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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. However it turns into a a lot much less private, a lot much less particular story a few ragtag crew of science-fiction varieties out preventing the great struggle in opposition to unhealthy guys.

After which, in its closing episode, the sequence heads in a extra private path once more, contemplating why loss of life is essential to humanity, and saying a everlasting goodbye to a beloved character. (Okay, a most likely everlasting goodbye, beneath 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 number of veering between motion and contemplation, between literary tropes and Star Trek film standoffs. Midway by way of the season, we sat down to judge the way it gave the impression to be heading within the flawed path. After the finale, we reconvened to test in on whether or not Picard course-corrected.

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

Tasha: Effectively, I think about we each have quite a bit to say about this season as an entire — 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. However we actually have to begin with the finale, proper? How are you feeling about the place this season ended, Susana?

Personally, I’m backwards and forwards between the issues I discovered ridiculous concerning the finale, and the points 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 number of power on a gambit that was doomed to fail and didn’t even appear to purchase a second’s value of time. I used to be glad to see Information once more — and completely baffled that after his tragic loss of life in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard introduced him again once more with a view to kill him once more virtually immediately, earlier than we might even really feel the impression of him being “alive” in some kind.

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And that yes-but feeling stretches to virtually all the pieces concerning the finale! I’m relieved that the Federation lastly realized its error and confirmed as much as defend the synthetics. However 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, “Hold 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 need to rescue synthetics from natural rule” means “obliterate all natural life,” not “Let’s simply carry your tiny group of synthetics to our synthetic-safe dimension.” Mainly, an entire 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 efficient present” hill, and elements of this episode actually labored for me. However.

A lot of the precise 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 “However how?” moments to allow us to shrug and say, “Effectively, it’s Star Trek, allow them to have enjoyable.” 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, quite than a Star Trek episode, and never in a positive approach. No person actually involves Star Trek for a space-battle blowout, but it surely’s the factor most of the motion pictures gravitate to, due to a necessity to lift stakes and the comprehensible lure of all of a sudden having far more cash than a weekly TV sequence. The perfect elements 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 believe it doesn’t actually matter if the Information stuff is a bit unearned. It’s the piece of fan service that truly labored within the episode, therapeutic the scab of Information’s abrupt loss of life in essentially the most hated movie within the Subsequent Technology sequence, and worse, the ultimate one. These 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 energy of Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner sitting and speaking to one another. I used to be buzzing “Blue Skies” to myself all evening.

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

However I’m all for the way you felt about Information’s second loss of life right here.

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 loss of life and grief and restoration, and it’s so lazy. Picard’s loss of life right here matches the invoice.

However Information’s loss of life is sort of a weird funhouse mirror model of the Disney loss of life. The present doesn’t handle how his consciousness ended up in a secure digital matrix, or something about what his experiences have been like there. Might he talk with the surface world? Might he have been in contact with Picard and Riker and Geordi and all his previous 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 Information-kids? Both possibility could be fascinating, and the writers simply don’t appear to care about any of it. They’re simply out to gin up an affordable cameo and a few cheaper emotion about him dying. Once more. I’m flabbergasted that anybody thought “Hello, shock, I’m alive, kill me!” was a great excuse for a sentimental second. (It appears 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 do know you like me, Admiral” second actually was candy, and a nice reminder that not each dude interplay on TV must be poisonous or bro-y and distanced.

I inform you what, I’m going to fake all of that was a deathbed hallucination of Picard’s, simply him persevering with to course of Information’s loss of life in his desires. 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 Information to relaxation indirectly. He’s an previous man, he’s been by way of quite a bit, if he needs to channel The Tempest whereas making the air on Planet Bot a bit drier, that’s advantageous.

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

Susana: Why is it all the time tentacles? Like somebody mentioned, “Lovecraft, however make it robots.” Star Trek feels approach too late to the trope of the malevolent post-singularity machine intelligence that exists past area and presumably time. This facet of the season — unintentionally, I presume — feels ripped from the Mass Impact 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-Males started getting ready their total society to face off in opposition to a post-singularity machine intelligence that lives past area and time as nicely. Within 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 believed, and possibly save the day with a speech and a Diplomacy Verify. However 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 quite discuss concerning the present’s quiet makes an attempt to ascertain Seven of 9 as a queer character. Picard’s first season hasn’t outright mentioned something about it, in the best way that we categorize [sighs at a thousand Disney movies] solely queer moments.

However take Seven’s interactions with Bjayzl in “Stardust Metropolis Rag.” All the things about them screams “Bjayzl is the femme fatale who received near a hard-drinking militia chief with a view to pump her for advantageous secrets and techniques, and now the soldier can have her very private revenge from that very private betrayal.” If Seven had been a person, we might take it as apparent, from style conventions, that she and Bjayzl had been intimate. Similar with that end-of-season hand-holding bit with Raffi. In the event that they weren’t each girls, we might take that as Wikia-entry-level affirmation that they had been about to grow to be 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 9 can have an enormous emotional impression on that neighborhood” is the understatement of the last decade. And I’m torn between wanting the present to substantiate it in a approach nobody can ignore, and recognizing that in an ideal world the place queer romantic expressions had been as commonplace as straight ones, “Stardust Metropolis 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 approach. Do you additionally assume that Seven of 9 in Picard is a badass lesbian cyborg?

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

So the hand-holding second appeared to me like a sly approach of confirming queerness for each of them, and launching a relationship. However 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 same old “I need to see solely me and folks precisely like me in my leisure, otherwise you’re promoting out!” crew. However that Chabon interview is fairly pleasant about his emotions on ignoring what he calls a “unhappy little nook 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 inside the textual content itself!

Tasha: Yup! And kudos to the interviewer, Adam B. Fluctuate, for gently mentioning the double customary of calling homosexual relationships “natural” as a result of the members don’t ever verbally acknowledge them, whereas the het motion is rather more overtly front-and-center. However that gentle hand-holding is truthfully extra overtness than I used to be anticipating, and it appears like a great first baby-step. Moreover extra overt badass lesbian cyborg affirmation, although, what do you need to see in season 2? I used to be truly stunned at how a lot season 1 appears like a wrap-up, how little I felt was unresolved by the tip 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 provide Picard a faux physique that appears precisely like his unique one, full with built-in growing old and incipient loss of life, that it looks like one thing the present can simply ignore without end. 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 useless. However the finale offers us an off-the-cuff hand-waving away of these legal guidelines, too. “Oh, all the pieces’s fastened now, the Federation’s advantageous with synthetics.”

And … why would that be true? The issue was by no means a concern that every one synthetics are evil as a result of one among them blew up Mars. The issue 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 operate shortly after Narek’s homicide try) almost unleashing the robopocalypse, it feels just like the Federation needs to be very rigorously, carefully re-examining artificial life, not casually eradicating the ban offscreen. If nothing else, I might count on the following model of Bruce Maddox to need to study Picard and think about the philosophical implications of a veteran human in a synthetic physique.

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

It additionally actually appears like, hey, possibly Starfleet ought to actually reckon with the truth that a Romulan spy was capable of grow to be Starfleet’s Director of Safety, and Riker simply let her run again off to Romulan area! However possibly that’s one thing Narek may also help them with.

Tasha: So what, if something, are we purported 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 purported to be continuously 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.

However we’ve seen him go from detached to her to big-eyed soulful hurt-comfort loverboy so many occasions at this level that I believe 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 again collectively?” angst in season 2, and hoping the reply is “You already know, the universe is simply completely packed with scorching sad-eyed dudes who aren’t deeply emotionally screwed-up covert murderous conflicted secret super-spies, and I believe I ought to check out a couple of hundred of them earlier than getting again to you.” I do know, unhealthy 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 reside her life. Soji, date Elnor, who would by no means misinform 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 an entire lot concerning the first season of Star Trek: Picard, beginning with the comparatively gradual buildup and introduction of Picard in retirement, and occurring to the larger questions on what life means, what loss of life signifies, and the way a lot we must always weigh the results earlier than creating the previous or dealing out the latter. However so far as I’m involved, the present’s largest asset is its characters.

The forged is terrific, doing quite a bit to inject soul into materials that’s typically fairly clunky. Due to Michelle Hurd’s depth and solemnity, I’m genuinely invested in Raffi’s wrestle to redeem herself. Santiago Cabrera’s goofy performances have absolutely drawn me into Rios’ oddball mixture of Han Solo swagger and being such a PTSD wreck that he off-sourced his character right into a bunch of single-function holograms with foolish accents. And I’m all for Motion Star Jeri Ryan, slamming round area, double-fisting her blaster-rifles. Unexpectedly, I used to be actually touched by the go to to Riker and Troi, and the possibility 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.

However my largest beef with season 1 is the extremely herky-jerky approach the scripts attempt to throw these characters into significant conflicts, after which maintain shedding sight of them. And poor Elnor is the most important sufferer right here. Launched as a game-changing hireling badass, a merc with an ethos and a have to show himself to a distant father-figure, he was by no means actually allowed to develop a lot character, or contribute meaningfully to only about any a part of the story. He spent the latter half of the season parked in numerous corners, ready to be helpful. His plaintive 60-second dialog with Seven about lacking her if she died was essentially the most fascinating factor he’s executed since his introduction episode.

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 fascinating character innovations inside 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 might match it, or it’ll be the identical factor yet again.

Tasha: The rest 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 an entire lot of fascinating debate subjects, after which barely skimmed the floor on them. I’d a lot quite see the second season digging into all these concepts about synthetic life and peaceable co-existence in additional depth.

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

Susana: In no way. 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 number 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 received a 20-year lease on life and is surrounded with a younger, succesful crew of individuals he loves. There’s an entire huge universe to discover, and I’d prefer to see these characters do it.

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

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