Spoiler Warning: The following article describes the Star Trek: Picard episodes “Seventeen Seconds” and “No Win Scenario”.
I was away last week so I didn’t write up last week’s completely inconsequential episode Picardthough if you’re curious, Darren Mooney at feelings mirror mine. The whole thing only makes sense if you assume the entire crew had taken a heavy dose of stupid pills an hour before the episode started and you’re wishing you had some too. This week, there’s a lot more to say, especially since it’s the first episode of this season that looks even remotely entertaining. And while the setup for all of these conflicts was pretty weak, their resolutions are all very enjoyable to watch.
Since Shrike uses it Gate weapon to encourage the Titan to be shot in the back, the ship is pulled into a gravity well and certain doom. Here we have one of the worst moments of the series so far where the bridge crew declares, and then we replay (and then replay) the state the ship is in. Loss of power, isn’t it? Sinking into a gravity well, right? We don’t have enough power to get well out of gravity, do we? Is it because we don’t have much power, right? And because of gravity well? Sorry, I don’t follow, can you explain it to me like I’m five please? It doesn’t help that while the decision to take the shields offline is set up as a big, risky decision, it’s never mentioned again.
It is here that Picard, choosing to settle his affairs, chooses to sit down for a touching moment with Jack. And they choose to do it on the holodeck, on the Ten Forward line that comes up again and again this run. Picard says that the holodecks are connected to their own power supply because it’s better to die in comfort than to use that power to survive. I think we can all say it’s a cover for either a production or a budget issue that meant they had to re-use the set. (PicardThe first season did the same, returning endlessly to the tower office on the holodeck of La Sirena.) And, again, the duo between Patrick Stewart and Ed Speelers is great.
Also, remember when a broken leg wouldn’t require much more than a quick dose of a med bay doodad and you’d be good as new? Not inside Picard, where Shaw overwhelms Picard with a heart-to-heart, apparently high on painkillers, and reveals why he’s so angry with both Seven and Picard. Turns out, like a large chunk of Starfleet, it’s a survivor of Wolf 359! And if that wasn’t another thing that was pretty well explored by Next generation and Deep Space Nine, may have a bit more dramatic weight. It also feels like the start of a predestined redemption arc for Todd Stashwick’s Captain Shaw as the powers that be Picard as a way to pilot a Titan-A series spin-off backdoor. (You can imagine the playing field: We’ve got the cast, and the sets are already built, it’s practically free content if you light ten more!) And, to be fair, Todd Stashwick is such a charismatic actor that you could feel him forced to play someone more apathetic at the beginning of the series.
From here to the end, however, the tone begins to lighten, and Beverley’s realization that the nebula is a space life form gives everyone a sense of purpose. You see, the nebula undergoes the exact same contractions that a pregnant woman would when she is in labor. The moment Riker stops pointlessly opposing the plan to get the shrinks out of the gravity well, it suddenly feels like we’re watching Star Trek all over again. The gang works together, Seven and Shaw successfully engage the shape-shifting intruder, and they even have a nice payoff spot for the Shrike as Riker orders the Titan to lock onto a massive asteroid, dragging it back far enough to crush the enemy. vessel out of contention long enough for them to escape.
And that’s not even the best part, because there’s also the great B-Story of Picard dealing with his fans while in the (real) Ten Forward five years before.
Patrick Stewart Picard is covered in a pile fans cadets who ask him to regal them with stories of his time Star Trek the business. All the while, unseen, Jack remains in the background, listening to Picard as he builds his legend and legacy, minimizing any mention of his family. When Picard closes the meeting by saying that Starfleet is his family, is also an unwittingly hollow indictment of Picard’s own life (his colleagues are his only friends, ugh) and an unintended rejection of the son he could have known years before. This, my friends, is a wonderful moment, full of depth and passion, and I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here.
Speaking of which, Paramount recently noted , adding that it will now be the last run of that series. With the news that the studio is looking to tighten its belt to make some real profit from its streaming service, fans are feeling . After all, Trek shows don’t come cheap, and it’s unclear how much appeal these shows have. Despite David Stapf’s declarations that we would have “something Star Trek all the time,” there is a concern that time is running out on the all-you-can-eat buffet. With Discovery and Picard in the outs, and no sign (yet) of that Lower Decks and Miracle we’ll have renewals, we could go from five shows to three, or one, in no time. But, based on the merits of some of the Trek-branded releases of late, would it really be that bad?
After all, these four episodes of Picard they are little more than an extended prologue to the rest of the series. He has taken the best part four hours to establish the broad outline of the plot as well as the main antagonists and stakes involved. Even then, we still haven’t met more than half Next generation returners who were such a key part of marketing. A prologue that I would have enjoyed much more if it had been compressed into ninety minutes. Imagine if, instead of filling a company-mandated ten-week block each year, the format was designed to fit the story being told each time. On the merits of the last four weeks alone, fewer episodes of higher-quality Trek would be infinitely preferable.