Star Trek Picard – Series 1 Episode 9 – What the fuck is going on?

That episode was a complete mess. The pacing was dizzying. New things were brought in so fast that by the end of the episode I had no idea what was going on, what any character wanted, or what anything meant. I just had an endless stream of questions as I was watching the episode – none of which were answered, so for this review, I’m just going to list them all:

  • How are they able to travel through a Borg transwarp conduit without a transwarp coil? Or do they have a transwarp coil? Do all Federation ships have them now? Did they get them from the Artefact? If they do have a transwarp coil then, why is their ship shaking so much as it goes through the conduit?
  • Why does Picard decide to bring Narek onto their ship immediately when it’s so obviously a trick and Soji even says she thinks it’s a trick? Since when would Picard fall for such an obvious ploy?
  • No-one ever explains these flower things. What are they? How do they make them? Are they living things? How do they survive in space? Are the flowers meant to crash ships into the ground, or was that an accident? Can the flowers only do this by dying? How do they control the flowers? Do the flowers control themselves? Do the flowers have free will? How do you even ‘make’ a flower anyway – don’t they mean ‘grow’?
  • Apparently crashing through an atmosphere is a viable way of getting down to the ground.
  • Picard is apparently going to die, and I don’t know what the point of this is.
  • Soji remembers things whenever it’s convenient to the plot. Is she going to get all her memories back at some point, or will she just have hazy memories forever? How are these memories even being blocked? Why does no-one question it? Why does no-one ever ask her to just tell them everything she knows?
  • Somehow a large part of the cube survived the landing.
  • Apparently Seven enjoyed being a Borg again for a bit. This massively, massively undermines the Borg as a threat.
  • The gang leaves the Borg cube within minutes of arriving, making the whole thing seem pointless.
  • Why does Elnor stay with the Borg when he clearly wants to go with Picard?
  • Five strangers walk into the android’s village and no-one asks them who they are for several minutes.
  • All of the androids in the village look more like Data than either Soji or Dahj. Why? Why did they make Soji and Dahj differently? And how?
  • Why are the androids fascinated by how old Picard is? Soong is there and he’s just as old.
  • How does Altan Soong look identical to Noonian Soong? (Some have speculated that it’s actually Lore.)
  • Why didn’t the androids make more flowers? Why did they think fifteen was enough? What else are they doing all day?
  • Why is Picard not there when Soji explains everything?
  • Why did they block Soji’s memories in the first place if it was possible that she might accidentally reveal the location of the planet? Why was it necessary to block her memories at all? How were they expecting Soji to return to the planet if all of this hadn’t have happened?
  • Why doesn’t Soji just remember everything now that she’s back in the village? Is anyone going to help her get her memories back at all?
  • It turns out it was stupid for the Romulans to grab onto that glowing handrail.
  • Why did the robots only have one ship? And why didn’t they make another one after the first one was destroyed?
  • How the hell is Sutra able to do the Mind Meld? She looks like a Soong-type mechanical android – I thought they couldn’t interact psychically with anything? Thinking about it, Troi couldn’t empathically sense Soji, so even Soji shouldn’t be able to do it.
  • Why does Sutra decide to do a Mind Meld even though it might drive her mad too? At this point it’s only a hypothesis that this information was intended for androids. And a psychopathic synthetic is far more dangerous than a homicidal human.
  • Sutra claims that ‘organics’ hate robots because they don’t age, which is not something that has ever been suggested by anyone so far in this series.
  • If the super-beings are always watching, why do they need a special signal to know when to come?
  • Everyone condemns Jurati as being a bad person for killing Maddox, even though they all agree that she had been driven mad by the Romulans.
  • Also, everyone seems to be over the fact that Jurati killed Maddox – they can’t seem to decide whether they like her or not from one scene to the next.
  • The robots have a tool that can repair your ship with imagination, but apparently can’t build a fucking ship.
  • Picard says he has a ‘first contact situation’, but is it really first contact when Maddox and Soong have been there for a while?
  • Why do Picard and Soji discuss the moral implications of Jurati killing Maddox when she was brainwashed?
  • Why does Narek run to the Borg cube? Don’t they all hate him there too?
  • Did Saga just lose an eye? How did she die from that – she’s a robot?
  • Is Sutra in charge? Why is Sutra the one that’s in charge?
  • Jurati is apparently over her brainwashing now. And the psychic block that didn’t last more than a few minutes. How? Why?
  • And probably the most annoying thing in this episode: the Romulans were right. They tried to understand some information intended for synthetic minds; it drove them mad, and apparently they got it wrong; but they actually got it right – if the galaxy keeps making androids, eventually the super-beings will come and destroy them all. It’s extreme dramatic dissonance, where the audience can see that the Romulans got it right, but the show is telling us the opposite.

Star Wars Is Dead

Two days ago I went to see Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.

Now, for well over a year, my plan has been that after this film came out I would make a video on YouTube about it. As I said in my recent video Star Wars Episode IX: A Morbid Fascination, I thought it was very unlikely that this would be a good film, so I thought I was going to be making a single video about this film – mostly about what made it a bad film.

Now, this is a bad film, but now that I’ve watched it there’s so much to say about this film that I’ve realised I’m going to have to make multiple videos about it. If I tried to make one single video going over everything in the film that was bad, it could easily be two hours long. It often takes me an hour to record a fifteen-minute video – I don’t really want to spend eight hours trying to record a two-hour video – I think I’d die from the effort.

So I’m going to have to make several videos about it. In order to give some structure to the videos, I’m also going to write posts about it on here (the first of which is this) – a lot of the things in this film that were bad were bad in various different ways, so grouping them together into videos is going to be difficult, and I’m going to try to use these posts as a way of structuring the videos before making them.

But anyway, onto the actual film.

This film was a mess. It was a mess of retcons, deus ex machina, fake-out deaths, pacing problems, suspense problems, arbitrary nostalgia, and nihilism. It is just astonishing how much of this film was trash film-making, trash world-building, or trash story-telling. Things just happened – there was no reason for them to happen, no need for them to happen, and no meaning to them.

This film resorted to the most basic of fantasy tropes. I remember seeing in a headline for a review before the film came out, someone said that it had a ‘video-game plot’, and that was very true: a series of levels for the main characters to pass, a series of battles for them to win, all essentially disconnected from each other, before going on to fight the boss at the end. The film was stuffed with nostalgia and fan service – not necessarily bad things on their own – in fact many of these moments were quite good – but they were just disconnected moments, and they did not redeem the film as a whole, and often just seemed completely out-of-place.

This film tried to be a massive course-correction, but with only one film left in the trilogy, it was too late. Had they decided to make this a four-film series, or even a six-film series, they might have been able to do it. If they wanted to course-correct, then it was a bad decision to limit this series to only three films. Almost every decision they made in making this film was the wrong one. As much as I didn’t like The Last Jedi, this film would probably have been better if they’d continued in the direction that that film sent them – it still wouldn’t have been good – it would have just been not as bad.

I originally wanted to call this series (or rather the one video that it was supposed to be) ‘Star Wars Is Dead’ because I suspected that this film would be another outright disaster, like The Last Jedi, and that the franchise would be seen as no more special than, say, the DC film universe, or the X-Men film universe. It would just be another generic sci. fi. / fantasy film series with no greater status than any other. But while this film was an omnishambles, and while I think many of the fans of the franchise will abandon the franchise because of this film (those that didn’t leave after The Last Jedi, at least), I’m not sure whether the franchise will continue to have appeal for very casual viewers – it might, and if it does, perhaps Star Wars is just in a coma.

At the end of this series I’m going to return to this idea of whether Star Wars is dead, but first, we’ve got to go through this trash-fire of a film in detail.