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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2

This episode confuses the hell out of me, because elements of it were kinda meh, and elements of it were among the absolute finest I've ever, ever seen in Star Trek.

As for the "plot" side of things, this episode is full of holes and kinda collapses upon further examination. Why did the advanced synths just up and leave as soon as the beacon was turned off? Why did Oh's fleet hesitate for so long. Where the heck did that mysterious fixing machine that RIos used actually come from? Everything is contrived to be railroaded to the exact point we end up at. Mind you, I don't think the railroading is any worse than Trek has done historically, but it's there. The plotting - while better than last week - simply isn't brilliant.

In the early part of the episode, I felt like things were building to a very predictable point. However, along the way there were tons of legitimately great character moments, things like the "fireside chat" between Rios, Raffi, Elnor, and Narek, that I wish were done more throughout the season. Narissa was given a tiny bit more development as an antagonist, which was welcome. I can't say the same about Oh - every single scene with her was awful, and felt ported in from another show.

The episode began its grand inflection point when it became clear the plan wasn't to end on a giant battle - that they were going to take the very TNG standpoint that the whole point is to avoid the battle whenever possible. I always maintained the only proper way for the season to end was if the stupid prophecy of the Zhat Vash was in error, and it looks like I was right. Those advanced synths may have been malevolent (they sure looked it anyway) but they are just one of many advanced races in Trek (with varying moral compasses), and the season ultimately made it clear that conflict between organic and synthetic is not inevitable - that we have a choice to make and do not need to relive the past.

And then, the epilogue - PIcard's death and resurrection - took an episode which was just average and made it so much more. Particularly the unexpected brief re-introduction to the real Data. It was emotionally manipulative as hell, but it worked in all the right ways, tied back in to the first episode, and allowed Picard's initial arc some sort of closure. While I have some issue with the railroading of the idea that mortality is an intrinsic good in and of itself, it was all scripted and acted so beautifully that I could forget it in the moment. Probably the most feels an episode of Trek has given me since The Visitor.

In Jammer's ratings, three out of four stars.

One final note: Why was Riker wearing a hairpiece when he was an acting captain?
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 19, 2020, 7:10am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1

Okay that was...kinda mediocre. I can't decide if I actively disliked it, or am just incredibly disappointed after a (mostly) good-to-great season.

Akiva Goldsman's direction this week was strictly bush-league, and pales in comparison to everything we've seen before. All of the soft-cuts and very traditional, boring camera work gave this episode a Berman Trek, 90s, cheesy feel. This may have been the intent honestly, because the set-work, costumes, and makeup were very TNG as well. All of this would have been fine for The Orville or something, but given the tone that Picard has had to date - and the heavy story they're trying to tell - it's a colossal misstep here.

There were writing issues this week as well. There were a lot of what I would consider mostly unearned emotional beats. The interactions between Rios and Jurati, between Picard and Elnor, and between Picard and Raffi were really overdone both in terms of what was said and how it was said. Add to that the "Picard is dying for realz dudez!" and the shoddy direction and it felt like cornball melodrama.

I'm also really not liking that this advanced synth federation is apparently a genuine threat. I'm hoping this is yet another misunderstanding by Sutra however.

There were small things I liked - like Picard's "great speech" falling flat. But they had to ram the point home needlessly with Soong's comments from the peanut gallery.

Due to how the story is presented here - as if it's a bad TNG two-parter - I really feel like there's no tension to the outcome at all. Soji will flip, Sutra will be exposed, and the day will saved in a (mostly) predictable fashion. Only thing really in doubt is whether or not Picard dies and gets an android upgrade body or not.

Two stars. Meh.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 12, 2020, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

The most Trekkian possible conclusion for the "dark secret" would be if the elder race died off not because they created synthetic life, but because they enslaved it, and were thus judged by some energy being as being unworthy of being saved.

Or perhaps that they destroyed all of their own planets, because they felt like they had to cleanse themselves and the universe of the horror of synth toleration.

Regardless, I would be shocked if the ultimate message isn't loving acceptance of those who are different.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 12, 2020, 8:47am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

I meant Seven and Elnor BTW, not Seven and Hugh.

I would rate this episode 3.5 stars. Would be 4 if it wasn't for the Borg cube stuff still being underwhelming, underwritten schlock.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 12, 2020, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Broken Pieces

New
Okay, that was awesome.

First and foremost - although not specifically relating to this episode - we have enough hints about the overall season arc that it seems like they're going to stick the landing. Things set in motion from the beginning of the series are starting to pay off. The weirder fankwank ideas - like the Romulans being androids, or this being a Borg origin theory - are not in the cards. Perhaps most important of all was Picard's discussion with Soji about "the past being the past, and we make the future." It's very clear this isn't going to be a finale about preventing the AI apocalypse, but instead about reinforcing the core Trek messages of fundamental human equality and inclusion. This, in and of itself, was enough to give the episode a high rating, because it's clear that Chabon & company understand Star Trek.

The episode was also replete with character moments. Narissa was finally given a little bit of depth beyond being a campy villain, and thus became a much more intriguing character. We finally get to the bottom of Rios's pain through a subplot which included a needed bit of levity. Basically everyone on La Sirena got their little moment in the sun to shine in this episode. And I liked the progression across the episode from the entire crew being literally fractured - broken pieces, as the title said - to being unified in purpose and mission by the end, as the truth helped draw everyone to one another.

The only sections I didn't really like - as was the case last week, was the Borg Cube stuff, which felt strangely underwritten and largely unneeded. I suppose Seven and Hugh must come to the rescue of the La Sirena crew some time during the finale, because otherwise all of this would be a waste. Though I'm not sure how they'd get there. Maybe they just follow the Romulan fleet?

Is Narek a real Zhat Vash? It seems like only women get access to the forbidden knowledge.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

This might be wishful thinking on my part, but I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell that Chabon & company will let the Zhat Vash be "right" - because that would cut against one of the most central elements of Star Trek.

In the Star Trek world, there are no monsters - only people. This goes back to the first season of TOS, where we discover Charlie X is just a scared teenager, the Horta is just a grieving mother, and Trelane is just a spoiled child. Certainly there are individual antagonists - even villains at times. But not once have we been shown a race which is rotten to the core. Every species has its good apples and bad ones, and even the bad ones are bad for a reason.

If the Zhat Vash are right, then it would mean synths are by nature dangerous creatures that need to be destroyed, not people just like you and me. It would be basically allegorically telling a story which justifies the Holocaust - because you just can't trust what "those people" would do if you leave them to their own devices. That is so stunningly off-message that I think it's more likely it ends up a damp squib. But it's more likely than either that the Zhat Vash have just hugely misinterpreted their own prophecy.

As for the "haters" - flame away on episodes all you like. What I can't stand though is when the comment threads descend into a general discussion of the series as a whole - or worse yet, modern Trek as a whole and what "real Trek" is. I realize that due to Jammer not having a forum there's nowhere else to do this, but the lack of threaded comments here makes it pretty hard to deal with extended conversations regardless.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Nepenthe

I'll break down my opinion on the episode into each of the three plot arcs, because my feelings on them are quite different.

The stuff on Nepenthe with the Rikers was awesome. Fanwank of course, but fanwank in the best way. I had tears in my eyes multiple times early on in the episode. The writers knew just the right TNG nostalgia notes to hit. I typically don't expect much from child actors, but the girl they got to play Kestra did an excellent job as well. I was a bit surprised how most of the interactions were actually between Picard and Troi, rather than Picard and Riker - but this may reflect that Sirtis has kept up her acting chops in a way Frakes has not. A little bit of the dialogue was strangely written (seemed like Kestra was talking about the Enterprise like she had been on it for example) but it wasn't enough to take me out of the story.

The stuff on La Sirena was pretty good as well. The writers have done a good job saving Jurati's character from the heel turn two episodes back, making her into a much more compelling persopm either than the quirky woman she initially appeared to be or the villain (or possessed person) that many feared. For the second week in a row we're really focusing on her mental breakdown - and it works. I liked the choice to have Raffi, rather than Rios, be the one to turn to her with compassion this time around. Only possible negative is Rios himself remains a pretty shallow character in comparison to those around him.

The stuff on the Borg cube with Elnor and Hugh was dreadful. Even setting aside killing Hugh for a second, every second of this was cliched dialogue and a railroaded plot. I think it might have been possible to do what they wanted done here justice with more time, but they wanted to focus on Picard/Soji, so they focused on trying to get done what they needed (Elnor stays behind, Hugh dies, Elnor calls Seven) as quickly as possible - meaning each of the three scenes has logic holes so gigantic you can drive a truck through them.

I suppose I'd rate it three stars overall, though 2.5 is also defensible.
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Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

Regarding the violence displayed by Elnor, we honestly don't know how much of this came down to writing versus direction. I'm guessing Frakes had a lot of freedom when it came to the composition here. The biggest issue with this scene is it directly conflicts with only two episodes before when Picard freaks out on Elnor for killing, and makes him swear he will not kill again without Picard's explicit permission. Then, he kills without Picard's explicit permission...and Picard doesn't care.

I disagree strongly with GreenBoots's comment that the time spent on things like Rios and Jurati's liason - or Raffi's drug abuse - would be better spent on "plot points." A sign of strong writing on a show is when the characters have room to breathe - when they exist on the screen as something independent of shallow plot-delivery devices. Watch something like The Expanse - or early seasons of Game of Thrones - and there are a ton of scenes which involve two characters shooting the shit about things not directly plot relevant. Or hell, the famous "Piller Filler" which we all loved back in the day. The point of these scenes are to let us know the emotional states of the characters at the current point, and their relationships with one another. On Discovery, the writers basically ignored this stuff - particularly in the first season - which is a large part of why many characters seem underwritten. On Picard they're following a different, and far more refreshing model.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

Yanks,

A lot of your nits don't seem like much.

1. The Rios/Jurati thing - although unneeded in terms of story - was pretty much the opposite of gratuitous. Agnes is in a pretty modest tank top. No boobage or butts. Nothing like Enterprise at all.

2. The XBs are all scarred and shit because they don't have access to top-of-the-like Federation medical facilities like Picard, and to a lesser extent Seven and Hugh. I mean, they don't even have ocular implants.

3. Dahj was programmed to find Picard when she activated because she was sent to Earth, and Picard was on Earth. Programming Soji to find Picard wouldn't be that helpful because she'd still need to get on a ship heading to Earth or something, which isn't easy when you're on the run from killers.

4. Regarding Picard's PTSD: It's well known that the writers wanted to do more with it, but were slipped down by the fully episodic nature of TV at the time. Ron Moore had to fight like hell to even get Family made, because Paramount didn't like having a story which was so referential to what happened the week before. Since First Contact we really only saw Picard twice up until now, so there's no reason to think he's "over it."
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

A lot of stuff people are mentioning as issues with the episode just seem to be from poor viewing comprehension of this or earlier episodes.

For example, where Raffi got her drugs/alcohol seems obvious. After her son rejected her, she bought them on Freecloud when off camera. That episode made it clear snakeweed could be bought there. Hence why she is drunk/stoned here.

The Borg "waking up" for a second in the alcove wasn't that strange either. The early episodes made it clear they are still disconnecting Borg to this day. The cube probably has millions of drones, and the Romulans and the reclamation project can only do so many at once. I'm also guessing the Romulan Free state likes its near-monopoly on Borg tech, and thus doesn't want to flood the market all at once.

Hugh stayed behind because he needed to close/power down the trajector. He implied the Romulans knew nothing about it, which makes sense - because otherwise they'd be guarding it. If the Romulans could just follow Picard to Riker's planet - and then learn to use the gate themselves - that would be a disaster.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

@Brian L.

I understand your complaint and I have raised it before as well. But it's too early to tell if Soji is like a BSG Cylon - human in every way physically. She could have a positronic brain, borg nanoprobes - all sorts of crud somewhere in her body. Certainly that she was "assembled" in some manner three years ago shows she didn't grow and age like a normal person. And in this episode she broke through a metal floor with her fists - which would be impossible if she was made out of regular old flesh and blood.

Basically give it time, it might not be as stupid as you are worried.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

@Richard James.

You are of course entitled to your opinion. But what you basically seem to be saying is "I can't point to anything this episode did wrong - I just don't like it."

To my mind, the episode had a very, very strong thematic core, which the title (The Impossible Box) alludes to. Not only does Narek have a puzzle box, and is the Artifact a literal (albeit slightly broken) box, but most of the characters are trapped in a mental box as well. Soji is trapped in her subconscious for most of the episode as she seeks to escape her programming. Narek is trapped between his feelings for Soji and his sense of mission. Jurati is trapped by her feelings of guilt. Raffi is trapped by past bad decisions destroying her relationship with her son. Picard is trapped to some extent too initially - trapped within the fear that his memories of assimilation left him with.

Everyone but Rios and Elnor gets a solid plotline which reinforces common themes. Rios isn't because he's basically just a sounding board for the woes of Jurati and Raffi. Elnor isn't because - well - he seems to be someone who is fairly comfortable with who and what he is now that he's not cooped up on a planet any longer.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:04am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The Impossible Box

Damn. That was good. Like good in an unqualified sense of the word. And I'm someone who thought the beginning of the season was flawed, and the last episode was a stinker.

Basically everything was done right on this outing. Dialogue was for the most part natural, with no clunky infodumps. There were multiple cases of character interactions (Rios/Jurati, Rios/Raffi, Picard/Hugh) which didn't seek to move along the plot so much as just allow us to better understand the characters - which is a sign of great writing. There were numerous subtle references to past Trek - in the best way possible. The episode itself was high-energy and well-paced. We finally started to get the mystery box opened up a bit. There were solid themes and metaphors which were used across the entire episode (the impossible box was both Narek's toy, the Artifact itself, and arguably Soji's unconscious).

I had a few minor quibbles. Narissa is still a tiresome vampy character who doesn't belong in this show. I wish the episode hadn't glossed over how easily Jurati hid her murder of Maddox (and the crew hadn't moved on so rapidly). And I felt like Raffi's scene with Rios in her room was a bit underwritten. But none of that took me out of the experience.

Four stars. Better than anything in Kurtzman Trek yet.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Stardust City Rag

Don't have a lot of time this morning, but I wanted to give my two cents in.

I liked it, but I didn't think it was better than last week's episode. I thought it was - in most ways - a step back.

The episode was well shot, acted, and plotted, but the really clunky infodumps of the first three episodes reappeared (like Picard's initial dialogue with Seven). Worse, this episode had a lot of corny overly-broad melodrama. The characters didn't actually act like real human beings would across most of the episode, which was disappointing after the much more natural flow of dialogue last week.

At the same time, there was no glacial borg cube scenes this week, which was a welcome respite. I wish I could have said the same last week. Thus even though the main plot was a lot weaker, the lack of the tedious "B plot" made the episode of roughly equal quality.

I still think Rios could be a hologram, though if he is, Raffi is "in on it." That device that Raffi handed him could have really been a mobile emitter. Notice Seven stole it before she left? This will be important later on.

2.5 stars. Meh.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

I just again want to reiterate what I said above: Although this episode is not flawless - there are nits to be picked here for sure - it stands at least a half star above what came before. There are lots of reasons for this, including.

1. As long as you ignore the dreadfully boring Borg cube stuff, it's a coherent episode with a beginning, middle, and ending.

2. It has something resembling a three-part character arc for both Picard and Elnor.

3. The level of expository infodump is significantly lower here than the first three episodes - and where exposition happens it's in a more naturalistic manner, or at least a naturalistic manner for a Trek episode. I mean, TNG had a long practice of using the "conference room" for the infodump, so this is hardly new territory.

4. There are genuine conversations here - like the one between Rios and Jurati right after the credits - which are not plot critical but meant to establish the starting point of relationships between the characters. These will undoubtedly shift over time. These sorts of "normal" discussion were almost entirely absent from Discovery, so it's welcome to see them here.

5. The episode's A plot has coherent themes - and in true Trek fashion, it clubs you over the head with what those themes are, rather than being subtle. Again, this is refreshing, because so many Discovery episodes seemed to have nothing at all going on beyond the plot advancing.

In my mind, this is pretty clearly a three-star episode. There's nothing fantastic here, but it does the job it set out to do - introduces a character/conflict, and it resolves the conflict to some extent at the end. And it's refreshing that the conflict is resolved in a messy way here. If this was TNG the "Picard speech" would have saved the day, and everything would be fine. Here the resolution is just that Picard doesn't die, and gets a chance to heal one broken relationship - perhaps - with time. Which ties back into the theme about how Picard can't save everyone, but he can save some people.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Absolute Candor

Personally, I liked that. I think it was significantly better than the last two episodes, even though it was still largely setup for what is yet to come.

One of the things I liked about it was (continuing Soji subplot aside) it was a mostly self-contained, semi-serialized episode. The overall purpose of it was of course to recruit Elnor into the main cast, but it also had a thematic core, which was Picard coming to terms with the fact that he made a tremendous mistake in just abandoning the evacuation after leaving Starfleet, hurting not just individuals like Raffi, but entire communities of Romulans.

Also, the character work was much, much more solid this time around. The early scenes involved a lot of banter between Rios, Jurati, and Raffi which helped to establish where the characters are beginning their relationships. I consider it a hallmark of good drama that you allow for dialogue which really doesn't solely further the plot, which this episode had in spades.

Most importantly, for the first time this season, there were no truly clunky infodumps. The episode made more use of show not tell than the last few outings. There were some monologues of course, but they tended to be more the standard "briefings onboard a ship" thing which reads fine in Star Trek, or the Romulan Senator's speech, which was structured in the way it was because he was trying to make a point to the surrounding Romulan populace.

The Soji/Narek/Artifact stuff was weaker this time around, because there was virtually no forward movement. The plot is likely in a holding pattern until Picard & Co can get to the cube. Also, I like Harry Treadaway in other things, but I'm just not sure I 100% buy how he's portraying his character.

A few nits to pick:

1. While I like the increasing use of the Romulan language, it really adds to the confusion around the Universal Translator. Should we presume every time the Romulans are speaking in English now, they're really speaking in English? Even among themselves?

2. Apparently the "Romulans only" bar had the English sign to stop humans from dining there? I didn't see any humans in the colony though.

3. I understand Evan Evagora is a young actor - and might not be great with accents - but it's jarring to have a Romulan raised by Romulans with North American accents have an Australian accent.

4. I'm kind of let down we didn't see who was captaining the Romulan Warbird. Maybe we'll get a chance next episode - it looked like it was semi-disabled, but still firing.

5. It's really weird that Picard - who just decided that the chateau was never really his home - decided to create a full holodeck recreation of his chateau to hang out in. I suppose it makes for cheaper filming though since they can re-use one of the standing sets.
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Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Feb 10, 2020, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

Jammer,

One comment: Rizzo was explicitly taken off of "Picard detail" by Commodore Oh. IIRC she was basically told to go make sure her brother didn't screw things up with the other one, which is why she went back to "the Artifact."

That of course implies it was Commodore Oh who sent the Keystone Cops Romulans in again. Although this might not be as stupid this time if the whole point was to get Agnes Jurati on the mission, who has been somehow compromised by Oh. Though that means she was condemning around a dozen Romulan agents to certain death. Surely Picard would have taken Jurati along anyway?
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 11:56am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

Let's be fair though - every single Trek has had things which haven't been thought out. Like the 23rd/24th century should be a panopticon where there are cameras recording everything onboard ships at all time, yet probably at least a quarter of episodes across all of Trek rely on not immediately knowing what's going on in some portion of the ship.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 7, 2020, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

I really don't think you can argue that this writer's room doesn't know Trek. I mean, everyone in the writer's room other than Kurtzman (Beyer, Chabon, Duff, and Goldsman) are huge Trekkies.

Something like Commodore Oh wearing sunglasses strikes me as a directorial decision, rather than a writing decision, so maybe Hannelle Culpepper should be blamed.

Which reminds me, I'll be interested to see what Frakes does with direction next week.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 6, 2020, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

There's a hypothesis going around now that the big secret the Zhat Vash are actually hiding is that some or all of the Romulans are actually "synths" themselves. Basically they are virulently anti-synth because they're terrified with enough research other races will discover they're artificial lifeforms themselves. And there was, actually a big hint in this episode.

Basically, I already mentioned it above. When Dahj and Hugh go in to see the weird Romulan Tarot lady, it slips out that all the known assimilated Romulans end up insane ("disordered"). Also, Dahj later notes that shortly after the Borg cube assimilated the Romulan ship, it became nonfunctional. At minimum, this suggests that Romulans (or at least some Romulans) have biological malware installed in their heads, which causes submatrix collapse. Regardless, Dahj pushing on the subject gets the Tarot lady and everyone else extremely agitated - and she is called "the Destroyer."

I want to say that going the BSG route is stupid. An artificially-produced biological lifeform indistinguishable from a naturally evolved one - right down to being able to hybridize - is not an android or a "synthetic" in any way really worth discussing. It's just an advanced form of genetic engineering or something. So I really, really hope this is wrong. But there's at least some hints that this is correct now.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 6, 2020, 8:08am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: The End Is the Beginning

That was fine. Better than last week, but not as good as the premier:

We start off the episode with another flashback scene, this time the immediate aftermath of Picard's resignation when he's talking to Raffi. I thought this scene was completely unneeded and felt like padding. We already know what happened, and the present-day scenes let us see how his decisions hurt her. I suppose seeing her competent and collected contrasts with her present state, but it feels like a scene added to pad out two episodes into three - nothing less, and nothing more.

I hate most of the dialogue in the opening third between Raffi and Picard actually. A lot of Raffi's lines remind me of how Discovery tends to write Burnham's dialogue, in that they're this weird expository monologue which is not how real people talk - and in particular isn't necessarily how someone who is in recovery from being horribly hurt by someone in the past would talk. Maybe this is just part of Raffi's character, but it reminds me I'm watching a show, not two people talking. Which is a shame, because the emotional dynamic in the scenes is great, as we get to see two flawed people together onscreen - a rarity in Trek.

I don't mind any of the Borg cube scenes this time around. Hugh didn't really get to do much of anything this episode though but stand around and watch Soji work. It's interesting that they decided to have Hugh and Soji have an already existing relationship that was unknown to the viewer. I really don't know where they're going with the foreknowledge that Soji had about Ramda - probably the only big mystery that I'm genuinely intrigued by. It's probably a big deal that all the assimilated Romulans were failures, and the Borg cube itself failed after assimilating them. Seems to suggest that the Romulans have some sort of anti-Borg malware installed in their brains, and gives some credit to the "Romulans are synthetic to some degree" hypothesis people are bandying about.

Rios did not bother me, even though he's a cliche. He's one character who is acting like a normal person and not going into sudden expository monologues, which is more than I can say for Raffi or Jurati. I really hated that they just dropped the bit about his dead former captain in the dialogue with his Irish-accented navigational EH though. For some reason this show seems to like going really really fast when it comes to expository backstory, but really really slow when it comes to actual plot development.

I'm not sure yet that Jurati is the villain, but there's more going on here than is being let on.

Still love Picard's too ex-Tal Shiar housekeepers. I liked the little drop about the one they captured being a "stubborn northerner" like the husband, because they're introducing canonical racial differences due to geography.

Pretty sure the fake holo-mother of Soji is actually different than the fake holo-mother of Dajh.

So yeah, it felt more like a real episode than last week, which is why - despite the continued use of clunky exposition - I actually liked it somewhat more. I'm hoping now the table is (almost) set they'll be more development and less backstory.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

So, I read this morning that on some podcast, Kurtzman and Hanelle Culpepper (the director) admitted the original plan for the opening arc was a two-parter. They eventually decided to go to three episodes, which resulted in added footage - including the first scene (which I maintain, while well done, is completely unneeded). This explains why Culpepper is directing all of the first three (usually modern directors only do two episode blocks). It also seems by production numbers the second episode was stretched into 2/3 - there wasn't much footage which was moved from episode 1 into 2.

I think this helps to explain in general why this episode feels so disjointed - like a mixture of great scenes and terribly clunky/unneeded scenes. The tighter scenes were probably filmed first as part of what was meant to be a second episode, then when they realized they couldn't fit it all in one, they stitched this together using existing scenes and some additions.

So far both of the episodes of Picard have been around 44 minutes long - standard broadcast length allowing for an hour with commercials. This is very different from Discovery where the episode length was allowed to be "whatever." Did CBS come down on them about making a more "syndication-friendly" episode length at some point in the process? To the best of my knowledge Kurtzman Trek is only playing on broadcast TV in Canada.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

@ Chrome

We have no idea if a Romulan day is as long as a Earth standard day. Though I suppose the sign is in English, suggesting it may be for the benefit of Federation inhabitants.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

Oops...I forgot to say, I'd rate that three stars.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

I enjoyed it modestly more than the first episode.

The first third or so of the episode was a bit clunky. The opener from Utopia Planitia seemed to be totally unneeded filler, since we already knew what happened - not only from Children of Mars, but the infodump given during the interview in the first episode. And the initial Zhat Vash stuff was just off. Not only was it the worst example of infodump in the episode, it was unnecessary, because the later scenes showed us the Romulan conspiracy without directly telling us. The weird back-and-forth editing between Chateau Picard and Dahj's apartment was distracting as well.

But after that I think the episode recovered nicely and held my interest. Picard's personal arc across this episode as he seeks to find a way back into space was compelling, and I had no major issues with the admiral scene - I didn't even notice the profanity until others mentioned it. And the stuff on the reclaimed borg cube worked well I think. There was a bit of infodump mixed in, but it played in a more natural Trekkian manner. I'm also a bit relieved that although Narek is clearly an antagonist they're not going to have him play the role of a straight-up villain in the season - that they're introducing some sort of emotional conflict within him as well. Isa Briones so far seems as good as Soji as she was as Dahj. I definitely feel like she's a slightly different character (a bit more buttoned down/serious?) but I'm glad they didn't decide to make her the "evil one" or some such ridiculous thing.

I am a bit let down that although this episode is nominally an introduction to Raffi, she gets about three lines of dialogue. I suppose this is continuing what was done with Narek in the first episode - including a single scene from a main cast member an "episode early" so they get listed in the title credits?
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