Imagination Connoisseur, Tray Ray, thinks that with a little more thought, STAR TREK: PICARD could be something really special. Read his re-imagining here …
This a long email. Please forgive me for indulging in my corrective imagination.
STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD) could have taken place at any time, in any place. I don’t understand why they chose to tell this particular story where they have to provide so much exposition that it weighs down the show. ST:PICARD does a lot of TELL rather than SHOW. Isn’t that a big no-no in visual storytelling?
I mean, Episode 2 was entirely devoted to an info-dump! That’s insane. It seems like it would be much more interesting to tell the story of the Romulan rescue.
The story would be Admiral Picard assuming command of the VALIANT and getting to know the rest of the crew. You have former tactical and security officer Raffi, who is now First Officer, but still can’t shake her overly cautious (some might say paranoid) ways. You have cavalier engineer Rios who is obsessed breaking every rule in the book in order to get the job done. The ship is manned by androids overseen by cybernetics officer Dr Agnes Jurati.
It is the first starship in the fleet to manned by androids. There could be a plot point about Picard assuming command of this ship because he implicitly trusts “synthetic labor” while other Starfleet officers are still on the fence. The themes of this part of the story would be mankind’s reliance on technology and the burgeoning AI we see in our time today: drone warfare, learning algorithms, automated labor, self-driving cars.
It could ask questions like: can we trust a computer with our safety? If there is a mistake, who is responsible? How can we deal ethically with a malfunction or programming error? Can we rely on the computers or are we fools for abdicating our own agency in our daily affairs? What about all the good people in Starfleet, what do we do with them? Are they replaceable? Are the androids slaves, and isn’t that wrong?
Picard also has to deal with Starfleet and the Federation. Even though the rescue mission has been given a green light the politics of the situation aren’t an easy fix. Some Federation worlds aren’t sure what’s going on. They don’t trust the Romulans. The Andorians are notoriously paranoid and believe the Romulans are using this as a ploy to spread the Federation’s resources thin so that the Empire can tighten its hold on contested star systems. Vulcans and Tellerites are of one mind in support of rescuing the Romulans. Earth is undecided.
Other key members of the Federation get their say. Bajor offers up their worlds as a new home for Romulans — they, of all people, know what it is like to be lost and homeless. Cardassia stands with Bajor and offers up their worlds for colonization by the Romulan diaspora. The Cardassians and the Romulans have known alliance in the past and they can build upon that relationship and help forge a new future for the Romulan people. The Klingons are recalcitrant; in response to the crisis they quote the words of one of the Federation’s greatest heroes: “Let them die.”
The themes of this part of the story is forgiveness heals the aggrieved more than the perpetrator. It can ask questions like: why do societies hold grudges, even when they are poisonous? Is it possible to remember painful parts of our history without letting it dictate our day-to-day lives? Who benefits from keeping the pain fresh in our minds? Why do we give those poison profiteers so much power?
During the mustering of rescue efforts, the audience gets to know more about the Romulans — the enigmatic, antagonists of the Federation since the very first days of Star Trek.
On Romulus, Picard’s diplomatic efforts are met with mixed results. Perhaps the Romulans are arrogant and believe they don’t need the Federation’s help. Perhaps they believe they can avert the disaster using their own ingenuity and resources. The Tal Shiar faction works to discredit Picard.
They point to how he killed Shinzon and the crew of that ship, they point how he once disguised himself as a Romulan and infiltrated their society. The Tal Shiar creates the narrative that Picard has been trying to undermine the Empire for decades in order to absorb Romulans into the Federation. The Tal Shiar plants rumors that the nova is a ploy, that the Federation is trying to sow seeds of doubt in the Empire so that the people can no longer rely on themselves or their government.
Allying with Picard and opposing the Tal Shiar are the ABSOLUTE CANDOR sisterhood. While the Tal Shiar undermines the rescue and the Romulan Senate is in gridlock over the issues, the Sisterhood secretly helps Picard begin evacuation and relocation. The themes of this part of the story can be about how zealous conviction to a state of mind can do more harm than good.
It can ask questions like: how far is too far when trying to preserve order in society? Is it ethical to lie to prevent societal collapse? If authorities cannot be trusted, how can the people know the truth? What can people do to protect themselves when they lose trust in their institutions? What if preserving order means undermining your values? Is there really such a thing as a post-truth world?
These themes will run through the entire show, because at the end of episode 3… synthetics destroy Utopia Planetia! And now the fun really begins!
For Season 2: 14 years later…
If you’ve read this far, I sincerely thank you for your time. I love your insights and expertise. Keep up the good work!