There are some spoilers for this discussion and review Star Trek: Picard season 2, episode 8, “Mercy”.
While it does not break many new ground, “Mercy” represents at least a significant improvement over “Monsters.” Part of this is simply due to the fact that you are playing place mode Star Trek: Picard feel more comfortable. Much of “Mercy” is essentially a plot montage.
As often happens in the final stretch of the plot arches the modern seasons of Trek star, the public can see how the various pieces are aligned and replaced. The characters intersect because the plot requires them to interact. Certain threads of stories are stopped so that others can catch up and move forward together towards the climax. It’s illegal and clumsy, but there is a certain efficiency in place that does not always show the greatest moments of Picard.
Star Trek: Picard presents an unstable Picard with a mercy request
In ‘Watcher,’ Star Trek: Picard slows down and gets lost
The weakest thread of the episode is the interrogation subplot that Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Guinan (Ito Aghayere) discover in a painful imitation of X Files with Agent Wells (Jay Karnes) in the “basement of the FBI’s field office”. This is a transparent way to remove Picard from the show during the episode and the rest of the story takes place around it. In fact, the retention subplot concludes that there is really no consequence.
Similar to the scenes Picard shared with Jurati (Alison Pill) and the Borg Queen (Annie Wersching) in “Asimilation,” Patrick Stewart’s potential exposure to COVID seems to have been limited by placing the octogenarian actor on a closed set. . with reduced cast. It is commendable in terms of production, in the sense that any decision to produce a series with the age of Stewart, a leading actor in the middle of the pandemic, can be commendable. However, it is narrative inertia.
Agent Wells feels like a familiar old yard Trek star, especially in time travel stories like this. Wells is an outsider who is completely incompatible with the world around him, so he finds a certain relationship with these displaced explorers. She is similar, in many ways, to Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks) from Star Trek IV: The Journey Home or Rain Robinson (Sarah Silverman) from “Future’s End.”
The idea of characters changed due to contact with aliens oh Star Trek has an interesting kidney too early in the timeline. Wells’ stumbling idea on Vulcan’s science team sounds like the classic tales of it star Trek on the missions before the first oneContact such as “Carbon Creek” or “Strangers from the Sky”Unfortunately, “Mercy” has no idea what to do with Wells but convert it into a free imitation of Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) from X Files.
The subplot focused on Adam Soong (Brent Spiner) is at least stronger, as it raises some of the most interesting themes of Picard. Soong’s relationship with Kore (Isa Briones) reflects the generational conflict that informed much of the first season, the sense that children are fighting against parents who do not understand or touch them as anything more than an extension of their own . a resonant theme in modern science fiction.
Soong struggles with Kore’s desire to assert his identity, imbued with the revelation that he is the latest in a long series of clones designed by Soong. “You’re there because I wanted you,” Soong warns. Later, she challenged him: “If I walk out that door right now, what are you afraid of losing? Me or your inheritance?” Soong sees this as a perception: “You can’t walk away from me. You’re not there without me.” Kore replies, “Maybe you are not there without me.”
At best, Picard it is a story about an older generation facing its legacy. Rob Salkowitz has described it as a “mad last cry” from the Silent Generation, with much of the series showing the older characters battling their mortality and the idea that they are giving those who come a fundamentally broken world in their place. It is an idea that emerges at a time of intergenerational conflict led by the American project between the old and the young.
While the series suffers from a willingness to continue its themes, many of the characters are older than Star Trek: Picard they are addressed with questions about mortality and inheritance. Speaking to Guinan, Q (John de Lancie) reveals that he is “dying”. Expecting a “warm glow of meaning” in his death, he did not see “even a glimmer”. Q seems to have descended into a kind of grim nihilism, confronted with the possibility that “it is just disappearing, into nothingness”.
So Soong and Q are two sides of the same coin. They argue that they will be left with a world shaped by their views, but they seem to have no interest in the world of that world for the people who will have to live in it. Patrick Stewart has talked about how as part of the Picard It was an opportunity to “respond to the life of Trump and Brexit”, and it is worth noting that in both cases the older generation made these political choices for their successors.
Adam Soong’s choice to betray his daughter to a “future father,” resonates with the prospect of a forgotten Paradise in favor of dystopia that would build statues in his honor. “The Earth of your time is falling ecologically free,” Jurati warns. “He is the man they come to, if given the chance. You lose a daughter just to be the godfather of the world.” Soong’s inability to face his own death becomes appalling.
There’s something interesting about the way “Mercy” brings Soong and Jurati together, essentially mixing two of the franchise’s older transhuman and cyberpunk concerns. Trek star in one threat. Soong is a geneticist, which connects the franchise’s deep concern about genetic engineering that goes back to “Space Seed.” Jurati is Queen Borg, the living expression of the franchise ‘s fear of the technological improvement of the human form.
“Mercy” does not necessarily do anything interesting with these overlapping threads, but it is still a nice thematic overlap. In fact, there are some compelling little similarities in the program between “Mercy” and its main season Star Trek: Picard. Wells’ childhood trauma provides an effective mirror to the mirror that Picard pointed out in “Monsters.” The script reinforces this point of comparison even when Wells speaks of “the thing in the night, the monster in the dark.”
Wells ‘misunderstanding of the Vulcans’ efforts to alleviate his suffering “so (he) would not be persecuted in such a way” is also clearly parallel to Picard’s evolutionary understanding of his father’s (James Callis)’s behavior in “Monsters.” There is also a nice physical contrast with the innocuous grinding of Vulcan mind and Borg ‘s more aggressive assimilation, and the appearance of self – conscious gestures. may appear at first glance.
However, the best of the three plot lines of the episode is about Seven (Jeri Ryan) and Raffi (Michelle Hurd) trying to track down Jurati. It is a plot thread that consciously and deliberately brings to the fore one of the major recurring themes of the second season of Picard, suggesting that the series can be read as a metaphor for mental health. Jurati’s fight against Queen Borg is a life allegory of a psychological condition.
At one point, Seven tries to get into Jurati’s head, drawing on his own experience with the Borg Collective. “I wouldn’t need anything,” Seven admits. “Instead, I would want nothing more than that connection. If I felt it, it would be hard to think of anything other than to get it back.” It’s a choice that Jurati treats as an addict, which is in line with previous performances of the drones separated from the hive, most notably Seven herself in “The Gift” and “Survival Instinct.”
There is a sense that the series is building on the kind of performance that is rather clunky of it Red Dragon Y Silence of lambs of Jurati’s relationship with the Queen in episodes such as “Assimilation” or “Watchman”. Seven seem to be profiling a serial killer. “She may not have what she wants, so she tried to recreate that sense of connection, one by one,” he explains. “She didn’t feel anything in the one-on-one; it wasn’t enough. She became frustrated, she became angry. She took it out on the unsatisfactory thing.”
However, there is something clever enough about Raffi’s immediate observation that, despite Seven ‘s attempts, he is instead describing a fairly basic act of emotional violence related to Seven’ s own solidarity issues. In a small but revealing thematic twist, it seems fitting that Jurati is using cell phone batteries for lithium as a “stabilized metal,” given the use of lithium as a treatment for depressive or manic episodes.
As in “Two of One”, there’s also a nice acknowledgment of Seven’s privilege as a white woman as soon as the facial disfigurement and racist “otherism” of Borg’s implants is removed. “People are so easy when they trust you,” Seven tells Raffi, reflecting on how easy it is to get around Los Angeles when she looks like Jeri Ryan. “No wonder she’s president.” It’s a small detail and it’s a shame that Raffi never pushes this forward, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
“Mercy” is a faulty episode in a very flawed season of it Star Trek: Picard, but it works great in small moments and character punches. As the second season of Picard increasingly confusing both narratively and thematically, perhaps the audience should thank the little mercies.