I'm looking for a word to fill in this blank.
"I'm certain of it: the square root of 225 is 25," said Peter. But when Mary pulled out her phone and used the calculator app to find that it was in fact 15, Peter recoiled. In a quick ___, he redirected, adding, "But you know, this reminds me of a funny story involving Euler..."
The word I'm looking for would mean a deflection from a conversational faux pas by redirecting the conversation. It could describe making an excuse for one's flub, but not necessarily. I've thought of some related verbs like redirect, deflect, rebound, recover, and so on, but I'm looking for a noun, and one that pertains particularly to talking. Tangent (as in, "going off on a tangent") is relevant, though that doesn't have the connotation of recovering for a mistake.
I really feel like at some point, the French must have invented a word for this, and then we stole it. Alternatively, a word for a deflection from a generally uncomfortable conversation would also work.