Star Trek: Picard: The Impossible Box
February 27, 2020 12:08 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

(IMDB) Picard and the crew track Soji to the Borg cube in Romulan space, resurfacing haunting memories for Picard. Meanwhile, Narek believes he finally found a way to safely exploit Soji for information.

Posting as light-minute quickly as possible, no further data could be returned from the library computer on initial scans. Perhaps the redoubtable Cheeses of Brazil will have higher resolution on the next pass through the databanks.
posted by mwhybark (74 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay, they better not kill off Elnor.

I was struck by the thought, watching this episode and the past two, that there are lot of metaphors that resonate with my feelings about America, the rise of Isul in iraq and syria, and the plight of non sunni people under them.

Which makes the Romulans Sunni I guess, and the borg Shia? it's an imperfect metaphor, but isolationism leading to the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance leading to rising nationalism and violence feels like a theme they are exploring, while also being intensily critical of the idea of the great white savior (Picard described as ego and rampaging id, beautiful).
posted by gryftir at 2:16 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


The spatial trajector developed by the Sikarians was the chief plot point of the Voyager episode "Prime Factors" (previously discussed on FanFare here). I'm not shocked to see it here; since it's basically as powerful as Iconian gateways, it's prime fodder for a Picard ex machina story beat. I'm pretty sure I used them for a whole story arc in one of my post-Voyager Trek RPG campaigns.

Great to see more of Hugh, and some interesting Rios character stuff, though I half-expected Jurati to have been making out with one of his holograms all along—the Emergency Football Hologram? "Please state the nature of the GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL" (Sorry, I am American. GOOOOOAL is the only thing I know about soccer.) Honestly, I might have preferred if that whole scene had been a fakeout for a gag, because as it is, Jurati jumping his bones feels pretty sudden.

The Soji stuff here was all pretty predictable, and bordered on silly with Narek being her 1960s-B-movie-style evil-hypnotist, but at least the tiresome Narek-Narissa scenes are done now.

isolationism leading to the withdrawal of humanitarian assistance leading to rising nationalism and violence feels like a theme they are exploring, while also being intensily critical of the idea of the great white savior

I don't think that's too much of a reach, but, like the plight of the Bajorans in late TNG/early DS9, the writers may not have had a specific Earth geopolitical situation in mind, despite strong parallels to something specific.

Along those lines, I predict/hope that Hugh's reference to xBs being oppressed by Romulans will mean that, later in this story arc, the dramatic thrust of the series will be less about Soong-type-River-Tam and more about Picard somehow working to liberate xBs—doing the unpopular but morally right thing. OTOH, with our heroes leaving the Artifact behind them, the show may in fact not end up developing Hugh and the xBs much further.

Trek Nerd Nitpick Warning
The TNG-era Romulan rank of "subcommander" was about equivalent to a Starfleet commander. For a guy of that rank to be on Meditation-Room Guard Duty seems strange, Narek's remark about them usually being smart notwithstanding, unless Romulans (or these Romulans) dramatically restructured the meanings of their ranks in the intervening years.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:02 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


The background announcement as Picard and Hugh entered Soji's quarters warned people that certain sectors of the Artifact were closed due to chronometric radiation, something that suggests time travel or other time shenanigans are in use.

It seems late in the season to introduce that as a plot element when it hasn't been hinted at before. But if it was just technobabble for the sake of atmosphere, there are any number of less... portentous... types of radiation which could have been mentioned.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:36 AM on February 27 [12 favorites]


This might have been the first Picard episode I actually enjoyed. Yes, Emo Ben Wishaw's villain-ey thing was a little cartooney, but Space Legolas got some quality screen time and more importantly, Picard reuniting with Hugh was the best.
posted by KTamas at 2:30 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


It leaves room for Space Legolas to remove some Romulan sibling's heads. Though, I hated him staying behind, it made no sense to me.
posted by Oyéah at 3:13 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Though, I hated him staying behind, it made no sense to me.

I think, based on a line of dialogue, that Hugh was worried about the Romulans destroying the transporter device. But yeah, it wasn’t very clear.

I thought this was the weakest episode of the season. I loved all the character stuff though. Loved it.
posted by Automocar at 3:18 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Felt a little slow at times, but otherwise I loved it. Touching to see Picard praise Hugh’s work with the XBs, and for Hugh to be so proud and happy.
posted by adrianhon at 4:36 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Also, don’t get your hopes up, but someone on Reddit pointed out Soji’s dad looks a little like... Bashir!
posted by adrianhon at 4:37 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Look, I'm just disappointed nobody's squee-ed about The Adventures of Flotter lunchbox yet.
posted by danhon at 5:14 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Welp, Raffi is off the wagon.

It is very unfair of Rios to be so hot and understanding.

There's sure a lot more obvious Doing It in this version of ST and I'm ok with it but also mildly embarrassed. Like hearing your parents talk about sex.

I wonder if Narek told her his true Real Name or just made one up?

Aww I love Hugh and all the XBs.

Again, enjoying the Romulan Cultural details, that's some cool meditation practice there.
posted by emjaybee at 6:23 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


It felt a little like Raffi was using her Super Junkie Powers, manipulating a friend into giving her what she needed. With that in mind, the applause afterward (as she stumbled off, looking disgusted with herself) was... troubling.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:39 PM on February 27 [22 favorites]


Picard reuniting with Hugh was the best.

No disagreement here.

I think, based on a line of dialogue, that Hugh was worried about the Romulans destroying the transporter device. But yeah, it wasn’t very clear.


Hugh wasn't worried about the Romulans destroying the device, he was worried that if the Romulans arrived on the scene too quickly they'd be able to track where they'd used the device to go.

Of course I'm not sure what's supposed to stop the Romulans from tracking Rios' ship, and they'll definitely know that Picard talked to the ship right before vanishing, so...definitely doesn't feel like something that's worth Elnor's life (as much as I'm glad he got something to do). Or Hugh's! But I'd like to think that Hugh has some sort of...well, not diplomatic immunity but "protected status", if nothing else, due to the fact that you wouldn't want to kill the #1 XB on a borg cube full of XBs and not-so-X-still-quite-Bs.

Sidenote: now that they've directly raised the issue of there being a Borg Queen on this cube at least at some point, and made it clear she had an emergency escape hatch, I do have to wonder where said Queen is now.

Trek Nerd Nitpick Warning
The TNG-era Romulan rank of "subcommander" was about equivalent to a Starfleet commander. For a guy of that rank to be on Meditation-Room Guard Duty seems strange, Narek's remark about them usually being smart notwithstanding, unless Romulans (or these Romulans) dramatically restructured the meanings of their ranks in the intervening years.


If I were inclined to be forgiving - and moreso than last week, this episode has me in the mood to be forgiving - I would speculate that the Reclamation Project is a relatively highly-restricted, high-security-clearance-required type of project for the Romulans (given how tight a rein they seem to keep on who's allowed in and out, and on monitoring comms, that seems pretty well supported); given that, subcommander might be pretty close to the minimum rank that even gets you allowed on the cube in the first place. They're not about to let random grunts in, but somebody's still gotta do the crappy jobs.
posted by mstokes650 at 6:42 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


I think, based on a line of dialogue, that Hugh was worried about the Romulans destroying the transporter device. But yeah, it wasn’t very clear.

It felt like Hugh was worried that the Romulans would discover the spatial trajector, discover where Picard and Soji went, and directly or indirectly go after them.

jynx!
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:43 PM on February 27


...because as it is, Jurati jumping his bones feels pretty sudden...

Hmm, how to put this delicately? One of the things we've learned over the last 20 years as large numbers female service members are serving in combat is that for some people, the trauma of that experience can lead to very intense emotions, which some people deal with by engaging in sexual activity. In Iraq we even had a name for it, "emergency sex."

That option just wasn't available for most people in earlier wars when combat-facing jobs were restricted to men.

So, it didn't seem sudden to me. I've seen that reaction in people before who have been in combat and have the certain knowledge that they have taken a life. I'm not attaching any judgement to it. PTSD vets have a saying, "this is your body's natural reaction to unnatural conditions." But it definitely happens.
posted by seasparrow at 7:20 PM on February 27 [17 favorites]


Gotta love deep shoutouts to story elements from early Voyager.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:51 PM on February 27 [2 favorites]


WRT the thing about the subcommander, my interpretation of the whole thing about the Zhal Mahk (the Memory Alpha article seems to be filled out pretty well by now, BTW) being forbidden to "round ears" (little space racism for ya there) is that it's probably one of the closest things that Romulans have to church, and the subcommander watching over the meditation spaces may be the equivalent of some army major volunteering to be a deacon at his church.

I thought that this was a pretty good advancing-the-pieces episode, with Soji approaching the truth pretty closely, Picard finally catching up to her, and both them and Narissa having some idea of where the Secret Android Planet is. A pretty good mix of canon/easter eggs (I kept peering at fake-young Soji's stuffed animal to see if it was a mugato or Toby the Targ or something, but no such luck), and new things such as the Zhal Mahk and the Rubik's Cubetan zhekran. I know (or hope) that the whole thing about "RomuLannisters" was supposed to be a joke, but in some ways, Narissa really does seem like Cersei--mostly ambition and ruthlessness--with Narek being a sort of combo of Jaime and Tyrion, for the brains. The preview for next week showed her looking to torture Hugh; I hope that they don't go too far down that road. And, of course, Space Legolas/Kiwi murder cinnamon roll continues to cement his standing as breakout new character.

Finally, WRT Bashir being Soji's "dad"/creator/whatever, I'm kinda hoping not, if only because I still want Bashir and Garak to make an appearance as an old, bickering married couple. Just don't let Andrew Robinson near the Lemarchand Configurationtan zhekran, just in case.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:55 PM on February 27 [6 favorites]


Picard's magnitude of his revelation that the XB are victims (and equating them with The Borg) is oddly understated, and reuniting with Hugh essentially "fixes" him feels way too much like how "mental illness" in fiction is typically handled (qv Firefly and River Tam).

directly raised the issue of there being a Borg Queen on this cube

I read that differently... Hugh was making a "joke" saying that the "Borg Queen" is now a Romulan - implying some sort of Romulan-centric extraordinary sympathy to XBs and that they now have a Romulan patron.

An alternate take on Romulans hating robots; is there an ulterior motive to helping XBs?

Hugh staying behind, I can get (alter the transmission logs afterwards, sabotaging the equipment, etc.), but Elnor staying behind is odd. If Elnor said something about protecting and extracting Hugh after he's done, or buying time for him to trash the logs - fine. But, just to make sure Picard gets out of there? Doesn't completely compute.

They then just walk away from the super transporter and start closing the door to it (and say something about hiding it again). Is the plan just to kill all the Romulans and re-conceal the room?

Did Hugh even tried to scrub the logs?

So, I'm doubtful Elnore gets fridged. Maybe the "good" Romulans confront the "Bad" Romulans? Anyway, messy.
posted by porpoise at 7:57 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


I read that differently... Hugh was making a "joke" saying that the "Borg Queen" is now a Romulan - implying some sort of Romulan-centric extraordinary sympathy to XBs and that they now have a Romulan patron.

That's not the point in the episode I was referring to - that part was definitely a joke - but the secret room with the secret emergency teleportation gate is recognized by Picard as being "the Queen's cell" which prompts a brief discussion between Hugh and Picard about how they can still remember stuff from their time in the Collective that they have no first-hand-knowledge of.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:21 PM on February 27 [5 favorites]


I’m reasonably confident that Chabon read Zelazny as a kid, because that was a Pattern walk. I had hoped to find him talking about Amber someplace on the web, but no dice. I did not think to check in the moment, but surely Soji did not put her shoes back on. Hope they have replicators on Nepenthe!

That’s not Bashir! It’s quite obviously Geppetto.

Shoes off and left behind in a gas, excuse me, purple radioactive cloud chamber. Got it, not hard to read.
posted by mwhybark at 8:39 PM on February 27 [7 favorites]


Yeah- This was nice. I liked the cuts back and forth to past borg stuff- and you know what, as Ben and Adam have been saying on the Greatest Discovery, this series so far has been a lot of Picard (rightfully) in the ball kicking machine. But Hugh- he was unabashedly happy to see him, and that was because he remembered the old Picard. And now- I think- so is Picard. I don't think the dad is Bashir- I think the dad didn't exist that's why the face was blank- the mom was an AI- either she has buried memories of Maddox or none at all. I wonder when the EMH is going to pop up and finger Juradi for the murder? RIKER NEXT WEEK WHOOOOOO! Also the last line- "choose to live" made my mother straight up guffaw. Go murder elf go!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:40 PM on February 27 [8 favorites]


"the Queen's cell"

Not trying to fight, maybe I remembered differently, but didn't the Alice Krige-played Borg Queen get totally pwned by Data in 'First Contact?'
posted by porpoise at 10:21 PM on February 27


mwhybark - Pattern walk

Interesting!

I didn't twig on it, but the increasing (geometrically, exponentially, whatever - but there's a difference) difficulty aspect jives.And using it to approach "reality."

Been seriously wanting to see a good rendition of a Pattern Walk but don't expect anything close to my mind's eye, to be funded at least.

A manga treatment instead of live action with CG might do, though. A large part of a lot of manga is automated through CG, but much less demanding CG than live action.
posted by porpoise at 10:28 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


So... the "now our queen is a Romulan" might be a reference to the gender of the current Romulan head of state- in the books the Romulan star empire splintered after Nemesis and the leaders of the two Romulan factions were both women. Donatra and Tal'Aura. And of course, there's always Sela. So what I'm saying is that might be a literal depiction of the current Romulan political situation. (please be Sela please be Sela please be Sela...)
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:10 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Oh and the other potential Female Romulan Leader according to extended canon is Taris. Uh... Place your bets?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:13 PM on February 27


My interpretation of the existence of the Queen's cell is that every cube has one, on the off chance that the Queen wants to be on that cube.
posted by ckape at 5:42 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


I kind of think Narek’s telling Soji that she’s not real is more for himself than for her.

Also I think the sub commander was a plant - otherwise he would have presumably looked more surprised when Narek was trying to kill Soji in there.
posted by corb at 6:25 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Also I think the sub commander was a plant - otherwise he would have presumably looked more surprised when Narek was trying to kill Soji in there.

I think the guard knew Narek is Tal Shiar (well, Zhat Vash, but he probably doesn't know that) and wasn't surprised because Tal Shiar are always trying to murder someone.
posted by Automocar at 7:04 AM on February 28 [13 favorites]


Picard's magnitude of his revelation that the XB are victims (and equating them with The Borg) is oddly understated, and reuniting with Hugh essentially "fixes" him feels way too much like how "mental illness" in fiction is typically handled (qv Firefly and River Tam).

To me this is Picard having very conflicting feelings about the Borg, and it's pretty consistent with his history. Picard despises the Borg as a race, but very much feels a kinship with the individuals that were assimilated.

I found it very realistic that calmed-down, rational diplomat Picard loved the humanitarian mission, while panic-stricken Picard is talking about the Borg cancer. Hugh bridged him between those two modes, and you even saw Picard taking time to work through the transition with lines like "How can you stand it?"
posted by bfranklin at 8:39 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


Pattern

In 2016 Skybound, a production company associated with Robert Kirkman, announced a development project for Amber, and (per Wikipedia) in 2017 a relationship with Prime was announced but no further news seems to be available. Zelazny’s estate has actively interfered with keeping his material in print since his death, so possibly that is a contributing factor to delays here.
posted by mwhybark at 9:55 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Not trying to fight, maybe I remembered differently, but didn't the Alice Krige-played Borg Queen get totally pwned by Data in 'First Contact?'

Given how the Queen shows up again in Voyager after the events of First Contact, my headcanon is there is no specific Queen of the Borg that can be killed. Either she's a disembodied manifestation of the collective that doesn't strictly need a body or if she dies the collective can create a new queen.

Personally I believe there wasn't even a Queen before the Borg assimilated Picard. The Borg did so because A) They wanted useful intel on Federation capabilities and tactics and B) They wanted to use Picard as a spokesperson. After the Enterprise rescued Picard the idea of having a single voice that speaks for all was something the collective assimilated, and so they started making Queens that could speak and act as individuals when the need arose.

From the Doylist perspective, Locutus and the Borg Queen both exist because the writers were having a hard time making the faceless Borg interesting villains. "There's a bunch of Borg in engineering and we need to clear them out" is a lot less compelling a movie plot than "There's this evil Borg lady in the engine room and she's playing against our heroes in an interesting way"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:20 AM on February 28 [21 favorites]


Soji: Romulans have a name for outsiders, and a name for family, but your true name you save for the one you give your heart to.

My spouse: ROMULANS ARE JELLICLE CATS?!
posted by kyrademon at 11:25 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Faceless, impersonal Borg were genuinely scary. The Queen nonsense just let all the air out of that menace, turned it into sexual-tension-enemy in the way sci-fi often wears its creepy maladjusted mansplaining heart on its sleeve, and proved that, once again, non-beekeepers are desperately ignorant about how bees and hives work. Oy vey.
posted by sonascope at 1:33 PM on February 28 [24 favorites]


My spouse: ROMULANS ARE JELLICLE CATS?!

Narek is absolutely a Jellicle Cat.
posted by corb at 2:41 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


and she's playing against our heroes in an interesting way

fie on that! Writers’ laziness entirely and a compleat failure of imagination.

There was never a Borg Queen, she is an imperialist construct. No diss on Alice Krige, big diss on lazy-ass TrekBro baloney.
posted by mwhybark at 3:35 PM on February 28


Not, Mr. Encyclopedia, that your statements contain any sourceless errors of fact.
posted by mwhybark at 3:36 PM on February 28


I thought it was strongly implied in past episodes that Maddox created the fleshdroid twins? So l figure it follows then that her father looks like Maddox?
posted by some loser at 6:10 PM on February 28


Given how the Queen shows up again in Voyager after the events of First Contact, my headcanon is there is no specific Queen of the Borg that can be killed. Either she's a disembodied manifestation of the collective that doesn't strictly need a body or if she dies the collective can create a new queen.

Star Trek XI: The Search for Royal Jelly
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:13 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Y'all are right, I'm in total agreement that giving the Borg a queen was a bad idea. I like the Borg the way they were depicted in their very first appearance. They were seemingly a single self-sustaining cube that cruises the galaxy looking for new technology to improve itself with and not giving the slightest shit about anything else. If they have to have a structure beyond a single cube I'd make each cube both like a beehive and like a single bee. Each cube is a hive unto itself that is generally friendly to other cubes but primarily concerned about its own survival, but they're also units in a larger hive structure where cubes go out and gather technology to bring back to the collective.

Honestly that makes the most sense with most of what you see of the Borg up until First Contact and Voyager: The original cube passed on the location of a technology-rich culture the same way a bee communicates the location of a food source, then other cubes make the journey out to harvest this technology. So basically the Federation will never stop having to fight random cubes showing up, but the Borg will never actually mount a full-on offensive because that's not how they're organized. And individual cubes can become damaged and destroyed but that doesn't damage the rest any more than one bee dying damages a hive.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:21 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


I loved when Picard and Hugh were walking by and some random former Borg just says, "Locutus?"
posted by ckape at 6:36 PM on February 28 [31 favorites]


More fun TV! I appreciate how they're turning out continuing weekly entertaining episodes. It's a much more consistent show than earlier Treks, probably because it's one long story and not a bunch of episodes of varying writing quality.

I do love the deep-dive on ex-Borg culture. Also Romulan culture keeps getting fleshed out. Are any folks deeply into the Star Trek novels and comic books and other apocrypha? Is any of this in that material, or are the writers making all this stuff up now? Particularly liked the Romulan Rubik's cube. At first I thought it was dumb, then I thought it was cute when he let it open up to show a little figure inside (part of me thought it was a nude woman, a little bawdy surprise). And then finally it was the murderous Red Matter radiation mist, or whatever. Crazy how the meditation room is shielded from everyone's sensors but is made of only quarter inch sheets of wood, like one layer from plywood.

Oddly, this show felt very scattered and disjoint to me. For the episode where finally all the characters are brought together in one place it felt all over the map. But I can't really articulate why, maybe just a lot of cuts and a lot of characters.

Jurati getting horny on Rios seemed totally believable to me. Jurati getting away clean with murdering Maddox.. less so, but then that's a story element that can be revisited as needed. Rios is great and has hidden depths. Elnor was absolutely hilarious. They are playing the Radical Candor joke so well, it's like "take a shot any time Elnor calls attention to someone acting obviously dumb." (In that sense he echoes Spock, using an unusual emotional valence to call attention to the weirdness of human relations.)

Continuing my theme of being over-obsessed with Raffi's writing... They sure better give her a full episode to herself finally. I loved the quiet moments she had with Rios, talking about her son. They have a long history; lean on that to give her some depth! But then I was cringe-mad about her relapse. Not that it happened, that seemed reasonable enough even though I feel they didn't quite earn it from the last episode. But the way Picard reacted to it. Or rather, didn't. Just used her when she was shit-faced drunk, did nothing but look mildly disapproving as she hit the snakeleaf, then fucking applauded her like she was a trained circus animal after her masterful success at blackmailing Starfleet for some emergency diplomatic credentials. WTF, JL? I'm hoping this will all be explained nicely with some elaborate story about his many years with her, understanding she has bad periods and loves and supports her through it anyway, ... instead all I see is his using her for her skills and mostly otherwise not caring. Raffi deserves better.
posted by Nelson at 8:37 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


"Are any folks deeply into the Star Trek novels and comic books and other apocrypha? Is any of this in that material, or are the writers making all this stuff up now?"

Well, I read two of Diane Diane's novels in the mid-eighties, My Enemy, My Ally (1984) and The Romulan Way (1987, with Peter Morwood). Those are among the very few of those books I can still recall, because they were very good.

In My Enemy, My Ally, Duane writes that Ael, a Romulan woman, told Kirk all her names, including the name "by which only one closer than kin may know her".

These books establish a non- or partly-canonical history of the Romulans, with much detail about their schism with Vulcan after the orthodoxy established by Surak.

The first book includes this quote:
Daisemi'in rhhaensuriuu
  meillunsiateve
    rh'e Mnhei'sahe yie ahr'en:
Mnahe afw'ein qiuu;
  rh'e hweithnaef
    mrht Heis'he ehl'ein qiuu.


—Of the chief parts of the Ruling Passion,
only this can be truly said:
Hate has a reason for everything;
but love is unreasonable.
(V. Raiuhes Ahaefvthe)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:49 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


stupid auto-correct: it's Diane Duane. Also 1989's Spock's World, which was very good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:11 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


ha ha IF I am usually in eschewal of out-canon licensed work, but specifically not with regard to seventies licensed novels. Didn’t Duane publish in that era? I swear I had a black-cover, Futura-titled Ballantine edition of Spock’s World from 1978, but possibly I have had too much tranya.

WRT Zelazny, I think I am on to something. How sustained it is here, none can say. But the protagonist of the first book of the Amber Chronicles, Nine Princes in Amber (what a title, entirely lost on me at, um, SIX) has amnesia as the novel opens and only regains his recollection of who he is after his sibling or siblings (!) lead him through a ritual very much like the one seen in this episode, but, you know, moreso.

Nine Princes in Amber is written in a staccato, hard-boiled voice probably intended to recall Chandler and mixes potboiler detective intrigue with loopy, inventive fantasy and metaphysics. It is extremely accessible reading, and influenced GRRM without a doubt. Hybridizing genre styles was a novel approach in 1970, and while Zelazny may have ultimately trapped himself with the material the early stuff is still great.
posted by mwhybark at 12:46 AM on February 29 [2 favorites]


My memory must be in error, after looking at the Diane Duane entry on MA. Wonder what I am thinking of?
posted by mwhybark at 10:18 AM on February 29


forbidden to "round ears" (little space racism for ya

Spacism.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:20 PM on February 29 [4 favorites]


Just a guess here: the “chronometric radiation” alert is due to Soji using a handheld chronometric(?) scanner in her quarters.
posted by mwhybark at 8:04 PM on February 29 [4 favorites]


Good catch.

But that makes me wonder why she seemed to have that scanner at hand? Or did she replicate it and I missed that? I guess it could be a tool commonly used in her work on the cube. But then why would that initiate an alert?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:28 PM on February 29


She did use it a lot in a concentrated period. I'm hoping this is the explanation and not some last-minute time-travel contrivance.
posted by crossoverman at 11:04 PM on February 29 [1 favorite]


This might have been the first Picard episode I actually enjoyed.

I give every new series six episodes to convince me to stick around. They came in just under the wire with this one, and here we are.

Also nthing the Pattern Walk. I may have squeaked a little.
posted by tzikeh at 11:12 PM on February 29


I am hung up on the fact that the Ship EMT seems incapable of altering the Captain of the ship that one of the passengers did a blatant Murder.

I want to not care, and I know it's probably for Plot Reasons, buts still...
posted by Faintdreams at 8:38 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


The EMH didn't seem to be aware of Maddox, only that she was in great distress. That's kind of odd and may point to an explanation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:54 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


My memory must be in error, after looking at the Diane Duane entry on MA. Wonder what I am thinking of?

Possibly this?
In '78 there were only a handful of Trek novels published by Ballantine, looks like there were references to the Romulans in a few.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:14 AM on March 1


I am hung up on the fact that the Ship EMT seems incapable of altering the Captain of the ship that one of the passengers did a blatant Murder.

I want to not care, and I know it's probably for Plot Reasons, buts still...


Have we seen any of La Sirena's holograms appear spontaneously? They may be programmed to appear only when summoned with a specific word or action. I mean, if you're usually flying solo, as I assume Rios usually is, then you'd probably want the EMH to swing into action unprompted if you're actually injured, but otherwise you might find yourself in an awkward situation, such as the EMH popping up in response to what sounded like cries of anguish only to find out that Rios is getting it on with Jurati or whomever. (Unless that's his thing, in which case it would be an EVH, I guess.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:54 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


But the way Picard reacted to it. Or rather, didn't. [...] instead all I see is his using her for her skills and mostly otherwise not caring. Raffi deserves better.

Totally agree, but didn’t read this as weak writing, but rather as very intentional, to show that Picard has a ways to grow. He’s still using people without paying attention to the specific personal consequences to those people, while he’s on a mission to save other people. Raffi’s biggest problem (other than her continuing substance abuse, of course) is that she is surrounded by and cares about people who see her mostly in a utilitarian way: ‘Raffi’s drunk as shit again, but can we get her clear-headed enough to get us this thing we need? Yes? Hooray Raffi, now go back to your room and climb back into that bottle or whatever, we’ll let you know if we need you again.’

One of the things I’m really enjoying about this show that isn’t specifically Trek-related, is that these very flawed people are not suddenly seeing the errors of their ways and fully course-correcting, just because they’re all together on A Mission. Instead, like actual people, they’re continuing to act out their dysfunctions and project their own issues in how they treat one another, because fundamental personal insight and behavioral change is really hard to live into in an ongoing, permanent way. I don’t think any of us are the best versions of ourselves that we hope to be, even when we’re trying really hard to be, and that’s most true when we’re most broken. That scene with Raffi getting the diplomatic clearance they needed is one of the truest things I’ve ever seen in a Star Trek episode. Which makes it even more painful than it appears on the surface.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:36 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


Also, we’ve been rewatching TNG in our house, to help the week in-between episodes of Picard go by faster, and I’m really struck by the difference in quality and thoughtfulness of writing in a show that is serialized, with only 10 episodes that are all completed prior to any broadcast; and one that was episodic, with 24-26 episodes each season, written and produced on the clock as that season was broadcast. It’s really obvious now when TNG writers were just like ‘fuck it, we need an episode finished by Friday, so go with...Worf and Alexander in a holodeck Western, sure.’

I have my own criticisms of Picard so far, but it’s so very well-made by all involved, that I mostly remain tremendously impressed, and very entertained.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:46 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


WRT LooseFilter's comment above about Picard using Raffi, something that popped into my head was the whole thing with Sito Jaxa. Yeah, she got a nice eulogy from Picard after she died (or was captured by the Cardassians, whichever--at one point, they were going to bring her back for the role that was eventually O'Brien's in DS9's "Hard Time"), but I wonder if he'd have sent Wesley Crusher--who did the same thing that Sito did, and only confessed because Picard leaned on him--on that mission.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:29 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I assume what's going to happen is the next time the EMH activates for whatever reason he's going to immediately spill the beans about Maddox's death.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:06 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


The only things I'm wondering is, is there a "solid" or "opaque" mode for future monitors because I would hate that translucency and is Soji part of some trend where people use printed photos in the future?
posted by juiceCake at 7:53 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


In '78 there were only a handful of Trek novels published by Ballantine Bantam (My original error, btw. oops)

Had ‘em all, reread them a bunch. I foolishly let them go, along with the Blish TOS and ADF TAS adaptations, before a cross country move in 1990. Kept the Conan books, but not these. Dumb.

The Phoenix novels were notable in the line for sheer weirdness, coming just after the never-republished Spock, Messiah. Marshak and Culbreath came out of the OG slash scene, if I recall correctly, and had a hand editing the two New Voyages fanfic anthologies.

I looked over the MA page on the Bantams and, shit, Joe “Forever War” Haldeman wrote two of the books; his brother Jack wrote one; David “Tribbles” Gerrold wrote another. Another Nebula winner, Gordon Eklund, wrote two, including “The Starless World”, which for my money featured the best Trek print cover design and image ever in the original edition.

But no Diane Duane!
posted by mwhybark at 8:07 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


The Naming of Romulans is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a
Romulan must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:09 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]


The Naming of Romulans is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a Romulan must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.


I blame kids, but this was initially read in the (roughly) same cadence as the opening of Hakuna Matata. And now I cannot unthink it.
posted by bfranklin at 6:06 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Picard described as ego and rampaging id, beautiful

Some of the lines on this show are just so good.

Picard' s[ . . . ] reuniting with Hugh essentially "fixes" him feels way too much like how "mental illness" in fiction is typically handled (qv Firefly and River Tam).

At least so far the show has been doing a good job that "fixes" are temporary and the scars don't go away. I'm viewing this more as Hugh calming him down and giving him a friendly focus that distracts him and lets him move past his panic attack, not a fix, and as such it seemed reasonable to me.

The Borg-as-victims was in this reading an intellectual/ethical framing. When it comes to the Borg, Picard's always had issues with giving in to "intolerance and fear" (cf Starfleet and the Romulans). In the Hugh episode he was the last person to see Hugh as an individual. This seems to be a lesson he needs to keep learning.
posted by mark k at 8:14 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


The scene with the crew applauding Raffi's "performance" as she, in very obvious pain, starts to stumble away made me so very, VERY angry, in a way that I've never aimed at a Trek property before. I want to congratulate the writers for showing me so very clearly how Picard's particular method of 'encouraging' people, which seemed so... natural and empathetic and leader-like back in the late 80s and early 90s, is still, in the end, exploitative and uncaring. The weird colonialism of having that played out between a white Englishman and a woman of color was even more striking to me.
posted by hanov3r at 11:06 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


I found this interesting: Star Trek: Picard has excelled by going where other shows in the franchise never could - a moral exploration of its deeply flawed main cast.


Screenrant's coverage of Picard has been really uneven-- they have pulled in some particularly clueless writers recently, but the above is an exception. I particularly like how the show's examination of character and consequences resonates so deeply because for fans we have a long history with these people (except the new cast members, of course). Picard has been in my head for 30 years, mostly as a role model, which makes the examination of his (now apparent) flaws hit so much harder.

I get the same feeling that I had watching a beloved parent's imperfect humanity slowly emerge through their final years.
posted by seasparrow at 11:31 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


I want to congratulate the writers for showing me so very clearly how Picard's particular method of 'encouraging' people, which seemed so... natural and empathetic and leader-like back in the late 80s and early 90s, is still, in the end, exploitative and uncaring. The weird colonialism of having that played out between a white Englishman and a woman of color was even more striking to me.

They’re actually doing something amazingly interesting here which is actually reckon with the /cost/ of always being “on”, always pushing yourself and your friends and relationships and life to the utmost to Get The Thing Done, and how it turns out that’s actually far easier for Picard, with no familial relationships, with a vineyard to fall back on, than it is for people like Raffi.

Because Raffi was /right/ about the conspiracy. She was right - and there are shows, even past Trek shows, that would have portrayed that as a vindication. Her purity of purpose would have been considered justified.

But this is not that show. By pursuing the Romulan conspiracy within Starfleet, she harmed her family, and they aren’t cartoons only shown for effect. They’re real people. Raffi’s son’s wife is charming and sweet. And yet still. Still, it doesn’t make up for what Raffi did to them. There is no absolution for the consequences there.

And it is Picard’s lack of sacrifice that created it and led her into it.
posted by corb at 4:15 PM on March 2 [16 favorites]


I am utterly baffled by Maddox's murder. What am i missing here? What was her reason for doing that?
posted by Golem XIV at 7:37 PM on March 2


the secret romulan vulcan starfleet lady in sunglasses showed her some things offscreen which convinced her to kill her ex boyfrand?
posted by some loser at 8:19 PM on March 2 [1 favorite]


@Golem XIV: She said she was shown something horrible she is willing to kill to prevent. It's not clear what it is or even if it's the "real" reason starfleet intelligence wants to shut down the synths or faked.

I wonder if the synthetic / organic mix connects to the horrors of the borg somehow--turning them on in the artifact, or maybe it used salvaged borg tech that isn't quite so dormant--but that's 100% speculation.

They’re actually doing something amazingly interesting here which is actually reckon with the /cost/ of always being “on”, always pushing yourself and your friends and relationships and life to the utmost to Get The Thing Done

And I think to some extent Picard (and maybe Rios), the high performing starfleet careerists, are sincere the clapping, because "being on" is better and different than "being an addict." So Raffi being able to perform was positive, in their mind, even for her own well being.. I don't think Picard (even this version of Picard) is so blind he doesn't also realize the cost but I think that initial instinct helps him rationalize.

Troi was often so poorly written as to seem useless in the original but I'm now going to head canon that Picard's effective firm-yet-nurturing style in TNG was because constant off-screen feedback from Troi about everyone's mental state kept him from using up his crew and leaving them emotional wrecks.
posted by mark k at 9:31 PM on March 2 [11 favorites]


There is no absolution for the consequences there.

This.

I've thought to myself "These are Bojack-level broken people here and the consequences are just as honestly displayed"

And that's why Picard is -- something in the ST franchise I'd never expected to see. And it's very much welcomed.
posted by mikelieman at 6:22 AM on March 3 [8 favorites]


Picard's particular method of 'encouraging' people, which seemed so... natural and empathetic and leader-like back in the late 80s and early 90s, is still, in the end, exploitative and uncaring.

Remember this moment from “All Good Things...”?

PICARD: I know that I'm an old man and I'm out of touch, but the Worf that I remember was more concerned with things like honour and loyalty than rules and regulations. But that was a long time ago. Maybe you're not the Worf once I knew.

WORF [on viewscreen]: Dor sHo GHA! You have always used your knowledge of Klingon honour and tradition to get what you want from me.

PICARD: Because it always works, Worf. Your problem is that you really do have a sense of honour and you really do care about trust and loyalty. Don't blame me for knowing you so well.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:09 AM on March 3 [17 favorites]


I am utterly baffled by Maddox's murder. What am i missing here? What was her reason for doing that?

It seems like she was shown the Secret of the Jhad Vash, which explains why they hate synths so much and is apparently compelling enough to convince one of the foremost cyberneticists in the Federation that murder is better than letting Maddox continue his work.

Interestingly, it's not enough to convince her to sabotage Picard's rescue mission? If she's truly on the Jhad Bash's side you'd think she'd warn them about Picard and also tell them where Picard and Soji went.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:42 AM on March 3


dPursuant to the Pattern patterning in this episode, these past few days I have enjoyed a pleasant series of jaunts through Shadow in the company of one Corwin who, probably not incedentally, appears to be a cognate of one Elric of other authorship in many ways. Wondering if Zelazny’s Amber had an (admittedly unlikely) appearance on FF, I briefly trawled the depths, to limited results.

Among them, however, was a 2013 thread on the GRRM-helmed multi-author print-only mise-en-scene series Wild Cards, and in said thread was a post from none other than fellow crewman Halloween Jack, in which the contributions of Wild Cards writer Melinda Snodgrass are critiqued with respect to the property. Jack notes, mind, that Snodgrass is a Trek alum and is the credited author of TNG fave The Measure of a Man. Zelazny is cited in-thread as a noted contributor to the Wild Cards oeuvre. Given that TMoM is a starting place for Picard, one would have to say that we have found a path through Shadow which is certainly Zelazny adjacent.
posted by mwhybark at 6:30 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


(minus random d there introduced during copyediting)
posted by mwhybark at 6:38 PM on March 3


Something about the name "spatial tranjector" made me think of Wile E. Coyote and ACME, and want a cannon or catapult to play a role.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:59 PM on March 14


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