Category Archives: Star Trek

Star Trek: Picard: Fly Me to the Moon

star-trek-picard-fly-me-to-the-moonAs Picard enters the mid-point of its second season, we’re treated to another episode that feels like it’s moving chess pieces on the board a bit.

This week, we meet Renee Picard, a distant aunt of Picard who was part of the Europa missions that first explored the galaxy, and Brent Spiner’s latest descendent of Dr. Noonian Soogh, who is exploring the field of genetic engineering to keep his daughter alive. Of course, said daughter is played by the same actress that plays Data’s daughter in season one – because, of course, she is.

Behind the scenes, Q is manipulating both parties for reasons that haven’t quite been made clear yet. Given that Q doesn’t experience time in quite the same linear fashion as we do, I can’t help but wonder what his overall end game here is. Has his interest and fascination with Picard turned to hatred, to the point that he’d change history to get back at him? Or are there changes to the continuum that are so radical that Q wants to stop PIcard from ever making them, dating back to the trial on the way to Farpoint station?

I’m not sure what Q’s agenda is – perhaps beyond getting his powers back. But I can’t help but feel that as Picard tries to save Renee Picard that he’s overlooking something fundamentally important with Dr. Soongh’s manipulation. It would be like Q to distract Picard and his crew with one thing while fundamentally altering something else to make the real changes.

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Star Trek: Picard: Assimilation & The Watcher

bqvKB7iYbNR65xUPUR3XpV-1200-80Can we just address the elephant in the room for this fan of Star Trek and Impractical Jokers?

With the cameo by Brian “Q” Quinn from IJ, does this mean that IJ and Star Trek are set in the same universe and that Q is actually a member of the continuum?

OK, so there are probably deeper, more fundamental questions arising from these two episodes of Picard, but it’s still fun for this fan of both shows to ponder.

The first two episodes of the season seem to be about establishing the situation that Picard is addressing in season two – namely that Q has somehow interfered with time and created an alternate timeline. “Assimilation” and “The Watcher” start making steps toward finding a way to correct that adjustment, even if our characters don’t necessarily have a clue yet about where the timeline went wrong and just how to fix it. Continue reading

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Star Trek: Picard — The Stargazer, Penance

Picard-202-penance-q-picard-e1647032601569-1024x512Watching the second season premiere of Picard, two thoughts kept running through my mind (almost to the point of distraction). One was – why did we spend all of season one getting this crew together only to break them all up again? The other was – when is Q going to show up?

I can understand in the times in which we live that the news of Q showing up wouldn’t have been spoiled by the Internet trolls who get up at 3 a.m. to watch new episodes of everything and then put out clickbait headlines to ruin it for those of us who like to do silly things like sleep, but it still felt like a lot of time in the premiere was treading water waiting for John de Lancie to pop in.

Of course, the question of when Q is going to arrive probably distracted me from the feeling that it took ten episodes of season one to get up to the same moment we got to in ninety-minutes with “Encounter at Farpoint” with the crew being assembled and ready for some adventures, only to see everyone scattered again. Now we have to spend an episode or two bringing everyone back together again so we can get this season’s story underway.

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Both of these issues are probably more on me as a viewer than the production itself. But they still stuck out and distracted me from fully engaging with “The Star Gazer” until the final moments.

This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that this viewer is a bit weary of “in media res” openings that tease a huge conflict and then flashback to show us just how we arrived at the said moment. In this case, it’s Picard ordering the destruction of the ship to stop the Borg Queen because Starfleet has incorporated Borg technology in their new ship design. Yes, we get to see the action scene twice and it’s nicely done – but I feel like it wasn’t the best way to start off the season. Continue reading

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Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Shadows Have Offended by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Shadows Have Offended

Tie-in fiction was a staple of my reading life for much of my teens and early twenties. I eagerly picked up each new installment as it hit the shelves and would quickly consume them over the course of a few afternoons and evenings.

But then, in the late ’90’s, Star Trek fiction began to become a bit more insular. It started wit the annual (generally summer-released) cross-over events, then it continued with advancing the story and characters beyond the finales of DS9 and Voyager. Slowly, Trek fiction demanded (at least it seemed to this reader) that you have read a half-dozen or so novels leading up to the current one and be aware of the various new directions the characters were going. Alas, I started to get behind on my Trek reading because it felt too much I was missing details and was so far behind that I’d never catch up.

Which is why Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Shadows Have Offended is such a welcome, breath of fresh air to the Star Trek fiction universe – a standalone story set during the seventh season of TNG and focused on Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher. Like many of the most memorable Trek novels of my earlier days, this one felt like an episode of the series, only without the constraints of a television budget.

The Enterprise is “volunteered” by Luxwana Troi to ferry guests for an upcoming Betaziod ceremony across the quadrant, much to the chagrin of Captain Picard. While doing this, a research station in a nearby sector suffers a tragedy. Picard sends an away team of Riker, Data, Crusher, and several other original characters to investigate while the ship continues its duties on Betazed.

The biggest compliment I can give this novel is that Clarke really knows the ins and outs of these characters. It’s easy to hear the actors saying the lines she gives these iconic characters. But she also takes a page from J.M. Dillard and other Trek writers and introduces her own creations into the canon. The members of the away team with Riker and Crusher are all well-drawn and interesting enough to warrant returning in a future offering should Clarke decide to visit the Trek universe again.

Shadows Have Offended won’t be mistaken for a great piece of literature. But, it’s a quietly, comforting novel that reminded me of the days when I was immersed in Trek fiction. I hope Clarke has another novel or two set in the TNG universe in her. This one is a lot of fun and every bit as entertaining as I’d hoped it would be.

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Review: The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek by Lance Parkin

The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, Creator of Star Trek

“When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend.”
— The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

This famous quote from the iconic John Ford Western could easily apply to Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry was a good storyteller, who rarely (at least according to this book) shied away from an opportunity to present himself as the hero of any particular story — whether it was behind-the-scenes battles to maintain the integrity of his vision of the future or being one to take credit for the successes of Star Trek while finding a scapegoat in others for its shortcomings.

In the thirty years since Roddenberry’s death, fandom has been given the opportunity to examine the Roddenberry legacy and to wonder just how much of the success of Star Trek could or should be laid at his feet. Lance Parkin’s The Impossible Has Happened attempts to distill multiple narratives into a single cohesive portrait of the man who created Star Trek and his legacy. Parkin’s assessment is an honest one — probably somewhere in middle between the official Roddenberry biography and the unauthorized one. Parkin throws in details from various other cast and crew members behind-the-scenes looks at the Trek phenomenon to give us his assessment and view of the man and his franchise. Continue reading

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Will “Code of Honor” Survive?

codeofhonorA couple of weeks ago while browsing Disney+, I decided I’d wander over and stream an episode of The Simpsons.  I’d just re-watched Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear and the Sideshow Bob parody episode “Capre Fear” has always been a particular favorite.

As the closing credits rolled, I began to explore a bit, going from season to season of the popular animated series.   As I pulled up season three, I noticed something — an episode was missing.  The third-season premiere “Stark Raving Dad” wasn’t available to stream and instead the second installment “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” was listed as the first installment.

I scrolled through all of season three just to make sure it wasn’t there but placed somewhere else (maybe the season were ordered by production order, I thought) and, no luck.  Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: Star Trek: Year Five: Odyssey, Volume 1

Star Trek: Year Five - Odyssey's End (Book 1)The final two years of the starship Enterprise‘s five-year mission have proved a fertile ground for storytelling and examination over the past several decades. Pocket Books has multiple tie-in novels from the era and then a hit-or-miss series about the “Lost Years” between the end of the five-year mission and the start of the motion picture series.

Now, IDW attempts to give fans the final year of Captain James T. Kirk and company’s tenure on the starship Enterprise with Star Trek: Year Five. This collection of the first six issues of the series contains three complete “episodes” that attempt to blend the stand-alone storytelling of the original Star Trek with the season-long arcs that are prevalent today. The hybrid works well enough, giving us some interesting character exploration as Kirk faces the prospect of becoming an admiral coupled with regrets about his past (his relationship with Carol and David Marcus serves as a launching point for the middle installment of the arc). There’s even an apparent rift developing between Kirk and Spock (which interestingly plays into Pocket Books’ “The Lost Years” saga) and the crew potentially becoming involved in some squabbling between the Tholians (last seen trapping our crew in their web).

The storytelling and artwork for these six collected issues is spot-on an feels like they came right out of a potential fifth season of the classic series. It’s interesting to see the crew go back to “A Piece of the Action” to examine the implications of McCoy leaving his communicator behind (this is also explored by Peter David in his comic arc “The Trial of James T. Kirk” for D.C. years ago). The characters are well represented and some of the crew that aren’t Kirk, Spock, or McCoy get a moment or two to shine as well.

In short, this is a diverting and entertaining collection of stories that Star Trek fans will enjoy.

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Star Trek: Picard: Broken Pieces

brokenpieces1If last week’s installment was about checking in on some of the faces from Picard’s former crew, this week’s installment is about building his newest crew.  After weeks of hints, we finally get some answers and payoffs about the past of Rios and a look at what made Agnes eliminate Bruce Maddox.

I just wish that this hadn’t felt quite so heavy-handed and coming out of what is little more than Picard talking to his new crew around this ship’s version of the conference table.  (Certainly, we saw a lot of conferences during the TNG run and it was a time to have huge exposition dumps.  But somehow those didn’t feel quite as obvious as this one did here).

So, it appears the Romulans are dead set against synthetic life forms emerging due to a thousands-of-years-old prophecy that warns about some type of Destroyer.  And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that synthetic life forms don’t come to pass (though why they didn’t try harder to eliminate Data during the run of TNG doesn’t seem to add up much).  They’re playing a long game by infiltrating Starfleet and planting agents in place if someone gets too close to creating synthetic life.  (Again, how Noonian Soon survived as long as he did seems like a legitimate question).

So, Admiral Oh is part Romulan, part Vulcan and has no qualms about mind-melding and creating sleeper agents who will carry out her orders, whether they want to or not.  At least to a certain point since see that Anges will kill Maddox but won’t kill Soji (unless it’s some kind of long game in place to get to the planet full of Sojis and eliminate them all at once).  I do find it interesting that the Romulans are willing to sacrifice a lot of their people to the natural disaster of their sun expanding in order to eliminate the synthetics.  How deep and far this hatred goes is something that could be explored in future seasons, assuming this storyline continues — or maybe moves over to Discovery as I’ve heard rumors might happen.

It’s interesting to see that you’ve got two characters making forced into roles they don’t want — Agnes as well as Seven of Nine.   Seven returns and is forced into the role of the Borg queen after Narissa decides to take the Cube for herself and eliminate all the Borg on it.  It was kind of chilling to see the sheer numbers of drones Narissa is willing to sacrifice because of her hatred of synthetic life and her commitment to whatever her part in this unfolding drama is.  I can’t help but wonder if she wanted the Cube to more easily travel the trans-warp conduits that we see referenced in the episode.

Meanwhile, we see that Rios has a reason as well to be skittish — going back to one of his first assignments with the captain who was like a father figure to him.  The issue of his captain being forced to kill the synthetic life forms and then taking his own life is interesting, but it does bring up some deeper questions about just who is connected to this conspiracy and how.  We saw on Voyager that there was a directive to explore certain particles if they’re detected and that it overrode other mission concerns.  I can’t help but wonder just which Starfleet captains have been programmed for this response — and if Picard wasn’t because of his contact and close proximity to Data.  Or did he miss that day in training?

So, with two episodes left, we’ve got a lot on the table and hopefully some answers on the horizon.

Oh, and I did love the Easter egg from canon where Rios’ first captain knew Marta, Picard’s friend from the Academy that we met in “Tapestry.”

 

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Star Trek: Picard: Nepenthe

nepentheIf you’re a Star Trek fan, this is the episode you’ve been waiting for since the previews.  Nothing against Seven of Nine, but seeing Jean-Luc Picard reconnect with William Riker and Deanna Troi is just far more satisfying because of the long history we’ve seen these characters share.

Nothing against Raffi, but having Riker tell Picard he’s being arrogant and he might need to reconsider his approach to Soji is far more effective and carries more weight.  It’s also exactly what Picard needed and hopefully, it’s inspired him more than just the guilt he feels for the death of Data and what happened to the project to relocate the Romulans.

The scenes with Riker and Troi just worked on another level, making me not only appreciate the longer run time but finding myself wishing for more.  The backstory of losing a son who could have been saved if work on artificial lifeforms had been allowed felt like it was put there to provide some connection to the overall season plot.   But, the entire connection between Soji and Kestra was something that worked extremely well and I almost hope that Soji can work her way back to the Rikers and have the type of family experience she’s only had in implanted memories. Continue reading

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Star Trek: Picard: The Impossible Box

impossibleboxPlot threads begin to come together in “The Impossible Box.”  Not only threads from the first five installments of Star Trek: Picard but also threads from the entire history of the Picard character.

While Picard has had encounters with the Borg since his assimilation in “Best of Both Worlds,” he hasn’t been back inside a Borg cube since them (you could debate that the Borg taking over the Enterprise in First Contact might have been a trigger like this one).  Seeing Picard’s reaction to the news he has to go aboard the cube and that he when he is greeted by a former drone as Locutus was superlative work (of course) by Patrick Stewart.   And I got chills the moment when Picard is looking back at other Borg encounters and come across his image as Locutus on the viewscreen.  An extremely well-crafted and well-shot moment in this show. Continue reading

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