Star Trek: Picard

"The Impossible Box"

3.5 stars

Air date: 2/27/2020
Written by Nick Zayas
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

What a difference a week makes.

After the dour and trope-ridden experience that was "Stardust City Rag" last week, "The Impossible Box" is nothing short of a series turnaround. Here is a story with purpose; characters with motivation; a script with curiosity and nuance; action with genuine danger and suspense; cinematic sequences of evocative atmosphere; moments of humanity and emotion; and mysteries and puzzles that are actually interesting. Oh, and a thematic point about the salvation of ex-Borg souls that speaks directly to Picard. Welcome back, Star Trek.

Speaking to the overarching tendencies of this series, it's perhaps not the most reassuring sign that I kept dreading all the goodwill was going to suddenly evaporate in a final scene featuring some dopey twist ending (I was prepared to go on a rampage over, say, Hugh suddenly betraying Picard or stabbing Soji or some nonsense), but I'm happy to report that such a thing never happens. This story plays straight and gimmick-free to the end and is all the better for it.

Having tracked Soji to the Artifact (aka, the derelict Borg cube), Picard finds he must once again face his biggest nemesis — reliving the past horrors of Borg assimilation and again confronting that permanent psychological damage.

But first, we get a fun scene that allows Raffi to showcase her usefulness among this motley crew, by pressuring an old friend from Starfleet into granting Picard diplomatic access to the Artifact. The way she does this, by boxing in her friend and giving her no real choice but to pull the strings, basically destroys an old and reliable friendship, which sends Raffi into another tailspin of depressed drinking and drug use. While I feel the writers continue to pile on when it comes to Raffi and her misery, I liked that this episode dealt with it in a sympathetic and straightforward way, without the overwrought melodrama that has typified many of her most important scenes. The quiet scene with Rios in Raffi's quarters — where she reveals to him that she has a son — reveals an arms-length friendship that dates back years, and for both of them may be one of the few ongoing relationships they have. Loners be lonely.

Aboard the Artifact, Picard's terror and disorientation is palpable, and the flashes of images and sounds effectively showcase the psychosomatic effect being aboard a Borg ship has on him. This works so well because it's a core piece of the character and his mental state, being revisited all these years later in a new way. (There are echoes of First Contact here, with Picard talking bitterly and angrily about what the Borg represent before boarding the ship.) This mission is important to him, and the fact that he is willing to take on this obviously taxing strain on his psyche speaks to that.

Picard is reunited with Hugh, and their dialogue and shared warmth is one of the best things about this episode. Finally, we have some emotionally resonant humanity brought back into this series, and in a way that ties legitimately into TNG history while telling a new story. (And finally there's someone who's not annoyed with Picard because he's so old and out of touch!)

The real thematic highlight here is watching Picard realize what Hugh is doing as the director of the reclamation project — giving former Borg drones new lives and restoring their humanity, like what happened for Hugh and Picard alike. Hugh's comment that the Artifact is no longer a Borg cube, and the way Picard is able to experience it that way after his earlier and understandably bitter tirade, makes for some really great stuff. I found this sequence genuinely poignant in a way rarely seen in modern TV Trek (I'm looking at you, Discovery), because it's all about connecting to the humanistic ethos of Star Trek. This episode has a fundamental understanding of both the Borg and Picard that proves essential and makes the story work emotionally and intellectually. (It's reassuring that the Borg cube — aside from providing the setting for Narek's plot to get information from Soji — turns out to be used for some bigger ideas, rather than just a plot machine arising from one of the most popular elements of Trek.)

Speaking of Narek and Soji, this episode moves their storyline along to its conclusion in a way that is far more engaging than the previous episodes' wheel-spinning had me prepared for. The "impossible box" at the heart of the episode that's needing to be opened is really a psychological enclosure lying deep within Soji's subconscious as a synthetic being who was programmed to believe she was real but is beginning to uncover evidence that indicates otherwise. She has recurring dreams of a childhood she doesn't realize she never had. In one compelling sequence, she realizes every possession she owns is only 37 months old, proving that her entire life is a fabrication. Isa Briones sells the terror of this realization.

Meanwhile, Narek's attempts to guide Soji through the journey of her subconscious reveals some depth. He likens the task to that of solving a difficult puzzle where the reward is overcoming the challenge of solving it. And if he's still only doing this to complete his objective, it's interesting to see that he's at least conflicted about killing Soji, even as he goes through with the attempt anyway. (And if Narissa still sucks as a one-dimensional villain, the episode at least seems to realize it by validating Narek's more measured approach while he mocks her lack of patience.)

This all comes together in a final act where Narek solves his puzzle to learn the whereabouts of the other synths, and Soji comes to realize her true nature, then Narek attempts to kill her with a poison gas. Soji's self-preservation programming kicks in and gives her the super-strength needed to escape, just as Picard and Hugh come to her aid to help her escape the Artifact. As action goes, this is not groundbreaking, but it works well because the character stakes are involving.

Where last week's cumulative injection of bile eventually felt toxic and repellent, this week's examples of characters working problems and facing psychological crises in human ways proved refreshing, and they cumulatively add up to the best episode of Picard so far. Let's hope this represents a turning point in the series for the better.

Some other thoughts:

  • Excellent production design and visuals aboard the Borg ship. Very cool.
  • It would've been nice to have Seven for this episode to see what it could've meant for her character. Thematically, it would've all connected.
  • Elnor the bodyguard again plays the part of "the kid" and "a fish out of water" in low-key, jokey ways. It's more of a character sketch than a full character, but it provides some welcome levity.
  • It may be too soon for this, but assuming the synth colony that's the object of Narek's search doesn't want to be found (very possibly a wrong assumption on my part), why program Soji with memories of its real location?
  • Agnes sleeps with Rios, as a way of temporarily distracting her from the pain of having murdered Maddox (which none of the other characters know she was responsible for). This was one of the few ho-hum things that I could've done without. It just doesn't feel especially earned or necessary.
  • And speaking of Agnes, the dark secret she is carrying — not the murder itself, but why she felt she had to murder someone she both loved and admired, based on what she knows, and which Maddox didn't know, and which she wished she didn't know — has an impossibly high bar to clear to feel justified and narratively satisfying. This feels like the writers having painted themselves into a corner, but we shall see.
  • Picard and Soji escape the Artifact with long-range teleportation technology the Borg assimilated from the Sikarians, who were the people from Voyager's "Prime Factors."
  • The posting of this review happens on the 25th anniversary of the Jammer's Reviews website (under all its various names), which is something. I'll post a separate article to mark the occasion soon.

Previous episode: Stardust City Rag
Next episode: Nepenthe

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274 comments on this review

Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 3:20am (UTC -5)
Interesting callback to Voyager (Season 1 - Prime Factors). The spatial trajector that Hugh used to send Picard and Soji away was a piece of technology that Voyager attempted to acquire from Sikaris but couldn't because of the Prime Directive (and tech incompatibilites with Starfleet systems). The Sikarians were a somewhat hedonistic people who craved new experiences and especially new stories.

I suppose assimilation would make for an interesting story.
wolfstar
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 3:51am (UTC -5)
Key plot point of Prime Factors was that the spatial trajector could only be used on or near the planet itself, as the signal was massively amplified by the planet's tetrahedral quartz mantle, facilitating transportation over great distances.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 3:53am (UTC -5)
Another callback I noticed on the rewatch--when Soji searches her quarters for evidence of her past, she opens a plastic lunchbox full of photographs. The plastic lunchbox has a picture on the front, with the title "The Adventures of Flotter".

A lot of Voyager callbacks for a show that's a TNG follow-up.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 4:00am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar

Plot point definitely, but not necessarily a plot hole with enough tech hand waiving. It's conceivable that the Borg was able to overcome the quartz mantle requirement and was able to use artifical means to amplify, focus the field, and fold space. Folded space transport has made multiple appearances throughout Trek canon, though it was usually mentioned with the caveat that the method was harmful to living tissue.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 4:03am (UTC -5)
Also, that Gath character who denied Voyager access to the trajector always struck me as smug and creepy, so a tiny part of me was happy to hear they were assimilated. A tiny part.
grey cat
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 4:40am (UTC -5)
This is not Star Trek.

Just wanted to be the first to say that even if it's drivel.

Looking forward to watching it in 12 hours or so when it's released here.
Brian
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:12am (UTC -5)
It still isn't Star Trek but it's better than the last episode. But that isn't hard.
Remco_Spock_Helmet
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:25am (UTC -5)
Of course it's Star Trek, you anhedonics.
Booming
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:54am (UTC -5)
@Remco
Dukat said that to Weyoun. What did Weyoun respond: You think I'm incapable of experiencing joy because I'm cautious.
Plus Shortly afterwards Dukat went crazy.
So good luck.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:05am (UTC -5)
Daniel - nice spot with the Sikarians. I knew I'd heard the name before, just couldn't recall where.

Bullet point thoughts on the episode:

* Why the hell hasn't anybody consulted the EMH on what happened to Maddox? Why is Picard taking Jurati's word for it when she's not a medical doctor? Methinks Raffi would be way more suspicious, but speaking of...

* Why is Raffi's alcoholism being played for humour? Weird choice, show. However, as a way of sidelining her from looking too closely into Jurati's obvious shadiness, I guess having her in a drunken stupor works as well as any other reason. I would really like to see a redemptive arc for her, though. I feel like with only four episodes left in this first season, we don't have time for a satisfactory one.

* The Narek/Soji stuff actually interested me this week, perhaps because it was all finally coming to a head. Unlike his boringly caricatured dominatrix sister, Narek interested me in the manner of the best spy dramas, and kept me guessing where his loyalties were ultimately going to lie. (Gee, his choice of assassination method was pretty Bond villain stupid though. Why not just beam her into space instead of relying on a slow-acting gimmick? Nitpick, nitpick...)

* Speaking of his boring sister, she really does seem to be the worst spy ever. How did she get so far in her career when she's clearly so dumb? (I think it's because the script said so.)

* it's a shame Agnes is Evil now, because I really like Alison Pill's performance. Everything she said to Rios played as truthful; she just ommitted that she's a crazed murderer.

* It was nice to have Picard finally encounter some people who don't immediately line up to kick him in the balls for his past mistakes. That Starfleet captain Raffi contacted was appropriately impressed by the name drop, and Hugh was very pleasantly happy to help in any way possible.

* Elnor is just the best. "Character who ignores decorum and thinks out loud" is always an amusing type to me.

I enjoyed the episode! Not as much as "Stardust City Rag", but it's nice that they finally seem to have some momentum.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:40am (UTC -5)
@Tim C

From the tie-in book, which so far has not conflicted with the stuff we're learning with each successive episode, Jurati is actually a medical doctor by training, and did her post-doc work at Daystrom to cross-train as a synth researcher.

I am a little heartbroken for her as a character, however. Unless there's something wacky going on like the Maddox they had was a synth replicant instead of the real person, I can't see of any way she could ever be fully redeemed. It's a murder of a kind that's quite different from Seven's revenge killing.

The Raffi and alcohol/drugs thing I don't think tonally was handled the best way possible--I think that's more direction than the writing. I think it was written to show that she relapsed at abit, but that despite being a bit incapacitated, she was still able to do her job incredibly well and snag that diplomatic letter. Picard clapping and then leaving her alone to stumble back to her quarters just felt odd. If he was trying to make amends with her, he should've been the one to see her to bed instead of Rios.

At first, I thought Picard's fearful reaction to being on the Artifact seemed out of place, but then I realized he hadn't been on a cube since he was rescued as Locutus. His last contact with the Borg was in First Contact, but he had the benefit of being on his own ship, and all of the familiarity and comfort that that engendered.
Rimmit
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Something that I don’t quite understand and maybe I missed it. Why couldn’t Picard and Soji just beam off the ship? Initially I thought maybe they edited a scene where they explained that but then Elnor beamed over so clearly the transporters were working. Did I miss a line somewhere explaining this?
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:59am (UTC -5)
I wish we could edit our own posts, but I guess when the platform originated in the 90's it's not easy to retrofit.

I forgot to add on the Raffi scene--the thing that seemed most disjointed was actually the Star Trek fanfare that closed out the scene. Dramatic, yes. Well-acted, yes. Solved the problem and advanced the plot, yes. But the content of the scene, the laying bare of one's flaws and vices probably wasn't the best venue to apply a sound cue that evoked the traditions of Star Trek. This one I'll blame on post-production, and the limited library of music cues the sound director was working with. Also, poor judgement.

@Rimmit

Valid point. They could've beamed back, I suppose, but it looks like from the previews of the next episode they're going to address the matter. (There's a slight flash frame of Narek in some sort of shuttlecraft) My guess is that La Sirena is too close to the cube and no match for all of the Romulan patrol ships that are guarding it.
I was a little more confused as to how Elnor was able to beam himself over to Picard's position on the cube. Didn't know the Quwat Milat trained the nuns on how to use Federation transporters and targeting scanners.
Drea
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Wow. This was riveting.

These people are an absolute mess. And they just did their first right thing. That's why we get the Trek music cue for drunken Raffi pulling in a favor: her upward trajectory starts here, helping this rescue when she's accepted she's not getting her family back--and Rios taking her bottle.

We're in this for the long game. This show isn't writing its characters for one season. Narek, Jurati, and the rest won't redeem themselves by season's end. Maybe they never will, or can.

But Jurati in her self-loathing sought out someone decent at his core. She'll come clean. Narek's set on an arc to change loyalties. Elnor has purpose. Hugh sacrifices his safety to help Soji. Soji confronts painful truths about herself--and our other characters' struggles to do the same underscore how courageous that is.

And Picard? Picard is finally meeting old friends. Hugh, and next Riker. He needs them to be the man he can be. We're watching people who have slipped from ideals claw toward the light.

Rizzo had her first not-bad scene. I don't mean her dialogue about the puzzle box; that could be cut like everything else prior. If we introduce the character during the meditation scene, and pretend the rest doesn't exist, she's... fine.

Our story has moved forward in a significant way. This is some of the best Trek has ever been in a first season.
Milqueodt
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:02am (UTC -5)
I do not sense an anhedonic vibe here. The people who rip this show seem to derive great pleasure from doing so, regardless of their overall level of circumspection.

So, to understand what Star Trek is, onr must not only be a metaphysician, a philosopher, a curator of "The Orville" trivia. One must also be incapable of going "crazy." (Nice sentiment about mental illness). Tall order
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:04am (UTC -5)
Damn. That was good. Like good in an unqualified sense of the word. And I'm someone who thought the beginning of the season was flawed, and the last episode was a stinker.

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

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

Four stars. Better than anything in Kurtzman Trek yet.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 9:18am (UTC -5)
You'd think that with all of the other holograms, there'd be an emergency counselor hologram in the system somewhere that's avoided and loathed by Rios.
Trent
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 9:42am (UTC -5)
This episode begins with yet another flashback. Most good writers will tell you that flashbacks are a lazy device which kills the flow of a story, and which generally exist because the author couldn't find another way of conveying exposition.

In "Picard" these flashbacks also epitomize Kurtzman's approach to writing. His Mystery Box plots are all about withholding information, teasing and shocks. This leads to jagged, fragmented narratives - little bits of disconnected morsels of plot - and constant exposition and infodumps. Characters are constantly explaining where they are now going, and why they are going there, and explaining the latest new morsel of information which exists to yank the plot in yet another non sequitur-like tangent.

Like no season of "Discovery" could focus on one idea long enough, Picard jumps from synths to Romulan refugees to Federation conspiracies to Borgs like an ADD-inflicted goldfish. Nothing is given a chance to develop gravity or weight.

In this episode Picard has a phony outburst when someone trivializes the Borg. In the next scene Jurati initiates sex with Rios after murdering Maddox. This is after a last episode recap in which Raffi's son tells his mother that it "totally sucked to be your son" (nobody in this show sounds like they're from the far future). In the next scene, the Slightly Incestuous Romulan Spy asks her brother if "he's making progress?". "I'm making progress," he replies. "You are in love with her!" she snaps. "In love with it! A program! A machine!"

The show is so top-heavy with subplots you just have to laugh. And it goes about these subplots in very obvious ways; consider the Spy's literal Mystery Box toy ("Patience! You have to put the pieces in the right place!") which literally pops out a girl.

Still this episode has many great scenes, and is IMO the most interesting episode since the show's first two.

A moment where Picard trawls through a computer database and confronts images of Locutus is good. There's also a scene where the Romulan Spies discuss synths developing dreams as a means of denying and/or reconciling their true natures.

Also cool is a scene in which we learn that a synth's call to her mom always lasts 70 seconds, hinting at secret shutdown mechanisms. Later, in a pair of good scenes, the robot-girl has a meltdown and then confronts that fact that she's a synth. Unfortunately this has little dramatic effect, her nature having been long spoiled and/or repeatedly alluded to.

Also sabotaged is Picard's approach to the Borg cube, a sequence that should be huge and momentous and filled with horror. Instead, the cube feels like a ruined revelation. You get the feeling that this show takes rich material and structures and lays it all out improperly, the show's messy arc constantly self-sabotaging its dramatic weight.

Regardless, Picard approaches the Borg cube. This approach is begrudgingly sanctioned by Starfleet thanks to some conmanship by Raffi, a scene which others seemed to like but which I found too cutsey and snarky for Trek (also silly is Raffi's bumbling about the ship with space-weed and countless bottles of booze; too heavyhanded).

On the cube, we get more good stuff. Hugh and Picard browse the Borg catacombs, and one of the show's best ideas - the Romulan's rehabilitating ex Borg - is touched upon. Haters of the last episode will be relieved by some of this stuff ("You're doing good work, Hugh!"), though one imagines newcomers to Trek will find this all baffling and incomprehensible. Indeed, Kurtzman Trek as a whole seems strictly for Massive Fanboys only, far too wild for casual viewers.

The episode closes with its obligatory action sequence. Our Space Elf hero is a bit cheesy here, and the action unfolds a bit too neatly, but it generates some excitement. The show's halfway point pivot from Romulan Refugee Crisis to Borg Armageddon reminds me of Disco's pivot from Klingon War to Mirror Universe (and Red Signals to Control), a pivot which seems Kurtzman's stock in trade. A better writer would have balanced this somehow, perhaps by significantly including the Borg in the pilot (perhaps with the Borg causing the Romulan supernova).
Tommy D.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Before the usual suspects show up.

That was pretty good. I think the best episode of the show so far.
Bold Helmsman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:16am (UTC -5)
@Milqueodt

Rather than pleasure, it's more like reputation. By slamming the show each week, they prove that they are Real Trekkies™.
Wainscoting
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:28am (UTC -5)
I genuinely enjoyed those moments between Picard and Hugh. When they interacted there was none of the passive aggressive snark or vacuous, tropey melodrama; just a calm, rational discussion between two good people with implicit trust in the motivations of the other. There are perhaps slight liberties taken concerning the depth of their relationship (as with Data, Geordi was Hugh's main contact and friend onboard the Enterprise as Picard learned to tolerate him from a certain emotional distance) but it effectively delivered some exposition about the 'ex-b' community, which for me is the most narratively interesting fragment produced by STP's patchy efforts at world building. I slowed down from 1.5x speed for that whole sequence. It was nice.

Then one of our heroes coldly murders three security guards from behind by hacking into their necks with a samurai sword, despite their having clearly announced an intent to apprehend rather than attack the 3 ostensible criminals. Picard chides him for not staying on the ship and then chuckles gratefully at his homicidal friend's forthright reply. Ah, the magic's gone again.

Hugh was also being threatened with a knife in the next episode's preview. Yay.
Richard James
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:29am (UTC -5)
I'm on the fence with this episode - mainly because it had so many elements that should be interesting, but the execution was pretty, well - dull. Picard meeting the Borg, Soji discovering who she is - all of these are decent enough and actually move the story along, but I couldn't help feel empty by it all.

This series really wants us to 'feel' over 'think', that much is obvious. Rather than exploring the philosophical or moral implications of synthetic life, we get Soji's personal, emotional struggle. That's fine, and perfectly valid for a story, but if that's the route they follow then the series stands or falls on how convincing that dramatic arc is and in this Star Trek Picard seems to be failing. Raffi's alcoholism, Picard's stress being back on a cube, Jurati's guilt - all of them are high on the drama but seem hollow, as if the writers never really considered how these arcs might unfold. We get callbacks to the 'ideas' of previous ST series, but they just echo - nothing more.

Even Picard seems like a 2-dimensional version of the character. He says the same lines and talks about federation values and how the borg are evil, but it has none of the intelligence underpinning the previous series. STP wants us to feel, unfortunately the only thing I'm feeling is a sense of apathy.
Trent
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:53am (UTC -5)
Subtle time-travel breadcrumb in this episode. The announcer when Picard enters the bedroom with Hugh says: "Sectors 5-8 are temporarily closed due to detected chronometric activity."
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:18am (UTC -5)
@Richard James.

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

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

Everyone but Rios and Elnor gets a solid plotline which reinforces common themes. Rios isn't because he's basically just a sounding board for the woes of Jurati and Raffi. Elnor isn't because - well - he seems to be someone who is fairly comfortable with who and what he is now that he's not cooped up on a planet any longer.
Chrome
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -5)
A slow burner that tells a fairly effective story about Soji's realizations about herself, and Narek's methods for harvesting Soji's knowledge. Luckily this episode does move the plot forward, by explaining that the planet where Soji was built is trapped in her memories. Narek then handily finds the location using his methods of dream reenactment to get a picture of Soji's real homeworld.

Like others, I enjoyed the tan zhekran ("impossible box") metaphor. There's also a cultural reference with the box because it resembles a Rubik's Cube, which was a brain-busting puzzle toy popular during TNG's original airing. One might even say there's a meta-criticism involving "mystery boxes" and Kurtzman is comparing critics to the impatient Rizzos who are unwilling to patiently enjoy a game and learn answers. But, I kid, I kid.

I think the parts with Picard and Hugh were the strongest. It actually felt like TNG for a second there. I kind of wish they could get rid of all these twists and turns that accompany serialized television and just have these two hash out a good hour long episode together.

Elnor is kind of fun here, but the teasing of his death got a tad ridiculous. I mean, the show doesn't make any explanation as to why Elnor can't just get in the spatial trajector with Picard and Soji. Well I know why: they want a cool action scene next episode - but I think the in-universe reason needs at least some lip service. These missing details are what fuel fan critiques each week.

Speaking of which, The AV Club review had some interesting commentary on "This is isn't Star Trek" criticism; basically it's not effective because franchises by definition change to meet the demands of the audience of the time. Conversely, franchises that stay the same are the ones that tend to die off. I can think of many examples of this like Tim Burton's Batman movies being nothing like the 60s TV series and the Chris Nolan series being its own thing entirely. For better or worse, Star Trek is a huge franchise and it's going to keep changing to be profitable no matter how much we resist that change.

Incidentally, ENT and VOY don't feel like Star Trek to me but hey, not really much I can do about it - except not watch them. :-)
Bold Helmsman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:33am (UTC -5)
@Chrome

Hearing something like that from Zack Handlen of all people is what makes it all the more remarkable.
ZachAJ
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome

The impossible box / tan zhekran also reminds me of the device in Nemesis used to unleash thalaron radiation in the Romulan Senate. At least the slow moving opening sequence, if not the puzzle :-)

Anyone else feel that? I am impressed with the deep Trek fan service in this series, very subtle.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Daniel, you have a much better memory for the little things than I do. I'd forgotten that Agnes was a medical doctor by training. (Then again in my defence I blitzed "The Last Best Hope" in one long evening, heh.)

However, it hasn't been brought up in the show unless I'm forgetting something else, and if I couldn't remember it as someone who's actually read the tie-in media, I don't know what a regular audience member is supposed to think when the robot expert starts rattling off medical stuff.

It's not a huge sticking point for me, but it did break me out of the story in those opening minutes.
Dave in MN
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
I watched it last night and half the detail already evaporated.

Del Arco did a great job as Hugh.

Picard having flashbacks and almost falling as a result was silly: this isn't how repressed memory works.

Raffi temporarily sobering up to get "JL" credentials was well acted but makes no sense when the rest of the scene she was portrayed as a stumbling drunk.

Soji and Narek's scenes were dumb, but at least the plot moved forward somewhat. Still, Romulans don't have secret names, so why didn't Soji question that?

I'll have to rewatch it to refresh myself on the unmemorable stuff, but it seemed like 2.5 star episode on first watch.
Brian L
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
this is a good episode of ST:P, but IMO not a good piece of art or storytelling. I guess at this point I have to admit that I just don't believe calling Soji a "synth" makes any sense. She is a flesh-and-blood human who experiences the entire range of normal human emotions perfectly well, who just so happens to have a good memory and is pretty strong and good at martial arts.

We are being way too loose with who we label "synths". Data was a synth. It was very obvious that he was not a flesh-and-blood human, but instead a very advanced machine designed to look like one. New-BSG made the same error with the new Cylons. Why do people think its so compelling to be told that a human is in fact "not really" a human, but in fact a "synth". But there isn't anything about them that would suggest that, not even close. It is entirely conceptual and just seems rather inconsequential to me.

"It's like they're a human but in reality they're not, they're a synth!"

Well, what IS that? What does that MEAN? If they are made of flesh and blood, and experience the full array of human emotions, but are just a little stronger and with better memory, then THEY ARE human.

This is why I appreciated when classic trek did the "augments". They didn't try to pretend they weren't human. In fact, that was the whole point, that they WERE human, just modified, broken, augmented, but HUMAN.

I'm just not buying it anymore, the whole narrative of "synths" that are indistinguishable from humanoids, who have ultimate power and can destroy the universe. I'm sorry but the premise to me doesn't make any sense. I know some people find these types of questions compelling, and I can see how it leads to a discussion of what makes us who we are, but for me, it doesn't really do that. At least not anymore. It holds back the narrative and the stories. We are constantly stuck on this beat of "well what is she?" and "what is real?"

Can we just have a show where everyone is real, everyone is alive, and just tell good stories about them? And if there is synthetic life being toyed with, make it...grounded in reality a bit more? Like even Data was a huge stretch for me. A very rewarding stretch, and an essential part of the stories, but his existence was pushing the boundaries of what I could believe in.

I mean, we are machines, biological machines, but we inhabit a physical body with physical processes. We are all "synths". What is Soji? A synthetic synth? Maybe a synthetic synthetic synth. Are her cells constantly flip flopping between being organic and "inorganic"? Would that matter? We're all made of the same elements.

To me that whole trope leads nowhere. Just an infinite regress of "well, what is real?" and then you look outside, feel the sunshine on your face, and admit grimly that that's probably real and maybe you should just go outside and do something good or productive instead of sitting inside moping and ruminating about "what is really real really really?"
Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
It was good episode. I preferred this episode than the previous episode, but not in star trek way. It does not feel Star Trek. I think I would need to watch it again

It felt tense. The plot is moving along. The slow pace is now understandable and this episode made that clear.

SPOILERS (obviously)
So does that mean Soji is 3 years old? So we see the dream of the wooden doll and it is Soji. Why implant a memory that makes Soji look like a doll? This reminds me of a TNG episode where Troi was a cake and Data was hearing the phone ringing... Phantasm is the name of that episode.

Did Narek have feelings for Soji? And when he revealed his real name, was it true? I liked that Elnor chose to go to the Borg Cube and that Picard did not want to leave him. The scenes with Hugh and Picard were very good, like old friends.

Previews for the next episode - Narissa and Hugh gets confrontational. Picard meets Riker!

I only liked this because of the pacing and tthat he plot was moving along. At least now Soji is "activated". Will she feel betrayed by her mom? Narek, obviously. Now that we know what planet Soji was on - two red moons and lightning

The nervousness of Picard was very clear.

The words from Narek "You’re not real. You never were." VERY CRUEL! Contrast that to Picard - "If I'm right, it means that you are the daughter of a man who was all meaning, all courage. Be like him."

Like many many prophecies, they are self fulfilling because they really believe in it. But we make our own futures.

It was really good that Soji bumped into Picard, as she escaped from the room.

Romance between Jurati and Rios? Rios will get his revenge! I liked the scene with Raffi and the starfleet person

I hope nothing bad happens to Elnor.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@Brian L.

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

Basically give it time, it might not be as stupid as you are worried.
Gregory
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
This was the best episode since the pilot. I hope Jammer likes it.
Drea
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Unemphasized point: Soji is "human" enough that a Romulan meditation technique for self-examination will work on her. The same might not be true of Data, but would probably have become true of Lal, had she lived.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, since emotional manipulation tactics work on her also. But the very test that Narek uses to prove she is "not real" by recovering memories of her construction proves that she is entirely "real" in terms of sharing cognitive and emotional processes with evolved primates.
Quincy
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN
"Picard having flashbacks and almost falling as a result was silly: this isn't how repressed memory works. "

Why call that repressed memory? It's PTSD. And yes, that's exactly how it works. You have a flashback from some stimulus. You react to it as if it's real. And you're not aware of your actual surroundings.
Liya
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
“A lot of Voyager callbacks for a show that's a TNG follow-up.”

@Daniel

Kirsten Beyer writes Voyager novels.
Big Pimpin'
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
I was REALLY into this episode. I'm sure why but the drama almost completely sucked me in, and it didn't feel manipulative or cheap loke some of the drama has so far.
I just got lost in a great episode.
I agree that the poster way above me who said that the show wants us to feel more than it wants plus to think, but after 6 episodes I think I'm growing to fully appreciate the merits of that approach.
They took the somewhat cheap death of Maddox and made me care about Jurati.
Hugh was great.
The Soji Narek plot actually sucked me in this time, too.

I like this show. I'm fully on board now.
Jason R.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
I had given up on this show after last weekend's vile spectacle. But I decided to give it another go. And you know what? Not bad at all. Finally we stop spinning our wheels with Soji and our Romulan boyfriend reveals his play. And you know what? I bought it. I even liked the puzzle box.

We get a Picard / Hugh reunion that feels right - for the first time someone not hating on Picard! And the use of the trajector? Kind of a random callback to Voyager but ok, I bought that too. Neat.

This episode worked. Finally I feel like we have cured the constipation of the last few episodes and the plot is going somewhere. And the characters are starting to work better.

I'm onboard again.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome
"Speaking of which, The AV Club review had some interesting commentary on 'This is isn't Star Trek' criticism; basically it's not effective because franchises by definition change to meet the demands of the audience of the time"

You know what's funny?

The people who claim to be the most annoyed by the "this isn't Star Trek" phrase, are precisely those who latch on to those four words while completely ignoring everything else that the detractors are saying.

Yes, franchises change. That's not the problem. The problem is the nature of that change. We've already discussed this to death a million times and there's no point in going over this again. Seriously, it seems like some people here (not you, Chrome) are actively trying to goad us into that dead-horse discussion again, just so they can blame *us* for endlessly repeating our "negative" opinions.

So I won't repeat myself for the thousandth time.

I will say, though, that I do *not* appreciate the way some people here are going out of their way to mock and ridicule the point-of-view of others. You like this new direction of Trek? Fine. But do you *really* need to make fun of those who cherish what Trek used to be (funny how this mockery only goes in one direction).
FIlip
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
This was actually decent. If I were to take this episode in isolation from all the garbage that came before it I'd actually say it was good. Some proper stuff finally happens.

Narek's sister is no longer portrayed as a mustache twirling villain but feels subdued this time and I hope the writers keep going with it (although judging by the next episode preview that isn't likely). The whole concept of the box and the whole plot revolving around it was pretty good.

No doubt, however, that the greatest scene of the episode, or dare I say the show so far is the encounter between Picard and Hugh. That was the first scene I wanted to see again and actually ended up rewinding it. It felt like proper Trek and it's a crying shame the writers didn't go down that road for the rest of the series. This, unfortunately, bring me back to my previous points; this brief feel only made me feel what a huge wasted opportunity this whole show is and makes me realize how much I miss Star Trek.

The scenes with Yurati and Raffi were plain bad and I don't see the point behind Yurati and Rios having sex and having Rios so readily accept it was plain ridiculous.

@Chrome "One might even say there's a meta-criticism involving "mystery boxes" and Kurtzman is comparing critics to the impatient Rizzos who are unwilling to patiently enjoy a game and learn answers." I'd bet you anything that it is not the case. First of all, I think you're giving Kurtzman too much credit. Secondly, even if it was the case, it's pointless as the criticism is not about slow development of the plot but rather about its poor execution. At least coming from me. If your writing relies solely on a big finale to give it any semblance of meaning that's a problem. Take a look at The Expanse for example. For the first solid five episodes I had no idea what the hell was going on as there were so many different plots paralleling each other and the world was so rich that it was impossible to figure it out right of the bat, but I enjoyed every minute of it and once it all came together the pay off was superb. I don't see that happening with Picard based on the material we've seen so far.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

That was AWESOME

:D I love it!!!!! 5/4 stars!! OMG it was great

I knew from the beginning that this was gonna be a good ep. I was right.
Chris
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy -

Agree. That didn’t seem like ‘repressed’ memory experience to me. More like a memory that is too vivid and disturbing to distinguish from reality when it comes to the surface. I.e., PTSD, as you suggest. There were a couple of issues with this episode, but overall I thought it was fairly good. And this aspect didn’t take me out of it at all.
bencanuck
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy

"It's PTSD. And yes, that's exactly how it works. You have a flashback from some stimulus. You react to it as if it's real. And you're not aware of your actual surroundings."

Thank you for saying this.

Needing to hold something for support is not an unthinkable reaction to trauma resurfacing. I have this effect. Picard walked onto a bridge with no railings. It was real danger as his trauma surfaced. Not only was the danger that the episode showed realistic or reasonable, it was so realistic, I could see the train wreck coming, which made it all the more sympathetic for Picard.
Richard James
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman

You're absolutely right - I can't point to anything specific, that's why I'm so on the fence about it. Maybe it's the cumulative effect of the previous episodes being so slow or not great, but I didn't really connect with The Impossible Box - but I wanted to.

I guess I'm less of a fan of this JJ Abrams style 'mystery box' storytelling, although the writers of this are making callbacks to old treks in all the right ways, which is nice.
DANIEL PRATES
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Have anyone thought of this? Maybe Narek and Narissa call eachother brother/sister not because they are siblings, but because the Jhat Vash is a "brotherhood" of sorts.... a secret society within the Tal Shiar. It would explain all the sexual tension between them, or at least, make it waaaaay less creepy.

Hence, maybe the dead brother Narek mentions on episode one was indeed a sibling - so, totally unrelated to Narissa. Or maybe he too was one of the "brethren", who died in service (maybe killed by Dajh in those early brawls!).

It sure makes things fall together huh?
Gooz
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Just watching out of habit now. Not as bad as the last episode, although the incest siblings really need to screw and cut the sexual tension. Finally some plot movement. Tilly is one cold lady. She's barley done killing her boyfriend when she jumps into bed with the Mexican soccer star.

My only contribution here is to note how awesome it is that that Narek’s true name sounds like “my balls” in Farsi.
Leif
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
@ grey cat and @ Brian et al. May I ask why you guys think this isnt Star Trek?
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Just listened to the podcast on Deadline with Akiva Goldsman and Jonathan Frakes--apparently Narek and Narissa were written as "Brother-Sister-Lovers", but that got toned down/changed in the editing, though more than enough of the subtext still remains.
Daniel
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Also, re: talk about what Picard experienced as NOT being PTSD, as one who has suffered from it in the past (you never fully recover), the way it was depicted in the episode does somewhat ring true, at least to me.

The Borg kidnapped him, stripped every bit of his humanity away from him, and made him watch helplessly as the voice of the collective made him command the attack at Wolf 359--where something like 40 ships were destroyed; tens of thousands of Starfleet lives snuffed out.

The fact that he recovered to be able to command again in as short period of time as it was depicted is a testament to 24th Federation psychotherapeutic advancement (and the narrative realities of an "alien of the week" non- serialzed 20th century TV show)

What First Contact, and now ST:P is showing is that he never did fully recover from that trauma. In First Contact, he at least had relative youth and phaser rifles. In this episode, he's old, and unarmed, and placed in the middle of a cube. If that doesn't trigger someone I don't know what will.

The director takes some creative license with the visuals of the flashback and the attempt to show something that is largely experienced in one's mind, but the broad strokes of the effect--the sudden debility, spike in respiratory and pulse rate--that all squares with what I've experienced before.
GreenBoots
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
Best episode so far, but it still hits a lot of the usual stumbling blocks for Kurtzman Trek; characters standing around talking poetically about The Symbolism, vapid sex scenes crammed in (har) between actors with literally zero chemistry, and wildly bad pacing and exposition. Hopefully we've gotten most of the needless plot twists out of the way, and can focus on the threads we've already established for the rest of the season.

I think I hate Elnor, also. They seem to be writing him less "absolute candor," and more "absolute social awkwardness" a la Tilly, and it annoys me that we can't escape this character archetype. He's also emblematic of Kurtzman Trek's tiresome love of murdering randos to keep the meatheads in the audience engaged. Reminds me of how Voyager thought so little of its audience that it felt the need to have the ship almost get destroyed every episode, lest the viewers get restless.

Still, I did like a lot of moments in this one. Picard felt like Picard, for once, rather than a withered and confused old man standing in his place. Felt a real sense of urgency from Stewart when he finally met up with Soji, and his reunion with Hugh actually did warm my heart for a moment. Even the scenes with Soji weren't too bad this time around. Her going from zero to "everything in my entire life is a lie" felt abrupt (again, pacing), but I liked her conversation with her "mother," and even the dreamlike meditation scene managed to build some atmosphere. I imagine the director of the episode had to fight Kurtzman tooth and nail to let that scene breathe, rather than rapid-fire cutting between it and two other plotlines.

I'm not super optimistic about the rest of the season, but this one gets a 2.5/4 from me.
Rahul
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Back to standard-fare PIC after last week's terrible "Stardust City Rag" -- glad to see no warnings for disturbing scenes this week (just the usual violence/coarse language). Overall a mixed bag, rescued by some solid plot-driven action in the 2nd half after a mediocre 1st half.

Nothing much profound or particularly intelligent but I have a greater appreciation for the Narek character and the actor playing him. Conversely, the Jurati character has gone from being an interesting scientist to being annoying like Tilly to now being some kind of duplicitous irritating mole -- not a fan of what these idiot writers are doing with the character. Why is she kissing Rios?? Why does he kiss her? Where does this come from? So many fucked up characters in this series (Jurati, Rizzo, Narek, Raffi, RIos) that when Hugh and Picard hugged and it came across as genuine friendship between 2 good people, it really felt gratifying -- that part was real Trek to me. But Elnor really seems out of place on Rios's ship, given that he's a good, simple-minded straight-forward person amidst a bunch of assholes (aside from Picard, of course).

Thought it was clever how the Borg cube has the Sikarian's technology (from "Prime Factors" -- one of VOY's very best episodes). This makes a good deal of sense to me in that the Borg would move deeper into the DQ and assimilate this hedonistic people for their incredible technology. Good suspense in having Picard/Hugh track down Soji before the Romulans can and then powering up the gateway to transport to who knows where. Maybe some minor suspension of disbelief needed for Soji to break through a floor with her bare hands...

The part with Narek guiding Soji in her dreams was also well done and it comes up with an interesting revelation. I question the writers in making her sleep with him -- she's very suspicious of him so it doesn't make much sense to me why she'd sleep with him. Thought it was good how Narek explained Soji's dreams point to an unconscious side that is trying to reconcile the human/synthetic combination -- this is standard Trek, understanding human-ness etc.

Another good scene was Soji discovering all her mementos etc. were just 37 months old and she questions herself. Now she's vulnerable and Narek is there to pounce. Briones is a solid, young, attractive actress -- definitely one of the bright spots of PIC.

Also good was how Hugh was explaining to Picard how they are de-assimilating Borg -- interesting notion that the Borg are victims underneath and not monsters... Having more from Hugh in this episode was a positive.

But for all the positive things, the 1st half was borderline boring and at times irritating. We got the customary Rizzo threatening Narek (if "Stardust City Rag" has a positive - it's that we didn't get their interaction in that episode), Raffi hitting the bottle and vaping, and Jurati finding a new way to be annoying. But I did appreciate Rios' footballing skills (as a footballer myself)! Really hard to care about Raffi and her estranged son -- just feels like out of place character depth. Remains to be seen if this actually has an impact on the plot.

2.5 stars for "The Impossible Box" -- a mixed bag overall with the plot pieces moving, resulting in a couple of good acts as episode concluded. PIC has bounced back after the aberration that was "Stardust City Rag" though it still has not come up with a truly memorable episode. Not sure how I felt about Picard's bad memories resurfacing on the Borg cube -- felt like this was just thrown in and not really relevant - a chance to give Stewart the opportunity to do some real acting perhaps. PIC has some quality actors -- it just needs better writers. Feels hollow and not like truly gratifying Trek.
GreenBoots
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Also, I find it worrying from a writing perspective that the Alpha quadrant now has access to transport tech that can warp entire ships up to half a quadrant away in the blink of an eye. Star Trek shows, even the good ones, have always had a problem of the tech being plot-bustingly advanced, to the point where many episodes needed to find ways for the transporters/warp drives to break down for the stories to happen. Depending on how the season plays out, that tech might become the Spore Drive 2.0, in that it raises too many questions that start with "why don't they just use that space-folding transport thing to immediately solve this season-long arc?" Might be a shadow that hangs over every future show, unless it ends up destroyed or otherwise permanently inaccessible to the Federation by the end of the season. Or, more likely, the writers will just forget that they established it in this episode and we'll all just have to sigh and roll with it.

Actually, wait. If the Borg has access to this tech, and now can essentially warp infinitely and instantaneously in any direction, why have they not steamrolled the entire galaxy already? Just sigh and roll with it.
Clark
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
My favorite of the series so far. Was fitting to see Hugh paying it forward from when the Enterprise crew worked to save and free him from Borg control. Also felt like the Six of Nine plot from last week helped provide some context to what kind of treatment un-assimilated Borg like Hugh face and why his work is important. They are treated like less than human, only valued as a potential source of income. A big crux of this show is clearly the exploration of prejudice, against the Romulan refugees, Borg victims, and androids. I think this weeks episode served to show that torture sequence was about world building and not just violence for violence's sake (like say... Elnor stabbing two Romulans in the throat for asking him to put his hands up...but, hey, I'm not complaining). 4 out 4 for me.
Rez
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
Anyone starting to think the Romulans might have accidentally destabilised their own star? It occurred to me that the Borg transwarp hub seen in VOY: Endgame was harnessing the power of a star, and with Romulans experimenting with captured Borg tech, I wondered if they'd tried to develop transwarp capability in the same vein and made a balls of it.

Interestingly, the novelverse (may she rest in peace) seemed to be building towards a situation where the Romulans were possibly going to secede from the Typhon Pact, and it seemed to me that the other pact members, most likely the Tzenkethi and Breen, were going to punish them for it, possibly by triggering the nova. I guess we'll never know now.
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
This one felt like a return to 'classic' PIC, meaning eps 1-2, which I thought were ok but boring. Somehow they managed in eps 3-4 to do more than navel-gazing and positively intrigued me, but I feel that we are back to the situation where scene after scene is either setup, or art direction scenes, or scenes meant to make us feel something but where the plot is going nowhere. I was fairly focused for quite a while, and finally at one point I said to myself "nothing is happening!" and I looked at the timestamp - 27 minutes. Halfway through, and it felt like it was still act 1. That's the thing with the writing of this show: the writers know nothing about structure. Any play written like this would be thrown in the garbage, but in a show full of editing and special effects (even green screen effects) it somehow looks fancy and you can get by, I suppose. But there is an art to knowing how to set up, then wind up the tension, then hit the danger button, and finally resolve. This can be done in an episodic or an arc; it doesn't matter. Here they just do scene after scene with the same vague 'sorta tense' level and hope we're intrigued. I'm not, although I certainly didn't hate this one like I did the last one.

I also want to say something about TNG and DS9 (even VOY) that I just realized concretely. They all suffered from the danger-of-the-week syndrome, which was often tedious as it forced screen time to be devoted to an often perfunctory problem solving scenario, blocking us from getting those great character scenes. Here they seem to have taken this knowledge to heart, and eliminated everything but the character scenes. But here's my realization: there's something about a single, plot-forcing issue coming forward that galvanizes the rest of the script just by virtue of its being there. Let's say you have an anti-time anomaly: now you can still have your character scenes, but they are all about the passage of time; and Picard's struggle to solve the tech plot is merged with the connected tissue. In a bad episode this effect fails and the tech problem remains an isolated problem wasting screen time. But this almost never happened, and more often than not the tech problem (like in Booby Trap) directly related to the character dilemmas, while also forcing the pacing of the plot to gravitate towards the crisis at a pace that worked. This plotting structure has its downfalls, certainly when in the hands of inferior writers, however even in mediocre hands it forced the episodes to move and gave at least a modicum of meaning to the crisis event (e.g. DS9's Playing God, where the baby universe vaguely mirrored Dax's playing god in the selection process). But in a show like PIC we are almost doomed to be disappointed, because only a *great* writer can write completely free-form and have everything on screen have a purpose. In the hands of anyone else (i.e. most writers) we get awkward-paced and often meandering structure that moves us forward more through our knowledge that we're in a mystery box than through the actual dramatic tension of the scene order. Take any one of these episodes in isolation, pretend you don't know it's part of a series, and most of the tension will evaporate, I think. So as basic and repetitive as the structure on TNG/DS9 often were, it served an amazing function that it's easy to underestimate. That structure more or less guaranteed that we were going to at least have some fun and get a bit of a ride.

Anyhow, on to this specific episode, I think others have mentioned some reasonable good and bad points. Picard working the computer system was excellent; Hugh was excellent; the Hellraiser puzzle box was cool; and I liked the effects of the walls in the Borg ship. That properly made it feel more like an organic computer technology. As for the bad parts, there were fewer of them than boring parts, but chiefly I'd mention the idiotic 'I've never slept with the Captain of anything before' scene as well as the business of Soji never having scanned herself before. I was reminded of Unbreakable, where a man in his 40's only realizes for the first time that he's invulnerable and super-strong. Uh-huh. But here it's super-weird since I assume the Romulans would have thoroughly scanned her and her stuff as a security precaution. Maybe this is too much of a nitpick, and it's not game-breaking, it just feels vaguely silly to me. Then again, I also thought so of Juliana Tainer in TNG.

As a side point, I'd like to know where they pulled this Borg slavery thing out of. Have I been asleep at the wheel or did they just make this up? I could swear from eps 1-2 that the Romulans were (a) a broken-up people, and (b) that they were conducting 'friendly' research on a Borg cube, not under hostile conditions, and that other races were present. But now we're told that it's a Romulan military operation, that the ex-Borgs are slaves with no freedom (except for Hugh), and that the "artifact" is being exploited only by then and by no one else. Whoa there! This is a crazy new development ninja'd in, and I can't understand what we're supposed to make of it. There is literally no way the other major powers would stand for the Romulans fully acquiring Borg technology. And if there was no major alliance to either destroy the cube or else to share it, then it makes no sense that this would lack explanation. This is an example of a a plot structure based on "this! then this! then this!" but where none of it is world-building or meant to fascinate us in its own right. It only serves to showcase art design, or else to make us 'feel' (as a previous poster pointed out) various things ranging from awe to pity to shock. I also don't understand what it means that there's a cube disconnected from the collective but still operational; in the past we've had these situations explained to us. In Descent this happened when Hugh was re-assimilated, and we got a serious look at what happened to that Borg ship, including desperately looking for a savior in Lore. In VOY we've also seen derelict Borg cubes, damaged by ion storms and such and disabled. But here - yes, we're told it was some Romulan mental thing - we don't know what "disconnected from the collective" even means: was the ship completely powered down? Active but all drones asleep? Active and the drones were confused and attacking at random like in Descent? How did the Romulans ever get this ship under control and the drones cooperative? These details were key in the past and now seemingly don't matter, even though I'm *much* more interested in that than in watching samurai killings.

Oh, and one more thing? Did anyone else notice Tilly (whatever her name actually is) look dead in the eyes while talking to Rios? Either this was some bad acting, or some good acting for a purpose not yet disclosed. Assuming the latter, my bet is that she's a synth and was told this by Starfleet, and forced by them to kill Maddox because...reasons. Maybe to avoid them dismantling her. It would also explain why she was romantically involved with Maddox (a whole synth family) and would also explain why she can emotionally be able to romance Rios so soon after being forced (we assume) to kill the man she loves. She can do it because her feelings are artificially constructed and presumably can be overridden when a need requires them to be. That's my guess, anyhow! Otherwise was this all super-awkward, so here's to hoping.
Marvin
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
Greenboots Rahul Filip et al give good summaries of the pros and cons. I’ve been annoyed all season with the writing characters and plot holes, and this episode at least advanced the plot.

Really worried the big REVEAL will be a let down, and that’s really the only thing keeping me going. Specifically, the question boils down to who and why malfunctioned the synths at Mars and how that ties to the Federation decision to stop the resettlement. This to me is the main plot line with Soji feeling like the catalyst/tie in to the big reveal. I also feel we did not get enough background on the arrangement between The Feds and the Romulans re the Reclamation Project, which feels tied to the main plot. Again, bad pacing/writing to leave this open. I also think Rizzo’s mentioning of the synths “homeworld” indicates a deeper Maddox plot line regarding his relationship to Soji (I forget the technobabble on the twins development from positron but it seems Soji is part and parcel a different specimen and the Tal Shiar/Zak Vat are searching for synths that are not conscious of their state). Hopefully no delving of synth consciousness because Westworld is working this plot way better.

In addition I’ve noted that IMDb hasn’t credited 7of9 in any remaining episodes this season, but that could just be lack of info on their part. It appears at this point that 7of9 was merely fan service and a plot advancer.
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
You know, I've thought of a better way to phrase what I said in the other thread about why this "isn't Star Trek". I previously framed it as being about Federation values and what mankind could hope for in the future, but that may be secondary to this: it's about joy. The joy of discovery, and of knowing the universe is a wonderful (if dangerous place) as Q put it in Q Who. The idea of the Federation that I was trying to clumsily articulate before is that all life is amazing, and that if we realize this we can celebrate its differences without destroying each other. For everyone comparing grimdark to DS9, which allegedly 'started it' with Trek, I disagree: the theme of that show is "we can heal", and it's laid out right in the pilot. Some episodes show us how hard healing can be, or even that certain steps need to be taken that are hard, but that it can happen if we believe in it. I think that's the essence of Trek, and the only difference between TNG and DS9 is that DS9 insists that this process is very difficult and can't be resolved through an intellectual conversation. From this standpoint VOY is also pure Trek, finding great enthusiasm in new species and discoveries, and even great joy in simple things like food, music, and the holodeck. Granted, I think much of VOY was *weak* Trek, but it was right in the spirit of the thing. ENT tried but I think deviated off-course until S4.

So in any commentary of episodes of PIC, my standard for "Trek" is going to be whether there was joy in the episode: when we see a new thing, is it meant to be wonderful just because it's new and interesting, or are we meant to feel some prescribed emotion of their choosing, be it horror, etc etc? And granted, it's possible this synth plot will result in some kind of "they are precious life" message, which would be a Trek message, but it's more than the overarching plot: it's how the story itself is told. The feeling of the universe is more than just some message, it's a point of view of the writing, the characters, and the events as we see them. Everyone loved the Hugh scenes here, probably because they reflected a point of view that we want: it's not cliche, it's literally why we are tuning in. Its presence was so invigorating that some are calling it the best episode of the series, and even then I feel that it only somewhat counterbalanced the otherwise bleak and dreary scenes telling us that life is a constant exercise in strife and loss. Even if it is, if there's nothing redemptive in that then why try?
Daniel
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 2:00am (UTC -5)
@Marvin

In the Ready Room interview for this ep, Jeri Ryan did disclose that she's coming back later this season.

I don't remember if it was this after show or a podcast interview with the producers but FWIW, it was mentioned that Seven will have to deal with the aftermath of killing Bijayzl--and whether or not it accomplishes what she hoped it would do.
PM
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 2:17am (UTC -5)
Thought this was excellent

Jammer'll 2.5 it though, because 'reasons'
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:02am (UTC -5)
The camera work was really good, the lighting. Scene after scenes just flows.
Then there is the story. Not great but a captivating narrative. It pulls on your heartstrings in just the right way. All the people feel real and grounded, like somebody you could actually meet. The acting is superb, one of the best during the last 12 month.

But enough about marriage story. Let's talk about STP.

This was better than last week *gasp*. Yeah the dialogs are sometimes really bad. The first dialog between Soji and Narek in particular. I finally remember what it reminded me of. In comedy shows they sometimes have scenes were characters just talk about there own thing and ignore what the other person says, basically two monologues and just at the end they reconnect. This felt somewhat like it. One says something, then the other person talks about something else and so on.

Of course there are still plot holes so big you could fly a borg cube through it. What would Picard have done if Raffi had stayed on perv planet? Good that her son is such a d-bag.

Why would they beam a special envoy of the Federation into an empty room? How could Elnor beam on the Cube when they stated before that you could only beam on it when the Cube people allow it? And did Elnor just kill several innocent security guards?? They were just doing there job?! *humming the Star Trek theme*

On a side note. Does this show try to tap into the (subconscious) sexual desires of parts of the audience? Lots of female feet, the dominatrix and incest. They cannot show breasts, butts and shlongs because the show will sooner or later be used on regular TV so they used the most popular fetish search results?

The good stuff.
-I like the change for Jurati. It would work better if we'd actually know what she knows but still the moral dilemma made her character more interesting for me. I hope that she will not be killed that brutally but gets the "I was bad but now I will sacrifice myself ending"
- The scenes between Hugh and Picard. Especially that little scene were the kid/guy cries. Nice to see that there are still happy people in the galaxy. It is also somewhat ironic that Hugh, the ex borg, is the most trekkian character on the show.
- May sound strange but Rizzo (who still refuses to act) monitoring the whole scene with Narek and Soji looked like something a spy would do. Like Narek and Rizzo are actually on a mission done by professionals.
- Picard looking up stuff on his computer about several topics (including treaty) and then a scene later the pay off. He knows things about the treaty. So the people writing this actually do know how to write a consistent story where a leads to b.

The so and so
- Did Raffi bring her drugs and alcohol. So she went to her son to prove that she isn't an addict anymore but at the same time brought a stash of drugs and alcohol. It is lame that anybody on this show who uses drugs or alcohol is an alcoholic/drug abuser. Don't do drugs, kids.
- Rios caring for the distraught women folk.

final thoughts.
- Men seem stable, women seem unstable. Rios is fairly stable, Elnor is extemely stable, Picard is sometimes unstable, Narek is mostly stable; Raffi is a bad mother and f*ed up drug abuser, Jurati is emotionally unstable and a murderer, Soji is a complete mess and Rizzo wants to have sex with her brother.

Again pretty vile comments about the critical crowd from some of the fans of the show.
Henson
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:42am (UTC -5)
@PM

"Jammer'll 2.5 it though, because 'reasons' "

Yes, a review score is usually based on reasons. Good spot!
DANIEL PRATES
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:49am (UTC -5)
This series can still acheive greatness if, by the end, Picard faces some real, heartbreaking dilemma with hard choices - such as being forced to agree that synths are a indeed a threat or something and having to agree to some hurtful action (killing Soji? Dying himself in the process?). That would tie in nicely with all the feebleness that seems to be his main trait as an old man: atoning for his bad decisions, coward-ish resignation etc., with a huge self-harming action. For me, that is why they crammed in that "brain tumor" plot tool. You know, like Clint Eastwood discovering he has cancer in Grand Torino. He is going to die anyway, why not die with a "selfless" sacrifice?

Or something like that.

It would even forgive the other week subplots being resolved in a predictable way. Like Raffi ditching the booze and reconciling with her son (with the obligatory scene where she holds her grandson in her lap with moist eyes).

What would suck, though, is if this just turns into "foil a threat to the galaxy" kinda of script.
Elderberry
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 6:05am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed that a lot. It fits in with my feeling that this whole 10-parter* is as much about exploring people's (not just Picard's) reactions to PTSD as anything else.

*I've been assuming it is a 10-parter but - have IMDb always listed this as having 11 episodes? Is 'episode 11' going to be a gag reel or some such?
Nic
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 7:42am (UTC -5)
A lot of Battlestar Galactica tropes were on display this week:
-Incessant drinking
-Two characters sleeping together for no reason (some BSG fans might not like that jab, but I never bought Apollo/Dualla or Tigh/Six, and I don't buy Jurati/Rios for a second)
-Girl freaking out because she suspects she's not who she thought she was

And why all the flashback shots when Picard beams onto the cube? They couldn't trust Patrick Stewart, of all people, to communicate how Picard is feeling in that moment? It's an overused technique that takes me out of the moment, rather than letting me into the character's mind.

Picard's reunion with Hugh was nice, but the pacing of the scene where they escape with the trajector was off... It seemed to me there was more than enough time for all three of them to escape. And why is Elnor so loyal to Picard even though Picard abandoned him as a kid?

Ah, such questions.
ticonstar94
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Anyone else notice that there were still Borg in their alcoves when Picard was about to fall off the railing? I think that one drone actually did wake up...... Hmmm....
Descent
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:31am (UTC -5)
Surprised that only a couple of people have mentioned Elnor murdering three people near the end. Seemed like a really bizarre and pointless thing to put in that cheapens the characters and the episode for absolutely no gain.

If they really had to have five seconds of combat, why couldn't he just disarm or knock out the guards with some ridiculous ninja twirling?
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
@Descent
Was there an STP episode that didn't include several violent murders?
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
A lot of stuff people are mentioning as issues with the episode just seem to be from poor viewing comprehension of this or earlier episodes.

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

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

Hugh stayed behind because he needed to close/power down the trajector. He implied the Romulans knew nothing about it, which makes sense - because otherwise they'd be guarding it. If the Romulans could just follow Picard to Riker's planet - and then learn to use the gate themselves - that would be a disaster.
Marco
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:46am (UTC -5)
There are people who like Picard so far (full disclosure: I do), there are people who don't (their full and complete prerogative).

Is this Trek? Well, it sort of is. Is that really important? I am not so sure I care if it is or isn't. I do like this show, so far, more than most of Discovery, and more that 90% of the drivel shown on TV these days. YMMV
But I gave a quick perusal to all comments. It seems that, begrudgingly, reluctantly and with many caveats and curlicues, people think that this was the best episode of the series so far (I could be wrong).
I agree. Good Trek? Yep. "The measure of a Man" Trek? Nope, that'll never happen again. I think the "anhedonic" comment is overblown a bit :)
Nic
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:54am (UTC -5)
P.S. No points for the prop department this week. The object Narek was twirling around was clearly a Rubik's cube with different decorations...
Quinalla
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:01am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode fairly well, but this plot hole was annoying and better come up next episode:

* Why the hell hasn't anybody consulted the EMH on what happened to Maddox? Why is Picard taking Jurati's word for it when she's not a medical doctor? Methinks Raffi would be way more suspicious, but speaking of...

There needs to be something where Jurati reprogrammed the EMH or something similar because there is no reason the EMH shouldn't have notified the computer/captain of what happened.

I still don't buy the romance, it has been way too much tell and not show, but it was handled better in this episode as was the interaction between brother and sister.

My husband did not like that Picard was showing signs of PTSD, he said surely he's worked through that all years ago, but honestly I thought the reaction made a lot of sense. Had Picard done work on the borg stuff, yes some, but this is his first visit to a Borg cube since assimilation and that is a big deal. Also, Hugh and Picard and Hugh's characterization was spot on, though I got very annoyed at the "There's not time to explain!" lines from Picard to Hugh, yes there was time to explain, not that I doubt Hugh would trust Picard enough to help regardless.

I also had to laugh at Picard saying they would have to be completely honest in their visit to the Artifact/Cube and then immediately getting Rafi to manipulate someone into getting Picard some diplomatic access, LOL. I did like Rafi's scene even though I agree her being drunk & high was handled weirdly. I do think the captain of the ship seems to be very good hearted and it is nice to have him around to help everyone else and nice that it is a dude in that role, typically it would be a woman.
Descent
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:04am (UTC -5)
@Booming
Fair point, of course, but at least up until now its been either antagonists committing the murders, or the heroes justifiably defending themselves against assassins who were opening fire on them. Aside from that, we've had the beheading which was called out by Picard, and Seven murdering the gang leader which I really, REALLY hope will be acknowledged and reflected upon in a decent way later in the series.

This one was weird because it was three random people who weren't even antagonistic, were just doing their jobs of responding to the situation with Soji, were trying to peacefully apprehend the heroes, and yet were brutally and violently killed - from behind, no less - by a character I'm pretty sure we're meant to be on-side with. Picard even thanked him for it. It's the first example of the heroes just straightforwardly murdering people in a way that I think the writers intend the audience to be completely uncritical of, and it's really bothering me for that reason.
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:12am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman
I understand your need to insult people who dislike the show. You want to turn this into your little STP safe space.

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

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

Oh you think people have forgotten the stupid "haha pop ups in space" scene?! So I guess Raffi brought money with her which she made while sitting around for ten years in a trailer in the desert smoking drugs and drinking, on earth which doesn't have a monetary system. Junky that she is she immediately bought drugs and booze somewhere with that money after being rejected and beamed back on the ship with drugs and booze? None of that is shown, of course. Totally our fault for not seeing this obvious connection.
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:15am (UTC -5)
@ Descent

"This one was weird because it was three random people who weren't even antagonistic, were just doing their jobs of responding to the situation with Soji, were trying to peacefully apprehend the heroes, and yet were brutally and violently killed"
And don't forget far more guards were coming. Elnor probably also killed those.
Mal
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 9:58am (UTC -5)
you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.

'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


- Ulysses, and maybe also JL.

* * * (of 4 stars)

Star Trek: Picard’s best episode since the Pilot (maybe even better), this hour has everything to love, and none of the two things that have dragged down the previous few hours - no flashbacks (the “flashback" at the top is a false memory, and is absolutely critical to the plot so far and probably to what is coming), and no ridiculous violence (about 7 seconds worth of sword play - which is actually quite enjoyable, and again - and most critically - central to the plot).

Bravo!

Plus, finally, Sir Patrick seems to have found a mode for playing JL that works given his age and the inevitable decay that brings on. Though he is not now that force which in old times moved heaven and earth, that which he is, he is: still a big enough deal to warrant emergency diplomatic credentials :-)

I’m not a fan of the whole Dr. Aggie/Rios hook up, but I have to admit that it rings true. Who here hasn’t hooked up in a moment of grief or existential dread? As my favorite tragic character Londo Mollari on that other scifi show, Babylon 5, liked to say, "it is good to have friends, is it not, even if only for a little while.”

And thank you for no gratuitous cussing. This hour was so much kinder on the ears.

Not sure if you noticed, but at the moment Raffi gets Picard his diplomatic credentials, they play a few bars of the old TNG theme, and the lighting of the wall behind Picard shifts. I don’t want to read too much into that, but damn if it didn’t seem like the old Star Trek we know and love broke through for a moment! Stick around old friend, we missed you.

My favorite scene was Hugh hugging JL and then showing JL the rehabilitation of rescued ex-Borgs. Compare the compassion of giving a man a new face, literally healing his scars, to the cruelty that just last week was unleashed upon poor Icheb. More of this please. Less of that.

I wanted to give the episode 3 1/2 stars, but Soji’s boyfriend makes me sleepy.

If these 6 hours of Picard had been compressed into 3, me thinks ST:Picard would have had a glowing start. But if a few extra hours is what it took for this show to find its legs, and this type of show is what we have to look forward to, then I can be happy. But I don’t want to jinx it.

See you next week on Nepenthe Number One!
William B
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 10:00am (UTC -5)
@Peter, I haven't watched PICARD yet but I think you're right on the money about joy being at the core of Trek.

One thing that comes to mind: I think this is part of what All Good Things is also about. One thing that is interesting is that the future world Picard sees is not so bad in many ways. People are doing okay, relatively; the political situation seems to have gotten bad, old wounds remain unhealed, Troi is dead, but it's not a grimdark future. But it's still one in which the joy of exploration seems to have gone out of their world. There's a sense that in "maturing" away from the Enterprise they've lost a little of that spark in favour of pragmatically going about their lives, and what's interesting is that at least *there* it doesn't really depict this loss of spark as being a matter of having dismissed their principles, or the whole Federation going off course into slavery or whatever, or even the characters sinking into a depression. But you can see them become interested with the idea of going on another mission together to explore some weird anomaly they've never seen before, and the way the whole room lights up in the Ten-Foward scene where Picard finally articulates the paradox in a way Data understands and then can explain to the rest of them. The joy of working through a problem together and of discovering something that was beyond what they had ever thought of before is what allows for the possibility of Picard expanding his minds to solve the problem, which is basically what Q articulates is *the* reason humanity has a future. I mention this in part because AGT sort of gives a model of what PICARD could have been, and does seem to have taken some cues from (starting with Picard in the vineyard, e.g.).
Peter G.
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Thanks William B.

"I mention this in part because AGT sort of gives a model of what PICARD could have been, and does seem to have taken some cues from (starting with Picard in the vineyard, e.g.)."

Although they do have Picard in the vineyard, perhaps a reference to AGT, the jury is still out about whether expanding our minds is a great thing like Q promised. So far there is a deep dark secret the show is teasing (I'm not spoiling anything by saying that, we knew it would just based on the crew!) but tonally this so far looks like the kind of deep dark secret that will make everyone rue the day; so bad that conspiracies are needed to keep it buried. So if it's an AGT-type revelation about life, it's one that as of now it feels like we're meant to understand would be better not to know, or something like that. At least that's the vibe I'm getting.
Quincy
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 11:52am (UTC -5)
I see several people complaining about Elnor killing the guards. I too had a problem with this, but apparently, not for the same reasons. Perhaps, I skimmed too quickly, but everyone seemed to have a problem with Elnor "murdering" the "innocent" guards. It was actually in defense of Picard & Co. They were being threatened with disruptors, which, as pointed out in the past, have no stun setting. Whether they knew it or not, they were chasing a woman one of their comrades just tried to murder. Her and anyone who helped her were running for their lives. They had very little time and no access to nonlethal ordinance. Clearly, killing them is justified. This scene was certainly no worse than many we've seen in all other Star Trek franchises.

Contrast that with what Riker did in TNG's "The Vengeance Factor." Rewatch that scene and see how many different options Riker had to NOT kill Yuta. 1) He could've had Data beam down. Data can move at super speed and could easily disable Yuta. 2) He could've beamed down with more than a dozen security personnel, several of which could've subdued Yuta in any number of ways. 3) He could've had Yuta beamed up from the meeting place. 4) He could've simply kept REPEATEDLY stunning her on a high stun setting as WE SAW WITH OUR OWN EYES that she was severely weakened with debilitating pain by each stun to the point of buckling to her knees and taking several seconds to recover. What Riker CHOOSES to do instead is beam down by himself and kill her. Most people actually defend this scene vigorously when this is pointed out. So much for the Rainbows and Butterflies Trekkian outlook.

In any case, my problem with this is that Picard solicited a reluctant favor from that Admiral (?) in order to enter the Artifact. The deaths of those officers should necessarily result in a diplomatic incident with severe repercussions for the Federation. Now this is only a problem if these diplomatic consequences are swept under the rug the way the EMH knowing Agnes murdered Maddox was quite simply ignored. If there are consequences and those consequences are dealt with properly, then there is no problem with this IMO. I don't have much hope that they will address this properly. PIC seems to be glossing over inescapable details, like obvious Romulan operations on Federation soil, EMH's knowledge of Agnes's murder of Maddox, and probably now this too.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
I gotta say the issue of killing the guards was less about the killing and more about the arbitrariness of it and the over the top rashness of Elnor feeling he had to conduct some suicidal "last stand" in the first place. I just don't think the situation called for that kind of desperation. Nothing in the situation seemed to justify it.
Descent
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy

I don't agree that killing them was "clearly justified". The guards appeared on screen for literally about one second before being killed. They held Picard at gunpoint but there's nothing to suggest they were ordered to shoot, or were intending to do so. Their one single action was to ask Picard and pals to surrender. This entire scene only happened because the writers wanted more violence and killing that added nothing to the episode. I think literally every episode so far has had at least one death, usually more.

Regardless, even if a situation was manufactured in which the random guards convincingly "had" to be killed, the reaction of the team could have been far better written. Picard seems glad they're dead (compare with his reaction to the deaths of the terrorists in Starship Mine, for example). Soji and Hugh have been working alongside these people for however long and neither of them care what happened. As it stands, it's just yet another item to add to the list of things that are alienating me from this series.

Also, who defends the Vengeance Factor? It's terrible - not just for the hilariously poor ending, the whole episode is weak. One of the mercies of episodic television is that nonsense like that is gone in 45 minutes and you're onto something better.
Marvin
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy

Agree with the plot holes, esp. the Romulan operations on Earth. I mentioned on the chateau attack episode that there were STACKS of dead Romulans and disruptors, and Picard's servants could have easily brought this to Starfleet. Granted, Oh may have exercised action to prevent this from getting out, but there are easy ways to newsflash Romulan operations on Earth (eg, aside from a panic newsflash, Picard could have rounded up captains and admirals). This plot hole is big enough to have not required Picard to go out on his own and convince admirals to have an official Starfleet investigation.
Eric Jensen
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
"And why is Elnor so loyal to Picard even though Picard abandoned him as a kid?"

What?? Elnor idolised Picard. Yes, Picard abandoned him, but he also binded his sword to his "lost cause". Also, Picard is his only male father figure. Quwat Milat is a group of warrior nuns and sadly Elnor cannot be part of this. When Picard came along, he belonged somehow.
Dougie
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
I see people talking about repressed memories who clearly have not had them resurface. Advice: keep quiet. Silence is golden. If you have not had a repressed memory trigger, you are in no position to comment. None.

A repressed memory can physically halt biological functions and cause a person to faint. Physical effects can wear off in minutes to hours as chemical surges dissipate, mental effects can take hours or days, weeks, months, years, forever.
Yanks
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
Chrome,

"Elnor is kind of fun here, but the teasing of his death got a tad ridiculous. I mean, the show doesn't make any explanation as to why Elnor can't just get in the spatial trajector with Picard and Soji. Well I know why: they want a cool action scene next episode"

I believe his thinking was he needed to ensure Hugh could "hide" the room to the Romulan guards couldn't follow them. That's why he stayed behind.

Peter G.,

"You know, I've thought of a better way to phrase what I said in the other thread about why this "isn't Star Trek". I previously framed it as being about Federation values and what mankind could hope for in the future, but that may be secondary to this: it's about joy. The joy of discovery, and of knowing the universe is a wonderful (if dangerous place)..."

Great point! This is so true as proven by the almost unanimous agreement here that the best part of this episode was the Hugh/Picard reunite. It made me feel so good. I hadn't had that feeling since the 1st episode when Picard walked into the storage area at the Daystrom Institute and I saw the "Picard Day" sign made for him by the children.

Jurati and Rios... wow, I don't EVER want to hear "gratuitous sex scene" WRT 'Enterprise' again. So he's working out shirtless... enter Jurati showing skin for the first time... have a drink and lets go boff... wow.

The ONLY discussion concerning the Maddox murder was her telling Picard what happened. He just accepts it and boom, we're on the bridge.

Wheeeeeere we need drunk/high Raffi's skills... she's the only one that knows a SF Captain to get the diplomatic clearance necessary for Picard to get on the cube. Picard or our ex-star fleet ship driver know no one. They risk everything on a alcoholic/druggie... and Picard planned for nothing here. Jean-Luc Fraking Picard planned for NOTHING!! They rushed through the old neutral zone and entered "Romulan space" (how do you do that now?) ... is there "Romulan Space" now?

Speaking of Raffi, how does someone with NO self control ever get a Star Fleet commission in the first place? ... AND get stationed on Picard's Flag-Ship Enterprise?

I didn't cringe or fall asleep while watching Narek and Soji on the cube this time. At least we were moving toward something here. I don't know that I understand those lamps and bare feet in that special Romulan vo-do room, but I felt the same for the orbs on DS9. mumbo-jumbo, blah-blah... so we get some info on where she was created, she sees a wooden version of herself... Narek is out and gasses (radiation?) her in an effort to kill "The Destroyer". This activates her (finally!!) and she destroys the floor, where Hugh expertly positioned them to find her.

Of course Picard meets Hugh and Hugh is IN CHARACTER!! This is exactly what I would expect him to be. Bravo, thank you! Their hug made this episode!

Whats bad about Picard's tour is we meet the "X-B's"... cute name and all, but why are they all disfigured? Seven had all the stuff removed and her face isn't all "horror-ed" up. Same for Picard. Same for Harry, Belanna, Janeway and Tuvok... this is gore/whoa is me/sob inject for no reason... what, dermal re-generators are no longer a thing in the 25th century? (slaps forehead)

Hugh sees that lots of Romulan guards are closing on their position and Picard says "please" to Soji, twice in an effort to get her to come with them. This was so bad... good lord. Picard's acting here was horrible and why doesn't Soji remember Picard like Dahj did? Aren't they twins? Why did she hesitate?

I like the call back to VOY: 'Prime Factors' and the Sikarians' trajector (space folding device). Glad to hear they were assimilated. Couldn't stand Gath.

Of course Elnor, who just last episode was baffled by some buttons, now can not only operate a transporter, but can pin-point a location inside the likes of a Borg cube in order to go and save Picard. He is proving to be a "formidable fighter" though. I find myself rooting for this kid.

Picard's PTSD... WAY overdone here I think.... Why does he need to review files about his assimilation? ... oh, for the "cool" shot of him as Locutus? ... he was OK enough to Captain the Enterprise for 4 more years and save human kind from assimilation in 'First Contact' and if memory serves has stated numerous times he was recovered... good lord, he could barely walk here. Interesting that a couple X-B's called him Locutus.

They beam off to ... can't remember the name of the planet... and we know we get to see Riker next week.

So we finally get Picard to meet Soji, something we knew was going to happen from the first episode... now maybe we can get on with this story. ... so much to learn from here on.

I really hope Picard shows some leadership here and squares away Raffi. I really want to like the character.

Should be a fun romp next week.

I think this episode is getting such higher ratings because we finally actually got there!! ... but I can't go nuts, there is too much head scratching stuff here.

3 stars from me, because I rated last weeks 2.5 and this was better.
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Yanks,

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

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

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

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

4. Regarding Picard's PTSD: It's well known that the writers wanted to do more with it, but were slipped down by the fully episodic nature of TV at the time. Ron Moore had to fight like hell to even get Family made, because Paramount didn't like having a story which was so referential to what happened the week before. Since First Contact we really only saw Picard twice up until now, so there's no reason to think he's "over it."
FZ
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
The opening of this episode is not a flashback... it's a recurring dream that was planted inside Soji's mind. I realize many episodes have begun with a flashback (a narrative device that is perhaps overused on the show); but this was not a flashback. I really liked this episode especially the genuine warmth between Picard and Hugh; kind of feel like they dropped the ball a bit with Seven... but she is returning before the show ends its first season...
John O’Hara
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
I haven’t posted here for a long time.

I’m enjoying this new incarnation of Trek because it reminds me Trek by it’s nature is the challenge to do just that, whilst remaining faithful to what has gone before. So it deserves a wide berth.

I’m enjoying it for what it is and clinging to hope for what it could be. There are some good moments across the episodes aired to date and lots of unrealized character potential. So I keep an open mind.

There have been a few outstanding moments (Seven/Picard dialogue topped only by the outstanding Picard/Hugh reunion) but I’m waiting for that outstanding episode to land. Hope we will see at least one this season.

Peace to all and that you to everyone for all of your views. And thank you to Jammer who started this for us 20 years ago.

LL&P
Drea
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul
"[Soji]'s very suspicious of [Narek] so it doesn't make much sense to me why she'd sleep with him."
Manipulation. You can see the change in Soji's demeanor to someone who's aware her partner is manipulating her, staying with him because of that manipulation, and aware of it but also not accepting the full reality of that means. It's subtle, complex, painful to watch, and has me sold on Briones as an actor, if I wasn't already. In the prior episode, Narek straight up uses access to knowledge that matters deeply to her to keep her around. It'd be nice if people broke things off when they became aware of a partner's coercive tactics--but they don't, because that's how relationships driven by deception and coercion work.

@Mal
"I’m not a fan of the whole Dr. Aggie/Rios hook up, but I have to admit that it rings true. Who here hasn’t hooked up in a moment of grief or existential dread?"
The people posting on this board who don't understand her motivations, I guess! I agree that it rings true. It's somewhere between distracting herself and acting in complete self-loathing. For those questioning why Rios would do it, hooking up with a vulnerable person isn't the noblest action, but she's announcing self-awareness about what she's doing (at least as far as Rios knows)--so he's thinking that he'll enjoy it and it at least won't hurt her.

I'm not so into people asking how someone who is capable of having a substance abuse problem could also be capable of becoming a Starfleet officer. People who can develop addictions can do everything else you can.

Especially when we get to people who find Picard's PTSD implausible, I'm finding that some prominent criticisms of this episode depend on lack of empathy or understanding for trauma, relationship abuse, addiction, or just plain poor life decisions. Obviously, not all critiques fall in this bucket--some people found the pacing or whatnot ineffective, in which case I merely disagree. But where it does apply, I wonder what STP should or could do to achieve empathy from people with little or no familiarity with these issues.
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Drea
Yeah the Jurati/Rios pairing and Picard PTSDing didn't bother me at all. Jurati isn't drunk, she can obviously reflect on her situation and there is a good chance that they will be killed why not hook up? Sure we know that Jurati is far more traumatized but Rios doesn't know that. Bottom line, they are adults. For a moment I thought Rios would have sex with Raffi.

The scene where Rios played football bothered me. That seemed like a cliche.

And Picard freaking out. During my time I talked with soldiers who came back from warzones. The mind is a maze. Picard's reaction could have been more subtle. I mean why are we seeing what he is seeing. On one hand the story withholds crucial information and then we can literally see the thoughts of somebody.

It is kind of amazing that they let Raffi bring hard drugs on the ship in the first place. They seem somewhat fine with it. So far nobody has talked to her about smoking that stuff. She almost flaunts it.
Rahul
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
@Drea

Narek and Soji want info from each other but in their last interaction prior to this episode in "Absolute Candor" Soji was upset with/far more suspicious of Narek (after their stupid sliding around the Borg cube) -- so this is why I question why she'd go back to sleeping with him. Thinking rationally about how she'd react going forward, I believe she'd stop sleeping with him. But maybe you know more about "relationships driven by deception and coercion" than I do ;)

The truth of the matter is they are 2 of the better looking actors in PIC and so the writers are making them sleep together -- it's basic lowest-common-denominator stuff and is probably a demand from the show-runners that there be some action between the sheets.
Drea
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul
If relationship decisions were rational ones, you'd be predicting Soji's choices correctly.

Yes, as a woman, it's statistically more probable that I have been on the receiving end of a coercive relationship, so that winky face is a little misplaced.

The show--I think by intention of the writers, and if not then thanks to Briones--is evincing awareness of how it feels to be in that position. It's not sexy to see, and I'm glad that the sense of romance or sincerity from the "Borg ritual" scene is now absent.
Marg
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
First view:
Like many above, (Tim C and others), I am disappointed with how the Raffi scene is presented as somehow comic. Her relapse was sadly inevitable after her son's rejection, but the drunken display is insultingly blatant. We don't need public display of bottle and vape to discern her distress. More subtly, the return to her old messy ponytail hairstyle is enough, along with, say, evidence of hangover.
To be honest, the scene angers me in its carelessness.

*How the frak does Agnes get away with murdering Maddox? As @Quinalla asks, "Why the hell hasn't anybody consulted the EMH...?" No kidding!

*At the risk of sounding like a 10 year old, the scene of Agnes and Rios was icky. Surely the swashbuckler Rios doesn't suddenly talk about feelings? Or is that the EMH, which is even ickier.

*I loved the shots of little Soji's big feet. Reminds me of Firefly's Summer.

@Peter G on joy as the core of ST--"the joy of discovery..." Thank you for the reminder. And @William B (nice to read you again)--"the joy of working through a problem together" is what I love about ST. I hope we will see some of this on PIC once this ragtag crew gets their act together.
Bilbo
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
This episode was definitely better than the other ones but still not very good, but at least there is at least some positive progress.

This episode: 2 out of 5 stars
All the other episodes: .5 out of 5 stars
The first episode: 1.5 out of 5 stars
skye francis-maidstone
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Another damn fine episode. They're really building up some momentum without needing endless effects or action scenes.

Still really enjoying the latest version of Star Trek.

Too tired to nit-pick but the small problems with it make it a 3.5 star episode for me.
Quincy
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
@Chris
Yeah. I had a few issues with this episode. But it was definitely better than the last one. One thing that bothers me is that PIC seems to have a bad habit of glossing over important logistics and other issues with the plot. There had better be some mention of the EMH or the political consequences of what happened in this episode in the near future. Otherwise, I call BS.

@bencanuck
Thanks. Anyone who's ever had someone with PTSD in their family or someone they care about, knows how legitimate that scene was. My father was in WW2 and suffered from PTSD for DECADES after he'd come home. I witnessed one episode myself at 5 years old that scared the crap out of me. He and my mother had to explain later what happened.

@Descent
We'll have to agree to disagree. We don't know what the guards know, so we have no method of gauging their relative culpability. In any case, pragmatically Soji is about to be killed. Anyone caught helping are going to be captured, interrogated, tortured, and possibly killed. They know that for a fact. The guards, knowingly or not, are complicit in this act. They absolutely have to escape to avoid this fate. Could they have knocked them out? Certainly. However, Elnor has no reason to knock them out. He already doesn't see the need to completely obey Picard, thankfully for Picard. And he's not inclined to spare them. Picard is simply desperate to save Soji. There was no time for him to argue with Elnor on how Elnor chooses to save his behind. This is a reasonable outcome for the situation they were in.

I gave you an example where death was glossed over. You may not like "Vengeance," but that doesn't mean it does exemplify what I'm talking about. Show me where Picard dresses down Riker the way that he dressed down Worf in "Reunion."

Let's look at "The Best of Both Worlds." Almost every fan loves that episode. They never even discuss not killing Borg drones. The nature of the threat is far to grave to even give consideration to such nonsense. Also, no mention and no reaction is shown when numerous members of the crew are killed by the Borg cutting beam that slices through engineering. It receives exactly one line of dialogue and is thereafter forgotten. Everybody is too busy worrying about the fact they all are likely to die in the next day or so to spare any attention on it.

I'm not talking about defending the quality of the "Vengeance" episode. I'm talking about defending Riker's actions at the end, whether they like the episode or not. I've been on multiple websites and will get people telling me his actions are justified, in the same way a police officer would be "justified" with shooting someone who has a gun today.

@Marvin
Yeah. It's a plot hole. I wasn't too bothered by it at first, but it keeps happening that they gloss over details and move the story as if these things didn't happen, like Agnes shutting off the EMH. And Picard witnessed these Romulan events personally. Any Vulcan or Betazoid could've verified his memories of the event with a mind meld or telepathy. In order to squash the news of these operations, at least three so far, the Romulans would have to have total control over Star Fleet itself, not just a few moles in high places. I hope that's not where they're going with this.
Yanks
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
Hey Karl,

"Yanks,

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

I rated the episode a 3...

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

It's gratuitous, sure not exactly the same, but "lacking good reason" fits. The only thing I can think of that might justify it is she is trying to get someone in her corner when someone figures out that Maddox's demise wasn't an accident.

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

Not buying it. That med technology was common in Kirk's era. I can understand the shortage of "eyes", but not a simple dermal regenerator. The Borg assimilated countless species that had that technology and the Romulans had it too. Take a shuttle, go to Freecloud and borrow one.

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

That makes sense, thank you.

"4. Regarding Picard's PTSD: It's well known that the writers wanted to do more with it, but were slipped down by the fully episodic nature of TV at the time. Ron Moore had to fight like hell to even get Family made, because Paramount didn't like having a story which was so referential to what happened the week before. Since First Contact we really only saw Picard twice up until now, so there's no reason to think he's "over it.""

There is 4 years before 'First Contact'... He's been over it for over 20 years. I didn't say nothing should be there and I certainly am not numb to PTSD (as some comments above would suggest), I said they went way overboard with it.
Booming
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Because nobody has mentioned this. Will we see a single romulan spy op that doesn't go wrong? I guess they got the planet where she was created out of her. That's at least a partial success. Why does that help them I'm not sure.

Another thing nobody mentioned so far (I think). So Soji and Dajh were/are 37 month old? How did Dajh get into school and then accepted into daystrom? How did Soji get whatever references she has as a scientist? Both their biographies had to be constructed and then made so convincing that one could get into the best institute in the Federation and the other on a very sensitive post.
Descent
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy
I'm possibly being uncharitable to the writers, but I think you and I have probably put more thought into the scene with the guards than the writing staff did. It seems to me like it was transparently there to be "cool" and as a very awkward way to get Elnor onto the Cube. The viewer isn't invited to consider the moral ramifications of stabbing the guards to death in any way, because we're not even meant to care. The characters themselves don't care at all. For me, seeing Picard completely fail to react to his friend killing three people really pushes me away from the show and makes it a lot more difficult to connect with the characters. Even if we accept what the writers probably intended, that they were "forced" to use lethal violence immediately to save themselves, surely it wouldn't hurt just to have someone comment on how regrettable it was and look sad for about 10 seconds. It also doesn't help that the writers seem to want us to see Elnor as funny and endearing, rather than unpredictable and dangerous (which is what he clearly is...).

I criticized The Vengeance Factor because I agree it's crap, both in its general quality and in the behavior of Riker (and the behavior of Picard in not tearing into Riker afterwards). I acknowledge why you gave it as an example - it absolutely is an instance of pointless, glossed-over murder in Star Trek, which is why I criticize it in the same way I'm criticizing the scene from Picard. If anyone really does defend Riker in that one, I'm just as bewildered as you are.

As for BoBW, the Borg are actively attacking en-masse and the Federation don't even know at that point that Borg can be deassimilated, as far as I remember. They're basically space zombies as far as anyone knows. When the situation is less straightforward in "I, Borg", Picard - rightly or wrongly - refuses the opportunity to stop the Borg once and for all on moral grounds.

I always just really liked that the heroes would go to sometimes pretty stupid lengths to avoid lethal violence in a lot of TOS/TNG/VOY episodes. It made it feel distinct from most everything else on television and was a crucial part of Star Trek's character and identity to me. I always think of the end of "The High Ground" when Riker and Worf rush a compound of armed terrorists, and put themselves at incredible risk of being shot by insisting on using knockout syringes and hand-to-hand on everyone. It's slightly absurd to the point of being funny, but for me it's so much more preferable to having a samurai elf ninja behead three people. Elnor knocking the guards out would still have let the show have its mandatory quota of cool ninja mid-air twirling and shots of people getting thrown around like ragdolls that seemingly has to happen once an episode, but wouldn't have made the heroes look oddly sociopathic.
Tom
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

"It's gratuitous, sure not exactly the same, but "lacking good reason" fits. The only thing I can think of that might justify it is she is trying to get someone in her corner when someone figures out that Maddox's demise wasn't an accident."

I'm not sure why a sexual act needs a non-sexual motivation. Two people wanting to have sex because it's feels good and it's an escape doesn't qualify as gratuitous. It's 2020, not the 1950s, and it actually felt like a relief to watch something occur on this show not have a panopoly of deeply significant character motivations behind it.
GreenBoots
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
@Tom
"I'm not sure why a sexual act needs a non-sexual motivation."
For the characters in-universe, it doesn't. In a meta sense, though, they spent about a minute of screentime on that pointless scene that could have been spent ironing out some of the plot niggles that everyone in the comments seems to have, even those feeling positively towards the episode. It is gratuitous, in that it seemingly exists for no reason other than "modern shows need sex and violence, or people will think we're immature" which is ironically a very immature attitude towards sex and violence.
Gerontius
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
At last! It's hit its stride. My trust is repaid.

Now I'll get back to the start of the thread, and see what other people made of it...
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
“Another thing nobody mentioned so far (I think). So Soji and Dajh were/are 37 month old? How did Dajh get into school and then accepted into daystrom? How did Soji get whatever references she has as a scientist? Both their biographies had to be constructed and then made so convincing that one could get into the best institute in the Federation and the other on a very sensitive post.”

@Booming the writers were hoping people would forget that. It’s the JJ/Kurtzman way. Nothing matters except what’s happening in that exact moment, whether it makes sense with what came before or what’s to come after. Doesn’t matter. As long as it looks good in the moment.
Omar
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
If you remove the Raffi stuff this would have been a good episode.
Lodged Torpedo
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
In a future where minds can construct starships and create synths with human flesh, why wouldn’t they be able to create fake resumes, records and biographies good enough to get into Daystrom??
Ghosted
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
A solid episode I thought. I think Stewart's acting was excellent in conveying his fear and apprehension. Even in first contact where he was fit and able, Picard was still in a state of trauma for the most part though he got through it (despite breaking his little ships). He is now an old man with all of the frailties that come with it and i thought Stewart played 'the frightened old man' brilliantly.

The reunion with Hugh was touching and despite Hugh's close friendship with geordi, I think it's natural that Picard embraces him as they have both suffered and have come back from it. In I, Borg Picard is still suffering the after effects more acutely and does not see him as the individual he is initially.

Narek was a plus too this week I thought and some subtle further gelling between the crew, elnor and Picard felt more natural together for instance. Only minor gripe is that the Borg cube looks too modern and pristine, the 'Tron 2.0' alcoves take a little getting used to.
Tom
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
@GreenBoots

"For the characters in-universe, it doesn't. In a meta sense, though, they spent about a minute of screentime on that pointless scene that could have been spent ironing out some of the plot niggles that everyone in the comments seems to have, even those feeling positively towards the episode. It is gratuitous, in that it seemingly exists for no reason other than "modern shows need sex and violence, or people will think we're immature" which is ironically a very immature attitude towards sex and violence. "

Yes, the plot is too overstuffed for random sex. That's true. But even moreso for extended shots of topless Spanish hunks playing football, which was obviously inserted for the sex appeal. Whoever is responsible, it's things like these that make the show seem very insecure. TNG was better because it didn't need them, or feel it needed them.
Cynic
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
I found the initial Picard/Hugh reunion strangely moving. Earned? Maybe not; it's not like Picard was pals with Hugh, unlike LaForge for instance. But still, Del Arco and Stewart sold the shit out of that scene. Add to that the fact that it's about the first time in this show that Picard has found someone from his past who didn't take a giant dump on him (however deservedly), and I was sold on Hugh's undying (until next week, maybe) loyalty to Picard.

I keep thinking the Troi hug seen in the trailers and in next week's preview is a feint, a fake scene shot for the trailer, and in fact she punches Picard in the face when he and Soji teleport into her house: "You asshole!"
bencanuck
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

"So I guess Raffi brought money with her"

It's pretty much a given, not some wild idea. Raffi has bet latinum with Rios on whether Soji is still alive. One would assume she has access to this latinum on the La Serena. That's a more natural notion than that she is betting money that she has no access to on a one-way trip (she plans to stay behind on Freecloud).

"How did Dajh get into school and then accepted into daystrom?"

We have known since the earth-bound episodes that Dahj didn't actually have any record of being in or at a school. She only had credentials of graduation. She never 'got into school'. She never attended. The limited lifetime/past/history of both sisters was implied much, much earlier. I assume we don't dwell on this fact in this episode, because we have been living with it for half the series at this point.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
"I'm not sure why a sexual act needs a non-sexual motivation. Two people wanting to have sex because it's feels good and it's an escape doesn't qualify as gratuitous. It's 2020, not the 1950s, and it actually felt like a relief to watch something occur on this show not have a panopoly of deeply significant character motivations behind it."

Well in universe certainly two people can choose to have sex for whatever reason so it's not to say the scene is unrealistic.

However, "feels good" (for the characters) is not a reason to portray a sex scene in a tv drama. Indeed, absent "deeply significant character motivations" it's pointless and boring.

I mean we could also have a scene showing Picard using the toilet and no doubt in universe there would be good reason for him to do this. But does it have a reason to take up precious time? That's the question.
Tommy D.
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
I don't have a problem with Elnor and the guards. This has already been established that a fight with his kind is a fight to the death. Romulans know this. Hence, "Choose to live".

"Anyone who threatens him will be choosing to die."

Also consider on Vashtii, a romulan guard threatens Elnor, basically saying a sword is no match for a disruptor, a knife to a gunfight. I'm sure he remembers this.

Elnor isn't human and isn't a part of Starfleet. Picard trying to dress him down and dictate the terms of their bond as if he were still Captain/Admiral Picard to the young boy is his arrogance and ego shining through. Picard thanking Elnor for showing up at the right time and defying him is acknowledging he doesn't have that authority over their bond, or his culture.

And I guess Elnor showing up at the right time saves everyone from Soji becoming "activated", like Dahj.
Daniel
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: How could Soji/Dahj be 37 months and have gone to school, etc... 29 minutes into the second episode Jurati tells Picard that she did some digging into the background of Dahj and found that their entire backstories were fabricated. Dahj, for instance, had records and transcripts of her time at Regulus-3 Science Academy, but nobody was aware she actually attended. My guess is Soji's backstory was similarly fabricated before her insertion.

It's funny the lengths the writers had to go to please the producers during the TNG era--Yanks reminded me about "Family", an episode I really really liked. They had to bend over backwards not to mention the "incident" at Wolf 359. The word "borg" was only mentioned twice and only during the cold open.

It also got me thinking about Trek being animals of their eras. Not speaking out of judgement here or wading back into the trek/not trek argument, but I know the use of colorful language was limited by FCC regulations for broadcast television, and the depiction of violence (the TV ratings system didn't start until '97) was whatever the Broadcast Standards and Practice department would permit. People being shot with projectile weapons or phasers? Perhaps, as long as you don't see blood. Klingon hand-to-hand battles Bat'leths and Mek'leths? Sure, as long as those sharp things aren't seen to draw blood or dismember extremities on camera. It's that axiom about limitations being fuel for creativity, so I can understand how some people are nostalgic for the way things used to be--especially now that it's been 26 years since it went off-air. The pendulum swinging the other way, an argument could be made that just because you *could* use all the new toys, you don't always have to.
Tim
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
@Descent

"I criticized The Vengeance Factor because I agree it's crap, both in its general quality and in the behavior of Riker (and the behavior of Picard in not tearing into Riker afterwards). I acknowledge why you gave it as an example - it absolutely is an instance of pointless, glossed-over murder in Star Trek, which is why I criticize it in the same way I'm criticizing the scene from Picard. If anyone really does defend Riker in that one, I'm just as bewildered as you are."

How the heck is that scene murder? It has been some time since I saw the episode but to the best of my recollection stun was wholly ineffective (he tried two or three times) and the woman was literally a split second (she needed only to touch her victim who was only a meter or two away) away from committing murder.

Riker shooting her dead to save the life of her would be victim would pass legal and moral muster in the 21st Century, so why wouldn’t it in the 24th? What other option did he have?
4Q2
Fri, Feb 28, 2020, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
Not great but a lot better than last week's piece of shit.
Jeff C
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 12:11am (UTC -5)
The pacing and character work in this episode felt so much better than "Stardust City Rag." None of the performances felt overblown, and it felt like things were actually being done to serve the larger story, rather than to offer the viewer cheap but easily forgotten thrills.
William Matheson
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Not bad. Some genuine excitement / suspense near the end. Am more looking forward to next week than I was looking forward to this week, last week.
brian l
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:31am (UTC -5)
@Drea
Manipulation. You can see the change in Soji's demeanor to someone who's aware her partner is manipulating her, staying with him because of that manipulation, and aware of it but also not accepting the full reality of that means. It's subtle, complex, painful to watch, and has me sold on Briones as an actor, if I wasn't already. In the prior episode, Narek straight up uses access to knowledge that matters deeply to her to keep her around. It'd be nice if people broke things off when they became aware of a partner's coercive tactics--but they don't, because that's how relationships driven by deception and coercion work.

@Rahul
Narek and Soji want info from each other but in their last interaction prior to this episode in "Absolute Candor" Soji was upset with/far more suspicious of Narek (after their stupid sliding around the Borg cube) -- so this is why I question why she'd go back to sleeping with him. Thinking rationally about how she'd react going forward, I believe she'd stop sleeping with him. But maybe you know more about "relationships driven by deception and coercion" than I do ;)

@Drea
Yes, as a woman, it's statistically more probable that I have been on the receiving end of a coercive relationship, so that winky face is a little misplaced.

Before I go to my opinion on their relationship, let me state that I don't think your gender has anything to do with how much experience in manipulative relationships you have. Manipulation and coercion flows in both directions, regardless of gender.

In the case of Soji and Narek, it flows both ways as well. There have been multiple scenes where it is clear that Soji is also using Narek for infomation...she has actually grilled him a little bit. I'm fairly certain that Rizzo's fears are legitimate and Soji is the dangerous one here. I think all the protagonists at this point are being played for fools.
Trek Noir
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:49am (UTC -5)
An uneven episode
Booming
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:53am (UTC -5)
@ John Harmon
Yeah, you are probably right and it is working. I cannot remember half the mysteries the show has introduced.

@bencanuck (and Daniel)
Sure, there backstories were fabricated but who has the resources to make them so convincing to get them into the Daystrom insitute. I did some very unimportant work for a special branch of the military and military intelligence officers told me that they would take a deep look into my life and that of family and friends. Soji and Dajh would work/do work at very sensitive stuff.
Bashir once told Miles how many people were needed to create a virus to kill the founder and it was like 150. I loved that scene because Bashir explained basically for the audience why conspiracies are very complex and need lots of people and resources. Are we supposed to believe that Maddox did create a new type of android, build them, programmed them, fabricated elaborate backstories and set up a system (mother of the androids) they would contact daily all on his own? They mention in the eye ball episode that he borrowed money/or something from the Tal SHiar. So if the Tal Shiar is funding his research (and technical and engineering staff+housing and all) why does Rizzo, a Tal Shiar agent, try to find the place where Dajh/Soji were created??

And about the money thing with Raffi. I thought the comment about the bet was a joke. There are so many scenes in Star Trek were people bet with Latinum without actually possessing it. It's almost a running joke. But fine she got money somewhere.
Dey_Took_His_Jurb!
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 3:09am (UTC -5)
The puritans who don't like the cursing are not going to be happy when Q appears in the finale and Picard instantly calls him a cunt. (/spoilers)
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 3:25am (UTC -5)
A mixed bag of an episode for me. Which, is already an improvement, considering I didn't particularly like any of them previous to this, except for the pilot.

I won't get into too many details, just because many of you above have already articulated the same observations I would have.

However, I do want to say that the Picard/Hugh reunion was actually outright wonderful. In all of my comments on STD and STP episodes, I don't think I've ever used that word, or a word even approaching it. And anyone who's ever read any of my comments (particularly about STD) will know I have ... very strong opinions about modern Trek.

But, I can't think of any other word for those scenes. Just wonderful. Not just because Stewart and Del Arco have a good chemistry between them; the writing around them was good, and the direction was considered and deftly executed.

So much so that — for the first time since episodic Trek came back after ENT — I actually felt like I was watching the Trek I grew up with. The way the dialogue was crafted, the way the two characters interacted and played off each other, it all felt like I was watching a natural extension of 'I, Borg' and 'Descent'.

And the walkthrough of the cube together, discussing what Hugh's project is about, and the compassion shown to the ex-drones that the audience can see. Just superb; tastefully handled, and thoughtful.

More — much, much more — of this, please. I'm begging you. This, to me, was finally proper, classic, beautiful Trek. Just too fleeting in its duration, this time around.

On an other, completely different note ...

@GreenBoots:

'Actually, wait. If the Borg has access to this tech, and now can essentially warp infinitely and instantaneously in any direction, why have they not steamrolled the entire galaxy already?'

This comment reminds me that I've got a shitload of question marks around the presence of the Borg in this series, and what the plan is for them.

My understanding of the Borg status quo was that Janeway & Co basically took the entire race down, when she blew up the transwarp hub and the Queen with it. It seems to me that the implication was: if she blows this thing up with the Queen, the Borg are done.

So, on the one hand, it makes perfect sense to me that we've got disconnected Borg cubes floating around here and there, and that their crews are being rehabilitated and de-Borged. So far so good.

But then I remember that — actually — STP hasn't actually made clear what the status of the Borg Collective is. Is there a new Queen? Were there multiple Queens as safety redundancies, for precisely the sort of unfortunate circumastances that Janeway visited upon the Collective in 'Endgame'? Did she really take the Collective down, and the galaxy is littered with cubes like this artefact, its crews basically waiting to be de-Borged? If there is a new or multiple Queens, are the Borg re-grouping and getting ready to resume doing Borg things?

Narratively, I don't know that any of that will even be relevant to the show. What depresses me, is that maybe — if STD is any indicator of lack of writers' foresight and competence — Kurtzman and his cronies haven't got the foggiest clue, either.

And just a reminder, for those questioning Elnor's predilection for sticking pointy things into people ... err, he *does* come from a group of warrior nuns, after all. With their raison d'être being precisely to stick pointy things into other people. That's why Picard hired one of them. It's not like they're trained diplomats ... ;)
Gerontius
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Now I've read through the comments - and I'm glad to see my appreciation of this episode seems generally shared. Coming after last week's probably helped.

One thing that I find increasingly irritating doesn't relate to the series, but to the forum, and that is the way people stick in rows of letters to refer to stuff, instead if taking the minuscule effort required to write out the names. It's all very well to do it for things like TNG, though still pretty pointless (especially where no-one can agree as to what the right abbreviation is, as with Discovery. But when it comes to the titles of long past episodes its a nuisance. I never bothered to learn the names of more than a few episodes in any case, so these acronyms are especially useless.

Rant over.

One comment I particularly liked was about how this episode brought out a sense in which a major theme of the series is about damaged people gradually healing, tyinng in with the idea that there's an ambition for finding a way to heal the bigger damaged world. I hope that is how it's going to work out.

And thanks to Mal for giving us that quote from Tennyson's Ulysses, which seemed particularly apposite to Picard's return, and to what he is about.

As for the plot flaws people have pointed out, some of them are justified and maybe a little annoying, some are pretty insignificant, and most of them can actually be explained away as just reflecting the "fact" that we don't know everything about what's going on, and it's easy enough to imagine an explanation.

For example, the lack of problems with the body count from the Tal Shiar ambushes in the first episode is no problem - we were. Shown that dead bodies can be retrieved by those running the attacks, even one in mid-air. And in any case it seems likely enough that the extent of cooperation between the Federation and the Tal Shiar is a great deal closer than has been shown so far.

One thing Inwas pleased to note from looking at the IMDB cast list, it looks like Elinor will be with us for a few more episodes, rather than being eliminated next week in a blaze of glory. I'm enjoying his channeling of naive Data. As for his lethal fighting style, it's consistent enough with samurai persona, and its always with people who are in a position to kill him or someone he is protecting.
Andy's Friend
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 4:38am (UTC -5)
@Quincy

"I see several people complaining about Elnor killing the guards. (…)

Contrast that with what Riker did in TNG's "The Vengeance Factor." Rewatch that scene and see how many different options Riker had to NOT kill Yuta. 1) (…) 2) (…) (…) 3) (…) 4) (…). What Riker CHOOSES to do instead is beam down by himself and kill her. Most people actually defend this scene vigorously when this is pointed out. So much for the Rainbows and Butterflies Trekkian outlook."

You seem to have missed the point entirely.

Yuta is a tragic character. Her tragedy is to die in the end as she cannot escape the fate her 'gods' (her makers, or bioengineers) have designed for her. She *must* do her murderous attempt, for a murderer is what she essentially is *by design of the gods*.

Contrast this to Remata'Klan in DS9's 'Rocks and Shoals', another entirely tragic figure and exactly for the same reasons: he too is, quite literally, a product of his gods.

Remata'Klan works better dramatically than Yuta as he (and the entire episode) is better written and is provided with truly Homeric lines by the writer (that episode is easily one of Ronald D. Moore's most powerful efforts). This does not change the essence of either Yuta or Remata'Klan: also some of the tragic figures in classical Greek plays were better written than others.

That is at the core of the 'Star Trek vs modern dreck' question. Star Trek, even in DS9's most subversive moments, is usually sound from a dramaturgical perspective. Unlike what seems to be the case now (I'm not watching), the episodes not only draw extensively from classical storytelling devices but are, very fundamentally, correctly constructed, with protasis, epitasis, and catastasis, the latter often including catastrophe (in the dramatic sense: the change or revolution of events) that leads to catharsis.

Allow me to quote myself from 'Q Who':

'You have to look at it from the perspective of classic storytelling, and forget about such silly modern notions as 'plot holes'.

Take for example Picard's initial assertion that Starfleet is prepared for whatever is out there. This is admittedly out of character for Picard and outright silly. But it is nothing but an instance of Classical hamartia, the hero's 'tragic flaw', moving the plot forward and leading to catharsis as he is humbled by Q and learns his lesson: "I need you!"

We know Picard to be better than this. And therein lies the greatness of this episode. Facing Q and letting his animosity toward that entity get the better of him, Picard, our hero, errs. And it costs him eighteen of his crew to learn that. In other words, his over-confident initial stance is not a 'plot hole', it is a time-honoured plot device.

Star Trek is rife with such classic storytelling devices, which we must know to recognise in order to fully appreciate many of the stories told. Star Trek, more often than not, is not about 'realism': it is about archetypes, classic tropes, and ancient lessons. This was understood thirty years ago when this episode aired. '

Unfortunately, audiences today are growing ignorant of classic storytelling. The serialised structure of much modern television is one of the main culprits, as it shreds to pieces classic dramaturgy, sacrificing sound structure to mystery and obfuscation week after week until finally providing answers that usually prove unsatisfying.

Still, it surprises me when people fail to see classic drama as it is unfolding right before their eyes. Yuta is a pawn of her gods just as Remata'Klan is—or, in essence, the alternate Voyager crew in VOY's 'Course Oblivion'. All those characters *must die* in the end for the drama to reach maturity. The fact that 'The Vengeance Factor' is not particularly well-written has no bearing on the nature of her character. And the writer correctly places Riker in the end in a position that makes it impossible for him to prevent her crime unless he kills her. From a purely dramaturgic perspective, this is entirely satisfying.
Andy's Friend
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 4:58am (UTC -5)
@Gerontius

"One thing that I find increasingly irritating doesn't relate to the series, but to the forum, and that is the way people stick in rows of letters to refer to stuff, instead if taking the minuscule effort required to write out the names."

I agree. Sometimes it takes me half a minute to grasp what people are referring to. Every now and then I give up entirely. And it is a miniscule effort indeed.
Steve McCullagh
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 5:29am (UTC -5)
@Tim C

"(Gee, his choice of assassination method was pretty Bond villain stupid though. Why not just beam her into space instead of relying on a slow-acting gimmick? Nitpick, nitpick...)"

It was a nice little callback to how Shinzon murdered the Senate in Nemesis, I thought.
Gerontius
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 5:56am (UTC -5)
Some interesting points Andy's friend made - but fatally undermined by that aside "I'm not watching" about this series. I believe taking part in without having some experience of what is being discussed reduces the value of doing so - and that this thread is a discussion centred on this series, and this episode in particular. (And the notion of the possible "tragic flaw" of the hero is incidentally very central to the series.)

I agree the method of killing Narek chose for Sofi was a bit artificial - but I liked the use of the hyped-up Rubik's Cube in this episode. Sas has been pointed it tied into the notion of hidden secrets being unveiled, and also both of the Borg Cube, also grounded us back in the days when Star Trek was new and the Rubik Cube was everywhere... maybe it's time it made a come back. I could never manage it.
Gerontius
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 6:06am (UTC -5)
I agree with Andy's friend that the serialised model for a drama involves serious dramaturgical problems. Especially when it's an open series model, which is essentially that of a soap opera. It can be used creatively, but it is much more demanding on a writer or team of writers.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 6:39am (UTC -5)
What a brilliant comment, Andy's Friend.

I think a lot of it is that many TV writers today aren't as literate and well-read as the best writers and showrunners used to be in the past. I mean, our whole culture is less well-read - I don't pick up a book as often as I should myself anymore (or I start but never finish them), and I have quite a few friends in their 20s who don't read books at all or who don't even have the attention span to watch a film or a TV episode anymore without constantly doing stuff on their phone. I recall Ira Behr talking about his home library - he has a room with shelves covering every wall, home to about 5000 books.

You're right about The Vengeance Factor. It's not meaningful to talk about what Riker does or chooses to do - the only reason Yuta dies at the end is a) the episode is badly written b) that's how the whole thing is structured and set up, everything is building towards a (highly contrived) situation where Riker is tragically forced to kill her. It doesn't work, but that's because of poor execution and a script that needed more work. Similarly, I see people sometimes make arguments along the lines of "[character] is immoral because he/she does X in this episode but Y in another episode", and typically the two episodes in question are by different writers and came at totally different stages in the show's development. We can certainly talk about how characters can be inconsistently written (Janeway possibly a prime example, as she was inconsistently written on a long-term basis, especially in later seasons), but it's not meaningful to pass overall moral judgments on fictional characters' behavior based on individual badly-written episodes that don't reflect the character as a whole.

I very much take your point about Course Oblivion. Although it's not an episode I like, the ending is the best thing about it. I'm a sucker for grand nihilistic statements like that, but ultimately the contrivances for me are too many and the quality of the drama not high enough - and again, Janeway is poorly written as headstrong and impulsive.

As I'm someone who watches hardly any TV drama now because I don't enjoy the bulk of stuff out there, are there any shows (present and past) you could recommend to me that are dramaturgically satisfying, well-characterized and smartly, tightly written in the way you describe? Doesn't have to be sci-fi. The only 3 shows I've really loved in the past decade were The OA, Horace And Pete, and Borgen.
Daniel
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 6:42am (UTC -5)
I second Gerontius' agreement with Andy's Friend. When it works, it works brilliantly, and when it runs into problems it's really rough to watch. For those who watch South Park, case in point is Season 19, where they experimented and serialized the whole season to tremendous success. The next season, they tried the same thing and the wheels kind of fell off the wagon. They've pretty much since gone back to their regular method of starting production on episodes six days before airtime.

Part of the problem I think was the producer's "Oh shit" moment when they realized they'd need to expand the first act to three episodes instead of two in order to make the last act make sense. Serialization planning is supposed to be very meticulous because of all of the interconnects, callbacks, and pacing--going back and wedging content to make an extra episode kind of mucks it up. Personally, it didn't bother me that much because I tend to take a more holistic view of show watching, but I can see where people had legitimate concerns about pacing.

Regarding Narek's execution method--I wonder if it actually was a callback to the thalaron radiation from the opening scene in Nemesis, just executed (hah) differently from an effects perspective. Remember all the dead agents who tried to apprehend Dahj using conventional means--disruptors and all? Narek wasn't going to spit out a suicide pill, but some radiation emission designed to destroy all biologic life in a confined area once fully deployed sounds plausible.
Daniel
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 7:05am (UTC -5)
I remember reading something about the production issues regarding The Vengeance Factor. Plot holes and writing issues aside, the whole killing of Yuta scene could have been mitigated somewhat had Picard not have been depicted as simply sitting there silently and motionlessly watching what went on.

As I recall, there was an argument between Stewart and the director, because that's not what Picard would have done in the situation. However, because the director really wanted to do the phaser kill disintegration effect. Back in the 80's all of that was done through visual effects, where each element had to be shot separately on film and manually composited after being scanned to video. That meant that the background plate (Picard) had to be as motionless as possible. Things we can do with our smartphone cameras with a few taps and swipes took many hours using expensive Quantel Paintbox workstations, rented out for hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour. Bad and quick and dirty compositing (think green screen effects) are fairly easy to set up, but good and seamless ones are notoriously time consuming to "clean up". The job of a sizable chunk of the artists in the end credits of effects-heavy movies is just cleaning up the edges of the compositions, making sure flyaway strands of hair stay in while the green bounce from the screen is painted out. Multiply that by 24 times per second of footage.

So there's an example (one of many) where a decision, error, or difficulty during production resulted in a significant difference in the telling of the story. I'm not trying to take away from anyone's arguments about the merits of the ending of that episode, but I personally take the view that there's a lot between the initial story pitch, to the writing and editing, shooting, directing, editing, and post-production, and things just happen due to circumstances that may distort the initial intent. At some point you have to lock in the edits and ship it, for better or worse.
Chrome
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 7:50am (UTC -5)
@Daniel

“Regarding Narek's execution method--I wonder if it actually was a callback to the thalaron radiation from the opening scene in Nemesis”

If you look carefully, the particles that the Zhat Vash agents spit out after dying are the exact same effect and color as the Thalaran radiation. I don’t why they switched to red here when the green version was fairly effective killing Dahj. It looks neat, though.
Daniel
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 8:07am (UTC -5)
@Chrome

I noticed that too. The only thing I could think is that the poison pill spit is something similar to that "molecular solvent" thing Maddox said destroyed all traces of his lab, and perhaps the red radiation version that Narek used was a Thalaron radiation variant in a different frequency (radiation being emissive from the box) that was a tad less dangerous to handle than the kind Shinzon used.

If the red radiation is indeed a variant of the Thalaron radiation, it would cement the thought that the Romulans are obsessed with destroying things by dissolving stuff.
Dom
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 11:40am (UTC -5)
@Chrome, I find that AV Club article about franchises really puzzling because, well, by definition a franchise is something that is supposed to not change too much. A company - or in this case an IP - franchises out to expand its reach, but still allow some local control by the franchisee. McDonalds is a franchise - local restaurants are managed by someone who pays for use of the McDonalds name. McDonalds requires that the restaurant adhere to the same standards and quality as all of its other restaurants. The who point is that a McDonalds hamburger in San Fransisco is supposed to taste the same as a burger in NY. Sometimes the franchise model allows for local innovation, like McDonalds selling noodles in Japan, but the whole point is that the franchise is supposed to have a clear identity - you know what you get when you go into a McDonalds here or in Dubai or in London.

This is related to my issue with "franchises" in Hollywood today. The way these things should work imo is if someone wants to tell a "Star Trek" type of story, then they should be allowed to use the Trek franchise name as a vehicle for the story. If they want tell a different kind of story, then search for another sci-fi franchise or make your own. I understand corporations want to milk franchises because of their name recognition. But I don't see how it benefits us fans. I feel like now when we get a new Trek story is it going to be some optimistic exploration of the human condition or a grim action show.
Chrome
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -5)
There’s a difference between a franchiser/franchisee relationship where someone just acquires a license to use a product under a parent company versus a film franchise where the rightsholders of a creative work get to make decisions about that creative work’s future. Take Star Wars, for example, where George Lucas has no creative control of Disney’s works and Disney isn’t obligated to oblige him if they want to go another direction.
Dom
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome, I think you're missing the point. I'm not talking about the corporate side. I realize CBS ons Trek and can do whatever it wants. I'm talking more about what an IP franchise should mean and how it relates to the point of a franchise in the business world. The point of a franchise is that it's a signal of some level of quality. Disney is under no legal obligation to listen to Lucas, but I'd argue that if they want Star Wars to succeed any future Star Wars should use the same - or similar - ingredients to what Lucas used in his films. In other words, future Star Wars can innovate, but should still "feel" like Star Wars. If the "Star Wars" label is used for too many different things, then the label essentially becomes meaningless.
Booming
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
@ Dom
Good point. The Ryan Johnson Star Wars was hated by many but think about how much closer it still was to what people consider Star Wars than what CBSallaccessTrek is to what people considered to be Star Trek.
Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Regarding the violence displayed by Elnor, we honestly don't know how much of this came down to writing versus direction. I'm guessing Frakes had a lot of freedom when it came to the composition here. The biggest issue with this scene is it directly conflicts with only two episodes before when Picard freaks out on Elnor for killing, and makes him swear he will not kill again without Picard's explicit permission. Then, he kills without Picard's explicit permission...and Picard doesn't care.

I disagree strongly with GreenBoots's comment that the time spent on things like Rios and Jurati's liason - or Raffi's drug abuse - would be better spent on "plot points." A sign of strong writing on a show is when the characters have room to breathe - when they exist on the screen as something independent of shallow plot-delivery devices. Watch something like The Expanse - or early seasons of Game of Thrones - and there are a ton of scenes which involve two characters shooting the shit about things not directly plot relevant. Or hell, the famous "Piller Filler" which we all loved back in the day. The point of these scenes are to let us know the emotional states of the characters at the current point, and their relationships with one another. On Discovery, the writers basically ignored this stuff - particularly in the first season - which is a large part of why many characters seem underwritten. On Picard they're following a different, and far more refreshing model.
Trent
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
Gene's mission statement was: "To explore STRANGE NEW worlds and civilizations. To BOLDLY GO where NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE!"

Terms like STRANGE, NEW and BOLD are anathema to corporate heads. They're after safe bets, brand recognition, market trends, tested formulas and maximum demographic penetration. Conceptually "new worlds" existing outside of familiar market logic are particularly insidious.

The moneymen initially didn't understand Trek, and so left it somewhat alone. Appeased with scantily clad women, fistfights and rayguns, they left alive a little nerdy alcove where little auteurs could do their thing. But the days of a quirky feature length film about Whales or Voyager Probes is gone. Trek's now Marvel in space, presided over by Kurtzman, a guy who changes everything he touches into a generic, hacky schlock, hyper fine-tuned to trigger fanboys ("I RECOGNIZE THAT CALLBACK!") and casual audiences, like Marvel films which deep-dive esoteric comicbook lore even as they offer big budget fisticuffs for everyone else. It's art as conveyor belt, churned out by machines. The serialized format itself lends itself less to the individual, idiosyncratic voices of singular artists looking to innovate.
Gerontius
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
True enough - they are distinctively different senses of the word. It might have been better if they'd used different words for the two concepts. But too late now to change.

Legally it's all about corporate ownership, and the owners can do what they like. But culturally it's more about a tradition, or what in the contet of painters etc is called "a school", and that's something different and ultimately more important.

I'd argue that there's a sense in which The Orville is more securely at home within the tradition or school of Star Trek than Discovery Is - and of course it would be quite possible for the owners of the Star Trek brand to produce material which was way way more out of keeping with the Star Trek tradition than Discovery.

I like the term tradition in this context, because a key element of living traditions are that they allow for change and development, while valuing and preserving links with where they come from.
Stuart
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

I heard that chronometric particle line too.

Then I began to think: that Cube is going to soon start up and start assimilating! It's not as benign as they make it out to be. Especially after Hugh's demonstration that things still work on it.
Chrome
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Which tenants to stick to in Star Trek are pretty subjective. I’ve seen various opinions with little consensus. I don’t think Gene himself was very consistent. But that’s another discussion.
Cody B
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Well this was probably the best episode yet so I don’t want to do too much complaining but I think it’s become clear that Stp is much more like Discovery than TNG in every way. It’s a overarching story told episodically and just like Discovery there are huge ups and downs from episode to episode in terms of quality. I wish so bad they would have got as many TNG writers as possible and tried to make more of a connection to TNG in both the writing and visually. But that’s not what we got. It still could be much worse and I’ll be along for the ride regardless
Lynos
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
The show bounces back from two awful episodes to land what may be the best episode yet. Still clunky in parts, but at least the intrigues this time make sense. Most of the stuff on the cube was pretty good, with Soji finding out she's not who she thought she was, as her world comes crumbling down (still not clear what she is. A robot? A clone? If you're flesh and blood then you're not a synth), and Hugh meeting Picard and showing him around.
Even Elnor was not as annoying as previously (but how does he know how to use transporters so efficiently?)

I could've done without Alcoholic Raffi and the silly Romulan meditation ritual. Also, Jurati explaining away Maddox dying in like two minutes and nobody giving it a second thought (after working so hard to rescue the guy last week) was a little weird.

But the episode had more things working for it than not. I'm not sure how Picard decided where to go from the cube, or why, but I guess we'll find out next time. I'm not really expecting this show anymore to resemble old Trek or the Picard character to be consistent with TNG Picard, I just want it to tell a good Sci Fi tale and have interesting characters. This episode puts it on the right track, for now.
Justice4ThePunkOnTheBus
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
Spent the evening reading through reviews and comments, and frankly I'm disappointed.

___

> "I don't know why Picards' female houseguest has a Scottish accent."

>> Irish, for fucks sake. I know the American education system is introspectively awful and shallow as a worms' grave, but you could at least identify the right land mass.
____

> "I don't know why the hologram alternates between different accents."

>> Because the dialogue established them to be seperate holograms performing seperate functions.
____

> "I didn't realise it was Hugh because nobody referred to him by name."

>> Same episode: "I'm working with Hugh."
____

Some of you people are about as factually accurate as a ScreenRant article written by creationists.
GreenBoots
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman
That is a fair point, and one I agree with in theory. Common Hollywood "wisdom" seems to espouse that every single scene must advance the plot, but that isn't always conducive to good storytelling and can exhaust/overwhelm the audience if taken to excess. Stories are made up of four primary elements- plot, setting, character, and theme. Every scene must advance at least one of those elements (preferably two or more, but one is acceptable), or else it's filler that doesn't deserve to be included in the runtime of the show. A scene that doesn't advance the plot must therefore focus on setting, theme, and/or character.

My issue is that the scene really doesn't seem to advance our understanding of the characters in any meaningful way. We learn that Rios likes soccer, but hobbies aren't character traits unless said hobby is tied to backstory/character goals, or if it's symbolic of a more abstract character trait (think Bashir's spy programs and "annihilation fantasies" reflecting his core fantasy of being a hero standing against seemingly insurmountable odds). We learn that Agnes is distraught over her situation, which we already knew and could probably assume that those feelings wouldn't vanish between episodes. We learn that Agnes and Rios are both sexually active individuals, but that doesn't really tell us anything unique about them. About the only things we do learn are that Rios is an empathetic guy who cares about the needs of others, which I feel is communicated better through his scenes with Raffi, and that sex helps Agnes take her mind off of things, which... great, I guess? But unless this comes up again, it seems like a rather irrelevant and uninteresting character beat to dedicate a whole scene to. If we knew more about her and Maddox's relationship, or even just more about Maddox as a character, we could maybe infer she's projecting her feelings towards Maddox onto Rios in a way to ease her conscience, but there's no clear link drawn between the two men other than maybe vague physical resemblance.

I suppose it could be a scene trying to enforce theme. Others in the comments have supposed that the main theme of Picard seems to be related to healing, which I can agree with, and on the surface this seems to be a scene about Agnes trying to take her mind off of her trauma through physical human connection, at least for a moment. However, a thematic read of the scene also falls a little flat for me, as it's lacking context. We know that Agnes's trauma is self-inflicted (unlike the Romulans, ex-b's, Raffi, etc), so the show could explore the concept of healing from extremely recent remorse through her. But the damn mystery-box storytelling prevents us from understanding her situation any more than "she did something horrible and wishes circumstances didn't force her hand into doing so"; without knowing what those circumstances are, I don't know if I should feel bad for her, or despise her, or something in between, so it's hard to say what I'm supposed to take away from the scene. In the show's mind, is this a healthy way for her to cope? Is this self-destructive escapism? Does she even deserve respite from her pain? Is lying to Rios and taking advantage of his kindness going to compound her guilt? Even if the scene is intended to be emotionally ambivalent, which it seems to be, it feels like by episode 6 of 10, I should probably have a good enough read on the character and situation to at least have opinions one way or another about these questions, but I just don't have enough information to form any.

All in all, I don't think it's a huge deal, certainly doesn't tank the episode or anything, but it just highlights for me how ineffective the character building has been on this show overall and how the insistence on drip-feeding us information to preserve the "shocking twists" for the dramatically appropriate moments just gets in the way of those classic Trek moments, where we were able to really sink our teeth into a meaty moral quandary. I certainly agree that Picard does at least *recognize* the need to slow down and build character in a way that Discovery never really does, which I appreciate, but I feel it's still pretty bad at it. When you compare it to the "Piller filler" of shows from twenty years ago, there's no comparison in my mind; those shows never artificially separated us from the characters or themes by holding back vital information that the characters were privy to, never prevented us from getting a clear read on our lead characters or their plights.
Tim
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Cody:

"I wish so bad they would have got as many TNG writers as possible and tried to make more of a connection to TNG in both the writing and visually."

You don't see the visual connections to TNG/DS9/Voyager? The LCARS-style interfaces on the floating computers? The combadges? The minimalist designs in the Starfleet/Federation offices? The (admittedly not visual) sound effects?

I can't find anything to complain about with STP from a production/design standpoint. It feels like the TNG-era to me, updated with modern production values and a bigger budget.

Some of the writing choices have confused me but I'm not jumping on the "This isn't Star Trek" bandwagon, not even with regards to the scene in the previous episode that so many found objectionable. That scene made my skin crawl but it wasn't much worse than some of the scenes we saw in First Contact and that movie managed to secure itself a PG-13 rating.

Picard is a product of its time. Enjoy it for what it is.
Daniel
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek has and always will be beholden to "corporate interests" because, well, it's a corporation that funds its production in hopes that a large enough audience would bump up the ad revenue, ticket purchases, or now, the subscription counts. Productions cost a lot--TNG cost $1.3 million to $2 million per episode, and at the time, that was what was necessary to produce an hour of television with quality production values and talent. (I have the utmost respect for what the fan shows were trying to do, but to me they're cringey and hard to watch)

Interestingly enough, it was Lucille Ball that was probably the most instrumental in making sure the original show could happen in the first place--she allowed Desilu Studios to run the show into studio losses in hopes that NBC would buy enough of it at a high enough price. Third season was a bit of a disaster, budgets were reluctantly slashed, and the show cancelled, and it was a major reason why the studio was sold off to Paramount.

The reason why it came back in the form of movies was because Star Wars, produced by Fox (funny enough, now owned by Disney) was such a hit and Paramount looked through its library of IPs to see if it could do a big flashy space movie. TNG developed out of the desire to launch a new television network. The network idea fizzled, but they found there was a market to sell the show in first-run syndication. DS9 came about when the studio realized it would be too expensive to extend the TNG cast contracts past the seventh year. Voyager was launched in order to anchor the UPN network, but the network itself suffered because Paramount wasn't willing to pay for enough compelling original content to fill the rest of the time slots. (Unless you thought wrestling was compelling creative content). Enterprise suffered in part because it took too long to get the writing in a good groove, but also because UPN was dying, and by then, the other broadcast stations who purchased the shows in markets UPN didn't have a footprint in, weren't willing to place the show in decent time slots. And then the franchise took a pause.

For what it's worth, and as much as the Abrams Trek movies were reviled by the "hardcore" fans, it kept the universe alive. (STID and annoying plot holes aside, I much enjoyed the movies and felt that the cast was actually getting into a good age/rhythm for Beyond) For the better part of a decade, Star Trek had presence in the mind space, and attracted new audiences. This was long enough for CBS to realize that Trek again was worth gambling on and funded a new show to anchor their streaming network.

Discovery, Picard, and all of the new shows in production is arguably a bigger gamble because it's a tremendous amount of money being spent on a platform that is expected to make net revenue losses for a certain number of years. Producers of shows on other streamers like Netflix appreciate the relative freedom and flexibility

I do wonder what kind of show Star Trek in all its incarnations to date would have been if they didn't have to worry about limited budgets, audience ratings, content ratings, and box office numbers.

Transporter technology was originally "invented" because it would be too expensive to depict a shuttlecraft taking crewmembers to and from away missions. Data saying "Oh Shit!" when the Enterprise-D was crashing into the planet in Generations was the writers toying with the fact that you could do that in a PG movie but not broadcast TV. Turning Picard into an action hero in First Contact and finding wild success was the reason why they continued depicting him that way in the rest of the TNG movies.

Worf was introduced into Deep Space Nine in an attempt to prop up flagging ratings, and Kes was written out of Voyager and Seven of Nine brought in because they weren't getting enough males 20-35 watching the show. "Corporate" decisions that nonetheless had a lasting impact on both the narrative universe and the trajectory of the show.

The idea is important, but it's also the execution of the idea that matters as well. Otherwise they're just scribbles in someone's notebook. There is always going to be some kind of symbiosis or feedback cycle between the idea man, the producers, and the audience. If enough people respond/react positively to the metrics that matter at the time, the shows will continue.* If not, it will eventually end.

*Speaking of feedback - In SFX magazine, Jeri Ryan was interviewed and mentioned that she has an option to return in the second season as Seven. That means she doesn't get killed off this season (she already disclosed she's back later this season).
Mertov
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Finally got around to watching it. Uneven episode with several inconsistencies some of which I am sure were commented on already by previous posters (haven’t had time to read all the comments). Unlike Jammer and many others thought, I think the last episode was much more coherent than this. And I don’t believe some of these inconsistencies are nit-picks either.

Jurati’s murder of Maddox from the last episode was glossed over too quickly. I hope the EMH will come into question in future episode because he witnessed that there was a problem with Jurati and Maddox. A major player in the puzzle Picard is trying to solve is suddenly dead when there was no indication and they just take Agnes’s word for it? I don’t buy it.

If Elnor (a character that I really like by the way, I hope he is not dead) can just beam down to help Picard and Hugh at the end, why couldn’t they beam Picard up? And I thought it was not that easy to beam down to the cube. Didn’t Picard need to jump through hoops just to get there?

Why did Elnor not go through the portal thing with Picard and Soji? His allegiance is to protect Picard, not Hugh. It makes no sense for him to stay down there, let alone, what is he exactly supposed to do with a sword against phasers, etc.? Am I missing something here?

I believe Quincy mentioned this above and I thought the same thing: now that a major incident has occurred in the cube with Romulans dying on a visit by Picard sanctioned by Federation, wouldn’t there be gigantic consequences? Perhaps, I am jumping the gun too soon on this and maybe it will be addressed, we’ll see.

The dialogues in the Rios-Jurati hook up were juvenile. I have no problem with two adults wanting to have sex, and considering their circumstances, it’s more than feasible for the two to hop bed for some action in pursuit of physical pleasure if they feel attracted, but who in the world came up with those lines as foreplay?

On the plus side, Soji and Narek storyline had its best moments. The 70-second dream sequence reveal was good, the narrative moved forward, and I enjoyed Soji getting activated and crashing the floor to escape. Good action bit. Also, the cube scenes with Picard, as well as his reunion with Hugh, were well-handled and well-directed. The cast is definitely a strength in PIC.

Nonetheless, it’s probably the weakest hour of the series so far for me, apart from episode 2.
Quincy
Sat, Feb 29, 2020, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
@Andy's Friend

You seem to have missed my point entirely.

I know full well about classic storytelling. You argument is similar to the James Cameron defense. "The film is about death and separation; he had to die," Cameron said. This despite the fact that we LOOK and SEE that there's room on the door for Leonardo or other objects floating for him to find. What an author or director has to do to alleviate the plot hole he has created it is make it so there's no plot hole. Make it so that there's an actual reason that the person dies that doesn't consist of he dies cause the script says so.

With all do respect, I don't need you to explain Yuta to me. I know full well what she is. If the author or director wants her to die, shoot the scene so that there's no other way to stop her, but to kill her. Otherwise, we're left with what we're left with ON SCREEN, something that doesn't make sense, despite fans yelling "classic storytelling" in the background. I don't care about the author or director's intentions, because those intentions either were poorly executed or never made it to the screen at all. I only care about what I CAN SEE ON SCREEN.

No I don't have to look at it the way you're telling me to. Half of the reason I conclude that such arguments are in bad faith is due to the fact that they are never applied to "modern dreck" in the same fashion. If DiS or PIC shoots the exact same scene in the exact same way, there would be endless nitpickers pointing out the flaws in it, regardless of whatever classic story devices were used. And you know what? They'd be quite right and I wouldn't sit here arguing with them about whether or not they understand classic storytelling. If something doesn't make sense, I don't care if it's my favorite series in the world, I'm going to point it out the same way I'd point it out if it's the series I love to hate.

If DIS depicts Michael Burnham dodging phaser fire AFTER the phaser has been fired NO ONE should accept that the story required her to make it to the final level and confront the boss monster, because "storytelling," and the ridiculous impossibility of a human moving faster than the speed of light shouldn't stand in the way of "storytelling." DIS would be lambasted ruthlessly and I wouldn't blame them. I've gotten into arguments with Alan Roi for exactly this reason. Absolutely NO ONE should accept that TNG did just that in the unintentionally hilarious "Conspiracy," just because they generally like TNG.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 1:16am (UTC -5)
@Daniel

" (STID and annoying plot holes aside..."

That's the kind of thing I mean't when I complained about people sticking in rows fof initials for no good reason instead of taking a second or two to write the name. What in earth is STID?
..................
I can't agree with Quincy about there always needing to be good reasons telegraphed in advance for how people act. That's not how real life works anyway.

As for GreenBoots jibbing at Rios doing keepy-uppies with his football, i don't think he or her appreciates the place football has for some people. It does indeed do a lot to define Rios - as legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly put it "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.' "
Booming
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 1:43am (UTC -5)
@ Brian L
I think Mike was speculating there. Would be really strange. The guy who played Itched is a d-bag but punishing a fictional character for that. I don't know. Why not rip the tongue out or cut of the hands if you want to make a meta statement? Why the eye?
Quincy
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 2:02am (UTC -5)
@Gerontius
"I can't agree with Quincy about there always needing to be good reasons telegraphed in advance for how people act. That's not how real life works anyway."

That's not even what I'm talking about. I'm talking about filming the scene correctly so it actually depicts what you're trying to say. If you're trying to say the main character has to blow the boat to smithereens because he's trapped below deck and can't escape, it would behoove you not to film the scene right next to a clearly lit escape hatch with a flashing sign that says emergency exit. Suspension of disbelief can only take you so far before you get ripped right out of the scene by something obviously stupid.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 2:35am (UTC -5)
That's a bit different, Quincy. I quite agree about stuff like that - it should only occur if there's a plot justification for it, and we need to be given that in time, and the issue needs to be noted as a puzzle, so it's not assumed it was a production cock-up.

I took it that you were also talking about something that got raised a few posts back about how Jurati and Rios behaved, and how it appeared inconsistent with how we might have expected them to behave. I don't think that kind of thing needs to be explained at the time.
Dougie
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 4:18am (UTC -5)
It’s not “classic storytelling”
It’s rosy retrospection. The comments here are like the list of memory biases from a Wikipedia page. I think somehere suffer ptsd and want to go snuggle and hug the 80s and 90s again. They’re unhappy growing old and want to use Star Trek was a way to go back in time to a happy place. Maybe tune out and collapse into a big fluffy chair and just watch Meatballs. Yeah. That’s it. Are you ready for the summer?
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 4:30am (UTC -5)
# Dougie

We all do it from time to time, and then curse when it show up on the forum.

I mean when we respond to something like you just did with "It’s not “classic storytelling” and then realise that the post it refers to is long long gone, and no one, apart from the poster, has a clue what we are really talking about.
Jason R.
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:09am (UTC -5)
"It’s not “classic storytelling”
It’s rosy retrospection. The comments here are like the list of memory biases from a Wikipedia page. I think somehere suffer ptsd and want to go snuggle and hug the 80s and 90s again. They’re unhappy growing old and want to use Star Trek was a way to go back in time to a happy place. Maybe tune out and collapse into a big fluffy chair and just watch Meatballs. Yeah. That’s it. Are you ready for the summer?"

And people born in the 90s and 2000s are bias free when it comes to judging the merits of storytelling?
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Storytelling hasn't really changed since the time Homer was singing, though there are a few different tricks available to storytellers what with different mediums used for telling the story. The test is whether the storytelling spell works, and that's always been the test.

It's never been a question of old was better or new is better. And never will be.
Daniel
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 7:06am (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

It's context-dependent for each generation. I was too young to comprehend the first few seasons of TNG, latched onto it sometime around Season 4-5. Seeing what TNG was like during S1 or S2 was kind of a shock for my tween eyes (uniforms, shooting style), and TOS was, to me, way too camp for me. DS9 carried me through high school--I watched it because it was Star Trek, but I didn't truly appreciate it until way later in my adult life. DS9 is now my favorite series. I can sorta watch TOS episodes, but it's the movies where I came to appreciate the original cast.

Personally, I like the new stuff, and I'm especially liking Picard for the new spin it's taking on the Universe. But if I need some comfort content or need something to stream in a side window or background, it'll be DS9/VOY/TNG.

That's just me. But I'm willing to bet that "kids" born in the 2000's and 2010s who are used to a certain narrative type, cinematic visual language don't view our generation's Trek the same way that we did. Believe it or not, there is a whole generation of people whose "home" iteration of Star Wars is the trilogy with Jar Jar Binks.
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 8:33am (UTC -5)
It's not as simple loving the version you came in with, and everything else never quite measures up.

I watched the original series, and enjoyed it very much. But when the Next Generation came along I recognised that as the real thing, far far better. And I really do believe that there'd be room for a new Star Trek that would be a step up from that. I haven't seen it yet. I don't dismiss the possibility that Picard might develop into giving us that, but I"m not too hopeful. (And I'm afraid, if it did happen, the owners would likely cancel it.)
Cody B
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 8:59am (UTC -5)
@Tim

If you are trying to say STP feels more like TNG than it does Discovery to you, I think you’re just about alone in that boat. And listing the combadges as a reason why it seems like TNG is a little silly. They use combadges in all the series and movies besides TOS. I also don’t understand what you mean by the “minimalist rooms” reminding of you of TNG. There has yet to be one scene where I’ve thought “oh man they nailed that TNG vibe”. I don’t even recall a scene where they ATTEMPTED to do that. This show seems 80% Discovery 20% TNG and I badly wish that was reversed.
Andy's Friend
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 9:33am (UTC -5)
@Quincy
@Daniel
@Gerontius

Quincy wrote: "If the author or director wants her to die, shoot the scene so that there's no other way to stop her, but to kill her. Otherwise, we're left with what we're left with ON SCREEN, something that doesn't make sense, despite fans yelling "classic storytelling" in the background."

Thank you for mentioning it. Yes, classic storytelling, meaning, as I wrote, 'fundamentally, correctly constructed, with protasis, epitasis (…)', in this case, concerning the tragic figure. Where shall we begin?

There are a thousand ways Hector can avoid being killed by Achilles, and there are a thousand ways Achilles can avoid being killed by Paris. There are a thousand ways Macbeth can avoid being killed by Macduff. Now, is the Iliad bad storytelling? Is 'Macbeth' poorly constructed?

Again: there are many ways Hamlet, and Othello can avoid death. Is 'Hamlet' bad storytelling? Is 'Othello'?

A few posts back I spoke of post-modernism. One of the central aspects of post-modernism is Gadamer's reader-response theory. I tend to disagree with most propositions of post-modernism, but in this Gadamer was of course right: we all, to a certain point, bring ourselves to the appreciation of discourse.

Now, in the realm of aesthetics two schools exist, contextualism and isolationism. What you are suggesting is isolationism so radical that you are transforming yourself into an automaton, Quincy: a machine that can only see what is on the page, on the stage, or on the screen.

I can only say that should you maintain such a stance, your perspective, and your appreciation, only becomes all the poorer for it.

What ever happened to using not only our intellect in the appreciation of aesthetics, but our sentiments? And our imagination? I imagine that a problem is modern, post-Enlightenment analytical thought. It is mechanistic, and linear: we proceed from point A) to point B) to point C)… Classic storytelling, as classic thought, is circular: at the end of the three-act play, you are reminded that point A) is also point C).

You write: "I don't care about the author or director's intentions, because those intentions either were poorly executed or never made it to the screen at all."

An isolationist would indeed dismiss author intent. But let me ask you: do you remember when your father or your grandmother told you stories as a little boy? Do you remember that once you were slightly older, you could detect little inconsistencies ('plot holes') in the stories they told you? Perhaps the brave Knight might have escaped because... Perhaps the fair Princess might have been saved because... Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps... But did any of it matter? Was it not the intention of your grandmother in telling you those stories that mattered most?

Intent is paramount to the appreciation of any deed. It is so in a court of law, and it is so in the realm of aesthetics, regardless of execution: you may even be convicted simply for the intent to commit a heinous act, for example. It is also a fundamental part of any analysis of discourse: i) By whom was it written? ii) For whom was it written? and finally, iii) Why was it written? Intent matters. The fundamental question in life is 'Why?'

Take craftsmanship, say, carpentry. Some carpenters are highly skilled and deliver their clients outstanding craftsmanship, worthy of their salary. Some are not, even if they try their very best to do a good job. And some are not but are only out to swindle you and move on. The end result of the work of the latter two may be the same. But don't you judge them slightly differently?

Now take art. There exist thousands of statues of the Pietà, which, from a strictly atheist, literary perspective, is simply a moment in the story of a tragic figure: a death foretold to fulfil ancient prophecy. Now, not all pietàs are as outstanding as Michelangelo's in Rome. Yet even the poor, simple sculpture by an unknown artist in a small town may be as aesthetically impacting when you stand before it. Why is it so? Is it not because it is the *story* it tells, and that intent to tell it of the poor artist that made it that matters most—and not the execution?

Michelangelo's Pietà is a good example of modern viewers seeing form and not function, which again is a fine example of the modern desacralisation of sacred art. The *function* of that statue is the *story* it tells: the *form* is essentially irrelevant. How many modern viewers truly understand this, you think? As in my previous post: how many do you think comment only the form, and not the function?

Appreciation of author intent is important concerning aesthetics in modern television for another reason. Quite often—as in 'The Vengeance Factor'—specific execution may be lacking due to a number of factors over which the author has no power. The production may have been rushed, for example. And to continue my metaphor, not all sculptors have the finest marble at their disposal.

@Daniel mentioned some interesting production aspects concerning 'The Vengeance Factor' that I didn't know of (thanks for sharing) which affected the way in which that final scene had to be shot, for example. This is important for the episode as seen *on screen*. But it is entirely irrelevant for the episode *as written*. In other words, that specific *execution* does not affect the *story*: imagine, for example, a stage production of the same script.

It strikes me that you are conflating storytelling with medium and execution. The medium chosen in TNG’s ‘The Vengeance Factor’ is a modern one, television; and the execution is not the best. The storytelling, however, is classic: it’s a play, a tragedy in three acts, extended to five for commercial reasons. It is in fact independent of the medium, and of course independent of the execution.

You wrote: "I only care about what I CAN SEE ON SCREEN."

I can certainly understand emphasis being given to execution. But read what you wrote, Quincy: doesn’t it strike you as frightfully limited? Don’t you think that your perspective, as your appreciation—of the episodes, the stories, the actors, the authors, of art itself—might become richer if you considered context as well?

@Gerontius wrote: ‘It's never been a question of old was better or new is better. And never will be.’

I could not agree more.
Booming
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 9:37am (UTC -5)
@ Cody B
I would even say that Discovery looked more like TNG. TNG, DS9 (to a lesser degree) and Voyager had lots of flowing lines, round edges. STP doesn't look like that at all.

Look at these.
https://sm.ign.com/t/ign_za/screenshot/default/discovery-enterprise-14-1555099736840_w4u8.1280.jpg

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/b/bd/Galaxy_class_bridge%2C_2366.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20160203205528&path-prefix=en

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/cc/ae/c7ccae715e6f62339aca0445c4f7b76b.jpg

and compare that to this
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/HUJxXttX66dnyzVYohRUoN.jpg

Starfleet headquarters is the Anaheim convention center, for gods sake! That is why the buildings in 25th San Francisco look so contemporary today, because they are!
https://musingsofamiddleagedgeek.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/img_4016.jpg?w=1000

https://musingsofamiddleagedgeek.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/screen-shot-2019-07-26-at-6.14.23-pm-e1564192715317.png?w=1000
Cody B
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 10:36am (UTC -5)
@booming
Yeah I agree with you. I think maybe Tim is trying to find the best in STPicard, we all want the show to be as good as possible but I’m not willing to lie or overrate the show. I’ve said several times I’m along for the ride but six episodes in I’m more on the disappointed side
Omar
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Narek: Most worst boyfriend ever?
Gerontius
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 11:35am (UTC -5)
So far as looks are concerned, there's not much difference, if any, between Discovery or Picard, compared to The Next Generation. Both go in for the dark look which is the fashion for spaceships on TV these days. But I can't say I care too much about that kind of thing. A few years and like enough they'll all be coloured like a rainbow.

But when it comes to the feel of the show Picard is lot closer to The Next Generation, and all the better for that. Closer still to Deep Space Nine.
Booming
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
I think STP for me looks so much more different because the first few episodes were on earth and they mostly used buildings in California. The odd thing is in earlier Star Trek shows they used models/CGI for establishing shots, now they just use buildings who do not look futuristic at all. You are right about the dark tone. No idea what that is supposed to accomplish apart from saying: "This show is darker."
Henson
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy
@Andy's Friend

This is a rather interesting discussion. If I may put in my two cents, I think I lean towards Quincy's view on intent. Surely, the intent of 'The Vengeance Factor' becomes rather moot if the execution works against that intent. At the same time, I find myself rather sympathetic to the other side of things as well.

Let me make a comparison: in Tommy Wiseau's The Room, the intent may very well have been to make a serious movie about a domestic drama (I know he claims otherwise, but other accounts indicate that this is probably an outright lie invented after the fact). The end result, of course, is so inept that the movie simply cannot be considered a serious drama. The intent is not sufficient.

However, the serious intent is also what makes it successful. Imagine if Wiseau had made the film with the intent of creating an enjoyably bad movie. I find it hard to imagine that this intent would not be perceived by the audience in the final product, and ruin the fun. We like The Room because it's trying to be serious, and completely failing; a movie trying to fail at being serious likely wouldn't have the same effect.

So what I'm wondering is: is intent most important when judging a story from outside of the fiction? That is, when viewing the story as a creation rather than an experience?
Jammer
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Chrome
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
Great review, Jammer. I’m posting from Mexico right now so I wish I could say more, but congratulations on 25 years of enjoyable Trek reading material for us all!
Quincy
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
@Andy's Friend

How should I even respond to something this condescending and pretentious? I'm at a loss for words... polite ones anyway. Normally what I would do is see or raise your condescension with a liberal dosage of my own wicked flavor. In the past, this has resulted in legions of pre-approved sympathizers admonishing me and policing my tone, while they skateboard Tony Hawk like, seemingly blind, deaf, numb, and dumb with sinus problems, right past the tone of the person I was replying to. I'm not going to do that today. We've already gone far off into the wilderness of tangents with this discussion. And I'm not willing to follow you there and maintain any sense of civility in the face of such outright condescension.

I will say only this. it is you who are conflating a number of separate issues. I'm not saying that an author should construct an entire story such that that story could only play out in one way. That would be asinine in the extreme. My original post before World War Tangent began was a narrowly depicted comparison between how the end of this Picard episode played out and how we all saw "Vengeance" play out and the disparate reactions of two camps of viewers. You chose to take us off the reservation into a Siberian remote tangential conclusion rife with Tunguska event level assumptions about my supposed lack of understanding of classical literature. Rather than dismissing your concerns as tangential to the discussion, I chose to address it in good faith. However, what I was discussing was a very narrow situation where the events take us to a conclusion that simply does not follow from what's on the screen. To this you scream, "but it's the classics, I tell you!" That is an absurd response to my point. I wasn't debating the merits of trying to get where the author is going. I was simply taking issue with the completely ineffective mode of transportation. And I was only doing that because you tangentially invited me to do so.

Now you have switched gears once again, making sweeping generalizations and mischaracterizations about my point in an effort to convince me that all modes of artistic transportation have something wonderful to offer. It should be clear to any rational person that analyzing the intent of the authors and directors of those two episodes and any other work is far beyond the scope of the original discussion, as well as, the subsequent discussion. It doesn't even belong on this board. This should have been understood before we even started down this path. I never ever claimed that another entirely different conversation wouldn't be meaningful to have that focused on many of the things that you wanted to focus on that had absolutely nothing to do with this original conversation. That's nothing more than your assertion ripped from the anus like a Law & Order episode. You wanted to go to Tunguska and bomb it. I wanted to stay on topic. That's exactly what happened, nothing more and nothing less.

I'm sure most artists start out with the intent to create a great work of art. Most fail. I'm not going to sit here and entertain the notion that every single hopeful artist has some wonderful story to offer me. You certainly aren't giving "modern dreck" the benefit of that outlook. I don't see why I should take advice from those who fail to take their own.

The fact is I have only ever asked for the duration and conclusion of any work to make sense. That's it. If it makes sense, I'm down with it, at least enough to be along for the ride, whether I like the destination or not. That doesn't mean it has to make sense in a linear analytical fashion. That's your claim, not mine. Both reason and emotion
have their appeal to my sensibilities. There are any number of ways for a story to play out such that it could have multiple endings THAT ALL MAKE SENSE, any one of which I might find satisfying. But once you've chosen any one of these roads less taken, you can't then show me an ending that's OBVIOUS to all concerned is supposed to end a certain way, where it's also OBVIOUS to all watching that it shouldn't have actually ended that way. And then use as an excuse "classic storytelling." Such contrived, pigeonholed storytelling, classic or not, ain't gonna fly.

It's you who are conflating distinct mediums of storytelling, even while admonishing me about literature and film. What I will accept from a novel isn't nearly the same thing that I would accept from a film or television show and vice versa. A movie or TV show simply cannot do what a novel or other literary work can, at least NOT in the same way. The reverse is also true. They both have to pick their battles and win them on their own terms. That's why books turned into movies and vice versa are adaptations, not one to one translations.

I'm not going to bother with all the other nonsense you've ripped from somewhere unsavory and which hails not at all from anything that I was actually talking about. The Great Wall of Text that would result from the "dialogue" would end up accomplishing nothing at all and amount to little more than an eyesore.

Instead here's another tangent for you, but it's actually more relevant than it seems:

This argument reminds me of a few I've had on this forum. One in particular was a disagreement over what science fiction is all about. I said it was about far reaching ideas, where the implications of those ideas mattered as much as the characters themselves. Where in fact, the science fiction is just one more main character in the cast, as important as any other. Others disagreed. It's just all about the characters and the sci fi was just an Uber ride those characters are taking to some hopefully wonderful place. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Take a look at this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-pF56-ZYkY

This may not be the classics, but this is science fiction to me. I'd love to see something like this as a teaser sequence opening any of the franchises' episodes.

It's only seven minutes of your life. And I could be wrong, but I do not believe any true science fiction fan would ask for those minutes back. I don't know if that describes you or not, but there we have it.

I was an avid reader when I was young. Nowadays I'd love to kick back and read a novel or three, but I simply don't have the time I had back in the day. I usually listen to audiobooks, as that allows me to go about my day and still get in some good storylistening.

My position is quite simply this. I have no problem with classic storytelling at all. If such storytelling can give me a feeling like the one I had when i first saw this video, I'm all on board. In fact, it has, during some of the Macbethian soliloquies. I haven't read Shakespeare in 30 years, but still remember some of the more potent experiences I gleaned from it. Beowulf also gave me that intense feeling of soaring to some distant place that can only be fathomed in dreams. But classics are not the be all and end all of storytelling. That would mean we had told all the stories worth telling and we should move on to other things besides storytelling.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my imagination. I can appreciate the classics just fine. But let me ask you, if all a man can appreciate is the classics, who's the one really being limited here? Will classic storytelling really get us everywhere we want to be? Has modern storytelling really fallen so short? If it has for you, why aren't you somewhere reading the classics for the billionth iteration, instead of on here arguing about "modern dreck"?
Marco
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
So, it seems that "Authority Figure" (sorry Jammers) liked the episode quite a bit (I did too by the way).
Funny that no one posted after the review. Is everybody re-watching the episode now?
:)
I don't know you, but I am now awaiting for next episode. How long has it been since this was a thing? 20 years?
Marco
Cliff Wagner
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
What a late coming review from Jammer. Really it took you this long to understand?

I understand the theories of fans' involvement.

But not Jammer.

Where have you been?
GreenBoots
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
@Andy's Friend
Quincy seems to be taking a holistic view of the work for the purposes of assessing its quality as a piece of television, and you seem to be analyzing the script entirely in isolation to determine how well it fits into some "canon" of storytelling. One of these is a practical means of assessing the quality of the episode itself and one of these is a purely academic exercise that feels like it has very little bearing outside of a classroom setting; Star Trek scripts are never going to be repurposed as stage plays, they are scripts written for the episode that they are used in and then never used for anything ever again. The quality of the script is inescapably tied to the quality of its execution in the episode; there is no "what if the production quality were better," as that will literally never happen, at least not in our lifetimes while the Star Trek copyright holds.

I'd argue execution is more important than intent in storytelling; cliche characters (like, say, a Pinocchio story about an android who dreams of becoming human?) can be brought to life by proper costuming, acting, directing, and scripting working together in harmony. Imagine if a lesser actor had been cast as Data, and played him completely wooden and minus any internal spark for seven seasons. Imagine if every scene involving him was staged in such a way that he never moved whatsoever except to enter and exit the shot as absolutely required, never lowered his head in thought, never "mimicked" human mannerisms. Hell, imagine if they pulled a Kamelion from Dr. Who, and had him be a lifeless, unconvincing prop rather than a human actor. Would we care about the character the same way we do now, even if the intent for the character and the writing were the *exactly* same? I'd argue not, as the form (the intricacies of acting and directing, in this case) conveys the pathos of the character far better than just words on a page ever could. If I lived in an alternate universe where we had gotten a bad actor playing the character, it wouldn't matter to me in the slightest if you sent me a message from this universe saying that the character was brought to life in an engaging and meaningful way by Brent; in my reality, it would be an unengaging character and no amount of daydreaming would change that.

Your examples of the characters in Hamlet, Macbeth, and the Iliad being presented with opportunities to escape their fates are not at all equivalent to bad direction ruining immersion. We know that Hamlet will never escape his fate because of his flaws as a tragic character; his hesitance, his indecisiveness, his obsession with vengeance. The inevitability of his death has nothing to do with the actual, literal cause of his death, and the audience will innately understand this if the production is competent. However, if a production of Hamlet kept the script verbatim but decided to stage the climax with Laertes holding his poisoned sword outward and Hamlet getting a twenty foot run-up before ramming his face into it, then delivering his dying actions and lines with a sword comedically jutting out of his eye, it wouldn't matter in the slightest how good the tragedy was executed up to that point; nobody would care about anything other than that absurd and immersion-shattering moment, and it would define public perception of that production. Of COURSE Hamlet could have avoided his fate- he ran face first into a sword! It wasn't human imperfection that led to his downfall, it was sheer idiocy. Would that diminish the quality of Hamlet's script? No, but you'd still look foolish trying to make that case to a friend whose only exposure to Hamlet was that disastrous production; bad form would completely supersede good authorial intent in his and most peoples' estimation. Now, imagine if that was the ONLY production of Hamlet that ever existed, and there would NEVER be another one, and suddenly you see the issue with the argument that execution is irrelevant to television and film.

A good script is a good script, but a good *episode* is far, far, far more than just a good script. In fact, any script that gets brought up as being one of "the best" of its medium is almost always matched by an equally high effort in nearly every other department (think Empire Strikes Back, think Groundhog Day, think The Graduate). Directing, acting, editing, etc. will always affect a person's judgment of a work's ideas when it comes to a multi-media work like film or television. If the laziness, incompetence, or simple bad decisions of an actor, director, editor, etc. diminish the quality of an overall episode, it is impossible to escape that fact unless you read the script in isolation, which is not the way that 99.99% of the audience is going to experience the work. Intent alone with no follow through leaves you thinking "Well, that's a neat idea, I hope a more talented production team can actually make those ideas work in a different story some day." (See: the endless fan re-writes of Voyager, which has a great premise, but lackluster execution) If I pay a carpenter and he provides me a table with uneven legs and a coarse top-surface, I'm not going to be particularly bothered whether or not he tried his best when I ask for my money back; the form undeniably impedes the function.
GreenBoots
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
@Marco
"Funny that no one posted after the review. Is everybody re-watching the episode now?
:)"
Uh, you posted that like twenty minutes after the review went up. Do you think everyone just sits on this page refreshing every ten seconds?
Henson
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
@GreenBoots

"Do you think everyone just sits on this page refreshing every ten seconds?"

Wait, was I not supposed to do that?
Yanks
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Love reading your reviews Jammer.

Congrats on 25 years!!

Agree, this is a big rebound for the series.
Mertov
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
2nd review in a row that I disagree with Jammer, and that probably equals the number of times I disagreed with his reviews over the few years prior to that :))))

Congrats on 25 years Jammer! I love reading your reviews, even the rare times I disagree with them :)

In my first comment above I wrote:
"I believe Quincy mentioned this above and I thought the same thing: now that a major incident has occurred in the cube with Romulans dying on a visit by Picard sanctioned by Federation, wouldn’t there be gigantic consequences? Perhaps, I am jumping the gun too soon on this and maybe it will be addressed, we’ll see."

Now that I watched it a second time, actually Picard does not cause any of the mayhem. It starts because Narek tried to kill Soji and her breaking through the floor began the chaos. Also, I am not sure how much the Federation can be held responsible for Elnor killing the guards. We'll see if it gets addressed nevertheless.
Lodged Torpedo
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
What a milestone! Congrats on a quarter century! That’s half of all ST 🖖
NCC-1701-Z
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
I guess every Trek series has its “Best of Both Worlds” moments and its “Sub Rosa” moments.
John Harmon
Sun, Mar 1, 2020, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Happy 25th anniversary Jammer! It’s so cool you’ve kept this up throughout the years. Congrats.
Greg M
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 12:49am (UTC -5)
Happy 25 years Jammer. I found this site through the Trekbbs and I've been following it ever since. I'm glad you've kept up with it with the current era of Star Trek. I also agree with the review for this recent episode. So much better than last week, and it's probably my favorite episode of the season so far.
PM
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Jammer, your reviews and discussions have now travelled through space around our Sun 25 times.
Congrats! A tremendous Trekchievement!
Sven
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:29am (UTC -5)
Congrats on the 25th! I wasn't here for the entire 25, but this occasion makes me realise I've been coming here regularly for more than half of them. Oh, my, how they fly!
Booming
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:59am (UTC -5)
Thanks Jammer for providing this forum.
The journey continues. :)
Leif
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 2:10am (UTC -5)
I really love and live for great plot tiwdts turns..dont a lot of people here? But I agree they need to make sense and feel earned. But who besides me wants to see new alien races and concepts on this series and thinks it makes sense they should bring back UNIMATRIX ZERO with Seven amd Hugh..it would make sense and they could tie into Soji here...and bring back species 8472...
Tommy D.
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Spot on review.

Congrats on 25 years. I remember finding this site while using dial up on AOL. So glad its still around and alive and well.
Tim C
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 3:34am (UTC -5)
You raise a good point with Agnes' secret motivation, Jammer. The longer they hold back this particular reveal, the more likely it is to be underwhelming. Then again, modern Trek has managed to get me good before; I found the reveal of Burnham's mum as the Red Angel last year to be a pretty good twist, even if everything else about that storyline turned out to be a deeply unsatisfying mess.

Congrats on 25 years! I've been reading you since VOY season four, when your review of "Demon" made me laugh my teenage ass off. It's really great that you're sticking around for the latest incarnations of Trek, and I hope you remain for many more.
Lynos
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 5:26am (UTC -5)
I've been reading this site for at least 15 years, started reading Jammer's reviews when I first watched all season of Voyager... (or was it Deep Space Nine? One of those) and have been doing it ever since, the reviews always giving me insight into Trek and being part of experiencing this world. So just a thank you to Jammer for keeping this going.

I wanna ask a question about the last episode: if the Borg now has this technology that allows them to beam away to a range of 40000 light years, why haven't they been using it to conquer worlds all over the place? I mean, it seems like a pretty powerful capability. What do you think? Plot hole or am I missing something?
Andy's Friend
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 6:01am (UTC -5)
@GreenBoots

Thanks for your well-written reply. First, a note on terms. You wrote:

‘Quincy seems to be taking a holistic view of the work for the purposes of assessing its quality as a piece of television, and you seem to be analyzing the script entirely in isolation to determine how well it fits into some "canon" of storytelling.’

In aesthetics, what you here call ‘holism’ is called isolationism. Quincy is looking at the episode, as you write, as a piece of television, in your own words ‘assessing the quality of the episode itself’. And he is doing so, in his own words, caring not for author intent but only for what is on the screen. This is as clear isolationism as it gets: looking at the work itself, and nothing but the work.

And what you here call ‘in isolation’ is, in aesthetics, called contextualism. What I am asking is: what is the context of a given work? What artistic or philosophical current can it be said to be a part of? How does it function at various levels (in casu, as a script, as an episode, as acting, as directing, etc.), and why? What factors influenced the specific execution, and what other executions could be imagined? How would it work as a novel, or a poem? As a theatre play, or an opera? As a bedtime story for children? Is it reducible to, say, a sculpture, or a painting? To an aphorism, or an axiom?

Very fundamentally, I tend to look beyond the episodes as such to ask: what story is the author trying to tell us? What ideas does he wish us to explore? What lessons does he offer us to consider? And in which context—cultural, professional, and perhaps personal—must we see the work, its strengths, and its flaws? This is called contextualism.

Second, I do agree with you (and Quincy) on a number of things.

You wrote: ‘I'd argue execution is more important than intent in storytelling’, and I agree with your examples of the Pinochio story, or a lesser actor playing Data as you presented them.

You wrote: ‘However, if a production of Hamlet kept the script verbatim but decided to stage the climax (…)’, and so forth; and again, I agree with that example as you presented it.

You wrote: ‘If the laziness, incompetence, or simple bad decisions of an actor, director, editor, etc. diminish the quality of an overall episode, it is impossible to escape that fact (…)’, and I tend to agree; see below.

You wrote: ‘any script that gets brought up as being one of "the best" of its medium is almost always matched by an equally high effort in nearly every other department (think Empire Strikes Back, think Groundhog Day, think The Graduate). Directing, acting, editing, etc. will always affect a person's judgment of a work's ideas (…)’, and I most certainly agree; yet see my example below of ‘The Measure of a Man’.

The question of course is how much it takes before a scene becomes an ‘absurd and immersion-shattering moment’ as you wrote. What is a slight mistake we may easily dismiss, and what is truly immersion-shattering?

But when considering this, we must also look inward, and ask ourselves, how forgiving, how generous are we, and can we be more charitable? How much do we attempt to look beyond mere failures of execution to focus on the story, the ideas being told? How great is our power of abstraction?

Finally, the important matters. You wrote:

‘Would that diminish the quality of Hamlet's script? No, but you'd still look foolish trying to make that case to a friend whose only exposure to Hamlet was that disastrous production; bad form would completely supersede good authorial intent in his and most peoples' estimation. Now, imagine if that was the ONLY production of Hamlet that ever existed, and there would NEVER be another one, and suddenly you see the issue with the argument that execution is irrelevant to television and film.’

This is where I disagree. I want to believe that most people are capable of discerning between story and execution, between the abstract and the specific. But more importantly, I cannot accept the premise of ‘the ONLY production (…)’. This is a purely philosophical stance, open to debate, and you are fully entitled to think otherwise. I am a so-called realist: I consider the idea the real thing, not the physical phenomenon. For our present purposes, this roughly translates as the story, not the episode. Which leads us to this that you wrote:

‘A good script is a good script, but a good *episode* is far, far, far more than just a good script.’

And you are quite right, but I am not talking about the script, or the episode, and I never was: I am talking about the *story*, in other words the themes, the ethics, the ideas, and our ability to appreciate this independently of the episode as such. Which is why I initially focused on classical dramaturgy and the correct structure and devices of *story*telling.

Other factors matter, of course. In opera, the music is crucial. In television, both audio and visual aspects may play a part. But in most cases, the most fundamental aspect of a narrative is, quite naturally, the story. This, the fundamental story—the underlying idea, the aesthetical narrative, the philosophical tale, not the teleplay—is what I mean by intent. What is the author trying to say?

Is it a noble story? ‘The Measure of a Man’, regardless of execution, will always be a nobler story than ‘The Vengeance Factor’. Therein lies its greatness, and I believe, to borrow your words to a different effect, that most of the audience will innately understand this: that they can sense that beyond the merely superficial—Patrick Stewart’s powerful portrayal, Brent Spiner’s subtle performance, and so on—there stands a core of ideas that are noble and true.

This is therefore what I think we should attempt: to remember to include the greater—the ideas—while talking fondly about the lesser, the episodes; and to remember to be charitable, and to look past the superficial layer of execution to focus on the nobility, the wisdom, or the wonder at the heart of the stories. Because to me at least, that is really what Star Trek is all about.
Andy's Friend
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 6:15am (UTC -5)
@Quincy

Thanks for the video. The question is of course one of the most profound of our times. The immediate challenge is to avoid conflating artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness as most do.

Several years ago I wrote of this at some length here. A synopsis: I consider Data sentient, but the EMH a program only. I believe that Data’s ‘positronic brain’, though kept deliberately vague in-universe, is the equivalent of the real-life concept of the artificial brain, capable of fully emulating thought and consciousness. The EMH is a program only. I believe—and here I am echoing one side of the science community on the matter only—that no programming, regardless of how unfathomably sophisticated it may be, equates consciousness. Even the perfect ability to mimic human behaviour is but mimicry: Turing’s imitation game is fatally flawed at the root.

How we will deal with the matter of artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness will define humanity. I am glad to be living today and not three hundred years hence. I believe that in just a few centuries, future humanity will be able to understand us as poorly as we understand the caveman of ten thousand years ago: that's how fast things are changing. But I know this: at least the caveman was fully human.

You wrote: ‘This argument reminds me of a few I've had on this forum. One in particular was a disagreement over what science fiction is all about. I said it was about far reaching ideas, where the implications of those ideas mattered as much as the characters themselves. Where in fact, the science fiction is just one more main character in the cast, as important as any other. Others disagreed. It's just all about the characters (…)’

I completely agree with you. When I was speaking of the tragic character before, I was speaking of a symbol only, a vehicle to deliver the morality of the story. Very well then, I shall attempt to be as unpretentious and straightforward as possible.

The best stories of Star Trek, particularly in TOS but also in TNG and in much of VOY (despite execution) have always had the format of fables.

When we read (say) La Fontaine’s ‘The Fox and the Sick Lion’, we have a fox, a lion, and a cave. Similarly, when we watch any episode of TOS, we have the Enterprise crew, the Alien, and (say) the Nebula, or the Alien Planet.

Now, when we read (say) La Fontaine’s ‘The Fox and the Stork’, we don’t ask whether a fox and a stork would be able to communicate. We don’t ask whether they would be able to use utensils as bowls. We understand the fables for what they are. They are about ideas, perhaps not always ‘far reaching ideas’ in your futuristic sense (but see below), but certainly far reaching ideas in the ethical sense. And when we read La Fontaine’s fables in succession, we don’t complain of the ‘reset button’, or the lack of ‘character growth’ from one fable to the next.

TOS in particular, as well as most of TNG, are essentially fables. Necessarily lengthier and therefore more complex, the episodes are typically structured as Greek plays. This does not change their essence. They are moral tales.

The psychological growth of the characters is therefore essentially irrelevant as they are mouthpieces for more abstract concepts. Kirk, Picard, the Ox, the Eagle: it doesn’t really matter, the Enterprises are essentially zoos providing the animals—the archetypes—to people the episodes according to their characteristics, to tell the episode—the fable—of the week. And then, reset. Tune in next week, turn the page: watch the next episode, read the next fable.

This is a time-honoured format, resting solidly on archetypes to explore ourselves and the Other, and in so doing also ‘far reaching ideas’ both of greater morality and, here and there, the occasional futuristic idea. My favourite example is TOS’ ‘A Taste of Armageddon’, in which an entirely novel type of war—a surrogate war—is invented. ‘A Taste of Armageddon’ is as fine a depiction of provocative, terrifying futuristic warfare as any. Within the limitations of TOS, it’s science-fiction at its best.

This is how Star Trek works best: telling myriad self-contained stories, week after week, necessarily of uneven quality as La Fontaine’s fables but always with an ethical core and a resolution in the end. Because fables—myths, archetypes, and moral tales—is what ‘Star Trek’ the original series was all about.

The character growth of our heroes? Who on earth cares about character growth in fables? Character growth is not what fables and archetypes are about. Nor is it what ‘Star Trek’, the original series is about. Does Kirk change? Does ‘the Captain’ need to change in order to keep exploring ‘strange new worlds’ to stimulate our imagination, and our ethics?

‘Star Trek’ had thus an amazing model to tell stories, and that model was the fable. This was continued, by and large, in TNG with better production values. Serialisation compromises this: one risks it becoming more about the characters than about ideas. Which is why TOS and TNG are still the benchmark of Star Trek: they told stories about ideas, week after week.

Sadly, some fans fail to recognise this. They ridicule the ‘anomaly of the week’ as unimaginative, they demand ‘realism!’ and ‘story arcs!’ and ‘character growth!’, and they scream ‘plot hole!’ at anything. They essentially complain that the fox and the stork can understand each other, and that they can use utensils, and that the events of last week seem to have no repercussions this week. They have understood nothing at all. They seem to essentially want soap opera in space. They seem to want the form—ray guns and spaceships—but not the function.

This is why I defend the idea—the intent—over production, or execution, even if I often do it poorly. I hope this clarifies my perspective on Star Trek.
MadManMUC
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 9:31am (UTC -5)
@Jammer:

'[...] it's perhaps not the most reassuring sign that I kept dreading all the goodwill was going to suddenly evaporate in a final scene featuring some dopey twist ending [...]'

God damn, Jammer, you're not wrong! I kept expecting the same. It was so refreshing to see a very straight A to B episode for a change.
Moldorf
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Congratulations on your twenty-fifth anniversary, Jammer! I've never posted before, but I always read your reviews and the user comments. Thank you for enhancing my viewing experiences over the years.
Tim
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 11:02am (UTC -5)
This episode was well done and, to me, the best since "Remembrance." I particularly loved Picard's reactions to boarding the Ex-Borg cube (effectively conveyed using some snippets from First Contact) and the interaction between Hugh and Picard. Those few scenes really have me rooting for Hugh. Let us hope that our intrepid crew, perhaps with the aid of Seven of Nine, is able to save him from Narissa and her blade (which looked an awful lot like Shinzon's knife from Nemesis).

Soji's implanted memories and accumulation of "precious photos" has a Blade Runnier / Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? vibe to it, which is a nice nod to some material that must've influenced TNG.

And Jammer, congrats on the 25 years of reviews! It's great that there's still new Trek to review, and your site has been a guide over the years.
Gerontius
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 11:39am (UTC -5)
It is true enough that the best one-off episodes in the Star Trek series are essentially fables. But insofar as there is an ongoing story arc linking them - which to some extent is the case even in The Original Series and becomes steadily more the case in succeeding formats - the narrative form involved is that of the epic, and here such elements as character development and consistency do arise. At the same time there will be contained within the wider stories narratives which are still essentially fables.

DS9 especially did aspire to take on the ambition to have epic qualities. It could well be that as Picard develops the same may be the case here. The Original Series, Voyager and Enterprise can be seen as having the characteristics of a picaresque epic.
Bries
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
I have to say I for one have found this show to be better than what it’s detractors and what Jammer up to this point has rated it. And I’m no easy customer (I have been known as Brian here in past years but with other people using that name I’m using a screen name of mine). I bashed Voyager as much as the next hard core Trek fan but love TNG and DS9. I also even think Jammer rated Discovery far too leniently in its first season. But I’ve actually liked this show even if it hasn’t always been the most riveting.

I do like how the show still seems like in general humanity is a species worthy of optimism but I’m not a big fan of how they’ve tried to de-evolve us as a species from where we were in TNG and DS9. I really don’t need drug and alcohol abuse on Star Trek, I do enough of that in my own life, thank you very much (lol). I prefer a bit of a more utopian feel (but I’ve noticed writers from what they say seem to hate writing under that constraint). In general though this is my modern Star Trek show, not discovery.
Daniel
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Guys (and Gals),

Can I indulge on a brief respite of the "What is Trek/Not Trek" debate and interject this bit of news that crossed my desk this morning?

https://www.universetoday.com/143422/just-how-feasible-is-a-warp-drive/

In 1994 a physicist named Miguel Alcubierre postulated a theory about how FTL travel may be possible by creating a "warp bubble". The spacecraft would itself be traveling at sublight speeds, and therefore would not violate special relativity. Many competing ideas and theories have come and gone since, but this one continues to gain credence. Recent work in gravitaitonal waves at LIGO have contributed to the body of evidence that this is theoretically possible. Previous estimates as to the energy needs to create such a warp field have been shrunk from "more than all the energy of the Universe" to a more feasible "mass of Jupiter".

The article also quotes an undergrad (and future scientist) who presented a talk about the advances in the Alcubierre Warp Drive theory:

“I delved into mathematics and science more, and, as a result, started to become interested in science fiction and advanced theories on a more technical scale. I started watching Star Trek, the Original series and The Next Generation, and noticed how they had predicted or inspired the invention of cell phones, tablets, and other amenities. I thought about some of the other technologies, such as photon torpedoes, phasers, and warp drive, and tried to research both what the ‘star trek science’ and ‘real world science equivalent’ had to say about it. I then stumbled across the original paper by Miguel Alcubierre, and after digesting it for a while, I started pursuing other keywords and papers and getting deeper into the theory.”

The point here, aside from the fact that it's kind of amazing how the warp bubble theory hasn't been knocked down after 25 years, that kids (the undergrad must have been born at or about the year 2000) are continuing to be inspired by Star Trek, whatever the iteration or flavor. Whatever side of the trek/not trek argument you are on, we can all agree on the fact that this is awesome.
Dougie
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy - good man. Don’t get drawn in. Andy’s Friend doesn’t watch it. Don’t engage that. That’s called “bait” in any galaxy. What horses hit
Trent
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Andy said: "The best stories of Star Trek, particularly in TOS but also in TNG and in much of VOY (despite execution) have always had the format of fables. When we read (say) La Fontaine’s ‘The Fox and the Sick Lion’, we have a fox, a lion, and a cave. Similarly, when we watch any episode of TOS, we have the Enterprise crew, the Alien, and (say) the Nebula, or the Alien Planet.

Now, when we read (say) La Fontaine’s ‘The Fox and the Stork’, we don’t ask whether a fox and a stork would be able to communicate. We don’t ask whether they would be able to use utensils as bowls. We understand the fables for what they are. They are about ideas, perhaps not always ‘far reaching ideas’ in your futuristic sense (but see below), but certainly far reaching ideas in the ethical sense. And when we read La Fontaine’s fables in succession, we don’t complain of the ‘reset button’, or the lack of ‘character growth’ from one fable to the next.

TOS in particular, as well as most of TNG, are essentially fables. Necessarily lengthier and therefore more complex, the episodes are typically structured as Greek plays. This does not change their essence. They are moral tales.

The psychological growth of the characters is therefore essentially irrelevant as they are mouthpieces for more abstract concepts. Kirk, Picard, the Ox, the Eagle: it doesn’t really matter, the Enterprises are essentially zoos providing the animals—the archetypes—to people the episodes according to their characteristics, to tell the episode—the fable—of the week. And then, reset. Tune in next week, turn the page: watch the next episode, read the next fable.

This is a time-honoured format, resting solidly on archetypes to explore ourselves and the Other, and in so doing also ‘far reaching ideas’ both of greater morality and, here and there, the occasional futuristic idea. [...] This is how Star Trek works best: telling myriad self-contained stories, week after week, necessarily of uneven quality as La Fontaine’s fables but always with an ethical core and a resolution in the end. Because fables—myths, archetypes, and moral tales—is what ‘Star Trek’ the original series was all about.

The character growth of our heroes? Who on earth cares about character growth in fables? Character growth is not what fables and archetypes are about. Nor is it what ‘Star Trek’, the original series is about. Does Kirk change? Does ‘the Captain’ need to change in order to keep exploring ‘strange new worlds’ to stimulate our imagination, and our ethics?

‘Star Trek’ had thus an amazing model to tell stories, and that model was the fable. [...] Serialisation compromises this: one risks it becoming more about the characters than about ideas. Which is why TOS and TNG are still the benchmark of Star Trek: they told stories about ideas, week after week.

Sadly, some fans fail to recognise this. They ridicule the ‘anomaly of the week’ as unimaginative, they demand ‘realism!’ and ‘story arcs!’ and ‘character growth!’, and they scream ‘plot hole!’ at anything. They essentially complain that the fox and the stork can understand each other, and that they can use utensils, and that the events of last week seem to have no repercussions this week. They have understood nothing at all. They seem to essentially want soap opera in space. They seem to want the form—ray guns and spaceships—but not the function.

This is why I defend the idea—the intent—over production, or execution, even if I often do it poorly. I hope this clarifies my perspective on Star Trek."

I like this "fable" description of Trek. It reminds me of something Elliot or William said on these boards: Trek started off as Twilight Zone, but morphed into Lord of the Rings.

And on a purely neurological level, the abstract nature of fables literally masturbates your brain more. The realism and neorealism favored by modern serialization (or in the computer sciences, simulations of things which stress the "literal", the "realistic", and other quotidian details), fire up the brain (and limbic system) much less than abstract art and metaphorical narratives. The increased neurological activity - the ability to think in terms of conceptual metaphor is what separates us from other animals - and the activation of associative systems, literally is more pleasurable. But it's also a pleasure which is more likely to be overlooked, probably why stuff like "2001: A Space Odyssey" has such a strong cult fanbase, but looks like silliness to a lot of people.
dave
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
WOW. 25 YEARS!

Congratulations.

I found this site in the St-Hypertext days. I must have found this site in the first couple of years of its existence.

I find it extraordinary that this site has stayed around for so long, and so many people come here every time they do a run through on a show to comment, talk, read reviews, etc.

IT REALLY IS A SPECIAL PLACE

Thank you all for keeping with this site for 25 years, its a foundation of my Trek experience.
William B
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
"It reminds me of something Elliot or William said on these boards: Trek started off as Twilight Zone, but morphed into Lord of the Rings."

It wasn't me, though I like it. Though of course Lord of the Rings is not "realistic fiction," either. Part of what I like about TNG is that it's where you can see the transition happening in real time, and All Good Things seems to me to be partly about the fracture between the eye-popping highly abstract mythic narrative and the realpolitik political one, where the crew in the future have to put their "grown-up" realistic jobs on hold to go have a weird adventure to save humanity, but also to use what they've learned in those grown-up jobs to get things done (they need the politicians, professors etc.). A lot of the best TNG episodes have one foot in both models -- The Defector is a fantastic political drama that also functions as a one-off, e.g., and The Measure of the Man uses elements of the series' history to date to tell its powerful one-off story. TOS and DS9 also do have elements of both models, though TOS is far more TZ and DS9 far more on the serialized end.

For what it's worth, I value The Twilight Zone and I also value The Wire (to use a more obviously "realistic" example). The problem I have with the "realistic" model is less the model itself and more the idea that realism is the only mode art should have.
Nothing but the Tears
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
To echo what others have said, congratulations, Jammer! I’ve been reading your reviews since the days of DS9 and I’m delighted you’re writing new ones to this day. Re-reading some of the old ones is still part of re-watching Trek for me. :-)

With regards to the episode, I’m MUCH happier with this one than the previous one. It actually felt like there was a point to it all, and I loved how Picard’s own history and his experience with the Borg figured into it. I also loved the scenes with Hugh.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like but you can tell an episode is doing something right if they don’t weigh too heavily on one’s enjoyment of said episode.

That being said, I want to call out one scene that took me out of the moment. I’m actually surprised it’s hardly been mentioned. Raffi sacrifices a close friendship, and Picard claps, smiles at her and walks away?

That just felt wrong and really heartless to me. I felt like he should have told her he was sorry for the loss of her friendship, acknowledging she’d sacrificed it for him. I also felt like he should have been the one to escort her to her bedroom and console her.

Yes, Picard could be quite stern or emotionally distant or very goal-oriented at times. But I always saw him as someone possessing a great deal of empathy and kindness. That just seemed to be completely absent here.
William B
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
And indeed, congratulations to Jammer!
Daniel
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
@Tears,

Actually, I mentioned that I bumped on that issue too--tonally it just felt weird that it concluded that way with Picard clapping and everyone else looking in either disbelief or bewilderment -slash- concern that Raffi was going to stumble over drunk.

I'm wondering to what extent that was intentional either in the script and/or the direction. It would color in the whole JL never checking in on Raffi after the resignation thing.
Booming
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 12:45am (UTC -5)
@ Daniel and Tears
Could this be true? Is this show about destroying the character Picard? Will season 1 conclude with everything people liked about that character crushed?
So far the show has Picard portrayed as an out of touch aristocrat who abandoned everything. In every episode the character is either humiliated, powerless, weak or ridiculed. The whole eye patch cartoon Frenchman thing in the eye ball episode would just be another shot at the TNG Picard. The scene with Picard clapping while Raffi almost collapses and others jump in to console her while Picard just enjoys the moment even played Star trek music in the background.
Is that what this show is about. The destruction of Picard?
Could this even mean that the whole Star Trek/ Not Star Trek debate is off because this show is neither? Is this show about destroying what Star Trek was?
Gerontius
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Picard was admiring a very skilful bit of work by Raffi, and one in which she had been ready to make a personal sacrifice. He was showing admiration and respect.

I can't see how facing up to the consequences of his actions, and opening him to the wounding hostility of those who blamed him, in any way diminishes Picard, any more than what happened to him when he was captured and tortured. As then, we are seeing that he is a man for all seasons.
Booming
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 3:23am (UTC -5)
@Gerontius
Sure, that is one interpretation but why doesn't he help her? He was her mentor, he is the reason that she is on the mission, he is the closest person she has in her life now. She is obviously already in a bad place and he just made her sacrifice an old friendship for his mission. He made a bad situation worse and he doesn't even care to pick up the pieces. Everybody but Picard looks very worried, for Jurati that could mean anything but Rios and Legolas look disturbed. If Rios hadn't consoled her who knows what would have happened.

Now that I think of it. Hobo Spock was the deconstruction of Spock aka TOS's most popular character and now we see the deconstruction of the most popular character of TNG. So that Star Trek can actually be everything he wants it to be. To make the brand more versatile for CBS?
Daniel
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 3:24am (UTC -5)
@Booming
I honestly don’t know if the exaggerated French accent thing or the clapping thing were deliberate written elements or something that was interpreted in the directing. But it’s a bit unfair to take what was meant as a question about character or direction and extrapolate it as evidence of character destruction.

You can be both a flawed man, and a great man. Neither are exclusive.

TOS Kirk is also the Kirk who had difficulty dealing with old age and the loss of his son. “Let them die” he told Spock when he was volunteered for the Gorkon Initiative. He’s also a man who risked all to save his friend from the Genesis Planet, Earth from killer probes, and ultimately put his grievances aside and saved the Khitomer Conference.

The through line for the series is what Picard admitted to Zani - “I allowed the perfect to become the enemy of the good”. The devastation that Starfleet, his Starfleet to which he dedicated life and soul to did not measure up to his standards and expectations. He made a mistake and disengaged from Starfleet and everything that reminded him of that life. He was deeply hurt, and all he could do to deal with it was to recede to a quiet life in Lebarre to let things scab over.

That’s where we start when we reconnect with him in 2399. Something happened that shocked him out of his long way towards death and he realizes he has a purpose. Not only does he have a purpose again, but he also knows he has one last chance to make things right.

The writers decided that rather than recap all of the consequences of his “taking his toys and going home” in flashbacks, it would be better for him to face up to them as he sets out on his mission. Lesson 1 - you can’t trash Starfleet in front of galactic media and then expect to be warmly received when you had already burned your bridges. Lesson 2 - people who you ask to sacrifice all to help you on your mission do have a tendency to sacrifice all. Especially if the one who’s asking is Jean-Luc Picard. Lesson 3 - Making a personal promise to a vulnerable population that the Federation will do everything it can to help has consequences if you’re not there to backstop it if the Federation fails. (Something something promises being prisons, Zani had said) Lesson 4 - like it or not, realize it or not, Elnor considered you a father figure and was deeply hurt when you up and disappeared, assuming that the Sisters would place you with a family. Lesson 5 - Accusing the Fenris Rangers of being lawless vigilantes is a bit rich, considering you contributed to the lawless state of the region. Lesson 6 - The Borg, specifically the drones who were involuntarily assimilated like you, are victims themselves as well.

That’s admittedly a lot to shove in his face. And based on how the reaction tenor of the comments have been going, it’s hard not to feel attacked. And I’d agree with the sentiment if that’s how things were just left--that there was no upside, or redemption, or overcoming of adversity after this.

As an aside, the writers do give us the indicators that he still is revered, if not exactly from Starfleet Headquarters. The degree to which Laris and Zhaban show care and love for Picard means a lot--they constantly remind him of the good he did do in trying to evacuate the Romulans. ("Be the Captain we know you to be") Zani entrusts him with Elnor. Hugh greets Picard with a meaningful hug and promises that he’d do everything he can to help him, even though he has no idea what will be asked of him when he makes the offer. Next episode, we’ll see him reunite with Riker and Troi—and if the snippets we’ve seen here and there are any indication, there will be a lot of warmth and reminders of good will there too. He would not have embarked on the mission in the first place if he didn't feel a great love and haunting loss for Data.

Thus far, the narrative progression has more or less followed the archetypal “Hero’s Journey” cycle. We’re kind of at the revelation stage, which leaves transformation, atonement, and the journey back from the abyss. To err is human, and what matters is how you acknowledge it and turn it into something positive. I have faith that the final act of the season sees him gaining back the ground he lost and then some. I have faith especially because Patrick Stewart was central to the characterization and the story breaking process, and as the custodian of the character he most cherishes, I don’t see him leaving Picard in a pitiable state. If it doesn’t pan out that way, then, well, I’ve lost the soapbox I’ve been standing on.

Now, if the concept of a fallible or an imperfect and ultimately human hero ruins your sensibilities and memories of TNG, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you… other than perhaps you idolized Picard as the idea, not the man. This series was never meant to be a continuation of the “ongoing mission to seek out new life and new civilizations”. Stewart said that if it were just that, he’d have never revisited the role—that there was 178 episodes and four movies of stories in that vein. More than just a serialized story, Star Trek: Picard is supposed to be a character study. If TNG and TOS episodes were supposed to be sci-fi versions of parables and morality tales, then Picard is a Shakespearean play.

When I was a kid and TNG was on first-run syndication, Trek was all about the science and the technology, the aliens, and trying to figure out things like why the warp core was called that when the nacelles generated the field--the core simply channeling the matter/antimatter reaction. In adulthood, I revisited it and Trek took on different meaning to me--what does it mean to be a leader, how do we press on in the face of adversity, (especially with DS9) what does it mean to love someone regardless of gender, how do we move past hate and resentment, and how do we deal with post-traumatic stress disorder? I'm now approaching middle age, and every time I revisit the canon, I discover something new about some part of it, or rather different parts of it resonate to me. I can only speak for myself but Picard resonates with me because it looks at how one acknowledges past mistakes and tries to make good against overwhelming odds.
Latex Zebra
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 4:16am (UTC -5)
Yeah, stand out episode. Easily the best so far.
Dougie
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Star Trek Generations is such rich storytelling.
I’ll maintain there’s a touch of delusion required to maintain some of the beliefs in the comments.

Episodic Star Trek from the 80s and 90s, and I’ll include everything from the pre 2000 era, is comic book level writing and execution. You can envision every scene drawn as a panel. I guess I get the fascination.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 7:38am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"Is that what this show is about. The destruction of Picard?
Could this even mean that the whole Star Trek/ Not Star Trek debate is off because this show is neither? Is this show about destroying what Star Trek was?"

That's what Kurtzman and Co have been doing ever since they took the helm.

Discovery was about destroying the TOS era . Picard is doing the same thing to both the TNG era and the character of Picard.

None of this is an accident. The Trek franchise is not "evolving" in a natural way to reflect the times. What we have here is a deliberate destruction of a decades-old cultural icon, piece by piece.

THIS is why I'm so adamant about the "It's not Star Trek" thing. Because these guys are butchering Star Trek on purpose. It boggles my mind how the vast majority of Classic Trek fans are just sitting by and letting this happen. Worse: they are opening their wallets and actively supporting this fiasco with their hard-earned cash.

Simply unbelievable.
Trent
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 8:34am (UTC -5)
Daniel said: "Now, if the concept of a fallible or an imperfect and ultimately human hero ruins your sensibilities and memories of TNG, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you…"

I don't think anyone cares about Picard being portrayed as "fallible".

They care about hokey Romulan ninjas, Space Elves, corny Incest Romulans, incessant villainous monologues, football playing Latino Han Solos, yet more "defend the girl with secret powers" and "prophesy" plots, space druggies melodramatically meeting their son's pregnant daughters and a series of poorly flowing episodes which get by on cheap hooks ("I recognize the Borg!", "That's Hugh!", "Hey it's Seven!" and "there's Riker!").

Remove all the standalone episodes from DS9's first two seasons, and watch the Bajor/Federation/Cardassian political episodes back to back, and you have, a string of about 6 or 8 "realistic", "serialized" Trek dramas as your baseline as to how to write this stuff well.

"Picard", in contrast, straddles an awkward line between "serious drama", Kurtzman's "Discovery" and bland Marvel-esque action/drama. The actual interesting stuff - which DS9 focused well on early on; politics, protocol, bureaucracy and clashing worlds - was teased in the show's pilot but then promptly jettisoned in favor for cartoon level writing.
Andy's Friend
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 8:46am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

'That's what Kurtzman and Co have been doing ever since they took the helm.

Discovery was about destroying the TOS era . Picard is doing the same thing to both the TNG era and the character of Picard.

None of this is an accident. The Trek franchise is not "evolving" in a natural way to reflect the times. What we have here is a deliberate destruction of a decades-old cultural icon, piece by piece.

THIS is why I'm so adamant about the "It's not Star Trek" thing. Because these guys are butchering Star Trek on purpose. It boggles my mind how the vast majority of Classic Trek fans are just sitting by and letting this happen. Worse: they are opening their wallets and actively supporting this fiasco with their hard-earned cash.

Simply unbelievable.'

Incredibly well-put. This is about relativising Star Trek, for it to become everything and nothing.

Now, I can't even say that 'I like Picard' with risking being asked—and quite legitimately at that, which is actually the worst—'What do you mean, the character Picard or the series STP?'

A year ago, we all knew who Picard was, and what he stood for. All of a sudden, now even 'Picard' is a relative notion. Talk about post-modernism.
Trent
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 8:52am (UTC -5)
Booming said: "Is this show about destroying what Star Trek was?"

It's just bad writers with little interest in science fiction, and little knowledge of print science fiction, and who were raised on TV, taking a property and turning it into everything else on TV, because to do otherwise is beyond their capabilities.

It takes a very specific set of environmental and cultural pressures to produce someone good at writing Trek-styled science fiction, be it philosophical, political or outright utopian. And it takes an almost impossibly narrower set of circumstances to get them into a writer's room of a Trek television show.

TOS triumphed because it could parasite off the second golden age of print SF short story writers. And TNG and TOS both went to lengths to actively seek out fresh writers and/or unsolicited scripts.

Michael Bay/Frank Miller/Kurtzman-esque hacks are, meanwhile, a dime a dozen, and populate most writer's rooms.

IMO what Trek needs is a showrunner who actively courts scripts from leading science fiction writers, and has them write for a fixed stable of characters. The DS9 format of mostly standalones, and occasional small 2 or 3 episode arcs, also seems best. We've seen three seasons now of "fully serialized Trek", and its been mostly corny and padded out (yet weirdly rushed).
Paul M.
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Has Omicron continued his tradition of not watching nuTrek or has he relented and given STP a spin?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 9:15am (UTC -5)
@Andy's Friend

"This is about relativising Star Trek, for it to become everything and nothing."

It's more about turning Star Trek into something it never was, for the purpose of profit (at best) or a political agenda (at worst).

The post-modern defense only pops up when NuTrek is criticized. It's not part of the NuTrek philosophy.

"Now, I can't even say that 'I like Picard' with risking being asked—and quite legitimately at that, which is actually the worst—'What do you mean, the character Picard or the series STP?'"

That's if you are lucky, and the listener is both knowledgeable and intelligent enough to ask the question. Otherwise they'll just ASSUME you mean the new series.

And it's even worse with the general term "Star Trek". Good luck explaining to a non-Trekkie what constitutes the thing we're a fan of. Twenty years ago we could just say "Star Trek". Today you'll need half a page detailing the franchise history in order for people to understand where you stand. It's absurd.
Booming
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 9:35am (UTC -5)
@ guys
Sorry compared to Jeb Bush I'm very low energy right now. I just want to address one quick point from Daniel's post:""Now, if the concept of a fallible or an imperfect and ultimately human hero ruins your sensibilities and memories of TNG, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you."
I don't think that STP Picard and TNG Picard have much in common and I don't think that the Picard we saw in TNG was perfect. He was distant, he disliked children, he had problems with close relationships, he could be harsh and as a young man he was such d-bag that he got stabbed in a bar fight.
STP also doesn't ruin my memories of TNG.
It was just an hypothesis about why this looks and feels the way it does. I guess we have to wait until the end of season 1. I also don't think that Picard is on the classic heroes journey.

Again sorry guys you all know how petulant I like to be :) and how much I like to discuss this stuff but I'm too exhausted and after episode 5 I kind of started to care less about all this.
Yanks
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 10:28am (UTC -5)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

"That's what Kurtzman and Co have been doing ever since they took the helm.

Discovery was about destroying the TOS era . Picard is doing the same thing to both the TNG era and the character of Picard.

None of this is an accident. The Trek franchise is not "evolving" in a natural way to reflect the times. What we have here is a deliberate destruction of a decades-old cultural icon, piece by piece.

THIS is why I'm so adamant about the "It's not Star Trek" thing. Because these guys are butchering Star Trek on purpose. It boggles my mind how the vast majority of Classic Trek fans are just sitting by and letting this happen. Worse: they are opening their wallets and actively supporting this fiasco with their hard-earned cash.

Simply unbelievable."

Have you watched with show yet?
Gerontius
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
What a succession of enraged and despairing posts.

I don't feel the least difficulty in recognising and accepting Picard as the same man as the captain of the Enterprise, dealing with different challenges, with varying success. I don't think his decision to gamble his career on the hope that this could save some part of the Romulan mission by threatening to resign was a mistake, even though he lost was a mistake, rather than a justified and honourable thing to do.

When he talked about letting the perfect be tge enemy of the good I don't think i any way he was meaning he should have caved in to Starfleet. I took it he meant that rather than retire to his chateau like Acchiles he should have done what he could to try to retrieve something from the wreck, independent of Starfleet.

It would inevitably have been little more than a matter of gestures, but gestures can be important. He could have made his apologies to some of the people to whom he had made promises he was unable to keep, though that in itself would have been in a way rather selfish, merely serving himself really. But he could have done something to help a few more Romulan's survive, and something is at least something.

As for the matter of how he behaved when Raffi broke down, I'd see that as a kind of reflection of seeing her as an equal. I suspect in the same situation that might have been theg reaction he would have been happier with receiving from an equal.
Tim C
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
OTDP is right. There's just too much damn Star Trek now! If you just say "I like Star Trek", people might thing you... *dry heave* ...enjoyed a different TV show to your preferred variant!

Time to burn it all down to the core and start over! We should demand our governments pass a law: TNG reruns forever! No other!

🙄
Tim C
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Y'know what, further to my sarcasm, there's a pretty great quote from Jammer's review of Nemesis that seems very relevant to new Trek:

"It is perhaps a telling sign of the age of the Star Trek franchise that I went into the film more or less knowing what to expect and pretty confident that few, if any, of those expectations would be shattered. Star Trek these days, especially The Next Generation, is — let's face it — safe. We know what they're selling. The question is whether we're buying."

Basically summing up all the problems with tail end of the Berman era. PIC and DSC are trying new approaches, and should be lauded for seeking new audiences, rather than constantly getting shit upon for failing to live up to people's rose-tinted memories of such classics as "Sub Rosa", "Shades of Gray", or "Cost of Living".
Tom
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
Tim C - Unfortunately, that quote from Jammer could apply just as much to PIC and DISC as it does to Nemesis. I'd love to see a genuinely new approach to Star Trek, but Abrams' and Kurtzman's visions aren't it.
Mertov
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Tim C,
Good find, and yes, on point.

Tom,
DSC and PIC are new approaches. They are distinctively different from TNG-VOY-ENT in style and narrative structure. Liking them or not is a personal choice.
Batfunk
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
I love jammer's reviews and I agree with most of them.
But I'm very surprised with this 3 stars and a half note.
Come on, is this episode as good as Tng Third season "The offspring", which had only 3 stars? No way!
Of course, it's better than the previous episode, so is an Andromeda one lol.
Same thing about Discovery, ratings are too high for its real qualities.. Except a few episodes(the pilot, into the forest I go, the sound of thunder and if memory serves
), it's médiocre at best and most of the time, a complete piece of trash. Best episodes look like classic trek(exploration, stand alone form...) and it's not by accident. But anyway, none of them will stand out in the star trek hall of fame.
My point is that Discovery was so bad that we lowered our expectations for Picard. Sure, it's less action driven than Discovery, but it's as bad in the story. Full of plot holes, meaningless fan service, hammered contemporary references(brexit, immigration, vaping).
Yeah, vaping, binge drinking and smoking are so cool and badass...
Same writing team, Same characters(Tilly/Jurati), Same bad characters interactions, same taste for unbelievable conspiracies...
since the end of nineties, we had hundred of great TV shows better than these new st shows. I'm following at the same time The Expanse and it's a great space opera, not as good as Tng or Bsg2003, but a very well written show and a real science fiction one.
And don't give me the excuse that Star trek shows need Three seasons to be good. It's bullshit now,no serious broadcaster wait so long to dump a bad show.
I stopped watching Discovery after two seasons and Picard will take the same path after one season.
Are we so addicted to ST to accept so bad tv shows?
Wake up!
Sen-Sors
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
IMO the problem with STD and PIC isn't that they have a "new approach", it's that the writing is simply bad. Constant stilted exposition dumps in dialogue, cheap gimmicks to hook people for next week and shoehorning Very Important Lifelong Relationships onto existing characters are some of the biggest reccuring issues. The overbearing "epic movie" score that's constantly telling the viewer how to feel doesn't help.

That said, I think the biggest problem with the new shows is the complete disinterest they exhibit in dealing with questions of ethics and moral dilemmas. Things like "is it okay to enslave a sentient creature to power your ship" or "is it cool to plant a bomb on the Klingon planet, install a sock puppet leader and threaten genocide" were just sort of blown past in STD and no half-assed "we are Starfleet" speech can make up for it. In PIC, we see that regardless of who or what caused the androids to go nuts on Mars, Guinan's vision of android slavery in Measure of a Man did indeed come to pass. How? Why? The show doesn't seem to care. There's potential to explore themes of prejudice towards The Other via Romulans and the ex-Borg but it's inevitably buried in mystery boxes, plodding romances and crappy action sequences.

Of course not every episode of old Trek was a well-written contemplation of a moral dillemma, sometimes it was about Picard getting stuck in the turbolift or Crusher getting off with a ghost. Hell, I started Trek by watching TOS purely for the schlock. Still, I stand by the claim that Kurtzman trek simply is not interested in exploring ethical quandaries to any real extent, opting instead for mystery boxes, poorly shot action and wide-eyed schmaltz.

Nothing wrong with a more serialized format or a darker tone; DS9 says hi. But IMO if we're ever gonna see a really good new Trek series it's gonna have to come from someone who didn't write the Dark Universe Mummy movie.
Trek Noir
Tue, Mar 3, 2020, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
Reco the haters stop paying and stop watching. Your lives will be better and you could even survive Coronavirus with less stress on your system not having to worry about Star Trek Picard.
stardustraven
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Jammer,

First, congratulations on your 25th anniversary. I found your
site about 1 1/2 years ago, but I had not commented yet.

For my part, I respectfully but completely disagree with your
review.

******
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi


"... THIS is why I'm so adamant about the "It's not Star Trek" thing. Because these guys are butchering Star Trek on purpose. It boggles my mind how the vast majority of Classic Trek fans are just sitting by and letting this happen. Worse: they are opening their wallets and actively supporting this fiasco with their hard-earned cash.

Simply unbelievable. "

I would like to join you and not remain silent as I share your opinion. Because
I definitely think that they are destroying the character of Picard and Star Trek.

And I greatly cherish TOS, TNG and DS9 as well as VOY to a certain extent.
But NOT this show!

stardustraven
Dave
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 12:14am (UTC -5)
You know, I seem to remember in the early internet days that people were screaming that DS9 was not trek and it was destroying Genes vision. I also remember hearing utter outrage over Enterprise.

Back when TNG came out, no internet.. but did people from the TOS era scream and yell and say it isnt trek?

I sense a trend here. The trek we fell in love with is our security blanket and when a show comes out that has a different look and feel its upsettting.

Thoughts?
Peter G.
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 12:24am (UTC -5)
@ Dave,

"I sense a trend here. The trek we fell in love with is our security blanket and when a show comes out that has a different look and feel its upsettting.

Thoughts?"

There was good reason for people to think that when TNG came out. It was, after all, a sort of betrayal of the promise of Trek phase 2, which only happened because of Star Wars. It would be like having a new show called Seinfeld, starring some other guy named Seinfeld. Good or bad people would be upset not to get that thing they wanted. With DS9 it was a deliberate shake-up and although some people may have been turned off I personally know zero people (and I'm a sci-fi/fantasy guy in a crowd of the same) who were upset at DS9 just for that reason. Mostly people were put off that the first season was slow. They got real excited when the Defiant came along. To whatever extent some people railed against it, hey, some are still doing that now :)

As for VOY that is probably the worst example, as I don't think "it's not Trek" was ever a criticism levied against it. I personally thought it was "not good" but it was definitely Trek. ENT is perhaps where you begin to find people walking away just on principle, partially because it was bad, partially because of the gratuitous semi-nudity and the presence of a performer who may as well have been a Playboy bunny from how she was publicized, and partially because they made the Vulcans into villains. But even so I think the main thing I heard at the time was people not liking it. The "not Trek" thing is probably most appropriately referring to S1 TNG, but not the shows that followed. Even ST 2009 didn't inspire that kind of outrage; that would not happen until DISC and now PIC.

So no, I don't think this has always been a trend.
Booming
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 1:45am (UTC -5)
@ Dave
Where you sense a trend I sense wild speculation. Fans of NuTrek always say: People disliked DS9 and DS9 was a good show which means that because the same happened to STP and Discovery then they are good shows, too or that at least the criticism is meaningless.

The believe that the reaction to DS9 was in any way similar to the reaction we see now is complete speculation. The only thing we actually know about what went down is that there was a negative reaction towards DS9 by some people. Saying that there was a negative reaction is by itself meaningless because there is no show on earth that got only positive or negative reactions.

@Gerontius
"I don't feel the least difficulty in recognising and accepting Picard as the same man as the captain of the Enterprise."
You see no difference between the distant, reserved, children hating diplomat in TNG and the caring, emotional, children loving, quarrelsome adventurer of STP? And for people who say: "Hey things changed so Picard changed, too." Sure he was guy in his what 60s? Yeah people change all the time when they reach that age.
Chrome
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 1:53am (UTC -5)
“Back when TNG came out, no internet.. but did people from the TOS era scream and yell and say it isnt trek?”

Yep, they did. They didn’t have the internet but complained on other outlets like magazines. I can remember a particularly funny MAD magazine spoof of TNG during its first season (it’s out there online, I believe) where they ended it by Kirk and Co. coming to the rescue and blowing up the Enterprise-D to put it out of its misery.

TNG not being Star Trek a la TOS is a pretty fair criticism. Roddenberry is on record as wanting it to be different than TOS. The first episode has Picard surrendering the ship and there’s a distinct anti-violence and even anti-conflict feel to TNG that was not present in TOS.

I tend to take a more zen approach to the Trek iterations and try not to pit them against each other. But just as with TNG being a big departure from TOS, I can understand the sentiment of this show being a big departure from TNG. In the latest “Ready Room”, they mentioned that Patrick Stewart requested that they never repeat anything done on TNG, so for example, the Borg can exist as characters but they cannot be the actual villains of this show. I think many things like this might upset diehard TNG fans, but I respect Stewart’s request and can appreciate the artistic rationale behind it.
Gerontius
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
Yes, I'm afraid I do recognise the Picard of this series as the same man, and not just because it's still Patrick Stewart. He's still essentially reserved, no reason to assume he's any different around children (he never hated them, though he said he did, just felt awkward around them, as is pretty common). He is more prone to getting in a strop sometimes, perfectly normal characteristic as we get older. People do change as they get older, and that's the kind of change you get. Being 80 isn't the same as being 60 in a few ways.

I've just had a second look at this episode, which it deserved. (I did the same for the previous one, and fell asleep... like Soji phoning Mum.)

One thing did strike me - I'm pretty sure when they talked about why part of the artifact was shut down, I don't think they said "chronometric particles" but rather "protometric". God know if that was meant to mean something, but if I'm right it does suggest speculations here about time travel may be unjustified.
Batfunk
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 5:46am (UTC -5)
I was first delighted when I learned that Patrick Stewart will be part of production team as executive producer. I thought, after Discovery disaster, that he will be the guardian of Star trek spirit, point to bad scripts, plots holes, inconsistanties...
But I was wrong. As good actor as he is, he takes advantage of his producer role to inject his own interests as liberal English citizen:brexit, immigration, democracies difficulties... I don't think he cares about Star Trek values, he doesn't want to play Tng stuff-like again because it bores him. Picard is his last chance to be in the forefront and to have extra cash, I don't blame him for that, it's human.
But if he really cares about Star Trek heritage, he must have watched Picard episodes. He didn't. Obviously.
Norvo
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 7:19am (UTC -5)
Something that does irk me about the Borg reclamation project: how come most of the former Borg still look mutilated with missing limbs and excessive scarring?

Over twenty years ago, a medical hologram on a single Federation starship with limited resources did a better job than this Romulan/Federation joint venture.
Bztfunk
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Absolutely. Talking about medical hologram, why doesnt he prevent Jurati from killing Maddox? Why wasn't he interrogated by the crew about Maddox death? Yeah, nobody(Picard included)seems surprised that a stabilized qnd out of danger Maddox died suddenly. Sure...
Mertov
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 8:08am (UTC -5)
“Back when TNG came out, no internet.. but did people from the TOS era scream and yell and say it isnt trek?”

Yes. A lot and quite intensely. The cast of TNG talks about it sometimes how they were directly made to feel uncomfortable in conventions in the late 1980s. One of my first conventions had known Star Trek groups passing out pamphlets about that.
This very topic was discusses in depth under DSC's "Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2" if you want to know more.
DS9 also went through the same thing (especially with the "we are not going to planets anymore, this isn't Star Trek" thing). See "What We Left Behind" for fans' hate letters.
Latex Zebra
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 8:12am (UTC -5)
What with the Coronavirus and the tears on here. I think there will be a global tissue shortage soon.
Dougie
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 8:13am (UTC -5)
Isn’t there a single video camera in the medical bay? To hell with an EMH that could be corrupt or have no ethical subroutine.

CAMERAS. They’re everywhere today, and we are to believe they’re completely missing in the 24th century? That’s pretty amusing.
Dougie
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 8:28am (UTC -5)
@Dave,
Voyager is the epitome of Star Trek. And I have a special affinity for it as during that show we built a special ship named Voyager too. Long story.

I’d always ask how was Voyager not a trek to the stars? Cast across the galaxy to an unknown quadrant, and then meet and greet new species and explore a whole quadrant on their journey home. It was this type of adventure, more so than TNG’s “conference room” approach, that endeared me to that series. While I cycle TNG in my rotation, I watch Voyager constantly. I purchased Seasons 4&5 off iTunes should it ever disappear on streaming.

@Mertov I’d enjoy seeing one of those pamphlets. I bet someone saved one and there’s an image to be uploaded and shared!
Booming
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 8:51am (UTC -5)
Again quite a bit of the fans of the show cannot get through a comment without shitting on people with different opinions.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 10:14am (UTC -5)
Welcome to the internet, Booming ;-)

But to be fair, it's a handful of people who just repeat themselves over and over again. Have been the same people for years, now.
Yanks
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 11:21am (UTC -5)
@ Dave

"You know, I seem to remember in the early internet days that people were screaming that DS9 was not trek and it was destroying Genes vision. I also remember hearing utter outrage over Enterprise.

Back when TNG came out, no internet.. but did people from the TOS era scream and yell and say it isnt trek?

I sense a trend here. The trek we fell in love with is our security blanket and when a show comes out that has a different look and feel its upsetting.

Thoughts?"

There absolutely is a trend.

TOS folks hated TNG...
TNG folks hated DS9...
DS9 folks hated VOY...
Everyone hated ENT...

Everyone wanked about INS and NEM.

(and don't anyone say these weren't true)

Now, everyone is clamoring for Berman-era trek.

Pretty funny if you think about it, and kinda sad.

I have my issues with STD and PIC, but I watch them and hope for improvement in both. STD season 2 was a HUGE step in the right direction IMO, hell we even got a couple stand alone episodes.

I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and certainly am not taking sides until I've watched them for myself.

I believe modern story telling (serialization) is a major player in many trekkies' whoas.

I keep watching for a "Inner Light" or "Carbon Creek" etc...

STD renewed through a 5th season!!

PIC renewed for a season 2!

Rumor of a "Pike" series!!

Section 31 series?

Star Trek Shorts!!

Animated Trek!!

Rumors of Star Trek IV re-kindling?

It's a great time to be a Trek fan! Don't let the downers spoil it for you.
Mike
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
@Dougie
"Isn’t there a single video camera in the medical bay? To hell with an EMH that could be corrupt or have no ethical subroutine.

CAMERAS. They’re everywhere today, and we are to believe they’re completely missing in the 24th century? That’s pretty amusing. "

I certainly hope they're completely missing. The idea of having every aspect of my life monitored and recorded is horrifying. One aspect of a utopia is trust of my fellow citizens, and a society without that is far from being utopian.
Booming
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
@Omicron
Yeah well you have to try to calm the situation. What would a good Star Trek character do, I always ask myself. In other words if this continues then I will hunt them down and vaporize them! :)

I don't know if anybody realized this but the great mystery for this third try of Kurtzman to create a good season long arc will feature time travel as an important element. The destroyer was prophesied by ancient Romulan texts. Somebody went back and warned the Romulans. How else could they have known and including time travel is a genius move because time travel stories never make sense. Problem solved.
James
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
@Boomer

There are many ways the Romulans could know about a prophecy. Visions from sages and seers, astrology and palmistry, oracles, tarot, numerology. This kind of thing was invoked in DS9 so I don't see why it couldn't be in this series. I hope they come up with something original, but I also really hope they don't resort to time travel again.
Robert
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
@Mike

Great point. Where’s the fun of exploring the unknown if Big Brother is watching your every move? *If* this were a Starfleet ship, there would probably be an extensive investigation, but La Sirena is just a civilian ship with whatever random tech the captain feels like using.
Gerontius
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Of course in Previous Star Trek series they'd have produced some magic scan that would show what happened. But as Robert pointed out, this isn't a Starfleet vessel, so they might not be tooled up to do that.

No doubt if Picard gets suspicious of Dr Jurati it wouldn't be hard to get the facts, but for now he isn't.

Both Dr Jurati and Narek now have something in common - each of them has killed or tried to kill someone with whom they have been in a close emotional and physical relationship, probably at least to some degree for similar reasons. I wonder if anything will be made of this...
Dougie
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
@Mike
@Robert does that make sense? You buy a car today and it’s loaded with sensors and contraptions, some of which constantly “phone home” with status updates. If you drive any type of automated vehicle like a Tesla it’s in constant communication. It even knows if you have your hands on the wheel. So I think, when buying a spaceship, the dealership installs features and options along side standard safety packages. Want galactic cruise control? Gotta have inter galaxy nav beacon receivers.

Want an EMH? Need holotransmitters. Oh wait. Holotransmitters. I guess those also have holoreceivers. That makes them transceivers, hmph. Two way holographic transmit-receiver systems in a medical bay. I wonder... would THOSE have a visual system. Lmao you guys crack me up go back to sleep
Leif
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
Im confused..someone tell me how does Picard know what Soji is...Agnes didnt tell her anything abiut whatbshe learned..so how does Picard know whaht she is? And why does Jammer say shes just a synth..i thought daj and soji were more than just regular synths..like they are connected to the borg queen and the origin ofnthe Borg maybe somehow..
Tommy D.
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
@Leif

I want say Agnes tells Picard that the type of synth that Dahj was were made in pairs, hence the necklace with the twin rings.
Henson
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
@Dougie

I know we've had this argument before, but I think it bears repeating: you can't assume that the world of Star Trek is the most probable outgrowth of our own. Our world may be one of ubiquitous cameras and sensors, but the world of Star Trek may not be so. Or it might. We have to judge primarily based upon the fiction, and less so upon how our Teslas work.
stardustraven
Wed, Mar 4, 2020, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
I would like to add something to my first comment.
I truly hoped that this show would offer a dignified adieu to Jean-Luc
Picard. But this hope was smashed with for instance the complete
revision of Picard's character, bad writing and dialogue, much too
contemporary language, culture, politics, and wardrobe, ultra violence
and its shock value, Romulans and their culture who look very different than as
before, characters to whom I do not feel any connection, for instance I can't
stand Dr. Jurati, Narissa and Narek.
As well as the strong manipulative undercurrent which I perceive with the appearance of the old Star Trek characters like Data, Seven, Hugh, or Icheb.

stardustraven
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 12:47am (UTC -5)
@ James
Well, I would say that the religious aspects were or certainly became the weakest part of DS9. The prophets were also definitely real and the "prophecies" were the outside of time living wormhole aliens trying to communicate with the Bajorans. Are we to assume that Romulans not only have a religion but that their god/gods actually exist

"astrology and palmistry, oracles, tarot, numerology."
All these things are nonsense. It's just Humans seeing patterns to feel better about things they do not know aka the future and death.

@Robert
Ok total surveillance or not but the murder happened and the EMH saw it all. it is really dumb that they so far haven't addressed it. I mean is the EMH just waiting to be activated again and the moment they turn it immediately screams: OH MY GOD!!! JURATI KILLED MADDOX!!!!
Gerontius
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 4:31am (UTC -5)
There are conveniences to having a society with total surveillance, but also decided problems, as George Orwell graphically suggested in 1984. I think it's perfectly reasonable to imagine that a society aspiring to be "utopian" (ie a decent society) might decide that the price for total surveillance was too high to pay.

The fact that something is technically possible doesn't mean it necessarily gets done. After all, we have the technology to make all phones video phones, but very few people make full use of it. We prefer to be able to phone friends without tidying up the place and so forth. Privacy wins for once.

We haven't see the Emergency Medical Hologram since the killing - Dr Jurati could surely have been able to doctor the doctor - I'd imagine wiping a few seconds of his memory wouldn't be beyond her capabilities.
James
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:01am (UTC -5)
@Boomer
Astrology et al may be nonsense... but time travel isn't?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:01am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"Yeah well you have to try to calm the situation."

There is no situation to calm. It takes two for a fight, and we aren't playing.

As Picard (the real Picard) once said: Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd.

@Yanks
"STD renewed through a 5th season!! PIC renewed for a season 2! Rumor of a 'Pike' series!! Section 31 series? Star Trek Shorts!! Animated Trek!! Rumors of Star Trek IV re-kindling?

It's a great time to be a Trek fan! Don't let the downers spoil it for you. It's a great time to be a Trek fan! Don't let the downers spoil it for you. "

You seem to be conflating quality with quantity.

And I gotta say, the creed of "don't let the downers spoil it for you" sounds to me like you're desperately trying to convince yourself that the "downers" are wrong.

Because if you really believed that it's a great time to be a Trek fan, why give a hoot about what the detractors think? How can their opinion "spoil" your enjoyment, if they are talking nonsense anyway?

"I believe modern story telling (serialization) is a major player in many trekkies' whoas."

I'm not sure how strong this factor is.

When I look at the points of criticisms that people raise here, serialization doesn't come up that often. I mean, yes, it is a factor, but I doubt it is that important.

BTW personally, I wouldn't mind serialization if it was (a) written well and (b) respected the source material. Maybe in some alternate universe we're indeed getting an optimistic thoughtful Trek series that uses the power of serialization to flesh out the Trekverse in an unprecedented clarity.

The more I think about this idea, the more I dig it. Unfortunately, this isn't what we're getting.
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:40am (UTC -5)
@ James
"Astrology et al may be nonsense... but time travel isn't? "
Yes. Let me explain. Astrology is the believe that random patterns of stars are somewhat connected to your birth month and your personal luck at a specific date. It made somewhat sense in ancient times. Believing that Zeus/Athena is trying to tell you something through those things you didn't really understand. Believing it today without believing in some form of deity is baffling.

Time travel on the other hand. What is time travel? Changing of energy patterns basically. To clarify. Going back in time should be impossible. Going forward not so much. When you have a strong gravitational pull then time moves slower and vice versa. So if you are close to a black hole and I am on earth then we would experience time very differently. You could show up after a very short time while we poor schmucks on earth would have aged decades. Plus it's a science fiction staple that is in some sense true and could of course in a different sense also be true. Astrology on the other hand is proven to be fraud but it gives people emotional comfort so they don't care.
James
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 6:43am (UTC -5)
@Boomer
Astrology is a bit more complicated than that. Jung believed in it, as well as a number of prominent academics, mostly psychologists. It doesn't require a belief in a deity, but it does presuppose the existence of archetypes — principles which inform the structure and workings of the material world. Science only recognizes dimensions of reality that can be made accessible through the senses or devices that extend the range of our senses.

As for time travel, I'm not sure how the experience of time in the vicinity of a black hole is relevant to travelling back or forward in time. That could just as easily be used to demonstrate that the concept of time is completely subjective. Has anyone ever experienced time? The past and future is always only experienced in the present, through a memory or thought. If time travel is changing of energy patterns (which is a good way of describing it) why should the energy patterns of the entire universe change depending on what one person, or one small machine does?
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 7:37am (UTC -5)
@James
Using Jung, who wrote about the differences between the Jewish and German soul or how Jews are incapable of creating any real culture, is meaningless. There were also many scientists back then who wrote antisemtic stuff about the Jews. Does that prove that antisemitism is a scientifically justified view? No.

He was a psychologist/psychoanalyst, not an astronomer and I'm also certain that the number of academics who do not believe in astrology absolutely dwarfs the number who do.
Let's not continue this. I have long accepted that you cannot convince people, who hold non rational believes, with rational argument to give up these believes. This is not about rational arguments but emotional comfort.
I guess that's why we have faith, prophecies, fate, family and all that in Star Trek now. it is more comfortable for people and understandable than science. Supernovas happen almost instantly, 10000 ships disappear and it is all connected through the great space fungus.
God this shit is dumb.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 8:43am (UTC -5)
To be fair, fate and prophecy are decent themes for a sci fi show and even a Trek show. The question is how the topic is dealt with. Is it treated as some mystical anti-science mumbo-jumbo, or as something that can co-exist with a rational view of the world?

Also, if we already accept the conceit of time travel, why not accept the possibility of other ways to obtain information about the future? Shouldn't the transmission of mere information through time, be far easier than actual time travel? The concept of "fate" may also make sense in this context, depending on the actual way time works in the story's universe (a concept which Trek, unfortunately, was never particularly consistent about).
Yanks
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:01am (UTC -6)

"@Yanks
"STD renewed through a 5th season!! PIC renewed for a season 2! Rumor of a 'Pike' series!! Section 31 series? Star Trek Shorts!! Animated Trek!! Rumors of Star Trek IV re-kindling?

It's a great time to be a Trek fan! Don't let the downers spoil it for you. It's a great time to be a Trek fan! Don't let the downers spoil it for you. "

You seem to be conflating quality with quantity.

And I gotta say, the creed of "don't let the downers spoil it for you" sounds to me like you're desperately trying to convince yourself that the "downers" are wrong.

Because if you really believed that it's a great time to be a Trek fan, why give a hoot about what the detractors think? How can their opinion "spoil" your enjoyment, if they are talking nonsense anyway?"

--Not at all. I am critical here when I chose to be. I was preaching here just a few episodes ago for the series to improve. "They" said that about 'Enterprise' too, and that was an outstanding series. Then, when the show gave them exactly what they had been complaining the series wasn't giving them (season 4), they didn't return to watch it. So I don't hold much credence to the chronic complaining trek fan base. It seems to me they are too proud of the attacking trait of fandom.

""I believe modern story telling (serialization) is a major player in many trekkies' whoas."

I'm not sure how strong this factor is.

When I look at the points of criticisms that people raise here, serialization doesn't come up that often. I mean, yes, it is a factor, but I doubt it is that important.

BTW personally, I wouldn't mind serialization if it was (a) written well and (b) respected the source material. Maybe in some alternate universe we're indeed getting an optimistic thoughtful Trek series that uses the power of serialization to flesh out the Trekverse in an unprecedented clarity."

--It's not a deal breaker for me personally. I would prefer the "adventure of the week" style trek gave us for decades, but I don't get to chose that so I take it for what it is. The real issue with serialized story telling is, if you dig yourself a hole, it can take half of one of these short seasons to get yourself out of it. For instance, aside from the gore, my two biggest issues with 'Picard' are 1, the Picard we new and loved would never have quit and 2, we knew Picard was going to find Soji from the first episode and it took 6 episodes to get there and the filler wasn't that great.

We've dealt with slow starts MANY times before in trek. We've endured some pretty shoddy writing before in all the series. Hell, half the TOS episodes are just not very good, no matter what decade you watch it in. No different here.

"The more I think about this idea, the more I dig it. Unfortunately, this isn't what we're getting."

--I'm all for some more optimism... this is exactly IMO while folks are clamoring for a Pike/#1/Spock series on the Enterprise. While I enjoyed STD season 1, that was the HUGE improvement in season 2. Happy go lucky TOS/TNGVOY? ... no, but a very large step in the right direction.

So, have you watched any of this yet?
Trent
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Booming said: "Well, I would say that the religious aspects were or certainly became the weakest part of DS9."

DS9 dropped the ball hard on its religious themes. Piller set up some amazing material in Season 1, the Bajorans worshiping "gods" which the Federation rationally views as material entities, but this stuff never went anywhere cool. The Paghwraiths and Jedi battles in the final season were particularly cringy.

Hinting at how ripe with potential this material was, there's a season 1 or 2 episode where Keiko - a science teacher - faces "persecution" from Bajoran fundamentalists who view her own science as bigotry and persecution. The way Sisko mediates between the two "intolerant" viewpoints was really cool. Indeed, how Sisko and the Feds constantly tried to arbitrate between cultures which the Federation's own ethos disagreed with, made DS9 S1 and 2's arc episodes some of my favorite Trek.

I've always thought, if you're going to do serialized Trek, DS9 season 1 and 2 is what you have to emulate. Banal space bureaucracy can be cool.
Yanks
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 9:21am (UTC -5)
@ James

"Astrology et al may be nonsense... but time travel isn't?"

Half of time travel isn't. Any object can travel forward in time. Scientifically proven.

It's the going back in time that's impossible, unless you are watch Star Trek where it's a staple.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Regarding multiple Trek show spin-offs, possibly @ Yanks, be careful what you wish for! They just got done pulverizing the Star Wars franchise through over-saturation and lowering the bar on what would get through the gate. Timetables replaced inspiration. We got perhaps the most disjointed trilogy ever made, and multiple cancellations of projects that had already been either teased or announced.
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 10:56am (UTC -5)
@Omicron
"To be fair, fate and prophecy are decent themes for a sci fi show and even a Trek show. The question is how the topic is dealt with. Is it treated as some mystical anti-science mumbo-jumbo, or as something that can co-exist with a rational view of the world?"
I don't think so. Fate and prophecies are not well suited for science fiction. They belong in the fantasy genre. Sure there are crossovers and Trent rightly points out that the idea of the prophets was nice, even though it went the way these things often go: good vs evil red vs blue. Blue and red are the most popular colors by the way. Another thing during basic training in the army we had maneuvers/training and we called our side blue side and the enemy red side. Very subtle. :D Do not forget Americans: RED MEANS EVIL.
What was I talking about??
Oh yes, socialism is bad... or is that just what THEY want you to believe?! :)

@Trent
Yeah lots of people say that Star Trek shows always start bad but I thought the first two seasons of DS9 were really good.

"Banal space bureaucracy can be cool."
For nerds, Trent. For nerds. CBS is gunning for a bigger target. The mythical average viewer. That is why STP looks the way it does and you know what: It's fine. I'm somewhat over it. This show has no interest in good story telling or science or a positive vision of the future. It's memberberries and very simple and vague concepts(fate, faith, garbage). It is a show for people who don't watch Star Trek. Most people know Borg, Picard, Romulans, Klingons, Kirk, Spock and a few other things. That is why we haven't heart a single thing about the Dominion or the Cardassians because people who don't watch Star Trek don't know what that is.
The average viewer knows nothing more about Picard then this.
https://giphy.com/explore/picard-facepalm


I really hoped that they would make different shows. One for this audience, one for that. But Discovery and STP are pretty similar. As stated before I will watch season 3 of Discovery just because it's so batshit crazy but yeah season 3 will probably be my last contact with Star Trek and my inner monologue will probably look like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ehHYiYrqeY
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 11:54am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"I don't think so. Fate and prophecies are not well suited for science fiction. They
belong in the fantasy genre."

So you've already said. But repeating your statement without addressing my counter-points is hardly a compelling argument. Ending your reply with a non-sequitur doesn't do your stance any favors, either.

I'm still waiting for an explanation for why we should deem fate and prophecies and other future-telling notions to be ridiculous in a universe where time travel happens.
Yanks
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.

"Regarding multiple Trek show spin-offs, possibly @ Yanks, be careful what you wish for! They just got done pulverizing the Star Wars franchise through over-saturation and lowering the bar on what would get through the gate. Timetables replaced inspiration. We got perhaps the most disjointed trilogy ever made, and multiple cancellations of projects that had already been either teased or announced."

Truth. I'm cringing at a possible Quinton Tarantino Star Trek movie. While JJ said he grew up a SW fan, I honestly thought he did a better job with the Star Trek movies. I enjoyed TFA while laughing at the copy of it all, but the last 2 were horrendous. (and I'm not a SW nut) That all being said, we do have 'Rogue One' and 'The Mandalorian' which I really enjoyed.

I don't think we are anywhere close to the Star Wars mess yet though. In this day of instant critics, the internet, etc... I think the producers/writers do listen and make improvements. That was clear to me watching STD season 2. We'll see what happens with PIC S2 and STD S2.
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
Sorry I'm really a little scatter brainy right now. :)

"Shouldn't the transmission of mere information through time, be far easier than actual time travel?"
You mean like a book? Or do you mean an actual prophecy? A prophecy is a message from the gods/god about the future. Gods know these things because they are gods. That is what the word means. If the message was not given by a god or some divine being then it is not a prophecy. There is, of course, always a grey area like with Glorfindel and the witch king for example. The difference between fantasy and science fiction when it comes to these things is that in science fiction you always need a machine and a scientific concept to justify them.
Prophecy and fate means divine intervention of some sort. In Greek mythology it was these three ladies, the moirai. In Rome it was the parcae. In monotheist religions the fate part is done by god... kind of. It's not really clear though. There is the concept of predestination but most Christians don't believe in that. In Christianity fate is for the most part not a real concept because of the whole apple thing. Freedom of will and so on. Of course most people use that term fate very liberally.

To sum it up. Time travel is done with a machine based on a scientific consept. Fate and prophecies and whatnot are done by supernatural beings and these belong in the fantasy genre.
Science fiction basically says this scientific thing could be true at some point.
Fantasy say these magical things could have been true once.
The time travel orb from DS9 is basically a fantasy element. Not a fan.

Star Wars, if you ignore metaclorians, is mostly a fantasy show not science fiction. I have read the name science fantasy.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
@Booming
"If the message was not given by a god or some divine being then it is not a prophecy."

Let's not get bogged down by semantics. If a show presented us with a priest that writes alleged info about the future in an ancient book, then you'll be hard pressed not calling it a prophecy, regardless of the actual source of that information.

Besides, our discussion here isn't limited to "prophecies" anyway. We are talking, generally, about possible methods of gaining knowledge about the future in a sci fi setting.

You've mentioned one possibility, which is time travel. My point is that there many other options. Once we accept time travel as a reality (within the show, of-course), then we can justify almost any form of divination. Even Mike's suggestions of astrology and Tarot cards could be made to make sense with the the right kind of fictional physics, and/or a sufficiently advanced technology.

Also, remember that the characters in the show are not omniscient. Just because the CHARACTERS view something as a religious ritual or as an occult practice, does not preclude the possibility of a deeper scientific explanation existing for the audience to see.

"The difference between fantasy and science fiction when it comes to these things is that in science fiction you always need a machine and a scientific concept to justify them."

Yes. I agree. This is why I've said that the way the concept is tackled is important.

"Fate means divine intervention of some sort. In Greek mythology it was these three ladies, the moirai. In Rome it was the parcae. In monotheist religions the fate part is done by god... kind of. "

Fair enough, but why can't we adapt the concept to a more modern setting? The notion of fate strikes an emotional chord, because it tells the story of a predetermined unescapable future. The tragedy of this has nothing to do with "gods", even if the Greeks and Romans were unable to picture the concept of fate without them.

It's still a powerful concept. It's also a concept that makes sense in a world where time travel is possible.

"The time travel orb from DS9 is basically a fantasy element."

Can't really argue with that.

But this, really, has more to do with the way that specific orb was used in the stories, rather then the general idea of a "time-travel-aiding orb". I don't see the latter notion as being any less realistic than other modes of time travel we've seen in Trek.
Dougie
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
@henson ridiculous. I have to tolerate 10 made up stories here about why Maybe There Aren’t Visual Detectors In Sickbay, completely made up bullshit by people here simply conjecturing while waving their arms and sipping their favorite bullshit Chablis. Yet if I offer a technically and historically and simplistically plausible reason Why there would be a visual record of what took place, “head cannon.” My response; screw that.

Good day.
Henson
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
@Dougie

'Head canon', not 'head cannon'.

My point was not to argue against cameras. My point was simply that an argument of Star Trek based around present day is highly flawed. Your argument about how the nature of holographic emitters might indicate visual sensors was a much better angle.

Also, my previous claims of 'head canon' weren't based on this particular argument of cameras, but on your claims around Star Trek capitalism.
no pain no brain
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
Did Banjo Man show up yet? From Voyager Season 1 Episode 1?
Booming
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
Fair enough. I guess I could accept some of the themes if they were smartly written, sadly I have to watch STP. :)
And if they deal with these themes it will probably look like this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTY0PXTs3Yw

On to the next episode.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 3:14am (UTC -5)
You don't really HAVE to, you know ;-)
Patrick D
Fri, Mar 27, 2020, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
Batfunk said:

"But I was wrong. As good actor as he is, he takes advantage of his producer role to inject his own interests as liberal English citizen:brexit, immigration, democracies difficulties..."

You have to squint really hard to find anything like that. You say the Federation not helping the Romulans is like Brexit? Not really. The Federation is still the big cooperation of nations (in fact, it's more similar to the EU) and not helping out the Romulans would be something like not sending aid to Syria or Ukraine. But see, I'm stretching here to even make these simple analogies work. There just isn't a big straightforward political agenda going on.

Frankly, I'd be happy if this show made more of the bold liberal statements you speak of, but at best it's just the same allegorical stuff you always see in Star Trek.
Maq
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 2:32am (UTC -5)
It is to slow, I is to much waiting and slow evolving until something happens. I hope I will enjoy the story telling more when I rewatch it in a couple of years time.

It is sometimes said that this is not real star trek. Some / many TOS episodes had a quite ridiculous plot but they almost always had a twist. I miss that.

It must not always be action episodes but I do not like the mystery plot where everything develops slow. At least we get rid of the slow Soji / Narek relational problems for a while (I hope).

Nevertheless I am curious and likes to watch it.

I admit not being native English speaker I normally also have the English subtitles switched on. Here I do not have any. It is sometimes difficult to catch everything said.

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