HomeSerious Star Trek PodcastPICARD S3E7: Look, It's Not Like I'm NOT Sympathetic...

PICARD S3E7: Look, It’s Not Like I’m NOT Sympathetic…

As soon as the episode opened, I was briefly thrilled for an episode to not start with some janky Twentieth Century jazz age wax or turn-of-the-century indie radio hit that right around the time I was thinking, “If they’re going to shoot their TV show so theatrically, thank God they finally are having a fade-in written by adults” of course it’s immediately ruined by the same shot as the Kelvin reveal. At some point all this reference starts to feel like a cheat and not, you know, a well-earned emotion. And, yep… TOS bridge sounds? It’s the same shot trying to give you that same high. Or Matalas chasing his own high. Either way, somebody’s high. But it’s literally a copy of a copy of the original, and it’s not giving me the same high and I finally figured it out.

I love trying new foods; when Walker was a toddler, I’d always tell him, “Take a polite bite; never know what’s going to be your new favorite.” So we’ve tried all sorts of semi-exotic stuff over the years: bison, elk, venison, quail, ostrich. No dolphin or octopus; the one rule we have is we don’t eat anything that’s smarter than Walker’s friend Jasper. But, you get it. We’re civilized folks; we’re not going to great lengths to sample both ends of the Bell Curve (screw you, durian), but, you know. We get a little adventurous. Never know what’s over that next hill, or what’s going to be your new favorite. And that’s what’s lacking in my reception to the latest season. It’s just cowardly of the writers’ room to lean on the old familiar treat-bar lever-push when the remit of the show is “new life and new civilizations” and not “trundling out the old standbys.”

I dunno; it’s just more of the perceived bungling of the message, I guess. The most famous mission statement in the history of the planet starts out explore, seek out, boldly go. So far it’s “Space. It’s not that big, if we keep running across old friends. This is the final victory lap of the crew of the USS LIGHTNING STRIKE-D. Long-time fans will miss the science fiction; new fans will be confused by all the references. Let’s just call this one, and thanks for your ten bucks a month.”

I don’t trust these guys anymore; they’re doing the best they can under difficult market forces, I’m sure, but we in the audience know way too much about all the behind-the-scenes machinations and it sullies the reception of their work.

I dunno. I’ve always liked trying the semi-exotic stuff. The floating space Abe Lincoln, the shirtless fencing, all the different gods and monsters every week. This show is steak-and-potatoes, and that’s a great meal. A little side salad, some steamed vegetables, that’s a good dinner that’ll keep you alive another day in style. But the next day is steak-and-potatoes, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and you realize it’s going to be steak-and-potatoes all season, which, you know, maybe you’re in the mood for that, but then it turns into the steak from last Monday, and then nobody is happy. Not the restaurant owner, not the chef, not the diners.

I don’t know whose fault that is but when the Star Trek restaurant chain started to sell franchises, and instead of being a high-class restaurant you’d go to once a week and reruns in the summer for your satisfying meal of thoughtful, two-fisted philosophical adventure tropes, spreading it so thin has diluted the brand, which, honestly, hasn’t been that stable for the last fifteen years, anyway. Maybe Star Trek just doesn’t stand for Truth, Justice, and the lost Camelot of JFK, anymore, and is just all about hitting that treat bar lever in our post-quarantine lockdown palaces, and like everything eventually in this digital-first world… when everything is available to you at all times, the middle of the Bell Curve defaults to the familiar and all the cool, edgy stuff gets passed to the end, again.

Trek used to be rarified air. Now it’s just a corporate fast food joint doing average stuff with that guy over in Cerritos doing a bang-up job and the one owned by Chris Pike is still doing the amazing sushi and fresh veal but you have to know a guy and ask for it by name and even then sometimes they kill some character you really like. But space is hard, and adventure TV harder still.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t surprise us with new things and I don’t know why they aren’t. It’s not “The Corporate Exercise in Copyright-retention,” it’s “The Human Adventure is Just Beginning.”

A little more of that, and a little less navel-gazing, please.

And for God’s sake, nobody wants a Star Trek: Legacy show. That is literally the thematic opposite of the philosophy of Trek. A little less inwardly directed and a little more “Out there… thatway,” please.

Larry Young
Larry Young
Larry Young is a writer: non-fiction, graphic novels, and pop culture criticism. His work has appeared in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, VARIETY, and THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION. A frequent guest on the video podcasts MILLION DOLLAR MAILBOX and WORD BALLOONS, he’s also co-host of SERIOUS STAR TREK and the sister YouTube channel of this website.


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