Star Trek Picard Episode 2 Maps and Legends
Okay, I finally got past the first few minutes of Star Trek Picard opening episode. It took a while. I can honestly say that it’s deeply painful to see the Captain as an old and perhaps diminished man. It reminds me of my own mortality I guess. Plus it took me a long time to care about the two people who showed up right after the opening scene.
But push on we must, and thus I have made it to the end of the second episode of Star Trek Picard, called Maps and Legends, and I can honestly say I am not having much more luck with this episode than I did with Picard episode one. The show itself seems determined to make Picard look both feeble and less of a man than we remember. It’s also seemingly hell bent on supporting the Star Trek Discovery narrative of the Federation as an unhappy, unsafe, fragments, and angry place to be. This has very little to do with the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry, at least in my opinion.
Now, credit where credit is due. The mixture of dream and real events is quite powerful. The use of Mr Data both as a key player in the dreams and a key player in the overall narrative of the show is really interesting, and shows that the writers applied plenty of craft not just the writing of the story but in also creating a probably and understandable connection to the past stories of Picard. They have also been reasonably careful to introduce the various players and technologies so as not to overwhelm us with too much information at the same time. In a sense, this material would likely be a horrible 2 hour movie, as it would end up with too dense a wall of technology and too little time to develop the characters. At this point I count at least 20 players and potential players that have been at least partially fleshed out. The serialization of the story over 10 episodes gives us plenty of chance to see the game of chess being played.
However, there are things that I don’t enjoy in all of this, mostly to do with the current take on the Federation. The attitudes and actions, which use to be positive and “let’s give it a try” seems to have been turned to a sort of angry “we are not interested”. The people Picard deals with are dismissive, rude, and spiteful. The federation itself appears to have been infiltrated at the highest levels by spies and outside forces intent on causing problems. It is as if the entire place is run by the paranoid Section 31 players from Discovery. It doesn’t feel positive, it feels angry and on the brink of collapse. It is as if the Utopian concept put forth by Roddenberry was but a thin veneer stretched tightly over an angry bees nest. It’s not fun to see at all.
The story itself is interesting, certainly you can understand Picard’s motivation in all of this even if the rest of players motivations seem a little bit two dimensional at this point. The sets, the vistas, and the applied technology in the series is really nice, it’s future without being overly stupid, and that’s comforting.
Now to move on to episode three. I am looking forward to episodes 4 and 5, which are directed by Jonathan Frakes . I am hopeful that his direction can help to extract a little more of the old Captain we loved and followed without question.