Monday, April 10, 2023

Picard, Season 3: Surrender

 Picard, Season 3
Aired: April 6, 2023
28 of 30 produced
28 of 30 released


We're still on the ship. We're still being held hostage by Vadic. We still don't find out the answers to the "compelling" mysteries of the season.

It just occurred to me, but this scene is quite reminiscent of "Menage A Troi..." an episode that had undergone a rehabilitation for me with the benefit of hindsight and comparison.


Matthew: There are two things that basically work in this episode. Firstly, the resolution to the Data/Lore conflict, while utterly predictable, is reasonably emotionally satisfying. I'll summarize it for you: Data infects Lore with his love for others, and they integrate. You know what this would have been? An interesting episode of Star Trek. Instead, it's relegated to a 5 minute subplot in this "episode." Why the snotty scare quotes, you ask? Because of course the vast bulk of this episode is spent spinning its wheels yet again in service of the Big Dumb Plot. But I'll get there.

The second thing that works is putting the crew in the observation lounge at the conference table to discuss things. Marina Sirtis has finally been invited to the pay che... I mean party, and it's impossible to deny the nostalgia and good feeling this scene engenders. Do they actually have the conversation? Nope. Maybe the next episode will feature it (I have my doubts). Speaking of Marina Sirtis, the rest of her time in this episode is spent counseling Jack Crusher about his RED DOOR VISIONS (yeargh), or chatting with Riker about their retconned personal issues, further undoing season one's sole highlight, "Nepenthe." Neither function is particularly satisfying. Like, I guess it's cool that she is given the dialogue scenes as a "counselor," but they're in service of an extraordinarily annoying plot, which still, 8 episodes in, is stuck at the "Oh no he's having another vision that we won't learn about yet if ever" phase.

I was having a conversation about this with my family the other night after watching First Contact with my sons. They loved it of course, but I expressed some misgivings. I think big budgets and movie-sized ambitions are kind of a curse for Star Trek. When the show had to get by on a shoestring budget, you know what they did? They created interesting scenarios every week, and they had the characters talk about them. This was cheap, to be sure, but it also vastly increased my involvement with these characters and their world. I learn a whole lot more about Worf, for instance, when I hear him argue against helping Sarjenka in "Pen Pals" than when I see him decapitate a Ferengi gangster for no reason. And I learn way more about the world being built in the shows when people talk about treaties signed in good faith, and when crew members summarize their research into a culture and its foibles, than when people breathlessly recite the bare minimum of exposition while running down corridors.

Which leads me to the rest of this episode. The rest of this episode is a five to ten ten minute scene of Vadic holding the crew hostage which takes 30-plus minutes of screen time. The pacing on this show is so royally f#$%ed it defies easy description - I don't want to summarize all of the pointless twaddle the writers engage in, except to say that you can feel someone in the writers room saying "Great, but we need to stretch that to fill the episode order, can you do it?"

And then, we get YET ANOTHER tease about the Major Jack Crusher Revelation which will be forthcoming, definitely next episode, or possibly in the finale, or maybe never. There's a red door, and red eyes, and red CGI veins, and a lot of quick cutting montage crap, and I am so tired of this J.J. Abrams Mystery Box horseshit I can hardly see straight.

I'm at a 4 on this. It's falling below "mediocre" and becoming "actively annoying." There is just no legitimate storytelling excuse for dragging out the story like this (indeed, the only possible motivation is financial), and ignoring the elements of Star Trek that I (and I presume at least some other fans) actually want. I want conference room scenes. I want the alien of the week. I want a room full of nice people trying their darndest to do good things and help people in their spaceship. I don't want decapitations, Red Doors, and pointless, meandering mysteries.

Click to embiggen. I think we're going to eventually land in Nemesis territory. I don't see this taking a drastic swing up towards big ideas and good writing. There are only two episodes left, which seem destined to focus on Jack Crusher Super Soldier and the Portal Gun Destroying Stuff. That is not fertile soil for the kinds of Trek stories I want, and instead feels a lot more like Beyond/Nemesis-type action drivel.

Oh, and just a PS, my theory for the Big Dumb Jack Crusher Mystery is that he is being possessed by a Pah Wraith/Gul Dukat and Benjamin Sisko will return from the wormhole to exorcise it from him. [[Edit: It turned out to be way, waaaay dumber than that]]


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