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New Escapist Column! On “Star Trek: Picard” and Storytelling Fundamentals…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The final episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

On paper, the second season finale of Picard cycles through a series of checkboxes regarding the show’s long-form arcs, dutifully ticking off each of its obligations in a manner that could theoretically be satisfying. However, this just demonstrates how clumsy Picard is when it comes to storytelling fundamentals. There are interesting and big ideas at play in the second season of Picard, but the show frequently fails at finding ways to develop these ideas organically or cohesively.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Picard” Squanders the Borg…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The ninth episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

The second season of Picard has been a stew of nostalgia for nineties Star Trek, drawing particularly heavily from Star Trek: First Contact. This has inevitably seen the return of the Borg as a major threat. However, the second season of Picard falls into many of the familiar traps of the larger Star Trek franchise when it comes to handling probably the most iconic antagonists from the last thirty or forty years of the franchise. Picard knows the Borg are iconic and important, but has no idea what to do with them.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! Make It So – Season 2, Episode 8 (“Mercy”)

I am recapping Star Trek: Picard for The Escapist, and so was thrilled to join the wonderful Kurt North on Make It So: A Star Trek Universe Podcast to discuss the eighth episode of the second season, Mercy.

I have somewhat complicated feelings about Picard. There are parts of it that I love, and parts of it that I am a bit more skeptical about. One of the joys of coming into the podcast to discuss the episode was getting the chance to talk about the season as a whole, given how its various arcs were set up and how they paid off. It seems particularly opportune, given that Mercy is a somewhat stronger episode than those surrounding it.

Anyway, it was a huge honour to be invited on, and I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Escapist Column! On the Uncanny Valley that “Star Trek: Picard” Occupies Between “Star Trek” and Prestige Television…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The seventh episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the big problems with modern Star Trek has been the extent to which the franchise finds itself caught between the past and the future, between a nostalgic impluse that pulls it back to the plotting that defined the franchise’s long history and something more ambitious that pushes it towards prestige television. The recent shows have never quite managed to square that particular circle, and this problem comes to the fore as Picard tries to delve inside the head of its protagonist.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Star Trek: Picard” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The sixth episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the interesting aspects of the second season of Star Trek: Picard has been the way in which it has been drawing more overtly from classic Star Trek tropes, with the season taking a number of cues from Star Trek: First Contact. However, the season has drawn most overtly from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. What is interesting about this is that the show understands that The Voyage Home isn’t just about time travelers from an imaginary future, but about fugitives from television.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Picard” Remixes “The Voyage Home”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The third episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

One of the interesting aspects of the second season of Star Trek: Picard has been the way in which it has been drawing more overtly from classic Star Trek tropes, with the season taking a number of cues from Star Trek: First Contact. With the third episode, the season reveals some method to this approach, offering a reframing of the movie’s basic premise that places a greater emphasis on the familiar narrative template employed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Picard” Offers “The Next Generation” a Glimpse Through “A Mirror, Darkly”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The second episode of the second season released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

The second episode of the season is an interesting twist on a classic Star Trek trope. Star Trek: The Next Generation never really did a dark alternate universe story, comparable to something like Mirror, Mirror, Crossover, Living Witness or Twilight. It often seemed like The Next Generation was incapable of imagining the world any other way than the way that it was. As such, Penance offers something new for Jean-Luc Picard. Reflecting the gulf that exists in the more-than-a-quarter century between The Next Generation and Picard, the episode offers Picard a chance to look at a darker alternative future.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Column! On How “Star Trek: Picard” Tries to Go Back to the Future…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Star Trek: Picard, which is streaming weekly on Paramount+. The second season premiere released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

The second season premiere of Picard is a much more openly nostalgic affair than the previous season had been. While the previous season often found itself caught between the past and the future, the second season seems to turn its gaze more earnestly backwards. It’s a complicated and somewhat flawed show, often retreating from the more interesting implications of its big ideas, but Picard is at least interested in grappling with the legacy of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and exploring why the utopian future it promised audiences seemed to slip from grasp.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Star Trek: Picard” and Parental Failure…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday evening. Given that Star Trek: Picard just wrapped up its first season, I had some thoughts expanding on my discussion of Et in Arcadia Ego, Part II on Make It So.

The first season of Picard is undeniably messy and awkward. The pacing is a little off in places, and it pulls several of its most powerful punches. However, at the heart of the series is a story that simmers through a lot of contemporary pop culture, from Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker to Bad Boys for Life, the idea of a failed parent trying to redeem themselves through their child. It’s a fascinating inversion of the Campbellian archetype embodied by Star Wars, the quintessential story about a son come to terms with his relationship to his father. Stories like Picard invert that dynamic, and look at the responsibilities that parents owe to their children to provide them with a better world.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! Make It So – Season 1, Episode 10 (“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part II”)

I binged Star Trek: Picard over the course of the previous week, and so was thrilled to join the wonderful Kurt North on Make It So: A Star Trek Universe Podcast to discuss the first season finale, Et in Arcadia Ego, Part II.

I have somewhat complicated feelings about Picard. There are parts of it that I love, and parts of it that I am a bit more skeptical about. One of the joys of coming into the podcast to discuss the season finale was getting the chance to talk about the season as a whole, given how its various arcs were set up and how they paid off. It’s a nice, broad and comprehensive discussion of a sprawling, ambitious and complicated conclusion to the larger season. I feel really bad that I talked as long as I did on the episode, but there was a lot to dissect and discuss. For all the criticisms of Picard as shallow or superficial, there’s clearly a lot of meat on the bones.

Anyway, it was a huge honour to be invited on, and I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.