So I’m glad that this whole mishegoss is done with by the end of the episode. Neelix and Paris bond over raising the cute alien baby (who, I gotta say, reminds me so much of the baby from Dinosaurs that I was just waiting for it to cry out, “Not the Mama!“), and in the end all three of them are friends.
On the other hand, in order to get there, we have to suffer through an hour of my two least favorite characters on the show. It boggled my mind to read that the episode was prompted by a belief that Paris was underused in season one, as it flies in the face of the season one that I just watched. (Hell, he was pretty much the POV character and lead protagonist of “Caretaker” and “Heroes and Demons” portrayed him as if he were in charge of the damn ship.)
What a tiresome slog of an episode. It’s maddening, because the basic story here has so many possibilities, and we get precisely none of them. The crew approaches the scientifically impossible rearranging of the ship’s innards with absolutely no sense of urgency or concern or confusion. They just sort of wander the corridors and then wander the corridors some more and then go back to the holodeck, because of course, we have to make sure the holodeck is functioning normally.
Or, rather, just abnormally enough so that we can keep amortizing the cost of the bar set. Sigh.
One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this season is that this is the first Star Trek season that feels like it takes place in a galaxy where people live. It’s partly a function of it being the only series not to take place on a military installation of some kind—aside from DS9 all the others take place completely on starships, and DS9 takes place on what used to be a Cardassian station. But the waning days of the 24th century look lived-in. A lot of the thanks likely goes to director Hanelle M. Culpepper, who directed the first three episodes of the season. The visual feel she established is a perfect mix of old and new, with Star Trek’s trademark nostalgia for old things mixed with high-tech accoutrements. It feels like a happy future that acknowledges the past while still willing to move forward.
There are so many ways this could have worked. One is to give us some idea who Daniel Byrd is, and why it would be so much worse for him to be stuck in the Delta Quadrant than it would be Kim. Heck, keep it simple and clichéd: he left a pregnant wife behind, and Kim doesn’t want that kid to grow up without a father.
Better yet, find out that they discovered the wreckage of Voyager in the Badlands, and according to the sensor logs, they tried to return home through the Caretaker’s array and were destroyed. In which case, Kim would try to restore the timeline so his friends wouldn’t all die, because being stuck in the Delta Quadrant is better than being dead.
As for Neelix, he’s not nearly alien enough. From the moment he finds out what the elogium is, up until his final scene with Kes, Neelix says a whole lot of things about parenthood, including some really hoary and stupid gender-role distinctions (thankfully, Tuvok punctures these pretty thoroughly). If those exact same lines of dialogue were given to a middle-class suburban white guy in 1950s America, not a single word would change. That’s a spectacular failure of imagination.
This season of Star Trek: Picard has hung a good many guns on the wall, and while Part 2 of the season finale fires most of them, it doesn’t quite fire them all, and a few of them misfire badly. Having said that, it’s a most satisfying conclusion to the season.
On the one hand, this episode is a less surreal redo of TNG‘s “Frame of Mind,” also a Brannon Braga script (and one that heavily featured Jonathan Frakes, who directed this one). It takes a much more linear approach to the main character’s breakdown, but given that the main character is a computer program, this makes sense.
And the main reason why it works despite its derivative nature is the same reason why every episode that focuses on the EMH works, to wit, the superlative work by Robert Picardo in the role.
And Eisenberg hits it out of the park here. He beautifully conveys the character’s adolescent turbulence, trying to balance the needs of his people with the fact that he very obviously doesn’t actually want to die, nor does he really want to kill Chakotay. But he’s trapped by the cultural mores of the Kazon. If he doesn’t kill Chakotay, his own sect will kill him. No other Kazon sect will take him in, and no one else in the Delta Quadrant will take in a Kazon.
We get a bit of Kazon history here to go with the cultural mores—which really are akin to that of street gangs, with initiation rituals and early indoctrination of youth—and their past enslavement by the Trabe has left them with a cultural distrust of uniforms and military order and such. So the option of coming on board Voyager is also rejected by Kar, because he finds the very idea of being on a Starfleet vessel repugnant.
So many of us are kinda stuck staying home a lot, and that means more reading time! Or, at least, time spent reading so you don’t go batshit because you’re stuck staying at home a lot……
As one possible thing to read, how about my writing? I’ve already posted about my Star Trek work, and now we move on to other TV show tie-ins, which are listed below in alphabetical order, and include: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI: NY, Doctor Who, Farscape, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Heroes, Leverage, Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow, Stargate, Supernatural, The X-Files, Xena, and Young Hercules.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Xander Years Volume 1 — novelizing three Xander-focused episodes, “Teacher’s Pet,” “Inca Mummy Girl,” and “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”
Blackout — a novel focusing on previous Slayer Nikki Wood, who worked in New York in 1977 and faced off against Spike and Drusilla
The Deathless — on Ring Day at Sunnydale High School, an evil Russian sorcerer is attempting to be resurrected
“Ten Little Aliens” in Farscape: The Role-Playing Game — Crichton, D’Argo, and Crais are among those kidnapped for a contest among aliens to capture a prize
Farscape Omnibus Volume 1 (written with Rockne S. O’Bannon) — collecting four post-finale storylines, “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning,” “Strange Detractors,” “Gone and Back,” and “Tangled Roots” — Rygel returns home to claim his throne, a vicious disease spreads through the Uncharted Territories, Crichton visits an Unrealized Reality, and Aeryn learns a shocking truth about the Peacekeepers — and the three D’Argo miniseries D’Argo’s Lament, D’Argo’s Trial, and D’Argo’sQuest — which provide D’Argo’s backstory as well as what he did between seasons three and four
Red Sky at Morning — Moya returns to the homeworld of the Pilots and learn of a new threat to the Uncharted Territories
Compulsions— Moya teams with another Leviathan to deal with a new foe
The War for the Uncharted Territories — the Peacekeepers have a surprising new leader, the Kkore are invading, and Crichton must bring the species of the UTs together or risk losing everything
Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda
Destruction of Illusions — a prequel to the series, showing what both Tyr Anasazi and Beka Valentine and the crew of the Eureka Maru were doing in the nine months leading up to the discovery of Andromeda Ascendant and the time-frozen Dylan Hunt
The Zoo Job — a small zoo in central Massachusetts didn’t get the black rhinos they paid for, leading half the Leverage crew to west Africa and the other half to the world of the uber-rich who illegally purchase wild animals
Children of the Revolution — toward the end of the first season, Ichabod Crane and Detective Abby Mills must find a series of medals that were issued during the Revolutionary War before they’re used to resurrect Serilda of Abaddon
SG-1: Kali’s Wrath — toward the end of the fifth season, Jacob Carter and Bra’tac must team up to help SG-1 face off against Kali and the return of the Reetou
“Time Keeps on Slippin'” in SG-1/Atlantis: Far Horizons — a story that takes place between seasons three and four, explaining Carter’s non-regulation haircut and Teal’c’s soul patch
“Sun-Breaker” in SG-1/Atlantis: Homeworlds — on board the General George Hammond, Carter and Teal’c must stop the Lucian Alliance from acquiring a Go’auld weapon
Nevermore — in the second season, the boys go to the Bronx to solve some Edgar Allan Poe-themed killings and stop a haunting
Bone Key — two demons super-charge the ghosts that haunt Key West, but one becomes too powerful and the Winchester brothers must work with the demons to stop it
Heart of the Dragon — a violent spirit appears in 1969 San Francisco and is banished by the Campbell family of Samuel, Deanna, and Mary; it returns in 1989, and is banished again by John Winchester; and it comes back again in 2009 in the midst of the angel-demon war and must be stopped by Sam, Dean, and Castiel
John Winchester Hardcover Ruled Journal — this is a mostly blank notebook, designed to look like John Winchester’s journal, but it also includes several pages of text from that journal, which I wrote
“Back in El Paso My Life Would Be Worthless” in Trust No One — a second-season story where Mulder and Scully are to work alongside an FBI agent who’s not thrilled at being stuck with the weirdos in the basement
In addition to Data, [Brent] Spiner has had four other roles in the franchise: Lore, Data’s evil twin, introduced in “Datalore” and deactivated in the “Descent” two-parter; B-4, Data and Lore’s prototype, introduced in Nemesis, and also seen disassembled in “Remembrance”; Noonian Soong, Data’s creator, in “Brothers” (alongside Lore), and seen again as a dream image and a holographic recording in “Birthright Part 1” and “Inheritance,” respectively; and Arik Soong, Noonian’s ancestor, in the Enterprise three-parter “Borderland”/”Cold Station 12″/”The Augments.”
This episode adds a fifth, and it’s in keeping with the others: Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Noonian. (Though it’s not mentioned, his mother is presumably Noonian’s wife Juliana O’Donnell, established in “Inheritance.” I’m also just assuming his middle name is a tribute to the swordsman from The Princess Bride, and if it isn’t, I don’t care, because in my head it is, so there, nyah nyah.)