*** Some SPOILERS ***
A fine story centering on a pivotal event in Picards life onboard a starbase awaiting his first assignment with two of his closest friends.
The story begins with Q hauling Picard into an apparent afterlife as he lies on the surgery table apparently set to die.
The episode is heavily themed upon the dramatic situation of past regrets, what if we could go back and change things and is cleverly framed around the results of what would have happened to Picard if hed done things differently.
Among the things that weigh on Picards mind are foremost his brash behaviour with the ladies, getting into fights and shirking conseqences. The main point is to show how a Picard aged with experience would have done things differently and we should not look back at past events with wise eyes, indeed to the level that its almost a paradox in that we can never do a better job if given a second chance. Infact that it is better to do and learn from mistakes, because ultimately we if dont be can never become the person with all that wisdom and experience to have those regrets and wishes.
There are several key subplots to the events of the main thread, that led to Picards artificial heart which provide the basis for more Q gloating and goading of Picard which make for wonderful viewing. Afterall their relationship is one of the key ones in this franchise and if you love to see these two adversaries battle their wits against the other then youll love this story.
Esp. so as the the setting is not from the normal timeframe and the choices Picard makes concerning the cheating of the Nausicaans and his bedding his colleague and close friend Marty Batanides turn out far worse than he could have predicted if hed done things "right". There are also moments of doubt when he tries to do the "right thing" by stopping Corey from cheating to gain his revenge.
However, all the changes he makes lead to some uncomfortable admission from Picard as things change beyond his comprehension to the delight of Q.
All this leads to a very dramatic and heartfelt finale. As Picard is forced to realise that the changes he made to his regretted action will lead his to live our a dreary life of unfulfilment and worse know what it should have been like.
Loved the few scenes where the crew's perception of his alter-ego are so different than the norm. Probably the best dream type episode across the seven seasons.