Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Stardust City Rag”

“There is no solace in revenge.”

There’s something about the destruction of a franchise that recalls (for me) the slow-motion shattering of a glass with various particles scattered briefly in an iridescent cloud before disappearing forever. It’s a bit like watching Luke toss the lightsaber over his shoulder without a care in the world, or Icheb being tortured to the breaking point. Thirteen years ago, Seven of Nine put Icheb out of his misery, and with that one introductory scene in “Stardust City Rag,” Star Trek: Picard has managed to alienate yet another group of fans.

While Voyager fans placed their faith in Seven of Nine to discover her humanity and individuality, the Borg children gave us hope for the future, but this is a future that has been deconstructed by writers invested in tragedy, cruelty, and death fetishism. These are not likable characters. It’s disappointing to finally re-introduce Bruce Maddox and not see Brian Brophy inhabiting the role as he once did. Brophy had played the role with equal parts smarm and arrogance. He was prim and poised. The new actor is a scraggly mofo, a weird wild man in mid-breakdown. This new-and-improved Maddox is a creature of conscience, hiding in Stardust City; a wanted man, but why is he wanted?

If Maddox gave humanity what it truly desired (slaves that don’t feel pain), why is he to blame when they learn, negotiate, and ultimately rebel? Unless he did it on purpose, but a man with that kind of a plan would have an easy escape route and certainly wouldn’t behave like a special needs basket case. The character has no logic. Oh, and the Leslie Bibb/Kristen Bell knock-off apparently knocked boots with Maddox in the before-time, the long-long-ago. I, frankly, don’t care.

Raffi has a stupid plan for entering Stardust City. She dresses up the leads in goofy costumes, but I don’t understand why. The costumes do nothing to disguise them. Picard wears an eyepatch and Rios dresses like a pimp. It’s not on the order of Crusher or Phlox applying surgical prosthetics to the landing party for a reconnaissance mission. This is silly for silly’s sake. Raffi has an agenda of her own. Her estranged son works at a clinic in Stardust City (and appears to have a bun in a Romulan babe’s oven), so we get a little bit of made-for-TV drama, and I, frankly, don’t care.

Seven has an agenda as well. To get even for Icheb’s death, but she was the one who … oh nevermind … It’s insane troll logic! In short order, and after a lot of seething and nostril-flaring, they rescue Maddox. Before Seven leaves, she asks Picard if he regained all of his humanity after he was rescued from the Borg in the long, long ago, to which he replies, “No.” But he’s trying, Ringo. He’s trying real hard … to be the shepherd. This is the best exchange I’ve seen between two characters on this show, and it’s over all too quickly.

Director Jonathan Frakes had managed to pull a (very small) rabbit out of his hat directing a couple of stand-out episodes of Discovery, but he works no such miracle here. Maddox gives Picard the skinny on Soji, Dahj’s twin synthetic sister currently working on the Borg cube before the Leslie Bibb/Kristen Bell knock-off kills him, which is pretty much what I figured would happen. Her character has no logic either, but I’ve now come to expect that from Star Trek: Picard. I feel like this show is sitting on my head.

Twice a week, Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

For more insane Star Trek babble, check out my podcast (with co-host David B. Anderson), Ship to Ship: A Star Trek Podcast.

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