Star Trek: Picard

"Absolute Candor"

2.5 stars

Air date: 2/13/2020
Written by Michael Chabon
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

If you take nothing else away from "Absolute Candor," know that Jean-Luc Picard made a mistake when resigning in protest and taking himself out of the game, and people are now telling him that in no uncertain terms.

This episode provides a reckoning for the title character in a way that was certainly contemplated in the opening three episodes but comes to the forefront here in a way that can't be ignored. When Starfleet chose not to continue the evacuation and relocation of the Romulans, Picard quit, full stop. His error — if he was truly living by his principles that Starfleet abandoned — was that he headed off into retirement and didn't look back, instead of continuing to try to make some sort of difference.

The episode opens with a flashback 14 years earlier, just before the synth attack on Mars while the relocation effort was still underway. Picard had assisted in the relocation of Romulan refugees to the planet Vashti and had befriended a group known as the Qowat Milat, including among them a young boy named Elnor, whom Picard took under his wing and cared for briefly as a kind of father figure. When the synth attack happened, Starfleet called him back to Earth, but he promised to return. He never did.

Flash-forward to now. Picard's in a desperate mission with a limited crew and decides he must take a detour to follow up and visit Vashti because (1) he's long overdue in making good on a promise and (2) he needs someone from the Qowat Milat to serve as his bodyguard. The Qowat Milat, you see, are skilled ninja-like warrior nuns specializing in swordplay, and they bind themselves to hopeless causes like Picard's. It's kismet of the kind that's especially convenient for the story at hand.

But first Picard must overcome a lot of skepticism and change that has happened on Vashti during the 14 years since he was last here. It turns out Zani (Amirah Vann), the woman who was his primary contact in this clan all those years ago, is still here and willing to help. But Elnor (Evan Evagora) has grown up to develop a bitterness for having been abandoned by this man who has now returned asking for favors. He's not wrong to feel this way.

The episode's best scene comes when Picard walks into a bar in town and throws aside the "Romulans Only" sign on the establishment, inviting what he imagines might be a heated conversation but is obviously destined to become a full-on conflict. It's a reckless move that borders on suicide (I mean, tactically, it's a really stupid thing to do if he intends to live to continue his actual mission to Freecloud), but benefits from a sort of twisted logic of Picard-ian self-righteousness. He's willing to die for his principles, even without putting up a fight, and that speaks to his moral convictions as well as a resignation to what has happened here in the intervening years — when the prudent move would be to leave not-so-well-enough alone and move on to Freecloud. Picard is saved by Elnor, who comes to his rescue from certain execution by Romulans who very much remember him.

This sequence works because it's about something. It's about how old hostilities resume when left to fester, and how a man decides to confront his mistakes (even if foolheartedly) when he could simply continue to run from them. And I appreciated how, once Elnor dispatches Picard's adversary (slicing his head clean off) and the immediate danger is over, Picard angrily swears Elnor not to kill again without explicit orders. If this episode is still playing setup by adding new characters to Picard's team and not moving us closer to Soji/Maddox, it's at least a step in the right direction by looking at some of the character and societal dynamics in the process.

Unfortunately, what's not a step in the right direction and absolutely doesn't work this week is the Soji/Narek subplot, which is slowly going nowhere, spinning its wheels with inane repetition. Narek is still trying to use their would-be romance to his advantage to get more information. Soji is still trying to figure out what it is about Narek that she likes and/or is mystified by. It's all but impossible to care about a relationship that's all about deceit and plotting and has no emotional character core.

Meanwhile, the ever-impatient Rizzo is still vampily playing the evil cliché who seems motivated more by movie tropes than the need to be a three-dimensional character. Not that I can say I blame her skepticism of Narek's approach. After all, as Epic Fails of scenes go, none is more obvious than the exhilarating "Borg ritual" of … sliding on your feet down a hallway that has a slippery floor? Now there's some Risky Business, har har. The way they build this up and the way it's scored, you'd think this corridor would shoot energy beams at them or something as they run through it. Nope. The end result is positively laughable.

This is problematic, because an ongoing plot needs to do varied and interesting things so it doesn't die on the vine, like this is getting dangerously close to doing. The "10-hour movie" works best if there are individual sub-stories being told throughout (like with Picard dealing with the fallout from the refugee situation), and not if you simply take a two-hour movie and stretch it out ad infinitum. They were on firmer ground last week with Soji's scenes with Ramdha and Hugh, but stepping away from that back to this is disappointing. This really needs to go somewhere new, and soon.

Some other thoughts:

  • A last-minute space battle reveals a pilot coming to Picard's rescue that turns out to be — gasp! — Seven of Nine! This was obviously telegraphed by the opening credits having Jeri Ryan's name in them, coupled with (1) the need to have a last-minute reveal to take us into next week and (2) the transparent misdirection of having everyone refer to the other pilot as "him" until "he" is beamed aboard the ship and revealed as a she. Clever, this is not. But I am looking forward to seeing how Seven fits into all this.
  • I'm still wondering about the political dynamic of the Romulan people in this time frame. Obviously, their empire is destroyed, but do they have any sort of central organization or government on a relocated colony, or are they nomads? Surely they have some level of organization if the Tal Shiar still exists.
  • Hugh is nowhere to be found this week. This proves disappointing given how I'd like to catch up with his story from the last three decades (and certainly would prefer it to this horribly lackluster Soji/Narek romance).
  • Swordplay seems like it would be obsolete against Romulan disruptors, and I presume the Qowat Milat would still use disruptors when warranted. But there's something about the use of old-tradition weapons that gives martial artists their mystique, and proves more tactile for filmmakers and stunt coordinators than energy weapons.
  • I appreciate that the ship-to-ship phasers shoot laser-like streams rather than bullet-like bursts, in keeping with the TNG era of phasers, rather than the post-2009 Trekverse.

Previous episode: The End Is the Beginning
Next episode: Stardust City Rag

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297 comments on this review

Cody B
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 3:14am (UTC -5)
Underwhelming. Second half picked up a little but I’d still say this is the worst episode so far. Four episodes in and I think I would describe this series as middle of the road. I still have hope it will pick up though. Has that guy that flies the ship had any scenes where he is not on the ship? I’m starting to think he might be a hologram just like his semi clones he summons. I’m not too excited about Picard’s fosters son. Surprisingly I think my favorite character may be Dr Jacarti. She seems to be the most well written and well acted on the show.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 3:43am (UTC -5)
So even Frakes is directing it as such -- the Cersei/Jamie vibes I was getting about Narek and Narissa in the third episode wasn't a quirky coincidence. There's something intentional about it there.

It's interesting how Chabon used Jurati's character to represent "us" - a literary device used to allow for exposition. Also: "Am I a part of the crew?" Secret mole/spy vibes aside, her character is really growing on me. (Also the audiobook tie-in to the Picard/Romulan rescue back story fills in a lot about Jurati's history at Daystrom. She's not an android. Also when Picard was made an android, he arranged for Worf to take over as Captain of the Enterprise-E.)

Kinda weird that they recreated the chateau in the holodeck. It wasn't that Picard was too emotionally tied there; episode 3 established that he was always uneasy there and just wanted to be back in space. It did allow for some clever misdirects when they were cutting the previews. It made it seem as if parts of this episode and the conversation with Seven happened back on Earth. (That itself was a head-scratcher--made me think that they'd advance a little on the overall plot and then touch base back on Earth) Now we know we won't see Laris or Zhaban for at least the next several eps.

A lot to unpack in this episode; I'm going to watch it again in a couple of minutes. But this episode really pushed home the consequence of Picard letting perfection become the enemy of the good. Even without a rebuilt rescue armada, he could have still done some real good, inside or outside of aegis of Starfleet and the Federation. He was so shell-shocked from Starfleet Command accepting his resignation he gave up on his promises--even to young Elnor. As a civilian he could have still tried to help the survivors with the resettlement process. It seems to me that the resentment the Romulan survivors, Elnor, Raffi had for Picard wasn't that he resigned from Starfleet so much as he just stopped doing whatever he could with whatever situation he found himself in. The Jean-Luc Picard they thought they knew would find some way to keep his promises. Heck, he might've even saw fit to adopt Elnor--something that could've been possible after his separation from service.

I don't remember if it was a commenter on the board or some review I read elsewhere, but it's a real treat to watch Patrick Stewart the actor act as Picard in this iteration. Both directors seemed fit to have the camera linger on Picard during dialogue scenes even when he's not speaking. His wordless acting, reacting to everyone calling up his flaws and broken promises is amazing to watch. You're totally sold on the fact that Picard has many regrets and guilt stemming from his actions (or inaction, rather), and he's got no basis to respond or defend himself.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:18am (UTC -5)
Kid Elnor: "My feelings are hurt. I actually did think you were fond of me."

That line gave me a real heart pang, especially given that Picard basically abandoned him for fourteen years after that.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:43am (UTC -5)
And we're off! "Absolute Candor", even moreso than last week, underlines just why Picard has left so many pissed-off people in his wake. It wasn't just Starfleet and the Federation's failure to follow through on their promises - which it seems that a lot of Romulans now think was a ploy to get them to put aside their own plans - it's that by resigning, *Picard* gave up all of his own powers to continue to influence events. No more ship, no more crew, no more ability to travel across the quadrant giving rousing speeches.

I also liked that this showed us one of the reasons that the Picard we have now is so much more relaxed with his emotions than TNG Picard: his dealings with the sisterhood-whose-name-I've-forgotten basically *required* him to loosen up, lest he lose their help in Romulan resettlement. And the man who lost his entire family way back in "Generations" obviously doted on orphaned Elnor in a surrogate father-son sort of way that makes perfect sense.

Speaking of Elnor - hearing a homegrown Australian accent coming from a Romulan surprised, delighted, and confused me. Great stuff.

I wish the credits hadn't spoiled Seven's surprise appearance at the end of this. It was a great dramatic entrance.

3 stars.
wolfstar
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Episode 1: Interviewer chews out Picard
Episode 2: Admiral Clancy chews out Picard
Episode 3: Raffi chews out Picard
Episode 4: Elnor chews out Picard
Episode 5: Seven chews out Picard
Brian
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:12am (UTC -5)
The main thing that's bugging me about this show is it's too obsessed with irrelevant details. Like when something is happening in the foreground between our characters and stuff is happening in the background that doesn't matter. Things we don't need to see and hear are just there for no reason. It's very distracting. I mean, I suppose some of those things could turn out to be important but I kinda doubt it.

It's pretty common these days now that I guess it's less expensive to just fill the landscape up with anything you want to throw in there. That's one thing TNG definitely did better. There weren't nearly as many distractions going on everywhere when the characters were what mattered.
Burke
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:28am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar Next week, on "Everybody Hates Picard"...
Daniel
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Slightly off-topic to the episode, but I'm really liking the faster transporter beam effect.

I suppose in the TOS/TNG era, it was a pretty novel visual effect, so they milked it for time--something like 7-8 seconds to do one side of the beam in or out.

By now, we all know what a transporter does in Star Trek, and as long as we get a cool shimmering effect, the production doesn't need to spend more than a second on it.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:56am (UTC -5)
I thought these things didn't release until Thursday?!?!?!?
Chrome
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:28am (UTC -5)
So yeah, while Discovery was more of action-based show, STP seems to be built around drama. I’m not sure I cared for the Warrior Monk story that much, but I’m actually starting to enjoy the scenes with Narrek on the Artifact.

I did not know Seven of Nine would appear here so I guess that was the payoff for a mostly boring episode.

@Daniel

I actually liked the TNG movie transporters best, but the effect they use now has the advantage of more detailed particle dematerialization/rematerialization.

@Yanks

They release at 12:00 am Thursday which, considering the slow pace of the show, isn’t the best time to watch it.
fevredream
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:31am (UTC -5)
This was the best episode since the first for me, which surprised me a bit - the trailers made this one look a lot more questionable than it was. Loved seeing more of Romulan culture and having more filled in about what exactly happened with the resettlement efforts, and Elnor is a lot less cringey than I feared - he actually felt compelling. Continuing to enjoy the new characters. Also loved the appearance of the TOS-era BOP, which seems perfect for the sort of repurposing of old military tech you'd see in a semi-abandoned part of an old empire.

Literally only have two problems: incest plot with the Romulan siblings seems a bit too "look how shocking we can be!" Honestly feels hoary and like something from a worse show. Other issue is that we only have six episodes left this season, and things still feel like they're just ramping up. Otherwise, very much enjoyed this one.

3-3.5/4
Cody B
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:46am (UTC -5)
@yanks CBS all access releases the new episodes right about 2:30 AM Thursdays for me I’m eastern US so western US would be 11:30pm Wednesdays. That has been my experience the past 3 episodes, right at 2:30 AM for me.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:58am (UTC -5)
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.
Chrome
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 8:53am (UTC -5)
Karl Z wrote:

“It's really weird that Picard 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.”

It’s not a set. Chateau Picard is filmed on location at Sunstone Winery. A closed studio set would be much cheaper to use.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 9:02am (UTC -5)
Thanks Cody B & Chrome!
Daniel
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 9:43am (UTC -5)
@Karl Z (re: #5)

Actually, at the beginning of the holodeck scene in a "blink and you'll miss-it" moment, the emergency hospitality hologram (EHH?) said that the re-creation was part of a care package sent along by Zhaban.

Yet another reason why the two Romulans in Le Barre are my favorite characters in the new series. Every little scene shows just how much they love and care about JL.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Ok, this works much better for me. Great mix of storytelling, drama, excitement, good dialogue, action, and some moving forward in the plot (some, at least). Also, Raffi was much much better this time around. All in all, a much more subtle outing with a good dynamic range between soft and loud.

It's a slow starter, but once it gets started it runs like a dream. This one easily gets a 3.5/4 for me. I liked it.
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 10:59am (UTC -5)
So is every episode going to open with a flashback? I don't really like this narrative choice because the writers create scenes where no real information is imparted (other than a "mystery") that'll be cleared up before the episode is halfway through. Just SHOW us why these scenes are integral to the plot and then move the plot forward!

More gratuitous swearing in this episode ... I guess the non-Starfleet setting makes it slightly more believable, but didn't Kirk have an unfamiliarity with cursing in ST IV? I'm still having a hard time believing culture swung back to widespread crassness since Voyager.

Also, there was nothing wrong with the old school "stars at warp speed" effect., yet they HAD to change it. Why?!

What they show MIGHT be more scientifically accurate (if the speculation of some of today's scientists is correct), but why change what wasn't broken. After all, this show doesn't seem to care about actual science very much? And why add lens flare to the warp effect?! I hope that decision wasn't Jonathan Frakes's choice.

I guess I'm paying more attention to Raffi's dialogue since someone pointed out her use of 2020 slang, but the "guilt trip line" struck me as anachronistic. Her dialogue will probably sound pretty dated within a couple decades (like the space hippies on that bad TOS episode).

They have a Hospitality EMH and a stoner pilot holo ? I'm becoming more certain that Captain Chris is a hologram as well.... hence his existential crisis that the writers continue to emphasize.

Romulan nun assassins?! REALLY? Very stupid. Very very stupid. (It's scripting 101: Don't have a character point out how silly something is if you want the audience to accept it.) And of course, they are the fiercest warriors Picard's ever seen .... what, fiercer than Klingons or Jem'hadar? Give me a break! The Tal 'Shiar's mortal enemy .... yet the Tal Shiar are a secret group and then nuns aren't ..... so much illogic!!!

Also, if front doors aren't used by Romulans, why are extras using them in the background?!

Is Agnes supposed to be a stand-in for what a skeptical audience is thinking? Her comments on the nuns and their "absolute candor" pretty much summed up my thoughts.

Daj2 watching the holo about "The Destroyer" reminds me: what happened to Universal Translator tech?! The subtitles are unnecessary unless the plot actually calls for it.

"A cash gift is always appropriate"? Again, it's a glib line meant to make the audience chuckle, but it doesn't sound like something a 25th century human would say.

How did Picard get clearance to beam down to the planet?! How did that NOT get explained?!

I'm wondering if they wrote in the "absolute candor" ethic just so they could have the characters speak without any finesse and move the plot along. It sure felt that way. Anytime we got exposition about the nuns, it felt unnaturally forced into character conversation for the sake of explaining to the audience.

The introduction to Space Legolas (adult Elnor) was cringey. Everyone staring at him as they went to the (future) commercial break made me roll my eyes.

The Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling in the Borg Cube mess hall looked idiotic. Another detail that took me out of the scene. My rewind button is going to wear out if these constant distractions continue to happen every episode.

Daj2 asks Narek if he's Tal Shiar and he says no, but then, as he leads her to the "secret Borg ritual", he tells her details about private service record and travels .... why doesn't she immediately confront him on his insider knowledge?! The rom-com stuff should've been shown before this was brought up.

The fact Narek felt it necessary later to bring up the service record AGAIN (mid-kiss, no less) after she's forgotten about it is stupid. I get that he's mining for info, but wouldn't a secret agent be trained to draw the information out without scaring off his subject by ACTING LIKE A SECRET AGENT?

I must ask: which writer thought it would be cute for them skate across the floor in their socks?! I had "Risky Business" flashbacks in the slide-dancing scene ... it's sad they didn't use "Old-Time Rock n Roll" to score this. It already looked really really cheesy and silly, might as well completed the trifecta.

Adult Elnor acts more immature than the kid who portrayed him in the flashback. Maybe the adult actor was miscast, I dunno, but Frakes should've put his foot down and told the actor they were doing a third take.

Frakes (mostly) does a good job here, for sure better than the first 3 episodes .... but part of a director's job is to rein in overacting and establish continuity between actors playing a character at different ages. Frakes didn't do that here.

The scene with Stewart's story to Elnor (about Data) just annoyed the eff out of me. He is an impulsive man-child ... I don't like this character whatsoever.

Other than Elnor and Senator-Pirate, this episode is, again, well-acted. The majority of the cast manages to smooth out some of the wrinkles by using their skill to bring more than is on the script page. Kudos to the actors.

The Senator-Pirate's complaint makes zero sense. First off, the idea of Romulus's sun going supernova and there still being a Romulus long enough for Picard to go there and make a speech is beyond laughable. WHERE IS THE SCIENCE?!?!

Setting that aside, Picard SAVED YOU!!! He started fulfilling his promise, how is Picard's fault the Romulan Empire is now so stupid and weak they can't save themselves? Wouldn't immediately addressing the supernova 1 AU away be the job of .... I dunno, um, maybe ..... the ROMULAN SENATE? Just dumb dumb dumb writing.

Picard's jacket looks too similar to a Starfleet uniform. It seems foolish that he'd wear that on a planet with such antagonism towards the Federation.

Senator-Pirate was chewing scenery and not in a good way ... again, the director should've told him to dial it back. He sounded so forced and unnatural that I was glad that he died so I wouldn't have to see him anymore (although the decapitation was absolutely gratuitous and made me think of Legolas again).

Did I mention how much I hate Elnor? I wouldn't want him pledged to me. (I laughed when Raffi called him "a boy with a stick").

And why is Picard apologizing to the local population? It's not his fault the Federation reneged on their promise. And again, everyone he's apologizing to he ACTUALLY SAVED PERSONALLY.

I was hoping (almost praying) we'd get through one episode without a superfluous Paint-By-Numbers villian scene, but no such luck. I hate this, the whole incest thing with his sister just icky .... and why couldn't he pry away her hand from his throat?! This made no sense.

I'm also not sure how a 100 something year old Romulan ship could fight off a modern vessel. That seems implausible.

I'm not sure how they beamed Seven over with shields up (thankfully little lens flare in this battle), but I won't lie, I was VERY happy to see Seven of Nine! And just in the nick of time .... because this was maybe the dumbest, most self-contradictory episode of Trek Ive ever seen. It NEEDED to end on a high note.

This was mostly directed and acted, the cinematography was competent, the musical score less annoying than previously .... but it was colossally moronic plotwise.

I'm trying to be positive, but there's no excuse for the writing being as lame it is. I'm sad to say this only gets 1.5 stars from me.
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 11:02am (UTC -5)
@ Daniel

I also like the faster transporter effect, but how does that work when Picard is WALKING DOWN STAIRS AS HE'S BEAMED OUT?! That seems like it would result in a transporter nightmare .... with Picard fused to the transporter pad or somesuch.
Trent
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 11:04am (UTC -5)
This series has started to overuse flashbacks.

This episode opens with another long flashback, this time with Picard visiting what is essentially a Romulan refugee planet. Ignoring how ill-conceived this scene is - dropping new relationships upon the audience out of the blue, instead of easing into this knowledge organically- it's ineptly directed and acted.

Like Discovery, the line-reading in this scene is terrible. Dialogue is spliced together without rhythm or flow, as though hours are separating each actor's reading of their lines, lines which are delivered in as clunky a way as possible. And visually, like Discovery, everything in this scene is awash in cliches and kitsch (little boys stealing fruit or hiding behind curtains, the sky awash with cartoonish moons, sunflares, stars etc). So much money is poured into making this refugee planet look "expensive" and "shiny", but it's art without grace, elegance or any sort of imagination. Like overloading on sugar and pink cotton candy. Total kitsch.

We then get several scenes aboard Rio's ship, all filled with Whedon-esque dialogue. Everyone is hip and snarky, their speech laden with irony and dollops of snide. What are they discussing? A mission to acquire a new team member, who is "the most skilled, single combat fighter!" and the "most feared enemy of the Romulans." It's all quite cheesy.

Cheesier is the next scene, in which (again, very Whedon/Firefly-esque), we learn of a prophesied "one with secret powers who will bring about the apocalypse". Then back down to the Romulan refugee planet we go, its sky awash with CGI sunflares, CGI bugs, and a Romulan woman who can't act at all. We also meet Picard's Chinese-Romulan-Ninja-Foster-Son.....Jesus Christ.

The next scene is on the Borg-ship, where a comatose patient is scanned by a silly CGI drone which looks like a miniature airplane. This aesthetics of post-JJ Trek is just so hacky and kitschy.

Aboard the Borg-ship we watch a girl-who-doesn't-know-she's-a-robot's romantic drama with a Romulan-spy-she-doesn't-know-is-a-spy. TNG was one of the last bastion's of the New Sincerity movement in the face of early 1990s postmodernism (Tarantino, Whedon et al), so understandably this show can't help drift toward a kind of grimy schizophrenia. Everyone's broken and fragmented.

The next scene has Raffi fiddling with holographic display screens and keyboards. Aren't holo-displays like this a bad idea? Background noise will always bleed into the displays being projected upon it. How can you focus on information when its being projected upon busy planets and shipping lanes (the military did much research showing that HUD's were good for only basic telemetry data, data which typically interacted with landscapes in some way)? And don't we have enough real-world data telling us that using horizontal keypads (holographic or otherwise) is vastly better (and more ergonomically comfortable) than using keypads erected vertically before you?

Anyway, back down to the refugee planet we go, where Patrick Stewart delivers some awful acting (he's very bad throughout this episode; blame the director), and some awfully written dialogue, with his enraged ninja son ("His fighting skills are truly formidable!") and the Romulan Monk Who Can't Act. It's just so so so cheesy and melodramatic. This is some of the hackiest writing I've ever seen.

I remember a comment by someone on this site many years ago: they said Trek started off as Twilight Zone and became Lord of the Rings. We see that here, with a guy looking like a Tolkien Elf talking in some kind of hobbit cave before a Peter Jackson-ish CGI tree about his ninja rituals, his hatred of being denied his ninja heritage, and his issues with being abandoned by his space foster daddy. The show is overloading on melodramatic subplots ("Will you bind your sword to my quest?", "Now that I have value to you, you come with requests? You left me alone old man!"), now lightyears from its Twilight Zone roots.

Next is a badly acted monologue by a Romulan in a bar, filled with cheesy cutaway closeups of onlooking patrons, and ends with some cheesy ninja moves and decapitations (Picard's ninja son changes his mind in the space of one scene). You sense that this stuff reads well on paper, but there's no weight in the execution. It comes across as a B movie spruced up with money.

The episode's only good scene features Picard berating a character for committing murder. It ends with a Discovery-esque pre-credit tease: 7of9 appears! She lifted Voyager toward some of its best material. Maybe she can do that here as well.
Burke
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 11:05am (UTC -5)
By the way, and i don't want sound negative, but am i the only one feeling that little is going to concluded on this first season? Four episodes of set-up so far (out of ten), i'm afraid of them either cramming too much in the last episodes or leaving it too open in for the secong season (aka annoying cliffhanger).

But anyway, i enjoyed this episode more than last week's, so we'll see how it goes.
Drea
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Since no one has commented about this yet:

Picard's decision to discard the Romulans Only sign and waltz into a place he's unwelcome is not some bold stand against racism. Racism is about the subordination of one group by another, and the Romulans are not a dominant group in the galaxy. Romulans have lost their home, their families, and their way of life, and if they want some places where other people don't intrude on them, it is *not* analogous to Whites Only signs in the United States. Picard engages in an absolute dick move, like if the Peace Corps bugged out of natural disaster relief and then its director demanded service in a social space built by and for the survivors.

Despite his arrogance, he must also understand that these people resent him, and that this action would be dangerous. He also knew it was time to leave and had little reason just to dally in a cafe. My only explanation is that he put himself into danger intentionally because he predicted that it would manipulate Elnor into protecting and then joining him.
Mertov
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
For once, I got to watch the new episode during the day rather than having to wait until the evening and trying to avoid social media, texts from Trekkie friends, etc.
And I found this episode to be a strong entry into the season, possibly the strongest. It had a good balance of a storyline within the episode while still moving the pieces forward in the long arc. It also helped that we are in Rios's ship and going to places.

Elnor's character (one that I worried about up until the episode) was well-introduced via a flashback scene that gave background on the Romulans' Quwat Milat and the close tie between him and Picard back then. That set-up carried into the later visit to the planet by Picard where hardly anyone but Zani (Amirah Vann is good here) welcomes him with open arms. He ends up leaving with Elnor back to La Sirena.

Speaking of La Sirena, some fun conversation (despite a couple of clunky lines) between Picard, Raffi, Agnes, and Rios. Overall, a good chemistry is forming and I guess the show giving the main characters some breathing room for growth in a span of three episodes (though I found it tedious at times in episodes 2 and 3) may pay off the rest of the season.

Rios is turning out to be a complex character, I hope his background will be explored a bit more. I am not surprised how well Santiago Cabrera is performing, having seen him on Salvation (also available on CBS AllAccess, had no idea). This set-up where he plays the captain and a few holograms is a great opportunity for him to showcase his range of acting.

Frakes's directing is stellar in that scene where Soji does research on Ramdha, faces juxtaposed, as well as the space battle sequence at the end. And, yes, welcome Seven!

Still plenty of mysteries to be solved, specifically what took place on the Shaenor and Soji's connection to Ramdha. Narek and Soji's relationship is complicated. The two have a pleasant/romantic moments in the Borg cube when they're alone followed quickly by an intriguing sequence with Soji asking him some hard questions. Rizzo, on the other hand, continues to be the weakest link out of all characters.

Definitely the best outing since the premiere (or better).
Carry on La Sirena and Picard!
Mertov
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Forgot to mention: Something that newbies won't get, nice throwbacks to TNG days with 'Picard & fencing' and 'Picard & children' narratives in the opening sequence.
Marg
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Frakes, Romulan nun assassins, Elnor wuxia, SEVEN!!!!
Chrome
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

For better or worse, I'm afraid comparisons to Peter Jackson's "The Fellowship of the Ring" are unavoidable at this point. Maybe Nemesis losing big-time to LOTR in the box office ages ago is manifesting itself. I mean, they introduced an elf-like warrior named Elnor (totally not Elrond) who joins Picard on a quest for the MacGuffin of power. At least the Borg Cube isn't exactly Mordor, and it seems likely some of those Romulans will end up helping Picard.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Drea - I didn't take Picard's blatant intrustion into the Romulan cafe to be a stance against racism. It played to me like indignant anger that what he thought to be his sincere efforts to help in the past being thrown back in his face, mixed with a bit of what his doctor warned him about a couple of episodes ago: his Irumodic Syndrome is going to see him making impulsive, emotional decisions and he might not even be aware of it.

He's also very aware that his advanced years mean he might not get the opportunity to come out this way again, and he wants to confront his mistakes head-on. I think it's very in-character for him to try opening a dialogue through any means necessary, as was his decision to throw the sword down and keep trying even in the face of mortal danger. His anger at Elnor for ending it with violence afterwards felt very real to me too.
mouse
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
I was so tickled by the THree Musketeers references because that's what I know Santiago Cabrera from (I know he was on Heroes but I don't remember him from it at all). I'm a sucker for stupid inside jokes like that.

I've been waiting to get the the Seven stuff because while I still have all the same complaints about Voyager's writing, Seven is probably my all time favorite Trek character in terms of concept and Jeri Ryan is just a stupidly talented actor. So I might have actually whooped out loud at that ending.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

The motion during transport thing always bugged me too--and they've done it in all of the series and most of the movies. Then again, I have to suspend my disbelief about that tech in general, since I still think the massive amount of energy required to dissasociate your molecules means you're technically "killed" at the transport site and then duplicated at the destination.

Also, remember how they used the transporter on the Doctor in Voyager when he was on his mobile emitter? The transporter effect focused on the body rather than the emitter. How would a transporter dissasociate a hologram, when it's not composed of matter? Sigh.


@Drea

I thought the same as you too, re: Picard's behavior at the social club and trying to draw out Elnor. But I'm starting to think that it's more to do with his degraded ability to suppress his impulses--like the FNN interview. Picard was upset and disappointed that he failed to convince Elnor to join his quest, and then saw the sign as he was waiting for transport. A younger Picard without the incipeint stages of his syndrome would have suppressed the impulse to not make a bad situation worse. But one that has moved closer to absolute candor chose not to walk it off.

Dunno, just a theory.
R.
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
It was what it was.

No characters inexplicably wearing sunglasses, which was a mercy. I must admit I'm curious about Soji - it seems like she's being set up as a kind of Borg Queen-esque figure? We've already seen that Dahj and Soji can form neural interfaces almost instantaneously with any computer system, God knows what Soji will be capable of when she activates around all the dormant Borg technology and drones that they've boxed. That Romulan mythologist mentioned that the bringer of doom that Soji apparently is will 'unshackle demons' or something.

I'm extremely sceptical and a little scared of what they're going to do to Seven of Nine's character.
Lynos
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
Possibly the weakest episode yet.
The entire segment on Vashti was underwhelming. Elnor reminds me of Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Why isn't any Romulan character on the show behaves like a Romulan? The actress that played the Romulan nun was also way too human. Not to mention the British boy-band member over at the reclamation center. Nothing Romulan about him except for his ears. Somebody shave him already.

I find it harder and harder to believe that Dr. Jerati is the "foremost expert" on synths/AI's on Earth. After her odd entrance last week in the middle of the fight with the Romulan agents, she behaves like a ditzy blonde, very different than how her character was introduced in episode 1, as a somewhat competent scientist who knows what she's talking about.

My favorite part was probably when Picard exclaimed "open a channel!" and immediately deferred to the captain.

The reveal with 7 of 9 in the end wasn't much of a reveal because the marketing was pretty obvious about her involvement.

Ironically, this is also the first episode that feels somewhat episodic.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
The thing of Picard removing the "Romulans Only" sign, sitting down, and asking for the waiter wasn't meant to have a lot of subtext, in my opinion.

Picard is starting a fight, and he knows it, but it was the only way to get these people to try to talk to him. I'm betting that the idea was to get Elnor's attention, honestly.

But seriously, he is simply starting a fight. That's all there is to it.
Cynic
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
I took the cafe scene to be Picard manipulating Elnor into saving his ass and then signing on to his quest, much like he manipulated Raffi and to some extent Rios last week. But the real news is that there are now at least four different emergency holograms on the ship, including the Jason Momoa style weapons officer. A previous commenter theorized Rios himself might be a hologram - and why not, considering there was an emergency command hologram on Voyager - but does he know or not? Hmm...

But, jeez, that "Great White Hope" colonialist outfit JL wore in the flashback - come on man, we get it. Kept thinking about the bad guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark...
Quincy
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
I really couldn't get into this episode. So much of the dialogue was just stilted. I really wasn't feeling it. It did pick up towards the end, but it was too little too late.

I guess they settled on having a flashback at the beginning of each episode. Hopefully, that's not going to be every single episode, but we'll wait and see.

@Drea
I'm not sure I agree with everything you've said here, but you certainly raise some serious issues as food for thought.

In any case, I felt exactly the same as you did about Picard walking into that restaurant or whatever it was. I was like what the hell is he doing? Is he deliberately putting himself in danger? This Picard seems to be very manipulative with everyone he interacts with. Raffi, the admiral, and now the boy. I asked myself has Picard been seen doing something like this before? Then I remembered that I just watched All Good Things and he definitely did do this. He manipulates Beverly and especially Worf and admits to doing so out loud. But for some reason it wasn't as offensive then.

It took me a moment to put my finger on it. As far as the Enterprise crew is concerned, he's gone to the wall for those people. It's only right for him to call in a few favors. But as far as Raffi and Elnor, he apparently let them down in a big way. He has no favors to call in. He just appears to be using them for his own ends. There's not even a whiff of that all for one and one for all flavor that TNG had. I found it distasteful.
James White
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
This episode commits the mortal sin of being utterly predictable and boring.
Chris Lopes
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
I've watched this show for 4 episodes now, and I like what I see. I just wish the story would move along a bit faster. Using almost half a season for setup seems a bit excessive.

This particular episode wasn't bad at all. Yes the Romulan Legolos was a bit much, as were the Romulan Bene Gesserit. On the other hand, the fight with the TOS era BOP was very cool, especially in HD. At least we are now at a place where things can start to actually happen. The quest can begin in earnest.
Big Pimpin'
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
I don't know what you guys were smoking but this was the first truly good episode. Frakes and Chabon have basically taken what the last three episodes attempted and actually executed it competently.
The performances are better across the board, even Stewart's. The writing is less "DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA!!!!" and more subtle, and even the Harry Treadaway plot was less cringe-y.

Frakes is just a better caliber of director and it showed.
Rahul
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
I've been fairly positive on the 1st 3 episodes but this one was the least enjoyable for me -- mainly hampered by too many stupid things and dumb writing. The plot is moving along though it still feels like more exposition -- basically Picard is still putting his team together now with a Jedi Romulan and 7 of 9.

Maybe what I liked most about the episode is the depiction of the Romulan settlement on Vashti and how it has changed from 14 years ago to the time of this episode and how the refugees feel Picard abandoned them. But more than anything I'm left thinking the writers are pandering to the lowest common denominator in throwing in shit like:
- Dr. Jurati being reduced to a Tilly-like character just acting like the bimbo on RIos' ship
- the now seemingly obligatory gratuitous F-bomb
- Rios' stupid holograms -- for what purpose is his weapons hologram just Spanish speaking - adding no value other than an attempt at humor
- 7 of 9 just shows up right at the end for shock value (knew she was coming since Ryan's name is in the opening credits)
- is it a must for every episode to have a scene near its end with these 2 idiots Rizzo and Narek with the usual Rizzo telling Narek to get the job done (using sexual overtones) and Narek saying he's doing things his way? These 2 are seriously irritating now -- they're brother and sister too FFS.

So a number of things that I gave a pass on in earlier episodes are now starting to grate on me. But I was thinking Raffi was just going to be providing snark (which I'd find highly irritating) but she might be rounding out into a good character with some baggage, which is perfectly fine. Her introduction with the vaping etc. was a bit heavy-handed in the 3rd episode.

So what is the big deal about the absolute candor of the Romulans on Vashti? Was the big black dude who was menacing Picard displaying absolute candor? Didn't seem unusual to me after Picard took down the "Romulans only" sign and trod on it. None of these Romulan refugees seemed radically different from what one would expect from refugees.

As for Elnor, I found him to be wishy-washy in that he's initially pissed at Picard but then he finds Picard's situation worthy because it's sufficiently hopeless and so he joins his cause. Was there ever any doubt he'd sign up? Dumb writing.

The Narek/Soji scene turned out to be OK -- good that Soji is now somewhat more suspicious of him. Started off kind of stupidly with the sliding around. The question of what happened when Ramdha's ship met the Borg is intriguing enough for me.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Absolute Candor" -- what carried the episode is being part of a moderately interesting arc and some thought put into the Vashti settlement but the negatives are building and my fear is that the kind of stuff that irritates me will be a prominent feature of future episodes. As usual the writers are leaving themselves with having to deliver something nearly miraculous to tie together all the loose ends and this isn't usually done well (Temporal Cold War, DSC S2 etc. are examples). Nothing profound here. No great sci-fi. A bit of world building, I suppose but no great writing (actually some poor writing) but the acting isn't a problem and the pacing is good enough to keep my interest.
Drea
Thu, Feb 13, 2020, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
With the pilot episodes done, we see the possibility of arc-based storytelling. This episode has an A plot that stands on its own, though it doesn't stand with the surety of, say, a Romulan warrior nun. At last we add the final members of our rogue team, but the outing is only passable, and a different writing approach could certainly have gotten us to this point in narrative and characterization within a single 90-minute pilot.

The episode happens because Picard needs closure, not because of his supposed need for protection. If Picard needed muscle, why didn't he bring the two former Tal'Shiar operatives with absolute loyalty to him and the ability to take down an entire squad of soldiers? And why a swordsman, when a disruptor's superior?

The warrior nuns of absolute candor make a bizarre sense for Romulans. The sacred often reverses societal norms, which on Romulus means a radical rejection of secrecy. The Tal'Shiar would tolerate them because they weren't really a threat: they fight with swords, never lie, and embrace lost causes.

Narek and Soji work onscreen just fine, though Narek comes off as ham-fisted and ineffective at his job. Soji's aware that he's playing her now, so if she reverts to behaviors not showing that, it'll be frustrating. I found the "Borg ritual" cute and felt sad it wasn't sincere.

Narek's sister, on the other hand, could be cut from the entire series so far to no detriment. None of their scenes have any impact on the plot or shed any important light on his character, and she's so cartoonish she detracts from show. Note that the creepy incestuous vibes come only from her: he flinches from her touch from the start. That's not Jaime & Cersei.

The firefight with the Romulan warbird plays reasonably well but doesn't feel particularly necessary, as if we're obliged to have some sort of action sequence.

Overall I'm gratified that the series takes its time, has internal coherence, and builds its world with clear intentionality. The added insight into Picard, the Romulans, and the surrendered rescue effort give the episode its value. All of this would have more impact if we had cut the fluff from the first three episodes.

2.5 stars
ST:KitschCard
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:11am (UTC -5)
I commented because Trent found kitsch 3 times in one episode
davidw
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:56am (UTC -5)
Wait, so Picard could have saved some Romulans and didn't?

Because he is a jerk?

And Starfleet is racist against Romulans and Androids? And has racist, tabloid journalism?

Let me guess, this is the Mirror Universe Star Trek?
Lynos
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:59am (UTC -5)
Now people are starting to refer to Picard as JL in the comments... it's spreading...

So we're having a "geting the team together" kind of story going on here, but I found it jarring that there was no set-up to Picard's sudden decision to make a stop-over at Vashti (no, a flashback is not a set-up), and I did not understand why he needed Elnor for his quest. What is he going to do exactly? Does he have a plan? Are they storming a fortress? Infiltrating a castle? Navigating a dungeon? I Usually in "getting the team together" plots, the plan, or at least the clear objective, is known beforehand (you see this a lot in heist films for example), but here they are getting the team together without a plan. Picard doesn't even know if Soji is alive or not.

I see some praise here for Frakes's direction, but I don't feel it. To me the style seemed very similar to previous episodes. Television is a medium where the showrunner and writers set the tone and feel of the show, not the director. Frakes also directed episodes for The Orville. Can you compare this episode to his Orville work? It's like night and day. The fact is Orville feels like a Seth MacFarlane show and this feels like... well, it feels like how it feels, but the directors are accomplished technicians here, not much more. The stylistic blueprint is usually set before they come aboard.
Dave
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:18am (UTC -5)
For the life of me I can't understand why they need to bring in the incest overtones. Yeah, she is hot when all snazzed up in the black and her sexualized talk and movement, but what is the point? They trying to get the GOT fantasy incest fan or something? It's a distraction. Her and Oh are just ridiculous characters at this point.

The most jarring for me is this is so far away from a TNG feel, its hard to absord it properly.

There is alot of good here, but the distractions with some of the dumb characters, them pretending to be cool with using F bombs, the dumb characters, puts it in a weird place. The hologram guy was fun but now it looks like there is going to be a different one for every function? Over kill.
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:19am (UTC -5)
Well, let's start with the bad. It's official this season of ST:P is about something that could wipe out everything in the galaxy... *sigh* Could we get a season of Star Trek where it is a little more small scale like wiping out 50000 star systems?

Ok, so Jurati is like lois lane in the first of the new superman movie. She is always there when somebody needs to explain something.

It's now confirmed Romulan incest peppered with a dominatrix vibe. Ok and this may be a complete coincidence BUT I have read an article a while back that incest is the new thing in porn (it referenced statistics made by pornhub, I think)... let that thought sink in. :D But the incest in porn at least is normally softened with the addition of step(sister, mother). So not really incest. Still disturbing. I guess we will see it more often now in our media...

In general I wasn't a big fan of the Cube scenes.

Ok the addition to the team is fighting with swords. Am I the only one who for moments completely forgot that he is supposed to be a Romulan and thought:" What is an elf doing in Star Trek." and it is not just an elf from Lord of the Rings, no, we also get decapitations from lord of the Rings.

The whole Romulan redneck bar scene was a little much for several reasons. The most important one, of course, are we supposed to think that Picard is already on the verge of becoming erratic/crazy? Or was he just trying to commit suicide?

The so and so.
The fighting. I was kind of relieved that the sword fight was over the moment it started. The ship fighting was ok. Was anyone surprised by the appearance of 7of9? I certainly wasn't.

The references to old Star Trek often feel shoehorned in. Like the show is saying here old fans this is really Star Trek.

Picard is apparently already a different man 6 years after Nemesis. The reference that he was different but they don't explain why he changed. This was all before the downfall of values. So the Romulan Nova made Picard go good old grandpa?

We have left the earth but it seems like we are still in the prologue.

The good
Stewart is good. Moved me a few times. Felt even a little TNG-ish Picard giving speeches

Apart from the redneck bar scene I liked most on the planet.

other thoughts:
It's funny that people complain about the Romulan guy sounding Irish. I, because English isn't my native language, don't notice that. Anybody who wants to understand how people create what is normal and what isn't should think about these comments.

Not a big fan of the new "we are at warp" look.

Will there be Spanish in every American cultural product now? I mean it's nice for the Spanish speaking people in the US. As a little nod but I'm fearful that, when CBS branches out into China, we will get 10 sentences of mandarin from a Chinese character every episode or so.

I give this 4 out of 6 healthy sibling rivalry moments.
Dave
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:20am (UTC -5)
And....

This is not anywhere near what I expected. With Discovery, I had minimal expectation, but this one I did expect a continuation of the TNG feel. I think that is leading to the negative feedback, people wanted their TNG back.
Dougie
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:23am (UTC -5)
I ended up binge watching more or less over the last few days and then caught this one on its release day. Overall I like it although it’s not episodic so I’m having trouble following all the characters. This is partially because I’m older. That’s something. I’m older. I’m able to recognize this and how it may influence how I perceive the show.
A A Roi
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:24am (UTC -5)
@davidw

Maybe watch The Undiscovered Country regarding a similar situation with the Klingons. Maybe watch Balance of Terror re: racism towards Romulans/Vulcans among humans in the Federation, or Dr. McCoy's casual racism versus Vulcans throughout TOS. Maybe watch the episodes in the Berman era where O'Brien refers to Cardassians as 'Spoonheads'. Maybe watch Measure of a Man and Offspring to see how Starfleet feels about Androids. Maybe watch how the Federation Council voted to withold the cure for the virus Section 31 from the Founders in the Dominion War. Watch some of this non-MU Star Trek and get back to us how you are convinced Picard must take place in the Mirror Universe.
A A Roi
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:31am (UTC -5)
@Dave

Yes, Star Trek for many has passed into the realm of pure Nostalgia. Like DISCO, Picard messes with that nostalgia by presenting a scenario that forces them to experience their nostalgia turned on its head.
A A Roi
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:35am (UTC -5)
@Dave

The Cage, Star Trek's original pilot from 1964, featured a creepy woman colluding with disturbing aliens to sexually seduce an unwilling man into doing what they want. That was 55 years ago, by the way. As much as people seem to want to credit Game of Thrones for inventing everything, trust me, it didn't.
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 4:29am (UTC -5)
"You owe me a ship"

They're gonna write Seven with the same snarky sub-Whedon dialog they write everyone else with, aren't they? Not because she's become much more human in the past 20 years - which is to be expected and shows good character progression - but because it's the only way they know how to write people.

Seven always had a very distinct sense of humor on Voyager. Her arch wit was brilliant because it was so reserved and understated, yet wry and withering. Her observations and putdowns were extremely smart. It was outsider humor. Harry noticed it as early as "Revulsion".

Based on how bad the dialog has been so far, I don't think it likely that STP's writers have the skill to pull off that kind of characterization. So we're gonna get sassy, embittered, snide, battle-hardened Seven, who has apparently been having a terrible time for the past 20 years in the dystopia of the Federation. I knew she would obviously have difficulties "assimilating" into human society, but this isn't what I wanted or expected for the character. I would have loved to have seen her become a senior scientist or something.
AnthonyE1778
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 4:57am (UTC -5)
What is with everyone who “expected a TNG feel”? Both the show runners AND Patrick Stewart were VERY clear for many months before the show premiered that it would NOT be a TNG show and that it would be very different from TNG days. In fact, it’s one of the main reason Stewart agreed to do it; that it was not the same thing he was doing during TNG. Accept it and move on, please. It’s getting tiresome. As are pointless and frankly inept complaints about the cursing. Get over yourself.

As for the episode, it was entertaining enough. Nothing too special though. The Seven cameo at the end was pretty thrilling. Elnor is a promising character, but didn’t have too much to do. Some of the banter was pretty amusing, and Alison Pill’s character continues to delight, even if her ‘clueless’ character personality was a little overplayed this time around. I look forward to where the story goes next.
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
I don't think most people did expect it to be TNG. And the swearing (and violence) isn't one of the main reasons I think STP (and STD) are bad, but it is a legitimate issue - Trek was always a show you could watch with three generations, even DS9 at its grittiest. (DS9 might have been thematically heavy but you knew it was going to be gore-free, free of bad language, and not wallow in nastiness for the sake of sensation.) If I'm watching with a 10-year-old who's just getting into Trek or an elderly person with early dementia who loves TOS, TNG and DS9, we don't want decapitations, F-bombs, Pike's face melting, people being eaten etc. The point isn't that there is swearing and gore; the point is that they're completely extraneous and clearly only there for shock value, inserted as an added extra to spice up the show. I would appreciate a mature Trek with adult content and themes, but STD and STP use graphic violence and swearing the way ENT used the decon chamber - that's the problem. How far we've descended since the days when To The Death had to be (regrettably) edited down because the violence, although entirely gore-free, was merely too "intense".
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:41am (UTC -5)
@AntonyE1778
Could you not attack people for criticizing how the show is developing. Would you be so kind.
Chrome
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 6:21am (UTC -5)
FWIW, I got a good chuckle out of the F-bomb this time. It may not feel like Star Trek, but Santiago Cabrera‘s delivery was spot on.

P.S. I have a 3-year old and I don’t think they should tailor Star Trek to children. I’m an adult and prefer adult things, TIA.
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 6:25am (UTC -5)
Yeah I mean there was torture, murder and war in TNG, DS9 and even TOS. I wouldn't show that to a child.

and the elderly watched all those westerns in which they murder like two dozen horses every movie just for cool action scenes. They should be tough enough.

It is a show for adults and not a show for the entire family.
Elderberry
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 6:29am (UTC -5)
I'm enjoying it all more as it goes on. This one is beginning to answer one of the iffy things in TNG, a number of occasions where young boys were rescued from something-or-other, assured they would aways have a place in the Starfleet family, and then never seen again - Riker's insect 'son' Jean-Luc aka Barush for one. A bit like the way Kirk's string of one-night women was countered by Gillian in The Voyage Home (a) refusing to be left behind and (b) dumping Kirk and going off to pursue her scientific career (I'd love to see a lab with her name on).

All these people resisting J-L's charms and pointing out his sense of entitlement is becoming funnier as we go on - it's obviously justified, but we can hope it will mean that his goodness and indeed greatness will ultimatley break though years of bad habits.

Oddity - Frakes-directed stuff is always good for the female characters or for gender nuances, so the repeated references to the pilot at the end as 'he' seemed really off - worse than the F word, but similar in that a multi-cultural exploratory and diplomatic Starfleet might be expected to avoid potentially offensive language, and that includes gendered terms for unknown people - 'they' would be the obvious usage here, even now - as well as profanities. But it did set us up for an extra cheer when Seven appeared.

Nice moment - the giant transport ships suitable for rescuing people from disaster or genocide were Wallenberg class. Interesting historical reference, with its own nuances.
Big Pimpin'
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 7:24am (UTC -5)
For people that don't see the difference in Frakes' direction compared to Culpeppers'- I'd say that he does much better with dialogue scenes. In the first three episodes many dialogue scenes were staged very awkwardly (like Picard and the admiral standing up to continue arguing), whereas Frakes seems to have a more tasteful touch. Jurati and Rios talking about the book was nicely staged, as was the mess hall scene between Treadaway and The Girl.
Another example of the difference in direction would be that Raffi feels less emotional for the sake of drama and more genuinely surly/weary.

Frakes just knows how to keep the medium from tripping over itself, if that makes any sense.
Ghosted
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 7:45am (UTC -5)
I got the feeling that the captain may be a hologram too or that's not the real him in some way, so am interested to see if that's the case.

Hoping that things get more interesting on the cube, they always felt like a chamber of horrors and giger-esque in the past but so far not feeling the danger yet.

Narek and his sister are the weakest part of the show so far, they don't appear to be particularly cunning. Ok ep though and nice to see a little green blood and of course, seven.
Andy's Friend
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 8:36am (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

‘Maybe watch The Undiscovered Country regarding a similar situation with the Klingons. Maybe watch Balance of Terror re: racism towards Romulans/Vulcans among humans in the Federation, or Dr. McCoy's casual racism versus Vulcans throughout TOS. Maybe watch the episodes in the Berman era where O'Brien refers to Cardassians as 'Spoonheads'. Maybe watch Measure of a Man and Offspring to see how Starfleet feels about Androids. Maybe watch how the Federation Council voted to withold the cure for the virus Section 31 from the Founders in the Dominion War.’

1. One shouldn’t use TOS (2260s) as benchmark for the Starfleet and Federation of the 2390s, but TNG-VOY (2360s-2370s).

2. a) Please tell me in which episode O’Brien uses the term ‘spoon head’, I seem to have forgotten.

2. b) You seem to have missed the point. O’Brien’s ‘Cardies’ shows his resentment for what he experienced at Setlik III, yes. But he uses that term in DS9, not TNG: different writers, and a different ethos. And this notwithstanding, it shows how restrained that resentment of a Starfleet officer is even in DS9-Trek. He didn’t call them ‘F*cking spoon heads’, did he?

3. a) re ‘Measure of a Man’. Again, you seem to have missed the point. Maddox and Starfleet simply haven’t grasped the nature of Data. To them, *in this episode*, Data is essentially a robot, a glorified toaster: they have not understood him to possess artificial consciousness. Granted, *this a conceit*: he would never have graduated from Starfleet Academy without making the Academy aware of this, and by inherence, Starfleet. But it is a conceit we must accept in order for the episode to play out its story, which is a glorious one. And again, *as nearly always in TNG*, we see *dialogue, even if adversarial as here, bring about enlightenment*, and change of heart. By the end of the episode, Maddox no longer regards Data as a mere advanced robot, does he?

3. b) re ‘The Offspring’. I’ll partly grant you this one. After ‘The Measure of a Man’, Starfleet should, perhaps, be ready to let Data evaluate and educate his own creation. Starfleet does appear to be too adversarial here. But again, this is one of those conceits we must accept in order to tell a story, which is what TNG did in virtually every episode. The episode itself is sound. Like ‘The Measure of a Man’, it is a story that uses advanced, futuristic science in order to tell what is essentially a moral tale. Some would even call it science-fiction.

4. I’ll grant you this one, on two counts. The cure for the virus affecting the Founders *should* have been given them by the Federation to prove the benign nature of the Federation, and thus bring about an end to the Dominion war; but of course, the virus should never have been developed by the Federation in the first place. More idealistic writers might perhaps have thought of having the virus evolve independently and affect Odo also, and let Federation doctors attempting to cure him develop a cure to all the Founders as well. Roddenberry would surely have preferred such an ending, as it would showcase the best values humanity has to offer. Roddenberry-era Star Trek was never so much about realism as it was about idealism.

Point 4. above is one of the (many) reasons why so many TNG fans have a problem with DS9, even if we readily admit that it was a fine series. It is a symptom of something deeper, with problems concerning both its serialisation—it tells much fewer stories—and its core ethos: if the quantity of stories is lower, their quality, in ethical terms, is often lower, too. DS9 is less morally satisfying (or, if you prefer, more morally challenging) than TNG. And whether one prefers TNG or DS9 is, essentially, a moral question.

A better example of the Federation and Starfleet ethos around the same time as the end of the Dominion war in DS9 is VOY’s seventh-season ‘The Void’, which takes place in the year 2377. VOY as we know is plagued by very uneven writing, and Janeway proves to be a fascinating study of a captain broken by circumstances. I find many of Janeway’s decisions provocative, and some, as in ‘Tuvix’, outright disgusting. Perhaps it is true that it is when we are most tested that our true colours show, and the extreme circumstances in ‘The Void’ certainly test our crew, and captain. It feels reassuring—or, if you prefer, morally satisfying—that even after being stranded in the Delta Quadrant for seven years, that broken, guilt-ridden captain is able to display such fine Federation values as in ‘The Void’. Some would even call it humanism.

Humanism is also displayed by The Doctor in the episode ‘Critical Care’ that same season.The Doctor is ultimately the end result of Federation programming, and exhibits that same Federation ethos. I am reminded of both him in ‘Living Witness’, and a younger Jean-Luc Picard, in ‘Emergence’:

‘The intelligence that was formed on the Enterprise didn’t just come out of the ship’s systems. It came from us. From our mission records, personal logs, holodeck programs, our fantasies. Now, if our experiences with the Enterprise have been honourable, can’t we trust that the sum of those experiences will be the same?’

A mere twenty-two years separate the events in ‘Critical Care’ and ‘The Void’ from those in this new series. Young men and women then should now be people in their prime. Do tell me, A A Roi: what happened to humanity?
Nigel
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 8:51am (UTC -5)
I really appreciated some of the comments above from Drea about Picard's d-move at the Romulan bar, from Daniel about Jurati as the expositionary device, from Booming and Dave in MN about some of the sillier/illogical aspects of the episode like the newly-invented assassin nuns, unneeded cursing, Jurati, and also the bar scene; and several others about the nuances in Frakes' direction. I love this diversity of opinions, it is really helpful for me to better appreciate the show. Thanks to you all!

It does feel like the showrunners are trying to hold a larger audience with "kewl" stuff like space Legolas decapitations and sweet dogfights and harbingers of ultimate doom. I see they're going for a broad arc instead of that TNG-style episodic setup, but I will admit that with thw world-building Trek has done since Nemesis, there are interesting, broader mysteries to uncover which draws me in for the long haul. It does feel like Jurati as the 'exposition device' is ham-fisted. Like many, I wish it could be handled more slickly. I know there's a lot of exposition outside of Jurati, but I see it as unraveling some of that world-building we're not yet privy to, and which outside of DS9 has been rare. Like most of you, I see little need for the various f-bombs - that's not me being puritanical or whatever, I just don't see how they truly enhanced our appreciation of the situation our characters were in. Data saying "oh shit" in Generations was great, by contrast.

I would suggest anyone that is liking this check out the Countdown comics where you see a bit more about Picard's experiences in resettling the Romulans. Interesting at the very least.

Hamy exposition, NuTrek elements, and illogic aside, I just need good Trek in my life and Picard is off to a good start for me despite the flaws. I hope that it improves and that we continue to have good Trek to talk about.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -5)
I just love how we suddenly have all these new guys here who never commented on anything else before, and how they all praise STP and mock those who dislike it.

The shills are strong with this one.

@Andy's Friend
"what happened to humanity? "

As Classic Trek always implied, things will have to get much worse before they get better. I'm afraid that we are getting into the "much worse" bit.
Elderberry
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 9:52am (UTC -5)
"all these new guys here who never commented on anything else before"

I'm not a guy but I am new to commenting on here. I suppose everyone was new once. I didn't feel very moved to say anything about Disco - this is different. Scroll on by if I'm boring you.

Pile of paper books at the Absolute Candor HQ - wonder is Elnor a literature addict?
Chrome
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:08am (UTC -5)
@Elderberry

I noticed that too. Not just Elnor, but Agnes (her father) and Rios are into paperback books - which is great. There’s also tons of historical references; I must confess I didn’t know who Wallenberg was before this episode and now I feel all kinds of ashamed for it. The episode may have been boring as dirt, but the writers sure are literate. :-)
Bold Helmsman
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:30am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Why do all of you older fans feel the need to treat everyone that doesn't dislike STP and STD as if they're not real fans?
Melota
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -5)
I’m new to commenting here and I’m enjoying the show so far...I hope that doesn’t make me unwelcome :)

I don’t think it’s perfect but then neither was TNG even though it was my favourite TV series of all time. Plenty of silly plot points abound even in post-S1 TNG but the overall quality and characters more than make up for it and I’m hopeful that the same will be true of STP. The first 3 eps had some clunky exposition and contrived dialogue but I thought this one was much better and felt more natural in that respect. Even the best show can be nitpicked to death if we try hard enough.

Raffi was less OTT and I quite liked her in this ep. I’m not convinced by Rios yet but he’s growing on me. I actually found it entirely plausible that Jurati was at a loose end here - she may know everything about cybernetics but that doesn’t mean she has any experience of space travel or galactic politics or Romulan sects. It’s believable that she’s feel out of her depth at the moment.

As for what happened to humanity? So far the only thing the Federation has done “wrong” is abandon the Romulan relief effort. It’s not as if Earth is now some dystopia filled with poverty or war or authoritarian governments rounding people up. Let’s not forget TNG (at least the first 4 seasons) was set in the middle of an very peaceful time, almost a golden age perhaps. There was not only peace with the Klingons but an actual alliance. Ok there was the Romulan Cold War but that was limited to a few mostly bloodless skirmishes along the neutral zone. Then came the Borg invasion and the destruction of virtually the whole fleet at Wolf 359. Then the Cardassian war, then the Dominion war, and even after all that, when resources were surely already stretched, Starfleet agreed to Picard’s proposal for a gigantic rescue mission for the Romulans. You can’t get much more idealistic than that. It seems like the destruction of Mars was the last straw and the kneejerk synth ban is completely in character with TNG-era Starfleet’s underlying attitude towards AI.

It’s not as if Starfleet was never the bad guy in TNG, nor that they were 100% consistent in helping all and sundry. They didn’t do much for the Bajorans for many years and they weren’t even enemies. It’s not unreasonable that they would pull the plug on a borderline-unfeasible rescue operation for their enemies at a time of scarce resources, and in the aftermath of the destruction of their main shipyard (with thousands dead), rather than risk the fragmentation of the Federation itself. I don’t think TNG-era Starfleet command would have made a different choice.
Elderberry
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Most of them aren't older than me - I watched TOS on the BBC between 1969 and 1971. All the later iterations (apart from the movies) had to wait until the last decade because I didn't have a TV, so waited until I could see them on DVD. That means I had a lot of opportunity to compare and contrast. I'm enjoying STP partly because it's feeling steeped in ST, particularly TNG history - lots of echoes.

Picard was the captain, our hero, but there were always things about him that were problematic - that dichotomy between the pompous ass and the damned sexy man that Phillipa Louvois remarked on, his insistence on pursuing the Prime Directive even in morally iffy situations, his attitude to the Maquis and the Bajorans, gaslighting Sito Jaxa into volunteering for her one-way mission. I'm enjoying seeing people challenging him - they're free to do that because he isn't the Captain/Admiral any more.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Bold Helmsman,
I am an older fan (watched every series in its original airings except TOS that I watched through reruns a few years later) and I like Discovery and Picard so your premise is flawed there, but I understand your reaction to a post that had nothing to do with the episode at hand and did the same thing (mock and insult, "shills") that it criticizes.

Big Pimpin,
I noticed that too about Frakes's directing. I'd be fine if he directed every episode if it were possible. There is a parallel with the actors too, the ones who have done the "ship shaking" scenes before seem to have the right grip on when to lean, etc. whereas I was able to spot quickly the ones who probably never had to do it before and looked like novices at it (Alison Pill).

Drea,
Very interesting observation about Picard and the Romulan bar. I am not sure if I agree with the last part where you think he was trying to manipulate Elnor into joining him. Maybe you are right, but I took it as him leaving empty-handed, being frustrated, and giving into impulsive behavior without any expectation of anyone saving him. I think he was surprised actually to see the Romulan senator challenge him to a sword fight, that was not what he had calculated would happen when he first waltzed in there. It almost blew up in his face.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 10:56am (UTC -5)
"I’m new to commenting here and I’m enjoying the show so far...I hope that doesn’t make me unwelcome :)"

Welcome Melota :) and a great post.
Melota
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Thank you Mertov :)
fevredream
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 11:14am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

*Sigh* I've been reading Jammer's reviews for years -- there's just not as much meaning in commenting on posts which were written over a decade ago. I'm surprised that you think it's odd that there would be new people posting about an actual ongoing, brand-new show - and I'm also surprised that you seem to think that people would come here to literally shill for Picard. The show is currently being very well received overall -- there's nothing nefarious in people liking it.
The Chronek
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 11:33am (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

I've noticed that, too, about the old fans treating the new fans like they aren't "real fans." For what it's worth, this older fan used to think the same thing about newer fans, and it took me a while to come around.

Anyhoo, welcome to the fandom and to the page. Whether you've watched everything Trek-related or you just got started with Trek, you're a real fan in my book.
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Ok guys let's not panic.
So far we had far more "people who don't like ST:P are old farts who need to get with the flow" comments. After around half a dozen I pointed it out. On the other hand we have one, the one from Omicron that was critical of people who like the show.

Let's not make it a race.

And Omicron could you keep it civil, please. People who like the show are not shills or anything bad. I struggle with the writing and the mystery box approach but I can understand people enjoying it.

@Melota
Hi, welcome to the forum. I may be so bold and correct a few things you wrote.

"As for what happened to humanity? So far the only thing the Federation has done “wrong” is abandon the Romulan relief effort."
But that is a gigantic thing because it meant in effect to let hundreds of millions die. We are also never given a real reason why the Federation abandoned the Romulans. Sure, 14 members threatened to leave. But why? and if less than 10% members make a threat, then that is enough to stop everything? Let's remember, these guys were our allies during the last great war, the Dominion war. The last war with the Romulans was before the foundation of the Federation, almost 250 years ago. They also teamed up with the Federation against the Remans in Nemesis. Why does Fox News lady call the Romulans the Federations oldest enemy? Why did the Federation not just do a little, why abandon the rescue and let almost a billion people die? I find that fairly dystopian.

"Let’s not forget TNG (at least the first 4 seasons) was set in the middle of an very peaceful time"
The Federation Cardassian war ended in 2366 (that is around season 3 of TNG). That war lasted almost 20 years.

"It’s not as if Earth is now some dystopia filled with poverty or war or authoritarian governments rounding people up."
So not like Nazi Germany? Phew, fingers crossed. :) Ok I'll give you that but we have Fox News, xenophobia, lower class workers in shitty environments, the entire Federation security is apparently compromised by the Romulans and is for example covering up assassinations by the Romulans, Synthetic beings are banned. That is no longer a utopia by any measure. How was the interview with Picard received? We are never really shown what else goes on in the Federation but what the show actually shows us certainly looks bad.

"Picard’s proposal for a gigantic rescue mission for the Romulans. You can’t get much more idealistic than that."
Why is organizing a rescue mission an idealistic act? I would say organizing a rescue is almost human nature. As I mentioned in another post this is about saving these people from certain death, not helping refugees to live better than before. The Federation did the exact same thing for the Klingons which ended decades of war and hostilities. Again why give up the rescue completely why not use 500 ships and rescue some. Why let them all die?

" virtually the whole fleet at Wolf 359"
it was not the whole fleet and the Federation even considered asking the Romulans for help (the Klingons were already sending ships).

"They didn’t do much for the Bajorans for many years and they weren’t even enemies."
They Bajorans at the beginning didn't want direct Federation help on Bajor because of their desire to remain independent for the time being. Later on the Federation provided substantial aid to Bajor.

" It’s not unreasonable that they would pull the plug on a borderline-unfeasible rescue operation for their enemies at a time of scarce resources, and in the aftermath of the destruction of their main shipyard"
Again, I still don't understand why there is only:" We help with everything we've got." and "we do nothing." for, again, an ally who died by the millions during the Dominion war which was less than 10 years ago. Without the Romulan help in the Dominion war the Federation wouldn't even exist anymore. So yeah do they help the Romulans, the empire that saved the Federation from certain doom. Not really.

Sorry I hope my criticism wasn't too harsh. It's a TV show so I write most of this grinning or laughing. :)
Yanks
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
"Special Guest Star - Jeri Ryan" .... thanks for spoiling the damn episode... grrr...

Why doesn't this have a "skip Intro" selection?

I see Frakes is directing so I'm optimistic.

The opening flashback didn't excel in the "make me younger" CGI like the previous episode did. Romulan refugee planet, Romulan nuns... Does this Picard remind you of post TNG Picard? Not for me. Picard making promises, etc... You'd think this Picard would still be Picard. I did enjoy the kid and the nun Picard speaks to (can't remember her name) While Picard reading to the kid was nice, it's sad to see Sir Patrick struggle to clearly and emotionally deliver some lines. Even when he's reading them out of a book.

So Picard is tired of the grape farm and then uses the holomatrix to recreate it aboard the ... what's the name of the ship? I would have thought he might recreate his captains quarters from the "D" or "E". When he said "freeze holomatrix", the fire did not stop BTW.

We listen to some more swearing for no apparent reason, and the Picard sanity is questioned...

He's got to go back to this planet because he's going to need a whiz-bang fighter. How much you want to bet it's gonna be the grown up kid?

Some really bad comedy.... eeesh.... I'm not asking for much, but they didn't make it here.

Nothing gained on the Borg Cube. We know "The Destroyer" is supposed to ... well, destroy everything, and just why do they "skate" in the ventilation shaft? Why can Narissa choke Narak if she's not there? ... or maybe she is now? The only thing we learned is he has one week to find out more about Soji. ... OR ELSE!!

...standing by for a broken hearted Soji... it's coming.

I don't know about the functionality of the holo-controls on the ship, but it's kind of hard to watch. I'd rather see some stick flying.

So Picard tells his story to Elnor and it just sounds like Picard has turned into a total wuss... "I mourned the loss of Data, blah, blah" again and again...

Picard when walked past the "Romulans only' sign and throws it down in order to get into a fight. I thought this was to egg Elnor to come protect him, but man - what if Elnor was taking a dump? ... or didn't fall for Picards sob story? We get a beheading... pretty lame I thought. They are still luckily in the "window" and they beam up to the ship.

Picard yells at Elnor for killing ... also pretty lame I thought. He knew what he was capable of and egged him into defending him... then he is surprised? Come on man...

What race is Elnor? They kept saying he shouldn't be where he was. Is he Vulcan? Some sort of half-breed?

We get a space fight scene with the old Romulan War Bird because Picard needed more time on the surface. Another ship out of nowhere joins the fight, and of course we know it's Seven because the episode is almost over and we haven't seen her yet. Her piloting shill impresses Rios, her ship get's hit and blows up and they beam her out just in the nick of time (shocker). Just to keep everyone with no brain at all guessing, they refer to the pilot as "he"... before they beam 7 out. (slaps forehead)

Now Seven isn't Seven, she's a comical Jeri Ryan. I really hope she still has some of seven's personality left in her.

@ wolfstar

"I don't think most people did expect it to be TNG. And the swearing (and violence) isn't one of the main reasons I think STP (and STD) are bad, but it is a legitimate issue - Trek was always a show you could watch with three generations, even DS9 at its grittiest. (DS9 might have been thematically heavy but you knew it was going to be gore-free, free of bad language, and not wallow in nastiness for the sake of sensation.) If I'm watching with a 10-year-old who's just getting into Trek or an elderly person with early dementia who loves TOS, TNG and DS9, we don't want decapitations, F-bombs, Pike's face melting, people being eaten etc. The point isn't that there is swearing and gore; the point is that they're completely extraneous and clearly only there for shock value, inserted as an added extra to spice up the show. I would appreciate a mature Trek with adult content and themes, but STD and STP use graphic violence and swearing the way ENT used the decon chamber - that's the problem. How far we've descended since the days when To The Death had to be (regrettably) edited down because the violence, although entirely gore-free, was merely too "intense"."

wolfstar should drop mic, pic it up and drop it again!!

Well said.

Picard just dropped all contact with these folks on the planet? Didn't even give them a phone call to let them know what happened?

Also, I really don't know why Picard was apologizing to these folks... for what? ... saving them? Why would they be mad at him?

Why can't these Romulans not advance at all over 20 years? No one has replicators anymore?

This didn't feel like a Frakes directed episode.

This really isn't giving me any post TNG feel. I know it's not supposed to be TNG but...

I can't go over 2 stars for this.
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
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.
Patrick D
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
Though I get the swearing criticism because it's different, did you people above actually watch TOS/TNG when you were 10? Some of those episodes have some serious nightmare fuel for young kids. "Where Silence Has Lease" immediately comes to mind. Swearing isn't the only thing you shouldn't show children, you know?

I thought this episode was fine, though somewhat predictable. It had a good structure, like @Karl Zimmerman points out. Most of the conversations seemed more natural than previous episodes, so perhaps Frakes did change things up.

My favorite part was Picard knocking down the "Romulans Only" sign and sitting down asking for a menu. I don't think he really meant to start a fight, he just wanted to show by example that humans and Romulans can coexist without segregation. Obviously, the thugs at the restaurant didn't buy his sentiment, but the apology he gave to other Romulans felt real and is the meat of why Picard wanted to come to Vashti.

As a stand-alone story, the mechanics of the episode work very well, although I do share the sentiment that they need to get the real plot with Maddox going soon.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Good stuff Yanks! Always enjoy reading your take, whether I agree or not.

"Special Guest Star - Jeri Ryan" .... thanks for spoiling the damn episode... grrr...
Why doesn't this have a "skip Intro" selection?"
-- YES! Thank you!

"Does this Picard remind you of post TNG Picard? Not for me. Picard making promises, etc... You'd think this Picard would still be Picard."
-- No, it does not remind me of post-TNG Picard, but post-Nemesis Picard? Possibly yes, but it is not even supposed to do that. Stewart and showrunners have made it very clear that this Picard is not the Picard we have watched in TNG (in fact, his interviews show that Stewart made that a condition for him to come back). Twenty years of heavily consequential events went by.

But if you want to look for the absurd along these lines, how about the post-"The Inner Light" Picard who lives a lifetime as someone else in another planet for decades and comes back to Enterprise before the episode's end and picks up next week with a new adventure, totally unchanged from the pre-"The Inner Light" Picard? Talk about absurd :)

"This didn't feel like a Frakes directed episode."
-- Hmmm.. Yanks, I am going to have to disagree with you here (see Big Pimpn's post and my reply to him).

"Picard just dropped all contact with these folks on the planet? Didn't even give them a phone call to let them know what happened?
Also, I really don't know why Picard was apologizing to these folks... for what? ... saving them? Why would they be mad at him?"
--- Yanks, the two statements kind of contradict each other or answer each other, no? The irony is, I agree with you on both so my question is also directed at me!

"This really isn't giving me any post TNG feel. I know it's not supposed to be TNG but..."
I am glad, for my part, that it is not a post-TNG show and tries to build its own story and world, using some characters from the TNG. If it were up to me, I would have come up with a whole new set of characters have nothing more than cameo appearances of old characters (although I cannot complain here, I must admit, about having Picard as the lead because of Stewart).

"I thought this was to egg Elnor to come protect him, but man - what if Elnor was taking a dump? ... or didn't fall for Picards sob story?"
Hahaha.. Well-played Yanks. As I noted in my response to Drea above, I did not believe he was trying to egg Elnor on, but point well-taken :)))
Marco
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
I am an old fan. But not the oldest :)
I did not experience TOS as a TV show. I learned of TOS when I moved in the US 35 years ago. I watched some of it in Italy (40 years ago?) but did not make an impression. Some of TOS is way ahead of its time, some...cringy! To me TREK is TNG. Non-serialized, episodic. I am not enamored of overly serialized shows (too short of an attention span, I guess) so I preferred TNG to DS9, then Voyager (how may shuttles did they leave in the Delta quadrant ?) then Enterprise, then Discovery (what a hot mess that was. But if they keep the reset going as it was done at the end of season two, it could be decent).

Now Picard (Pronounced Pee-Krd, as Q was want to do :) ). Do I like it? Yes, so far. It is perfect? Nope. But not because a Vulcan is unmasked to be a Romulan because she wears glasses...

It is because Stewart is playing Picard as an ancient version of himself. I know that both ares old, but when you see interviews with Stewart of today, he does not sound as old as Picard does. Is this just a phase on the show, and will he re-find himself a bit, or will he descend into more maudliness? We shall see (but only 6 episodes are left). I find that a little disconcerting (and no, I don't believe that the Irumodic ssyndrome angle. They wouldn't have a season two already renewed).

Will Seven spur him? Is that the idea?
Ms Ryan looks a gorgeous as ever, by the way. Referencing an interview between Stewart and Stephen Colbert (2014), I think the one bathing in the blood of the Innocents is Ryan, not Picard... :) . But I digress. Looking forward to next, serialized unfortunately, episode.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
"Though I get the swearing criticism because it's different, did you people above actually watch TOS/TNG when you were 10? Some of those episodes have some serious nightmare fuel for young kids. "Where Silence Has Lease" immediately comes to mind. Swearing isn't the only thing you shouldn't show children, you know?"

HAHAHA, good one Patrick D. and quite accurate!
I can speak for myself: I remember seeing "Charlie X" for the first time back when I was around 10 (loose guess) and having nightmares about the faceless woman and Charlie's spooky eye-roll. Those creepy visions stayed with me for quite a while :)
BZ
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
@Booming,
RE: Romulans being enemies. There may not have been an all out war with the Romulans, but they were hostile to the Federation, with an attempted attack as late as Voyager's Message in a Bottle. Even after they joined the Dominion war there were tensions between Romulans and the other allies. And it was made clear that the situation would not change for the better after the war ended. It's a lot like the Soviet Union vs the other allies during and after World War II, complete with the initial non-aggression pact.
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
@BZ
I get that but still they literally saved the Federation from total destruction 10 years ago. If the Soviet Union would have been destroyed by giant vulcanos in 1955 I'm fairly certain that the USA would help, and not stop after terrorists blow up the first rescue fleet. The same goes for the USA in a reversed scenario.

"And it was made clear that the situation would not change for the better after the war ended."
You mean that comment by Sloan? Or were there other things?
Melota
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Hi Booming :) Not harsh at all, thanks for correcting my dates...for some reason I thought the Cardassian war started after the Borg invasion but obviously I was wrong. Fair point then, TNG wasn’t set in a time of total peace. But it was before the two biggest shocks to the system - the Borg and the Dominion. I forget which episode of DS9 but I’m sure Sisko’s father said something like “the Dominion war is frightening people like nothing has since the Borg”. It’s plausible that when people are frightened they tend to turn towards isolationism and authoritarianism, and when people are war weary and resources are stretched they tend towards a “look after ourselves first” mentality.

I agree with you abandoning the Romulans was morally wrong, but I can see how Starfleet came to that decision. As to why not just save some people, I guess they did, the grumpy Romulans in this episode were presumably evacuated before the Mars attack. When that happened I can see how the elements in Starfleet who were against the rescue seized the opportunity to say “enough is enough, we’ve got our own emergency to deal with now”.

When I mentioned the Bajorans I was thinking of the pre-DS9 era when they were struggling to survive in camps and were so desperate that Picard could earn brownie points just by offering them some blankets. Couldn’t the Federation have provided a few replicators? Some emergency supplies? Offered them asylum?

And I know it’s a somewhat different issue but when Picard was shouting at that Admiral that the Federation didn’t have the right to decide which species should live or die, the first thing I thought of was those pre-warp people rescued illicitly by Worf’s brother against Picard’s orders. And that other species that they only saved because Data made friends with the little girl. Left to his own devices, Captain Picard would have let both species die. I know, I know, Prime Directive etc. But as Dr Pulaski might say “we’re jiggling madly on the head of a pin here” ;) It’s still a question of letting thousands, perhaps millions of people die when you have the means to save them.

I guess my understanding of the optimism of ST was always that humanity COULD overcome its baser instincts, not that those instincts had been erased altogether from human nature in this utopian future. We saw human colonies devolve into war and anarchy, like Tasha Yar’s home planet. We saw how quickly the McCarthyite witch hunt took hold in The Drumhead. We saw plenty of very morally dubious decisions from Starfleet Admirals throughout TNG. Granted, the Starfleet of STP seems to be more protectionist / less humanitarian (plausible after the Dominion war) but the Starfleet of TNG was hardly run by angels.

“So not like Nazi Germany? Phew, fingers crossed. :) Ok I'll give you that but we have Fox News, xenophobia, lower class workers in shitty environments, the entire Federation security is apparently compromised by the Romulans and is for example covering up assassinations by the Romulans, Synthetic beings are banned. That is no longer a utopia by any measure. How was the interview with Picard received? We are never really shown what else goes on in the Federation but what the show actually shows us certainly looks bad.”

Federation security is forever being compromised, that place leaks like a sieve :) If it’s not bug-eating space parasites taking over, it’s Romulan spies posing as Vulcan ambassadors or plain old Dodgy Starfleet Admirals [TM] breaking galactic treaties and covering up mutiny. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here though - all we ever really see of what’s going on in the Federation is the small slice shown by whichever series we’re in. In TNG we mostly saw the Federation as represented by the senior staff of the Enterprise D who were all good people, under the command of Picard, also a good person. Maybe the biggest difference here is that Picard is no longer in command of events like he was on TNG. What we saw of the Federation outside the Ent-D wasn’t always rosy, but we didn’t see much of it. Now it’s a bit less rosy and we’re seeing more of it.
Marg
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
Rios's ship is called "La Sirena," the mermaid.
Thank you!
dave
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
Additional

I loved these assassin space nuns that even the Tal Shiar won't fuck with. I know some people will not be happy with something like this never being mentioned before and popping up. But the galaxy is a big place and we only had 600 hours of TV focussing on a small slice of it. Its 2020 and they are eager to portray women as being the best warriors in the universe so this exclusive order is a way to do it. Black Panther did that with their all woman Kings guard ( whatever the name was).

Unfortuntely the kid looks like a LOTR elf and that works against the audience taking him seriously.

They should have explained with this settlement of refugess is like some desolate Star Wars planet. 14 years is plenty of time for them to establish trade with other Romulan planets, share resources, travel around, etc. They should not be living in poverty.

I dont mind people being mad at Picard for leaving starfleet. But seriously ,he led an exemplorary live and is a living legend . Its getting a bit much that every person other than his ex tal shair housekeepers hate his guts with bitterness. It seems like Seven may be hating him too. A bit much I say.
Omar
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Are they going to release a good episode this season?
Booming
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
@ Melota
Phew, I'm relieved. :)
" It’s plausible that when people are frightened they tend to turn towards isolationism and authoritarianism, and when people are war weary and resources are stretched they tend towards a “look after ourselves first” mentality."
There are around 150 species, probably more in the Federation. Are they all descendants from semi hysterical apes. If 14 were ready to leave, none was ready to leave if they let them die?

" I guess they did, the grumpy Romulans in this episode were presumably evacuated before the Mars attack."
Yeah the show is really not that clear. I guess they got one round out. How many people fit on 10000 ships? 10 million? let it be a 100 million. That would still leave 800 million to die. Kind of disheartening that nobody stood up and said: "you let these millions die, enough, we are going to leave."

"Couldn’t the Federation have provided a few replicators? Some emergency supplies? Offered them asylum? "
Bajor was still a rebellious part of Cardassia at the time so providing them with material probably not a good idea directly after the peace treaty.

" like Tasha Yar’s home planet"
which is not a federation planet. ;)

"We saw plenty of very morally dubious decisions from Starfleet Admirals throughout TNG."
Yeah that is kind of the running joke of Star Trek. The moment you become an admiral you want to do nasty stuff. :D TNG wasn't perfect by any measure. DS9 had some serious flaws like Sisko or Picard commanding entire fleets. It's nonsense of course. There is one episode were Sisko poisons a planet to get Eddington. I think that is the worst DS9 episode but Discovery and ST:P to some degree too feel like that episode all the time.

The Federation was just a dream Roddenberry came up with that there would be a future where we as Humans would just be better, a hopeful future. He didn't care that it looked naive to some. He liked it. But in these new iterations Humans are basically like Humans today. The Federation is now not our perfect little space realm, now it is just another empire that with enough pressure will betray it's values. That is one of my problems with this. This is no longer the hopeful, better future Roddenberry imagined. It is now just a representation of the present.

I must admit though that I found the message of this episode not that bad. I kind of liked it actually:"it is still better to do something even if the problems seem insurmountable." That's not a bad message considering the problems humanity faces.

As I have probably said it quite a few times. I could enjoy this more if it wasn't called Star Trek. I guess cbs had to use the brand name to sell some subscriptions. Oh well...
Drea
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov (& others)
"I am not sure if I agree with the last part where you think he was trying to manipulate Elnor into joining him. Maybe you are right, but I took it as him leaving empty-handed, being frustrated, and giving into impulsive behavior without any expectation of anyone saving him."

Could be! It's either manipulative or impulsive behavior, neither admirable. Mind you, that's not a knock against the show as it would be for some. I quite like this great man brought low, motivated by the deep emotions that have compounded over his years. The show could've done a better job at conveying what was going on mentally and emotionally for him in that moment though. He discards the sign in what looks like self-righteousness, then looks confused when the first Romulans he approaches stand and leave, then sounds entitled as he calls the waiter. It's a significant plot point, and I'm not sure what the writers were going for.
Mike W
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
Dave in MN - I usually refrain from directly addressing the opinions of others, but dude - if the show is that atrocious, move on. You nit pick every minor detail and go into long diatribes whining about EVERYTHING. Share something positive on occasion, or move along.

On another note, this episode was fine by me, and I’ve been a diehard Trek fan since I was a child (late 80’s). My only “gripe” would be the usage of vulgar language. It seemed forced.

Can’t wait til next Thursday!
Yanks
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
@ Mertov

"Good stuff Yanks! Always enjoy reading your take, whether I agree or not."

Why thank you. I enjoy yours as well.

"-- No, it does not remind me of post-TNG Picard, but post-Nemesis Picard? Possibly yes, but it is not even supposed to do that. Stewart and showrunners have made it very clear that this Picard is not the Picard we have watched in TNG (in fact, his interviews show that Stewart made that a condition for him to come back). Twenty years of heavily consequential events went by."

I understand all that. I should have been clearer. Post-Nemisis. The early flashbacks, when he is swarmed by the locals... he's making promises, it's alright, etc... that just doesn't sound like Picard talk... he certainly would tell them what to expect but to sound all wishy-washy, lovey-dovey... it's just not him of that time period.

"But if you want to look for the absurd along these lines, how about the post-"The Inner Light" Picard who lives a lifetime as someone else in another planet for decades and comes back to Enterprise before the episode's end and picks up next week with a new adventure, totally unchanged from the pre-"The Inner Light" Picard? Talk about absurd :)"

I don't think we know how much time passed... and he did seek time with Troi. But even when he was Kamin, he still was Picard at the core.

"-- Hmmm.. Yanks, I am going to have to disagree with you here (see Big Pimpn's post and my reply to him)."

I remember the comedy in 'First Contact'... it never felt forced. It was not good here.

I am glad, for my part, that it is not a post-TNG show and tries to build its own story and world, using some characters from the TNG. If it were up to me, I would have come up with a whole new set of characters have nothing more than cameo appearances of old characters (although I cannot complain here, I must admit, about having Picard as the lead because of Stewart).

I'm mostly referring to the flashback stuff. Even when he's speaking with Raffi after losing the battle with SF... this should be "Jean Luc Picard!!" ... but it just isn't. I mean look how Raffi talks to him... "JL". ... really? ... Do you think he ever would have let Riker speak to him like that? I get the new stuff and other than some pretty lame writing at times I'm fine with the new story/tone.

It will be interesting to see why 7 just happened to pop in.
Ruth
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this. I didn’t see Seven’s entrance coming at all. I was delighted to see Ryan’s name in the credits, finally - and Frakes directing - but I was enjoying the episode so much I had no idea we were near the end and that if Seven was going to appear, it was going to be then. Acting like it’s a man is a cheap trick - perhaps she has a male hologram co pilot like our man on this ship that led to their assumption? - but yeah, I fell for it. Being extremely cool, making a smart comment and refusing to pass out/die/generally admit to human frailty is classic Seven, however she’s changed.

The Romulan incest sister is so creepy and I don’t get the point of having this exact same scene every episode, but with her being more sexual and more violent each time. I dread to think how he’ll wake up to find her next week, I don’t know what the US watershed standards we’re dealing with are. Ugh! We get the picture for crying out loud!

I was a bit worried about Romulan ninja Legolas from all the promo but I can buy his character, and the child actor was very cute. I’m hoping no one else has this same “OMG Picard you abandoned us” backstory though, this is enough of them isn’t it? Yes we all feel the same, but still :)
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Mike W

I scored three first and third episodes 3 stars and the second 2.5 stars. I haven't been attacking this show just to attack it.

I didn't like THIS episode and I'm allowed to delineate why I felt it was a step down from what came before.
And for the record, a nitpick and a plot hole are NOT the same thing.
Daniel
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
I know that the Star Trek novels are *technically* not canon, and even the official novelizations can veer into Memory Beta territory. However, I'm about halfway through the Star Trek Picard: The Last Best Hope book written by Una McCormack. According to an interview, the author was supplied with the Picard scripts as they were written.

A couple interesting notes to perhaps color in the background--it doesn't excuse the show from omitting details or using clunky means of exposition:

The prospect of having to evacuate just under a billion people from the blast radius of the supernova to worlds light years away within a short period of time (the book says that Romulan reluctance to provide accurate data meant that they underestimated the time they had to do the job) meant that the very fabric of Starfleet's mission would have had to be changed. Refitting existing ships, constructing an armada of over 10K Wallenberg class transports was only a fraction of the problem. The Dunkirk example that Picard made in the interview was actually kind of apt--every bit of available resource would have had to been recruited, regardless of original mission. This eclipsed the scale of the Qo'nos-Praxis crisis by orders of magnitude. (I think according to ST VI the Klingon's main ask of Starfleet was to dismantle the starbases along the border so they didn't need to expend as much of their economy on the military)

That meant that much of the exploratory and scientific missions (the core purpose of Starfleet) would have had to been put on hold for years. If you were doing research in some field that required resources that needed to be reallocated, your research was effectively mothballed.

Manpower was a major consideration--a simple back of the envelope calculation of just the newly-built transport vessels: 10,000 ships x 100 crewmembers (If Enterprise D had 500-600 Starfleet crew members out of a complement of 1014, and Voyager had 160ish, let's figure they found some ways to automate tasks), we're looking at a million Starfleet officers and enlisted crew. Factor in support personnel to maintain supply chains, maintenance, etc... and you can double or triple that. You couldn't just transport and drop off the Romulan refugees at the new planets, you needed to provide resettlement support and construction assistance. (Assume that the 24th Century version of Starfleet learned from our experience and didn't simply dump the refugees into massive tent cities a la the Syrians). Millions of personnel who were originally trained at Starfleet Academy and the other service academies for one purpose, dedicating a big chunk of their career for another.

Raw resources and materiel were another major consideration--the Federation may officially operate a post-scarcity economy, but that doesn't mean that the basic fundamentals of economy are obviated. Economics, in short, is the study of "unlimited needs and wants, and limited resources". The tritanium used to build the hulls and superstructures had to be mined and processed from somewhere. In the 24th century, they're able to recrystallize dilithium to extend its life, but the vast amounts of dilithium needed had to be mined from somewhere. Tremendous amounts of antimatter and deuterium fuel needed to be spun up. Federation member worlds would be contributing the resources, and evolved society or not, you'd be forgiven if you were miffed if vital resources from your home world were being diverted to aid a species that only grudgingly accepted assistance when confronted with the information that Starfleet found out.

The Federation membership and political structure according to all of previous Trek history doesn't appear to be a federalized structure--strong central government that can override much of the decisions of the individual states (e.g., United States). It's more along the lines of the government under the Articles of Confederation, or more recently, the EU. Member states join and contribute resources and combine their political and economic clout, but each state more or less maintains most of their autonomy and sovereignty. Vulcan as a Federation founding member state did not subsume its identity and remake itself to be more like Earth. It kept its own traditions, maintained their own science academies and fleets, and internally, oftentimes looked down on individuals who decided to join Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Science Academy (e.g., Spock) Take a look at how hard it is for the EU to even decide on fairly uncontrovertial issues and get legislation passed, and now scale that up to a governing system of hundreds of billions of people with different cultural histories, values, and patterns of thought.

Yet, the Federation did agree to take on the rescue. They committed the resources and spun up the transport ships while all available existing ships were refitted. A500 synths were manufactured (according to the novel they were not of the positronic type that supported Data-like sentience), and then the attack on Mars happened.

Significant loss of life, destruction of your primary ship yard, the loss of viability of a key planet in the heart of the Federation, and the loss of all of the resources that had been committed. To start over would mean having to find some other place to not only build a shipyard, but also all of the destroyed ships. The worlds that had contributed their manpower and wealth would have to be asked to give again.

The novel depicts the election of Federation council members who ran on more isolationist platforms--supported by Federation citizens unhappy with the decisions they made.

Is it believable then, that 14 planets would be indignant to the point of threatining withdrawal if forced to contribute again? I think so. Ethically and morally indefensible, but understandable nonetheless.

Could Picard's continuing mission under Starfleet's aegis after the synth attack have been managing the resettlement efforts of the Romulans that were saved? I think the admiralty would have been happy to have him do that, since it was by no means a small task. But as he said, quoting Voltaire, he let the perfect be the enemy of the good and walked away.

Time and time again during TNG and the movies, we saw Picard apply his exacting sense of morality and standards to Starfleet and the Federation. And he usually got his way, emboldening him for the next challenge. That's Gene Roddenberry's imprint on the character and the franchise. Garrett Wang tells a story at the conventions and in interviews that at the beginning, Rick Berman assembled the new cast and told those who were depicting humans that they were to underplay their human aspects and deliver their lines more military so as to make the aliens more real. There's nothing wrong with a perfect society and perfect group of people exploring strange new worlds of imperfect species. The problem is you quickly run out of stories that aren't Starfleet officers telling alien species how backward their society is, because the Federation is society evolved. The reality is there will always be some conflict, some difference in opinions and values, differences in priorities. If there weren't, they would essentially be the Borg.

The purpose of Picard and the rethink of the Star Trek universe is to show what happens when one is perhaps too rigid when you need to build consensus and trust. What happens when your hero is actually found to be a real human being and is actually fallible? How do people who depend on him react when he makes promises he can't keep? The parallel lesson of the 21st century vs the 20th century is that you can't simply solve your problem simply with advanced technology. In our century, the optimism of the Internet and AI has been shaded by social media and problematic implementation of AI algorithms. The massive move towards battery production has raised the ugly realities of sourcing rare earth elements and lithium from regions that exploit human labor. Decomissioned wind turbines have massive blades made of resin and fiber composite that can't be recycled. One could imagine that you can't simply install a bunch of industrial replicators at a colony and say job complete. Trying to automate labor by having synths in key facilities introduced a critical unanticipated vulnerability.

The interesting story here is one about understanding your limitations yet not giving up. The Federation and Starfleet is depicted in less than flattering light at the beginning so as to show its resiliency and what it could be when the mission is restored. DS9 used the Dominion war to highlight optimism and acts of heroism from humans, Klingons, Bajorans, Ferrengi, and even Cardassians in the face of unremitting hostilities. Aron Eisenberg, who portrayed Nog, told how much he was affected by the stories from war veterans who saw themselves in the storyline where Nog lost his leg in a battle (DS9: The Siege of AR-558/It's Only a Paper Moon) and had to deal with PTSD and recovery. Kira's arc throughout the series is one of recovery and self-actualization as well. That's the virtue of serialized storytelling--you get to show growth- but you have to start at some lower point, and you can't expect it to happen in 44 minutes.

People who watch Picard expecting TNG with its "alien of the week" format are naturally going to be disappointed. It's been done already, and to a certain extent, the mantle has been taken up by the Orville. Picard is supposed to be a human drama set in the Star Trek universe, and is about the optimism and heroism of a man who knows he's not long for the world, and is trying to right the wrongs and fulfill the promises he made, in a mission with such unfavorable odds, he won the sword of a Qowat Milat. Maybe he gets to save the universe and the soul of Starfleet as well.
The Dirty Mac
Fri, Feb 14, 2020, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
One addendum to my last statement: TOS was known for allegory. If Picard tries a little of the same, should we poo-poo? After all, our moral compass here is Jean-Luc Picard! What a vehicle to see the world through!
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:12am (UTC -5)
@ Daniel
Ok, the books are basically glorified fan fiction but they highlight the silliness of the situation. The whole super nova thing makes no sense. The Romulan Star is not a star that could go super nova. It's a yellow star like ours. And even if the Romulan star wasn't a yellow star, then the Romulans would know for thousands of years that the star would go super nova, as would the Federation. A star doesn't just go super nova. That is a process that, for a relatively stable star, would take millions of years with very obvious signs.

add to that the impossibility of destroying all, or even half, of those 10000 ships after destroying the shipyard. Were the 10000 ships just hovering over Mars for no reason, waiting for the Androids to destroy the shipyards? Why didn't they just fly away? And why not continue with the ships that weren't destroyed? It is just a sloppy setup that ignores basic scientific facts and logic.

And again it is one thing being isolationist but just to decide to let hundreds of millions die even though you have the means to save them. So the Federation lets hundreds of millions die because some Andorian schools needed a fresh coat of paint? The show, and that was a grave misstep for me, implies through that interveiw that the Federation stopped helping because of xenophobia. If the show would make the argument that there was another crisis that needed immediate attention, like a galactic trolley problem. I can buy that but just saying:"It would be a real hassle to build all those ships again. Eh... I never liked those green blooded douchebags. Let them all die." That is a horrible crime.

"Maybe he gets to save the universe and the soul of Starfleet as well."
That is such an American narrative. The lone hero who assembles a team to save the galaxy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmU1upyu_J8
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:24am (UTC -5)
PS: And let's not forget that the Romulans chose that star system after leaving Vulcan. So they flew into that system, looked at the star and thought: "Ok, the star looks a little unstable, almost nova-ish but hey let's settle here anyways and start to build our empire."
Nolan
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Whew, finally caught up on all this discourse.

It's hard for me to comment on what I actually do like about these episodes as I find I have to continually narrow it down. I'd think, I'm liking everything that doesn't involve the main crew, as I hate the contemporary portrayal of humans in this series, but the I remember that I don't really care for the Borg Cube based blasé plot. So I say, I enjoy theRomulan culture stuff, but I hate the concept of the Zat Vash or whatever they're called because the Tal Shiar was intruiging all on it's own (best Troi episode ever) nor do I like that they actually went with the supernova backstory, and I'm certainly not fond of Spaceoglas, even if I was enjoyinging the backstory between him and Picard (who probably had to warm to kids once Troi and Riker started poppin' em out) So what it boild down to is: I like the Warrior space nuns. It's a nice wrinkle to the Romulan's treachery/deceit cap and give it a nice wide brim of additional culture. Too bad we couldn't see it in action on a functioning Romulus and how it fit in on a gestapo run world struggling with ideas of Unification.

Alas, we have the rest of the episode to consider; Underwhelming. There, episode considered.

I don't know about everyone else, but when I talk about the poor portrayal of humanity in this series, I feel people are conflating that with the actions of Starfleet/the Federation. But I'm not talking about that at all. Back in episode one when I still had hope I laid out how the Federation may have arrived at it's decision based on recent in-universe history. I get THAT. Those are problems with the bureaucracy and the system. What I DON'T get is how every human we've seen from dockworkers to admirals, ex-starfleet to news reporters has backslide away from the ideals and culture established as 24th Century.

Sure, the Enterprise was the best of the best, PROFESSIONALLY speaking, but the culture of humanity throughout the other shows remained consistant and coherant. On Voyager the height of fun was an Irish town! Or a rather tame pool hall. Or a beach resort. And even on DS9, at the very frontier of the Federation where you'd expect human culture to be the most distant from the core worlds, where a moody disgraced commander, and troubled war vet with his new family were assigned, they still maintained that 24th century culture. "Hey, let's go to the holosuite and play baseball, or Bond, or play battle simulations or hang out in a vegas lounge!" And they all read and play music and practice arts and played Parrisies Squares.

They don't all need to be confrontational, adversarial or gritty for this story and scenario to have occured. Instead of this bog standard story they could've pushed their allegory further to include the apathy and indifference of good people who allowed their own contentment to blind them to the needs of others. Not some malicious intent as has been presented so far, just a lack of awareness on the part of good people that made a poor choice.

Nope. Instead now they drink to excess, vape, smoke cigars, swear, watch(?) Holos, and throw out 21st century slang? Just to make the allegory clear and update the world to today's standards? WHAT?!?

Hey, do you guys remember in TOS when Kirk or Bones would add "man" or "dude" on to the ends of sentences, or talk about getting out from the thumb of "the man" of the Federation? Or when they came across a beautiful space phenomenon they'd remark "outta sight!" Or "fab!"? Or reflect on the episode's events as "righteous" or "groovy"? Or when Kirk thought a woman he met was "choice"? No ya don't, cause the writers were smart enough to distant the portrayal of the human characters from the culture, language and attitudes of the times cause they KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. In fact, in the episode where the guest characters even remotely talked like that, they were ridiculed.

Okay, okay, okay. Maybe you'll all remember in TNG/DS9/VOY when they went to warp on their next adventure with a; "let's dip!" Or when they saw a cool space anomaly and described it as "hella cool", "radical", or "fly"? Or when Harry asked Tom how he was and Tom said "aiight." Or when the crew sent Picard to Risa and wondered if he'd "get jiggy"? Or when Chakotay answered hails with "sup?" No you don't because that's not how humans in the future were concieved as behaving. Because the writers knew you DIDN'T NEED THAT FOR THE CHARACTERS TO BE RELATABLE. That's why Trek has managed to remain (largely) timeless and gain new fans after FIFTY years. And when the Voyager crew ended up in the 90's, they were ridiculed for not blending in with the times.

No one would come to Trek now if the old series were mired in the culture of the time they were made. And they weren't made like that because humanity in Trek is supposed to be culturally, socially different and improved from the time it was made. To throw that out so the allegory of the issues the new series wants to tackle and their character more identifiable to the audience misses the entire, f#&@ing point of Star Trek. *sigh*

I liked the world classic Trek built. It was applicable to common issues, relatable, but escapist and theatrical and dramatic. Each episode was more like a play than a film. Now I just feel like Benny Russel, screaming from the floor about how real this world was and how it can't be taken from me. To hell with Kurtzman, and to hell with CBS. Okay, perhaps that's a little overly dramatic, haha, but it is really frusterating to have this aspect of something you love that gives so much value and meaning to it for you just be completely ignored by those who get to write for it now. And I think that's where the new v. old fan debate comes from.

Think of it like this: You and your friends are on the playground as kids and you've brought all your toys and together you build a narrative and consruct the world and it's rules that you then play out with your toys whose characters you've all created and there's so much meaning in it for you. Then, along comes some other kid, who seems to be enjoying the make-believe, but then he wades in claims ownership of the toys and starts making new stories with them in your world, but jettisonning any aspect he doesn't like because "they were stupid" or "this way is better" and more kids come and watch his stories and suddenly all those aspects that were a part of that built world are forgotten and lose meaning to everyone else even if they were so important to you. And it can be frusterating when something so important to you is disregarded by others, either through unawareness or lack of interest in that aspect. So there might be some bruised feelings.

And the fact I used an issue about children playing perhaps highlights the childishness of the whole issue. Is it childish to have any modicum of intense feelings over a TV show not living up to your standards? Let's be honest, it totally is. But the point is it's also just as childish to wade in, claim ownership of a previously established fiction, throw out what is felt doesn't work and disregard the value of that fiction to those who came before. So no one is really right in the new fan/old fan debate. Especially since, as fans, our ownership to this fiction and it's lore is tenuous at best.

Hopefully one day I'll get my distanced, escapist theatrical, optimistic and guide post of a future back and the damage to it by the new stuff isn't too bad.

(As for the swearing being due to the streaming format as opposed to previous broadcast standards, I always think of that line from the Federation President in STVI: "Just because you *can* do a thing, does not necessarily mean you *should* do that thing. Or I'll put my foot up your @$$, you dumb@$$.")
Drea
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:16am (UTC -5)
@Booming

Regarding supernovas:
Supernovas are predictable in a broad sense, but not a narrow one. Betelgeuse could go supernova any day now. Or it might not for 100,000 years. Presumably the Romulans and everyone else knew the same thing about the Romulan star. Betcha the scientists gave warning that the politicians ignored for decades.

As for Romulus being a sol-like yellow sun, glimpsed in Nemesis perhaps? Oops, retcon. Least important detail possible. You're right that it's a little weird that the Romulans chose a star near the end of its life when leaving Vulcan, but maybe the scientists initially projected 50,000 years and the dilithium on Remus was too good to pass up.

Regarding shipyards:
I'm completely unclear why a planetary-scale assault wouldn't plausibly destroy the ships under construction on that planet's shipyards. Next!

Regarding isolationism:
You're saying it's implausible that a superpower would allow millions of foreigners it doesn't like very much to die simply due to internal politics and wanting to spend their resources on themselves?

Well, I can agree with you at least that this is a horrible crime.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:17am (UTC -5)
I'll come right out and say it, "absolute candor" and all that

This show sucks so far. Chabon and company's writing is college level, and the repeated references to his favorite book are a clue that they don't take the audience seriously. Every episode so far has had a scene completely devoted to leaving the camera lingering on the back of this book. "It's a book about the existential pain of living with the knowledge of your own impending death" or some such clap trap. How many times will they trot that out. I cannot believe the writers would use the stage they've been handed to do personal shoutouts to obscure writers no one cares about. I'm sure they have some grand idea about the book being this deep analogy to how Picards mortality affects his actions. The whole thing strikes me as incredibly immature on the part of the writers, like a big in-joke that we are barely in on. At best, it feels like product placement for the college philosophy student.

Now to the show, well let's see. I feel like I'm writing all the same things I did about Discovery. The dialogue is clunky, and the entire show comes off like a shakespearean stage production. Lines do not roll off the tongue, there is no flow, no rhythm to the words and ideas being presented. Scenes come and go with little or no context or setup. In some scenes it literally seems like actors are struggling with their lines. And the problem is not the actors, it's the scripts they are reading.

The show continues to push a narrative that does not square up with what they are showing us. A perfect example came in this episode--the narrative tells us that Picard is despised by the hard-done-by Romulan refugees who live in poverty and squalor. But what we are shown is almost the complete opposite--a thriving little town full of houses, trees, happy children, women living in relatively opulent homes with fine linens, lots of space....men hanging out in a community bar sharing food and drink, etc. Where exactly is the squalor again? SHHHH. THE NARRATIVE. SAYS. THERE IS. SQUALOR.

The show habitually and gratuitously violates the "show don't tell" principle. And in fact, it shows us one thing and then tells us the complete opposite. The entire narrative of Picard being this outcast broken old man because he tried to do good but "failed" and now everyone hates him, just falls completely flat because honestly it makes no sense. It feels like a narrative that is just being pushed on us by the show to generate "emotions" around Picard, and that's it. It goes no deeper than that. Everything is a set piece to build a narrative which they came up with in advance. The world and the narrative do not seem to move in unison.

I continue to not care at all about the Borg cube or anything that happens on it, though I do feel like Isa briones is the best actor in the show. It's a shame she's only on screen for 2% of each episode, and when she is, she is shoe-horned into an extremely hammy sub-plot that feels like its going nowhere fast.

At two points, my wife and I found ourselves literally laughing out loud. The first was when mr. hologram gunner started speaking spanish. You can almost read the email chain from executive to marketing, to producers, to the writing team--"we need to reach out to the latino segment, that market is growing, we can't afford to miss out, put some spanish in the show. I don't care how you do it, just get it done."

The second point, was the 7of9 reveal. TWO GUNS people. Not one. TWO. Tune in next week on CBS all access. My wife and I were literally laughing, like how you laugh when your child does something embarassing, but they have no idea.

Here's my absolute candor. I appreciate some of the attempted world-building, I appreciate some of the performances, particularly Isa Briones. But overall I feel like the show was not conceived well. Unlike other more well executed serialized sci-fi dramas like BSG, who's themes, narratives, and on-screen action moved together with precision (and did so from the very first episode onwards), ST:P feels disjointed and sloppy. They get away with it because of the nostalgia factor, but I don't see this show building into anything significant or lasting. It reads and feels like a forgettable spinoff show that no one is really investing that much time or effort on.
RemcoSpockHelmet
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:47am (UTC -5)
@Brian "At two points, my wife and I found ourselves literally laughing out loud. The first was when mr. hologram gunner started speaking spanish. You can almost read the email chain from executive to marketing, to producers, to the writing team--"we need to reach out to the latino segment, that market is growing, we can't afford to miss out, put some spanish in the show. I don't care how you do it, just get it done."

He was speaking Chilean. I'm just gonna let you process that and then maybe think about your attitude.
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:51am (UTC -5)
@Drea
"Supernovas are predictable in a broad sense, but not a narrow one."
yeah we, meaning humanity today, can predict that a star who is 700 light years away will blow up during the next 100.000 years. The Romulans were 2000 years ago a space faring species with better technical abilities and in that very system. Also the Betelgeuse star is not a good example because you would never settle in a system with such a star because of it's very short lifespan (10 million years). There would be no life in that system. No system with a red supergiant star would support life because they all burn up so fast. Settling in a red supergiant system would mean settling on a barren planet.
And settling in a system were a type I super nova could occur would be even crazier because that would be a binary white dwarf system. That system would also be barren because the star would have already gone through the main sequence.

" Betcha the scientists gave warning that the politicians ignored for decades."
Well, who is retconning now? Settling in a system with an unstable star is like settling on a giant bomb. Also the super nova is only the final problem and unstable star does lots of stuff that is really bad if you are on a planet close to it.

"As for Romulus being a sol-like yellow sun, glimpsed in Nemesis perhaps? Oops, retcon. Least important detail possible."
That's not a retcon. The Romulan sun wasn't shown for story purposes. They just showed us the Romulan system and that had a yellow star.

"I'm completely unclear why a planetary-scale assault wouldn't plausibly destroy the ships under construction on that planet's shipyards. Next!"
First, we are already told that the ships were already build and that they have rescued a small part of the population.
Second, if they were still building the ships then only a small portion of the ships would have been destroyed or are you telling me that shipyard build all 10000 ship at the same time? The androids somehow got enough attack ships to destroy all those 10000 ships before anybody could do anything about it in the center of the Federation?

"You're saying it's implausible that a superpower would allow millions of foreigners it doesn't like very much to die simply due to internal politics and wanting to spend their resources on themselves?"
Yes. Name me one example from history were that happened.
Daniel
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 4:16am (UTC -5)
Okay, to those complaining that other Trek series didn't succumb to the culture of the time of its airing, I present to you the TOS episode: The Way to Eden, the flower power jam session aboard the Enterprise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pNQYHvhnms
Daniel
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 4:18am (UTC -5)
And then they sang another song in Sickbay:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFB70KL89g
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 4:32am (UTC -5)
@remcospockhelmet
"He was speaking Chilean. I'm just gonna let you process that and then maybe think about your attitude."

He was speaking spanish. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be processing here. He's a spaniard, he speaks spanish. There are tons of dialects all throughout the Americas, whats your point? It's all spanish. MY point was, why does the holo-gunner randomly start speaking spanish for a few lines seemingly out of nowhere? It seemed shoe-horned to me. Maybe you could be a little less obtuse and just say what you mean to say?
Andy's Friend
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:05am (UTC -5)
@ Melota, @Yanks

Melota — 'We saw plenty of very morally dubious decisions from Starfleet Admirals throughout TNG.‘
Yanks — ‘Yeah that is kind of the running joke of Star Trek. The moment you become an admiral you want to do nasty stuff.‘

I wouldn’t say plenty, and Yanks is essentially right: it was more a running joke than anything serious. However—and this is a huge however:

Melota — ‘We saw how quickly the McCarthyite witch hunt took hold in The Drumhead.‘

No, we certainly did not. What we saw was how quickly unjust accusations were revealed to be just that. And please note that those unjust accusations were made by a deranged admiral.

‘The Drumhead’ is likely one of the most abused episodes of TNG. Note that I write ‘abused‘, which it certainly is. But it is possibly also one of the most *misunderstood* of TNG episodes.

‘The Drumhead’ is a moral tale, and it is a cautionary tale, yes. Picard rightly warns of the dangers of succumbing to paranoia, yes. But it does not depict a Federation on the verge of becoming paranoid, not even a Starfleet prone to paranoia. Quite the contrary. The initial suspicions against the Vulcan officer are relatively innocuous. And the moment it becomes clear that Admiral Satie’s accusations are but paranoid delusion, she is cut short. She is cut short by Picard, in one of his ‘wonderful little speeches’, yes. That happens because Picard is the main star of the series. But it could have been anyone, and it would have been were Picard not said main star, and able to deliver such ‘wonderful little speeches‘.

The point is thus not that Picard is some sort of ‘More Starfleet than Starfleet’ super-captain, able to perceive what no-one else does, denounce what no-one else can, and uphold higher values than both the organisation and the society he serves. The point is thus not that Starfleet, and the Federation, are in fact baser than Picard is. No. He is simply the mouthpiece for the ethos of the Federation, entitled to the more substantive lines and grandiloquent speeches as per Mr Stewart’s contract and talent.

Note how that episode cleverly uses Worf, a Klingon with extreme sense of order and naturally biased against Romulans, to service the plot. Had it not been for Worf, another character, with a backstory similar to O’Brien’s re the Cardassians, would have had to be written to serve Worf’s function. For in TNG, we all know that around 2370, more ordinary Starfleet officers would balk at Satie’s propositions.

Note also how the episode must make Admiral Satie psychologically unhinged in order to even make the story believable: for in TNG, we all know that around 2370, only an unbalanced person would make the kind of false accusations she makes.

In short, ‘The Drumhead’ is as fine an espousal of Star Trek 24th century Federation ethos as any. It does not, contrary to what is so often claimed, show how quickly Starfleet or the Federation might succumb to racism, xenophobia, isolationism, and other paranoias. It does quite the opposite. It shows us how quickly any Starfleet officer *with sufficient insight*—in this case, quite naturally, our main star—would unmask such paranoia. All while, quite correctly, warning *the audience in the 20th century* against such paranoia.

As always, we must know to differentiate, and to recognise when the ‘big speech’ is being directed primarily at the in-universe characters (say, ‘The First Duty’), and when it is being directed primarily at the audience as commentary, as here. TNG generally stroke a balance between the two deliveries, and did so masterfully. Unfortunately, in the case of ‘The Drumhead’, this is not understood by most fans. Picard is not speaking to his fellow officers: he is speaking to us.
Nolan
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:08am (UTC -5)
@Daniel, psst, even if I didn't explicitly name drop "The Way to Eden" I did obtusely mention it when I referred to an episode where the guest cast DID talk like that and the episode essentially ridiculed them for their way of life, and had them come to an unfortunate end due to their lifestyle, based on the hippie movement of the era. It does NOT change my point. Particularily since that was an outlying subset of people, set apart from the rest of society and looked down upon by the majority of 23rd Century society and who also only appeared in ONE episode. Unlike here they were *not* presented as the norm.

It is also a not well regarded episode given how clearly the allegory is meant to be about the free love movement and thus dates the episode whereas a more nuanced attempt at allegory may not have succumbed to such kitsch. HERBERT!

I can understand some outlying Federation worlds/colonies being more contemporary and less ideal, but not to the extent they've regressed back to our time in terms of behaviour, and certainly not at the heart of the Federation.

I mean, if anyone wants to talk about "sheer fucking hubris", I'd say it's right there in how the writers of Picard portray 21st Century behaviour as the apex, enlightened, evolved human behaviour that lasted for another 300 years and was so apparently perfected we stagnated in our growth because how we act now is what is gonna lead us to world peace, get us to the stars, and allow us to form an intergalactic community based sround co-operation. Yeah, I don't think so. I don't look at the world right now and think: "Well, we've finally made it." Nah, I see uncaring despots in power, overworked, underpaid product focused labour forces, billionares on their laurels, petty internet squabbles that are more focused on trying to get the quippiest, "gotcha!" comebacks that are more geared to generating worthless Like status and which have now worked their way onto the political stage, not to mention the melting icecaps and I think; "We got a long way to go."

*That's* why I hate how the writers have f#$&ed with Trek, why it really ticks me off and *that's* why I think it misses the point of Star Trek and proves itself not to be what it's trying to pretend to be.
Steve McCullagh
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:15am (UTC -5)
It's had it's moments but this show is really starting to annoy me. There's nothing wrong with taking your time and laying your groundwork but we're four weeks in and it's moving at a snail's pace, suffocating the viewer in exposition to the point that it's just plain dull. And it's a show that to me is still really struggling to find it's identity and they can't decide what they want to be; one week they think they're BSG, then they think they're Star Wars, then they think they're Game of Thrones, then they think they're Lord of the Rings, all with a dash of Discovery, this week they're a mash-up of several of them, when all I really want them to be is Star Trek...

I do hope it picks up and figures itself out soon but at this point I'm losing patience with it and it's actually becoming a struggle to come back each week.
Bold Helmsman
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:21am (UTC -5)
@Brian

I'm not an expert, but there are significant differences between Chilean Spanish and other forms of Spanish. In any case, it's funny that you think someone speaking a different language must be something "shoe horned" in. Somehow, I doubt you get that impression when Picard speaks French.
Dougie
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:38am (UTC -5)
there Are a lot of people who just want the warm opioid snuggles of 1980 and 1990 back. Well here’s a reality: 9/11 Peter. 9-1-1. If you want Mambo #5 world forget it. Star Trek reflects our present zeitgeist and must appeal to masses to be successful, as it always has.

I once said, and maintain that while we all fucked around giggling to Monty Python (and worse Teen Wolf if you want to lose a boner for a while), the most sinister people in the world plotted our demise. So fuck them and fuck this notion that everything back then was right, and anything now is wrong.
Dougie
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:47am (UTC -5)
For anyone to assert that their form of criticism is more proper than another’s, they need to go sit in the corner with a time out. I don’t care how booming their forum presence might be.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:57am (UTC -5)
I speak five languages and I'm gonna agree with Brian here. The point is that the use of the language is extremely tokenistic. I don't think we should drill down on this too much in among all the other good points Brian makes. Of course, no Hispanic person is going to think "ooh, there's a guy in this speaking Spanish, so I'll watch it". But that's the level of shallowness and cynicism that these producers (normally middle-aged white liberal dudes) operate on. I have been in those rooms. Same goes for having performers use Irish and Australian accents btw., despite the fact they're playing aliens - they want viewers in different countries to have an access point to the show. So this isn't just about language, and it's a common practice these days. But if you think they don't do it for demographic reasons these days, you're kidding yourself. The point is that these appeals to various demographics are surface-level only - no matter their language, nationality, skin color, species, background, gender, age etc., everyone in this show talks the same and has the same 21st-century American cultural sensibility. The writers can't be bothered creating characters that are genuinely diverse and don't have the skill to write three-dimensional characters from different backgrounds, so they lazily throw in surface-level appeals to different groups and hope it's enough.
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 6:01am (UTC -5)
@Dougie
Well, because you aim at me specifically, I will briefly address your thoughts on the matter. You insult people critical of the show (there Are a lot of people who just want the warm opioid snuggles of 1980 and 1990 back.) and then write that "For anyone to assert that their form of criticism is more proper than another's, they need to get to go sit in the corner with time out."
Ok...
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 6:08am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar
I find that argument a little shaky. I agree that the Spanish thing seemed like pandering but what is the harm in that? What I find a little more strange is that you think that including anybody who isn't speaking American English (whatever that is, there are many dialects in the US) is a token. Why are all the aliens speaking American English? Is the Irish demographic, less than 7 million people, so important? Wouldn't it be better to include a few southerners or other dialects far more numerous than 7 million?
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 6:26am (UTC -5)
That's not what I think, or stated, at all. And aliens in Trek don't speak day-to-day American English - Trek has always had a different linguistic register to the rest of TV, applying to human and alien characters alike. That's one of the things that people found jarring about The Orville at first, the fact that the aliens on it DID speak like present-day Americans. As to pandering, the harm in it isn't particularly great, but it's a kind of laziness. Speaking as a gay guy, I really like The Outcast, Rejoined, Chimera, Warlord, Stigma - all of which were thoughtful, interesting and in some cases genuinely queer episodes - but the terribly developed gay characters on Discovery just reeked of some exec saying "put some gays in it". That's the harm in pandering: it treats audience members from minority groups as if they're idiots who are going to start clapping like seals just because there's a gay kiss or someone speaking their language. The harm is that it precludes and prevents depth - that by sprinkling in the most surface-level appeals to different groups, the creators feel they've done enough, and there's therefore no need for actual nuanced three-dimensional representation or an exploration of issues. Like putting a gay couple in the show is enough on its own, so you don't need to give them characters or personalities. Like putting a sassy black woman who talks back to the rich old white dude is enough on its own, so you don't need to stop and think about the fallout of making your show's only African-American character a surly jobless drug addict. The harm is that the people who make these backroom decisions don't give a shit about actual diversity, they just want the show to appear diverse without putting the work in to make it *actually* diverse (ie. writing three-dimensional characters with well-developed motivations who have different backgrounds and worldviews).
Richard James
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:01am (UTC -5)
Episode 4 of......setup.

If there's one criticism of Picard it's that every episode feels like its 'filling in the backstory' for some as-yet-unrevealed reason instead of telling a story in one episode. I think this is a feature of serialised storytelling in itself, but seriously - every episode so far feels like background and exposition.

This episode a prime example of that. Flashbacks of Picard, we have the Roman Leoglas joining the team and then Seven pops up at the end. Why? who knows.

The more I watch these episodes, the more it seems that this series wants you to 'feel' at the expense of the ideas of TNG. The problem is that the feelings are so on the nose and buried in exposition that it doesn't have any of the subtly or metaphor of previous treks.

It's not a bad series by any means, just a very slow one with EXPLAINS EVERYTHING WHICH IS HAPPENING.
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Sorry, I mostly don't notice English accents or dialects (apart from some really obvious ones). I assumed that most people on TNG and DS9 were speaking in a more or less American way. I also totally agree that billion dollar companies aren't on a crusade to end discrimination but see diversity at best as a way to appeal to more customers. As somewhat of a counterpoint. Uhura, as far as I know, didn't get much character development on the show. Wasn't it still a good thing to include her? I also still don't understand why one would include the Irish? Australians ok, that is at least 25 million but the Irish? I'm really asking.
James White
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:26am (UTC -5)
The Romulan ninja reminds me of the scene in Raiders where the oversized, black-robed baddie is wielding his scimitar, swinging it menacingly around his body. Even chuckling menacingly as he prepares for his epic showdown with Indy.

Then Indy pulls his gun and unceremoniously shoots him. That's pretty much what should happen to our ninja friend in the 24th century.
MidshipmanNorris
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:32am (UTC -5)
@Drea

[@Mertov (& others)
"I am not sure if I agree with the last part where you think he was trying to manipulate Elnor into joining him. Maybe you are right, but I took it as him leaving empty-handed, being frustrated, and giving into impulsive behavior without any expectation of anyone saving him."]

It made me think of the ending of The Galileo Seven. "You reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst?"

If you recall, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and a couple of other crew members were stranded the entire episode on a planet with weird atmosphere which blocked the Enterprise's sensors, and an Obstructive Bureaucrat was pushing Kirk to leave orbit the whole time or there'd be, like, a war or something. Moral dilemmas and all. So Spock (piloting the Galileo, a shuttlecraft), realizing that if they don't try to get the Enterprise's perimeter sensors to catch SOMETHING, they most certainly all will die, *jettisons their remaining fuel and ignites it.*

It works. The Enterprise's sensors pick up the ignited fuel, Kirk swings back around and beams them all the heck out of there before the shuttle crashes and burns in the planet's atmosphere. It's colloquially referred to in "engineering parlance" as a a Last-Ditch.
Jason R.
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:34am (UTC -5)
I am with Richard James - getting extremely weary of "setup". I find myself liking little bits and pieces here and there, maybe little moments of interest, but altogether increasingly bored.

Don't get me wrong, I'm gratified that my initial assessment of the character turned out to be where they were going with it (he really did just give up - let the perfect become the enemy of the good) but all this irrational, inexplicable hatred from every side is just so tedious - and completely ridiculous.

That whole speech from the Romulan Senator was just bonkers. Speaking of which, what did happen to the Romulan "Star Empire"? How come one of the major *interstellar empires* of the galaxy was helpless to evacuate its own people? Was this some kind of super dooper nova that just blew up half the beta quadrant?

By the way, what was that piece of garbage we saw on screen firing at them at the end? Was that supposed to be the antique "Bird of Prey"? Because it didn't look like the ships I associate with that term which are Klingon. Did they mean a Warbird? As in Romulan? And if so... wow. This is a minor quibble but am I the only one who thinks the ship designs since, say, Nemesis look like total crap?
Nigel
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:36am (UTC -5)
@Booming @Daniel @Drea

Thanks for the spirited back-and-forth. Really illuminating to see your various points. I also appreciate those of you who are standing up against name-calling. Booming, I know I’ve said before that I don’t have the energy/time to debate here, but reading through the ongoing chat is becoming a weekly guilty pleasure - reminds me of the halcyon days of the DS9 thread :)
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Absolutely, yeah - but there's a big difference between having an African-American character on the bridge in the 1960s who doesn't have that much to do (but is a valued professional and core team member) and having an African-American character on the bridge in the 2000s who doesn't have that much to do. In the 1960s Uhura was groundbreaking (I always recall Whoopi Goldberg's comment, watching Star Trek as a little girl and excitedly calling through to her mother that there was a black lady on TV who wasn't a maid), but Enterprise 40 years later thought it was enough to put Travis on the bridge without giving him any decent characterization or meaningful action. It's not enough anymore - the mere presence of Uhura, Sulu and Chekov as a valued part of the team was revolutionary in the 60s, but we've moved beyond that now. By the 90s and 2000s, most TV had progressed from the mere presence of minority characters to the inclusion of minority characters that were just as complex and well-developed as the non-minority ones. Uhura had more to do on TOS and was better utilized than Travis was four decades later on ENT, and that show's lazy handling of him felt weirdly anachronistic for that reason.

On the Irish thing, they probably want to drive Amazon Prime subscriptions in Ireland.
DANIEL PRATES
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:40am (UTC -5)
So the series have now introduced a romulanesque Bene Gesserit of sorts, with a romulanesque tolkien elf of sorts. Hmmmm.
Jason R.
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:55am (UTC -5)
"but Enterprise 40 years later thought it was enough to put Travis on the bridge without giving him any decent characterization or meaningful action"

To be fair to the Enterprise showrunners they did give the character chances to break out - Favourite Son, for example, and his backstory was pretty interesting on paper - it's just that the actor wasn't all that good. If the actor isn't great and the character ends up a dud, he's gonna get sidelined.

You never know for sure what'll work and what won't. I guess the response would be well that is what happens when you have just one black character. So make more black characters. But then the counter to that is that it's an American show and out of 6 lead characters 1/6 is bang on (actually a bit high) for black representation if you look at actual demographics of the country.

And you could then talk about the white characters being high ranking and the non whites being low ranking I guess. In Discovery this was addressed by making a black woman and an Asian woman the leads including in rank. Unfortunately, the Asian character, played by a good actress, was killed off in the second episode of season 1 not to return until much later, and the black woman, played by a mediocre actress, became the focus of the whole series. They just doubled down on Michael Burnham. Then tripled down on her. And yeah I stopped watching around midway through season 1.

Maybe the Mayweather approach wasn't so bad after all.
Dom
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 8:28am (UTC -5)
A big reason why Picard works much better for me than Discovery is the way they treat violence. In the last episode, Picard berates Elnor for killing the Romulan Senator needlessly. Picard takes a principled stand in favor of life and his values. He reaffirms Roddenberry's liberal humanism. By contrast, Disco treats violence as "kewl." That same scene would have treated the person who had committed the decapitation as some sort of action hero. When Empress Georgiou used a device to kill her advisors win the first season, it was framed as an action shot, not as a tragedy.
Chrome
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 8:44am (UTC -5)
“By the way, what was that piece of garbage we saw on screen firing at them at the end? Was that supposed to be the antique "Bird of Prey"? Because it didn't look like the ships I associate with that term which are Klingon. Did they mean a Warbird?”

This confused me too when I first started watching Star Trek, but both Romulans and Klingons have a Bird of Prey class of assault ship. By the TNG-era we only see the D'deridex class ships (Warbirds) so they intentionally put an antique in this episode. Makes you wonder what happened to the D'deridex ships though, were that many destroyed by the Dominion?
Trent
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:11am (UTC -5)
The show has a soulful and interesting quality, but structurally it's very messy.

The need to explain the Romulan refugee crisis, and the Mars attacks, and the synths, and the Robot Girl and the Data history....it's simply alot of material and subplots and history to convey, and though its remarkable that the show juggles these balls at all, it struggles to do this without resorting to info dumps, flashbacks and really obvious dialogue. It would have been better to streamline all of this.

I'd have spent the first half hour of the show's first episode with Picard and Raffi on Vashti - the planet surrounded by Federation ships - relocating Romulans, meeting his foster son, and negotiating with Starfleet and the Romulans to put together a larger relocation fleet. Things seem to be going well, but then the Mars attack happens, and Picard is ordered by Starfleet to convey the news to the Romulans that Starfleet will be bailing on them. He has a big Righteous Argument with Starfleet, and promises not to betray the Romulans.

Then we jump to 14 years later. Picard is a recluse, has consigned himself to his chateau, is old and broken and dreaming of Data. We spend time showing his daily life and meet his cool Romulan minders and dog. We then have the interview with the reporter, after which a Starfleet official visits Picard and reprimands him for the interview. Then the Robot-Girl, who has seen the interview, visits him at the chateau. The episode ends.

With the second episode, Picard spends time with Robo-Girl, they visit the Starfleet archives, they're attacked, she reveals her Robo-skills, and Picard begins to suspect she's a synth. Picard goes to the admiralty, spinning wild tales of conspiracies, and they think he's crazy. Picard gets a visit from his doc who says he's suffering from Space Alzheimers. Picard and Robo-Girl talk at the cheateau, and he decides to take her to the Admiralty as proof of Romulan conspiracies. That night, power is cut off at Picard's chateau, com-lines go down, and the Romulans attack in force. Robo-girl dies saving Picard/his minders and the Romulans steal her body and beam out.

Third episode, you introduce the Starfleet conspiracy, meet the Robo Scientist, visit the Borg artifact and meet Robo-twin. Picard, turned down by Starfleet, vists Raffi and she reluctantly agrees to help him assemble a crew. Omit the Incest Sister entirely and trust the audience to be smart enough to recognize that the Hot Romulan Dude is a spy.

Then you dove tail into this episode, minus the flashback. Use the extra time to prolong the battle with the old Romulan Bird of Prey, and to flesh out Space Legolas.

The material and ideas in the show are good, it's just assembled and structured messily.
Dom
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:30am (UTC -5)
@Trent, I agree and like the way you structured the first few episodes. It strikes me that Picard has the same problem as the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy: the show starts too late in the story. Far too many events critical to the story happened off-screen before the show even started, so the show has to catch viewers up with the past while at the same time moving forward in the story. I think Picard is handling it better with the flashbacks at the beginning of each episode than Star Wars did, but it's still kind of a messy way to tell a story. As a viewer, I still feel like I'm not fully caught up on all of Picard's relationships with the characters and they seem to know things about each other that the audience doesn't.
Rahul
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Well done Trent -- really like the way you laid out logically how the 1st 4 PIC episodes should have played out. I do believe there is a decent story (premise) here but the way we are being exposed to it is jarring and results in an uneven quality.

There are other issues like the style of the dialog between the characters, the Rizzo/Narek scenes just to mention 2 things but overall PIC so far hasn't been bad -- I'd say it's been decent but not great actually. We fully acknowledge that it's not going to be a re-hash of TNG and never was intended as such.

It also seems to me like we'd need to incorporate some of 7-of-9's backstory in the 1st 4 episodes and avoid nonsense like her just popping up in the last 30 secs. of an episode for cheap shock value.
Aurelius
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 10:31am (UTC -5)
I am still wondering what happened to the Remans
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 10:31am (UTC -5)
How are we on episode 4 and he’s still recruiting people? He’s still trying to gather the fellowship to travel to Mt. Doom. Every episode is him trying to recruit someone and they say no (also known as “refusing the call” so I guess every single character is on their own hero’s journey) but then they say yes in the end. And the story is progressed not at all.

Why did Picard need this particular guy to join his crew? He said it was because he was something like he fiercest and deadliest hand to hand fighter ever. Ok...so why would Picard want to recruit someone for their lethality and then berate them for displaying their lethality? If you didn’t want him to kill people then why bring him along? I know why. It’s because that character is going to die later to add to Picard’s guilt and that’s the only reason. I’m going to call that now. It’s absurd to think a character who only wields a sword could be useful in a 24th century space mission where everyone has phasers.

Allison Pill’s character is useless beyond being an audience voice. Her only lines in this episode where to ask the other characters to explain things for the audience. This show continues to be nothing but extremely clunky exposition dumps. What a sad use of a character.

Everyone continues to speak like 21st century humans. They said Picard was “blowing up” on the transmissions or something, a phrase that’s already dated in 2020. The writers can’t even fathom 24th century humans speaking differently than today.

I remember in the documentary The Captains, Patrick Stewart said he loved Star Trek because it had a unique language all its own, and felt very Shakespearean in that way. Well...not anymore.

Picard just straight up doesn’t feel like Picard anymore. And it’s not that the character feels like a natural extrapolation of the character we know, but two decades into the future more world weary. He just feels like a completely different character. Patrick Stewart is playing him like he’s wise cracking and sarcastic and quite silly. It’s so weird. Every character in this show is just a Whedonesque wise cracker, including Picard and now Seven. These writers don’t know how to write unique and distinct character voices, so they just decided it was easier to have them all be quipsters. The Marvel movie method of character writing.

I think I hate this show. It’s bad on its own merits, and I’m confident the only reason people are still watching is because it has the name Star Trek and it has Picard in it even if they don’t realize that’s why. I love the character of Picard, but the TNG movies made he like that character a lot less because of how fundamentally different he was written. Here he’s written even worse and the writing and Stewart’s labored performance of him make me like the character even less now. Discovery is bad too, but at least I can ignore that. This butchers Picard and honestly makes me embarrassed for ever having been a fan in the first place.

Anytime someone criticizes this show as being convoluted or confusing or boring, I keep hearing people say “just wait until the end it’s not fair to criticize it now.” That’s such an asinine argument. You don’t read a book for the end, you read it because it engages you throughout. Picard just doesn’t do that so far. It’s ridiculous to say you have to wait for the last episode for a show to get good and it’s unfair to criticize it beforehand. That’s just not how tv works or how people work.

This show comes across like a fan fiction novel, the way It’s plotted and the way the characters are overwrought and at the same time underwritten. It’s just not a good show and I don’t have faith that the last episode is going to magically and retroactively make all the previous episodes suddenly amazing. Shows built on mystery boxes that try and manipulate audiences to keep watching until the end more often than not fall on their face rather than conclude in a satisfying manner. Especially if they’re made by JJ Abrams and/or Alex Kurtzman.
Marvin
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Lots to agree on the criticisms so far, so I won’t repeat them. I think it’s easier to focus on critiquing the writing acting story and momentum of the show, as that I think is where *any* show, Star Trek included, can be good.

We can agree:disagree on the whether this is real Star Trek or not. But the real issue here is inconsistencies, plot holes, pacing, writing, and acting. Why hasn’t Starfleet intervened yet re Tal Shiar activities on Earth? So much evidence now especially if Picards servants bring it to Starfleet. This fact alone negates the ENTIRE Picard solo mission with motley crew.

Why wasn’t Picard tracked once he left Earth and pursued by the Zat Vash? Huge plot hole. Writers and directors are merely going for drama now and wasting time to fill in a season, placate enough Trekkies, and try to scoop up casual sci fi viewers with a Firefly/Star Wars/BSG/LOR hybrid. We’ve had the equivalent of an entire episode take place on the Borg Cube with really 10 minutes of plot development. Now we need at least 20 minutes of exposition to understand 7of9’s role. YAWN.

Aside from the writing plot and pacing, the acting is fairly subpar. Stewart does a decent job but I think I agree with others that the actor himself is just old and tired and it bleeds to the Picard character. All the other characters are wooden one dimensional. The actors that play them can easily be replaced; no one has stand out roles. Compare to Brent Spiner and Stewart in TNG, which really carried the show acting wise, and to a lesser extent Frakes as Riker. As mentioned before, the female Romulan servant of Picard is probably the best performance, yet she is not a part of the crew. She should have been written in as an excellent foil to Picard. Instead we have Raffi and Jurati who both don’t add much. The ship pilot still has not breaken out to be a relevant character.

In sum, it seems the writers are dragging us along for the BIG REVEAL. I don’t think it will be worth it because it will be a CLIFFHANGER in the season finale that opens more questions and forces us to slog through the second season for answers. Someone above aptly said that it’s really about the JOURNEY and not the end, and here it’s a lot of boring slogging.
Dougie
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Oh was that to you? Narcissist as well. Love it.
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
" For anyone to assert that their form of criticism is more proper than another’s, they need to go sit in the corner with a time out. I don’t care how booming their forum presence might be. "
So that wasn't aimed at me?I'm sorry that I wrongly interpreted your illogical rant. I guess it is nice that you stopped attacking entire groups and now limit yourself to individuals.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1N5lZw7e78
Bold Helmsman
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
While I admit that it strains credulity that 24th century people speak using modern phrasing, it's equally odd that they spoke the way they did in TOS or TNG, or in pretty much any depiction of the future seen in media (Firefly and the Expanse, with their attempts at pidgin are somewhat better in this regard), so all the handwringing over the language baffles me.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
@ Bold Helmsman how is it at all odd the way they spoke in TOS and TNG? They made sure to stay away from contemporary slang that would horribly date the show and had them speak more formally and classically, to keep the dialogue timeless. There’s nothing odd about it.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
John Harmon wrote--
"how is it at all odd the way they spoke in TOS and TNG? They made sure to stay away from contemporary slang that would horribly date the show and had them speak more formally and classically, to keep the dialogue timeless. There’s nothing odd about it."

Exactly. It seems like some people just never figured this out.
Bold Helmsman
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
@John Harmon
It's odd in that while some may view it as 'timeless', it makes little sense that people centuries in the future would be talking this way.

I think shows like Firefly or the Expanse make a more convincing case for future language, by tailoring it to match the history and culture of the setting, rather than the idea that people in the 1980's think this way of speaking is classical, so people in the future should speak that way.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
I really hope they don't try to tie this show in with Discovery in such a way that attempts to force people who aren't interested in it to watch Discovery. That'll kill it for me. I'm just not gonna do it. I suspected all along their plan was to draw old Trek fans in with Picard and then pull a kind of bait and switch. I'm already not liking that they're dragging in a lot of stuff you wouldn't necessarily know unless you're following absolutely everything they've been doing. Trek fans have always been pretty loyal but this is pushing it.
Nolan
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

Okay, then let us look at Trek history.

World War 3, 60? Million dead, few governments, likely a lot of squalor. Due to the likely damage to the required infrastructure it's highly probable there is no broadcastible form of entertainment, so out goes television, the internet was likely obliterated, so no streaming, memes, user-generated content nor social media. Due to nuclear fallout and EMPs, most digital formatted media is rendered unusable. So due to the destruction of the means to access and run most forms of popular culture and entertainment. There is no longer a means to create and widely propagate slang terms and create cultural identity. Some does survive, but mostly as examples of days past.

(This is also why holo-communication in Disco bothered me, as apart from the advent of Warp Drive, I'd imagine WW3 hampered technological development somewhat. Humanity was starting over somewhat from from a point pre-war and had to build back up to that)

Anyway, along come the Vulcans, who speak *very* formally. Not to mention the use of cross species communication, translators and linguistic databases. The culture humanity does have to share is likely the classics, things protected by the rich during the war. And that's likely stuff Vulcans would gravitat to over more recent examples. Not to mention humanity trying to put it's best face foreward on the galactic stage. So our language gets more formalized to help communicate on the galactic stage. (Consider morst recent sci-fi has dealt mostly with human-centric narratives, Firefly, BSG, the Expsnse - no aliens to try and learn languages from)

So the Vulcans help us out, likely offering limited humanitarian aid across the globe and spuring on reconstruction. Money has no value to Vulcans, and there's probably no widescale banking system or economy left anyway, so out goes the money, and with it, the wealth based classes. Humanity has a blank page to start on. And we wanna go to space. Or pursue whatever interests us. No point in jobs anymore butvas a means to do what you want. No one is getting paid.

We can make the supposition that some form of datanet is probably reconstructed but unlike the internet todays, it's mostly just to redistribute knowledge across the globe, and again, most of what survived is physical, analogue media.

Then humanity spreads through the stars on a VAST scale. It can take *weeks* to recieve correspondance, communication methods are SLOW again. There's no way slsng is going to spead across the whole of the human race. What might make sense on one colony is gobbledy-gook to another. That would hamper interstellar relations, so most correspondance would be formalized, spurred on by the comings and going of Starfleet and a unified dictionary. Universal translators would also play a role in smoothing out these edges, likely papering over any slang terms to get a message across succinctly.

And remember Gene's creedo for the future: "In the 24th century there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read." - it's commonly known that the more one reads, the more expansive one's vocabulary becomes.

So why would the characters in TOS and TNG eras NOT talk the way they do?
Nolan
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Wow. Irony, talking about languages and having all those typos. That's what I get for composing this on my phone with my contact lenses out. :-)
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
@Brian

There's plenty about modern Trek to enjoy, and this is coming from someone who started watching in the 1970s.

But sure I can understand the last thing that people desperately clinging to the 1990s want is to ever be nudged no matter how gently into potentially realizing the 21st century Trek might not be as horribly awful as the loudest voices make it to be. I mean, their fellow more stubborn reactionaries might be left behind in progressively smaller and smaller numbers. That's certainly not fair to them.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman BSG was timeless dialogue as well except for “frak”. They didn’t have anyone use 2000’s slang.
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
I find it interesting how a number of people here don't like the way Picard is being depicted compared to how he was depicted in TNG. But is this not true to how he was depicted in All Good Things as an aging Picard with a brain condition, seen as an hasbeen crackpot that no one seriously believed in anymore?

I personally find the acting and writing so far to be markedly superior in every way to what we got across the first 2 seasons of TNG, something as a kid who grew up on TOS found practically unwatchable at the time.
dave
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
I think I have only seen one comment about Remans.

yeah, WTF are the Remans in all this? They must be even more pissed that they didn't even get a rescue effort and just had some of Shinzon's left over secret ships from his super secret base to get away on!
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

You can watch many episodes of the BSG reboot and think its just some generic 2000's era military show for a good chunk of an episode before suddenly being suprised it's a scifi show supposedly featuring people from alien planets with no connection to Earth at all. Which is probably why it was so successful.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

I don't have a problem (really) with the way Picard is being portrayed. Obviously, Picard would be treated much differently as a retired old man wandering around in places that Captain Picard probably would not have really been interested in.

I think they missed something when they tried to carry Picard over and give him new causes. Like his passion for saving the Romulans just seems far-fetched. Yes. Picard took some passionate stands in TNG but this series starts by harkening back to the Measure of a Man thing. Would he still have been so passionate about it if it wasn't Data? Probably not. It wouldn't have made sense and the audience would not have felt it. It's kinda like with the Hugh thing. It was still OK but it wasn't as relatable as it was when it was Data. Because they had spent enough time building something between these characters that you could understand why it would be an "Oh no you don't!" moment when Maddox wanted to do this. We completely understand because we loved Data too.

Now they're just having Picard be passionate about things we can't really relate to and they haven't spent any time at all making us care about. Data's sacrifice in Nemesis was probably the only thing that happened in that film that most fans even cared about. Yes. We understand why Picard misses Data. Though I'm not sure the Picard we knew would spend the rest of his life moping even over the loss of Data. Yes. Picard and Data were tight but the Picard we knew shook off the deaths of his brother and nephew by the end of Generations. So the idea he'd be so devastated by losing Data that he'd never be the same again is completely implausible. And also the idea he would get so caught up in the Romulan thing also seems fairly out of character.

So really, they completely re-wrote the character of Picard and hired Patrick Stewart to play him because that's the only way they could get people to watch.

Now there are some consistencies between the Picard we knew and the one we see here. Which makes it all the more jarring when he does things we know he'd have never done. Whiplash. It's kinda like if James Kirk would have just inexplicably been captain of the Enterprise D when TNG started and was walking around talking to people in a British accent and loving Earl Grey tea. It would have been implausible because that was not Kirk. We embraced Picard because they took a new character and fleshed him out well enough that we KNEW him. And we knew him well enough to know this isn't him. He'd have to be on drugs or something to be the same character.

I appreciate what they're trying to do but it's obvious that they have no caring or comprehension for the people who are only watching this because it's Picard. So I will not be surprised if they completely leave us high and dry.
Booming
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
@ A A Roi
"But sure I can understand the last thing that people desperately clinging to the 1990s want is to ever be nudged no matter how gently into potentially realizing the 21st century Trek might not be as horribly awful as the loudest voices make it to be. I mean, their fellow more stubborn reactionaries might be left behind in progressively smaller and smaller numbers. That's certainly not fair to them."
How nice of you to say that. I guess we cannot all suckle so eagerly on the teats of the multi billion dollar thought provider.

Believing that only a heroic character can right societies wrongs is not the very core of reactionary/fascist thinking.... no... Save us great Picard. Without you the Federation is lost.
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
@Brian

Patrick Stewart is on record to be only interested in being on board if the role appealed to him, and is one of the executive producers. The show runner's didn't just hire him, the tailored the series for him.

You don't think that Picard, a bastion of the highest morals of the Federation wouldn't want to take this opportunity to demonstrate to the galaxy that his civilization is willing to put all past differences with an enemy behind them, act with all due compassion to save hundreds of millions of people? That he wouldn't think this was a good idea for everyone concerned and that it would be a step forward for everyone. Have you not watched his argument with Q in Q Who over his interpretation of Hamlets description of mankind? I can easily see Picard seeing the rescue of the Romulans as a demonstration that his faith in the Federation as everything he'd been preaching for decades. You honestly disagree?
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Have you not watched this show at all? It clearly points out, over and over again that Picard failed to right societies wrongs. He was so heroic that instead of fighting the system and winning and saving the self-righteous and perpetually morally superior society he spent his life championing, fighting for and fighting to keep morally superior, he backed down and turned his back on everyone when it didn't prove to be as perfect as he demanded it be.

This demonstrates that uncompromising and reactionary thinking which refuses to compromise will fail in a pluralistic community. Picard though he was the great hero who would save the Federation's soul, and in this storyline he's learning that he wasn't and that he was wrong in believing that uncompromising self righteousness is always the morally correct solution.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
@Dom

"A big reason why Picard works much better for me than Discovery is the way they treat violence. In the last episode, Picard berates Elnor for killing the Romulan Senator needlessly. Picard takes a principled stand in favor of life and his values. He reaffirms Roddenberry's liberal humanism."

Yeah, but Picard is only one man.

What about the rest of Federation?

@Booming
"On the other hand we have one, the one from Omicron that was critical of people who like the show."

That was not my intent. It seems I've carelessly misjudged the situation, so I'll try to undo the damage:

First of all, I want to be clear that I've absolutely no problem with people who like the show. My problem is solely with people who mock and attack those who have different preferences then themselves.

Secondly, I apologize for the shill comment. I've read the newcomers comments again, and I admit that I've made an error. Most of them are not at fault, and I apologize for implying that they did something wrong.

To be fair, CBS has pulled this kind of stunt before. It happens all the time on the StarTrek reddit. But it is obvious that this isn't what happened here in the past few days. I made the wrong call. I am sorry.
Late To The Party Girl
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
I think @Brian said it best - about a million comments above this one so I'm going to repeat one of his paragraphs in whole: "People who watch Picard expecting TNG with its "alien of the week" format are naturally going to be disappointed. It's been done already, and to a certain extent, the mantle has been taken up by the Orville. Picard is supposed to be a human drama set in the Star Trek universe, and is about the optimism and heroism of a man who knows he's not long for the world, and is trying to right the wrongs and fulfill the promises he made, in a mission with such unfavorable odds, he won the sword of a Qowat Milat. Maybe he gets to save the universe and the soul of Starfleet as well."

I was one of "those" people who were hoping for the episodic approach to continue. I know Stewart said this show would be different, but I hadn't expected 4 loooonnggg hours of build up the pretty much is going no where. It's like the writers didn't have enough actual content for the amount of time they wanted to fill. And so we ended up with flashback after flashback and "filler scenes" (can you say "Borg ritual"? that go nowhere. That being said, if the story had a bit more cohesion, I'd be happier playing along and biding my time until the writers felt it was time to get on with it. At this point, but for the fact that it is called Star Trek and Patrick Stewart/JL is in it, I doubt I'd still be watching. (Although, must say, I loved the Chilean/Spanish emergency gunner hologram (EGH?))

I am finding the Soji story arc just plodding at this point and that "Borg ritual" slide/dancing scene irritating and juvenile. It doesn't seem to have been written with any sense of what the Borg were or what they represented. It's like the writers felt they had to put in a "love" scene and this is what they feel passes for eroticism/love/romance/whatever in whatever century we are currently in. And, the whole incestual relationship between [whatever their names are] is bizarre and I am getting tired of the "KILL HER OR ELSE" lines that occur in ever menacing tones. Let the guy do his job or take over yourself - just decide already.

Someone has already mentioned this, but Picard in the panama hat/all white/"I am here to deliver you" suit is just weird. It's a throwback to colonial expansion but in what the Trek universe has called the "ancient" past. If they were going to do that, at the very least put a modern spin on the suit. Picard never dressed traditionally - in TNG or in his current time so it's illogical they would do that in a flashback. If they were going for a salvationary figure they should have updated the look to something that didn't remind me of an old ginger ale commercial.

I'd give this one 2 stars. One star for Patrick Stewart and his brave effort to make something of this mess and one star for the kickass warrior nuns who go after the hopeless causes. (I fear the two are linked.) The show was better than last week and more engaging (I wasn't watching the clock as much) but it's a far cry from good.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
@Booming I agree. The idea of one great and moral man being able to completely shift an entire society back to the good way of thinking is nonsensical and cartoonish and lazy. It’s something a fan fiction writer would come up with.

Oh wait...
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

Said -

"You don't think that Picard, a bastion of the highest morals of the Federation wouldn't want to take this opportunity to demonstrate to the galaxy that his civilization is willing to put all past differences with an enemy behind them, act with all due compassion to save hundreds of millions of people? That he wouldn't think this was a good idea for everyone concerned and that it would be a step forward for everyone. Have you not watched his argument with Q in Q Who over his interpretation of Hamlets description of mankind? I can easily see Picard seeing the rescue of the Romulans as a demonstration that his faith in the Federation as everything he'd been preaching for decades. You honestly disagree?"

I respond - It's not really so much about whether or not this approximates Picard's supposed values. It's about the fact that I don't really care about these people he's trying to help because I'm not emotionally invested in them any more than the time it takes to read a brief backstory on them and a cartoon outline of why I'm supposed to care.

Like I said - We cared in Measure of a Man because we knew, liked, even loved the character of Data. His character was lovingly constructed to make us care. It wasn't just some vague ethics puzzle. It was personal. Why did the audience hate Maddox? Because he came out of nowhere and wanted to take Data apart. It was a visceral reaction to a threat to a character we were invested in.

Why does the audience care about Picard's attachment to these people he left behind? Do we really care if every single one of these people is never mentioned again? We're watching this show because it's Picard. Why are we still willing to watch something just because it has Picard in it some 20 years after the last time he did anything? Because we are emotionally invested in him and the attachments and relationships he had with his crew. And it took 7 seasons for that to happen. This is something that was built a piece at a time and could have easily failed (but didn't). Because they took the time to slowly bring us into the world of TNG and explain to us why we should care about each character. There's been almost none of that here. For a show that's trying it's damnedest to be in a serialized format, it feels very disjointed.

And this episode was better than the last one. They did have some meaningful dialogue and character development (finally).

And again, Picard's passionate advocacy for worthy causes is well documented. However, it usually gave us someone to identify with and relate to and get at least somewhat emotionally invested in. Even with Hugh, they took an entire episode and did it right so we felt the same way by the time they got to it. That's the difference between good, tight writing and clunky writing.

It's fine. It's OK. Will we still be talking about any of this in 30 years? Are we still talking about Insurrection? Well, yeah. But not in a good way.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
A A Roi mentioned some very good points about idealism vs practicality, which are certainly worthy of exploring in a Star Trek series.

I've always said that TNG was a tad naive, and it would be nice to see Picard learn how to affect changes in a world that grew more cynical then the one he was used too.

DS9 gives us a solid background for such a situation: We would expect the Federation to be plagued with problems and moral uncertainty after the Dominion War. There was also the Section 31 business, which nearly lead to a genocide of the Founders.

This is heavy stuff. If TPTB wanted to show us the Federation in shambles, this would be a good starting point. There's plenty of need for introspection here, and plenty of opportunities for our hero(s) to set things straight. And I'm all for having the great Jean Luc Picard play an instrumental part in this process of getting the Federation back on track.

Having such a story arc in a Trek series would be awesome.

Unfortunately, STP isn't telling such a story. Instead, it insists on pretending that the Federation circa 2400 would be a carbon copy of present day America, complete with its own 9/11 and Fox News and work-class struggles. It makes absolutely no sense in-universe, which is a fatal flaw when you're trying to tell a story like this.
Jason R.
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
"I think I have only seen one comment about Remans."

I feel I speak for the majority when I say the less we reference Nemesis the better.

Or how about this, the supernova got them? All's well that ends well.
Tim C
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Last night, I read the official PIC prequel novel, "The Last Best Hope". Although not on-screen canon, it does make for a great bridge from Nemesis to the show and has the blessing of the show's writers. Key points are:

* True to form, when Picard leaves the Enterprise, he can't bring himself to tell Beverly how he really feels and ask her to come with him.

* The sheer scale of the Romulan evacuation and resettlement effort (all worlds within a ten light-year radius of Romulus have to be evacuated) is daunting at first, but Starfleet decides to go all-in, citing previous successes like rebuilding Cardassia after the Dominion War. However, the first seeds of dissent in the Federation are sowed when it starts drawing resources like industrial replicators from smaller member worlds, particularly those close to the Neutral Zone.

* Raffi is an intelligence officer in Romulan Affairs with a no-bullshit briefing style that catches Picard's eye, and he brings her in as his XO because like Riker he wants someone who won't sugar coat the truth to him. However, the multi-year mission puts a huge strain on her marriage and eventually sees her estranged from her husband and son.

* Picard appoints La Forge to retool production at Utopia Planitia to scale up construction of the thousands of transport vessels required to move the 900 million people who need evacuation. La Forge in turn recruits a (very unwilling) Bruce Maddox to create a synthetic labour force of non-sentient androids to assist in the construction efforts.

* Political considerations come in when a junior Federation councilor from one of the aforementioned border worlds starts agitating against the allocation of so many resources to aid the Romulans. The Romulans do not help their own cause when it emerges that they have released inaccurate projections of the supernova to the public that make it look not as bad as it actually is, cementing their reputation amongst Federation citizens as duplicitous and untrustworthy.

* When it becomes clear the true impact of the supernova is going to be much bigger, Picard takes the extremely controversial decision to bring Romulan refugees across the Neutral Zone to a Federation planet (Vashti) which has offered to welcome them with open arms. This infuriates many on both sides, but the good PR of Federation citizens and Romulan refugees getting along so well helps to garner public support for the mission.

* Later on, Romulans handling their own evacuations massacre a group of civilians on Nimbus III who refuse to leave. Footage is leaked to the public and incites more anti-Romulan sentiment.

* Picard holds the Quwat Milat central to his belief that the Romulans are people worth saving. He visits with them and Elnor many times over the years.

* Captain Clancy works very, very hard behind the scenes to smooth over ruffled feathers from Picard's unilateral actions (which partly explains why she's still so angry at him for quitting when things got rough).

* The Federation's best astronomers suspect some kind of foul play with the supernova, given how unexpected it is and how fast it progresses, but nobody has any solid theories as to who is responsible.

* The synth attack takes everybody by surprise. Bruce Maddox (who has been having an affair with Jurati, his then-student) had been working on another project and splitting his attention, leading La Forge, Jurati and himself to question whether or not they went rogue because he missed something in their design. Raffi suspects foul play, but Picard believes that they simply might have become conscious and decided not to be slaves. Nobody knows for sure.

* The synth attack almost completely wipes out Starfleet's ship-building capabilities. Continuing the rescue mission now means basically shutting down every other core Starfleet mission of exploration, science etc, and the call is made that the aid that has been given already will have to be enough. Picard resigns, and we know what happens from there.

I thought it was a really great read, if you're into Trek-lit. It does a really great job of going into the mind-boggling scale and logistics requirements of the mission Picard is trying to pull off. And it really hurts when it all turns to shit on him.
A A Roi
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
@Brian

"We cared in Measure of a Man because we knew, liked, even loved the character of Data. His character was lovingly constructed to make us care."

Not sure what this says about us with the idea that we should only capable of caring about those which are lovingly constructed to make us care.

Me, I'm not watching this show because it's Picard. I'm watching it because its Star Trek and I always give any Star Trek series a chance to engage me. I'm not enjoying it because it's about a character who I'm being told and shown always does the morally correct thing day in day out, but because its about a man who is struggling to come to terms that he's actually not made the most morally correct decisions of late, and therefore its easier for me to identify with flawed human beings than with carefully constructed role models. I can sympathize with the downtrodden people Picard has gathered around him and encounters because I can identify as a human being with life being difficult. I also find I am more engaged with characters who are objects of the tale versus subjects.

And this is the reason I also find I sympathize more with Data in The Most Toys vs. Measure of a Man.
Richard James
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R. I agree about the new ship designs. The current designs from the STD/STP definitely have a more muted colour scheme and have less defined profiles - so both Federation and Romulan ships all kind of look dark, bland and all the same. In contrast TNG/DS9/VOY vessels had bolder colours and more striking silhouettes so a Romulan warbird, for example, was so distinctive and green.

I'm not a big fan of this new design. BSG did a good job of this more 'low key' colours - but then the overall profile of a basestar was quite bold (and was obviously alien). Rio's ship looks like it could have come from any old sci fi show - thats the problem.
Richard James
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
The more I think about it, the more I want to watch a series set around the refugee response of Romulus and the political issues and tensions that come up from that. We keep getting hints of this in flashbacks, but its told quite clumsily (Romulan bar fight with swords anyone?)

It would have been great to have a genuine look at the idea of mass refugees, sovereignty and all these other current problems in the world through the lens of Picard and Star trek. The idea of 'rights' for certain individuals (in the Federation) but not for those outside, is an interesting one and brings up the idea of nationalism, ethnicity etc. All meaty topics. We got something approaching this in Undiscovered Country with the destruction of Praxis - that was good.

Instead we have "Character X is angry at Picard" and the Fellowship of the Ring: In Space.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

It says that fiction needs to be done really well in order for people to buy into it hook line and sinker. Episodes like the one I cited do that.

Anyway, we'll see. If they keep going the way they're going, this show will fizzle out. Picard is a strong character (and they have a couple of others who have potential) but I just don't see the audience caring that much about any of the others except for Picard and other well established characters from the past. Unless they do it better than they've been doing it.

I don't know why any of this would be any kind of mystery, since you can go through all of the highest rated episodes and compare them to this and see what they're doing wrong.
Brian
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Also, the ship is just blaa. I mean not every ship in the Star Trek universe has to be the Enterprise but they're making the same mistake here they made with the Defiant. It was just not a very pleasant thing to look at. If it's going to be a main character (and the ship is a character) it should be easy on the eyes. And it isn't.
Dave in MN
Sat, Feb 15, 2020, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
@ Brian

Agreed .... the impression they give is that the interior of the ship is cavernous and empty, a very non-functional design. Do people on the bridge have to walk two minutes just to use a bathroom or a turbolift?

Honestly, I can't remember much about the exterior of the ship other than it reminded me of a bulky pod racer from Star Wars.
Drea
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:52am (UTC -5)
Drea: "You're saying it's implausible that a superpower would allow millions of foreigners it doesn't like very much to die simply due to internal politics and wanting to spend their resources on themselves?"

Booming: "Yes. Name me one example from history were that happened."
----
Whether it's trolling or genuine ignorance, that demand deserves no response and exceeds the scope of this board.

Instead, has anyone else seen this? Looks like Patrick Stewart is using the attention the show might draw to the issue as a platform for people trying to do real-life good.

https://www.rescue.org/video/patrick-stewart-millions-refugees-need-our-help
Daniel
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:30am (UTC -5)
@DaveinMN
According to the preview clip for next week's episode (the one from the Ready Room show), the ship is a Kaplan F17 Speed Freighter.

Evidently in the 24th/25th century you still get personalized pop-up ads, except these are holographic and has animation that responds to when you flick it away.

That part of 21st century reference I could've done without--hopefully we could've eradicated SPAM by the time we invent warp drive.
Daniel
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Vashti, the planet where the Qowat Milat and Elnor live, was originally a human Federation colony planet on the edge of the old Neutral Zone--one that uncharacteristically accepted mass numbers of Romulan refugees with open arms. They helped with the construction of habitats, supported with the resources of the Federation ("archi-printers" and replicators). When the Federation decided to cancel the resettlement efforts at the behest of the member planets threatening to secede because their needs were seemingly neglected, all of that was yanked and Vashti crumbled, needing the qalankhkai and the Fenris Rangers to assist with the problems that neglect and power vacuumns engender.

If you look at the establishing shot of the refugee colony in the opening shot and the shot when Picard returns, the buildings that were under construction were never completed. If you came from a modern 24th century city, with modern amenities and fourteen years later, you're still dealing with infrastructure that looks like something from the mid 1800's western frontier because of promises unfulfilled, you'd be forgiven if you were upset.

I agree with Richard that the story about the Romulan refugee crisis would've made for an incredibly compelling series. Between the show and the book, we finally get to see a side of the Romulans that isn't some robotic functionary wearing boxy silver insulation, and it's kinda great.
Gooz
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:11am (UTC -5)
Some thoughts.

Agnes=Tilly. Not great for "Picard." I hope she becomes her own character soon. Tilly was barely tolerable in STD.

We now know what Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer Guitar would look like if it became a spaceship.

Picard’s safari/white savior getup when he beams down on the planet 14 years ago: Hilarious.

If Picard wants to visit the nunnery that looks like the inside of a Rain Forest Cafe, why can’t he beam there directly of the middle of the town square? I can see him doing it for some extra ego-stroking when he was there as their savior, but now that he's a hated man?

For a planet that is so dangerous to get to that no humans have dared to visit it for yours, it’s awfully convenient that they have a “Romulans only” sign in English.

Sister boy and Picard missed each other a lot, but neither one picked up a phone for 14 years? Also, call me cynical from years of watching "To Catch a Predator," but it's a weird relationship. Not as weird as the Romulan brother/sister thing, but still weird.

Picard's “Ethnic strife has taken over” speech: The Romulans were always xenophobic. They briefly changed when the Federation was saving their lives, and have now reverted to baseline. Why is Picard so shocked? At his age, he should have had some realism diffused into his bald head just by osmosis alone.

Slippery dancing scene between the Robot and the Romulan? WTF?

What does it say about humans in the future that robot creators don't make chubby or ugly androids?

Still no seatbelts on starships: "Hang on tight!"

The episode wasn't great, but distracting enough that I barely thought about the writers missing another chance to kill off Keiko.
Booming
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:57am (UTC -5)
Guys you can quote books and all but I'm watching a show. I will not read a book or comic so that a show makes sense. Either the show makes sense or it doesn't.

@ A A Roi
"It clearly points out, over and over again that Picard failed to right societies wrongs."
Off-screen. I'm fairly certain that at the end of the show the Federation will be a better place because of Picard.

And I'm not joking. The believe that some heroic figure swoops in to turn the morally corrupt society around is a fascist/authoritarian core belief and that is what is going to happen in ST:P. The Federation was so "good" because of understanding, cooperation and lots and lots of treaties not because of the heroic acts by a few strongman.

"This demonstrates that uncompromising and reactionary thinking which refuses to compromise will fail in a pluralistic community."
That is not what reactionary means. Reactionary is a right wing way of thinking that promotes a very hierarchical societal structure. Picard standing up for equal treatment of all is the very opposite of reactionary thinking.

@Omicron
Calling one side just a bunch of corporate shills is not the start but the end of a conversation. Nice to see that you are rowing back. :)

@Drea
"Whether it's trolling or genuine ignorance, that demand deserves no response and exceeds the scope of this board."
You only have to name a date and a country. I will make it a little easier for you despite your condescending attitude. Let's look at the USA and the Jews in in the 1930s. That would really be the only example I could think of that is somewhat comparable. During the 1930s the USA denied many Jews access because they themselves were very antisemitic, still though if Nazi Germany had flat out stated:" Ok USA/world either you take them or we will murder them." I think that they would have found a place BUT Germany knew that even though many of the Western European countries were fairly antisemitic they wouldn't accept just murdering them all. That is why they tried to keep it a secret. Quite successfully until 1944.

And if you cannot separate between refugees being in camps in bad conditions and refugees dying by the millions then I really don't know what to tell you. For example if you apply for asylum in the USA, from that moment on the USA is legally obligated to take care of you until that request is decided and even if your request is denied then you will not just die of starvation or something. The EU has taken in several million refugees since 2015. So were does a country rather let millions die then help them survive?


@Gooz
"The episode wasn't great, but distracting enough that I barely thought about the writers missing another chance to kill off Keiko."
You again?!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-aGr8HdyEU
wolfstar
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:24am (UTC -5)
Thanks, Tim, for that really good summary of the book. It sounds impressive, and much better written than the series. Una McCormack is great.
Filip
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:34am (UTC -5)
In the review for the previous episode I wrote the following:

"The dialogue is getting tedious. It's laden with exposition which makes it hard for me to feel anything for most of the characters. You don't have to verbalize every single thing. It's bordering on 'I'm angry. -I acknowledge that. -You hurt me. -I know.'"

What we get in this episode, and I'm quoting it here verbatim:
"My feelings are hurt. I actually did think you were fond of me."

Go figure.

Other than that, some more infodumping and world-building done through straightforward description of events with little to no artistic merit. Jurati's speech about space being boring is ridiculous and totally out of place given the context. It does absolutely nothing to add to either the advancement of the plot or characterization, it's there just as uninspired filler. Rios' book is about existential pain to which Jurati ironically responds that it is something you totally want to talk about. Well, guess what, I'd rather hear more about that than about your pointless analysis of space. Also, there are over 3 billion stars in our galaxy? Yes, there are, but not only that, there are over 300 billion stars in our galaxy. Try again, doctor.

Picard is constantly being chewed out for his actions by literally everyone he encounters (I'm echoing @wolfstar's comment), which just does two things:

1. It's getting repetitive and tedious and 2. makes Picard look like a dick.

Now, why would you retcon a character that was absolutely loved by everyone and had such an iconic presence into a dick only to be able to create a cheap story like this one? This insistence on Picard's ill-conceived history is identical to insistence on Burnham's role in starting the war with the Klingons in Discovery. Both don't have a lot of substance, but the writers keep incessantly showing the down our throats.

I realize that Patrick Stewart has aged, but the vibe I'm getting from him here does not remind me of Picard we came to know and love at all. It's not only that his voice is different, which is to be expected, but the way he delivers his lines and his mannerisms are way off.

I guess each episode has to fulfill a quota of expletives, but at least this time it was at least partially organic.

The fact that the Romulan homeworld exploded is certainly a tragedy, but it is a fair assumption that an inter-stellar civilization advanced as the Romulan Star Empire wouldn't be dependent on one planet, even if it was their homeworld, to the extent that its destruction would completely cripple them, which is the principal premise of this show. I hope they address this, but I don't think that's going to happen. Much like Picard, Romulans don't feel at all like the ones that were meticulously built in TNG and DS9. Appearances and names are the same, but the feel is definitely gone.

To end this on a good note, there were a couple of points I did like, but they were few and far between. The opening flashback was decent and had this air of optimism I came to expect from Star Trek. I see that the part about sliding around the Borg cube was panned by almost everyone, but to hell with it, I liked it. The score for this episode didn't have that melodramatic feel to it and was infinitely better than in the previous instances.

And finally, thank you @Trent for bringing the New Sincerity movement to my attention, it makes for an interesting read, especially given the present context.
Filip
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:43am (UTC -5)
I forgot to mention that I honestly hope Narek will turn out to be conflicted about this whole business as it would add desperately needed substance to the show.
Clark
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:55am (UTC -5)
So much exposition... they are really spending a lot of time setting the plate for this series. Interesting choice with some much backstory to build off of... but still mostly enjoying things, even during the weaker episodes, which this definitely was of the 4. A little worried Elnor might be miscast here, I like the idea of the character a lot more than the execution so far. 2/4 for me.
Helmus
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 10:27am (UTC -5)
I find it very difficult to form an opinion about this series. It's a long movie spread over 10 episodes. You can't judge a movie after just watching a few scenes. So is the same with this series for me.

But so far I'm still interested in seeing the rest. There are a few things I don't like. I don't like the film look. I preferred a normal widescreen aspect ratio since this series is going to be watched on normal televisions and not in a cinema. Also the discovery style look is not very appealing for me. Further I don't like the profanity in a Star Trek series. It doesn't fit. Also the music is to prominent for me. But so far that's all the negative.

The positive is that we finally have Picard back on television. The story is interesting so far. The characters seem interesting. I like how they chose the Romulans as a race to focus on. This could still become something great. I'm still optimistic, dispite the mainly negative comments I seem te read here.
Dougie
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 10:33am (UTC -5)
If I were a studio exec, and stumbled upon this place, I’d formally send Epsicokhan an email requesting a shutdown. Anyone aged 6-16 who came by here and read this nonsense about a new series might be convinced not to view it.

Thankfully TV Guide didn’t have this type of shinola when I was a youth, and simply gave episode descriptions and overviews.
Chrome
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 10:57am (UTC -5)
Dougie, I’m sure Jammer’s answer would be something along the lines of “lol, no!”.

What’s wrong with criticism? It’s just art; if it’s good it will survive this.
Jon
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 10:58am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

"First off, the idea of Romulus's sun going supernova and there still being a Romulus long enough for Picard to go there and make a speech is beyond laughable. WHERE IS THE SCIENCE?!?!"

It's discovered that the sun's going to go supernova a little before 2385. The Mars incident happens in 2385. The sun explodes and destroys Romulus in 2387, a little earlier than expected (Spock thought he had time to stop it).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:37am (UTC -5)
@Dougie

You've made me laugh. Seriously.

To paraphrase what Q once said to Picard: Frankly, we (the commenters) are not that important.

I doubt that even Jammer himself (who likes the show just fine) would have the power to affect Picard's success in any non-negligible way. If the Orville could survive (and even flourish) after being universally panned by all major reviewers BEFORE THE SHOW EVEN AIRED, then the viewpoint of a single reviewer is not going to put a dent in a show's rating.

@Booming

"Calling one side just a bunch of corporate shills is not the start but the end of a conversation. Nice to see that you are rowing back. :)"

Clarifying my intentions is not "rowing back". I never generalized in the manner you implied. You, of all people, should understand exactly what I've meant.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Guys you can quote books and all but I'm watching a show. I will not read a book or comic so that a show makes sense. Either the show makes sense or it doesn't.

@ A A Roi
"It clearly points out, over and over again that Picard failed to right societies wrongs."
Off-screen. I'm fairly certain that at the end of the show the Federation will be a better place because of Picard.

---------------

Actually, the Romulan senator details it on-screen fairly well why they are bitter about the Federation and Picard.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:45am (UTC -5)
And so did Nero in Star Trek 2009.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
I agree that the book sounds interesting, at least it tries to find a rational justification for the events of the show.

But

#1 Books aren't canon, they never have been with Star Trek. I'm with Booming on this one.

#2 The only canon information I have available doesn't explain what we're seeing on the show.

#3. 2 years of a supernova death sentence and I'm supposed to believe the people of Romulus just sat around waiting for a Federation ferry? It's the freaking 24th century, Ferengi and other privateer aliens would've had that planet empty within 12 months.
Late To The Party Girl
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
@Dougie:

Shut down the site? LOL - I doubt that is going to happen. The first episode of TOS aired 9/8/1966. The most recent comment in the chain on that episode? November 6, 2019. This site is a fantastic resource and discussion page. Hopefully it is not going anywhere.

You can't blame people for not liking/being critical of the new series. So far it is setting itself up to be a 10 hour movie based on 3 hours of substantive content/story telling, filled with irrelevant details featuring style over content and filmed in a style that makes it uncomfortable to view on a television. So, yeah, if an exec were to review all of the comments, it might make them think. Which would be a good thing.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Again, the Romulan senator explains it on screen (and so does Nero in ST 2009).

Now, if you want a whole episode dedicated to the details of it, no thanks. It's enough for me to know why they are bitter but not how it got there day by day. That would be like me asking a whole episode to be dedicated to the details of how scientifically is Data constructing LAL in "The Offspring." I don't need that. It's enough for me to know Data can create LAL (and fail), and a couple of technobabble sentences to tell me the general idea. It's certainly not a point of criticism, unless I want to nitpick "The Offspring."
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
I only saw 2009 Star Trek once when it came out on video. It was a very overstuffed yet oddly forgettable movie. I guess I missed out on that exposition.

Should I watch that again?
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
No Dave, you don't need to watch the whole movie for that specific information. You can find that information by going to Nero on Memory Alpha I am sure. He says it early in the film.
I liked ST 2009 a lot.
Dom
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
@Dougie, luckily for us we still live in a free country where giant corporations can't suppress freedom of speech. Nothing on this site is violating a CBS/Paramount copyright. People are allowed to express their opinions about a TV show on a website. If you disagree, that's your right. Shutting down the discourse isn't your or any company's right.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
You also don't need to watch it because the Romulan Senator explains in this episode why Romulans are bitter, on screen. In fact, he goes into too much detail in my opinion, making his harangue a bit too long for my taste. He could have cut a couple of sentences from that explanation and still it would have made sense why they are upset. There have been enough clues already in other parts of the first three episodes about that. I pretty much knew what the reason already.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
As for the books (Daniel, thanks for that detailed info about McCormack's book, sounds fascinating), yes Booming and Dave are correct, they are not canon. The writers are making a genuine effort to stay close to canon and from what I understand (I have not read any Disco or Picard novels, just the comics) the Disco and Picard novels are doing a good job of it.

As for the older series, I would definitely recommend the DS Relaunch series, it's almost like reading about an 8th season, 9th season, and so on. Very good non-canon story-telling. I am told post-Voyager novels are also great (Beyer helms them, I believe), but I have not read any. Still trying to get current on DS9 relaunch series.
Booming
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov
With off-screen I meant the actual things Picard did wrong. We only get exposition after exposition about what he did wrong but the show never gives us a scene where he actually fails. And considering that the Senator was personally saved by Picard I find his attitude confusing. Does he not understand that Picard isn't the emperor of the Federation?

I actually saw ST2009 in the cinema. The only thing I remember is the friend I was with saying:" This was ok but not Star Trek." No joke. That's the first thing he said after the movie. I can barely remember a single thing from that movie. Was Nero using a 24th century garbage truck ship which was really big? And did Spock fly around in an egg with a red blob of super something very special liquid to unexplode the sun?

About the books. My disinterest is even more general. I'm just watching a show. I don't want to read the book or comic form of an FAQ to understand what is happening. The show must stand on it's own.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
It's explained on screen that Picard did not even bother to contact the Romulans on Vashti once he left after he got the message that Mars was under attack. That fail alone is enough for those people to be bitter, let alone them associating the actions of the Federation that the Senator describes in his harangue with Picard. He was their contact point after all. I really don't need more detail than that, I don't need multiple flashback scenes explaining every gradual moment of increased bitterness by the Romulans.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
I am actually surprised that Zani was not bitter with him. I would have...
Chrome
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
@Dave, Booming

Like Mertov, I enjoyed ST:2009. I'm not sure which dialogue Mertov is referring to, but my understanding from Spock's explanation is that the supernova threatened many worlds, even those in the Federation. The Federation acted to stop the supernova, and while they failed Romulus, Spock did manage to save the other systems. Apparently there were very few Romulan survivors (Nero called himself the last remnant of the Romulan Empire) and they're understandably bitter about how the events played out.
Booming
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov
"It's explained on screen that Picard did not even bother to contact the Romulans on Vashti once he left after he got the message that Mars was under attack. That fail alone is enough for those people to be bitter, let alone them associating the actions of the Federation that the Senator describes in his harangue with Picard."

Isn't that terribly misplaced. Ok Picard didn't call but he convinced the Federation to start the rescue (which is pretty stupid. Picard alone convinced them?) and then destroys his career in an attempt to restart the rescue. I could understand some person not knowing what Picard did but a Senator? Picard is the person who fought the most for the Romulans at great personal cost. The only thing Raffi and the Romulans can complain about is, even though that is pretty childish, that he did not call.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
No, I don't believe it's terribly misplaced at all. He could have easily contacted them once or twice to give an update (again, that alone is more than enough for them to be justifiably bitter), provided that he presented themselves as a savior from all signs. He was their contact point and had a personal relationship with them. The Romulan Senator just had his life turned upside down and Romulus suffered in gigantic proportions. It's perfectly feasible for him to associate Picard with Federation/Starfleet's actions (he should, in fact). It's not a given that a Romulan Senator would know in that chaos the details of what took place in every Federation meeting, I doubt that information is shared anyway.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
To add to my last post:
"It's not a given that a Romulan Senator would know in that chaos the details of what took place in every Federation meeting, I doubt that information is shared anyway." ----- which is that much more reason why Picard should have contacted them, which he didn't. A major screw-up.
Ryan
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

“ I think I hate this show. It’s bad on its own merits, and I’m confident the only reason people are still watching is because it has the name Star Trek and it has Picard in it even if they don’t realize that’s why.”

With all due respect, if you hate the show and continue to watch and post about it, that’s your business, but kindly don’t tell me that I’m not intelligent enough to realize why I watch it.
Jason R.
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
"Apparently there were very few Romulan survivors (Nero called himself the last remnant of the Romulan Empire) and they're understandably bitter about how the events played out."

The Romulan Star Empire was supposed to be huge - a major Beta quadrant civilization. Not that you need to know anything about supernovas to find the ST 2009 movie stupid (god was it stupid - every scene, every scenarios, every frame) but yeah - stoooooopid. Like someone writing a story where a tornado wipes out the United States.
Chrome
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but scientists currently believe that the safe distance for Earth from a super nova is 100 LY. Depending on the size of the star, the range of a supernova could decimate dozens or more solar systems. I don't know how large the Romulan Empire was, but the star that went nova was nearest to Romulus' system, so it doesn't seem too far-fetched to me.

Anyway, I'm not here to praise ST:2009. I was just providing the information for people who don't care to watch it again. :-)
Ovanpreus
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
I am one of the “older fans” some of the posters are referring to, I don’t like being told I am not intelligent enough to realize why I watch it. The behavior of some people on the site toward people who happen to enjoy the show is bordering on bullying; perhaps It has crossed the border. I do not insult others when saying why I liked an episode. If we have gotten to the point of saying someone is stupid for liking something, maybe we should be worrying more about how our own society is falling apart, more than how a fictional society should or should not act.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome

If it was a star a few lightyears (say 5-10) from Romulus, it would take that long for the effects to be felt. There should've been plenty of time to evacuate the worlds further from the blast... and in fact, many of the worlds in that range would still not be feeling the effects of the supernova yet during the time this series is set in.
Chrome
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Dave, there's also shocked gas and other dangerous secondary effects of a supernova that travel much faster than the nova itself. There's so much we don't know about the phenomenon that it's really hard to make definitive statements about how safe surrounding planets would be.

What actually bothers me more is the moon Praxis' explosion putting the Klingon Empire out of commission. But hey, it's just a movie so I let it slide.
Booming
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
It cannot travel faster than light, though.
So yeah it will take years and often decades for system to feel the effects.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome

That's true, but the effects of a supernova are still limited to the speed of light. Besides, the dialogue in STP (nor what we've seen previously) has shown Romulus as existing in a dangerous area of space filled with shockwaves and isuperheated ionized gas.
Chrome
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
I believe the shockwave effects were traveling through subspace (as was the case with Praxis' explosion) which made the danger more immediate. I suppose they could've explained that better in the movie or called it something different like a "subspace nova" but oh well. It's a fair enough criticism.
James White
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Stars take literally millions of years to go supernova. The process, even today, is fairly well known. It is utterly implausible that the Romulan Empire, in the late 24th century, was not aware for decades (if not centuries) that the star would go supernova. And they have an interstellar civilization with presumably many worlds and many starships.

You simply have to to suspend logic and reason to accept the premise that they needed some Dunkirk-esque 11th hour rescue from the Federation. It's stupid.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
To be more precise:

The actual supernova explosion takes a fraction of a second. The process that preceeds it takes millions of years, though.

Saying that the Romulans would have "noticed" this is an understatement. Romulus would have been totally uninhabitable for many millennia before the actual supernova happened.

Though to be fair, Trek was always terrible with its astrophysics. This isn't something new to either Picard or NuTrek in general.
John Harmon
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Remember The Inner Light? Remember how it was about Picard living out the life of someone on a long dead alien planet? And throughout the episode we find out it was their star going nova that killed the planet and they knew about it for years? And this was a society of non space faring people. Their only hope of any kind of lasting was sending that probe into space, which was as advanced as they were technologically.

You absolutely have to suspend all logic or believe that the entirety of the Romulan empire just got really stupid to not be able to tell the sun of their home world was going to go nova.

If they did know about it for years, they could have evacuated everyone from the planet in time without Starfleet (as an aside it bugs me that these writers don’t know the difference between the federation and Starfleet). They could have used ships from the other planets in their empire. Asked the Klingons, paid the Ferengi. Never mind the fact that Starfleet aren’t the only ships in the federation that could have helped them. The federation is made up of over 150 planets. And if it really was only up to Picard for some dumb reason, he could have gathered a non Starfleet force of ships in many different ways to go rescue those Romulans
James White
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Fair enough. However, I would argue Trek "jumped the shark" with red matter, Spock, and a supernova that would threaten the galaxy. And, of course, an interstellar Empire that didn't notice a millions-of-years long process it until it was too late. For some point of reference, a supernova explosion more than 50 light years (LY) from Earth will likely not harm our ozone layer. The diameter of the Milky Way is 105,700 LY. So, this whole idea was idiotic from the start. Typical JJ Abrams.

Honestly, if a plot were devised in which enemies of the Romulan Empire had somehow sabotaged their star, I would've much more readily accepted that. Some technology that induces some blah-blah cascading blah-blah - millions of years suddenly becomes 6 months or even less time. Something like that. Even then, it doesn't address the nonsense of a galactic civilization being incapable of evacuating their own. But at least it's a start.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
@ Ocanpreus

I'm thankful I'm finally old enough to understand that my opinion is subjective and not objective. I might be starting to view STP as a missed opportunity, but that's literally just my opinion.

I am glad to read about what those who like/ defend the episodes have to say. The feedback is always interesting.

I am glad at least a couple of my critiques were due to my misunderstanding of canon, it makes me like the episode slightly more (if that's a quantifiable thing).
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
@ James White

The "Red Matter" reveal was the closest I've ever come to walking out of a movie. (Granted, that feeling had been building for at least an hour, but still, it was awful).
Brian L
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Dougie
"If I were a studio exec, and stumbled upon this place, I’d formally send Epsicokhan an email requesting a shutdown. Anyone aged 6-16 who came by here and read this nonsense about a new series might be convinced not to view it."

So you literally advocate censorship? And I think you underestimate 6-16 year olds. By the way, you're welcome to express your opinion about the show, but you are not welcome to advocate censorship or personally attack the opinions of others. People are allowed to actively dislike the show. If that bothers you, there's always r/startrek.
A A Roi
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
@James White

You'd say that Star Trek jumped the shark with Red Matter? How about that there's a barrier around the galaxy that if you cross it turns people into regular men and women into beings with godlike power? Honestly, if red matter is your qualification, Star Trek has jumped the shark dozens of times over the decades.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
@ AA Roi

I get that there's junk science in some episodes of Trek and, of course, the speculative nature of future science: thing such as new elements of the Periodic Table, antimatter engines, a hundred new "particles" and "radiation types" and so on. That happens when you don't have science advisors.

I jguess I just don't like that the writers took the one stellar process almost everyone is familiar with, redefined how it works for the sake of narrative expediency and made it the fulcrum on which the entire plot pivots.
A A Roi
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
@Dougie

It would be hard enough for exectutives to locate this site, IMO, was for me and I'm a Trek fan. And since Picard is not a show targetted at the kiddies, I doubt they would care how many tweens are watching. The only real measure CBS executives would be interested in is how many people are watching the show, and by all the information we have access too, It's been at least as successful as Discovery has been, enough to greenlight a second season and continue with the roll out of a third and fourth Treks series to run concurrently with Picard and Discovery going forwards.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
@ AA Roi

Paramount execs found this board easily enough.

Jammer actually made a few script pitches for Voyager.

Booming may not have a complete understanding of the First Amendment.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
I meant to say Dougie, not Booming. Apologies.
A A Roi
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

During the Berman era, the shows scientific consultants invented new particles and radiation types on a weekly basis to fill in whatever hole existed in any given script to offer up the illusion of plausibilty with sciency sounding names.

The 2009 film's script may have been what broke the camel's back for you, but based on the endless complaints about DISCOs use of the term time crystal (which is borrowed from actual science just technobabbly dilithium is) that most of the people complaining about the whole Red Matter thing just wanted technobabble they were familiar with, a subspace rift here, chroniton particles there, cascade failure on a quantum level as a bow tie to make them happy, as that was all that was needed to provide them heisenberg compensation on TV.
dave
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
You know...
That 2009 reboot movie Trek sure fucked everything up. This entire series is dealing with all the logic gaps of the supernova and relocation efforts instead of something more cohesive and worthwhile.

I wish they had of made this about something else Picard could do and not about the Romulan mess.
James White
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

The Berman era of Trek grounded Trek in a believable, reasonably intelligent universe with fairly consistent rules. Red matter, galaxy spanning supernovae, transporting across massive distances, Vulcan feeling like it's literally next door, and just an onslaught of utterly one dimensional and hackneyed plots, characters, and mindless banter.

Yes, Trek jumped the shark in 2009. It hasn't found it's way back yet. STP doesn't need to be TNG. But it does need to dispense with all of the half-witted tendencies that have plagued NuTrek and DSC. People sense that the show is treading dangerously to these tendencies. We'll see where everything ends up.
James White
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Also, there is a major difference between extrapolating from known physics and particles to generate new particles and theories suitable for a sci fi show in the 24th century vs. barking out RED MATTER as a thing that just creates black holes.

You mentioned chroniton particles. These are probably an extrapolation from chronon particles, which were theorized by physicists who thought quantum of time, discrete instances or events across a measurable spectrum, might exist. So they are grounded in some real thought.

Red matter is just bullshit.
James White
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
Lastly, though, I will concede earlier Trek's penchant for encountering omnipotent or super beings was also silly. Not saying there weren't examples before. Just that the present incarnation is much less intellectually rich
Mertov
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
"You know...
That 2009 reboot movie Trek sure fucked everything up."

-- No, I don't know, actually..
It sure didn't for me, Dave. Just another movie entry in the ongoing saga.
There are plenty for whom it didn't either. Trek goes on. Sorry it did for you and others.

"This entire series is dealing with all the logic gaps of the supernova and relocation efforts instead of something more cohesive and worthwhile."

By that reasoning, did Star Trek: First Contact "fuck everything up" for you too, since it trashed years of Borg - the mightiest villain race up to that point in Trek - built-up as a collective only to introduce a stooooooopid Borg Queen and hierarchy with which Voyager had to deal during its seven-year run? Or is that ok because it was Berman and co.?
Jon
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
At everyone discussing how the supernova should've been noticed: don't take for granted that the supernova occured naturally. The Romulans could've set if off by accident, or one of their many, many enemies could've sabotaged the star. Maybe a mad scientist shot a missile into it.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
If it was sabotage that caused the supernova, then they should state it in dialogue. It would create a meat allegorical mirror to what happened with the synths on Mars and provide some grist for a Trekkish philosophical discussion.
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 2:29am (UTC -5)
I think the Kurtzman era has been terrible, but I'm also not that hung up on "Roddenberry's vision". In fact, Trek's obsession with its past has been part of the problem. We talk too much about Roddenberry's vision and not enough about Piller's vision. Don't get me wrong, the Roddenberry stuff is still important. But TNG was what it was because of Piller. DS9 was what it was because of Behr. And the decent parts of Voyager were the work of Jeri Taylor, Bryan Fuller, Michael Taylor, Lisa Klink etc.

It's also not the case that Kurtzman or Abrams ruined the franchise, as it's been in decline since the millennium. Voyager petered out over its last two seasons, Enterprise was misguided and incredibly underwhelming, Nemesis was a disaster. As bad as Trek is at the moment, Berman/Braga isn't a period we should look back on fondly. The franchise was run into the ground in the early 2000s, and I think it should have been left to rest for much longer than the four-year gap between Enterprise ending and the 2009 film. Kurtzman/Abrams weren't the primary problem, more like an opportunistic infection that took hold when the body was already critically compromised.
Nolan
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 3:12am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar

I know I'm one of the most vocal proponents of the Trek that was, and how the nu shows have strayed too far from the visions of the classics but, candor being absolute here, Gene's vision for the 24th Century nearly strangled TNG to death in it's early years.

That said, I think it provided a good foundation and boundaries that the writers of the older shows respected enough to play within, push, and sometimes stray outside of to add more texture to Trek. But for me personally the nu series have strayed so far beyond those boundaries that Trek right now is a block or two away from the backyard of the "Trek vision", so much so that I myself would find it feasible to change all the character/alien species/technology names and have a different, stand alone show that doesn't need 50+ years behind it. It may as well be a different franchise.

I dunno, maybe it's that old, stick a frog in a pot of cool water, slowly turning up the heat so he doesn't know he's boiling versus just cranking it and having him freak out type of thing. Maybe if there had been series detailing the regression of humanity, this series wouldn't strike such a nerve with me. But then the writing would be serving a narrative focus in that scenario, whereas I don't think there's anyone there in the writers' room paying that much attention.

That being said, I'm glad the catsuits seem to be gone. And much as ENT floundered at first, I still liked it, though that's less due to B&B and more Manny Coto. Ithink the show found its footing by the end, which makes it a shame in never got to show off it's true potential, as I think the franchise may have recovered after a year or two.
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 3:56am (UTC -5)
Agreed, Nolan.
Tim C
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 4:13am (UTC -5)
Since we're on the topic, I don't think the Kurtzman era has been "terrible" thus far. It's definitely had some serious stumbles, but they really all had their problems over time, and none of them came out of the gate at their best. Discovery's second season had a long-term plot that turned out pretty rubbish at the end, but the show also gave us a great version of Captain Pike along with several new characters that I actually really like (Saru, Stamets, Reno). I also think it's had some great one-off episodes that I'd be happy to add to my list of Trek rewatches in years to come.

Picard is just way too young a show for me to judge, especially as it's even more serialised than Disco. But I think the cast is strong and the premise thus far is interesting; seeing a legend like Picard dealing with the consequences of failure on a long-term basis is fascinating to me, and the kind of storytelling opportunity that was never afforded by an episode-of-the-week format on network TV.

I could have done without the reboot movies though. ST09 and Beyond were fun, but only fun, and only tolerable because of the alternate universe conceit. (The less said about Into Darkness, the better. Ugh.)
James
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:20am (UTC -5)
@A A Roi

"You'd say that Star Trek jumped the shark with Red Matter? How about that there's a barrier around the galaxy that if you cross it turns people into regular men and women into beings with godlike power? Honestly, if red matter is your qualification, Star Trek has jumped the shark dozens of times over the decades. "

I know everyone agrees that ST5 was a total flop, but I sometimes wish that the writers in charge of Discovery and Picard would embrace such ambitious subject matter. For all its failures, at least The Final Frontier asked some interesting and relevant questions. And isn't that what sci-fi is about? Putting forward fictional science to address familiar, human problems from a new perspective? I don't see nu-trek or DSC or PIC doing this. The science is mostly used to propel the plot, and not much more. Who cares how 'real' the fictional science is - how it is used is what I'm interested in.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 8:08am (UTC -5)
@Nolan
"But then the writing would be serving a narrative focus in that scenario, whereas I don't think there's anyone there in the writers' room paying that much attention."

That is exactly the crux of the problem. We have Kurtzman-style writers who are trying to write epic worldbuilding-oriented sci fi, and it isn't working.

It is clear that the writers haven't done their homework on this front. There is no sense of historical continuity between the Federation we knew in the 2370s and what we see onscreen in 2400.

This, more than anything else, is why STP doesn't feel like Star Trek to me. It's not just about Roddenberry's vision. It's a completely different world, even if they are using the same names.
skye francis-maidstone
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars for me. Only slightly worse than last weeks.

The warrior nun/monks with swords didn't really do it for me. I mean Klingons use the Bat'leth, ok fine, but they shoot the hell out of you first with distruptors. I mean I don't hate the idea, I just don't love it.

Really loving the show in general though, the cast have done a great job at filling their roles in the 4 episodes we had. Although I only just realised Alison Pill is from Scott Pilgrim.. now I'm having trouble not seeing her as the dead-pan sarcastic drummer ("If your life had a face I'd punch it"). Anyway she's doing a fine job being quirky and funny.

Rios is a little bland but decent enough and Raffi is also growing on me (the JL stuff is a bit meh though).

Welcome back Seven.. I wonder why she doesn't use her original human name.. maybe she does now... we'll see.

This show feels the most like Star Trek a show has felt since Voyager/DS9. More so than Enterprise to me. THAT felt like a different show to me. (I'm not going to bother mentioning Discovery - that's a "hate watch" for me - ok I just mentioned it).

I don't really see the need for people who dislike the show keep trying to say anyone who does is somehow mentally deficient. Movies/Films and Art in general is extremely subjective. If you hate it - fine, fair enough. That has no connection with the intelligence of people who like it.

@James "How about that there's a barrier around the galaxy that if you cross it turns people into regular men and women into beings with godlike power" is a reference to ToS's second pilot "Where No Man has Gone Before" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where_No_Man_Has_Gone_Before rather than the barrier at the centre of the galaxy in ST5 ".. mythical planet Sha Ka Ree, the place where creation began; the planet lies behind a seemingly impenetrable barrier near the center of the galaxy..". Either way the science of both is ridiculous as is a lot of the science in most interations of Star Trek. VOY in particular was horrible for ridiculous technobabble. If you're not really prepared to except ridiculous science then Star Trek probably isn't the show for you.
Chrome
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 9:49am (UTC -5)
James, I think you’re wrong on both counts. A script that’s trying too hard to tell a message can backfire hard if it’s not done well. Take TNG’s “Force of Nature”, for example. By all counts, the episode has a sincere message about conservation of natural resources (a message I agree with). However, the episode uses very questionable methods to get to that message. The proponent of environmentalism, Serova, commits ecoterrorism to shock people into action. Her methods are so wrong that it’s easy for the audience to dismiss her and vicariously dismiss the whole good conservation message in the process. What a mess!

I’m not really sure where STV was going because, similarly to STP actually, there were too many people who wanted their own special say in the movie and it ended up being a jumbled pot of loose ends and mischaracterizations.

As for the reboot movies, they may be full of action schlock, but similar to the schlocky Indiana Jones movies, the messages are straightforward. ST2009 was about two very opposing people, one human and alien, who need each other to accomplish greater things. Into Darkness had a clear stance on overreacting to military threats and not letting militarization take away your core beliefs. You may not like these films for other reasons, but saying they’re not trying to tell a message is patently ignoring what’s on screen.

I may be asking the impossible here, but I wish people would stop conflating the reboot movies with DISCO and STP. The films are relatively tightly written Trek tales for a general audience. The shows (so far) are bloated and meandering labyrinths of stories with a few shining exceptions.
Rahul
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 10:27am (UTC -5)
@Tim C

I agree with pretty much everything you've said (minor exceptions being the Reno character on DSC, and I'd say TOS came out of the gate the best).

For me, the Kurtzman Trek era (DSC, PIC) has not been terrible either -- objectively when I evaluate the episodes and season or in terms of personal preference. But it hasn't been great and speaking about my personal preferences, DSC was/is the first Trek series I didn't really greatly appreciate. I love the 5 preceding Treks and have really grown to appreciate ENT having gone thru the series at least 5 times.

DSC has its redeeming qualities which you pointed out. It was terrific to get a quasi-standalone episode like "If Memory Serves". And yes PIC is too young to judge, although the trend is worsening but that could change. At least it does have an interesting premise, good cast and decent acting. The writing is iffy, however.

The thing about Kurtzman-era Trek or Trek in the 2010s and 2020s, is it mirrors the ethos (for lack of a better word) of today's society just like the prior Treks did. I'd argue today's people have shorter attention spans, need to be stimulated (hence the constant attempt at shock value in DSC, PIC) and want serialized TV. People are different today than they were in the 90s or 60s -- just wired differently.

But what I'd also say that since Trek is no longer using the 25 episodes a season model running for several seasons, our expectations should be higher. While being a tighter, more focused product will likely prevent a truly terrible (1* or below) episode from being produced, I'm disappointed at the lack of excellent (3.5* or better episodes) produced by DSC and PIC.
Quincy
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Doesn't Nemesis take place not long after Voyager? Weren't many of the warp capable ships across the quadrant destroyed in the Dominion war? Does anybody know what the sate of Romulus was after that? Been so long since I watched DS9 I don't really remember, but I thought I recalled something about the Federation having to fast track recruits because, while they could replace ships, competent personnel was harder to come by. It seems to me that Romulus was even harder hit than the Federation by that war.
Chrome
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Yeah Rahul, you’re like one of the few people on this site who watch everything and give it a fair review. :-)

There’s no question each Trek has a certain flavor even if certain Treks have a similar structure. When I watch TOS, I get into 60s mode and try to think about what was revolutionary about the show for its time and for stories that are still relevant today. It’s very different than TNG, which I think focuses less on military and more on cooperative problem-solving.
Rahul
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome,

Talking about what is different between DSC/PIC and and 90s/60s Trek is the depiction of violence, as 1 example. There are plenty of other differences of course as well as the individual flavors of the series -- but that's another debate.

But I say the depiction of fight scenes and violence mirrors how society has changed (to my prior comment). Technical improvements (VFX, choreography etc.) have allowed this but also fed the need for more graphic and brutal violence for that shock value which today's viewers crave. I recall Nimoy describing how fight scenes, violence was handled on TOS and thought it was excellent in that there is no need for gore or something to that effect.

So you'd see very little blood/gore on TOS. Then when TNG rolled around, there was a bit more. "Conspiracy" was an episode that went too far outside Trek boundaries on this topic for my liking and I panned the ep.

But then comes DSC with its scene of a device thrown by Mirror Georgiou to cut through the heads of a bunch of people standing in a circle. And PIC has a scene where a Romulan gets decapitated by Space Legolas (was that what Trent called Elnor? Elnor also sounds like a LotR Elvish name by the way...)

All to say -- Trek's violence is 1 barometer for how the series have changed and not for the better IMO. Clear difference with DSC/PIC or Kurtzman Trek and 90s Trek/TOS.
Bold Helmsman
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul

Perhaps a millennial like myself doesn't know what he's talking about, but is it really that people's attention span have decreased, or that people simply have far more content to consume?

Stimulation is necessary to get people to engage, or they won't even bother, and the show is dead in the water.

Serialization on the other hand is more a matter of technology catching up with reality. The ability to rewatch episodes at will gave studios the opportunity to tell the kind of stories they wanted to tell, the kind of epics writers studied in school. This is a net good to me, but I feel it has its drawbacks. Even Kurtzman admitted that something like "The City on the Edge of Forever" couldn't be done now because Kirk would have to mourn Edith for a whole season.
A A Roi
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
@James

I was referring to the second Star Trek episode ever filmed, Where No Man Has Gone Before broadcast in 1966, not a film made 22 years later. But it's understandable, based on the commentary among posters, that many fans of Star Trek here disregard anything the franchise did prior to 1987.
A A Roi
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

That whole 'mourning Edith for a whole season' is hyperbole and obvious hyperbole for anyone who's watched Discovery play out the last couple years. Yes, Kirk could have been shown thinking about Edith here and there and his follow up behavior could have referred to her death, but the conceit implied that serialization would force an entire season to be utterly occupied by the ghost of Edith is a bit too much. Take Airiam in S2 of Discovery as an example of this. She dies. Everyone mourned her the next episode and then the season moved on.
Chrome
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul

It's true violence (and nudity) has been amped up over time. Although TOS did notably have its share of fistfights and painful ensign deaths, its depiction was relatively mild. If you look through all the ST films you'll find only ST1 was rated G, and the rest of the TOS films are PG. TNG has two PG-13 films and all the reboot movies are also PG-13. Discovery and Picard go even further with a TV-MA rating (rated R in movie terms).

Audience attention is probably just one of many factors in this trend. Not being limited by network television gives the showrunners more options. I recall reading about a few DS9 and VOY episodes where they really wanted to deliver some visceral action sequences but censoring cut much of that footage to the floor. Also, the success of a string of mature HBO releases really set the bar for "water cooler talk" subscription shows.
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul

Space Legolas was my invention.

Yes, I felt the irrational need to point that out.
Sen-Sors
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
"I was referring to the second Star Trek episode ever filmed, Where No Man Has Gone Before broadcast in 1966, not a film made 22 years later. But it's understandable, based on the commentary among posters, that many fans of Star Trek here disregard anything the franchise did prior to 1987."

lol, woooow. Or perhaps it was an honest mistake, considering there's decades of Trek stories across many different series and films.
Brian L
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul
"But what I'd also say that since Trek is no longer using the 25 episodes a season model running for several seasons, our expectations should be higher. While being a tighter, more focused product will likely prevent a truly terrible (1* or below) episode from being produced, I'm disappointed at the lack of excellent (3.5* or better episodes) produced by DSC and PIC."

Many people aren't comfortable dealing with emotions, and they look for something to numb them out. And, having been there at one time, where I would rather just feel nothing than gamble with the good and bad, now as an older person I see things differently.

I'll gladly take an occasional "Code of Honor", to get an occasional "Tapestry" or "Inner Light". Just like in real life, where you're sort of required to push through the dark times, in order to have a chance at the peak experiences.

Nu-Trek is like Star Trek on anti-depressants. Watching it makes me feel...flat. Nothing. It's never horrible. It's never breathtaking. It's just kind of there. And to me that is the biggest disservice we could ever do to the Star Trek franchise.
Gerontius
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode best of those so far. It's been fun reading through this mass of comments. Full of points where I wanted to respond, but I've forgotten most ofthem along the way.

I'm was surprised to read post after disparaging post - but then it's generally easier to write an interesting knocking review than one expressing enjoyment, especially if it's muted enjoyment rather than outright ecstasy. And in the spirit of Picard's comments about it being a mistake to make the perfect the enemy of the good, this episode was good without being perfect, and deserves to be appreciated. Or rather, it's not a question of deserving to be appreciated, but for me at any rare, achieving that.

Obviously it's to be expected that the science in Star Trek is going to be absurd most of the time, so it strikes me that going on about stellar physics and which sort of stars are liable to explode is a bit irrelevant. You have to suspend your disbelief every bit as you do in Harry Potter, and you do that willingly and consciously. What replaces consistency with the real world is consistency within the artificially constructed world - and that is surely the basis of of the worries expressed about whether or not things "are Star Trek".

I findit strange that so many people seem to get het up about the fact that the show decided to allow some actors to speak in their own native accents rather than adopt a generic American accent. After all they've accepted that for Picard for all these years. I'm sure Patrick Stewart is perfectly capable of assuming an American, or a French accent, if required - but why should he, and what would be gained if he did? And the same goes for actors from Ireland or Australia or Chile. If this provides a gentle reminder that people do have different ways of speaking, no harm in that.

I'm enjoying this series for what it is, as I enjoyed the previous series. Eery now and then an episode has reached the heights, but most of them coasted along in the lowlands enjoyably enough. I'm confident that the same will be the case with Picard, and I look forward to every episode, and I expect in time there will be some classics.

And I'm afraid I haven't even noticed most of the unseemly language that appears to get some people hot under the collar. That may reflect the fact that I generally confine my viewing of TV to the BBC.
Booming
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
I want to add to this that Stewart's french is really terrible. :)
A A Roi
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
@Brian L.

As somone who grew up on TOS, and as I expect many who did, I found the Berman era in general and TNG in particular replete in bland, formulaic episodes which offered the science fiction version of white breat. Compared to TOS it pushed few boundaries and instead prefered to offer a comforting blanket to its fans. And while episodes like Tapestry and Inner Light were a cut above the mediocrity of the Berman era, the are nonetheless not particularly compelling slices of science fiction TV.

I've found the new series on CBSAA to be quite a step above the valium laced conformity of much of what comprised Star Trek between 1987 and 2005, and look forwards to each episode to add something new to the franchise rather than conform to the status quo as vast swaths of the TNG-ENT era offered. Even Picard, replete with its callbacks and cameos, is taking Trek in new directions that would not have been allowed under Rick Berman, and cheers to that.

Sorry that you find such pushing the envelope numbing, though. But if running TNG in the background helps, maybe that's more your cup of tea.
Jammer
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Tommy D.
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Spot on review. I too thought the Soji/Narek sock slide scene was a little (a lot) on the cringe side. I am digging the makeup of the crew though. And Seven is a welcome sight.
Nolan
Mon, Feb 17, 2020, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
Oh, yes, that's right, thanks for reminding me Jammer, the return of beam based weapons. I also liked that. I have no idea why they tilted so hard into the laser toots of the last several years, they sounded ridiculous and for me at least, were less dynamic. If I had to guess they were logistically easier to write for. Because I'm at a point now where it's not at all hard for me to imagine the writers taking the easiest way possible.

And please note, while I never try to insult those that do enjoy the shows, if my ranting does come across like I'm putting down those that do, it's unintended. My rants are always towards the production side of the shows. If I call the writing simplistic, uninspired or poorly thought out, that is aimed squarely at the skills and motivations of the writers, not those that can find enjoyment in the work.

I know that what I value about Trek and hold up as foundational to the franchise is not going to be shared by everyone. I'm glad others can be serviced by what I view is trying to pass as Trek today, but I am not going to sit quietly by and allow what I value about Trek to go unrepresented. It may not save the Nu movies, or Disco, or Picard, but it puts those needs of mine out there so that there can be an awareness out there so that someday a Trek might come along that does better serve what I view Trek as needing to be.
Cue Who
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 12:43am (UTC -5)
If I didn't love the character of Picard I would have stopped watching by now. This show is slow. I would rather go back to episodic television that has a different story every week rather than take 5 weeks to slowly get to the point. What's up with a Romulan ninja with a sword and why do they not even look like Romulans? Why can't the ships be brighter? in tng and voyager the bridge and ship had bright lights. Even DS9 wasn't as dark as the new shows. they weren't dark with neon lights everywhere. There is so much about this show I would change. JL. I'll at least watch the first season because I love picard. Before the season I started I just prayed they wouldn't have Picard find a long lost son and have that stupid story that every show wants to do now. Instead Data's daughter is in it and now the ninja boy. anyways I hope it gets better.
A A Roi
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 2:02am (UTC -5)
@Rahul

While the TV series were fairly gore-free, I will agree, the movies on the other hand explored violence to a degree that the two recent series emulates on a similar level. TMP had a horrific Transport accident of the like which has never been repeated in the franchise. Wrath of Khan featured the bloody effects of ship to ship combat on the crews. First Contact also featured disturbing violence and gore. Since the new series seeks to emulate the production values of the films, it's not out of line, IMO, that they also emulate the envelope pushing the films offered.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 7:41am (UTC -5)
"I'll gladly take an occasional "Code of Honor", to get an occasional "Tapestry" or "Inner Light". Just like in real life, where you're sort of required to push through the dark times, in order to have a chance at the peak experiences.

Nu-Trek is like Star Trek on anti-depressants. Watching it makes me feel...flat. Nothing. It's never horrible. It's never breathtaking. It's just kind of there. And to me that is the biggest disservice we could ever do to the Star Trek franchise."

Thank you thank you thank you. You nailed it. Exactly right.

If further evidence is needed, look at Jammer's reviews - almost all 2.5 to 3 stars with a rare 3.5 stars sprinkled in. Very different distribution from what we saw with TNG era Trek. Heck even season 1 of TNG had a 4 star outing.

I believe this is as much about the financial case as anything else. With a proven franchise like Trek, serialization offers low risk with relatively high returns. You are flattening the curve, so the lows and highs are squeezed out but the product still generates a solid income. No Code of Honor episodes but also no Yesterday's Enterprise. It's consistent unfailing mediocrity, but profitable mediocrity.

In effect, franchises like Trek have become nice safe dividend paying stocks for CBS's portfolio. Whereas TOS and TNG were like Apple with extreme boom / bust cycles the post Berman era has turned into Exxon or AT & T.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 8:06am (UTC -5)
@ Andy's Friend

Long time no see!!

"Yanks — ‘Yeah that is kind of the running joke of Star Trek. The moment you become an admiral you want to do nasty stuff.‘"

This wasn't me, but that's OK.

"As always, we must know to differentiate, and to recognise when the ‘big speech’ is being directed primarily at the in-universe characters (say, ‘The First Duty’), and when it is being directed primarily at the audience as commentary, as here. TNG generally stroke a balance between the two deliveries, and did so masterfully. Unfortunately, in the case of ‘The Drumhead’, this is not understood by most fans. Picard is not speaking to his fellow officers: he is speaking to us."

IMO this is Picard's finest moment.

I tear up every time I here this.

"You know, there some words I've known since I was a school boy. With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably. Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. I fear that today"

So apt is this to today's political climate.

Another point Picard makes during this episode:

PICARD: We think we've come so far. The torture of heretics, the burning of witches, it's all ancient history. Then, before you can blink an eye, it suddenly threatens to start all over again.
WORF: I believed her. I helped her. I did not see what she was.
PICARD: Mister Worf, villains who wear twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged.
WORF: I think after yesterday, people will not be as ready to trust her.
PICARD: Maybe. But she, or someone like her, will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mister Worf, that is the price we have to continually pay.

You are absolutely correct. This is directed at us.

Makes you wonder why "Civics" hasn't been taught in High Schools since the 70's.

Sorry, I know I'm off topic here.... but it's so damn good.
Nic
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Best episode since the first, but it still has some problems, most notably any scene involving Narek. I find it interesting that I felt a much greater attachment to Dahj, even though she appeared in only one episode, than Soji. Since they're both played by the same actress, it has to be the writing.

I also thought the bar scene was very good, but I hope we eventually find out why Picard just gave up on the evacuation after resigning from Starfleet. I'm sure there was something he could have done. It doesn't seem like him. I also found it quite laughable that the "Romulans only" sign would be in English. It's kind of like if an American town in the 50s had a "Whites only" sign in Swahili.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Well, I completely missed this little tidbit.

Go to timestamp 20:20 in this episode and watch Soji closely.

You see a familiar Data twitch.... could be revealing with regard to her origins.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 9:46am (UTC -5)
Sorry, timestamp 22:20
Dom
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 9:52am (UTC -5)
@Nic, I agree about Dahj, but to be fair it's a lot easier to sympathize with someone who's a victim being chased and frightened for her life than a cold scientist working on the Borg cube. It does make me hope they do something with Soji to give her more depth and make her more than a MacGuffin mystery box.
Black winter day
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 10:56am (UTC -5)
I really really miss the standalone episodes format of Star Trek with the mysteries to be solved, aliens of the week etc. Yes, it had its flaws, but i enjoyed it far more than the nu-Trek.

My english isnt sufficient to fully expess what i am feeling when i watch STD and STP - Its ok, i dong hate it, but i am never excited about it. The thrill is gone, its just an ok tv, nothing more. I rewatched many brilliant episodes of Trek many times, but never feklt the urge to rewatch any of the Nu Trek.

Even ST-Ent seems brilliant compared to what we get now...

Tv in general got much better in the last decade or so. Star trek has gotten considerably worse.
Drea
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Spot on, Jammer.

Here's a bright spot: the show so far seems built primarily by good scenes that drive the story forward along with bad scenes that don't. As far as I can tell, the silly or boring scenes (every single shot of Rizzo so far, for example) could be excised with no loss. Removing Rizzo would make the Narek/Soji scenes *better* because it would add ambiguity to Narek's intentions. An editor could easily trim the fat and leave a first season that feels consistently strong.

This is a different situation from Discovery, whose problems are in the guts of its primary stories rather than in boring or silly parts that could be removed without consequence to the main story or character arcs.
Itavsh
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
It is becoming a tale of two Star Treks re: the Picard scenes vs. the Narek/Rizzo and Narek/anyone scenes. How can the former, generally so sharp and focused, occupy the same space as the latter, which are so tiresome I forgot to groan at them?

Jammer, you are correct about “deceit and plotting” with no emotional core. I keep thinking of Voyager’s “Counterpoint” with Janeway and Kashyk. That episode was a wind-up toy, but the gears were well-oiled, and the narrative was juuuust beyond complete contrivance so as to make us believe that even with the deceit and plotting, the characters had feelings for each other... to a degree. And we cared, of course, since the Captain was one of the characters. Narek/ Rizzo and Narek/Soji were introduced as chess pieces. Not many Trek episodes in which two characters other than a regular or recurring guest were the focus of so much of the story’s “intrigue” (Assignment: Earth, maybe?). The “relationship” scenes, including the “edgy incestuous” ones) do not work on an emotional level. That might be OK if the scenes had a wild-card, like memorable dialogue or good performances. None of these things are present. If these scenes are part of slow burn, that burn better arrive scalding
TrekJoy
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
I can sum up all the episodes and undoubtedly future ones in four words and spare everyone time: THIS IS NOT TREK!
Dom
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
@Itavsh, yeah, that's the core of the problem. If you go back through the entire library of Star Trek episodes, there are definitely a bunch of cringe-worthy, one-note villains. I'm not a huge fan of Lursa and B'Etor. But those types of villains had a few over-the-top scenes, stayed around for an episode or at most two, before the show moved on to something else. When DS9 had recurring villains, it gave us complex personalities like Gul Dukat or entertaining, quirky characters like Weyoun. By contrast, we've had Narek-Rizzo "deceit and plotting" scenes for several weeks now and without any real insights into the characters or forward momentum in the plot. The scenes just aren't fun the way that the Damar-Weyoun bickering was.
skye francis-maidstone
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
@trekjoy except you can't because what is or isn't Trek is subjective.

Personally i'm enjoying PIC more than ENT. DIS looks great but needs some actual stories and actors. I loathe the JJ films but I know people who think they're great.

Some people even think my beloved DS9 isn't trek.

I do believe someone actually praised Berman a few posts back. When VOY and EN
sarah francis-maidstone
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
(Stupid phone) ..VOY we're actually being aired B&B were being blamed for killing Star Trek. So I guess what does that leave? Just ToS and TNG?

PIC feels like the closest to the version of Trek i like since ds9 and tng. I'm liking the slower pace and it all looks so damn good too which is a bonus.

At least we don't have to read moaning about reset buttons yet.

I'm sure people would find something to moan about.
Hank
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
I have to admit: It warmed my heart to see Seven again. Guess I'm just another fanboy. Might have helped that she didn't speak much yet, so, lets see how her character has changed before coming to any hopeful conclusions.

Turns out trying and failing is worse than never trying at all, given by the reaction Picard gets. Or rather, stopping to try is the worst sin. And we don't even know if he did try to do something after his resignation. Or if he could have in the first place.

I constantly get the feeling that the writers wanted to create a fantasy story instead of sci-fi, with all the hero+party travelling the land to rescue the princess, the swashbuckling and the mysteries. And now the mysterious warrior (that assassin dude) has entered the picture, together with the sorceress (Seven - if we replace magic with "borg stuff"), after we got the genki-girl (the ditzy scientist lady (didn't we have one of those before, in another series?)), the grizzled veteran and the deadpan snarker (Ruffy). Time to enter hell (the borg cube) and slay the dragon, defy the prophecy and return order to the world.
Phillip
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 1:03am (UTC -5)
I thought androids couldn't use contractions. I guess they figured out how to fix that?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:51am (UTC -5)
Just because people always claimed that stuff "isn't Star Trek" for the stupidest of reasons, doesn't mean that those who say the same thing about NuTrek don't have a point. :-)
Mal
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 6:47am (UTC -5)
“I hate that fucking hospitality hologram.”

- Rios putting the “Absolute” in Absolute Picard on the rocks


Ensign Ro, from Season 5 of TNG, should have been the benchmark for this episode.

Compare Picard’s relationship with Ro Laren by the end of that 1 hour of TNG, with Picard’s relationship with Elnor at the end of “Absolute Candor”. Both Ro and Elnor are refugees, and both swear loyalty to Picard by the end of the hour. But even though Picard never met Ro before that episode, by the end, his relationship with Ro is infinitely deeper than Picard’s relationship with Elnor by the end of “Absolute Candor”, even though Picard has evidently known Elnor since he was just a boy. No wonder the boy is pissed.

Part of the problem is that no one on Picard, other than Picard himself, matters to us yet.

In "Ensign Ro," Guinan vouched for Ro, and we knew and loved and trusted Guinan. Here, by contrast, some random nun vouches for Elnor, and it means nothing to the audience.

Second, Ro earned her place on the TNG crew by going up against some of the largest forces in the galaxy, including the Cardassians plus a rogue Admiral of the week (TM). Here by contrast, Elnor chops the head off some old retired Senator hanging out in a cafe.

Part of this would be solved if the show had followed @ Trent’s structure, with Picard starting off on Vashti 14 years ago.

In @ Trent's version, Picard and Raffi could be seen helping the refugees - including Elnor as a boy, not to mention Picard’s chateau roommates Zhaban & Laris - before Picard and Raffi are called away because of Mars. Then, maybe, 4 episodes and 14 years later when Picard (and Raffi!) return to Vashti, Raffi - like Guinan in Ensign Ro - could vouch for Elnor as the man he has become after Elnor saves Raffi's neck when she gets in a fight at a local “Romulans only” bar.

Raffi at a bar in a fight practically writes itself. Picard picking a fight… okay… ?

And why is it that TNG was able to create better characters in just 1 hour than ST:P has been able to in 4 hours?

Not just Ro after 1 hour, think Vash after just Q-Pid (fun fact - Vash was only in 2 TNG episodes!), yet she had far more character than Raffi, who seems will be a permanent fixture on the crew.

Or how about the Pilot/EMH Rios? Compare him to Leah Brahms, who also appeared in two episodes - both as a hologram and as a real person. Yet she left a bigger impression after 2 hours in the Trek verse than Rios seems capable of after his 2 hours.

Here are some other two-episode TNG characters that outstrip our team so far:

- The Traveler popped up twice (the second time with almost-refugees!).

- Ambassador K’ehleyr (Worf’s baby mama) came ;) twice.

- Commander Shelby from Best of Both Worlds who I really thought at the time the episode aired might become a permanent crew member, certainly more so than anyone thinks Dr. Agnes Jurati is on the crew.

And we could go on and on.

Either people have forgotten how to write characters, or they just don’t care. Neither option is particularly comforting.

Next week: 7 of 9.

While we are creating alternate structures for ST:P ala @ Trent, can I just offer this one additional thought: Picard should never have met Dahj.

Instead, 7 of 9 should have come to Picard at the chateau and told him that the Romulans have a borg cube. Her android lover Dahj was just killed by Romulan agents. She thinks that Hugh might be on board the borg cube working with the Romulans, and she needs Locutus/Picard - he is her best bet get on board and get even. When they all reach the cube, they find that 7 of 9’s lover’s twin sister is sleeping with a Romulan spy. Now that’s a plot I could see Picard leave retirement for!
A A Roi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 7:16am (UTC -5)
@Philip

Lore and Data's mom didn't have any trouble with contractions.
skye francis-maidstone
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:01am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi That's my point. Do one can ever agree and what is or isn't Trek.
philadlj
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:07am (UTC -5)
I don't reflexively object to a different pace of storytelling than the mission-of-the-week nature of TNG et al. I don't even mind that the Utopian federation has fallen on particularly hard ethical times.

But as you say, if you are going to make a ten-hour movie you'd better have more than two hours of content. Picard does not, even though it should—a novelist runs the show, for crying out loud!

I too missed more Hugh as the Narek/Narissa/Soji beats were simply repeated from previous episodes, and fear Hugh may not even be back for more than a few token lines. I know this is not Star Trek: Hugh, but he's at least a far more developed character in terms of his TNG past, and the robot-sibling love triangle isn't compelling enough to justify sidelining him.

Also, I could not believe even people like *these* use "paradigm" so frequently in idle conversation. It felt like executive producers talking.

Dr. Jurati also spun her wheels as Picard's version of Tilly, who herself is a Joss Whedon-style wisecracking spunky genius character. There's something to her being the only civilian on a ship full of Starfleet vets and now a warrior monk, but she still shouts ZHAT VASH MOLE so loudly it might be a disappointment if she *wasn't* a mole.

Rios is fine, but like TNG's "The Naked Now" (which I watched immediately following this episode...quite the whiplash!) introducing different versions of your characters before the audience knows who the real character is is rarely wise, and I don't really see the point of multiple holographic versions of him. It's a neat idea, but it's in the way.

I didn't hate this episode, but I also don't think it deserves more than two stars or two and a half tops. Like the previous three entries, it has some cool moments, but is just so utterly unsatisfying in isolation.

I know ST:Picard is a commercial product *designed* to make you keep watching and, incidentally, keep paying subscription fees. I just wish it did it more opaquely. I can't shake the cynicism in what has amounted to four episodes of treacle-slow pacing, stalling, and repetition.

To borrow the grades RedLetterMedia has assigned so far (after three episodes), the visuals/production values get an A-Plus, while the "Trekness" of Picard gets a D-Minus, leading to an Average Sci-Fi TV Show grade of C-to-C-Minus.

If you want gritty "Anti-Trek" sci-fi, The Expanse is miles better. Picard feels like a glitzy late-to-the-game pretender almost wholly dependent on nostalgia.
philadlj
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:11am (UTC -5)
One more thing: ALL HAIL JERI RYAN.

"You owe me a ship" is certainly a great way to get things rolling! Can't wait to watch her take on the present-day Seven.
Booming
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:12am (UTC -5)
@skye
That is the thing. Roddenberry imagined a certain future and that is no longer there. It has a different appeal now. I watched Star Trek to see what our potential could be. How wonderful things could turn out to be. That we as a species grew up at some point. I will watch season 1 of STP and the third season of Discovery and if none of that moves me in a certain way then without bitterness I can get up an think: "Ok, this new Trek. It's not for me."
Hank
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 9:32am (UTC -5)
@philadlj: Yeah, exactly. There are other shows out there filling the niche that Picard tries to fill and they fill it way better. Trek has it's own niche, why doesn't it try to take advantage of that?

On a more general point: The "two stories in one show" could actually be quite good - if they had two truly seperate stories of wildly different tones, which inform the other story but don't directly interact. Picard rides off to save the princess, high on morals and guilt, in his usual, comtemplative style, while we, the audience, already see the mess and danger he getting himself into - the gritty, violent reality of a fallen empire. Then, slowly bring the stories together.

In essence, they'd be telling the story from two different points of views: Picard sees the galaxy as flawed but bright - his opponent, or the protagonist of the second story, sees the galaxy as falwed and utterly dark, and thats reflected in the tone, pacing and set design. You could have great scenes where the two characters see the same thing, but it LOOKS completely different. For example, Picard sees a somewhat primitive, but brightly lit town. Change PoV, and suddenly the dirt and trash in the corners is focused upon. Picard sees his opponent as desperate, dangerous but vulnerable and basically human, while he himself is brightly lit. In his opponents eye, Picard looks dangerous, his stern, rightous look becoming one of authoritarianism and lust for power. All you have to do is change the lighting slightly. Something like that. Visual storytelling.

But I guess thats too artsy.
Cody B
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 11:59am (UTC -5)
@booming
@wolfstar

Irish people are extremely proud and loyal. Having an Irish person on Trek COULD mean a lot. It’s not just people in Ireland. Look no further than Conor McGregor fights. Any person with Irish heritage in the world will be heard from those nights.
OmicronThetasDeltaPhi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
@skye francis-maidstone
"Do one can ever agree and what is or isn't Trek. "

Fair enough.

But my point is that Nu Trek does far more to create these doubts then anything that came before it, both from an in-universe perspective and the real world perspective.

Whether we choose to accept or reject these changes may be a personal choice, but the fact that Trek has undergone an unprecedented kind of transformation is an objective fact.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
For Picard to walk into Starfleet headquarters and to not be recognized by staff should be like Winston Churchill walking into parliament and having to show ID - it's a gtfo moment heh.
A A Roi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

I've worked for a lot of organizations who think nothing of having temps, the people with the least knowledge of the organization on reception desk duty.
A A Roi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetasDeltaPhi

You clearly weren't around for the reactions to The Motion Picture or the launch of TNG or of DS9. And they were right. The staging, effects, costuming and characterizations were radically different from what came before the movie, the Next Gen and DS9. People like you were in an uproar for a fair bit of time before settling down and accepting or not accepting that this was what it was going to be going forwards.
Gerontius
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
I quite like the alternative visions of how this series could have been structured. I'd definitely have watched them.

But what we've got is what we've got. I think it's better to concentrate on suggesting tweaks rather than radical reshaping. I agree Rizzo is a waste of space, and could be discarded without loss.

I think it's a mistake to get irritated at Star Trek being a long way from scientifically grounded hard science fiction. I agree the technobabble in the more recent versions has been dafter - Red Matter that produces Black Holes, and mushroom powered space travel - but it's always wise to remember what Arthur C Clarke wrote about how it is pretty impossible to distinguish between magic and sufficiently advanced technology that you can't understand.. What we expect in Star Trek is a hint that there is a technology behind the magic of holographic chambers and people getting beamed around the place, and that is what the technobabble is for.
Straight fantasy tends to dispense with trying to do that, and just says "it's a spell" (though there are examples where a kid of rationale is suggested , for example the Lord Darcy stories of Randall Garrett.

But basically Star Trek, especially this version, is closer to Tolkien than to Arthur C Clarke, and I can take that. (If they need a rationale for swords incidentally there's a off the peg one that's often been used, you have enemies with shield devices that block anything fast, so energy devices and bullets are out, and swords and knives are back in vogue.)

Maybe the powers that be should come here, not to shut things down as , Dougie suggested but to learn how they could do things better. (And foronce there, I'm not being ironic.)
Booming
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
@ A A Roi
An Ensign is not a temp. A temp has often no training, an ensign just went through four years of intense training at probably the best academy in the Federation.
A A Roi
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Nonetheless, most large organizations do not pick their best and brightest for receptionist duty.
Gerontius
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
That's not always the case in Star Trek though, Booming. Remember, Picard gave Wesley Crusher the rank without his having any training, after deciding the kid was smart. And of course because he liked his mother from way back. Mind, that never was one of his best command decisions.
Marg
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim C Thanks for the heads up and info on the novel. The more I read, including this forum, the more I appreciate ST and all its complexities.
There is a relevant ST: Short Trek called "Children of Mars."
And @Tim C: "way too young a show for me to judge...cast is strong...premise so far interesting...Picard dealing with consequences of failure..." Yes. We're only four episodes in. Cripes, it took TNG (and VOY) three seasons to gain traction.

@ Filip: "I honestly hope Narek will turn out to be conflicted about this whole business..." I agree and predict Narek will ultimately defend or even save Soji while Rizzo gets bumped off, hopefully sooner than later.

Re TNG "snuggles" and PIC pace: for me, the most comforting aspect of the episodic format of TNG was the crew working as a team to solve the problem of the week in a positive and exciting way. Where the TNG crew was up and running, PIC, as a serial, opens in the early stages of building a team, which will have to learn to work together. The process needs time. I like this slow "set-up" and just plain love being with Picard in the ST universe. It's FUN.

@Ovanpreus: I appreciate your post. I have long relied on Jammer's reviews and discussion to help me think about any given ST episode. For past series, the commentary has been respectful, engaging, and always intelligent. (I miss you, William B.) Unfortunately, the atmosphere of this PIC forum is becoming unpleasant, which is a shame because here we have a place (thanks to Jammer) to talk about the important 50+ year cultural phenomenon that is Star Trek. Let's respect the opportunity.
Drea
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
@Gerontius
"If they need a rationale for swords incidentally there's a off the peg one that's often been used, you have enemies with shield devices that block anything fast, so energy devices and bullets are out, and swords and knives are back in vogue."

I'm surprised they didn't establish something like this in episode 1, considering the long-term intention will clearly be to have Soji do wire-fu like Dahj.

Unconnected, why do Soji and Dahj have Spacey Names? The human characters all have relatively common names from contemporary Earth, and Soji and Dahj are intended to be taken as human. Lal means precious or beloved in modern Hindi, but Soji and Dahj don't have any easily identifiable meaning and aren't women's names in any language that Google turns up.
Booming
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
@ Gerontius
He wasn't a real ensign just an acting one. When he joined the academy he was a cadet.

A A Roi
That may be true but this is the main entrance of the headquarter of Starfleet. It is the most important entrance desk in Starfleet and it is just nonsense that an ensign fresh from the academy wouldn't know one of the most famous officers alive. That's like an ensign not recognizing Colin Powell. A galaxy class ship hologram is hovering directly over his head, for god's sake.
Who knows maybe it's a tradition to have a brain damaged person at that desk.
wolfstar
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
Great comments by Mal and philadlj with a lot of food for thought. And thanks to Yanks (that rhymes!) for the shout-out :)
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Sadly this one is a significant step down from last week. The problems are many, and are not restricted only to the fact that the plot is revealing itself to be stalling. Maybe like Picard said in Remembrance, the writers don't want the story to end so they're not letting it progress. More likely it's because they don't have a strong game plan and are running on the building-up momentum so much they don't know how to provide any payoff. I hope it's not this, but based on the track record of nu-Trek this is what I expect. I will note on the record that I came into this series hoping to hate it, because I intensely dislike the Kurtzman crew's entire concept of TV and writing. I was in a strange way disappointed to actually like the premiere and even more thrown by coming out of Ep 3 very optimistic. This one feels more like DISC, in that we get a plot designed as a series of ad hoc steps that seem unrelated, "first this happens - and then this! - and then this!" trying to keep us occupied with new developments but not giving any reason for their existence.

For instance, Picard needs a bodyguard why? And he needs especially to do a daring drop-in on a guarded planet, endangering his mission why? And he needs to personally endanger himself on the planet why? No reason, it's just exciting...I guess. At least they could have showed Picard as the cunning tactician had he intentionally put himself on death's door just to dare Elnor not to do anything about it. But no, it's just a deus ex machina fixing a stupid undiplomatic move.

Another problem with this episode which reminds me of DISC is the "love scenes" which feel neither like love nor like scenes. Frankly they were all boring; so boring that I was wondering if I was sleepy and not perceiving them correctly. What in the world was going on with those? Man they were a waste of time. I have barely any interest in this plot to seduce android secrets out of her, no less the antagonistic brother/sister hysterics. I mean, I still think these are good actors...but the script descends into borderline B-horror movie territory at times. I never thought I'd say it, but all the scenes on the Borg ship lacked any intensity and interest. It was like a lit-up set with people having casual chats. No thanks.

I could mention other problems but I'll skip right to the main event: the writers have jumped the shark big-time on Picard's past. For the first three eps I figured I knew what they were going for, with Picard quitting rather than taking the refugee situation into his own hands. And I think I was right in my review of Ep 3 that Raffi was apparently upset at him because of the result of the refugee situation. It had nothing whatsoever to do with classism, money, etc etc. I really don't understand this debate here that's been raging about that. In this episode the matter is further clarified and we get hit on the head with HE MADE A MISTAKE, as if it wasn't enough to leave it up to us to decide. Picard comes in with a pithy-sounding "I allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good" or something, which is a fine sentiment except that's not what happened. According to what we've been told he took a moral position not to stand by an organization that chose to allow millions to die, simply because it didn't care about them enough. Say what you like, this is not an irrational position. Then in the scene last episode where Raffi tries to get him to forget Starfleet and get ships on his own to save them, he rightly says that without Starfleet it's kinda hopeless. I guess he could have gotten a little ship and saved a few dozen people or something, but this business of him letting down an entire planet - breaking his promise - is an illogical concept and a broken plot element. They are now asking us to accept that Picard not only made a mistake, but that everyone upset at him thus far was right, and that He Is Wrong, And Now He Knows It. I see, so much for nuance. So he was supposed to remain in Starfleet, I suppose, which is also a fair position to take, maybe he would have done some good. But the argument this episode takes is that he was personally and singularly responsible to save all the Romulans, and by resigning it's all his fault. Except hold on - the Romulan senator tells him that actually his fault was to do anything at all because they could have solved it himself. Ok, so basically any action he could have chosen was wrong and cowardly, I guess. The important thing is he feels guilty about it; check.

So it appears to me that my chief complaint about Ep 3, which I otherwise liked a lot, has been turned on its head. It's not at all that Picard is held in unreasonably low regard, which appeared to be the case. On the contrary, the problem seems to be that everyone holds in in *such high regard* that they saw him as some kind of messiah; the only one to save the Romulans, the pride of the Federation, and naturally when your messiah lets you down you're going to be pissed at him. I suppose it should come as no shock that a show called Picard will hold Picard as some kind of mega-icon, but I think they've got the reasons all wrong: he was an icon in TNG because his principles meant more to him than success or survival. But here they're arguing that he's an icon *only so long as he does what people want*, and breaking off in disagreement makes him a traitor to both sides. Well I don't buy that; Picard's ethos was that each person makes his own moral choices, which you should respect. Picard even fought for the respect for cultures with stupid rules and rituals, but here we see everyone and their sister throw him under the bus for making a conscientious choice. That is crap in my book, but doubly so because Picard believes them. I do not think this is the same Picard we knew from before. As an aside, this feeling is furthered by Stewart's incessant need to be either wry, humorous, self-deprecating, or goofy in every scene. I get it, his friendship with Ian McKellan has rubbed off on him; but Jean-Luc Picard had a dignity and composure which I don't see here. He's sort of just there to have a good time, which doesn't help with my confusion about what I'm supposed to make of this guy who stood by his principles (in his opinion) and was thrown to the fire for it.

So yeah, I'm not a fan of this turn of theirs in trying to portray Picard has having let down the galaxy by resigning. I mean, even if it wasn't his best move, this all feels very wrong insofar as his personal presence in Starfleet seems to be treated as more important than Starfleet itself. His role was always to represent their ethics and their goals; it was about humanity, not about him becoming a personal promiser of salvation for an entire people. Since when would it be ok for a Captain to make personal promises - using Starfleet's ships and personnel - to an alien people? This feels like Captain Garth territory, albeit with altruistic instead of tyrannical shades. But the mechanism is the same: great man thinks his power is so almighty he can decide for the Federation how things should be. Well that's not Picard, and I don't know why they wrote him that way here.

I'm mention one other side quibble, which is that I'm also sick of shows making basically direct references to current U.S. issues (like DISC in making the Klingons Trumpers). Here we have a scene on the planet where Picard basically says in no uncertain terms that this was all about prejudice and fear of refugees, and that the Federation has let everyone down. Is it me, or is this a blatant slam against the U.S. under Trump and its policies about immigration? Granted, hate those policies all you like, but why is it figuring in Trek? And if they decided this *was* relevant in 2385, why was it? What happened to turn Starfleet command into alien-haters? We got a good story of this sort in ST: VI, with the fall of the Iron Curtain sort of happening in that film, with decades of war and fear leading up to a part of Starfleet fearing the Klingons and wanting them to die. But here it's not a part of Starfleet, *it is Starfleet*. In fact, apparently everyone except Picard. How did this happen, and why does it go without explanation? This is especially needful since we barely even know what timeline we're in. While it's not the make-it-or-break-it issue in the plot, it was actually the single moment where I groaned and disliked the writer for including it. Just don't; please leave our stupid politics out of this and give us something about the future.

One quick question: did anyone else notice that the plot felt a whole lot like levels in an RPG? And that they're building up a party, or a Fellowship of the Ring, or something? And did the space battle feel to anyone else like Wing Commander Privateer? And did anyone else feel that the ship combat made little visual sense and looked like it was directed by a child? The whole episode felt vaguely immature and also over-edited, with too much music in places and wrong pace and editing.

I guess in conclusion this was by far my least favorite episode.
Trek noir
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 4:46am (UTC -5)
At least there’s a new episode to complain about now
Andrew
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:07am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

"For instance, Picard needs a bodyguard why?"

I had the same thought, but it kind of makes sense when you think about the Zhat Vash attacks he's been through and witnessed in the previous episodes.
Jason R.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:52am (UTC -5)
Peter on the topic of space battles let me say I haven't been able to even follow them in any Trek production since Nemesis.

This issue has been plaguing me with these shows. Like I literally didn't even know what I was watching in the Battle of the Binary Stars to use a recent example. I couldn't even figure out what ships were Klingon and what ships were starfleet. I was just lost during every CGI shot trying to guess what was happening, who was destroying who, which way the battle was going.

This latest battle was not confusing in the sense that I did know who was firing at who (there were only three ships after all) but I still got this muddy grey blurriness that made it hard to understand what I was seeing. The battle didn't make any visual sense or convey anything to me. I might as well have been watching some screensaver or CGI demo.

I am not sure if this is really a storytelling problem, an effects problem or both.

On the topic of Picard being blamed for what happened after his resignation, I will agree that the hate he is receiving in these episodes is just over the top and unjustified.

But if I were to explain it in a far better way than the show has done, I'd say this. We have seen throughout Trek that Starfleet Admirals are like mini emperors in the kind of personal authority and resources they have at their disposal. And Picard would have presumably been one of the most influential.

Even the Enterprise D alone could have transported 10,000 people or something as the Galaxy Class ships were huge. Someone like Picard, we have to presume, could have marshalled multiple ships just on his own personal authority without even needing Starfleet's approval. He could have picked up the phone and called in Captain Geordi, Captain Beverly, Admiral Riker and who knows how many others and evacuated 100,000 refugees probably!

I said before he should have crawled back to Starfleet and gotten reinstated - but even without being reinstated, do we honestly believe he could not have just beamed back to his ship and his crew would not have followed him? He's Jean Luc Picard!

So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested.

For Picard to have just quit Starfleet and retired was a huge moral failure on his part. He should feel guilty for that.

Now would the Picard we knew have just given up? That is a stretch and something that would require a big leap from what we saw before. Meanwhile, it still doesn't come close to explaining the hatred he has been getting from Romulan refugees that he personally did save!

I do feel there is a good story buried under alot of rubbish. I feel like with just some simple changes this could have been alot more compelling. As of right now though, the story is a bit of a mess.
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.,

"So the idea that he was powerless to do anything without Starfleet support is nonsense. He may not have been able to evacuate every refugee, but he could have almost certainly evacuated more than the mere handful you suggested."

If you mean off-the-books power, then sure, Picard had it. What I meant was that sticking within Starfleet rules he'd have had no power. But yes, he could have pulled a Kirk and just done whatever he wanted anyhow, stealing/using ships and crew who he'd knew would follow him. But it would have definitely been against Starfleet wishes, as they had definitively ruled against doing this. That would essentially be mass piracy then, though, which granted he could have done if the refugee situation was more important than any other consideration. But remember that Picard was the champion of doing things within the rules. My favorite example of this was Captain Maxwell in The Wounded, where the Cardassians were *clearly* violating the treaty and building up, and Picard could not accept doing anything outside of the treaty terms. This would come up later in Chain of Command, and it has always been my contention that Picard would never have done what Jellico did in mining the nebula. I believe it took a certain kind of Captain to not care about treaty terms or diplomacy and to just "get it done." I think Picard would have shied away from that, just as I think it's logical that he would shy away from going renegade to gather a refugee-saving force. That's just not who he was, not his values. Walking away may seem lousy, I guess, but I think being a pirate would have offended his values even more. And this has always been Section 31's point: standing by absolute values is no good when messy work is required. Picard would disagree (as Bashir did), and that's why you need more than one kind of Captain out there.

And this brings up the main question: where were all the other Captains during thing? No conscientious objectors? Picard is the only good man in Starfleet, the rest are cronies? This is really what they're giving off here, and I don't like it. Their fundamental premise is that Picard and Picard alone could save the Romulans, because the rest of the Federation I guess is morally corrupt. And this is to say nothing of what is supposed to be a civilian oversight of Starfleet. Should I really believe the Vulcans did nothing to try to save the Romulans? They don't answer to Starfleet Command. Anyhow the whole situation as it's painted is silly, so it's almost not even possible to get into whether or not Picard did the right thing. How do we address a dilemma that occurs in a nonsensical scenario: the whole good of the universe rests on Picard's shoulders, should he go rogue to save it or just quit to uphold his principles? It's not a good question on a basic level. There might have been a good question to ask about him, but this wasn't it.
Booming
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:14am (UTC -5)
It's going against Borg so bringing a sharp something is maybe not a bad idea. I guess a machine gun would be even more effective against Borg. Hmmm
Jason R.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Peter the Wounded is a bad example because Picard's decision to go against Maxwell was about saving lives and preventing a war. He didn't just turn a blind eye to Cardassian duplicity for the sake of following rules.

His actions in First Contact and Insurrection alone show he would disobey direct orders if the cause was just and lives were at stake.

I am not even sure he would need to have gone "pirate" to do what I suggested. Heck in TNG if the Enterprise just stumbled on this kind of situation with a ship or a planet there is no reason to believe Picard as a Captain (to say nothing of an Admiral) could not have just started evacuating people, subject to the Prime Directive.

You are assuming Starfleet ordered him expressly to do nothing but that is not what we were told. They simply cancelled the official mass evacuation and refused to gather more resources to that end. There is no indication that he was under express orders not to engage in any evacuation. Like if Captain Laforge is out doing a stellar survey mapping a nebula or something, Starfleet would forbid him from flying over to Romulus and picking up a few thousand refugees to get them out of the path of a Supernova??
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.

Those are good questions, and we can't really address them because we don't know. All we know is a meeting that occurred off-camera caused Picard to feel so strongly about it that he said "this is not my Starfleet" and threatened to quit. This was the same Picard as we saw in Insurrection, so clearly something bugged him enough to do that. Or at least that's what I'm gathering. The message here seems to be something like that even if they were acting poorly he should have stayed in the organization if nothing else to be a voice of reason at the table. But whatever decision they made it seems they're portraying it as throwing all of the Romulans under the bus. Let's face it: talking about whether Geordi could have helped is a bit beside the point, in that what they're clearly going for here is a refugee analogy where if the big government doesn't do it then it doesn't get done. Yes, on a literal level there are perhaps many other ways to get things done, but this is the story they want to tell, and I don't think it's logical.

Regarding The Wounded vs Insurrection/FC, I suppose this is a matter of interpretation but with Insurrection we learned that a single Starfleet admiral had gone rogue, as they seemingly scrapped the script where all of Starfleet went bad. In FC it's because Picard had information Starfleet lacked that could save them. But I agree that he is shown to do the right thing even when Starfleet makes a mistake on occasion, but I feel like those occasions are exceptional. And I do personally believe that a Picardian Federation would not have prevented the Cardassian invasion planned in Chain of Command, that Captain Maxwell was trying to prevent.

But I guess this all skirts around the issue of what Captains could or could not do to help the Romulans. I don't think the writers thought as much about it as we are; they simply wrote that help for them was cancelled, and Picard had to personally choose whether to do it alone, and he didn't. I suppose a modern analogy would be whether Bill Gates could save a bunch of refugees even if the U.S. government said they could't come to America. Should Gates be hiding in obscurity over the shame of not having done so? Maybe, I guess. We could always argue that rich or powerful people *could* be out there risking it all to get refugees somewhere safe. And this isn't even an outrageous argument, but it's a different matter for it to be an open and shut case that he was WRONG and should be ashamed.
Quinalla
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
I am really enjoying this series, even the slow pace honestly, except for two things:
1. The "romance" - it is like the series wants this to be more than it is? I dunno, the whole thing is annoying and needs way less time spent on it.
2. Rizzo playing as an EVIL MAX VILLAIN that belongs in another TV show/movie and just feels way off here. The incest vibes are obnoxious too, though at least somewhat interesting since it is a female character wielding sexual power over a male character, but that's all I can say for it...

More Picard - everything about his story has been enjoyable even the more mediocre bits, More Hugh, more syths, more merry band of misits including the new addition of 7, more romulans other than the wonder twins as they are both SUPER annoying, especially Rizzo. Until we are going to learn more about their motivations, keep them to a minimum.
skye francis-maidstone
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Agreed. I feel like the brother and sister thing is trying way too hard be Jamie and Cersei Lannister. She even talks very much like her. Their whole plot is dull.

I don't mind him and the data daughter so much though. Even the sliding scene was tolerable. I guess they haven't installed a holosuite on the cube so maybe sliding on wet floors will have to do.
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
" I guess they haven't installed a holosuite on the cube so maybe sliding on wet floors will have to do."

Maybe what was so exciting was how much the music played every time they slid, like it was a private discoteque or something. No wonder he likes it so much, there's a whole orchestra in those Borg walls. Must be a music saturation chamber nearby.
Cenotaph
Thu, Feb 20, 2020, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
This tired old racism narrative is dragged out again, are there no more interesting themes to explore? No because this is current day identity politics at play and Star Trek is used as the vehicle to make a point. Yaawn!
Latex Zebra
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 2:11am (UTC -5)
Slow episode but not half as bad the whingers on here make it out to be. The amount of poor TNG or Voyager episodes you had to wade through to get some decent ones, even Picard's weak episodes are still watchable.
SlackerInc
Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
The Rizzo stuff is definitely cheesy, but I actually enjoyed the Narek/Soji interaction, including the “Borg ritual”.

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