Thursday, April 7, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard Attends a Gala That Quickly Drains Momentum From the Core Storyline in 'Two of One'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 2.06 "Two of One"

With the help of Tallinn, Picard and the crew infiltrate a gala on the eve of a joint space mission, to protect one of the astronauts they believe to be integral to the restoration of the timeline - Renee Picard. Kore makes a startling discovery about her father's work.

"Two of One" was written by Cindy Appel & Jane Maggs and directed by Jonathan Frakes

The appeal of Picard and his crew traveling through time and landing in 2024 has evaporated. It offered a way to ground these characters in a completely new world with unique challenges. The audience can understand the science fiction parallels much more viscerally because they are playing out in a more recognizable world. And yet, it's all just so boring and tame. It's the show enjoying the appeal of trauma instead of providing a suitable reason to enjoy the various actions. Picard has been told that his ancestor, Renee, is important. He can't question that. The audience can't either. She exists as an important idea instead of as a person. Picard's brief interaction with her is seemingly enough to ease all her doubts as an astronaut. She fears not being good enough. All of this has the potential to connect to Picard's past and his tortured relationship with his mother. That has been teased all season long. He can see the connection. The audience is completely in the dark. From the premiere, all the viewer has seen are these brief glimpses of what that relationship was like for Picard when he was a child. They are teased throughout the looming threat of Picard potentially dying. It's all seen as a big revelation that can help explain why Picard has emotionally walled himself off. It's a mystery in search of purpose. The show wants to create some grand conspiracy that can explore why Picard is always running off for adventure to the detriment of any personal entanglements. That really didn't need much more exploration. It feels like territory the creative team believes they must provide in order to be taken seriously. Serialization is a crucial aspect of this world now. However, it's producing a version of Picard who is much more dour and less engaging to watch. He no longer looks up to the stars and sees the invigoration of exploration. As such, it's more difficult to buy him selling that dream to others. Everyone else is simply along for the ride. They have their various plot points of interest. However, their motivations are solely driven by whatever will cause the most plot complications later on. That means Jurati tells no one that the Borg Queen is inside her head. It's not long before she loses control of her body. And so, the Borg Queen is free to torment this time period in ways far more destructive than Q ever could. Meanwhile, it's simply suppose to be narratively ironic when Raffi notes that things couldn't possibly get much worse. It absolutely can. It's all laid out too blatantly. The audience can't ignore the various developments no matter how lackluster they are.

Jurati is tormented by the Borg Queen whispering in her ear. The partnership is meant to be beneficial because Jurati can only get her friends into the gala by relying on the strength of this invader. She provides enough of a distraction to help complete the mission. Renee is committed to her destiny once more. And yet, any remaining time in 2024 runs the risk of dramatically altering the future. It's no longer solely about the threat from Q. Instead, so many other obstacles have popped up that place an undue burden onto this journey having an impact on all the characters. That's too much pressure from a storyline quickly draining all momentum. Now, Rios is completely infatuated with Dr. Ramirez. It's an instinct completely driven by plot demands. It's not done to inform his broader understanding of the time period. It's all necessitated by Picard needing medical care after Dr. Soong purposefully runs him over. Even then, it's hard to be shocked by that moment because everything leading up to it was telegraphed. The show hopes to build tension by revealing Picard in distress right away. And then, the storytelling rewinds to reveal how he got to that moment. It's a device used not only once either. It's a tease the episode goes to several times believing each new reveal shares something dramatically new. It doesn't. There isn't enough of a gap between the two stories to differentiate what's important. It's all happening in the span of a few minutes. As such, it's a plot point seeking out an explanation. Again, that's fairly common now. The show feels the urgency to deliver. The mysteries it's setting up aren't matching the anticipation of what should be happening in a world the audience is already invested in. Instead, it's simply a handful of ideas with no idea how to offer them with much urgency. Raffi thinks she keeps seeing Elnor. She knows he is dead. She holds onto the idea that he could be saved if they restore the timeline. It's a way to externalize her grief. She is losing control over her body too. It's important for a moment. And then, it's gone. She's off to deal with more pressing matters. Picard, Jurati and Tallinn are the only members of the team who have much importance at the gala. The rest don't even engage in memorable or creative stories. That makes all of this an epic waste of time. It's not ending any time soon either. The show is committed to this path. The audience simply has to endure it with the knowledge that the reveals probably won't be earned in the end. The insight the narrative hopes to provide isn't going to be insightful because of how dragged out the proceedings have already been. But hey, Kore is suddenly prominent and questioning the nature of her identity. That's something new added to the pile of stories the show wants to be important even if they are distracting.