Star Trek: Picard – more of a visual novel than a show.

Spoilers for Star Trek: Picard.

Our excitement for Star Trek: Picard held throughout the day. My father was on morning shift — he wouldn’t return home until late in the afternoon. “No one watch Picard until I get home,” he ordered over our family messenger group. We would finally settle down to watch it at 7pm.

So we watched. And then it ended.

“That’s it?” my father asked, his face sour and mouth left open with a slight disdain for the episode’s closing credits. “We waited all this time for that?”

To be frank, I share the sentiment.

I’m not sure what I expected from Star Trek: Picard. But whatever it was, this certainly wasn’t it.

A scenic look into the desire of times since past.

Star Trek: Picard‘s opening credits set the tone for you. Jeff Russo appears to have channeled the emotional sensations I once associated with his compositions in What Remains of Edith Finch. The tone of these two separate and unrelated projects are striking in their similarity — and I make the connection only because of Russo. What Remains of Edith Finch is a reminiscent, thought-provoking thriller picking important parts from Edith’s life and using them as the building blocks of an exploration into her family’s personal fear of death. What we are looking at now is a reminiscent, thought-provoking thriller picking the best parts from The Next Generation and using them as the building blocks of an unexpectedly slow exploration into the dark mis-givings of the Federation.

Dahj serves only as Picard’s narrative call to action. ©CBS All Access/Amazon

Jean-Luc Picard spends this pilot episode thinking back on times past, when the Federation turned their back on the Romulan people following the loss of lives at the hands of “synthetics” (androids). He believes the Federation’s following actions were poor, that Starfleet “was no longer Starfleet”. He yearns for the Federation to learn from times past, that people today are strangers to history. In fact, he finds his life has stagnated… until Dahj shows up.

And then Picard pledges himself to solve a murder mystery. One with a victim he knows nothing about.

Picard acts like a musical and visual novel. It is not a captivating, dramatic television showIt doesn’t have the running action of Enterprise or Discovery before it. It is both a cinematographer’s dream and nightmare. It is a quiet moment of solitude with sudden “booms” at the 35ish minute mark. To make matters more complicated, Picard appears to use a Discovery-esq narrative device in that it will haul important plot information at its audience, but doesn’t provide the context it needs to connect it all together until the end of the episode. This is a massive improvement, however, as Discovery often leaves these threads unattached until its season finale — where it hopes you remember everything. In Picard, however… its slow. It feels a little clunky, and it tries to cover this with Jeff Russo’s impressive score.

It’s a very slow moving shuttlecraft.

Here is a summary of Star Trek: Picard: Bruce Maddox did some stuff and disappeared.

(If you don’t live and breathe The Next Generation, you may have to Google who Bruce Maddox is.) ©CBS

This pilot episode just ends. Just like that. Right before it even feels like its begun. It feels much shorter than its 40+ minute run-time would have you believe.

Star Trek: Picard desperately clings onto the past with many references from The Next Generation (with nods to Deep Space Nine and Discovery). This episode appears to be built upon a TNG episode I’m not sure any of us expected to come back into play. I believe we all went into this thinking the Borg would be our primary point of contention. They aren’t, and I am relieved (for now). The series appears to need more time for its audience to warm up to its expressive story-telling before it’s confident to pick up the pace. It is holding its cards close to its chest — I fear we should not expect Seven of Nine, Riker, or Troi in any of these first few episodes because of that.

I just hope it picks up the pace soon.

2 thoughts on “Star Trek: Picard – more of a visual novel than a show.

  1. “We waited all this time for that?”

    “No. For the nine episodes to follow, too. It’s not a movie, DAD.”

    Just me? Okay.

    Like

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