Let’s cut to the chase. Does it suck?
(You knew there had to be one.)
It doesn’t exactly hit the ground running either.
Star Trek: Picard is the seventh series in the venerable franchise and a direct sequel to the Star Trek: The Next Generation. We pick up in real time 20 years after Nemesis. Admiral Picard has retired to his family vineyard making fine wine and writing history books. He has dreams of playing poker with Data on the old Enterprise D but they are interrupted by nightmares of Mars exploding.
In the meantime, a twenty-something girl has a nice diverse boyfriend. (Really diverse. He’s alien AND he’s black.) Suddenly masked commandos break in, kill her boyfriend and try to kidnap her. She begins doing a bunch of Kung-Fu and Keanu Gun-Fu, kills them, and escapes, unaware of why she can do these things.
Picard is living with a couple of Romulans (who seem nice enough). The pair are refugees that had to leave when Romulus went supernova, a nod to Star Trek (2009). He’s about to give his first interview since, and on the 10-year anniversary of that tragedy and when he decided to leave Starfleet.
The reporter ambushes him with questions regarding his willingness to help their enemies and what happened during that rescue when apparently a bunch of “synthetics” (which we’ll assume androids) went nuts and destroyed the Utopia Planitia shipyards and devastated Mars.
Since then, synthetics are banned and there seems to be a lot of hatred towards them. The whole interview servers as a basic exposition dump for the audience, why Picard left Starfleet and the general state of the Federation.
This is where things started to break down a bit for me. Having the federation basically turn into a bunch of racists against Romulans AND synthetics struck me as a little hollow. This is a civilization that has seen its fair share of lunatic murder-computers and they still use them just fine. They also made peace and helped the Klingons after Praxis, a similar disaster. I found it hard to believe people just turned into Bubba-rednecks.
Starfleet apparently led the charge in changing this public perception which is why Picard left. Now, this I could believe. I’m not certain there was an Admiral in the entire original show that wasn’t a psychopath.
Anyway, Picard is later approached by Dahj, the girl who is revealed to be some sort of flesh and blood synthetic. She leaves the next day and Picard tries to figure out the mystery behind her. In a dream, he sees Data painting the picture you’ve seen in the trailers and realizes the girl is the girl in the painting. This girl is Data’s daughter? Ok.
He goes to the Daystrom institute to find the android division is pretty much a ghost town with only theoretical ideas allowed but no practical applications. Mention is made of Bruce Maddox who you might member! ‘Member the Enterprise D? ‘Member Data?
But wait, maybe he has an actual point to this? He apparently created Dahj and we find out that in order to do this, you had to create them in pairs. Which means she also has a twin sister!
Which is real helpful when she appears to Picard again, gets attacked, shows off how strong and fast she is, and then explodes thanks to some sort of acid attack. Picard wants to avenge her death and figure out the mystery. He realizes he’s been sulking for 10 years and that needs to end.
We end with Soji, the twin meeting a Romulan on a space station. They appear to be somewhat close but more info will probably come in the next episode. We zoom out to see they are actually in a Borg cube.
Well, it’s not woke, at least nothing I saw that really set my radar off. Sure the tiny girl was good at fighting and everything but at least there was a reason for it that made sense. The air of mystery worked for me.
I’m a little tired of the Luke Skywalkering of old characters. You know, all disillusioned and shut off. I do appreciate that Picard shook that off pretty quickly.
Effects are top-notch. Of course, I’m a little skeptical of that, as effects are now used in place of telling a story. The jury’s still out on whether that happens with this series.
I wasn’t happy with the state of the Federation as I mentioned before. The veiled symbolism of immigrant racism and Muslim hatred in the background really irritated me, with the Romulans standing in for immigrants and synthetics standing in for Islamic extremism.
I said it wasn’t woke, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some political BS that clearly isn’t necessary within the framework of this series. The federation was well past most of this even in Kirk’s time. Even in Archer’s time.
It’s a lazy way to create a backdrop and an effort to be topical which to be fair, Star Trek has always been and not rarely in a ham-handed way. I submit this as evidence:
I can deal with it a bit more than on some other shows – *cough StarWars cough*.
In any case, the intrigue is there. Stewart melts back into the role just fine. I appreciate that they didn’t gloss over his age. He’s an old man and isn’t doing tons of action schlock. In fact, he gets so winded that Dahj has to drag him up the stairs. Little moments like that I really liked.
The opening dream was a memba-berry overload. But after that, it was much more subdued. It’s difficult sometimes to separate nostalgia bait vs. “these are things that exist in the universe.” Is there a point when they bring things back? I’ll say TBD at this point.
The characters are at least much more likable, unlike Discovery. The characters in that are so grating and unlikable to me. I’d rather watch Pike and his ship than those jerks.
So it’s off to a B/B+ start. A lot of set up, not enough time here and there to let things breathe. I’m not happy about how they treated the character Dahj and the twin thing feels like a cop-out. But I’m willing to continue watching.