I dunno if it’s because the missus is working from home, so I am easily distracted, or if it’s just the thought that things actually happened and information conveyed to the audience in this episode, but I took nearly no notes while watching it. The thought occurred several times, though… distracting me from the narrative, honestly… that the sum total of story in these previous six episodes would have been a tight two-parter in the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This decompressed storytelling/interminable Game of Thrones idiocy that CBSAA is in love with just creates a giant slog for the audience and figuratively bleeds eyeballs as folks sample it and split when nothing happens for minutes on end or what does happen is so obvious that it bores the cats still paying attention.
Just for example: what’s the doodad in the Romulan brother-and-sister’s ears? A sci-fi hearing aid, showcasing a genetic defect that only they share? A brain control implant? A Romulan iPhone? Whoa, what a bit of mystery played out over episodes…but it’s just a communicator; information dealt with almost as an aside.
Or how about another one? Commodore Oh, woman of mystery, obvious Romulan plant in Starfleet… revealed in dialogue seven episodes later to be an obvious Romulan plant. And, even then, she’s half-Vulcan, half-Romulan so the writer’s room can think they’re ahead of the audience even though they are clearly not.
And, speaking of: who is the audience that Chabon is writing for? It can’t be Star Trek fans, because long-time Trekkies are so far ahead of these guys if I were them I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night much less honestly cash my checks because this stuff is so padded out. Every bit of narrative is either not all the way thought-through, or a pastiche of a million, better entertainments and half-remembered references to old episodes that the writers haven’t fully processed. Last week, Picard learned a little something about what it means to have a family, despite having one in “The Inner Light,” and a proper, creepy Dickensian one in Generations. Everyone laughs at the ship markings on the “La Sirena” as being evocative of Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, but all I see when that ship does a fly-by is the popular brand of sardines in my local bodega. And that’s not even bringing up that the Federation is widely anti-synth, but even civilian ships are crewed out with Emergency hard-light Holograms? Did the writers not see Star Trek: Voyager? That entire show featured the evolution of an Emergency Medical Hologram’s evolution and growth from a subroutine medical adjunct to a might-as-well-be-real doctor. And Dr. Zimmerman’s masterpiece of programming is fine as long as he doesn’t have a corporeal body to speak of? And, if you do? Good morning, plastic people! Slavery’s OK as long as you were constructed and not born, we don’t care how sentient you are.
Except of course, the Federation does care. There was an episode about it, and everything. “Want me to rule summarily? Fine; Data’s a toaster.” Not only is that line crushing it, as it reveals all the emotion and hand-wringing and possibility in three words, but Ron Moore lifted it wholesale for Battlestar: Galactica. And you can’t tell me the writers didn’t see that one, because they killed Bruce Maddox last week. Somebody in the writer’s room has had to have seen it.
But what is the nature of humanity? Just in case you didn’t get the theme of this Star Trek: Blade Runner show, drunken Rios pulls out his cigar box full of Leon’s family photos.
I dunno. Rios is a great character, even though the engineering hologram has a Scottish accent. You can almost hear Chabon telling the room “Wouldn’t that be a great reference for the Trekkies? A Scottish engineer? You know; like Scotty. The kids will love that.” I dig Space Legolas and Seven of Borg Queen Nine because at least you see the inner turmoil of these two. You want to do a more-human-than-human show, let the audience in on the struggle for identity, within and without. Give me that show.
And this is me really being entertained by this episode. But, dang, did it take a long time to get there.