‘Star Trek: Picard’ Showrunner Michael Chabon Responds To More Fan Questions, Plus Frakes Interviewed, And More

With Star Trek: Picard episodes now being released, there’s lots of activity in support of the series. We bring you the latest from around the web.

Chabon interacts with fans

Season 1 showrunner Michael Chabon has continued to have a refreshingly honest and open dialog with fans on his Instagram. There are two big concerns many fans have with Picard: the level of violence seen in Thursday’s episode, and the general feeling of darkness and lack of inspiring hope that we’ve come to expect from Trek. We’ve quoted his replies to the comments here.

Concerns about the level violence in Picard:

I am not unambivalent about the violence, myself. The choice was not made lightly, though it was made collaboratively, and therefore with a good deal of conversation and debate among the creators. And so I assure you that it is not there simply “because we can,” or because we are trying, as you somewhat uncharitably put it, to be “in.” My partners would all have their own reasons for its presence in this story, as some of us had our own reasons for shying away from it. For me, it came down to this: there has always been violence (and even torture) in Star Trek. Sometimes that violence has been implicit, sometimes explicit, according to the dictates of censorship, the nature of the situation being depicted, the aesthetic of individual creators, or technical and/or budgetary limitations. And the reason that there has always been violence in Trek is that Trek is art, and there has always been violence—implicit and explicit—in art. It belongs there. It belongs in any narrative about human beings, even human beings of the future. Violence, often, *is* the narrative. Its source. Its engine. The question of whether it’s “too much” or not is ultimately a matter of taste. Personally, I come out closer to the “less is more” end. But that is just me. In the end, I saw how little time and space we had to convey a sense of Seven’s history post-Voyager, and the things that drive and haunt her. I decided, with my partners, that intensity was warranted. Seven lives outside the rational confines of the Federation, because that is where she finds her sense of purpose. But life is hard, out there. If it wasn’t, people wouldn’t need her help so badly. And she wouldn’t have found such a compelling reason to carry on, in spite of her history of trauma. But, I hear you.

Trek and positivity (or lack thereof) and reflecting current times:

First of all, I think that the phrase (or a version of it) “Star Trek has always reflected its time” is open to multiple, potentially conflicting interpretations. It can mean, “Individual Star Trek series have always (consciously) reflected thematically many of the most pressing issues of the time when they were made.” I think that’s the sense intended by people involved with making the two current series, and it’s pretty obviously true—starting with persistent themes of nuclear annihilation, racial prejudice, mechanization, totalitarianism vs liberal democracy, on TOS, through DS9 with its themes of individual vs group identity, chosen family, reason vs faith, and the inevitable moral compromises of war. (That’s only the *conscious* ways in which Trek has reflected the times in which it was made.) But the phrase could also be taken the way (I think) you take it: that the world, the milieu depicted by Star Trek—the characters and their interactions, their capabilities and limitations as individuals, the social institutions and mores and technologies and economics and culture—reflects the world and era in which it was made. I think you’re saying that this is wrong, that here is exactly where Trek doesn’t, hasn’t. and *shouldn’t* reflect the world and times. That it has always presented its crews, Starfleet, and the Federation as improvements, as realizations of our best potential, as aspirational. If Trek has reflected our world, it’s in a kind of utopian funhouse mirror, where everything looks better. I would say that by and large that has been true, though possibly not as to the degree that many Trek fans claim, or feel. But there’s another side to the world—the people and society—depicted in Star Trek, which is all the characters, planets, cultures, mores and interactions that take place outside of Starfleet, the Federation. Many of these “outside” cultures and characters—the empires and alliances and unions— *have* deliberately reflected aspects of our world, with its all imperfection, intolerance, brutality, its humiliations and injustices, its evils. I don’t mean just in a thematic sense, but in the behavior of individual non-Federation, non-Starfleet characters, in the construction of societies around prejudices and inequalities, violence, lust for power, etc.

That brings us to Picard. In the one, long, ten-part story we’re telling, we’re asking two questions about the greater world of Star Trek (i.e, the Federation *and* everything outside the Federation). One—a venerable Star Trek question, with a long pedigree in previous series and films: What happens when the Federation, the Roddenberry Federation with all its enlightened and noble intentions, free from want, disease, (internal) war, greed, capitalism, intolerance, etc., is tested by forces inimical to its values? What happens when two of its essential principles; (security and liberty, say) come into conflict? The answer has to be—at first, it buckles. It wobbles. It may, to some extent, compromise or even betray its values, or at the very least be sorely tempted to do so. If not, there’s no point asking the question, though it’s a question that any society with aspirations like ours or the Federation’s needs to ask. If nothing can ever truly test the Federation, if nothing can rock its perfection, then it’s just a magical land. It’s Lothlorien, in its enchanted bubble, untouchable by the Shadow. And, also, profoundly *inhuman*. To me it’s the humanity of the Federation—which means among many admirable things, its imperfection, its vulnerability and the constant need to defend it from our own worst natures—that makes it truly inspiring. The other, related question we’re asking is: What about the people who live outside, at the edges (or even within) the Federation but who, for various reasons, aren’t quite *of* it. Ex-Starfleet officers, refugees, people like Seven who served on a Starfleet ship but was never actually in Starfleet. People who have fallen through the cracks, or fallen victim to their own weaknesses. What is life like for people who, for whatever reason, live beyond the benevolent boundaries of the Federation—where, for example, post-scarcity is a dream, and there is a monetary economy? Again, there is precedent for this kind of story on Trek, but the fact that our story only resolves over ten episodes, not one, or two, or four out of a season of 23, might make it feel, sometimes, that there is more darkness, more trauma in our characters’ lives. More *struggle.* This show unquestionably has darker tonalities than some others (DS9 is the standout exception). It lives more in the shadows, where the Federation’s light can’t always reach. That isn’t to condemn, criticize, undo, break or, god knows, betray the Federation or Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Shadow defines light.

Every new Trek series since TNG has sought to escape what can feel like the confines of previous series, not simply of canon (which can also be a strangely liberating force) but of the kinds of stories, about the kinds of characters and societies, that have already been told. Each new series has expressed this impulse to “light out for the territories” in a different way. TNG went a century into the future of TOS. DS9 went onto a station full of aliens that was both beyond the edge of the Federation and next to a wormhole that led to the Gamma Quadrant. VOY put 70k light-years between it and its predecessors, and introduced a raft of new species and worlds. ENT went deep into the early past of the Federation. Next season’s DIS goes to the Trek universe’s far-future.
The space we found for Picard is not “dark Federation.” It’s one of people who live and work at or beyond the margins of the Federation who travel beyond its boundaries to find the truth.

Michael Chabon takes a selfie while filming Picard season 1 at Vasquez Rocks. (source: Instagram michael.chabon)

Frakes interviewed

Jonathan Frakes directed the fourth and fifth episodes of the season, so he was interviewed by IGN about the fifth episode and his return to the screen as Riker later in the season.

Frakes, as the director of her first episodes, tried to help Jeri Ryan find Seven of Nine again:

Boy, with Jeri, she was struggling with the new quote-unquote ‘voice’ of Seven, which was written in a much different way than the heavily Borg-ified Seven of Nine. I addressed them as much as I could, but I turned her over to Michael Chabon, and the two of them came to a very productive collaboration on how Seven now behaved and spoke and reacted. Because she in many ways, the way Patrick owns Picard, she owns Seven of Nine. And Chabon was wonderfully receptive to her input.

Riker and Troi initially weren’t going to be in the show:

My understanding is that when the series was broken – meaning the first 10 episodes were broken in terms of story – there was no Riker, and that somewhere in the writing of the second half of the season, they found a way to include him. That’s how it’s been explained to me. Because when I was onboard, when I was doing 4 and 5, as a matter of fact … I knew Brent [Spiner] was there, obviously, because that was quite clear, because he was in the pilot, and I obviously had Jeri in my episodes, and Jonathan Del Arco. But I thought that was the extent of the callbacks to that era. So I was as surprised as you.

Riker and Troi were later additions to the season.

Behind the scenes

And a few from the previous episode too

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New episodes of Star Trek: Picard are released on CBS All Access in the USA on Thursdays. In Canada it airs Thursdays on CTV Sci-Fi Channel at 6PM PT /9PM ET and streams on Crave. For the rest of the world it streams Fridays on Amazon Prime Video. Episodes are released weekly.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Picard news at TrekMovie.

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HubcapDave

Good stuff. Goes a long way to counter that “lazy writing” narrative some like to ply.

Boze

Not really. Chabon’s INTENTIONS are worth precisely nothing if it doesn’t reflect in the actual show. As the former Russian PM Victor Chernomyrdin once said, “We had the best intentions, but it turned out as always.”

For example, Chabon says that they had little time to show Seven’s development post Voyager – but whose fault it is? Perhaps instead of wasting ten minutes on Datagirl jumping nonsensically all over some roof, they could’ve shown, I dunno – more Seven’s backstory, perhaps?

Also, what about all those weird and contrived premises, things like cloning androids, or a random junkie being allowed to set her trailer up at a unique scenic location (a national park, no less), or Borg parts black market, or Federation not having enough existing ships to provide humanitarian aid… or Romulans needing external help. Romulans are a galactic superpower; they have enough ships to evacuate themselves, or enough resources to BUILD those ships themselves, and there’s most certainly enough planets for them to evacuate to. Especially in Kurtz Trek universe with its near-instantaneous warp.

And hey, “post-scarcity is a dream”? How? There are readily available self-contained portable replicators, Starfleet has been seen handing them out like bread in previous (real Star Trek) shows. Suddenly they aren’t available, because reasons? That may be an acceptable plot point in Kirk’s era (Tarsus IV!), but not in Picard’s. Changing the established world to fit your ideas – isn’t that pretty much a textbook definition of lazy writing? :P

Olaf

Man, at first I was happy with Chabon’s remarks, and now, after reading your comment, again I’m not ;-)

Danpaine

“Not really. Chabon’s INTENTIONS are worth precisely nothing if it doesn’t reflect in the actual show.”

EXACT same thing I thought, Boze. In many ways I found his speech there more compelling than the actual storyline of Picard thus far. If it’s all that, why am I not hanging on the edge of my chair for the next episode(s)?

The guy is a deep thinker, I’ll give him that, but how much of that is translating to the screen?

TG47

Boze, not all materials can be replicated from nothing. Scarcity has always lurked behind the scenes in canon.

We had dilithium mines in TOS, and mining and extraction facilities for other rare elements in TNG.

Replicator are energy pigs and we’ve never been told energy is unlimited – some kind of tech is always needed to harness or generate energy.

Starfleet ships can use surplus energy from the warp-core, but prioritize in risk situations. We also saw in Voyager that when resupply is unavailable and sustained high-warp is needed, replication had to be rationed.

More, in beta-canon novels, replicators themselves are something that have to be built in both industrial and residential sizes. We’ve certainly seen in canon that replicators can fail and need repair and servicing.

Last, all this manufacturing requires the oversight and labour of sentient beings. Replicators are programmed and products are designed. Whether it’s recipes for blood pie or self-replicating mines, the new products don’t create themselves and new designs aren’t instantly available to all.

ML31

All very valid points. There are a lot of contrivances in this story to make the plot work. But as a viewer I am willing to overlook a few contrivances if the story and character journeys are intriguing enough. So far there are couple of characters I do find interesting but the story is sadly lacking. Also, part of the reason for the lack of fleshing out what happened to 7 post Voyager is mostly an effect of the short 10 episode season. But then, they could have told the story of the first three episodes in two and saved one to do a 7 flashback. I do like how they have weaved in the flashbacks. But there are still a number of show mapping decisions that so far, at least, leave a lot to be desired.

So yes, I happen to agree with the comments that what Chabon says here hasn’t really been reflected on screen too much.

Chill Collins

I appreciate the dude taking the time to post the reasoning behind his creative choices, but if this show is supposed to be so thoughtful and relevant then why is it a pastiche of cliches lifted from every other genre show that became popular over the last decade? Trek became stagnant in the 90’s and early 00’s but how is this meaningfully different?

edwet

It goes nowhere to help the situation at all. His excuses sound like schoolboy excuses for not doing homework.

Marcelo

Man when was the last time someone THAT thoughtful worked on Trek? What an unbelievably thoughtful and well-considered understanding of the show. You cannot – CANNOT – claim that these people don’t understand Star Trek if this is what the showrunner is saying.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! That is EXACTLY it. People can disagree with choices. People can’t say Chabon and co. are being reckless, lazy or don’t have a firm grasp on what Star Trek is.

Maybe not, but I can ask the question “They know what Star Trek is but they’re doing it wrong anyways?!?”

All I heard from Chabon is a bunch of fancy rationale for the mistakes they’re making.

They are not doing it wrong. They are bringing us new flavors without violating established fictional reality. Same thing that Piller did to insert conflict between main characters. If one can’t do it in a Starfleet vessel, one goes to the edge of Federation space.

TG47

Mistakes or different ideas about what makes good story and legitimate, if different interpretations of 50+ years of Trek canon?

PaulB

@Bryant – Exactly. For some reason some folks like to worship Chabon, but he’s just spewing long-winded hot air to cover lousy writing and bad ideas.

Jack

I’m willing to see where it goes. So far, I’m still intrigued. I don’t agree that these are bad ideas. There’ve always been problems/crime outside of the federation, and even in it. The whole point has always been that even when societies evolve, people, and organizations run by people, make mistakes and lose their way.

There have been some hokey/melodramatic/cheesy elements, sure — which may be more in the acting/direction than in the writing (Raffi’s son/the incest-y Romulan twins who just remind me of over-the-top Sela all the bad Mirror episodes/7’s gangster frenemy).

I get that some might not like it, but it’s definitely still Star Trek.

I still look forward to watching. And I’m glad this isn’t just TNG: The Next Generation. I’m a little worried about the upcoming Frakes/Sirtis stuff, though.

Daniel

Bravo!
This man understands Trek really good!

PEB

Do you know the showrunners? Do you have conversations with people who work on other Trek projects from the ground up? Just because Chabon posted this, don’t think others don’t care about what they’re working on just because it might not work for you or another fan. It’s the thing that always got under my skin when it came to Berman. I wasn’t a fan of a lot of decisions he made but some people acted as if he hated Star Trek or could’ve cared less about it. That’s a serious SERIOUS insult to someone who puts in a lot of time to what they do and very easy for someone sitting at home to post in a comments section. You probably didn’t even mean it that way, I just want people to stop and think about it a little bit. There’s been massive disrespect to the writers, producers and actors of Trek – especially Trek from Enterprise to present day.

Harry Ballz

It is very generous of Chabon to give such detailed answers. Especially intelligent nuanced ones. They obviously know their stuff, it’s simply a question of what they choose to depict on screen.

Michael Hall

You can like Picard while questioning some of the creative choices that have been made — on that last episode, in particular — as I have certainly done. You can hate the show. But you can’t tell me that its showrunner doesn’t know Star Trek, or understand Star Trek, or is just a hack who doesn’t even care about producing good Star Trek. If there is anyone on these boards who is as capable of speaking as passionately and eloquently on this subject as Michael Chabon just did, I have yet to encounter them, myself definitely included.

Cygnus-X1

Michael Hall

How much would you like this show without Patrick Stewart in it? I haven’t seen any really compelling comments made about the show. The most common opinion seems to be that it’s a little better than DSC, but not must-see. I even listened to a podcast here, hoping that it would pique my interest, but still felt ambivalent at the end of it. I’m going to get around to watching the pilot on YouTube one of these days.

Michael Hall

Since it’s the character of Picard that literally drives the narrative of the show (though it doesn’t exclusively focus on him), that’s like asking “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Frankly, your question would make more sense with respect to TNG.

My guess is that you would hate it. Best stick with The Orville. :-)

Cygnus-X1

Michael Hall

Well, I didn’t mean how would “Picard” be without the Picard character, per se. I was asking you to try to separate your fondness for the actor, Patrick Stewart, which stems back decades, from the other appeals of the show, “Picard.” In other words, how much of the appeal is due to nostalgia and getting to spend time with a great actor that we have fond memories about dating back more than 30 years. How good is the show apart from Stewart?

And since I’m not subscribing to Hulu, I’ll no longer be following “The Orville” on a regular basis. Honestly, the show wasn’t good enough to make me add another subscription service. I liked the unpredictability of it, but was just as annoyed by the hackneyed writing. That two-parter, where Isaac goes from Ex Machina AI to robot with a heart of gold after having his non-existent heart-strings tugged by a doe-eyed child, made me lose a fair amount of respect for the show and lowered my expectations of where its high water mark is likely to be going forward. I might get around to subscribing for a month to binge Season 3, or not. I’ve got a lengthy queue of movies and shows to watch as it is and only so much time each week to do it in. NBC’s new BSG series is what I’m most excited about at this point. Though, I’m tempering my expectations based on it being an NBC show. I have little faith in the ability of the old TV networks to produce thoughtful, visionary content at this point. Though, I remain open to the possibility.

ML31

Speaking for myself, and admittedly I am in the minority on this opinion, I would like this story probably exactly the same if there was no Picard in it. I don’t hate him here (although he is still save for some things that come from age still the same person he was 20 years ago) but he’s not making the show any better either. My main issue is he remains nearly the least interesting person in the cast. He doesn’t seem to be working through any kind of issue. He’s not on a personal journey to help him become a better person. He’s already the better person. So I don’t find him intriguing at all. Now Rios and Rafi… Those two are seriously damaged and will be interesting to see what direction they grow in as well as the reasons behind what made them the people we know now.

And for the record, none of that could be said about anyone on Discovery, except Lorca before the, you know…

TG47

Agreed.

I really appreciate in particular knowing that the graphic depiction of violence was a point of serious debate.

Michael Hall

And just for the record, I would have been on the side of the debate that lost.

Marja

Me too

DeanH

Me three… and probably a lot of us regulars on this site. But the explanation is appreciated and as I suspected, it is used to justify Seven’s vigilante ranger life and her execution of Bjazel. As I said on another story thread, TNG Conspiracy also used gore when they destroyed the parasite mother-creature in Commander Remmick. IMO that was completely useless, one of the worst episodes they ever did and I am glad that type of graphic violence never re-appeared in TNG (although the torture scenes from Chain of Command were pretty tough to take, but essential to the story) I’ve calmed down from last week and am looking forward to E6 on Thursday.

tony

actually the other gory ‘trek’ ep was Voy’s ‘cold fire’ when kes boiled tuvok’s blood.

tony

the UK banned screenings of some OS eps during the 70s, 80s as they thought shows like ’empath’ and ‘miri’ were too violent.

kmart

I thought STARLOG reported that the UK, like parts of Texas, only banned shows that had aspects of ‘possession’ like RETURN TO TOMORROW. I know the banning in US did not extend to B&C, which is among the most violent eps, because that show represented Christian values triumphing or similar mealy-mouthed nonsense.

ML31

Tony… That is the social thing that seems to differ from Europe to the US. The simplistic version is for some reason the US is OK with violence yet anything sexual is frowned upon. It’s reversed on the other side of the Atlantic.

kmart

The gore wasn’t the problem with CONSPIRACY, it was that they switched in development from it being a 7 DAYS IN MAY story to one where the subversion was caused by aliens — and compounded that by never picking up on the threat. The first half of CONSPIRACY has a real edge to it that I love — if they hadn’t fallen prey to GR’s utopianism it might have been a near-classic (as near as they could get with s1 TNG, which for me still has very little to recommend it outside of HEART OF GLORY and the diluted but still good parts in WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE, which is like an infant school version of Diane Duane’s excellent novel THE WOUNDED SKY.

DeanH

Very interesting, yes I agree that the first half of Conspiracy was very good and had a lot of potential. If Gene did not like internal conflict at Starfleet Command (which most can agree he probably would have detested), no wonder the storyline went down hill and drove off a cliff at the end. That said, I still can hear my Dad asking “how can you watch that garbage!!?” after Riker and Picard phasored Commander Remmick’s skull. That was my Dad’s first and last episode of Star Trek.

ML31

We agree that ‘Heart of Glory’ was by leaps and bounds the best episode of that first season. It remains among the top episodes of the entire series for me.

ML31

I had no problem with the goo level in the episode. That said if it were toned back I probably would not have cared either. So I am not bothered either way on the subject.

But I also want to add that I have no issue with gore in fictional stories as I KNOW it is all faked. But show me REAL stuff… And I am completely put off. I am squeamish just watching people get shots on screen! Mrs ML31 watches Survivor (and I will watch with her often) and I cannot stand it when they show the players with the most disgusting bug bites and scabs and puss filled cysts. They show all that but God forbid someone’s butt crack make it on air! Nope. Gotta pixel that stuff out. (eyeroll)

bassmaster22

Bingo. Picard as a character has not brought anything to the story that couldn’t have been swapped out by an old man you’ve never heard of before.

I strongly disagree. I have trouble of conceiving a version of the show that’s MORE Picardy. From his relationship with Data, his attempts to make peace with the Romulans, and his brush with the Borg all tightly woven into his motivations. And my favorite element of the new show, his assurity as captain having metastasized into unchecked arrogance and self-righteousness, and now learning the humility that comes with failure and aging. It’s not a perfect show, for sure, but it’s very Picardy.

Jack

@MH Agreed.

Elrond

I agree with the previous four posters. What thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful comments! One can disagree with specific artistic or dramatic decisions, of course, but it would be churlish to claim that the writing for Picard is ill-considered. Thanks to MC for his transparency.

Tiger2

Exactly! It may not be what people wanted or hoped for but its silly to say this direction hasn’t been been debated to death. And as I been saying, NOTHING we have seen in these five episodes of Picard is new, we’ve seen it allll before even if I understand people wanted a more ‘uplifting’ show and my guess is that will happen by the end of it. That be the end of this season or the show in general, who knows.

DeanH

Once again, totally justifiable to tell Seven’s story. The only issue I have is once again related to TNG’s use of gore in the episode Conspiracy. Back in 1988, my late Dad decided that he would pull up a chair and see what this new Star Trek show was all about. Let’s just say that was the first and LAST episode of Star Trek he ever saw. He asked me, how I could watch “that garbage!” and I really didn’t have much of an answer for him. I hope the producers of Picard realize they probably lost SOME new viewers last week. Let’s all hope that it wasn’t very many.

Cmd.Bremmon

It’s too bad the TNG universe is just so boring and nonsensical you have to throw out the basic premise just to make a show watchable. I feel for Charbon; give that guy Pike and the 1701 or Discovery post fall of the TNG Federation where imperfect people have to work and want to learn again.

Tiger2

I just LOVE seeing those pictures of Frakes and Stewart together again, just hanging out. I swear I never thought I would ever see that again and yet here we are. :)

And I love SO much of what Chabon said here. I agree with nearly all of it. I especially like what he said here:

“What about the people who live outside, at the edges (or even within) the Federation but who, for various reasons, aren’t quite *of* it. Ex-Starfleet officers, refugees, people like Seven who served on a Starfleet ship but was never actually in Starfleet. People who have fallen through the cracks, or fallen victim to their own weaknesses. What is life like for people who, for whatever reason, live beyond the benevolent boundaries of the Federation—where, for example, post-scarcity is a dream, and there is a monetary economy?”

EXACTLY! I love these types of stories in Star Trek, where we see people who are technically a part of the Federation but still doesn’t feel like they are truly part of it and/or has become disillusioned by it, even in the ‘Utopian’ 24th century. We have seen this before and I agree what Chabon is driving at, that the Federation is not perfect and we are seeing people who either abandoned by the Federation or felt abandoned by it and don’t buy into the shiny beacon of light others see it as. Again, we have seen it before. This scene goes exactly to what he’s talking about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy5jAixHhSA

That’s why I love this show so much! Its funny on another thread someone commented how much they hated the Maquis story line and that’s literally the reason why I love it so much. Until then we never saw just regular citizens questioning the Federation. We seen people struggle in it, but never just turned their backs on it. I love the ideals of the Federation but no its not perfect and not everyone WANTS to be in it. And then there are people who simply can’t follow all its high value rules and orders, so what happens to people like them? This idea of ‘utopia’ has always been a false one and why I never considered it one in either the 23rd or 24th century. And not everyone WANTS to live that way even if it was and why Eddington’s words rings more true today over 20 years later.

I think that’s why I’m completely onboard with what we are seeing in Picard even if its execution can be stronger. The Federation has ALWAYS had its struggles and division, we just rarely saw it outside of things like the Maquis. But its always been there and that’s what we are seeing now since the Romulus and Mars crisis.

DeanH

I too love those behind the scenes shots that impart the sense of fun and cast camaraderie that does not necessarily come across in front of the cameras. I think the producers, writers and directors could add some of that to both Picard and Discovery.

Tiger2

Yeah it brings up so many memories of TNG and we know how authentic it is because the cast is so close to each other even now. TNG probably had the rockiest start out of all the shows but it seem to have created the biggest friendships in the franchise. It’s really nice to see it as fans.

PEWDIEPICARD

Sisko was such a badass. Every DS9 story line was fantastic.

On another note. I do understand that beyond the Federation the galaxy is rife with conflict, it is, as you said, the execution which I have a problem with and the deconstruction of characters in a manner that doesn’t necessarily befit the character. People change, but everyone changing so drastically is a stretch. I think the way DS9 handled the world outside the Federation was done, like I’ve said on other comments, with a subtlety that allowed you to feel the impact and understand the nuance. This was done by solid stories and great actors. It just seems like these new shows just provide shallow fan service over actual substance…I don’t really care about a bottle of Romulan Ale or Quarks Bar on Freecloud. I care about the people and the politics. That might just be me.

Tiger2

That’s totally fair man! I can’t disagree much. DS9 was really on another level and what (maybe my expectations were too high lol) I was hoping this show could capture. But its still early and it took awhile for DS9 to get to the level that it did IMO. And yes Sisko was the ultimate badass lol. And he was NOT kidding when he said he was going to do everything in his power to get Eddington!

As for Picard, I do like the direction of the story and basic nature of the universe that’s being presented, because that’s ALWAYS been the nature of it and it was nice to show a little more of it through Seven. I know some have problems with her characterization here, but I don’t have those issues at all. I really like where they put her, how she has evolved and that she did take away some things living on Voyager all that time. She has achieved her humanity back but still struggles with it.

And frankly I’m just happy they didn’t go the ‘obvious’ way with her and tied her story to the Borg story line which I’m guessing most of assumed why she was there.

But I am just generally happy being back in this era of Star Trek, so I’m staying patient and hoping the second half is a lot stronger and really start get the story going at this point.

kmart

I thought Sisko never should have ‘got’ Eddington, in part because I was always on Eddington’s side and in part because I have never forgiven Sisko for wrecking that planet, or Dax for acting like the whole thing was a joke with her comment about sometimes liking to root for the bad guy. If I was going to let her get away with that comment, it would only work if she was referring to Garak (who for me is the real badass of DS9, but one with something like a conscience — a level of complexity Sisko only approaches while IN THE PALE MOONLIGHT.

Tiger2

I would’ve been fine if Sisko never caught Eddington either but that guy became waaaay too obsessed over it lol. I too was partly on Eddington’s side but because he did it under Sisko’s nose who Sisko trusted so much I can’t blame him for taking it so personally. I still remember how big of a shock it was to find out Eddington was part of the Maquis because how loyal he came off to Starfleet. It was an amazing twist (take notes Discovery).

Yeah Sisko poisoning a planet probably did take it too far but the guy was obsessed. I don’t remember the line Dax said though.

ML31

Well… I likened how Sisko felt about Eddington to how George Washington felt about Benedict Arnold. Washington felt personally attacked by Arnold’s betrayal. Immediately after Arnold was discovered Washington had orders that Arnold was a high priority target and he wanted to personally watch Arnold hang. He made multiple attempts to get him back through prisoner exchanges even after Arnold was shipped back to England (even the Britsh didn’t fully trust turncoats) but the British would not give him up.

ML31

That scene, for me at least, showcases why DS9 was easily the best of the spinoffs. I was not really a huge fan of the maquis storyline on TNG. But DS9 took a weak story and turned it into something interesting.

Tiger2

The Maquis story line was basically DS9’s story. It started on that show and they had about a dozen episodes dealing with them. They were literally only in one episode on TNG, when Ro joined them. That was also the final episode of the series before All Good Things.

ML31

It’s been a while but I thought the Maquis story started on TNG with the Ensign Ro episode. In fact, Kira was originally written to be Ro from what I recall. But the actress couldn’t/wouldn’t do it so the part was changed.

Charles Roig

There’s a few things going on in your comment, let’s try to sort them out:
TNG Season 4 episode The Wounded introduced the Cardassians. TNG Season 5 episode introduced Ensign Ro, the Bajorans, and their relationship to the Cardassians, as a seed for the setting of DS9. Ensign Ro was conceived and Michelle Forbes was cast as a possible cast member for DS9. Michelle Forbes eventually did not want to join a regular series, so Ensign Ro did not jump to DS9 as planned and Kira was conceived as a replacement.
During season 2 of DS9 and season 7 of TNG, the concept of the Maquis was conceived for the backstory of Voyager. TNG first had the last Wesley episode Journey’s End to introduce the treaty and what was happening on the colony worlds. DS9 had the two-parter Maquis episode that fully fleshed out the conflict. TNG then returned to the story with Ensign Ro’s last appearance where she joined them in Premptive Strike. Then DS9 later continued with the Maquis arc, notably with the Eddington character, and finally Voyager premiered with the half Maquis crew.

ML31

My head is spinning. I tuned out after the first few sentences. Sorry. From what I recall Ensign Ro showed up before DS9 ever aired an episode. I could confirm this by looking stuff up but I really don’t feel like doing homework at the moment. Maybe another time.

Charles R

Eh, Ro premiered about a year before Ds9, then disappeared for a year, then made her final appearance a few months after DS9’s first Maquis episode.

VZX

The Q&A on Chabons Instagram comments reminded me of the old “Ask Ron Moore” boards on AOL back in the 90s. Those were the days! I got to talk to Moore, and Braga sometimes, a lot back then. So it’s really nice that Chabon is continuing this Trek tradition!

Tiger2

Well Bob Orci has been doing the same thing right here on this board. He’s the only Star Trek producer/writer I ever got to talk to as well. And its sad some people here treated the guy so badly when he was willing to come and talk to people and answer questions about the movies. I like that Chabon is doing the same thing but sadly, and I truly mean this, he may have second thoughts doing it if the tide turns fast and people start to turn really ugly if the show doesn’t come out the way they see it in their heads.

Michael Hall

Well, in his defensiveness Orci could get pretty damned ugly himself. As a critic of Trek 2009 I jousted with him frequently on these boards but it never got personal until he insinuated that the late Roger Ebert was too high on his cancer meds to appreciate his movie. That was beyond the pale, and frankly, I can’t imagine Michael Chabon ever saying such a thing.

Tiger2

Well no doubt he got a little combative lol, but mostly because so many were nasty to him. And I never heard of the Ebert exchange and yes that is going below the belt for sure! I’m not saying he should have been nasty others but its just human nature and people can get defensive, especially when people are calling you a hack right to your face. As I always say, you can be critical AND civil at the same time. I don’t understand why so many can’t just say what they want without tearing someone down in the process? And remember Orci has been doing this for years. Chabon just a few weeks now. We’ll see if the good nature spirit keeps up.

And of course I’m not saying he will turn rude or anything, simply may just realize its too many trolls to deal with and stop bothering beyond posting a behind-the-scenes pic or something. Can you imagine him trying to have these conversations on Youtube? Man would probably want to throw himself off a building after a few days of that lol.

But its why I don’t blame others for even trying sadly.

Michael Hall

Well, I’m pleased to say that never once did I call Roberto Orci a hack, or imply that he raped my childhood. I did (and still do) think that he and his partners wrote a very trite script for Trek 2009, derivative of every genre imaginable except that of good cinematic science fiction. It was the first time I’d ever tussled publicly with a Trek creative, and I took no satisfaction at all in the experience.

Mirroring the larger culture, of course things have gotten only more polarized and impolite online since then. Truly, there is no rage like nerd rage. The best thing you can say about Star Trek fandom these days is that it isn’t STAR WARS fandom.

VZX

It has become worse over time. I do not remember the “Ask Ron Moore” boards ever being so vile. Again, it was 25 years ago, but we were always civil and appreciative of Ron taking the time to answer our questions back then. We joked with him, but it felt like we were all buds at a bar just messing with each other. It’s not the mean-spirited mud-slinging you see nowadays. In fact, I once compared DS9 to Melrose Place and Ron seemed to get a kick out of it.

Anyway, Chabon reminds me of Ron Moore very much in the way he answers the fan questions as a Trek fan himself, but also as a writer that is very knowledgeable and educated of the larger world.

tony

the ‘trek’ movies at that point had never been ‘ good cinematic science fiction’
they had fallen into formula with a ‘madman with a weapon wanting revenge’ ever since ‘khan.
the 2009 movie at least broadened the franchise out of the niche ‘nemesis’ left it in 2002.

kmart

I would hazard that the cancer meds would cause him to appreciate the movie too much, far much more than it deserved. Ebert was nearly always coming down in favor of SF stuff, even stuff most critics trashed, and I recall Ellison’s disbelief (which I shared) over Ebert even liking SPACEBALLS. If he didn’t like the 09, then kudos, because that was definitely a minority view. I still am not sure what everybody else was smoking when they ate that movie up — 09 and the Craig CASINO ROYALE have still got to be the most overrated movies of that whole decade — which is saying a lot, given the MATRIX sequels and ATTACK OF THE CLONES. About the only good takeaway I have on either is that I managed to not see them in a theater, so I didn’t have to walk out on them both.

bassmaster22

“Dark Federation” is exactly what it is. Everything we’ve seen of federation characters drip with contempt, duplicity and deceit. Picard has provided zero confirmation to the contrary. But, hey, lap up these answers. Here’s that hubris in action: “Roddenberry’s vision can’t possible exist without the what we’re doing here” is essentially the message. Yep, that’s how questionable actions are justified.

tony

OS, TNG had lots of fed/starfleet officers, officials who did not measure up to the ideals kirk and picard’s crews held to in their time on the enterprise.
it no surprise things have slipped further without picard and riker et al around.

bassmaster22

PS – Can I get a “Make Star Trek Great Again” hat for the person in the pic who felt necessary to broadcast her politics into the workplace that day? That hat doesn’t exactly bring the concept of inclusion onto the set.

Legate Damar

They discussed it somewhere else. That hat isn’t what it looks like. I can’t remember what it says, but its not a MAGA hat.

Tiger2

The hat says Make America Gay Again! ;)

ML31

So it’s only inclusion if you don’t include everyone?

Phil

Yes, the Federation can battle dark forces from its fringes or from outside, BUT the plot device of a nefarious 5th column within Starfleet is becoming a tired trope. In Disco you have the whole Section 31 arc; in Picard you have the scheming Starfleet Intelligence chief; in the upcoming Section 31 series the title says it all. If the writers are putting spies or bad actors within Starfleet, I guess that you can use that device once in one series, but please don’t keep using it over and over again. Lazy writing.

Michael Hall

Well, since none of the details of the “evil Starfleet” aspect of the story have anywhere near played-out that seems to me a pretty lazy criticism. (Or, at least, premature.) But to each, his own.

Pleaseletmecritique

Don’t forget to Incest relationship on the Borg Cube! And I’m not complaining about what the female romulan/vulcan/whatever is wearing, it would be hipocritial since no one minded 7 of 9s catsuit. But MY GOD…the acting and the script…. *groan*

tony

better that than stating the whole institute is in disrepute.

Dr. Image

If only they put as much thought into the scripts as he did doing the MASSIVE amount of transparent, and frankly laughable, spin/damage control here, we’d have a decent series. LOL

Pleaseletmecritique

Agreed! Anyone who has to write THAT much to explain…doth protests too much! I would like to thank him for ST: Picard. I just sat down with my daughter to watch Episode 5 and we loved the first scene of an eye ball being ripped out, followed by a glow-hot drill about to go into someones skull before we watch her childhood hero murder 20 people and shoot someone with TWO phasor rifles at point blank range turning the protagonist into red mist. The blood, screaming, torture….was so inspiring! I have to buy her the Hasbro Borg Torture Playset for Christmas (lifted from Nerdrotic’s twitter).

MysticalDigtial

Seven didn’t murder 20 people.

Pleaseletmecritique

Indeed! Doth protest too much…. Anyone getting their kids the Hasbro Borg Tor-ture Set for Christmas?

TG47

You’re not going to get many of us who are willing to engage with you Pleasletmecritique if you’re just here to quote YouTubers.

Is it really such an affront to you that many of the longtime participants in this board welcome Chabon’s willingness to engage with fans and are doing our best to have a measured discussion?

Pleaseletmecritique

So much for tolerance. And what makes you think the youtube wasn’t quoting me? (it was twitter, anyway) haha – Anyway, the point stands, the gratuitous violence is being critiqued. Respond to that.

Chabon has basically said the narrative choices was because they didn’t have a lot of time to flesh out Seven of Nines motivations for her mass murdering in the last scene….. they didn’t have a lot of time…whoes fault was that?

Michael Hall

Yeah, the guy couldn’t possibly be sincere in what he has to say, because he has the effrontery to be making a show you don’t like. The author of THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION is not only incompetent, but a fraud as well. In case anyone was wondering, this is what is meant by “toxic fandom.”

TG47

Thanks Michael Hall.

I could be wrong, but it seems like we have yet another new poster dropping in just to make sure there’s a sufficient high venom content in the upper section of this thread.

Pleaseletmecritique

This raises an interesting point. I have been careful to not drop any swear words in my point, make negative personal comments to other posters who disagree with me, and I am not emotional or fuming or dripping at the mouth when I voice my problems with the show. I don’t believe I am being venomous…but let’s say I was. Let’s say I did use bad language, made lazy assertians or attacks without explaining them…could I justify this the same way Chabon did? I don’t have enough time to flesh out character motivations so I will go for the short sharp shock…. I don’t have enough time to explain the motivations or characters of the people that our heroes disagree with…so I’ll dress them up in black leather, sunglasses and just make them evil. If we accept lazy venom from the TV show, how can we not accept it in discussions of the show?

Anyway, my critique is very simple. Not that New-Trek has no right to be dark and gritty….I thoroughly enjoy the Expanse and Altered Carbon…but if you compare the writing, editing and general story arc to what New Trek is producing, you feel….short changed as a Trekkie. Some people are just angry its not “star trek” anymore. I say to them…your star trek still exists…you can still go back to watch Wrath of Khan and Measure of a Man…it isn’t gone. But to the people that won’t allow critique…ask yourself this, would you let your kids watch Star Trek Picard? And if they can’t watch Picard, Altered Carbon or Expanse…what quality Science Fiction is there to inspire young kids…wasn’t Star Trek supposed to be that?

Falco

Black leather? You are talking about Sloan from DS9?

As for kids and ST… Each series had a dozen or more episodes that weren’t appropriate for kids. So even if you sit down with your kid to watch TNG you are not totally safe from explicit violence, same with DS9, VOY and ENT. TNG had an outright horror episode Genesis! Do you think it’s appropriate to watch that one with your kids? Do you think it’s ok to show them how Barclay looks like in that episode?

But you know what’s different this time? After 50 years, for the first time we are getting a Star Trek show that is specifically designed for kids. Unlike, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT and TOS, you will be perfectly safe to watch that new show with your kids and wouldn’t have to worry because you won’t see someone’s head blown of and an alien comes out of his open chest, you wouldn’t see a dismembered Borg drones piled up on top of each other, you wouldn’t see a crew member of the Enterprise found dead in the hallway that dematerialized into the floor from his chest down, or you won’t see person dematerialize into a pile of goo and scream in pain during the process…

So please, stop with the “I can’t watch this with my kids”. Yes, you shouldn’t, but there is a Star Trek kids show coming soon which you will also hate and refuse to watch because it’s not the 90s anymore. We get it.

ML31

Falco, I tend to side with you on the “I can’t watch this with my kids” stuff. Sure, my kid is older but when he was 10 he would have LOVED that gory scene. I would have had no problem with him seeing it because he was well adjusted enough to know it was all fake TV stuff. My kid is not an idiot. He knows what is real and what is fake. And if he was young enough where such things might be confusing to him then quite frankly he was too young to understand what he was watching to begin with. I swear people today think kids are made of potato chips. It’s probably why there are so many maladjusted teenagers and young adults out there today.

Falco

ML31, that’s a healthy discussion to have, both with the kids and among us as fan of the franchise. It most likely comes down to the environment you are brought in. For example, here in Europe it’s much more acceptable to show nudity on TV, it is seen as something that is natural as opposed to violence. From my understanding, in the US is the other way around.

But some fans are really crossing the line proclaiming this is not Star Trek because X, Y or Z.

Everything that we’ve seen so far in PIC has been part of ST for 50+ years. We can debate whether this was the right aspect of ST that they wanted to focus the show on, but we as consumers are forgetting that Michael Chabon and everybody behind Star Trek are storytellers. And they decided to tell us this story. Whether we’ll be on board for to “hear” their story will come down to the quality, not on someone’s personal checklist of what Star Trek is about.

I bet half of those who cry foul would rather want to have 5 new shows of the quality of ENT because it checks a lot of boxes, as opposed to a well written adult drama that decides to ask tough questions and also shows a different aspect of the ST universe.

I sure have issues with this show, but I’m not demolishing it, because if you go down that path you can demolish anything that was ever created. There is no such thing as perfect show, movie, book… Everything has its flaws, it’s just sad that some fans don’t accept it and celebrate that ST is alive and kicking. But it’s their choice. “Their” Star Trek will have 6 shows, “mine” has 8 and counting.

kmart

I’ve only seen ep1, but it looks like everybody agrees the show is having a very slow run-up … with that in mind, why did they not have enough time to build up into 7’s act? Because they held back on intro’ing her too long?

It seems like when you have 8 or 10 hours to do a single story, you can often get very pedantic (witness a couple of the lesser seasons of BOSCH, where they seem to include every unimportant aspect from particular novels), so rather than go that route, do a shorter season and tell the narrative with appropriate drive. I gotta say, most of these self-contained seasons from the last decade and more are not getting rewatches out of me, and they are not triggering me to purchase them either. At some point, that latter part is going to factor into programming decisions — it should have already. Unless Netflix and Amazon and the other streamers are just going to be content with ‘must see – then forget’ viewing, that is.

TG47

Pleaseletmecritique, if you had been following this board for any time, you would know that I’m both the parent of middle-graders and someone who watched Trek in first-run as a child.

So, I spend a fair bit of space on this board reflecting on the challenges of watching Trek with our kids; from TOS and TAS through 90s Trek to Discovery and Picard.

We might share a common concern, but by quoting a extreme statement from the Twitter of a YouTuber well-known to promote false rumours about Trek, you lost me in the first post.

That’s not my shutting out different views. It’s taking a stand for the kind of civility you claim to want from Trek.

What a jerk.

kmart

Three syllables makes an informed reply? I’d say the pot is calling the kettle black, but somebody might be a jerk and think I am racist for saying so.

Philk

Well said. He’s clearly so well spoken and nuanced in his responses, yet we get a rehash of 2010 cliches on the screen. All talk.
It’s certainly better than discovery, which I had to stop watching halfway through season two despite sincerely trying to like it.
This show isn’t Star Trek as defined by its worldview, no matter his protestations, but it’s good enough to keep watching for Stewart, if nothing else.
Certainly no one will be binging this show in 25 years.

Webguest

Here are my thoughts on the Utopia discussion:
It is true that Trek always used to reflect current issues.

But I’d say that a key difference between TNG and new Trek is that “old Trek” used a formula of projecting real-world issues onto extraterrestrial settings, thus making them easier to stomach from the safe outside viewpoint of “us” in an utopian future, as in a classic fable. It made for lighter viewing with the message wrapped in a coat of escapism and the comforting and inspiring assurance that all will be well in an awe-inspiring future. It used a narrative trick of detachment from this reality in order to look back at it from a place of ease, while balancing challenging story elements with the positive element of a hope-inspiring and reassuring utopia – kind of a guaranteed happy ending. Through that trick it sort of melded together the contradictory elements of escapism and inspiration to address real-world issues. What it tells us about ourselves is that even though there are challenges now, we will get there. I would say that the reason why some fans enjoy Orville more is because it sticks more to that classic formula.

While in this new Trek, real-world issues are also being projected onto the Federation itself (the key example being the Federation’s decision to stop helping Romulans). As soon as reality gets mirrored in an imperfect Federation, this makes for a very different kind of message about ourselves, the new message being that we must keep struggling to defend our utopia. And, if we are struggling now and still struggling hundreds of years from now on, that achievements will be transient in nature and defending them a kind of sisyphean labor, with struggles never ending. Which is possibly more realistic, but frankly quite a downer and much less fit for escapism. It does not allow for the same kind of respite from our reality that the old Trek did, because it is too close for comfort to reality. Miring the Federation itself in troubles takes away the permanent happy ending of the Trek of old, and thereby one of the most powerful elements in storytelling. We need to believe in the possibility of a happy ending in order to effect change. The outlook to a possible happy ending also makes a difference between feeling helpless or believing in our power to change situations.

I am not saying that showrunners should repeat the classic formula. It’s an interesting question whether more complex times also require different ways of storytelling. But I am trying to explain as best I can, with reference to narrative, perspective and identification, what I find to be different and possibly at the heart of the fan feeling that utopia, hope and inspiration are being missed. To me, the question that ST Picard still has to answer is by what means a story that challenges the Federation itself can still inspire hope or acceptance in our time. I guess a psychologist well versed in depressive versus constructive thought patterns would have to say a thing or two about it.

So this was long. What do you think?

GarySeven

That was a thoughtful, perceptive, and well-written post. Thank you.
I do Appreciate Mr. Chabon’s thoughtful and knowledgeable response, and his taking time to talk with the fans. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with his conclusions.
After deep space nine and Star Trek discovery, Star Trek does not need another dark version of the Federation and our future. In times of darkness we need more light, not more darkness. We need as you say positive examples an inspiration. Things to aim for. That is what Martin Luther King told Nichelle Nichols when she wanted to quit TOS. He told her that the images on the screen permeate the culture for the good -and the bad -And Star Trek was for the highest good, as she paraphrased him.
Mr. Chabon’s response, to me, continues to justify more darkness. By removing a positive Federation, we have removed the light we need and the inspiration we need, as Martin Luther King recognized in Star Trek. I don’t think many people could rationally argue that our times call for More darkness and more examples of deceitful, cynical, untrustworthy characters. We need the opposite- now more than ever.

Pleaseletmecritique

I agree. And I would add to this, that his justifications for the story choices, especially Seven of Nines arc from Voyager to Vigilante were weak “We had very little time to…” – whose choice was that? If you don’t have time to write a proper arc, don’t try and shove one in their, using shock and impressive visuals to mask it. This is why Star Trek as a serial doesn’t work, you need better writers and for some reason, CBS hasn’t been able to get the people in who can write a coherent story from Episode 1- Epsiode X

German Trekkie

“It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will not reach our ultimate goal. The effort itself yields its own reward.”

tony

no, picard is back to put the fed/starfleet on course again.
out of the darkness will come light.

I think you’re dead on. And I guess we can have both now. We can have a kind of pinky Federation world, with the suchs of Lower Decks, for instance, and we can have mature, struggling Federation, with stuff like Picard, and Discovery. One important thing in this new age of Trek is to diversify. So they should diversify between the two models that you so well have described. I’d bet Pike show and Lower Decks will have more of that “comfort food” vibe.

Locutus

Well, one things for sure, Chabon is a heck of a writer, as these answers attest.

Clearly. Maybe his actual episodes will show evidence of it at some point.

Vulcan Soul

Tee hee Bryant, don’t be too hard on the kids ;)

As for lemmings’ cry that fandom has never been so toxic and vile before, well, Trek has never been as toxic and vile either! The nastiness they put out on the screen now, that is totally not normal anymore, so in best progressivist fashion, let’s not normalize it either!

I’m already half way out as I can’t be bothered to be pulled down by this juvenile nihilistic drek anymore, so don’t miss me on this horror trip!

Yistaan

All this emphasis on Maddox and even Hugh on the show makes Geordi’s absence more glaring. Geordi would want to be part of his friend Data’s legacy. Geordi might even be angry Picard didn’t tell him about Soji and Dahj. A big deal of Hugh’s friendship with Geordi was made that seemingly went nowhere.

Picard showrunners said they wanted to bring TNG characters who were organic to the storyline. We’re 5 episodes in and I can’t see why Riker and Troi being in the show make more sense than Geordi.

Try them looking for Troi to untangle crucial information from Ramdha’s mind, or even Jurati’s.

ML31

That would be very long odds. It was SUPER rare when Troi did or said anything useful or worthwhile.

Marcelo

Which is why someone like Chabon might be interested in giving Troi more to do. It would be a nice opportunity for Sirtis to flex her chops as well, and she’d probably welcome having that kind of role.

ML31

But as something to advance the plot it makes monumentally little sense. If that was the case you’d think one of our motley crew might know a Vulcan who might be willing to do it rather than rely on someone whose main contribution in 15 years of episodes and movies was “He’s hiding something but I can’t tell what.”

GarySeven

Mr. Chabon,
First of all, thank you for taking the time to address the fans with your thoughtful response. You don’t have to talk to us, and therefore I really appreciate it.
That does not mean, however, that I must agree with your reasoning and your conclusions. I was thinking about what you said, and my response is below your quote.

“What happens when the Federation, the Roddenberry Federation with all its enlightened and noble intentions, free from want, disease, (internal) war, greed, capitalism, intolerance, etc., is tested by forces inimical to its values? What happens when two of its essential principles; (security and liberty, say) come into conflict? The answer has to be—at first, it buckles. It wobbles. It may, to some extent, compromise or even betray its values, or at the very least be sorely tempted to do so. If not, there’s no point asking the question, though it’s a question that any society with aspirations like ours or the Federation’s needs to ask. If nothing can ever truly test the Federation, if nothing can rock its perfection, then it’s just a magical land. It’s Lothlorien, in its enchanted bubble, untouchable by the Shadow. And, also, profoundly *inhuman*. To me it’s the humanity of the Federation—which means among many admirable things, its imperfection, its vulnerability and the constant need to defend it from our own worst natures—that makes it truly inspiring.”

My thoughts:
After DS9 and Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek does not need another dark version of the Federation and our future. In times of darkness, like we have now, we need more light, not more darkness. We need positive examples, an inspiration, things to aim for. That is what Martin Luther King told Nichelle Nichols when she wanted to quit TOS. He told her that the images on the screen “permeate the culture for the good -and the bad -And Star Trek was for the highest good”, as she paraphrased him.
Your response, while thoughtful, continues to justify more darkness. By removing a positive Federation, we have removed the light we need and the inspiration we need, as Martin Luther King recognized in Star Trek. I don’t think many people could rationally argue that our times call for More darkness and more examples of deceitful, cynical, untrustworthy characters. We need the opposite- now more than ever.
Another point I wanted to add is Gene Roddenberry did not feel that we must demonstrate cynical, deceitful, revenge-laden characters (so many in the last episode), to portray the “constant need to defend it from our own worst natures- that makes it truly inspiring.” He was able to make an enduring pop culture phenomena by showing inspiring people doing inspiring things. By showing uninspiring people doing uninspiring things, one cannot inspire., no matter how one could try to rationalize it.

ML31

“In times of darkness, like we have now, ”

I hear some people say this over and over yet I do not see what is so dark about this time vs pretty much any other time. Why is this time so much darker than say… The 90’s? Or the 70’s? Or the 40’s? I’m not saying everything is unicorns and rainbows but there are plenty of times that seemed much “darker” than now. From my perspective today is no “darker” than yesterday, last month, last year, last decade, etc…

alphantrion

Agreed with this, I mean look at the time when Star Trek originally premiered in the 60s. The conflict in Vietnam, cold war at its height, Manson murders, political assassinations, etc…you could even argue that it was a much more darker time than now. So it is not the darkness of the world that is the issue here, but more of the darkness of the modern television production and everyone trying to out Game Of Thrones each other.

Fred (the high speed) Javelina

Uh… Chabon doesn’t work here. He posted that on Instagram. If you want him to see your reply, you should post it there. :)

Garth Lorca

Chabon is right about violence having always been part of Star Trek. Thematically and implicitly, we had violent threats from day one: “He’s dead, Jim!” is one of the most famous catchphrases in original Trek. We had Khan, the Borg, Klingons, the Dominion War, the Xindi, Nero destroying Vulcans, conflicts killing billions.

But it’s not about the thematic use of violence, it’s all about the depiction when it comes to Icheb’s demise. And that particular depiction just felt out of place, it felt wrong and makes me feel bad and somewhat guilty about Star Trek and that isn’t a good feeling. I just don’t want to feel ashamed of being a Trekkie.

When people watch movies like Saw or Hostel, they know what they’re up for and expect it to be exactly like that. That isn’t the case with Star Trek. It’s not what I expect and signed up for 27 years ago when choosing Star Trek as my favourite franchise.

And while I appreciate Chabon’s taking fan-criticism seriously, I highly doubt he’s entirely honest with us. Claiming that they’ve just included that over-the-top carnage to elaborate on Seven’s character development in such a short time, is most certainly only half the truth. Catering to the tastes of modern-day audiences who grew up on stuff like GoT or TWD is certainly part of the reasoning behind those choices…

alphantrion

Call me cynical but my opinion is that the reason they went so brutal on Icheb was to send a message to the original Icheb actor Manu Intrayami who as we all know kind of shot himself on the foot on social media. They were basically saying that if you are a jerk on social media, we will kill off your character in the most gruesome fashion imaginable.

ML31

Nah. I think it was just a story telling device. They needed evil lounge lady to be over the top brutal to serve the story. The audience HAD to hate her. A lot. So much so that it was decided off screen brutality was not enough to justify her being murdered by a vigilante. They had to make doubly sure that our beloved 7 of 9 was murdering someone who for 100% certain deserved not receiving due process.

alphantrion

Yeah, but I think (at least for me) it would have been much more effective storytelling device if the violence was implied or left to the imagination and sold by Sevens reactions instead. I think in these kind of situations the writers need to give credit to a persons imagination and understand the fact that most of the time our imaginations make something much more scarier than simply seeing it in full.

ML31

I do agree that there are plenty of times when our own brains are left to fill in the blanks we come up with something far worse and hideous than what was actually presented. And there are times when it certainly is more effective. That decision is up to the filmmakers ultimately. Sometimes movies kind of luck into the situation. Case in point… Jaws. The original idea was to show a whole lot more of the shark. But as the shark prop often had trouble working Speilberg had to improvise and not show it as much as intended. The result was by NOT seeing the fish the danger carried a lot more tension.

alphantrion

Agreed about Jaws and to a smaller extent the same thing happened with me for The Exorcist as well. By not really seeing the demon or seeing it through the little girl, it became extra scary.

Soren

Chabon’s wall of noise can’t diguise the fact that whatever his intellectual musings, Picard is still horrible to watch.

I was 13 when TNG debuted. If the fifth episode had included a moment of graphic violence like that, I’d have been traumatized by it and would probably have been too scared to watch again. (For the record, “Conspiracy” and its exploding head creeped me out. But it’s nowhere near as intense as this, not even if you factor cultural differences between the eras in.)

There is no excuse for this having happened on Star Trek.

CJA

“Star Trek has always had violence/sex.” So, we can justify the continued use as well as pushing the envelope. Similar to the “I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive” argument, to which one should answer, “I do it right.” Chabon had a chance to do Icheb right, but stuck with torture and a verbose (to say the least) justification.

“What a thoughtful and lengthy response!” Similar arguments are made daily for poor decisions.

“Icheb’s “death” […] totally justified Seven’s actions/need for revenge.” There are at least a half-dozen other ways they could have justified a rough and jagged Seven – and let’s face it, she always took matters into her own hands – without the use of that intro scene. I really enjoyed his character in Voyager; the tragic end seemed entirely unnecessary, to the degree of what was shown on camera.

(Fan): “I’ve been a fan of Trek since Roddenberry was doodling in a scrapbook […]” Likely not.

Cringe factor in episode 5 was unbearable. This was like “The Royale” combined with Big Bang Theory. Granted, the first two seasons of most trek shows start off with a sputter, but usually from trying to plant feet on the ground, not from planting feet firmly in midair.

Best takeaways for me were the Seven/Picard conversation, something we all had dreamed would happen since at least 2002 when Nemesis came out. Jurati added nothing to the show for me this week.

Healthy criticism of your favorite show is allowed. Otherwise, we all look like Trump/Bernie/Bush/Obama supporters who think the candidate can do no wrong…

This week looks good.!

Nachum

“want, disease, (internal) war, greed, capitalism, intolerance, etc.,”

You gotta love the way Chabon (who, of course, owes all he has, including Trek, to capitalism and big companies) throws “capitalism” in there with all the other Deplorable items.

Capitalism (and no, I’m not talking about pseudo-capitalism like crony capitalism) has been responsible for more freedom, alleviation from poverty, and good than most other things. Show it some respect.

DeanH

I used to say pure socialism won’t work because too many people in the world are lazy and willing to live off the avails of the hard working AND pure capitalism won’t work because too many people are willing to walk all over their own mother (let alone anyone else) to make money. I personally hope that one day there is no need for capitalism but until men and women are willing to be innovative and work their tails off for the betterment of society (who knows if that will ever happen), it’s far from perfect but IMO capitalism is the best system humankind has come up with… for now. That is why I have always been fascinated by Star Trek. It will be interesting to see what the world really looks like in 200-400 years.

Fred (the moderately quick) Javelina

Why?

Capitalism was the justification for the subjugation of countries under imperialism and colonialism; the use of slaves to build a mountain of wealth for landowners, massacres of other peoples, appalling working conditions (Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, anyone?), calling in the Pinkertons to break up strikes by *killing people*, the use of child labour, hideous coal pollution, lands despoiled by strip mining and deforestation, species made extinct…. creating a war to sell newspapers… to things like intentionally poor city designs that make everyone car-dependent (and thus perpetually indebted), the continued use of fossil fuels because it’s “too costly” to switch to alternatives (for whom?), the rationing of healthcare for non-wealthy people, the lack of affordable housing (scarcity keeps prices high!) the fact that we all have microplastics doing who knows what in our bodies, and the entrenchment of the extreme income and wealth inequality we see today.

It was the *labour movement* and other popular uprisings, like the women’s liberation movement, the antiwar movement, the ecology movement and the civil rights struggle that gave us things like the weekend, paid vacations, the 40-hour workweek, sick leave, mandatory public education for children, the idea of equal pay for equal work, women in the workplace, the end of redlining and racial discrimination in financial services (although this continues, sadly, in different ways today); Social Security, the FDA, OSHA, the EPA, public broadcasting, and the CFPB. (And in other countries, single-payer healthcare.)

Arguably these things make us more free – free from want, free from worry, free from discrimination, free from ignorance, free from unfairness, free from unsafe conditions; and free to choose our own paths, to get an education, to choose a job, move cities, grow old and not live in poverty etc – because we as a society agreed we need a safety net that takes care of people when they can’t take care of themselves.

All of the progress and novel freedoms we gained in the last few centuries were not because of capitalism, they were *in spite of* or in many cases *in opposition* to the excesses of capitalism.

The post-WWII growth of the middle class was only possible because of a consensus between government, industry and labour that it was in the best interests of everyone to reinvest in the country – new schools, colleges, roads, etc – in the UK, the NHS and new public colleges – thus, the much higher tax rates on top brackets compared to today, the much higher rate of union membership and participation, the much narrower gap between what the lowest-earning and highest-earning people in a company made.

It was a conscious decision to scrap that consensus by moneyed interests behind the Reagan and Thatcher administrations that led us to where we are now.

Star Trek has always been about a post-scarcity, post-capitalist world. It isn’t socialism by today’s standards, but they have gone out of their way several times to point out that “we don’t seek the acquisition of wealth” or at least it’s not a major driving force in most people’s lives, and there appears to be some level of universal basic income / housing (heck, even *Marin County* has apartment towers, that’s how you know capitalism is gone… :)

Marcelo

nah

Alex Foster

In my view, there is a very simple reason why New Trek no longer works – the premise is no longer correct. The premise, the basic message, of Star Trek has always been “, discovering new worlds and going where no man has gone before”. The series has served this premise in different ways since TOS. On the one hand, by playing everything on a spaceship, that is already the first “unknown world” for us humans today, and actually beaming to foreign planets and researching foreign cultures. The Earth was rarely seen in Star Trek, because it is the “known” and was only ever used as “homecoming” in a story. This “homecoming” has always been an element to bring us briefly from the future into the present. What brings us to the “second” metaphysical “unknown” world: humanity in the 23/24 century. The advanced humanity, the overcoming of illness, hunger, war and need, the absence of capitalistic greed and money, the obviously completely different functioning of society based on completely different motivations of the people than today, was probably the greatest “unknown” world for us viewers. Star Trek always showed technical, social unknown worlds as well as unknown space and foreign planets and advanced to where there has never really been a human being, even when it came to life on earth – an advanced human consciousness. From TOS to ENT, this principle remained essentially true. It doesn’t matter that Star Trek has always shown violence or some downsides, because these were deviations from the premise, to which one always returned. Kirk doesn’t kill the Gorn because he reminds himself of his values. In the pilot episode of TNG, Picard has to prove to Q that humanity has become better. Even DS9 and VOY do not leave the premise, but only challenge it more than TOS and TNG have ever done. DS9 is not a series about the dark side of the Star Trek universe, on the contrary, the series is about shedding light on the dark. DS9 and VOY are much more about advanced human characters, precisely because their values are challenged more than ever. But neither with DS9 nor with VOY there are personal abysses, there is no one who falls who loses his values. Despite war, despite hopelessness, DS9 and VOY remain true to the premise. In a way, ENT made a first break with the Star Trek premise. It was still about discovering foreign worlds, but it went back 150 years in time, closer to our time. This meant that neither technology nor humanity itself could be shown to be as advanced as in TNG, but one had to realistically approach the present. ENT would have worked better if the focus was on “becoming”. Instead, the first two seasons served well-known worlds an aspects of Star Trek, which undermined the expectations of the fans. It was only with the fourth season that the started to told more about the becoming of the federation. Actually, the producers should have learned from ENT. The premise of Star Trek lies in the future. It is not enough to simply choose a future from today’s perspective, but rather a future that is, in a way, unreachably far from our present time. And since Star Trek is now a large, complex universe, and every series is an expressions and a mirror of the time in which it was created, you also have to move forward in the Star Trek timeline to meet the premise again. Since JJ Abrams, however, we have been turning away from the premise in several ways: we go backwards in both the Star Trek timeline and the representation of the Star Trek world itself. The exploration of foreign worlds takes a back seat, the focus is on conflicts of characters that seem all too present. Technically, Star Trek move in already known SCI FI visions, it copy the own Star Trek look and steal ideas from other SCI FI films. Holographic consoles in the NEW TREK are the only optical renewal of the OLD TREK and have previously been shown in dozens of films. Technically, Star Trek is no longer visionary, but mainstream. Star Trek is optically interchangeable and has become any other SCI FI series and films. However, TOS and TNG never were mainstream, but visionary in every way. The stories that are told in the Abrams films, in DISC and also in PICARD instead are well-known areas. It is not just an infusion of well-known Star Trek elements, but a general story infusion. In an attempt to deepen old characters like Spock, Picard, Pike and Co., they get caught up in contradictions and no longer create depth of character, but arbitrariness. The characters’ behavior, conflicts and relationships seem to be the case of todays people, but… Read more »

Webguest

True the future got closer: Some of the technologies in Star Trek have now become a reality and we experience also their drawbacks (such as digitalization -> speeding up of processes). That makes it harder to present an awe-inspiring future.
For me ENT broke with Trek premises when it told a story where protagonists put their trust in a foreign species and were betrayed. It seemed to mirror 9/11 developments but to me wasn’t Trek.

TG47

Webguest, I had the same issue with Enterprise.

I understand now that the second season was heavily serialized and eventually got to the allegorical lesson that was in the spirit of Trek. However, that kind of serialization was inconsistent with earlier series (even DS9) and we were confronted with Archer torturing someone early in a 26 episode season.

More, there was not the kind of messaging out to the audience that explained the new format and asked us to hang in for the resolution. So, I see this as a quite different situation from Discovery or Picard.
Television has moved on, and most audiences understand the dynamics of a season long story arc.

I did BTW come back to Enterprise intermittently for the third and fourth season, but missed a lot of it.

So, Enterprise has been the last Trek show that we’ve let our kids watch, and we’ve declined to show them the PG14+ rated episodes. They haven’t been interested in the second season anyway, and we as parents question whether it’s realistic to expect pre-TOS or even young teens to draw a moral story out of something that drags out over months of reruns. Science shows that most kids under six can’t even get the lesson out of a 30 minute show. By 10 or 12, they can draw the lesson from a movie, but a 26 episode binge, very likely not.

ML31

I’d be surprised if ANY young child picked up on messages in Trek or nearly anything else. When I was young I did not pick up on the side messages I was just entertained by the neat Sci-fi action. (yes, in those days TOS was considered action packed). It wasn’t until I was older that I saw there was a lot more to TOS than Kirks shirt being ripped, neat aliens and fist fights. Those shows worked on multiple levels. If the idea is that TV shows for kids are supposed to be teaching tools and everything should deliver a lesson for a child then I think that idea is monumentally flawed. It is up to parents to guide the children. Not TV. Studies have shown that when the parents take charge of guiding their children what they get from the home on a regular basis holds well beyond anything they get from TV or movies. And while this is anecdotal that was the case we found with our boy. TV for him was entertainment. Not school. Mrs ML31 and I took the time we could and guided him as best we could and I think he’s going to turn out just fine. (it was hard not to but neither of us helecopered him) And we were fine with him watching NEARLY anything he wanted.

TG47

Hi ML31, your son is one individual. Not all kids are so resilient.

Not everything needs to teach, I agree, and kids deserve pure entertainment too. However, as parents we also want to avoid our kids picking up unintended lessons in bad behaviour and lousy values.

I recall how surprised we were when one of ours, then a preschooler, picked up a really unhelpful behaviour from a classic much-needed European children’s animated short (in a language other than English). The short had a wonderful allegory about cooperation, but all our child picked up and copied was the behaviour of one of the ill-behaved characters prior to the resolution.

Since then I’ve seen reports of studies that show that most kids under 6 watching a half-hour positive educational show like Arthur that is designed for targeted at older primary-grade kids, will just copy the bad behaviours that the story is designed to tell them are unsuccessful. They don’t make the connection that the story is showing them what not to do.

So, we’ve exercised caution and censorship of what they see, as well as watch a lot with them and discuss it.

ML31

Well.. I did say my case was anecdotal. Just as your kids case was. Early on we made it quite clear that the stories he sees on TV are all fake and were there mostly for just fun. Sure we tried to sneak in things with values we shared and ideas we wished to plant when we were deciding what and when he watched. But when he started making the decisions it was rare when we vetoed something. We tried our very best to make sure he knew behavior seen on TV was not always how we behave in public. If we saw something we corrected it. It was a little tough in the beginning but it did pay off down the line. Maybe we were lucky but he picked up on it quickly.

Webguest

Thanks for clarifying, maybe I should have hung in there with Enterprise

Trek in a Cafe

Most of the writers these days, and all the Hollywood producers working on this show are well educated but have not travelled the world or done their own exploring, have never had any combat experience and never expected to have it, and most likely never worried about it. America is already a kind of dysfunctional utopia, compared to the rest of the world. If they went out there they would really try to conceive some better storylines.

Of course, that said, these comments by Chambon are welcome and reflective of the world they are creating.

TG47

Trek in a Cafe, I do understand your point.

I wouldn’t like Trek to become straight military sci-fi, but the new shows would benefit from adding writers and/or consultants from outside the Hollywood bubble, or even the United States and with different expertise.

They’ve added Erin MacDonald as science consultant recently, and David Mack is consulting on the two animated series. They could do more though.

Dayton Ward, who writes excellent Trek-lit, is an ex-marine. It sounds as though he’s fixed in Kansas City, but his military background and deep knowledge of Trek would be an asset as a consultant.

Una McCormack, author of the new Picard novel, has a background in sociology and is a professor of creative writing in the UK. All of her novels reflect her understanding of sociology and academia. Her Cardassian novels actually made me care about that society. Her input could really strengthen the shows.

Michael Sacal

Much of what Chabon says tracks with what we’ve seen before in Star Trek, such as the colony Tasha and her sister grew up in and both the torture Picard endured while a prisoner of the Cardassians and the torture O’Brien endured while a prisoner in his own mind.

That is the world Picard takes place in. Not aboard a nice and clean Starship flying through Federation space, but in worlds and places outside of that comfort that have more in common with that colony than with anything else.

TonyD

The colony as shown in the episode with Tasha’s sister seemed pretty tame compared to the stories told of it. It’s one thing to suggest it, another to show it in graphical detail. With past Treks, the former was always enough to get the message across.

If Picard is anything to go by, the current creative team would have subjected us to scenes of Tasha actually being raped, Picard being beaten and O’Brien having nightmares of Cardassian torture performed on him. Frankly, I have no desire to see any of that.

Michael Sacal

You’re not wrong. And that is the difference between making TV for network broadcast or syndication and making TV for streaming services such as CBS All Access. It’s all a matter of censorship and Standards and Practices, which apply to the former two but not the latter.

Now, the question becomes then, should they do it because they can do it?

Should we expect to see rape in Star Trek? Odds are very low of that. It is very doubtful that we’ll ever get to that point.

What we are more likely to see, as we did in the latest episode, is more violence and gore, such as Icheb’s torture and what it looks like when a person is disintegrated.

I just watched Lucifer in Supernatural ram his fist through a guy’s chest, and that was on The CW. Star Trek can now show Klingons do considerably more graphic things than that.

TonyD

I would argue that we already had our first glimpse at a Star Trek rape: the infamous Klingon breasts scene with Ash and L’Rell.

I’m not going to lose sleep over it one way or another (this is just a discussion for me, I long since got past the point of taking what happens in a TV show personally) but my feeling is that you should not show something just because you can, and if a show with the words “Star Trek” attached to it decides wallow in that kind of graphic imagery then it’s crossed a line and really doesn’t understand or care about the ideals it supposedly espouses.

Michael Sacal

The thing here is that you’re equating Star Trek as a concept with the pitfalls of broadcast TV, be it network or syndication. You’re concluding that because back when the show aired on either of those two options what they showed us was reflective of the concept, when in truth it was merely reflective of the content limitations of both of them.

The Trek movies have shown that once the series is free from the constraints of broadcast TV the content becomes more mature, be it cursing or even Uhura’s seductive dance in Trek V.

What we see in these new series is a further extrapolation of that.

Michael Sacal

During Discovery’s first season I’d sum up the difference between Current Trek and Classic Trek as so: in Classic Trek they would TELL us Dax, Kor, Kang, and Koloth are going to eat the Albino’s heart. In Current Trek, they would SHOW us Dax, Kor, Kang, and Koloth eating the Albino’s heart.

TonyD

Absolutely, and my opinion (and that’s all it is) is that them telling me is enough; I don’t need to see it. Others may feel differently, but I don’t think showing more necessarily makes the show better.

It’s the same with Seven killing Bjayzl (pardon my spelling); I would have been happier with Seven turning her over to the Rangers and ominously telling her she would not like what they had in store for her but she would not sink to her level. Instead, we get a cold blooded murder complete with flying disintegrating entrails. I just felt it was too much.

Michael Sacal

But it was apt given the circumstances, though.

TonyD

I appreciate Chabon’s taking the time to communicate with fans but his rationalizations ring hollow to me.

With regard to the explicit gore, when Spock sacrificed himself to save the crew in TWOK, he didn’t have an eyeball hanging out of his face, but the moment was still achingly effective. When David Marcus was killed in TSFS (with nary a drop of blood shown, BTW), Kirk’s reaction was still like a punch in the gut even though he (or we for that matter) barely knew him. It’s telling to me that even when Seven/Annika kills Byjazl (or whatever her name is), the phaser doesn’t simply disintegrate her but instead makes her explode into a gory mass of red entrails first. There’s death for the sake of drama, then there’s gratuitousness for the sake of shock value, and that last episode wallowed in the latter.

Likewise, his rationale about a Federation buckling when facing a challenge is also against the spirit of Trek and not in keeping with prior, similar conflicts. Let’s go back to DS9 and the dissolution of the Federation/Klingon alliance over the Cardassians. Sisko didn’t go along with it and the Federation quickly came to his aid. If the current writing team was doing that, the Federation would have probably gone along with the Klingons as that was the easy way out. In TNG and even the TOS movies there were many instances where one admiral or a small faction may have gone rogue but as soon as the larger Federation caught wind of it they shut the plan right down (ie: Admiral Pressman and the Pegasus or the TUC conspiracy). Even Admiral Daugherty found his conscience in the otherwise mediocre Insurrection before he was killed. The lapses are alays momentary (not decades long like we have here), and isolated (not going all the way up to Admiral “Sheer [censored] Hubris”). Even Enterprise, for all its flaws, tried to show world building, not deconstruction, in the face of terrible adversity like the temporal wars or the Xindi conflict. Even Star Trek Into Darkness understood that basic concept when Kirk defied Admiral Marcus and in the end the Federation rewarded him for it.

His rationalizations also do not excuse the needless profaniy or the clearly racist attitudes (the workers attitudes towards synths on Utopia Planitia for example) on display from people who should be more enlightened by that time. If nothing else it is tonally jarring and anachronistic when shows that took place mere years or even centuries before the events of Picard don’t have that kind of language.

The point of the pre-Kurtzmann era Trek shows was that humanity HAD made it and that our fortitude HAD reached a point where we ARE strong enough to face ANY challenge head on and that we would try to help other who hand’t reached that level of peace and prosperity. Prior shows had no trouble working within that framework even though they needed to churn out far more episodes per seasons. For a writer to take that optimism and hope away, even for a little while, means he doesn’t understand, or worse, doesn’t believe in those ideals and if that’s the case then he shouldn’t be working on anything with the words Star Trek in them. Ignoring those kinds of ideals in favor of taking the easy way out by using gore, profanity and recycled story ideas is for me the very definition of lazy writing.

Wolverine417

Longtime lurker, first time poster. Watching Picard has been a bit of a rollercoaster so far you guys. The sheer joy at watching Sit Patrick Stewart back in action has yet to falter for me, personally. That said, I feel like we’re standing at a crossroads where we have to wonder if that is enough. Personally, I know that a lot of things I’ve been hard on Disco for, I’ve forgiven in Picard because…Picard. But if the universe is nothing like we know it to be, is it even still Trek anyways? I’m a big fan of Chabon’s writing and appreciate his openness. And sure, there’s plenty of precedent in Trek for bad Starfleet and for chaos/violence/disorder at the fringes of space. Which is why I loved the idea of Rangers guarding the former Neutral Zone. Personally, my number one issue with this episode was Seven killing at the end of it. And THEN Jurati killing in cold blood right after that. Our heroes are supposed to be better than us. They’re supposed to come out on top at the end of these little morality plays, they’re not supposed to fail like we all do here on a daily basis (At least, most of the time). To me, Star Trek is and always has been about the fact that Humanity is in a state of Becoming. If the Federation is where it’s at in Picard, are we really on our way to evolving as a species? All this said…I do find the mystery compelling, and most of the performances too. Not to mention that Picard/Seven scene that we’ve all dreamed of. And I’m looking forward to where Mr. Chabon and Co. will take us next. Here’s hoping this is a story about Picard turning the Federation around, not watching it descend into darkness.

TonyD

For me, the Picard/Seven scene ended up being a wasted opportunity because as we saw in the very next scene, Seven out and out admitted that what she told Picard about trying to get back her humanity “every damned day” was a lie (she even said “someone have some hope” or something to that extent). Her committing cold-blooded murder means she turned her back on her ideals. And before anyone starts resorting to the “it was justified” excuse, I’d like to point out some examples of characters behaving differently. Kirk forgave Khan and even gave him a virgin world to tame even though Khan tried to kill him and blow up the ship. He tried to save Krug even though he ordered the death of his son. On Enterprise, Archer and the rest of the crew forgave Degra and mourned his death even though he built a weapon that caused mass destruction. I could go on but you get the idea. Seven could have just as easily turned Byjazl-what’s-her-name over to the Rangers and let them decide her fate off-screen, thereby showing she was better than her. Instead, the writers took the “shocking” route.

You mentioning of morality plays is a great catch. For me, that’s when Trek worked best: standalone stories that taught us something about ourselves. The best Treks of the Roddenberry and Berman era followed that model (and yes they had their share of stinkers along the way as well). These 10 episode season long arcs aren’t structured to do that; they can’t stand alone so you they have no worthwhile message to relay and don’t really lend themselves to repeat viewings.

bmar

Ah but “trying” isn’t always succeeding, right?

TonyD

Was she even trying though?

TG47

TonyD, Seven quite rightly challenged Picard in saying ‘What law?’

This bites all the more given that Picard acknowledged that Federation authorities were relying on the Fenris Rangers for security of Federation outpost planets like Vahsti at the edge of the old neutral zone.

She’s imposing vigilante justice as part of an established group in a region of anarchy.

Freecloud is neither within the Federation or its Rule of Law. It’s a Estate where anything is available at a price.

This isn’t like the old British north western territories in North America and colonies on the coast (now western Canada) where Mounties and British judges stamped out vigilantism and imposed the Rule of Law. In that context, it would have been murder, but not in a Wild American West type of anarchy.

Nebula1701

Indeed. Looking at a lot of comments people seem to get confused that Picard is no longer within Federation space.

TonyD

I don’t see how your relative location has anything to do with your moral compass. Nearly the entirety of DS9 took place outside Federation space, but the crew didn’t behave like vigilantes. Mirror Mirror took place in an alternate universe where brutality was the norm but Kirk still held to his standards. Voyager took place in the Delta Quadrant, that didn’t stop the crew from behaving like professionals. The entire third season of Enterprise took place in Xindi Space and they still completed their mission without betraying their ideals.

TG47

Location does matter TonyD : it’s not a matter of moral compass, but whether the Rule of Law exists, and if it does, who can act.

We know that the Fenris Rangers are acting as the law in the space at the edge beyond the Federation, and Seven is a Ranger.

So, in this situation of anarchy, individuals and groups can an do take the law in their hands as happened in the American West. Seven will have seen her actions as not only revenge, but also in the interest of society and the vulnerable, in the absence of a formal justice process.

One of the key 19th century legal cases on this point in Western Canadian history was ruled on by Judge Matthew Begbie Bailey, sent out from England.

What happened was that during the gold rush in British Columbia, many American prospectors moved North from California. Since the gold rush area in the interior of British Columbia was not settled, regular British justice was not effectively in place.

So when someone was murdered in the mining area, the American gold miners followed the vigilante justice accepted in the American West. They rounded up a murderer and hung him themselves, rather than holding him for trial by a judge who would have to make an arduous journey upcountry from what is now metro Vancouver.

Judge Begbie Bailey arrived sometime later and tried, convicted and hung those responsible for the execution on the principle that under the British system of Law, only the Crown has the right to execute for a crime. This was fairly shocking to the American miners and prospectors who felt that the local community should be able to take the law upon themselves. Begbie Bailey earned the moniker “the hanging judge” because he hung not only criminals, but also vigilantes.

Not sure if this is still taught in high school as a fundamental example of the differences in legal heritage between Canada and the U.S., but our kids haven’t got that one yet.

In any case, while I agree that this is an important moral and social question, there is not a universal right or wrong. Frankly, it’s just the kind of challenging moral territory that a show like Picard can and should be taking on.

phik

The mental gymnastics and moral justifications here are pretty impressive. In my opinion, a good show doesn’t need you to try so hard to reason away its faults.

Nate Crawford

It was one of my concerns which prompted that ‘Trek and positivity’response (I see it’s been edited a bit here). Chabon basically talked me out of giving up on the series after that last episode. Think what you will about his response, but it really helped me deal with the shape Star Trek is taking under this ‘new regime’, and I would have been harboring an exasperated bitterness for years without such thoughtful engagement.

blackmocco

Hmm. Tough one. I’ve never doubted Chabon’s genuine love for Star Trek nor his formidable skills as a writer. But they’re not really the issue here. I love he’s addressing the issues honestly but that alone doesn’t take away from the show’s flaws which, to my eyes anyway, far outweigh the positives. After thirty years of working in the entertainment industry (some of that time on some really, REALLY bad projects) I recognize no-one purposely sets out to make a bad show and I’ve no doubt Chabon and his team are working as hard as they can to make this show as good as it can be. But that doesn’t mean a show is going to work. Plenty of shows fail, no matter the pedigree behind them. You make choices and you move ahead and if you’re halfway through your season and it becomes clear some of the choices you made earlier aren’t turning out to be what they should be, it’s too late to fix it. There’s no conflict in saying I can completely respect Chabon, accept that he can be a very talented writer and also point out the show is far too slow, the story they’re telling isn’t very interesting and to me anyway, this show doesn’t feel like Star Trek.

But here’s a couple of things in the good man’s defense, and I’m reading between the lines of his answers, it’s clear Chabon isn’t the only head honcho making the big decisions. He says he’d have personally preferred less gore but was outvoted. That’s a telling admission about how this show is being made. If Chabon is the showrunner, it should be his decision. That it isn’t his final decision means he’s having to answer to other people, either executives or other producers, and his vision for the show may well be compromised. That’s disappointing – but completely believable – news.

Secondly, Picard has a tough path to follow seeing as Discovery has pretty much shit the bed in advance. We’ve already got dark/gory Star Trek. Some contrast would have been nice, rather than “oh, this show’s going to be in that tone as well. Great.” People are talking about DS9’s darkness but the reason that worked (for me, anyway) was because it wasn’t like the other show and if I needed a break from one, I could go to the other. Right now, we’re kinda two for two so there’s no respite from the gloom.

Danpaine

Good points and very well said, blackmocco. You pretty much echo my thoughts exactly.

TonyD

Good points and in fairness to Chabon (who’s writing I’m not familiar with) I do wonder how much of the gore, profanity, borderline incest, perceived darkness, etc. is due to Kurtzman and Goldsman, as they did appear to like to wallow in that kind of sensationalized stuff on Discovery.

alphantrion

You make a very good point about him being outvoted in his desire to have less gore. I think this may be part of the reason why he didn’t have second thoughts about leaving the showrunner position for the second season and why there are so many showrunner changes up top with Discovery and now with Picard.

blackmocco

In his defense regarding leaving his role as Picard’s showrunner, he’s developing a show for CBS based on some of his literary work.

alphantrion

I know this, but I also feel that if he had 100 percent of control he would probably at least tried to juggle both jobs at the same time.

Trellium G

All great points. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

Dlope67

Like many of you, I appreciate when the show runners share their thought process, and certainly recognize that creating great content is easier said than done.

My issues remain with the lackluster portrayal of Picard who has evidently languished in obscurity since he was unceremoniously ejected from Starfleet. This man would not have given up. Much like Luke Skywalker from The Last Jedi; he wouldn’t have run away and hid for all those years, it’s not in their nature as previously portrayed. It’s disappointing. If this is meant to be a rediscovery journey for Picard, it’s a long, slow, and uninspiring one so far…

My other issue is the “conspiracy” concept. Conspiracy stories, like time travel stories, have big implications and can be really great, but they better earn it first or it plays like a cheap plot contrivance… this feels unearned to me and the story suffers for it.

tony

sometimes you have to put the hero in a dark place, seemingly adrift from their heyday so they can rally and be what they are best at again.

FASAfan

Wow! I like the series even LESS after reading this… goodness.

Malahulc

Sorry, Chabon. Not buying it.

Your admittedly thoughtful defenses are frankly somewhat condescending and trivialize the fair criticisms of a great many people who have valid opinions of your stories and production decisions.

I will say, despite sharing the same criticisms as most everyone else, I *do* love your show. Disagreements aside, I am glued to the TV and eagerly waiting to see what happens. I look forward to Thursday to see what happens next.

But, while I don’t mind things being a little dark, I think Picard has gone *too* dark and this style of writing lacks any of the subtlety or humanity associated with Star Trek. Yes, we get that outside the utopian borders of the Federation things aren’t always going to be pretty . . . but, come on. Graphic depictions of torture? And, Bjayzl comes off as a lazy thoughtless stereotype of a bad guy.

Seriously, I think that’s the most ridiculous part to me. Bjayzl’s unexplained evil-for-the-sake-of-evil depiction. I mean, go ahead and make bad guys bad. But good writing requires the bad guys to have some kind of motivation. Profit? Revenge? Anything? Not Bjayzl, though. Sure, she’ll make a buck on those Borg parts, but torturing Borg in their little chop shop intentionally leaving them conscious comes off like a terrible villain in a comic book. And then appearing to get off on Seven’s pain? That’s just lazy and two dimensional. You can do better than that.

But again, aside from those criticisms (and Episode 5 in particular), I really do enjoy the show. You’ve got some interesting characters and some fun new interpretations of the Trek universe. I plan to continue to go on watching and enjoying. My hope is that all of this darkness is a build up for Picard & Company to turn things around and remind the Federation of what it stood for, and yes, I am hoping for a happy and optimistic ending.

Kev-1

Don’t much like the eyeball thing, or think it’s necessary, but that’s the way these shows are done today. There had to be more violence and sex in a Star Trek, just as it was going to be 75% soap opera — that’s todays TV. And that’s the problem. Star Trek is a different animal. Not another nightly soap. It’s basically an adventure show. I do think , though, that viewers should have a reasonable expectation that something called “Star Trek” actually involves that theme. Wish Picard had used new ideas, rather than the Borg, which have been pulled out so many times they’re meaningless. I mean really, they actually had Archer encounter them. And the Federation wasn’t any utopia, neither Starfleet. That’s like “beam me up Scotty”, which nobody ever said on TOS, or womanizing Kirk. The Federation and Starfleet in TOS were always making mistakes; Kirk constantly complained of “deskbound bureaucrats” as in “Elaan of Troyius” and battled high ego ambassadors and bureaucrats in “A Taste of Armageddon” and “Trouble with Tribbles.” And Starfleet approved the clandestine mission in “Enterprise Incident” to give themselves and the Federation plausible deniability. Who needs 31 when you make your top Captain a spy? DS9 covered the security/freedom duality when the changelings were suspected of sabotage on Earth (can’t remember the episode). And there’s Picard in “Contagion”, which had the “eyeball” of TNG.

Kev-1

“Conspiracy” not “Contagion”.

JSM-73

Mr Chabon, I really appreciate you taking the time to thoughtfully answer fan questions. While I appreciate your thoughts and your candor, I still feel this violence was unnecessary, as this extremely tragic back story was spelled out by Seven later in the episode (when she relates what happened to Picard) WITH flashbacks to the gruesome procedure, but this time more ‘tastefully’ done… It was just as shocking, gets the necessary backstory told to explain how Seven is as she is now, and proves that level of gore simply was NOT needed at the beginning too.

There was no need for the scene to play like it did, no need at all. All the audience needed was the shot of the claw coming towards his eye and his look of fear, then his screaming with the camera dollying away from behind the chair, and perhaps a quick shot of the eye being put into the tray. Imagination fills in the horrific extraction blanks. Instead it was sadistically prolonged by the front-on shot of the eye being slowly pulled out and all the screaming, THEN the optic nerve being cut too and more blood curdling screams, THEN a drilling device about to cut into the gaping wound afterwards! Come on, too much! All you needed WAS THERE in Seven’s recounting of the story to Picard. I’m hoping this level of gore truly is the exception, and it won’t be necessary to ever resort to that again.

Star Trek has always been at its best when appealing to all age-groups, simply because these sci-fi morality tales are a good thing for a young audience to grow up with, something now needed more than ever in our troubled times. Star Trek should inspire… This level of violence focuses Trek away from family entertainment to mid teens and adults only. It’s a shame to steal that away from the younger viewers who might otherwise grow up to be Star Trek fans, and/or be inspired by the characters, just like many went onto become Doctors from their love of McCoy or Crusher, or scientists due to Mr Spock, or whomever etc. So far who’s honestly inspirational in this show? But I do appreciate you taking the time to listen to the fans, and I hope you’ll take some of this onboard. Godspeed and live long and prosper Good Sir! :)

Fred (the quite sleepy now) Javelina

Umm… in case it wasn’t clear, from the story above:

“Season 1 showrunner Michael Chabon has continued to have a refreshingly honest and open dialog with fans ***on his Instagram.*** […] We’ve ***quoted his replies*** to the comments here.”

Mr. Chabon does not work here. He cannot see or hear your messages.

He didn’t write this story. A story was written *about* him.

The TrekMovie staff do not relay messages to him.

If you want to reply to his Instagram posts…. you have to do that over on Instagram.

OrbitalWings

It could all be spin but honestly every time he gives an explanation for something, I’m convinced. We can argue intention vs execution all day, but it’s reassuring to know the people working on the show do genuinely care about Trek to that extent.

Trellium G

It’s usually not a good sign when you must do a lengthy explanation for the decisions made for the story. Stuff like that is typically reserved for the extras sections on Blu-Ray discs.

It’s good to know he voted against the gratuitous gore, but is quite troubling that he, as showrunner, was overruled or outvoted, whatever the case was. That is not a good sign at all. What suit at CBS is getting the final say?