Friday, August 5, 2022

Star Trek: Tapestry

Nichelle Nichols

via IMDb

An American television giant has passed on.  Her casting and her advocacy are the heart of Star Trek.  The following is my favorite Nichelle Nichols story from my own trek with this franchise:

"The Changeling" is a good Uhura episode.   Nomad overhears her singing and seeks her out for questioning.  When she gives unsatisfying answers, Nomad wipes her memory, deeming her flawed.  Dr. McCoy and Nurse Barrett set out to reeducate her.  In her training, her native Swahili comes to her before the English.  Apparently, Nichelle Nichols had to fight for that to be included in the story.  Director Marc Daniels wanted her to stick with English, arguing that Nichols herself didn't speak Swahili so why bother?  Nichols countered, saying "Nichelle Nichols doesn't speak Swahili, but Uhura does!"  Nichols won and a linguist was brought in to teach her the lines.

Episode: "Tapestry"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6, Episode 15
Original Air Date: February 15, 1993

When Picard "dies" on an away mission, Q offers him the impossible gift: the chance to see how his life would have played out if he could change one crucial decision.  What if he hadn't gotten into a bar brawl when he was 21 and received an artificial heart transplant as a result?  As might be expected, one what-if leads to others.  What if he slept with his friend Marta?  What if he resists the advances of Penny, a woman at the bar?  What if he didn't rig the dom-jot table to help his other pal Corey win?  

Wouldn't you know, Picard didn't much like the more cautious life he ended up living.

I second guess life decisions all the time.  It's a bit of a curse.  As such, I find stories like this reassuring.  Regret is worthless.  One decision is linked to so many others.  "Way leads on to way," as Robert Frost wrote.  Mistakes are important because you learn from them.  Life really does work out for the best.  

"We are the choices we have made." - Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep's character in The Bridges of Madison County)

Anyway, it's a fun episode, another in the "what might have been" line for Picard which seem to be increasing in frequency as the series nears its end.  There's something clever done with the color of his science officer uniform late in the story: it's blue but really a rather pretty teal depending on the light, as if he doesn't truly belong anywhere.  It's the DS9 science officer color but it doesn't have any meaning on the Enterprise.  I don't know if it's intentional but it's effective.  

Acting Notes

Ned Vaughn (Corey) was born November 20, 1964 in Huntsville, Alabama.  He studied at Birmingham-Southern College.  His professional acting career began with television commercials.  Films have included The Rescue, The Hunt for Red October and Apollo 13.  Television work has included China Beach, Murder One and 24.  

While reasonably successful as an actor, Vaughn has been more active as a political figure.  He was a longtime vice-president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and a driving force behind that body's controversial merger with the American Federation of Teacher and Radio Artists (AFTRA).  He was a rare Republican union activist.  In 2013, he left the organization to run for Congress in California, though he eventually dropped out of the race.  

Vaughn has been married to his wife Adelaide since 1997.  They have five children.


  1. I loved that episode when Q gives Captain Picard the chance to change how events unfold that day in the bar when he was younger.