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Star Trek: Picard frontloads fanservice so it can get on with going boldly

The character Picard's first impulse is to be comforting and safe. The show <em>Picard's</em> first impulse is to slowly tear down the sense of comfort and safety the audience starts with.
Enlarge / The character Picard’s first impulse is to be comforting and protected. The present Picard’s first impulse is to slowly tear down the sense of consolation and security the viewers begins with.
CBS

The primary Romulan you meet in Star Trek: Picard speaks with a delicate Gaelic accent and wears a snug, sensible cardigan. She is the very mannequin of a traditional cozy housekeeper, an archetype made immediately recognizable by her bearing and method, and but in the identical breath she’s totally international and surprising.

This marriage of acquainted with unfamiliar—this try and take what you understand however then tilt it to at least one aspect and jiggle it round a bit to throw you off-balance—is nearly as good a metaphor as any for what Picard appears to be doing. This isn’t the comfy, well-worn world of Star Trek I used to be born and raised in and am now sharing with my very own baby. That is one thing totally different, and based mostly on the primary episode at the least, I badly wish to observe this path and see the place it leads.

(Gentle spoilers for the primary episode of Picard, “Remembrance,” observe beneath.)

The fundamentals

The primary episode of Picard strikes precisely via the steps you’d anticipate from watching the trailer. It dawns in a French winery, Château Picard, the place the erstwhile captain has retired.

We after all know Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) greatest as captain of the United Federation of Planets’ flagship Enterprise. He helmed the Enterprise-D via seven seasons of tv and one movie, the place its profession as a spaceworthy vessel ended when half of it blew up and the opposite half crashed right into a planet. After that, Picard took command of the Enterprise-E for 3 extra movies.

The occasions depicted within the final of these movies, 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, are the plot and emotional scaffolding over which the preliminary episode of Picard is draped. Most crucially, on the finish of Nemesis, Lt. Commander Knowledge chooses to sacrifice his life with the intention to save the lives of Picard and the remainder of the Enterprise crew. Twenty years later, the loss haunts Picard nonetheless. The present’s chilly open begins with Picard dreaming of a dialog with Knowledge, and the episode returns typically to that theme.

One different movie, 2009’s Star Trek, additionally looms giant in Picard. That movie, which rebooted the characters of the unique sequence (Kirk, Spock, and so forth) by forking them into an alternate timeline, posited that the alternate timeline was created when the star round which Romulus orbits went supernova in 2387. That catastrophe, we’re instructed, precipitated the most important humanitarian effort in Starfleet historical past, when Picard coordinated and led an enormous evacuation fleet to rescue as many Romulans—about 900 million, all instructed—as attainable.

However these occasions are greater than a decade gone in Picard, and life within the Burgundy countryside is a far cry from life aboard a starship. Even within the yr 2399, the agricultural life is sluggish and grounded, in a really literal sense. This place, the place Picard sought solace in years previous whereas making an attempt to recuperate psychologically from his time among the many Borg, is as totally different from the hectic, maximum-warp, crisis-seeking velocity of the Federation’s flagship as it’s attainable to be.

Within the first episode, Picard takes this grounding to coronary heart. Apart from a short closing scene teasing occasions for later within the season, we by no means depart the floor of the Earth or look out into the celebs. Each episode of Star Trek: The Subsequent Technology started with Stewart’s stentorian tones exhorting us to come back alongside on the Enterprise’s persevering with mission to hunt out new life and new civilizations and boldly go the place no-one has gone earlier than, adopted by a spectacular brass fanfare. However Picard is extra subdued, as an alternative protecting its gaze to the smaller world, accompanied by a haunting flute (a deliberate reference) and melancholy cello.

The tip of the bucolic life arrives within the type of an enigmatic younger lady going via a dramatic disaster. She arrives at Château Picard searching for security and Picard, after all, gives it as greatest he can. The thriller of her origin is revealed surprisingly swiftly, then given a twist. That twist clearly units up what I can solely consider as the principle story quest, or at the least a essential story quest, for the remainder of the season. And the episodes to come back will presumably propel our heroes to recruiting the crew of pleasant misfits we have seen from the trailers, in addition to different anticipated cameos from different members of the TNG forged.

The Federation may need begun as a largely human enterprise, however Earth and Starfleet aren’t synonymous, and the present needs us to really feel that in each body. Characters communicate of time in calendar years, not in inscrutable coded stardates, they usually communicate these dates to one another, to not private or ship’s logs. The make-up, costume, and set design, specifically, are working time beyond regulation to wean us of the expectation The Subsequent Technology set for us that the long run could be stuffed with observe lighting and ugly unitards, a imaginative and prescient of utopia conceived via Gene Roddenberry’s nearly pathological stage of optimism and visualized via all of the artificial fibers and beige interiors the 1980s might supply.

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