Thursday, April 21, 2022

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Picard' - Picard and Guinan Are Stuck Dealing with the FBI Instead of Finding Q and the Borg Queen in 'Mercy'

Paramount+'s Star Trek: Picard - Episode 2.08 "Mercy"

With time running out before the launch of the Europa Mission, Picard and Guinan must free themselves from FBI custody. Seven and Raffi come face-to-face with Jurati and the horror of what she's become.

"Mercy" was written by Cindy Appel & Kirsten Beyer and directed by Joe Menendez

All humans are stuck in the past. It's a quality that defines the entire species. Guinan ultimately finds inspiration in the overall concept. She sees a species with a strong desire to constantly be evolving. That can create so many tragic moments throughout history. She doesn't want to be part of that destruction because it only inflicts more pain onto her as well. And yet, it's rare to see across the universe. She has that perspective. In 2024, humanity has no idea there are countless alien species out there. The path towards the future is just starting. All it takes is one discovery from Renee on the Europa Mission. That's what must be protected. That overall idea has mostly been tossed aside though in order to offer further examination of why all of this is happening. Picard, Q and the FBI agent are three incredibly distinct characters. However, they are all connected over their inability to move on from the past. They each hold onto distinct memories that forged them into the people they are today. That informs absolutely everything. They have challenged those notions from time to time. It's mostly only when they have to confront the tragedy they are stuck on that they ultimately find peace. It's a metaphor proclaiming the value of self-reflection and the willingness to accept the past without it impeding the future. It's simply handled in the most clunky way imaginable. Nothing in this episode is as glaringly bad and distracting as what happened when Tallinn plunged through Picard's mind. That entire concept is still present as well. And so, the show can never receive too much credit for trying to start a larger conversation in the midst of this science fiction action. In fact, all progress is basically prevented from happening because Picard and Guinan are held in FBI custody. It's not exactly a legal investigation. It's precarious nonetheless because of the timeline's overall fragility. It hasn't been about Renee for awhile. Instead, Picard and crew are discovering many new ways they could mess up the timeline. Fixing Q's one mistake may only send the future spiraling down a completely different path with consequences they couldn't imagine. The crew knew this century was chaotic and full of turmoil. Any event could carry profound consequences for the future. It will be lackluster if the only transformative thing that happens by the end of this season is the characters finding inner peace. So much has been dramatized in external ways. As such, it would only be fitting if the timeline was changed in the end too. It could be acceptable enough for the crew who risked everything. That must happen. Otherwise, it all presents as too simple and easy when the aspirations are for something much larger.

The conversation is centered around the failings of humanity. It's a major obstacle that humans always remain stuck in the past. It has prevented Picard in so many ways from achieving his full potential. He has accomplished a lot though so the metaphor gets lost in the grand scheme of things. It's more fascinating to spend time with the other characters. Seven calls Raffi manipulative. That forces her to reckon with being responsible for Elnor joining Starfleet. He was determined to finish his service elsewhere. She wanted him by her side. She couldn't lose him too. That's ultimately what happened. No matter how hard she tries, those around her either die or want nothing to do with her. She celebrates the majestic nature of her love with Seven. That too may be her setting expectations way too high. As such, it's hard for anyone to achieve. That will only ensure it's all a letdown in the end. That pressure is unduly added. Seven can't handle it. It's frustrating. And yet, they are united in the mission. They have to stop Jurati before she becomes a fully empowered Borg Queen. Her evolution is already daunting. Just like Q, she sees Dr. Soong as an ally easy to manipulate. He can provide all the resources needed to accomplish their grand goals. They can prop him up with illusions of greatness. He will be celebrated if he follows this path. He will completely reinvent the world if he disregards these ethical rules once more. He has pushed aside all sensible medical ethics. Kore can't be seen as his daughter. She is simply the experiment he is desperately trying to figure out. His success is the priority. It's not about Kore being able to survive outside the house. It's about his inflated ego and sense of purpose. She leaves. That's the rational thing to do. The show continues to prop him up with importance. That may establish the inevitable realization that he must love Kore more than all the Borg Queen can provide for him. That would be the expected direction. It's more exciting when the show can offer surprises. Q is dying. That's unexpected. That has nothing been a possibility before. His energy is draining. That emptiness is creating new problems for him and those who wish to abide by the world order. And so, he is flexing his weight to inflict the most damage. That's the way for him to be noticed even if he can barely achieve what was once so accessible. He is desperately clinging onto power because he refuses to admit his reign has come and gone. The ruling structure of the world doesn't have to resemble his prowess and what matters to him. In fact, it's good to evolve beyond that no matter how frustrating it is for Q to see it right before his eyes. He wants to delay progress. It's still inevitable because Picard is at least willing to address some aspects of why he has been stuck - even if the audience struggles to connect fully with that particular journey. He at least helps ease the suffering of others.