“Tapestry” is the 15th episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 141st overall. It was originally released on 15 February 1993, in broadcast syndication.
Ronald D. Moore was credited with writing the episode, but the basis of the story was a collaborative effort from the writing crew. “Tapestry” was directed by Les Landau, with the title coming from executive producer Michael Piller.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, Q (John de Lancie) allows a supposedly deceased Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) to re-visit a pivotal event in his youth that he since regrets. Picard changes the past, but upon returning to the present he finds that it made him the man he became. He returns once more to the past and returns it to the way it originally took place. Picard wakes up in the present, unsure if the events took place or if it was as a result of his injury.
A number of previously used screen props were used, including some from the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, and from previous episodes. The white room scenes were problematic as there were concerns that the all-white robe worn by de Lancie would make him appear to be a floating head on camera. While Moore was pleased with the episode, Piller was not and some fans complained that it glorified violence. “Tapestry” received Nielsen ratings of 13.8 percent, and critics responded very positively with praise directed to the chemistry between Stewart and de Lancie.
During a diplomatic mission, Captain Picard is rushed to sickbay due to severe, unexpected injuries. After dying from his wounds, he awakes to find himself in an otherworldly realm, where he is greeted by the god-like alien Q. Q explains that the weapon that shot Picard damaged his artificial heart, and that a natural heart would have survived. Picard lost his original heart as a young officer, when he was stabbed during a bar brawl, an event he regrets, but which led to him becoming the disciplined and restrained man he is today. When Picard remarks that he would do things differently if he could relive that moment, Q sends Picard back in time to two days before the brawl, where he meets with fellow cadets and friends Corey Zweller and Marta Batanides. They are surprised by Picard’s change of personality; no more devil-may-care attitude.
Zweller is cheated by a group of Nausicaans at a bar game, and plans his revenge by rigging the next match. When the Nausicaans lose, they are enraged and goad Zweller. Instead of joining the fight as he did before, Picard holds Zweller back, averting tragedy but humiliating his friend. Corey leaves him in disgust. Marta is attracted by Picard’s unexpectedly mature behaviour and has a one-night stand with him, but it complicates their friendship.
Q returns Picard to the Enterprise in the present. Instead of being captain, Picard is a junior science officer who has led an unremarkable career doing routine work. Picard consults Commander Riker and Counsellor Troi, who explains that his aversion to risk means he has never distinguished himself.
Picard confronts Q, who tells him that although the fight with the Nausicaan nearly cost him his life, it also gave him a sense of his mortality. It taught him that life was too precious to squander by playing it safe. Picard realises that his attempts to suppress and ignore the consequences of his indiscretions have resulted in him losing a part of himself. Picard declares that he would rather die as captain of the Enterprise than live as a nobody. Q sends him back to the bar fight and events unfold as they did originally, with Picard being stabbed through the heart and laughing as he collapses to the floor. Picard awakens in sickbay, a Captain again. As Picard recovers from his injury, he wonders whether his journey into the past was one of Q’s tricks or merely a dream. Regardless, he is grateful for the insight the experience gave him.
Star Trek TV Series
You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.
Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries
You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Les Landau.
- Writer(s): Ronald D. Moore.
- Release Date: 15 February 1993.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.