Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2”

“Our great work is nearly at an end.”

What gives Man the spark of his divinity? What is a Man’s soul? How does one successfully replicate, fabricate, or construct a soul? I’ve asked myself these questions ever since I first watched Blade Runner. What makes Roy Batty or Rachael so special? If humanity has no regard for its own creatures, why should they care for those it has constructed? How do you construct sentience? How do you construct the spark of humanity in a television series that has no appreciation or respect for either the value of humanity or its collective life?

Where we last left off, Picard was placed under house arrest by the Synthetic Wiccan community. Soji tries to rationalize the idea of the end of ALL HUMANITY. I might’ve been watching one of Rob Burnett’s podcasts when a viewer had a comment about the prevalence of increasingly high stakes in storytelling. I noticed the trend first emerging with Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (1997). From season three on, each story-arc had to culminate in the possible destruction of all humanity, and the stakes just kept getting bigger, because, honestly – where do you go after that? How do you top those stakes? The trend continued, unabated, in Doctor Who (2005) and Lost (2004). After 20 years of this, it gets to be boring, and it points to a lack of quality writing. When you have no other options, just pencil in another doomsday scenario.

So, here we are! The tenth episode of Star Trek: Picard. Remember that I warned you. The final resolution of the story cannot possibly justify the snooze-a-thon that was the first season of Star Trek: Picard. I don’t care how brilliant it will be. Even with the ten 40-plus minute episodes, characters were not fleshed-out. Too much time was spent creating a mood, and getting the perfect firelight so that El-Nor, El-Ron, L. Ron (whatever) could tell his story of the Romulan Apocalypse Holiday, rather than seriously delving into what could be the collective insanity of an entire species.

Going back on 55 years of pop culture, the Romulans never struck me as a doomsday cult. How could you function as a society when you have holidays that celebrate THE END OF ALL?! So the Kristen Bell/Leslie Bibb knock-off springs Picard from his rather cushy prison cell while Captain Studly and Raffi sing a song about ducks to gain admittance into the android compound. I just made that last part up. They use the creepy Romulan Incest boyfriend as bait to get inside. The creepy Romulan Incest boyfriend had escaped earlier (by, I presume, getting the drop on a Synthetic guard – what?) and then started throwing rocks at Studly’s ship to get his attention. Our ticking clock is a beacon that has to get to full power, or something so that the Synthetics can be “liberated.” So, we’ve got two doomsday cults? At this point, I’m thinking, let them kill each other. Let God sort it out, you dig? This is ridiculous.

Here come the Space Orchids! Off to do battle with Romulan battleships. The visual effects aren’t bad – they’re downright funky! Meanwhile, Seven of Nine and the creepy Romulan Incest sister do a little hand-to-hand before Seven drops her off a ledge. Unless I see a bloodied, pummeled body, she ain’t dead. Can we get back to the Space Orchids? Was there ever a satisfactory explanation for the Space Orchids? No? Moving on … Starfleet shows up in the nick of time, led by Big Will Riker! I know he had his uniform tucked away somewhere. He plays chicken with Commodore Oh (treacherous bitch Romulan spy), but, like a zealous idiot, she doubles down.

Oh, Picard is dying throughout all of this. This show is called Star Trek: Picard. It’s not called Star Trek: Those Annoying, Poorly-Written Ancillary Characters. He logics his way through a talk with Soji. Damn, I thought she was supposed to be smart. He tells her their destiny is to save each other. She shuts down the beacon. Bully for you, J.L.! Now that’s Star Trek! Again, it’s not enough to justify this ridiculous journey (a bit like foreplay without the climax), but it was a nice moment. The Romulans relent when Riker stares them down.

Picard decides this is the best time to collapse. Our annoying, poorly-written ancillary characters congregate around his fragile, elderly body. After the fade, we have a couple of Forrest Gump/My So-Called Life moments with Studly/Seven and Raffi/El-Nor. Picard wakes to a vague world inside his dream, conversing with Data (in his Nemesis-era uniform). He asks Data if he’s dead. Data says he is. Data starts talking about butterflies. This goes on for like 15 minutes. This is a bit like the finale of Lost when I tried to throw my television out the window.

I hate butterfly analogies.
Picard is now an android.
Star Trek: Picard has raped my childhood.

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!

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