The trajectory of “Lower Decks” in terms of the first season has becomes more psychological as time goes on but the heart is what comes through. Mike McMahan totally understands this world. He may make fun of it but the lore he brings in is exceptionally deep. “No Small Parts” ends the season in an insane way but also structures the element of growing up within the ideal of what friends mean. The aspect at the beginning of the season which needed to grow was stakes and reasoning which only happens with the experiences of character. Boimler (as played by Jack Quaid) thinks he has an idea of what he wants but his life is only made better by Mariner (played by Tawny Newsome) through chance and a bit of strategy on her part.
Without giving too much away, the idea of the finale brings together all the disparate forms while engaging the high action Star Trek is known for. What is interesting again especially with the antagonist here is the aspect of Trek lore. Without even mentioning cameos or harks back (to say nothing about music cues), the animated perspective that comes to bear in the final moments can be as good as any of the live action. The only difference is that because of animation anything is possible. What McMahan has found at the end of the season (especially with this episode and the previous one: “Crisis Point”) is showing reflexivity within genre using different elements whether it is the holodeck, technology and mirror universes but to enhance character (which is when Star Trek is a its best). While the action here sometimes outpaces the story (especially in the opening minutes), it catches up to itself pretty quickly without losing a beat. This bodes well in the context of a second season, though things might change (always do).
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of evolution in terms of idealism or perhaps in moderation of experiences had has been part of the duality of “Picard” as a series. It began with an incomplete matriculation of Data’s last iteration in “Nemesis” (what is interesting for the reviewer is that I am fairly certain I interviewed Brent Spiner, Stewart and director Stuart Baird for that film for TV back in 2002 – the interviewed likely buried on some digital tape somewhere). Wrapping those strands of psychology from that film is what gnaws on both sides of the season finale (“Et In Arcadia Ego – Part II”) here. While the thrust of the narrative when it finally arrives at its end point seems sounds, it also seems too neatly put together. This is not a criticism overtly since it makes totally sense and works within the existential nature of the project overall.
As it moves in the final hour of the season, it brings into focus the nature of Picard but creates it on a very large scale. While it is not integrated as a space battle per se (without giving anything anyway) there is a sense of breath to it, especially when the viewer sees who is at the helm. The brother Soong is an interesting quandary since one is not quite sure the mythology behind it. It actually ends in a way that is more hopeful than where it began which I gather is part of the point of this specific journey. The coda per se that leads towards the epilogue is what really fans came to see all season and rivals some of the specific moments when Picard reunites with Riker and Troi on their planet.
It makes complete sense though that it feels like an adjusted addendum but it very much plays within the Shakespearean elements that Stewart so loves. There is sort of a paradoxical take on “The Tempest” within its walls. As it continues into the meaning of its conclusion, it dovetails into those ideas that sometimes change in path, much like Spock’s in earlier transgressions (even before the reboot), which again reverts back to the Romulan conflict and also their sense of identity. All works well. The final shot however tries to infer too much when it was not necessary and could have been done with more subtlety. While it did offer a slight hiccup, it doesn’t heavily diminish what the episode achieves.
By Tim Wassberg
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.
By Tim Wassberg