This episode had more moronic moments in it, and thinking
back on it, I don’t think there was anything that I actually liked about it,
though there were a few things I was indifferent to. I’m going to go through
the problems with this episode in the order that they happened.
At the start of the episode, we saw some CGI of this
octonary star system. Later on we’re told that the orbits of these stars would
have to be very complex in order for such a system to exist. That’s actually
not entirely true. This is an extension of the three-body problem in physics.
Solutions to the three-body problem, for the most part, cannot be determined
analytically, and must be determined computationally – i.e., using a simulation.
But for any number of masses, there is always one trivial solution if the
masses are all the same – the masses can all orbit a central point with the
same speed and direction. This is a very simple solution to the problem, and,
if you were creating this star
system, as is postulated in this episode, possibly the solution you would go
for. It would also be the most conspicuous solution, given its symmetry, and so
good for sending a message. (The main problem with this solution however is
getting eight stars with the same mass.)
But that’s not what we see at the start of the episode. In
fact we see all of the stars close together – REALLY close together, and by the
looks of it the stars all have different masses. In fact the stars are so close
together that they must be having tidal effects on each other, possibly pulling
mass off each other – they look like they’re in each other’s Roche limit. It
certainly doesn’t look like a stable system.
Also, one of the stars has a distinct magenta hue – that’s
not possible in real life – there are no magenta stars.
Raffi says later on that the planet is at the centre of the
star system, but in the CGI we see clearly that it is not. I give the show a
pass on this, however, because how would Raffi have any idea where the planet
is? She’s only just found out that this star system exists – she’s just
guessing. But also, if it were at the
centre of all of those very close stars, it would be in perpetual daylight, and
completely roasted – it probably wouldn’t survive very long, let alone have
plant-life on it.
Much like with all that stuff in Star Trek Discovery, this
shows why Star Trek needs scientific advisers (I don’t know if this show has
one – certainly there’s less nonsense in it than in Discovery). But not only
that, it shows why your scientific advisers should be involved in the CGI
process as well – artists draw what looks good, not what could be real.
Then we go down to some stuff on the planet’s surface.
Apparently, in the entire history of the Zhat Vash, no-one has questioned
whether they should keep touching the alien artefact that instantly radicalises
people. I suppose no-one would, since everyone who survives it has then been
radicalised. But still, we have no idea if what that weird barrier thing shows
you is even true.
Similarly, even though the knowledge you gain via Admonition
is apparently very important – important enough to set up a super-secret
organisation to act on it – it’s apparently not so important that anyone tells any major governments about it.
Rizzo says to Ramdha ‘I’d’ve made a much better Borg than
you.’ … err … what? … who? … wh- … Who on earth relishes being assimilated? Who the fuck thinks the idea of that is
fun?! I don’t know what they were
going for with this line.
Picard and Asha come onto the ship. Picard then doesn’t know
what the nearest starbase is – … how? Even if Picard is a bit
out-of-the-loop, surely he’d know where Deep Space 12 is? I mean, there’s
apparently only been 11 other deep space starbases before that one. The line is
so unnecessary as well, so this must have been a deliberate choice by the
Then Raffi is once again very irrational, but the show does
not acknowledge it – dramatic dissonance.
There are many times throughout this episode where Santiago
Cabrera sounds like he’s reading the line for the first time. I don’t know how
chaotic things are on set, but if they are
very chaotic, this could well be the case.
Also, why do the holograms’ eyes light up when they try to
search for something – that shouldn’t be necessary.
Then we have a scene between Picard and Asha where Picard is
asked to describe Data. He does it very badly. He misses out all of the
actually interesting stuff about Data, and there’s no way that Asha could build
a picture of him with the information she’s given.
Now, this should
have been a very long scene. This is the scene where the main character of the
series (which, let’s face it, is Asha, not Picard) learns about Data, the
person she is essentially cloned from. This should be a big scene. But it’s not
– it’s actually very short. In this scene, we definitely should have heard
about the trial that established Data’s legal status, because that’s the event
that ties all of this together – Picard, Data, Maddox, Asha (and because it’s
probably good for Asha to know the result of that trial). But we didn’t. This
is a massive failing of this show – it can’t even get its core story right.
Shortly after that we have a scene between Asha and Jurati
too. Asha asks Jurati ‘Am I a person?’, and we don’t get to hear Jurati’s
answer (because that wouldn’t have
been interesting or anything (!)). Why the fuck does the show keep doing this?
Why does it keep not letting us see characters’ reactions and responses to
But these two scenes also reveal something that is missing
from this series that we should have seen a few episodes ago. We never really
had any scene where Asha tries to process the fact that she’s a robot. (In fact
we’ve not even really had confirmation that she is a robot – everyone just seems to believe that she is. Is no-one
going to do some kind of scan? It might answer a lot of Asha’s questions.) But
even just a scene where we see Asha ponder the implications of being a robot is
missing from the series. The show went straight from Narek trying to kill her
to her being on Nepenthe being told by some kid that she’s a robot. At no point
was there disbelief or scepticism. At no point did she think ‘But how is it
even possible? No-one’s been able to recreate a robot like Data.’
And I think this points to something that the current
writers of Star Trek need to realise, which is that you sometimes need slow
scenes where characters contemplate things, or discuss things in a
non-adversarial way. Every scene in Picard is either a fight scene or just
characters being maximally emotive.
Around this point in the episode, we hear more about these
eight stars from Raffi: ‘You’d have to capture eight suns, move them across
light-years in space, and set them in motion.’. Okay, so, this is science
fiction, and maybe in this universe there’s a way to do this. But this show
completely lacks a sense of scale. Just throwing this in there lacks any
awareness of just how big stars are, and just how big a light-year is. You can
only do this if you have some way of simply counteracting or nullifying the
effect of gravity around a star. Manipulating gravity is possible in the Star Trek universe – that’s presumably how they
all have gravity on their spaceships – but it’s usually done on a much smaller
scale. Even the warp bubble around a ship is nanoscopic compared to a star. To
move a star, you would have to create an enormous, artificial gravity well (one
basically as big as the star itself), near to the star, and then drag that well
and the star in the direction that you want the star to move. You’d probably be
limited to sub-light speeds, so it would take you many decades to move the star
from one star system to another. You’d also probably disturb the gravitational
interactions of the local cluster at the same time, potentially destabilising
other star systems or planets, or grabbing yourself a rogue planet as you went.
And sure, the whole point of this idea is to show that this
ancient civilisation was very powerful, but doing this requires years of
planning and building infrastructure to do it, and then decades or centuries to
actually implement. And apparently, this civilisation only did this once they
realised that androids were getting too powerful, which is probably too late.
This is all a bit ridiculous. The only people who could have done this are the
We also have, at this point in the episode, a cutesy scene
with Raffi and all of the holograms. Maybe this scene seemed good on paper; on
screen it’s just annoying, as the different holograms are paper-thin
Then we get to the part of the episode that I think I
disliked the most. When Elnor and Seven of Nine are trying to take control of
the Borg cube, Seven decides to reintegrate herself into the Borg, and become,
presumably, a Borg Queen.
I absolutely hate this. This completely minimises what
assimilation is. Assimilation by the Borg is the complete and utter eradication
of the self. Your body is hijacked and transformed – there are Borg nanites in
your blood that interrupt the normal function of your cells – your very cells
are slaves to microscopic machines. Organs and body parts are changed to
machinery – in some cases your entire spine is replaced. Your thoughts are
invaded and overwritten with the popular will. Uniqueness, individuality,
identity, and dissention are not permitted. Your
personality is gone. You are gone. You cease to exist. It is a fate worse
than death precisely because you disappear while part of the biological form
that allowed you to exist goes on as a cog – a dispensable, replaceable
component – in a biotechnological machine that actively resents the concept of
the basis of your existence. It’s the great irony of the Borg that even though
they seek the cultural distinctiveness of other species, they destroy it when
they try to merge it in with their own.
This is emphasised by the irreversibility of assimilation.
It is far easier for someone to be assimilated than for someone to be
de-assimilated. You cannot easily get back what was lost through this process.
Now, Star Trek itself has been somewhat inconsistent about this – Picard himself
was able to recover from assimilation almost fully and relatively quickly.
Seven of Nine, however, took years to recover, and never had all of the
implants removed. Star Trek has generally suggested that the longer you’ve been
assimilated for, the harder it is to return. They’ve also been somewhat
ambiguous about whether the Borg eradicate your personality or just suppress it
– personally I don’t see the difference when the method of suppression is one
that involves direct physical access to your brain.
But regardless of the reversibility of this process – even if
the effects are only temporary – this is not something that should ever be
portrayed lightly. The subjugation of thought is pretty fucking serious. Seven
even protests at the idea when Elnor mentions it, so it’s bizarre that she then
goes and does it. The show continues to portray this process as not serious
when Seven very easily de-assimilates herself about a minute later.
I do not believe that Seven of Nine would ever have chosen
to do any of this, and I find it repulsive that this show portrays one of the
most conceivably horrific things as easy and 100% reversible.
Anyway, there were two more annoying things after that in
the episode. Firstly, Soji suddenly remembers things whenever it is convenient
to the plot, and there is no explanation for it. Secondly, Picard doesn’t know
how to fly the ship when he tries – it would have been such a boss moment if he
had known how to fly it, and even
though it’s been over a decade since he was in Starfleet, I can’t believe that
the technology and the interfaces have moved on that much in that time.
This was an absolute disaster of an episode, in just about