Listen: I adore Patrick Stewart, who’s a brilliant actor and a beautiful human being.
And I’d pay cash money to watch P-Stew (a) go grocery shopping, (b) walk his dog, or (c) drink a few pints and talk smack with his best friend, Gandalf the Grey.
HOWEVER: We’re talking serious business here, a new STAR TREK series on the televisions, and these things are so rare and beautiful that five got announced while I made some fresh coffee. But a Trek series with Captain Picard? That’s special.
So yeah, I watched the entire series, start to finish, as a public service.
Here’s the deal: it’s a hot, hot mess.
Let’s start with the ending
You don’t need to know the entire plot. Going right to the end explains a lot of why PICARD went south.
For the entire series, we’re told there’s a secret society of Evil Romulan Spies who want to kill artificial life forms like Data, who’s already dead. Bear with me here. Data secretly had twin daughters, and the Evil Romulans killed one because they believed she’d kill all life forms by summoning the Angry Robot Monsters From Another Dimension or whatever.
In the last episode, we learn THE VILLAINS WERE RIGHT, because Data’s daughter and her android friends do build a beacon and summon the Angry Robot Monsters, who start bringing their 1987-style graphics robot tentacles through the portal until Picard convinces She-Data to shut it down.
So…we spend all these episodes fighting the Romulans who turned out to be completely right.
As a special bonus, there are about a half-dozen deus ex machinas and stupid plot holes in the same final episode. A partial list:
- She-Data’s twin may have died in the first episode, but look, there’s another android on the robot planet clearly played by the same actress, but she’s not exactly her twin, though she is evil, and kills to get her way and start summoning the Tentacle Robot Gods.
- Riker is totally retired and hanging out with Troi, so when Picard stupidly takes on the entire Romulan Bad Guy fleet of warships with a ship he’s never flown before, Riker magically re-enlists in Star Fleet and shows up with 5,000 identical starships to scare off the Romulans, who I want to remind you WERE RIGHT THE ENTIRE TIME.
- Picard is dying from some brain disease, so when he does sacrifice himself by flying up there to fight, it doesn’t totally hit you in the feels because he’s dying anyway, and yeah, that stinks–but after he dies, and hangs out with Data in the Matrix, boom, they stick his mind and soul into a robot body that looks exactly like him, so no big deal, bring on Season 2!
If you’re going to kill a character everybody loves, and make them feel, you have to do it forever–or make the resurrection very, very hard. STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KHAN killed Spock and made us all cry, then spent an entire move searching for Spock and bringing him back, making us cry more. You don’t get to do the old death switcheroo in, like, five minutes.
There are other stupid aspects of the finale that I won’t even get into.
The finale just feels sloppy, especially the static shots of a giant fleet of identical Romulan ships standing off against a giant fleet of identical Star Fleet vessels, like the director just told the CGI boys to hit cut-and-paste five hundred times.
STAR WARS knows how to do a space battle the right way.
STAR TREK, STAR WARS or LORD OF THE RINGS?
Half of the episodes, it feels like they’re trying to be Star Wars, with a big fight in a casino full of weird-looking cantina aliens and dusty, desert locations.
There’s are three common ingredients in every STAR TREK series, good or bad: a captain, a ship, and a crew.
These ingredients are incredibly weak in PICARD, where he’s not a captain, but a passenger. The ship is hired, and the crew is half holographic for some reason, with the actor playing the man who owns the ship also playing the ship’s medic, engineer and a bunch of other parts to show off how many accents he can do. It’s confusing and weird, and this scruffy captain’s ship is far too gigantic and squeaky clean. What STAR WARS got right is the Millenium Falcon is a dirty piece of junk, and Han Solo is always broke and in debt.
Other times, I swear the writers were dropping acid and binge-watching LORD OF THE RINGS. On a Romulan refugee world, Picard picks up some kind of elf-samurai Romulan man, I kid you not. It does not work.
Who’s on first?
Even though I’m not a Trekkie, or Trekker, or whatever the right name is today, I’ve seen enough movies and TV shows to know a Klingon from a Vulcan from a Romulan. For decades, Vulcans have had a specific style of dressing, speaking, and acting. Same with Klingons, those short guys with the big ears who love money.
Not in PICARD, where I can’t tell the Vulcans from the Romulans, who are all over the place. Some have deep forehead ridges, kinda like Klingons, while others look like elves and still other Romulans are shaggy hair dreamboats who sorta look like tall hobbits. And don’t start with the accents and speaking styles. Some of the Romulans had posh British accents and others talked like gangsters from LA–they were just all over the place. It kept throwing me off.
How to fix this dumpster fire
Hey, you’ve got Patrick Stewart, who I’d say is the best captain ever to put on the uniform. Absolutely beloved.
He doesn’t sneak around like a common criminal. That’s not his style.
Give him a ship–but make it a relic, obsolete, something Star Fleet was going to junk. Make his crew total newbies from the Academy, cadets who are on the edge of dropping out, and he’s only getting them on the promise that he’ll get them coached up and passing their exams after a little shakedown cruise.
Those are the three crucial ingredients to any STAR TREK series: a captain, a ship, and a crew.
After you have those three things in a way that makes sense, it’s a lot easier to fix the plot holes and random stupidity.