“He must have extrapolated from our last known course and position…”
Here’s a good one. Look, I’m just a guy who likes astronauts and space and rockets and stuff because I was six when Neil and Buzz hit the green cheese. I don’t claim any special expertise, but I’ve read extensively about the U.S. manned space program so much that I’ve started reading about the Russian program. I’m reading Scott Kelly’s Endurance: My Year in Space right now which I had bought when the paperback version first came out but now I unexpectedly have some free time to read it.
Point is, I’ve read a lot about space and I’ve read a lot of science fiction and I’ve seen enough movies and TV to know space is vast. As of right now, best-guess is it’s infinite +1 as it is still expanding in all directions. Turns out, any Star Trek fan who has seen Wrath of Khan knows the plot turn line: “He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern suggests… two-dimensional thinking.” So, um. Tell me how “somebody’s asshole Romulan ex” looks at some kind of data readout at some sort of new chronoton wormhole and is able to extrapolate from the last known course and position where some little ship is going to be in fifteen minutes. Are you going to guess twenty-five light years away? And then the Borg cube shows up, too, using, apparently, the same method? In the infinitely expanding multi-directional ballooning of space-time?
As everyone watching knows, James T. Kirk, and, less obviously, Jay-El Picard of the House of El, were both navy men loosely based on C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower. Which, you know, if in a fine literary tradition as far as sketching characters go… but there’s no reason to think you can “extrapolate” somebody’s destination by their last known course and position, like it was 1741 and the currents and islands in the sea are well known. This is the icy cold of space, man. It just doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Which brings us to the second-to-last episode: “Et in Arcadia Ego,” which, continuing in the fine tradition of the modern ST reboot universe, doesn’t make a lick of sense, either. First, let’s address the monumental precious cuteness of the title. This is a pretty famous secret-meaning phrase in history that undergraduate English professors like to pull out to demonstrate to the kids the concept of layers of meaning in various works. If I remember right, the original phrase was a title on the early 1600’s painting “The Arcadian Shepherds,” widely understood to convey man’s search for wisdom and understanding in a world where death halts the quest before one does. I had to look up the direct translation, and because Latin might as well be Klingon, you can kind of make it mean anything, but most agree it means “And in Arcadia I go” with the painting of the shepherds musing over a dead sheep bringing death into the meaning. Words and pictures, juxtaposed? Might as well be a Gary Larson cartoon.
Anyway, some fool hundreds of years gone realized it’s an anagram of “I Tego Arcana Dei,” which means “Begone, I conceal the secrets of God,” and is just the sort of faux intellectual mumbo-jumbo these Kurtzman-led weenies would throw in there to make some kind of point only they can see. Do they really think the audience for modern Star Trek are the former English majors who miss Lost? And we know how that also Bad Robot-produced bucket of philosophy references and half-remembered undergrad lectures ended up. In the end, nothing matters. Life is but a poor player, who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. Current events are telling us that, and have been for a thousand years, so ruining Star Trek with this nonsense should be a crime.
And speaking of nonsense, let’s look directly at the narrative of this one: Jarati finds out Picard’s got Old Man Borg brain, or something, and is going to die. But since this show is about as subtle as Dolly Parton, of course whatever positronic nonsense that could have saved Thad Riker is going to save Jay-El because they’ve already announced a second season. The Big Bad of an ancient android race is coming to wipe out all life and save the other androids who we don’t care about. The android (oh, sorry “synth”) planet, which they could have used to really blow out some fine special effects and science fiction ideas, which I thought was coming when the Space Flower Sharks showed up, turns out to look exactly like every other alien civilization on a phoned-in TV science fiction show from the last fifty years: flowing robes, vaguely Greek feel to the backlot, butterflies and daffodils. Remember that TNG episode of Wesley Crusher getting the death sentence for falling into the flower bed? They didn’t even have to go back to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century or the TV Logan’s Run or Fantastic Journey.
Want more beets in your jambalaya? Spock’s previously unknown sister… I mean, wait; Dr. Soong’s previously unknown son Alton shows up. And while Brent Spiner is probably relieved to get to play a part without all that goop on him, immediately showing a body he’s working on to transfer consciousness is making me think I’m going to get whiplash when they try to tie this all up next week. So much unearned stuff: Raffi loves Jay-El, the Borg cube returns just to give Jeri ryan a goodbye, Sutra “taught herself the Vulcan mind-meld” because that’s apparently a thing you can do now, Picard being proud of Space Legolas, it goes on and on. Unearned nonsense.