Star Trek: Picard: Two of One
April 7, 2022 5:46 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

While the Borg Queen further endangers the timeline, Renee, Jean-Luc, and Adam Soong find that they can't hide on the inside all the pain they've ever felt.

There's only one Memory Alpha:

• Dr. Mae Jemison is referenced in dialogue in this episode. The first African-American woman to travel in space, Jemison appeared in the TNG sixth season episode "Second Chances" [FF previously], making her the first real astronaut to appear in Star Trek.

• Tallinn's plan to enter Jean-Luc's unconscious mind resembles that employed by Bashir and O'Brien in the DS9 seventh season episode "Extreme Measures" [FF previously].

• Jean-Luc and Renee discuss a model of OV-165, which appeared in the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise.

• The Nomad probe from TOS: "The Changeling" [FF previously] is referenced on a placard in this episode.

"Fear means you're smart. That you understand the risks."
"So what are you afraid of?"
"I wouldn't know where to begin."
- Jean-Luc and Renee

"Trust me. We're the good guys."
"Good guys never say that."
- Rios and Teresa

Poster's Log:
Right before I hit "Play" on this episode, it occurred to me that maybe the reason why Tallinn looks like Laris is because they are the same person, and Tallinn's assignment isn't over because Renee Picard gets shunted forward in time. Interestingly, the Paramount+ subtitles indicated that when Tallinn curses under her breath while looking at her "mobile device," she says something in the Romulan language. The question then becomes: what's a Romulan, even one who's also a Supervisor, doing protecting Earth history in the 21st century?

Did…Young Jean-Luc's family keep an alien chained in their basement? And speaking of going dark, I liked the creepy Adam Soong montage. Has Brent Spiner ever had a chance to go this dark in this franchise without leaning into camp?

I didn't expect this episode to spend so much time at the gala, and I really didn't expect Agnes to sing the big band version of Pat Benatar's "Shadows of the Night." (BTW, TV love-triangle logic demands that Teresa earns the ire of Agnes of Borg pretty soon.) Weird ep by any measure. In a way, I hope they keep their foot on the weird pedal—maybe bring Kore with them to the 25th century a la Gillian the Whale Lady—but with only four more episodes ahead of us, it does seem like this storyline needs to get moving, unless they're gonna end the season on a timey-wimey cliffhanger.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
PIC season 3 showrunner with various intriguing hints and teases (
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (75 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Season Three Finale: Picard wakes up in bed with Beverly and says "I had the weirdest dream".
posted by briank at 7:42 AM on April 7 [12 favorites]

So with the exception of Artemis all of the names for Soong's daughters I heard were variations on Persephone. I'm torn between two theories. One is that he's just going for a cure to the particular genetic disease and the metaphor is that Persephone is trapped in the underworld (away from the sun) for half the year. The other is that Kore and the others are clones of Soong's late wife who died of the ailment and he's trying to bring her back from death specifically.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:06 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I really, really hope that she's not Soong's wife's clone because eww.

Cool cliffhanger of an episode, with JLP locked in, Renee maybe still on the edge of backing out, and Agnes of Borg... about to do what, exactly? This would be anticlimactic for that subplot, but I would bray like a motherfreaking donkey if she tried to assimilate the internet and pull a Skynet, but instead wandered into something like Twitter and just terminally doomscrolled until someone rescued her. (Kittenwar is also still active.) Also intrigued by the idea that either Teresa gets brought back to the 25C or Rios stays behind.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:30 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

impressive choice to start this episode of a streaming-only series with the WORLD’S LONGEST EPISODE RECAP (two full calendar minutes)

Agnes of Borg feels like we’re getting a recycled version of Gray from Discovery, though with the mandatory “dumb and exciting instead of dumb and boring” treatment, so there’s that at least. Helmeted Borg Queen back in the future-present 100% has Agnes’s face.

Dr. Soong really should know better than to trust autopilot mode on his Tesla, especially at night

Really not sure why they felt the need to do the opening cliffhanger structure, other than maybe not having confidence in the ability of the first two thirds of the episode itself to keep audiences engaged. In which case, well, fair, I suppose.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:40 PM on April 7

So with the exception of Artemis all of the names for Soong's daughters I heard were variations on Persephone.

If you look up meanings of Persephone, one of them is “bringer of destruction.”
posted by leotrotsky at 6:42 PM on April 7

I don't think Soong is actually trying to *cure* anything. He's trying to *perfect* something. He's a eugenicist.
posted by briank at 7:20 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

So Soong starts the Eugenics wars?
posted by suelac at 8:57 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Do musicians at swanky parties just automatically kick in when they hear someone belting out a song? Not even a glance to the pianist? "Well Phil, I guess someone just forgot to tell us that a random woman in a red dress would start singing tonight, but we know the sheet music by heart so let's roll with it"
posted by Molesome at 1:39 AM on April 8 [22 favorites]

For an episode that had some things happen, it sure felt like not much happened. At least some pieces got moved toward the other end of the board, so maybe it'll pay off next episode. Of course, that's what I was thinking with the previous episode, soooo...

The thing I'm really not liking so far about this season is that the episodes seem to have no structure of their own. If feels like a series of clips from a film rather than a narrative structure that works with weekly episode drops. I bet it would feel a lot better if I waited for the season to finish and binged the rest all at once.
posted by wierdo at 2:51 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]

So Soong starts the Eugenics wars?

Otherwise known as the Singh-Soong wars.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:26 AM on April 8 [13 favorites]

And yet it was Agnes whom we saw Singh a Soong. She had a pretty nice voice, too!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:10 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]

So Soong starts the Eugenics wars?

While it feels like there have been maybe a bit too many Easter eggs and callbacks in this season, I think the idea that a Soong is behind the Eugenics Wars is a nice bit of Trek world-building that ties things together.
posted by briank at 7:13 AM on April 8

Per canon, the Eugenics Wars already happened, although this Soong has been around for a while, so maybe was involved. (Per beta canon, the Eugenics Wars actually happened, but their true nature--fought by, and for, the Augments--wasn't publicly known until later.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:07 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

God, if THIS SEASON fails to actually sort shit out w/r/t the Eugenics Wars (or muddies the waters yet further), I might break something.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:15 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

Jurati singing made no damn sense, and was the absolute dumbest, worst moment in all of Picard so far (though Alison Pill does have a terrific singing voice). The obvious stupidity of it: how did the band have a random, full arrangement of a 1982 Pat Benatar song? does it somehow become a pop standard in the next two years? how did they rehearse (or agree to perform with) Jurati? how does she (or the Borg queen) even know that song? the arrangement starts a cappella--where did she get her pitch, so that she started in the right key? does Jurati have perfect pitch? why did that even happen?... She just sings then bails, and then...walks into traffic with her dress dramatically flowing around her?

I also agree that the most problematic aspect of this season is that each episode has differing narrative plans and techniques, and it doesn't feel like the same show from week to week, which is really jarring beyond any specific criticisms. I'm enjoying the plot OK, but the realization each episode is seemingly misstep after misstep.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:55 AM on April 8 [10 favorites]

Too much of this show in general makes no damn sense.
posted by kyrademon at 9:35 AM on April 8 [8 favorites]

Sigh. I have really been rooting for this show. I enjoyed the first season a lot. But this season feels... shallower.

And this episode is the low point for me, thus far. It felt lazily assembled from the most generic off-the-shelf TV tropes.

The powers and characteristics of the Borg have been portrayed rather elastically over the years, but turning the Borg Queen into a glib demon inside Jurati's head is just dumb.

Picard calling his team "guys" is completely out of character.

The power was out at the gala... but then a few seconds later someone switched on a spotlight?

Soong bought his way onto the board, told the security staff that Picard was a threat, and the guards were coming for him... then they just sort of forgot about him?

Instead of using the security team, Soong left and got into his personal vehicle, somehow knowing that Picard and Picard would appear out front, where he could run one or both of them over?

Robo-Picard is hit by the car and rushed to the clinic, but nobody comments on his robo-physiology? The doctor can't even detect it? (Yes, the defibrillator reacted strangely... but it's like the writers are under orders to never openly mention that Picard is an android, and only make the most oblique references possible to it.)

Soong walking into his lab looking very slightly mussed, and Kore reacting with overblown horror?

Kore apparently learning how to use basic computer search tools for the first time in her life?

I would have hoped that Stewart and Frakes would have used their influence to reshape some of the egregiously bad writing in an episode like this. I guess it's possible that it was even worse to begin with, and they fought to get it to the minimal state we saw.

Please, make it make sense.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:39 AM on April 8 [14 favorites]

All this ancestor worship in Picard feels more like J. J. Abrams one trick for compelling story in Star Wars. It sucks.

This is turning in to a fantasy show. Fantastical elements like Q in TNG didn't upend the entire universe the way "An ancient race of supernatural beings watches over certain chosen bloodlines" which is Harry Potter / divine right of kings stuff
posted by Space Coyote at 11:43 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]

This one was a little painful with the song. (My only plausible, only half-serious guess is that the band is using tablet-based sheet music and the Borg Queen hacked in and uploaded the score.)

Otherwise the Kore reveal was pretty good, if a little implausible that Soong actually destroyed the gene/clone machine with no hope of ever rebuilding.

The Picards’ conversation was pretty good but bits of it only make sense if JL’s mother is Renee’s descendant, which I guess is plausible, if not my immediate guess thanks to patriarchal naming conventions.
posted by supercres at 12:37 PM on April 8

Maybe the Borg queen hacked in to find out what the next number on the set list was going to be?

Not that I'm defending the silliness of the last few episodes... The whole gala sequence has been dumb.
posted by umber vowel at 12:48 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]

When Jurati was in the security room why didn't the guards care that she was talking to herself? Or Picard being in line telling her to hurry while Rios is attempting to crash the party, the guards don't notice that?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:53 PM on April 8

Really not sure why they felt the need to do the opening cliffhanger structure
Lighthouse Keeper

You don’t have to mollycoddle me. I want to improve my writing. Tell me your real thoughts.


All right. Well, um, I’m not a huge fan, personally, of the whole "three weeks earlier" teaser thing. I feel like, you know, we should start our stories where they begin not start them where they get interest...

Lighthouse Keeper

Get out.
posted by mikelieman at 3:34 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]

This season started out strong and I had hope. Then… this.

I don’t… what are they even… why?
posted by Fleebnork at 4:13 PM on April 8 [5 favorites]

PICARD IS AN ANDROID. Why are they implying that an ECG or a defibrillator would do anything at all?

They have all the money, how did they write themselves into this sock?
posted by rockindata at 7:25 PM on April 8 [5 favorites]

I continue to love this so I'm ignoring the whole thread.
Jurati is "the me character" in this show so how she interacts with the borg queen is exactly how I would act, and exactly how I expect the both queen would treat me - I'm pretty sure I've actually said something like "We are well past optimal cortisol levels here" to myself, and recently - and did you guys catch Jurati's pleased proud smile when she was showing off about something early in the episode, that cracked me up.

I like how they're keeping Picard's character as competence porn because that's what I've always loved about his character. He always has a plan and he always knows what to do, even when he doesn't know what to do. This is a good pure Picard story to me.

Another thing I like about this show is that Rio is like your traditional handsome, daring, romantic space captain, but he's also just himself.

Dr. Jemison!!

"No, fear is fear - it doesn't speak in riddles."

"Trust me, were the good guys" " Good guys never say that"
posted by bleep at 7:28 PM on April 8 [7 favorites]

Romulan, even one who's also a Supervisor, doing protecting Earth history in the 21st century?
She's not protecting earth history, she's protecting the history of the universe.

The borg queen pretty clearly explained she created the blackout & performance in order to create a distraction from the others and flood Jurati's brain with endorphins which she needed to take full control of her brain. The borg queen's purpose is to conduct minds so they're all working together, and she apparently doesn't need a physical connection to do it, or to do anything. That's how this story goes.
posted by bleep at 7:37 PM on April 8

Also what's the point of being disappointed in a show because they're "setting up pieces". The setting of the pieces is the show. The things that happen are the things people say to each other. That is the content of the show. What are people expecting? What else happens on tv except people being in certain rooms & talking to each other?
posted by bleep at 7:42 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]

Well this was awful. The only reason I'm still watching is it's got the Star Trek name on it.

There sure were a lot of boobies on display tonight. I get they're all wearing fancy evening wear, so maybe Jurati's booby window dress makes sense. But why does Soong's daughter also have cleavage hanging out?

For that matter why is Isa Briones cast at all in this show? Why bring back a season 1 actress to play some completely unrelated character? It's ridiculous.

And Elnor. What are they paying that actor to show up for 5 seconds in an episode?
posted by Nelson at 9:36 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]

Isa Briones

As in sportball, not making excuses but presenting a circumstance. Like Data has seen Lal in dreams, etc./ 'Picard daughter in Data's painting'...

Future Soongs are genetically manipulated/ artificial, so maybe there's a visual ingram of the original Kore that Adam's emotions got epigenetically imprinted into the Soong meme/ virus/ cyber-germline.

(barf, I feel so dirty)
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]

does Jurati have perfect pitch? why did that even happen?

New theory - it only happened in Dr. Jurati's head to trick her body into producing more endorphins. The guests saw someone stumble down the staircase in the dark, humming loudly to herself, and shrugged as she headed out into traffic.
posted by Molesome at 12:02 AM on April 9 [7 favorites]

I may have this wrong, as I might have missed something (I've been half-watching while browsing MeFi) but -
When Talinn swore in Romulan (she is not Romulan, Laris is*) , I slapped my thigh and said out loud
Like Q is doing an upgraded Dixon Hill adventure to Picard to teach him a lesson, and all the other players are there because Q does his casting American Horror Story style; where each season is different, but with the same group of actors cast regardless of type - the detective one season is the killer in the next, etc. So everyone's just been dropped into their own nonsensical NPC plotline? That would suck, but would explain a lot.

*Orla Brady is doing a fantastic job with both characters. But I want to ask her American dialogue coach which specific town in northwest Massachusetts they were going for, and why they pushed it so hard. (Other than to hammer home the 'same actress, different character' point.)
But I may just be pouting about not getting more of Sexy Irish Romulan-in-a-cardigan Laris. And my pet theory that maybe all it took for the Romulans to mellow out was convincing them that they had options beyond bowl cuts and cruise ship upholstery fabric stuffed with shoulder pads.
posted by bartleby at 1:09 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]

I'm with Bartleby. Reality is supposed to break down this season. Everyone Picard is interacting with is a version of someone he already knows, à la Wizard of Oz. Only in a dream or altered Q-state would this many character coincidences not raise a flag. Q is trying to show Picard something about his own hubris perhaps.

At least, I hope that hacky use of a series of recent flashbacks to jump up the tension is deliberately hacky, and not someone trying to get noticed by the producers of S.W.A.T. or 9-1-1.
posted by cardboard at 4:32 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]

The first screenwriter to use the “heroes-in-crisis-now-let’s-flash-back-to-One-Hour-Earlier” was a genius. The second was a hack.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:47 AM on April 9 [5 favorites]

I suppose "this is all a holodeck simulation / in Picard's head / some Q fakery" is possible. That'd explain Elnor's flickering appearances, he's out there in the real world trying to make contact with our lost heroes. Perhaps Spock is going to show up with a mind meld to put everything right, with an assist from the Borg Queen while Q cracks some jokes.

Except... there was this whole elaborate plot escapade involving ICE that happened with a lot of people who are Not Picard. Also Picard is in a special android coma now and everyone else is running around acting independently of him. If this is all about Picard, Q is showing remarkable dedication to the kayfabe to bother simulating a hundred miles of SoCal desert highway too.

But it's a Q story. Literally anything could be the explanation. Which is part of why I hate the whole Q conceit. There's no stakes, no sense to it. Lots of John de Lancie hamming it up though.
posted by Nelson at 6:59 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]

It's pretty clear that the Elnor appearances are all instances of Raffi mistaking someone else for Elnor. It's supposed to be because she's grieving.

I'm not totally sure why they assigned her to be the only one who is particularly broken up about his death. But all the characters seem to be somewhat simplified, cartoonish versions of themselves this season.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:23 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]

I had to pause when Jurati started singing "Shadows of the Night" under the control of the Borg Queen. What the fuck is this show and why is it so full of nonsense?

A time travel story and a Q story was always going to be trouble but they're cramming in references to every previous Trek series and some films and - as a massive Trek nerd - I'm not here for it. TNG didn't trade on constant references to Classic Trek. It was very restrained in what it took from canon and what TOS characters it used. DS9 overlapped with TNG and VOY but these three shows weren't regularly mining each other for plots and characters and history. Though they did all take place at the same time, so at least TNG and DS9 sort of influenced each other there for a while.

Yeah, there's nearly 60 years of canon now and this is a direct spin-off from TNG and VOY. But it doesn't have to be mired by everything that's some before. And trying to sort out of the History of the Future and the early 21st century is the work of mad men.

This episode was 35 minutes long and the writers still, for some reason, thought it had to have a flashforward structure in there to keep our attention.

The first season took itself super seriously but at least I understood the character motivations and what it was saying about Picard and ageing and trauma. This season is so determined to be light hearted that it's threatening to be entirely without substance.

The Borg Queen made Jurati sing a Pat Benatar cover for endorphins. This is easily one of the lowest of low points in Trek.
posted by crossoverman at 9:57 PM on April 9 [7 favorites]

One does have to acknowledge Jurati's appreciation for Terran classical music.
In-universe, Shadows would be 420 years old. When was the last time you were at karaoke and someone busted out the Hildegard von Bingen jams?
posted by bartleby at 10:08 PM on April 9 [5 favorites]

We're running with the shadows of the night
So baby, take my hand, you'll be alright
Surrender all your dreams to me tonight
They'll come true in the end
posted by Nelson at 10:49 PM on April 9

Did anyone else go to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton in Las Vegas? It had a "4-D" ride where you and your fellow riders are unexpectedly transported to the Enterprise D. A Klingon is trying to get rid of Captain Picard by abducting one of his ancestors from the past, bringing them to the 24th century, and killing them. This ancestor is one of the people on the ride. Apparently, it was Renee all along.
posted by obol at 1:41 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

A time travel story and a Q story was always going to be trouble but they're cramming in references to every previous Trek series and some films and - as a massive Trek nerd - I'm not here for it.

I kind of blame "Lower Decks" for this a bit. They cram a ton of callbacks and Easter eggs into every episode, and it feels like the Picard writers watched a couple of those and said "hold my beer".
posted by briank at 7:24 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

TNG didn't trade on constant references to Classic Trek.

DeForest Kelley is literally in the first episode. The second episode was a rewrite of an S1 TOS episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:29 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

Also, speaking of Lower Decks, one of my dreams came true this weekend.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:31 AM on April 10 [6 favorites]

And now you can (partly) dress the part of a time-travelling member of Starfleet. Tuck your pants in for more of a TOS feel.
posted by mephisjo at 10:42 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

A little too spendy for my level of cosplay, but nice.
posted by briank at 3:54 PM on April 10

DeForest Kelley is literally in the first episode. The second episode was a rewrite of an S1 TOS episode.

That's called a cameo and the episode didn't revolve around him.

In any case, these two examples don't prove that TNG did this constantly. They didn't. Sarek turned up in S3, Spock in S5, Scotty in S6. They didn't make a habit of referencing old episodes or trying to write sequels to them or anything like that.

I kind of blame "Lower Decks" for this a bit. They cram a ton of callbacks and Easter eggs into every episode, and it feels like the Picard writers watched a couple of those and said "hold my beer".

I forgive LD because it's a comedy. And the references usually make fun of the thing. The PIC references are so distracting. "Punk on Bus" is a great unexpected call-back but plugging in a reference to Gary Seven and building a whole thread around that concept feels lazy.
posted by crossoverman at 4:21 PM on April 10 [3 favorites]

What the fuck is this show and why is it so full of nonsense?

thank you for asking this, nice to see it's not just me. this season is very full of stupid things and I'm finding it disappointing.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:26 PM on April 10 [5 favorites]

I agree with everyone who is disappointed in all the pointless nonsense in this episode, and I will add: we don't have that many years left to enjoy Sir Patrick Stewart! Why are we wasting his precious time on this??
posted by juliapangolin at 5:43 PM on April 10 [4 favorites]

to some extent I have kind of made my peace with this show being dumb as hell but at least exciting about it, but there's just so much about it that has always felt kind of like they do not really understand what they are doing, nor why — the opening title sequence ends with a musical callback to the original Star Trek theme, rather than TNG's (or at least, the TNG bit doesn't always show up), suggesting a sort of fundamental lack of awareness of whose nostalgia they are even trading on

it does at least have some good moments, or at least some fun moments, but yeah, the insistence on "hey, here's a name you recognize!" everywhere this season in particular has a very Star-Wars-Prequels feel to it that makes the world feel so small, in a way that even the worst excesses of Discovery have, so far, generally been able to avoid
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:34 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]

Thank you all. That was the dumbest hour of TV i've watched in a long time, but I knew I could come in here and feel that at least I'd get some pleasure from it having it dissected and roasted bit by bit.
I'm old enough to have watched ToS as it aired, and absolutely feel that TnG at its height was peak Trek. I've like pieces of Disco but had to abandon this season, so I was cautiously optimistic about P2 going in. Sir Patrick is a treasure, and deserves so much better than this.

Others have pointed out many of the most egregious moments, but I lost it at the hamfisted tension of the security checkpoint. Why get in line before Jurati has accomplished her upload? Don't the guards wonder at the newcomers talking to themselves? How long will a guard wait while double-checking an obviously fake ID? Is futuretech really compatible with USB, and does it immediately (and I do mean immediately) sync all of the files to remote security checkpoints?
Why oh why was this episode so poorly written and directed????
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:11 PM on April 10 [4 favorites]

I feel like I can look past a lot of the dopey TV-writer-y gaps and devices here—even DS9 had a few of 'em—but the Jurati Benatar moment is still furrowing my brow. Probably because of the other time a far-future sci-fi series started strong but went off the rails at the precise (in retrospect) moment that it inexplicably inserted a popular 20th-century song into the mouths of its characters: the BSG episode where they brought in "All Along the Watchtower." As soon as one of the characters said "There must be some kind of way out of here," I remember clearly thinking "oh I hope they don't—," and then they kept on going with it and I thought "oh no, they are," and the show was all downhill from there.

Here, I'm less concerned because (A) at least we have good reason to expect that They do indeed Have A Plan in this case, and (B) my initial read on the Jurati Benatar moment was that it was meant as a sort of Nutty Professor*/Buddy Love transformation, which (while also a bit hacky in that tired-TV-premise sort of way) at least makes some kind of sense w/r/t the Queen's manipulation of Jurati's insecurities.

But I'm not not concerned.

* = I tried to watch the original Jerry Lewis version of this and couldn't finish it—and this was before the assault stuff came out. In case you're curious, it does nooooot hold up.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:35 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]

Probably because of the other time a far-future sci-fi series started strong but went off the rails at the precise (in retrospect) moment that it inexplicably inserted a popular 20th-century song into the mouths of its characters:

Star Trek Beyond: Young James T. Kirk listening to The Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage'
posted by mikelieman at 3:17 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

I really liked the first two episodes this season and then it's been a long dark journey into suckitude.

I watched Slow Horses after this and caught myself thinking, wistfully, why do so many SF shows and especially Trek shows have such terrible, cliched, lazy, nonsensical broadcastesque writing when, you know, it's actually possible to write television that is smart, funny, suspenseful, surprising, and actually makes fucking sense? Why?

SNW looks so good and now I'm already preemptively angry at being disappointed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:55 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]

Probably because of the other time a far-future sci-fi series started strong but went off the rails at the precise (in retrospect) moment that it inexplicably inserted a popular 20th-century song into the mouths of its characters:

Star Trek Beyond: Young James T. Kirk listening to The Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage'

The movie did go downhill from there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:27 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]

Actually, Sabotage got used in two different recent Trek movies. The first time is the young Kirk in the car in Abram's 2009 Star Trek film. The second time was in Star Trek Beyond; they played it on the bridge while they were going to attack the space bee swarm. It's cringeingly on-the-nose, they were literally going to sabotage the space bees so they played the song Sabotage.

I appreciate folks letting out their dislike of where this Picard episode went, maybe this whole season. I always feel bad slagging on a show on Fanfare, I really don't want to yuck anyone's yum here. But I also feel so much like Star Trek belongs to me, as a fan, that I'm still invested and watching and awfully caremad about it. Anyway if I'm really bumming you out, particularly anyone who is posting these show posts on Fanfare, feel free to memail me to knock it off.

I was struck by noted Internet curmudgeon jwz's comments
This season started off with Q, and my eyes rolled so hard that I think I sprained my face, because, come on, though there's nothing worse than a Data episode, the next worst thing is a Holodeck episode, and right after that is a Q episode. And then... TIME TRAVEL! Not only time travel, but a Borg Queen, another hack-ass betrayal-of-the-entire-concept that should never have been allowed into the franchise in the first place, but that now they have to live with forever! Ok, but that said... this season is kinda great. I am enjoying it a lot and I don't know how they managed to make something good out of these incredibly shitty ingredients.
He's got the same story complaints I have but then he's also "enjoying it a lot". I'd be a happier person if I could, too.

We're running with the shadows of the night
So baby, take my hand, you'll be alright
posted by Nelson at 4:58 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

Sabotage was really making the rounds at the time. I still wonder about what this version of Rogue One would have been like.
posted by bartleby at 5:35 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

Why would. A robot body. Have heart problems.

Like, Data once had his head cut off and reattached after 500 years. Wouldn't Picard's body be pretty robust?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:49 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]

yeah on some level I think this show is absolute garbage but also it is somehow entertaining garbage, like it has managed to mostly be bad in a way that has me engaged, against my better judgment, and still weirdly looking forward to the next episode each week just to see how much dumber it gets

why does Jurati of Borg just sort of suddenly have a song sequence? why not! who even gives a shit anymore

Discovery is arguably technically a Better Show but this one is way more watchable if only because, well, it isn't boring, that's for sure
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:08 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]

The interesting thing about Discovery, apart from the fact it's had different showrunners at the start of each season compared to the last is that it seems to have course corrected some of the early dumb decisions and while I still have major problems with it, I don't hate it like I used to. I gave up in S2 and returned when I knew S3 was a soft reboot.

Picard has changed since S1 - less serious, more fun, but with so much more nonsense. There were some weird plot choices last year but there wasn't so much WTFery. S3 of Picard has already been shot so if the show was going to learn from public reaction to S2, they can't now. I'll be back because I anticipate S3 will be as different to this season as this season is to the first. But I don't trust there will be less nonsense.

Anyway, here's hoping Strange New Worlds is a better Star Trek show than them both.
posted by crossoverman at 8:50 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]

I think someone else said something like this, but Jurati's song number wasn't necessarily bad. I think that sometimes some wtfuckery can be just the thing to keep a show fresh. And I'm pretty sure that's what they were aiming for.

The problem is that you've got to be way, way more competent at writing and direction to pull it off.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:52 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

I generally like the series, but this episode was dumb. That kind of flashback gimmick only works if it's somehow interesting how this situation arises: getting hit by a car is a letdown. The android body needing obsolete medical attention and the song number were ludicrous.

But I think as Doctor Fedora says, at least it's entertaining. Also I like the way they're going back to old-school Trek instead of Action Trek where it's all shootouts and space battles: the heart of the episode is Picard delivering a motivational speech to his ancestor.

I'm just trying to hope the episode was a one-off disaster where they had to cobble together some kind of story in the editing room, rather than the way the series is going from now on. The flashback thing does seem like some kind of editing-room rescue attempt, though one that was possibly worse than whatever it started out as.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:59 AM on April 12

Jurati's song number wasn't necessarily bad

As a "musical interlude," I thought it was really good, actually; just a nonsense non sequitur in the context of the episode.

I'm wondering if this episode wasn't the hand-off point between showrunners for S2? I recall reading recently that Terry Matalas was primary showrunner for the first half of S2, then switched to lead production of S3, with Akiva Goldsman as primary for the back half of S2. Which may help explain this increasing slide into nonsense at the halfway point (but would bode well for S3).
posted by LooseFilter at 9:08 AM on April 12

Does anyone else think that Jurati is going to turn out to become the hooded Borg Queen that we saw at the beginning of the season?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:31 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]

why does Jurati of Borg just sort of suddenly have a song sequence? why not! who even gives a shit anymore

I don't understand why people think this when the reason it happened was explained in the show, by the characters.
posted by bleep at 11:50 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

I always feel bad slagging on a show on Fanfare, I really don't want to yuck anyone's yum here. But I also feel so much like Star Trek belongs to me, as a fan,
Literally everyone in every thread is doing this and it boggles my mind. I don't like every Star Trek show or every Dr. Who outing either and I think Bridgerton is a major snooze fest but I get nothing out of going into those threads & trashing them to the ground week in and week out. I don't get it.
posted by bleep at 11:53 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]

Especially when my only point would be to say that I didn't understand X plot point because I was looking at my phone and that's the writers fault somehow. If I don't understand something I rewind it until I do, and if it's not to my satisfaction I turn it off & watch something else. No writing crime has occurred in that situation that I need to air a grievance about.
posted by bleep at 12:02 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]

Literally everyone in every thread is doing this

It was run out of the Discovery threads for the most part (at least, those of us who shifted to hate-watching this season mostly stopped commenting along the way bc the comment counts on threads really decline for the back half of S4). I too feel awkward offering negative criticism in Fanfare threads (why talk about something if you didn't enjoy it?), but this is a show I actually loved in S1, and didn't just hate from the start of S2. But when a show I love is really going off the rails (IMHO), it should be OK to talk about that among fans, too. If the comments were just "this is shit, why does anyone watch," then sure, not much of a contribution; but thoughtful criticism--even when negative--is worthwhile, surely.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:43 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]

Go back to the comments for the first episode of this season. Uniformly positive and everyone was excited by the new season. If the comments have changed of late it's just a reflection of how the show has seemingly gone off the rails.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:37 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]

Mod note: Let's keep the comments in this thread on track and hold off on back-and-forth commenting between users please.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 3:51 PM on April 12

Yeah I loved the first episode of this season! It looked at the time like they might be making a Star Trek show, instead of “what if a Q episode was also a holodeck episode, and also it lasted for the entirety of the season,” and I was very excited by the potential it seemingly held.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:53 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why people think this when the reason it happened was explained in the show, by the characters.

Yeah, for the endorphins which is definitely a new take on the Borg. It feels so foreign to me - and Trek has squeezed the Borg a lot over the decades and a lot of it has worked and some of it hasn't.

I think my biggest issue isn't necessarily "the Borg do it for the feels" but the image of the Borg Queen taking a bow. Gives me such cognitive dissonance.

I'm a bit sad this season hasn't worked for me (so far) but I'd rather these threads don't turn into hate-watching. Once I realised Disco wasn't for me (until it was in S3, S4), I stopped commenting.
posted by crossoverman at 4:09 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]

My sense of this is, it is too busy, trying to make ends to meet, later. In so doing it loses some of the human quality I like about the entire Trek franchise. No time to savor the characters, who seem as confused as I am. They seem to be most busy rescuing each other from loss and confusion. I want to enjoy this, and I look forward to it. If the resolution is they fix time, forgive Soong, and Q, then escape the Borg, once again, well OK. The episode was not an hour, but 37 minutes. They need to offer a full hour, with out takes available, but not tacked to the running time. Anyway, I really like some of the twists and turns. I really enjoy the characters. I really liked young Guinan, and her role.
posted by Oyéah at 1:42 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]

yeah that's a great way to put it — Back in the Day, there was a lot of what people refer to as "filler episodes" that didn't really push plot forward, but they were usually incredibly rich in characterization (or they were Move Along Home). One of my favorite things about DS9 was the way that most episodes would have at least one little scene with everyone in the principal cast, so even if Jadzia Dax wasn't really part of the A- or B-stories that week, you'd still get a moment of her playing cards with Ferengi folks and just generally have a sense of the space station as this lived-in place, where we, the audience, are only seeing some of the things that go on from day to day.

Part of it is that I think that the modern era of ten-episode seasons is not conducive to that! When you have 40–50% as much run time per season as you did back in the nineties, you have to start cutting down a lot more, and Modern Prestige TV has a strong tendency toward everything needing to be a heavily serialized story that takes the entire season to pay off. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad! I do wish at times that they'd budgeted in at least a little more time for characters to interact with one another like people, but maybe that's just passé.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:57 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]

I found myself wondering whether the revitalized robo-Picard has a replica of the biological heart he was born with, or the machine heart he got as a young man courtesy of a Naussican (also a Q-related encounter I now recall)?

Anyways while I share peoples' concerns about where this season is going I am here for the ride and enjoy what it has for us. The Borg queen is certainly a lot of personality even compared to her past appearances but having recently rewatched a bunch of Trek it really stands out how even the first borg appearance differs from what they did in Best of Both Worlds, not to mention the further changes as they went on to Voyager and the movies. It's already been quite a shift so this is at least par, and entertaining.
posted by traveler_ at 6:59 PM on April 13

Between the Q slap and the Soong car strike, I’m beginning to think that the main selling point for getting TNG-era cast to appear is the promise of assaulting Patrick Stewart.
posted by dr_dank at 11:00 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]

posted by lalochezia at 8:07 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]

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