Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Analysis Part 2- How Romulan Values Took Over the Federation

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And Other Dangling Plot Threads the Show May or May Not Pick Up Again in S2

More discussion of odds and ends leftover from my recaps of S1 of Star Trek: Picard. In this installment, I’m working from the TV series, the prequel novel, The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack, the 3 part Picard S1 prequel Countdown graphic novel by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Another ongoing theme in Season 1 is the idea of freedom vs ownership and control, whether it’s the freedom of sentient beings, the freedom of ideas or the theft of body parts and someone else’s work. Rather than assimilating the Romulans into Federation life, as Picard planned for them, the Romulans have insidiously assimilated the Federation into their way of thinking. They value secrecy and hierarchy above all else and don’t value life or justice for their own sake.

This season introduced some deep concepts that we on Earth have only begun to explore as a world here in the 21st century, such as how is sentience determined?  Which species have the right to self-determination and which can be treated as objects or livestock, harvested for their parts or used as slaves by anyone who sees fit? If humanoids can’t even recognize the sentience and basic rights of other humanoids, such as synths and xBs, how will we recognize sentience in other forms of life when we encounter them, including here on Earth?

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Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Analysis Part 1- Outsiders, Twins and Broken Pieces

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I have several pages of leftover notes from Star Trek: Picard S1 that didn’t make it into my recaps last spring. To celebrate the holidays and production starting soon on S2, I’m going to attempt to wrangle some of them into a few analysis posts on symbolism, mythology and whatnot.

So happy end of 2020, everyone! May you all have received your COVID vaccinations by this time next year! Preferably many months sooner!

Jean Luc begins the season amongst his vineyard’s vines, flowers and fireplaces, surrounded by organic life and symbols that his life is real and truthful. Well, technically he starts with a dream about Data which includes many hints at the season to come, from Blue Skies and the starry nebula, to the five Queens (for five synth daughters) in Data’s poker hand and the Mars attack while Picard laments that he hasn’t finished his tea and doesn’t want the game to end yet.

A Season of Outsiders

The common thread running through Picard, his friends and acquaintances this season is that they’ve been failed by “the system” and now live outside of it. Even the emissaries of Starfleet turn out to be outsiders in some way.

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The Man in the High Castle Season 1 Episode 5: The New Normal Recap

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In episode 5, The New Normal, Juliana and Joe return to their home cities after their missions in the Neutral Zone. Each undergoes a debriefing and must try to navigate the tense atmosphere of their respective empires. Frank tries to put the pieces of his life back together after the deaths in his family and his aborted assassination attempt. Tagomi and Wegener try to complete their mission before getting Wegener out of San Francisco. Kido begins his investigation into the shooting of the crown prince, with the knowledge that, according to Japanese custom,  his life depends on bringing the shooter to justice.

Recap

The episode picks up with the ending of the previous episode, as shots ring out and the crown prince falls, desperately wounded. Tagomi and the princess rush to his side. Kido springs into action, shouting out orders to stop anyone from leaving, find the shooter and confiscate all cameras so that no one sees their beloved leader in his weakened state. Wegener is on the podium, watching the drama play out.

Frank has the gun in his hand, but hasn’t fired. The little Japanese boy standing next to him and the boy’s father both see the gun in Frank’s hand as all three scatter. Frank puts the gun in his coat pocket and at the same time the necklace he made for Juliana slips out of the pocket, onto the ground.

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The Rain Season 2 Episode 2: The Truth Hurts Recap

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Episode 2, The Truth Hurts, begins moments after the end of episode 1. Simone has just discovered Rasmus lying unconscious in the lab at the rebel facility. He’s surrounded by the bodies of the scientists who were supposed to cure him and create a vaccine. Despite the fact that he manifested black veins all over, black viral goo instead of blood and poured out a cloud of black viral smoke only moments before, now Rasmus looks perfectly healthy, with his usual smooth white skin.

Simone pounds on the glass between the observation room and the lab, trying to get a response from Rasmus. After a minute, his finger twitches, then he sits up. Simone wastes no time in creating an alibi for him. She tells him to go to the backroom before anyone else can get there. The alarm is still blaring. Rasmus asks if he killed the others. Simone makes up a quick story. She tells him to say that they dropped a sample and got infected. Rasmus doesn’t remember what happened, but he knows it wasn’t that, and tries to argue with her.

Martin and Fie rush into the observation room. Fie turns off the alarm and tries to take in the loss of almost everyone she had left, including her boyfriend, Jakob. Before either can speak, Simone blurts out that Jakob dropped a sample and got infected, then he infected the rest. Before she could do anything, they all just died.

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The Women of The Passage: Character Analysis

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One of the main themes of The Passage, both the TV series and the book trilogy, could be summed up in the title of S1 Ep8 of the series: You Are Not That Girl Anymore. The major female characters of The Passage have all grown this season and had an impact on the main arc of the story.

The future relies on Amy Bellafonte and how she weathers the virus and her relationship with the other virals. It’s Dr Nichole Sykes’ commitment to Jonas Lear’s vision that made Project NOAH what it is, and she is still an important part of the evolving nature of the virus and virals. Dr Lila Wolgast has provided emotional, medical and logistical support for Brad, Amy, Richards, Sykes and Lacey at key moments. Shauna Babcock is Fanning’s second in command. Lacey Antoine rescued Brad and Amy and gave them a hideout from Richards’ pursuit. Elizabeth Lear was the catalyst for the entire endeavor. She was both Jonas’ excuse for pursuing the Bolivian rumors until the end of the world and the voice of reason in his head telling him he was going too far.


Shauna Babcock

Though there are a few female inmates who have become virals, Shauna Babcock is the only one we’ve seen communicate with humans and whose backstory we’ve been given in detail. Shauna has lived a complicated life, and has created a complicated web of relationships within Project NOAH. Manipulation is her specialty, making it difficult to tell when she’s being sincere and when she’s using someone.

In the story she told Clark, she’s a victim with a tragic backstory who finally snapped. Shauna was regularly raped by her stepfather from the ages of 8-16, until she was old enough to stand up to him and make him stop.

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Travelers Season 3: Grace’s Role in the Director’s Plan

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Spoilers Through Season 3 Episode 10.

In Travelers season 3, watching Grace stand, abandoned, alone, and with her hands tied behind her back, after the assault teams vacated the farm in episode 1, then watching her get left behind again in episode 4, reminded me of a question I’ve had since she came to the 21st. Where does she stand with the Director, for real?

When she arrived, we were told she was his favorite, except for possibly Ellis. After Grace and Trevor were shot, the Director chose to kill Ellis by using him as a messenger and to save Grace by sending D-13/Dr. Derek with enough medical nanites that she could spare some for her (boy)friend, Trevor. That seems to show that the Director does indeed care deeply about Grace. The Director doesn’t send nanites around often.

Grace has certain unique skills and attitudes with regard to the Director that I believe it wants to protect. One of Grace’s gifts is the ability to creatively stretch resources by finding ways to have them do double duty, such using the same code to fix Marcy and reset the Director, passing her medical nanites on to Trevor so that they healed two patients instead of one, and repurposing the nuclear material from the military to save the Director from the Faction during the plague.

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Manifest Season 1 Episode 10: What Did “All Good Things” Really Mean to Karen Stone?

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In Manifest, Season 1, Episode 10, Crosswinds, we find out that Karen Stone’s gravestone reads “All good things”, a misquote of her favorite bible verse, Romans 8:28. At first, this misquote appears to be an inconsequential shortening of the verse, because it includes the same words as the correct version of the quote, “All things work together for good”. In fact, the difference in wording changes the meaning of the verse, and we have to question what that means for Karen’s state of mind.

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Midnight, Texas: Who Killed Creek? Could It Be Fiji?

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In the shocking ending of  Midnight, Texas, season 2, episode 6, No More Mr Nice Kai, Manfred discovered that his once and possibly future girlfriend, Creek Lovell, was dead. Creek left town at the end of season 2, episode 1, Head Games, in order to go to college and find the peace of mind and personal safety that eluded her in Midnight. She came back to Midnight in episode 6 because she thought Manfred needed her and she missed him. Instead of being allowed to return to her new life, she was murdered.

The last time we saw Creek alive, Kai discovered her in the hotel, searching for Manfred. The next time we saw her, she was a ghost. She was able to speak to Manfred, but she quickly burned up and was forced to move on to the next plane of existence. The fire started in her throat, probably to stop her from speaking.

The normal way that ghosts move on to the next plane is to disappear. They become gray smoke, which then vanishes. This is how Lyric moved on. We saw it frequently in season 1. The only other ghosts who’ve disappeared in fire, the way that Creek did, were Bruce and Carolyn, the married couple who’d owned the hotel in the 50’s, who we met in episode 2. Fiji used an ancient spell to send them on their way, which required the bones of the dead, sage, and a goat’s heart. The flames burned the ghosts in the same order that they burned their bones. In the case of Bruce and Carolyn, that was bottom to top. Carolyn was able to give Manfred a message, “There are secrets behind the woods,” because her head and neck were the last parts to go.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Finale: Did June Betray Rita and the Marthas by Staying in Gilead?

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In the season 2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, June chooses to stay in Gilead rather than escape with her baby daughter, despite several Marthas and others having risked their lives to help her and Nichole. This has become a controversial choice with the audience. I’ve seen many commenters who feel that June was selfish to stay behind, because the Marthas had taken serious risks to get her and the baby out. Some people think that the Marthas will feel angry and betrayed when they find out that June didn’t leave. Since even major outlets were shocked and disgusted by June’s choice and agree with the judgement that it makes her selfish, I’ve decided to address it in a separate post from my already extra long recap/analysis.

This is a complex issue. First, calling June selfish for sending one child to safety but giving up her own chance at freedom so that she can try to save her other child and work with the Resistance to save more people, is blatantly ridiculous and misogynistic. What would be selfish is saving herself without a thought for the other people it would affect, which is what the Marthas expected her to do.

Second, June didn’t ask the Marthas to get her out. She owes them now that her baby is hopefully free, but she wasn’t required to take them up on their offer, since she didn’t request it in the first place. Even if she requested it, she would have been allowed to change her mind. Her life and her children’s lives are the lives most at stake in an escape attempt. If she wasn’t comfortable with what was happening, she had the right to change her mind. After all of the uproar about the rapes in this show, are people now saying that June doesn’t have the right of consent to the escape plan that others devised for her and her children? That’s insane. Hannah and Nichole are the most innocent victims, and as their parent, June’s first responsibility is always to them. She has the right to consent to the plan or not, and to withdraw her consent if needed when conditions change. Which they did, when she saw that she could send Nichole to Canada with Emily.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Episode 13/Season Finale: The Word Recap

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Also: Serena’s Doors and Windows; June and Serena’s Journeys in Season 2 and the Future; Silencing the Women of Gilead; The Changes in Gilead: From Motherhood to Obedience to Polygamy?; Baby Nichole’s Big Adventure; John 1:1 and Teaching Daughters to Read the Word of God; The Martha Relay Race; and Maps of Gilead and Interpretation

In season 2 episode 13, The Word, Serena reads a Bible verse out loud to the Council that ends by saying the word was God. In this episode, the word is also Out. Everyone wants out of their current situation. Serena and the wives speak out for their daughters and all of the daughters of Gilead. The Marthas out themselves as the true Resistance. Rita is outed as the Black Widow of Gilead, just as I always knew she was. Emily and Nichole get out of Boston, maybe Gilead. Fred wants disobedient women out of his life. June opts out of escaping, choosing instead to work toward getting Hannah and all of the daughters of Gilead out of danger from the growing reign of terror. And Lydia is taken out of the game by Emily, at least temporarily.

By the end of the episode, everyone is outside of their normal status, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever go back to what had become normal. In the beginning of season 1, Aunt Lydia promised the handmaids that the rules and restrictions of Gilead would come to feel normal and ordinary to them with time. She was wrong. In the last few episodes we’ve seen women and men at every level of Gilead society rebel, from a high-ranking commander to an Unwoman who barely got a reprieve from the Colonies and death.

Serena quoted Isaiah last episode, verse 49:25, in which God promises to deliver the captives and save the children. This episode, a captive was delivered, and a child was saved, but they were brought out of their captivity in Gilead, the enemy of the good. She left out the next verse, where God promises to “make your oppressors eat their own flesh” (Isaiah 49:26*). This is literally and figuratively what’s happening in Gilead. Gilead is cutting up its people, a piece at a time. In this episode, we saw Commander Putnam, who has one hand; Cora and Janine, who each have one eye; Emily, who had a clitorectomy and lost a tooth; Serena, who gave up a finger to the cause; and we heard Aunt Lydia refer to Lillie, who had her tongue cut out. Mr Spencer metaphorically ate his own flesh by turning his daughter in to the Guardians, leading to her execution. Commander Lawrence drove his wife insane by becoming a mass murderer in service of Gilead.

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