I’m so glad to learn the aesthetics of 19th-century saloons, complete with batwing doors, have survived into the 32nd century. That’s some staying power. And that bad guys come strolling into such saloons with an imposing swagger as the camera makes a point to show us their jangling boots before showing us their faces.
There’s a scene midway through "Far From Home" that screams out: Hey look! Space cowboys in a space western! At the risk of setting up an expectation where I will make one Andromeda reference per episode this season (don’t count on it), I couldn’t help but think of that series’ "Last Call at the Broken Hammer," which also had a futuristic saloon with batwing doors, albeit infinitely worse production values.
Few, if any, slate-clearing series reboots have been as extreme (or contrived) as Discovery‘s jump forward in time 931 years to the year 3188 in order to (deep breath) hide a cache of indestructible, self-aware data from an evil artificial intelligence whose acquisition of that data would mean certain galactic Armageddon. I mean, that is something. The writers either wanted to get as far away from the show’s original pre-TOS setting as possible, or they had some new things they wanted to explore in the very-far-flung future of the Trekkian universe. They clearly weren’t interested in a mild or middle-ground shakeup.
The brand-spankin’ new thing they apparently want to do is an official Star Trek remake of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. (The premise of Andromeda’s post-Commonwealth fall was itself simply a way of telling a post-Federation story outside the actual Trek universe.) The news of the Federation’s fall is gradually revealed in "That Hope Is You, Part 1" an episode that arrives at the season’s new mission statement (let’s re-establish the Federation!) by the end of the episode but, on the whole, is a pretty unremarkable but okay hour. As slow-burn establishing material goes, this is average.
Star Trek: Lower Decks, the latest entry into the ever-expanding CBS All Access Star Trek Extended Universe™ (the trailer is embedded above, if you somehow haven’t already seen it), premieres on Aug. 6. I will not be reviewing it. I will not be watching it, either, because I don’t intend to re-up my CBS All Access subscription at this time (which I canceled immediately after Picard‘s first season concluded) just to consume yet another Star Trek product, in this case one I have no interest in.
So, now that I see the full picture, I realize what season one of Star Trek: Picard is actually about.
It’s not about the Romulan refugee crisis. It’s not about the reclamation project going on in the derelict Borg cube. It’s not about the Zhat Vash or the Tal Shiar or undercover Romulan commodores, or the attack on Mars or the synth ban. It’s not about catching up with Hugh or Riker or Troi or Seven, or about Soji learning her true identity, or Raffi drinking and vaping all the time, or Rios and his holograms, or everyone trying to track down Bruce Maddox only so that Agnes could kill him, or about the robot apocalypse.
Oh, sure, it was sometimes very much about all those things. But, ultimately, it wasn’t about them. Thematically, emotionally, spiritually — nah. I see now that all those things were basically very elaborate and prolonged MacGuffins. The means to an end. They don’t matter, except to fill 10 episodes of screen time, to distract us, to misdirect us, and hopefully entertain us along the way (with variable degrees of success).
No, what this season of Star Trek: Picard is actually about is Picard saying goodbye to Data.
Every five years in March, I seem to write this same article reflecting on the history of Jammer’s Reviews and/or the unstoppable passage of time. This marks the fifth of those five-year articles. That I’ve done this website for 25 years and am still doing it is something worth noting. I will continue to take note every five years (as long as I and my website are still here), because they provide markers for myself even if no one else cares. I looked back at some of those previous anniversary articles and grinned while taking the trip down memory lane.
But it feels different this time, because as I check in today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate in the United States and across the world. Had I written this even three weeks ago as I’d originally planned, I might not have mentioned the coronavirus at all. Yes, it was definitely already happening and was a serious concern, but it was still a slow march seemingly far away, something to keep an eye on but not all-consuming. Things have escalated quickly. (Read more…)