“I may be enjoying this more than I’m supposed to…”
Before we started watching the first episode of Picard, I heard that some of the negative reviews mentioned that it felt a little “slow.” I don’t know what sort of energy drinks those bros were chugging, but I thought the pace of the show was spot on.
As a big TNG fan, I was geeking out by simply having Jean-Luc (not to mention Data) on screen. Fifteen minutes into the episode, I say out loud, “I may be enjoying this more than I’m supposed to…” to which my friend replied, “Same.”
I loved the first episode, and not just b/c I’m a TNG fan, but b/c of how Sir Patrick Stewart plays him here. No Shatner-esque vibes to be found (Thank God). Jean-Luc’s demeanor is still commanding, despite being retired, yet has softened with age. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. -Angie Sanders
Lear in Space
Yes, it’s more deliberate than the other monster-of-the-week Star Trek shows. And the exposition in the first episode comes fast and furious. But c'mon, we're not really here for those things, right? We're here to see Sir Patrick do his thing, and it has the potential to be the best work of his career.
Showrunner Michael Chabon is going full Shakespeare here ... aging statesmen, secret identities, clue-dropping ghosts, murky regrets ... everything about the setup is in service to Stewart's unique set of genre skills. It’s a gentle, thoughtful performance that grounds the rest of the cast. The result is something Trek has always reached for but intermittently achieved: real depth and pathos.
Also, a welcome surprise comes in how the show depicts both the media and the in-world perception of Star Trek history. Picard is “known” outside of our observation of him, with a relative degree of fame as a military commander, humanitarian, author, and lecturer. The Enterprise is a famous vessel, staffed by famous people, and the past adventures of the crew are documented (and exploited) by media outlets the same way movies and documentaries do now with historic events (there’s even an early reference to Dunkirk). -Matt Brown
Very Good Boys and Nice Guy Sleaze
This show has it all: dogs! fashion! technology! xenophobia! I'm excited to see where it goes with the thoughtful P Stew at the helm. After watching TNG this week in preparation, I have a few follow-up questions on the future fashion of Picard. Where are the snazzy professional onesies? Patrick Stewart really rocked those – so comfortable and practical! Why are people still wearing ties in 2399? And where can I get Dahj’s hooded green coat-cloak?
It also should be said upfront that there is a Very Good Dog in this episode (appropriately named Number One) who steals the show. I’m sure there are narrative reasons for this dog – he emphasizes Picard’s now-sedentary lifestyle on Earth, etc. – but mostly he is there to be charming and smiling and happily romping in the vineyard, which he does quite well. He also has a Very Important Role in garnering trust for Dahj when she first appears. Number One allows her entry, quickly follows her around, and even does an adorable sploot by her chair while they drink tea!
Unfortunately, not everyone in this new society is as endearing as a pitty with his favorite toy, and the show gave us a glimpse at one of the new baddies near the end of the episode. The setup was really well done – the level of Nice Guy sleaze emanating from him in just one short scene left us all very aware of how shit he is. Don’t fall for his act, Soji! He’s a chauvinist if I’ve ever seen one.
We all want to believe in the peaceful, exploratory ideals of TNG, but our current climate of national supremacy, infallibility, and xenophobia makes Starfleet’s turn to the same all too believable. The newscaster’s distinction between human and Romulan lives is chilling, and clearly parallels toxic present-day rhetoric. Also, while the use of transporters to pop in and out of fights is pretty neat, conceptually it makes perfect sense that this is how the technology would be repurposed in a more hostile society.
All in all, it looks like an intriguing new direction for Picard, and the changes for his character are felt all the more for his legendary status. How will the Ideal Man™ – known for his thoughtfulness, humanity, inclusivity, and honor – navigate this Brave New World? -Lucy Bonner
Perfect Society Exposed
Whoa is there a lot going on in the pilot of Star Trek: Picard! In a weird way, however, I was underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, it put down some strong building blocks for what could shape up to be an exciting new Picard adventure. And man, was it beautifully shot! Unfortunately, nothing really wowed me, not to mention how slow it felt.
The synthetic lifeform part of the story is very intriguing, and it's interesting to see this new series exposing the cracks in what is often portrayed as a perfect society (traditionally the threats almost always come from outside the Federation).
That said, for me the jury is still out. But it's very clear that the production value is high and with all that’s been invested in it, as well as the potential I saw from the initial setup, I'm excited to see where it goes. -Taylor Plimpton