Thursday, February 13, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Witnesses the Failure of Proper Moral Leadership and Conviction in 'Absolute Candor'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard - Episode 1.04 "Absolute Candor"

The crew's journey to Freecloud takes a detour when Picard orders a stop at the planet Vashti, where Picard and Raffi relocated Romulan refugees 14 years earlier. Upon arrival, Picard reunites with Elnor, a young Romulan he befriended during the relocation. Meanwhile, Narek continues his attempts to learn more about Soji while Narissa's impatience with his lack of progress grows.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard.

"Absolute Candor" was written by Michael Chabon and directed by Jonathan Frakes

It takes numerous individuals to ensure that moral principles and institutions are upheld no matter what. Picard offered his resignation to Starfleet as an ultimatum. They accepted it. He never thought they would because of the high standards they set for ethical leadership. And now, he is starting to see the impact that decision had on shaping the lives of so many. He led from a certain perspective. He saw the benefit of helping the Romulans settle on Vashti. Fourteen years ago, he would arrive and be swarmed by the citizens. Some celebrated him. Others looked to him as a guiding light that could explain what was going to happen next. That went away though. He is now horrified to learn just how tribal and cut off from the rest of the world this civilization has become. He returns hoping to engage with the fond memories of the past. That's not what he finds though. Instead, it's a civilization that may look at him as the latest example of betrayal from the Federation. The rest of the universe seemingly didn't care about their suffering and trauma. They lost their home world. They have had to rebuild. This was an opportunity given to them by Picard because he disagreed with the Starfleet leadership to let all Romulans die anyway. He took a stand. He continued to lead that way in advocating against the discrimination of Synthetics. But again, those actions ultimately condemned him to a peaceful life on his chateau where he hoped that things continued to work out well in the world beyond. However, he was foolish to believe that because he appeared as the only one working to uphold those moral principles no matter what. Others certainly do the right and noble things when they can. They may disagree with Picard but that doesn't make them corrupt leaders. It just ensures that things are complicated and complex moving forward. Picard is reckoning with his past and the mistakes made while trying to ensure a better future. Soji is freaking out because of a prophecy declaring her as the Destroyer. That's daunting and terrifying. It's the title most people want to fear without even knowing her. She doesn't even understand herself. That can be paralyzing. She wants to embrace her work but no answers seem to come easy to her especially when it seems like Narek is just trying to get close to her for some reason. He absolutely is. He has been tasked to understand exactly what this threat is to the Romulan way of life. And yet, this civilization has already been destroyed. The species still survives. Some were sent to Vashti. Others continue their service with Starfleet or other organizations. Some explore research on the decommissioned Borg cube. There can still be an exciting future for the Romulans. But they also have contempt for Picard and the good will he tried to earn. He sold them on the idea that a future on a different planet was better than dying with their native one. He wants to break down barriers and reach out to those who have become disillusioned. And yet, the hatred may be too profound. Picard doesn't want to fight. But he also has Elnor who has been sworn to him now. He will fight and kill in order to protect Picard and his mission. That's not the kind of peace Picard wants to achieve though. He chastises Elnor for taking such drastic measures. The former Senator didn't deserve to die. He had every right to be angry with Picard and speak out against him. He thought a duel was the proper way to express that animosity while Picard never wanted to engage in such antics. It still built to a deadly conclusion and all of this seeming like a futile mission on Picard's part. He has alienated the universe. But the show also reassures the audience that he still has allies on this journey. Seven of Nine swoops in at the last second to save Rios' ship from certain destruction. That is a tantalizing conclusion even though it loses some power because Jeri Ryan's appearance is spoiled in the opening credits. But again, she risked everything to save Picard and his mission. She found him here and took action that nearly cost her everything. That is heroic and noble. All of this could be seen as one big distraction for Picard as he reminisces about the past and the actions he should have taken. Elnor felt abandoned. And yet, people still want to loyally fight for him. That means he can still be a trustworthy leader despite this increased uncertainty.