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Tranya and Tonic
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Maps and Legends

This episode continued a lot of the fascinating character exploration of Picard that I enjoyed in the first episode. I particular enjoyed two scenes:

First, his meeting with the old Stargazer doctor friend was nicely introduced. Not only was I engrossed in the discussion of his impending Irumodic Syndrome, but there was just a bit of subtle mystery thrown in about who this guy was. They don't reveal that they knew each other from the Stargazer until near the end of the conversation. At first, I thought it might be his old buddy from the episode "Family" who tried to get him to leave Starfleet to work with ocean stuff. Then when it became clear he was a doctor, I wondered if this tied in with Crusher in some way. I agree with the point above: not using Crusher for this was a wise move. The other character history from those two would have greatly overshadowed the point of the scene. This added to Picard's history in a very believable way without being distracting.

Second, I liked the explanation for why he doesn't just contact Riker, Troi, etc. to help him. He knows that every single one of them would help him without question, and given the dubious legality of what he plans to do, that's A LOT to put on the line. More to the point, it makes it Picard's CHOICE, so that we don't have to pick through a lot of pointless plot details. Regardless of whether he's technically right or not, Picard's feelings on the matter struck me as very true.

I like a lot of the visual cues on the Borg ship to create a very tense atmosphere. A lot of the little details hint at this being an extremely dangerous project (the little badges, the masks, the scanners, the containment fields, etc.) without anything actually happening. The only Borg we actually see is unconscious and already mostly stripped of Borg parts. And yet, the whole atmosphere indicates that this is a DANGEROUS thing to be doing.

All that being said, this episode did give me pause on a few things:

I'll add my vote to the group saying that Starfleet doesn't need a vast evil conspiracy. It's been done.... a lot (Section 31, Insurrection, Into Darkness, Beyond to an extent, Discovery Season 2). I actually liked the scene with Picard and the admiral, and I think most of the same effect could be achieved with Starfleet and the Federation having become well-intentioned but maybe just too self-focused. Having one side saying that helping the Romulans was right and the other saying that doing so would have caused a Federation Civil War: that creates the inner conflict while still giving both sides a pretty fair point of view. We the audience can still side with Picard and want him to change Starfleet's way of thinking, but it gives their motives much more clarity.

The Vulcan Commodore (who I assume is the Head of Starfleet Security or something?) was far too mustache-twirling nefarious. Also, these vast and elaborate conspiracies feed into the paranoid idea that such things exist in real life, and that's just not the way things really work. Even the Romulans having an even MORE evil and MORE secret government watch agency made my eyes roll. Sure, there are times when very small groups can be conspiring together, but the logistics of keeping an ENTIRE organization that spans hundreds and hundreds of individuals across centuries.... that's a bit of a stretch.

None of this is a deal breaker for me. I had similar believability problems with the introduction of Section 31, but the stories surrounding them on DS9 were often some of the best. If they can do something new and refreshing with this premise, I'm on board. If it's just a lot of "everyone is a double agent and evil... trust no one," then I'm kinda over it.

Still all in for this show. Despite any misgivings, my general impression after both of these first episodes has been overwhelmingly positive.
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Tranya and Tonic
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: PIC S1: Remembrance

I found this first episode to be surprisingly engrossing. I think my greatest concern was that Picard himself was going to be a dark, brooding, and cynical in a way that wasn't in tune with the character we all grew to love back in the TNG days. He was certainly a man suffering from the aftereffects of some pretty hefty traumas (the failed rescue of Romulus and the Synth attack on Mars), but he was still kind, respectful, and dignified in his own way. Even his anger during the interview was directed toward Starfleet not living up to his own ideals (a theme that certainly resonates with TNG episodes like "The Drumhead" and "The Pegasus") rather than any changed worldview on his own part. There's also the implication that the Federation might not be as corrupt as he's making it out to be - that his own struggles with Data's death, the Synth attack, and the Romulan refugees have colored his view a bit. And naturally, Patrick Stewart is such a stellar actor that he can convey a sense that something has been lost in Picard while still exuding a natural warmth and compassion to everyone around him.

I also appreciated that so much of what happened pulled naturally from the characters of TNG without feeling predictable. Picard has always been a surrogate father for so many characters on TNG that him almost longing for that role again with Dahj felt very natural to me. I was worried at first that they were implying that Data secretly built himself a secret, magical daughter, but I liked the idea that he's just been taken with the concept of having one since the death of Lal in "The Offspring" and that Bruce Maddox was actually the one responsible. In fact, bring Bruce Maddox into the show so directly was a welcome surprise.

I liked Allison Pill's doctor character as well as the two Romulans that live with Picard.

Nice Disco tie-in with the boyfriend being a Xahean, like Tilly's friend Po.

Really cool design on the new Romulan ships.

Some of the exposition on the androids was a little clunky. I'm still not totally clear on what exactly Dahj and her twin sister are supposed to be. Sorta like the Cylons from the new Battlestar Galactica? But can only be twins? Somehow? This didn't worry me too much since this is clearly going to be THE major plot of the show, so I'm sure further explanation is forthcoming.

Anyway, I liked it.
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