Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “The Star Gazer”

“Cheers, big ears!”

SPOILERS ABOUND! BEWARE! Do androids enjoy wine? Picard seems to enjoy his supply, as he chats up his—I don’t know what she is, house lady? Her name is Laris, and she’s a rather attractive middle-aged Romulan woman. She mourns the loss of her mate, Zhaban. She asks Picard why he has “chosen to be alone.” Maybe he likes it that way. I know I’d give some portion of my soul for just a little peace and quiet, but that’s me. She thinks because she is miserable, Picard must also be miserable.

It doesn’t work that way. Go watch some And Just Like That…, Laris. Leave my boy alone. So now Picard keeps hearing her words in his android brain and fantasizes about being a young man again with his mother. Evidently (and conveniently due to Patrick Stewart’s statements to the Press recently), his father abused his mother. It’s not that I don’t think it happened, it’s just that it’s pretty low to exploit your childhood terrors to get people to watch your show is all.

Anything to escape the sexual tension with Laris, for whom he has obvious feelings. You should never drink with “the help.” Robin Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger would, most likely, agree. The next day, Picard addresses Starfleet Academy and welcomes El-Ron or L. Ron (the guy who kills people and decapitates them), or whatever, as the first fully-fledged Romulan Starfleet cadet. Hey, that’s great. Let’s get some more murderers into the service! I’m sure there’s a lot of golf-clapping going on. I mean he did kill a bunch of people in the previous series—I’m not making it up.

Enter Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) stowing away in a cargo hold. She’s waiting for thieves who have come to steal medical supplies. I hate what they’ve done to her character. Rather than inquisitive and warm, she’s belligerent and hateful. I know she has a right to behave that way, considering what the writers did to her beloved Icheb, but we learn and we move on. Doji or Saji or Suri (whatever her name is) sits with an ethnically-diverse collection of bald people at a dinner and praises the Federation for lifting the ban on “synthetic” people (read: androids).

Everybody’s drinking up a storm in this episode. Are they that depressed? I guess they’d have to get drunk to wear these hideous costumes. Soji! That’s her name! Also, everybody (with the exception of dying-on-the-vine Stewart) seems to have gained twenty pounds. They’re bursting out of their polyester! Starfleet graduates are getting their first deep-space assignments, and Picard talks to his insufferable former employee, Raffi (who has been reinstated as a “Commander,” how does that happen?).

Again, everybody’s so preoccupied with Picard’s loneliness, that it’s getting to be a bit obnoxious. Mind your own damned business. Okay, I’m really confused. Captain Rios commands the USS Stargazer, and he has the Kristen Bell knockoff (I’ll call her Agnes from now on, I promise) on board as … what? Some kind of Complaining Officer? The Stargazer receives a message (from SPACE!) saying, “Help us, Picard!” Doesn’t anyone ever, you know, pray to God anymore? I say that as an atheist. Why do we pray to old men who can barely walk?

Later, Picard meets up with Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) who has visibly aged (but only, she explains, because she wants to—huh?), and discusses his loneliness with her. This is an episode? Just sitting around drinking heavily and talking about being lonely? He doesn’t want to die alone. I know the feeling. I’ve thought more about death in the last two months than at any other time in my life. It’s not necessarily connected to my age, either. I’ve watched people younger than me die. The idea is horrifying and selfish at the same time.

On the other hand, Picard is pure narcissism, completely self-absorbed. At a time when the central character should be helping others, he is consumed in worry for his own personal comfort. A Starfleet admiral visits Picard and asks for his help after receiving information from the Stargazer. He takes off without telling Laris. Jerk. Orla Brady’s performance as Laris is the most authentic of the entire cast. She acts as though she genuinely loves Jean-Luc Picard. And (fitting for this show) we don’t get enough of her.

Within moments, he’s on the Stargazer, and this is where I notice we’re moving at a slightly faster pace than the previous series, but when all is said and done, we’ve only had two plot points: Picard’s loneliness and the signal from space. As it happens, a rather pretty Borg ship emerges from a rift. It looks like a big, machine-constructed flower/vagina. Pretty! Seven of Nine advises Picard to destroy the ship, while Agnes (Allison Pill, the drummer from Scott Pilgrim) sees it as an opportunity to study them.

The Borg wish to “negotiate” with Picard. Their queen or “representative” materializes on the bridge of the Stargazer and asks for peace, but then Doctor Octopus-like tentacles shoot out of its back and take control of the ship’s computer, assimilating the ship (and corresponding fleet). The ruse of peace enables the Borg to take over the fleet. Picard orders self-destruct. When it appears the ship has been destroyed, Picard wakes in a strange fugue; his home but neglected.

When he demands to know what has happened, he is visited by Q (John de Lancie), who tells him the trial has never ended! My guess? This is a variation of the sixth season episode, “Tapestry,” but not just for Picard, but for all the characters. Q has provided Picard with a possible future as a result of Borg assimilation. I have to say this looks much more interesting than the previous series. Hopefully, we’ll get somewhere constructive this time around.

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