all.

And if it was Q all along, and it was real, what does the story actually mean? That Picard's regrets of his youth were unfounded? That there's no going back? Be careful what you wish for? What was Q hoping to achieve out of all this?

I can see why people like it as a "what if" type episode, showing a Picard that is out of step with the character as we know him today. But at some visceral level it just feels wrong to me. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
Upon first viewing, I was a bit lost when Picard was a blue-shirt. I figured after he stopped the fight, he would still have knowledge of Q and how he had been the captain of a ship. It took me a bit to realize he went on with his life with no knowledge of his alternate (captain) self. But I didn't understand why, when we see him in the blue-shirt version, he didn't remember anything about his life or how he got there. He didn't even know what his rank and duties were.

Perhaps changing his risk-taking, taking the safer course, would not have led him to captain a starship, but I cannot believe for a moment he would end up as a junior lieutenant at the same time he was a captain in the other version of his life. He would still have at least some of his passions, and if he was taking a different course towards being a blue-shirt, I believe he would go all-in. Even if he was a very passive man after avoiding the fight, he'd have had to screw up pretty badly to only get one promotion before he was 63. I figure whatever his job was, he would do it very well.

Or maybe he'd just go into archaeology. :)

Have a Great Day... RT
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 11:03am (UTC -6)
Unlike most comments here, I did not like this episode. In fact I found it very dull. However it was worth watching just to see Captain Picard wake up to find Q next to him in bed. :D
Jim Witte
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 12:25pm (UTC -6)

"couldn't stand Stewart kanoodling with yet another young actress as opposed to .. Neela Darren."

It would have been interesting if the episode *had* cast a younger actor as the "younger Picard", perhaps with the older Picard having a role as a "visual voice-over" like Q was (sort of - Q was visible to everyone else, but they either didn't care or.. well, chalk it up to Q's omnipotence).

I hadn't thought of that until now - but what *really* would have been interesting if if instead of Marta they *had* had it be a younger Neela or Beverly. That would have added another level of fourth-wall busting ("third-and-a-half" given that it's an alternate timeline?) complexity as the younger Picard would presumably have the same memories of his "later" relationship with either. Would have worked better with a younger Neela I think, since Neela isn't a crew-member of any import except for in "Lessons".

Especially interesting would be if after Picard came back to the main-timeline, he *had* (restarted) some kind of relationship with Neela (if she's still on the Enterprise that is), having "re-remembered" her from the past.

By that I mean that I'd guess in that episode-scenario the "young-Neela" would have been (in the "original prime timeline where his heart fails") just "some random girl he canoodled with for a day and then forgot" - which is why he didn't remember her in "Lessons". This experience would have reminded him that she "had been" one of those "loose threads of regret". And then when the prime timeline "resumes", he would restart the relationship (after Q restores everything, or perhaps just ends his Remember-Me-like-thoughts-shape-reality "Q's-Warp-Bubble" thing).

How they'd deal with *Neela* also "re-remembering" their earlier encounter.. I dont' know. Or perhaps she *wouldn't* remember it. Maybe Q might have thrown in that "reality-bending-bit" for the hell of it - he does have a strange sense of humor.

I guess this would be a *really* strange situation where in the prime-timeline, for Picard the "young Neela" really did happen, but for the "adult Neela", it dint' ever happen. I know, it doesn't fit into single-time-dimensional spacetime at all, but perhaps in two-time-dimensional system with the possibility of superpositions?

(Don't even get me started on trying to think about loop-quantum-gravity ways this might work out where the only thing that *really* matters at the lowest level is (I think) "happens-before/happens-after" causality.)

(And however that framework couples to matter-energy. I haven't read chapter 7.3 "Coupling to Matter" (p 97) in Gambini and Pullin's "First Course in LQG".)

Anyway, remember Q's bit about the unknown possibilities of existence" and Sisko-as-Prophet's line, "it's *not* linear.."
Sat, Jul 9, 2016, 9:36am (UTC -6)
@Diamond Dave If you are asking what the aesop is, the episode is trying to say that Picard should not have rejected his past, since even the bad played part in making him who he is. Picard pretty much states it at the end. As for Q, he wanted to teach Picard that. His reason were probably a combination of genuinely wishing to help since he came to like him somewhat, wanting to prove him wrong and having an opportunity to be an annoying smartass.
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 3:10am (UTC -6)
This was a decent episode but I wouldn't rate it this high. But thats nitpikkin. I like q where hes taken picard but here he has too much control over one mans life and its outcome. Usually he puts them into shitty situations and observes the out come. I dont like picards friend he was a shitbag and so was the girl. Although I do like the wrapped up thread of their outcome. She just wanted sex. Not worth him.

It really was "its a wonderful life" par q.

I agree with everyone here who said he would have still become the man he was and some idiots knife through his heart would not have changed that.
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 1:00pm (UTC -6)

I think you and the others may have missed the point (har har, no pun intended.) Picard starts off his conversation with Q by talking about how brash he was in his youth and mentioned he made several mistakes, with the knife to the chest being the consequence of a big one.

Picard missing out on that knife to the chest, *as well as other changes he made* is what changed the man he became. Marta even comments on how different Picard was acting throughout his revisit to his youth. The viewer needs to presuppose that based on the changes he made, it started a pattern of what kind of officer, and what kind of person he would become.

And, speaking to your "It's a Wonderful Life" comparison, this episode plays it totally the opposite. George in IaWL lived a mundane life, but he was convinced that even a mundane life was special and worth living. Picard, on the other hand, decides that rather than being mediocre and alive, he'd rather die as a man who lived life passionately.
Thu, Jul 28, 2016, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
Oh my god, finally, I found at least two other people who think like I do about this episode. And here I thought I was just a Tellarite looking to play devil's advocate!

The characters of Corey and Marta were unlikable and uninteresting, in my personal opinion. Neither of them were being particularly good friends, and Corey basically abandoned Starfleet principles to get back at the Nausicaan. Although I understood when Sisko did something similar in "For the Uniform", the fact is, Sisko had to; Corey didn't. Then he made it worse by forcing his friends into a confrontation. It was manipulative and selfish.

Picard in the alternate reality made little sense. Just because he wasn't willing to cave in to his friend's expectations, he suddenly became a coward? What about him standing up to Corey and even striking his friend before he made a terrible mistake? In the words of Dumbledore, "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends." Picard stood up to Corey to save him, and in my opinion, that's better captain material than Corey would've made. The message in this episode is such a broken aesop.

But, as usual, the acting of John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart make this episode tolerable otherwise. Aside from that, though, I don't feel it has much going for it.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 28, 2016, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
@ Jasmine,

I believe you're right, and I also believe it is entirely intentional that Corey and Marta leave something to be desired in terms of Picard's glorious friends from the past, for whom he nearly died. The whole point is that Picard's nostalgia blinded him to what his past really meant to him. His memory of both himself and of his friends was distorted by regret. He wasn't just the idiot he thought he was; he was the wild freshman who won the Academy marathon. And likewise his great view of his friends wasn't as rosy as he perhaps remembered.

The moral of the story appears to be that, like Henry V, it was necessary to the development of his character that he run with a less than stellar crowd for a time. He couldn't have become the man he was without guts and a little too much self-confidence. His alternate version is an idealized version of himself; intellectual, with integrity, cautious, and responsible. In other words, Picard's idealized version of himself is actually worse than he really is, and Q made him see that. His flaws are what made him able to be who he was, and this appears to have been a repeated motif in Q's moralizing through the series. Q repeatedly shows the crew (specifically Picard) that self-congratulatory pride is a sign more of decadence than advanced thinking. For all his 'issues', Q fundamentally seems to embrace the spirit of creativity and newness, and this is exactly the kind of thinking he was trying to squeeze out of Picard in "All Good Thing..." Both of those require a kind of abandon, I think, that perhaps he saw in Picard that others didn't see and that he was hoping to eventually get Picard himself to admit to. How else could the ending of "Tapestry" be so funny to Picard, other than that he realizes he's been a want to have never been a fool.
Thu, Jul 28, 2016, 11:49pm (UTC -6)

To be fair, the episode never says Picard's a coward in the alternate timeline, but it implies that him facing near death was a huge motivation in his Starfleet career. In that vein, it doesn't matter how wrong or jerky his friends were. What mattered was avoiding hardship, that moment of looking in the breach, denied a crucial part of his life.

The message isn't that playing it safe is bad, but more broadly that extracting the dark deeds of your past can impact your very integrity.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
At this point in Season 6, the best episode BY FAR.

I would have been tempted to give it that extra 0.5 of a star due to Marta being very attractive, but the reality is that whilst this is a solid episode, it's just not quite at the same level as The Inner Light, which was exceptional.
Sat, Oct 8, 2016, 8:08am (UTC -6)
To address the objections raised above by a few people regarding the inference that being the unremarkable, middling crew member that Picard becomes in the alternate timeline is somehow without merit.

I don't believe the writers intended to imply that not being captain is a valueless existence at all. This is quite clear given how the show establishes that all the non-Captain main characters are each absolutely crucial to the success of the Enterprise's ongoing mission (with the possible exception of the oxygen thief of a "counselor")

However for the specific character of Picard, how else would you expect him to come to terms with being a lowly lieutenant? We are talking about a man who is quite likely the single most powerful human being in history, given that he is in command of the single most powerful piece of military hardware in human history, crewed by some of the finest officers in Starfleet, who have for years looked up to him and would willingly fling themselves into a star's corona at his command. By extension this also makes him one of the single most powerful beings in the Galaxy since he is the commander of the flagship of the Federation, one of the Galaxies' largest factions.

So ask yourself this, if you'd lived your entire life as a lion, as the King of the Jungle*, how would you react to being asked to live the rest of your days as a mouse?

*I know lions don't live in jungles!
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 6:30pm (UTC -6)
I found it quite disturbing that the actress who played Marta was only 17 when this episode was made, while Patrick Stewart was 51! He was old enough to be her grandfather, and they were making out... (not to mention her being a minor). Then again, Stewart's current wife is 38 years younger than he is, so I suppose it was completely in character.
Luke S.
Thu, Jan 26, 2017, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
I really liked Tapestry with the exception of the Blue Shirt scenes. I just don't buy that this near death experience was necessary for him to continue to take risks. It feels forced or a bit of a cheat, where they really want to use the Butterfly effect but have to stretch the logic to make it work. It's still not terrible in those scenes, but it feels like that's his situation because that's the most humiliating thing they can do to him rather than what he'd actually be like. I mean, we see Picard take a grand interest in Archaeology several times over the series, I think it'd be much more likely for the "timid" Picard to end up surveying some planet rather than still on the Enterprise as a Science officer.
Mads Leonard Holvik
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 5:42am (UTC -6)
I like when Picard at the end reflects over this gift Q has given him. We can all identify with the theme of the story. Who has not done things that we might regret or don't want to think about? I am in a way reminded of Back to the future, where the protagonist must stand up to his father's bully in order for his parents to get together.
I think it is believable that Picard has regrets and that he needed to accept some choices he made in his life. I like this episode.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was a pretty meh episode. ("Meh" being the noise one makes when particularly disinterested in something.) Seeing Q poke at Picard was amusing but overall the episode wasn't engaging, Picard's friends weren't interesting, and seeing Picard declare his alternate self a loser whose life wasn't worth living was just depressing. (Is it just me or is Picard always ready to kill any version of himself that doesn't live up to his own standards?) A very boring Picard episode. And yes, watching Picard romance a woman young enough to be his granddaughter will never get any less disturbing.

Best parts:

The idea of Picard spending eternity with Q. (Knowing how fond Q seems to be of him, Q very well could be serious when he says that. I'd be a little more afraid of dying now if I were Picard.)

Picard waking up next to Q. Who doesn't love the scenes where Q gets in Picard's space just to make him uncomfortable?
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Picard could have had it both ways in that last scene. When he was reliving the fight in the penultimate scene, after he punched the last Naasican, at the moment before he was stabbed in the back, he had the foresight of knowing it was coming. There was a good three or four seconds there...he could have reacted and saved his heart. Instead he basically stood there and waited for it.
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 2:37pm (UTC -6)
I very much enjoyed this episode, but I do agree with some of the points made above. Is it so bad to not be the risk-taker, the captain? Surely, that's better than being dead? What does this episide try to tell us? That not being the best equals failure? That being a d#ck will eventually lead to success, so just go ahead, who cares about behaving decently?
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 8:12am (UTC -6)
@Michb -

"Is it so bad to not be the risk-taker, the captain? Surely, that's better than being dead?"

It wasn't really about that in a vacuum. Picard is an older guy. What it was saying is that he'd rather die the man he was than live as the guy Q changed him into.

It's not about "not being the best" equals failure. The point of the episode is that the man Picard was, our captain, wouldn't have been happy with the life lived by this other Picard.

"That being a d#ck will eventually lead to success, so just go ahead, who cares about behaving decently? "

I actually think that was the opposite of the message. He learned something about how short life was (which lead him to be bolder and more of a risk taker) BUT he also learned to be more decent, more careful, less of an ass and less reckless. In "Samaritan Snare" Picard tells Wesley.

WESLEY: Really? Then what happened?
PICARD: Nothing. I was no hero, Wesley. I was an undisciplined, loud-mouthed, opinionated young man who was way out of his league. I learned a very hard, very painful lesson that day, but I learned it well. I hope you never have to learn it the same way. Care for another sandwich?

He learned to take risks not because this one "paid off" in some way, but because he learned how short life is. It's like cancer survivors who turn over a new leaf. His life was improved by getting a glimpse of his mortality, not by being an ass in a bar fight.

The message is not "go get into bar fights and your life will work out". It's "if you like your life don't fret your mistakes so much, they lead you here as much as your successes, if not more".
Tue, Oct 31, 2017, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
Intriguing episode but not, for me, as great as I've seen in rated/ranked among TNG episodes. It provides a neat way of deconstructing Picard's character. I don't know if the episode intends for the average viewer to take anything from it -- such as like, "If I don't take risks, I'll be stuck doing a menial job for the rest of my miserable life."

So Picard became captain of the Enterprise because he supposedly made the most of his opportunities, took risks etc. What's to say that because he avoided getting stabbed by the Nausicaan that he would be aggressive in choosing which risks to take as it related to his work in Star Fleet and still become captain? So the episode is overly simplistic and heavy-handed in that way, for me.

Clearly Picard is very competitive and ambitious and I don't think he would have let his career languish in astrophysics. And, by the way, some people are very happy with that type of career -- not everybody wants to command a starship. But this is Picard here and so there is this extreme contrast between command and being a lowly lieutenant. It's not a tale that has wide meaning.

Q is excellent here -- de Lancie's delivery of sarcasm and wit is perfect and him and Stewart make a great combo. When Q's powers are used with a good story and not something stupid like "Qpid" -- it works really well. I guess we are to assume Q also somehow saves Picard's life as it seemed Crusher was losing him at the start of the episode. I would have liked to see Q pop up in the final scene as Riker and Picard are chatting.

3 stars for "Tapestry" -- a good story but hardly realistic or meaningful or widely applicable. For once, Picard is eternally grateful to Q and learns a great deal about himself. I don't think the lessons should be quite so black and white but it's fiction after all.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
The best part was when Picard was a 'blue shirt' junior-grade Lt. getting his perf-review from Riker/Troi. No worse insult than 'you play it safe'.
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 2:50am (UTC -6)
Robert nailed it. Many of you are getting hung up on "well, Picard was already driven so he didn't need to learn this lesson" shortsightedness. The episode is about accepting your own flaws and past mistakes because they are what shape who you are...and a reminder that happiness is not a guarantee in life, even if you achieve your goals. Picard had expressed regrets about certain things all through the series to this point.

Self reflection can go a long way in assessing how to evolve as a person, both the good and the bad. It impacts Picard more than others because he is a very philosophical person.
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 2:52am (UTC -6)
4 stars for sure. Q was hilarious.
Sat, Apr 7, 2018, 9:12am (UTC -6)
Very nice to watch but also very wrong.

So Picard is his younger self with all the experience of his older self and yet...
...changes character
...decides it is better to die and (possibly) have to endure eternity (with Q) then taking the new life he has and start over. He would lose all his friends but keep the memories and Picard is known to us as a solitary man who moreover had ambitions and hobbies beyond Star Fleet (archeology, acting, literature, music, geology)

While the general idea of life told in this episode seems right, the example fails to convince: Not only does the now more savy Picard totally change character but only up to the present, it is also implied that not getting stabbed and having a near death experience led him to take LESS risks while NOT to appreciate how fragile life is. If he does not appreciate that, why being so risk adverse. And why, when being stabbed, would Picard go "well now that I nearly died, I am happy to jump into any battle and take on any life threatening challenge." rather than the opposite - which also was initially implied as he was less brash afterwards, no more so.

It's funny: Above all else, Trekkies adore Star Trek for its philosophy, ethical discussion etc. and regret that many great episodes' limitations did not allow to get into things more deeply or with more cohesion. And yet each ST movie is almost entirely about action. Maybe the perfect format for ST, or at least TNG, would have been 90 minute or more double episodes.
Fri, Jun 1, 2018, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
I watched this super baked and the ending had me literally saying 'wow' out loud. The thing I haven't seen people mention yet is the circle being completed; the beginning of the show showing Picard dying by blade as a young actor, he laughs as he gets stabbed. Then, as he dies the second time round, he looks down at the knife again and laughs, like it was a time loop already established.

When Picard laughed, I laughed too, I found it absurd and cosmic joke-like, and because I was super baked it's like we realised it at the same time, and it made it all that funnier.
Mads Leonard Holvik
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 4:59am (UTC -6)
I agree with Snitch. The use of violence to make a point is perhaps the real weakness of this episode. I do agree that Picard is passive in a way that is very unlike him, but isn't that the whole point? He wants to change things he did in his youth, and the tapestry of his life would unravel. The very act of trying to change makes him a different person.
I think the real strength of this episode is not seeing Picard going back to change his youth, but the introspection each viewer does into his own past while watching.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
There have been moments in the past when watching the supermen aboard the enterprise has had the effect of reminding viewers of what they are not, perhaps briefly taking us out of the moment or triggering a pang of regret. Sometimes the gap between what's on screen and our realities can feel a little too noticeable, even if we can still admire our heroes. We can walk in their shoes and join them at least.

Now, I loved this episode, but it was one where for me this projection fantasy was much more noticeable for the cracks that formed in it. For most of us (for that is how statistics work) we know that we are more likely to have been the junior ensign, if we would have got into starfleet at all. And all of a sudden you are face to face with your hero having utter contempt for who that person is.

Though its an awesome episode, at the end of it I couldn't help but feel slightly alienated from the captain as he lay there laughing, even as I laughed along with him.
Fri, May 3, 2019, 6:05pm (UTC -6)



Q set up Picard by saying that he needed to keep his real heart to survive so of course that's what Picard does. Now all of a sudden the rest of his personality has been wiped out. Picard went against his nature on purpose to avoid one fight. There was no indication that he had fundamentally changed.

And seriously, the captain realizes where he is (as the lieutenant) and doesn't like it. He's not stuck there! Already he is asking about opportunities. He is showing his old personality. And he has already the lifetime of old Jean Luc to draw on in terms of experience.

It doesn't work.
Wed, May 22, 2019, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
'No use crying over spilt milk.'
In this quite decent tale we are reminded of something all of us know instinctively-that everything that happened to us led us to who we are now.

Stewart and De Lancie are great in this one and the story resonates in 'All Good Things' later on.
Sat, Jul 27, 2019, 10:30am (UTC -6)
Those who are complaining that Picard was already a driven man before the stabbing event are assuming that (1) this is not a dream, and (2) Q is actually running the time forwards in a fair manner for Picard.

I think it is quite possible that Picard was simply hallucinating/dreaming as his body was fighting to keep alive. And if Q were really involved, he is a mischievous teacher; he could have rigged 'cautious' Picard's life just to remind him his youth. Q clearly prefers the brash young Picard.
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
I like it. Before I get bogged down in complaints, I’ll start with that. The overarching plot - a twisted version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, with Q as a snarky and slightly sadistic Clarence - is a delight. Too bad the script used to maneuver our hero through his paces are so transparently manipulative.
This is an episode where, just behind the screen, I can the writers jerking every characters’ strings.

Jean-Luc as a womanizer in his youth? I have a hard time buying it. Wasn’t he a driven, ambitious cadet with a serious personality? But, okay: it wa along ago, and I’ll grant the possibility.

But: the plot point that Jean-Luc never went to bed with the smitten Marta when he was a reckless young womanizer, but then did go to bed with her when he was his “older and wiser” self (on the eve of their permanent separation, no less) seems out of place. The Wise Old Picard is shown taking a risk with Marta’s friendship, flying in the face of the rest of his characterization.

There’s also a distinct ick factor in their coupling. Picard feels himself to be 55 years old. He sees 55 year old Picard in the mirror. He’s been in a young man’s body for less than a day - and he’s using the opportunity to bed an unsuspecting 21-year-old - one that he hasn’t seen in 30 years. It’s grotesque, and not what Captain Picard would do. But the writers yank the strings, and their puppets dance.

To serve the further needs of the plot, the character of Marta is terribly underwritten. Because the writers needed a manufactured fight between Jean-Luc and Corey, Marta is kept out of every discussion about the Nausicans. She sits silent at every table, seeming having no opinion on whether Corey should play them, whether the friends should attempt revenge, and even whether she minds being raped, as the Nausican eventually suggests (her passivity in that scene leads Corey and Picard to come to blows, finalizing their schism). Her lack of opinions comes across as simply bizarre - and calls further attention to the machinations of the writers behind the scenes.

On first viewing, these clunky elements were bothersome but tolerable. On rewatching, they are nearly ruinous.

But no matter the episode’s flaws, it will always be a classic in my book. I will never get enough of Lieutenant Picard in a blue uniform, raging to Q that he’d rather die than live a less-than-remarkable life.
Mon, Dec 16, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -6)
I love how Q's just had his little holiday over on DS9, where he complains about Sisko punching him and proclaims that Picard would NEVER punch him...

... and then he comes here and proceeds to preside over an episode where the happy ending is Picard punching someone.
Wed, Feb 5, 2020, 3:39pm (UTC -6)
This is not only my favourite episode of TNG, it's not only my favourite episode of Star Trek, it's my favourite episode of any TV show ever.

It's interesting to see how different Picard was in his youth. This episode makes me think about how our actions in the past shape who we are in the future. We get to see a different side of Q in this episode, his encounter with Picard seems laudable helping Picard see how the mistakes of his youth forged his destiny in a positive way. This episode strikes a chord with me because I really want to go back in time and change the mistakes of my youth. This episode explains why Picard told Wesley in 2x17 (Samaritan Snare) that he laughed when the Nausicaan stabbed him through the heart.

10/10 for philosophical value.
Picard Maneuver
Tue, Apr 7, 2020, 1:41am (UTC -6)
If they waited until Enterprise to do this episode and used Carolyn Seymour in it they could have had a Quantum Leap reunion.

I like how Picard dried off instantly after the one night stand old enough to be his mother (of the younger Picard) threw water on him. Then he does a 180 and beds a 17 year old girl. Kinda hard to believe he never added Troi to his harem in retrospect. I guess she's just that annoying. Maybe he tried but he found distracting all the cries of "Pain! Such Pain! Pain!"
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
I can totally see the once-driven young Picard faltering and ending up as a blue-shirt lieutenant (junior grade, *assistant* astrophysics officer no less). I've had classmates and friends who were valedictorians, international sports competitors, the top of the top, and whether due to burnout, a moment of self-realization, injury, illness, or what have you, they ended up abandoning those goals and moving on to something else. Realizing what you've been striving for isn't what you really want, or you can't keep pursuing it, without having a Plan B, can really throw a wrench into what looks like a slam dunk life.

Another way to look at it is that Picard's stabbing wasn't so much a turning point as a one of many inflections. The butterfly effect needs to be in full force, but that incident (or the lack thereof) simply shifted his next decision left or right ever so slightly such that over a couple of decades it led to a completely different path, because subsequent decisions build on the ones previous. It would be interesting to know what sort of life he was leading beyond his career as a blue-shirt, but since he's thrown into it head-first without any memories of it, we don't know if he was getting fulfillment in some other way.

I have to shake my head at everyone who thinks this episode glorifies violence or says that fighting is the answer. That's comically missing the point. Keep in mind Picard lost that fight, and hard. I don't need to belabor the point as previous commenters have also tried to dispel that myth. It's just that *Picard* needed that brush with death not to put his life on track, but to *keep* his life on track, to the satisfaction of his red-shirt self. While he was driven before this, he was also kind of a screw up too. He failed his Starfleet entrance exams the first time, and he did something at the academy that nearly got him expelled. Imagine what changing those outcomes could've done.
James G
Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 1:48pm (UTC -6)
Something a bit different. I profoundly dislike the idea of Q due to its apparent reliance on the supernatural, yet paradoxically, I always enjoy the Q episodes. This one has the interesting twist that while Q may be as thoroughly irritating and patronising as usual in his manner, he's actually doing Picard a big favour.

Quite a low key episode but I guess you can't have the Enterprise in grave danger or a face-off with the Romulans every time.

The old Starfleet uniforms are horrible, aren't they? And the dynamic between young Picard and his friends is a little bit overcooked.

Still - I liked it.
Sat, Oct 24, 2020, 7:33am (UTC -6)
LOL @Picard Maneuver.

I always enjoy Q and he was in fine form here. But I fundamentally do not accept the moral of the story, so that ultimately makes the episode something of a failure.
Peter G.
Sat, Oct 24, 2020, 7:41am (UTC -6)
@ SlackerInc,

"But I fundamentally do not accept the moral of the story, so that ultimately makes the episode something of a failure."

You do not accept that all of your experiences, good and bad, shaped who you are at present?
Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 1:06am (UTC -6)
@Peter G: I'm definitely not saying that. What I AM saying is that I don't accept the idea that if Picard had not gotten into a brawl with these miscreants and gotten stabbed through the heart, he would have become some milquetoast dead-end lieutenant. The implication being that he was wrong as an older man to think it would have been much better not to spoil for such a fight. It doesn't even make sense within the context of the story, since he says the incident made him learn the lesson not to be so reckless--yet we are then told that it is because he was MORE willing to be reckless that he rose up through the ranks.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 25, 2020, 1:27am (UTC -6)
@ SlackerInc,

Maybe this is just a terminology thing. In terms of the plot I might agree that it's a little pat that Picard's entire life would hinge on one single decision in a bar, although still it's not impossible. But I think the plot in this case is just the crowning moment of Q's lesson more so than the specific moment on which Picard's life would turn. True, he got into a fight and was stabbed, but more broadly Picard seems to wish that he had been a different kind of young man; not just in that one incident, but throughout his youth. His current taste for discipline, seriousness, and a stiff upper lip gives him the idea to romanticize about what it would have been like to have been like that from the start. It's not so very different from the "if only I could go back to high school now and do it differently" dream. But Q's point is that the very person wanting this was necessitated by that exact past. Change the past and you eliminate the person doing the wishing into...who knows who. In this case if Picard had his wish and had never been brash and bold *ever* (not just in the bar) then this might have been his future. And I think that's entirely a reasonable hypothesis. Only if you look at the bar fight as being the single thing Picard would change does it become a little hokey to suppose that it would magically transform his life. But I think the plot we're shown is meant to support the bigger picture of Picard's entire life arc and why he needed to go through all of that to get where he got. Sure, if he could keep his life exactly the same, just minus being stabbed, maybe he'd have still made Captain. But that's the point: in order to be the sort of person who'd have never gotten into the fight, he'd also not have been the man to win the Academy marathon or to spoil for command.
Matt B
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Really enjoyed this episode. But then I always love Q (even though all Q episodes aren't great), especially with Picard.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
An episode that made me dislike Picard. He normally a really good guy but here he really lowered himself to something I do not like. He rejected a loyal, clever, reliable, and competent. This was himself as a more careful man. Most of us does not end up as star ship captains. Many of us are more lie the alternate Picard. We are nor CEOs, not captains non warships, not even cruise ships. Are we so very awful? Is our life’s really so poor?

Now I have come to the age where I can slowly retire. I have lived a life quite similar to junior lieutenant Picard. I did probably manage to become a lieutenant or even lieutenant commander. If I now would be 25 again and could chose, chose to take more risks being more egoistic, trying to become someone, do something outstaning, would I really? I am not sure. I have had a reasonably good life. I am in good health and can look forward to an interesting retirement. There is nothing wrong with someone like Picard becoming a star ship captain but there is nothing despicable of being a member in an astrophysics team. Captain Picard, here you lost my respect.
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
@ Maq,

One thing about the episode is that it's Picard choosing which him he prefers to be. I don't think the episode is suggesting that we should all avoid being like Lt. Picard. It really is a personal retrospective. This is especially true since in order to become who he is Picard does need to get stabbed and be a general jackass, which I don't think is shown as being admirable. Picard certainly doesn't see it that way, even though going through that did get him where he got. But just as there are many Lt. Picard's in the world, there are also a few Caesars and Alexanders, and I suspect that the message is maybe closer to saying that for each of these types of individual they need to weigh their life against their own unique situation, and not against some standard that should apply to everyone. If anything, Q is pointing out that it's wrong-headed of Picard to take his universal enlightened standards and to apply them too narrowly to an individual human life (in this case, his own). Life is messier than that, and should be. A simplistic statement about being responsible, etc etc, is not a life but just a slogan. So I think it's Picard's lack of self-awareness that is on display more so than any kind of message to the audience of how they should live.

Now I could see one counter-argument, which is that Q does seem to delight in the more colorful elements in Picard's past, so if we take him to be an audience proxy we might to tempted to wonder whether his assessments are to be taken seriously. But I think there's enough baggage in Q's past to take anything he says with a grain of salt, even though on the balance he really does seem to be helping Picard out here.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

“You having a good laugh now, Q?
Does it amuse you to think of me living out the rest of my life as a dreary man in a tedious job”

I tried to look on it from diffrent aspects. It is a very good episode. I even like Q.
Q has always challanged Picard and mostly lost. Here he wins and in my opinion Picard does not really come out tidy.

I can fully understand why Picard gets frightened of what he see. It is nothing wrong with him going back, but the quote above irritates me.
Peter G.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
@ Maq,

I can see what you mean. I do think it's evidence that Picard is still as arrogant as he ever was, just with a different outward manner. And actually from a few select episodes we do hear that some others in Starfleet find him arrogant as well, so this isn't necessarily a new thing. The way I see it, if we take him to be a great man (many of us do) then greatness is part of his nature, not merely something he chose as a career path. It's why he couldn't imagine working on Earth on an ocean project. Although him calling that version of himself dreary could be seen as condemning what he thinks of as dreary people, I do think we've seen enough of Picard to know he's not like that. He does respect the little guy doing his part. I personally take it to be more like if someone had suggested to Caesar that maybe he could have just led a simpler life, and him being horrified at that. After all, he was already horrified at how much Alexander had accomplished at a younger age and the impossibility of competing with that. That's just who he was. Maybe that makes him a pompous ass, but then again he's a legend.
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 12:36am (UTC -6)
@Peter G,

Thanks for thoughts and considered reflections.

Perhaps a prof of the good qualities of this episode. I never really reflected to deep of the character Picard. Generally he has very high moral values, is very ethical and considered in his decisions. He is diplomatical and in my opinion a good decision maker. Yes, he is also self reflecting. The theme that he never married reoccurs in several episodes. He married Starfleet. The arrogant part of his personality comes trough as you mention. The (very irritating) Q points this out on several occasions. But there it is ment to be funny.

In this episode when his personality is more deeply explored and I find a side of him that I do not really like.

That is OK because nobody is perfect. I do not think that my interpetation or conclusion was intended or forseen by the writers. It is rather yours, regarding the adventourus and exploring Picard.

Off the topic regarding this episode. In Picard (made 30 years later) other apects of is personality and life comes under scrutiny. I did not like the serie the first time I watched it but the rewatch half a year later was enjoyable.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 8:17am (UTC -6)
Some good discussion of Picard. I suppose one point you can make is that if you sign up to Starfleet - to spending decades on various Starfleet vessels - you are prioritising work massively. Your only social contact most of the time will be with work colleagues, you go where the captain or admirals decide, and you are at much greater risk of death than most people on Earth. So if your career then still goes nowhere, it says a lot more than if you decide to be a part time bartender while raising a family or whatever.

So maybe it's not that he looks down on anyone who doesn't make bridge officer. But he does think making those kind of sacrifices only to end up a Lt Jr grade in ones 60s is a pretty poor return on investment? Imagine living in a remote mountain range for decades in order to be a great writer and never finishing writing a single book.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 8:39am (UTC -6)
It is an interesting point, though, how reasonable that attitude is given the pyramid structure of Starfleet. Yes, the alt-Picard is in an entry level role in his 60s, which is an extreme case, but on every starship we see very few top roles.

Let's say for the sake of argument that everyone with the title Lt Commander or higher is senior. On the whole Enterprise-D that would be less than 1% of the crew!

Everyone else is middle management or entry level. That is one hell of a bottom-heavy career ladder. What actually happens to all those frustrated Lieutenants who never get promoted further? Yes, some of them can maybe become Lt Commander on a lesser Starship - but that just means another frustrated Lt not promoted on that lesser ship.

I know there is no actual money involved but Bernie Sanders-style 1% arguments still come to mind!
Jason R.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 8:51am (UTC -6)
"Most of us does not end up as star ship captains. Many of us are more lie the alternate Picard. We are nor CEOs, not captains non warships, not even cruise ships. Are we so very awful? Is our life’s really so poor?"

As Tomalak indicated, for many people ending up where alternate Picard ended up wouldn't be so bad. But you have to see the big picture.

I once heard a eulogy given by a rabbi that stuck with me. He said in life there are two paths to immortality: the first is the path of greatness, inventing something great, doing great deeds. So that would be curing cancer or becoming President of the USA or founding Amazon.

For the vast majority of us that path is nothing but a fantasy, a pipe dream. Most of us will push paper in an office or dig ditches or do some kind of mostly trivial work. Even a big shot doctor or banker with lots of money will sink into the abyss of irrelevancy and will be forgotten.

But the rabbi went on to say that there's a second path and that's through our family, through children. And for that reason, the rabbi said, the deceased had a life worth living.

But alternate Picard took neither path so he had nothing worth living for. That is sad and I get why he would have felt cheated - all that sacrifice for nothing.

I happen to think that a brush with death could easily change the course of a man's life. But even if you don't accept that, Peter G. was bang on when he suggested that it wasn't just that momentary decision in the bar that Picard changed, but his entire outlook.

Let's imagine you really did go back in time to high school to live your life but with the knowledge of the present? You sure wouldn't make the same mistakes. But you wouldn't grow either. You'd stagnate. You'd be alienated. You'd be turning your life into a video game with the cheat codes enabled. It would degenerate into pointless tedium. And you'd end up making mistakes - just different ones.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 10:23am (UTC -6)
"But the rabbi went on to say that there's a second path and that's through our family, through children. And for that reason, the rabbi said, the deceased had a life worth living.

But alternate Picard took neither path so he had nothing worth living for."
Phew, so one has to either cure cancer or have children and if you don't do/have one of the two then your life is worthless? What about buddhist or catholic priests, or infertile people (6% of the US population; an additional 12% are barely fertile) or homosexuals? Think about the couple in the audience trying for years...

I always found this episode rather heavy handed. My perception was that the alternate Picard was only controlled by normal Picard for a day. After that it was Picard's non stabbed version without any additional knowledge from normal Picard. It is a fun episode, almost like a buddy comedy but I never bought the premise that not getting stabbed turned Picard into a timid little wallflower.
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 10:25am (UTC -6)
"I never bought the premise that not getting stabbed turned Picard into a timid little wallflower."

Good thing that's not the premise, then.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 10:48am (UTC -6)
To some extent Picard never really advancing in his alternate Life was to me some sort of exxaguraing this alternative.

In my real life I did not land on a starship. I chose to settle on an outpost. The starship that I knew (i.e Headoffice) and a mix of Bridge officers, Quilified tecnical specilists, and Crewmen. But there wher also som Junior Grade Liutenants. I am unsure of how I should judge them. They where loyal qualified and good. I also saw those officers who tried to climb and suddenly got lost and sidetracked. They where also loyal qualified andd good. They did though to carry more betternes and was more stressed.

I would like to ask the rabbi, whose chlilderen are more proud and happy?

The real Picard was chocked of the life of his alternate I but let us turn the coin. If the alternate Picard suddenly was on the bridge faceing an newly decloaked warbird, what would he do?
William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 11:08am (UTC -6)
The problem I think is that we are looking at the question of whether Alt Picard has a satisfying life on his own terms. If that Picard genuinely loved filling astrometric reports, his life would be as meaningful as Prime Picard's. If he filled reports but mostly he did archaeology as a passionate hobbyist, his life would be meaningful. If he had a family. If he was an amateur artist. If he devoted himself to charitable work (I know all Starfleet is kind of charity since there's no money). If he -- There are all kinds of ways for a life to be meaningful. Alt Picard's life was empty and not meaningful on its own terms. Picard was unhappy with it. Of course Picard doesn't spend much time with it, but I think we're meant to see this as symbolic.

The real issue is that Lt jg Picard was too risk averse to have a life that was meaningful for him. There are all kinds of ways to cultivate meaning in life. It doesn't have to be career or family or public service, though these are some of the more common ways. Again, a person could have Lt jg Picard's job and no family and still have a full, meaningful life, but I think we're meant to infer that this is not the case for Lt jg Picard. And while there are people who have empty lives in our world because of circumstance, we know this isn't the case for this Picard, because he has a fuller life elsewhere.

Now I guess the question is whether the use of Lt jg Picard as the representation of this empty life is unfair and unkind to workers who aren't in leadership positions. And maybe. I can't say for sure that it isn't an element, particularly given some of the way Moore sometimes writes about ambition, military, and other things.
Jason R.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
"Phew, so one has to either cure cancer or have children and if you don't do/have one of the two then your life is worthless?"

Worthless? Well no I wouldn't go that far. And for the record, I think adoption probably is a great alternative if you're infertile.

But yes, I think absent some extraordinary accomplishment, a life without children is... lesser.

I mean having children is the only awesome experience I have had in my life (I use the word awesome according to its dictionary definition). I only cried spontaneously from joy two times in my life, both times at the birth of my kids. I am not a spiritual person and by no means prone to emotionalism or fits of sentimentality - and yet the experience was without parallel. I would literally die for my kids, gladly - that's not a figure of speech, just a fact.

You have inside you this engine of creation, this one chance to generate something unique in this one finite life on earth and... you've got better things to do? You'd rather focus on meeting a quota in your office or working on your cupcake business or a career in academia?


Apologies if I seem condescending. I really really don't have a problem with people making this choice, however incomprehensible it is to me. It's no skin iff my back. And I don't judge such people for being "selfish" or whatever. I just feel sad for them.

William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
It might be a bad idea for me to say, but just speaking personally, I've had a very hard time wrapping my head around wanting to have children. It's not so much that there are other things in life more valuable as that it's such a huge responsibility, and life comes with such pain and sorrow. I imagine a child cursing me for bringing them into the world and resenting me for my inevitable failures. I think a lot of this has to do with having had an unhappy childhood, with an absent father and mentally ill mother, myself, and I feel like it's hard to imagine how not to pass this experience on. It's certainly possible that I'll change my mind.
William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
(Obviously I'm not issuing criticisms of anyone else's experience or view on this.)
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:45pm (UTC -6)
@ William B,

Sorry to hear about that, and it's a very understandable thing for you to feel. However it requires a sort of premise like "life is only worth it if there's little to no suffering", a proposition to which I would strenuously object. Maybe part of that comes with being an artist, but for a couple thousand years there seemed to be essentially a Christian Western consensus that not only is pain and suffering not an objection to life, but in fact it's arguably a crucial ingredient making life have a higher meaning. Now obviously I'm not suggesting you adopt that premise for this reason, but just pointing out that it's a fairly new, and IMO psychologically problematic concept, that life's suffering is an argument against life (and creating new life). For most of history suffering was just a fact of life, to degrees we probably can't imagine. And even if some children do curse their parents in some sense, even that doesn't mean they haven't been given something great. After all, one's conception of one's parents is not actually going to do justice to the 'cosmic' sense in which everything exists. Maybe as an analogy, if a surgeon had to disable use of someone's leg to save their life, certain people might curse the surgeon even though objectively it was obviously a great thing to save the person's life. We're not up to the task of properly weighing what is good for us, unfortunately.

That being said, and if I may say so, if anyone has reason to fear that they shouldn't be a parent, I would wager you have less than most to fear. I don't know you on a personal level, but the products of your mind give me reason to vouch for you. You will not be a bad influence, even if you have flaws I'm not aware of (as we all do). Do what you think is right, but never think you are unworthy.

Getting back to the episode for a moment, I still believe that it's not that Picard believes that a life of mediocrity is to be condemned, it's just that it doesn't live up to his own ambitions. Obviously there has to be actual mediocrity in the world, it's just a truism. He wouldn't rail against that. But all the cockiness and self-assurance he had as a youth is still with him, which is why he feels this way. He's still the guy who got stabbed, and I think that's Q's message. He didn't actually change, it's just this is what that guy becomes after taking responsibility seriously. Picard's position was "thank god I'm not that guy anymore", and Q's answer is to show him who he actually would have been had he really not been that guy.

Now about Jason R's comment about children/greatness, it seems a perennial topic regarding how to become immortal, so to speak, and historically family and legacy are the two ways. I'm not sure I'd be quite so sure about limiting it to those absolutely, but if one's goal is to have a *noticeable* and lasting impact, it's hard to argue that these are the two chief ways. Many people just won't make as much of a splash on history. That's sort of ok, not exactly reason to condemn anyone, but it's perfectly reasonable for someone like Picard to say it's not good enough *for him.*
Jason R.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
I gotta say William, I echo Peter G. - it seems unlikely that someone so aware of his faults would be unable to transcend them to some extent when having kids. But I don't know you of course.

I guess what actually bugs me more than anything are people who seem deluded into not having kids as in people who have basically been hoodwinkee. The "I'd be a terrible mom because I'm too disorganized" or the "I'd never be able to change poopy diapers" or worse, the people who seem to assume that somehow being a parent means giving up everything you love doing and living in a Ronald McDonald caricature of family life for 20 years.

At least your reasons, such as they are, aren't frivolous nonsense.
William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 1:00pm (UTC -6)
@Peter, thanks, and I appreciate your kind words.

I understand what you are saying about suffering. It's not so much that I'm not aware of the way meaning and suffering are often intertwined philosophically, as that I've also seen a lot of evidence of people's lives hitting the skids because of an inability to manage pain in a healthy way, despite their best intentions, in a way that has hollowed them out. It's not that I think this will always happen, or that there aren't ways to minimize it, as that it sometimes does happen. I maybe haven't been able to separate out the kind of pain or deprivation that "breaks" a person and the kind of inevitable suffering in life that can be generative of meaning.

I've read that people generally speaking do all right with "good enough" parenting, so I would possibly do all right. Still, without trying too hard to overstate the case, I've worked pretty hard to be more or less functional, but it's still a frequent struggle, and I do have many flaws "IRL" that are more obvious than my posting might suggest. I guess at this moment I'm avoiding certain real life obligations I should return to! Lots of people have had it much worse than I, I know. That I generally try to be cucumber cool but occasionally lash out on here unexpectedly is maybe a symptom. Anyway.
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
@ William B,

For what it's worth, also remember that having biological children is largely a genetic venture. Meaning, as much as we have high-faluting (or something negative) views about our ideas, our character, etc etc, it's the genes that are going to shape the basic core of their character. I can kind of see the argument that people with genetic problems like disease might want to watch out, and I know people who would have enormous medical problems themselves if they got pregnant. But passing on our flaws...somehow it moves the world toward greatnesss anyhow. It's just counterintuitive sometimes how that could possibly be.

Maybe it's some kind of privilege speaking, but I'm also not so sure that the risk of being sent of the rails as a result of having kids is...I dunno...the end of the world. Lots of crazy eventualities can happen when making decisions, and even 'bad' result may not actually be bad in a larger sense. Just look at Picard being stabbed: who in their right might would celebrate that? The absurdity of actually choosing that over not being stabbed is worthy of a big laugh at minimum. We here on the ground don't have the vantage to know we actually should pick what he picked, which is why it takes a god to show him the objective truth about his choice. For us, we just choose and have to have some kind of faith that it's all worth it. Even the bad results have to be seen as good in some greater sense. WWIII and the Eugenics Wars lead to the Federation. Without them, no Enterprise and no Picard. That's just how history works, it would seem. It's a sort of modern corporate concept that a failure constitutes some kind of horrible situation to be avoided at all costs, which reflects on one's character no less. 'That worthless failure of a person', as the epithet goes. Well I don't believe in that.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
O, dear.
@ William B,
You are not alone having struggled with this matter. When I was young I had the same concern but then ... a woman turned up and three childs arrived. Now at least one of them asks herself the same question. As this is a forum for sci fi I refer to an explanation from Jurassic Park. The character played by Jeff Goldblum says "the nature always find a way" or something similar.

On an individual level we can (somtiemes ) make (our own) choises and make our path, but the path of mankind is more complicated.

Reading and enjoying your comments. Your struggle seems to have payed of well in a fine reflective mind.

Back to Picard. I agree that Picard generally does not generally consiously condemn the "simple life" but he gets horrifide realising that he could have lived one. In the discussion with Q at the end he is really upset.

So, to me he subconsciously he despises the “simple way”. This is something I dislike. But it is also ok that Picard is not perfect. By the way he ist not the only star ship capatain to whom I am sceptical.
William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
Thanks again, Peter, and thanks, @Maq. A lot to think about.

I'm not sure why I decided to pipe up on this topic today. I guess it was just on my mind and intertwined with the subject of the thread.

One thing I wanted to add about Picard is that Picard's willingness to take risks is what we see with both modern day Picard and his younger self, but a difference is that the current Picard takes risks on things that matter. By itself, Picard would not let himself be stabbed on a point of honour over a game anymore. He would let himself be shot with an arrow to prove his mortality and reverse cultural interference in Who Watches the Watchers; he would sacrifice himself or crew members in battle or to prevent a catastrophe. It's not that he is no longer bold and daring, but uses his boldness in a *directed* way.

It reminds me a bit of Q Who. Lt jg Picard would, in this episode's framing, probably hide under the bed in recognition of the Borg threat. Ensign Picard would likely not be able to put his pride aside to tell Q that they needed him, even with a thousand lives in the balance. Captain Picard has courage and boldness but uses it carefully and judiciously, when warranted, and recognizes when it is not worth it. I think the message is not that he specifically needed to be stabbed as that to have the part of himself that got himself stabbed prematurely is not the answer, but to tame and incorporate it.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
To give a somewhat less masculine take on it. Being a single mother is the greatest poverty risk, even higher then being an immigrant. Young mothers and especially young single mother often suffer through long stretches of deep depression.

I didn't think the debate would go so lively. Sorry William, that your parents hurt you so much and it might sound cliched but try not to say that others suffer more. That is always true anyway. If you are suffering, you are suffering. Hopefully you can heal and if you cannot fully heal then I hope that your wounds will at some point turn into scars, that itch every now and then but do not cause you pain.

And about children, lots of unhappy people out there that have children and lots of happy people out there who do not. One could also mention that the glorification of parentage is a fairly recent phenomenon. When child mortality rates were higher parentage was seen differently.

But hey whatever it will be for you, I hope it makes you happy. :)
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
Content warning. This could spoil your mood.

And for the people who ask how was parentage different. A fellow soldier told me a story a long time ago. In Afghanistan they once hit a young child with an armored vehicle and the child died. They were all shocked but the father just picked his child up and said to the interpreter that it is ok, he has more children. That shocked them even more but the interpreter explained that the father probably has 10 or more children of which many likely died before reaching the age of 3. That changes ones perspective. Otherwise you would go insane.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
Please ignore the troll and discuss the Star Trek episode.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

I have to say that the "absent some extraordinary accomplishment, a life without children is lesser" strikes me as just as problematic a world view as if Picard had been saying, "The lives of the thousand or so people on a starship who are NOT the captain are … lesser." (And I don't think the writers intend for us to think that is what Picard is saying.)

At the risk of igniting some religious debate that has nothing to do with anything, I will go ahead and mention that I am a Catholic who has lived a life of intentional celibacy in order to focus on serving in the kind of professional ministry roles open to laywomen in my Church. Not that celibacy is required for anyone who wishes to provide service, but I felt it was required for ME.

Maybe it's coming from a faith community that talks about every person having a "vocation" and defines multiple possible "states of life" that makes it sound so strange to me for someone to identify one path (in this case, parenthood) that would be best for everyone (or at least for everyone who does not achieve history-book-level greatness), to such an extent that the response to examples of childless people is "adoption is probably a great alternative" (in other words, no matter what, don't be childless).

I wonder, would your life look any different to you if your view were more like, "Not that parenthood is required for anyone who wishes to live a fully meaningful life, but I felt it was required for ME"?

Would my life, and the lives of other childless people, look any different to you?
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
@ Trish,

The thing about the Catholic vocations is that they are by definition a personal devotion to the greatest cause of all. So from that standpoint the meaning of life is provided by one's chosen call to serve. In Trek terms this bears some resemblance to serving Starfleet, for example. Among both Christians and non-believers having children is the most chosen life decision, so even non-Catholics will (from Christian perspective) end up going down that path of meaning whether or not they consciously think of it that way. Jason R mentioned he's not religious, but that having children feels like the ultimate good, which in Christian terms is the feeling of a call to vocation. I agree with you that there are perhaps other calls to great service that don't involve children or great works (e.g. 'building cathedrals'), although to be fair most people who don't see the world in beautified religious terms will almost certainly not feel their secular works (going to the office, going shopping, watching TV) to have much of a significant meaning. But there are no doubt secular, childless people who do highly meaningful things, such as building houses in Central America or doctoring in Africa. But those people probably know what they're doing is important. I think the default and perhaps ambivalent activities pursued by most people aren't even really controversially called mundane. The complaint of our time is that work seems to mostly feel empty. So for most, at any rate, that really does leave children and great works as things that feel legitimately special. Obviously when all action of any kind can be placed within a spiritual framework, then even the most humble action can be undertaken for the sake of all. But it really does matter (to the individual) that there's that conviction behind it for it to feel like that's what it is. Otherwise it will be tough to convince yourself that your life is remarkable in any significant way. To be honest, this is what Nietzsche said would happen when value (God) was stripped from everyday life, and I believe he was correct.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 12:58am (UTC -6)
"Please ignore the troll and discuss the Star Trek episode."
I guess that is about me. I get it, I'm the last regular left wing poster here. If you get rid of me you would finally have your right wing save space. That you and Rahul have to constantly tell other people how to behave really betrays your true values. I hope that your wife is a real shrew with a vicious, viiiiiiiciuos mother.
James White
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 6:02am (UTC -6)
William, it seems to me that you have a number of exceptional qualities. It also seems to me you are weighing what to do with your life, especially knowing you aren't quite as "normal" as others. In my experience, that makes you someone with great potential. Being this way makes life more difficult. But only because with greater potential comes greater regret if you don't make good on whatever, deep down, you feel you must do. Eventually all of us who have some measure of introspection must confront this. We discover that Shakespeare's conceit run both ways: knowing ourselves drives the life decisions that help us discover ourselves.

My only piece of advice is this: if along the way you find someone in life you love deeply and unconditionally, and who loves you right back, grab hold and never look back. My wife is a big reason I'm the person I am today. For me, at least, the challenge of living up to this "gift" had a greater impact on me than any knife to the heart ever would.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 6:47am (UTC -6)
"I wonder, would your life look any different to you if your view were more like, "Not that parenthood is required for anyone who wishes to live a fully meaningful life, but I felt it was required for ME"?

Would my life, and the lives of other childless people, look any different to you?"

Trish I will concede that religious devotion might equal having kids. I simply don't know because that path is totally alien to me. But given how some describe it, it's at least plausible.

But seriously, in this day and age, achieving religious fulfillment might be as plausible for most people as becoming CEO of Amazon. But maybe I am wrong. I admit spirituality means nothing to me so it's a blind spot.

Bottom line, it's not my desire to attack other people for their choices and I don't get upset about it because it isn't my business. Only you know if you are fulfilled.

But if I may make a point, in my experience, the people who I have met and who I have heard about who chose to be childless weren't monks or holy men. They are just average educated types like me working relatively mundane white collar jobs. They weren't born to tragedy. Some were even kind of on the fence about it and even tried a few times. In some cases they didn't meet the right person; in others I suspect they had exciting lifestyles that they didn't want to compromise and maybe they felt like kids would rain on that.

So put it this way: it is one thing to say I am childless because I am devoted to God or some holy ideal or even because you fear a repeat of an unhappy childhood.

But to just kind of fall into it because you didn't put yourself out there? Or because you deluded yourself into thinking that having kids would be like some sitcom where you couldn't do anything adult anymore? Or just because you didn't meet the right person at the right time? Just... sad.
William B
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 8:41am (UTC -6)
Thanks, Booming and James.

For what it's worth, my mother is a lovely, loving woman - but had some extraordinary challenges (incl mental illness). She did well under the circumstances, but it could be tough.

I'm married and in love. Things have worked out well for me in many respects. The "next stage" of parenthood, if we go that route, is very daunting. We'll see!
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 8:57am (UTC -6)
"I'm married and in love. Things have worked out well for me in many respects. The "next stage" of parenthood, if we go that route, is very daunting. We'll see!"

Just do yourself a favor and if you choose to do it, don't wait too long. Fertility is a tricky thing, especially as you start creeping into the 30s and especially north of 35.

I read an article the other day about a celebrity choosing to freeze her eggs just in case she wanted to have kids. I said that's a smart move on her part. Then I read her age. She was 41!!! CLUELESS.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 9:33am (UTC -6)
That's awesome, William!
Best of luck. :)

(Sadly Jason is right. Maybe you both should get checked to see how your chances are in case if becomes when)
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 9:39am (UTC -6)
"I read an article the other day about a celebrity choosing to freeze her eggs just in case she wanted to have kids. I said that's a smart move on her part. Then I read her age. She was 41!!! CLUELESS."
Eh no, she can just find a surrogate mother. If she provided the egg then it is genetically her child. She is obviously rich so buying a healthy oven shouldn't be a problem.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 9:46am (UTC -6)
@Booming true. But that also assumes her 41 year old eggs are still viable. And rich or not, egg extraction is painful and time consuming so just going to the well over and over until you find a good one is pretty grueling.
William B
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 10:08am (UTC -6)
Thanks Jason. And yes I'm well aware of the fertility situation.
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 10:36am (UTC -6)
Eh those celebrities, they probably get a kick out of it. Also don't forget all the great suffering stories you can tell at the next celeb meeting. Her dinner table will be packed. Everybody will tell her how brave she is.

Look on the bright side. Now women can have children whenever they want (provided they are wealthy and allow surrogacy aka not Germany, France. Italy or Spain... and China. So the entire communist world.)
Tue, Jun 29, 2021, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
I dont know why so much people are saying that the episodes moral is bad. The moral is not to get into fights with Nausicaans. but to not regret past stuff. I would say this is a top 10 star trek tng episode, heck even a top 10 star trek episode.
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 2:46am (UTC -6)
As good as this episode is, and as much as I like it, I can never, ever forget for a single second of it that J.C. Brandy (Marta) was 17 years old when she had that steamy, we're-about-to-have-sex kissing scene with Patrick Stewart, who was 52.
Jason R.
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 8:46am (UTC -6)
"As good as this episode is, and as much as I like it, I can never, ever forget for a single second of it that J.C. Brandy (Marta) was 17 years old when she had that steamy, we're-about-to-have-sex kissing scene with Patrick Stewart, who was 52."

Ummm what? My memory of Marta is a little fuzzy but I would have guessed maybe 25. 17? you sure?
Peter G.
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 10:22am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

"Ummm what? My memory of Marta is a little fuzzy but I would have guessed maybe 25. 17? you sure?"

I just looked it up...17. Yikes! Also she's an English actress, so apparently even 17 year olds there can do dialects better than Americans of any age can :(
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 3:40am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.

Yup, I'm sure. I'm also being a little facetious, since they're actors, and it's just a scene, and there were undoubtedly all manner of permissions, protections, and supervision for an underage actor, and not just in a kissing scene. Not counting the usual Hollywood horror stories, of course, but the ick factor gets dialed down a little by the fact that they're just actors acting. At least, that's what I told myself while wincing through underage Thora Birch flashing the camera in "American Beauty," and underage Simonetta Stefanelli's nude/sex scene in "The Godfather," and so on. So it could have been worse...
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 5:03am (UTC -6)
As long as everybody is older than 15. The only film I remember that really bothered me was Léon, the professional. Natalie Portman was 12...

Children on the other hand should be forbidden from working in the movie industry.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 8:48am (UTC -6)
At least in Tapestry Patrick Stewart being with Marta was a contrivance of the plot since he wasn't really "there" - from Marta's POV he was her age. Not sure why a 17 year old actress was needed to play what was presumably a 20 something character. Usually in Hollywood it's the opposite with 25 year olds as stand-ins for teenagers.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 9:39am (UTC -6)
"Not sure why a 17 year old actress was needed to play what was presumably a 20 something character. Usually in Hollywood it's the opposite with 25 year olds as stand-ins for teenagers."

My guess is two possible explanations:

(a) The casting director saw here, thought she was dynamite, and said they should use her since she could pass for the right age.

(b) The...unfortunate reason
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 10:50am (UTC -6)

Until it was brought up here I never even considered that she was a little younger than the role she was playing. Would it have been different if the part had been played by a 21 year old?

"(b) The...unfortunate reason"
What might that be??
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 11:15am (UTC -6)
"What might that be??"

It's Hollywood, use your imagination.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 11:41am (UTC -6)
"It's Hollywood, use your imagination."
I guess but to assume that she was sexually exploited/had sex willingly for a role only based on the fact that she is 4 years younger than the character she portrayed sounds strange to me. If she was actually 21 or 31 at the time would you also think that? I cannot really put it into words but that line of thinking bothers me.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 1:29pm (UTC -6)
"I guess but to assume that she was sexually exploited[...]"

It was asked why they would give the job to someone so young, and I offered two possible explanations, but I'm not assuming anything. But let's just say that I would be really nervous about - even borderline against - having a teenaged child of mine work in that environment.
Top Hat
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 8:55pm (UTC -6)
Perhaps she was of age at the time and wikipedia just has her date of birth wrong. It wouldn't be unprecedented for actors to fudge their ages.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
Not sure what this whole debate is about. The age of consent is 16 in most parts of the world.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -6)
"Not sure what this whole debate is about. The age of consent is 16 in most parts of the world."

Peter implied that she may I have slept with someone to get the job, which you correctly note wouldn't be illegal even if she was 16 (or 14 in many jurisdictions in the 1990s) but is certainly frowned upon.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 9:36am (UTC -6)
"wouldn't be illegal even if she was 16 (or 14 in many jurisdictions in the 1990s) but is certainly frowned upon."

That is a bit of an understatement. While consensual sex is legal with someone just over the age limit, and while it's merely frowned upon to have sex legally with someone way younger than you, coercion (e.g. to gatekeep a job market) would be criminal.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 9:54am (UTC -6)
"While consensual sex is legal with someone just over the age limit, and while it's merely frowned upon to have sex legally with someone way younger than you, coercion (e.g. to gatekeep a job market) would be criminal."

Hmmm. Not saying you are wrong but what criminal law would this violate? Is it actually *criminal* to offer someone a job only if they sleep with you?
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 10:02am (UTC -6)
"Is it actually *criminal* to offer someone a job only if they sleep with you?"

Good question. At minimum it's worse than "frowned upon", but maybe the criminal law in matters like this is a state by state thing. I could imagine even if there is no statute outright banning such a practice, there could be levels of pressure involved that turn it from an open commercial 'offer' into more of a 'you have to do this' scenario, which would be non-consensual. To whatever extent the person feels they actually cannot say no (without dire consequences) I think that would create a scenario where consent couldn't be established.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 10:57am (UTC -6)
In California that would fall under Quid pro Quo Sexual Harassment.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
I was just wondering though if it's necessarily a *crime*. I know there are laws that permit civil and quasi civil penalties but I was unsure if anyone actually could be prosecuted and do jail time for it.
Tue, Aug 31, 2021, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
As far as I know it is not about jail time. In serious cases you will be fired and a civil lawsuit may happen which could be quite costly. The company will also be fined.
Peter G.
Sun, Sep 26, 2021, 10:41pm (UTC -6)
I just realized something about Tapestry, which was sort of always on the tip of my mind, but I never quite grasped concretely. This episode is really the proto-All Good Things, to the point of almost being a direct prequel of that story, including the anti-causality lesson.

Those of us who've seen this one many times know the story all too well. And in fact it may still surprise us when we watch The Samaritan Snare once in a blue moon that that was the time this story was actually first told, including the detail of Picard laughing when he was stabbed. But Tapestry does something completely different with that established fact, which is to create a parallel-universe time loop wherein Picard dies, goes back into the past, changes it, regrets it, and then gets to set it right again, and that exact Picard that went through all that is the one inhabiting the body of the 21 year old Jean-Luc Picard when he's stabbed. He laughed because of the irony that he was actually relieved to have won back the chance to die of heart failure. But that laugh was always part of the canon - meaning that Picard's actual past *always* had consisted of a convergence of potential futures when a future Picard made sure to aim him toward that Nausicaan, and where Q was responsible for it. So that means Q was always directly responsible for Picard becoming (or continuing to become) who he finally was.

The next step after this is All Good Things, where Q decides to teach Picard how to think non-linearly, to expand his mind. I doubt the writing staff had a grand plan in mind, but one can almost imagine they did, where Picard's de facto godfather, Q, has been tending to this man, making sure he became the captain he could, and then seeing him go beyond that at the right time. It almost could have been the premise for a new series...

Now I suppose it's always possible that the laugh at the stabbing was originally some hysterical reaction, and Q retconned it into being an ironic laugh of knowing it means the future was set right. So this would then be a new past timeline or something. But I prefer to think of it as a causality loop, maybe on aesthetic grounds. It's just attractive to have Picard's history as we know owe it all to Q the joker. I guess I like the idea of a bit of mischief being the magic ingredient to a proper order being established.
William B
Sun, Sep 26, 2021, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
@Peter, good observation. I especially like the idea that the laugh is a kind of time loop. One other little detail is how "Tapestry" ends with Picard opening up to Riker, friend-to-friend, about other of his adventures, which presages the poker game at the end of "AGT," where Picard even references his being a poker player in his youth (which might also imply some of the rapscallion days). Q ostensibly mocks Picard's interpersonal connections, but I think there's a case to be made that he's subtly positioning to be a little closer to him (Picard needs to be able to rely on others in order to become his best self).
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 2:26am (UTC -6)
TNG does ‘It’s A wonderful Life’ or ‘A Matter Of Life Or Death’… The first half is brilliant, but about halfway through it gets bogged down in a would-be romantic episode in the Academy, and from there (apart from the great sequence as Lieutenant Picard in a never-before-seen blue Starship uniform, asking Riker and Troi for a job evaluation in 10-Forward), it gets drawn into an oh-so-obvious-and-predictable “how would my life have turned out if I could change the past” story.

Well I’m sorry, but ‘It’s A wonderful Life’ did that, and did it so much better. Yes there was plenty to enjoy - Picard’s date with the contemporary Penny rather than the Penny of his actual youth, was funny.. as were the odd ‘flappy’ Academy uniforms, and the futuristic bar billiards, and the (at last!) interesting range of aliens in the Cantina. But as Q episodes go, it wasn’t the best. A long way behind Q Who? for example. 3 stars for the first half, but only 2.5 for the predictable tale it turned into.
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 2:33am (UTC -6)

“ I'm the last regular left wing poster here”

No. No, you’re not.
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 4:00am (UTC -6)
It was true for a while.
Jason R.
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 4:56am (UTC -6)

Give it 5-10 years and you will be "far right" too.
Bok R'Mor
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 1:21am (UTC -6)

'I'm the last regular left wing poster here.'

With respect, this is extremely presumptuous, since you don't know the political proclivities of the vast, vast majority of posters on here - be they left, right or centre. Most of us seem to be here to discuss Star Trek, not endlessly dispute and boomsplain politics and political history with you and a few self-consciously activist others constantly performatively nailing your political colours to the mast. It's rare there's a thread that doesn't devolve into this now. That's fine, but I try not to get caught up in it because this is a Trek forum - and one of the few places on the internet where reasoned debate is still possible.

I like your contributions, Booming - you're a great and idiosyncratic character - but please don't mistake your own compulsion to politicise threads as a lack of political thought on the part of the rest of us.

I also agree with Jason R about how political positions have changed dramatically in recent years and about how anyone who isn't far-left is likely to end up being excoriated as 'a literal Nazi' or 'fash', even though this is patently absurd.

Finally, I've never voted for the right in my life.
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 3:59am (UTC -6)
@Bok R' Mor
At the time a group of right wing people where really ganging up on me and several left wing posters stopped participating one by one. So for a while it seemed like a certain kind of right wing would slowly occupy this space here. I also have a flair for the dramatic. Luckily the atmosphere seems to have changed again.

"I also agree with Jason R about how political positions have changed dramatically in recent years and about how anyone who isn't far-left is likely to end up being excoriated as 'a literal Nazi' or 'fash', even though this is patently absurd."
Don't you see the irony of criticizing other people for politicizing everything and then making controversial political statements? I did not react to Jason's comments because I did not want to politicize this and I also know Jason for years and am aware of his views.

By the way, on this forum during the last 12 month right and left wing people have called for me being cancelled. :)
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 5:30am (UTC -6)
Yeah, I am often very up for political discussion too but this is rarely the place for it. When I do see people make political points I fully agree with here, I don't even find that it makes them more likely to share my views of particular Star Trek episodes or how certain characters behaved, anyway. Likewise people here with different politics from mine often have similar views on Star Trek. So I can't see the point in making a big thing of how people here happen to vote, often in another country from me.

Booming seems not only determined to make endless irrelevant political points on this site, but also convinced that if anyone doesn't greet this with delight they must have opposing politics. It's like going to a sports website, filling every single page with boilerplate left-wing or right-wing tropes everyone has heard before, and then interpreting any opposition to this purely as a result of political disagreement. I've said many times that what we need is an unwritten rule that if some random person could stumble on your post and not know it's about Star Trek then clearly the thread has gone way off topic and needs to be brought back on topic. Booming has at times said he will tone it down, but then days later he is back to rephrasing the same old political tropes and posting them here in hope of a reaction. Please don't feed the troll.
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 6:44am (UTC -6)
Thanks Tomalak for giving Bok R' Mor an example of the attacks that you and several other guys participated in.
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 9:03am (UTC -6)
The fact you still can't imagine that people could just independently get sick of endless irrelevant mouthing off about modern politics on a Star Trek site - that it just has to be a coordinated right-wing ploy - is grimly hilarious. This is even after lots of people above have explicitly said they aren't right-wing but find it tiresome, and even after I have explained in detail that like others I don't even find my politics much affects who I agree with about Star Trek. I don't know how you could prove my point more. You come across as incapable of having an on-topic conversation and desperate to interpret anyone who tries to bring it back on topic as a furious conservative, lashing out because they are wounded by your boilerplate views. Anyway, I have said my piece and I really should follow my own advice and not feed you more. If you want to get into a long, off topic debate it'll not be with me.
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 9:18am (UTC -6)
For somebody who complains about people derailing threads a lot, you are certainly doing it quite frequently.
Tue, Nov 16, 2021, 4:47am (UTC -6)
I always marvelled at Stewart's way of saying "Marta Batanides" when he first bumps into Marta. He does it with a big grin and a 'knowing' intonation communicating sheer joy at a happy encounter. He really gives a sense of the kind of wistful character Picard is. A man of many memories.

"Marta" recalls Yvonne Craig's character in 'Whom Gods Destroy.' Lord Garth's girlfriend.
The choice of Batanides struck me as quite refreshing , original, and unexpected. As has probably been noted long ago on this site, the choice by the writers may have been a hommage to Arthur Batanides, the actor who played d'Amato in "That Which Survives." . D'Amato means "beloved" and the notion of beloved can now be coded as 'Batanides'. Since Marta B. was surely Picard's beloved. That love felt but never acted on.

Btw That Which Survives is an episode which I like a lot, but which has provoked little interest on this site through the years.
Top Hat
Tue, Nov 16, 2021, 8:30am (UTC -6)
It is nice to hear a non Anglo-Saxon or Celtic name, since those are wildly overrepresented on Star Trek:
Thu, May 26, 2022, 2:49am (UTC -6)
Good gravy, what an insufferably boring and pointless episode. I plodded through the first 8 or so minutes before I bailed.

A main character near-dies and is having hallucinations and visions. (Never been done before, amirite!) Is any of it in any way real or is it all merely Picard's brain trying to make sense of the fact it's dying so makes these projections? Who cares, ultimately.

Star Trek is a makebelieve world with makebelieve characters. Do we need a makebelieve world *within* that makebelieve world? Do we need to add more fictional backstory to a fictional character? Does this episode in any way advance the enjoyment of the makebelieve world of Star Trek? Is the "sci" part of the sci-fi in any way satisfied here? Does the episode even just stimulate contemplation on the part of the viewer about the broader implications of life, death, regrets, etc.?

No. On all counts.

Zero stars.
matt h
Sat, Nov 19, 2022, 1:02pm (UTC -6)
This episode is similar to the "Ace" RImmer Dimension Jump episode of Red Dwarf where the main character learns that his rejection of being set back in the past is what made him the dweeb he became versus the charismatic hero he grew into in another dimension's timeline after accepting his failure in school.
Fri, Apr 21, 2023, 5:46am (UTC -6)
I love these kind of episodes that focus on a character personally. There is a few episodes that focus on Picard that are my favorite episodes of TNG. Likes of episode The Inner Light where Picard lives 50 years of life in a kind of simulation on a long gone planet where he has kids and wife and learns to play flute which skill he retains after waking up and plays it at the end of the episode. Then there is season 4 episode 2 "Family" where Jean Luc goes back to his family farm in France after forced being a Borg in a way that traumatized him. I hope there's more episodes to come that focus personally on Picard. I really get why Patrick Stewart was knighted.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 1:44am (UTC -6)
"we are looking at the question of whether Alt Picard has a satisfying life on his own terms. If that Picard genuinely loved filling astrometric reports, his life would be as meaningful as Prime Picard's. If he filled reports but mostly he did archaeology as a passionate hobbyist, his life would be meaningful. If he had a family. If he was an amateur artist. If he devoted himself to charitable work (I know all Starfleet is kind of charity since there's no money). If he -- There are all kinds of ways for a life to be meaningful. Alt Picard's life was empty and not meaningful on its own terms. Picard was unhappy with it."

I agree with @WiiliamB. In fact, we see him live this sort of life in The Inner Light. Kamin is a low-status character in a job he doesn't particularly find fulfilling even before Picard lands in his body. But he has a wife and family, a hobby, friends, the respect of his peers and a purpose in life (finding out what's happening to his planet). We don't get the impression that Picard would rather die than be Kamin - in fact, we see him experience something meaningful that allows him to be a person he doesn't get the chance to be on the Enterprise. One reason The Inner Light works so well is that Kamin's life isn't *better* than Picard's - but it is good in a different way.
But alt Picard is a small, frustrated, bitter man, who is vividly aware of his potential but has spent 30 years watching men in their 20s being promoted instead of him. Picard is definitely arrogant, but I don't think it's just alt Picard's low status that makes him reject this version of himself, though it's definitely part of it.
Peter G.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
I don't see what's so complicated about this episode. We all know Picard, let's not pretend we don't. We admire him, many of us grew up looking up to him as a role model, a paragon of a certain view of life and a dignified yet optimistic temperament. Many people have a "what would Picard do" standard for ethics and even situational behavior. He is a great man, nevermind what ST: PIC may have retconned in his personality. I don't see the great mystery in finding it displeasing to see a great man in a lowly position that neither uses his gifts nor recognizes what he's capable of. There are people with enormous potential all around us who go unrecognized, unappreciated, who never got their start in the right way or had the right breaks. Maybe they had bad luck, maybe the world had no good fit for them. That is a pity. I don't know why it seems so strange to everyone that Picard himself would want to be where he's best used in life, where his full potential can be put where it belongs. Is he upset at the thought of a mediocre life? Heck yeah, and so should anyone who is stuck below what they're capable of and want to achieve. You don't need to do some moral analysis of whether Picard is an aristocrat or looks down on blue collar people or is an egomaniac. This is plain as ABC.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
I've been thinking about this all day and I think my issue with this episode is that it feels as though two different writers wanted it to be two different things.

Episode 1 - Picard needed to be stabbed in order to learn that life is short and to take risks. If he hadn't learnt that he would have been weak, staid and cautious. Q tells Picard this is why he ends up as Blueshirt Picard. Except it's clearly nonsense. Young Picard doesn't need to learn to take risks and be reckless - he's already got into fisticuffs with Naausicans twice! The lesson he needs to learn is to be more prudent, more thoughtful, and to know when it's right to step aside. Without being stabbed, we suspect Young Picard would have had to learn this the long way - if he managed to avoid dying a stupid Redshirt Death or getting kicked out of Starfleet for recklessly endangering his crew.

Episode 2 - Picard's Stupid Wish at the start of the episode isn't to not be stabbed but to never have been that young man in the first place. Blueshirt Picard isn't unstabbed Picard, he's Picard with all the cocky young idiot removed - and our Aesop is that the parts of yourself you don't like are just as important as the parts you do. This is what Picard tells us the episode is about - and it makes a HELL of a lot more sense than Q's version.

So why is Q's version even in there? My guess is that it's because 'what would your life have been like if you'd been sensible in your youth?' is a really boring premise for an episode, so the 'don't get stabbed' plot is there to give Picard something to do, and they've invented a lame reason to justify it. But I really don't think it works with the character. I think it would have been nice to have had Picard challenge Q on this and have Q admit that he made all the 'don't get stabbed if you don't want to die' stuff up for his own amusement (he clearly did because Picard doesn't die) and he just wanted to take the recklessness out of Picard to teach him to be less po-faced and show him how boring he would be without it.
Either that or it's all a dream and therefore doesn't have to make logical sense. But I think we're supposed to believe it was really Q.

One thing I did like a lot was Picard's father and the voices of all the people who've died because of serving under him. It was a nice way of showing us just WHY he hated the reckless, uncontrolled, arrogant side of himself. Because he does still take risks and sometimes people do die because if it.
Peter G.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 7:03pm (UTC -6)
@ Anna,

"Episode 1 - Picard needed to be stabbed in order to learn that life is short and to take risks. If he hadn't learnt that he would have been weak, staid and cautious.
So why is Q's version even in there?"

Q's interest in Picard is precisely Picard's refusal to accept the ordinary; in his always pushing for higher and higher standards and achievements. Q *loves* that Picard is a spitfire, and won't accept the stiff upper lip as some kind of make-believe that Picard is an even-keeled and cautious man. He is anything but, and if anything his discipline is something he forced on himself, not something innate to his character. I don't think there is any reading of the episode showing that Picard needed to learn how to take risks. I think your "episode 2" explains why: Picard was always a risktaker, and still is, just under a controlled persona. His wish is to have always been as he is rather than cocky and immature. Q does some Blue Fairy magic to grant Picard's wish, as you put it, showing him what happens when you change the man Picard was. But I don't think your "episode 1" is really in the mix: Q certainly doesn't need to convince Picard to take more risks because life is short, and Picard doesn't need to learn that either. Picard takes tons of risks all the time, including with Q. What Picard gets is a reality check, that the young man he was is still here, just with more tools. I think it's more of a comeuppance against Picard's self-image than anything else. If Picard wants to live then he needs to WANT to live and get past his self-doubt.

I would take the analysis further for anyone who likes this kind of thing, and say that IMO the most important moment in the episode is the stabbing, where (just as he told it to Wesley in The Samaritan Snare) he laughs while looking at the blade going through his heart. This doesn't merely comply with the prior facts, but goes much further: Picard gains the ability to see his entire life from the top-down in that moment, to realize the ridiculousness of denying part of a continuum that is all one; to laugh at the smallness and impossibility of pretending one can dissect oneself into discrete parts; to find himself foolish at thinking he could beat fate. Like Oedipus, Picard embraces his own blindness by seeing for once that is life doesn't just exist in 'the present' but exists over time, and that this relationship is non-linear. There are shades of All Good Things in this particular lesson. It really is funny, too, that the thing Picard most regrets in his entire life was in fact something he chose with all of his being, even begged for, and begged it of Q to boot. There are levels of irony in this which makes it great writing as far as I'm concerned.
Thu, May 11, 2023, 1:35am (UTC -6)
@peterg I've just looked up what Q actually says to Picard.
"That Picard never had a brush with death, never came face to face with his own mortality, never realized how fragile life is, or how important each moment must be. So his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career, with no plan or agenda… going from one assignment to the next, never seizing the opportunities that presented themselves. He never led the away-team on Milika III to save the ambassador, or take charge of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed. And no one ever offered him a command. He learned to play it safe… and he never, ever got noticed by anyone."

You're right, it's not quite what I remembered. I can see that Young Picard doesn't have the focus Picard does - that part does make sense. I think it's "he learned to play it safe" that stuck out for me as not really following from the character we know. I can easily picture a future where Young Picard ends up as some
bolshy junior security officer more interested in shooting Cardassians than advancing in his career. It was Q's insistence that without being shot he ended up timid and boring which didn't make sense for me and still doesn't. I think we have to assume that Q added some extra Blue Fairy magic as you put it and changed more than just the stabbing to drive his point home to Picard. I just wish the episode had been a bit clearer about it. I do like the subtlety, but I would also have liked a showdown where Picard accuses him of meddling and Q reminds him that Picard's the one who wanted his idiot younger self never to have existed and now Q's given that to him.
Thu, Jun 22, 2023, 3:49am (UTC -6)
I'd like to respectfully counter the comments stating that Picard saying he'd rather be dead, than live on as a blue shirt in a lower rank, is somehow demeaning.

Flip the situation a bit, and put an unadventurous but meticulous crew member from the back rooms suddenly in the Captain's seat trying to decide what to do during any tense standoff or deception-play (which Picard handles so well), and with no buildup, just as this lower rank is sprung on Jean-Luc: it would be reasonable for him to be utterly lost, trapped, and wishing for his own death rather than having to handle the stress and responsibility of making split-second decisions, upon which an entire crew's lives, or even entire planetary populations, may depend.

The concept of the Trek Universe (in TNG at least) is that everyone is free to express their interests at a level they find comfortable, provided they play by the rules and put in the work - it is NOT that everyone is exactly alike, they save that for the Borg, who crush the individual in pursuit of power (and even they have differentiated roles and capabilities). You can readily draw support for any political ideology, or none, from that basic premise, so the comments trying to politicise this story and make a case for equity (defined as equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity) are missing the mark.

This is why the characters are so distinctive, and why there's so little infighting, backstabbing, or other petty competition between them.

Everyone finds their niche, based on their own needs and abilities, and those not yet where they wish to be express a reasonable faith that the Federation system will take them to their goals. Very few cases of someone promoted above their natural ability exist, presumably because the system is fulfilling for all ranks, without implying that "onwards and upwards" in rank will always be better, to be attained at any cost.

There's no dishonour in waking up in a life someone else would dream of having, and yet being so miserable as to wish for it to end, by any means. For those still troubled about heirarchy, I also respectfully counter that idea: in fact, there's a whiff of "tell disabled or depressed people there are children starving in Africa, so they need to buck their ideas up" about the suggestion he should be grateful merely to be alive, even in circumstances which crush his particular, unique, spirit.

This episode speaks to regrets, and the futility of that variety of hindsight which mars one's own life, and it does it within the context of a 45m TV episode: I think it accomplishes that admirably, and that expecting depth akin to the life's work of your personal favourite philosopher throws out the baby with the bathwater. I find it moving and valuable, despite the obvious and intrinsic flaws (as well as my personal dislike of the Q character in TNG).

We mostly only find what we look for when ruminating on the past, and this story provides a productive counterweight against the natural tendency for bitter regret and self-blame, without needing to sugar-coat the fact we do all make mistakes, and have sometimes fallen short of our ideals, in ways which have serious and irreparable consequences.
Mon, Sep 4, 2023, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
I don't usually like Q episides but this was great. Thought provoking. Well made.

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