Thursday, February 20, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard and Seven Stage a Trade to Retrieve Bruce Maddox in 'Stardust City Rag'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard - Episode 1.05 "Stardust City Rag"

The La Sirena crew begin an unpredictable and lively expedition on Freecloud to search for Bruce Maddox. When they learn Maddox has found himself in a precarious situation, a familiar face offers her assistance.

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.

"Stardust City Rag" was written by Kirsten Beyer and directed by Jonathan Frakes

Not everyone can afford to have the same moral ideals as Jean-Luc Picard. He holds them so firmly because they provide a powerful connection to his humanity. They remain his beacon no matter what. He understands that he has let down so many in the past. He is fighting every day to do the right thing and create a better world. He does so at a great personal expense. The odds are staked against him every step of the way. He just knows it's the right thing to do because nefarious organizations are seeking to do harm to Data's biological daughter. That's driving Picard forward. And yet, there are so many other characters who can be motivated by other things. Raffi didn't want to rejoin Picard's crew. She was betrayed and abandoned in the past. Her life was left in shambles because of the actions he made. She stood by him loyally and that cost her everything. It wasn't just her standing in Starfleet either. Here, it's clear that her obsession with the conspiracy behind the Mars attack alienated her from her family. Her wanting to make good on those bonds now isn't good enough. She is devastated when her son pushes her away on Freecloud. The only way she may potentially make things right is to prove that something indeed happened all those years ago in service of some grand agenda. Even that may not justify the actions she was willing to take that came at the expense of her loved ones. These characters are forced to reckon with their pasts. Some of it is only being shaded in now because the series has introduced newcomers. Each episode essentially flashes back to reveal some new detail that will be important to the proceedings. Here, it's all about Seven's personal journey of needing to hunt down those who wish to extract Borg technology from those liberated from the Collective. She has lost loved ones in this fight as well. It makes it seem as if revenge is the only argument that she can understand. Picard reaches out to her humanity. There is some sense that he can make that rational argument and connect with her. And yes, she does want to shield him from the truth of what she is willing to do to make the world a better place. He views her actions as vigilantism. That has no place in society. And yet, law and order was abandoned in the sector she calls home. Her community is under attack. She now has the potential to take out a target that has caused her a great deal of pain. As such, it's an easy decision to make especially because she has the tools to blast her way out of the situation afterwards. It's a moment of action that has come to define her life. It may be nothing more than a habit at this point. This is the life she has accepted for herself. It may not be what others would hope for. Picard certainly projects a sense of aspiration in everything he does. And yet, his beliefs aren't always the most beneficial to those around him. He is grateful to have Raffi back on the ship. He checks in on her later on. He wished her well on her mission. But his journey may come at the expense of everything else going on the ship. Rios will take Picard wherever he wants to go for the right price. Meanwhile, Dr. Jurati has been persuaded by a different argument. She believes that what Bruce Maddox created is the true threat to the Federation. She is distraught over killing him after he is rescued. But she also feels the burden to ensure that it is done to save the universe. She can't unsee what has been revealed to her. Of course, the audience is still in the dark about that aspect. This presents as a shocking twist in order to build a sense of excitement and uncertainty into the next episode. But this has been a much more character driven story. One that spends times with the characters reckoning over the decisions they've made. As such, it seems amply clear that this action will haunt Jurati in everything she does next. This episode may embrace a certain element of fun with the undercover disguises the crew puts on to make the trade for Maddox. However, it's overwhelmingly focused on the character drama of it all and what everyone on this ship is willing to do to both atone for their pasts and regain some semblance of humanity moving forward.