Maybe I was already in a good mood because of THE NEWS, but hey, I really liked this episode! More importantly, I really like the story being told in the first three episodes — now that we finally have a story being told. In episode three. Of ten.
A persistent problem with the nuTreks and especially Picard is that in each season the first few episodes would be much better if they were combined and trimmed of fluff. This season is no different, but for the first time we actually have an interesting story unfolding. Bingeing the first three is probably a much more positive experience than having to watch them over three weeks. This is a complaint I won’t stop making.
The Titan crew
This episode is one big space battle, and I’m totally cool with that. This episode only works though because of the competency of the Titan’s crew. This includes Shaw, the Vulcan science officer, Pilot La Forge, the rest of the bridge crew, the security guards who actually act like security guards, and even the lookout who spots the Shrike. It’s refreshing in nuTrek to see a competent crew made up of people who act like they belong in Starfleet.
When Shaw goes down and transfers command to Riker the episode takes a dramatic shift. We’ve spent decades with “Number One,” but (with the exception of an extended cameo in Lower Decks) we’ve never experienced Captain Riker. Well, it turns out the guy who turned down multiple commands and openly questioned whether he was “too comfortable” on the Enterprise might have understood himself better than the fans.
Captain Riker is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants daredevil. Nor is he a shoot-first, jazz later cowboy. Nope, Captain Riker is a cautious, modest leader who puts concerns of his family and crew front and center. And this puts him directly at odds with what Picard wants — that is, to fight their way out of the nebula.
Jean-Luc has spent too many decades at the helm of overpowered “flagships” and being Action Hero Picard to remember that running away is often the best course — especially when facing a deficit in operational intelligence. By the time he finally wears down Riker into agreeing to his plan, it backfires (literally) and the Titan is disabled, careening toward its imminent demise.
This is possibly the best Frakes episode, to-date.
Raffi and Worf
This season of Picard is doing a good job not dragging out “mysteries.” It’s Worf. Got it. Move on. Which is what they do! And this episode is the Raffi and Worf odd couple. Their weird chemistry works for me. I like how Worf calls out Raffi and I like how Raffi calls out Worf. I have a lot of little things I could point out, but this season is a big improvement for the Raffi character, if nothing else.
I fully admit I didn’t it coming. I should have, but I didn’t. And now I have the answer to my nagging question from last week as to how these three subplots tie together. I’m perfectly fine with the Changelings/Founders being the Big Bad. Does that make Vadic a Vorta? That’d be something…
The “relationship” backstory
I appreciate that they addressed the elephant in the room right at the start of the episode. Essentially, they had a one-night stand and instead of telling Picard about the pregnancy, Crusher just took off. Why? Because she didn’t want her kid being raised by Action Hero Picard. Which, I mean, I kinda get it. This doesn’t happen with Enterprise-D Picard, the guy who likes reading Gilgamesh and playing his flute. But the weird Action Hero Picard of the movies? Yeah, I get why Bev doesn’t want that guy involved.
It’s still a bad backstory.
The big bad coming after Jean-Luc not Jack Luke
As part of that backstory conversation, Beverly swears up and down that she has no idea why Vadic is gunning for Jack. This leads to the obvious conclusion that Picard is the actual target. To which I say, “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” One of the things I really liked about the story before this was that Picard walked into this problem as opposed to being the source of the problem. But I guess this is the risk you run when the show is named after you.
This was the third part of their conversation. Again, I’m glad they addressed it, but c’mon. Really? He went to school in London and never dropped the accent. “Or maybe it’s in his DNA.” Booooooooooooooooo.
Pilot La Forge!
This is a really minor complaint, but when Ens. La Forge goes to talk to Seven (which is a whole other issue) she talks about how her dad is the most famous engineer in Starfleet and nobody could understand why she wanted to be a pilot. Are we writing out the first season of TNG now? Geordi is a pilot!!!
Bad Guy Bev
I’ve said this on twitter but I’ll say it again: I’m not really comfortable with the way they’re framing Bev as the bad guy with regard to Jack Luke. Kirk knew about David, but Carol chose to have him with her and Kirk didn’t protest. That’s a massive difference between Bev being secretly pregnant, refusing the tell Jean-Luc, and then hiding the kid from him for 20 years. Picard rightly chastises her for not even giving him the chance to be a father. That isn’t the problem, though. The problem is that in real life the producers didn’t include her in the first two seasons and upon MASSIVE fan backlash, they wrote her into season three… and this is how? It just doesn’t sit right with me and frankly reeks a little too much of certain sexist tropes.
The Portal Weapon
It’s dumb, it’s lazy, it’s a complete rip-off of Dr. Strange. Which I guess is why they’re using it — Cumberbund played Khan and everything in Season 3 has to relate back to Khan.
Seven’s Starfleet career
How many times is Seven going to commit court martial offenses on this single mission? Shaw should put her in the brig. There’s no punchline here. She’s a bad officer, let alone a FIRST officer.