Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Mondragon, Feb 6, 2020.
What happened to this guy? Guess he went native, eh? Maybe that fall into L.A. did something to his brain? He's breaking the Temporal Prime Directive left and right. Sure it doesn't exist right now, but still... get with it, man. Stop mooning over this lady and her sweets loving child. (I hope something happens to check his foolishness. None of the others know Rios has brought them to the ship, and the Borg are coming...)
Rios might face a confrontation with Lucsly and Dulmur, DTI....
Honestly, out of all the regulars that weren't unceremoniously shunted off-screen for the season, I think Rios has suffered most from the covid bubble structure of the season. Picard has variously had Agnes, Guinan and Tallinn to bounce off, all of whom he either has a personal connection with or who are connected to the plot. Seven and Raffi have had each other to bounce off, dealing with their relationship issues and Raffi's guilt and grief over Elnor. But Rios has been out there on his own for most of the season, interacting primarily with strangers, 21st century natives, and his storylines have been generic in the extreme, nothing personal to him, nothing connected to the plot. There's been no connective tissue between his arc through the season and anything we already knew about him. And it strikes me that his whole storyline could have been strengthened if that connection had been made. If, for instance, Theresa had pegged him as forces/ex-forces, and that was used to tease out some kind of insight into where his mind is at this season - how he really feels about going back to Starfleet after being out in the cold for so long, picking up the threads of the career he'd always wanted but at the expense of giving up the freedom he'd found while working independently, at the expense of giving up the ship he clearly loves. I mean, there's got to be a certain amount of inner conflict there. What was it actually like for him, going back to Starfleet, being given a prestigious new ship to command, having an entire crew after living alone with those holos for years? Was it hard to win over the crew, were there whispers behind his back about the cirumstances of his discharge and reinstatement? Does he have any regrets? We know that his return to Starfleet was part of the reason he and Agnes didn't work out, so that could have been touched on, too - that conflict between career and personal life, which would tie in with the whole thing Picard has got going on, that theme of having always been so isolated. All of that could have been teased out through his conversations with Theresa - at first heavily coded, then later more explicitly once she knew who he really is - and it would have been personal to him in a way that all their flirting hasn't, it would have been meaningful development that built on what we already knew about him, allowed us insight into the two years we skipped over. And it would have strengthened his storyline tremendously.
See? These are good character development ideas. What a shame the writers have felt the need to use his part in this season as sledgehammer sociopolitical/rom-commy interludes instead of what you suggested. But I bet the writers try to cram some of this in the last two episodes.
I agree whole-heartedly!
I feel like that's a theme for basically all of the characters this season: they are so thoroughly disconnected from anything that happened or that we learned about them last season, they might as well be new people.
The first episode touches on a couple of plot threads from season 1, but they mostly get dismissed without further interrogation. We only get minimal hints about what happened in the interim two years, and the writers don't seem interested in exploring that at all. They essentially wiped the slate clean and only took the vaguest outline of the characters from season 1 and then went from there to create something new (or have them repeat the same arc again). I know this is a very uncharitable reading, but it feels like to the writers, referring to anything that happened before the beginning of season 2, except for the vaguest mentions, seems to be taboo for some reason that I still don't understand.
And most of the characters still have interesting developments and characterization and arcs, so it's a little less galling, but it really does feel like Rios got the short end of the stick and has lost practically all depth and connection to his season 1 self - and to the plot. And it's a damn shame.
Probably no coincidence that 2.01 seems to be one of the most highly regarded episodes of the season - it's the only episode this season with any real connective tissue, picking up story/character strands from season one and moving them forward. It was exciting to catch up with where everyone was now and to learn at least something of what they'd been up to in the interim. It hinted at so much...and as the season has gone on, as much of a fun ride as it has been (and I have genuinely enjoyed every episode), I keep looking back at 2.01 and reflecting that the most interesting stories this show has to tell have all happened off-screen between seasons. That was where all the action was! Raffi's little flashback scene with Elnor in 2.08 kind of cemented that, for me. So much happened in those two years! Rios and Raffi returning to Starfleet - how did that come about, was it hard or easy for them to make that decision, was it hard or easy for them to then make the transition, did they find it a struggle to re-integrate, etc? Rios giving la Sirena to Seven - that must have been a wrench, we know he loves that ship. Raffi's flashback with Elnor was on la Sirena, so when was that set, before or after Rios gave it to Seven? Them being there implies that la Sirena remained some kind of home base for the motley crew for quite some time, and that intrigues me. Soji becoming an ambassador for the synths, Agnes being put on trial before joining her, Elnor choosing to join Starfleet and then having to choose between that career path and going back to help the Qowat Milat when they asked for his help. Raffi and Seven getting together and then struggling to make it work. Rios and Jurati getting together and then failing to make it work. The difficulties involved in juggling career and personal life - especially when both parties have careers that could take them to opposite ends of the sector at a moment's notice. So many interesting stories! Like, there's a full season's worth of character arcs right there! But they all happened off-screen. And then every single one of those character stories (apart from Raffi/Seven) was completely abandoned so they could instead go jaunting off through time.
It comes back, I suppose, to the primary structural problem the show has, which is that it was created as an intimate insight into Jean Luc Picard but was then cast as a regular Star Trek ensemble, and the tension between those two aspects of the show has never been resolved. Picard needs people around him as he navigates his intimate personal journey, but for those characters, having to trail along behind him means they are totally disconnected from their own personal journeys.
This is a really astute way of phrasing it!
I think this tension is only made worse by the very different drives behind season 1 and 2. The first season set out to show us an outside view of Federation. It focused on the failings of Starfleet, on the people it has hurt and that have fallen through the cracks, both on a personal level (like Rios and Raffi) and on a systemic level (like the Romulan refugees, the synths, and the xBs). And that all tied into Picard's own struggle with the failures and shortcomings of his past, within Starfleet and without.
The season 1 writers didn't deal with a lot of these threads as well as I had hoped they would (although I still do love season 1 dearly), but the characters' struggles and backstories all tied together. Rios's rocky relationship with Starfleet gave Picard a foil to reflect on his own rocky relationship with Starfleet, the good and the bad. Raffi's turmoil very directly implicated Picard and forced him to confront where he had failed her. But beyond that, these characters were also still their own people, and not just waiting for Picard to save them.
But in season 2, the aspects of Picard's psyche we're exploring seem only tenuously related to the other characters. Some of his inability to commit to a romantic relationship are similar to the tension between Raffi and Seven and Agnes and Cris, but we're now past episode 8 and there's still next to no real connection between these struggles apart from "it's a similar theme".
Picard's mother suffered from bpd, Renée Picard struggles with depression and anxiety, but nobody has actually turned around, looked at Agnes, and said "Oh hey, she has depression and anxiety and PTSD as well!"
There is a lot of implication of thematic parallels, but it feels to me like there is very, very little text exploring these connections.
And that was a writing choice. They chose to make Picard's struggle, which is to be the centre of the show, about his past and his mother and how that has left him unable to connect romantically. That is certainly an aspect of the character you can read into TNG, but it's not like this is... the One Unexplored Facet of Jean-Luc Picard, that urgently required deeper exploration.
They could have stuck with making it about the conflict with Starfleet. They could have more explicitly leaned into the found family vs. birth family and alienation and reconnection. Those would have been struggles that very naturally could have tied into the other characters, they clearly all struggle with family issues.
But instead, the picked an issue that would be extremely specific to Picard and failed to really highlight the aspects where it intersects with the other characters.
I think they absolutely could have created a show centred around Picard's personal psychological struggles, but integrated the rest of the cast in a way that felt less like they're just bystanders, having to take a backseat behind cameos and legacy characters...
Yes to everything you said. For a show that badges itself as an intimate character study, Picard is remarkably plot-driven, and fails to join the dots on an awful lot of its character beats. Even just simple, obvious things. Like when Rios was rescued from ICE - S1 established how close he and Raffi are, early eps of S2 showed us what a strong rapport he and Seven have formed, we'd spent a couple of episodes watching how very worried Raffi and Seven were for him, but then once they actually retrieved him...they didn't even get to exchange two words of relief and reunion and ask him what the hell happened. For full closure, the storyline needed them to have a proper scene together to round it off, but the dots weren't joined (because they were in separate shooting bubbles, I guess). Then in 2.08 we saw Seven and Raffi updating Rios on their search for the Borgified Agnes, with Rios quick to remind them that Agnes is still in there, and we saw Rios attempting to repair the damage she'd done to La Sirena, but we didn't get to see his immediate reaction to the news that Agnes had been assimilated in the first place - when he's the person who has been closest to her in the entire cast, the one who had a relationship with her, the only person to notice there was something wrong with her during the gala. Again, the logical dots weren't joined, and other than that one line Rios wasn't allowed to show any concern for his ex, because the show is all about the plot, and his plot for the season revolves around Theresa rather than Agnes. It is all plot-driven rather than character-led, which means that an awful lot of natural, organic characterisation and development ends up getting skimmed over or missed out completely. Which is a shame, because there is so much untapped potential there!
Let's not forget though that this season takes place over a 3-4 day period, first after basically dying and being merged into an altered timeline by a sick near-god and then going back 400 years into the past. When does anybody have time to talk about what happened over the last 18 months? Given that all hell broke loose fairly quickly into episode 1, what we did see at least showed the culmination of what they'd been up to since the last time we saw them. I'll take that over more exposition.
Yeah, it is too bad. Create good characters and then create a good plot around them. Occasionally add depth to each as you go.
I really do think Covid messed with this season. They probably would have done some of what you mentioned but I bet everybody was up against schedules that could be disrupted at any moment.
That's definitely fair.
But I think it's like Llywela says, there are ways they could have worked in the things that happened last season (or between seasons) without making it exposition.
They did that a bit with the bickering between Rios and Agnes harking back to their breakup, and we got the flashback this episode.
But it feels to me like there are a lot of missed opportunities. Just one wild example: when Rios talks about Picard being like a father, there could have been a half-sentence about Vandermeer about how his father wasn't around and the man who became a surrogate father died tragically. Or, say, Teresa could have asked about his happiest memory in general rather than his childhood, and it could have been something about Vandermeer - which would make it bittersweet but show that Cris has done a lot of healing in the interim, because thinking about Vandermeer is no longer just traumatic.
Wouldn't have required any huge explanation, either, it could have just been "my last boss - I really looked up to him - we had this job once where we got stuck in a cabin without power for a couple days and we had to go fishing" or whatever else.
Also, I feel like it deserves saying that the writers chose to have a two year gap between seasons. Using more or less the exact time gap between Nemesis and PIC in-universe as in real time was a good gimmick in season one, but they didn't have to carry it into season 2. As you said, season 2 takes place over three days. They're not doing real-time tv ;9
So they chose to do this huge jump and chose that it would massively affect and change where we find these characters after the break. But they didn't then structure the story they wrote after that in a way that would explore some of these changes in more detail, and be it just in a throwaway line.
Going into the start of the season at speed and having shit hit the fan quickly wasn't a bad choice by any means! But then they slow down and bring in Renée Picard to discuss the debilitating effect of anxiety and depression, instead of using any of their already existing characters suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.
It just feels like a missed opportunity to me. Like they could have dug deeper into the characters they already had, and what we know about them, but chose to start from a fairly new point instead and ignored most of what came before.
Oh yeah, you are absolutely right! Thank you for the perspective check ;]
I can't even imagine the stress of not just having the usual problem of a studio, half a dozen executive producers, and the showrunner having expectations of the writers room and needing to accommodate work schedules and people being on other projects (or breaking a foot) and having to write around all that while on a deadline. But then also needing to factor in that you can only have so many scenes where more than two actors are standing less than three feet apart, and having to factor in bubbles and overlap and background extras and goodness knows what else.
I have enormous respect for what the production team was able to put together despite all the insanity!
Hadn't thought of Renee Picard as a cipher. But you're right. Shame about the deflection to a character we don't really care about. Same with Kore. And Soong. We've seen it all before. Even Guinan being brought back hasn't added much.
The best parts of this season for me have been the teased final confrontation between Q and Picard and the new take on the Borg Queen. Oh, and Orla Brady.
From brief clips I care more about Soong and Guinan than ever in TNG. And that's just with clips!
So after tonight's episode 2.09 Hide and Seek, what are the odds Rios stays in the 20th century with Teresa and Ricardo?
I hope he survives and stays/or takes them with him to a place where none of those involved in coming up with the main story have any say...
With this season 2 ending they destroyed every possibility that Starfleet Captain Rios can have his own spin-off series, or cameo in some future Trek. And that is mistake. He had "Starfleet officer" charisma like Anson Mount
Yeah, that was the only really sour bit in the finale for me. The faint silver lining is that at least there's room for Santiago to drop in as the holo composite now and then, even if we can't actually have Rios.
Time travel makes anything possible.
But, he won't be missed if he does. That's just business on this one.
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