When Picard is shot on an away mission, his artificial heart is damaged, leaving him on the brink of death. In his last moments, Q appears and offers Picard the chance to do things differently – perhaps even avoiding the bar brawl that cost him his heart in the first place. Will the measured, older Picard be able to change his wild and impetuous past?
The “It’s a Wonderful Life” trope might be done to death by now, but TNG nonetheless does it very well, resulting in one of my favourite episodes. Even though it requires interference from Q to set up the story in the first place, even he is tolerable and even occasionally amusing. But of course it’s Picard who carries the day, as we get to see not only his life as a freshly commissioned ensign, but the man he might have become had he not learnt the value of living life to the full, and being brave enough to take risks.
Yes, yes, it’s all a rich tapestry
- Q promises that the altered present will affect no one except Picard, but what about Captain Thomas Halloway? He did pretty well out of it.
- Once the timeline is resolved, does any of the other stuff Picard changed remain true? For example, did he or did he not sleep with Marta?
- Why did Picard laugh the first time he got stabbed, i.e. in the flashback we see at the start of the episode.
- When Picard says he regrets nothing, Q kindly refrains from retorting “What about Wolf 359?”.
- Dr Selar is mentioned, even though we haven’t seen her since her one and only appearance in season two.
- As always, why does Picard even have an artificial heart? Replicate or grow him a new human heart.
- Arguably, getting stabbed could have been a trigger for making Picard more cautious. After all, he took a risk and lost his heart – it would have been reasonable to shy away from further danger. Instead, Q explains that it brought his life into focus – he knew the value of life and that made him more committed to tackling difficult situations instead of just drifting along, taking the easy route.
Summary – Tapestry: If you want to progress in your career, getting stabbed in a bar brawl is a good starting point.