Star Trek: Picard: The End Is the Beginning
February 6, 2020 10:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Completely unaware of her special nature, Soji continues her work and captures the attention of the Borg cube research project's executive director. After rehashing past events with a reluctant Raffi, Picard seeks others willing to join his search for Bruce Maddox, including pilot and former Starfleet officer Cristóbal Rios.

The above summary comes from Memory Alpha (also the source of the background below) because I haven't had time to watch this one yet!

- This is the first Star Trek episode to address the physical differences in the appearance of the Romulans. Here, it is stated that Romulans with ridges on their foreheads are "northerner" Romulans. In addition, there are several of these northern Romulans with hair similar to their style depicted on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

- While Vasquez Rocks has been used as a filming location in Star Trek for decades, this is the first time the area was portrayed as itself.

- The breakthrough role in America for Santiago Cabrera (Chris Rios) was the recurring role of Isaac Mendez in Heroes between 2006 and 2009. He was in a 2016 episode of The Mindy Project and several 2017 episodes of Big Little Lies.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (116 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sigh. With each episode I like this show less and I really didn't expect that. There are glimpses when it's fun (hey we got an action sequence that was kind of cool, for one) but it's just really not doing it for me. I thought I was just grumpy when I watched last week's episode but nope, it wasn't that. People doing an awful lot of exposition talking and not a lot happening. Though, from the preview of the next episode, that's about to change? This show also needs even more Allison Pill.

But here's something in the dailydot recap I've found interesting:

Structurally speaking, Picard has more in common with contemporary dramas like Westworld than it does with TNG. The first act explored Picard’s troubled retirement on Earth, and introduced a political conflict connecting the Borg, the Romulans, and Data’s twin daughters. Act two will involve a journey into space, with Picard helming a mission to find Bruce Maddox, the cybernetics expert who wanted to dissect Data in the TNG episode “The Measure of a Man.” Maddox’s protege Agnes Jurati (Alison Pill) joins Picard and Raffi on a ship piloted by former Starfleet officer Cristóbal Rios (Santiago Cabrera), but there’s no guarantee these characters will continue as an old-school Star Trek crew next season.

I think this is a very good point the reviewer is making.

I think my disappointment stems from me expecting a more, uh, Star Trek-ey show; and it's not just the whole grimdark/trying to be way to contemporary/abandoning the utopia thing we discussed in the first episode's thread, but just like, in general. I like Star Trek and i do like DISCO a lot, for example, and it manages to be plenty Star Trek-ey, whatever that is.

And for what it's worth I'm very much a DS9 person; I don't have too much of a TNG nostalgia, unlike I imagine a lot of people here (and there's nothing wrong with having TNG nostalgia, of course).

I think there are still plenty of ways the show can improve and evolve, especially given that Season 2 has been ordered. I'm just bummed that so far this has been a big disappointment for me.
posted by KTamas at 11:18 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I'm still liking it quite a bit, although the grimdark-y thing is definitely a knife edge they're going to have to walk successfully if they must stick with it; I worry a little about what the tone of the series will be as they move into space.

Other random thoughts from ep 3:

1. So I guess it's canon now that people on Earth were vaping all the way through the TNG era. The NO SMOKING signs on the TOS movie bridges make more sense now, maybe

2. It is *massive* bullshit that Number One didn't get to heroically bite a Romulan in the junk in the big fight.
posted by COBRA! at 11:35 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


I'm not really sure how it's that insightful to point out that PIC is more like a contemporary drama than it is like TNG, when a) that's everything the creative team had been saying for a year and b) they just don't make TV like TNG anymore. In a lot of ways TNG was old fashioned even at the time, because other television dramas were beginning to play around with long-form storytelling even back in the early to mid 80s.
posted by Automocar at 12:26 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


there’s no guarantee these characters will continue as an old-school Star Trek crew next season

Thinking on this -- isn't it possible that this could become a mini resistance to Starfleet? From the first episode, there was this question and reply -- "Why did you really quit Starfleet?" "Because it was no longer Starfleet." -- and in this episode, telling Cristóbal Rios "You are Starfleet to the core," it feels like there's a potential set-up for a small band of people to operate under the true image/ vision/ beliefs of Starfleet, either to simply go counter to what the secret anti-synth group has pushed, or to oust that group and re-center Starfleet. /mostly wild speculation

One thing I appreciated in this episode was how Patrick Stewart "aged" 14 years, moving with more caution and hesitation in the "present," as compared to flash back moments. I think they also gave him more age spots in his "present" day version (or blotted out some of his actual age spots).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


2. It is *massive* bullshit that Number One didn't get to heroically bite a Romulan in the junk in the big fight.

Patrick Stewart is a pitbull advocate and wants to dispel the public assumption that they are violent.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:00 PM on February 6 [23 favorites]


Did Picard not take his Romulan friends with him? I thought they said they were coming. They were all like 'you need protection!'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:03 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Did Picard not take his Romulan friends with him?

I just finished watching the episode a minute ago and it doesn’t appear so. I was really hoping he would — in the space of 3 episodes I’ve gotten invested in them, and it’s not like they don’t have skills. (Also, what are they going to do there after having killed an entire death squad? Seems unlikely it would be super safe for them.) I was worried one or both of them would get killed throughout the whole fight scene.

I guess we could see them on the ship next episode and infer that they came aboard sometime between the scene with Picard and Jurati on the ship and when it goes to warp, but that seems like it would be sloppy filmmaking. Can’t imagine we won’t see them again later, though.
posted by Kosh at 5:48 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


David Bowie, "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud." According to the Wikipedia article, Bowie said "It was about the disassociated, the ones who feel as though they're left outside, which was how I felt about me. I always felt I was on the edge of events, the fringe of things, and left out. A lot of my characters in those early years seem to revolve around that feeling. It must have come from my own interior puzzlement at where I was". Certainly our scrappy little crew seem to count as outsiders, at least to the current status quo.

Ah, and we're having the "Is this really Trek? It's not the Trek I remember/was expecting" discussion. Good, good. Right on schedule. It happens every time, including the off-handed acceptance of the previous new Trek as being "plenty Star Trek-ey, whatever that is." Honestly, I'm not mocking you, KTamas, nor anyone else. It's that I've been a Trekkie for over half a century, and this happens, every time. (It still happens with DS9, for example.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:52 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Can we talk about how Picard, career diplomat, has secret guns all over his house like a doomsday prepper?

I suppose he might have stashed a few after his new charge got murdered by a secret Romulan death squad.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I figured the guns everywhere were courtesy of his housemates.

I feel like the good doc might have been co-opted; there's a lot of ominous time to fill in there.

(AND THOSE SUNGLASSES)
posted by curious nu at 6:53 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


I feel like the good doc might have been co-opted; there's a lot of ominous time to fill in there.


Yeah, that was kind of an awkward setup to go from the start of her interview to her suddenly showing up at Picard's place with nothing in between.

Why do they gotta name the old Borg cube like it's a web services provider? I had forgotten what it was when Raffi's screen showed it popping up and thought it was like a pop-up ad or something for a moment.

Also, the "Vasquez Rocks - Present Day" caption is one of the funniest damned things in Star Trek in awhile.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:58 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Star Trek has never been very good at discussing Federation economics or the ongoing existence of social class in what is supposed to be a post-scarcity environment, so the contrast between Raffi's existence and Picard's (and her references to his social privilege) was pretty stark.

Between yet another EMH and the holo-librarian, it looks like only embodied AI are banned?

I was also under the impression that the two Romulans were accompanying Picard. They sure do seem like they would come in handy...

The explanation for the different Romulan makeups was handled a darned sight better than the Great Klingon Forehead Question.

I feel like the good doc might have been co-opted; there's a lot of ominous time to fill in there.


Yeah, that's suspicious. There's a theme emerging, though, of Picard coasting on his past without fully taking the personal ramifications of his actions into account--his assumption that the admiral would go along with his request, approaching Raffi after ghosting her for years, and now taking for granted that of course this scientist would be so deeply impressed by him. (It's a bit concerning that she understands how to wield weaponry...)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:11 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


I could easily headcanon that the doctor has had to defend herself before; AI research is probably a very unpopular career choice in the Federation of 2399.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:24 PM on February 6


This one definitely satisfied less than the first two.

The backstory behind how/ why a couple of Romulan special-forces types retired to Earth with Picard must be wild.

I wonder what personal arms control like is on Federation Earth? Were they blatantly illegal?

Again - there were clearly dead non-acidified hitsquad lying around - what's up with law enforcement? Does chateau Picard have an air-gapped surveillance system?

I'm ok with the doctor "accidentally" shooting someone, I'm unconvinced that this may not have been the first time she's fired a lethal weapon. Not sure about the "I just killed someone, take me with you." I think that this is just not the finest writing rather than some hidden clue that she's martially proficient.
posted by porpoise at 7:27 PM on February 6


Oh the sweet faced doctor is definitely up to something.

His Romulans roomies may not want to go off to space; presumably they've seen a lot and feel they can deal with defending themselves.

Want to know more about:

Romulan mystic prophecies
Hugh! "EBs" in general
How Heart of Darkness has old Bruce gone in hiding
That ex-Borg Romulan crew: what/why is their deal?

Do not want more:
Romulan incest assassin sibs (yikes)
posted by emjaybee at 7:37 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The vaping that was just weird.

But there's vaping and then there's vaping. This looks something akin to a dried herb vapourizor (extract phytochemicals directly from minimally processed plant material) as opposed to one that vapourizes extracts in some carrier.

Didn't 'The Collector' in TNG, the one who kidnaps Data to be part of his collection, vape or hookah or something?
posted by porpoise at 7:52 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this take.

People mistaking stylistic choices for philosophy is as old as time.
posted by Automocar at 7:55 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


(AND THOSE SUNGLASSES)

They put me in mind of a Vulcan remake of the Blues Brothers.

It is 106 light years to the Chicago cluster
We have a full tank of dlithium and 50% of a pack of snakeweed.
It is dark, and we are wearing sunglasses.
Let us proceed.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:32 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Called it.
posted by ckape at 8:38 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Snake leaves seem like they help you focus and strategize in addition to whatever hypersensitivity/paranoia triggers can happen with too much. So it’s just a good full sativa.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Call me a hopeless VOY fan- it was really nice seeing an EMH being kinda snarky. I’m also really liking Rafi though I do worry they’re going to go down the path of “conspiracy theorists see the truth” which is just sloppy and dangerous. My mom thinks the actor playing the pilot is very hot. I... might agree with my mother.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:51 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Also when we realized who he was there was a big cry of “HUGH!!!” In my house.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:20 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Conversation in my household:

"So Romulans are what, like, sketchy Vulcans?"

"No! I... uh... ... I mean basically I guess."
posted by sugar and confetti at 9:23 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]


2. It is *massive* bullshit that Number One didn't get to heroically bite a Romulan in the junk in the big fight.
posted by COBRA! at 11:35 AM on February 6

Absolutely not! What if Number One had gotten hurt? Or frightened? Or made even momentarily unhappy?

Nothing bad is allowed to happen to Number One. He is a very good dog.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 9:35 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]


I'm babie and I got emotional when Picard said the Thing and the good ol' TNG fanfare swelled up 😭

It's so funny seeing the contrast between MeFi Trekkies and the younger crowd that caught up with or saw any Trek for the first time via streaming - there's a lot of excitement and critiques that come from an affectionate place, rather than the usual old guard's despair that newer Trek just ain't the same as the Trek they grew to love. But I'm glad to see people like Halloween Jack note that this oft-repeated chestnut comes up again and again, even back in the DS9 days, and you could probably go even further back to when TNG first began and the notion of a bald British captain helming a Trek series seemed heretical).

Snarky handsome (doppelganger of the handsome new pilot?) EMH was an unexpected delight. Just when I thought I could predict all the narrative beats of the episode (b/c if nothing else, these expository episodes have a way of following certain patterns) - they still find little ways to surprise.

Yawn at the Narek/Soji relationship (Arrested Development voice: him?), glad for a reduction of the ick vibes from the secret murder sibs subplot introduced in the previous episode.

Also, Commodore Oh's sudden sunglasses entrance? Another hilarious moment of surprise. Not a super big fan of the plotting thus far, but I'm just glad to see any new morsel of Asian rep I can get. Wondering if she'll end up being straightforward antagonist or maybe possibly a more morally mysterious persona later on...
posted by rather be jorting at 9:59 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


the doctor has had to defend herself before

academic duelling was popular in her dining club at university, one assumes
posted by mwhybark at 10:56 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


(Arrested Development voice: him?)

Narek (Harry Treadaway) very strongly reminds me of Paul Scheer playing the supremely handsome and suave Trent Hauser in NTSF:SD:SUV.

The sunglasses thing, and the vaping thing - I'm wondering who the heck is writing these things in organically or if these were injected in from 'corporate' decree?

Did not think the glasses worked for the character/ actress/ setting.
posted by porpoise at 10:57 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering who the heck is writing these things

"Protip"
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:54 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Snarky handsome (doppelganger of the handsome new pilot?) EMH was an unexpected delight.

EMH, ENH, Narek, Rios, Zhaban... beards are very fashionable at the end of the 24th century. Riker really influenced a lot of people, I guess.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:57 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Did not think the glasses worked for the character/ actress/ setting.

Also: Vulcan inner eyelid.

I mean, come ON.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


This episode had some marked similarities to Star Trek Online, so much so that I wonder if there's some influence there: the 14-years-ago uniforms, Rios's ship and in particular its paintjob, and the whole concept of an interspecies "Reclamation Project" for a Borg cube. I kept expecting random people with glowing armor to run up to Hugh, turn in a quest, and run away.

Great to see Jonathan Del Arco back as Hugh. His performance showed a lot of change since TNG, which is to be expected. Depth, subtlety, maybe a hint of villainy? Or at least cynicism. The high point of the episode, IMO.

More so than the first two, though, a few things in this one struck me as dopey:
- Oh being the HEAD of Starfleet Security—yes, of course This Thing always has to go All the Way to the Top;
- the Rios cigars-and-booze thing;
- the hint of incest between the Romulan villains…although, given that they've always been faintly inspired by Romans, and particular Roman imperial rulers, I guess I can see it.

Star Trek has never been very good at discussing Federation economics or the ongoing existence of social class in what is supposed to be a post-scarcity environment, so the contrast between Raffi's existence and Picard's (and her references to his social privilege) was pretty stark.

Previously on Metafilter (a thread from PIC FF's own mwhybark!)

I also had a Federation-economics thought when Rios said he was "expensive." But, w/r/t both Rios and Raffi, they're clearly at least somewhat "off the grid." The good little Federation citizens—e.g. your Grandpa Siskos—can be presumed to have all their basic necessities met, plus some additional allotment of *handwave* resources to enable them to "better themselves and the rest of humanity" (in Sisko's case, by offering people real-not-replicated cuisine, because that's what he enjoys doing). Even Julian Bashir's loser dad seemed to always have the means to pursue the next hopeless scheme.

Also: Vulcan inner eyelid.

I mean, come ON.


Hahaha, nice. That one did not occur to me, but yeah— if Oh doesn't turn out to be a Romulan after the sunglasses thing, I'll be perplexed and annoyed.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:22 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


The more I think about it, I really am nervous about the direction of the show now that they're in space. Honestly, one of the biggest pleasures so far has been the extended view of civilian life on Earth under the Federation, just people doing stuff planetbound outside of Starfleet. It's been a departure from the usual ST setup, but a refreshing one. Now that we're moving into a more typical setup, I worry about losing something. But hope springs eternal.

Allllso, the more I think about it, I don't love the aesthetics of the new ship, just because it doesn't really seem of a piece with other ST ships. Although I guess you can explain a lot of that away with "this is some private dude's personal boat, as opposed to all of the big military vessels we're used to."
posted by COBRA! at 7:25 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


This show is really weirding me out. I think I'd like it a lot better if it weren't Trek, with all the promises of Roddenberry optimism and hope. Take the backstory of Picard, etc and then fully embrace the grimdark. Like Raffi is a great character! Disgraced Starfleet officer, living in the middle of nowhere, smokes paranoid drugs and spins paranoid theories with a hint of truth. She's great! She also has no place in a Star Trek episode. I'll keep watching in hopes the writers are going somewhere good with this and pull it off, but it's feeling very strange to me right now.

Also for an episode where so little happens they sure left a lot of holes. Picard's Romulan domestics, for instance. They're not going, OK, but couldn't we have spared 15 seconds for a scene showing that and for Picard being concerned about their safety after they killed a Tal Shiar death squad? I mean I don't think they're just going to forgive and forget. Also super awkward having Dr. Jurati walk on set with a Romulan disruptor and kill someone. Not only are we left to wonder what happened since we last saw her being questioned by Starfleet intelligence. But also.. how'd she get to Picard's place? Did she just sort of walk in an open door, see some badass special ops firefight and decide to grab a rifle and help out? What? Again, 15 seconds of setting that up would have smoothed it out.

At least my question from episode 2 is worked out; Picard's ship pilot is not the skeezy Romulan seductor dude. I'm kind of liking Captain "Han Solo" Rios so far, and love the shtick that all he has for company is a bunch of versions of himself as holograms. Sort of a Mudd homage, or maybe something much creepier.
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


She also has no place in a Star Trek episode.

What does this mean?
posted by Automocar at 9:20 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I'm saying Star Trek doesn't do fallen heroes with a rough edge as main heroic characters. Raffi is shown as being basically broken, but still proud. She talks about how her life has fallen apart in the years since she was forced out of Starfleet. She's living in near poverty. She's characterized as someone doing (presumably illegal) drugs that give her paranoia. I can't think of a major character in any of the shows that has fallen that far and then becomes part of a regular crew. (Tasha Yar, Michael Burnham, some of the Maquis on Voyager.. they all have troubled pasts. But they're so quickly explained away.)

Then again this isn't a regular crew, either. Or is it? That's confusing to me too. Picard clearly wants to run it like a Starfleet ship. He's tried to pigeonhole Rios as a true Starfleet man, current circumstances aside. He's got a Starfleet research doctor on board. But then everything else is off the books. Doubly so Raffi.

Don't get me wrong, I love characters like Raffi and want more of them in SF shows! It just seems very out of place in Star Trek. I'm happy for Star Trek to bend itself to have more nuanced characters like her. But that bending is making Picard feel like a strange show to me.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


> I don't love the aesthetics of the new ship

The open interior is kind of weird. Is it supposed to be a cargo ship? Otherwise the top deck looks like a patio in space.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


shared narrative framework

Chabon must have tossed his cup of Earl Grey at the tube when Herzog in The Mandalorian cracked out with “may i offer you a libation to celebrate the closing of our shared narrative”
posted by mwhybark at 9:48 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Starfleet research doctor on board.

...and she’s wearing a light blue coat, just like Beverly used to!

Well, same color anyway
posted by mwhybark at 9:50 AM on February 7


She also has no place in a Star Trek episode

Another thing I should have said... I'm not saying that I, a fan of Star Trek and this show, am mad about Raffi. I like her character, I like the actress, she's a damn site more interesting than Dahj/Soji to me so far, much less Rios or Narke. I'm saying she doesn't fit in to the classic tropes of Star Trek heroes, particularly TNG. And that dissonance is making me have a hard time understanding what kind of show Picard is.

So Picard is a different kind of show. DS9 and Discovery are also quite unusual for Star Trek shows and I love them both for that. I would love a Star Trek show where Raffi's character makes sense and is given room to be herself and isn't reduced to a quick cliché of redemption thanks to her Savior Picard. I guess mostly I'm wondering if the writers are going to pull it off.
posted by Nelson at 9:55 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


> Also: Vulcan inner eyelid.

I mean, come ON.

> Hahaha, nice. That one did not occur to me, but yeah— if Oh doesn't turn out to be a Romulan after the sunglasses thing, I'll be perplexed and annoyed.


Vulcan inner eyelid!!! Ok but that just makes me like the sunglasses even more if they're purely for the aesthetic. (Or if we later get some handwavey reason regarding Lorca-esque light sensitivity. 😉) Very Agent Smith of her, either way.

I thought the previous episode already heavily foreshadowed that Commodore Oh was a disguised Romulan (or at least a Romulan collaborator), so the reference to her being Vulcan seemed like an obvious red herring.

As for references to past Trek series, perhaps her role is a nod to VOY's own Vulcan chief of security? :D
posted by rather be jorting at 10:14 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just grasping at anything because the real world is a dumpster fire but I love this show so far. I don't see it as grimdark. Picard is putting together a team to deal with a problem and they're going to go off and find the TRUTH. What's more Picard-ish than that? And over in Borg cube reclamation land there's handwavy mysticism and made up sciencebabble. Love it all. Eating it with a spoon. Made an embarrassing involuntary squeal even though I knew what was coming when Picard said the word at the end.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:19 AM on February 7 [20 favorites]


70s TOS Trekkie, here.

I think people will be people and even what seems to us to be a utopia will have its demimonde. What's changed aren't people, but cultural legacy, institutions, and technology. Those are strong but not invulnerable support structures. I've always seen the Culture novels as (inadvertently, perhaps) a critique of the conceits of utopianism in their focus on Special Circumstances.

While the Culture has vast AI minds to basically run everything for everyone's benefit (including their own), the Federation has to make do with humans and other species that are all deeply fallible. Repeatedly we're shown that much more powerful species are frequently far from benign. The Organians are the exception — practically omnipotent and well-intended, nevertheless it's best not to attract their notice.

Some youngster up-thread suggested that it was likely there were Trekkie naysayers when TNG premiered. Indeed, I was one of them. The show wasn't good when it began, as we all know, but I wasn't very happy with Roddenberry Unbound and all his Shiny Happy People. TOS was progressive and optimistic, in a way that resonated with its time. I get that TNG's height of utopianism is beloved for those who came to Trek with it and I agree that optimism is a core Trek value, but Star Trek in general has always shown that it's a struggle to make things better.

In my opinion, placing the very paragon of Roddenberry's Virtuous Man at the center of a Trek that is set against the backdrop that reflects our times of failing institutions and disappointment is exactly the right note. They, and we, need Picard and people like him, more than ever.

I'm not sure the Romulan sibling vibe is intended to be incestuous. I hope it's not. Rather, I think it's in keeping with canonical Romulan culture where, if anything, rivalry and schemimg and ambiguity are heightened in the familial context. Romulans are always very sly and insinuating.

Yeah, I'm totally suspicious of the cherubic scientist, too. I figured her for a Tilly-esque character, but now I think it's a feint. Sure, they've got to give us clues — but I prefer it when they're all small and ambiguous and only make a case when taken collectively and in retrospect (or with very close readings).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:41 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


I'm saying she doesn't fit in to the classic tropes of Star Trek heroes, particularly TNG. And that dissonance is making me have a hard time understanding what kind of show Picard is.

But... she's not supposed to be a Star Trek hero (Incidentally, Star Trek doesn't do heroes. That's like the whole point of Star Trek.) Like, I'm having a hard time understanding what your actual problem is?
posted by Automocar at 12:20 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I'm really liking this but I also like Season 2 Discovery so there's that.
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Also my free trial runs out before Picard does so I have to decide whether to compromise my stated principles and continue to pay CBS for this CBS AA bullpucky or not.
posted by Justinian at 2:11 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Feels kinda like this worked off a fair bit of my excitement that had maintained through the first two. There were some good moments but the writing and acting seemed weak in key elements. Didn't really think Raffi worked out, felt like the actor didn't make a good job of her. Not convinced by Rios either and I generally like Cabrera.

At the end of the action scene did it seem off how Picard and the Romulan chateau staff just sort of assumed stuff was over without bothering to check for more death squadees? Any chance that end bit with the doctor shooting the guy in the back was to get them to trust her and she'll turn out to be a bad un?
posted by biffa at 2:42 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I really liked this episode, perhaps the best of the first three. But trying to rank them aside, I think this was a strong first third of the season - and a great moment to get Picard into space, say the thing and the original TNG theme start up. I am excited to see where this all goes. It's a good balance of feeling fresh and using lots of TNG references to flesh things out. The return of Hugh was pretty understated - I wouldn't have recognised him if he hadn't been announced in pre-show publicity. I think his name was mentioned once in the ep and no explanation of his backstory yet - I cannot WAIT for Picard to meet him again.
posted by crossoverman at 2:57 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


The guy playing with the Rubik's Cube while explaining that the Romulan ship was the last one the cube assimilated made me suspect that the Romulans did something like the unsolvable puzzle thing that the Enterprise crew almost did with Hugh.

On further reflection, I wish there was a whole commune of former Starfleet officers living at Vasquez Rocks. "It all feels so familiar somehow," they murmur.
posted by ckape at 6:31 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


It feels like the pilot is over and they’re ready to move on to the show, I feel

The bit at the end was cute but also I kind of hope that that means the show is done winking at the audience

Also my wife and I both said “hey how did Wolverine get a spaceship”
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:21 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I do not like Raffi calling Picard "J.L." It made me irrationally angry and I got angrier each time she said it. Don't know why.
posted by cooker girl at 7:24 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


I loved it. It showed that in the years in between the E and becoming an Admiral he loosened up a bit- I feel it shows that JLP and Rafi must have had a very close relationship- which makes his subsequent hermitage so offensive to her.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:35 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I really liked the "JL" thing - because of its familiarity, because it feels like something a real person would call Jean-Luc. If anyone was able to relax around him on the Enterprise, they might have called him JL as well.
posted by crossoverman at 8:20 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


While Vasquez Rocks has been used as a filming location in Star Trek for decades, this is the first time the area was portrayed as itself.
Comment in my household: Hey she lives in the Star Trek Mountains, that's perfect.

I was thinking about the actress who played Raffi that I could definitely picture her as an idealistic young girl in the space-90s in a TNG episode. Then I looked up her age & she would have actually been in her 20s during the space 90s and I'm really bad at judging ages. My point is that I felt she really "seemed" like a Star Trek person to me which is funny that people can have exactly opposite takeaways.

I'm so glad they brought back Hugh.
posted by bleep at 9:14 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Also it's funny that people see Raffi as a conspiracy nut, I just took her story at face value, of course the Federation (or StarFleet?) did 9/11, I wouldn't doubt that for a second.
posted by bleep at 9:20 PM on February 7


Raffi Musiker was Picard's first officer on the USS Verity, a starship he commanded after the Enterprise-- the one that was tasked with leading the Romulan evacuation, circa 2385. It was all explained in an authorized prequel comic and oh good heavens I am such a nerd.
posted by seasparrow at 9:29 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]


The backstory behind how/ why a couple of Romulan special-forces types retired to Earth with Picard must be wild.

They worked closely during the evacuation plans. After Picard accidentally resigns from Starfleet he was feeling pretty vulnerable and long story short they finally admitted their feelings and now they're in a three way marriage.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:38 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


Pretty sure nothing we've been shown contradicts this theory. That scene right before the battle, with Picard and Laris!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:41 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Do take note that in English “J-L” is a phoneme of “jail” and Raffi has shared a reasonably acute cost/benefit analysis of (white, male) privilege with a certain former admiral. Who certainly does always mean well. I’m not super crazy about the vapin’ snakeweed thing. Critical interlocutors do not need a decentering vice in order to establish, or to have undercut, narrative authority. The truth will do.

Also, cigars? Serious with the Logan thing. I mean sure, Hugh Jackman was unavailable. But geez.
posted by mwhybark at 11:03 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


lol, if we're going there, JL can sound like Jor El...

Lots of non-Trek beats here; my feels is that the writers were fans of the Picard holodeck episodes and it's their biases that are showing.
posted by porpoise at 12:04 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


“J.L.” is nothing but a short nickname/acronym for a friend’s name; imagining that it holds some grand racial hidden meaning because the speaker is a person of color seems like the wishful lunacy of conspiratorial pattern recognition.
posted by blueberry at 12:34 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I found the XB (ex borg) romulan trauma-to-end-all-trauma rehab ward / cuckoos nest to be tremendously moving; all for characters we'd just met or caught a glimpse of!

I found it almost as moving as picard's breakdown in "Family" TNG - this from a character who occupied the hearts and minds of fans for years.
posted by lalochezia at 3:13 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Also, one thing that bugs me, is the complete lack of info/physical security in conversations and with people who are targets of bad actors.

There are transporters and presumably nano-drones in this world.

I mean I realize this is necessary for reasonable plotting/drama, but why don't you just drone in or transport a grenade and/or e-dust bombs/bugs, rather than send people to spy for you or do your wetwork?
posted by lalochezia at 3:17 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Because then all the actors would have to do is read out the results and then we'd all be complaining about it being all exposition.
posted by bleep at 8:42 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm saying Star Trek doesn't do fallen heroes with a rough edge as main heroic characters.

To some extent Paris, Sisko, and Kira have this type of backstory. And there's the whole Maquis thing. Lorca, Burnham(ish), and Tyler even moreso.

The closest analogue might be Ensign Ro, who is set up to be a foil for Picard in a similar light.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:54 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


For anyone who's having a problem with Raffi: you really need to watch DS9. You did? Then watch it again. Kira Nerys did much, much rougher things than toke space weed and get into the Federation version of Coast to Coast AM.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:24 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I appreciate everyone sharing insights on Raffi and pushing back on my dismissal of her. I like her character, I think my real fear is TNG-style writing won't be true to her. In particular I fear in three episodes she will just sort of forgive Picard's abandoning her and go on to being an ordinary crewperson with some extra intel sources and stop smoking that fabulous pipe. If that happens, I'm gonna be mad. I always felt Voyager squandered their premise of a half-Maquis crew. I want Raffi to keep her edge of anger, and certainty, and betrayal. But that's a stupid way for me to approach a TV show, I should just wait to see how they do.

I think Ensign Ro is the best comparison, particularly since Ro had a close relationship with Picard. One that ends in her betraying him and the Federation and joining the Maquis!. That was also a sort of writing I don't normally think of Star Trek doing and it was great.

Kira is my favorite Star Trek character ever. But importantly she is not Starfleet, except for a brief period in the last few episodes. She's Bajoran militia and is constantly pushing back against Starfleet and its utopian polyanna nonsense. She and her people were always treated a little poorly by Starfleet and never forgot or forgave that. Similarly Raffi was treated poorly by Starfleet and Picard. If Raffi keeps that resentment and awareness of reality and turns it into a character strength the way Kira did, that'd be terrific.

They better bring back Vash somehow; surely there's a call for a Space Archaeologist in the story?
posted by Nelson at 2:33 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I've got to admit one reason I liked S2 Discovery, and this, is that I've never for a second bought Roddenberry's pure-utopia vision. I've always assumed there was crap going on in the background that we just didn't see. Which is why I was pretty happy when Special Circumstances showed up in Discovery and happy with Picard's not-Starfleet-anymore epiphany in this one.

We should strive towards Utopia but we'll never actually get there and human nature being what it is there's going to be rough edges.

(ok, technically not named Special Circumstances but come on that's what it was, to Starfleet's Contact.)
posted by Justinian at 3:43 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I’m living in Quebec, and Jean-François and Jean-Pierre are commonly abbreviated in conversations and email as JF and JP respectively, so JL seemed natural.
posted by cardboard at 6:09 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I'm liking this a lot more as time goes on. I'm pretty much over how the world doesn't seem as utopian as it was in TNG, I can accept TNG as being a high-water mark for human civilization along with it only being a view of what federation life is like for a tiny fraction of its citizens. Repeated wars and crises have reduced the general quality of life for federation citizens, but everyone still has access to the basic resources they need, should they want to accept it. The interview was still dumb and anachronistic.

Prediction time: I think that ship of Romulans that the borg assimilated were Jhad Vash, and something tying into their anti-synth philosophy is what made their collective collapse. It was either something they intentionally inserted in themselves before being assimilated or something inherent with being Jhad Vash or even just being Romulan. I'm pretty sure Hugh said these were the only Romulans ever known to have been assimilated.

Also pretty surprised that none of the promised cameos, Riker and Troi and Seven, happened in the first three episodes. Picard said he didn't want to involve his old friends, what happens between now and when he goes to Riker? And what support can Riker provide? And how many more episodes are we going to have about Picard gathering his crew Mass Effect style? He's going to Freecloud to find Maddox, when does he decide he needs to pick up a Romulan Swordsman?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:23 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


2. It is *massive* bullshit that Number One didn't get to heroically bite a Romulan in the junk in the big fight.

It is *massive* bullshit that Number One didn't join the rag-tag gang! DOGS IN SPACE! DOGS IN SPACE!

(Mostly I just want to see Picard and his Very Good Dog Do Crimes, the TV show)
posted by tzikeh at 8:23 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


How is saying "Jay El" any more convenient than saying "Jean Luc" ?

--

That's interesting, pets in space. Especially with anti-gravity and far-tech atmospheric control. Long history of nautical cats.

Hell, Data's Spot on the Enterprise-D.

My head-cannon is that JL thinks it's going to be hazardous and doesn't want to risk Number One.

--

I almost think that - given a good enough pitch - Sir Patrick Stewart might not be adverse to doing some kind of video-podcast type stunt/ skit re: 'Picard and his Very Good Dog Do Crimes, the TV show.'
posted by porpoise at 9:52 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Found gem on Memory Alpha while looking at the Borg's history of assimilating various species:
By the 2370s, the Borg had assimilated thousands of species. As of the 24th century, the only species known to have been considered unworthy of assimilation were the Kazon, as the Borg believed that assimilating them would detract from their goal of becoming perfect.
Sick burn, Borg collective.
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:22 AM on February 9 [12 favorites]


How is saying "Jay El" any more convenient than saying "Jean Luc" ?

I dunno man calling my dog “Hankerface” isn’t more “convenient” than just calling him “Hank” but I still do it because he’s a fucking Hankerface
posted by Automocar at 9:12 AM on February 9 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty much over how the world doesn't seem as utopian as it was in TNG, I can accept TNG as being a high-water mark for human civilization along with it only being a view of what federation life is like for a tiny fraction of its citizens. Repeated wars and crises have reduced the general quality of life for federation citizens, but everyone still has access to the basic resources they need, should they want to accept it.
So, because I am a giant nerd, I picked up a book on Starfleet ships from the TNG era onward. And... it was actually kind of depressing. The Galaxy (and Nebula) classes were family-friendly mobile starbases made for scientific and exploration missions (and in my headcanon, designed to double as a generation ship whenever a godlike being flings it across the galaxy). Pretty much every later class is more spartan and combat-oriented to deal with the Borg and/or Dominion. Most dramatically with the Defiant, but even the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E is smaller than a Galaxy-class and gets rid of all the families and civilians. (And also it feels very un-TNG to me that Starfleet named a class of ships "Sovereign")
posted by ckape at 9:40 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


I found the whole "JL" thing distracting not because I thought it was inappropriate, but because Raffi said it like fifty times in the same conversation.
posted by adrianhon at 10:15 AM on February 9 [13 favorites]


adrianhon, maybe that was my issue! You're right! SO MANY TIMES.
posted by cooker girl at 10:20 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


yeah I hate the "J.L." thing. Some initial nicknames work and some don't, and "Jay-El" sounds like he's from the Bible, or Krypton. It's the blend of the pronunciation bouncing from "yuh" to "eh." It's muddy, not crisp. If the first initial ends on a "y" sound, the next one has to start hard, with a plosive or glottal or something, like "J.P." or "J.K." or "J.J.". Heck, that's not 100% true because "J.R." works. But "J.L."... nope. Something linguistically icky about it.
posted by tzikeh at 10:20 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


ckape, I bet the Cardassian War had an effect on starship design and that even in the TNG era before contact with the Borg, priorities changed, which is why there were only a few of either of the Galaxy and Nebula classes.
posted by Fukiyama at 12:58 PM on February 9


I'm another person who just hated those "JLs", but with no clue about why they bothered me so much.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:32 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Interesting challenge, Ivan.

In TNG, we all knew that Picard's first name was Jean-Luc; it's announced every time that the idea that Picard was an exceptional Captain and example of Starfleet.

Jean-Luc Picard.

Everyone called him Captain Picard - and whenever someone said his first name, to him, in private - Beverly's sad "Oh, Jean-Luc." Who else got to call him by his first name? Q? Flashbacks?

We the audience know Raffi Musiker only from what we've been told. We've not seen her earn getting to call Picard JL, much less Jean-Luc.

Hell, after almost dying on the desert planet with Wesley and the alcoholic freighter captain, Wesley should have had all rights to use Jean-Luc but I don't think he ever did?
posted by porpoise at 7:45 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


We the audience know Raffi Musiker only from what we've been told. We've not seen her earn getting to call Picard JL, much less Jean-Luc.

Whereas I took it as a convenient signpost for how intimate their former relationship must have been and, once you see how Rafi lives, how badly he must have screwed her over.

For me, there’s a clear sense that Picard has done stuff since we last saw him. 20 years have passed. Raffi’s nickname for him is just an indicator of that. He rose to the heights of Admiral, he carried out grand missions, he quit and started a whole new career as an academic.

Frankly, I think he’s being too hard on himself when he says he ‘was just waiting to die’. He just... retired. Under a cloud, perhaps, but he was 80 years old ffs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:49 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


While I’m not the hugest fan of the “J.L.” moniker (to me, it makes him sound a little like your 11-year-old cousin), I think it does get across that Raffi has a close relationship with Picard, and also that she’s the kind of person who probably rolls her eyes at pomp and over-flowery protocol—kind of a No BS, Get Things Done person kind of like we saw in Ensign Ro.

That’s the kind of person I’d like to see Picard have on his team—someone like the great Alfre Woodard’s Lily from First Contact who had no problem actually yelling at him when he had his head up his ass.
posted by blueberry at 6:40 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


....who had no problem actually yelling at him when he had his head up his ass.

Like this?
posted by lalochezia at 7:06 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Although I gotta wonder why some xB still have implant stubs and bits missing and then Locutus gets his rugged ol' face back. 24th century medical is awfully hit and miss, y'all.
posted by Kyol at 11:22 AM on February 10


Although I gotta wonder why some xB still have implant stubs and bits missing and then Locutus gets his rugged ol' face back. 24th century medical is awfully hit and miss, y'all.

Dr. Crusher is the best in her field and had a personal stake in JL’s recovery, whereas the Romulans don’t care about the xB’s quite as much.
posted by Servo5678 at 11:27 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Didn't the glimpse we see of 7 of 9 show her still sporting Borg bits?

Also both Hugh and 7 were assimilated much longer than Jean-Luc; can't remember about 7 but wasn't Hugh born into a cube?

Anyway, I like learning about Romulan culture because otherwise all you get is "Nope we're just super-secretive assholes with a thing for pointy shoulderpads!" and that's not very compelling. Bring on the myths, weird architectural practices (fake doors), Northern vs. Southern Romulans, all of it. Love that stuff.

Anyway we are now re-watching Season I TNG and...it still holds up in many ways! "The Survivors" was pretty good, and also "The Overseer." Once Worf starts growing out his hair a little and Will gets a beard, things improve.
posted by emjaybee at 12:23 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


"Whereas I took it as a convenient signpost for how intimate their former relationship must have been..."

It makes perfect sense, really. I think that's why I and cooker girl and maybe some others don't know why it was like fingernails on chalkboard. But it was!

If I must guess, then it's probably that somewhere in my brain "JL" seems very unsuited for Picard. Maybe it's firing "JR" Dallas neurons.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:37 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Actually, a bit more occurs to me. Assuming the nickname strikes some of us as being ill-fitting, then it probably evokes the sense of one person imposing an unwelcome nickname on another person, which is a common dominance tactic.

In fact, I think that must explain it, at least in my case, because to my mind any nickname that doesn't originate from the person it's applied to seems to me an aggressive imposition and we've never, ever heard Picard suggest to someone to refer to him as JL or any evidence of that.

Close friends sometimes do coin and use nicknames for each other, of course, and it totally makes sense that the show is trying to signify such a friendship; but I guess for me the dialogue, acting, and direction didn't support that much. If I had written or directed this, I would have had her only refer to him that way when the conversation has taken a turn and she is deliberately using it in a gentle way to express intimacy in making a specific point — like, maybe, while touching him on the arm.

But this is just me, beanplating.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:53 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I think it's just that we're used to Picard being the personification of dignified and JL is the opposite of that. But they're trying to show us how he's a person who's been growing and changing and has been changed by the people around him. That's great, that's exactly what people are supposed to do. Maybe they'll encounter some kids and he won't be all awkward and uptight around them either!
posted by bleep at 2:04 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Between yet another EMH and the holo-librarian, it looks like only embodied AI are banned?
Although, wasn't the EMH shown touching a person? It's not clear to me what the key difference is. Like a True Knowledge subjectivity-is-an-emergent-property-of-carbon style thing? Or can an EMH just not carry a phaser?
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 3:10 PM on February 10


I've always felt like holograms outside the holodeck were a bit silly, and I'm still not sure why they'd be legal when androids aren't? So hopefully they won't be a huge part of the show going forward.

How does a Vulcan or Romulan get a name like Oh? Took a human spouse's name, maybe?

Minor nitpicks, though. Enjoying it overall.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:29 PM on February 10


You can easily shut a hologram off. Can’t easily shut off an android.
posted by Automocar at 4:36 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Nothing bad is allowed to happen to Number One. He is a very good dog.

Exactly. I'm not even a dog person, but I spent a lot of that fight scene thinking "OMG, WHERE IS THE DOG, IS THE DOG OKAY?!"

(I'm never going to watch John Wick.)

I'm digging the series so far. I don't really have any expectations re: the direction and tone. I like that it's different. I like that it's doing some stuff that hasn't really been done in Trek before -- it's a big universe with room for lots of different stories.

I particularly like that there's lots of continuity with the previous series, but there are gaps in both our and the characters' knowledge of the intervening time period, which leads to interesting revelations both in and out of character. I'm a sucker for this kind of story structure.
posted by confluency at 4:58 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Dr. Crusher is the best in her field and had a personal stake in JL’s recovery, whereas the Romulans don’t care about the xB’s quite as much.

I never really thought about it before but I'm sure if Crusher had been in charge of Seven's de-borgification she would have done a much more thorough job of removing all her visible cybernetics. Also I'm sure the Enterprise sick bay, designed as it is for 5000 people, is much more fully appointed than the Voyager sick bay, designed for 150 people.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:03 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I am really fine with the JL thing, the vaping thing, the living-off-the-grid-on-Earth thing—the only thing that truly sticks in my craw from the Raffi character so far is that she used the phrase "pro tip."

I just finished reading both volumes of The Fifty-Year Mission, an unauthorized and exhaustive behind-the-scenes collection of interview snippets from various Trek producers/writers/stars etc., and one of the things that came up several times about Berman-era Trek (TNG thru ENT) is that the characters—basically, all the characters, with occasional exceptions for time-travel or whatever—speak in a particular way. There's a slightly formal, slightly stiff, "house style" dialogue-wise throughout.

Now, does language change rapidly enough to account for a shift in the way people talk between TNG and PIC? Sure. But to revert to slang from four hundred years prior? Guhhh. Am I going around saying "S'wounds"? Very seldom!

</end linguistics rant>
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:34 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]


the only thing that truly sticks in my craw from the Raffi character so far is that she used the phrase "pro tip."

The Ktarians relaunched GamePro magazine to deliver amazing strategies for their game.
posted by Gary at 1:42 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


This episode had lots of problematic parts, Buuuuuuuut the one that stood out to me the most is why do the Vulcan/Destroyer appear to have zero sexual chemistry whilst the Romulan Brother & Sister were framed (and both acted) like they had tonnes of sexual chemistry which is allllllll the ick ?

I cannot put my finger on why that is? It might be the lighting - whoever decided to light all the Borg cube sets with Tube (flourescent?) lighting sure as sugar didn't' know how to film with them on without very distracting lens flare....

The sexual chemistry thing it just felt so off kilter..
posted by Faintdreams at 2:28 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Romulannisters
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:53 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


whoever decided to light all the Borg cube sets with Tube (flourescent?) lighting sure as sugar didn't' know how to film with them on without very distracting lens flare....

I guarantee you that the professional cinematographer knows what they’re doing. The lens flare is not a surprise when they look at the dailies.
posted by Automocar at 7:29 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Over the last year, I binge watched all of StarTrek. I ended the binge of what was, with The Old Star Trek, then added Discovery and Picard, kind of all in one bite. I always wanted to watch Star Trek but there was no room for me in front of the set, in my former life. So, this is a present I gave myself. I love Discovery. Picard is also worthy, I want to see where it goes. Will the Romulans be the hippie anti AI establishment, but with a murderous twist. I am already convinced the Romulans engineered the destruction at Mars. Anyway, I haven't looked back but I felt that Ash in Discovery was the pilot in Picard, I haven't seen Thursday's episode for a reexamination of the character. I didn't pick up the sexual energy in the Romulan estate keepers. I, in fact, missed they are brother and sister. I think I will watch the first three episodes of Picard, again.

Many takeaways from the binge, one being The Old Star Trek, employed a tooth fetishist. I particularly like the sound editing in Discovery, in that I could hear the overlays of both Shatner's and Nemoy's voices, onto the tracks of Christopher Pike, (with endings by Shatner, at times,) and then the ends of some new Spock speech, embellished with Nemoy's voice tracks. Cheers!
posted by Oyéah at 7:49 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


the only thing that truly sticks in my craw from the Raffi character so far is that she used the phrase "pro tip."

I had the same reaction in Ep01, when Dahj called her boyfriend "Dude" and he called her replicator menu "tragic". Those are both very early-21st-century usages that I would be surprised to see 300+ years from now.

The "various emergency holograms are all the same guy with different bad accents" thing drove me nuts.
posted by hanov3r at 9:52 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Everyone is allowed to dislike whatever they want, and it's cool. But I am not one of those people who is annoyed by modern slang in Picard. I figure that technological change accelerates language evolution, and this show is set nearly 300 years in the future. I think their dialect may approach incomprehensibility to our ears. How well could a person from 300 years ago-- a native English speaker-- understand all our talk of snipers and ISPs and sushi and heart valves? Now project forward another three hundred years of rapid technological growth and interstellar contact. No, I feel it's better to render Starfleet talk into 21st century standard English.

And I always respected authors who put the modern vernacular into the mouths of historical characters-- Gore Vidal's Roman senators, or even Shakespeare, who made Romeo and Juliet speak in Elizabethan street English without trying to gussy it up with 200-year-old Italian words. Or Glen Cook's fantasy mercenaries who sounded like grunts from Viet Nam. Now is Michael Chabon a good enough author to stand with Vidal and Cook and Shakespeare? I don't know, but based on how much I loved "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and "Wonder Boys", I am willing to give him a little bit of slack to try.

Also, in a lifetime of science fiction reading, I can only think of one author who really successfully modelled how future English might sound-- Russell Hoban. All the others were demonstrably fake-sounding. And even then, Hoban is not showing language evolution, but language devolution.

Like I said, it's cool if you don't like it, but I did want to present another viewpoint of why I find modern language in science fiction and fantasy easier to stomach than a bunch of "Forsooths" and "Werprossers" and similarly dumb sounding words.
posted by seasparrow at 8:04 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Modern language is not necessarily the same as modern *slang*. Word usage that is really endemic to a very specific point in time is jarring, heard outside that specific time period.

Would you have been ok with characters in Blade Runner or Wrath of Khan saying "Ugh! Grody to the max!"? I mean, Val speak was pretty common slang in the '82-'83 time frame.
posted by hanov3r at 7:21 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Star Trek is always extremely of the time it's made. Original Star Trek was very 60s. The movies were very 80s. TNG was very 90s. Etc.
posted by bleep at 7:42 AM on February 14


Visually, sure. Semantically (leaving aside ST4: The One With The Whales)?
posted by hanov3r at 9:07 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Counterpoint: Kirk said "Double dumbass on you!" in The Voyage Home and it was awesome.
posted by sugar and confetti at 10:06 AM on February 14 [6 favorites]


"Double dumbass on you" is what we call evergreen slang, not tied to any date or place.
posted by hanov3r at 10:59 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


I think you did a little too much LDS in the '60s.
posted by sugar and confetti at 12:11 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]


Rich and Mike from RedLetterMedia babble more about Star Trek Picard.
posted by Pendragon at 6:03 AM on February 18


the only thing that truly sticks in my craw from the Raffi character so far is that she used the phrase "pro tip."

Whenever you hear a character in a far-future show say "pro tip" or listening to a version of "Highway Star," you should understand that they aren't saying or listening to that. They're saying something that to a person in that time would be very of-the-moment in the way that saying "protip" is now. They're listening to music that's kinda vintage, like a generation old, but not hundreds of years old. This is just being translated into terms the audience gets because the audience wouldn't get it if someone said "grungler," the term actually in vogue at the time that's a loanword from the Whatever language from Whogivesadamn 4, where people have antennas or some shit, and they won't get it if the Belter in the little racing ship is listening to some random song that means nothing to us.

tl;dr -- if you're trying to give a character's speech some emotional resonance with us or use their speech to tell us where someone fits in the larger social milieu, you don't have much choice except to have the characters use terms from our own time. See also the swearing in Deadwood.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:25 AM on February 18 [6 favorites]


(only applies to works with a sufficiently high give a shit factor, not to pure dreck)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:30 AM on February 18


See also the swearing in Deadwood.

Pretty sure there was no shortage of those particular colorful metaphors in the Old West.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:52 AM on February 18


There was plenty of swearing in the old west, but it was a different register: mostly religious-derived rather than our modern sexually-derived swearing. Reportedly the Deadwood folks tried with period appropriate swearing first, and it didn't have the impact they wanted, so they updated the language to modern swearing.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:59 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Yeah, period-appropriate swearing would’ve been lots of “goldarnits” and other quaint utterances, not “cocksucker!”
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on February 18


Whenever you hear a character in a far-future show say "pro tip" or listening to a version of "Highway Star," you should understand that they aren't saying or listening to that. They're saying something that to a person in that time would be very of-the-moment in the way that saying "protip" is now. They're listening to music that's kinda vintage, like a generation old, but not hundreds of years old. This is just being translated into terms the audience gets because the audience wouldn't get it if someone said "grungler," the term actually in vogue at the time that's a loanword from the Whatever language from Whogivesadamn 4, where people have antennas or some shit, and they won't get it if the Belter in the little racing ship is listening to some random song that means nothing to us.

Yes, I get that, and I can accept it—I've even used it for similar situations in other franchises (e.g. Han Solo probably doesn't believe in "hell" even though he refers to it in Empire). I think the reason it sticks in my craw is because I never previously had to use that "audience-universal-translator" thing with this franchise, in part because of the aforementioned house dialogue style that had been in place, where common contemporary expressions were just plain unusual. I'm not even necessarily against the disappearance of that house style… it's just that, if this is to be a characteristic of post-Berman Trek, it'll be an adjustment for some of us, particularly those who get hung up on linguistic anomalies.

And all this is to not even delve into the universal translator within the Trek universe, which, well, if ever there was anything in this franchise for which one must repeat to one's self "it's just a show, I should really just relax," it's that. Or the cloner-'n'-killer, I mean transporter.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:52 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Via Trekcore on Twitter: Time is a flat circle, etc
posted by rather be jorting at 2:13 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


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