Monday, 30 March 2020

Star Trek in a time of need



So, when Star Trek: Picard was first announced, I warmly embraced the return of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) for a final swan song in the captain's chair.

Spoilers ahead. Engage.

As the latest CBS All Access spin-off series started and Picard’s inoperable brain tumour was revealed, as a direct consequence of his assimilation into the Borg collective in The Best of Both Worlds, I braced myself for a contemplative, lyrical, denouement by season’s end to parallel the heroic death of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame.



Whilst season one unfolded, a real-world pandemic took hold, social distancing, self-isolation and lockdowns became the new reality making the need for nostalgia more pertinent than ever. So much so, when Picard finally met Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna (Marina Sirtis) in Nepenthe, I found the episode profoundly moving.



Aside from reuniting the fan-favourite trifecta from The Next Generation. It was also an excellent opportunity to deconstruct Commander Data's (Brent Spiner) synthetic twin daughter Soji (Isa Briones) as an inverse female Pinocchio, she's only recently discovered she's a synthetic with the help of Romulan boyfriend Narek (Harry Treadaway), through the wide-eyed wonder of Will and Troi's daughter, Kestra (Lulu Wilson). Culminating in one of the best Star Trek episodes in the franchise's storied history. By the time the main theme from The Next Generation is heard, like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the series has earned its stripes.



At this point in the season, Picard has undergone a soft reset, took a diversion into a Romulan/Borg/Starfleet detective story and is about to go full-on original Mass Effect trilogy with the threat of Cthulu-inspired mechas destroying all organic life in the galaxy, but then doesn't in one of the most rushed, tonally-jarring, two-part finales committed to the small screen.



Romulan Narissa (Peyton List), a member of the ultra-secret Zhad Vash tasked with destroying all synths, is one of the best Trek villains in years and she's karate-kicked off a gantry on the Borg cube by Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who is about to come out as queer - pleasing inclusive fans (myself included). Perhaps Narissa survived the fall like Emperor Palpatine did in Star Wars?



Its saving grace was Data and Picard's poetic deaths. The latter was ruined by Hollywood's current obsession with fake-out deaths to appease the fandom menace and, you know, keep shareholders happy. Plus, in Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1, Dr Altan Inigo Soong (Brent Spiner) reveals he's developed a golem in the synth enclave. So, there was no surprise twist when Picard's mind was transferred to a duplicate synth body before the end credits rolled.



Ultimately, I'm in no rush to see the second season of Picard. Perhaps, once the coronavirus pandemic is safely over and the world has shifted on its socio-economic and political axis, I'll be in a better frame of mind.

What did you think of Star Trek: Picard and how does it compare to Discovery? Let me know in the comments below.

2 comments:

  1. For me, it delivered. But such is the mediaverse, while there seems to be something for most, hardly anything escapes unscathed. I also had a few gripes, but overall, when compared to some of the other attempts to reboot the franchise, this was the most expertly done, and it had a cast that one can look forward to for season II

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    1. Any spin-off that gives us one of the best episodes in the franchise's history has to be lauded. Just wish they'd told a smaller, more character-driven, tale.

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