Star Trek: Picard‘s “Imposters”

Impressively, given that we live in a news-drenched society, and given that this season was hyped up the wazoo, they managed to keep this week’s guest star a complete surprise until today. Plus, more Worf and Musiker goodness, more Shaw fabulousness, and (sigh) more Jack mystery. Oh, and yet another actor from 12 Monkeys shows up, this time Kirk Acevedo as a most interesting Vulcan. My review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “Imposters.”

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I mentioned last week that I really missed seeing Worf and Musiker, and this week reminded me why. The two remain a superb pair, with the older, more mellow Worf in the hilarious position of being the calm, rational one. (I found myself reminded favorably of the period on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, when Chris Noth’s Detective Mike Logan was teamed with the hot-tempered Detective Nola Falacci, played by Alicia Witt, and Logan at one point marvels at the fact that suddenly he’s the diplomatic one for a change…)

The first thing we see of them is a sparring session on La Sirena, and it’s a magnificent scene that illustrates both characters very nicely. Musiker has no kind of poker face, grinning at one point, snarling at another. Worf, meanwhile, is efficient and calm, and constantly giving advice. It resonated with me due to its similarity to sparring sessions in my dojo, specifically when experienced black belts spar with less experienced color belts, and the former are giving advice to the latter. Worf does that here, and my favorite moment is toward the end of the fight, when he’s just standing there, looking almost bored as he parries every single shot Musiker takes.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Twilight”

It’s yet another dip into the “alternate future” well, as Archer comes down with nasty parasites that ruin his memory, T’Pol takes care of him, and the Xindi meticulously wipes out humanity. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch fades into “Twilight.”

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It starts out beautifully. I’ve spent a lot of time on this rewatch complaining about this show’s truly awful teasers, so I especially want to give credit to the teaser for this one, which is right up there with TNG’s “Cause and Effect” and Voyager’s “Scorpion” as one of the most effective in franchise history. Archer waking up confused, seeing T’Pol in a captain’s uniform, watching Earth explode—it’s the textbook definition of a good teaser, because it teases the hell out of this episode.

Star Trek: Picard‘s “No Win Scenario”

Stories from the past, some entertaining, some tragic! A changeling loose on the Titan! A new life form! Crusher actually being a doctor! A batshit crazy plan involving technobabble! Face front, true believer, this one has it all — well, okay, not all, as there’s no Worf or Raffi Musiker this week, which sucks, but otherwise, please do check out my review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “No Win Scenario.”

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The batshit crazy plan, by the by, is nifty on two different levels. For one thing, it’s Crusher who’s responsible for its genesis, because the writers finally remembered that she’s a doctor, not just a mother. She figures out that the nebula is, in fact, a creche for a lifeform that lives in space. Picard specifically cites the creatures from “Encounter at Farpoint” as an example of a similar type of lifeform, and the aliens that are born when the nebula “gives birth” look very similar to those aliens. (Regular commenter Christopher L. Bennett coined the term “cosmozoan” to refer to such lifeforms, which also applies to things like the giant amoeba from “The Immunity Syndrome,” the crystal entity from “Datalore” and “Silicon Avatar,” and Gomtuu from “Tin Man.”)

That moment of birth is the other nifty aspect of the plan, because we—as Crusher comes out and says—get the seeking out of new life. Which is, after all, supposed to be the point.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Shipment”

John Cothran Jr. plays a friendly Xindi who winds up helping move the storyline forward and also provide some details on who and what the Xindi are. And the show continues to move away from the revenge plot that last season’s finale threatened and instead moves back toward being, y’know, a Star Trek show. The Enterprise Rewatch awaits delivery of “The Shipment.”

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I’m very grateful to see that that was at least partly a stress response to a horrific act. With time passing, the crew is coming back to themselves, and Archer isn’t doing “whatever it takes.” Indeed, he’s thinking rationally. Reed and Hayes really really want to blow up the facility, because that’ll set back the construction of the weapon. But as Archer rightly points out, what does that get them? It’ll just allow the notion the Xindi have in their heads that humans are horrible people to grow roots.

Instead of violence, Archer goes for talking and compassion and also learning. He learns on purpose by putting a tracker in the kemocite so they can find out where it’s going, and he learns by accident when Gralik tells him the Xindi’s recent history of a century-long war. The contentiousness among the members of the Xindi Council makes more sense now, as they all fought each other in the big war that made the planet go boom.

Star Trek: Picard‘s “Seventeen Seconds”

We find out why Crusher hid her kid from Picard and why Worf is running an op with Raffi Musiker, and while the latter is fabulous — every scene with Worf and Musiker is gold — the former is problematic to say the least. Nonetheless, we get some excellent forward motion and a greater linking of the two plots. My review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “Seventeen Seconds.”

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The Titan portion of the plot gives us a chance to explore the Picard-Riker dynamic, and in particular how it’s changed. We start with the flashback to Picard and Riker drinking a toast to the latter’s kid (complete with Jonathan Frakes’ hair dyed brown—but his beard more salt-and-pepper, a nice touch—and both Frakes and Sir Patrick Stewart digitally de-aged in that manner that makes their eyes look incredibly sunken…). At this point, the new dynamic is still, well, new, plus Riker’s off on his own ship now. But they’re not captain and first officer anymore, and in the present we see that the pair of them aren’t always on the same page.

More to the point, this is the latter-day Picard that we’ve seen on this show for a couple years now whose super-power as he’s gotten older is to royally piss off everyone who’s ever cared about him. And the admiral does a lovely job of doing that, mostly by bullying Riker into fighting the Shrike, even though it’s a fight Riker knows they can’t win. More to the point, they have to protect this crew that they stupidly endangered with their dumbshit off-book mission. And in the end, when the Titan has had the shit kicked out of it thanks to Vadic’s clever use of a portal weapon (like the one that destroyed the Starfleet Recruitment Center), Riker kicks Picard off the bridge.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Exile”

Sato gets to star in her very own version of Beauty and the Beast! Or Phantom of the Opera, if you prefer… Meanwhile, Archer and the gang learn Important Things about the Delphic Expanse. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch is cast into “Exile.”

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Thankfully, the story avoids the biggest problem with B&tB in particular, which is that it’s a rather creepy case of Stockholm Syndrome disguised as a romantic comedy, which has always sat poorly with me. (Even back in 1991 when the Disney animated version came out, I kept thinking, “But he kidnapped her! It’s not true love, it’s a damn felony!”) But even though Sato thankfully at no point gives in to Tarquin’s desire to keep her prisoner, there are so many little things that threw me out of the story. For starters, Archer just left her alone on the planet with this telepathic rando without any protection beyond a phase pistol. Seriously, why are the MACOs even there if they can’t provide security for a bridge officer stuck on a strange planet?

And then Sato is so nervous about being with this strange alien that she gads about the place in a tank top and shorts the whole time. Because the producers of Enterprise are never happier than when they’re sexualizing their female characters.

Star Trek: Picard‘s “Disengage”

Picard, Riker, Crusher, and Crusher’s kid are in trouble, and they have to depend on the Titan crew to save them, which is only a problem insofar as the Titan captain is a douchenozzle. Plus we find out who Musiker’s handler is, and it’s awesome. Plus Aaron Stanford plays a Ferengi because of course he does. My review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “Disengage.”

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As is often the case with Picard’s erstwhile aide, Musiker has to deal with crap from her past in order to do her job in the present. In this case, we meet Jay, who is the father of her son, whom we met back in “Stardust City Rag.” Jay has a more subdued version of the hostility their son showed in that first-season episode. Musiker’s ability to see patterns is so focused, so intense, that she goes down rabbit-holes, ones that often have addictive narcotics somewhere in the hole. Her search for Sneed against the wishes of her handler is a big red flag for Jay, but he helps her anyhow. Randy J. Goodwin does an excellent job of showing Jay’s exhausted frustration with his ex.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Impulse”

VULCAN SPACE ZOMBIES! What more need be said? Indeed, this is a surprisingly effective horror piece, which has not always been Trek‘s forte… The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch moves at “Impulse.”

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Hiring David Livingston was very much the right move, as he’s one of the stronger action directors in the Trek stable of the era. And the episode looks great, from the very effective visual of the asteroids crashing into each other to the spiffy-looking Seleya to Mayweather’s less-than-perfect landing on one of the asteroids to Livingston’s effective use of lighting, camera angles, and the icky makeup on the Vulcan Space Zombies.

talkin’ Trek on Journeys of Inspiration

Hysterics Studios has been doing an interview series called Journeys of Inspiration: Reflections on Star Trek. They’ve been talking to all manner of people about Trek, and one of the first people they talked to was me! The notion originally grew out of a panel that was supposed to be at Emerald City Comic Con in 2020 — except that con was kneecapped by the recent apocalypse. That panel turned into this interview series, for which my interview is actually the 25th installment.

Jeffrey Ayers and I recorded this in April of 2020, before I’d upped the bandwidth on my house wifi and before I got the fancy-pants camera for my desktop. And some of what I comment about is hilariously out of date now (like speculating about the possibility of a Captain Pike series, har har). But it’s still a fun interview where I talk about my life with Trek, as a fan, as a writer of official fiction, and as a critic.

Check it out!

Star Trek: PIcard‘s “The Next Generation”

The good: a cool subplot with Raffi Musiker, Seven of Nine finally in a Starfleet uniform, some fun callbacks, the always-fabulous Orla Brady, and best of all the glorious double act of Sir Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes and Picard and Riker. The bad: a plot that only occasionally makes sense, yet another Evil Captain (latest in a series! collect ’em all!), an inexplicable new Titan when we’ve barely seen the old one, and an uncharacteristically bloodthirsty Beverly Crusher, who’s apparently a Mom again. My review of Star Trek: Picard‘s third-season premiere, unimaginatively titled “The Next Generation.”

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Since the title character is an admiral, we can’t do the Evil Admiral cliché, so we substitute with the Evil Captain. Shaw, played with gleeful smarm by Todd Stashwick, is in the tired tradition of DeckerTraceyGarthEstebanMaxwellRansom, etc., ad nauseum. The deck is so totally stacked against him it bleeds into the absurd. He insists that Seven refer to herself as Hansen, a cruel and unnecessary insistence. He invites Picard and Riker to dinner, but starts eating before they arrive—and also leaves before they finish, which would be appallingly rude even if they weren’t VIP guests. At the gift of a bottle of Château Picard, he dismissively says he prefers Malbec (a Spanish wine), and he also makes his disdain for jazz clear, commenting that he had to delete all the jazz Riker had in the databanks when he took command. And finally, the guest quarters for an admiral and a captain that he provides is a single room they have to share with bunk beds, which is a protocol violation of the highest order.

Oh, and he refuses to change course as Picard requests, as Picard is a retired admiral, and Riker isn’t captain of this ship anymore. I mean, he’s right, but that doesn’t make him any less of a dick.