Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3, episode 4
We've talked a little before about how nice it is when "Star Trek" borrows from its own universe rather than someone else's, but like everything, moderation is the key. Otherwise it tends to give the impression that very little original thinking took place and once where a little nod here and there was kinda cool, this third and final season of "Picard" is sailing very close to suffering from overkill.
This fourth installment, entitled "No Win Scenario" is yet another throwback to "The Wrath of Khan" and we're fine with all of those providing it doesn't get excessive. This is turning out to be as much of a tribute to all things "Star Trek" and not just "The Next Generation."
This episode, like last week's, is also directed by Jonathan Frakes, and for a set of reasons that we'll come to monetarily, is tragically the weakest so far. Interestingly though, it's quite possibly Frakes' best acting in some time, arguably ever. But the episode itself suffers from some seriously lame exposition, too many clichés and a weird, seasonal end-of-act-one feel to it.
Related: 'Star Trek: Picard' season 3 episode 3 heats things up between Jean-Luc and Riker
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Despite a strong opening and even a nice throwback to an earlier episode within this third season, this episode contained the ridiculous notion that holodecks are run by a separate power source. While this seems ludicrous, one assumes it's a reference to the early "Voyager" episode "Parallax" (S01, E03) where the crew of the USS Voyager tried hooking up the holodeck reactor to the ship's systems for an additional power source but only ended up by blowing half the relays on the ship. Moreover, we're not entirely convinced of the reasoning behind quite why holodecks have separate energy sources as per Picard, and given that the Titan was bleeding to death, you'd think they'd have found a way to hook that up to something more vital.
And then there's the issue with what's hard light and what's actually consumable, such as a whisky on the rocks. Alright, yes, but if all of that's possible — no doubt using replicator-based systems and so on and so forth — anyone could probably identify a hundred different ways in which 25th century tech could be used to solve any issue.
The rate of advancement for different technology is conveniently inconsistent, which is why we're opposed to "Star Trek" based so far in the future and funnily enough, why we still adamantly believe that "Enterprise" is still the best "Trek" to appear on television. What makes quality science fiction writing is the ability to create a universe with a believable set of rules and stick to them. That said, and credit where credit is due, at least the USS Titan doesn't fly around like it's the Millennium Falcon.
This episode tries way too hard to be a bit edgy and that's fine if it's consistent, but it isn't in this show. Cannabis is mentioned possibly for the first time ever in "Star Trek" history, Jean-Luc drops a badly-placed f-bomb, there's frat-style talk of getting laid and suddenly it's not "Picard" anymore, it's "Porky's." Moreover, these Starfleet Academy cadets have zero respect for their elders; it would've been far more believable if Jean-Luc had just said in his best Roy Kent-voice, "Oy. F*ck off. Can't you see I'm trying to eat my f*cking lunch?"
The inclusion of the Nostromo self-destruct alarm sound effect was. .. bizarre. There's an interesting recollection of the infamous battle of Wolf 359, throwbacks to "Encounter at Far Point" and then amongst all of that, there's even a chance to observe an unknown lifeform. It's all there, thrown together like a Leftover Surprise you might make from some unidentifiable items found at the back of the fridge.
And while Ed Speleers is magnificent as Jack Crusher, it's a hard sell to believe he's meant to be in his early 20s when Speleers is 35. Who knows, maybe next week we'll discover that he suffers from from Methuselah Syndrome (opens in new tab). Captain Shaw (Todd Stashwick) remains the most interesting element of this season, much like Cristóbal Rios was in seasons one and two.
Just imagine if a show like "Severance" was this uneven, from episode to episode, throughout its seasonal story arc. It wouldn't be a fraction as effective as it is. And now imagine how much "Picard" could be. And then, like Snake Plissken in "Escape from LA," the crew of the USS Titan ride surfboards on their way out of the nebula.
There is some very good dialogue and the scene between Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) is a highlight. But it's a shame that Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has to apologize to Jean-Luc (Patrick Stewart), thus establishing that Picard's arrogance is justified. It would've been much more interesting instead to see Picard's struggle with actually being wrong, for once.
"Star Trek: Picard" and every episode of every "Star Trek" show currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US. Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream exclusively on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.
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