With season 2 of Star Trek: Picard coming to a close I again find the quality of programming coming out of Paramount studios a little lacking. After the disappointing first season of the show there was some shakeup for season 2; with a new head writer and showrunner things started off strong with an enticing and exciting first few episodes. But after that the show returned to nonsensical and meandering plot lines, some with no relevance or potential for resolution.
It seemed to me that some of the reasons for the odd choices this season were to prolong the story to fit the contracted 10 episodes. This long form serialized programming is something that is still new for Star Trek, which has mostly toed the line between episodic and short serialized plots. It seems to me like 10 episodes might have been too ambitious for the story the writers wanted to tell with this season; and a shorter 5 or 6 episode mini-series might have avoided the awkward pacing of the season.
But it’s easy to criticize. I am not a writer, and I don’t know what goes on in the writer’s room for this show; I don’t know what pressure there was from the studio, what deadlines they had, or what had to be changed last minute due to COVID measures. Instead of complaining, I thought it would be a fun thought experiment to see what the main story of Star Trek: Picard could look like if it were condensed into more self-contained episodes, making a shorter season; similar to how a lot of Star Trek: Enterprise was written in season 4.
Two disclaimers before we get started:
- Spoilers for Star Trek: Picard
- The season finale has not yet been released, so I don’t know how all this will end. In this rewrite I’ve tried to have all the characters end at roughly the same point they are at the end of episode 9, so whatever happens in the finale it should fit in here. I’ve cut a lot of small plots that didn’t seem relevant to me, but some of them might come back in the final episode.
Some Story Restructuring
I tried to restructure the story to make the show a little more episodic. Since the show is currently so serialized, it can make individual episodes feel like Sisyphus pushing his boulder; pushing the plot incrementally forward. In this rewrite I’ve tried to contain the intermixed story and settings into single episodes, and to try and give these episodes a three act structure.
Though the series is structured like a mystery, the initial plot premise is cloudy, as the main focus is unclear. In the first episode we have the mysterious Borg, Q, and Picard’s relation with Laris to focus on, but Laris isn’t really in the rest of the season and the Borg issue gets resolved before the finale. I would like to move the theme of the season a little; away from the lost romantic potential of a 96 year old man, and focus on the fact that Jean-Luc Picard is the last Picard. What does family and legacy mean for a man without a spouse, child, or relatives?
What to cut?
To make the season shorter and keep the story on pace I did cut a lot. If this experiment is done correctly the season would lose half its runtime. Some things I cut because I didn’t think it like it or didn’t think it worked, some things which worked well still got cut because it was still unnecessary for the story being told.
What I’m cutting or cutting back on:
- No more Tallinn
- No more Guinan
- No more FBI-guy
- No flashbacks
- Less chateau
- Less Elnor
- Less doctor lady
I have no experience trying to plan stories to fit in tight 50-60 minute episodes, so it’s likely I’ve cut too much; many of these cut characters or stories could be kept, but I didn’t see them as necessary.
Episode 1: Confederation
This episode is a compression of episodes 1 and 2 with some of the scenes reordered to flow better. In episode 1 we catch up with where the cast from the first season has landed before the mystery starts and everyone is thrown to a different timeline.
Elnor’s death can remain unchanged or he could not be on the ship when it destructs like Soji. I think it’s fun to have an actual fighter around for the confederation fights so I would leave his death in.
Since Guinan has been cut from the latter episodes there is not really a need to visit her in the first episode.
As we’re cutting Tallinn, I would also cut the romance with Laris; though the fireside chat about why Picard is always so lonely is still relevant. And now Zhaban doesn’t need to die mysteriously off screen.
Open with Picard’s speech to cadets, mostly unchanged. We still see Elnor and Raffi in attendance. Picard’s talking points focus still on being the last Picard, and on the accomplishments of his ancestor Renee.
Catch up with Agnes and Soji at the diplomatic dinner, until Rios comes to pick up Agnes in the Stargazer. Rios and Jurati rush to answer a distress call from Seven.
Picard and Laris (and Zhaban?) have their fireside chat. The loss of his brother Robert and nephew Rene is brought up and how Jean-Luc is the last of his family. The conversation still interrogates why Picard has chosen to be alone and how he’s alway put Star Fleet first, but there doesn’t need to be a romantic tension.
Before Picard can confront his reluctance to open up to others and start a family Raffi calls that Picard needs to come with her immediately to the anomaly, because it’s calling for him by name. Picard and Raffi (and maybe Elnor) take a shuttle to meet up with the Stargazer and La Serena at the anomaly.
Inciting incident: The Borg Queen boards and the self-destruct gets triggered.
(mostly unchanged from S2E2)
Picard wakes up in the confederation timeline and is confronted by Q. Q explains Picard’s alternate history as a Confederation war hero. Q tells Picard there is an opportunity for atonement.
Seven wakes up as Annika Hansen the Confederation President (mostly unchanged). Rios finds himself on the bridge commanding during a battle (it would be nice if this was the Stargazer / Starphaser? and not the La Serena). Elnor gets an extended sequence showing the poor conditions of the enslaved Romulans before the rebellion begins, then he is captured by Raffi. Seven contacts and recalls Rios before going to talk to her chief science advisor, Agnes Jurati. Agnes and Seven uncover the Borg Queen the Confederation has slated for execution.
General Picard shows up at headquarters as does Raffi and Elnor. They are taken to see Seven and Agnes in the science lab. Picard reveals that Q is involved and Seven and Jurati explain that the Borg Queen says there has been a change in the timeline and they have been trying to hack into the Borg temporal implants to find the divergence.
They hatch the plan to use the Borg Queen to slingshot time travel back to fix the timeline, but Rios is still on his way with the ship so they need to stall for time.
The Eradication day celebration begins. Seven gives a convincingly evil speech as the president, and Picard tries to twist the message of his speech from E1 to fit the Confederation. As the malice in his message wanes he starts to lose the crowd, Raffi and Elnor cut the power and a firefight ensues until they are beamed up to the ship.
They plug the Borg Queen in and race against pursuing ships to slingshot the sun, not knowing when they are headed. Elnor can die here, but I think it’s better if he’s left behind in the Confederation timeline; this gives Raffi and the crew more motivation to repair the timeline which will assure Elnor’s safety.
The ship doesn’t need to crash on arrival; it’s fine in orbit. They arrive to find they are in the year 2024.
Episode 2: Europa
This episode tries to contain most of the Europa mission plot, keeping the fun heist to get into the Gala. Without Tallinn the narrative for how they find out about the Gala is a little different, but the Borg Queen’s coordinate -> Guinan -> Tallinn the Watcher is a really slow and convoluted to get information to Picard that he should already have.
While Guinan would be on earth at this time, and it would be fun to see what she’s up to in the 21st century, she is not critical to the plot. If she does show up, don’t put her in the same bar she runs 300 years later. It’s overcorrecting the continuity.
Since we are cutting all of Picard’s flashbacks of the chateau, we really don’t need to use the chateau set as the base of operations in 2024, plus it would be nice to have a spaceship in space. This also allows a larger ship like the Stargazer / Starphaser to be used.
The ship is almost scanned by satellites (prime spot for Chronowerx Industries reference) before they activate the cloak. The Borg Queen has entangled Borg technology into the ship and its slowly taking over subsystems.
The crew familiarize themselves with this 21st century, going over the lack of world government, eugenics conflicts of the 90’s, the environmental instability, the sanctuary districts in every major city. They finish the analysis of the confederation historical DB and the Borg Queen’s temporal sensors and identify that in the Confederation timeline the Europa in 2024 failed, and is the first historical divergence.
Seven, Raffi, and Rios beam down to Los Angeles to infiltrate the Europa mission. Rios gets separated and injured and is taken to the clinic. Seven and Raffi break into NASA to get information on the Europa mission. Jurati and Picard secure the Borg Queen and start working to lock out the Borg tech from taking over the ship.
Seven and Raffi report back that the divergence point is Rene Picard. Picard joins them leaving Jurati alone with the queen to try and find and beam Rios back. Seven and Raffi go to find Rios on foot. Picard is unable to gain access to Rene, but does find evidence that Q has been tampering with the timeline.
The Borg Queen makes a play to take over the ship but is stopped by Jurati, but she has to make a deal with the queen to get everyone back to the ship. As a result the Queen is “killed” but Jurati is secretly assimilated.
The last chance to get to Renee will be the heist at the Gala. Everything goes according to plan until Adam Soong shows up. Picard mistakes him for data initially. Soong IDs Picard and knows exactly who he is and what he’s trying to do and tries to have him kicked out.
Borg/Jurati creates a diversion and Jean-Luc does get some alone time with Renee to giver her a motivational speech.
The crew, minus Jurati, beams back to the La Serena to monitor if the timeline has been repaired using the Borg technology, but it’s still broken.
Episode 3: Perfection
This episode focuses mostly on the Borg with a few sprinkles of Soong and Q thrown in to prepare for the next episode.
Back story on Soong and Kore. We watch Soong lose his funding and become distraught before Q shows up with a cure and a Gala invitation. The crew realize that Q has been tampering with more of the timeline and that Soong it at the core of it. Evidence is found on the ship that Jurati has been assimilated, and a Borg roaming LA could really mess up the timeline. Seven and Raffi get in a fight over what to do with the Borg Queen.
Seven and Rios go in search of Borg Queen Jurati. Seven finds evidence of the Borg taking over and Rios talks Seven through her feelings for Raffi and her anxiety towards the relationship.
Q gives Soong the cure as payment but it’s not permanent, Q tells Soong there is still something he needs.
Picard and Raffi beam down to get more information on Soong and the divergence. Picard consoles Raffi about her tumultuous relationship with Seven and how hard it can be being an ex-borg. Snooping arounf Soong’s estate they run into a powerless Q.
Rios and Seven find that Borg Jurati has built a comms array and triggered a remote transport back to the ship.
Picard realizes that Q is dying, but Q threatens that all the pieces are now in play and he is just an observer. So it doesn’t matter what happens to him. Picard and Raffi are called back to the ship to help stop Jurati and Q escapes.
The Borg Queen has brought a few drones she’s assimilated. Action scene of the crew trying to retake the ship. They fail, but weaken the queen. Jurati gains enough control to alter the Queen’s definition of perfection, changing her objectives. Queen Jurati takes a shuttle (or the whole ship if that is important for the finale, beaming the crew to Earth first) and heads off into the darkness.
Ends with them picking up a TV broadcast from Brynner Information Systems about how the Europa mission might be postponed because of concerns from NASA/ESA Director Soong. The broadcast has an interview with Soong and the episode ends with Soong staring through the camera at Picard.
Episode 4: Genetics?
This leaves all the major players pretty much where they are at the end of episode 9. Since the Borg are done with, I assume this episode will be mostly Q and Soong. In this version Soong wasn’t part of the Borg fight, but I don’t think that makes a major difference.
Episode 4 is the finale. Since S2 E10 isn’t out yet I don’t know what goes here. I assume it will be a confrontation with Soong and Q of some sort. Maybe Kore will play an important role? If Kore is important to the end of the season this episode can open on her discovering the horrors her “father” has committed.
Kore finds the truth about herself and Q visits Kore and gives her the freedom potion.
The rest of this episode plays out like the finale
I don’t know how the season is going to end, I can only make predictions. I think Q will use Soong as his instrument to change the timeline, and the loose cannon of Kore might backfire and turn on her father helping Picard and friends. To continue the Soong legacy which leads to Arik, Noonian, and Data; Adam Soong probably survives and escapes. Picard and friends will probably fix the timeline and return to the 24th century, though without a ship this might be difficult.
For the thematic conclusion I think this arc should end with Picard accepting that he is not alone. Its his crew and Laris and Zhaban which are his family and Star Fleet is his legacy.