Star Trek: Picard: Nepenthe
March 4, 2020 11:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

(from IMDB:) Picard and Soji transport to the planet Nepenthe, home to some old and trusted friends. As the rest of the La Sirena crew attempt to join them, Picard helps Soji make sense of her recently unlocked memories. Meanwhile, Hugh and Elnor are left on the Borg cube and must face an angered Narissa.

(Memory Alpha is not yet populated for this episode beyond the IMDB summary).

As teasers have long foretold, this episode brings the return of the ole chair-hopper himself, Will Riker, and the very lovely Deanna, um, Troi, or perhaps Riker, or maybe Will took Deanna’s surname, or...

Can’t do more than speculate, of course, but one hopes for a chair gag, and one may anticipate an interesting encounter between the Betazoid and the cyberneticist, one thinks.

Nepenthe, as you most certainly will recall from your obsessive studies of Homeric literature, comes to us in a cup, brought by Helen, daughter of Zeus.

Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug
to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill.


Helen, you’ll know, is of Troy. To be clear, we are not referring to Elaan of Troyius in this matter.

Fret not, and look deep into your goblet of bloodwine, dark as the sea, and wonder what ease forgetfulness may bring.
posted by mwhybark (146 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh shit! I totally forgot it was Cheeses’ turn to post! Message sent. CoB, feel free to nuke this if you would like. Dammit!
posted by mwhybark at 11:22 PM on March 4


Well, this is all I wanted from a Picard-Riker-Troi reunion and perhaps even more than I could have hoped for. The show so far has had a lot of references both subtle and heavy-handed to Treks past, but this was the real reunion episode. And given what we'd seen so far - I just thought we'd get Riker and Troi for half an episode. And what we got was a full A-story of them helping Picard and Soji and telling us about their lives and Riker calling Troi "Imzadi" which left me in a flood of tears. If we can't have planet-of-the-week or Roddenberry utopia, give me this - this beautiful character interaction and subtly drawn interactions. Give me Riker & Troi's daughter and their lost son.

And give me continuing plot with the Borg cube and the La Serena. Oh boy, I wish they hadn't killed Hugh, the only weak point of the episode I thought. Otherwise, both parallel plots worked really well, justifying the show's choice to have an over-arching story, as well as a continuing character portrait of Jean-Luc Picard.

I'm really sad there's only three episodes left. And I'm sad this is probably all we'll have of Riker & Troi this season. But fuck this show is good, verging on great. There's been a lot of bad Trek since Nemesis. This feels like Trek to me or, at least, these feel like the Enterprise characters even if the situations feel like nothing they would have found themselves in on Next Gen.
posted by crossoverman at 3:54 AM on March 5 [20 favorites]


“I’m still in the active reserves”, eh?

Chekhov’s Riker, there.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:01 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


I'm unclear on where Picard and Soji beamed to. Are we to assume it was to Captain Crandall's ship? Did I miss a line of dialogue? And assuming we get to see Captain Crandall—because why discuss a character so much without introducing him—can he please be played by Jeffrey Combs? Or maybe Phil Morris? I mean, seriously, where is Phil Morris in the nuTrek age?!

Good Soji development here, I thought, and a good setting for her to undergo it. But the standout element of this episode for me was JL (sorry) reuniting with Will. I doubt I'm alone in saying that this was one of the big moments I've been waiting for. In part, that's because I never liked the way they parted in Nemesis—that scene had all the emotional resonance of saying goodbye to the manager of the Tires Plus you're being transferred from after three years. (Chalk it up to shitty direction.) This episode seemed to me to largely redeem that: I detected a familiar "professional guy" manner when Will and Jean-Luc are around others, but when alone, they're simply good friends with enough obvious history to be honest with each other, heavy and light, and above all trusting.

If we can't have planet-of-the-week or Roddenberry utopia, give me this - this beautiful character interaction

Indeed, and what's also noteworthy is that the pre-premiere press set up really significant expecations (for me at least) of exactly that depth of character interaction, and yeah, it's been stronger than I hoped—for the returning cast, at least. Jury's still out a bit on the newbies.

Also not sure how I feel about saddling the Troi-Rikers with a dead kid and tying that kid's death into the Data stuff, but maybe it'll seem more elegant in retrospect after we get more answers.

“I’m still in the active reserves”, eh? Chekhov’s Riker, there.

Yes! And if Elrondnor can bring Seven back into the show, which they sort of can't not do if he's calling for Fenris Ranger help, then we can infer that these aren't necessarily just one-episode cameos by the old-timers.

Memory Alpha indicates that Kestra's last name is Troi-Riker. Whether that's official info from the writers or premature Wikia speculation, time will tell.

What we do know is that her namesake is presumably Deanna's older sister who died at age 6.

Likewise, but less plausibly, Thaddeus was presumably named after this ancestor of Riker's mentioned in the VOY episode that Frakes guest-starred in, "Death Wish." Maybe they thought about Thomas but ruled it out because it might've offended the Cardassians.

When Raffi mentioned the EMH not triggering, I assumed Jurati took them offline, but then he showed up for Jurati's medical emergency, so maybe Jurati reprogrammed them to only answer to her? Maybe that also accounts for the EMH getting the line wrong: he said something like "What is the nature of—" instead of Please state the nature of *derisive nerd-snort*

Really impressive performance, too, by Kestra actress Lulu Wilson. If she struck anyone else as familiar, it may be because she was in Netflix's Haunting of Hill House, which is an excellent show if you do not watch the final episode. She was also in one of the Ouija movies.

Oh shit! I totally forgot it was Cheeses’ turn to post!

No worries, M. And there's probably still time for a chair gag, what with the hint of Riker joining the action later. Come to think of it, though, did their dining room chairs even have backs? ;)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:13 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


This series is _so_ good. _So_ good. The honesty in looking at the impacts of the personalities and decisions that drove TNG, but keeping that core ST message of hope is so refreshing. It's like an enlightened response to cynical grimdark reality that's been dominating storytelling lately.

And man, that TNG theme at the end of the ep and the goodbye from Kestra.... Onions _everywhere_.
posted by bfranklin at 6:26 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Shit, man, I'm only 35 minutes into this episode and I have to hit pause right now and come here to make this comment:

How TF did Michael Chabon and Samantha Humphrey write Troi better in one episode than all the writers ever did in seven years of TNG?
posted by seasparrow at 7:24 AM on March 5 [49 favorites]


I am so damn happy with that epsiode. Holy shit.


How TF did Michael Chabon and Samantha Humphrey write Troi better in one episode than all the writers ever did in seven years of TNG?

RIGHT? That was an amazing performance by Marina Sirtis.

I wish they hadn't killed Hugh, the only weak point of the episode I thought

Seconded. I get that it was a device to bring back Seven, but c'mon.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 8:20 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


I love that Riker mentioned the Kzinti.
posted by Catblack at 8:58 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Ha ha, further formalizing TAS as canon. We can only hope for a giant Spock in some future fanservice delivery unit!
posted by mwhybark at 9:03 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I'm unclear on where Picard and Soji beamed to. Are we to assume it was to Captain Crandall's ship?

I assumed it was to La Sirena. After Dr. Jurati drugs herself, we see Narek being all frustrated (indicating Jurati was successful in inactivating the tracking device). We know that Rios has given JL an ETA, and he wouldn't be heading for Nepenthe if Narek could still track him. I inferred there was a "Rios discovers Narek can no longer follow him" event in between there, but it would have been clearer if that were shown on-screen.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:45 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


on that note, did Rios really thought Raffi was the one being tracked?? I thought he was faking it to draw Agnes out, but then the conversation at the bridge later... no wonder he didn't wonder about his missing emergency holos.
posted by cendawanita at 10:15 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


I have had some doubts about Jurati's character, but I am slowly liking how the showrunners are developing it. This morning while I was watching the show, my wife-- whose Star Trek knowledge she had demonstrated a few minutes earlier by asking whether or not Picard was the one from that show Voyager-- looked up at the screen and said, "That blond woman-- sometimes I want to hug her, and sometimes I want to punch her." And I thought to myself, yes, exactly.
posted by seasparrow at 11:18 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


“So you want to be ass-deep in Romulans for the rest of your life?”
posted by Burhanistan at 11:52 AM on March 5 [13 favorites]


Re Commodore Oh, it doesn’t seem very Vulcan to mindblast people into being your murderspy. But it does lend credence to theory that Statfleet Intel is working with the Tal Shiar.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:40 PM on March 5


The mind meld does seem to put paid to the theory that Oh is Romulan.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:08 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


This was a fantastic episode and I love the emerging trope of an AI consciousness waking up to the fact that it's not what it thought it was and everything has been a fabrication. It's something we all need to go through on some level, be it a psychedelic trip or otherwise. And who wouldn't envy the Riker-Troi spread? It may just look like a nice rustic country house but the home Alexa hub there has shields!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:54 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


I’m going to defend the Hugh death: it’s pretty clear at this point that a big theme of this series is people withdrawing and the consequences of that. Remember that at first Picard was... not into the idea of Hugh.

Now we have a Picard 30 years later that has in fact withdrawn, and yet this person he only met a couple of times is willing to die to protect him. I think once Picard finds out about Hugh’s death, it’s going to make him even more determined to get back into the thick of things.

It’s even more poignant that Elnor protected Hugh and is now stuck on the Artifact, because he represents one of Picard’s failures.
posted by Automocar at 4:53 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Memory Alpha indicates that Kestra's last name is Troi-Riker. Whether that's official info from the writers or premature Wikia speculation, time will tell.

There was a trophy or something on it in Thad’s room that had “Thaddeus Troi-Riker” printed on it.
posted by Automocar at 4:55 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Too bad no classic Riker sitting down.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:35 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


The mind meld does seem to put paid to the theory that Oh is Romulan.

Except that Romulans are genetically Vulcans, some of them having forehead ridges regardless. And we know that Vulcans had psychic powers dating back to the Awakening (ahem), since Surak's katra survived. So, really, there's no reason why Romulans couldn't develop the mind meld or preserve their katras or whatever. (I've wondered if Elnor's ability to bring a sword to a disruptor fight, and repeatedly come out without a scratch, has maybe more to it than simply having the best kung fu.)

But, really, I'd rather that Oh simply thinks that plotting with the Zhat Vash is the right thing to do, because of Reasons having to do with the threat of The Great Robot Uprising or whatever. I do think that she's being gamed by Narissa, but she still signed up for Narissa's program; there were plenty of people who thought that Section 31 was a good idea, too.

In general: yes, great episode. Some real poignancy with Kestra and the memory of Thaddeus, and JL carefully, compassionately suggesting that Soji use her super-robot powers to tell that he's not lying. And again with the great little details (Bunnicorns! Kzinti, even though I've never been crazy about Niven's shoehorning Known Space canon into Trek's). The cake wasn't a lie, but Jurati stopped lying. And Seven is back in next week's episode, which is super-cool.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:24 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


I'm really curious to see what's going to happen to Jurati in the end. It's a Trek show (or is it??) where one of the main cast straight-up murdered someone. It didn't strike me as anything out of the ordinary at the time - that's pretty standard TV at this point - and then I realized, oh shit, that's.. pretty out of character for this franchise.
posted by curious nu at 7:49 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I am very suspicious of this Apocalypse Vision...and maybe Jurati is too now?

Or just can't handle more murder?

The preview for next ep showed what looked like Oh and others getting their Apocalypse Vision exposure? Also Borg cube going crazy? What is happening to the "reclaimed" Romulans?

The young actress playing Kestra has an amazing face....just so open and full of emotion. I look forward to seeing her in more stuff!
posted by emjaybee at 8:03 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I know that realistic ranges between spacegoing vessels are not a thing that works especially well onscreen, but it was still drill to hear Rios declare that the ship tracking the ship tracking them was at the edge of La Sirena’s sensor range when an external shot made it look like Narek was about three hundred metres behind them.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:27 PM on March 5 [14 favorites]


I... just loved this one. This was so tight and slow and fast at the same time. After the episode my mom was like: “this is written so well!” And i concur. I am also very sad about Hugh- also I got Kestra’s name reference immediately and when I quizzed mom on it and she didn’t remember right away she went “OH! I remember now... you’re a nerd!”

Yes mom. 🤣
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:37 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


You know it's on now because Soji put on her Rey cosplay outfit before beaming up.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:40 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


I am very suspicious of this Apocalypse Vision...and maybe Jurati is too now?

She probably should have thought about that before murdering her ex-boyfriend.

Although, Maddox vanished just after the ban, no? So they must have been together 14 years prior to show continuity. That's a long time to be hung up on an ex.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:31 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


It's a bit strange that a past Romulan/ Vulcan AI uprising catastrophe isn't common knowledge, if one such had occurred.

As for Oh, it's possible that she's still Vulcan, but had direct/ mind-meld experience of such an apocalypse.

"Secret" history, and much shame in how it was suppressed? That's really really stretching it. It's like hiding that the holocaust was a major event in Terran history, and that it was not even niche knowledge.

Given the indisputable facts, it suggest that Oh is an AI racist and had memory implants (maybe take the hard-to-implant emotions from the real Mars thing, and graft that into the artificial Vulcan/ Romulan AI apoc) in order to share them with and convince naive mind meld recipients who can't discern between a real and an implanted memory.

Then again, Vulcan logic ... ought to respect AI/ computation ... unless it's a Butlerian Jihad condition and the reliance on logic was a fallout of historically submitting to AI.

Did Spock ever meet Data and interacted to any extent? I can't remember. But I would imagine that they'd be best buds right off the bat, especially as it relates to informing their commander's decisions and being shut down because of emotions.
posted by porpoise at 9:53 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


ST:Picard is objectively good, from multiple angles.

I *like* the idea that Starfleet/ Federation of Worlds is getting corrupt/ rotten - after a "golden age" - and how people are dealing with it.

But I'm not keen on the rewriting that implies that Trek was presented through the best viewpoints of the Federation and that there was always a source of rot. At the middle/ top of the socioeconomic slice.

We've been told that poverty doesn't exist anymore, so everyone is at least at the (comparable to the historical) middle.

In TNG, rot in the admiralty as blamed on "brain worms," afterall.

--

The Troi-Rikers vs Raffi Musiker contrast - I so so so so so wanted a Raffi and Will scene.

Will taking 'William Thomas Troi' would have made me squee, since his kid got Troi-Riker as a surname.

I'm a Canadian AMAB Cantonese and childless and aging into 40s; my sister recently had a kid with a Caucasian Canadian dude. Our Cantonese surname was Anglicized a few times and my branch got a very unfortunate one. I'm not likely going to have ("official") kids, even being the last eldest son of eldest son of...

My sis and her husband were awesome last year when they had their first kid; they took a well loved relative's Anglicization of the Chinese surname that works well-enough as a fairly conventional but not *too* odd/ cliched first name, gave him a middle name (very traditional, mainstream Christian approved) that both parental families liked for a given name, and then the father's family name (very English/ Anglo, from the original colonization of Canada) as the surname on the kid's passport.
posted by porpoise at 10:14 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Did Spock ever meet Data and interacted to any extent? I can't remember. But I would imagine that they'd be best buds right off the bat, especially as it relates to informing their commander's decisions and being shut down because of emotions.

They did hang out a bit during the Unification two-parter and got along rather well, though Data did comment on how he always strived to be more human, and Spock to be less human.
posted by ckape at 10:42 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Spock and Data, from Unification, s05e07&08.
posted by mwhybark at 10:43 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


I'm here for Troi telling off Picard.
posted by Nelson at 11:25 PM on March 5 [18 favorites]


I feel like we need more insight into Jurati. Why was this vision enough for her to commit murder? It didn’t seem to come with a line of causality or even a sense of if it was past or possible future. Is Oh a time traveler? Is this plot linked to the DISCO evil AI plot? How could the vision be so convincing and yet not convincing enough to stick with, if she has indeed turned again?

I hate when shows tease and tease and withhold crucial information till the season finale. Mostly this show hasn’t done that, and I’ve been impressed at seeing it unfold step by step. I hope we don’t have to wait 3 more episodes to understand a main character’s motivation, though.
posted by rikschell at 5:23 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


It's a bit strange that a past Romulan/ Vulcan AI uprising catastrophe isn't common knowledge, if one such had occurred.

Kind of like how it would be strange if no one in the Federation knew the Romulans were Vulcan exiles...
posted by Automocar at 6:09 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Here's one theory: the mindmeld Oh did to Jurati was a kind of brainwashing; the thing she had to swallow enhanced that, as well as making her trackable. Maybe also gave her the reflexes/will to kill that one Romulan?

That's probably too charitable and takes away any culpability, though, which doesn't seem to be the style in this series.
posted by emjaybee at 6:40 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I *like* the idea that Starfleet/ Federation of Worlds is getting corrupt/ rotten - after a "golden age" - and how people are dealing with it.

Indeed. This would be a character arc at a cultural level. We have four more episodes of Picard and then I suppose the next Trek released will be the new season of Discovery, some eight hundred years later chronologically. It has been suggested that it may be picking up the same idea that Roddenberry scribbled down a few decades ago and which served vaguely as the basis for Andromeda — a group trying to rebuild the Federation centuries after its fall.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:56 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


I'm here for Troi telling off Picard.

It was a great scene, it should happen again.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


And frankly, this might have been Troi's best written appearance ever.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:12 AM on March 6 [6 favorites]


So this was great? Mostly? I'm sad that Hugo is gone and feel a big "yeesh" about giving Riker and Troi a dead kid but otherwise it's everything I wanted from a reunion.

It was great to see R&T and more importantly just how goddamn adorable is their kid? I want her as a series regular. Give her a spinoff. Whatever.

Space legolas keeps slaying (literally) which is nice, and Seven is coming back in the next episode which I am excited about.

And hey, they finally gave Troi a personality and like, at least a second dimension if not a third!
posted by KTamas at 7:50 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Did anyone else sense a bit of veiled hostility from Troi towards Soji? In that conversation they had among the tomato vines, for a moment the music cues and the camerawork made me suspect some deep antipathy from Troi. That said, Marina Sirtis played her as just so deeply wounded - I was very much floored by her performance in this - that it could just be that pain coming through.

This was dynamite.
posted by rocketman at 8:02 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Didn't get any hostility from Troi there, I took that moment as just being thoughtful and thinking about how to approach this heavy issue.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:58 AM on March 6 [5 favorites]


To elaborate on my comment about Troi telling off Picard. It was so great, wasn't it? I'm grateful to last week's discussion, particularly corb, for pointing out a major theme in the show Picard. That it's about the negative consequences of Picard's captaincy. Sure he may be a great and effective officer but he also took a lot out of his people. Some of them were harmed by it.

And Picard was starting to do that to Soji. Right at the start, as they walk through the door, he still hasn't even talked to her and all the sudden it's like Soji you're Data's son and then she freaks out. At least he realizes his mistake and has a brief 15 second chat about it with her but.. wtf? That's a trauma that'd take years of therapy to unwind. But he seems to have moved on already, figured she's just fine.

It takes Troi, a professional counsellor, to talk to Soji and figure out just how bad things have been for her. Including the recent Narek betrayal; I mean her boyfriend she'd been sleeping with just hours before just tried to murder her. Picard had no idea. So Troi put that to Picard, and hard, in a direct way she wouldn't have done while still under his command. And then she brought him back to effectiveness, soothed his ego by appealing to his good qualities. Talk about emotional labor.

This whole show sure is a subversion of Trek. First in the form; it's not about a ship and it's crew/family. It's about Picard and what happens to people 30 years after Picard's passing through their lives. It's also a rollicking space adventure about spies and synths and stuff. It relies heavily on Trek, mining the emotional connections between characters we've all been watching for decades, but then it goes somewhere new with it. I like it.

Can't wait to see what happens to Elnor. Talk about a not-Trek move, to take one of the crew and have them doing something totally different for several episodes. Well DS9 did that some, but more in an A/B structure. Elnor feels like an outsider who is yet going to be relevant.
posted by Nelson at 9:06 AM on March 6 [16 favorites]


Elnor vs evil Narissa, or perhaps the tables will turn on which is the true evil in the whole plot line. I liked the window onto Raffi-the cake enabler.
posted by Oyéah at 10:59 AM on March 6


Did anyone else sense a bit of veiled hostility from Troi towards Soji?

I got that too. I was reading it as some very mixed feelings about this guest showing up and just getting all up in Thad's conlang. Got a similar vibe in taking Picard into Thad's room.
posted by bfranklin at 11:37 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I was reading it as some very mixed feelings about this guest showing up and just getting all up in Thad's conlang. Got a similar vibe in taking Picard into Thad's room.

The other thing I was wondering was Soji represents the thing that could have saved Thad. Deanna has to have some interesting feelings about that.
posted by rocketman at 12:12 PM on March 6 [12 favorites]


I immediately watched “All Good Things” after this, and you guys, go watch it before this season is over. A couple of folks in these FF threads have done so, but there is a LOT in that final episode which has clearly been taken into consideration in this series, most notably the long, droopy shoulderpoints on the Picard Quits era unis seen in the, um, Picard Quits sequence.

The rewatch was prompted by Will and Deanna’s need to touch JL’s hairless head in gestures of concern, as my wife was like, what the heck are they not mentioning?

old Old Picard doesn’t look quite like new Old Picard, and new Old Picard has less of the Old Crazies than old Old Picard, who of course is ten years younger than nuOld Picard.

I am struck that I actually had to force myself to use nuOld Picard here, as I do generally deploy nu in Trek fanwriting with a mild pejorative overtone. I think that means that I accept the Picard of Picard as legitimately my Captain, Admiral, Ambassador Picard, whereas Picard of the films, most especially Nemesis, never landed the Earl Grey request with me, I guess, to my actual disappointment. I don’t think I had started using nu when Nemesis was released.

It’s sort of interesting to me that Patrick’s Professor X was immediately perfect to me, although I am not big into superhero comics and later films in the way I love Trek. I mean, I love comics. I have Walt Kelly originals on my wall. I have dropped a beer on Beto Hernandez’ foot. Chabon first crossed my radar subspace scanners as a result of K&K.

I guess we all sort of knew and understood that Patrick saw this series as a way forward for him after Logan, which I loved better than any of the preceding X-Men films. It’s somewhat pleasing to be able to apprehend this work in that context, as a collaboration between Patrick and Chabon about late-life Daddy issues. I mean, we were never characters in TNG, or mutants in the school. But Patrick embodies an ideal for us, and he has chosen, in both franchises, to show us their flaws. It’s not an actorly thing to do, exactly.

Sir Ian had the lead in a 2018 King Lear on stage in London; Patrick starred in a pooh-pooed 2002 film Lear called King of Texas. Possibly we are the beneficiaries of a lifelong competition. If so, to today, point Stewart, and I say this as a serious Gandalf cosplay avatar. I guess I will update my profile pic in service of this assertion.
posted by mwhybark at 3:00 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Elnor vs evil Narissa, or perhaps the tables will turn

I’m thinking/hoping Elnor is gonna end up leading the Zhat Vash when this is over.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:06 PM on March 6


I love that Riker mentioned the Kzinti.
I initially thought that line was about the Xindi. Serves me right for not watching Enterprise to hear the name spoken aloud.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 5:08 PM on March 6


Is Thad's made-up homeworld the first non-Earth planet we've come across in Star Trek with more than one language?
posted by ckape at 6:40 PM on March 6 [6 favorites]


Well, strictly speaking we have seen Earth.

But yeah, the side effect of the Planet of Hats stuff is the language stuff is brushed off. Insofar as language is addressed in Trek, it is through entertaining but unbelievable stuff like Darmok, or a throwaway reference in Enterprise to how the universal translator can extrapolate an entire language from a couple of words which is not particularly entertaining and extremely unbelievable.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:54 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Like others, I absolutely loved the character development in this episode and the beautifully handled reunion between Picard, Riker, and Troi—but was bummed out by all the needless deaths: not just Hugh, but also the XB hostages murdered pointlessly by Narissa, and perhaps worst of all…the bunnicorns 😭😭😭. And yeah, the thing with Thaddeus's death being due to a silicon-based virus that only a positronic android could have cured felt super contrived. Otherwise, this was a really lovely episode.
posted by Syllepsis at 9:08 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


unbelievable stuff like Darmok

Uzani, his army with fist closed!
posted by mwhybark at 9:33 PM on March 6 [12 favorites]


I also thought the silicon-based virus might be a glancing reference to the Crystalline Entity.
posted by mwhybark at 9:39 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


Talking of the bunnicorns, aren't enlightened humans of the 24th century supposed to eschew eating real (ie not replicated) meat?

Since I'm typing I was also wondering, if Dr Jurati is "Earth's leading expert on synthetic life" but research in her field has been banned for 13 years, how does she still have a job/lab at the Daystrom Institute?
posted by biffa at 11:04 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I feel like that was addressed earlier - they were allowed to continue theoretical research, but actually building synthetic life was banned.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:58 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I don’t know where Chabon is going with this, but we have at least two Odyssey references in this series now. Rios’ ship is La Sirena (the siren) and the name of this planet, Nepenthe, (literally “anti-sorrow”) is the name of a drug that Helen mixes with wine to ease grief and induce forgetfulness, especially regarding the death of a loved one.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel. Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill. Whoso should drink this down, when it is mingled in the bowl, would not in the course of that day let a tear fall down over his cheeks, no, not though his mother and father should lie there dead, or though before his face men should slay with the sword his brother or dear son, and his own eyes beheld it.

There are obviously several significant deaths lingering in the background here—Thad, Dahj, Data—and the planet Nepenthe is a place where that sorrow can be lessened at a table with old friends, good food, and some wine. There’s even a handy counselor for Soji to talk to!

These Odyssey references probably won’t add up to anything more than some nice quick allusions, but I’ll be looking for them now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:33 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


There was a TNG episode where Troi lost her empathic powers and had a crisis of confidence regarding her counseling abilities. Watching Troi counsel Soji, who she was unable to read with her half-Betazoid powers, with such empathy and care, and such confidence... I think Marina Sirtis showed Troi's character growth really well. She's a terrific actor, and it's a shame her character was frequently written as so one-note on TNG.
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:12 AM on March 7 [13 favorites]


Agreed. Sirtis has been a solid actor for quite some time but TNG’s writing wasn’t up to it. They didn’t mention her love of chocolate at all! AMAZING

I am loving this series. The depth it’s adding to a beloved set of characters (and new ones) and universe is just fantastic and long overdue. I mean, come on: Riker hanging out at home making dinner? Both of them losing a child? Raffi being pretty good at replicating cake?

And yes, I want the Troi-Riker house as well. Not bad for a pizza chef.
posted by hijinx at 5:13 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


entertaining but unbelievable stuff like Darmok
I direct you to this early Simpsons reaction gif to express exactly how I feel about this implication
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:15 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Talking of the bunnicorns, aren't enlightened humans of the 24th century supposed to eschew eating real (ie not replicated) meat?

Nah. In “Data’s Day” Keiko expresses amazement that Miles’s mother handled and cooked raw meat. Sisko made jambalaya at least once (maybe he used replicated sausage and shrimp, though)
posted by Automocar at 7:32 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I looked this up and apparently in TNG 1x07, Lonely Among Us, Riker claims that humans eat only replicated meat but adds this may have simply been to placate the Anticans they were talking to at the time.

So anyone who thought the federation were fundamentally dishonest about their 'superior culture' was right I guess.
posted by biffa at 8:29 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


There’s a lot of moments to like in the show and I appreciate that it’s giving some good characters & actors their victory lap, but I think I’m having a different reaction overall than the consensus on fanfare.

The ways it tries to sexy up the premise are forcing me to watch the show through a semi-permanent cringe. Seven drinks bourbon now, the tough person drink! Suicide attempt! Captain cigar chewer! Space samurai! Eyeball torture! Blithe mass executions and rad decapitations! Clearly someone thought Star Trek needed to be spiked with a bunch of adolescent Frank Miller edginess and that person was not me.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t need a squeaky-clean Star Trek. I love the idea of finding the cracks in a post-“golden age” federation, of exploring the grimier edges of this questionable utopia, unpacking the secondary and tertiary consequences of some of Picard’s idealist-to-a-fault decisions from his past and even hinting at the colonialist undertones of TNG; all of that, on paper, is great space for a show to play in. I’m not against people being horrible on Star Trek, or characters dying, or any of that. I just wish it all wasn’t handled so cartoonishly. It makes me feel like they’re making the show for the wrong reasons.
posted by churl at 9:46 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Yeah I get some of that too churl, but happily from moment to moment I'm still on the side of just enjoying it.

I'd have a harder time with Space Samurai if the actor playing him weren't so pretty.
posted by Nelson at 10:12 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


While I love the characterization and themes so far, any part of the plot Jurati is involved in makes no damn sense to me. Unless the visions Oh showed Jurati were fake and optimized to produce maximum terror/compliance, straight up murdering your former lover in cold blood is a bit of a stretch based on what we’ve been shown of her personality.

And then she changes her mind so drastically that she tries to off (or permanently brain-damage) herself? I dunno, it just doesn’t add up.

Side note: Oh initiating the mind meld without so much as a “I’m about to show you some crazy shit, buckle up” warning was a seriously dick move.

Despite that, Picard is still my favourite Trek since Galaxy Quest and I’m looking forward to seeing more.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 10:15 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


And then she changes her mind so drastically that she tries to off (or permanently brain-damage) herself?

I don’t think she was trying to kill herself, I think she knew she had to suppress her brain activity (or something) to deactivate the tracker she’d swallowed—it’s why we saw her blip disappear from Romulan Nesferatu’s screen, and why they were able to go and get JL & Soji.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:28 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


any part of the plot Jurati is involved in makes no damn sense to me

My money is on Oh having programmed Jurati invasively with the mind-meld. She wasn't just sharing a traumatic memory, she was brainwashing her or the like. I've lost track of continuity, I'm not sure if that's a previously known ability Vulcans have, but surely it'd be taboo and criminal if they do. But Oh is a Romulan spy so all bets are off.
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


My money is on Oh having programmed Jurati invasively with the mind-meld.

TOS established that Vulcans can influence other people telepathically and even wipe their memories, so full-scale reprogramming is not a bridge too far.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:21 PM on March 7


I wonder if the Zhat Vash kept up Vulcan traditions and practices/abilities after Romulus was settled.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:33 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Ooooh I like that theory Zeus.

I too was troubled by the non-consensual mindmeld.
posted by Automocar at 6:04 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I can accept that the Federation has devolved into a darker, more dysfunctional place than it was during TNG. But it seems unbelievable to me that it's gotten so bad that Federation law makes no distinction between a positronic matrix used for creating sentient androids and one used for lifesaving medical treatment. That's just too big of a stretch for me. What, does Geordi have to turn in his cybernetic eyeballs, too?

I also felt Kestra was poorly cast. The young actor had zero physical resemblance to either parent or to the three grandparents we've seen. I'm not saying every kid is a carbon copy of their parents, but in such a visual medium it really helps to have some physical resemblance.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:18 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Also, the RL friends I watch with and I have been joking for weeks about the Sirena's EJH, the Emergency Janitorial Hologram, who speaks with an old-timey Brooklyn accent and wears red suspenders over a grimy undershirt. This week would have been his moment to shine!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:25 PM on March 7 [7 favorites]


I can accept that the Federation has devolved into a darker, more dysfunctional place than it was during TNG.

This show isn’t taking place in the Federation.
posted by Automocar at 9:09 PM on March 7


I can accept that the Federation has devolved into a darker, more dysfunctional place than it was during TNG.

This show isn’t taking place in the Federation.


Large parts of it have been set within the Federation. But more importantly, it was a Federation law that made Thad's medical treatment impossible - which was the topic of my comment. So the state of the Federation is completely germane.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:46 PM on March 7


So the state of the Federation is completely germane.

Yeah, it’s hard to imagine a major power losing its shit after an unexpected, large-scale, deadly terrorist attack, and passing invasive, draconian restrictions that cause unintended consequences in the aftermath.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:39 PM on March 7 [24 favorites]


If you think that Troi has always been a shallow character, and that we're seeing some new side of her now... Well, I think maybe you haven't really been paying attention. When TNG started she was kind of simple and trope-y, but then all of the characters were. As the seasons went on they all got a lot more interesting. The Troi we're seeing now is very much a continuation of the Troi we saw decades ago. This is hardly the first time she's lost her temper and told people to cut the shit!

Seeing Riker and Troi again was great, but it really made me wish that all of the old gang was involved. They've tried to come up with reasons for why Picard's not calling on the TNG characters for help, but it keeps feeling contrived to me. The final scene of All Good Things was powerful because these people felt like a family. That family feeling is a big part of what Star Trek is about. James T. Kirk spent half a dozen movies convincing his aging crew to join him on one more adventure. Of course Picard should be rounding up the old gang!

When Riker said the thing about how he'd known Picard for 35 years, it made me flash back to Encounter at Farpoint, with everybody trading technobabble on those wonderfully cheesy sets, wearing their too-tight polyester uniforms. Jesus, who could have predicted we'd get from there to here?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:04 PM on March 7 [10 favorites]


Smacks waaay too much of of pandering to (possibly not) transgenderism in youths without actually confronting it.

Where is this coming from? Her parents refer to her as a girl several times. She’s played by a female actor. She has what appears to have a female name, since she’s named after her aunt. What indication is that that she’s intended to be trans?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:50 AM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Wait, what? Who the hell is saying that Kestra is trans? I didn't see anything in the episode to suggest that. (She even plays at being the "wild girl," confirming that she identifies as a girl!) Even if she was trans, where does the "pandering" come in? Your comment baffles me so much I'm not even totally sure if I should be offended or not!

The only problem I had with Kestra was the hunting stuff, and her parents condoning it. Killing animals when you don't have to really does not seem like the federation way. Will Riker could be pretty damn retro in some ways, and his dad was a pretty macho, closed-off guy, so I don't know, maybe they hunted or fished when Will was a kid and he's into that stuff the same way he's into 20th Century jazz. Maybe. But I can't really picture Troi, Picard or Jurati happily tucking into freshly-killed bunnicorn when there's a machine 10 feet away that can replicate bunnicorn guts without anybody actually killing a bunnicorn. The fact that it was such an improbably cute animal makes me think they were trolling us somehow. Like, they didn't just have characters hunting for fun in Trek, they had a little girl killing a creature that was like something out of the goddamned Care Bears! Is Chabon an avid game hunter or some shit?

I'm also disgruntled they killed off Hugh, and so soon after poor Icheb's gristly demise too. Chabon knows his old school Trek, and that means he knows just which fan faves to kill off for maximum feels. I am really liking the show, but that's enough killing space-bunnies and former borg boys, please!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:52 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


My friend, if you think Kestra's extremely mild tomboyish depiction is "pandering to transgenderism in youth" you have gone extremely too far down an anti-woke rabbit hole. She lives in the woods! The fact you seem so disgusted by the fact she acts like a girl scout says way more about you than about her or the writers who created her.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:18 AM on March 8 [14 favorites]


Like, you've obviously never interacted with a homeschooled kid before, this really is how kids behave when they're not required to socially conform. My son's friend is way into bugs and gross stuff, sorry if she's too transgender for you.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:32 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


[One deleted; not sure why this was assumed, but apparently this character is not transgender, so let's please drop it as a derail at this point. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 6:35 AM on March 8


Jonathan Frakes on Twitter: "And there's this..."
posted by mstokes650 at 9:51 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Great interview with Chabon from Newsweek, he’s so honest about their work:
By intention of the writers and by ideas from the actor, little by little, starting from the first episode, we've built this idea of a character who—what's important about Picard is not that he lacks empathy, because that is not true. It's not that he misses people's cues or doesn't understand the emotional dynamics of a situation, or is not sensitive to them, because that's not what's important about Jean-Luc Picard. Instead it's that at this point in his life he has an understanding of himself, that he needs to work to overcome a certain reserve, a certain detachment—the kind of detachment that leads someone to become a commander in the first place, that would lead someone to a career that involves such a hierarchy, where you're either in command or being commanded. And that you are at a remove from the people you command. As we see in the series finale "All Good Things...," he recognizes his limitations in that regard and he works to overcome them. But he doesn't always succeed, and in the moment you're talking about, he missed.
Also, a great chat with Jonathan Del Arco.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:10 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it’s hard to imagine a major power losing its shit after an unexpected, large-scale, deadly terrorist attack, and passing invasive, draconian restrictions that cause unintended consequences in the aftermath.

Yes, as I clearly stated above, I can accept the existence of a negative change. But I believe that this episode took the level of that change to a ridiculous extreme. I never said it was unbelievable for the change to happen at all; quite the opposite.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:31 AM on March 8


This is what I think is going on. Can't call it spoilers because it is speculation.
Dr Jurati is a synth and, like Soji was 2 episodes ago, isn't aware of it herself. She was created as a, (ahem), plaything for Maddox. That explains their difference in age, and why the automated advertisement on Freecloud chose to give her a battlebot game.

Commodore Oh is from the Mirror Universe, which is why she wears sunglasses. I'm thinking that in the MU Michael and the crew of the Discovery were not able to escape into the future to avoid Control, so the vision Oh puts into Jurati's head is a scene from the MU where Control nearly won.

As for the Kzinti, it's problematic to try and ret-con Niven's Known Space into the Trek universe because of the plots of First Contact and Enterprise, but going by clues from both places, Nepenthe would be in the Beta Quadrant deep in Romulan space, and the Kzin home world would be on the other side of the Klingon Empire, closer tp Earth than to Q'onoS. Since the Kzinti were by treaty prohibited from FTL and advanced weaponry it would seem to be a rogue faction that must have stolen a warp-capable ship. I doubt we will hear anymore about them.

Oh and Hugh is dead for now, but Seven is coming and she has those nanobots or something that can fix minor damage like a mere knife to the throat.
posted by ambulocetus at 2:42 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Very frustrating how Elnor was only not present during the xB needless killing for plot reasons?
posted by lokta at 3:04 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


I don't think Jurati is a synth, but she might have provided the DNA to make Soji and her sister.
posted by Oyéah at 6:00 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


As for the Kzinti, it's problematic to try and ret-con Niven's Known Space into the Trek universe because of the plots of First Contact and Enterprise, but going by clues from both places, Nepenthe would be in the Beta Quadrant deep in Romulan space, and the Kzin home world would be on the other side of the Klingon Empire, closer tp Earth than to Q'onoS. Since the Kzinti were by treaty prohibited from FTL and advanced weaponry it would seem to be a rogue faction that must have stolen a warp-capable ship. I doubt we will hear anymore about them.

Is there really a reason why having the Kzinti in Star Trek necessarily brings all of Known Space along too? Surely they can be physically and socially identical without requiring the Man-Kzin wars and all that. If it helps, maybe a Kzinti colony from Known Space fell through a space butthole or something and ended up in the Star Trek universe a few hundred years ago.

That said they should have changed it to Klingons for that TAS episode. Silly Niven trying to boost his own stuff.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:10 PM on March 8


Well sure, you don't need all of Known Space to tag along, but wouldn't it be cool to see Pierson's Puppeteer come to life on the screen? It would at least be a nice change from all the humanoid species that keep popping up.
posted by ambulocetus at 7:52 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I remembered when Spore came out that a lot people tried to recreate Pierson's Puppeteers in it's alien generator.

There are still youtube videos.
posted by porpoise at 8:06 PM on March 8


On voyager they've been shown to eat grubs (when desperate) and eggs (when neelix cooks), DS9 seemed to have seafood, and technically I believe riker only said they don't enslave animals to eat meat. Hunting and fishing would arguably be fine by that definition.
posted by gryftir at 4:06 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]




Maybe my favorite easter egg ever.
posted by Halloween Jack


I was wondering what the deal with that shirt was!

A thing that hit me as I was watching this ep: I think it's funny that, simultaneously:

1) Mad Men has a justly-deserved rep as a show that was a showcase for great acting, while Star Trek overall is known as a hit-or-miss situation where there'll be great performances alongside so-so ones; but

2) On Picard, the cast is almost uniformly great, with the main exception of the Mad Men alumna who just thunks through every seen she's in (and maybe her material isn't that well-written, but it's coming from the same scripts everyone else is kicking ass with).
posted by COBRA! at 7:26 AM on March 9


Space Galadriel is the Mad Men actress: Peyton List, Narissa on Picard and Jane Sterling on Mad Men. The problem is her character is all vamp, nothing else. And she only appears in these little aside expository scenes. Imagine her written out to be a full Servalan villain and she'd be great. Also the incest stuff is just creepy and instead of being naughty / delicious just feels like a Game of Thrones ripoff.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Maybe my favorite easter egg ever.

How fantastic, thanks for linking that—if that shirt isn’t available for sale at some point, I will be very disappointed.

(I still regret not buying one of Community’s official “All 5 Dances” shirts back when they were for sale during that show’s first season. Deep-cut fan t-shirts are the best.)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:26 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I still don't get why the heck Elnor needed to be there to "cover the escape." Once they stepped through the doohickey they were off. It seemed to me like his presence just made things more complicated.

We know from "The Icarus Factor" that Riker used to fish with his father, and that he planned on holodeck-fishing with his supposed son in "Future Imperfect." So I guess I can see him being OK with it? (Even though his memories of fishing with Kyle were less than 100% pleasant.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:35 AM on March 9


One thing that struck me was the amount of touching between Will and Jean-Luc. Like when they are sitting on the chair with Will's arm around JL. It isn't remarked upon and it isn't remarkable, they're two old friends after all, but at the same time isn't something you see that much on TV.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:01 AM on March 9 [13 favorites]



I still don't get why the heck Elnor needed to be there to "cover the escape." Once they stepped through the doohickey they were off. It seemed to me like his presence just made things more complicated.


It was specifically because the Romulans don't know about the gateway portal doohickey, or even the presence of the Queen's Cell, I believe, and Hugh wanted to get it packed away before anyone could show up and learn its location. After Picard and Soji split it took time to seal it back up again.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:34 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


...One thing that struck me was the amount of touching between Will and Jean-Luc...

I liked that too. Plus I rewound a bit because of camera angles but Picard definitely straight up kissed Riker and Troi both when they first met in the episode.
posted by seasparrow at 1:34 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


That Picard-Riker-Troi group hug in the end killed me. Picard was never touchy-feely, like say Sisko, who was very tactile. Picard playing poker with his crew was a big thing at the end of the series. I'm really glad he's evolved to the point where hugging and cheek-kissing are a thing.
posted by crossoverman at 2:32 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Picard looked so tiny next to Riker. I'm sure that was always the case. I don't imagine Stewart shrank (though Frakes did grow a bit). It had me wondering, were they using camera angles and boxes to make Stewart seem larger and more commanding in Next Gen or are they specifically trying to make Picard seem frail and small/weak for story reasons, or is my memory just really bad?
posted by willnot at 3:17 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I noticed that, too, willnot. I think Stewart may have shrunk a little bit, but I also think they played a lot with angles and blocking and stuff in TNG so he wouldn't look less "heroic" than the taller Frakes. I'd be interested to go back now and see just how many shots on the bridge featured only one of them standing at a time.

I'm betting a lot of the touchy-feely in those scenes was the actors creeping through the characters. I'm 100% okay with that in this case.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:26 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Where did I store my elevator shoes?
posted by Oyéah at 5:21 PM on March 9


If bunnicorns are anything like real rabbits then there are probably too many of them and letting your kid hunt them might even be beneficial as well as delicious. Maybe the planet's regenerative powers interfere with whatever energy sources people in the 24th century normally use so everyone there lives a low-tech life as much as they can.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:26 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]




Where did I store my elevator shoes?

In the turbolift. ;-)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:45 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


I've said this elsewhere, but this has been my favourite episode of Star Trek that has aired in the past 19 years. I'm a fan of Discovery, a fan of Picard and a fan of parts of Enterprise, and think all of these shows have had some really good episodes. And yet for me, this is the first episode that I really, truly connected with (don't quote me on that, I've probably said that in the past too).

It's not just about the reappearance of Troi and Riker, living their good lives, or the fan references or just nostalgia - although of course all of that informs my views too. It's just that it felt like an episode that really invested in its characters, invested in their relationships, and gave both of these things the time to breathe and live.

One thing I've really struggled with more recent Star Trek incarnations is that the characters tend to feel more like archetypes than actually fleshed out people. It makes it harder to connect with them. Obviously, TNG set the groundwork of having that connection with Troi and Riker, but all the characters in this episode were written in a way that drew that out much more easily.

I imagine the next episode will go back to much more plotty and action and that's okay too - I'm glad to have even gotten this.
posted by liquorice at 8:14 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


iirc there are anecdotes about Stewart’s commanding physicality from the initial TNG casting process, which I cannot cite (although there are others in these threads who are better versed than I in production lore). But Frakes has always been just a physically larger person than Stewart, and sure, one assumes that they must have used angles and whatnot to deemphasize it back then, just as how here, in this series, part of what they are doing is emphasizing Picard’s frailty and flaws.
posted by mwhybark at 11:13 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


One thing that struck me is Picard has almost a dozen important characters who all feel fleshed out with motivations. Not only do they continually give these characters interesting things to do they also have time to introduce new one-off characters who feel real and perform interesting story functions.

Compare that to Discovery, especially season 1 Discovery, which had maybe 6 important characters and constantly struggled to flesh them out and give them things to do. There was an entire bridge crew who despite being there for much of the action may as well have been made of cardboard. Season 2 was better but they still had to spend a whole episode introducing a character we've been looking at for a season and a half just so they could kill them off.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:32 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Agreed, Mr E. I feel like the characters are the best thing about PICARD, where I have issues with plot and story and structure, I'm loving the characters.
posted by crossoverman at 2:39 PM on March 10


If bunnicorns are anything like real rabbits then there are probably too many of them

Tribbles aside, the people in Starfleet don't tend to go on about there being "too many" of a life form. They do always go on about the sanctity of life. I can see them hunting for survival, if they were stranded on some planet or whatever, but in a post-scarcity age with replicators and holodecks it's hard for me to see how people could justify killing animals for fun. Even if they were dealing with an invasive species their solution wouldn't be to shoot it with arrows. They'd beam all the little fuckers to some other planet before they'd ever kill them. There may be some episode in the franchise where the characters do hunt, and not purely for survival, but if so I'm not remembering it. (And some of the examples of eating meat cited above, like Ben Sisko's dad or Julian Bashir ordering a steak, may well have been using replicated meat.)

As I said, there was something about the inclusion of hunting here that seemed calculated to set off pacifist hippie types. Like, they weren't just introducing hunting for sport to the franchise, they were killing off a unicorn bunny, a combo of the two cutest things the people writing this show could think of. It was a good episode and I haven't gotten the feeling that the people making this series are aggro right-wing assholes or anything... but that was definitely a WTF moment for me. It was this really touching reunion of characters from a show about an enlightened, socialist, sci-fi utopia... and, oh, by the way, they're killing cute little animals now.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:24 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


hm, well, maybe from where you sit. Section 31 has had me in a rage tizzy for a lot longer, but even then, I wouldn’t say I understood it to have been calculated to set me off. Of course, I am not a pacifist or a hippie, my long hair and anger about US militarism notwithstanding, so maybe that’s the explanation.
posted by mwhybark at 6:40 PM on March 10




As I said, there was something about the inclusion of hunting here that seemed calculated to set off pacifist hippie types.

I didn't think that but it was a double-take moment, it seemed such a strange thing to include in this idyllic utopia setting of growing your own tomatoes and using outdoor showers and pizza ovens. Part me wonders if it was just about the "aesthetic" and their ability/desire to "live off the land" but agree it does seem generally out of step with the overall concept of having replicators and not needing to kill live animals to survive etc. The more I think about it, the stranger it seems.
posted by liquorice at 11:14 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Are there replicators on Nepenthe, though?
posted by crossoverman at 4:34 AM on March 11


I gather that Section 31 plays a role in Discovery, but I haven't caught up with that series yet. I was using "hippies" as kind of a broad, jokey word for bleeding heart lefty types... of which I am one.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:07 AM on March 11


I assume they could have replicators on Nepenthe if they wanted (see all their shield modifications etc and being able to scan for cloaking devices), they just choose not to (or use sparingly, I imagine).
posted by liquorice at 5:42 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


As far as hunting going contrary to most Federation citizens-- it probably does. But in a civilization with hundreds of planets and billions of people, there will be some who choose not to do what the majority does. There is an old bad Star Trek trope called Planet of Hats where for simplicity's sake everyone has the appearance and behavior.

I see this hunting detail as another way that Chabon is rejecting that trope. I hope he does more of it. I can't wait to see Klingon accountants and Ferengi yoga instructors and all the rest of the diverse variations that a real polity like the Federation would actually have.
posted by seasparrow at 9:11 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


I wonder if the line about venom sacs was supposed to make us consider them dangerous animals?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:24 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I can't believe we're derailed this far over bunnicorns and hunting. I read these as just little bits to help ground us in what the Riker-Troi life is like, post-Starfleet.

It's a kind of Eden they have built there wrapped in a fog of sorrow. Is Picard a serpent wandering into their midst? Or is Soji?

We assume Soji is not a threat, but TNG demonstrated multiple times how easily Data could pants the Enterprise when he was weaponized by an adversary (or co-opted by Soong). I'm assuming the Romulans and Zhat Vash - and Commodore Oh - are true antagonists, but we could yet be surprised. Jurati could be the true hero, Picard an unwitting antagonist through his Sheer. Fucking. Hubris.

Anyway. Nepenthe. It's a kind of retirement ideal for this family. Outdoors living, including gardening and hunting. After decades in space, they are grounded by a return to the land.
posted by rocketman at 9:43 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


The hunting stuff is only a "derail" if you consider killing animals a trivial matter. My point is that it feels out of character for Picard, the Rikers and their society as it's been depicted over the last 30+ years. It didn't ruin the episode but it sure was a notable, weird thing.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:57 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't see how it's a derail to discuss an event that happened in the episode and how it fits into the fictional setting in which the show takes place.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:56 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Speaking of the bunnicorns, Michael Chabon said they were created as homage to the well-known 'dog with horn' alien we saw in The Original Series.
posted by liquorice at 3:48 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


speaking further of the bunnicorni, I have here in my head the received knowledge, possibly specious, that Will Riker is from Montana. Isn’t the state cryptozoological mascot the jackalope?
posted by mwhybark at 6:33 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Ferengi yoga instructors

Ishka (Cecily Adams) has had great results from attending her local Ferengi yoga classes and drops in on Quark at DS9 to secure the capital to franchise a licensed-and-copyrighted chain of Ferengi yoga studio storefronts, The Hot Box, only to come up against stiff resistance from ex-Liquidator Brunt (Jeffery Combs), who has already developed capital and IP backing for the same general franchise idea, but which combines martial arts with yoga in a concept he is branding as Hot Boxing. Hijinks, distressingly uncomfortable for the viewing audience, ensue, until a pan-quadrant epidemic wipes out the market for Ferengi yogaesque social exercise centers. Captain Sisko sighs in relief, and tosses his baseball into the air, saying, “At least we still have Opening Day!”
posted by mwhybark at 6:46 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Klingon accountants

To not pay the maximum amount one owes on this property assessment would be... dishonorable, Ambassador Picard. To not use every expression of struggle and wiles to minimize that assessment would be... equally dishonorable. Klingon bookkeeping costs more than your puny Earther simplistic double-booked addition and subtraction, of course. The price to be paid for honor is steep, yet its’ value is incalculable to any true son of Qo’nos, I am certain you will agree. Simply grasp this unsheathed dagger by the blade to slit your palm, as I will also, and the bargain has been sealed... in blood! Q’aplagh!
posted by mwhybark at 6:54 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


My spouse and I have pet rabbits (and we are vegetarians), and we were delighted to see the ridiculous horned rabbit in the opening scene (it definitely did seem like an homage to old low-tech aliens from early Trek), and crushed to see that the Troi-Rikers had decided to murder them for funsies instead of install a replicator. It's just a very weird indication that they value this fake authenticity they're trying to create in their facsimile of an old-timey country home (equipped with state-of-the-art defense systems sufficient to repel a small army), more than the learned values of the Federation.

And yes, it's all just a quick joke if you don't consider animals morally significant, but in TNG it's clear that they are considered so, as Riker himself explains, and in TNG this is portrayed as one of many ways in which 24th-century humanity has evolved to a more mature ethics than 20th-century humanity (along with the eradication of racism and sexism, the end of all intrahuman wars, the elimination of hunger and poverty, etc.). I don't think that moment was supposed to be a repudiation of that. But I don't really know what it was supposed to be. Like, they could have just had a margherita pizza and skipped the bit about killing bunnies; I don't get what the point was.
> If bunnicorns are anything like real rabbits then there are probably too many of them
I suspect Nepenthe's ecosystem was somehow managing OK before the Troi-Rikers built a house in the middle of it.
posted by Syllepsis at 7:12 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I thought Riker grew up in Alaska, and was mistaken for a Canadian?
posted by porpoise at 8:04 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


more than the learned values of the Federation.

Isn't that the point? The values of the Federation are hollow. Hunting and eating meat are frowned upon because we are civilized folk! But helping refugees who used to be our enemies? Accepting synthetic lifeforms as sentient? Not using said synths before the ban as slaves on mars? uh.... But we're so enlightened see- we don't eat meat! Don't peak behind the curtain please!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:37 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


Also it's something you see today! Like with indigenous whale hunts up in Canada and Alaska, people who traditionally took one whale a year and who have been barred their traditions for centuries due to colonialism and racism and finally finally are given permission to have one hunt a year in a region where food is scarce and that whale meat will all be used to feed the community because it costs so much to have staples that far north- and "animal lovers" will send hate mail all over the world filled with racist vitriol like "save a whale kill an Indian" because one animal is worth more to these folks then an entire community that's been savaged by colonialism. You'll note on nepenthe while they have a defense grid, there's a full kitchen- it could be that matter synthesizers don't work because of the "regenerative properties" of the planet- while sensors and a grid do.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:43 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


Once you've had some freshly killed bunnicorn you won't want to go back to that 3d printed slop.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


what an interesting set of resonances. I’m frankly kinda reluctant to go “fuckin’ Chabon!” because of how collaborative the writing process is for shows, but, um, look! Differentiated fan response to a background detail ends up illuminating the overall thrust of the work. That is the stuff; I love it when this happens.
posted by mwhybark at 9:36 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and Keiko was genuinely shocked to learn that Miles's mother had handled and cooked real meat, in much the same way a newlywed of today would be shocked to hear that her mother-in-law was still using pee as laundry soap or hanging weasel testicles around her neck to prevent pregnancy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:45 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Space legolas

He is such a Space Legolas that I unintentionally referred to him as "the elf" at one point.

Commodore Oh is from the Mirror Universe, which is why she wears sunglasses.

Got to admit those sunglasses gave me the same thought - it's a very particular prop to use.

If bunnicorns are anything like real rabbits then there are probably too many of them and letting your kid hunt them might even be beneficial as well as delicious.

Not to mention rabbits are a real problem as an invasive species. Nepenthe probably had some colonist kid's pair of bunnicorns escape and now they're ravaging the native plantlife.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:21 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


There you go, they're an invasive species that are harming the native ecosystem. The planet's regenerative powers limit the effectiveness tech based solutions like automated scanning and teleportation and can only get them when they're together in their warrens. The rest need to be managed by more traditional means and once they have been killed the feeling is it is better to make use of them instead of simply disposing of the bodies.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:10 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


(I hope the writers are paying attention to these conversations on Fanfare—if they get asked about this at convention panels in the future, they’ll have explanations ready, already worked out by smart fans.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:03 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Again, I'm liking this show, and I like Chabon... but I get this weird feeling with the guy, like he's watched a LOT of Trek and really knows and loves the universe and its characters, but he has these weird gaps or at least things he really wants to change without admitting he's changing them. Like, I read a thing where he was saying that Trek characters have always sworn but we just didn't see it because of censorship... But Star Trek IV established pretty clearly that Starfleet people just do not swear like modern people... and, come on, the TNG crew really didn't feel like a swear-y bunch beyond an occasional "damn" or something. But for whatever reason Chabon's got Starfleet people dropping f-bombs all over the place, and he's insisting it was always like that. I feel like the hunting is the same deal, like if pressed on it he'd insist that people were always hunting and eating meat and it was prized above replicated meat... when we have stuff (like Riker specifically saying they have replicated meat just as tasty as the real stuff, or Keiko being appalled by the idea of cooking real meat) that makes it clear hunting and eating real meat would probably be frowned upon by most humans in that era.

So you get stuff like Riker immediately sussing out that Soji is Data's daughter, which is so very Riker, him listening to jazz while making supper in this rustic house surrounded by high-tech forcefields, all this Riker-y stuff... at the same time that he's talking about being "ass deep in Romulans" and making pizza with freshly-killed space bunny guts. It's like the show gets the characters 85% right, and the remaining 15% can be surprisingly off sometimes. Still, it's a VAST improvement from the reboot movies, which felt like they'd been made by somebody who skimmed a couple of TOS episodes and said, "That was lame, but maybe I can use the raw materials to make something kickass, with explosions and chicks in their underwear and so... many... lensflares!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:27 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


> Isn't that the point? The values of the Federation are hollow.
I hope the point of the show is not that the espoused values of the Federation (pluralism, peace, social justice, compassion for feeling beings even if those beings look different from you and are not as smart as you and taste yummy) are “hollow” as in worthless and we should not aspire to them, but perhaps instead that the Federation became too complacent in assuming it had realized them, and that in reality the work is never done.

And I don’t think the bunny killing is in service of either of those points. I don’t think the showrunners were actually trying to say “Fuck that hippie vegetarian bullshit from TNG” (at least I hope not), nor did it seem like they were using this as an example of Starfleet officers failing to live up to their values. I think it was just thoughtless.

Just a blemish on a great episode. (I was kind of joking upthread when I said the bunnies were the saddest death of the episode. Obviously Hugh and the XBs were the greater loss. But those deaths were portrayed as murders committed by evil assholes, not as thoughtless slaughter by the good guys.)
posted by Syllepsis at 9:31 PM on March 12


I would imagine that any of Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes or Marina Sirtis would have been able to tell the writers that the bunnicorn sausage had to be cut and it would be cut. I'd also think they'd have a good idea of what the Federation and Starfleet stood for. If they were OK with it then maybe the Federation wasn't as "evolved" as you thought it was.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:57 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


well, certainly not as vegan, at any rate
posted by mwhybark at 4:14 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I imagine they regarded it as a cultural choice rather than a moral choice. Riker never objected to eating Gagh, for instance, which I think is relevant unless someone wants to argue that worms are vegan. It's not even necessarily the Federation as a whole, it's really just human culture where the vast majority of people choose to not eat animal meat and stick with what comes from the replicator. Star Trek has always been pretty laissez-faire about what other cultures choose to snack on.

Heck, do Betazoids care about eating meat? I could see it going either way, maybe they can sense the thoughts and feelings of animals and as such abstain, or maybe they look in a cow and see a whole lot of nothing going on in there.

In any case, while humans may generally be vegan in the 24th century clearly Riker and his family are not. Picard knows and accepts this (regardless of his own personal feelings) and Soji is probably too shell-shocked to decide if she really cares or not. It could have been interesting if she was like "Uh, is this actual animal products? I'm not comfortable with that." but I struggle to see how you'd slot that into an already full episode.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:23 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


OK I'm finally gonna jump in and overthink this plate of bunnicorn stew with y'all. Please don't forget how it's Kestra who hunted the bunnicorn and cleaned and dressed it for dinner. Kestra, the bad-ass teenage girl, the Wild Girl of the Woods. Her competence at hunting is part of establishing her character; it would not have the same impact as if she'd been all "dad I told the replicator to make us some synthicorn stew". Admittedly her hunting delicious live meat is a little inconsistent with the previous pro-vegan messaging on TNG. OTOH it's 100% consistent with Kestra the Viveen and Wild Girls of all kinds.
posted by Nelson at 5:20 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


Picard: Of course I will help you get back home, you are the child of a dear friend, your sister was murdered and you are in imminent danger from both Romulan and Federation secret police. But that's not the main reason I'm helping you. Before I was sitting around, bored off my keister and now there is something interesting for me to do!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:52 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


"Oh, we finally get to see what horrible thing compelled Jurati to -"

*vague flashes*

It felt like someone saying "narrative tension" and waving their hands and making spooky noises,
posted by Pronoiac at 4:48 PM on March 14 [7 favorites]


It felt like someone saying "narrative tension" and waving their hands and making spooky noises,


This would be much more preferable than the silly phantasmagoria we've had to repeatedly watch. It's certainly just a minor annoyance for me in a very enjoyable show, but still I don't really know why we need have to see it. Have the characters use some words. But I also get annoyed with the general trope of the scary zoom into a depiction of someone's trippy experiences, set to spooky sounds.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:55 PM on March 14


Tasha Yar would have been swearing like a sailor if network tv in 1987 had allowed it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:19 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


I am having a blast with the series, but my basic critique of Chabon is that his critical reading of TNG Picard isn't distinguishable from the standard postmodern neoliberal criticism of TNG.
Chabon's overt narrative is partly that TNG culture and Picard was basically an illusion, and let's bring back some reality.

But that is precisely everyone's criticism of Star Trek for decades. It was a talking-point, that Star Trek was "too idealistic". Star Trek being too idealistic is exactly what a jaded, postmodern, neoliberal viewpoint would suggest. Thus it's a subtle intellectual cop-out because by inhabiting that argument, one never has to reckon their actually existing classist prejudices against the idea of a FALGSCist society.

The idea that Picard doesn't know how to work with "normal people" doesn't make sense. So when Picard says the new, motley crew was has way more baggage / drama than the Enterprise D crew... I'd like to think that the TNG Picard would have questioned that framing and asked, why in world would you be trying to judge such a thing between them in the first place?

The dinner table scene is a very metanarrative moment, because it raises the question of whether and how two narrative theories are commensurate: Deanna's reassurances of Picard's genuine intentions towards Soji is the author's text asserting consistency between TNG idealism and today's expectations/receptiveness to characterization and depiction of a fictional scifi culture.

Which to turn it all upside down, Chabon is ironically adding more interpersonal drama because for whatever reasons valid or not, today's audience needs something more than the actual, real drama in Orthodox Trek.
posted by polymodus at 11:22 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Any bets that Thad's made-up language, which Soji learned in minutes, will be involved in some future plot point to allow Soji to communicate with Kestra & the Troi-Rikers in a way that the Romulans (and/or Star Fleet) cannot translate?
posted by fings at 6:17 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


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