Monday, April 24, 2023

The Final Drop Of Sour Mead - The Final Episodes Of PICARD

So I just finished watching the last couple episodes of Picard; the final drop of sour mead from the field of memberberries that have everyone declaring this to be the bestest and greatestest season of the series... which I am inclined to agree with. If only because I actually enjoyed this season more than the first two seasons and therefore, that's all it really takes to be the best season in a series that is preceded with one promising season that fell off the rails and another season that is so incomprehensibly awful that just giving it any semblance of attention is more than it probably deserves.

I thought about giving this thing one last big ol' recap to sort of bring things home. I thought about diving deep into some of the plot issues and contrivinces that left me baffled. I thought about diving into talking about that one moment that brought back that warm fuzzy feeling that I had not felt with this franchise in a long time and then watch that moment fall apart in a hail of phaser fire and video game shooter schlock. I thought about doing all of that here and I even had a good chunk of it written.

Then I realized that I'm not going to do any of that here.

Season 3 was a season that I will freely admit to being somewhat doubtful that it would improve on the failings of the previous two seasons. Season 1 started off well enough before it fell off the rails and the less said about Season 2 the better. In fact, once they announced that Season 3 was pretty much going to be a TNG reunion party, I dropped Season 2 like a bad habit because I felt that none of that mattered... and in a way, I was correct in that regard. So, Season 3's sole objective was to be better than what came before and even if that meant being just a bad season of television as opposed to disappointing schlock and outright wretch, then it would have accomplished that task.

Needless to say, Season 3 nails that one objective. It was a far better season than before that came before. And all it needed to do was be a TNG reunion show.

I don't want to say that I didn't enjoy Season 3 because I did... at least until the end of the series, but I also feel that this season pretty much told me that the last couple seasons of Picard felt like a complete and utter waste of time. You had a couple carryovers from those seasons - Raffi is a character, Seven is a character on that show, that Romulan chick shows up for a cup of coffee in the first episode and is forgotten about for the rest of the series - but you did not need to watch those two seasons to get into this one. This felt like a standalone miniseries or possibly a pilot pitch for that Legacy wet dream series that fans are pissing themselves over.

Some could make the argument that this was nothing but gratuitous fan service... and I suppose you could make that argument if you wanted to. There are definitely more than enough callbacks to make a [insert tired Trek analogy here] and while some of these made sense in relation to the story - the Fleet Museum with all those old ships actually contributes the plot once or twice; its last contribution being perhaps the most poignant - others are just there for the geeks to pick out. Some could argue that there wasn't enough fan service; those people can go fuck themselves. In terms of callbacks and things that make sense, I was more than sufficiently serviced in that regard.

And so if you're a fan waiting to be serviced, Season 3 more than exceeds that lowest common denominator. It's the high-budget Star Trek fan film you've always wanted.

Yes, it was cool seeing the 1701-D up and running again. Yes, it brought a tear to my eye when that crew walked onto that bridge set (and thankfully, THAT bridge set and not the one from the movie - if you're going to have a bridge set, it may as well be the one that didn't fall apart when under constant attack). And yes, I was anxiously looking forward to seeing how the D would play into the final (rushed) act of this final farewell season. That was all well and good. I could see that intro play out over and over and over again.

And then we tip over to the final episode where we see the Galaxy-Class U.S.S. Enterprise - this giant capital ship that's essentially a flying city in and of itself - fly through this network of Borg tunnels and avoiding enemy fire with all the maneuverability of the Millennium Falcon - which is a MUCH smaller ship in comparison. They were doing the Death Star tunnel run from Return Of The Jedi... right down to Data (yes, he's back again, kids - weren't you watching?) doing his best Lando impression by saying "Here goes nothing" before going on his run.

This is where I'd insert a Picard facepalm, but "headdesk" is a more appropriate reaction.

The funny thing about Season 3 was the stuff that intrigued me the most had nothing to do with the "legacy" stuff. Vadic and her crew wanting to strike back at the Federation for some reason, steals a portal weapon, uses it to dump a recruitment center onto a city as well as fuck around with the hero ship, going so far as send their torpedo volley right back at them? Hell, that piqued my interest. Oh hey, they're a new type of Changeling going rogue against the Great Link? Okay, that's kinda neat; having the TNG crew deal with a largely DS9 foe. This Captain Shaw fellow being a by-the-book captain who's also kind of a lovable asshole? Dude, that was my new favorite character on the whole show. Finally, someone I could relate to.

And what happens after? 

That cool portal weapon that could potentially wreck some shit up? Turns out that's not the big, deadly weapon that Vadic and friends were after, but rather the human remains of Jean-Luc Picard... because you see, Picard died in Season 1, but his soul was transplanted into a "golem" - basically a life-like android model. This "golem" process is what was used to create the newest version of Data - played once again by Brent Spiner - who is now as close to being human as he can get since he now has emotions, guts, humor, old age, and such.

(If I can turn off the so-called snark for a bit, I actually like this turn of events for Data. Yes, they gave that character closure in Season 1... for better or worse. But having Data come back in this newer version that is essentially an aging android with feelings and the life experiences of his other android counterparts is the closest Data will get to achieving his goal of becoming more human. It was perhaps the biggest evolution of the character conceived and it worked well for his character arc... okay, I'm done.)

Vadic and her crew take over the Titan for a bit before they're killed off and their ship is destroyed... and not even in the penultimate episode of the show. That's when we find out that all of this stuff with Picard's boy and the new Changeling type all relates to... THE BORG!


As for my boy, Captain Shaw, the most interesting character on this Star Trek show? He gets killed off fighting off his possessed crew to let the TNG crew flee the ship and there goes the other interesting thing on this show. But hey, we gotta make room for that Captain Seven show that everyone is wetting themselves, assuming it happens anytime soon.

It seems like the stuff that I liked most about this season was stuff that was undone for the sake of propping up the stuff that I didn't really care for. Even after ten episodes, I still didn't care about JACK as a character, the Borg's ultimate plan coming to fruition before meeting their supposed final demise made me roll my eyes... because the Borg are gone for good unless we need them again for your Legacy wet dream. And yeah, I'm sure people will wet themselves with another edition of the Seven Of Nine show - now with 100% less catsuit - but all throughout the show, the character that I wanted to see most as a central character on a new show was Liam Fucking Shaw. The dipshit grease-monkey from Chicago and his backstory was much more interesting to me than the PC-approved Seven/Raffi slashfic series disguised as a Legacy show.

Hell, I'd much rather watch that Starfleet Academy show that was announced. Or even that Section 31 movie. Even though they were both products of a Star Trek show that failed to hold my interest, at least they're trying something different.

Well, fuck... now I wanna give Discovery another shot.

Anyway, those are my final thoughts on Star Trek: Picard's final season.

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