'Star Trek: Picard' Needs To Stop Hamfisting In Tragic Backstories
There was a lot to like about the season premiere of Star Trek: Picard, like the return of the Borg Queen, Guinan’s new dive bar, that scene where Jean-Luc almost hooks up with his Romulan housekeeper now that her husband mysteriously died at some point between seasons …
We also learn a bit more about Picard’s childhood, namely that a lot of it really sucked. In flashbacks, we see that Picard’s mother, Yvette, was physically abused by her husband – the implication being that said childhood trauma retroactively explains both Picard’s struggles with romantic intimacy and his penchant for space travel.
Okay, we get the former; this partly sheds light on Picard’s well-established reservedness, not to mention his reluctance to drunkenly make out with his dead butler’s hot wife. But did we really need a tragic backstory in order to justify his passion for exploration? The thing we’ve watched him do for literal decades? Even Guinan suggests that his entire Starfleet career was basically an act of running away from his own tortured memories, which kind of puts a damper on the whole “Trek” aspect of Star Trek.
This feels somewhat similar to what the 2009 Star Trek movie did with James Kirk, concocting a new, elaborate backstory in which his father was killed in the line of duty, making Kirk’s eventual decision to return to Starfleet far more emotionally loaded.
But do we really need parental tragedies informing the heroic arcs of our Star Trek Captains? We get that so much already in … pretty much every other franchise, to be honest. The nobility of human curiosity is essentially the driving engine of Star Trek. Tethering that motivation to an unresolved trauma arguably undoes one of the central tenets of the series.
But of course, there are a lot of episodes yet to come that will presumably expound on these themes – and considering that the episode ends with Picard dying (for the second time in this series alone) and waking up in an alternate timeline where Picard is apparently the Trump of the Star Trek universe, who knows what could happen next …
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Top Image: Paramount+