Science Fiction On Screen

picard season 2

As I grow up, I realise I become more and more demanding with video entertainment. As a science fiction fan, I try to watch whatever I can on the theme. However, most of the time, I’m disappointed by the authors’ lack of understanding of the story structure when writing screenplays. Some series and movies are so focused on CGI to forget about plot, characters, conflict, feelings, and everything that makes a story something worth watching.

Let’s just say that after Insurrection, the last movie I enjoyed on the big screen was Arrival, a masterpiece. If you’ve been following my blog for a time, you may remember I also read the short story on which the movie was based, and for the first time in my life, I thought the movie was better than the book.

After Star Trek Nemesis came out—yes, I went to the theatre to watch that nonsense—I waited for ages for more Star Trek movies, and like many other fans I waited in vain.

When the new movies were finally launched, I was so hyper that I almost enjoyed the first one. The cast was great; the CGI was excellent, and the soundtrack was terrific. However, the movie was just a number of moments, at times emotional ones, but still moments.

Later down the road, we get Discovery with another woman as main character. Well, Michael Burnam never impressed me as a character. She whispers and cries all the time, so fucking annoying. I don’t know if the authors write her that way because they don’t know how to write a female character, or if the actress can’t act. Either way, I can’t stand her.

Add to this that I’ve never been a fan of the Klingons as a species, and you can imagine what I thought about the first season of STD. I mean, even the acronym foreshadows terrible things.

I liked Captain Lorca and Captain/Emperor Georgiou. Of course, they all died. Needless to say, I stopped watching the series at the end of season three, because I couldn’t be hassled with the adventures of Captain—Whiney—Burnam.

So, when Picard was released, I was terrified the production would screw up everything again, including the end of my favourite captain. I was partially wrong. Season one had its negative traits, but there were some shining pieces of great acting and storytelling. They usually involved Data, my dear Data. I wrote a review about season one already, so I won’t be lingering on that.

What can I say about season two? I just loved it. First and foremost, it shows the will of the production to use this show as a tribute to the entire franchise. It’s filled with Easter Eggs from past movies/series that I almost cried with joy after each and every episode. We’ve had a glimpse of this already in season one, with most of the original cast of TNG showing up here and there, but the story was focused on the synths, Data, and the Romulans (much better than the Klingons, although they all reminded me of dark Elves from The Lord of The Rings. No, they didn’t impress me with make-up).

In season two, almost every scene reminded me of something about the past, starting from the most obvious ones: Guinan’s appearance—oh how much I missed Guinan—and Q’s. My other half never like his character. I, on the other hand, always enjoyed the episodes with him and I thought it was a shame he had never appeared on the big screen. John de Lancie is terrific and plays the character masterfully.

Imagine the bliss, when Jean-Luc visited 10 Forward, except it wasn’t on the Enterprise.

And of course, I’m sure everyone thought about Locutus when the Borg revealed themselves, although spotting a green anomaly in space in an ST episode can only make me think about the Borg, so I wouldn’t have had any doubts about who they were even if I hadn’t seen the trailers.

Another moment of bliss came in episode two. ‘Through a mirror darkly and here the man who holds the glass is darker still.’ I know the series doesn’t take place in the Mirror Universe, but doesn’t it look a lot like that? And how could I not love it? Besides, putting Picard and his crew in impossible realities until he creates them is what Q has always done.

The icing on the cake of episode two were General Sisko, Dukat, and others from DS9, my favourite Star Trek series. They were only mentioned, but it still made me smile.

Someone critiqued this season because it was too close to reality and too far from the utopia Star Trek got us used to, but I have seen little utopia since DS9 aired over thirty years ago. From that series on, the Federation is still a utopia, but it isn’t as perfect as we thought it was. Do the Maquis ring a bell? I loved how DS9 took on political and religious issues in an almost perfect world. Star Trek has always portrayed contemporary issues, and this series isn’t different from the others in this aspect.

When Rios is arrested, he’s thrown in a prison cell with other paperless immigrants and they’re deported to who knows where. 

Picard’s mother was a sick woman with obvious tendencies to suicide. What did Mr Picard do to help her? What any man in the Middle Ages would have done: he secluded her. Except that Jean-Luc freed her, believing he could help her. However, she hung herself and my favourite captain lived all his life blaming himself for his mother’s death and detesting his father. I wonder if the fact that Sir Patrick Stewart’s father was an abusive man has something to do with this part of the script.

But what most I loved about this season were the underlying subjects of redemption and forgiveness. All the series is about ‘the road not taken’, per Q’s words.

Not taken by Picard, who lived all his life in solitude to punish himself for a crime he didn’t commit. Only by the end, he runderstands it wasn’t his fault if his mother killed herself. She was mentally sick, and he acted out of love.

Not taken by Seven, who fought against her half Borg nature all her life. When she wakes up as the President of a dictatorship, she has no implants, and despite the dreadful situation they’re all in, it’s clear she cherishes her new look, all human. She even argues with Raffi about her implants. By the end of the season, after almost dying ‘at the tentacles’ of the new Jurati-Borg Queen, she understands her implants are part of her and her unique humanity.

Not taken by Jurati, the murderer, the drunkard, the genius who was mentally abused by a forced mind-meld with a Romulan spy in season one. She crumbles down the weight of her solitude to rise again as Queen of a new cooperative collective. ‘Let’s build a universe of Sevens,’ is another touching quote.

Something else that I absolutely want to mention is how well most female characters were written (unlike Burnam).

Take Tallin for instance. Her speech in Farewell about her destiny and her choices are breathtaking. 

‘You won’t let me? It’s not up to you. This is my life […] My fate is not yours to decide. […] Other people’s choices are their own to make. I don’t need saving.’ I bet thousands of women out there have thought something down those lines so many times. 

The most exhilarating moment was Jurati trying to give sense to a reality that looks so much like hers—waking up with a massive hangover—but it’s also so much different—an unknown laboratory. What does she do when she meets Anika and the man who accompanies her? Chat, chat, chat nonsense until she uses Anika’s Borg designation and explains it with the story of Anika Seven Shots.

Last but not least, the soundtrack was terrific. ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ (No, I don’t regret anything) is the song Picard links with his mother represents the conclusion of the circle of this season. All characters go through hell to face their regrets and go beyond them. They get where they are because they took the road they never took before. They changed.

And now let’s move on with the things I didn’t like because not everything that glitters is gold.

When La Sirena goes back in time and arrives at the 21st century Earth, no member of the crew is concerned with being seen. I understand this is a past from a broken timeline, but consistency is important. If a civilisation has the tech to travel to space (and this one does, given that René Ricard is about to go to Ganymede), they also have the tech to spot an unidentified flying object. As a matter of fact, the FBI is on them by episode seven, but it’s like no one bothered about that issue ever, except for Jurati warning everyone to fly low and avoid security and hospitals.

La Sirena is a big object. When it enters the planet’s atmosphere, it creates an enormous ball of fire. Now, even if no one had a telescope, e lot of people in Europe would have seen that phenomenon. But no one spotted it before they cloaked it. 

I must admit that I found Soong’s presence jarring. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Brent Spiner, but they killed Data one time too many to make me want to see him in a ST episode again, even if he’s playing another character. I know this is something personal, and it has nothing to do with the show. That said, I expect to see him again in season three.

Shipwrecked on an uncharted world, do they finally have a chance to be free?

If you live in the Protectorate, the law forbids your emotions. Keepers – people who can harness the power of the Empyrean to turn emotions into lethal energy – aren’t exempt from this.

When three Keepers crash land on an uncharted world beyond the reach of the Protectorate’s many eyes, will they choose freedom?

Get a copy of Beyond Their Reach by Katherine Franklin here.

Who knows what Time has in store for us?

Vulcanologist Archimedes Jackson falls while solo climbing a steep glacier route in Alaska and is rendered unconscious. Waking, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory and encounters a secretive band of armed men. Archimedes must discover their true intention if he’s to survive and find his way home.

Download your copy of Heavy Water by Mark Jenkins here.

Don’t miss the change to hoard some free stories to read under the beach umbrella. check this sci-fi book fair here.

Until next time.