It's been 18 years since Star Trek fans last saw Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in 2002's meh Star Trek: Nemesis — and 26 years since Patrick Stewart's most iconic character was last seen on television in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now, he's back for Star Trek: Picard, along with very expensive production values that make TNG look like cable access and allow Trek's newest series to boldly go where no previous show has gone before: Killing someone with the help of green acid blood that may or may not be explosive.
That's a sentence one wouldn't think would be a thing, but, here we are.
So how'd we get there?
In the premiere episode, a retired Admiral Picard, spending a day on his family vineyard, has his entire existence upended when a mysterious woman in a cloak. Dahj, shows up. Sporting a bloody wound given to her by would-be Romulan assassins that just killed her boyfriend before trying to murder her, Dahj had a Jason Bourne-like "activation" that allowed her to kick-punch her way out of her own certain doom and make her way over to Chateau Picard. She's not human, but something close to it. She's one of two advanced androids that are Star Trek's version of a Replicant, seemingly made in part from bits of Picard's old friend, Data. Trouble is, Data's dead. So how can she be here?
The answer to that question sets Picard off on a Search for Spock-esque mission to find out if his dead pal might still be out there. With Dahj in tow, we seem primed to embark on Star Trek: Blade Runner, with Picard in the Harrison Ford role. That is until more of Dahj's masked assassins beam in and try to kill her again. That plan goes not well for them and Dahj takes them out with some serious Android-Fu — but not before one of the killers appears to bite down on the Romulan version of a cyanide tooth.
That tooth squirts green acidic blood everywhere — especially on Dahj and the lethal ray gun she's holding. While it is slightly unclear, visually, how this all goes down, it looks like the blood melts both Dahj and the weapon and either causes them to explode or the blood itself has explosive properties.
Either way, Dahj is turned into mini-napalm — the fiery blast knocks a 92-year-old Picard half a football field back; he crashes into concrete and wakes up afterward on his couch slightly groggy and with nary a hangnail. (I'll believe androids and warp speed are real before I'll believe a nonagenarian survives an explosion without breaking both hips at least seventy times.)
The only thing more shocking than such a very non-Trekian way to go is the problematic narrative choice behind it. In our brief introduction to Dahj, the premiere episode maximizes its run time to get us to care about her. Like, really like her.
She just got accepted to a prestigious school. She's funny and friendly. Her boyfriend's got two sets of eyelids and he gives her sh** for having such a limited menu on her food replicator. To detonate someone we're invested in because of plot feels like executing a "first idea" instead of the best one.
Sure, the episode ends with her back, sort of, in the form of her sister/clone. But we don't know her or spend enough time to get to know her. The episode assumes we care about her plight (or her at all) because she is a Xerox of the person we did care about before some CG green blood melted her face before she exploded.
That questionable storytelling choice is worthy of its own "WTF Moment." But unlike the show, we'll stop with just one.