Ratheronfire's Unorganized 1 AM Picard Season 1 Thoughts

May 31, 2020 (Last modified Tue Nov 28 01:56 -0500)

Originally posted to /r/JNDDeskscraps on May 31, 2020.


Since Kirbychu posted his thoughts a while back I wanted to put together some of mine too. It’s really late as I’m typing this and I’m using my phone so things might get a bit messy but oh well.

Characters

Figured I’d start off talking about some of the main characters and how I feel about them.

  • Picard: Even as I’m writing this I really don’t know how I feel about Picard. He’s certainly a much different than than he was which bothers me a bit, but given the time gap part of me thinks that makes sense. Overall, while it was nice to see Patrick Stewart again I wish that we saw more of the diplomat/leader/philosopher/historian Picard. Also RLM is wrong and Picard’s preoccupation with Data makes 100 percent sense and is entirely consistent with his character.
  • Jurati: I enjoyed her character a lot more before she killed Bruce, even if she was under outside influence. I had trouble buying that the mind meld had that strong of an influence on her, especially considering she apparently got over it by the time they arrived at the synth camp.
  • Rios: Aside from his depression, Rios didn’t have a whole lot to add. I found the holograms much more interesting and enjoyable as characters, while Rios always left me wanting his character to progress a bit more. Maybe season 2 will give him more room to grow, but I’m not really sure where his story can even be taken now.
  • Raffi: I actually enjoyed Raffi a lot more than I think most people did. A recovering addict isn’t something we see very often on Trek, and I think it sends a really interesting message that the Federation or at least Earth is willing to allow people to pursue their own sense of fulfillment, even if that can be unhealthy. A lot of people think this goes against Star Trek’s message of the enlightened post-scarcity future, but Raffi’s situation seems mostly self imposed, and (in my head at least) there was undoubtedly a path to sobriety open to her that she simply refused to take, and I think that’s a really interesting character flaw. I do wish we had more time to dive in to her estranged relationship with her son, though.
  • Seven: Seven of Nine may be my favorite Voyager character. Despite the way the writers so blatantly used her for sex appeal, Seven was very well written and acted by Jeri Ryan, and her story arc of the severed drone working to regain her sense of self was pure Trek. On Picard, though, I think the writers ran into a bit of a dilemma: Since we’re fast forwarding to after she had more or less finished that process, her future is a complete blank slate going forward. I don’t exactly agree with the decision to make her a vigilante for hire, unfortunately. Seven was highly intelligent and an accomplished scientist, and never displayed a particular level of skill in combat, no moreso than any other Starfleet officer. By this point, Seven could easily be a captain, if not higher.
  • Elnor: Elnor’s convent was an interesting addition to Romulan lore, which always felt a bit too monolithic (but then the same argument could be made for most races on Star Trek). Elnor himself wasn’t very interesting though in my opinion. He felt like he was supposed to be the fish out of water character like Spock/Data/Odo/The Doctor, but most of his scenes were either comedy beats or half baked action scenes.
  • Whatshisname Soong: Did we really need another Soong descendant? His addition to the story felt pretty unnecessary, and as a character he was serviceable at best. He didn’t have the cunning intellect and deceitfulness of Arik Soong, and he fell somewhat short of the fatherly warmth of Noonian Soong, landing somewhere in the middle of the two. I was expecting him to be revealed as an android of Dr. Soong or even as Lore, but I’m not sure if either of those would work any better.
  • Soji/Dahj: I like them more in concept than execution. I can’t point to why exactly, but their acting just didn’t really do it for me. I did like how they started adopting Data’s head nod, though.
  • Riker and Troi: Anyone who wasn’t pumped to see Riker cook pizzas and reminisce with his old captain has no soul. I enjoyed almost all the scenes with these two, especially their relationship with their kid. The bit about their dead soon needing positronic circuitry to save his life was a bit hamfisted though.
  • Riker and Troi’s Daughter Whose Name Escapes Me And I Don’t Feel Like Looking Up: One of the better child actors I’ve seen, at least on Trek. I enjoyed her budding friendship with Dahj, especially considering she was one of the only people who Dahj could actually trust anymore. I also enjoyed her obsession with crafting fantasy lore, being a pretty big Tolkien nerd myself.
  • Hugh: Bring back Jonathan Del Arco was a genuine treat, and not at all expected. I loved his reunion with Picard, and how he has dedicated his life to liberating others from the collective, just like the Enterprise crew helped do for him. Still mad they killed him off in such an unsatisfying way, though.
  • Oh: Bland, one-note villain.
  • Rizzo: Bland, one-note villain.
  • Narek: Bland, one-note villain. Did have a couple neat scenes I guess, but the romance scenes with Dahj were pretty painful.
  • Icheb: NEVER DO THAT AGAIN, AAAAAAH

Plot Stuff

  • Synth ban: I think I liked the synth ban more in concept than execution. It struck me a bit odd that everyone was suddenly okay with treating artificial lifeforms as slave labor, especially after all the stigma against using the Mark 1 EMHs as slave labor. I was hoping to at least hear Picard voice some concerns about their treatment even before the ban, but it seemed like the plot exclusively focused on the ban itself. The Plinkett review also brought up a good point that treating the synth ban as a galaxy-wide policy makes no sense considering the vast scale of the galaxy, but I chalk that up more to sloppy phrasing than anything else. I’m assuming the synth ban only comes into play on Federation worlds, which already cover a pretty wide area, and most of the androids we’ve seen across Trek history were Federation owned, anyway.
  • Destruction of Romulus: The supernova plotline in Abrams Trek was pretty shortsighted, but I think tying it into a larger plot was definitely an interesting idea. I do think it’s a bit of a shame that the Romulans are suddenly so much less of a presence considering how their relationship with the Federation was developing at the end of DS9, but then again their plot was kinda stagnating for a good while so I think shaking it up a bit is a good idea. I would’ve also liked to see the plot involve the Cardassians somehow too, partly to see how their civilization has recovered following their decimation by the Dominion, but also because it would draw a really interesting parallel with the plight of the Romulans. Maybe season 2 can handle that?
  • The Admonition: Gonna be honest, this was where I started losing interest a bit. They were clearly drawing on the Great Barrier hypothesis, but I really wasn’t a fan of how it was revealed with the super over the top stock footage montage and everyone bashing their heads in after seeing it, and the addition of super secret ancient synth space worms felt really cheap. I also found it a bit odd that one Romulan who got assimilated after seeing the Admonition completely overloaded the Borg and caused them to sever the cube entirely, but there was a fan theory I really liked that, since the Admonition was really intended for Synths, it included some psychic imprint for biological lifeforms that had a catastrophic effect on the Borg hivemind until it was excised from the collective.
  • The Borg Reclamation Project: I thought this was a great Trek concept, and I wished that we got to spend more time on it. They seemed to imply it was a joint research operation between the Federation and the Romulans, but they never elaborated on how this was arranged, especially with the rift between the two societies even before the supernova. I was also expecting the Borg to become a threat at some point, with how much time they spent building up the tension on the cube and reminding the audience that the drones are technically still alive, just severed. Seven taking control was neat as well, but ultimately didn’t really accomplish much.
  • The Zaht Vash: I really wasn’t into the idea of another super secret society behind the already super secret society. It would be like finding out that there’s a secret Section 32 that even Section 31 doesn’t know about. Granted, they were basically just a secret sect rather than a spy operation like the Tal Shiar, but the way they were established at first made it seem like they were the real brains behind Romulan secret intelligence.
  • Data & Picard’s “Deaths”: I kind of figured Data was going to show up at some point, but I’m glad he wasn’t fully reanimated. At the same time, though, I don’t know how to feel about Data wanting his existence to be terminated. It’s consistent with his characterization in Time’s Arrow when his decapitated head was discovered on Earth, but it was a big downer to end the season on. Maybe that’s a good thing, though? I think in the end I was just glad to see Spiner and Picard onscreen again one last time, even if something about it felt slightly off. I’m not sure about Picard getting turned into a synth, though. It doesn’t really serve any purpose to the narrative, since Picard was always supportive of synths. If it had been someone who started out distrusting synths, it would probably mesh better with the show’s message, but as it is it feels like the only real purpose was explaining away Picard’s mental disease.

…Okay, that was a lot of words. I feel like I still have some things I want to say, but at this point I want to look at other things than this way too big text document so I’m gonna call it here.