I would pay one billion internet dollars to see Patrick Stewart perform this scene in reality. Someone have his actual people call my imaginary people, we can have my fake internet accountant take care of all the details.
But, yes, huh. This kind of got off the leash and I just followed it where it was gonna go, and here we are.
Morton’s Fork isn’t a battle that ever occurred in Star Trek, or anywhere; I just thought it sounded better than e.g. The Battle of Hobson’s Choice. But since this game is taking place pre-Locutus, Picard had to imagine something as the grounds for this confrontation between his imagined future self and his imagined fictional counterpart on Deep Space Nine.
And I didn’t want that imagined scenario to just be literally Wolf 259 by another name, because I think it’s interesting to look at the difference between the idea of Picard-as-Other being forced to commit an atrocity, and Picard-as-Picard making a command decision under his full faculties, and the implications that has for Sisko’s reaction to the outcome and Picard’s own sense of responsibility when faced directly by the human costs of those decisions.
For those who don’t remember or never saw it, the original scene in DS9 that this strip and yesterday’s strip is riffing on was actually quite short and just a strained Starfleet/DS9 biz-management conversation between Picard and Sisko re: Sisko’s assignment here, and almost all of Ben Sisko’s anger at Picard, and Picard’s discomfort at the circumstances, was left unsaid and implied by body language, the nasty business of Picard-as-Locutus-of-Borg killing a whole bunch of Starfleet folks before being rescued and de-Borged again being covered by the flashback scene at the start of DS9’s pilot where we revisit that big battle at Wolf 359.
Keep in mind, as viewers we go into the first episode of DS9 knowing nothing about Ben Sisko, but knowing that Picard is a good guy, a guy we really like, a guy we’ve followed for seven seasons.
And when that I Am Locutus Of Borg thing went down at the end of season 3, start of season 4 of TNG it was a really shocking thing and we were rooting primarily for Picard’s safe return and for the senior staff of the Enterprise to cope with his kidnapping and conversion and their loss of and concern for their captain. We the viewers experienced that two-parter of Next Generation from the perspective of the Enterprise, and the destruction done to the rest of Starfleet and others by the Borg rampage under Locutus was more story spectacle than something viscerally felt; all the damage was to Other People, to background characters and set dressing.
So the DS9 pilot’s meeting with Picard, with the focus on Sisko, was a great way to simultaneously do two things.
1. It put the perspective of the Trek viewer outside that familiar and forgiving Enterprise/Picard-centric view of that whole Borg mess and got us to see things from the perspective of someone who saw his wife, his ship, his friends and crew-mates, really his whole military and civilization, radically threatened by an assault led by a man who, somehow, is nonetheless here a few years later, still a decorated and uniform ranking officer, giving Sisko orders. Suddenly the Borg assault wasn’t just a season cliffhanger event, wasn’t just A Bad Thing That Happened To Jean Luc.
2. It put us really on edge as viewers encountering this new Star Trek franchise after being accustomed to liking, and siding with, Picard et al and experiencing mostly interpersonal harmony and cooperation from major Starfleet cast-members. Here’s your new protagonist. He hates your old one. For killing his wife.
Which is kind of brilliant and daring. When I first watched that scene I was just kind of laughing, like “oh DAMN son”, but in retrospect, I’m really pretty taken by what they did there. Like: Oh. Damn.
But, so, yes! Anyway. Morton’s Fork. Those darned Ventrusians. Different scenario, same angry Sisko, except now Sisko is actually Picard’s own creation, and Morton’s Fork some noble imagined scenario of Picard’s construction as well, and presumably none of this consciously occurred to Picard as the setup to an emotionally shattering auto-deconstruction. Picard could have been the hero here, essentially unchallenged. Picard probably meant to be when he started this little puppet show. And yet!
Basically I think Counselor Troi could write a book or three.