Star Trek: Picard – Season 2 Episode 10

May 5, 2022 | Posted by in TV
Picard

“Farewell”

Star Trek: Picard concludes season 2 with actions taken on the back of lessons learned and one final threat to the historically significant Europa mission.

To say this season has been meandering would be an understatement. A lot of time has been spent doing very little and plot threads were established that went nowhere, seemingly existing simply to fill time or introduce a character that can perform a specific function without doing the work to have them be an organic part of a well told story. The finale is at least consistent with what the season trained viewers to accept and wraps things up without doing the necessary work to have the conclusions make sense.

Picard

The one rule broken but for good reason

There is a general sense that the writers started with the conclusions and then manipulated the characterisation to get to that point. The conclusions make a kind of sense but most of them are forced and lack impact as they haven’t been earned by what leads up to them. They are a logical end point but many of the steps allowing them to reach it are either skipped or rushed.

Dominating the early part of the episode is the threat against the Europa mission. Getting Renée into quarantine wasn’t enough as Soong can still stop the launch with drones that can destroy it or by getting to Renée before she can board the ship; both of which he tries to do. This necessitates splitting the party with Tallinn -and Picard as an unexpected stowaway- going to protect Renée and the others heading to Soong’s lab. This situation feels like an unnecessary addition as the Renée problem appeared to be dealt with earlier in the season. At that point the objective was getting her into quarantine on the assumption that doing so would fix the timeline. After that point the Borg threat became prominent with stopping that allowing history to proceed uninterrupted. It does make sense for Soong to remain a problem particularly after his escape in the previous episode but the threat is lacking in substance because it is clearly manufactured to produce certain results.

The tease of success requiring two Renée’s; one that lives and the other that dies is answered through Tallinn’s ability to alter her appearance. She is ready to sacrifice herself to ensure that Renée takes her place in history because she sees that as her purpose and giving her life in pursuit of that goal is something she is comfortable with. Picard isn’t and tries to stop her from taking action which prompts Tallinn to advise him that he isn’t responsible for the lives of everyone around him and that not all deaths are his fault. She uses the example of his mother to illustrate her point and makes it clear that this is her choice and a choice she is comfortable with even if it results in her death.

Picard

This is a good death!

Tallinn does the thing she had sworn never to do and directly interacts with Renée. It’s an extension of the distanced maternal connection that was established earlier in the season and offers Tallinn closure by getting to make herself known to the person she devoted her life to protecting. The interaction follows the expected beats with Renée being suspicious of her at first until coming to realise she felt the connection without ever being fully aware of it. Tallinn talks about being deliberately careless so that Renée might catch glimpses of her over the years while maintaining her distance. It’s a strong scene and a worthy continuation of something that was set up earlier in the season. Tallinn and Renée weren’t especially deep characters as their purpose was very specific but this resolution is earned as it’s the completion of a very simple arc set up for Tallinn.

Her death is a very well acted moment. Her life ends on her own terms and she’s happy that it secured Renée’s place in history. She is content with the possibility of being remembered and being the one to send her on her way. In her final moments she encourages Picard to absolve himself so that he can life a full life. It’s well performed as are all of the scenes but also a transparent reminder of Picard’s emotional development.

There isn’t a great to say about the drone threat as it lacks in tension. The threat is identified and the characters promptly deal with it. In a way it’s like some of the lesser examples of older Star Trek with meaningless dialogue being delivered before buttons are pressed -or in this case wires manipulated- and a resolution follows. Dramatically it means nothing, emotionally it means nothing and it’s not even visually interesting in order to disguise that. It amounts to busy work for everyone else while Tallinn and Picard are at the launch site. Even Picard has nothing meaningful to do in the situation so the only operative character is Tallinn.

Picard

Ruining your Dad’s life is better in VR

Soong’s conclusion as a villain is as underwhelming as the character has been. His attempt to stop Renée boarding the ship fails thanks to Tallinn as does his drone strike so he retreats to his lab defeated. As he wallows in his failure Kore twists the knife by erasing all of his research so that he can’t continue with his cloning experiments. She claims it’s catharsis for all of her sisters as well as herself which makes sense given what has been established about her but her character is nothing beyond what she needed to be in order to reach this point. There was time in the season to develop her and Soong properly but it was diverted in other directions so the resolution is entirely surface level. It’s evident that Soong isn’t a good person and Kore’s very existence constitutes a crime against nature so her preventing him from doing that again makes sense but the actual execution of that development is emotionally lifeless as the time hasn’t been afforded to allow the audience to invest in these characters or accept Soong as someone who needed to be stopped. The catharsis is short lived with the laughable reveal of the file titled “Project Khan”; something that it sure to really irritate many viewers.

Following this, Kore is free and able to forge her own path in life. It counts as the conclusion of her suggested arc towards finding her own sense of identity though it’s very much a suggested arc with limited coverage. The surprise appearance of Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) to induct her into the Travellers offers her purpose but it’s another development that comes from nowhere. Wesley does an admirable job of quickly explaining what the Travellers are without much in the way of detail. He doesn’t explain why Kore specifically is a good candidate to join them but it quickly answers her internal “now what?” question and offers fan service of a sort with the brief return of Wesley Crusher. Whether this means Kore will play a role in the next season is unknown but there’s no reason to want to see her again. Soji was a far more interesting character with a very similar setup and appeared only briefly in the first episode of the season.

After nearly an entire season an answer is finally supplied to the number of questions around Q’s plan and it makes about as much sense as anything else he has done in his brief appearances. In short, this episode wants the viewer to accept that everything that has happened in this season is in service of Picard moving on from his trauma and learning that he has to lower his emotional defences so that he doesn’t end up alone. It’s worthwhile to outline the actions that were in service of Q’s plan to highlight how little sense they make:

  • Q approaches Picard in the Totalitarian timeline holding him in contempt for being responsible for it while enabling him to prevent it
  • Goes back in time to prevent Renée Picard taking her place in history in order to create the Totalitarian timeline; something he supposedly already did to create the Totalitarian timeline in the first place. Did he need to be part of the events again?
  • He discovers that he has no powers so sets about manipulating events in different ways such as tasking Soong to be an obstacle for Picard by promising to cure the genetic sickness his daughter suffers from
  • Soong runs Picard over at the party which causes him to become trapped within himself and forcing him to work through his trauma to come out of his coma
  • After internalising the lesson, Picard hides the skeleton key in the place he will find it as a young boy so that his mother can hang herself
  • He approaches Picard to tell him that him doing that was the point of all of this
Picard

Oh no!

There are other aspects of this but those were the headlines. For example his conversation with Guinan stated that the escape was the point rather than the trap itself. A statement that would seem profound on the surface and alludes to the time travel being a metaphor for how trauma traps people in the past through fixation on what caused that trauma. It does set up Picard moving on by accepting the trauma and finding a way to deal with it but Q’s elaborate plan being in service of teaching Picard a lesson isn’t nearly as clever as the writers clearly think that it is.

A glaring problem with Q applauding Picard for placing the skeleton key in the wall as a sign of his understanding that the trauma is foundational is that it’s similar to the lesson Q helped him learn in the famous Next Generation episode “Tapestry”. In that episode Q enabled Picard to change the event in his life that resulted in him having an artificial heart. Doing so would save his life as the artificial heart would never fail. The problem is that changing the event forged him into someone who would never create opportunities for himself through taking initiative and getting himself noticed. Picard learns that the experience of being stabbed was foundational and helped him become a man that he could be proud of.

The lesson here is slightly different but still related to a singular event in his life shaping the man he would become. It has been suggested that his boundless compassion and commitment to helping others came from this. He demonstrates understanding the necessity of this trauma in his life by hiding the key instead of destroying it. By doing so he’s accepting that the man he is needs to come from the guilt ridden young boy who feels responsible for his mother’s death. Despite how similar it is to the lesson in “Tapestry” it is at least one that makes sense as a personal realisation. What doesn’t make sense is the plot surrounding it. It is never explained why Q concocts this elaborate multi layered scenario with the express purpose of teaching Picard that lesson. Him learning it has no bearing on whether the Totalitarian timeline happens because that future is linked to Renée’s participation on the Europa mission. There’s no link between Picard’s realisation and Renée taking her place in history so what it amounts to is two unconnected things that are linked through Q being involved in them.

Picard

Shut up Wesley!

Q’s conversation with Picard is good in the sense that it features two excellent actors at the top of their game bouncing off each other. The content of the conversation is highly questionable with an attempt to unnecessarily suggest that this has been Q’s plan since they first met in order to add additional meaning to their relationship. The relationship is already meaningful enough without forcing this plot to act as a bookend along with “Encounter at Farpoint”. According to Q the point of this lesson is that he’s dying and will be alone when he does but doesn’t want that for Picard because he is one of Q’s favourites. His fondness for Picard isn’t in doubt so it is reasonable that one of his final acts would be to help Picard in some way. Picard’s wonders if he is being prepared for an event that he will be required for but Q dismisses that by stating that not everything needs to have universal stakes or major consequences. As far as Q is concerned the well-being of Picard is equally if not more important than any large scale cosmic event. It’s a nice sentiment and an interesting insight into what a Godlike being might see as significant. This may also act as a meta commentary on modern storytelling where the development of a single character is enough without having to add universe ending stakes in order to make the narrative interesting.

All of that is great in theory but in practice the episode doesn’t support that as the season has been built on universe ending stakes. Failure means that the Totalitarian timeline comes to pass. The events on the bridge of the Stargazer are also high stakes so the messaging holds no weight because the show needs to add universe ending stakes out of a belief that Picard processing his trauma wouldn’t be interesting enough by itself. This renders much of what Q says a contradiction and the dissonance is frustrating.

Making things worse is the attempt to justify these events as being predetermined. Guinan does this by pointing out the picture of Rios and Teresa that has always been there. She teases Picard by stating that he’s always been clever while not being observant. The idea being that these events had to happen in order to give the characters what they needed to solve the problem at hand but that doesn’t add up when considering that the younger Guinan doesn’t remember Picard from the events of “Time’s Arrow”. The writers are attempting to coast on an emotional connection to the narrative of the season while forgetting that there has to be actual cohesion.

Picard

Let me explain to you my plan

Q’s death does have impact because the actors do a great job of performing it. His final act is one of kindness when he offers to send the characters back to their own time. Rios’ decision to stay in the past allows Q to have enough energy to bring Elnor back. He calls it a gift and Picard embraces him to assure him that he isn’t dying alone. The likely intended reading of this is that Picard is grateful to Q for helping him contexualise his trauma and repays that by giving him emotional support in his final moments. It doesn’t work as Picard is painfully out of character through his entire exchange with Q. In every encounter they’ve had he has been suspicious and questioned everything he said. Even in episodes like “Q Who”, “Tapestry” and “All Good Things” where he understood the point of the lesson he questioned the methodology of it being delivered. Here he accepts everything that happened as necessary and even offers to be there for Q in his final moments. There is a glimmer of protest when he lists the dead but immediately quietens down when Q assures him that everything happened as it was meant to and this death was a better one for Tallinn as she got to meet Renée. The audience is supposed to be blinded by the sentiment and the skill of the actors delivering it which admittedly almost works but it amounts to a betrayal of the Picard character.

A link is created between this episode and the finale of season one. In that episode, Picard has a final conversation with Data before his death,. That exchange also comes with Picard telling Data how much he meant to him. It was powerful and well done as the logical ending of that relationship. The link suggests Picard saying goodbye to all that is important to him as he approaches the end of his own life. First Data and now Q who is now defined as being important to him. With the announcement that the cast of The Next Generation will be returning for the third and final season it”s likely that Picard’s final outing will include him saying goodbye to his old crew as well.

Despite the insistence that there is no large scale event that requires Picard’s presence he and the others are returned to a large scale event that requires his presence. It’s the same situation that ended the first episode with the arrival of a Borg ship asking for peace followed by an attack on the fleet necessitating Picard to activate a self destruct sequence. He and the others -sans Rios- are returned to just before the ships blow up so that Picard has the opportunity to undo his mistake. He gets to redo the scenario armed with the lessons he has learned over the course of his recent adventure and make different choices. He knows that the Borg Queen is Jurati and understands that the desire for peace is genuine. It turns out that she approached Picard and the Federation because a vague anomaly was about to release planet destroying energy and her collective needed the help of the Federation to prevent loss of life. It’s a messy reveal as it’s unclear why she wouldn’t simply lead with her intentions and why the anomaly didn’t show up on sensors until it was pointed out. Considering the size and scale of the threat it shouldn’t have been missed and the episode didn’t establish that Jurati had predicted the formation that was happening at that point.

Picard

What she’s always wanted…apparently

Jurati coordinates the shields of all the available ships to combine and absorb the output from the anomaly. This clumsily ties into the themes of connection, collaboration and friendship that the season has intermittently explored. On screen it’s a visual effects shot of ships in formation being hit by a beam until it passes but the implication is that it’s a manifestation of what the season has been driving at. The aftermath comes with the tease of a new threat, Jurati’s Borg Collective receiving provisional Federation membership to keep an eye on things and everything seems quiet for now.

Another resolution found in this sequence is Picard granting Seven a field commission to Captain. The previous episode randomly established that she has what it takes to lead and wanted to pursue that but was prevented from doing so because the Federation was afraid of her past association with the Borg. It’s disturbing how mnay decisions the Federation make out of fear despite their mantra apparently being tolerance in inclusivity. Seven gets to achieve the dream that was very recently established and she sits in the Stargazer’s Captain’s chair giving a couple of orders that don’t have much impact. Supposedly her Borg knowledge makes her ideally suited to take command but nothing she does after that point capitalises on her expertise. This development also indicates that she has put her hatred of them behind her and opened herself up to the possibility of peace with Jurati’s collective. It does count as a resolution albeit an unearned one. It’s an example of a larger issue of providing happy endings for each of the characters regardless of whether that fits with what has been established about them.

The season ends with Picard telling Laris that he’s ready to enter into a relationship with her. Q’s efforts have helped him let go of his trauma and be emotionally available enough to embrace a romantic connection. Laris is delighted, there’s an awkward lingering shot as they stare at one another and the season mercifully ends. Setting them up as a couple in the first episode was very contrived and the resolution is equally so. There is a sense that Picard has mellowed some such as when he tells Seven, Raffi, Guinan and Elnor that they are all family. It’s a very sentimental moment that the First Contact musical cue indicates is supposed to be satisfying but the journey taken to get there has been so muddled and overblown that it doesn’t land as a satisfying conclusion.

This season was a mess. The painfully long time spent in 2024 wasn’t used effectively with plot threads created only to fill time and explain why certain characters weren’t available to do things, overly complicated mystery driven storytelling and melodramatic characterisation. Individual scenes worked well because this is a talented cast and some of the character dynamics were engaging such as Raffi/Seven and Jurati/the Borg Queen but many of the strengths were diluted by less than competent storytelling and terrible pacing. This show has built up a lot of bad faith for me over the two seasons so I find it unlikely that season 3 will break that trend but there’s always hope.

Picard

It all ends with a space beam


Verdict

A weak finale that hides the conclusions making no sense behind strong performances from talented actors and confirms that there was never a coherent plan for the season. There is a general sense that the writers started with the conclusions and then manipulated the characterisation to get to that point. They make a kind of sense but most of them are fored and lack impact as they haven’t been earned by what leads up to them. Dominating the early part of the threat against the Europa mission. Getting Renée into quarantine wasn’t enough as Soong can still stop the launch with drones or by getting to Renée before she can board the ship; both of which he tries to do. This situation feels like an unnecessary addition as the Renée problem appeared to be dealt with earlier in the season. It does make sense for Soong to remain a problem particularly after his escape in the previous episode but the threat is lacking in substance. The tease of success requiring two Renée’s; one that lives and the other that dies is answered through Tallinn’s ability to alter her appearance. She is ready to sacrifice herself to ensure that Renée takes her place in history because she sees that as her purpose and giving her life in pursuit of that goal is something she is comfortable with. Picard tries to stop her which prompts Tallinn to advise him that he isn’t responsible for the lives of everyone around him and that not all deaths are his fault. She makes it clear that it’s her choice and one that she is comfortable with even if it results in her death. Tallinn directly interacts with Renée which acts as an extension of the distanced maternal connection that was established earlier in the season and offers Tallinn closure by getting to make herself known to the person she devoted her life to protecting. The interaction follows the expected beats but it’s a strong scene that makes for a worthy continuation of something that was set up earlier in the season. Neither were especially deep characters as their purpose was very specific but this resolution is earned as it’s the completion of a very simple arc set up for Tallinn. Her death is a well acted moment; her life ends on her own terms and she’s happy that it secured Renée’s place in history. She is content with the possibility of being remembered and being the one to send her on her way. In her final moments she encourages Picard to absolve himself so that he can life a full life. It’s well performed as are all of the scenes but also a transparent reminder of Picard’s emotional development. The drone threat lacks in tension with the characters identifying it and then promptly dealing with it. It consists of meaningless dialogue being delivered before wires are manipulated and a resolution follows. Dramatically and emotionally it means nothing and it’s not even visually interesting in order to disguise that. It amounts to busy work for those characters. Soong’s conclusion as a villain is as underwhelming as the character has been. Kore erasing his research is catharsis for all of her sisters as well as herself which makes sense given what has been established about her but her character is nothing beyond what she needed to be in order to reach this point. There was time in the season to develop her and Soong properly but it was diverted in other directions so the resolution is entirely surface level. The actual execution of Soong’s punishment is emotionally lifeless as the time hasn’t been afforded to allow the audience to invest in these characters or accept Soong as someone who needed to be stopped. The catharsis is short lived with the laughable reveal of the file titled “Project Khan”. Kore being inducted into the Travellers. It does feed into her suggested arc around a search for identity and purpose with Wesley Crusher offering her those things but it doesn’t have a great deal of meaning.

An answer is finally supplied to the number of questions around Q’s plan and it all makes very little sense. The episode wants the viewer to accept that everything that has happened in this season is in service of Picard moving on from his trauma and learning that he has to lower his emotional defences so that he doesn’t end up alone. His plan is needlessly complicated and only exists to build a mystery around his intentions. A glaring problem with Q applauding Picard for placing the skeleton key in the wall as a sign of his understanding that the trauma is foundational is that it’s basically the same lesson that was learned in the episode “Tapestry”. This one is slightly different but still related to a singular event in his life shaping the man he would become. Him learning that the traumatic event had to happen in order for him to become the man he is makes sense as a personal realisation but the plot surrounding it doesn’t. It is never explained why Q concocts an elaborate multi layered scenario in order to teach Picard that lesson. Him learning it has no bearing on whether the Totalitarian timeline happens because that future is linked to Renée’s participation on the Europa mission. It amounts to two unconnected things that are linked through Q being involved in them. Q’s conversation with Picard is good in the sense that it features two excellent actors at the top of their game bouncing off each other. The content of the conversation is highly questionable with an attempt to unnecessarily suggest that this has been Q’s plan since they first met in order to add additional meaning to their relationship. There’s no need to force this plot to act as a bookend along with “Encounter at Farpoint”. According to Q the point of the lesson is that he is dying and will be alone when it happens but doesn’t want that for Picard. His fondness for Picard isn’t in doubt so it’s reasonable to assume that one of his final acts would be to help Picard in some way. Picard wonders if he is being prepared for an event that he will be required for but Q dismisses that by stating that not everything needs to have universal stakes or major consequences. Q considers the well-being of Picard to be equally if not more important than any large scale cosmic event. It’s a nice sentiment and an interesting insight into what a Godlike being might see as significant while also potentially acting as a meta commentary on modern storytelling. The episode doesn’t support what Q says as the season has been built on universe ending stakes. Failure means that the Totalitarian timeline comes to pass. The events on the bridge of the Stargazer are also high stakes so the messaging holds no weight because the show needs to add universe ending stakes out of a belief that Picard processing his trauma wouldn’t be interesting enough by itself. This renders much of what Q says a contradiction and the dissonance is frustrating. Making things worse is the attempt to justify these events as being predetermined. Guinan does this by pointing out the picture of Rios and Teresa that has always been there. Q’s death does have impact because the actors do a great job of performing it. His final act is one of kindness. Picard embraces him to assure him that he isn’t dying alone. Picard offering emotional support and thanking him for helping him contextualise his trauma doesn’t work because Picard is painfully out of character in not questioning Q in the way that he always did. Even when understanding the lessons he would question the methodolgy of them being delivered. The return to the present puts them in the midst of a large scale event that can be tackled with the benefit of the lessons learned. He accepts Jurati’s offer of peace and she coordinates the fleet to act as a barrier between an unexplained anomaly and the lives that it will extinguish. The anomaly is left vague and there are questions around why it wasn’t detected or why Jurati didn’t lead with the warning. Jurati coordinating the shields of the available ships clumsily ties into the themes of connection, collaboration and friendship that the season has intermittently explored. On screen it’s a visual effects shot of ships in formation being hit by a beam until it passes but the implication is that it’s a manifestation of what the season has been driving at. The aftermath comes with the tease of a new threat, Jurati’s Borg Collective receiving provisional Federation membership to keep an eye on things and everything seems quiet for now. Another resolution is Seven’s field commission to Captain. Since it was a desire introduced in the previous episode it isn’t all that meaningful as a development and the Borg knowledge that is required for the situation is never actually used. It also indicates that she has put her hatred of the Borg behind her and opened herself up to the possibility of peace with Jurati’s collective. It’s a forced an unearned resolution and an example of a larger issues of providing happy endings for each of the characters regardless of whether it fits. The season ends with Picard engaging in a relationship with Laris. It’s as contrived as it was when it was introduced as an idea but following this the season mercifully ends.

The season overall was a mess with overly complicated mystery driven storytelling and melodramatic characterisation. Story threads were introduced to fill time and went nowhere and the pacing suffered massively as a result. This show has built up a lot of bad faith for me over the two seasons so I find it unlikely that season 3 will break that trend but there’s always hope.

Overall
  • 2/10
    Farewell - 2/10
2/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • Tallinn’s arc around her devotion Renée concluding in a moving and satisfying way
  • the Q and Picard conversation being massively elevated by the two actors performing it

 

Rise Against…

  • the lack of tension in the drone threat
  • the resolution to the threat dramatically and emotionally adding nothing
  • Soong’s defeat lacking in impact due to the character being poorly developed
  • Kore’s catharsis being underwhelming for the same reason
  • awkward fan service through the Wesley Crusher cameo
  • the “Project Khan” tease
  • Q’s plan making no sense when considered as a whole
  • no connection between the Europa mission and Picard’s trauma
  • Picard being out of character in nor questioning Q
  • Q’s dismissal of the universe ending stakes question contrasting with the season being built on universe ending stakes
  • Picard being placed in a situation where he is required despite Q’s dismissal of that notion
  • the vague anomaly threat
  • questions around how Jurati goes about seeking help in stopping it
  • clumsily connecting Jurati’s plan to the themes of the season
  • the resolution for Seven not landing because of how recently the idea was introduced
  • the suggestion that these events were pre-determined
  • the Picard/Laris relationship remaining contrived

 

What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

Sending
User Review
7.75/10 (6 votes)

We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box

If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.