Star Trek: The Next Generation: Tapestry   Rewatch 
August 5, 2021 3:10 AM - Season 6, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Picard is bumped all the way back down to Cadet following a disastrous away mission. Harsh, yes, but what do you expect from Q?

But this is not the Memory Alpha I remember:

• The episode was initially conceived to have a much broader scope. Entitled "A Q Carol", it involved Q leading Picard through several "mistakes" in the captain's life, in the style of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. In addition to the stabbing, Picard was to relive a childhood event in France and an event on the USS Stargazer, which would have possibly involved Jack Crusher's death. However, Michael Piller was not entirely pleased with the premise. Ronald D. Moore explained, "He thought it was pointless. Here are some scenes from your life basically. It didn't have the right resonance so I went back and tried to focus in on one incident to make it a little more meaningful."

• Moore chose the stabbing incident [referenced in "Samaritan Snare" --ed.] as it had always intrigued him. "It was an interesting little story about him. That story, to me, said a lot about Picard's character – that he was a different guy in those days. Then he changed. Why did he change? What would be the difference in the young womanizing, hard-drinking, hard-fighting Jean-Luc Picard and the guy that we know today?"

• However, the basic origins of the story were not as clear. None of the staff could remember the source of the basic "near-death white light" premise. It was only after the episode aired that the producers received a letter from James Mooring, who had initially pitched the idea. The staff were quick to rectify the situation. Jeri Taylor recalled, "I talked to him, Ron talked to him, and they paid him. He was very happy. All he wanted was acknowledgment of this, and we apologized profusely. I hope it restored his faith in our integrity, because we would never do anything like that intentionally."

• Moore revealed that at one point, the Enterprise captain in Picard's future was to have been Edward Jellico.

• Portraying the "afterlife" created some technical problems. With John de Lancie in a white robe on a white background, director of photography Jonathan West and producer Merri Howard were concerned that Q would appear merely as a floating head. Both actors were aware of the difficulties in the shot, and de Lancie felt that it made his performance in the scene somewhat more subdued than normal. Moore, however, noted that this low key result was perfect for this more serious than usual Q episode.

• The context of the fight was changed from "Samaritan Snare". In "Samaritan Snare", Picard's encounter with the Nausicaans was a first-time event as they were "spoiling for confrontation". Everyone in the group gives them a wide berth except Picard, who initiates the fight by insulting the Nausicaans. In "Tapestry" the encounter is an act of revenge because the Nausicaans are believed to have cheated Picard's friend Corey Zweller the previous day.

• This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of the Nausicaans.

• Q appeared the previous week on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Q-Less" [FF previously --ed.]. In that episode, Q briefly mentioned that he maybe "should pay [Picard] a visit."

• In the brief scene where Picard is seen as an ensign as he originally appeared, he is not bald. However, in Star Trek Nemesis he is seen in a photograph as bald nonetheless – and as he was wearing the NCO uniform at the time, this is presumably before the fight with the Nausicaans.

• This is one of only five TNG episodes that doesn't have a stardate. The others are TNG: "Symbiosis", "First Contact", "Liaisons", and "Sub Rosa".

• TV Guide ranked this as the ninth best Star Trek episode for their celebration of the franchise's 30th anniversary.

• Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode #4 on their list of "The Top 10 Episodes" to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

• As René Echevarria noted, some fans misinterpreted the message the show was sending. "We've gotten some flack about it. People felt it glorified violence and that it basically says Picard tries to go back and not do the violent thing and solve things by reason and it makes him bland and not captain material. We got big, big letters from people saying this is awful and goes against everything Star Trek stands for. I think the point the show made was more subtle than that, and I think they lost sight of it."


"You are not God."
"Blasphemy! You're lucky I don't cast you out, or smite you or something."
- Picard and Q

"You mean change the past? Q, even if you have been able to bring me back in time somehow, surely you must realize that any alteration in this timeline will have a profound impact on the future."
"Please! Spare me your egotistical musings on your pivotal role in history. Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important."
- Picard and Q

"You will go on with your life with a real heart."
"Then I won't die."
"Of course you'll die! It'll just be at a later time."
- Picard and Q

"Coward! Like all Starfleet! You talk and you talk, but you have no guramba."
- the Nausicaan


Poster's Log:
IMO the best Q episodes are the profound ones—of which there aren't many; this one and VOY's "Death Wish" are the main ones that come to mind, though I suppose TNG's series finale counts too. But given the concept behind Q, it's apt that most of his appearances are sillier—allowing the profound ones to resonate a bit more, not to mention enabling great comic relief moments like "Gene-Luck Pickerd" to cut the seriousness.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
This is the favorite TNG episode of Adam of "Greatest Gen." He and Ben disagree a bit on it in this installment.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
This comment needs a playlist:

"I Feel the Earth Move" - I feel like the thing about Picard having an artificial heart might have been the sort of character detail that would have been forgotten and never mentioned again in another show or with another character. It's too bad that Crusher or someone else hadn't yet thought of using holograms to temporarily substitute for an organ, although I'd think that the Federation, with its basically miraculous medical science, wouldn't have much difficulty coming up with a heart-lung machine to keep Picard alive until he could get a replacement heart.

"It's Too Late" - heck of a moment for Q to return Picard to, huh? At least he's kind of rueful about having been a cad. It's a switch from Roddenberry seemingly having wanted to have more "free love" on the show.

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" - On the other hand, wanting to commit to a more in-depth relationship doesn't always work out, either, as with Marta. That's sad, but realistic, and although Marta doesn't reappear in canon (which may not have been such a bad thing, given the franchise's, ah, mixed record with aging makeup), J.C. Brandy really nails the part. (According to MA, she was seventeen when she did this ep; pretty impressive.)

"So Far Away" - So, in the prime universe, Picard doesn't mess things up with Marta and Corey, but... do they stay friends? For that matter, have we ever seen Picard have a friend in TNG? Even in PIC, it seems like he's got employees and former subordinates, until he meets up with his motley crew, and even then he's sort of the commander there. But that's OK, because...

"You've Got a Friend" - ...not only is this a great Q episode, it's the only one that I can think of where Q does something for someone else that isn't part of his grand mission to uplift humanity by challenging it. It's remarkable that he seems to have spontaneously come up with an alternate timeline where Picard's not being in command didn't result in, say, the Alpha Quadrant's assimilation by the Borg (maybe he didn't "introduce" them to the Borg in the first place? And what would that mean for, say, DS9 going forward) or other potential mishaps; that in itself might be kind of dispiriting to Picard, but Q seems genuinely interested in helping Jean-Luc work this thing out.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:55 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Am I going to have to be the one who says it? Ok, fine then: I'm sure it was handled professionally and respectfully by the cast and crew, but I was very squicked out the decision to cast a 17 year old as a twenty-something in a role that required her to make out with a 53 year old man. If you need help calibrating your creepometers, Woody Allen was a decade younger than that when he played opposite a 17 year old Mariel Hemingway in "Manhattan". WTF, casting people.

I would have loved a whole series of middle-aged Picard, suddenly with a fire in his belly, trying to fight his own history and climb the ranks. The fact that it could have been Star Trek: Jellico in canon is just the icing on the cake. Also, Patrick Stewart really did a great job of playing "pathetic Picard", counter to his usual competence porn persona, while still clearly being Picard.
posted by phooky at 7:04 AM on August 5 [10 favorites]


I'm most bothered by the calendar framing in this episode. Picard is supposed to be a hale-and-hearty 63 at this point (born in 2305, season six takes place in 2368). If Picard is 21 when this fight happened (as per Q's statement), then Picard's complaint about a "random energy surge 30 years later" is way off base. It's much closer to Patrick Stewart's actual timeline - he was 52 when this episode was filmed.
posted by hanov3r at 7:12 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


have we ever seen Picard have a friend in TNG?

It’s not a traditional friendship, but it’s right there in front of us: Q is his friend. Noodle that one a while.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:16 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


I was squicked out by that kiss even before I learned about the age difference while listening to the ‘The Next Conversation’ podcast episode — there was so much tongue! It looked so unpleasant/uncomfortable/not fun. Finding out she was only 17 made it even grosser.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:27 AM on August 5


Last week, we read about a potential Q episode which borrowed the device employed by Quantum Leap, where the viewer sees the standard character, and the in-universe characters see someone else. They didn't go with it, because "they didn't want to step on Quantum Leap's toes."

Soooooo, this week . . . Picard finds himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to put right what once went wrong. His only guide on this journey is Q, a deity that only Jean-Luc can see and hear. I guess this is a full-on homage, which doesn't count as stepping on QL's toes.

Anyway, I've always been kind put off by the scenes where Picard is stuck in astrophysics on the Enterprise. Sure, that's a big step down, but he's still an officer on Starfleet's flagship! But since he's only a junior lieutenant, and he's not up for any chance at command, he would prefer death. Hope the crew doesn't read the captain's logs!
posted by skewed at 8:44 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


he decision to cast a 17 year old as a twenty-something in a role that required her to make out with a 53 year old man

That is... not cool.

I would have loved a whole series of middle-aged Picard, suddenly with a fire in his belly, trying to fight his own history and climb the ranks.

It could have been like Season 4 of The Sopranos when Tony dreams that he's mild-mannered business man Kevin Finnerty.

some fans misinterpreted the message the show was sending

Interesting that I never really saw this episode as "glorifying violence," but now that it's been brought up, it seems so much more obvious :D But really, I saw this as a more subtle message about the necessity to own, and own up to, your past, the recognition that your good judgment now may be based on your bad judgment in the past, and that if you never take the risk and make a mistake, you'll never know when to take a risk and succeed.

It’s not a traditional friendship, but it’s right there in front of us: Q is his friend. Noodle that one a while.

I could watch Picard and Q argue and test each other for the rest of eternity. I don't have streaming access to watch the newest series yet, but I'm psyched to see their relationship updated and deepened.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:08 AM on August 5 [3 favorites]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

Nausicaans is a nice streightforeward Premiere dilemma. Res-Q provides a direct, powerful method for retrieving discarded or otherwise lost cards to your hand. Lt. (j.g.) Picard is...not Bridge Crew Time, naturally. A mere uncommon, mildly useful at the time because the Federation was not at this point gifted with a great roster of SCIENCE personnel, and the AU icon gave him a bit of cachet. Zon is a big, tough boy who makes your opponent bring two leaders to battle you.

We also get a selection of Q-cards including Dr. Q, Medicine Entity, Picard's Artificial Heart, and Quandry.

Second Edition includes Tapestry, which can effectively give you a whole new deck, a very nice utility card as the game ends when both players run out of cards. There's also A Bad End which was pretty popular in the tourney scene, as you could often stop a personnel virtually of your choosing with another card and then throw this in for zero cost and eliminate them. A Second Chance at Life is effectively the 2E Res-Q, not bad.

Playmates toys released two 'tapestry Picard' figures, the single-carded version in the TWOK style uniform was originally released with only 1701 total units, which turned out to be really bad publicity with collectors who wanted one-of-everything. It was rereleased with a couple similarly 'exclusive' figures which is comparatively cheap. There was also a mail-away Picard in the greenish science uniform from Toyfare magazine, which were presumably dumped en masse at some point because they're not at all hard to find.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:30 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or does season 6 really highlight the blue science uniforms much more than previous seasons? Between Troi adding that to her wardrobe thanks to Jellico's professionalism and Lt j.g. Picard wearing one, I feel like we're seeing it more than usual. Outside of those two, it's mostly just been medical personnel, and Beverly has her lab coat sweater that she wears more than her uniform.
posted by hanov3r at 10:39 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


It's sure something that, after fifty-plus years of Trek, Spock is still the blueshirt champion, really. Most of the rest are doctors and Daxes. (Daxen?)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:27 AM on August 5


As my mom used to say, oh phoo. This has always been one of my favorite episodes, easily in my top five, but now it's tarnished by some of these details and I kind of wish I hadn't read them.

For me, it was all about Picard being thrust into that situation (which still definitely had a Christmas Carol vibe despite Picard being in his own shoes rather than watching it, and I love those kinds of stories) with Q, and watching him try to right his mistakes with an older and wiser eye while being teased and goaded by the one being in all the universe he detests the most. It especially appealed to me as I got older. One of my favorite moments was when he wakes up in bed and finds Q there, the way he yanks the sheets up like some prim schoolmarm, and when he appears in that blue uniform, humina humina. He is absolutely yummy there and oh how I wish the command uniforms were blue.

The stuff I didn't much care for was always the whole "oh, Johnny's such a cad, lol at him treating women like crap" and the way they had Marta being the obligatory one-of-the-guys chicks who think it's hilarious when a guy breaks a woman's heart because she's super cool like that and not like other girls. It's so regressive and I have always hated that cliche (also didn't feel like the actress was up to the challenge), but now knowing she was only 17...it becomes a lot worse and while yeah, it was so typical of the time as to not raise anyone's eyebrows, it's made all of that even worse in hindsight. Which isn't to say that when I was 17, I wouldn't have leapt at the chance to make out with Patrick Stewart then, but it wasn't as though they had no pool of actors to play Marta who were age-appropriate.

The other thing that irritated me (not enough to completely erase my love for the ep before) was the whole Picard not taking risks thing. That's always been such an American how to get ahead in business cut-throat bullshit kind of mentality and it bugs the hell out of me--that the only way to be worthy of command is to take dangerous chances, engage in risky decision-making. It was something I was always criticized for in the workplace by my ridiculous bosses who believed aggression and tactics were more important than competence in your job. (And it always reminded me of my great-uncle, whose battlefield commission in WWII came precisely because he didn't take risks with his men and saw them through a really bad situation where they all came out alive.) That criticism coming from Riker of all people is particularly ironic. But it's funny, I didn't see it the way those people did who thought it glorified violence; I just saw it as a glorification of that stupid American business ethos. He was still an officer, still good at his job, still contributing. Why is that never enough?

Halloween Jack, your playlist is brilliant.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:55 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]


"You mean change the past? Q, even if you have been able to bring me back in time somehow, surely you must realize that any alteration in this timeline will have a profound impact on the future."
"Please! Spare me your egotistical musings on your pivotal role in history. Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important."
- Picard and Q


"What about the Borg?"
"I introduced you to the Borg to try and impress you, remember?"
"What about when I had to send the Enterprise-C back to its doom to prevent a costly war that would eventually overcome the Federation?"
"That... uh, *checks notes* that never actually happened, how do you know about that?"
"What about the parasites that infested Lieutenant Commander Remmick and tried to take over the Federation?"
"I.. hm, I forgot about those. I'll have Kevin Uxbridge wipe them out, he's good with that sort of thing."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:06 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


the whole "oh, Johnny's such a cad, lol at him treating women like crap"

It's funny how regressive the gender politics could be for a show that's supposedly about a future where sexism has been eliminated from (human/Federation) society. In one episode Wesley mentions the Academy's annual Sadie Hawkins Dance -- yes, a society that's so progressive they still have to reserve a special day where women can ask men out.

See also the inability of TNG (and to some extent DS9, still haven't ever seen VOY) to deal with any not heterosexual form of sexuality: When Riker meets (and falls in love with) someone from an androgynous race, he's baffled by the idea that they don't have gendered pronouns ("What do I call you? It?"), or when the Trill/Symbiotes are first introduced and Beverly is in love with one, who then briefly resides in Riker's body... when the permanent replacement is found, its a female Trill, and it's like, there's not even the possibility that their relationship could continue. At least in DS9 they suggest that Mirror Universe Kira is bisexual, and Jadzia Dax almost gets it on with a former partner who is also female.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:18 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I could watch Picard and Q argue and test each other for the rest of eternity.

I'm glad we're getting a proper Q storyline for season 2 of Picard, but earlier I had wanted season 1 to end with Picard going back to the vineyard where Q appears and asks him if the whole Romulan/Borg/Synth thing was worth it, are humans still as worthwhile as Picard always claimed, etc. which would've led to us finding out that Q has been dropping in on Picard for decades now for these little chats.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:18 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


the whole Picard not taking risks thing. That's always been such an American how to get ahead in business cut-throat bullshit kind of mentality and it bugs the hell out of me

I didn't see it as going quite to this extreme in the episode, but I can see that interpretation.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:19 PM on August 5


One of my favorite moments was when he wakes up in bed and finds Q there, the way he yanks the sheets up like some prim schoolmarm

I think I loved even more than that moment was when he let down the sheet afterward, that sort of "I guess Q and I are a couple now" resignation. So slashy.

and when he appears in that blue uniform, humina humina. He is absolutely yummy there and oh how I wish the command uniforms were blue.

Really? I thought the blue looked awful on him, wrong for his skin tone or something. I'm curious to see how much worse he must look in the yellow, considering that the show switched around the whole red/yellow departmental colors from TOS to TNG because the red suited Patrick Steward better than the yellow.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:19 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


As someone with the word "astrophysics" on my business card, this one stings a tiny bit. Surely it's no less cool than archeology? But, I guess, he turned his back on that too. And being an astrophysicist and an officer in the Navy doesn't sound like a particularly fun job today. (I know some folks at the US Naval Observatory. It's not nearly the same job as depicted here, at least for them.) I certainly understand that the story is about settling for something you don't actually want to do, and they had to pick something. Perhaps it's an attempt to avoid punching down by giving him a shit job. His contempt for the job does make me wonder a bit about his relationship with Daren (the stellar observer and piano playing love interest.)

I don't think I've ever entirely understood the rank vs. interesting-job map that Trek assumes. Riker's job sounds like the worst possible thing one could do on a starship. I can't imagine why he didn't join the Maquis at the end of the series, just because he was bored out of his mind with all of the tasks we see him do on screen. But, then, I always wanted to be La Forge as a kid.

The DS9 reference is really fun. I'd never heard that before. Neat!
posted by eotvos at 6:02 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever entirely understood the rank vs. interesting-job map that Trek assumes. Riker's job sounds like the worst possible thing one could do on a starship. I can't imagine why he didn't join the Maquis at the end of the series, just because he was bored out of his mind with all of the tasks we see him do on screen. But, then, I always wanted to be La Forge as a kid.

This is in keeping with Naval tradition. The XO usually handles the majority of the admin overhead and managerial bullshit (that cannot successfully be pawned off on the department heads) and the CO does mostly what they feel like doing. The reason why XOs put up with this shit job is because it's very much a prerequisite to being a CO.

Now, if you asked me why Riker passed up multiple CO positions to continue to be the XO aboard the Enterprise, I have no idea. Not only is passing up multiple opportunities for promotion a great way to torpedo your career, it's also preventing other promising officers from taking over your billet as the next step in their own careers.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:25 PM on August 5 [6 favorites]


For me, the highlight of "Tapestry" is the brawl between young Picard and the Nausicaans at the start of the episode. It said so much about Jean-Luc before RDM got going with his story. Don't get me wrong, "Tapestry" is an excellent episode of Trek that I enjoy. But I do think it's another instance where RDM was either ignorant of Picard's established character or he simply ignored it to tell a good story.

As Admiral Hanson said in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II," "Lieutenant... a few years ago, I watched a freshman cadet pass four upper classman on the last hill of the forty kilometer run on Danula Two... damndest thing I ever saw... only freshman to ever win the Academy marathon. I made it my business to get to know that young fellow... got to know him very very well... I'll tell ya, I've never known anyone with more drive, determination or more courage than Jean-Luc Picard."

That's not exactly the young Picard shown in "Tapestry," who needed a near-death experience to get his priorities in order.
posted by Stuka at 9:13 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


if you asked me why Riker passed up multiple CO positions to continue to be the XO aboard the Enterprise

It comes up many times in TNG, and the answer is basically, "Because I want to serve with Jean-Luc Picard."

I can't imagine why he didn't join the Maquis at the end of the series

Well, I don't want to spoil things for you if you haven't seen DS9, so let me just say... Watch DS9.

I don't think I've ever entirely understood the rank vs. interesting-job map that Trek assumes.

I think what makes it confusing is that Starfleet is a quasi-military force and a scientific research organization and a colonial/exploratory venture. It'd be like if the US Military merged with NASA and the NIS and some updated, peaceful version of the Dutch East India Company, and put them all in one ship together.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:41 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite moments was when he wakes up in bed and finds Q there, the way he yanks the sheets up like some prim schoolmarm

Oh god yes. Any scene where Picard is embarrassed or dressed down is PURE GOLD. Luxwanna Troi episodes, obviously, but I also love seeing him get berated by Starfleet Admirals (one particularly hilarious exchange somewhere in a later season ends with, "NAKAMURA OUT!"). My all time favorite Picard-cringe moment is in Season 4, I think, when he meets with the Duras Sisters -- Klingon rivals of Worf -- and they sort of try to seduce him. There's a classic bit where ... well, just go watch it. Patrick Stewart plays it beautifully.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:47 PM on August 5


Just wanted to also mention the Nausicaan figure, with his giant knife and toony proportions, will look equally at home on your TMNT shelf as the Star Trek one.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:57 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


(Off-topic but !!)
From Slashfilm:
[...] Paramount is developing a series set in Starfleet Academy, [...] and will be marketed towards younger audiences (along with further confirmation of a “Section 31” series, the Michelle Yeoh-focused spin-off of Discovery, as well as a tease for a possible Worf-centric project [emphasis mine] described as “incredibly funny, poignant and touching”). There’s no word on whether this Starfleet Academy show will be another animated series or a live-action one, but it sounds promising either way.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:31 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I definitely think they play fast and loose with Picard's backstory. We know from "Family" that he was a super-high achiever since he was a schoolboy ("Of course you won the ribbon. You always did.") And then even in the rarefied air of Starfleet academy, he was still widely considered a standout, per Admiral Hanson, and later, Boothby in "The First Duty" ("nothing you did ever surprised me.").

But, we also know that he "never would have graduated" from the Academy without Boothby's help with some unnamed problem he had gotten himself into, and that he has long credited his encounter with the Nausicans as a "hard, painful lesson" that helped him grow beyond being an "undisciplined, loud-mouthed, opinionated young man who was way out of his league." ("The Samaritan Snare").

Those two portrayals can be reconciled, but of course I think it's easier just to acknowledge that Picard was always whatever the writers wanted for that particular episode.
posted by skewed at 6:54 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


How about this: he excelled, he knew he excelled, and he'd been continuously reminded of how much he excelled all the way up through most of his Academy career. So he then caught Lucas-Jackson's Disease and decided he could do no wrong, hence becoming a cocky hellion and falling face-first into a couple of "prequel trilogies" of his own, if you catch my drift. Luckily one person around him at that point wasn't a fawning yes-man: Boothby. (Robert doesn't seem the type to make frequent visits from La Barre to San Francisco, no matter how convenient the sci-fi travel tech is.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:47 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I just want to know if his relationship with Marta was repaired as well.

In the Present, Picard notes he's remained in contact with her over the years. But in the Past, he sleeps with her and sours the friendship. When he repaired things and went back to the Present, sure he had gotten the knife through the heart, but he had still ruined the friendship. Unless she forgave him?

Personally I think it was just a Q-dream and not actual time travel. Too many loose strings har har!
posted by Fukiyama at 10:35 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever entirely understood the rank vs. interesting-job map that Trek assumes.

I could go on and on about TNG trying to have its cake and eating it too vis-a-vis Starfleet being military today and not military tomorrow (and I did, but I know you don't want to read all that!). Ranks and careers, I think, are good examples of Gene's lasting influence on TNG. Riker never accepted promotion, and Starfleet didn't mind, because Gene had the idea Starfleet is this perfect team, where everyone is exactly where they belong. So if Riker wanted to remain the XO of the Enterprise for the rest of his career, as long as he excelled at that, Starfleet wouldn't be in hurry to move him along. There are plenty of other officers willing to take command and thus be where they fit best in Starfleet.
posted by Stuka at 11:29 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]


When he repaired things and went back to the Present, sure he had gotten the knife through the heart, but he had still ruined the friendship.

I believe he asked Q to undo all the changes he made; replaying the fight with the Nausicaans is just the dramatic way of showing that, as opposed to showing the relatively undramatic not-sleeping with someone (and I'm really grossed out on the age difference, now that I know it).

In terms of the consistency of Picard as a character, I have always found this portrayal of young Picard being a womanizer and a cad being very much at odds with how he had been described. I could see him being an overconfident youth with too much swagger, but I always felt he had too much respect for other people to be as shallow in his relationships as he appears here (Though I feel there's a whole area to explore in Trek about gender and sexuality - what would the sexual mores of the 24th century look like, given a progressive outlook (which Trek claims, but doesn't always live up to, especially on this topic) and the medical advances - surely things like STDs and unwanted reproduction are more easily prevented (thought ST: E really falls on its face there)). Anyways, my feeling is that someone in the writers room wanted to portray young Picard as being like Kirk (or at least the popular conception of what Kirk was) than anything else, for motives I won't guess at.
posted by nubs at 12:03 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Saxon Kane: Well, I don't want to spoil things for you if you haven't seen DS9, so let me just say... Watch DS9.

Except that was Thomas Riker, the transporter duplicate. Which comes from an episode that also revolved around paths not taken, and ambitions postponed, making for an interesting Riker companion piece to this episode.

Stuka: So if Riker wanted to remain the XO of the Enterprise for the rest of his career, as long as he excelled at that, Starfleet wouldn't be in hurry to move him along. There are plenty of other officers willing to take command and thus be where they fit best in Starfleet.

Perhaps, but to Mr.Encyclopedia's point, in Best of Both Worlds we did see Commander Shelby explicitly tell Riker that he was standing in her way. And his father also failed to understand why he was passing up the opportunity, so there was certainly real world pressure on him. Though of course we know he does eventually assume command of the Titan.
posted by Pryde at 5:07 PM on August 7


Yeah, there's definitely a certain amount of "from everyone according to their ability" in Star Trek's vision of the future, but there's a lot of in-universe examples of folks saying not taking a promotion is a bad career move. I just think most people look at it as "Riker just loves his job so much" and not "Riker is selfish for not letting other up-and-comers also do this job."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:23 PM on August 9


Except that was Thomas Riker, the transporter duplicate.

I didn't say that Commander Riker joined the Maquis, I just said, "Watch DS9" ;)

to Mr. Encyclopedia's point about conflicting values (communistic vs. meritocratic, to simplify grossly):

It feels like there are a few different ways of life in the Federation. Starfleet is for the go-getters, the adventurers, the seekers of glory, the type-As, and those driven to seek the unknown... Colonization is for the back-to-nature types, members of certain distinct cultural groups that want to preserve their beliefs and way of life, the adventurer-types who don't fit into Starfleet... and then there's the regular Federation citizens, who may be artists or scientists, or even run some sort of business (like the restaurant Sisko's dad operates, which I presume serves food for free?) -- they aren't necessarily unambitious, but they have their needs met and are mostly content (or, weak and soft as the Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans, and Dominion might say) to do their thing, but they probably don't do a lot of star-trekking beyond the occasional vacation to Riza. Of course, I'm extrapolating based on what little we see beyond Starfleet itself, so ... (shrugs shoulders)
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:32 AM on August 12


given a progressive outlook (which Trek claims, but doesn't always live up to, especially on this topic)
Really good point. That San Francisco in the 24th century seems backward compared to the same city when the series was filmed is a bit surprising. I'm now wondering what other directions they could have gone with young Picard. There are plenty of other conflicts. I guess deciding to pursue archeology doesn't have the same dramatic impact.
Starfleet is for the go-getters
That's a really interesting thing to think about. Who actually joins Starfleet? Being a captain or cheif engineer sounds cool. Most of the other jobs sound awful. I can't imagine spending years pressing buttons to keep the warp field aligned at a windowless standing desk inside a nacel. Especially if you don't need the pay and have a significant chance of being murdered by a god-like alien before you know what's happened. Are they all just hopeful that they'll get a command position and make captain some day? (One might argue that's how academia functions now.) Or, is there some other motivation?

How in the universe do you convince people to become security guards if they don't need money?

(Personally, I'm waiting for the world to become Star Trek so that I can join the Maquis.)
posted by eotvos at 1:29 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I guess, on reflection, I've actually been an unpaid security guard myself. (At protest camps.) But, not 'cause it seemed like a fulfilling career choice. I've also briefly been a paid security guard, and absolutely nobody there gave a shit about anything except paying rent and avoiding trouble. The complete contempt my bosses had for the job was both a relief and really frustrating. I'm pretty sure the NASA facility guards I know would quit tomorrow if they didn't need a paycheck. But, I guess, there's no path that leads from NASA security guard to chief technologist, except for quitting and spending a decade in school. Maybe it's different in Starfleet.
posted by eotvos at 1:43 PM on August 12


I feel like 90% of the time, security has absolutely nothing to do, but since they are well staffed so they can handle serious emergencies, they get to spend most of their time doing weapons training and PT. And they have access to training resource that they'd never be able to get as civilians, post-scarcity society notwithstanding. They'd probably get the Navy Seal and CIA types.
posted by skewed at 7:54 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I didn't say that Commander Riker joined the Maquis, I just said, "Watch DS9" ;)

Ah, sorry, that was just where my mind went in the context of that conversation!

I do wish they'd had a throwaway line at some point to let us know Thomas' fate.
posted by Pryde at 9:09 PM on August 12


From Wikipedia:
In the book Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion there is story called "Promises Made" that is about Kira rescuing Riker from a Cardassian prison camp. That's probably about the best we will get.

eotvos: I also wonder about the life of a generic Starfleet member. There are some ensigns on the Enterprise in TNG who are gray and balding, yet they have the same rank as Wesley frickin' Crusher. What went wrong with those poor bastards' careers? There's also apparently a difference between enlisted Starfleet (like Miles O'Brien) who don't go through the Academy, and those on the officer track who do, but that distinction is only brought up a couple of times -- maybe all those extras and unseen off-camera folks are just enlisted types, although I think even ensign is an officer rank? I'm also unclear on whether or not someone could still enlist in Starfleet if they wash out of the Academy -- everyone always seems to suggest that failing at the Academy means you're done with Starfleet, but maybe that's just because most people would feel too ashamed to enlist if they couldn't be on the officer track.

Security on a Starship is probably pretty boring most of the time, but I think one of the worst jobs would have to be transporter room operator, as demonstrated by the brilliant Chief O'Brien at Work. But probably the children have it the worst of all. In the episode "Disasters," when Picard gets trapped with a group of children, one of the kids goes all Bill Paxton in Aliens, afraid they are going to die, and it's only Picard's steady hand that keeps the kids going. Considering that the ship is nearly destroyed at least once a month, I would assume that every child onboard would be severely traumatized for the rest of their lives. I mean, how the hell can a 10 year old deal with being trapped in a temporal loop or some other crazy shit?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:10 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


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