So I’ve had a few days to think about the first season of Picard, and I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed with it. Now some will start claiming that the reason I didn’t like it was because I don’t like strong women, or some such shit, but the real reason I didn’t care for it was because I think it’s poorly written. For example:
One of the key points for the show is the attack on Mars. But what exactly happened? We see some synths go mad and kill people and then lower the defenses and some ships show up – from somewhere – and blow up Mars. But knowing what we know – that this not-so secret Romulan group hijacked the synths to make people hate them – that doesn’t really make much sense. Like, if I were in charge of this not-so secret Romulan group, what I would have done was program the synths to take hostages. Then have them call up the Federation Council with some bizarre demands like all the organics being evacuated off Earth so it can become a Synth Homeworld or something, and that for every five minutes their demands aren’t met they’ll kill a hostage. And to show that they mean what they say, they kill two hostages because it’s been ten minutes since this started. Then, when Starfleet Security shows up to rescue the hostages, something goes awry and the shipyards blow up. That wouldn’t lead to as many casualties, but I think it would be better.
During the, I don’t know, Janeway Commission that investigates what happened on Mars, they might find incidents of “minor malfunctions” of the synths in the weeks leading up to it which in light of the events would just be seen as them preparing for the showdown. It would all be wrapped up in a neat little bow and everyone would think the synths are deranged terrorists that we cannot negotiate with.
Instead, we get this mystery: why did the synths go mad? Because an organization known for “boldly going where no one has gone before” would look at a mystery, shrug, and go it’s not our concern. Oh, wait. When the problem seems to just be a malfunction – instead of deliberate maleficent – people would look into it, and what are the odds that the anti-synth people are better programmers than the pro-synth people? All it would take would be the slightest bit of evidence that the synths were hacked to destroy the entire plan. You would think that this not-so secret Romulan group would understand that people want to solve mysteries, so it’s best to do your big conspiracy thing in a way that leaves little mystery.
Moving on from Mars, I believe that in the first few episodes they talked of a “darkness” or something in Starfleet. This would suggest a cabal of officers going against the ideals of Starfleet for their own gain. That was interesting. Until it turned out to just be Commodore Oh. Which just makes me wonder how one officer had such influence, not only over Starfleet, but the Federation Council?
I guess she’s just lucky. I mean, at the end, when everyone knows that she was involved in the attack on Mars, she’s allowed to just leave. No attempt is made to take her into custody and put on trial for this major act of terrorism.
Of course, she’s rather stupid. She ruined her plan. If she hadn’t mindmelded with Agnes, then the bad synth wouldn’t have figured out she needed to build a transmitter. I mean, it’s not like the not-so secret Romulan group had access to warships that they could have used to kill Picard on one ship and thus prevent him from getting to Maddox and learning where the other sister was. If Oh had just used the resources she had – instead of trying to bring in some unknown – she could have killed Picard in an unfortunate attack by “bandits,” gotten Maddox because weren’t they already on their way to him, and still had the sister on the cube. They could have gotten the information, went to the synth planet, use “planetary sterilization plan five” or whatever (side note, how many planetary sterilization plans do you need?) and nobody would have known. This was less a case of the good guys figuring out the bad guys plan as much as the bad guys tripping all over themselves and the good guys going, “Hey.”
Since I mentioned the bad synth, let’s talk about the big bad Cthulhu synths. I’m guessing that they started with this idea of how will people react to synthetic life. It’s an idea that will move from science fiction to science fact sooner than many people suspect, so I applaud the idea of getting people to think about it. I just don’t think Star Trek is a good vehicle for such a story idea. Anyway, we understand that organics can be devious and can even kill to further their goals. So we can either show the synths to be better than us, or just as bad. And it’s safer to go with the idea that they can be just as bad, I mean, we don’t want to make the audience think too much. But to muddy everything up, let’s just introduce these big bad Cthulhu synths because, well, they couldn’t use the Borg to be the menacing threat anymore. Does that mean that whatever Star Trek there is in thirty years will just have a Cthulhu synth as part of the crew?
I think the problem with Picard is that they took ten, thousand piece puzzles and took one hundred pieces out of each, and tried to make one puzzle. Here and there you have five or six pieces that fit together, but you also have seven corners. The more I think about the show, the more inconsistencies I see. And not just with the other Trek shows, but even within itself. Like, the synths can make a magical wrench that can fix unreparable mechanical things, but they can’t use it to make surgical equipment to fix Picard’s brain thing?