“Q, you are not well.”
SPOILERS ABOUND! BEWARE! Star Trek is about a fantastic utopia. It’s a universe that took some two hundred-odd years to bring humanity to a point of peace where war and prejudice were antiquated notions—at least to us. When we move into the galaxy and realize there are other alien races, some benevolent and some warlike, we discover that most of those races remind us of ourselves to some degree.
Roddenberry’s selling point in those early days was not necessarily that we grew out of our infancy (as Jean-Luc Picard would say at one time), but that outer-space conflict could be analogous to what we endured as a species. Vietnam, the Cold War, and the struggle for civil rights provided story material that could not be easily censored because the show used science fiction and that fantastic utopia as a cover to tell stories which, ordinarily, would not be told for fear it would cause dissent in the Establishment.
I looked up the word, “utopia,” one time. It’s not what you think it means. Going back to the original definition, it means: “no place, a nonexistent society.” It’s something that cannot be achieved. It’s more like an ideal, a state of mind rather than an exit off a highway or a penetrable location. When we speak of utopia, we speak of the unattainable, and as long as there is individuality, there will never be a utopia.
After Q appears to Picard, he offers him an alternative future; an imbalance in a timeline that showcases the mirror reflection of a 24th century utopia. Instead, we’re treated to the Confederation of Planets. This is a strange change, as both words, confederation and federation, are identical and I can only assume this is an attempt to inject even more social commentary into the franchise as it exists. We know why the word is being used as it evokes a certain image.
If you go to Star Trek communities in social media, you’ll see warnings for users to avoid political discussions. I don’t see how that is possible, considering (as I mentioned above), Star Trek is political. It exists to comment on the racial and social divide. The groups just want to avoid heated arguments, but it’s a losing investment to bar or censor those discussions. We’re at our best when we’re passionate, just like these television shows and movies.
Strangely, the lead players are in on the swap-out, completely conscious to what has changed. Seven is no longer a Borg. Instead, she’s the President of the Confederation while “General” Picard represents the military arm. Raffi is a solder. Agnes is a scientist who specializes in torture of Confederation enemies, all of which belong to non-human groups. Xenophobia is the order of the day, and even as Agnes speculates (by viewer proxy) that this could be a mirror universe, the Terran Empire of that variant is far more brutal.
Rios is still captain of his Stargazer, and Elnor is a fugitive. They get together and compare notes. After interrogating a prisoner, the Borg queen, they come to the conclusion that a “divergence” in time was caused in the year 2024. I really hope this doesn’t turn into something stupid with regard to our current political divide. Evil and treachery know no distinct political lines.
There’s an old saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, and there never seem to be any warning signs as to which road is best to travel and which road should be avoided at all costs. There was something disturbing about Q. For the first time in all of his appearances, he seemed maniacal and unhinged. Picard noticed it right away. He even struck Picard across the face. This wasn’t the playful Q who turned Picard into Robin Hood and forced his officers to frolic about in Sherwood Forest.
I mentioned “Tapestry” in my previous review. This was an episode where Q presented an alternative future in Picard’s timeline wherein Picard did not engage in a fight with Nausicans that resulted in him being stabbed through the back and losing his natural human heart. After dodging that bullet (or knife as the case may be), he became an unambitious loser, and for the moment, it appeared Q had done him a favor.
I’m not sure what the point of this current mess is, except to show that the Federation has become Nazis. It’s all there in the symbolism and the iconography, and it is disturbing. Picard and his crew decide to abduct the Borg queen and transport back in time to 2024 to find out just how all of this started. This is a strange development, but it is welcome.
The episode moved along swiftly, and it never let up for a minute. Two episodes in and we’ve improved immeasurably on the first series. The most unsettling idea about the episode is that this world, this opposite of the Utopia seen previous makes more sense, is more plausible, than anything we’ve yet encountered. It’s troubling yet oddly familiar.
Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Pike, Kirk to Picard, and Sisko to Janeway— boldly read what no one has read before!
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