Star Trek: Picard


3 stars.

Air date: 3/10/2022
Teleplay by Akiva Goldsman & Terry Matalas and Christopher Monfette
Story by Michael Chabon and Akiva Goldsman & Terry Matalas and Christopher Monfette
Directed by Doug Aarniokoski

Review Text

"Penance" is what Q says Picard must provide in this episode, rather than Q serving up one of his traditional tests or trials. It is also one of those, but Q's mention of a penance raises the question of for whom and why atonement is required. Further raising the stakes and mystery is the fact Q is perhaps "not well," as Picard notes. (I was going to note that John de Lancie was pushing way too hard in angry moments of these scenes, until it became clear this was by design.) Picard is in a timeline where humanity has realized the full vision of the "savage race" Q once accused them of being — a fascist galactic force that violently attacks and subjugates everyone it encounters, from the Klingons to the Cardassians to the Vulcans.

Since Q has granted Picard some "help," our other characters are also aware of the change in the timeline. "Penance" is about getting everyone reassembled as they try to navigate a frightening new reality. General Picard is a world-famous galactic military conquistador with Romulan house slaves, and Picard's horror in realizing what he is here is palpable.

Seven, having never been assimilated by the Borg, is President Annika Hansen of the Confederation of Earth. Humanity is currently at war with the Vulcans, where Rios is on the front lines of a Vulcan planetary assault. Earth is protected by an ominous-looking planetary shield, but Q notes the planet itself is "on life-support." We catch up with Raffi and Elnor in Okinawa, where oppressed dissidents rejoice as they bomb skyscrapers. So things here aren't great.

The episode does a good job establishing this world and getting its characters up to speed quickly, while also developing a plot where they must work their way through the harrowing experience while pulling off a caper. It's "Eradication Day," in which the final member of a species will be publicly executed in front of a howling mob. That species is the Borg, and the queen (Annie Wersching) is their last survivor, being held in Jurati's lab. The queen, however, has an ability to see through into other possible timelines, and she recognizes our characters as being out of place. She pinpoints an event in "Los Angeles, 2024" upon which history took its sinister turn. The crew plans to steal the queen to help them pilot back through time, using Jim Kirk's old slingshot-around-the-star method of time travel. (Wersching is good in her turn as the Borg Queen, weird and alien and skittishly vulnerable in a way this character rarely is.)

So that sets the stage. With the mission parameters in place, the rest of the episode is piece-moving and action plotting, much of which you can probably imagine without seeing, but which works entertainingly and solidly nonetheless. This is gripping and enjoyable and the pace of the plotting is a welcome change after the recent meandering of Discovery. And if none of this is stunningly original, it's executed with skill and confidence and finds a way to use the characters mostly effectively.

Until the last-minute boarding of La Sirena by Annika's suspecting magistrate husband (Jon Jon Briones), it looked like this episode was already done with this alternate dystopia and ready to jump straight back to the 21st century, signifying a more episodic adventure approach to the season. Since it ends on a possible-setback cliffhanger, we'll have to wait to see if the series has more to do here or not. But I'm encouraged by the upped tempo.

In terms of substance, time will tell as to whether the dystopian alt-setting or time-travel back to the 21st century will have any sort of thematic through-line or useful commentary. But for now it serves mostly as the backdrop for a nightmare scenario for our characters to experience and attempt escape.

"You will now answer to the charge of being a grievously savage race":

  • When Picard says the future has been changed by the past, and that they aren't actually in an alternate universe, isn't that splitting hairs? Isn't a time-altered reality just one way of getting into an alternate reality?
  • Will 2024 have anything to do with the Bell Riots from DS9's "Past Tense," or is the year just a coincidence? (I'm going to bet on the latter and be very surprised if it's the former.)
  • The idea that the slingshot-around-the-star trick requires a unique mind (previously Spock, here the Borg Queen) to be successful is at least a nod in the direction of why everyone doesn't just warp around the sun whenever they want to change history. Still, this has always been a dicey can of worms.
  • There are some solidly chilling details here, like the line of non-human skulls kept in Picard's house, which include some specific name-drops like Dukat and Martok.
  • Alt-Picard drinks Colombian coffee, and the real Picard hates it.
  • Laris is long dead in this timeline, to Picard's regret.
  • When Seven wakes up and hears someone in her unfamiliar bedroom, she calls out for Raffi. Maybe their thing wasn't as insignificant as Seven makes it out to be. (Later, Raffi teases Seven's commitment issues in light of Seven's alt-self being married.)
  • To cover for calling Annika "Seven," Agnes says it refers to their drinking days in college, as in "Annika Seven-Shots" — although isn't Agnes nearly two decades too young to have gone to college with Annika?
  • Agnes talks her way through a tough scrape using the mildly amusingly awkward neurotic motormouth deflection routine. In yet another alternate universe, she was probably raised with Sylvia Tilly.
  • Patton Oswalt voices Agnes' animated AI cat which has socio-political opinions. This is somehow perfect.

Previous episode: The Star Gazer
Next episode: Assimilation

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120 comments on this post

    Well that was easily the best episode of Star Trek since the 20th century...

    When I was a kid, decades ago, I got so angry at my little brother for throwing my replica Star Trek TNG comm badge like a ninja star. Little did I realize he was trying to give me spoilers from the second episode of Star Trek: Picard.

    This episode was riveting, tense at times, and fun. A 'Mirror, Mirror' for the modern age, albeit with less of a moral message. I really hope the standard of quality continues because these first two episodes have been stellar.

    Will just add that I was left wondering for what it was that Picard could not forgive himself: his self-guilt, in feeling as though he ought to have repelled (i.e., not been used by) the Borg (see 'Family' and 'First Contact'); or something from his childhood (see 'Star Gazer'). Maybe the two will be interwoven, but, being invested in the character as I am, I am curious.

    I have a feeling the borg queen is going to end up saying "You and I on the same side... it never felt... right."

    Gee I enjoyed that! I really don't have much more to say about it, except three things:

    1) Q felt menacing in a way he hasn't for a long time. I look forward to finding out more about whatever the hell is going on with him.

    2) Jurati is still making me laugh out loud. Her on-the-spot concoted lie to Seven's "husband" was awesome.

    3) I also still quite enjoy Elnor's character, but by God, the throat-slitting murders of those security guards was massively at odds with the tone of the scene. He and Raffi were almost laughing about it! Like, holy shit that is weeeeird for a Star Trek show.

    Doing well, show. Keep it up.

    Tim -

    Regarding Elnor - It may just be me, but realizing that it's not your reality might give you a kind of detachment to dispatch the security guards with little internal conflict. Kinda like a holodeck program. Also, they have phasers (or disruptors in this reality), and Elnor only had his hands. In intending to kill the heroes, they did not choose to live.

    Also, Soji isn't in this episode, but Isa Briones' real-life father was the magistrate / first husband.

    I really liked this episode, but I felt like it was a bit inferior to the season premier. There were two main reasons for this. One is it too info-dumpy, particularly in the beginning of the episode. I understand that the needs of the cast require that everyone be given their "moment of disorientation" - but I honestly think the episode would have been stronger if they just kept to Picard and Seven's POV, and the other characters; initial arrival happened off camera. The other reason was it lacked the solid themes of the opening episode - it was a bit more straightforward than I tend to like my Trek.

    That said, it was still excellent. It's amazing to juxtapose the tight pacing of this season so far to the languid pace of Discovery (or the first season). The characters were introduced to a nightmare alternate reality, managed to meet up again, and executed 90% of an escape plan (save for that last-minute cliffhanger) within an effective "hour" of television which works as a standalone episode as well as it does part of a serialized story. I appreciated that (unlike when we see the MU) they didn't go for small universe everything. Sure Picard has had run-ins with lots of famous individuals, but Seven's married to a nobody, the woman initially with Elnor is a nobody, etc. They could have gone so much further here with references, but not doing so made the timeline feel much more "real" - not stagey/hammy in the way the MU can be.

    There is a ton of plot railroading going on here of course, but "a Q did it" is a pretty good explanation for everything within universe. Interesting that the Queen we see is supposedly the last Borg in her timeline as well - means my hypothesis for the season (that the Borg we saw at the end of the first episode was a refugee from this timeline) can't be 100% correct.

    One little niggle involving the magistrate - I didn't buy him as Seven's husband at all. Sure she's a fish out of water at the moment, but he treated her like an obsequious functionary, not a husband. They must have a strange relationship within the timeline.

    Regardless, as is the case next week, I find myself eager to watch the next episode, rather than impatient for the story to get going, which shows they're doing something quite right.

    Three stars.

    That was dark. Very dark. But also aware enough of it that it didn't feel at any point like shock TV. Pretty much, yes, like a modern "Mirror, Mirror" that benefits from not being anchored to *the* Mirror Universe but is essentially rebooting it. I didn't expect that cliffhanger coming - it's so customary to have them all get out by the end that having it all topple down suddenly was not something I saw coming.

    The references to Martok, Dukat, and Sisko were really fun. Oh, if only the cast of DS9 was a little more open to doing cameos.

    The allusion to Q being "not well" or "not sane" is a really really interesting sideplot, and suggests some fascinating things for the course of the series. I like this idea quite a lot and I hope they delve more into it.

    Overall, 3 stars? It doesn't work as a standalone thematic piece in the same way that "The Star Gazer" did, and it's basically pure unrelenting thriller action-Trek the whole way through, but it has shockingly good pacing and world-building and it functions great in disorienting and freaking out the audience while serving as the middle act to what I presume is the first portion of the arc.

    I had to force myself to watch Discovery the last three episodes. I looked forward to the first two episodes of Picard with anticipation. I don't know what that says, but it's something. This is not a criticism to the former's cast in any way. I think this season of Picard is some of the best Trek I've seen in a long while and a welcome shift away from the sometimes uneven first season.

    Hah, Q name-dropped “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. That’s worth a few points right there.

    This week’s episode treats us to a Q who is decidedly fed up with being Picard’s teacher. Luckily, we were spared a long exposition dump which is often the case for alternate timeline Trek episodes. Instead, Q gleefully characterizes the changed world as a “penance” and leaves Picard to his own fate.

    The production values this week too were incredible. Discovery’s Mirror Universe gave us a setting akin to a circus carnival, but here the corrupted “Confederate” world seems all too real with shots of the scorched polluted skies of Earth, massive futuristic skyscrapers of Okinawa, and only boring coffee choices for breakfast.

    What worked well was that each character was given a situation where they could not just reveal their true identities and be given a free pass. This approach likens itself more to “Mirror, Mirror” where Kirk quickly learns he can’t be himself in front of a bloodthirsty crew, or they’ll turn on his weakness. Naturally, playing cruel Confederates proves too difficult for most of the enlightened Picard characters. Even Seven, who we might expect to have residual Borg-like cruelty, struggles to keep up an authoritarian act.

    Every scene is filled with tension as one wrong move in this world will lead a character to an unceremonious execution. Luckily, Seven, Rios, Raffi – all of them – are shown to be creative people who are good at thinking on their feet. What could have been a bloodbath of an episode involves a surprising amount of careful planning and outsmarting the Confederates. Still, the show keeps us on edge as the Confederate president (who’s also Seven’s husband) doesn’t fall for the gang’s act.

    Did everyone catch that General Sisko line? I’m a little curious how he turns out in this time. Anyway, a confrontation with the Borg Queen of this period proves crucial as she has an enhanced sense of timeline shenanigans. Picard’s team surmises that Q changed the timeline during some critical event in Los Angeles of 2024. Without knowing more, the team decides that their best bet is a Kirk-like slingshot around the sun to get to 2024. Unfortunately, they’re missing the X-factor that is Spock, so they *negotiate* help with the Borg Queen. I think this Borg collaboration will probably be a huge feature of this season as it’s markedly different from the approach encouraged by the authoritarian thought of rogue timeline (a.k.a. just kill her!).

    Eventually the team breaches Confederate security and starts its time travel mission but are interrupted by the vice President whose suspicions have been validated. Presumably they’ll get away from him too, but will it involve a phaser fight or a brokered deal? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, really. Regardless, it’s a fun watch.

    "24th century Q never hit me!"
    "I'm not 24th century Q!"

    This was quality. Not the most deep or cerebral hour of Trek ever, but really fun with a minimum of the dumb/pretentious writing that seems baked into the CBS+ era of Trek sometimes.

    Also the production values are excellent. The borg queen looked great. Compare her to the inquisitors in the Obi Wan trailer.
    Night and day.

    What a fantastic, tense and deeply entertaining episode. It's astonishing how engrossing this show feels compared to season 1. Who knew getting rid of that teenage soap on the Artifact was the solution.

    Some minor quibbles:

    - Seven met Q on Voyager. She should have said something.

    - Seven as the president of the brutal Confederation? Come now, we all know that should have been Janeway.

    - They need the Borg Queen to do the math Spock did for time travel? Isn't Seven just as brilliant?

    - I get why we didn't get to see general Benjamin Sisko... But how awesome would either Nana Visitor or Colm Meaney have been? And speaking of DS9, I could see Alexander Siddig make a return too.

    I had goosebumps in the Picard-Q scene. Also loved all the DS9 references. If the writers have been watching DS9 before crafting this season, well, that explains a lot. Heh.

    When Picard mentioned Q, Seven didn't react at all. She was only around for one of Voyager's Q episodes, the one where Q's son becomes best friends with Icheb. Did she interact with de Lancie at all? Does anyone remember? I rewatched Voyager around a year ago and I can't remember, but if she did, given what I remember of the plot, surely it was minimal.

    Speaking of his son, I wonder if that's what has Q acting so . . . unwell? Probably not. I don't expect the writers to have it hinge around a Voyager plot. Doubt we even get a reference.

    I'm not sure how this "Confederation" could utterly decimate a highly advanced civilization spanning an area of space it would have taken Voyager a decade to traverse on the other side of the galaxy while not being able to conquer Vulcan, Earth's nearest neighbor at only four lightyears away, but sure. It's besides the point. It's accounted for by factors we reasonably don't know about, and certainly don't need to know about. Besides, Q Did It.

    The Borg Queen was wonderful. Annie Wersching is playing her more like Alice Krige and less like Susannah Thompson--less "evil stepmother" and more "I'm going to eat you," which is wonderfully menacing and creepy. And every member of the cast is on edge around her (and trying not to show it), even and especially Picard and Seven, with whom she has a long history. Just fantastic.

    And the best part? It's a competently executed hour of television on every level. Sucks you right in. Discovery, take note.

    Everyone who was saying last week that "Patrick Stewart is playing Patrick Stewart and not Picard," you know . . . sorry, I just don't see it. You could level that criticism at season one somewhat, but that's Jean-Luc Picard I saw on my screen last week and this week. Particularly the Picard who'd reasonably follow on from the TNG movies, where he was already notably less reserved.

    Was that Brent Spiner in the voiceover about Execution Day as the camera was spanning to Okinawa? Was that holographic statue figure a rendering of him? We didn't get close enough to see, but it sort of looked like him.

    Love how the show makes the point that not just anybody can use their warp drive near a star and go back in time. What a mess of a universe that would make for. If it had just happened in the one TOS episode, Star Trek could reasonably ignore it going forward, but of course it was used in Star Trek IV, so it's indelibly part of the science of this world.

    If this isn't a four star episode, it's certainly 3.5!

    Norvo said:

    "- They need the Borg Queen to do the math Spock did for time travel? Isn't Seven just as brilliant? "

    Not necessarily. Everyone has their prior memories, but here she is simply Annika Hansen, not former Borg Seven of Nine.

    Very tense indeed.
    Q is definitely suffering some kind of instability
    The Borg queen is silent and deadly
    // Seven met Q on Voyager. She should have said something.//
    Picard knows more about Q than anyone else so Picard is the expert...
    Well Janeway did negotiate with the Borg in Scorpion
    Some funny moments

    @Daniel - I had the same thought ("Eh, it's an alternate reality, doesn't matter"). I mean, Bashir had no problem exploding Mirror Odo real good back in the day. But it still felt very jarring to me. It's not an issue with the gore - I'm one of the minority who wasn't bothered by Icheb's end in the first season - more that it felt very un-Starfleet, which Raffi and Elnor are both a part of now.

    Not a big deal but it definitely stuck out.

    I've got to say it: That opening with Q was something right out of a horror movie! I had to re-watch it three times, in fact, because it affected me so. John Delancey's performance was wonderful.

    What an episode! The references were all very well done. The tone and execution were very nearly perfect. This set-up for this season has been excellent so far. I hope this level of quality is maintained throughout.

    I kind of wish they held back the new version of the opening credits until this episode. I really like the new take on the theme, but in the first episode, it seemed jarring as the bridge between the autodestruct on the Stargazer and harvest day in France. In this episode, the opening credits and theme perfectly explain the struggle between the horrors of the dystopia and the inner light trying to break through.

    The assumption people are making that the "General Sisko" line was a reference to Benjamin Sisko might be an incorrect one.

    I reckon it was prbably just a throwaway line because they could, but I would have gotten equal pleasure from seeing Cirroc Lofton make a surprise appearance.

    Not as good as last week but still quite good. DeLancie is as menacing as ever and the alternate timeline was scary and well conceived. I also liked the use of the Borg Queen although it appears she acquired new abilities. A little contrived as was last last week and the escape was too easy with the counting clock make me take off a few points. Raffi and Elnor should have been dead many times over but I guess they have plot armor for now. My cautious optimism for this season is still intact

    "I've got to say it: That opening with Q was something right out of a horror movie!"

    Ummm.... what did I miss here? You mean him giving JLP a bloody lip???

    Wow. That was thrilling, fascinating, and disturbing. This didn't feel like just a mirror universe episode. This had teeth.

    This was Delancie's best turn at Q to date. And I absolutely adored him in TNG,especially in Q Who and All Good Things.

    Four stars. Best Picard episode to date.

    @Jason R — Nope, not the bloody lip, though that indicated Q was losing control. "Time, how unfair it is." He was speaking to Picard, but there was a hint in this that it is a universal statement, even its relativity. Horror, indeed! I say this because of the general tone. I found it genuinely disturbing. Q as demon, or deranged god, or avenging angel. The Chateau Picard as gothic manor and a dying estate or plantation. Cowering slaves, one sharpening knives and nervously contemplating murder and liberation. Like I said, disturbing. Isn't that what the horror genre tries to elicit in its audience, horror, not just jump scares?

    It seems strange that the divergence point into this Humans First timeline would come decades before First Contact...

    I have a feeling it's going to be very contemporary with real life politics.

    I still remember the cringe of the 2009 V reboot literally using the words "hope and change" in the wake of the Visitors' arrival.

    One of the trailers for the season showed signs for Sanctuary Districts. So, I kind thought that homelessness would be the focus of the season, but with this episode, I think it'll also be climate change, since Q says we could have burned the planet.

    To a being like Q, time is just another directional dimension that can be traversed, like we can move backwards, forwards, up, and down in 3D space. So I wouldn't ascribe the linear time between "All Good Things" and "The Star Gazer" to be significant to Q. Something happened extradimensionally somewhere somehow and it's affected him.

    My current theory is that the Borg Queen that came through the portal in Episode 1 was not from the "Prime" timeline, but some surviving element from the dystopian timeline that saw them virtually wiped out. They wanted to negotiate peace with "a" Picard that wouldn't kill them off, but then... zero zero zero destruct zero.

    It's a little confusing given the preview clips--it seems like Q is in 2024 giving Adam Soong the very something that will give him the means to take control--eventually leading to the eradication of the Borg hundreds of years later. The only thing I can think of is that he's making Picard chase him, fix the timeline split, and realize a lesson that would prevent the destruction of the Stargazer, himself, and the Borg.

    @Dahj's Digital Ghost isn't t anyone else DISAPPOINTED this episode did NOT HAVE A MKRE ORIGINAL and IMAGINATIVE SCI-FI PREMISE??I'M glad it isnt the Mirror Universe amdnthe notion of Borg Queen as sort if Precpg and temporal sniffer dog is somebwat original I think right or imaginative? But what donyou guys think of this alternative premise..Q takes them tonthe realm where thise advanced AI/synth ppl lived where the blacl tentacles were coming out of and shows theirbibfluebce on humanity ..and/or the former Borg who were in Unimatrix zero return but have developed a sort of real but synthetic version of UMZ that the Federation and Soji now have to grapple with as they tbreaten to bring everyone into their synth UMZ "anticollective" world...I just came yp with these thingd myself but I think it's more original and imaginative than what we might get here..and introduce new alien synth life forms..wnat do you guys think of those ideas??

    @Leif —The Borg Queen presented here, with her temporal awareness, is an imaginative interpretation of what we've seen before, I agree. Is it possible that Q's throw-away line — "Oh, Picard, isn't that so yesterday's Enterprise of you" — is not quite so throw-away as it first appears? Guinan had a temporal awareness also, as seen in Yesterday's Enterprise. Did the Borg acquire this when they added the El-Aurian's "biological and technological distinctiveness" to their own?

    So how is Soji going to fit into this exactly? Synth's in this timeline, of the type Soji and Picard belong to, are related to the Earth Confederation's conquest of Cardassia somehow, no? And they were necessarily an outgrowth of androids of Data's type. But if I understood the slogan "A safe galaxy is a human galaxy" to originate with Adam Soong, that implies, to me at least, that his interests are in eugenics.

    I'm very interested to see how this develops.

    @Jay, "It seems strange that the divergence point into this Humans First timeline would come decades before First Contact..."

    This would make sense, since in ENT's mirror episodes humans are socially at a point where they shotgun the Vulcans at their arrival, haha

    Something must've been brewing for a while before then

    Fairly disappointed with this episode as it comes across as extremely unoriginal to me and I'm fed up with totalitarian societies in what is basically the Mirror Universe on Earth that Q has thrown the good guys into. This is far too similar to "Mirror, Mirror" -- the good guys try and figure out WTF happened and how to escape while the people living in the totalitarian society (mainly 7 of 9's husband the magistrate start growing in suspicion). The only twist that I can see is the Borg Queen who has the ability to discern that time's been broken and the good guys co-opt her to be like Spock and to the calculations for time travel.

    The first half of the episode is basically just the same thing with the various protagonists — realizing they’re in some altered reality, trying to adapt. Nothing noteworthy. Things only got marginally better with the introduction of the captured Borg Queen.

    Thought we might get something like from SW:ESB where Darth Vader basically tells Skywalker, "Luke, I am your father" (I know this is not an actual quote) — and when Picard looked at the Borg Queen in Jurati's lab, she'd tell him "Jean-Luc, I am your mother.” Would have been some cool symmetry.

    How is Evagora an actor in the main cast of PIC? He's got to be one of the worst main cast actors Trek has ever had. All he's good for is fight scenes -- and those bore me. But Elnor gets shot and maybe he'll die and Evagora won't act anymore. I'm also not a fan of Pill's acting -- some may find it humorous but I just think the character is a bit too unprofessional.

    The whole escape scene was so predictable -- as if the transporter would not work. But at least the magistrate catches up with them and holds them at gunpoint as the episode ends.

    2 stars for "Penance" -- after the first episode, we spend like half this episode establishing a whole new premise and going through each character askng WTF happened was just wasting time. Of course, what Q is up to or how "well" he is is also a mystery. Usually alternate realities and resetting timeline Trek episodes have worked pretty well, so it seems PIC S2 will make a whole season out of it. Not impressed.

    Seems like nuTrek (ugh, hate that moniker) is continuing the fine tradition of making the 'stakes' as high as possible. Didn't they learn anything from last season's Nepenthe, which was low key and praised by fans as the show's peak? Or did they all sit around a table and try to do something interesting with Picard's history and character for an hour before finally giving up and say 'fuck it - mirror universe, Q and everyone's lives at stake once again'.

    Sweet Jesus, Mary Mother of Mercy. All you have to do is throw Picard into the title role and suddenly everything so-called NuTrek that the EXACT SAME PEOPLE were hating on is FIVE STARS! From 0 to 5 in only two episodes! Oh, it's the best Trek since FOREVER! I hoped this was going to be different, but just as the first episode did, this one spiraled down the drain in the last act with one of the stupidest plot points ever seen on any Star Trek.

    7 can't get us back to where we were so honestly told by the absolute candor Borg Queen that we need to go. The only reason 7 was a genius was because BORG! I know right! Let's take a Borg Queen back to 2024 where you had absolutely zero technology or weaponry or allies capable of even scratching a Borg. Not to mention, the Borg is just sitting out there alive and well waiting for a signal! What can possibly go wrong?!?

    I mean, it's not like we already have Picard's positronic matrix that was based on Data standing right there. And it's not like Gerati hasn't been hobnobbing with the synths and should understand that tech better than anyone alive. And it's not like there are synths running around and the tech is so well understood that Picard got his synth body.

    And it's not like there are replicators where all you need to do is input programs and build whatever the hell you want to build. So by no means could anyone take all that know how and build a synth capable of doing whatever they need done. No! That would be beyond the pale. We absolutely MUST take the uber useful and helpful Borg Queen back to the 21st Century! And we must do it TODAY! No time to think of a better plan because there's an urgency emergency!

    I now understand Booming's Trekkian Comfort Carcass. Because this is most definitely that... Picard style, so it's automatically splendictacular!!!

    Well, all you people who prefer your Star Trek dark are gonna love this, because this one is about as dark as Colombian Roast. Q's apparently gone mad, the conFederation are Basic Nazis and Star Fleet comm badges double as ninja throwing stars, lol.

    I still can't get completely onboard with this but there were admittedly some Good Things:

    - It's hard to find fault with the show on a purely technical level and even the camera guy has learned to chill a bit.

    - It was well-paced. I never found myself looking at my watch like I often do when watching Discovery.

    - I enjoyed the performances of the Borg Queen and Q. Also, if you must info-dump a mystery box, Q is the man for the job.

    - Okay, fine. We really are starting to see more of original Picard in Picard, at least compared to last season.

    But that, for me, is where the positives end. Now for the Bad:

    - Contrary to popular belief, the allusion to Q being unwell or insane is NOT a really interesting side plot. ST:Picard already tries to excuse too much of its stupidity by attributing temporary insanity to its characters.

    - I think they're splitting hairs over not being an alternate universe only because they worry the audience is already saying "Oh no, not more Mirror Universe!" But whether it's authentically AU or just another timeline, haven't we all had enough of that sort of tripe from NuTrek? Like, it was fine when Voyager had that one Nazi episode but I cannot imagine enduring that for an entire season...

    - "Don't worry, I won't let you do this alone!" No, please let him do this alone. Let's just ditch the others and roll the dice on some new NPCs. How about Patton Cat, for instance? Let him be the comic relief instead of Jurati. Anything would be better than Jurati, who has now been confirmed as the Tilly of this series.

    - People seem a bit too impressed with the slingshot reference being more difficult than it appeared in the movie. There's this thing called a retcon and sometimes it's for the best. Because now, not only has NuTrek necro'd this silly conceit, but they've made it even sillier by requiring someone Really Smart.

    - Apparently these guys haven't noticed that Star Trek has no shortage of Really Smart People so the Borg Queen should be everyone's last resort, not their FIRST IDEA for chrissakes. I would have hoped that Picard came out of ST: First Contact with some valuable life lessons such as never, ever allowing a Borg Queen to travel back in time. Instead he should have recalled his love affair with Data from last season and said "What about Data? Might he still be alive in this timeline? Let's find out and see if he is smart enough to do the slingshot!" (And no, Seven is not just as smart. She may be even slightly dumber now that she's never had any Borg implants.)

    - This is just a nitpick but I guess it never occurred to me that the facial features of all those aliens were so..uh.. skeletal?

    It isnt splitting hairs. Alternate timeline isnt the same as changing the past. Q went back in time to change the past ISNT the same as going to the mirror universe and changing the past. The MIRROR is already different.

    The temporal cold war? The slingshot would be difficult... in relativity Voyager, seven had borg implants so she could detect irregularities in space time.

    Sisko is an easter egg. Its deliberate. Notice the time

    Excellent. Just excellent.

    And hahaha, no, this is not simply because SMG is replaced by Patrick Stewart (allthough a case could be made that a competent actor at the center of proceedings does indeed help quite a bit).

    This was well paced. What a contrast to the sloppy "earth is about to be destroyed! Now let me tell you about my childhood trauma..." nonsense.
    It makes you care about the entire ensemble, where it would every right to only care about its lead (after all, it's a show named after him).
    Yummy Trek stuff! Oh my, the captured Borg queen, what an outlandish thing to look at. Much more interesting than marvel villain green lady whose name I already forgot that DSC wasted an entire season on, only to instantly forget she ever even existed. Excellent!
    Characters that aren't superheroes but who can fail. Ooooh please DSC, take note of *that*.

    Easily the two best trek episodes since the end of voyager, as far as I am concerned (no, I did not forget about enterprise). More like this, please.

    I don't mind the explanation given to the slingshot maneuver, personally. It makes internal sense (yes, you probably do need someone *really* powerful to be able to calculate time travel to a precise year and day), and none of the alternate options commenters here are suggesting as supposedly so much more reasonable come off as realistic in the narrative anyway (manually finding Data? really?). The point of the slingshot maneuver is that it should be completely out of reach for anyone unless you get a lucky break - otherwise, time travel is basically broken.

    I also wanna point out that in a *narrative* sense this timeline is portrayed in actually a pretty significantly different way from the Mirror Universe. For me, the core theme of the MU was the inherent tragedy of being able to trust nobody. The one consistent theme of it was how even among humans, everyone was constantly at each other's throats and stabbing people in the back and nobody had any meaningful relationships. It's utterly nihilistic but also so ridiculous and over-the-top and mustache-twirling campy, just sort of confusing on all levels except "wow, it must be fucking scary even being alive here."

    By contrast, the alternate timeline portrayed in this show is frightening on a societal level. What struck me is how if you were a human, Earth was pretty much...a fine place to live? Things were organized, humans were actually wildly good at being conquerors, and they eradicated the Borg. The core theme of this universe seems to be more centered around the idea of how societies can gradually turn cruel - more conceptually about the notions of othering people in the name of safety and security, and the danger of supremacist or authoritarian mindsets. Instead of being scary like a slasher film, it's just dark and skin-crawling - less like a crazy parallel world and more like a dead end for humanity. And I do find that refreshing, and way more compelling of a contrast to us than goatees and agony booths.

    This being the best Trek since the 20th century isn't saying as much as people think...Enterprise was mostly a waste, Discovery has been ridiculous from the start, Lower Decks is crapola, and Picard 1 was a mess.

    modulum said:

    "Things were organized, humans were actually wildly good at being conquerors, and they eradicated the Borg."

    It's hard to see how humanity could ever hope to destroy all the other species in the galaxy that have been in space far longer and are more technologically advanced from a 2024 divergence, especially since any such attempt would likely have allied *all* of those forcestogether against them.

    It's pretty much becomes a ridiculous gimme that we just have to let the writers have.

    "manually finding Data? really?"

    Traditionally, finding Data has been easier than most because he emits a "positronic signature" which we're given the impression is like a big beacon to sensors and can be detected light years away since it's so special and rare... at least I bought it every time they managed to find Data or the few other positronic peeps without much fuss. I dunno how rare it would be in this timeline but they could totally make it work.

    "It isnt splitting hairs. Alternate timeline isnt the same as changing the past."

    Yeah, I was just answering Jammer's question as to why Picard would put so fine a point on that distinction whether it's splitting hairs or not. Ultimately I don't really care about the technical differences between the two.

    "in a *narrative* sense this timeline is actually a pretty significantly different"

    In better hands, you could have great timeline/time travel plots, sure. But I'm already getting the sense that this is not the one that we've all been waiting for. Remember that these are largely the same people who are responsible for The Red Angel.

    Why oh why did they have to do an alternate reality plot?

    Why can't we just have normal 25th century Star Trek?

    I'm so tired of this.

    I loved every second of it!!! And I'm going to enjoy watching it all over again later today.

    Did anyone notice that Picard being an Android hasn't been mentioned or factored into the show *at all*? One would think that the death of one's organic body and the transfer of one's consciousness into a synthetic one would he a fairly life changing event. Could it possibly have some relevance to Picard's sudden mid errr end life crisis over his sad childhood? Might Q have mentioned it, even in passing? It's almost like killing Picard at the end of Season 1 was the most stupid, pointless and irrelevent plot twist in the history of plot twists.

    My patience for this show is hanging by a thread. Did I mention how I loathe alternate history timelines?

    This I vow: if the cast somehow makes it to 2024 and the event that ends the cosmos / breaks the timeline / cracks the Q continuum has anything whatsoever to do with American politics (2024 is a Presidential election year isn't it?) I am quitting not just this show, but all Star Trek, forever. And if Donald Trump should appear in any way shape or form, even in passing, I will quit watching *TV* forever.

    ..... and if Donald Trump winning the 2024 election is the nexus event that breaks history, I am personally launching my nuclear ICBMs against Russian targets and ending the world.

    That is all.

    " if the cast somehow makes it to 2024 and the event that ends the cosmos / breaks the timeline / cracks the Q continuum has anything whatsoever to do with American politics (2024 is a Presidential election year isn't it?) I am quitting not just this show, but all Star Trek, forever."

    Don't worry Jason R, the event that breaks the Q Continuum will be the Trek crossover event when we find out that even the Picard show is about Michael Burnham, who turns out to be another child of Q.

    Wow, lots of references to episode titles. Does Q watch Star Trek?! And everybody who was famous in Star Trek was famous in this timeline?! Mystery box. Lalalalala

    Ok, so I guess we only make a short stop in this world and then jump to 2024. In light of that I can overlook a lot of stupidity in this episode. Political knowledge definitely did not help.

    A confederation is an even less centralized state than a federation. Combining that with totalitarianism makes very little sense. None, really. Well, probably only something political scientists would know, still I was rolling my eyes every time they used that word. The rest of the galaxy we are presented with... ok whatever, it's nonsense, let's fly around the sun to cheaper sets with far less special effects. If they actually go back to 2024 then will certainly help bring down production costs.

    Ok, ignoring all the political nonsense, let's get into the story... ... so the show is indicating that Q has gone mad. I hope that is a mislead because otherwise it would mean that the Q's could go mad which would have certainly brought about the end of the galaxy/universe/everything. Ok, ignoring that too, this episode had a lot of exposition dump for a reality which we probably leave in the next episode.

    Also it kind of feels like season 2 of discovery but this time the Mirror Universe stuff and the time travel stuff is combined into one story.

    This episode uses the good old NuTrek formula of everything happens so fast that you don't question it. Why did Q bring Elnor? Sure he can murder people very easily and does so but for example Laris is a super sophisticated spy and Riker can play the trumpet. I get it, Elnor is on the show but apart from that it makes very little sense to choose exactly these people to help Picard. There are people he is closer to and who would probably be more useful.

    Allegedly, Q only changed one thing in Los Angeles so did Seven in this new reality just succeed in the Confederation. Meaning that despite the changes from this reality to ours Seven (and all the others) still came into existence and became super important, same as Martok and Dukat? Oh and again distance is meaningless because Rios just jumps the 16 light years to earth in a second (it would take days). Even Rios's ship looked like his old ship?! I guess we have to file everything under Q and just move on?

    Did I enjoy it at least. Eh not really, felt like I had seen everything 10 times already and better. Well, they kept the stupid marvel-like serious situation banter... phew the second pina colada just hit me... to a minimum and to top it all off a cliffhanger. Yeah. Damn Rahul has given it 2 stars. So I'm giving it 2 1/16 stars

    It was too much nonsense and it won't mean anything anyway because the crew will soon leave. A fairly pointless MU (I know it is not the MU but yeah well it is basically) hour and while other MU episodes just had fun with the concept, this took itself super serious. Not a good choice. Have Picard be a senile dictator and Seven wears an armor made out of bones. Go crazy!

    I think that leaves the most important question, will Trump have a cameo as the founder of the totalitarian empire. Probably not. Still, we should keep our eyes open for strange hair...


    Q *did* mention Picard's android form. Early in the episode, when he shows him the skull of Gul Dukat he says: "In this reality, he's the reason you have that nifty synthetic body".

    Ok, so in this reality the mass murder megalomaniac Picard chose to be in the body of an elderly person, instead of any other option?

    I only hope the 2024 thing isnt one of our current go-to woke hot topics like climate change etc.

    Q: "you barbarians didnt switch to electric cars and see what happened".

    I mean I know it is an important current issue but I am fed up with recent star trek being woke and all. Specially when it has been going so well. Leave that to ST:D.

    "Ok, so in this reality the mass murder megalomaniac Picard chose to be in the body of an elderly person, instead of any other option?"

    Don't forget the baldness.

    //I only hope the 2024 thing isnt one of our current go-to woke hot topics like climate change etc.//

    It would not be star trek if it did not talk about climate change. what are you, exactly? climate change denier?

    "Don't forget the baldness."
    I thought that Picard was always bald. That's why boy Picard was wearing that huge flat cap.

    @Booming — I agree with what you're saying. But I also gave up on the idea of "NuTrek" being logical, consistent, and thoughtful a very, very long time ago. This is the probably best I've seen from this iteration of Trek. And I feel in the last couple years that the producers are trying to meet long-time fans half-way.

    So ... the Confederation of Earth could just simply be a name that indicates its origins. The various states of Earth may have confederated long ago (2040s? 2050s? following a 2024 catalytic event) and they gradually became increasing unified under a central government. Or it could, indeed, be a functioning confederation to this day, but all the constituent states are, as unitary states individually, centered themselves around a profoundly totalitarian core ideology. These confederated states may even be democratic and isonomic, individually and collectively! That is, if by isonomy we understand it to be equality of rights enjoyed by members of the species homo sapiens exclusively. The republicanism of the post-Enlightenment era, i.e. the Rights of Man (figuratively) and of the Citizen, has been, post-2024, reduced to the Rights of the Citizen (humans), and to the exclusion of all other sapient beings everywhere.

    Oh don't worry, the 2024 thing will be something woke and related to today's politics, guaranteed. I just hope that it doesn't come across as a Netflix Original ™ plot line.

    The thing I hope the most is that they figure out a way back to normal reality soon. I don't want the whole season to be spent in this alternate reality non-sense only for it to be undone by the magic reset button after we have suffered through the whole thing.

    The alternate universe plots don't establish Federal canon. The whole mirror universe thing was supposed to be a playful exploration of "what ifs", but they are meant to be one offs and not entire seasons... otherwise there are no real consequences.

    It's like the writers of Trek are afraid to look forward and plots keep going retrograde to stuff we've already seen. This is why I can't stand Discovery. I don't care about the TOS universe anymore, or Spock, or Kirk, or any of them. Yeah they were great but it's OVER. How hard is it to write a good, convincing 25th century, post-Dominion plot line? HOW HARD???

    At least in Picard the alternate reality is in the present, but that's about to change because they're already talking about 2024. Pleeeeease for the love of god, do not make this season take place mostly in OUR TIME. I don't want to see it. I don't want a commentary on it. I don't care! I watch Star Trek to dream of what is possible, not WHAT IS.

    I'm extremely hesitant about this show.

    Well that was rather good. This season of Picard is off to a very good start.

    Q was proper messed up. Be interesting to see how this plays out considering he is supposed to have a lot bigger role in season 3.

    @Dajh's Digital Ghost
    "So ... the Confederation of Earth could just simply be a name that indicates its origins. The various states of Earth may have confederated long ago (2040s? 2050s? following a 2024 catalytic event) and they gradually became increasing unified under a central government."
    While this could be possible, normally countries or unions change their name, when they significantly change their governmental structure or entire system. For example the Roman Empire for quite some time during the Principate kept up the pretense of still being the Res Publica but that became less and less important and more or less stopped with the Dominate. Another would be the EU, whose various predecessors had several names over several periods WEU, EC to name two and finally the EU. The EU by the way is a pretty wild mix of federation and confederation.

    "Or it could, indeed, be a functioning confederation to this day, but all the constituent states are, as unitary states individually, centered themselves around a profoundly totalitarian core ideology"
    That is pretty much impossible. Dozens or more little Hitler's uniting and then coexisting in a galaxy conquering state. That's not how autocratic states work. It would be the classic security dilemma. You can never trust the other state.

    "These confederated states may even be democratic"
    They call it autocratic and totalitarian so probably not.

    "But I also gave up on the idea of "NuTrek" being logical, consistent, and thoughtful a very, very long time ago."
    Yeah, the name is dumb, it's in there because of the Confederate states of America which ironically wasn't really a confederation.

    @Booming — "Yeah, the name is dumb, it's in there because of the Confederate states of America which ironically wasn't really a confederation."
    Almost certainly true.

    Begs the question, though: Where does one makes the distinction between federation and confederation? For example, is the Helvetic Confederation actually a confederation? Are the cantons states? Is sovereignty genuine or rhetorical? Is Switzerland divisible?

    Interesting isn't it that the CSA should adopt almost verbatim the 1787 Constitution of the USA, which the framers stated would create a new state neither truly federal nor national (unitary)? One would have thought the Confederacy would have adopted a hardline establishing the constitution right, and methods pertaining to, the state's individual rights regarding secession and legislative nullification.

    Dumb name, sure, but conversation fodder for days. lol

    In terms of direction, I'd say "Penance" is the best episode of "Picard" thus far. It maintains a portentous, macabre tone throughout, is always tense, and the episode almost entirely avoids cringey camerawork; there's only 1 dutch/canted angle throughout the whole episode, for example.

    I'd say the reason this episode plays well is Jeri Ryan. On previous episodes of "Picard", Seven was written as a gung-ho, gun-toting, unhinged mercenary. But in this episode we finally get the Seven of "Voyager"; she's smart, she's poised, she's a bit aloof, she's always several steps ahead of the competition, and she uses her brains rather than bullets to solve problems. This finally felt like Seven. And she gets more screen time here than in previous episodes, which is welcomed; Jeri Ryan's an excellent actress when given good material.

    The other standout performance is by John de Lancie, who imbues Q with a gravity and menace we haven't seen in a while. His "tour" of a room full of war trophies is particularly disturbing. There's mounting horror in a few of his scenes.

    The Borg Queen also has real presence; her prosthetics look great, and she manages to both illicit sympathy (she's a wounded animal), and seem immensely powerful/threatening.

    There are some hokey elements, though, like the Joss Whedonesque dialogue given to Jurati (she's far too flippant/snarky), the overly ambiguous dialogue given to Q, the generic racist crowds (chanting "Kill! Kill! Kill!"), and the action sequences, which have an "obligatory", "ritualistic" quality to them, rolled out on cue to appease convention, and almost pornographic in the way they leer over certain acts, poses or kill-strikes.

    That Picard is a robot continues to be ignored. Indeed, even Guinan didn't seem to notice, and you'd expect her to notice everything.

    Patrick Stewart's acting is also weak at times. You get the sense that he has poor taste, or is embarrassed by his work on TNG, the role of Picard not interesting to him unless he gets to drive dune buggies, bang space chicks and do "dark stuff". Stewart doesn't seem to understand why his role in TNG was powerful. "Powerful" he seems to now equate with lots of mugging, over-emoting, and Method Acting. Indeed, you might say his Picard is no longer Shakespearean.

    While the episode is excellent on an aesthetic level, I'm not sure it does much that is new or interesting. Totalitarian worlds are a dime-a-dozen in Trek, as are "dark time lines". I'm not sure what "Penance" adds to the subgenre. I feel a braver show would have presented a form of totalitarianism more akin to Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go", or Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut". Something more insidious, sneaky, and challenging for Western audiences. Though with the rise of authoritarian governments worldwide - the Democracy Index says that the number of authoritarian-sliding countries now outnumbers democratic ones - the show may be prophetic. China, Brazil, India, Russia, Hungary, Mayamar etc etc...most of the world now lives under a fairly authoritarian, far right ruler. The UK and Australia are increasingly borrowing tactics from the Republican Party in the US as well. France has a crucial election soon, and America one in 2024. For many futurists and historians, liberal democracy - itself a form of kleptocracy - is at its most precarious position in decades. They, like "Picard", sense the world teetering between two realities: Mad Max or TNG, Waterworld or Roddenberry.

    Like "Picard's" musings on "Brexit" and "refugees" in season 1, though, I don't really trust this show to analyze any of this. We will probably just get fisticuffs and more cartoon cats, which is fine, so long as Patton Oswalt voices them.

    I wonder which Trek series did the best "totalitarian/authoritarianism" episodes.
    "Discovery" spent much of its time in a kind of bigoted, tyrannical Mirror Universe, but IMO these were all bad. "Picard's" outing is pretty good - there's good camaraderie between its heroes, and Seven is super-likeable when on form - but it feels a bit second hand.

    DS9 was up to its neck to tyrants and space fascists. You had the Dominion, the Cardassians, and a half dozen Mirror Universe episodes as well. Most of this was excellent. You'd think that nu-Trek writers would have avoided all these topics, seeing how thoroughly DS9 went down this well.

    Did TNG have many of these episodes? "Yesterday's Enterprise", maybe "Angel One" and "The Outcast". I suppose "Best of Both Worlds" counts too (are the Borg authoritarians?).

    My gut tells me TOS, written by guys alive during the height of Stalinism, probably has the best "authoritarianism" episodes. There's "Archons", "Mirror Mirror", "Errand of Mercy", "The Apple", "Who Mourns for Adonis?" (in a sense), "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "Bread and Circuses", "The Cloud Minders" etc etc. IMO all of these are interesting, and several are outright masterpieces. "Picard's" attempt is slick and exciting, but IMO it doesn't yet get under the skin like its TOS predecessors. It feels almost like something out of Ikea.

    Eh. I’m tired of this alternative timeline/mirror universe crap. It’s more than worn out it’s welcome with NuTrek. I dunno, maybe I am just being too picky.

    @@Dajh's Digital Ghost
    "Where does one makes the distinction between federation and confederation? For example, is the Helvetic Confederation actually a confederation? Are the cantons states? Is sovereignty genuine or rhetorical? Is Switzerland divisible?"
    I had to look it up. As important Switzerland is for money laundering and tax evasion, otherwise it is just a small country in the Alps, admittedly with some interesting aspects, especially direct democratic elements. The workings of Federal Council is also fairly unique. But to your question, no, while Switzerland for a long time was a confederation, it is no longer one. One could probably call it a Federation now. The difference is, that a Confederation has still more aspects of an intergovernmental system of sovereign states, more like a military alliance with some additional coordination. A Federation is a state, in which the member states have some powers, like lower courts, constitutions but these all function under the subsidiarity principle, which very simply put means that Federal law breaks state law. The Federal government can regulate most aspects and there are permanent governmental bodies on the federal level. Member states have no independent armies, currency and maintain no formal relations with other countries.

    "Interesting isn't it that the CSA should adopt almost verbatim the 1787 Constitution of the USA, which the framers stated would create a new state neither truly federal nor national (unitary)?"
    I'm not an expert when it comes to specific constitutions (not counting the German one). I have read the federalist papers obviously but I always thought hat the CSA had copied for the most part the US constitution which at that point wasn't really that confederate anymore. The original constitution of the USA and governmental system was not really democratic. Only with Andrew Jackson and the 1828 election did the USA start to become an actual democracy (with several caveats).

    "Dumb name, sure, but conversation fodder for days. lol"
    We have probably given this more thought than they did. ;)


    The confederation aspect relates to the autonomy of the original units. The civic autonomy of Swiss places was a major reason why the banking systems developed in the way they did. They grew powerful by offering unparalleled secrecy/confidentiality to clients.

    Shades of the Ferengi.

    Agree on how Trek writers are notorious for using governmental terms (nouns and adjectives) with amazingly little thought. Let's set sail for the "Klingon imperial empire" shouted by Picard being the saddest example.

    " Let's set sail for the "Klingon imperial empire" shouted by Picard being the saddest example."
    That may sound dumb but was actually a set up for a Star Trek-Game of Thrones crossover Mirror Universe episode where Tyrion Lannister rules the Klingon Imperial Empire.

    I enjoyed the episode but I'm confused how we ended up in this alternate reality. They were last on the Stargazer being assimilated by the Borg, the ship self-destructs but Q intervenes and saves Picard and co but takes them to an alternative reality. Why? Maybe I missed it but what's the connection between the events on the Stargazer and its destruction, to this new reality?

    "Why? Maybe I missed it but what's the connection between the events on the Stargazer and its destruction, to this new reality?"

    Well if they are going for another paradox a la All Good Things then my guess would be travelling back in time to 2024 with the Borg Queen is what causes the dystopia and the Temporal Anomaly in the present. My hunch is the Cenobite Borg Queen we saw on the Stargazer is some kind of advanced alternate reality Queen that resulted from their time travel shenanigans in 2024. Given the detail that she was only stunning, rather than killing the crew, I would also speculate that allowing her to assimilate the fleet is the correct choice to save the universe or whatnot and she is not actually the villain.

    How this relates to Q going mad or why any of this should be "penance" for JLP is anyone's guess. This series really really seems to get its rocks off punishing JLP for being just the worst most awful guy who is at fault for everything. The whole theme of Season 1 was how he was such a washed up failure who let the galaxy down and now Season 2 seems to be heavily implying that he is even worse than we thought and will somehow be responsible for ending reality or something.

    "Sins of the Writer"
    To get through it, I close off my eustachian tubes and imagine Picard has said "the Klingon Sidereal Empire."

    Sort of parallel to Romulan Galactic Empire.

    Jason R - My hunch is the Cenobite Borg Queen we saw on the Stargazer is some kind of advanced alternate reality Queen that resulted from their time travel shenanigans in 2024. Given the detail that she was only stunning, rather than killing the crew, I would also speculate that allowing her to assimilate the fleet is the correct choice to save the universe or whatnot and she is not actually the villain."

    I'm not sure about all the details here, but I too think she's not going to be the villain, or at least not what we expect. I thought that "stun" remark had to be important. I'm also wondering what the "splinter in her side" comment, murmured twice now, is foreshadowing.

    As for why the Stargazer crew were taken by Q, I assumed it was simply because they were there with him. Easier to scoop them up at that moment in time than to go ranging around looking for Picard's old associates. My gut says this isn't about "Picard and the TNG people" but about Picard only.

    its true that this going the alternative reality route is yet another example of this super super weird writers refusal to simply do stuff in the regular timeline.

    the feeling of them finally doing just that was the biggest highlight of episode 1 to me.

    but then: if its this well done, and if its still rooted in sufficiently original-timeline-ish reasoning (in this case: Q), i am okay with it.

    allthough it really remains a mystery, why they avoid the main timeline like a plague. one would think that such a rich universe would be the perfect canvas for a modern trek series in the streaming and binge watching era. i get that enterprise was still the product of berman and braga not understanding the sign of the times (where BSG already clearly knew where things were going), but with DSC and picard, its really unexplainable why they avoid the main timeline so much.

    like, you know what would make me care: if stuff happened in the established trek world, and not some parallel universe or timeline confusion pocket that the writers create.

    imagine the simplest, least original of plot ideas there could be: the borg attack earth again. there is exactly one context in which this would make me care: if this was the earth of which i would have to assume that all the characters that we have come to know and love live on = the effing main timeline earth from past series, and none other.

    and now imagine that same thing with a more original plot. the same logic would still apply.

    why oh why are they so afraid of interacting with that established universe?

    but still: i was entertained. the pacing and story structure are miles ahead of anything DSC has ever put out. at the end of the day, for me thats enough.

    "why oh why are they so afraid of interacting with that established universe?"

    I think they're just hedging their bets. If they pull off a great story and everyone loves it, then it's a win/win. If they mess up, then people are just disappointed for a short while. And it won't suffer the same unforgiving legacy of hate from fans as if they had just irrevocably ruined dependable canon, or tarnished a cherished character or alien species...

    Plus... it's Q. The two best outings for Q on TNG were "Tapestry" and "All Good Things"--stories that dealt with time and realities. There were a lot of whiffs in Voyager/Q stories, like the continuum war presenting itself as an 1800's civil war.

    NO NO WHY DID anyone else hear the bews..WHYBUS PICARD ENDING AFTER JUST 3 SEASONS..That's bullshit...why can we start a petition to save it??

    Another great episode. I agree completely with Jammer's review. This season's off to a great start! A few observations.

    -I have to think that the alt-Queen's arrival and/or the temporal divergence damaged the Q Continuum somehow, leading to Q being more unstable. I'm curious to see how that plays out.

    -The Borg Queen is palpably menacing again. Excellent.

    -I loved that when Seven wakes up in the divergent timeline, she does the equivalent of a Borg "self test" in an attempt to ground herself. This felt right for the character. Nicely done.


    It's up to Patrick Stewart, he's 82 this year so you can't expect him to keep doing this. What's wrong with only 3 seasons anyway?

    It was always intended to be a 3 season arc from the beginning, and that's what the contracts were. They just finished filming the third season so all the sets will be struck, unfortunately.

    That said there's nothing to preclude more shows about different aspects of 25th century Starfleet. The Guardian could deposit Georgiou in this time period and Section 31 can continue in clandestine. Maybe Janeway will have some post-retirement life-crisis she needs to work through for three seasons.

    People, let's be real here. They hoped ST:Picard would be super successful because Stewart is expensive, sci fi effects are expensive. Stewart got 14 million+ for ST:Nemesis and did allegedly get 750.000 per Picard episode in season 1, probably with lots of other goodies and bonuses + controlling the stories. That's a lot for a new show.

    When a media company says:"Oh we only wanted three seasons." then that is the media equivalent to a politician saying that she/he resigns for personal reasons. That's why they filmed two seasons back to back and that's why they put Picard in a robot body. If the show would have been successful enough then they had tried another actor as Picard. They did it with Kirk, Spock and the rest. They will probably try with Picard eventually.

    Here from Goldsman:"Goldsman said a three-season plan and a five-season plan had been discussed, but by February 2022 they had decided to end the series after three seasons." and he also said in another interview"The door is always open for a season four… but as of now, it is just three seasons. It was always planned to be three seasons…"
    Ok, so yeah the would have definitely made more if it had been more successful. But because we live in the age of streaming, a company has a far easier time lying about cancellation reasons. "We have told the story that we wanted to tell." BLAAAAAHHHH

    Okay, how about a series set in 2405 - Interior, Federation Penal Colony (the part of Mars that didn't burn) Inmate Commissary. An inmate is chopping vegetables, complaining loudly why they're preparing food when there's replicator technology available. Suddenly former Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway, (also an inmate, but in charge of the kitchen) swoops in and slaps the complainer in the face and scolds her--she should be so lucky to be able to eat fresh food and protein and not replicated rations....

    @Booming: Yeah, I know there's hedging going on. 3 seasons was what they were contracted for, and if the reception to Season 1 was really bad, they could've just ended the show right there. There's enough of a coda with letting go of Data, and getting a new lease on life in a new body that we wouldn't be necessarily left wanting.

    And had the change in management at Paramount/CBS/Viacom gone a certain way, they may very well have not decided to double down on streaming as much as they did and we would see things get wrapped up and not renewed. I mean, let's face it CBS All Access / Paramount+ probably isn't at all profitable yet given the paid subscriber numbers, the cost of production--and won't be for years. They're clawing their properties back from Netflix/Hulu and banking new content in hopes of making the service a viable destination. It's not Game of Thrones-level budgeting, but they don't have the economics of having to do 26 episodes a season to amortize the cost of new sets and cast salaries.

    3 seasons to devote to this aspect of the "Universe" gives them enough time to see if there's enough interest and subscriber growth. If not, it allows for them to try to tell another story within the Star Trek canon for the next generation of viewers.

    Personally, I'd be happy with a series that just had Picard and co. perform Shakespeare readings at Chateau Picard. Very cheap to produce. But that's me.

    Keep in mind Stewart’s already 81 which is an age most people are happily retired. Consideration of the actor’s health more than anything is going to hard cap the years they can produce ST: Picard. The production for the entire show is already done and Stewart can rest and whatnot now.


    Did you see how tired Patrick Stewart is? It's genuinely painful to watch

    @Frank A. Booze

    I would normally agree completely regagaring the opinion of alternate universes. Somehow i like the go back fix the reality a little bit better. So far it is thrilling and entertaining. I forgive them for this alternate time line universe and "not stand alone" episodes when such episodes are deleivered. I even liked Jurati.

    It is also very intresting to put the Borg queen on the same side as the rest.

    But where is Soji?

    I really look forward to the next episode.

    As much as I largely dislike NuTrek, ST:Picard is probably just a victim of its own "success" rather than it's failure. When CBS uncritically green-lights every idea that Kurtzman and co. comes up with, there's inevitably going to be some opportunity costs of having so many balls in the air simultaneously. They're referencing scheduling conflicts which means they're simply stretched too thin staff-wise, and I wouldn't be surprised if they have significant cash flow limitations. We would expect some shows to end sooner than others when a production company attempts 5 or 6 at once. This, without any of them necessarily having to be considered a major commercial or critical failure.

    Picard was always intended as a three-season show, with seasons two and three filmed back-to-back. The reason is that Patrick Stewart is old. Forget his ability/willingness to do the show or not—he could die in the middle of production, and then the stories are left unresolved. No one wants to risk that.

    That’s all. This has been the plan from the moment the show was greenlit. I remember reading about it in the trades when it was announced. I’m not surprised there were later discussions about doing a season four-five back-to-back shoot after the show’s great ratings success (tons of people watched its premiere for season one), but I’m also not surprised they stuck to the plan.

    If there’s a tremendous response to this current and next season (entirely possible at this point), expect to hear talks of a spin-off with many of the same characters start instead of more seasons.

    Jeri Ryan would probably be the one most able to carry a spinoff, since her character's roots predate nuTrek.

    "Jeri Ryan would probably be the one most able to carry a spinoff, since her character's roots predate nuTrek."

    Her character? You mean 7 of 9? In all honesty, does her character on Picard even resemble the one she played on Voyager, because I don't see it.

    I actually wouldn't put it past them to green-light a Jeri Ryan spin-off that had nothing to do with Seven of Nine. Make it "Jeri & Jeri's StarTalk" and it could also be a great comeback for Jeri Taylor.

    "Her character? You mean 7 of 9? In all honesty, does her character on Picard even resemble the one she played on Voyager, because I don't see it. "

    Not really, but its clear that nuTrek coasts on nostalgia for realTrek, particularly the crapfest that is Lower Decks...

    @Jeffrey's Tube
    I don't buy it. Patrick Stewart could have dropped dead after filming episode 1. If they always planned three season, then why did they only announce that it would be three season last month? Why not just do one season and do an actor switcheroo?

    Geriatric Picard would be a tricky character to do an actor switcharoo for and still maintain audience buy-in. However, there's nothing to stop them depicting young Picard like they've done in the past. Maybe the showrunners had even been in talks with James McAvoy for later reasons, either as Plan A, or just in case.

    Elad, I thought that was Thanos. (j/k)

    After First Contact and Voyager, it's pretty much certain that there are multiple iterations of the Borg Queen. The queen's memories and programming can probably be stored and reimplanted in a new host body quite easily.

    @ Booming.

    They didn't just announce it last month. It's been known all along.

    And they aren't going to recast Picard so soon. I'm sure another actor will play Picard someday, but it won't be until "another generation," probably. There's little will among viewers at present for seeing somebody else play Picard. The robot body wasn't a device for recasting. It was a thematic device given what last season was about. I don't think it was a particularly successful one, but that was the intent.

    There's risk, and there's compound risk. They found the risk acceptable to do the show at all, and they found the risk acceptable to shoot two additional seasons back-to-back after that. They don't find the risk acceptable to design an open-ended show, or one with plot lines left open for longer requiring additional production time, given Stewart's advanced age. Greenlighting the show was an "okay we'll do the thing but only because we can do it like this" decision. It was always baked into the idea.

    I think shooting S2/S3 back to back was more a function of the pandemic forcing scheduling changes, though that doesn't discount Jeffrey's risk analysis. During the lockdown, they were able to flesh out the storylines enough and write enough scripts so that once production resumed, they were able to shoot the two seasons without a hiatus. (In the not-too-distant past, shooting 24 one-hour shows in a 9 month span was commonplace).

    Economics of producing during COVID meant that doing two seasons back to back would definitely result in cost savings. Non-COVID, but Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame were two massive films shot back-to-back, which saved Marvel/Disney mega millions of dollars.

    That said, there is a certain amount of story risk in committing to such a thing. You aren't afforded an ability to course-correct if something doesn't work out. (Imagine if Star Wars Episode 1-3 only expanded Jar Jar Binks' role in each successive movie).

    As for contracts and commitments, the principals were signed for three. For TNG, the main cast were signed on for six seasons. (Although I'm not sure how they dealt with Gates McFadden for S2) They all got pay bumps for the seventh, inclusive of whatever movies they would film.

    "I'm sure another actor will play Picard someday, but it won't be until "another generation," probably."

    Maybe 5 years? :)

    My idea for who the 'watcher' could be might be the guy who is shown interviewing Rios during a quick scene in the series 2 trailer. It's the same actor (Jay Karnes) who played Lieutenant Ducane aboard the federation timeship Relativity, who was essentially watching for anomalies in the timeline. Would be super cool if he's playing the same character.

    @Lee: That's an intriguing concept.

    I also recall from the trailers there are some folks following Picard and company around in 2024 Los Angeles with white eyes. Not sure if these are Q's "helpers" or more "watchers." I'm looking forward to seeing what unfolds.

    All this speculation about General Sisko. Knowing paramount, I'm sure they're going to give the fans what they really want...
    Not General Benjamin,
    Not General Jake Sisko, BUT:

    General Jennifer Sisko (try saying it 10 times fast)!

    "General Jennifer Sisko (try saying it 10 times fast)!"

    Haha of course. Can't believe I didn't think of that. 100% guaranteed.

    Haha. That would be great. Better than Geriatric General Grampa Sisko (say *that* ten times fast). ;)

    I think from the previews, the "watcher" might be someone who is able to take over the consciousness of other people temporarily--rendering their eyes temporarily all white. (A sort of reverse-warg from Game of Thrones). In-universe precedence include the "wormhole aliens" who took over Sarah Sisko for a period of time.

    The other part that I'm not entirely sure about is the human-looking version of Laris. Previews show her with round ears in a few shots, including one where she's wearing a dress wielding something that looks like a neuralizer from Men in Black. I was initially going to say that she was the watcher, coincidentally looking like a spitting image of Laris--someone who makes Picard realize his feelings--but a preview shows her eyes white, hooked up to a machine that covers her ears with a pointy-ear device.

    The watcher could also just be Guinan--she would've remembered Picard from the 1800's, and also detect timeline changes as does the Borg Queen. I remember reading/hearing from somewhere that one of the reasons why Q fears her is that El-Aurians are immune to Qs powers.

    I'm so sick of Darkest Timeline/Mirror Universe-type stories. Every franchise is doing it. Why should Trek "boldly go" where everyone else is already going?

    Setting that aside, there were things to enjoy about this episode. Q's mention of a penance and the idea that he's a bit "unhinged" is intriguing. It was also kind of inspiring to see this team of misfits band together to try to repair the timeline.

    Let's just hope it won't turn out that they themselves don't end up changing the timeline when they travel back to 2024... That would be a rehash of "All Good Things..."

    Why do people find the idea that Q is unhinged interesting? It works as a general threat but that is about it. Q is basically all powerful which means that if he is unhinged they would have to kill him, kind of like the Boys, and if he isn't unhinged, then it will all mean nothing. Both I do not find interesting.

    Minor spoilers for the Boys

    It works for the Boys because Homelander/Superman is always almost ready to snap. We know from the start that he has a few screws loose. So it's more about the question when he will finally snap with a secondary question of how to actually kill him. Q's is arguable even more powerful than Superman so the solution to killing him will make even less sense. Will they have to find the other Q's and convince them to deal with Q? Furtermore, we already saw the nonsense that happened with the Prophets, this will probably be worse.


    " I'm so sick of Darkest Timeline/Mirror Universe-type stories. Every franchise is doing it. Why should Trek "boldly go" where everyone else is already going?"

    Completely agree but my problem this time is that pace and storytelling is good. I chose to enjoy that.
    It is somehow irritting that generally the characters turne out to be evil or very exaggurated. I guess it's quite funny for the actors to be the bad guy but except from that ....

    Enterprise had some quite good time episodes, "E2" and "Twilight".

    "Why do people find the idea that Q is unhinged interesting? It works as a general threat but that is about it. Q is basically all powerful which means that if he is unhinged they would have to kill him, kind of like the Boys, and if he isn't unhinged, then it will all mean nothing. Both I do not find interesting."

    I am doubtful that this is going to cone down to Q as a villain. More likely him moving them through time is his attempt to correct whatever has gone wrong because an *even greater* uber evil force threatens all reality or whatnot. If you read the Trek novel Q Squared by Peter David you'll get where I see them going with this.

    " an *even greater* uber evil force threatens all reality or whatnot."

    It's a new season, so the algorithms that write/sh!t out the show automatically ratchet the stakes up to Infinity +2!

    Thoroughly enjoyable. The only problem was it was over so fast and I have to wait for another week. That feels so old fashioned now.

    I'll take 3 seasons of this. I personally enjoyed s1 more than any of dsc (lower decks is just about ok)

    Plenty of scope for a spin off with the rest the crew anyway. Rios, 7, Jurati, Raffi and the romulan kid would make a pretty decent cast. Certainly all far superior actors than DSC (i think the scripts are roughly the same quality personally although im not watching s4 of dsc)

    Not quite the 4 stars of the premier. 3.5 stars from me

    Showrunner Terry Matalas said that the series wraps up (at the end of S3) in a very satisfying way for the cast. It would be really neat if the finale sees Rios taking command of the next Enterprise (NCC-1701-F?) and embarking on an exploratory mission--a true full circle for the next generation captain.

    And suddenly I'm interested in Star Trek again! Let's keep this train rolling.

    Two very good episodes back to back. I'm really appreciating how the show is including so many references that don't seem forced. It really seems like they care about whether a reference is not so much a distraction as it is sensible. Picard being placed as the executioner and the call back to the Farpoint trial was really well done with a similar backdrop and the same barbaric crowd. This season really feels like a story continuing from what TNG and First Contact laid groundwork for. The Borg Queen was excellent, less seductive, yet very alien. Jeri Ryan continues to be an excellent commanding actress. John DeLancie steps right back into his character. I too thought Q was a bit over the top, until it was apparent his aggression and anger was part of the plot. In retrospect, it now makes me appreciate his performance even more. He's found some new corners to explore with Q.

    Picard is even showing a bit more of his old self, some stronger moments of confidence and command. Feels good to see that again. I don't prefer to see watered down Picard. We continue to see an excellent return of Seven, let's see Picard at his best as well.

    Some demerits for me, and I'm speaking only having seen half of season 1 and the first two episodes of season 2. Raffi seems fairly uninteresting to me, as does the Romulan Boy, though perhaps they haven't had much of a chance to shine yet. I like the captain of the La Sirena, though more for the acting than the characterization I've seen.

    I'm glad the swearing thats now a part of Trek is becoming less gratuitous. The casual swearing here is so much more believable and better than the "Sheer ****ing Hubris" moment from Season 1. Though I thought humans were supposed to better than vulgarity in the 24th century? Ah well.

    Also I like this universe. There was some good world building here and I like the idea of an alternate universe being explored for one season. I think I might be disappointed when they travel back in time, as this universe seemed pretty ripe for stories, with a rebellion happening on Earth, and so much devastation in the Galaxy. I would like to know how the Confederation defeated the mighty borg.

    *** 1/2 for me!

    ***1/2 for last weeks episode as well! Keep it up Picard!

    I dunno. I refrained from commenting after the first episode because it felt so jumpy and confusing--I didn't feel like I knew what was going on half the time. But I like these people, so I'll hang on.

    But now . . . really? Once again, it's Q fucking with Picard. Again, really?

    This was fun as they tried to figure out their roles in this alternate reality, but when the Borg Queen identified "LA 2024" as the time of the shift, I just sighed. Oh boy, they will go back to our present and fix things there. Okay dokey.

    I mean, I like it and I plan to continue, it's just that everything seems recycled. I got vibes from Yesterday's Enterprise, of course, but also Pink Floyd's The Wall, and when they all appeared on the ship together after being beamed up in the nick of time, it looked like the Super Friends. Here is our team who will face the challenges together!

    And oh boy, the Borg Queen owns the ship now. And when they get back in time she'll try to assimilate everybody, like in that movie, and . . . like I said, it all seems recycled.

    But yay for seeing Guinan.

    Not sure this one worked. At times it was fun, but seemed to miss out on opportunities or be not quite right. Picard and Seven seemed to fit their roles well and good acting there. Jurati also was hilarious during her Improv scene when explaining things to the Magistrate.

    The others though, not really. Why oh why bring back the holographic controls on the ship. And Earth apparently in this reality has virtually no ships, or space stations in orbit?

    Maybe it's just me, but given Voyager, I would have preferred "President Seven" to be married to Harry Kim. Then shown us the alternative universe Harry Kim and the alternative Chief Doctor (the good old EMH). Actually given Voyager, it wouldn't surprise me if Captain/Admiral Janeway was the overarching dictatorial ruler of Earth given how she operated in the Delta Quadrant. Probably should have included Sisko (even if the alternative version) given they mentioned him.

    Not keen on the Androids at all. I'd actually rather them have had Data, or Lore as Picard's right hand man. This wasn't like the Mirror Universe seen in Enterprise at all. In that, or the TOS one, it seemed more about just ruling the galaxy. Not necessarily making everyone slaves or wiping them out. And I didn't think the Eradication Day thing made much sense at all.

    Borg Queen whilst interesting, seemed like it is recycled. And I don't see it wise to bring the Borg Queen back in time to 21st century Earth given what she literally tried to do in the film First Contact! Hell no! At the very least, once you've made the jump back in time, you need to phaser her.

    And why would Picard get angry with Q at the start. He would know not to mess about given their history. And follow whatever he is saying given he has no way to get out of this mess.

    Would have thought Alternative Universe Picard would have had several Risan slave girls at the old mansion.

    What precisely is Q's angle? I thought it was hinted that planet in Voyager where time moved incredibly fast on the surface was where the Q originate from. Did the alternative universe Humans get out that far and destroy them or something?

    Now this is great stuff! Alternative timeline or whatever Seven is positively gorgeous, and a borg queen-in-a-glass-case reminds me of Richard Nixons head in a jar from Futurama!

    Wow, the change in pace from the 1st series (which I still enjoyed) has gone up several notches. Brilliant, just brilliant and I hope they can keep this up. I'm a bit behind so not reading reviews from later episodes until I've watched them......

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