Loose threads, broken pieces — Concluding Picard season 1

As a long-time confirmed Trek fan (I read TOS novels at school… I was secretary of my university Star Trek society, I stood in line for the first of the Next Gen movies back when I was at university too, wrote magazine articles… oh, I’m the geek you always knew I was) — I loved Star Trek: Picard.

The series logo for Star Trek: Picard

As a former colleague challenged me, though — did I love it because I was already steeped in the history of the show, or because it was independently good science fiction? That’s a fair question.

Picard, like Discovery before it, became my weekly event television — I either stayed up past midnight on a Friday just to see it as soon as the episode dropped, or I eagerly downloaded it to watch on a commute or in a meeting booth at work in private as soon as I was able. Beautifully shot; slower paced than other Treks have been, perhaps, but with some genuinely lovely character moments and interactions.

Sir Patrick Stewart is a great actor in pretty much any situation he chooses to throw himself into; it was great to see Brent Spiner and Jeri Ryan again; new faces like Santiago Cabrera were genuine delights (and the latter’s turn as ~5 different “facets” of a character was a showcase of his talents, as well as being great comedic shtick across the series).

I devoured the comic prequel miniseries; I’ve loved reading the prequel novel by (always brilliant) Una McCormack. The Federation has moved on — and not in good ways — our heroes sometimes curse (as did Data, that one time!), they smoke and drink — Roddenberry’s universe was always just that tiny bit too anodyne, wasn’t it, such that this kind of divergence already adds a fresh perspective.

There are SPOILERS beyond this point, proceed as you prefer.

And yet, at the end of 10 weeks, I am left feeling confused, and slightly sad. There were a couple of clear mcguffins that “fixed everything” across the final two episodes, although I was extremely happy that the story I read last weekend suggesting that they might actually recast Picard, came to nought.

I thought of the title Loose Threads for this post, and I think there are quite a few:

  • How was Data able to paint a picture called “Daughter”, of a woman with whom 3 different synths subsequently shared the same face, 15 years (?) later? What caused the “single positronic neuron” to generate those 3 exact faces? Particularly since Soji and Dahj, the “more human” / “perfect” of the three synths with that face, didn’t even know they were generated from that material? That whole strand, while a great mystery, doesn’t really make any sense.
  • What is going on with Altan Inigo Soong? he clearly seemed disappointed with the life he and Bruce Maddox ended up creating, when he realised it was just as capable of deception and hatred as organics. There was a definite vibe that the “golem” was meant for him, or for him to force Agnes into to prove her devotion to Bruce… and yet they save Picard. What happens to him, now?
  • Who’s running the synth colony? what’s next?
  • Er, so that Borg cube, with a number of Ex-Bs on board, presumably lots of Romulan tech too… they are just going to leave it on Coppelius?
  • … also, the long-running background question of the series, what happened to the Borg? Are they out there? will they come back? Picard is still haunted by references to “Locutus”, Seven to her assimilation. Did they simply… go away?
  • Where did Narek go? What about his auntie, Ramdha?
  • All OK with Starfleet now, then? Off with the baddie security lady, and now we’re all friends again?
  • Where is La Sirena headed off to?
  • The comics and novel and flashbacks made it fairly clear that the synth rebellion on Mars basically crippled Starfleet’s military capability (presumably, for many many years — there’s a reference to Mars “still burning” in an earlier episode). How does Riker show up with ~100 full-strength high-tech ships… without the aid of a transwarp conduit?
  • The Big Bad being metal squid tentacles from another dimension made me sigh — I wondered what was coming, but that was a bit of a let-down.

Talking of let-downs, though… it’s clear that season 1 wasn’t about what I thought it was about. For me, linking up the themes at the beginning through to the end, it was about — beautifully, wonderfully — giving Data a proper goodbye. Some parts of it were cheesy, but it was brilliantly performed.

[side note, if you think I thought too hard about all of this, I urge you not to spend too long on this video, which broke my brain… but who knows, this too could come to pass!]

Did you ever watch the opening credits to Star Trek: Picard, and listen to that gorgeous theme music? The splintering, the seeding, the coming together, the dissolution… it was always wonderfully mysterious and evocative, for me.

Right. Now, how long to wait for season 3 of Discovery? I want my expectations of the Trek universe to be challenged some more! And then, there are apparently 2 more seasons of Picard, plus Section 31, to come…

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