Spoilers Seriously though...what was the point of the Borg subplot?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by eschaton, May 23, 2020.

  1. eschaton

    eschaton Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So, the dust having settled from the season now for awhile, I am really left feeling like basically everything Borg-related in the first season was a completely unnecessary for the core narrative of the show - and actually made the show worse by being there.

    I mean, let's break things down:

    When the show begins, we are introduced to a "Artifact subplot" which is where we check in periodically with Soji and Narek. In the initial setup this section of the show felt like it had some potential, but (other than the one foreshadowing scene with Ramdha) it didn't really go much of anywhere, with Soji more or less being held in place by the plot until Picard was ready to rescue her, and occasional creepy scenes with Narek and Narissa.

    It was used properly in one - and only one - episode - the fantastic Impossible Box. This was, perhaps not surprisingly, the pivot point of the entire series, given it's when Picard's story and Soji's story finally come together. Almost everything was done right here, from revisiting Picard's trauma to humanizing the XBs, to Narek finally having some sort of purpose on the show.

    After this episode however, instead of abandoning the subplot, they decide to keep POV characters on the Artifact, and everything descends into a sketchy mess of contrived schlock.
    • Elnor makes the decision to stay behind - which seems to totally conflict with his character's decisions only five minutes before - in order to have a main cast member remain on the Artifact.
    • Hugh dies for dramatic purposes.
    • Seven arrives because they wanted an excuse to bring her back again for more episodes.
    • The Federation scientists seen in the early episodes mysteriously vanish, and no one says a thing about it.
    • Narissa spaces all of the still-assimilated Borg (who we know are still alive) and Seven doesn't bother rescuing them.
    • Ramdha is never seen again.
    • The Artifact crash lands as an excuse to get Seven and Elnor back to the rest of the cast (though they have basically nothing to do other than a three-minute cameo in the 9th episode - a bit more in the 10th)
    • The XBs as a whole vanish entirely. Chabon said this - like Narek vanishing - is apparently a function of editing, but still, it's yet another way the season didn't do this arc justice.
    As I said in one of the general threads, it really feels like the writers had a lot of interesting ideas involving the Borg they wanted to explore this season, but they couldn't make them work right in a tightly serialized plot - or even within a given episode. Thus whenever we cut to "what's happening on the cube" an episode felt like it suddenly ground to a halt.

    Imagine a theoretical season which didn't involve The Artifact. Maybe there's no Soji, and Dahj survives the first attack. The early part of the season works pretty much the same, with Picard slowly recruiting his crew, and the search for Maddox. Except we're not cutting away constantly, which gives us more time to flesh out the interactions of the crew of La Sirena. The turning point of the season would have to be something else, maybe involving a more complicated hunt for Maddox. Then the rest of the season could pretty much roll out as it did. Something would be needed to make Dahj distrust organics as much as Soji - maybe there's a Narek-like character onboard La Sirena who betrays her? Seven could still be included if you like. Regardless, the plot becomes much more straightforward in the process, and they can get to the Borg stuff in the second season. To me it just seems patently clear that this would have made for a superior season - just because every time they did something with the Borg other than The Impossible Box, it was just so half backed/tacked on.
     
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  2. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I liked it for pretty simple reasons, we got Picard remembering his time as Locutus, Hugh & Seven, plus it's just nice to have the borg visuals lingering in the background of this new story focusing on synths. Some parallels with the XBs and the synths in synth village.
     
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  3. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    Ultimately the cube serves no purpose. Like Elnor it could be written out and not harm the plot. Picard being afraid and realizing the other drones are people doesn’t serve the plot either, no more than Hugh dying or Hugh existing in the story.

    Soji should have been made to look Romulan and placed on the new Romulan capital planet. The rescue would be more difficult but also be more interesting and make sense.

    if they didn’t want the cube to be useless they should have had it protect the town using a shield in the final fight and participate in the final fight by shooting down the Romulan fleet. Even with that the cube would have been under utilized as only a useful tool and not for fulfill the obvious implication of some sort of deep involvement in the plot it deserves.

    The cube was placed in the show specifically because one writer knew it would thrill the old fans. But none of the writers had any intention of going further with it in the main plot than it just being a cool gimmick.

    I think the flaws are deep enough that if the intent were really a character piece about Picard it would not have the Soji plot. Instead it would be about Picard and his work with Hugh rehabilitating xB’s and fighting bigotry to get them integrated into the Federation. I actually like Picard on the cube a lot. In fact, also include his work in the Unification movement. That way it would be a big story on two fronts, since they obviously dropped the idea of small character pieces, but also avoid all life in the universe being in danger level plot, and firmly display Picard at his finest helping people.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  4. Danja

    Danja Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Why?

    Neither she nor Maddox are Romulan.

    S1 was a ten-hour movie (the producers have touched on this).

    It only makes sense in relation to the whole.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  5. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Borg were a good crutch to use since everybody loves to see them, no matter how they were plopped into an episode or 7 hour movie or what not, since the creators themselves pretty much said it's a big long movie - Danja is quite correct but I'll look upo the article later and I digress:

    VOY did the same thing in that regard, bringing back the fan favorites to reel in the viewers. It's all about the ratings.
     
  6. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Borg arc parallels the Synth plotline - a stateless group with limited/no rights, subject to the exploitation of others, capable of incredible good - or possible dark implications for the fate of the galaxy. It's easier to accept Data's kids, but we're also asked by the writers to accept the XBs as a group that doesn't have such a friendly/familiar origin.

    So it's less spoonfeeding than what we got in INS with the Ba'ku and Son'a, for example, in terms of who we're supposed to root for and who we're supposed to hate. It could be argued that even the Romulans would've been the good guys in PIC if they had been right about the Admonition, apart from the horrific attack they inflicted upon Mars and its implication for the rescue efforts, etc.

    Since Chabon's vision was edited down, we didn't get to see the XBs settle down with the Synths, and I think that would've woven together the 2 plotlines nicely, but the editing made it less coherent in terms of the overall vision. I don't think it was a waste to have the Borg involved, though, for all the above reasons.
     
  7. Cake

    Cake Captain Captain

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    It is not just the Borg/XBs subplot wich felt unnecessary. Why focus so much on the guilt Picard has that he gave up on rescuing and helping more Romulans, when in the end he still is not trying to help them? They gave him a big speech about rights for androids, but what about the Romulans on Vashti and in other places? Their situation is as shit as always at the end of the season.

    He didn't even really help Elnor. I think it was Chabon who said that the man he killed on Vashti in defense of Picard was the first person he killed. A few days or weeks later that number has skyrocket thanks to Picard. He can bath in the blood of his kills now and went though a lot of trauma and angst on that Borg ship. Maybe the nuns on Vashti were right that on Vashti his development was limited. But instead of Picard asking him to go on a killing spree, maybe he should have tried to get him into the Starfleet Academy. We have seen Romulans on Earth, so I guess that might not be impossible. He might have made a good security officer. Or who knows what other hidden talents he may have other than killing. He might be a talented artist or something else. Picard though didn't even try to give him another option than killing for him if he wanted of the planet.

    Personally I think the biggest mistake was their android main plot. It shouldn't have been there at all.

    Picard should have come out of his isolation on his vineyard to help the XBs. Instead of Dahj it could have been Huge who came to him asking for help. They could have lived on a poor looking planet with that Borg cube stranded on it and could have gotten attacked for parts by Romulans all the time. The Federation could have done nothing because of their hate for Borgs and Picard could have tried to convince them that they are Borg victims and deserve compassion, that he and Seven are also XBs and weren't treated so bad so why not also treat all the other XBs well?

    Then a bit of a twist could have been that the Romulans are not attacking the XBs simply out of greed. A huge supernova (unrealistic like in the 2009 movie, but whatever) destroyed the Romulan Star Empire and the surviving refugees weren't properly helped by the Federation. A lot of them died and the Federation didn't send as many ships as they could which is why Picard left Starfleet out of protest. Those they did rescue or those who could flee on Romulan ships were shunned everywhere. No one wanted them in their realm of influence, neither the Federation, nor the Klingons, Orions, Gorn, Ferengi, etc. Which is why the survivors live mostly on inhospitable planets at the edge of the Federation barely surviving. They steel those XBs parts because they are worth a lot on the black market and they need those credits to pay for necessaries. And again it could have been Picard's job to bring that to the attention of the Federation and change the hearts and minds of the Federation members, so that the Romulans don't have to live in misery anymore and get help.

    I just found it so stupid that they introduced two disadvantaged groups Picard has a direct connection with and in the end he helps none of them at all. He didn't even try.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  8. Danja

    Danja Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Elinor was abandoned on the Artifact (when Picard didn't come back, he did what he thought was his duty and went in after him).

    Elnor was frightened out of his mind.
     
  9. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    The x-hour movie is one of the weakest tropes of TV lately, when it doesn't often work successfully. A fair few TV critics have commented on this but a now-early piece was by Sepinwall for example. Picard was actually sometimes more episodic, in the middle, I think (casino planet episode, cube episode, riker farm episode) - but the Borg cube plot ran along in every episode when it could have been better confined or used more sparingly?

    The season is done, I do wish it was much better, and I did lose interest sadly :( hopefully next season will be better!
     
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  10. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree the whole Borg Artifact subplot went nowhere, and the notion that one Romulan's traumatic brain-download would be enough to knock out an entire cube is laughable. That said, Hugh and Seven were some of the best parts of the season, so I can't agree they made it worse.

    When the first preview came out, I guessed Soji might be some kind of Borg princess, related to one of the queens, or something. And I was wary that this would be very stupid, but then, it turned out that her actual origin was both even dumber and less superficially cool.

    The season as a whole really feels like three plots - the political fallout from Romulus' destruction, the synths' potential threat to the universe, and the Artifact stuff - written on three stacks of colored index cards that were jammed together, with minimal bits of dialogue patching up the segues.
     
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  11. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the plots would've come together more neatly if it had been the XBs, rather than Starfleet, who had faced down the Romulans over Coppelius.
     
  12. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    To me, the Artifact showed that the Federation wasn't the only one that had to deal with the Borg when they came to local space. Other than that, it was just a place where the baddies were secretly pursuing the location of the synth homeworld through Soji. Soji and Hugh were honestly trying to rehabilitate XBs, totally unaware that there were others among them with different goals.

    And then it ultimately all hit the fan...
     
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  13. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    Because Soji isn't human either, she is an android and can look like any species, and if the intent is to uncover a Romulan plot then put Soji in the seat of Romulan plots. That way she can move around the seat of plots without drawing attention and has the best bet of finding the source. The cube makes little sense in either regard because everyone knows she is an outsider as a supposed human Federation citizen, and there is no certainty the plot will pass through the cube.

    For the similar reasons, Dahj should have had a political science degree and should have got work in the Federation government. Dahj and Soji also needed different faces so they cannot be casually connected. The show could have also explicitly stated the sisters have passive data collection abilities and sleeping filters through that information.
     
  14. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The XB subplot allowed PIC to explore the ways in which the galaxy marginalizes people who are synthetic or partly synthetic; it allowed PIC to explore how fragmented Romulan society had become; it allowed PIC to explore Jean-Luc's PTSD over his assimilation; it allowed PIC to examine ways in which Jean-Luc still had some prejudices about synthetics in spite of being more open-minded than many Federates; it allowed the writers to have fun business with Hugh and with Seven of Nine.

    I don't think the ending of the XB subplot was as dramatically satisfying as I would have preferred, but on balance it was a good subplot and I'm glad it was there. B+.
     
  15. Danja

    Danja Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    One cube vs. a Romulan fleet of 218 ships? :wtf:
     
  16. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Without breaking a sweat.
     
  17. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I believe that the Borg reclaiming their humanity was meant to be a counterpoint to synthetic life discovering theirs. Plus it gave a good excuse to feature Locutus and Seven.

    I do agree that it was sloppily handled though. Was it really so acceptable for Elnor to kill Romulan redshirts just doing their jobs? Feels a bit racist. Where was the massive amount of energy to power the portal coming from if the cube's reactor wasn't online? What happened to the civilians? Why did the Federation offer the planet protection and then not leave any? What if the Romulans leave some cloaked ships for tomorrow? What happened to the XBs?
     
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  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't that every red shirt death?
     
  19. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Poor Yeoman Thompson.
     
  20. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have a short answer. I wish there was more to it than that, but it's pretty cut-and-dried. Picard's at the end of his natural life. This season was about him facing his inner demons before he meets his end. Like it or not, the Borg were a pretty major inner demon.

    Picard saves the day -- with Data's help -- in First Contact, but there was never any true resolution to what he was feeling. Picard said he was sorry to Worf, the Borg Queen was stopped, First Contact went off without a hitch, and the Enterprise got back to the 24th Century. The End.

    In Picard, he goes back to a Borg Cube. Inside of one for the first time since he was Locutus. He has to learn that an enemy he hated far more than the Romulans -- because of the extent to which they violated him -- are victims just like him. I don't think he ever truly made that connection before. And in seeing Hugh, he got to see someone do something positive with their life. Even if it ended up costing them that life.

    When he meets Seven of Nine, he finally meets someone who remembers what it was like to be a human who was assimilated and then was freed from the Collective. He finally met someone else who knew what his experience was like because they experienced it. Seven of Nine felt the same way and she was able to ask him if he felt like he ever truly completely regained his humanity. Picard's the only other person she felt she could really ask. And we find out that even at the end of his natural life, Picard didn't feel like he regained all of his humanity. And now that he's a Synth, that makes the question even more pointed because some will now ask if he even is Human.

    Okay. That ended up being longer than I thought it would be. But there we are and there we have it. That's what I think the point was: for Picard to come to terms to what happened to him during his life. And being Locutus was just as major of a turning point as the attack on Mars.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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