Remember the slingshot effect? This is a maneuverable ship that has thrown Kirk and the crew around the sun and past Earth, whiplashing them back in time to the 20th century, in search of whales.
It sometimes seems that Star Trek has been trapped in the action of the slingshot terminal for 20 years. The 2000s gave us the enterprise, echoing the last frontier in the early days of Starfleet. Then came the big screen in 2009's JJ Abrams reboot, restoring Kirk, Spock and all the classic iconography made into a 60s pop culture show phenomenon. More recently, Star Trek: Discovery has also identified a prequel zone. Where the franchise once chased tomorrow at super speed, it is now a period drama in its own universe.
All that changes with Star Trek: Picard. Reuniting us with the character that made Patrick Stewart not just a star but the world's greatest facepalming meme, it's set 20 years after the events of 2002, Star Trek: Into Darkness, at the very edge of the 25th century.
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Get ready for the future shock. It will almost certainly not be a next-generation bright utopia. And Jean-Luc Picard has changed. Long retired from Starfleet, the former Enterprise Commander lives in semi-isolation in his ancestral French vineyard (seen in season four of the Next Generation episode "Family"). He is haunted by two events that we saw in the movies: the death of a colleague Android and the destruction of the planet Romulus, which caused an interstellar refugee crisis.
"The next generation world doesn't exist anymore," Stewart said. diversity, creating a series and its vaguely dark shadows. “Nothing is really safe. Nothing is really safe. So the world of the next generation was too ideal and too secure.”
It's the darker, more unsettling context Star Trek promises to make: Picard is more than an exercise in cozy nostalgia, more than just heating up an established, profitable brand. Freed from the inevitability of Gene Roddenberry's 24th century, it shows us a starfleet whose moral focus seems to have changed since Picard's glory days. Facing a cosmic crisis, Jean-Luc is forced to undertake a mission of mercy of his own, without the galaxy-wide prop he's used to.
And here is the intriguing message, especially for the character, the combination of diplomacy and cold rationality is always determined by the highest star magnitude. As showrunner Alex Kurtzman revealed, Stewart agreed to Picard's reprise with one important caveat: "I don't want to do what I've already done."
Picard has always been one of the track's most well-drawn icons. Reserved, counterpoint-cerebral William Shatner as brilliant, but not at all brawlier James T. Kirk, he revisited our idea of a starship captain from the moment he issued the undercut “Participate!” in 1987 a pilot "meeting at a distant point". The subsequent stories put the tea-sipping patriarch through a psychological meat grinder: captured and tortured Cardassians; destroyed by the death of her family during a fire; assimilated by the Borg and transformed into the sinister Locutus, complete with lingering PTSD.
Through it all, Stewart has poured into the character with the emotional truth you'd expect from a former USC player who snagged a Laurence Olivier Award or two. 2017 Logan has proven he's not afraid to revisit a signature role and mine for something deeper and darker - his latest twist as Professor X, the mutant leader of mental brilliance rusting with dementia, is amazing, and if there are notes that, without flinching, raw performance in old , guilt-broken Picard then we are waiting for electrifying viewing.
Stewart may be Star Trek: Picard's key weapon, but he's not alone. During the show Team Jean-Luc with a new, mismatched renegade crew - Romulans and ex-Starfleet officers, including Daredevil Michelle Hurd as a character who shares an untold story with Picard - she also brings back some 24th-century icons on the screen. Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis Bis as Riker and Troy, although, more tantalizingly, Brent Spiner as the supposedly deceased data. Dream? Hallucination? Demolition work in Picard's barn? Nobody says that even though the runner showed “The details of the story are part of the carving of the show.”
Also resurrected is the Borg, in a plot that promises fresh twists on a bush-minded menace that has given the next generation its definition of adversary. Jonathan Del Arco plays Hugh, first seen in the 1992 episode "I'm a Borg," while Star Trek: Voyager's Jeri Ryan returns in Seven of Nine, now fused with humanity. "She's not the same seven," Ryan recently revealed digital spy. “She is much more human. She has been on Earth for a long time, she has been through a lot.” The presence of the Borg is an intriguing part of the status quo: will Picard be summoned or will he finally defeat his resistance-crushing techno-demons?
First of all, Star Trek: Picard promises to do what the classic track did best - use the present to tell a story about the future. It was Gene Roddenberry's important mission, after all, in order to smuggle modern hot-button issues under a sci-fi cloaking device. And with its apparently isolationist federation and morally complex humanitarian dilemmas, this very 21st century is reflected in the 24th. As Stuart said diversity, this aspect of the series “was the answer to me in the world exiting Great Britain and Trump and feeling 'why hasn't the Federation changed? Why hasn't Starfleet changed? Maybe they are not as reliable and trustworthy as we thought.”
Let's hope this shows us the positive side to navigate the present.
Star Trek: Picard starts on CBS full access January 23 in the US, and premieres on Amazon internationally from January 24.
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