Star Trek: Picard: Watcher
March 24, 2022 6:12 AM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

After Picard finds a friend lost in the past, he's shocked to encounter another familiar face on an Earth assignment.

Memory Alpha watches the watchers:

Kirk Thatcher reprises his role from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as the bus punk.

• TNG writer Tracy Torme is referenced on the book cover in the final scene.

• A newspaper headline in the final scene references the character Chris Brynner from DS9: "Past Tense."

"I still hate you / Can't wait to eviscerate you"
- selected lyrics from Mohawk Punk's new song

Poster's Log:
Not quite the direction I expected that to go, at least w/r/t the Watcher storyline. But based on the abilities shown by her confederates, the nature of her "assignment," and, more strikingly, the term "Supervisor," Non-Romulan Laris pretty much has to be connected to Gary Seven from "Assignment: Earth", one of the strangest TOS episodes (because it was a backdoor pilot for a different series that Roddenberry anticipated needing to pivot to after the expected cancellation of TOS). You pretty much can't dig deeper into the lore of "canonical" (or at least "aired") Trek without hitting TAS. Shit, maybe TAS'll be season three's wacky callback.

(And after seeing Q's jacket, I'm wondering if Book is gonna meet a Supervisor or something in the distant future on Europa!)

Kirk Thatcher: The Return was truly delightful, and it's good to know his favorite band is still producing those trademark trenchant lyrics. Somewhat less reassuring is that the Supervisor's presence seems to point to another "great man theory of history"-type storyline a la the Daniels/Archer stuff from ENT, but OTOH, I can totally see this show going a different route with that, maybe even one critical of that sci-fi time-travel staple.

We finally get sanctuary districts namechecked, but now that we know this story takes place in April, I guess a Gabriel Bell reference isn't likely. But a Chris Brynner reference was even more obligatory.

Rios telling the whole truth to ICE Asshole (whose actor, not kidding, is named Leif) recalls Chekov on the aircraft carrier. The impending busjacking may end up resembling a similarly striking action sequence from the end of VOY: "Future's End, Part II."

Presumably, Guinan doesn't remember Picard from the late 19th century (TNG: "Time's Arrow") because that timeline got rewritten or something; I don't quite remember the specifics of that handwave.

Too bad they didn't get Isis Jones to reprise her role as Guinan.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The Gary Seven organization got a name in the Trek novel I referenced a post or two ago, Watching the Clock. I'll be surprised and impressed if that name (which escapes me at the moment; the Aegis, maybe?) gets used in this show. If you're finding that this season of PIC hooks you (AND if you liked DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations"), you may enjoy that novel. I found it to require more focus than most novels of its type, because (A) it's densely packed with deep Trek callbacks, some of which even I couldn't parse, and (B) time travel.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (50 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Another reference: in the background of the final scene is the Jackson Roykirk planetarium. Roykirk created the Nomad probe that shows up in TOS: “the Changeling.”
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:30 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]




The whole time 7 was driving I was waiting for one of them to realize they could turn on the sirens to clear the way, I guess there's a limit to how much they know about the early 21st century. Also, a bit surprised that the reason that Jurati needed them to stop before teleporting them was because the teleporter was still not working right and not that she didn't want a moving car to suddenly lose its driver and maybe kill a bunch of people.

Thanks for the Time's Arrow callback. I was thinking "didn't they meet during that Mark Twain 2 parter" while watching it. I guess when the timelines changed then Federation Picard never went back in time to meet Guinan.

I enjoyed the Borg Queen's speech to Jurati but I never really watched Voyager and while I know they further developed the Borg the whole idea of a Borg Queen attracting followers and not say being assigned randomly gives them a lot more individuality than I thought they had.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:41 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


TNG writer Tracy Torme is referenced on the book cover in the final scene.

That surpassed reference and moved into full-on product placement. I’ve seen car ads (CLOSED COURSE PROFESSIONAL DRIVER DO NOT ATTEMPT) that give less camera time to their product.

I’m still finding its general uneasy marriage of Trek 2020s (Sanctuary Districts) and real-world 2020s (ICE) kind of odd. And of all the potential candidates for Watcher, I would not have reckoned seemingly human, seemingly time-displaced Laris as a possibility.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:19 PM on March 24


Thank you for fixing my extreme annoyance that Guinan didn't know Picard from previous time travel shenanigans. It makes sense that they wouldn't have met in this timeline since Confederation Picard never went to 18mumble San Francisco.

Interesting that Q's snap at the end of the episode seems not to be working. It seems there is something to the speculation that something is wrong with Q and this isn't necessarily all just him being an ass for shits and giggles.

Lastly, I enjoyed the episode and it seemed to go by pretty quick, but it also feels like very little actually happened. I'm a bit concerned that we may end up with the serious pacing issues that have been plaguing Disco and Picard yet again. Even so, I don't feel like I'm often hatewatching like I do with Disco, so that's nice.
posted by wierdo at 3:46 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


I can't accept that everyone involved in the show, including Patrick Stewart, forgot about that time travel episode so that means that there's an explanation that works with their understanding of time travel. Confederation Picard never went back in time to meet Guinan and Mark Twain was just the easiest explanation I could think of. There's an Engadget article and comment thread where people have come to similar conclusions or are various flavours of upset over the whole thing .

When Picard was telling Guinan that something changed and she gave up watching something important I was like, she did just give her dog away is the dog going to be the key to everything? And then when they were waiting at the park bench I was wondering if the supervisor would end up being the dog because that's a perfect place to hide in plain sight. But I guess that would be more MIB than Star Trek.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:45 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


ah, there's that good old-fashioned Star Trek subtle social commentary
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:13 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I think the podcast The Greatest Generation has poisoned my mind because "Chris Brynner" is a name I can conjure off the top of my head (Jadzia Dax voice: "oh, that Chris Brynner!"), but it all paid off with the "Brynner Fights Unionization Efforts" headline they snuck in there
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:14 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Thinking about the reverse Harry Potter Holocaust problem - if 'how does earth get out of this' has some kind of science fiction-based answer, then that condemns real life to be doomed.

But Picard saying "History's darkest moments can be a turning point for change" is verging on dialectical so there's hope.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:45 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


"Confederation Picard never went back in time to meet Guinan and Mark Twain was just the easiest explanation I could think of."

Yes, but now we are forced to think about how all of Trek's time-travel shenanigans to pre-2024 would have been changed or didn't happen while still leaving history the "same". That makes no sense.

I'm not someone who dislikes time-travel stories, even in Trek, but the attempts to fuse Trek's canonical post-1968 alternative history with actual history is just so incoherent. They'be been doing this all along, of course, but I think a critical mass was exceeded a while back and the whole effort is untenable.

For example, I think it undermines the political points PIC is attempting to make. Canonical Trek 2024 is somehow much worse than actual 2024, which makes us look good by comparison and weakens the implicit criticism of ICE and inequality.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:29 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Another callback: Q is in Jackson Roykirk Plaza. (And is the woman with the book supposed to somehow be significant to the story? Or did Q just intend to do a little random meddling, as a treat, and thus find out that his Infinity Gauntlet-less snapping was now kaput?)

Yeah, I don't worry too much about timey-wimey stuff; the NuTerran Empire probably just nuked Devidia II sometime before they started going back to 19th century San Francisco to vampire off human neural energy, thus no Guinan meeting Picard. The Engadget article was just a lot of "how dare they not account for every burp in continuity, even nearly thirty years after the episode in question" (if we're nitpicking, how about getting the name of the episode right consistently in your own work, article author?), and many of the comments aren't much better. I liked seeing a Guinan who wasn't this infinitely patient, insightful, understanding being. And I hope that they're indeed referencing "Assignment: Earth." I haven't read Watching the Clock--although I might, it sounds interesting--but Gary Seven is part of Greg Cox's Eugenics Wars series.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:23 PM on March 24


There's no plausible way that Rios could have secreted his badge, given ICE humiliation protocols of physically searching body cavities.

--

but the attempts to fuse Trek's canonical post-1968 alternative history with actual history is just so incoherent. Ivan Fyodorovich

Thanks for the pointer! Guinan never met Picard in ths timeliine because Q2Picard had probably just bombarded them from orbit (or something), instead of mediating a political solution.
posted by porpoise at 8:44 PM on March 24


What happened in this episode? Half the ep was car chase, half was Picard talking to Guinan. Effectively leaving off where we were at the end of last episode - Seven/Raffi trying to find Rios, Picard going to find the Watcher. I don't mind things getting in the characters' way to stop them accomplishing things but this ep was the very definition of padding out the season. And it doesn't even have Discovery's excuse of 13 episodes. PIC is only 10 and they still do eps like this?

When the most exciting parts of the episode are cameos from Star Trek IV and TOS episodes, there is something wrong.

Guinan's commentary on 2024 was pretty great though. Telling Picard that he's the kind of person on modern Earth that can wait and people who look like her cannot wait was unsubtle but the right amount of Trek-style commentary.

I just wish the episode was more dramatically sound.

Also, I wish the ep titles were more exciting. I know we're a long way from "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" but Assimilation followed by Watcher is just... yawn.
posted by crossoverman at 9:40 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


Hang on - I just thought of something that might resolve the Picard/Guinan thing.

So: the time that Guinan met him in 1800s San Francisco, she only met him for like a few hours, right?

And: in this episode, she reacted when he finally told her "my name is Jean-Luc Picard". Right?

Well: Maybe it wasn't that she didn't remember him; maybe she just didn't RECOGNIZE him. I mean - the year 2024 is about 200 years after the 1800's. I can barely remember what my 5th grade gym teacher looked like, and that was someone I saw regularly only 40 years ago; wouldn't it make sense that Guinan simply didn't recognize a guy she saw for a few hours 200 years ago, especially if that guy has aged since then?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on March 25 [9 favorites]


I was wondering if the supervisor would end up being the dog because that's a perfect place to hide in plain sight. But I guess that would be more MIB than Star Trek.

But it would be very "Assignment: Earth," which had a mystical cat of some sort. And now I'm wondering if the big Book-Europa-PICs2 reveal will be that Grudge was a Supervisor all along. How'd we not see it?

ah, there's that good old-fashioned Star Trek subtle social commentary

I'm so here for it.

And is the woman with the book supposed to somehow be significant to the story? Or did Q just intend to do a little random meddling, as a treat, and thus find out that his Infinity Gauntlet-less snapping was now kaput?

That's what I thought at first, but someone (on Reddit IIRC) saw a potential/kind-of spoiler on some Amazon service that gave a character name to that woman. I'll just say, re-watch Picard's academy speech from the season premiere and note what he says about his ancestor.

Effectively leaving off where we were at the end of last episode

Eh, I disagree. Plot-beat-wise, yes, but one of the things I appreciated most about season 1 was that it allowed for some marinating time. And the themes and characterization did develop nicely in this ep. Picard went home! And RaffiSeven (heh) are growing on me, in large part thanks to this episode, and I am down for some more Jurati-Queen mind-chess.

Also, I wish the ep titles were more exciting.

I'm with you there. Even season 1 had some offbeat ones. Maybe, for now, they're thinking more in terms of mystery.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:52 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Also we finally have a canonical explanation for why a frenchman named Jean-Luc Picard has an English accent.
posted by SansPoint at 6:48 AM on March 25 [18 favorites]


I'm going to hate this season so I should maybe stop commenting here. It's a combination of everything I dislike in Trek: Q's deus ex machina role, Guinan's deus ex machina role, Borg Queen in her deus in machina role, time travel with its inherent contradictions, time travel to contemporary era with its clumsy social commentary. This episode reminded me far too much of the whale movie and while I realize my opinion is out of step, that's one of my least favorite Trek movies. But that's what they're delivering here so it's either like it or lump it.

Ironically it was the Borg queen I liked best about the episode, her exchange on the ship with Jurati. There was some realness there in the talk about being alone, and unappreciated, and it was all very cruel and interesting.

Thanks for pointing out the Assignment: Earth connection, I'd blocked that episode from my memory under my "time travel to contemporary era" rule. I'll note that episode also features a cat who is more than she seems, and while I'm 95% sure that the "Grudge is a queen" stuff in Disco is just a goof now I'm disturbingly reminded of a precedent. If Guinan's dog turns out to be A Thing I'm gonna be mad about it. (I think it was just to give Picard some moments of comfort, recalling his own dog from home, Number One.) Also notable that now we have two characters named "Seven".

I was surprised to see ICE 100% painted as a villain in this episode. It agrees with my politics and I think it's good to see ICE brutality depicted so directly. But I'm surprised; there's a whole lot of Americans who think ICE is great. And this isn't some "weirdo Nazi future ICE", this is the year 2024 and basically our ICE doing things our ICE does.
posted by Nelson at 7:03 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Well, no. The eisode ties together ICE and canonical sanctuary stuff that implies this version of ICE is actually more evil than the actual ICE. That bugged me a lot, making reality look better by comparison.

On the other hand, Trek ICE aren't putting unattended children in cages, so there's that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:32 AM on March 25


Ivan Fyodorovich: We haven't gotten to the border Sanctuary District yet. It's entirely possible that ICE of 2024 is caging kids. We'll find out.
posted by SansPoint at 9:03 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


We've seen cages without kids. Doesn't mean there aren't cages with kids. Also, are the 2024 ICE really worse than ours? By all accounts, there are some real thugs working for that agency. (I expect the "Star Trek is too woke now!" crowd will be outraged, but, you know, how could anyone possibly misunderstand the entire history of the franchise so completely?)

I'll admit that much of the pleasure I'm taking in this season is from the fanservice. Explaining things like Picard's English accent, and calling back in all sorts of ways to the previous shows and movies, makes it great fun. I'm totally incapable of viewing this objectively.

It's interesting how many different past Trek time-travel plotlines they're touching on. It almost feels like a grand tour. I'm just wondering if they'll somehow manage to work in a reference to Edith Keeler.

Here's one head-scratcher: I totally buy that 2024 Guinan doesn't remember Picard from 1893, because in this timeline, Picard never went to 1893. But the Bus Punk seems to remember, or at least have some kind of uneasy deja vu, about encountering Kirk and Spock in 1987... yet by rights, Kirk and Spock should never have traveled to 1987 in this timeline.

So, then: Who *IS* the Bus Punk, really? Is he some sort of exceptional time-sensitive being, who can tell that history has been altered? Someone could write some fun fanfiction exploring this.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:16 AM on March 25


And this isn't some "weirdo Nazi future ICE", this is the year 2024 and basically our ICE doing things our ICE does.

Yes. And I appreciate that Rios -- a man who knows what it means to wear a uniform and a badge, to be part of a command structure, and to be authorized to use deadly force -- is outraged and disgusted by how the ICE agent acts. It's good to see Trek writers remembering that Starfleet is not just "space cops" or "space force" -- it's an organization with a more evolved ethos.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:20 AM on March 25 [5 favorites]


But the Bus Punk seems to remember, or at least have some kind of uneasy deja vu, about encountering Kirk and Spock in 1987... yet by rights, Kirk and Spock should never have traveled to 1987 in this timeline.

The Probe (the big space thing that was destroying Earth because it wanted to talk to the whales) would have still shown up, so somehow the Terrans came back to get some whales, probably.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:42 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Although didn't Guinan in the 1800s pretty much look like Guinan in the 2300s? Maybe her race goes back and forth between growing older and younger and it was just luck that she was in a similar stage during the previous time travel shenanigans.

Also, the other time travelling stuff with Kirk still needing to happen makes me think that maybe the real difference is in Picard. So the Federation up to his time was more or less the same, so Spock still came back in time and neck pinched the bus punk, but once he was in Starfleet he encouraged it to be much more xenophobic. Which is why he's the one that executed Sarek and Gul Ducat and has their skulls as trophies.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:51 AM on March 25




Ha, nice catch!
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:07 AM on March 25


Also, the tent where people are being served food had "21st St. Mission" on it, which was the name of Edith Keeler's mission kitchen.
posted by briank at 11:08 AM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Nice.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:12 AM on March 25


The Probe (the big space thing that was destroying Earth because it wanted to talk to the whales) would have still shown up, so somehow the Terrans came back to get some whales, probably.

Or maybe in the bad timeline, humpbacks never went extinct? Just because it's a dark timeline doesn't mean everything is worse.

Or maybe the Confederation figured out how to destroy the probe?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:16 AM on March 25


someone (on Reddit IIRC) saw a potential/kind-of spoiler on some Amazon service that gave a character name to that woman. I'll just say, re-watch Picard's academy speech from the season premiere and note what he says about his ancestor.

It's in the IMDb info for this episode, the character's name is Renee Picard, who is indeed name-checked in Jean-Luc's academy speech. So Q is trying to mess with one of Picard's ancestors who is important to early Starfleet/Earth space exploration.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:23 AM on March 25


Or maybe in the bad timeline, humpbacks never went extinct? Just because it's a dark timeline doesn't mean everything is worse.


They make a point early on the season that the environment is in an even worse state in the dark timeline. Maybe they find another way to stop the probe? More warlike humans leads to better weapons?
posted by biffa at 11:40 AM on March 25


I'm a little confused. They went back to 2024 to stop all the badness of the Confederation. They arrive on April 12 and are told the key event they have to alter is on April 15.

Is the April 12 2024 they're in now identical to the prime Trek timeline that Picard, et al just came from? Or has there already been some divergence and it's about to get a lot worse? I've been assuming the timelines were identical and the divergence only began on April 15.
posted by Nelson at 12:07 PM on March 25


I've been assuming the timelines were identical and the divergence only began on April 15.

That's been my assumption, but now the crew is making waves of their own with Rios captured by ICE and Seven and Raffi pursuing him. Very timey-wimey, to borrow from another time traveler.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:58 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


They'll come back to "their" early 25th century and it will be a lot like the old one, only everyone will be wearing skants. "They're really much more comfortable."
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:16 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


I admit I did immediately think of "Time's Arrow"! Even though, I mean, who really cares. And I think the movie Generations also ignores "Time's Arrow"?

EXCEPT DON'T IGNORE IT BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME lol. Bring Mark Twain into PIC s3.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 4:15 PM on March 25


Fifteen… the fifteenth. The fifteenth of April! Don’t you see? We have only three more days to file our taxes!
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:34 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


...Gary Seven from "Assignment: Earth", one of the strangest TOS episodes (because it was a backdoor pilot for a different series that Roddenberry anticipated needing to pivot to after the expected cancellation of TOS).

Here's an imagined trailer for that spinoff series.
posted by fairmettle at 9:22 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Episode 7 of this season airs on April 15. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
posted by crossoverman at 12:24 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Assignment Earth is such a crazy episode. I looked it up and Gary Seven's super-ballpoint (unlocks doors, kills/stuns people) and Dr Who's sonic screwdriver both debuted on TV in March of 1968. Great minds…
posted by jabah at 7:07 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I mean, the whole "Assignment:Earth" premise is basically a Doctor Who ripoff with just a few cosmetic differences.
posted by briank at 7:31 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


So, crossing over, was the fictional LAPD parking lot that Raffi and Seven borrowed their ride from the same fictional LAPD parking lot that The Rookie uses? It certainly looked like it...
posted by Kyol at 7:51 PM on March 26


"I can just imagine a little Picard wandering around here saying, "Milk, chocolate, hot.""

Is there going to be a reference to "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot" in every episode this season? I know this show loves to drop references, but maybe don't go to this well every week?
posted by crossoverman at 2:28 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I remember somewhat disliking Jurarti last season and being unsure why. This season she's giving off MAJOR "Spinel from Steven Universe" vibes and I have perfectly clear reasons for disliking her.
posted by jordemort at 7:23 AM on March 27


I mean, I've always liked Jurati . . . but possibly in a way that's not based in my neocortex.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:33 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


I am genuinely loving Picard for many reasons, but Jurati is not one of them. I haven't seen anything she's done to earn redemption from Maddox's murder (which everyone seems to have forgotten) and if they've done anything to narratively justify her full personality transplant from the previous season, I must have missed it.

All that said, I remember seeing and loving Assignment: Earth (Terri Garr!) so I'm pretty excited if they're using that as inspiration.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:40 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I was trying to figure out what it is about Alison Pill that rubs me the wrong way, and it turns out she was the evil teacher in Snowpiercer. That explains a lot!
posted by Space Kitty at 5:44 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


if they've done anything to narratively justify her full personality transplant from the previous season, I must have missed it

She tossed off the line "I killed my last boyfriend while under alien influence" in 2x01 which I think is this show's way of dealing with it.
posted by crossoverman at 5:46 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen anything she's done to earn redemption from Maddox's murder (which everyone seems to have forgotten) and if they've done anything to narratively justify her full personality transplant from the previous season, I must have missed it.

In the first episode, she drunkenly explains to that dude at the bar that she just finished a year of investigation where she was absolved for the murder due to being under the influence of scary alien tech.

As for the personality stuff, she was always a bit manic, and murdering your boyfriend is bound to create some changes in your outlook.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


Every time Agnes calls Picard "Mister" it reminds me of Madeline Kahn saying "you've got it Mister!" in Young Frankenstein and I kind of half hope for a "taffeta, darling!" from her.
posted by Poogle at 6:38 AM on March 28 [4 favorites]


[I've been wondering about that MISTER too!]
posted by Space Kitty at 3:13 PM on March 28


So, crossing over, was the fictional LAPD parking lot that Raffi and Seven borrowed their ride from the same fictional LAPD parking lot that The Rookie uses? It certainly looked like it...

Probably a parking lot at LA Center Studios.
posted by jimw at 8:56 PM on March 28


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