IR TV Review: PICARD – EPISODE 9 ("Et In Arcadia Ego – Part I") [CBS All Access]

The proliferation of a journey resides in the impact of the ending point and the lessons learned in its transgression. “Picard”, as it continues in “Et in Arcadia Ego – Part 1” as a man is a continually flawed character, one we could not have likely seen back in the Next Generation phase. He is a man blinded in certain ways by his altruism and ego. He has a mortality that he doesn’t want to face but also an ambition that basically he can’t cash. He wants to be a savior but is stuck in the certain visage of a false messiah. This of course is not his fault. It is simply the crux of the story he finds himself in. The pilgrimage of sorts to a lone planet led by Soji opens both answers and more questions. The reality is that the motivation of humans as the predominant force in the universe is the crux of the conversation at the heart of the series. Even going back to “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and even into the original series with “I, Mudd”, this reflects on the idea of what it means to be a synthetic being. The discussion also resides in the idea of what has happened before will happen again.

The Romulans, in many perceptions have the right idea but the progressions of the series is based in a false assumption. It is the idea of ego and assuming what something or a certain vision might mean, and not what it actually is. The introduction of an offspring of a certain positronic scientist is an interesting one but also an imbalanced introduction, though certain details point to an interesting construct. When it comes down to it an apocalypse is coming but what is interesting is that the deliverance, in all seriousness, might come down to those who exist halfway between worlds. It will reside in those that understand both the sides of pure machine intelligence and a bit of humanity. These decisions can only be made by those with views on both sides which encapsulates a couple different characters, so the narrative push could go in a variety of different ways. But that is what makes the adventure worth exploring, especially if a certain redemption is in the cards.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PICARD – EPISODE 8 (“Broken Pieces”) [CBS All Access]

The intention of character is based within the ideal of who a person is destined to be, what they are willing to show the world and the intentioned basis of what they believe their overall goal to be. The essence within the 8th episode of “Star Trek: Picard” aptly titled “Broken Pieces” reflects this in the ideals of the people involved in this tome, specifically the ones specifically on a ship heading for a Starbase then another specific destination. The main one of course is Soji, as her life has been upended and she is still coming to terms whether her life is tangibly real or not. She is finding certain balance points which are interesting especially when it comes to the captain of her new ship. The show, in this episode, is focusing on the nature of duality. As it progresses at one point Picard is sitting across from Soji asking a very pertinent question, and Picard almost sidesteps it until she brings him to task instinctually but unknowingly. It is a very big character moment for Picard. But it reflects backs too in Raffi and the Captain’s interactions which also take on a very existential point which oddly enough brings to mind issues of tendency from The Doctor on “Voyager”. It is dynamic and unusual and perhaps the first time we have seen this kind of progression in quite this way on Star Trek (in a case where it didn’t involve a holodeck).

On the flip side there is a Seven Of Nine issue which plays into duality within a method of control or perhaps tendency. It is a hard reflexive moment which interestingly enough is not even her own and yet in the moments seen speak volumes. Alison Pill’s doctor character is the McGuffin here because she is intelligent enough to be believed but scared enough to do anything, especially with the crazed look in her eyes around Soji. The ideas of mental stability but also trangression are themes that are interestingly diametric here from scene to scene. And so the changing perspective within the series continues.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PICARD – EPISODE 7 (“Nepenthe”) [CBS All Access]

The progression of “Picard” as a series is balanced between the idea of nostalgia and a different concept of what the Federation has become in this new world. It is a big leap and a change of perception from Gene Roddenberry’s days. The storytelling needs to evolve of course and human nature is what it is. The latest episode, “Nepenthe” is the best episode of the series by far but it is because of the time before that makes it worthwhile. In this iteration, Picard is reunited with Riker and Troi after jumping away from the Borg Cube at the end of the last episode.

While story wise, there is only a little bit of movement, this episode is so much about character development and time. This is a way we have not seen these three characters before. Unlike Seven Of Nine in an earlier episode, this has much more depth (not to disparate Seven’s path) because it hits harder here. Certain particulars about the story and particularly the dynamic between Picard and Riker are played just right because the essence of who Picard was has changed and yet it hasn’t.

An addition within that dynamic is a little girl who also interacts with Soji. It is the family dynamic here, even more than on the ship (which also gets some screen time in this episode) that provides connectivity. A moment in the trailer with Picard and Riker sitting on a lake reminiscing of what life is like now is particular poignant because of one simply gesture that Picard makes that speaks everything about their bond. This is where the best of Star Trek resides is in those connections, however human they can be. I am just surprised that Q hasn’t come into play. Because this decimation of morality but still that essence of humanity is the crux of what brought the Next Generation to fruition. “Picard” is uneven as a series but in these fleeting moments in certain episodes it gains that traction like certain aspects of its predecessors to move into something deeper that the films sometimes can’t traverse (and least more recently as well as the Next Gen movies). Time will tell.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PICARD – EPISODE 6 (“The Impossible Box”) [CBS All Access]

The journey of identity for most is not an easy one. It is marked by trepidation and a sense of uneasiness. Within the structure of “Star Trek: Picard”, it can be a two-edged sword. With the episode, “An Impossible Box”, Jean Luc Picard returns to a Borg Cube. This is the one we have seen in previous episodes and it is a crux point at which the focal point of what the Romulans are searching for and what Picard is uncovering collide. The path of Soji, who is the other half of a twin that Picard encountered on Earth, becomes more clear through the element of self-awareness. While the audience has watched her being manipulated both through emotion, paranoia and ultimately love, the aspect of awakening is an interesting construct. One scene in particular using a very simple technical plot device makes it all the more disillusional for Soji.

The interesting structure of this episode is in the way it is built, the audience watches Soji become more and more comfortable and yet when we see Picard approaching this space, he is becoming more and more undone. This aspect of Picard is one not seen too much, which is part of the allure for Stewart. Duality and the Id are mentioned distinctly in the episode. At one point, he stares at a reflection of his earlier self in the screen and it is quite Shakespearean for sure. While revealing more about the episode would reveal spoilers, the idea of inherent memory plays into every facet of this story, whether it is Picard revisiting an old life or Soji seeing a memory which undeniably speaks to a line William Riker uttered in the first minutes of the first episode of “The Next Generation.” Everything is connected, even to the breaking point of sacrifice. While some choices may be easily arrived at, the path is less black and white. The gray especially in a sequence walking through what might seem like a field hospital reflects in what identity in terms of life truly means.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PICARD – EPISODE 3 (“The End Is The Beginning”) [CBS All Access]

The progression of a mission is related in the basis of where a trail leads. At this point in the Picard build of its series, the idea becomes one of mythology and the idea of what is being unfurled in terms of a focus. After forming the texture of a would-be conspiracy and keying Picard out of a self-imposed exile, the pieces seem to start fitting. The texture though leaves a slight hole in how Picard’s pride intensifies his removal. It also speaks as to why we don’t see more of The Next Generation crew. It is based in the essence of hubris. The people he does recruit either are in age of him or see a certain texture of his fans. The McGuffin that is swirling in the background within “The End Is The Beginning” points to something deeper and sinister which remains to be seen. It all leaps back in a sense to what Data might be planning from beyond. The essence of this also gives rise to a possibility of Lore is some way though that is never mentioned. The leaving of Earth is inevitable but in staying outside the lines, it becomes a guerrilla mission which we have not seen Picard undertake before. For a character known for regulations and yet an awareness of breaking the line, the path of resistance seems clear. Yet there is mystery, The series hasn’t reached its tipping point of intrigue yet. It is still finding that identity but in Episode 3, it is not quite clear yet what the true path is.

B-

By Tim Wassberg