STAR TREK: PICARD gives us a “quiet” episode for a change…but did it work? (editorial review)


The sixth episode of STAR TREK: PICARD‘s second season, “Two of One,” had the shortest runtime of the entire series so far. Not counting the recap and closing credits, there were only 35.5 minutes of actual episode (most episodes run in the high 40- to low 50-minute range).

On the other hand, this episode also the longest “Previously on…” recap (2 minutes and 15 seconds). Even DISCOVERY‘s recaps usually time out at 90 seconds—and by the end of their seasons, there’s typically a LOT to remind viewers of.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with a long recap, but it does hint that the show might be juggling a few two many plates at the same time. And it’s true that Picard has quite a bit going on right now…

  • Q has sent then to an alternate authoritarian future, and they have traveled back in time to 2024 trying to prevent it.
  • The watcher/supervisor Tallinn is tasked with protecting Picard’s ancestor, a famous astronaut.
  • Agnes has killed the Borg Queen (their only way back to the future) in order to save a French cop.
  • Dr. Adam Soong is a noted geneticist whose daughter has an incurable genetic disease and who has just lost his license and funding for running forbidden experiments.
  • Q is offering to help Soong…but Q requires a favor in return.
  • Renée Picard will launch with the Europa Mission in three days, but she’s having doubts about herself. If she doesn’t go, the future will be irrevocably changed for the xenophobic worst.
  • The team needs to keep her from quitting the Europa program for the next 15 hours until pre-launch quarantine, but Renée will be at a gala that evening with very tight security.
  • Agnes will sneak inside, get detained by security, and then hack into their systems to get the rest of the team inside.
  • But Agnes has been compromised; the Borg Queen injected her with nanoprobes before dying.

Whew, that IS a lot to keep track of! And that doesn’t even touch on the Guinan encounter two episodes ago, Rios’ injury and infatuation with Dr. Teresa, his capture by I.C.E. agents, subsequent rescue, or the death of Elnor.

So the episode’s all a big mess, right? It’s cluttered with way too many story elements and characters and storylines?

Not at all!

Instead, this was a relatively “quiet” episode, simple, and quite elegant. In fact, many of the ongoing plot elements were barely touched upon—like Seven-of-Nine (almost none of her in this episode), Raffi’s being haunted by Elnor’s death (just a teensy bit of that), Q (almost nothing of him in the episode for the first time this season), and Tallinn’s uncanny resemblance to Laris (only a quick mention of that).

So with all that they DIDN’T do, what DID they do? Well, let me tellya…

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PICARD just did something that NO Star Trek TIME TRAVEL story has EVER done before! (editorial review)


I really LOVE this show…or more specifically, the current season of this show. STAR TREK: PICARD is now halfway done with its second season, and I thought that episode 5, “Fly Me To The Moon” was one of its best offerings yet…although they all have been excellent, in my opinion.

Why was it so good? Several reasons. And if you’re wondering when I’m going to pay off that blog title above, you can either skip down to the bottom of this blog or else just enjoy the journey of getting there. I’m going to enjoy the journey.


The first reason I thought this episode was so strong is because of the main challenge it had to overcome, and which I believe it did very effectively: introduce four completely new characters AND make us care about them…

Supervisor Tallinn – This Laris-look-a-like (technically introduced in the previous episode) was actually the least developed new character of the four, but she’s still intriguing. She is now officially from the same organization as Gary Seven from the TOS episode “Assignment: Earth,” and that was just fun from a fanboy standpoint, as it’s nice to see CBS Studios do a tie-in with TOS continuity that doesn’t mess around with canon and, in fact, actually honors it. Tallinn wasn’t developed much as a character this episode on purpose, methinks, in order to 1) let us get to know and care about the other new characters first, and 2) give Tallinn her own episode or episodes to develop a little bit more later.

Adam Soong – BRENT SPINER returns to play yet another Soong ancestor! This is the 7th character Spiner has played in that “family,” the others being Data, Lore, B-4, Noonian, Arik, and Altan Inigo. My suspicion is that we will discover that this earliest Soong, a geneticist, will inject his daughter Kore with something that will make future Soong offspring all resemble him, but we’ll see. Either way, Brent has given us a new character, similar to other Soongs but different enough to be fresh and intriguing. While Adam is arrogant (a Soong staple!), he also deeply and truly loves his daughter…and we feel that love.

Kore Soong – This explains why ISA BRIONES has been missing for the first half of this season—they’ve been saving her to play Adam Soong’s daughter. And this “girl-in-a-bubble” is so pure and filled with hope and light that she’s almost impossible not to care about and root for.

Continue reading “PICARD just did something that NO Star Trek TIME TRAVEL story has EVER done before! (editorial review)”

I just called the Q CONTINUUM…and so can YOU!

Say what you want about STAR TREK: PICARD (and goodness knows, most of you do!), but you have to admit that, this season, having JOHN de LANCIE reprise his iconic role of Q from Next Gen is just outright FUN! His almost annual appearances confounding Picard and crew during TNG‘s seven seasons made for some wonderfully light-hearted and comedic episodes—along with some terrifying ones like “Q Who” when the Enterprise-D is whisked to the Delta Quadrant for the show’s first encounter with the Borg…and some surprisingly touching ones like “Tapestry,” where Picard gets to glimpse the road not traveled and the life not lived.

Q never really worked as a character on Deep Space Nine, and fortunately, that series’ showrunners quickly realized they didn’t need Q on a darker, grittier show like that. If they wanted comedy relief, just toss in a Ferengi episode. As for Voyager, de Lancie’s three appearances on that series were kinda hit and miss and mostly miss…although I loved his brief cameo on LOWER DECKS!

Anyway, back to Picard, and the fifth episode of season 2, “Fly Me to the Moon.” Without providing any major spoilers, there is a scene where the letter “Q” appears with a phone number listed: (323) 634-5667. The area code (323) is for central Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood. Indeed, if you wanted to call Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue, the number listed begins with (323).

But usually in movies and on television, the next three numbers are 555. This is a “safe” exchange, reserved exclusively for filmmakers and never assigned in any area code to actual phone customers. Otherwise, people watching a show or film might try to dial a number they see on screen and bother somebody with incessant calls. (Heaven help anyone with the number 867-5309…whether or not their name is Jenny!)

So when I saw the number on the still frame at the top of this blog was NOT a 555 number, well, I just had to pause playback and call it. I just had to! And this is what I heard…

Go ahead. Try it yourself. Hopefully, Paramount will leave it up for a while and not simply make it into an April Fool’s prank.

I’ll be writing my regular Picard editorial review later on this week, but I wanted to share this with you folks asap, just in case the phone recording doesn’t stay up for long.

Star Trek fan SOLVES the PICARD / GUINAN / PUNK ROCKER mystery…

Not since Khan recognized Chekov in Star Trek II, have Trekkers been so up-in-arms about an apparent Star Trek inconsistency! Back in 1982, fans demanded to know how Khan Noonien Singh knew who Chekov was because “Space Seed” aired during the first season of TOS and Chekov didn’t join the crew until the second season! It got so bad that WALTER KOENIG created a story that has been told to fans at conventions millions (thousands!) THOUSANDS of times…okay, maybe hundreds of times.

Anyway, that was 1982. It’s now 40(!!!) years later, and fans have a new controversy to passionately argue about—and it goes all the way back to 1893! Yes, I’m talking about the fourth episode of STAR TREK: PICARD‘s second season, “The Watcher.” In my editorial review from last week—where I identified all the easter eggs I could find—I mentioned the little “oopsie” where Guinan of 2024 doesn’t recognize Picard, even though she had a pretty significant interaction with him in San Francisco 131 years earlier in the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow, Part II.” I decided to forgive the little “oopsie” because the rest of the episode was so darned awesome and consistent with tons of Trek canon!

However, on Facebook, many fans chose not to forgive me! In comment after comment—some nice, some not so nice—I was informed about this article in which co-showrunner for Picard, TERRY MATALAS, explained that the “oopsie” wasn’t a mistake at all but done quite on purpose…

This Guinan wouldn’t remember Picard because in this alternate timeline, the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow” never happened. Because there was no Federation, those events did not play out the same. No previous relationship exists. However, she still was likely traveling to Earth and, as we know, she hung around a bit. So this Guinan is different. But she, of course, can sense something is off. She’s going through a kind of time-sickness thanks to Q’s meddling with the timeline.

Of course, Facebook is nothing if not immediate. No sooner had I been “schooled” by multiple Facebook fans than other fans began defending me (or simply attacking the original “schoolers” or the show itself) by pointing to the scene on the bus with the punk rocker. Explain that!

Explain what? Well, KIRK THATCHER reprised his brief role from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home with the following “sequel” scene…

At the end, the rocker humbly apologizes and turns down the music, rubbing his spiked collar as if remembering the last time this happened on a bus up north in San Francisco when he was given a Vulcan nerve pinch by Spock.

Of course, if the Picard of the Confederation never went back in time to 1893 to meet young Guinan, then it stands to reason that Kirk and Spock never went back to 1986 to find two whales to bring back to the future. And even if Kirk did go back, the xenophobic Federation would certainly not have allowed a Vulcan to accompany the team. Heck, Spock probably wouldn’t even exist in the altered timeline (a human mating with a non-human would be abhorrent!).

So why was the punk rocker rubbing his neck with worry, hmmm…?

Continue reading “Star Trek fan SOLVES the PICARD / GUINAN / PUNK ROCKER mystery…”

I think I found ALL of the EASTER EGGS in the latest episode of STAR TREK: PICARD! (editorial review)


Perfection! The fourth episode of PICARD‘s second season, “Watcher,” was sheer, brilliant, fun, edge-of-your-seat Star Trek perfection! The Borg Queen would be envious!!!

Actually, there was one teensy oopsie. Picard visits 10 Forward Street, the address of Guinan’s bar in Los Angeles, and younger Guinan does NOT recognize him! I mean, it has been 128 years since their first meeting in San Francisco with Samuel Clemens (“Mark Twain”) and Data getting his head blown off. But Jean-Luc Picard is pretty unforgettable…as are time travelers who know your future. On the other hand, Guinan’s whole apathetic attitude did a U-turn when Picard finally revealed his name. So maybe she did remember him…just not by appearance (and he is MUCH older now).

(Oh, and I read the theory that Guinan didn’t remember meeting Picard a century ago because, in the altered timeline, Starfleet never existed, and Picard never went back in time to the 19th century. If so, then how does the punk rocker remember Spock’s Vulcan neck pinch? Hmmmm…)

But I’m willing to overlook the oopsie because there were so many things about this episode that I loved! The scenes between Agnes and the Borg Queen continue to be an unexpected highlight thanks to the amazing performances of both ALISON PILL and ANNE WERSCHING. The two characters couldn’t be more different, and yet they’ve begun to mirror aspects of each other, like their loneliness, as the attempted assimilation might be affecting both of them. It was also intriguing at the end when Agnes breaks her promise to the Borg Queen (to stay and “chat”), proving that she (Agnes) might not be completely trustworthy either.

The car chase was also amazing, punctuated by some of the best “old married couple” bickering I’ve seen on any TV show (Trek or otherwise). The writers are trying a “do-over” with Seven and Raffi, helping us to not only accept their relationship but to actually root for it to happen. The on-screen chemistry between JERI RYAN and MICHELLE HURD is simply magic. I don’t think any other Star Trek couple has clicked to comfortably.

(And for anyone asking, “Hey, how is it that a person born in the 24th century, raised by the Borg, and currently a Fenris Ranger can drive a 21st century SUV like she’s in a Fast and Furious movie?” I’ve got an answer. Seven was on Voyager for four years with Tom Paris. Voyager has a holodeck. Tom Paris loved hot-rods from the 20th century. Just because we didn’t see him teaching Seven to drive and to race doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Granted, it’s not official canon, but I’m placing it firmly in my personal “head canon.”)

And speaking of chemistry, the sparks between Captain Rios and Dr. Teresa Rodriguez are flying as fast and furious as Seven’s driving. Two more actors giving very engaging performances.

But let me tell you what I loved the most. Let’s talk easter eggs…!

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SURPRISE! Nearly all TIME-TRAVEL episodes of STAR TREK to Earth’s past actually have the SAME general plot… (PICARD editorial review)


“It’s just a ripoff of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home!”

I’ve read versions of that complaint in the comments from multiple STAR TREK: PICARD detractors on Facebook this week. And believe it or not, they’re not entirely wrong…but not for the reason they think!

Y’see, nearly ALL Star Trek time-travel episodes and movies where someone goes back to old Earth of the 19th, 20th, or 21st century tell almost the EXACT SAME story! Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the following list…

Now think back to all of those stories and tell me if they each share most if not all of the following plot elements…

  • Something gets “broken” in the past and needs to be fixed before the time traveler(s) can come home.
  • The method of time-travel is explained and often (but not always) shown…usually in a dramatic fashion.
  • The time-travelers will split up into smaller teams, each with its own mission. This allows for cutting between an A-story and a B-story and possibly a C-story.
  • Often, one of those teams remains back on the ship (assuming there is a ship), either in the past or still in the future.
  • There’s at least some comedy relief where our heroes from the future don’t quite understand something from the past (but we do, and it’s funny).
  • There’s usually a scene involving technology from the future that is either observed being used, or else it is lost and/or stolen. Often, this piece of equipment needs to be retrieved and/or destroyed lest it change the past in some way.
  • At least one person gets separated from their team. Frequently, this person is either injured and/or is captured and must be rescued.
  • The time-traveler(s) connect(s) with at least one special person from the past who can help them in some way. This character(s) becomes very well developed in the story, ultimately becoming someone we care about and can relate to/root for.

Not every time-travel story will contain every trope, but you’ll be amazed when you think about it just how many of these beloved episodes and movies share most of the same plot elements. And indeed, think about other sci-fi like the Back to the Future trilogy and see how many of those tropes you remember seeing there, too.

And speaking of Back to the Future, this third episode of the season, “Assimilation,” along with next week’s fourth episode, were both directed by LEA THOMPSON, the actress (and Trekkie!) who played Marty McFly’s mother in the first two Back to the Future movies and his great-great grandmother in the third. So she’s no stranger to time-travel stories!

Let’s take a look at how this latest episode of Picard follows the tropes of these Star Trek “back to Earth’s past” episodes and movies…

Continue reading “SURPRISE! Nearly all TIME-TRAVEL episodes of STAR TREK to Earth’s past actually have the SAME general plot… (PICARD editorial review)”

An underwhelming season finale for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…except for STACEY ABRAMS! (editorial review)


I can’t start this review of the series finale of season four of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, “Coming Home,” without first commenting on the biggest news item stemming from it: the appearance of Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and progressive political activist STACEY ABRAMS as the President of United Earth.

Abrams’ appearance has been all over the media, from Variety to the Washington Post, as it’s being widely reported that she is a HUGE Star Trek fanatic. Indeed, it seems her one condition for appearing was that she be shown only her lines in the script and told nothing else about the episode or season…as she wanted to watch it all as a fan without spoilers!

Now, if you’re the kind of person who purposefully leaves the “ic” off of “Democratic” when using the word as an adjective for the party, it’s likely you were quite pissed off when you saw her…assuming you even recognized her (which, I admit, I didn’t at first). Many of the more outspoken conservative fans are already complaining of blatant “stunt casting,” although Star Trek is full of celebrity cameos—even political ones like the prince (now king) of the country of Jordan along with political activist Tom Morello (both of whom appeared on Voyager). Here’s a meme I got off of Facebook showing many of the famous faces who cameoed on Star Trek over the years…

Top row – Mae Carol Jemison (first Black woman in space), Joe Piscapo (comedian), Tom Morello (musician and activist), Iggy Pop (singer/songwriter), Christian Slater (son of the casting director for Star Trek VI). Bottom row – then-Crown Prince Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, Seth MacFarlane (creator of “Family Guy” and later “The Orville”), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Pr. Stephen W. Hawking, and Kelsey Grammer.

Of course, the arguments being given justifying complaints of “unfairness” are that none of the folks pictured above were actively running for political office when they appeared on Star Trek. As it happens, neither was Stacey Abrams at the time she was contacted by the production. In fact, her scene was filmed back in August of last year and she didn’t announce her second run for governor of Georgia until December. By then, the episode was long past being able to be re-shot, especially since Abrams appears with multiple other actors on screen.

So any way you slice it, there’s no way to legitimately criticize this without sounding like a redneck and/or a racist. And indeed, those complaining the loudest are mostly the same people who ridiculously insist that (don’t laugh) there is an underrepresentation of straight, white, male human characters on the show…without realizing how idiotic and ignorant that makes them sound! (Strange that these people never seem to have complained about there being an underrepresentation of Black, Asian, Latino, female, gay, or alternately-identified gender characters on other Star Trek shows before this, huh?)

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STAR TREK: PICARD goes TWO-FOR-TWO for season two! (editorial review)


This week, I’ve decided to separate my STAR TREK: PICARD and DISCOVERY reviews back into two separate blogs. It’s really not fair to combine them, as they are such totally different shows. Some have gone so far as to say that it’s not fair to call Picard a better show because it has characters with literally hundreds of Star Trek episodes between them (Picard and Seven-of Nine) plus guest stars playing characters equally familiar to fans…like Riker, Troi, Data, Hugh, Guinan, and Q.

Frankly, I don’t believe it’s fair to call that “unfair,” as Discovery has now been on the air for four years. And even though Michael Burnham, Saru, Stamets, and the others haven’t appeared in the 180 TNG episodes that Picard was in (or the 100 episodes of Voyager for Seven), there have still been well over 50 episodes of Discovery (54 as I write this).

No, the reason it’s unfair is simply that Picard is a vastly better show than Discovery…at least for these first two episodes of Picard‘s second season. At this point, there’s been so much positive being said about Picard these past couple of weeks that if you’re one of those people still clinging to the “They all suck!” rhetoric, you really need to let go of your anger and hatred because you really are missing out on something amazing.

One of the reasons I believe Picard to be the significantly better of the two shows is the characters who are featured. Both Discovery and Picard employ excellent actors and actresses. And while I wouldn’t put the leads of the two shows in the same class, most of the rest of their casts do a lot with their characters. It’s simply that the Picard writers are allowing their actors more opportunities to do so.

Case in point, let’s look at how things were handled in this second episode, “Penance”…

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DISCOVERY’s “Species 10-C” episode was 37% intriguing, 45% annoying, and 18% frustrating… (editorial review)


I was originally going to title this blog “Close Encounters of the 10-C Kind,” but I felt it more appropriate to share my mix of reactions in the same way that Species 10-C communicated in ratios of their pheromone emotions. And if you don’t know WTF I’m talking about, then you haven’t watched the penultimate episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s fourth season, “Species 10-C.”

This episode was a true conundrum for me when it came time to try to think of how I felt about it. On the one hand: GREAT EPISODE! On the other hand: DREADFUL EPISODE!

You see my problem?


One of the most far-fetched aspects of Star Trek over the decades is just how convenient first contacts tend to be. Throughout the first four TV series, it seemed that, no matter where you traveled in the galaxy, everybody looked mostly human (just maybe a strange forehead or ears here and there), and they all either spoke colloquial English immediately or else could learn it quickly or have it universally translated. And it kinda spoiled us fans, didn’t it? Of course, without such tropes, we’d have to spend the majority of each episode just figuring out how to communicate, and that would leave little time to tell compelling sci-fi stories.

Granted, Star Trek did have a few episodes that focused on communicating when the universal translator wasn’t up to the task. Most notably, the excellent Next Generation episode “Darmok” devoted the entire storyline to Picard and the Tamarian captain trying to find a way to understand each other because the languages were just too different for the universal translator to figure out.

Unfortunately, if you think too hard, even a wonderful episode like “Darmok” collapses under the weight of strained credulity. Obviously the Children of Tama were able to communicate beyond simple metaphors. After all, how can you build a starship without saying something like, “Pass me that #3 hexagonal hyper-spanner…”? And in order to say, “Uzani, his army with fists closed,” you have to know the words “army,” “fists,” and “closed.” In other words, the universal translator should have been able to do better than it did.

But hey, it still made for a great episode dedicated to bridging a language barrier. And so it was for “Species 10-C.” It was fascinating watching the methodical process of trying to bridge such vastly different methods of communication. But again, you kind of have to turn off your brain to accept how far-fetched the concept is…

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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…

Continue reading “PICARD soars while DISCOVERY snores (editorial review)”