Monday, February 24, 2020

Star Trek Picard is walking the disappointing road that the Star Wars sequels followed by killing the happy ending.

I'm a few episodes into Picard, the CBS All Access examination of what occurred after Picard's illustrious Starfleet career is over, and I'm beginning to think that what we have going on here is the same thing that seems to have happened with the continuation of the Star Wars movies. In other words, the happy ending didn't last and what was once good enough to be left alone has now been mined for visceral and emotional reaction to justify nasty changes in these beloved characters.

Spoiler Alert: I'm going to discuss "Stardust City Rag," which aired last week.

Case in point, the brutal killing of Icheb, who was a character I really liked in Star Trek: Voyager for about two seasons, was awful as soon as I realized who it was that was screaming while he was getting chopped up. I didn't need to see this, and I'm pretty angry with Star Trek not because of the gory death per se, but because it was Icheb. I liked Icheb a lot, and I know (because I'm a thinking adult who knows how stories work) that the director of this episode (it's Jonathan Frakes a.k.a. William Riker of Next Generation) called "Stardust City Rag" mined old content looking for ways to connect these present events to the past, stumbled upon Icheb, and was like, "I'm gonna kill off this character to motivate Seven of Nine."

It makes me shake my head in disgust.

Picard isn't Game of Thrones unless I missed a memo somewhere. Beloved characters do not need to be put on the chopping block in order to create visceral emotions for new stories. I honestly think that this is the laziest of storytelling...going for a character death in order to spur a major character onto a path that you want them to walk. There are a myriad of other ways that this could have been accomplished, maybe by devoting one episode (or several episodes) to a backstory following Seven of Nine's awareness of how the Federation has changed following the destruction of Mars, or following her own investigation into what exactly the Romulans are doing with that Borg cube.

It could be any number of things. My first guess as to what's going on with the Borg cube is that it's the one that was destroying Romulan colonies on the very edge of the Neutral Zone in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They never followed up on that, but it definitely had a "Borg foreshadowing feel" to it, as entire colonies had been scooped up and were missing. Maybe the Borg had a problem assimilating all of the Romulans...like there was something toxic or poisonous about Romulan genetics similar to what happened when the Borg attempted to assimilate Species 8472. All of the Romulans that are removed from the Borg ship (is the word "recovered" appropriate here?) seem to be crazy/insane...so there's obviously something medical (that's unexplained) going on here.

I think that the Borg decided to cut loose that ship and return to Borg space until Season 2 and the episode "Q Who," which introduced humans (and the Federation) to the Borg, which then was followed up in the season finale of Season Three "The Best of Both Worlds." And that's where that Borg ship that the Romulans are studying came from.

Anyway, I haven't been able to connect many of the dots in Picard, but killing Icheb seems cruel and unnecessary. There are plenty of things going on that are interesting enough to have brought in former beloved characters from Voyager, Next Generation, and even DS9 (if that happens at some point) without having to axe characters to give these people a reason to interact with the story. It seems gratuitous, and I don't like it.

At least Discovery is knocking it out of the ball park (in my opinion), by breaking new ground in tremendous thought-provoking ways.


8 comments:

  1. As you know, I think Discovery is the dumpster fire and Picard is hitting it out of the park.
    And I really hope they do a show following Seven of Nine, as her story would be fascinating.

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    1. I agree with your comment on Seven of Nine. And yes! I do know you think Discovery is a dumpster fire :). Your post on it was in part why I decided to post my opinion, so that there are at least two differing ideas of the current Trek series available on the interwebs.

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  2. I don't think Jonathan Frakes wrote the episode. But you're right that it'd be nice if they'd leave some happy endings alone. I think it was 2018 when I wrote a facetious post about killing Harrison Ford off in sequels to like every movie he was in because Hollywood can't seem to let him have a happy ending.

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  3. I'm curious about these shows but I'm not paying CBS to get to watch them.

    (Harrison Ford is the one who pushed for Han's death.)

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    1. I've never been a fan of Harrison Ford. I feel like he was a lucky person that road the coattails of greatness, i.e., Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who had stories to tell that were amazing. Someone of Chris Pratt's charisma could have easily stepped into the role of "Indiana Jones" or "Han Solo" and done just as good a job. I've lived around Harrison Ford most of my life, as he's always been up in Jackson and Tetonia, which was very close to Idaho Falls. I've seen him once or twice in person just out in the wild. I'd describe him as someone with very "Clint Eastwood-esque" conservative values that I bristle at, and I certainly never joined in on the Idaho worship that he seemed to get from the locals there. As for him wanting Han to die, they should have just left him out of the sequels. If he doesn't want to be a constructive part of the Star Wars fanbase, then just let him go back to Jackson.

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  4. Well, that right there is a reason not to watch the show. I'm not good at watching suffering (hence, why I lasted about two episodes into Game of Thrones before giving it up). Stuff like that is a reason for me to never, ever watch.

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  5. Technically, Star Trek got there well before Star Wars: David's death in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

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