Star Trek: Picard: Mercy
April 21, 2022 6:16 AM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Jean-Luc anxiously watches the launch countdown, Guinan and Q have a showdown, Agnes of Borg goes downtown for a beatdown, and Ricardo chows down.

Memory Alpha gives us all a warm glow of meaning:

• In ENT: "Carbon Creek", T'Mir offered to arrange for Mestral to visit Earth again on the next survey ship, as an alternative to his decision to say on the planet, after being marooned there for over a year during the late 1950s. He noted such an event wouldn't be for "another twenty years," likely during the late 1970s, "running more statistical scans from high orbit...". The approximate date for the events depicting Wells' encounter with the Vulcans may correspond with that second mission.

"You're dying!"
"Another quality I sincerely loathe about your species: empathy."
- Guinan and Q

"Mercy is not a Borg quality."
- Seven

Poster's Log:
Well, it looks like the writers quite intentionally misdirected us Seen-Every-Trek Trekkies by casting the guy who played the time-cop Ducane on VOY—and whose ship was actually Wells-class, IIRC—as this apparently-20th-century-native actual FBI agent. (I guess he could still become Ducane?, get reverse-aged or something?, but ehhh.) I find this irritating. But what might help would be if, in a subsequent episode, Wells uses the phrase "meld my brain."

The Rios romance stuff is being handled better than the similar Kirk-Gillian stuff in TVH, though of course they have (a little) more time to spend on it here.

Q's remarks about mortality conferring a "warm glow of meaning" seem to very closely echo what Data had to say at the end of season 1, which is interesting.

The moment Ricardo complained of not feeling well, I very briefly wondered if his esophagus was gonna explode in a black spray of nanoprobe goo-strands with little chunks of cake inside, but then I remembered it's a CBS show. Probably for the best.

Reeeeeally curious about this discovery awaiting on Europa. Will it be…"something wonderful"?

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Fathom Events is bringing Wrath of Khan back to the big screen in September!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why does Agnes of Borg ask Soong to call in mercenaries, if she’s just going to assimilate them? Surely random yokels off the street would work just as well? Seems a needless bit of bother.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 6:29 AM on April 21, 2022

They're in better physical condition, more used to following orders, and come with nice weapons?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:06 AM on April 21, 2022 [8 favorites]

Well, it looks like the writers quite intentionally misdirected us Seen-Every-Trek Trekkies by casting the guy who played the time-cop Ducane on VOY—and whose ship was actually Wells-class, IIRC—as this apparently-20th-century-native actual FBI agent. (I guess he could still become Ducane?, get reverse-aged or something?, but ehhh.)

I've got a couple of theories about that:

1. Not so much reverse-aged as, well, stuck in the past; if Wells/Ducane was originally born in the 20th century, then somehow ends up 900 years in the future as a temporal agent... what if he came back on a sort of temporal vacation, and is in, say, LA in the late nineties, and gets recognized by someone who might have some resentments (or will have in subjective terms) and fixes it so that he's literally stuck in the past, not remembering who he was or will become?

2. That this is in effect already an alternate timeline, because the altered future is preventing people from time-traveling into the past (as happens with Guinan not having met Picard in the 19th century), and therefore this is a sort of alternate Wells/Ducane.

Just a couple of theories, wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey and all that.

Surely random yokels off the street would work just as well?

Probably not. In VOY, Seven would often comment on a particular person's species' biological qualities and their relative utility to the Collective. Probably your average drone has a certain base level of tech installed in them (like the thing that can block phaser fire once they've adapted to a particular frequency), but they might vary not only by their specific bits of tech, but also by the particular specific abilities of the original biological unit. Also, AoB is having to use somewhat makeshift nanoprobes, so can't give her drones the full standard load-out, so she'd have to start with a better platform.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:28 AM on April 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

Also, this wouldn't be the first time that TWOK was brought back to theaters--I think that they did this five or ten years ago, sometime in the Before Times, and also with other "old" movies--but I'll probably still do this time.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:30 AM on April 21, 2022

This and the last couple of episodes have strong "this could have been an email" energy. The Soong plot still feels wholly unnecessary to me. He could have turned up for the first time in this episode and, imo, not lost anything in terms of the narrative. Having Seven and Raffi constantly running around on errands in order to get them out of the way for Plot Reason is irritating. The reveals of obvious information (Q is dying? No shit, we could have guessed that from the first episode) aren't enough to keep me interested.

Borg Queen Jurati is fine. Rios and his cute doctor girlfriend are fine. But they're not enough. This really feels like a two-partner that's been dragged out to a whole series, to its own detriment. I want them to hurry up and just get it over with.
posted by fight or flight at 12:34 PM on April 21, 2022 [6 favorites]

Btw, I’ve really enjoyed this season’s emphasis on just how liberating it feels for Seven to be without her Borg implants. It’s easy for us, as viewers, to forget just how alienating those implants would be - because, hey, Jeri Ryan is gorgeous, and the weird eyepiece thing doesn’t seem *that* obtrusive. But the Borg have nearly destroyed the Federation several times, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t really matter Seven looks like Jeri Ryan. She looks like a Borg, so a lot of people who see her are going to be immediately scared and repulsed. Ryan really sells how good it would feel for that suddenly to just … stop.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 1:47 PM on April 21, 2022 [7 favorites]

Yeah honestly Seven has been the most interesting character to watch this season, I think, as much as I have enjoyed John DeLancie's scenery-chewing. I guess the thematic throughline going on means that season 3 will be about how everyone else Picard had a meaningful relationship with on TNG is also dying? So that should be fun and exciting.

Mrs. Fedora's reaction to the opening shot was to comment on how it immediately reminded her of that Mac & Me clip that Paul Rudd torments Conan O'Brien with, and, well, I couldn't disagree.

I kind of don't love the way that it seems like the writers felt the need to go back and explain things referred to obliquely in past worldbuilding — like, maybe we don't need to actually learn what the Eugenics Wars were. For all my complaints about Discovery, it's mostly been very good about avoiding that sort of Star Wars Prequels sense of "filling in all the blanks about everything you've ever heard of just kind of makes the world feel smaller."

I did laugh at that Etsy-ass "FREEDOM" tag on the pen cap full of windshield fluid. The cloud of mist when it opens also seems like maybe a troubling choice if you're sending a thing to someone who lives behind an airlock, but also, well, she sure didn't seem to think anything of it ƪ(˘∇˘)ʃ

That FBI guy must have been on extremely thin ice, because so far as I can tell, we went from "he and a team take in two suspects for questioning" to "he has been fired effectively extremely immediately" over the course of, what, maybe two hours?
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

I just wanted the tag to say "DRINK ME" but was disappointed.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 7:21 PM on April 21, 2022 [16 favorites]

"you humans, you want to evolve" ... "my species, we believe in an ebb and flow of things" is very "humans are Europeans, aliens are Daoists". My least favourite SF trope is that humans are uniquely adventurous / have the most capacity. It such an obvious substitution of white European.

"What if Mulder met a Vulcan" is funny though. I feel bad for all the dedicated crew who know and love Trek who've been hired to make an MCU show about wizards and time lords.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:33 PM on April 21, 2022 [17 favorites]

I liked this episode, feels like the series is a bit more on track after a couple of weak ones.

Whether it's bad or good, this series feels more Trek-bad or Trek-good than I'm used to. I like the way Picard talks people into things, whether it's his pep-talk to Renee Picard or gently arguing the FBI man into releasing them. The series doesn't default to phaser-battles or space dogfights all the time.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:47 AM on April 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Well, so much for my theory from last week about Wells. I did appreciate the "Carbon Creek" shoutout. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those Vulcans was meant to be Stron.

This leadup to the endgame has been a little bumpy (though we're a long way from Season 1) and I am still excited to see how this wraps up—even if it winds up being a cliffhanger for S3, I'm already so excited for the return of the rest of the TNG cast that a cliffhanger would only amp me up more... but then we also have Strange New Worlds to look forward to the week this season of Picard wraps up. We are truly blessed with an abundance of exciting Trek coming down the road.
posted by SansPoint at 6:55 AM on April 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

Ryan really sells how good it would feel for that suddenly to just … stop.

I feel the opposite, I think it would be scary and horrible. I mean, I've always been the individual way and it's terrifying and horrible, can't speak to being part of the collective but obviously would have to be better than what we got, almost anything would. I especially get the feeling that they are building up a better borg, closer to what I think they always should've been once the collectivist-panic wore down (but society has gone full blown selfish individualist without the possibility of alternatives).

As for the show, I'm so excited for it to end, never thought they'd do worse than Disco 1 and 2, but then they did Picard s1 and didn't think it could get any worse but by now I should know the floor can always go lower. ON the bright side, they already filmed season 3 with even less of a plan than the previous 2 and whatever they cobbled together will be interesting to consider from that angle, at least.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:46 AM on April 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was mildly distracted by wondering how much money it would take to digitally insert current day Spiner into TNG's Dr. Soong episodes coz _lawd_ those old man prosthetics were terribad, and digitally de-aged Data was almost as bad last season, but he looks respectable in his own skin.

posted by Kyol at 11:16 AM on April 22, 2022

I figured our FBI agent was fired for stealing evidence (the badge) from not only the FBI but ICE and then not returning it (to facilitate the coverup).
posted by Karmakaze at 2:56 PM on April 22, 2022

Was anybody else bothered that after the talk of lithium from the phone battery, Borg Queen/Jurati apparently ripped into a bunch of lead-acid batteries in gas-burning vehicles?
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 4:44 PM on April 22, 2022 [11 favorites]

Maybe she can't tell which are EVs from the outside?
posted by biffa at 4:57 PM on April 22, 2022

Was anybody else bothered that after the talk of lithium from the phone battery, Borg Queen/Jurati apparently ripped into a bunch of lead-acid batteries in gas-burning vehicles?

It’s got electrolytes, it’s what borgs crave!
posted by snofoam at 4:59 PM on April 22, 2022 [25 favorites]

I enjoyed the human aspects of this episode, the.conversations, conversions, revelations. I like these characters, even The Borg Queen, I am so wondering how Jurati will break the spell? Rio's physician friend is a powerful counterpart, nice to see that written in. The smoking, though! Harrumph! I like the side, buddy relationship between Seven and Raffi. I doubt Seven has had many close friendships.
posted by Oyéah at 6:16 PM on April 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

I appreciated how when Picard was sitting there in the interrogation room he really wasn't sure how to play it so he kept his cards close to his chest until he did. We're so used to seeing cowardly, craven leaders on tv and I just like spending time with Picard. He's such a breath of fresh, competent air. But it's like, you go through enough adventures & you know you can usually hold on til one of your friends passes you a clue. Ain't that the truth.
posted by bleep at 8:09 PM on April 22, 2022 [9 favorites]

TNG and the X-Files were the two programmes I watched obsessively in the 90s, so it’s not surprising that the “nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted” vibe of this episode was what I liked best about it. But Wells’s progression from scary FBI agent to Vulcan flashback to helping Picard and Guinan felt very rushed, I’d have loved a whole episode or two just zooming into that plotline.
posted by greycap at 11:45 PM on April 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

I can't shake the feeling I've had for the past few weeks that in many of these episodes, everyone feels like a walking collection of tropes, not a 3-dimensional character. And a lot of the time, the tropes aren't assembled together very well or very convincingly.

Stewart, at least, seems to be able to breathe authentic life into his dialogue. John de Lancie too. But so many of the scenes without either of them just feel clunky.

Like I said about last week's episode: They just have too many balls in the air. I agree with the person upthread who said this feels like a story that could have been told as a movie rather than a 10-episode season.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:21 PM on April 23, 2022 [4 favorites]

I thought I was tired of the show when it continually mined Star Trek for content but apparently it's also into mining Battlestar Galactica and The X-Files, too. This was just a very embarrassing episode of television. If this had been a 13 episode season, I think I would have just given up. The fact there's only two episodes left mean I will finish it, but I'd rather be watching the 2nd season of DISCO. And I hated that at the time.
posted by crossoverman at 2:48 AM on April 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

They just have too many balls in the air.

(Does that phrase automatically trigger this in anyone else's brain?)

Beyond any specific choices, I'm just kind of astonished at how clumsy the writing is so far this season: pacing is wonky, tone is wildly uneven, actual plot is obfuscated, and then in this episode, story finally starts coming into focus and it's another 'oh no Borgs are Borg-ing, we have to race to stop the assimilations!!!!' Sigh. Were there truly no new ideas in that writers room?

I do love the cast, though, all of them are terrific performers. And as much as I've fallen into hate-watching both Discovery and Picard lately, the crew on both shows deserves all the accolades, because everything looks amazing.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:21 AM on April 24, 2022 [5 favorites]

We are l watching at a deficit, with plague and war, the is not a lot of need for proxy stress entertainment wise. But talk about cross characters, I thought I saw an actoe who played one of the artificial Mars workers from The Expanse, in this season, 0laying the same kind of character, the butler type guy in the bad alternate timeline. There was another, and it made me wonder if CBS might fund more Expanse.
posted by Oyéah at 8:47 PM on April 24, 2022

Oyeah, I haven't really watched The Expanse, but I'm pretty sure that actor played an android Mars worker in the first season of Picard. Is that where you recognize him from?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:05 PM on April 26, 2022

set phasers to meh
posted by lalochezia at 4:47 PM on May 10, 2022

Faux Mulder got fired awfully easily. The next two years must really fuck up the unions for the feds.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:06 PM on July 13, 2022

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