Trekathon 788: Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2 (PIC)

March 27th, 2020

Season One of Picard wraps up. Spoilers.

I’ll call that sticking the landing. There are some pieces where perhaps everything is a little forced, or parts are dropped a little too quickly, but it feels like the mystery of the season was neatly wrapped up in a satisfying way that – importantly – is based on character and not deus ex machine plotting.

The episode (and season) does a fairly credible job of making all the sides ‘valid’ – it’s reasonable to be worried about extinction. And it’s also made clear that the motives of each side cannot be allowed to justify the ‘ends’ that they are choosing. It did feel to me like the Romulans gave up just a little too quickly, but that’s a quibble.

Picard’s death is undermined by the meta-plot knowledge that there’s a convenient Golem to download him into on the mantel. But it’s played well by all concerned, and the payoff in terms of the long scene between Picard and Data is beautiful. It’s difficult to write a scene that both brings back a character we deeply love, and then make us happy for him to reach his end, but the show manages it.

There’s a possible version of this episode without Picard’s resurrection that might have had a bit more emotional weight. But to me that’s outvoted by the sheer delight in looking at the crew assembled in the final scene, and imagining what a second season with that crew might look like.

I’m now going to go on a bit of a ramble about ethics, so feel free to skip to quick hits….

I just recently finished a course on Leadership and Ethics (through the Cranlana centre). The first text we read for this course was Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Those Who Walk Away From Omelas’. You should read it if you haven’t already (it’s only a few pages long), but the brief version is that there’s a paradise that is founded on the profound suffering of one child, and the only choice people have is to accept it or walk away.

You can read this season of Picard, and particularly the final episodes, as a response to this. A choice is set up – either organic life is exterminated, or synthetic life is exterminated. And we can see Picard’s response to Omelas here – you don’t have to accept this choice, you can find another option, you can always fight for better. His conversation with Soji is very much on this question – there is a choice, even if it feels like there isn’t.

And it seems to me that this ethical response, to always look for better options when faced with two unsatisfying ones, is deeply embedded in all of Star Trek. Think back to Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru test, where he creates a new option out of a ‘no-win scenario’. And during the course I think I found that it’s an ethic that I’ve adopted – rejecting the ‘reduction ad absurdum’ of many philosophical thought experiments, and looking for the real world answer of there can always be another way, and sometimes the right thing to do is to fight for another option than choose between what you have.

Quick hits:

  • Seriously, just green light the Seven/Elnor show now.

  • Ooh, Jonathan Frakes in the guest star list. That could also be a few things (surely not Tom Riker?), but I would love to see Admiral Riker above anything else.

  • Hee hee, Jurati ‘Make it so’….

  • The Narissa and Seven fight scene was nice, but really seemed pretty pointless. Could have just cut that and no noe would notice.

  • Hah, Picard maneover callback.

  • Dr Jurati’s look of joy as she works out a plan was just beautiful.

  • ‘Sterilisation Pattern Number Five’ is terrifying – this comes up often enough that the Romulans need at least five options?

  • Boo, only ‘Acting Captain’. Would ‘Acting Admiral’ have been that much for Riker. But God he looks comfortable and in command, it’s glorious.

  • One of the great things about this show is the pairings. In TNG there were ‘set’ pairings (Geordi and Data for instance). Picard has created little scenes out of mixing and matching the central characters and every time it brings something new and interesting to the relationships. Rios and Seven, then Raffi and Elnor are two good examples.

  • Bloody teases ‘My brother’ …. OOOH LORE …. ‘Alton Soong’… Darn it to heck.

788 down.