Waking up in the middle of some hard Trekking — my review of Star Trek: Picard
(Number One, go to Yellow Alert — there are spoilers throughout this review)
Well, it only took 20 years since the conclusion of Deep Space Nine, but finally, FINALLY, we’ve got a worthy successor to the Star Trek line.
Ok, maybe you could count Voyager (which ran until 2001), which was decent Trek, although I found the many plotholes, technobabble that pushed even Trek’s suspension of disbelief and general lack of character evolution frustrating.
But what did we get since then? First Contact aside, the NextGen movies ranged from uninspiring (Generations, Insurrection) to terrible (Nemesis). The series Enterprise, with the exception of most of its final season, was a combination snooze-fest and jingoistic forced 9/11 parallel. The JJ Abrams films were enjoyable but more Hollywood-does-Trek than actual Trek. And Discovery? The less said the better…from the flagrant disregard of continuity (super advanced tech, lobster-headed Klingons, tons of 21st century slang) to the ridiculous premises (a system of mushrooms allows instantaneous travel anywhere in the universe? Really?)
But Star Trek: Picard….this show finally got it right. And by “right” I mean, true to Trek while also true to the zeitgeist and expectations of the times in the real world. That harmony was always the secret to Trek’s success, all the way back to the original series taking on the Cold War, fear of nuclear annihilation, racism, etc. People forgave the cheesy makeup and ridiculous Shatner overacting because this show was saying something important about the times in which people lived.
The Next Generation, the Trek I was raised with, was a love song to the neoliberal dream of an empire of benevolent philosopher kings spreading peace and security through the galaxy. The crew of this Enterprise were not meant to be reflections of us, but rather the promise of our best selves that would emerge in the future. Their clear moral fiber somehow negated the dark underside of empire.
To their credit, later series did try to take on that dark side. DS9 flirted with it during the Dominion War arc. Enterprise addressed it with an attitude of, “Earth, f*ck yeah! 9/11 justifies everything!” Discovery, for all its…