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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

6 Comments

  1. David Faggiani
    November 4, 2015 @ 2:18 am

    Yes, Tapestry is a bit of a strange one. It also seems to big up abstinence in your youth too, as it's pretty conclusively shown that Picard sleeping with his female friend was a mistake.

    Even as a kid of 10, I thought something was wrong about their 'morning after' scene, and I think I've figured out what it is. She seems weird with him, which is fine, maybe that went too far for her and her friendship with 'Johnny'. But why doesn't Picard seem weirded out? I don't blame him for sleeping with her, that would of course be a potent fantasy, revisiting a 'never-was' young adult' crush as a wiser, more confident soul (in disguise, effectively!), but why doesn't adult Picard seem the one that is ashamed, or at least conflicted, the next morning? He's essentially just taken advantage of a young woman (much, much younger) under false pretences. Shouldn't this at least bother him? Instead, all that seems to bother him is her rejection. That's pretty dark…

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  2. David Faggiani
    November 4, 2015 @ 2:20 am

    Also, if you are thinking about the theoretical link between the Celestial Temple and the Q Continuum, I came up with a fun theory a few months back which casts a bit of light on one possible version of that! It's pretty bonkers tin foil, and far too long to relate here, but it's given me a lot of pleasure!

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  3. Froborr
    November 4, 2015 @ 5:32 am

    Hmm. My reading of "Tapestry" has always been a little bit different, I think. It's not that being a hellraiser when you're young is great. It's not, and Picard still carries the consequences of that. Rather, it's that Picard naturally became more careful and conscientious as he aged. That's what the process of maturation was for him. So a Picard that started as careful and conscientious as the one we know would, by the time he reached that age, be much too careful and conscientious.

    But then I'm a cynical old bastard who enjoys watching the TNG cast get knocked down a peg, and I'm more interested in people reaching for utopia than people already living in one, so.

    Tangentially, since you mentioned the Prophets and I just played it last night, one of the new STO missions involves an Orb that was swapped with its Mirror Universe equivalent, and you have to return it to the Mirror Prophets. I fully expected them to go the boring route and have the Mirror Prophets be functionally indistinguishable from the Pah Wraiths, but they didn't. The Mirror Universe Prophets and the religion built around them are indistinguishable from the Prophets and Bajoran religion of the primary universe. The only difference is that where the vision of the main universe Prophets has them using the forms of major friendly NPCs, the Mirror Prophets use the forms of villains. But they're still basically benevolent and helpful, albeit very alien.

    Still mulling over how I feel about that and the implications of it, given how weird the Mirror Universe is conceptually to begin with.

    (Fleet Admiral Leeta, Savior/Conqueror of the Galaxy remains the best thing STO has done with the Mirror Universe. Hearing Chase Masterson say "This is Admiral Leeta, captain of the Enterprise" last night was one of the highlights of the game thus far.)

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  4. Ross
    November 4, 2015 @ 12:33 pm

    I liked Tapestry, but I remember at the time thinking that I was basically done with stories about how it was wrong to try to change your own past because blah blah shitty things in your past blah blah character building.

    There is, interestingly, a 1996 interactive fiction game of the same name which has exactly the same premise: at his moment of death, the fates offer the protagonist the chance to relive three moments from his past, with the player having the choice to try to change things, leave them as they are, or not-change-things-but-change-his-understanding-of-them (for example, there's a very Silent Hill 2-prefiguring scene where the player has to decide whether to euthenize his dying wife)

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  5. K. Jones
    November 4, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

    This is always tough. I've been thinking of a lot of narrative flashback storytelling lately, and I'm not sure that contextually dilemmas of "who you are now taking advantage of who people are then" can count as unethical or egregious any more than having a memory of being in the moment, not unstuck-in-your-old-body would be.

    When applied to any of us, the fantasy logic kind of falls apart, because obviously we have our memories, but the implication that Picard is within some sort of living memory and he's reliving things may be awkward (as it is when you live it in the first place, sometimes) but isn't scurrilous. I'm not sure I'm being as clear with the central focus of it as I could be, though. It's a thought about flashbacks in general and sci-fi "Wonderful Life" scenarios in particular that I have yet to really crystallize.

    But that scene was definitely erring on the side of a male gazey, "women are the ones who get awkward" trope instead of doing something more interesting.

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  6. K. Jones
    November 4, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

    Tapestry's a great example of how what I like about Star Trek isn't what the larger fandom likes about Star Trek. But I've always known that I'm not like anyone who I'd hesitantly call a peer.

    To that, I actually just genuinely don't like it. It's a quality episode but nothing about the premise appeals to me. First of all, while I'm okay with flashbacks, I generally don't like "Year One" type scenarios that essentially try to retroactively fill in backstory, killing a character's mystique and telling a story we know the ending to already in one fell swoop.

    The fact of the matter is we already know from context clues and a lot of subtext who Picard "used to be". We know that he's an middle-aged-to-older man in a show called "Next Generation", markedly older than most of the people he's traveling with. We've seen him contrasted with other men his age who've remained stuck in the Crap Starfleet or Kirk Trope lifestyles while he's been able to evolve and grow and learn from his young companions.

    Ostensibly we already know that he was something of a would-be Kirk and that at some point he grew out of it and made himself better. And what's more, we know this story already, too, because he literally already told it to us and Wesley.

    And much like The Inner Light, as well-crafted as they are, I skip it a lot.

    Anyway, none of this is a negative indictment, it's just to say that I haven't got any patience for mopey, reflective flashbackery, because it's already so clear that Picard is a man who lives for the present and future, and doesn't dwell in the past.

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