‘Star Trek: Picard’ launches with a promising premiere

Picard plays like a just-right balance between fan service and staking out new territory. Opening with a dream sequence on Ten-Forward of the Enterprise-D, Picard plays poker with Data. After some familiar chit-chat, Data observes Picard is stalling, who responds by saying he is doing so because "I don’t want the game to end."

The details of the sequence are interesting because they use the familiar visual cues of TNG (Ten-Forward, a game of poker), but twist them with a certain dream logic (Data is anachronistically wearing the Enterprise-E-era uniform he died in, and Ten-Forward, where poker was never played, is lit in a way that makes it feel askew).

At the core of the episode is Picard being haunted by the dreams and memories of his fallen comrade. When I learned of Brent Spiner’s involvement in this series several months back, I feared some sort of retcon that would resurrect him, perhaps through the B-4 escape hatch the writers built into Star Trek: Nemesis. But "Remembrance" does not cheat — and indeed leans heavily into the fact that, yes, Data very much died at the end of Nemesis, which took a very real emotional toll on Picard and now results in strange, mysterious dreams that have Meaningful Reasons.

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Latest ‘Picard’ trailer reveals familiar faces

Hey, look! Data and/or B-4! Seven of Nine! Something that looks like a Borg cube! Announcements of the return of Riker and Troi!

The latest Star Trek: Picard trailer has some familiar faces. I think that’s a welcome revelation. Picard in a completely new environment would be interesting, but the idea of also catching up with some familiar characters is a good idea. Hopefully this show will be able to find the sweet spot between fan service and being its own thing.

The trailer now says “Coming in 2020,” so I guess the idea of this landing before year’s end has been changed.

Trailer: ‘Star Trek: Picard’

So the first teaser for Star Trek: Picard has been posted.

A few thoughts:

1. Really? Star Trek: Picard is what they are actually calling this thing? Everyone’s been calling it that for months as a working title, not what we thought it actually would or should be. They couldn’t come up with something less prosaic than that? You may recall that one of the working titles for Star Trek: First Contact was actually Star Trek: Borg. But there’s a reason that wasn’t the final title, and that’s because it would’ve been a lame title. I could probably rattle off 20 things right now that would be more imaginative than Star Trek: Picard.

2. The teaser itself? Meh. Typical. Tells us nothing, shows us nothing, but gives us an idea that it’s about Picard, and connects to something Earth-bound that makes character sense — his family vineyards. Fine. But it’s shot like a commercial.

3. Speaking of, this might be the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.

That is all.

The pterodactyl effect

Minor actions having huge unforeseen consequences is a staple of time-travel stories. Pull on a thread, and you unravel the tapestry. "You go back before World War II and kill Hitler, and maybe you make everything worse," says Mercer, taking the opposing view of the conventional wisdom of the classic premise. In his mind, you just don’t make that supposedly obvious choice.

I enjoyed hearing that, because the "kill Hitler" time-travel scenario always sounds good on paper, but you truly have no idea what the downstream ramifications of doing that would be. If you kill Hitler and change the course of history, the results could be counter-intuitively catastrophic. Maybe now the Cuban Missile Crisis ends in global nuclear annihilation. At the very least, you are all but ensuring you will not be born. Maybe I’m selfish and we’re historically far enough removed from World War II to distance ourselves from that pain, but I happen to like the world as it exists today, and doing something as universe-altering as killing Hitler could mean I’m not only erasing my own existence in favor of that alternate reality, but creating a potentially worse one.

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The seven-year (sw)itch

“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” — a title with a repetition I must confess I don’t exactly understand the rationale for — is a high-concept sci-fi premise that produces a middling character episode focusing on a worn-out thread on this series, and exhibits no shortage of misguided character decisions. The episode is redeemed almost entirely by the subtle and nuanced performance of Adrianne Palicki, who wins this week’s MVP by taking some decent insights and strange sitcom situations and spinning them into sympathy-earning gold.

This episode is okay, but it’s a notable step down from what the series has done recently, and it relies on plot developments we see coming a mile away — but the characters for some reason choose not to. It unfortunately feels like the Orville falling back on old habits, as if the writers woke up one morning and decided to go shopping at the TNG Store, found the “Second Chances” kit on the shelf, brought it home, and then made their personal modifications during assembly.

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