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Star Trek: Picard - Make It So Engage Earl Grey Hot

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
So it was recently announced that Picard seasons 2 and 3 would be filmed back to back starting next year, which I guess considering the pandemic makes sense. So even if season 2 is delayed, season 3 shouldn't have as long a wait.

Season 1 also recently came out on Blu-Ray, and I decided to pick it up and give it a re-watch. Five episodes in and I think, for the most part, watching an episode daily helps the show flow better. There is some weirdness, like how at the end of episode 1 we see Narek abruptly introduce himself to Soji, and then at the very start of episode 2 they're in bed together. I guess that felt a bit less jarring when there was a week between episodes, easier to assume more time passed perhaps.

I still feel the whole "oh no Dahj died I guess that's that wait nevermind lol she has an identical twin so her big shocking death doesn't even matter a whole bunch let's go space adventure!" thing is a touch sloppy.

I dunno if I'm just not remembering it clearly, but Spiner looked better as Data in episode 1 than I thought he did.

Number 1 is still the best boy and it is a crime we saw as little of him as we did.

The scene with Oh and Narissa is still kinda weird, just for the fact that Narissa is in a human disguise and the first part of their conversation is carried out like they're still undercover but then it's just casually revealed at the end that Narissa is actually a Romulan and it's played like this big shocker but it's the first time we see her? "Oh no this character is a Romulan!" would play better if we were introduced to the character before the scene where it's revealed she's actually a Romulan. I wonder if there's an old version of the story were she's brought in a bit sooner in her human disguise?

The Narissa and Narek twincest sexy banter is still my least favorite part of the series. But hey, at least Narissa is dead and while we don't know what happened to Narek I think it was confirmed his actor isn't coming back for season 2, so....

Episode 5 is a great episode that starts kinda... badly. First of all, the manner in which the show offed Icheb was unnecessary. I don't necessarily have a problem that it happened, but the way it went down was gratuitous and needlessly cruel. Doesn't help that it's not even Icheb's original actor, and hell he's not even the only tertiary character played by a new actor to die in this same episode! But honestly the rest of the episode is just a delight, Jeri Ryan was just great as a more cynical version of Seven, and seeing Stewart have the time of his life chewing the scenery while undercover is a highlight for sure.

Oh yeah, a new novel has been announced as well, a prequel novel about Riker's time as captain of the USS Titan. Wonder if it'll have a Lower Decks reference....
 

SpoonyBard

A Bard Named SPOONY
(He/Him)
Finished my watch of the first season.

Episode 6 is a 'move the pieces into place' kind of episode as Picard finally encounters Soji, after Narek finally stopped playing around and tried to kill her once he got the info he needed. Picard's reunion with Hugh was honestly touching and it's just a shame they barely got to spend an episode together before Hugh also fell victim to the tertiary character kiss of death. At least it's his original actor.

Barely noticed, at least by Picard, is how Raffi was struggling after being rejected by her son. He claps at her performance to get them access to the Artifact, without realizing how much of it wasn't an act and in how bad a place she is.

Episode 7 is one of my favorites of the season, in part because of the nostalgia hitting me right in my stupid nerd brain, but also because it's an episode where the season finally got to take a moment to breathe, and also confront Picard with what a stubborn old fool he's been. Troi's well-deserved dressing down of Picard was the sort of thing he needed to hear, just as much as he needed Riker's unwavering loyalty. Only real gripe about this one is that Soji blazes through the five stages of "Well I Guess I'm An Android" a touch too fast but, well, she IS an android so I guess that explains it? Overclocked moral dilemma.

This is also the episode where it seems like someone on the writing or directing team really liked getting Allison Pill to vomit on camera. Like, it's uncanny. Two distinct points in the episode, three if you count the foaming at the mouth she does after her gambit to destroy the tracker in her blood.

Episode 8 is probably the most skippable episode of the season. Not that it's particularly bad, but it feels like it's retreading some ground (more of Soji's identity crisis and trust issues) and just covering things the audience already knows or guessed. But the scenes where members of the crew are just being there for each other (Raffi and Rios) or being in awe of each other (Agnes to Soji) work well.

Though this episode also has an entirely too quickly glossed over moment of Seven briefly becoming a mini Borg Queen which doesn't really get explored much after its over. That had to have been more complicated to her than the show had time to let on, it's something I really hope season 2 spends at least a little time exploring.

And the two-parter finale is... fine. I wound up liking the season a lot more than the first viewing up to this point and I had hoped it would be the same for the finale, and while I didn't dislike it it was just fine. Sutra honestly doesn't make a compelling last-minute villain and the uber-synths are pretty ill-defined. And despite being a zealot who was within shooting distance of fulfiilling her lifelong crusade, Oh kind of gives up rather easily and slinks away after Picard's last gambit succeeds in convincing Soji NOT to end all organic life in the galaxy.

But the best scene in the finale is still the last conversation between Picard and Data. I loved it when I first saw it and I still love it. It gives Data a much better send off than he got in Nemesis (hilariously, this incarnation of Data has no memory of his final sacrifice since his memories stop after they were implanted in B-4) and his gradual demise as Soji's actress sings 'Blue Skies' is a sweet moment. (Interesting bit of trivia from the Blu-ray special features, Patrick Stewart asked to keep the chair he was sitting in for that scene because he wanted something to remember what was his among his favorite acting experiences. And also it was really comfortable)

(Also geez, between Hugh and now Data, Picard is going to have an awkward conversation with Geordi whenever he sees him again "Oh La Forge, I thought you should know about Hugh. Remember, the borg that became severed from the collective that you befriended? Well he's dead. But I did get to speak to Commander Data one last time, but he's dead again now too. No he didn't mention you, come to think of it neither did Hugh. Funny that.")

Picard's new circumstances as an android feel like the writers wanted to have their cake and eat it to with regards to killing a beloved character but also getting to keep him around. I can only hope part of the next season's narrative will be Picard coming to terms with it.

Besides the episodes, the blu-ray features were interesting, but didn't reveal anything really groundbreaking. The deleted scenes did show one potential story thread which was cut: Narissa's 'Auntie', Ramdha, who was the one who ranted about the prophecy about Soji being the destroyer, appears in most of the deleted scenes in the latter episodes. One scene where she wakes up from her.... coma (?) after Seven takes control of the Cube. Then another after the Cube crashed, where she sees Soji running down a hall to catch up with the others and again calls her the destroyer. Then finally in the last episode there's a scene where she's happily playing cards with some of Soji's people, I guess implying she also saw Soji reject being the destroyer and decided to accept synthetic life? Eh, it could've been an interesting bit of story, but I see why it was cut.

There was also one deleted scene from episode 8 where that one woman Soji was showing around in the second episode, who made a big deal about being spoked by the Borg and getting worried about the warning badges they had to wear, pops up again after Seven takes control of the cube and is panicking while trying to find safety and said security badges suddenly become relevant as she runs into an activated borg before turning tail and running away. There's nothing more to it than that. I guess in some earlier draft of the script this character might've been more relevant?

Ultimately, I liked this first season more when it stuck to a smaller scale and less when it tried to be big space adventure. Which thankfully it did most of the time.
 
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