Ben’s Three Episode Thoughts | “Star Trek: Picard”
A young lady is enjoying some food and drinks with her boyfriend. They are both quite happy when some masked intruders break into their and try to kill her. They succeed in killing her boyfriend, but the young lady (named Dahj) suddenly goes into super defensive mode and manages to kill all of them single-handedly. Now panicking she decides to run away when suddenly she has an image of a kind and older gentleman. Somehow she knows she will be safe with him.
In France, we see an older gentleman inspecting some grapevines at a vineyard. He is Jean-Luc Picard. He has two people working on his staff there, a butler named Zhaban and a female who manages Picard’s vineyard named Laris. They are both Romulans and former members of the Tal Shiar, the Romulan Intelligence agency. They need to prep him for an interview, which goes very badly as he loses his temper and essentially says some very negative things towards both Starfleet and the Federation for not doing enough to save the Romulan people when their sun was to go supernova. Later, Dahj finds him and together they try to find out who she is, which is made even more mysterious as Picard is having a dream about his lost comrade Data, the android that served with him on the Enterprise. He realizes that there is a connection between Data and Dahj, and after a visit to Starfleet archives realizes that Dahj is also an android, albeit an even more sophisticated one than Data ever was. Sadly, her existence is cut short as more masked assassins show up and kill her, but not before one of the assassins is unmasked and revealed to be a Romulan. Further investigation reveals that a part of Data did indeed go into making Dahj AND her sister Soji, who is off-world working in a lost Borg cube found within Romulan space. This is a serious matter as all artificial life forms have been banned by the Federation after a glitch caused them to destroy the shipyard on Mars where a fleet of ships was being constructed as part of a task force to save the Romulan people. Now Picard has just seen an advanced artificial life form killed by Romulans and fears for Soji’s safety. Picard decides to make it his mission to find Bruce Maddox, the cyberneticist who was studying Data in years past, who may have also had a hand in the creation of both Dahj and Soji. When he tries to come out of retirement with Starfleet he’s told to go home, but not before coming to the attention of some other unsavory people working within Starfleet, including the Commandant of Starfleet Security, Commodore Oh, who may, or may not, be a Vulcan.
Now desperate Picard reaches out to a former officer (Raffi Musiker) who served with him before his sudden retirement. She is less than happy to see him, but she reluctantly helps him by directing him to a private ship and a captain named Cristobal Rios. Together, along with android scientist Dr. Jurati, head out into parts unknown to find Bruce Maddox and then hopefully find Soji.
I’ll say it right upfront. After three episodes I love this show. Actually, I loved this show right after the first episode! As badly as the first season of Star Trek: Discovery got things wrong, Star Trek: Picard has gotten things right. The people running this show understand both Star Trek and its canon. They even went so far as to bridge this “prime timeline” with the events of the J.J. Abrams movie Star Trek that brought about the alternate “Kelvin timeline” with regards to the Romulan sun exploding. This new story idea worked beautifully with the idea of peace between people as being achievable as evidenced by the two Romulans working for Picard. This series serves as a long-awaited sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation and especially the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. The series has delivered plenty of callbacks to various episodes and events throughout the history of Star Trek, as well as bringing characters back from throughout the franchise’s history, but never as a means of stunt-casting. Their appearances are organic and integral to the story, which fleshes out and gives even greater depth to this universe that was initially created by Gene Roddenberry (his son “Rod” Roddenberry is one of the producers).
The biggest win for this series is the return of Patrick Stewart as Picard, and having the series take place 18 years after the events of Nemesis gives even greater legitimacy to Stewart’s presence and age. Even 18 years later, with a voice that is somewhat more gravely than it used to be, Stewart still presents himself with that Shakespearean sense of authority. He may not be able to be as active as he once was, but that is where the supporting cast comes in.
By the third episode we haven’t met all of the motley crew that Picard will have assembled based on clips and trailers that have already been shown, but the most interesting is Raffi Musiker, played by Michelle Hurd. Through flashbacks and “present-day” events we see how much Raffi has changed and fallen onto emotionally hard times. Credit must go to Hurd who worked extensively at developing a backstory for Raffi to give her a proper character arc, and even though she has only been in one episode there is no question that she will be the breakout character of this series with her rough attitude and no-nonsense approach when dealing with Picard.
The series does have two recurring characters, those being Zhaban played by Jamie McShane and Laris, played by Orla Brady. Seeing former Tal Shiar Romulans working with Picard is more than interesting. There is something very amusing in their relationship, but when Romulan assassins appear to kill Picard these two immediately fall back on their training and help to eliminate the threat most effectively. Also, the relationship between Laris and Zhaban is amusing at times with their friendly bickering. During an interrogation with one of the assassins, Zhaban comments that there is no way he’ll talk. Laris’ responds by saying he’s a stubborn northerner, just like Zhaban. The dynamic with them is very entertaining and I hope to see more of them in the future.
The series does move slowly as each episode is likened to a chapter of a book. Unlike the second season of Discovery where each episode was connected, but there was still a sense of resolution by the time the episode ended. Picard doesn’t have that feeling as the episodes almost deliver mini-cliffhangers. Still, what the series has delivered so far, with the nature of the stories, and the cast they have assembled, I have no doubt that as the series progresses the fans will continue to feel “engaged!”
3 thoughts on “Ben’s Three Episode Thoughts | “Star Trek: Picard””
SPOILER warning for anyone who hasn’t seen episode three!
So, in the flashbacks, we see Picard’s resignation from Starfleet and how that impacts Raffi. And while it sets up a character arc for the show, part of me wished that the person affected had been someone from TNG because we already have seven years plus four movies of investment in that character and their relationship to Picard.
I will admit I like the show a great deal (a lot of that is you can tell Michael Chabon is a fan!). But I feel as though episode three tread water a bit too much.
That said, I am not sure I’d want my EMH to be based on myself. Is that a budget saving things for Rio? 🙂
More possible spoilers, you’ve been notified.
I learned something here from you, Ben; I had no idea the Romulan supernova was from the movie timeline, as I haven’t seen the second or third reboot movies.
That being said, I think that Picard has a lot of possibility. While I’ve always been fascinated by Klingons above all, the Romulans were my second favorites, and I would like to see some exploration of the Romulan culture. Some was started in Nemesis, and this looks like we might build on that. Romulans in Starfleet? Not entirely farfetched, there are a number of former adversaries in the ranks.
I’m particularly interesting in the interactions the Romulans have with the Borg cube. There seem to be a LOT of different species there (likely recovered from the cube), and the presence of Hugh there will be very important in the story, I think. I would also be willing to bet that Lore shows up, since the focus seems to be on APs (and one thing, where is Data’s Mom?).
You know I despise Discovery (maybe the third season will be better), and I hate the alternate timeline movies, but this looks very promising.
The Romulan Supernova was actually in the first of those movies, giving birth to the Kelvin Timeline. I view Star Trek: Picard as correcting what happened in that first JJ Trek film when Spock referred to it as a Gamma Burst. Calling it a supernova was actually more accurate especially given that Spock wanted to use that absurd “red matter” which is tantamount to magic.
I agree about the use of Romulans in this show. It’s about time we explore them. As for Romulans in Starfleet, I don’t think we’re there yet because when Picard wanted to a second go at rescuing them he was given a flat NO because they were still considered “the enemy.” That’s why I think Commodore Oh is not a Vulcan commandant but actually a Romulan spy, and I think there might be a traitorous human or two who was complicit in getting Oh into that position.
My last hope is that they make more of a reference towards the JJ movie by commenting on the sudden disappearance of Spock shortly after the supernova event. I’m sure that Spock and Picard were working closely together when it was learned that the sun was close to blowing up.
Lastly, Discovery will (in my opinion) build off of the status of Starfleet and the Federation that we are seeing here, which will put them into the position of trying to rebuild it. It will be interesting tos ee if that actually happens.