Star Trek: Picard: Absolute Candor
February 13, 2020 10:16 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

(IMDB) The crew's journey to Freecloud takes a detour when Picard orders a stop at the planet Vashti, where Picard and Musikar relocated Romulan refugees fourteen years earlier. Upon arrival, Picard reunites with Elnor, a young Romulan he befriended during the relocation. Meanwhile, Narek continues his attempts to learn more about Soji while Rizzo's impatience with his lack of progress grows. (A wee bit more after the jump...)

(from MA) Evan Evagora makes his first appearance as Elnor and is first featured in the opening credits.

It should be noted, however, that Elnor's first appearance in the episode itself is actually as a child, as portrayed by Ian Nunney.

This is the first episode in which the entire main cast of the series appears.

Seven of Nine is the second main character from Star Trek: Voyager to make a crossover appearance, following Admiral Kathryn Janeway's cameo in Star Trek Nemesis. Although Robert Picardo appeared in Star Trek: First Contact and DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", he portrayed the Enterprise-E's EMH and Lewis Zimmerman, respectively.

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This is the first episode of Picard with sole directorial credit to the ol' chair hopper himself, Jonathan Frakes. As with last week's episode, the the OP for this thread has yet to view the episode. Feel free to bulk up the ol' tags there.
posted by mwhybark (75 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was the best episode yet.

Love the worldbuilding. Love the characters. Love the pacing.

Could do with less fuckbuddy Romulan siblings though. The Borg cube plotline is the weakest part of the show. Although it was cute to see Narek and Soji do a little Risky Business dancing.

I literally clapped in glee at the end of this episode.
posted by Automocar at 12:25 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Now we’re really starting to see the cracks.

Picard knows, intellectually, that’s he’s a broken man. That he was so crushed by Starfleet’s failure to live up to his expectations that he simply gave up on his own principles - the ones he was demanding Starfleet adhere to. He’s a hypocrite and he knows it.

And yet. The second he finds himself back on a bridge, he slips so easily into the rhythms and manner of Jean Luc Picard, the greatest captain in Starfleet. He throws orders around, he expects his reputation to precede him (and is surprised every time it doesn’t). His own hubris trips him up at every turn.

His decision to withdraw into his own world, abandoning all the relationships he had forged and all the promises that he - personally, not Starfleet - had made, has had terrible consequences. He simply hasn’t grokked it until now.

But even so, he remains resentful that the world refused to bend to his idealism, even though he abdicated all responsibility for making it happen.

It’s brave writing for so beloved a character and I fucking love it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:22 PM on February 13 [43 favorites]


Love it. So nice to see a crew on a ship having adventures and cracking jokes. Everyone is gelling together and I can’t get enough of Dr. Agnes’ humour.

Decent space battle made all the better by that slicin’ action - and that next ep preview? Let a thousand gifs bloom!
posted by adrianhon at 1:36 PM on February 13


His own hubris trips him up at every turn.

That's why when the Admiral in episode two accused him of "fucking hubris" it was so perfectly in keeping with his character. I never thought of him like that, but it's so true. Chabon is really digging into Jean-Luc in a beautiful way.

This show keeps getting better and better.
posted by crossoverman at 1:37 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


It also has Shakespearian overtones, a little King Lear...
posted by Oyéah at 1:48 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


That's why when the Admiral in episode two accused him of "fucking hubris" it was so perfectly in keeping with his character.

He still thought, somehow, that Starfleet deeply regretted that they had disappointed him and that they parted on bad terms, and they would do anything to make it up to him. Hubris indeed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:19 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I also found this to be a stronger episode than some of the prior ones.

One standout reason: I expected to find Space-Legolas, and the elaborate justification necessary to bring him into this story, to be corny and clunky and weak. Instead, I found myself a little bit moved. The whole business had overtones of the TNG with the human kid raised by Talarians who imprints on Picard but then tries to kill him. And yet JL (not sorry) seems, judging by Space Nun's assessment, to have learned a few things about dealing with young warrior boys. Just not enough.

I also thought making a Romulan splinter philosophy based on "absolute candor" was some dynamite, chef's-kiss worldbuilding…the type of thing I wish I'd come up with for the Trek RPG campaigns I gamemastered.

I just hope Seven doesn't hate on Picard too much. I kind of expect it, based on contemporary-TV-writing factors, but I hope not. He needs some friends on this show.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:50 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


Yeah, the absolute candor thing will probably be exhibit A in just how much Chabon gets Trek.
posted by Automocar at 3:03 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


When Dr. Agnes uttered the word Festschrift, my partner and I exchanged a nod. Truly, this show has writers worthy of Picard.
posted by adrianhon at 3:18 PM on February 13 [8 favorites]


When he took down the "Romulans only" sign then went in there saying "Hello" in Romulan I almost threw something at the screen. What are you hoping to accomplish, JL?!

I'm really digging this show.. the only thing I don't enjoy is Romulus Bolton and his sleazy sister running their game on Soji--it's just so sordid I want to get far away from them. I can't tell if they're building to a Heel-Face turn there with the scenes between him and Soji or if this is 1,000% manipulation.
posted by yonega at 3:35 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


When he took down the "Romulans only" sign then went in there saying "Hello" in Romulan I almost threw something at the screen. What are you hoping to accomplish, JL?!

He's become Don Quixote - he's tilting at the windmill of peace in the galaxy between all races. And damned be the consequences.

That's why Space Legolas signed on - the cause wasn't saving one girl, it's saving the galaxy. From itself.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:34 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]


I damn near stood up and applauded after this episode. This is so well done. The writing is superb. These sets are GORGEOUS. The character work is so goddamned intricate, and the world building... y'all, I love it. I hope this show doesn't break my heart.

Did anyone else catch the quip about how the captain "prefers to keep his own company"? Heh.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:28 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Totally agreed this episode was banging. The pacing.. so good. The ensemble cast meshed seamlessly, something every previous Star Trek usually takes a whole season to get to. Space fights! Sword fights! Rios talking to himself in Spanish! It's Picard and his serious history that grounds all the fun and keeps it from being silly. He's so sincere, and so frustrated at how he is diminished in his late life. Now I get why they hung this new show on him, and I like how they're doing it.

I'm in awe of all the production design for Vashti. They owe a bit to Firefly, and a bit more to 70s Kung Fu movies but then it all comes together and becomes one of the best realized alien towns I've ever seen in Star Trek. I think producing Romulan culture must be particularly fraught for the TV crew. We don't see much of the Romulans in past Treks and what we do is very inconsistent and two dimensional. Those silly quilted triangular jackets. So Picard just goes off full bore and set up writing systems, religion, cults of warrior nuns. Good stuff.

In case anyone missed it, the Absolute Candor thing seems to be a sci-fi version of Radical Candor / Radical Honesty, a trendy management philosophy that has had some small impact in the Bay Area tech industry. As Dr. Agnes notes, it's kind of annoying.

When he took down the "Romulans only" sign then went in there saying "Hello" in Romulan I almost threw something at the screen. What are you hoping to accomplish, JL?!

Picard's enjoying a little trolling! He knows he's gonna be beamed out in seven minutes. So he goes and causes a little trouble and figures the transporter will yoink him out before things go too wrong. Either that or he had an inkling Space Legolas was going to come around afterall. Speaking of which, Picard got awfully pissy with the kid for saving his life. Sure, the yellow-blooded decapitation was a bit severe. But you can't go hiring Shaolin Monks and then get mad when they get up to a little kung fu.

Also while Elnor may be Space Legolas, Narissa is definitely Mirror Universe Galadriel. I can't wait for the transporter accident episode where we get to go to Rivendell.
posted by Nelson at 6:40 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Romulus Bolton and his sleazy sister

Per Automocar's comment above, I'm trying out Space Lannisters, although I'm actually really hoping that they don't go there, because eww.

Also, yes, great episode. I loved the appearance of the oldskool Bird of Prey, especially because I've been playing Star Trek Online more recently, and redid my Romulan characters, maybe inspired a bit by this show; the starting ship is a Romulan BoP. (STO takes place at about the time of this show; it's been around for a decade now, and thus has gone in some different directions--the opposing post-supernova Romulan factions are the Romulan Republic and a claimant to the Star Empire, headed by Sela, Denise Crosby's post-Tasha TNG character, for example--but it's still neat to see the occasional concordance between the two.) Also loved the Qowat Milat; I wonder if they were maybe inspired by this.

And, yes, finally Seven. (Jeri Ryan makes an appearance in STO as her modern version, along with Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham.) Really looking forward to next week's Space Vegas outing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:52 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


It's really odd but cool to be rewatching TNG first season alongside this.

I thought Elnor's come around could have been more convincing...he was rightfully pissed but clearly needed a ticket out...I would have expected him to have more Candor about that.
posted by emjaybee at 6:54 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see this show directly tackling the old Star Trek trope of ending every episode by warping away while assuming everything on the planet you're leaving will stay exactly as rosy as it was when you beamed up to your ship right after Solving All Their Problems.

And I do agree that this show's writers have got Picard's number, as far as picking apart his flaws. And certainly he deserves a little comeuppance. But while this was a great episode, it also felt like the most pessimistic episode we've had yet, and I hope the writers don't get so caught up in the joys of Deconstructing Picard that they forget to hold on to some legitimate optimism.

I just hope Seven doesn't hate on Picard too much. I kind of expect it, based on contemporary-TV-writing factors, but I hope not. He needs some friends on this show.

Yeah, this. Picard may deserve a little humble pie but he also doesn't need to just be everybody's emotional punching bag (including his own) for the whole season.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:31 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I understand peoples' frustrations with the series, but I am really liking it so far. For one thing, I can't think of any other TV show that has ever had a Pulitzer prize winner as a showrunner and head writer (maybe Paddy Chayefsky, but that was decades ago). So that's going to be an interesting experience to watch, if nothing else. I mostly agree with Chabon's themes and love how the adoration of Picard's arrogance in TNG is rightfully reexamined decades later for its negative impacts. I really dig His thoughts were red thoughts's broken man imagery-- that is exactly the metaphor I was reaching for but couldn't quite vocalize yet. And "Romulan Bolton"-- comedy genius. I don't think I am going to be able to call the character anything else from now on.
posted by seasparrow at 7:38 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


*blush*
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:43 PM on February 13


I agree this episode was very good. So much so, that I thought that maybe Chabon had written this one but not the others (I'd noticed the writer credit) but, nope, he's credited as writer on all of these so far.

But this was just solid all the way through.

Jeri Ryan is just a few years younger than me, which I was happy to discover because I've been feeling very old lately and wow. I haven't really seen her in anything since VOY.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:55 PM on February 13


Space... Lothlorien? Space... Legolas? hmmm

“Can’t even take a guilt trip without a spaceship”, lol
posted by mwhybark at 7:56 PM on February 13 [5 favorites]


All the good meaty points have been raised and i'm in agreement, so a couple of lighthearted ones:

- this show is basically Santiago Cabrera's audition reel for the foreseeable future and I'm loving it.
- dragon fruit! Ha! once again, southeast asian food as stand-in for alien life! I cracked up. One day I'm going to produce a sci fi show, and I'll dress the set with raspberries and rhubarb and poutine.
posted by cendawanita at 8:21 PM on February 13 [19 favorites]


Lotta books in this here episode, btw. Rios (and the camera) already told us the title of his in a prior episode. For specific, personal, synchronistic reasons, I kinda wish it was a copy of Aniara, but that would really be pushing things too far in-universe, I think, and Spock knows I’d be overspeculating like a nutcase.
posted by mwhybark at 8:26 PM on February 13


Elnor, not to be confused with Elrond. With any luck Chabon will make an Elric joke even.

I had a metathought about these here and that specific Space Elf and Elves, and that is: Patrick Stewart is dear pals with Ian McKellen, and there would seem to be possibilities for many a metachuckle about Picard’s Quest here.
posted by mwhybark at 8:29 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Dad really liked seeing the old BOP and me and mom cheered very loudly at Seven. If you think of Romulans as cousins to Vulcans the Absolute Candor thing makes sense, Vulcans dealt with their strong emotions by suppressing them, while Romulans developed their own methods of control with secrecy. The Nuns have a philosophy of embracing the emotion but controlling it by naming it! The sets continue to be just fucking gorgeous.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:41 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


the bit where patrick stewart goes back to brexit england after time in hollywood is a tough watch
posted by lalochezia at 8:50 PM on February 13 [10 favorites]


This was indeed a good Star Trek vintage. I also exclaimed aloud when Seven of Nine beamed in.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:46 AM on February 14


I wonder if Seven is going to have any sort of reaction to the various emergency holograms? That could be a nice touch.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:34 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


I too was worried how they'd justify a stopover to pick up a Romulan Swordsman but they really nailed it. The instant JL gets a starship again he's picking up the quest to save the galaxy right where he left off. I'm loving how this show has done more for Romulan culture than the 50 years of Star Trek that preceded it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:26 AM on February 14 [6 favorites]


I too thought that I would hate Space Legolas, but I love him. I also love the Space Lannisters, despite the cheese, and I love Rios' collection of copy & paste emergency holograms with different accents.

Sela would be an interesting character to bring back, given the focus on Romulans.
posted by confluency at 7:33 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Is anyone else seeing political overtones of what exactly it is one does when a nation organization has begun to fall from its ideals and whether in fact resigning and refusing to be complicit with the Trump administration organization in question or staying and using your influence to temper the slide into white nationalism xenophobia is the best practice?
posted by corb at 8:41 AM on February 14 [10 favorites]


I'm going with RomuLannisters.
posted by cooker girl at 9:15 AM on February 14 [10 favorites]


Is anyone else seeing political overtones of what exactly it is one does …

Yes, and also how one's amount of hubris can affect all of this.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:51 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Picard should have written an anonymous op-ed assuring everyone he is the resistance inside Starfleet and he will keep the worst of the xenophobia at bay.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:25 AM on February 14 [15 favorites]


RomuLegolas, yes yes of course, thank you
posted by mwhybark at 10:27 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


RomuNuns
posted by mwhybark at 10:29 AM on February 14 [4 favorites]


(books)

Captain Rios’ book is The Tragic Sense of Life, by Miguel de Unamuno. Why he’s reading it in an English translation is one of the imponderables one encounters from time to time, one must accept.

The book on the table or desk in Chateau HoloPicard is shot with a very shallow depth of field. It is in French. Only the last few sentences of each page are partially legible. Three character names appear, M. de la Vuelgas, Maurice Martí, and someone named Claude. It is difficult to determine their relationship and actions due to the partial legibility of the sentences. My Google-fu has not yielded any clear results.

Given the appearance of The Three Musketeers in the episode, it’s not outlandish to guess that this may be a book by Dumas.
posted by mwhybark at 11:00 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


My Google Fu comes up with Cristal Fèlé (Literal translation “Cracked Crystal”), by Jules Ricard.
posted by cardboard at 1:27 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed the episode but especially appreciated that the actor that plays Space Legolas is from Australia (Melbourne, no less!) and Maori!
posted by liquorice at 2:20 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]



I really enjoyed the episode but especially appreciated that the actor that plays Space Legolas is from Australia (Melbourne, no less!) and Maori!


And he gets to keep his accent!

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Seven knows how to make an entrance
posted by coriolisdave at 3:31 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


My Google Fu comes up with Cristal Fèlé

C’est exacte! Merci!
posted by mwhybark at 3:52 PM on February 14


Ok, so no-one else watched this and went "there bloom a thousand BDSM and incest fic on A03?" Just me.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:38 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Is the hopeless cause Elnor bound himself to finding and saving Soji or Picard?
posted by Constance Mirabella at 6:54 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Picard, because we all know he’s not going to make it back to the vineyard this time.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


His name is Slicey Boi
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:33 AM on February 15 [18 favorites]


I think the Romulan little brother is his big sister's victim, she has lousy boundaries of course she will pay. Romulans are skirting their true history. Soji's techelepathy and maybe Seven of Nine's past will bring this into uncomfortable focus, revealing the true history of their android hatred.

Good morning plastic people, extraordinary cruelty.
posted by Oyéah at 2:55 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


the ships captain is also a hologram. they are all holograms. Bickering, silly holograms.
posted by rebent at 7:30 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Is the Romulan dislike for synthetic life a new thing in this series, or is it canon of olde? I’m gonna steel myself in anticipation that the penultimate episode gives us a big revelation about the Romulans big dark secret, and it’s something sweeping and silly, like the Romulans created the Borg, or the Romulans are all synthetic life forms, or Data masterminded the synth attack on Mars because he’s trying out a new emotion chip and things got out of hand.

But mostly I just enjoy spending some new time with Captain Picard. Growing up with TNG, he feels like the father figure I never disappointed :)
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:17 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


When he took down the "Romulans only" sign then went in there saying "Hello" in Romulan I almost threw something at the screen. What are you hoping to accomplish, JL

I assumed that he was stirring up shit because he knew Elnor would step in and save him, and then agree to go with him.

also, the costume design is flawless - understated with amazing spacey details to make the clothes futuristic without being weird-for-weird's sake.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:54 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Jolan Tru. Jolan Tru??? Jolan Tru! Jolan Tru...
posted by Automocar at 11:15 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Is the Romulan dislike for synthetic life a new thing in this series

all brandspanking nucanon, and somewhat challenged by old canon. My take is just go with it for now and later eviscerate if needed.
posted by mwhybark at 11:36 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


This recap vid goes into (among other episode aspects) the Romulan fear of an ancient AI being likely why they’re after Data’s kids
posted by Burhanistan at 11:49 PM on February 15


Picard's hubris - and imperiousness - this is probably the worst fate he could envision himself, like in 'All Good Things' as the senile farmer.

That he lacks self awareness.

Was down a youtube hole;

"I will always be Shinzon of Remus and my voice will echo in time long after yours has faded!. In dim memory."
posted by porpoise at 4:03 AM on February 16


Watched this again and it is still so rewarding. Some really nice touches.

Picard's linen suit and hat when he first beams down to Vasht is hilarious. He looks like a mix of a British gentleman going on safari and the evil German's desert uniform in Raiders of the Lost Ark. An imperial gentleman totally out of place. It's not entirely fair to Picard since he's trying to be better than that, but it instantly characterizes the dynamic of Starfleet going to help the Romulans.

The other instant characterization that's astonishing to me is the way the ragtag crew establishes relationships so, so quickly. Like within 3 minutes of screen time this episode all the characters have established their major tropes and the pecking order between them. Rios in some sense is too easy because he's such a caricature. Cigar, cowboy piloting, extreme competence masked by acting like he doesn't give a shit. Raffi also has a pretty easy time fitting in just because her personality is so big and she's so self-assured. It's Dr. Jurati who has the toughest time, but then the writers undo that by having her just blunder in everywhere and establishing herself. Interrupting Rios reading. Then popping into holoChateau. "Is this a.. secret meeting? Or.. am I technically part of the crew now?" You are now, and good for you and your disarming moxie.

But it's Raffi's reading of Picard in the holoChateau meeting that really astounded me on second watch. She goes from accusing him of being reckless, to crazy, to arrogant, to ignorant (simultaneously mocking Rios). Everyone chats for awhile, Picard defending his plan, then Raffi finally takes him aside and says "you realize your foolish side quest is really your guilt about Dahj, right?" My memory is that in TNG it was only Beverly who could read Picard that well, and she only did it in private and never undermined his authority with her insight. Raffi's much sterner and no bullshit and it's great. Interestingly, Picard just ignores her in the end and her concerns are noted and ignored. She's lost arguments to Picard before.

It's a talking head scene but it's written, acted, and filmed so well. Which means it was directed so well. I liked the first three episodes, directed by Culpepper. But this episode's got sparkle and I wonder if that's partly Jonathan Frakes' hand. He always impressed when he directed TNG episodes. He's directing the next episode too, curious to see if it is also so good.
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


Exactly. There's no coincidence in Picard's dress on Vasht or the "Romulan Social Club" behind him as he beams down, reminiscent of the British in India. To be honest I felt it was too heavy-handed but it made the point that this is a fundamentally a colonial endeavour: Starfleet saving the poor Romulans and giving up when the going gets tough.

Many (most?) Brits still think that the former Empire still loves them, just as Picard imagined he'd be greeted with open arms on his return to Vasht. Perhaps this show is just a step too far for the fans who I see complaining online that they don't get what the story is.
posted by adrianhon at 11:21 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


While I'm digging it, The Romulan:British Empire analogy only goes so far tho'.

Romulus was itself the centre of an expansionist empire, and portrayed as ultra-belligerent and easily the technical, tactical and strategic equal of the federation. That's a very different dynamic than the colonial one being analogized.

"The poor romulans" were about to be wiped out by a supernova....almost an OCP, to quote another franchise.
posted by lalochezia at 2:07 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Yeah I wouldn't try to cast the whole show in terms of the Romulan Empire being Space India. (Historically they've been Space Japan, right?) Just in this moment Picard is coming in a bit like an arrogant imperialist to spread wisdom and succor among the natives. Or at least, that's how the Romulans are starting to see it. Which much be doubly offensive to the Romulans, knowing how far they've fallen from their own imperial wealth and power. Mostly I admire the production team's skill in creating this whole backstory in literally less than 10 seconds of video, based entirely on the set and Picard's costume.

Also stuck out on second watching, the speech from Tenqem Andrev, the Romulan former Senator to Picard. About how mad he is at Picard and the Federation. needling Picard harder and harder. His complaint is kind of not making sense. Romulus was suffering a massive natural disaster and the Federation is there literally trying to save people's lives hours before their sun explodes. Have a little gratitude! Then he says
No one asked for your pity, Picard.

Just as no one asked for your help.

You and Starfleet had no understanding of Romulan ingenuity, resolve, self-sufficiency.

You took advantage of us at the very moment where we doubted ourselves, enticed us with your empty promises, and did everything in your power to scatter, confuse and divide us.
It's an interesting viewpoint. I have no idea if it's fair or realistic in the context of Romulus and the supernova and the Federation. And it's clearly influenced by the Federation's failure at the rescue (caused in large part because of their own artificial disaster). But I think I understand Andrev's pride. And I could see how it would grow and twist after fourteen years of abandonment on a shitty refugee camp world and manifest as murderous hatred to Picard, the symbolic cause of his degradation.
posted by Nelson at 2:40 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Popping in with another "I know that actor" moment, Dr. Jurati is played by Alison Pill who was Maggie in Newsroom.
posted by Marticus at 3:31 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wouldn’t argue there’s anything more than a surface similarity with British colonial India, although at the same time, the costume and set design was very striking in that regard.

I don’t know I fully understand how this situation unfolded. It doesn’t really add up to me, but I’m optimistic we’ll learn more, as we’ve have been for the last four episodes. I’ve seen some speculation, possibly here or Reddit or TrekBBS, that the Romulan Empire was on the verge of collapse previous to the supernova - perhaps the after effects of Nemesis, which might explain their dire strait and inability to evacuate from the supernova without Federation help.
posted by adrianhon at 3:57 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]



You and Starfleet had no understanding of Romulan ingenuity, resolve, self-sufficiency.

You took advantage of us at the very moment where we doubted ourselves, enticed us with your empty promises, and did everything in your power to scatter, confuse and divide us.


This comes across as classic nativist "we don't need no welfare state, we need a warrior caste and someone inferior (since we're feeling inferior) to aim it at".

Neither side looks good here, hubristic moralizing picard, or warlike, nativist romulans.....
posted by lalochezia at 3:59 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


It is also reminiscent of the interaction between the west and the former USSR and how they ended up feeling about the 90s.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:14 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


A lot of the dialogue is mumbly. I keep wondering if it's me, and then Patrick Stewart speaks up. It's not me, it's them.

Love "space Legolas"!
posted by zadcat at 6:33 PM on February 16


Rewatched this last night. “Man can’t even take a guilt trip without using a starship” is one of the finest lines to appear in Trek in 20 years.
posted by Automocar at 8:19 PM on February 16 [18 favorites]


Is the Romulan dislike for synthetic life a new thing in this series, or is it canon of olde? I’m gonna steel myself in anticipation that the penultimate episode gives us a big revelation about the Romulans big dark secret, and it’s something sweeping and silly, like the Romulans created the Borg,

I said the same thing to my wife while watching this episode...or maybe its secretly a sequel to the new Battlestar Galactica series and at the center of the Borg cube we find a Caprica-Six version of the Borg Queen.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:07 AM on February 17


or maybe its secretly a sequel to the new Battlestar Galactica series and at the center of the Borg cube we find a Caprica-Six version of the Borg Queen.

Nah the Borg are actually good at making plans. "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile." is a pretty tight mission statement.

Additionally NBC is launching a Galactica-universe series for its streaming service, Peacock. Not a re-re-boot, just set in the same universe.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:47 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


My prediction: Soji being "the destroyer" turns out to be some time-editing sweeping thing where she can change the past and repair the abandonment of the Romulans and thus Picard's angst about it. It will be a final gift to Picard from Data.
posted by zadcat at 9:34 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice Picard's costume on his first visit to Vashti as an allusion to René Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Belloq and Picard are both French, from prestigious winemaking families, and are into archeology; but Belloq works for the Nazis while Picard works for Starfleet. So I agree that in general this costume was the show is trying to put some tarnish on both Picard and Starfleet, telling us that in this timeline they haven't been living up the ideals we have known them for.

This is probably overthinking it because it seems a little heavy handed, but there might be a parallel between the Reichstag fire and the Synthetic uprising which Picard learns about while on Vashti in his unfortunate costume choice. The show told us in the first episode that Mars is still burning; there's no air on Mars, why would it be burning other than an excuse to put the fire imagery out there. Like the Reichstag fire, the uprising signals a turning point where Starfleet adopts a pro-genocide posture towards the Romulans by abandoning the evacuation. I'm also thinking it's plot foreshadowing; like the Reichstag fire, the Synthetic uprising will be shown to be an inside job. I'm guessing that we'll find out that it was planned and ordered by members of Star Fleet leadership (Admiral Clancy, Commodore Oh, obvs) to consolidate power and to demonize the Synthetics.

This all seems a bit over the top for this writing crew, but it's 2020 so a Nazi storyline parallel might be intentional. We're already past the typical evil Starfleet admiral trope, so why not?
posted by peeedro at 10:02 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


This is probably overthinking it because it seems a little heavy handed, but there might be a parallel between the Reichstag fire and the Synthetic uprising

I had a similar thought actually. except mine was "MARS was an inside job!! Wake Up SHEEPLE!"
posted by some loser at 7:02 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


which I would have seen you say a little further down in your comment had I read it all before replying. sigh
posted by some loser at 7:15 AM on February 18


(There's no consensus that the Reichstag fire was an inside job. The exact details are still a greatly disputed and uncertain bit of history.)
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on February 18


The show told us in the first episode that Mars is still burning; there's no air on Mars, why would it be burning other than an excuse to put the fire imagery out there.

2020... meet 2399.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:30 PM on February 18


I have to say that although I get that Chabon & company are interested in examining currently-political themes like xenophobia and the like, it is really hard to buy Picard as someone who would have abandoned a mentee, stopped communicating with people he had committed to serve, and just gave up entirely on the rescue of people faced with complete obliteration. I get the themes, but the characterization seems, well, hard to buy.

I also have a hard time with the idea that Starfleet = the Federation. If Starfleet found itself unable to provide support to the Romulans because of the attack on Mars, where were the rest of the Federation? There are hundreds of member planets: why didn't they make an effort to help rescue the Romulans?

The stuff on the Borg cube is both dull and (visually) gray. The characters are uninteresting and I would rather go back to the Trill doctor they introduced in the very beginning.

I dunno: I'm interested in it because it's Trek, and I like Stewart, but I'm frustrated by the many issues with the world-building and the characterizations.
posted by suelac at 9:21 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


If Starfleet found itself unable to provide support to the Romulans because of the attack on Mars, where were the rest of the Federation?

Their 10,000 ships got blown up. They didn't have time to build more before Romulus got blown up.

Numerous (at least 14) member races didn't want to save the Romulans, so the ships blowing up gave them a convenient pretext to let them all die.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:02 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


it is really hard to buy Picard as someone who would have abandoned a mentee, stopped communicating with people he had committed to serve, and just gave up entirely on the rescue of people faced with complete obliteration

People get old, and they get tired. The sharp idealism of younger days gets dulled after cutting against the hard face of reality over and over again.

TNG Picard's idealism and moral clarity is invigorating to watch, but exhausting to consider. Of all the ways this show could have characterized elderly Picard, this one surprises me the least.
posted by rocketman at 7:52 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


it is really hard to buy Picard as someone who would have abandoned a mentee, stopped communicating with people he had committed to serve, and just gave up entirely on the rescue of people faced with complete obliteration

I read this as a kind of meta-commentary on TNG generally: isn't failing to follow up with people a recurring theme of Star Trek's episode-of-the-week format? How many world-shattering crises did Picard hand-off to Starfleet or the Federation over the course of the show?

TNG itself played around with this: consider that Hugh's relationship to the Enterprise crew between I, Borg and Descent is, partly, 'how could you send me off into the void of space and just hope that things worked out?' Likewise, DS9 touched a bit on how TNG really contextualized Picard's Borg Trauma as an inward thing: the show gives us Picard healing himself at a winery, not Picard confronting the families of those who -- as Locutus -- he, unwillingly, harmed (while DS9 goes there with Sisko).

Or, consider Picard's speech to Wesley about duty:
The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based. And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!
Picard, as a show, is posing what I think is a fascinating question: how much of Picard's self-identity and driving force is wrapped up in his dedication to Starfleet? What does he see his duty as a person as opposed to his duty as an officer? And the answer it is so far teasing out -- which I think does track well from TNG -- is that he is both an idealist and an institutionalist; his self is deeply wrapped up is his work. Starfleet failing to live up to that idealism led him to a personal crisis of self-identity, a crisis that he's still working through (how easily he slips again into being a captain on the bridge!), and he is -- finally! -- finding a voice and a drive for himself as a person separate from his work.
posted by cjelli at 8:52 AM on February 20 [8 favorites]


I loved the *story* here. Chabon's worldbuilding within the existing ST universe is gorgeous, and his love of the franchise shines through in every minute.

I was... unsettled by the cinematography, though. The first 10ish minutes felt very oddly clipped; almost jerky, with lots of short cuts, especially with Picard's dialogue. Also, the lighting up through the title sequence seemed harsher than normal. All of the sets looked like... sets. Obvious sets.

I cheered for the Bird of Prey; my girlfriend gasped and clapped for Seven.
posted by hanov3r at 11:44 AM on February 21


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