Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard went in a bizarre, unhappy path by the finale

Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard went in a weird, sad direction by the finale

Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard has wrapped up, and it actually wasn’t what we anticipated. It begins out as a sun-dappled, meditative sequence about former Starfleet Admiral Jean-Luc Picard sitting in retirement, musing over his failures and Starfleet’s issues. But it turns into a a lot much less private, a lot much less particular story a couple of ragtag crew of science-fiction varieties out combating the nice combat towards dangerous guys.

And then, in its closing episode, the sequence heads in a extra private path once more, contemplating why dying is vital to humanity, and saying a everlasting goodbye to a beloved character. (Okay, a most likely everlasting goodbye, below the circumstances. We’ll see.) Nothing concerning the starting predicted the ending, and it was a bumpy highway from one to the opposite, with a whole lot of veering between motion and contemplation, between literary tropes and Star Trek film standoffs. Halfway by way of the season, we sat down to guage the way it appeared to be heading within the fallacious path. After the finale, we reconvened to test in on whether or not Picard course-corrected.

[Ed. notice: Spoilers forward for the complete first season of Star Trek: Picard.]

Ex-Borg Seven of Nine stands with Jean-Luc Picard in a Borg Cube.

Photo: Aaron Epstein/CBS

Tasha: Well, I think about we each have rather a lot to say about this season as a complete — how far it got here, the brand new characters and home windows into Starfleet it gave us, the place it’d go from right here. But we actually have to start out with the finale, proper? How are you feeling about the place this season ended, Susana?

Personally, I’m forwards and backwards between the issues I discovered ridiculous concerning the finale, and the elements I actually loved. I’m glad the episode took the time to shift again right into a slower mode to discover some ideas about mortality, however I’m not satisfied it earned any of these ideas. I’m impressed the writers remembered the Picard Maneuver and threw in a callback, however the finale positive spent a whole lot of vitality on a gambit that was doomed to fail and didn’t even appear to purchase a second’s price of time. I used to be glad to see Data once more — and completely baffled that after his tragic dying in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard introduced him again once more so as to kill him once more nearly immediately, earlier than we may even really feel the affect of him being “alive” in some type.

And that yes-but feeling stretches to nearly the whole lot concerning the finale! I’m relieved that the Federation lastly realized its error and confirmed as much as defend the synthetics. But I’m at a loss about what modified to make that doable, or why they took the time to mobilize a pair hundred fleet ships, however couldn’t spare a single second to have somebody, even an intern, reply Picard’s name and say, “Hang in there, we’re coming!” Having The Admonition be a double-edged message truly meant for synthetics is a cool concept, however I don’t see why everybody immediately assumed “We want to rescue synthetics from organic rule” means “obliterate all organic life,” not “Let’s just bring your tiny group of synthetics to our synthetic-safe dimension.” Basically, a complete lot occurs within the finale that appears to return out of nowhere, simply in time to resolve it. How did all of it strike you?

Susana: I’ll nonetheless plant my flag on the “Picard is an effective present” hill, and components of this episode actually labored for me. But.

Most of the particular conclusion to the general plot fell flat— too many last-minute allegiance-swaps, too little structural underpinning for issues like Starfleet’s fleet rescue, too many early plot guarantees deserted mid-swing, too many “But how?” moments to allow us to shrug and say, “Well, it’s Star Trek, let them have fun.” How did Agnes know “Make it so” was Picard’s catchphrase? Why didn’t she and Soong inform Raffi, Elnor, and Rios that they had been going to resurrect Picard, earlier than all of them sobbed on these very picturesque hills?

The finale jogged my memory of a Star Trek film, reasonably than a Star Trek episode, and never in a positive means. Nobody actually involves Star Trek for a space-battle blowout, nevertheless it’s the factor lots of the motion pictures gravitate to, due to a necessity to lift stakes and the comprehensible lure of instantly having far more cash than a weekly TV sequence. The finest components of Star Trek are literally when the ships, rubber prosthetics, and costumes fall away, and the entire thing boils down to 2 actors sitting in a room performing their chops off.

Which is why I feel it doesn’t actually matter if the Data stuff is a bit unearned. It’s the piece of fan service that really labored within the episode, therapeutic the scab of Data’s abrupt dying in probably the most hated movie within the Next Generation sequence, and worse, the ultimate one. Those scenes even breathed life into Picard’s resurrection, a transfer I anticipated from the second it was clear his mind abnormality was going to be of the sudden-onset selection. And it was all on the power of Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner sitting and speaking to one another. I used to be buzzing “Blue Skies” to myself all night time.

(Also do you know that Isa Briones, who performs Dahj, Soji, and Sutra, sang that cowl? The symbolism. Also, what an unbelievable voice.)

But I’m focused on the way you felt about Data’s second dying right here.

A gold-skinned, yellow-eyed android in an orange dress with a belly cutaway stands in front of a silver railing backed by green gardens in Star Trek: Picard.

Photo: Aaron Epstein/CBS

Tasha: I’m so torn! I’m all for leisure that lets our heroes express something other than rage and fear, however I completely hate the “Disney death” trope, the place a beloved character dies juuuuuust lengthy sufficient for everybody else to weep a bit or speechify a bit about how they’ll be missed. It cheapens dying and grief and restoration, and it’s so lazy. Picard’s dying right here matches the invoice.

But Data’s dying is sort of a weird funhouse mirror model of the Disney dying. The present doesn’t handle how his consciousness ended up in a steady digital matrix, or something about what his experiences have been like there. Could he talk with the surface world? Could he have been in contact with Picard and Riker and Geordi and all his outdated buddies all alongside? Or was he an unintentional ghost within the machine, a byproduct of no matter course of was used to create all these Data-kids? Either choice could be fascinating, and the writers simply don’t appear to care about any of it. They’re simply out to gin up an inexpensive cameo and a few cheaper emotion about him dying. Again. I’m flabbergasted that anybody thought “Hi, surprise, I’m alive, kill me!” was a superb excuse for a sentimental second. (It seems like if Han Solo’s complicated reappearance in The Rise of Skywalker had ended with him asking Kylo Ren to re-stab him.) And but the “I know you love me, Admiral” second actually was candy, and a pleasing reminder that not each dude interplay on TV must be poisonous or bro-y and distanced.

I let you know what, I’m going to faux all of that was a deathbed hallucination of Picard’s, simply him persevering with to course of Data’s dying in his goals. Afterward, he solemnly unplugs … hm, let’s say, a dehumidifier whereas quoting Shakespeare, and the remainder of the forged nervously nods and smiles and lets him assume he’s truly laying Data to relaxation in a roundabout way. He’s an outdated man, he’s been by way of rather a lot, if he desires to channel The Tempest whereas making the air on Planet Bot a bit drier, that’s advantageous.

But what did you make of the remainder of the finale? Say, the otherdimensional Matrix house tentacles, or the “Oh by the way, Raffi and Seven are dating now” hand-holding second?

Susana: Why is it at all times tentacles? Like somebody stated, “Lovecraft, but make it robots.” Star Trek feels means too late to the trope of the malevolent post-singularity machine intelligence that exists past house and presumably time. This facet of the season — unintentionally, I presume — feels ripped from the Mass Effect franchise, which itself was constructed on the bones of Star Trek and the Borg.

It doesn’t assist me that a lot of my 2019 was spent reporting on how the X-Men started making ready their total society to face off towards a post-singularity machine intelligence that lives past house and time as nicely. In the lead-up to the finale, I got here to phrases with the truth that Picard was going there. Of course Picard’s going to make first contact with the next alien intelligence, I assumed, and possibly save the day with a speech and a Diplomacy Check. But the reveal that every one that terrifying machine intelligence amounted to was an intercosmic gloryhole stuffed with robotic arms … that was lame.

I’d a lot reasonably speak concerning the present’s quiet makes an attempt to ascertain Seven of Nine as a queer character. Picard’s first season hasn’t outright stated something about it, in the best way that we categorize [sighs at a thousand Disney movies] completely queer moments.

But take Seven’s interactions with Bjayzl in “Stardust City Rag.” Everything about them screams “Bjayzl is the femme fatale who got close to a hard-drinking militia leader in order to pump her for advantageous secrets, and now the soldier will have her very personal revenge from that very personal betrayal.” If Seven had been a person, we might take it as apparent, from style conventions, that she and Bjayzl had been intimate. Same with that end-of-season hand-holding bit with Raffi. If they weren’t each girls, we might take that as Wikia-entry-level affirmation that they had been about to turn into a canon couple.

As a queer fan whose expertise within the Star Trek fandom has been primarily amongst queer followers, I do know very nicely that saying “Queering Seven of Nine will have a big emotional impact on that community” is the understatement of the last decade. And I’m torn between wanting the present to substantiate it in a means nobody can ignore, and recognizing that in an ideal world the place queer romantic expressions had been as commonplace as straight ones, “Stardust City Rag” and this finale scene play precisely how I’d need them to play.

So my query for you is … I’m actually influenced to see these moments a sure means. Do you additionally assume that Seven of Nine in Picard is a badass lesbian cyborg?

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, in disguise as an eyepatched slaver, pretends to menace Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Picard.

Photo: Trae Patton/CBS

Tasha: Oh, undoubtedly. Or a badass bisexual cyborg. But she and Bjayzl had been completely a pair — sequence co-creator/author Michael Chabon expressly confirmed that in a current Variety interview the place he talks rather a lot about it being extra “organic” for the characters to solely glancingly reference their relationship. Similarly, he confirms Raffi used to this point that woman Starfleet officer she telephones for assist at one level.

So the hand-holding second appeared to me like a sly means of confirming queerness for each of them, and launching a relationship. But it additionally felt like a mild testing of the waters, to see how the fandom reacts. I assure there’ll be some “SJW pandering!” whining from the standard “I want to see only me and people exactly like me in my entertainment, or you’re selling out!” crew. But that Chabon interview is fairly pleasant about his emotions on ignoring what he calls a “sad little corner of fandom.” He implies there’ll be extra time for character relationships in season 2, so hopefully that’ll be on the docket.

Susana: It’s good to know that these had been Chabon’s intentions — he’s a queer creator himself — however there’s nothing like affirmation throughout the textual content itself!

Tasha: Yup! And kudos to the interviewer, Adam B. Vary, for gently stating the double commonplace of calling homosexual relationships “organic” as a result of the members don’t ever verbally acknowledge them, whereas the het motion is rather more overtly front-and-center. But that delicate hand-holding is truthfully extra overtness than I used to be anticipating, and it seems like a superb first baby-step. Besides extra overt badass lesbian cyborg affirmation, although, what do you wish to see in season 2? I used to be truly stunned at how a lot season 1 seems like a wrap-up, how little I felt was unresolved by the top of the finale. Do you see any free ends you actually care about?

Susana: Uhhhhhhh … Picard is an android now????? That feels prefer it has to have not less than some authorized or emotional ramifications.

Tasha: Does it, although? Agnes and Soong Jr. went to such hassle to present Picard a pretend physique that appears precisely like his authentic one, full with built-in ageing and incipient dying, that it looks like one thing the present can simply ignore ceaselessly. It’d be fairly fascinating if Picard needed to return to the Federation with an unlawful artificial physique and problem their bigoted anti-synthetic legal guidelines, or simply spend the remainder of his life on the run from a Federation that desires him lifeless. But the finale provides us an off-the-cuff hand-waving away of these legal guidelines, too. “Oh, everything’s fixed now, the Federation’s fine with synthetics.”

And … why would that be true? The drawback was by no means a worry that every one synthetics are evil as a result of considered one of them blew up Mars. The drawback was that the Romulans can apparently hack human synthetics and use them for wide-scale destruction. Between that and Soji (who stopped being an individual and have become a bland plot perform shortly after Narek’s homicide try) practically unleashing the robopocalypse, it feels just like the Federation ought to be very rigorously, intently re-examining artificial life, not casually eradicating the ban offscreen. If nothing else, I’d count on the following model of Bruce Maddox to wish to study Picard and think about the philosophical implications of a veteran human in a synthetic physique.

Susana: That’s precisely my level. It seems like that has to get some comply with up. This can’t be like when the Voyager met one other parallel Voyager and “our” Harry Kim died, so they simply changed him with the opposite Voyager’s Harry Kim, after which it was by no means talked about once more in the complete sequence, not even as soon as.

It additionally actually seems like, hey, possibly Starfleet ought to actually reckon with the truth that a Romulan spy was in a position to turn into Starfleet’s Director of Security, and Riker simply let her run again off to Romulan house! But possibly that’s one thing Narek may help them with.

Harry Treadaway as the Romulan Narek curls up in a cell with a bloody cut on his face in Star Trek: Picard.

Photo: Trae Patton/CBS

Tasha: So what, if something, are we imagined to really feel about Narek at this level? I vaguely really feel like we’re supposed to seek out his loyalty to Soji compelling, and to consider he’s truly in love together with her, and thus prepared to betray his “muahahahaha I’m so evil” creepy incest-courting sister, or one thing. Like we’re imagined to be always on the sting of our seats about whether or not he’s being honest when he asks her to like and belief him once more.

But we’ve seen him go from detached to her to big-eyed soulful hurt-comfort loverboy so many instances at this level that I feel she made the precise proper name within the finale: It truthfully doesn’t matter whether or not he’s in love together with her, she nonetheless doesn’t owe him a rattling factor after he tried to kill her and offered out her homeworld to the Zhat Vash. I’m anticipating extra “Will they get back together?” angst in season 2, and hoping the reply is “You know, the universe is simply completely packed with sizzling sad-eyed dudes who aren’t deeply emotionally screwed-up covert murderous conflicted secret super-spies, and I feel I ought to check out just a few hundred of them earlier than getting again to you.” I do know, dangerous boys are so dreamy and no matter, however anybody who tries to kill you actually ought to get the everlasting bounce.

Susana: Narek, get a life. Narek, get out and let Soji stay her life. Soji, date Elnor, who would by no means mislead you, and is able to murdering actually anybody.

Tasha: Is he, although? (I can play this rhetorical recreation with you all day. It’s enjoyable.) I appreciated a complete lot concerning the first season of Star Trek: Picard, beginning with the comparatively sluggish buildup and introduction of Picard in retirement, and happening to the larger questions on what life means, what dying signifies, and the way a lot we should always weigh the implications earlier than creating the previous or dealing out the latter. But so far as I’m involved, the present’s greatest asset is its characters.

The forged is terrific, doing rather a lot to inject soul into materials that’s typically fairly clunky. Thanks to Michelle Hurd’s depth and solemnity, I’m genuinely invested in Raffi’s battle to redeem herself. Santiago Cabrera’s goofy performances have totally drawn me into Rios’ oddball mixture of Han Solo swagger and being such a PTSD wreck that he off-sourced his persona right into a bunch of single-function holograms with foolish accents. And I’m all for Action Star Jeri Ryan, slamming round house, double-fisting her blaster-rifles. Unexpectedly, I used to be actually touched by the go to to Riker and Troi, and the prospect to see them in retirement as nicely, although the large pile of backstory about their misplaced son and his secret languages possibly appeared like extra exposition than we actually wanted.

But my greatest beef with season 1 is the extremely herky-jerky means the scripts attempt to throw these characters into significant conflicts, after which hold dropping sight of them. And poor Elnor is the largest sufferer right here. Introduced as a game-changing hireling badass, a merc with an ethos and a must show himself to a distant father-figure, he was by no means actually allowed to develop a lot persona, or contribute meaningfully to simply about any a part of the story. He spent the latter half of the season parked in varied corners, ready to be helpful. His plaintive 60-second dialog with Seven about lacking her if she died was probably the most attention-grabbing factor he’s accomplished since his introduction episode.

Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as Riker and Troi hug Patrick Stewart as Picard in front of a fancy sunlit log cabin on Star Trek: Picard.

Photo: Aaron Epstein/CBS

Susana: Wholeheartedly agreed. Picard Season 1 was a forged of secondary characters and a bridge crew of 1, and all people who wasn’t the man the present is called after suffered for it. Elnor, Raffi, Soji, and Rios are all actually enjoyable character ideas — and actually attention-grabbing character innovations throughout the Star Trek setting. A second season has to make good on all of the setup the writers did handle to awkwardly shoehorn into Season 1 wherever they may match it, or it’ll be the identical factor another time.

Tasha: Anything else you’re hoping to see in season 2? Personally, I’m anticipating the present to do what Star Trek: Discovery did, and introduce an enormous new overarching season 2 plot, presumably constructed round one other legacy character. And I’m not all that enthused to see that occur. Season 1 opened up a complete lot of fascinating debate matters, after which barely skimmed the floor on them. I’d a lot reasonably see the second season digging into all these concepts about synthetic life and peaceable co-existence in additional depth.

Oh, and possibly we will truly discover out what was happening with Dahj and Soji’s secret amnesia mission within the first place? Do you are feeling at this level such as you even have a way for what their goal was, who got here up with that plan, or the way it was enacted?

Susana: Not in any respect. I’ll give Picard this: season 1 was so good at distracting me with fancy outfits and Honesty Nuns that I didn’t give it some thought, however there are a whole lot of items that by no means match collectively.

I need a extra episodic, cast-focused Season 2 that returns to the present’s preliminary thesis: Picard was simply ready to die of a mind abnormality on his winery, mulling over his failure to rescue the Romulan individuals and Starfleet’s honor. Now, he’s acquired a 20-year lease on life and is surrounded with a younger, succesful crew of individuals he loves. There’s a complete massive universe to discover, and I’d prefer to see these characters do it.

Also, Guinan has to show up. Make it so.

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