Season 2 Episode 4: ‘Watcher’
The first half of the first season of “Picard” started off with a strong premise. The second half of the season was where the storytelling started to derail. There were clumsy plot decisions that seemed designed to justify the predecessors, at the expense of making any sense in their own right.
I’m afraid to go down a similar path after the fourth episode of the second season.
Mostly I had a hard time getting past Young Guinan.
Let’s face it some things: Let’s admit that Q somehow changed the timeline so it makes sense for Guinan not to recognize Picard in 2024. (This is despite the fact that Guinan met Picard in one of his best-known “Trek” episodes, “Time’s Arrow”, already in the 19th century.) Or that he was a part of it. different timelineAs founded by JJ Abrams “Star wars” in 2009.
I’m not quite sure how this will happen, but timeline graphs are always blurry. And if the storytelling is good enough, one can suspend disbelief. Also, Guinan has a history with the Q that isn’t mentioned here.
The Young Guinan presented here to Picard is a completely different Guinan than we’ve seen in “The Next Generation” for decades, so much so that it was completely distracting. Guinan, who immediately realized that something went wrong in the classic episode of “Enterprise Yesterday,” why couldn’t he realize that something went wrong in this timeline? El-Aurians have a special intuition, we were told. They are known as “listeners” and Guinan doesn’t want to do any of that here.
There’s also Young Guinan’s defeatism. In this timeline, Guinan is pessimistic, bitter, and unwilling to help Picard until much later. Historically, this was not Guinan’s jam. Thoughtful, withdrawn – even mysterious.
Given Whoopi Goldberg’s schedule, the show was unlikely to get her reprising the role beyond a cameo she probably had a few weeks ago. But he played an iconic role in “Trek” lore – completely changing what made the character so beloved for several decades that made him feel rushed and unearned.
From their first conversation, Young Guinan told Picard, “I don’t know you. I don’t want to know you”, it was clear we weren’t dealing with the same friendly bartender we met. It was even more surprising when he threatened a kind, well-meaning Picard with a gun. He even calls Picard an “old man,” a particularly awkward phrase given that Guinan is hundreds of years older, something he refers to himself later in the episode.
Even reaching Young Guinan is a journey in itself. As the episode begins, we follow Seven and Raffi’s quest to find Rios and encounter more explicit political commentary. Deportation without due process. A government bureaucracy hostile to immigrants. (There is a point where a doctor noted that Immigrants and Customs Enforcement over-detained, and Seven argues that the government deserves a subtle comparison with the Borg.)
Picard goes to visit Chateau Picard with Jurati. Picard’s ancestors We learn that he hid from the Nazis in the tunnels under the residence during World War II, and that the residence itself was used as a base for the Nazis. An interesting backstory to introduce Picard’s ancestry and hopefully – ahem – more will be discovered in the future.
Here, Picard concludes that Jurati has a sudden special fascination with #15. (Fun reference here: “Look at you Dixon Hill,” says Jurati, a callback to a fictional detective Picard used to play. On holodeck with Guinan.) Picard, as a result of his experiences in the “Next Generation” episode “Cause and Effect”, when Data realized that the repetition of the number three was relevant in preventing a disaster and brought Kelsey Grammer enters the ‘Trek’ universe.
The most entertaining reference of the episode – and possibly the entire series – comes when Seven and Raffi get on the bus and a man with a haircut plays the stereo at an unreasonably loud volume. Seven demands he stop and the man apologizes – a different outcome of the same scenario in “The Journey Home”. Spock nip a similar man.
Later, Seven and Raffi give “Trek” fans one of the first car chases in franchise history. (remember with Is Picard driving in “Nemesis”? Okay, nevermind.) I have no idea how Seven was able to drive so well, but still, Scotty was able to find clear aluminum once. Instant on the 1980s Macintosh.
The Borg Queen does her best to manipulate the sensible Jurati. Jurati is the team member most prone to mind games as well as being smart. (Note that in the first season, he killed someone, partly as a result of manipulation.) This seems to be a plot that unfolds this season: Will Jurati will succumb to the Borg’s lure, who doesn’t need to be emotionally in touch. with him? Where can he relentlessly focus on being productive?
Jurati’s coordinates take Picard to Guinan Only in His Name, where a privileged few who hold most of the earth’s resources and are “killing the planet” grieve. She is on her way to leave Earth until Picard dissuades her.
When Guinan asks Picard his name, he replies, “If I say more, I risk compromising your way.”
“You should have thought of that before you started harassing me at my bar,” Guinan replied. This is a fair point. Picard knows that Guinan has special abilities. Why tell him some things and not others? He’s compromising his path no matter what, and he did so in “Time’s Arrow.”
As sometimes happens in “Picard,” the plot here completely ignores character histories. Guinan tells Picard that, as a dark-skinned being, he doesn’t have the luxury of being patient with humanity, which is another tactless interpretation of the world we live in. (I’ve had some trouble here.)
Seven and Rafi can be carried out of the car to save Rios. Poor police officer wearing a body camera is shocked by the presence of suspects. (The discovery that aliens can teleport will certainly cause a stir on Earth.)
Finally, after more fuss, Young Guinan finally agrees to take Picard to a face-to-face meeting with The Watcher, who is Laris. Back corner!
In the end, this episode made me feel inadequate. It was disappointing that Guinan’s entire goal was to set Picard up with The Watcher after an episode where he resisted Picard’s pleas – especially given his past with Picard. That bartender in 2024 could have been anyone.
Definitely not Guinan.