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Stardate: not given
Edited Length: 45:01
U.S. Airdate: February 28, 1993
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [13.8/3]
Ned Vaughn: [Corey]
J.C. Brandy: [Marta]
Clint Carmichael: [Nausicaan #1]
Rae Norman: [Penny]
John de Lancie: "Q"
Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Written By: Ronald D. Moore
Directed By: Les Landau
Executive Producer: Rick Berman
Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss
Story Editor: Brannon Braga
Story Editor: René Echevarria
Clive Church: Maurice Picard
Marcus Nash: Young Picard
Majel Barrett: Computer Voice
Currently, this feature is disabled... Sorry.
Sickbay is in chaos, as a critically injured Jean- Luc Picard is beamed aboard. After being shot at close range with an energy weapon, Picard's artificial heart has malfunctioned, and he is dying on the surgical table. His vital signs begin to fade even further...
...and Picard looks around himself into a gulf of impenetrable whiteness. He sees nothing for a few moments, and then sees an angelic figure approaching him, shrouded in light. He takes this "angel's" hand, and the angel becomes more recognizable:
"Welcome to the afterlife, Jean-Luc," says Q. "You're dead."
Picard scoffs at the notion that he is dead, and even more so at Q's claim of being God. "I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you - the universe is not so badly designed!" Q, persistent, brings other evidence to bear, and Picard sees and hears his late father scold him for coming to a bad end with Starfleet: "Dead ... before your time." Maurice Picard fades, but Q then calls up the voices of Picard's "victims" - the many people who have died over the years through Picard acting or failing to act.
He offers Picard a chance to express regrets for a "sordid" past, but Picard says that if he really is dead, "My only regret is dying and finding you here!" Q, acting hurt, points out that he was not the cause of Picard's death - Picard's artificial heart was. When asked how he lost his real heart, however, Picard only mutters that it was a mistake from his youth.
Q quickly pounces on this regret and displays the event to Picard, who sees his young and cocky self get stabbed through the heart by an angry Nausicaan. Agreeing with Q that the fight wasn't smart, he claims to have been a different man then. "Arrogant, undisciplined, with far too much ego and far too little wisdom. I was much more like you." Picard continues on, regretting that he hadn't learned responsibility until after being stabbed through the back, and notes that if he'd been more responsible then he'd have a real heart and wouldn't have died when he did.
"So if you had to do it all over again?" "Things would be different."
Suddenly, Picard is slapped by a young woman, and finds himself back in a very old uniform surrounded by two of his old Academy friends, Corey and Marta, looking as young as they did after graduation. He turns down their invitation to join them for a bite to eat, saying he'll catch up with them later. They leave, remarking that "Johnny"'s just marking time until another date.
"Captain" Q arrives, telling Picard that he's got his second chance - he is now back at the ripe young age of 21, fresh out of the Academy, and ready to change a few things about his past. Picard initially objects, saying that changing history could have horrible results, but Q scoffs at that. "Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important." When even that fails to get Picard moving, Q gives him his word that the only changes occurring as a result of this will be to Picard.
Q tells Picard that he has two days until the encounter with the Nausicaans that robbed him of his heart. If he can change enough by then to avoid getting stabbed, then he'll be back in the "present" with a real heart. "Then I won't die?" "Of course you'll die - it'll just be at a later time." If he doesn't avoid getting stabbed, the two of them get to spend eternity together. This, if nothing else, goads Picard to action - but at the moment, the "action" expected by history is that he keep his date with a young woman named Penny...
Penny, however, is not impressed by this quieter, less hormonal, more "contemplative" Picard, and when Picard turns down some rather blatant romantic offers, she throws a drink on him for insulting her and leaves. After a quick exchange with Q, Picard turns his attentions to his friends' activities. Corey is having fun playing a billiards-like game called "damjat", and winning handily. He defeats his current opponent, and leaves the table to relax - but then, a Nausicaan walks in and challenges him to a game.
Picard tries to convince Corey that the game is a big mistake, but Corey dismisses it as paranoia and plays. While he plays, Picard tells Q of what is to come if nothing changes. Corey will lose, and realize later that the Nausicaan cheated. He will want revenge, and enlist Jean-Luc's help in rigging the table later to turn the situation around. It will provoke the Nausicaan and indirectly start the fight.
Sure enough, very quickly the Nausicaan wins, gloating all the while. That evening, Corey comes to the correct conclusion that the Nausicaan used a magnetic device to alter the path of the balls, and suggests rigging the table to make it backfire. Picard, however, insists that that will solve nothing, and possibly just make things worse. Corey is stunned by Picard's refusal ("When did you start backing away from a good fight?"), and stalks out when Marta agrees that forgetting about it may be the best choice. Marta says she's impressed with Picard's new responsibility, that she believes comes from the new Ensign's bars they both wear. When Picard remarks that the rank will take some getting used to, she voices regret that they can't get used to it together, adding after a brief pause "...the three of us, I mean."
Suddenly, Q comes in carrying flowers for a "John Luck Pickerd", and Marta, assuming they're from one of Picard's recent "conquests", makes a hasty exit. After a quick observation that Picard's relationship with Marta might also be changed this time around, Q tells Picard that Corey is at this very moment rigging the table.
In very short order, Picard finds Corey and startles him. Corey is initially glad to see him there, but that turns into shock when he sees that Picard is there not to help, but to talk Corey out of this course of action. Picard refuses to go so far as to fight Corey about it, but he says he'll tell the gambling foreman about the table. Corey bristles, and bids a cold farewell to "Ensign Picard."
Later, Picard complains about Corey's reaction to Marta, who reassures him that he'll get over it. The conversation again turns to how different Picard seems, and how attractive she finds it. Picard admits that he's thought many times about the two of them getting involved. "Why didn't you ever say anything?" "At this moment ... I really have no idea why not." They fall together...
The next morning, Picard wakes up naked in bed - with Q lying next to him. "Morning, darling." After Q riles him about his now-abandoned "just friends" claim about Marta, Picard meets Marta for breakfast. Unfortunately, he soon finds that she feels they've ruined their friendship with their rash acts, and that she very much regrets what has occurred. After promising to see him one last time at the trio's final get-together in the evening, she leaves.
Q smirks. "Well, let's see - so far you've managed to get slapped by one woman, a drink thrown in your face by another, and alienate your two best friends. You're doing pretty well so far - the only thing left to avoid is getting stabbed through the heart!"
That evening, a very tense dinner is made still more tense when the Nausicaans enter and challenge Corey to damjat once again. Picard claims they're not interested, and physically prevents Corey from attacking them even after the Nausicaans insult Starfleet and make lewd remarks about Marta. The Nausicaans laugh and leave, but Corey has other ideas. He tells Picard, "I don't know who you are any more, but you're not my friend." Marta leaves with Corey after a brief "Goodbye, Johnny."
Q, however, congratulates Picard - he's survived. Picard finds himself back on the Enterprise, hale and hearty - but dressed in a blue uniform, and holding the rank of Lieutenant j.g. in astrophysics. Picard finds that the captain of the ship is now one Thomas Halliway, and heads to sickbay.
When he arrives, he finds Q waiting for him. "Vell, vell, vell - vot seems to be ze trouble, Loytenant Picard?" He assures Picard that, true to Q's word, nothing has changed except for him. He is now the product of his "new" youth - safe and sound, making tests and analyzing data, "and delivering reports to your superiors."
Picard hastens to Ten-Forward and speaks with Riker and Troi about his past and future career. Both say he's a very good, very ... competent ... officer, but add that he's never been willing to take the chances necessary to reach his always- lofty goals. Riker, however, says he'll see what he can do to move Picard into engineering or security, and that "we'll see" about command. Riker and Troi are called away to a bridge officers' meeting, leaving Picard to stew over his fate until Geordi summons him, wanting the very report he's been carrying for quite some time.
In the turbolift, Picard complains bitterly about his fate to the presumably-listening Q. When the lift opens, however, it opens back onto the white "afterlife", with the angelically garbed Q waiting and wondering why Picard can complain about having gotten a second chance.
"I can't live out my days as that person! That man is bereft of passion ... and imagination! That is not who I am!"
Q, however, points out that it's the product of the youth Picard wanted to have. This Picard is less arrogant, less undisciplined - "The one who was less like me." This Picard never had a brush with death to add focus to his life, and always drifted from one job to the next - never standing out, and always playing it safe. Picard admits that the changes he wanted to make were a mistake.
"Are you asking me for something, Jean-Luc?" "Give me the chance to put things back the way they were before." "Before, you died in sickbay. Is that what you want?"
Picard doesn't hesitate. "I would rather die as the man I was than live the life I just saw."
Q moves toward Picard -
- who finds himself back in the bar in the middle of the confrontation with the Nausicaans. This time, however, when he's called a coward, Picard fights, and fights hard. Corey and Marta are removed from the fight quickly, but Picard manages to knock out two of the three Nausicaans. The third, however, grabs him and impales him through the back. Picard falls to his knees, sees the blade, and laughs...
...and is still laughing when he wakes in sickbay, alive.
Some time later, Picard and Riker discuss Picard's experiences. Neither is quite sure whether they were real or a near-death hallucination, but Picard notes that if it was real, he owes Q his gratitude for showing him just how essential those "unsavory" parts of his life were in forming the complete man he now is.
Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: January 28, 1995 || Last Modified: July 12, 1999