Thursday, 2 March 2023

TREK REVIEW: PIC 3-2 - "Disengage"


Not that they'd really spoil anything, to be honest. There were revelations aplenty in this episode, but it's not as if any of them were actually surprising.

Which isn't to say this was bad. This was another solidly entertaining hour of Trek that was heavy on both the character and action. It's just that there was very little that we couldn't have guessed beforehand, or hadn't been outright told to us in the huge promo campaign.

Fortunately, every plays their parts with absolute investment and charisma. Ed Speelers being a case in point. The young Jack Crusher (if that is your real name, sir) is a winning presence, purely on the strength of Speeler's looks and charm. There's any number of ne'er-do-wells with hearts of gold in Trek, and in adventure telly in general, and their success as characters comes down purely to how likeable they are. Speelers makes Jack a character whose adventures I'd want to watch. And yes, there is something a bit Picard-like in him, a bit like the tearaway Jean-Luc once was, and who occasionally breaks out during those more macho adventures. 

So, as beautifully performed the moment between Picard and Beverly Crusher was (a lovely moment of non-verbal acting), it was followed by an announcement that was still played as if it was meant to surprise us. Yes, we know he's your son, JL, we've been battered over the head with it for the last hour.

Equally unsurprising is the reveal of Raffi's handler. While it could have been just about anyone, Worf was by far the most obvious candidate. Still, while it wasn't a surprise, his swashbuckling entrance, lopping baddies apart with his new Klingon sword was awesome. And he actually got to use it as a sword, a benefit of the more lenient standards of streaming television compared to primetime broadcast and syndication (how many bat'leth fights have we seen where they just hit and prod each other with these deadly weapons?) Lots of Romulans on hand helps, of course - green blood doesn't up the rating as much as red.

Michelle Hurd has an especially good episode as Raffi. You have to feel sorry for her, facing her ex-husband and having to choose between her own life and the safety of the galaxy, all the while being slated for her conspiracy-chasing ways. There was a conspiracy, Jay, she helped uncover it! And now she's back with Starfleet to help uncover another one. She's not nuts! Of course, we get the inevitable moment when she finally has to go all in for the part and shoot up again, although there's a fun side to it as she's such a rock-solid addict that Mr Sneed's knock-out party drug hardly affected her.

Sneed is a fun side villain, with a suitably broad performance by Aaron Stanford, and it's a shame he was dispatched so quickly. One odd thing, though - he had very small ears for a Ferengi male. (Suz's immediate thought when we met him - "Well, he hasn't got the lobes for business!") Is he perhaps a trans Ferengi? Or is there some weird fashion for ear reductions in the 25th century? Or is just luck of the draw?

When it comes to villains, Vadic certainly is one. Amanda Plummer gives a tremendously hammy performance, but that fits perfectly with the material she's given, which is firmly in the self aware, monologuing megalomaniac mold. She's not got the Shakespearean class of her father's General Chang, rather a more unhinged, joyfully evil vibe. So far, she's entertaining, but I hope there's a solid reason behind her actions, rather than just plain baddieness.

The Titan situation continues to be interesting. Captain Shaw is definitely growing on me, with this episode showing things more from his point-of-view. The thing is, he's absolutely right: risking 500 lives for the sake of two is the wrong call, no matter how legendary they are, especially after they went and got themselves into trouble. He seems especially risk averse considering the extent of the danger wasn't clear at this point, but that seems to be sloppy writing/editing rather than a deliberate move. It's a bit of a shame that he falls for Seven's hero speech, since he's a more interesting character if he's not a hero, but rather the sort of measured officer that Starfleet needs a lot of if it's going to function. Someone once said that the definition of a hero is "someone who gets other people killed." (Actually, it was Zoe from Serenity). And it's true, he does.

He's in a genuinely difficult situation with Jack and the order from what is clearly a dangerous terrorist to hand him over. The "we don't negotiate" rule by Starfleet is the sort of directive that is easy to respect until you're actually presented with such a situation. To be honest, the humourless, by-the-book Captain Shaw is not unlike the Captain Picard of the earlier TNG seasons, which, given how Jack is very like the young, undisciplined Picard, and the man himself is now working purely by moral principles, illustrates some interesting character progression.

There's a lot of exposition in "Disengage," but, considering how much ground it has to cover and how many introductions it has to make, it's a swift, easy watch. However, it's already feeling like we should be getting a few answers to what's driving events here.

Random thoughts:

  • The Eleos XII is described as a Mariposa medical vessel, which suggests it is (or has been previously) working for an organisation that descended from Cristobal and Teresa's 21st century crisis organisation.
  • The shuttle Picard and Riker stole is called Saavik, after the Vulcan officer who served on the Enterprise in Treks II and III. Presumably, this was a homage to Kirstie Alley, the original Saavik actor, who died recently.
  • Among many, many other weapons, including "technology unknown" (so the portal gun), the Shrike has isolytic burst warheads, which are illegal under the Khitomer Accords.
  • Sneed isn't a fan of Section 31 either. Remember when they were supposed to be a secret organisation?
  • "I believe it is afternoon in the Sol system." Does Vadic not understand anything about how time zones work? It's not even afternoon all at the same time on Earth, let alone through the whole system. 
  • I didn't mention much of the rest of the Titan crew last week, but they're a colourful bunch, including a bald-headed Vulcan (who might be part-Deltan according to BtS gossip), a Bajoran helmsman and an alien comms officer, apparently a Haliian. Ensign Sidney La Forge is the only one who gets any real attention though, and she's a lot of fun, the one bridge officer who's allowed to be a bit flippant in the presence of Shaw. It helps that Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut is gorgeous, in spite of her silly name.
  • Picard and Riker both forget they have transport inhibitors set on the Eleos XII, which almost dooms them. It was a busy moment with a lot going on, but are they getting just a bit too absent-minded in their old age?
  • Fun line: "She threw a ship at us!"

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