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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96 comments on this post

Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 12:30am (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@ 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 -5)
*that should be "Nor" not "Not". Ah, reasons for not posting uneditable comments on smartphones...
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@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 -5)
@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 -5)
TNG's finest hour. Simple as that.
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
4 star episode. I am dismayed
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 9:49am (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)

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 -5)
@ 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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@ 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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
Star Trek does Quantum Leap. Fine episode, but the friends are intolerable.
Sat, Aug 10, 2013, 10:29pm (UTC -5)

"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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
"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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)

"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 -5)
@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 -5)
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 -5)

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 -5)
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 -5)
@ 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 -5)

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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
4 stars for sure. Q was hilarious.
Sat, Apr 7, 2018, 9:12am (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)



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 -5)
'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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@ 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 -5)
@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 -5)
@ 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 -5)
Really enjoyed this episode. But then I always love Q (even though all Q episodes aren't great), especially with Picard.

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