"Tapestry"

Season Six, Episode 15
Written by Ronald D Moore
Directed by Les Landau
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
John de Lancie as Q
Ned Vaughan as Ensign Cortin Zweller
J.C. Brandy as Ensign Marta Batanides
Clint Carmichael as Nausicaan
Rae Norman as Penny
Clive Church as Picard's father
Marcus Nash as Young Picard
 

Synopsis:
 
Picard is mortally wounded on an away mission, awaking to find himself in a white limbo with Q, who tells him that he is dead and now in the "afterlife". Q offers Picard the opportunity to go back to correct any past mistakes he may have made in his life, suggesting the incident where he was stabbed by a Nausicaan as a young ensign, necessitating an artificial heart. Picard decides that he will correct the grave mistake he made and is sent back in time to the events that led up to this incident.

As a young enisgn, fresh out of the Academy, Picard finds himself aboard Starbase Earhart, awaiting first assignment with his Academy friends, Corey and Marta. Picard changes events by refusing to start a fight with the Nausicaans -- a fight he will lose and pay a terrible price for. He successfully does though, only to lose both his friends and find himself returned to a "present day" where he is not Captain of the Enterprise, but merely a lieutenant in a dead-end job with little ambition or success.

Disliking what he has become, Picard pleads with Q to let him restore events rather than live out this dreary new life. Q explains that his so-called mistake was a turning point in his life and his brush with death actually helped him more than it hindered him. Picard restores history and is given his real life back, finding himself recovering in Sick Bay and grateful to Q for giving him a fresh perspective of his life.


Review: 

You know what? This is one of my all-time favourites and certainly, in my opinion, the best ever story to feature Q. The premise owes a lot to Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" and whilst not nearly as good, it's a cleverly scripted and well-executed episode, making for an absolutely excellent forty-five minutes of television.

The notion of Q, acting as Picard's guardian angel and enabling him to put right the mistakes of his supposedly misspent youth is intriguing, if bizarre. Q has never before shown such maturity and compassion toward Picard and the sole purpose of his helping Picard here is evidently to teach him a lesson about life. Now, some people took the message as being that violence pays over self-restraint. I can see how some might draw that conclusion, but I think the real message is actually two-fold. Firstly, that life is not about being perfect all of the time and never making mistakes -- for it's from our mistakes that we learn.

That's something I can easily relate to; I've had some very painful experiences in my life but looking back I can see how I've learned from them and grown. And I wouldn't want to change a thing, because it's our experiences that make us the person we are and sometimes the bad experiences are just as important as the good. The episode also looks at our own mortality, something most of us try to push aside and avoid dealing with. But confronting your own mortality is invariably a good idea, after all, we're all going to die so we might as well live every moment to the full. "Live every day as though it were your last," someone once told me. It's good advice.

Tapestry basically follows Picard as he returns to his post-Academy days and tries to avoid getting stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan. It's fascinating to get an insight into Picard's youth and to watch his confusion as he actually ends up making a mess of things. Isn't amazing how life has a habit of always working out for the best? Only problem is, it's not until you look back in retrospect that you can see this. Patrick Stewart gives his usual bravura performance and John de Lancie gives one of his most memorable turns as Q. He effectively underplays the part, lending a slightly unnerving, serious -- almost menacing -- undertone to the character. And, of course, he's as wonderfully wry as ever making this an absolutely quintessential outing for Q, one that's never been bettered before or since. At first the pace of Les Landau's directing seems to crawl, but this is actually an asset, for he gives the episode an appropriately surreal, non-linear and almost dream-like quality. All in all, what can I say -- it's a wonderful episode. :-)
 

Rating: 10


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