New Threats are in Store in Star Trek: Picard

26 Jan

Image result for star trek picardBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

On CBS All Access, Crave
and speciality channels.

Spoiler Alert

Star Trek: Picard brings back a franchise some fans believe to have strayed far from everything that was beloved. Whether it’s about space exploration or making a social commentary about the times, I love the series for the characters. Jean-Luc is stern; over the seven-year run of Next Generation, we saw how he suffered and we saw how he developed. Sir Patrick Stewart seems to be showing his age and it works to highlight the golden years of his life.

Part of the new series relies on viewers recall of the films which continued the series in an extended form. With a story that picks up many years after the movie Nemesis, the captain retired. He’s having nightmares, and the life thereafter is a little more rough than kosher. That’s until Dahj (Isa Briones), a young lady appears at the family vineyard begging for help.

The modernized look is a welcome change from the dated set designs of the 90s. Instead of focusing on continuing adventures on a starship, this entry sees an aged man dealing with unearthing secrets Starfleet prefers securely locked away. In what this world has become has cracks–namely a dislike for anything synthetic.

This underlying theme has been explored a few times, especially with Daystrom Institute mentioned once in a blue moon in the franchise. Perhaps this time we will learn more about the fear we have with the machine world taking over humanity (again). Unlike Terminator, showrunners Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon and Kirsten Beyer are taking a different approach to compromise Starfleet. The higher ups always has an agenda, and as Insurrection has shown the quest to further individual needs outweighs those of saving a race.

Shades of Issac Asimov’s I, Robot and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are certainly implied. The concern about whether androids dream of electric sheep is an okay theme to explore, but it’s a shame the story arc in “Conspiracy” was never finished. The parasites that infiltrated Starfleet made for a really dark turn for the franchise. This plot thread was never tied up and I purposely avoided learning about the plot behind this new streaming series in hopes it will bring back old foes. After watching “Remembrance,” the possibility of these creatures pulling the strings can still take place. The Federation is not the one we know. Instead of helping the Romulans escape their homeworld, the higher ups turned a blind eye. The sun was about to go supernova, and only a rag tag few helped. Afterwards, some survivors were welcomed to live on Earth and others became nomads. Even Jean-Luc has taken two under his employ to tend to his needs. While the machines do the hard labour of making the wine, he has two housekeepers, Laris (Orla Brady) and Zhaban (Jamie McShane).

Image result for star trek picard

All this backstory occurred off screen, and some of J.J. Abrams reboot Star Trek universe comes into play. There’s also a comic book that I didn’t read. Neither are worth rewatching or seeking out after learning about this. I’m taking this moment in history for granted.

In recalling the last Next Generation movie though, Shinzon is a Romulan clone of Picard and he went rogue. In the final battle, Data’s sacrifice did a lot to open new doors to Federation and Romulan relations since he saved two worlds from destruction from this renegade hell bent on destroying his creators and the humans.

This brave new world is relatively peaceful even though not everyone likes the Romulans still. However, as more backstory is revealed, the synthoids remain a threat given all that’s happened. The technology to create them advanced to a level where they are indistinguishable from a human. It’s heavily implied their programming gives them sentience. They are demanding their own oligarchy, which can be as dangerous as becoming the next generation of Borg.

One revolt is not enough. They are almost like the Cylons from the reimagined Battlestar series. The covert actions to undermine humanity may well be the direction this new Star Trek series may take. As for whether or not they want political recognition or something else, just how the ten episodes series plays out is better than a typical season of The Next Generation. I find myself enjoying the series more when there’s an overall story arc than one off’s which defined the classic and next generation chapters. Deep Space 9 set a new standard which I adore.

Since the series is about Picard getting back into the swing of things, I’m betting he will have to play ambassador one more time. It’s doubtful he’s going to resurrect Data so the android can be the peacekeeper. We know Seven of Nine and Hugh (two characters who originally tried to become more human) are going to appear in this series, and as for what role they play, it’s safe to say The Next Generation cannot be what it is without one classic villain. I’m guessing the series will see the Borg evolve into something new.

It’s a shame we won’t see Q again.

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