Star Trek #1560: Watcher

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Picard asks 21st-Century Guinan for her help finding the Watcher.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Mileage may vary on the continuity references and Easter Eggs.

WHY WE DON'T: So. Many. Plot contrivances!

REVIEW: So the Queen's coordinates for the Watcher drops Picard at 10, Forward Ave, which is absolute nonsense since the Watcher doesn't seem to live anywhere near there. Instead, it makes Picard think Young Guinan is the Watcher. We know she's been observing humanity since at least the 19th Century (Time's Arrow, which never happened in this timeline so she can't recognize Jean-Luc), but it's patently ridiculous that she would have a bar called 10 Forward in the 21st Century. What are the chances of that then fitting a prime spot on the Enterprise-D? It's stupid. As is a lot of this episode.

Ito Aghayere is at least around the same age Whoopi Goldberg was when she joined the cast of TNG, so I won't quibble with the re-casting. I'm not sure I especially like this version of the character, angry, impatient and toting guns, making sermons about how humanity's gone to pot and is destroying the planet. If the previous episode was over-obvious in its commentary, this is hitting you with a sledgehammer or a nuclear bomb. She's about ready to leave, has even found someone to take care of her dog (coincidentally the same breed Picard affects), and Picard keeps harping on the idea that humanity can change and WILL change, and she shouldn't be in any rush to leave. Except the Star Trek utopia comes at the cost of terrible suffering, World War III, etc. Let her leave, man! When he finally gives her his name, she makes the connection with the person the Watcher is protecting and makes the introduction. Of course, the episode is extremely cagey about any of this information, so it works better in the fuller context (including the scene at the end with Q finding he hasn't the power to affect a woman's mind, but we don't know who she is, except for the veiled reference to Dixon Hill - a lot of information about Renée Picard and the Europa Mission have been seeded in the background, but how are first-time viewers supposed to tap in?). The Watcher turns out to look exactly like Laris (but human), an absurdity mandated by keeping certain actors around (more to come), and though her transport effect is a clue to her identity, I'll withhold more commentary until the next episode. For now, I'll just say the whole "Fallen" possession trick seems awfully off-model.

Before leaving, Picard got more information out of Agnes' head regarding the change in the timeline. He cloaks the ship (which was not done earlier so it doesn't answer my question about no one spotting a craft entering the atmosphere on fire), goes into Chateau Picard, abandoned since World War II when the Nazis used it as a headquarters, the Picards fleeing to England. Because the production office really felt the need, after all this time, to explain why a Frenchman is played by an Englishman with terrible French. Sigh. Cue flashbacks where the child playing him mangles the word "Maman" in exactly the same way Patrick Stewart doe. And then, nonsense. Agnes manifests the number 15 in three different ways, from which Picard jumps to a singular conclusion: The pivotal event must occur on April the 15th, three days from now. It's not so much that Jurati would pull the subliminal Data trick from "Cause and Effect", it's that Picard would notice. Incredibly convenient. Agnes spends the rest of the episode as the Guy in the Chair, manning comms and transporters, which obnoxiously only work when the plot decides they can. It forces her to make a deal with the Queen, prefaced by some Borg psychoanalysis (spare me). Agnes gets some good, humorous lines, and I love that she leaves the Queen begging for more companionship, but it's a rather thankless task.

Meanwhile, Rios, and consequently Seven and Raffi, are trapped in 24 Land. He's brutalized by ICE officers who deny people due process and look shifty after they misuse their power. (Well ONE ICE officer, anyway.) Says goodbye to Teresa, is put on a bus heading for the border. It's all in service of padding out the adventure. Before he's taken away, he tells ICE everything, in a speech designed to serve as a series recap later, and is not believed. Seven and Raffi are on his trail, hack into a police computer (makes sense) and wind up stealing a cop car and getting trapped in a car chase through L.A. (is there a bigger cliché?) until they can get beamed out of there. The whole time, Raffi is just the most annoying back seat driver ever.

My eye roll of the week goes to the scene in which Seven and Raffi take the bus and have to ask an aging punk to turn his music down. The punk is the very same character and actor nerve pinched by Spock in Star Trek IV, and the song is the sequel to the original ("I Still Hate You", it was "I Hate You" in ST IV). He's quick to turn it off, evidently traumatized from the last time, but guys... You're obviously doing The Voyage Home meets First Contact here, about about you don't draw undue attention to the fact that this is derivative as hell already? More subtle references include Q's newspaper mentioning Brynner, the CEO from Past Tense, and the scene taking place in Roykirk Plaza, a reference to NOMAD's inventor. I like such things as they show it's the present, but not quite, but when it's too overt and cute, like the bus scene and 10 Forward, it just seems contrived.

LESSON: Don't leave Earth until you've found someone to care for your pets.

REWATCHABILITY - Low: Compounded with previously mentioned problems, this episode is just irritating.