Thursday, April 13, 2023

The Bitter Taste Of Sour Mead - Catching Up With The Third Season Of Picard (Part 1)

(Note: This was written before the ninth episode of Picard came into being... except the last line.)

I haven't been talking about the new Picard season as of late and quite honestly, I haven't had much to say. A few episodes have come and gone since then. There's only a couple episodes left on this run, so I suppose it's about time we get back on track and share some brief thoughts on what has aired so far.

Obviously, there'd be spoilers. And I'm also going all over the place here and there, but if that doesn't bother you, by all means, read on...

With regards to Picard... and again, I've been writing posts on that show with brief thoughts on each episode and where I feel things could be going. I continue to praise the greatness of one Captain Liam Shaw, who remains the best character in all of Star Trek right now. The asshole with a heart of gold or something... someone I could fucking relate to... Even when he is given little to do in these latter episodes because fucking changelings took over his ship and people have a hard on for a character who has no business being a captain based on the fact that she's a legacy character, I look forward to the moments he appears on screen. Forget this proposed "Star Trek: Legacy" stuff; I want a Captain Shaw show where he's just a likable dick. At least, that would be something different.

Episode 5 is when  they brought back Ro Laren from the old TNG show, once again played by Michelle Forbes, who apparently refused to sit in makeup for too long before her nose ridges were less pronounced here than they probably should be... because for those don't know, Ro Laren is Bajoran, a spiritual people and they have very noticeable ridges on the bridge of their nose and it took me a couple takes to realize that those ridges were there, but still... ah, who cares? She's back, she hadn't missed a beat, the scene between her and Picard when they're letting out their emotions while pointing phasers at each other in that Ten Forward bar they blew half their budget on and therefore we need to make it see as much use as possible to be a pretty touching and logical step in that relationship. And yeah, it sucks that they brought back another "legacy" character to kill off, but at least Ro's death meant something and she got that recognition from Picard before she met her end.

Episode 6 brings us Levar as Geordi LaForge, who spends his days curating the Fleet Museum, which features a bunch of old famous ships for people to geek out over, including the Defiant, the Enterprise-A (JACK's personal favorite), Voyager, and the Bird-Of-Prey from the whole whale thing, from which our heroes' kids steal a cloaking device so they can try and rescue their team from the Daystrom thing. This is also the episode where Riker, Worf, and Raffi find Brent Spiner, who is playing another android that looks old, so now Brent doesn't have to pretend to be ageless. Starfleet discovers the crew and they escape, but Riker is captured by Starfleet er, I mean, Vadic... because she's still a thing... and she's also kidnapped Troi somehow.

Oh, and the thing that the Changelings were after that was far more devastating than the portal weapon that dropped a recruitment center on top of a city or sent Titan's torpedo volley back there way?

Why, it's the original decaying human body of Jean-Luc Picard, who died in Season 1 and they moved his soul into the new android Golem thing. Why do the changelings want Picard's corpse? Might have something to do with the parietal lobe defeat that caused Picard's disease... which Old Data teased may not be a disease but rather something more... which makes Picard special... and that makes JACK special...

Yeah, I'm still not sold on this Jack thing. And with the Changeling crew out of the way after an attempted takeover of the Titan that is eventually thwarted, the door is open to finally figure out what the fuck is wrong with this guy and more importantly, why are we supposed to care?

Oh yeah, I forgot... episodes 7 and 8 feature the Changelings taking over the ship. The head changeling, Vadic - the one played by Amanda Plummer who does her best with a role filled with intrigue before turning into stock villain schlock - demands the surrender of JACK or else she'll kill a crew member every ten minutes. And to prove her point, she kills the bald Vulcan. They eventually retake the ship and Vadic is sucked out into space, where she freezes and crashes into her ship, which eventually gets blown up.

Eight episodes in and this third season of Picard is probably the best that the series has to offer. Mind you, that is not a high bar considering the first two seasons weren't all that great to begin with. Season 1 started off fine before it fell off a cliff and the less said about Season 2, the better. Even if this season was only marginally better, it would be the best season of the series. But the truth is that I've been enjoying the ride so far; partly because it's the old TNG crew back together playing their parts and yet feeling somewhat different. The story has been somewhat compelling for the most part, although the story was somewhat compelling in Season 1 and then it just died, so there's still a chance for that to happen here. And while some might consider the callbacks to be gratiutous fan service, I don't think it's all that bad and I'm usually not a fan of fan service for the sake of fan service, particularly when said fan service serves to remind me of the thing I could be watching rather than the thing I'm watching now. I don't get that feeling here. The callbacks make sense in the context of the story and they're used somewhat intelligently, so I don't mind that all that much.

Only two episodes are left in this series... and maybe, just maybe, this whole JACK thing will pay off in a satisfying way. Hopefully, it'll be something worthwhile and not just something that ties back to the Borg again.

Oh, wait...

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