***** (5 stars out of 5)
Like Yar before him, the Captain dies senselessly. Unlike Yar, he gets better. While dead he finds himself in limbo with Q, who claims to be God. It's the best laugh Picard's had in years.
"Blasphemy. I oughtta cast you out or smite you or something."
"I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by YOU. The universe is not so badly designed."
Fresh from his break-up with Vash, it seems Q is looking for fun. And Q's idea of fun is tormenting Picard with his cocky misspent youth culminating in the loss of his organic heart in a knife fight.
Picard finds himself in 2327, reliving his own past: Ensign 'Johnny' tooling around the casino with Cortin Zweller and 'Marty' Batanides. His old buddies, pals, chums. Of course, Marty is a girl buddy...
Picard's charm quickly fails him with his overbooked love life.
Speaking of love, what are an Antican and a Selay doing in the same room not eating each other?
Rather than have Corey's back, Picard tries to be mature and diplomatic... or a stuck-up snitch if you'd prefer. He ruins his other friendship by falling into the sack with Marta. The story leaves it to us to ponder whether she got his 21-year-old experience or his 63-year-old stamina.
He wakes up with Q. Who needs a knife in your heart with a scare like that?!
"You have no guramba!" bellows the knifey bully Nausicaan. Worryingly, despite having seen the guramba in question most recently, Marta does not pipe up to correct him.
Picard returns to 2369 with his original heart, guramba presumed missing, and a dead-end job in science blue. He begs Q for a second chance to stand up for his friends, to take the risk, to put the right thing wrong. Even if it costs his life.
"Tapestry" proves they weren't just watching Quantum Leap, but also Pinky and the Brain. At least I assume that's where Cortin's Captain NARF got his start. That said, brilliantly done, loses nothing on multiple viewings. Top drawer. Seriously, maybe your guramba are in your top drawer.