PICARD soars while DISCOVERY snores (editorial review)


At first I was kinda dreading having to blog TWO reviews this week because we’ve got both STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and STAR TREK: PICARD each premiering new episodes on the same day (for the next three weeks, no less). And lord knows it takes me long enough to write just ONE blog review!

But this week’s episode of Discovery was such a nothing-burger that I have relatively little to say about it. On the other hand, the season two premiere of Picard completely blew me away, and I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it was. And if what I’ve read of reviews and reactions on social media, I’m far from alone in my reaction.

So I’ve decided to combine the two reviews into a single blog and see if I can cover both episodes in less than 3,100 words.

I actually wondered which episode to watch first and ultimately decided to begin with Discovery. I suspected that Picard would be the stronger of the two (although I had no idea how much stronger), and I wanted to end the evening on what I hoped would be the higher note.

Following that same logic, I’m going to start this blog with a little bit about Discovery‘s 11th episode of season four, “Rosetta,” and then move on to Picard‘s lead-off episode of season two, “The Star Gazer.” Buckle up, grab a Saurian brandy from behind the bar, and let’s do this thing…


The most annoying thing about “Rosetta, ” to me at least, is that it would have made an absolutely fine episode if it weren’t for the fact that they have this gosh-darn season-long story arc! Last week I complained that we’ve spent three episodes in a row (and now four!) doing everything except finally encountering this mysterious Species 10-C. It’s making me so tense, see? (Get it?)

Frankly, this wasn’t a bad episode by any means. Indeed, the idea of contacting a totally alien species where the universal translator may not work and they might truly be unlike anything the Federation has encountered before is pure Star Trek goodness (although Starfleet has encountered literally THOUSANDS of different races). And man, that AR Wall is totally awesome, allowing the away team mission planet-side to look amazing.

But the problem is that the clock is ticking, people, and this is no time to “science the $*#@” out of this situation! I know the writers tried to establish in the previous episode how alien Species 10-C might be, but really, how do they know? Species 10-C might be just like the Vulcans…or Klingons…or (heaven help us) the Ferengi! They could be like humans or any number of other alien races we already know. What makes us so certain that these guys will be so completely different? Don’t we know absolutely NOTHING about them?

So with a day left until Earth and Ni’Var become DMA toast crumbs, why not just go through the hyperfield dome first and try to figure out their language AFTER you meet them? Honestly, that’s what Kirk, Picard, Janeway, and Archer would do. After all, you’ve got a whole bunch of first contact experts on board, right?

So good idea for an episode but bad timing for that idea.

Beyond that, there was…what? Well, on the plus side, it was Detmer’s turn to get some “plot love” as her character was developed more in one episode than in the previous 50! On the minus side, what the hell are they doing with Adira? Now that Tilly is gone, is there some rule that says, “There still must be a Tilly”??? Actor BLU DEL BARRRIO is giving the role almost nothing because the writers are giving them almost nothing to work with in terms of acting.

On the plus side, TIG NOTARO was back as Jett Reno and stole the show. On the minus side, Tarka stole Reno, and somehow Zora didn’t notice…and neither did anyone else??? C’mon, writers, wake up and smell Reno’s coffee!

On the plus side, Saru and T’Rina are moving forward into holodating. On the minus side, I’ve kinda stopped caring about them because there’s nothing really exciting about their courting, and I am so bored waiting to encounter 10-C.

And finally, Ruon Tarka has shifted back into sinister mode again? Fine, whatever. With all this bouncing around of the character, I really don’t care much about him. And he and Book were almost useless plot baggage this episode anyway. The writers needed to give them something to do, of course, but again…yawn.

Anyway, before moving on to Picard, I’d like to log my prediction of what the motivations are for Species 10-C. If you don’t want to know, then skip the next paragraph…

So here’s what I think happened to make 10-C into galaxy-destroyers. The “love dust” from Species 10-C’s children turned out to be a powerful narcotic. Everyone in the quadrant a thousand years ago wanted to harvest the stuff, but that meant killing baby 10-Cs…which is abhorrent. On the other hand, one word: veal. Anyway, Species 10-C realized that the only way to keep themselves truly safe from other dingo species in the galaxy who wanted to eat their babies was to hide themselves away. And this required a LOT of energy, hence, the DMA generator(s). And hey, if a bunch of those dingo species get obliterated along the way, that just means 10-C babies will be safer…a feature, not a bug.

So that’s what I think is gonna be discovered in the final two episodes. We’ll see. And now, Picard


Okay, if you’re one of those people who says CBS/Paramount/ALEX KURRTTZMAN cannot make any proper Star Trek ever…you now officially need to stop. This episode not only proved you wrong, it obliterated any hope you ever have of making that argument again. Sure, you can still kvetch about Discovery not being true Star Trek, but “The Star Gazer” was everything we’ve wanted to see from Picard all of last season and never got. It’s almost as if they heard all of our complaints, eliminated them, read everything we praised them for and accentuated that, and fixed a bunch of things they simply got wrong (like creating an armada of starships that weren’t all just the same two classes copy-pasted all over the screen).

One of the biggest things they fixed was the treatment of the title character. Jean-Luc Picard has saved Earth, saved the Federation, even saved the galaxy and reality itself…multiple times! After 180 TNG episodes plus a DS9 crossover, four major motion pictures, countless novels and comic books, multiple video games, and even a theme park ride in Las Vegas, we fans have invested so much of our time and ourselves into this character. Picard is a living legend, and he should be treated as such—even in the twilight of his career—not put out to pasture (figuratively AND literally!), ignored, discounted, and discarded like some 24th century Grandpa Simpson. Watching the storyline of season one unfold, as enjoyable as it was to see SIR PATRICK STEWART return to his iconic role, I felt somewhat betrayed by the writers presenting Picard like that.

But as season two opens a year and a half after the end of season one, Admiral Picard has returned to greatness, and Starfleet once again honors him. He is Chancellor of Starfleet Academy (whatever that is), giving the commencement address to the cadets, and the crew of the U.S.S. Stargazer stops and stands at attention as he walks past. YES! That is what was missing most from season one: r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

So, what else did I love about this season premiere…?


Was that the most awesome title or what??? While Discovery‘s title “Rosetta” pretty much served flashing beacon for the main plot of the episode—Rosetta: the stone that helps translate a language we couldn’t understand before—the title “The Star Gazer” worked on much more subtle levels. Obviously, Stargazer (one word) was the name of the Constellation-class starship that was Picard’s first command…and now a new ship with that name is commanded by Captain Cristóbal Rios.

But Jean-Luc Picard is, himself, a gazer at stars, and that is what led him to join Starfleet. The theme of star gazing is touched on multiple times this episode, including when we see Picard as a child with his mother telling him to look up and later when the last thing the Borg Queen says to Picard before he is whisked away is also “Look up.” Color me intrigued!


Nearly 20 years ago, (not-yet-Sir) Patrick was explaining why he no longer felt it necessary to appear as Picard in the future. There’s really noting new left to explore about the character, he told the interviewer. Patrick felt every layer of the Jean-Luc Picard “onion” had been peeled away, leaving little that still interested him as an actor. So he decided to move on.

What brought him back for Picard was the opportunity to examine an aspect of the character that hadn’t been explored before—and indeed couldn’t be (at least not fully)—and that was Picard at the end of his life, an old man feeling useless and forgotten (King Lear), and how the inevitable approach of senility end eventual oblivion would affect such a strong and determined character. Would Picard quietly wait for death to take him…or fight on with the last of his strength, clawing away until the very last moment? Welcome to Star Trek: Picard season one.

Of course, now that we’ve been there and done that, is there anything else left to explore about this onion…er, character? It’s not just about keeping Patrick interested but also about keeping the fans interested. And God bless ’em, the writers found something! Or rather, someone: Laris. In the beginning of season one, Laris and her husband Zhaban were unexpectedly intriguing and original characters—two former Tal Shiar operatives now serving as housekeeper and cook for Picard in his vineyard. WFT??? There was obviously history there, although precious little was revealed. However, both characters left me sorely wanting to find out more about their origins.

Sadly, Zhaban seems to have passed away shortly after the end of season one, but Laris shares that Romulans are encouraged to move on with their lives, find new loves, and LIVE. And it seems she has her rebound love phasers targeting Jean-Luc. It certainly makes sense. She’s obviously bound to him in some way, and they get along like peas and carrots (or whatever the Romulan equivalent might be). Picard’s not likely to find much better at his age—android golem body or no—so why not finally let someone into his life romantically for more than just a single episode?

Why indeed!

While Picard has had short-term romantic relationships with a number of women—Vash, Nella Daren, Anij from ST: Insurrection—he hasn’t really ever settled down…at least, not in this reality (there was his “perfect” life in the Nexus and his brief marriage to Beverly Crusher in the alternate Q-future portions of the TNG series finale). And that, my friends, is an onion layer not yet peeled when it comes to Picard. What keeps drawing him into space and away from the comforts of a home and someone to share it with? What keeps this man from ever letting someone truly have his heart (the original one, the artificial one, and now the android one)?

This season (and indeed the entire series) promises to fulfill the theme of “second chances.” Will this be Picard’s opportunity to, at long last, explore his own final frontier—himself? Let’s find out…


Speaking of second chances, Rios and Raffi sure seem to have gotten theirs, returning to Starfleet and getting ships of their own—Rios as a captain and Raffi as a commander. Granted, it seemed a little odd that, in the year 2401, the U.S.S. Excelsior NCC-2000 would still be out in space. If the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 was supposed to be decommissioned after just 20 years—or even 50 years—by this point, the Excelsior is well over 115 years old! I won’t make an issue of it (heck, if I can finally accept spore drives, I can accept 115-year-old active starships), but I digress.

Also on chance number two was Seven-of-Nine, although she seems to have rejected it in order to return to her previous life as a Fenris Ranger. Elnor is now a Starfleet Academy cadet, a chance to do something other than carry a sword around looking for hopeless causes. As for Agnes Jurati and Soji Asha, I’ll get to them shortly. But the old gang’s all here, although the band isn’t exactly back together just yet

While I appreciate the need for exposition and the reintroduction of characters for those either unfamiliar with the first season or who have forgotten who is who or might simply want to know how things have changed, I did appreciate the writers not dwelling too much on the non-Picard characters this episode. Heck, Soji got almost zero screen time and seemed to be there just to show a little boob and establish that the Federation’s ban on synths has been lifted.

As for the others, we got just enough exposition to know the new score while leaving the rest of the episode for organic plot development. I think it was smart of the writers to (at least for now) ditch the Raffi/Seven lesbian relationship that just beamed in out of nowhere in the last thirty seconds of season one. While there’s nothing wrong with a little same-sex coupling, a TV series has to earn that plot element and can’t just shove it in as an “oh, by the way…” moment—otherwise, viewers won’t care about the couple because they have no emotional investment in it. If reuniting Seven and Raffi is in the cards for this season (and I assume it is), the writers will now have a full season to slowly develop it.

As for Rios, while I’m intrigued by his command style, I have to say that I am totally turned off by that cigar. Maybe he’s compensating for something, or maybe a cigar is just a cigar. But either way, smoking on the bridge seems rather disrespectful to the crew. I mean, sure, maybe secondhand smoke isn’t a problem in the future…or there’s air filters or cancer treatments or whatever. But some people just can’t stand the smell of tobacco smoke or they simply don’t appreciate an open flame in a sealed environment where fire can suck away all of the oxygen you need to breathe disturbingly quickly! Anyway, no me gusta el cigarro.

As for Agnes, the jury is still out on her as far as I’m concerned. While ALISON PILL is an incredible actress (I loved her on The Newsroom), I’m not certain the writers have figure out her character yet, and so neither has she. Obviously, she and Rios are on a relationship collision course at slow speed, but her ditzy, unfiltered demeanor surrounding a super-intelligent brain just makes me wonder if the rule “The must always be a Tilly” extends to Picard as well as Discovery. I realize that colorful character personalities are now a “thing” these days, but when they go too far over the top, it can get a little grating.


Let’s face it, there’s a lot of characters from TNG whom we would love to see guest star on Picard. We already had Riker, Troi, and Data. But cameos for the sake of cameos can seem gratuitous after a while, and this is its own new show. It has to be given a chance to shine on its own without being “invaded” by TNG main characters whose presence might cause too much of a distraction.

And that’s why Guinan and Q were such perfect choices to appear…but for completely different reasons.

Guinan isn’t a distraction because she has always been used sparingly. She talks a little, but mostly she listens. She has seldom been a significant part of the action, so having Picard visit her bar in Los Angeles (simply named “10” so as not to appear too forward) for a short bit makes perfect sense without having too much impact on the plot (that comes from Guinan in later episodes, I assume, as she seems to perceive temporal shifts in reality).

As for Q, well, he’s ALWAYS a distraction. So bringing him in had to be a major aspect of the plot line, and so it is! We’ll see Q multiple times this season, popping in here and there with a little magic and mischief—just like he always does—with the arrogant flair that only actor JOHN deLANICE can deliver. And I suspect that we are going to love it! I’m already wonderfully impressed with the de-aging deepfake of Q before he ages himself up a bit. Honestly, I think the Picard people actually did a better job de-aging Q than Disney+ did de-aging Luke Skywalker! Prove me wrong.


While I’m watching and modestly enjoying Discovery, I have to admit that the excitement and enthusiasm just aren’t there for me. Yeah, I’m curious to see what happens with Species 10-C, but that’s about it…curious. Not excited. I’d like for Michael and Book to get back together, but I don’t really care. I’m watching Discovery on autopilot.

Not so with Picard…not at all!

“The Star Gazer” felt like I was watching a blockbuster film. I don’t know whether they can keep up that level of cinematic quality and pacing, but if they can, then hold on tight! I am, to the core of my being, EXCITED about what is to come on Picard…even though I know there’s time-travel back to present day Los Angeles, and that’s a trope that Trek has been used all-too-often in the past (pun unintended). But I trust this show now. I think they’ve figured out what they did wrong in season one and have course-corrected in season two in a BIG way.

Bravo, Picard people…bravo!

12 thoughts on “PICARD soars while DISCOVERY snores (editorial review)”

  1. I have my fingers, arms, toes, legs and eyes crossed that your and my enthusiastic reaction to Picard season 2 episode 1 continues. I suspect they can’t maintain that level of WOW but if they do, then it will be WOW at WARP 36 (per Memory Alpha)

    1. A few friends attended the premiere, where the first two episodes were shown, and apparently, episode two continues the quality and, if I may use the word, engagement of episode one.

  2. I have to comment on your unawareness of how “woke” “sjw” both Picard and discovery are.

    I’m latina. Yet I’m sick and tired of all this propaganda they’re pushing on trek fans. That even us hetero conservative Latinos , Asians , Indians , viking nordics , and blacks are like “jeez is this what future series in the coming decades will look like?”

    What the future will likely more look like is more like firefly, or babylon5 or the countless sci-fi shows out there.

    Every episode of Star Trek today should have a narrator in the beginning say “ok kids today’s woke message is …. being a trans alien blue female ferengi is stunning and brave , and remember all white cis gender humans are bad”

    What is wokeness what is liberalism for that matter. It’s a way to deal with mental disorders. Flaws in humans.

    My argument is in the future humans will be a perfect race of genetic manipulation test tube babies and designer offsprings. So Gene Roddenberry leftists federation will likely be void and null. I think that’s why we all liked the Star Trek series , it was a fantasy but we all know such a society would get obliterated by a more conservative alien race. And humanity would have to adapt the concept of survival of the fittest to truly explore the cosmos.

    1. I’m sorry that the global move toward more liberalism and acceptance of others has made you so angry and resentful, Katia. Just know that the rest of us will be waiting for you to arrive, should you ever choose to, at a more enlightened place…either in this life or the next one when you come back as someone who sees shows like Star Trek as a gift of respect and acknowledgement of certain types of people who were previously invisible on most television shows. The Universe has a way of teaching lessons to those with closed minds…and some require more than one lifetime to learn them. But as I said, the rest of us will wait and welcome you once you have grown above and beyond all that holds you and your thinking back at the moment.

      Good luck, Katia.

  3. About the USS Excelsior age of service, a friend of mine has just sent me this:

    “At his twitter page , Star Trek: Picard production designer Dave Blass classified this ship as a new, but not a refit, Excelsior-class starship and gave its registry.”

  4. Jonathan, I agree with your reviews. Discovery = YAWN, but Picard = WOW!

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but was Rios’ cigar ever actually lit? I don’t recall seeing any smoke. Maybe I need a reason to rewatch it a third time to be sure! 🙂

    1. Nope, the cigar never got lit, but the lighter did ignite at one point. Open flames when oxygen is in limited, irreplaceable supply in space, so I maintain my opinion that the cigar was a silly prop for the writer/director to include. For me, it was one of the few unforced errors of this episode.

  5. you have forgotten the longest love story of our beloved captain. Eline, marries Batai / Jean Luc … That life, while not real, was important to the character.

    1. Not necessarily. Picard was given those memories of a marriage that already existed. He never chose to pursue a lifelong commitment. He simply lived out the life of Kamin (not Batai; that was Kamin’s friend) and kept those memories with him.

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