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STAR TREK: PICARD - S1, E10: "Et In Arcadia Ego, Part 2"...


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#1 FarscapeOne

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Posted 25 March 2020 - 11:56 PM

As Jean-Luc Picard endeavors to convince Soji to turn against Sutra and the android population of Coppelius' drive to call the synthetic alliance, Narek joins up with the crew of La Sirena to stop Commodore Oh and the oncoming attack fleet.

#2 Christopher

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 07:45 AM

Okay, they ended up doing (with Picard) exactly what I confidently predicted they would surely never do. Between that and Crisis on Infinite Earths, maybe I should just give up predicting what TV shows will do.

The problem with climactic episodes in story arcs is that they tend to be heavy on the action and spectacle and are thus often more superficial than what came before. The resolution here seemed kind of anticlimactic after all the cosmic-scale stakes that were set up -- just one speech by Picard is enough to convince Soji to stand down, and just her shutting down the beacon is enough to end the threat. (I mean, why would these beings so determined to eradicate organic life just stop coming once the beacon was turned off? Don't they know our location now? Wouldn't they still come?) And the Zhat Vash/Tal Shiar/whatever just slink away despite their fanatical drive to destroy the synths -- although I guess that's because they're now a Federation protectorate.

But that, too, felt cursory -- the synth ban just being wiped away offscreen just like that. Sure, I guess the word got out that the synth revolt was staged by the ZV, but still, to spend so much time on it in early episodes and then just dispose of it so casually?

The reunion with Data was heartwarming and all, a better resolution to his character arc and a better goodbye between him and Picard than Nemesis provided. But it raises questions. If they could reconstruct Data's consciousness in cyberspace, why not just give him a new body? Conversely, if he preferred to be subject to mortality, why keep him running this long?

Nice touch that Riker's ship is called the Zheng He (though he pronounced it wrong). Zheng He was the head of the Ming Dynasty's great trading fleet consisting of the largest, most advanced sailing ships in the world at the time -- and the name of that fleet could be translated as "Star Fleet." As for the ships themselves, I can't say I care for how much their nacelles resemble the Kelvin designs. Also, there are so damn many of them! VFX scenes today are far too cluttered. How did the Romulans have so many ships when they're supposed to be a devastated society of refugees, with Oh representing a secret faction within it? There should've been fewer ships on both sides. Heck, in TOS, it was assumed that just one starship had enough firepower to sterilize the surface of a planet.

Speaking of planets, what was with Narek saying the legend stretched back to before his ancestors came to Vulcan? Did he mean before they left Vulcan and misspoke? Or is that an allusion to the suggestion in "Return to Tomorrow" that Sargon's people might have seeded life on Vulcan in prehistory?
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#3 Cardie

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 04:54 PM

ST: Picard succeeded in providing moving scenes for its many characters but not much else. Every plot development was telegraphed in advance and it shouldn't have needed ten episodes when the only narrative concerned protecting the synths from the Romulans. Only the mix-up of the Zhat Vash getting the Admonition intended for our galaxy's synths was a mild surprise. At least we had a pure TOS/TNG ending when pure moral authority wins the day and big space battle confrontations result in a standoff instead of a massacre.And I did cry big tears when Picard said good-bye to Data in the simulation, despite the ghastliness of Spiner's makeup and wig.

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How did the Romulans have so many ships when they're supposed to be a devastated society of refugees

I don't see how the Romulans act like losing 900 million people and their home planet is no big deal. It's been about the same amount of time since 9/11 and that attack still haunts Americans in a very different way.

I'm choosing to consider this whole season the pilot episode for "The New Adventures of JL Picard and his Crazy Crew."  Mildly surprised to see that Jeri Ryan will be a regular.
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#4 Christopher

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 05:46 PM

View PostCardie, on 26 March 2020 - 04:54 PM, said:

And I did cry big tears when Picard said good-bye to Data in the simulation, despite the ghastliness of Spiner's makeup and wig.

I thought they did about as good a job as they could at making Brent Spiner look 18 years younger.


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I don't see how the Romulans act like losing 900 million people and their home planet is no big deal. It's been about the same amount of time since 9/11 and that attack still haunts Americans in a very different way.

Well, most of the Romulans we've seen have been Zhat Vash, who have a very specific obsession. The only time we really saw rank-and-file Romulans was on Vashti in "Absolute Candor," and there we saw how the refugee community had been affected by the disaster and the Federation's abandonment.

It would be nice, next season, to see some followup on how the Romulans react to learning that it was a subset of the Tal Shiar that was responsible for the attack on Mars that ended up costing so many millions of Romulan lives.


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I'm choosing to consider this whole season the pilot episode for "The New Adventures of JL Picard and his Crazy Crew."  Mildly surprised to see that Jeri Ryan will be a regular.

I'm not surprised at that, really. But the beat at the end where Seven and Raffi clasped hands romantically was out of nowhere, since I don't think they ever had a dialogue scene before. If they want to make up for past Trek's lack of LGBTQ inclusion, they need to do better than a token gesture (literally) thrown in at the end.
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#5 Christopher

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 07:33 PM

Incidentally, it turns out that the rendition of "Blue Skies" that played over Data's final moments was sung by Isa Briones (Soji/Dahj/Sutra) herself, and it's available on YouTube:


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#6 RJDiogenes

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 08:07 PM

And the first (and possibly only) season of Picard comes to an end, and there's a lot to think about.

The final episode is unquestionably a mixed bag, as was the whole season, with plenty of loose ends flapping in the breeze, some of them quite surprising.  But other aspects of the finale were quite satisfying-- and in some respects also surprising.

As I said at the beginning, I really didn't want them to go the route of the dark and corrupt Federation, but I was grudgingly all right with the way they did it:  They didn't present a Federation or a Starfleet that had become entirely Dystopic or criminal, but one that had simply abandoned its high standards for the sake of expediency-- and, as it turns out, as the result being manipulated with fear and loathing. This was not presented as the status quo or as inevitable, but as a failure of vision that drove Picard into isolation.  The only thing that could make this thematic development acceptable is for it to be corrected in the end, and that was achieved in this finale.  The Synth Ban, emblematic of this dark period, was overturned.

One of the things that makes Trek Trek, of course, are the morality plays, the commentaries on the world we live in, and to that end the moral failure of the Federation parallels modern history. When TOS came on the air, the world was charged with the electricity of change as it never was before-- but the generations that followed abandoned that positivity for negativity, abandoned liberalism for political correctness and identity politics. In classic Trek fashion, Picard tells us that this can be healed.  In the same vein, the long and winding plot leads us to a group of androids who are adult in appearance, but are in fact sheltered and naive children, their view of the world shaped-- or misshapen-- by antisocial hermits.  Basically, a metaphor for the Millennial Generation, who are defined by the propaganda of social media influencers who profit from conflict. But again, in the person of Soji, we are told that this, too, can be cured by the simple, yet powerful, method of setting a good example.

Which brings us to the curious situation of the title character.  Picard begins the series bitter and defeated, yet slowly regains his passion for goodness. He is beset by the obstacles of a hardened Starfleet bureaucracy and the cynicism of broken colleagues, but he carries on, and in the end it is not self-righteousness, but unselfish righteousness that wins the day.  But the curious part is what physically becomes of the character. His mind is transplanted into an android body to forestall death-- but the android body is just as elderly and mortal as the dead one he left behind. It is essentially just an elaborate cure for a disease that didn't need to be introduced in the first place. So what was the point? In Sci-Fi terms, or general story terms, this was, perhaps, to make overt his rebirth in an almost messianic way. Picard is reborn, and through him the Federation and the Synths also experience a chance at a new beginning.

The episode itself was certainly not without its flaws. So many threads went nowhere. What was the meaning of the five queens?  Of that dream sequence in general? Premonitions really don't belong in Star Trek.  Elfwich, as lovable as he is, really had no moment or special story function to justify his existence. The two cool Romulan caretakers just disappeared, despite my expectation that they would pop up at a pivotal moment. So much about Maddox and Soong and their androids remains unexplained-- not the least of which is how they came up with that magic Swiss Army Knife. And how did Oh, after years embedded in Starfleet, suddenly pop up in command of a Romulan armada?  Most of all, where the f*ck did Admiral Clancy f*ck off to?

But there were certainly many great moments, first among them Picard's persuasive diplomatic monologue that changed Soji's heart, pissed off the Romulans, and made Riker smile. And, of course, Riker's sudden appearance in command of his fleet was both impressive and heartwarming. I got a kick, so to speak, out of Rios smuggling in the bomb with his soccer ball-- see, we could have used that Emergency Soccer Hologram after all.  And the death of Picard and the mourning of his crew-- all broken people that he patched together-- was almost overwhelming.  Poor Elfwich collapsing into Raffi's lap was just too sad.

Another momentous aspect of the episode, of course, was the appearance of Data, before his second and final death, and the final farewell of two old friends and comrades. I do find it unfortunate that the story perpetuated the religious propaganda that it's best to just live your allotted years and then go peacefully into that good night, but this passage, since we know that these actors will not live forever-- and neither will we-- was heartbreakingly bittersweet. And so much better than Nemesis. "How could you think that I would regret giving my life for you?"  If that was not a perfect Star Trek moment, I don't know what is.

Then also-- from the sublime to the ridiculous-- we got a glimpse of the Uber-Synths that threatened to annihilate all biological life.  I was kind of hoping that they would turn out to be advanced, Organian-like beings who would lecture the Synths and Biologicals alike, but no, they were monsters.  Weird, black, mechanical, tenticular monsters. It was like Cthulhu developed an interest in robotics. Kind of cool, actually.  But I worry that other writers will turn these guys into the next Borg, and I am so sick of that sh*t.

Finally, at the end, we came to that classic Star Trek scene of heading off into the final frontier.  I don't even know if they said what they planned to do or what their purpose in life is now, I just saw that crew gathered on the bridge, facing front into the unknown. I would have preferred a Starfleet ship, but La Sirena is just fine.  The next Next Generation-- Elnor, Jurati, Seven, Raffi, Soji, Rios, and Captain Picard. Definitely a crew I want to follow to their next destination.
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#7 Christopher

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 09:22 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 26 March 2020 - 08:07 PM, said:

And the first (and possibly only) season of Picard comes to an end, and there's a lot to think about.

Possibly only? I doubt it. It's apparently been a hit, and I gather the plan is for a 3-season arc.


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But the curious part is what physically becomes of the character. His mind is transplanted into an android body to forestall death-- but the android body is just as elderly and mortal as the dead one he left behind. It is essentially just an elaborate cure for a disease that didn't need to be introduced in the first place. So what was the point? In Sci-Fi terms, or general story terms, this was, perhaps, to make overt his rebirth in an almost messianic way. Picard is reborn, and through him the Federation and the Synths also experience a chance at a new beginning.

It does seem strange, but maybe it's setting up a continued exploration of synths in the seasons to follow.


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What was the meaning of the five queens?  Of that dream sequence in general?

The significance of a Queen to Picard should be obvious. The Borg have haunted his memories for decades. The only reason there were five of them is because he was dreaming about poker and that's the number of cards in a poker hand. The actual number is not significant, merely the fact that they were all the same, as the Borg are.
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#8 FarscapeOne

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 10:30 PM

I think what he meant about 'possibly only' is the Coronavirus.  It has halted production everywhere, plus Sir Patrick Stewart is at the age where he is at most risk of it.

As Garak said once, "We live in uncertain times."

#9 Cardie

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Posted 26 March 2020 - 10:31 PM

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And the first (and possibly only) season

They are definitely renewed for S2 and Chabon is already writing the first two scripts, according to Pill and Stewart on the Wil Wheaton interview show.. Of course, the pandemic will make the timing of its shooting and release uncertain.
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#10 Orpheus

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 12:07 AM

Good points, all.

I just wish to add that a second 10-episode season of ST:Picard was "bought" (at least provisionally) before the first episode aired, for whatever that's worth.

I certainly feel this influenced the latter parts of the S1 arc. It has factored into my analysis all along.Admittedly, I'm a child of the US 26- (later 22-) episode "season" vs the shorter UK or modern "US nonbroadcast" seasons.

I'll have much more to to say later. Real Life is intruding in ways I never expected -- with twists that make TV SF seem predictable by contrast.

#11 FarscapeOne

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 06:46 AM

I really enjoyed the finale.

A lot to try to tie up, and tying up most.

It was a hopeful ending... Picard being an example for the Synths was fully him again.  His death was a good one, and it had some impact.  But it kind of lost a lot of the emotion when he awakens in a new synthetic body.  It will be interesting to see where this goes, despite his new body being superpowerless.

I'm glad Alton shut down Sutra... she really had it coming.  There was something off about her from the start, and Alton saw what happened.  That had to really hurt, watching what is basically your child kill another of your children.

I'm glad Riker came in to save the day.  At least Picard got to say goodbye to him a final time.

One thing I didn't like, which is prevalent in a LOT of scifi and action these days, is the clutter.  Too many ships and things going on at once.  It's like the visual guys have A.D.D.  I get that battles and scenarios like that are going to be hectic and chaotic, but it was just too cluttered.  I had the same issue with the DISCOVERY season 2 finale.

I'm happy to see the motley crew warp off.  Quite surprised Seven is sticking around, too... but very happy.

Now, to the biggest part for me.  Data.

He got a FAR better sendoff here than NEMESIS, and those scenes were so full of emotion.  Brilliantly done by both actors.  I was crying.  Truly.  Watching Data die again was just heartbreaking.  He is the reason I became a science fiction, and STAR TREK, fan.  His character holds a very special and dear place in my heart... an 8 year old boy watching the TNG premiere in 1987 and just falling in love with the character.  His curiousity, his morality, his gentleness... Data can be summed up in one word.

Hero.

Not just a hero in the show, but my personal scifi hero, something I got to tell Brent Spiner when I met him at DragonCon years ago.

So it was quite emotional for me watching that last scene of him as he vanishes.  It was like saying goodbye to a huge part of my childhood.  If only one thing can be used to justify the existence of STAR TREK:  PICARD, it was this.

This has been a great season, and I look forward to the next.

#12 RJDiogenes

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 05:47 PM

View PostFarscapeOne, on 26 March 2020 - 10:30 PM, said:

I think what he meant about 'possibly only' is the Coronavirus.  It has halted production everywhere, plus Sir Patrick Stewart is at the age where he is at most risk of it.  
Indeed, the longer it is delayed, the less likely it is to happen.

View PostCardie, on 26 March 2020 - 10:31 PM, said:

They are definitely renewed for S2 and Chabon is already writing the first two scripts, according to Pill and Stewart on the Wil Wheaton interview show.. Of course, the pandemic will make the timing of its shooting and release uncertain.
Exactly.

View PostOrpheus, on 27 March 2020 - 12:07 AM, said:

I'll have much more to to say later. Real Life is intruding in ways I never expected -- with twists that make TV SF seem predictable by contrast.  
I have a good idea of what that entails. Good luck and don't disappear.  Luckily I'm not someone they'll call back.

View PostFarscapeOne, on 27 March 2020 - 06:46 AM, said:

I'm glad Alton shut down Sutra... she really had it coming.  
That was kind of a loose end, too. Is she dead, or just sleeping?  I suppose it's likely she will become Soji's Lore.

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I'm glad Riker came in to save the day.  At least Picard got to say goodbye to him a final time.  
I wonder if they will be able to get him off that bridge.  :lol:

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One thing I didn't like, which is prevalent in a LOT of scifi and action these days, is the clutter.  Too many ships and things going on at once.  It's like the visual guys have A.D.D.  I get that battles and scenarios like that are going to be hectic and chaotic, but it was just too cluttered.  
Agreed.  I think it would have had much more impact with just one ship apiece, or a handful at most.

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So it was quite emotional for me watching that last scene of him as he vanishes.  It was like saying goodbye to a huge part of my childhood.  If only one thing can be used to justify the existence of STAR TREK:  PICARD, it was this.
I'm glad you approved of what they did with Data.  You've spoken many times of what he means to you.
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#13 QueenTiye

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 12:01 AM

Not much to add to the conversation other than that I thought the send off for Data was beautiful.  I loved how ritualized and elegant the withdrawal of the crystals (??) was.  Fitting words over what could have been mundane and disrespectful to the life that depended on those chips.

I'm with Cardie, in that the whole season seems to be set up for some other thing that hasn't happened yet.  Maybe this is the new normal for the Star Trek Universe?  I'm used to watching new Trek and expecting the 1st 2 seasons to suck, and I would watch sporadically until that magic moment, maybe in S3 when it suddenly became "must watch."  Discovery and Picard went a different way - almost anthologizing the seasons so that the story sets up the world we're playing in only to change that world entirely by the end of the season. Picard started out as a show about the titular character regaining a sense of purpuse in a final mission to redeem himself and Starfleet and in the next season, it will, of necessity, boldly go. Well, ok.  I'm NOT sure I'm here for the boldly going this time around.  I thought Picard was something different, and this season it mostly was, but how different will season 2 be?!

Ah well.  I enjoyed having Patrick Stewart on my screen for 10 episodes. :-)

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